Friday, October 21, 2016

Song of the Day: 'Cosmic Love Song No. 23' by Louise Le Hir

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 11:16 PM

"... like some lost Byrds track when Gene Clark was burning up songs like cigarettes."
  • "... like some lost Byrds track when Gene Clark was burning up songs like cigarettes."
Louise Le Hir is one of those people you meet and you’re not for sure where it is she’s going but you’re damn sure she’s gonna get there. She called early one fall morning two years ago, asked if I’d like to go with her to a studio where she was making her first record, meet the owner and take in some music, see the setup. I was drinking my first cup of coffee when she pulled up in a small car that wouldn’t shift into first or second gear, making a short drive more dangerous than usual. But there’s little that’s usual about Louise. She’d been in Tucson seven years, give or take, playing, singing, drinking men under the table, and doing her music slow and patient. She stands out, a natural with long wispy brown hair, a low pitch in her speaking voice, a hint of the Midwest twisting through a throaty laugh, long legs that carried a complex life full of people and places where you don’t go but rather end up, just the same.

Amongst chords, equipment and a drum kit, I met Matt Rendon, the young, motivated music lover who had made a sort of umbrella of different bands, his bands, mainly The Resonars, and projects all out of Rendon’s midtown studio. A large amount of his work comes out on super-buzzed Burger Records in California. He seems inspired by singles, A and B sides that once stood for creative achievement in three minutes, that blew out of the radio like a precious sledge hammer. He also relates to ’60s pop, but he ain’t stuck in a decade long gone; nah, he just has earnest love affair with music. He is unpretentious and warm. He’s recording music that he feels makes a difference.

So I took a chair in a corner of the room and asked if I could hear a finished tune from the month they’d been working slow but steady. Matt gave me headphones and Louise asked him to que “Cosmic Love Song No. 23” for me. The snare drum rolls into an uptempo groove, Lana Rebel holds up the bottom on bass guitar. It is full on. Louise chipping away at her Les Paul Jr. as she begins a narration of a lover’s ups and downs, free of metaphor or apology. Harmonies come strong and large behind her words, an amalgamation of Billy Sherrill’s production sound adjoining some sharp lost Byrds track when Gene Clark was burning up songs like cigarettes. The first verse ends and the chorus busts wide open, pedal steel solo fresh, free of indulgence, just lonesome hearts splashed against Jackson Pollock’s canvas. Connor "Catfish" Gallaher’s solo rings to the heavens and the next verse is moving as we try to stay with it. Louise belts out grace without pretense and we hit that chorus one more time: And I only fall in love to feel the pain/Ain’t no ordinary thing I can explain/I need life to keep on livin’/I love you for your misgivin’s/And I only fall in love to feel the pain. It’s like one beautiful paper cut you bear for its magic and then the song slows and a single chord rings.

This is a haunting, gorgeous song, comes in under four minutes, and later this month a
video of this pearl will be out for all to watch, once and then again and again.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

In the Flesh: Television at the Rialto Theatre, Tuesday Oct. 18

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Television in Tucson, Tuesday night, Oct. 18 - C. ELLIOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • C. Elliott Photography
  • Television in Tucson, Tuesday night, Oct. 18

Groundbreaking New York City band Television released the equally groundbreaking Marquee Moon in 1977, the year I was born. Aside from a self-titled album in 1992 and a handful of onstage reunions, the band has been largely inactive since 1978. With the very notable exception of guitarist Richard Lloyd—especially for a group so renowned for its dual guitar interplay; Lloyd has been replaced by the surprisingly worthy Jimmy Rip in recent years—the sight of the (mostly) classic line-up on the Rialto stage tuning their guitars warranted a double take, if not a complete jaw drop. I never expected to see these songs played by these people in my lifetime—after the previous week’s sterling Echo & the Bunnymen show, I’m half-expecting David Bowie to show up with the Velvet Underground to play the Rialto any day now.

Tom Verlaine at the Rialto Theatre Tuesday night. - C. ELLIOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • C. Elliott Photography
  • Tom Verlaine at the Rialto Theatre Tuesday night.

The sound Television laid out on Marquee Moon and its ’78 follow-up, Adventure, is nearly mythical and its influence (yet both total commercial flops) on the last four decades of alternative guitar rock is as vast as the music itself was unprecedented. Despite years of imitators and bad onscreen portrayals (in punk-era fictionalized movies), nobody really sounds like Television. The ringing, droning guitars with Billy Ficca’s jazzed up drums and Tom Verlaine’s strangled whine—this is something that most people still have never heard coming from a stage. And though its members, as famous for their feuding as for their playing, are all AARP-eligible, Television’s performance was invigorating and electrifying.

As for the songs, what can be said of “Venus de Milo,” “Prove It,” the world-changing “Marquee Moon” and the heart-destroying “Guiding Light” that hasn’t been repeated for 40 years? Yet, the band’s casual affability lent itself to the hymn-like nature of the performance and soon the whole show began to feel like a religious service. Excluding the encore of “Friction,” the set closed with the title track of that epochal ’77 debut album. By the time Verlaine’s famous extended guitar break built into the song’s pounding climax, it sounded like a skyscraper was being constructed. And the following quiet section was wondrous and incandescent, the equivalent of countless buzzing fireflies scattering, and not unlike the lightning Television itself unleashed into the world.
  • C. Elliott Photography
  • Television

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Song of the Day: 'Freddie's Dead' by Curtis Mayfield

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 5:21 PM

Billy Sedlmayr's only major-label record deal included Superfly.
  • Billy Sedlmayr's only major-label record deal included Superfly.
The advertisement went something like this: “8 FREE ALBUMS FOR A PENNY.” It came out of T.V. GuideParade Magazine, and important journals of the day.This part was simple, you really did receive eight records and for them you signed on to pay for more LPs at Record Club prices ($9.99 a pop plus tax and you had four months to get them). Today I can recite all eight of them, those first ones I got. They’re part of my DNA.

The last platter I liberated from shrinkwrap was Curtis Mayfield's Superfly. Came out winter ’72, some months before the film would run in theaters.The cover sported a yellow Super Fly logo with red trim. Next to that was Mayfield’s face, and standing next to his chin was Priest, wearing an immaculate white suit coat and white Italian zip-up boots, with arms crossed and holding a non-threatening pistol. (Priest [Ron O’Neal] is the film’s conflicted coke dealer, with a stable of vague black women dropping in and out—he’s in for the big score so he can get off these streets once and for all.) A bikini-clad sister with an Angela Davis Afro is splayed behind Priest.

The soundtrack, unlike any of its kind, stands on its own, and nowhere do we see the word “soundtrack.” Yes, the back cover shows stills from the film, but clearly Curtis won this first fight of many. It follows the gritty screenplay in its own way, but this is not music to back a movie, possibly the other way around. This was Mayfield's music, his label, and his vision. From the first song to the last, the album provokes conversation. It’s trashcan fires, tenements and crime, black on black. This is urban renewal, welcome to it.

The music has many fathers, Delta blues, country blues, street-corner doo-wop, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, fusion, Latin and Puerto Rican rhythms. And Chicago was the last stop on the Chitin’ Circuit and the last storied few like Muddy, Buddy, the Wolf, and others, went straight to Britain before they died to soak up a little respect. Mayfield had been the de-facto leader/writer of the Impressions, a Chi-Town hit machine. He'd been watching, he'd been waiting, and now he was ready to protect his dream on his terms, with a true snapshot of the Chicago ghetto. No made for T.V. Movie-of-the-Week shit, this was badass, and blowin’ free.

The songs begin shy, twisting slowly as the bass and drums lock down, with congas and timbales dancing between the grooves of the song … “Freddie’s Dead” was the single they released, an instant climber on the R&B and pop charts. Fat Freddie’s a character in the film who gets runover, but Curtis makes him every junkee that is your father away doin’ time, sister who at 15 is pregnant and on methadone, it’s you man if you don't heed the call.

His lyrics are clever, never preachy and just the definition of conviction. Yet Mayfield’s never publically pro-violence to find the solution, and often working with all colors to help solve problems of poverty, urban decay and drugs. While the AM and FM radios played this record because everyone knew this was Chicago's high-water mark, “Freddie’s Dead” was a rolling wave of sound, strings are mixed as high as the vocals, no one else could touch Curtis's falsetto—because it was the street-corner talking. His vision was complex; he was all business and saw the sunrise from the recording studio control room. He was pristine, doing the tell by candlelight, and muted horns build a huge a hook.

In the movie, Priest and his woman take a bath together, it’s tender and reminds the watcher that everyone wants love and in the end might do just about anything to hold on to it. Wah-wah pedals and Cry Baby’s are used heavy in the mix; they’re urban and have so aged well. The first time I listened to this album at 12 I wept, for what or who I’m not sure. But I knew I had to see that life, those streets, those people. Man, if you don’t own this record I urge you to buy one of the 20 best records I have ever owned. 

Tell 'em Freddie sent cha.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

9 Questions With Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Jonathan Rothschild - TIM GLASS
  • Tim Glass
  • Jonathan Rothschild
Editor's Note: It's the return of 9 Questions! This column was scrapped almost two years ago, but after much thought (and about a billion reader comments) it is back, kicking off with this talk we had with the mayor. Enjoy:

As the mayor of a major Arizona city, Jonathan Rothschild doesn't have a ton a time on his hands. But, that doesn't mean he can't listen to totally rad music. As a Tucson native, Rothschild's music taste has been heavily influenced by the Old Pueblo and his life experiences across the country.   

What was the first concert you went to?

The first concert I ever saw was at the Tucson Community Center, I think I was 15-years-old because I know I wasn’t driving. It was Chuck Berry opening for the James Gang.

What are you listening to these days?

Actually it probably hasn’t changed much. Most recently: Tom Petty, Steely Dan, Mountain, Van Morrison—I love Van Morrison—Jackson Browne, Buddy Guy, Dave Mason and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

What was the first album that you owned?

I’m so old, when I first started listening to music we didn’t buy albums we bought 45s. I do remember that two of my first 45s where “She Loves You” and “I’ll Get You” by The Beatles and “Get Off My Cloud” and “I’m Free” by The Rolling Stones. I was probably 8-years-old and I still have a little box of those 45s.

Tell me one musical trend that everyone loves but you don’t get?

That’s a hard one because I really like all sorts of music. I’ll listen to country, I’ll listen to hip-hop. But, I will admit that something I have never gotten is new age music. I just don’t.

Continue reading »

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Song of the Day 'Whiskey Woman' by Flamin' Groovies

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 4:12 PM

“Would you like a triple beam to go with that Head East album?”
  • “Would you like a triple beam to go with that Head East album?”
OK, so early last year a good friend of mine takes me out to breakfast after which he drops me off at my one-room apartment. As I start to slide down from his truck, he reaches into his console and hands me the Flamin’ Groovies’ Teenage Head record as if he knew I was in need of one of those rare finds that’s been in front of your nose for more than 30 years.

I, like many others, was familiar
 with the title song but little else. I had come by way of the band in the late ’70s, would find them in both F and G sections in the various new and used record stores I’d run in Tucson to New York City and down Minneapolis way, and so on. I was there when they were head shops slash record stores: “Would you like a triple beam to go with that Head East album?”

All them dusty record store covers—gems, between price stickers and the onset of a peculiar mold sensitive to albums everywhere. I found the Groovies’ latter stuff on Sire Records, first with guitarist Cyrill Jordan still on board; Jumpin’ in the Night, Now and Shake Some Action LP, which had Dave Edmonds producing the title track. All good records that staked their claim in porto-punk, and each had at least a couple of covers–usually Stones, Beatles or Byrds, done with respect and instructions from the ’60s. But that was it, case closed. I owned two and left it like that. Nothing would prepare me for the earlier Groovies, singer Roy Loney and Jordan’s jacked-up rock ’n’ roll band. Each song rough, jagged, blessed, with hooks and lyrics that were a big-picture thing. If you were listening, they were talking to you.

As poets will tell it, the Stones’ Sticky Fingers came out on that same Tuesday as the Groovies’ Teenage Headbut it don’t matter. Could have been a month or more either way. The Glimmer Twins left little to chance showing up in Muscle Shoals, “Brown Sugar” to “Moonlight Mile,” all inside Warhol’s zipper. Christ, just bad luck, and this version of the Groovies delivered the goods.

Producer Richard Robinson took the first takes and the band, with producer-legend Jim Dickinson on keys, had attitude, and when the tape was running and the red light was on, it was devil may care.

The song “Whiskey Woman” comes on and 60 seconds into it you run it back and don’t move until it’s over. Three or four chords delivered on a bangy acoustic six-string, mid-tempo, and when the vocal hits with a hint of Sun Records slap back, that first verse is so full of swagger. There was much swagger in the first verse I couldn’t make out what Loney was singing and I tried nine times before I gave up, so here I’ll begin with the second verse: “As I sit and write this song/You’re the one thing on my mind”; a sort of white-boy blues call-and-response. It won’t stop … and every listener has felt this way. Now the tempo is halftime, it stops, stutters and electricity kicks in and hits the mean chords. All the while the vocal screams, “Where are you? Say, where are you?” A gallop now: “Yeah, where are you? “... Come on, come on, it’s you.”

And I play that song and smoke two or three Lucky Strikes and won’t 
let go, can’t, 'cause these are the ones, the very reason we ascribe to rock ’n’ roll. Why this very album found Roy Loney vanished just three weeks after its release. It’s near every bit as good as Sticky Fingersbut man, that was a machine. These were just men, vulnerable and troubled, real rock and rollers, “as I sit and write this song.” (Roy Loney)  

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Brian Wilson Brings Pet Sounds to Tucson, Tix On Sale Friday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Brian Wilson, the man who shifted culture and gave us several of the 10 most beautiful songs ever written, has recently extended his tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and by some miraculous fluke the tour is coming to Tucson, to the lovely, historic Centennial Hall specifically. The show is May 19 next year, and the tix go on sale tomorrow here. Tickets start at $45.

Note that Wilson's winning I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir just came out last week, and a solo album, No Pier Pressurelast year. This tour promises to be the last time you'll hear Wilson perform Pet Sounds live. We're sure it'll sell out. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Song of the Day: 'See Saw' by Don Covay

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 8:52 PM


South Carolina-born Don Covay grew up on gospel (dad was a Baptist minister), but it was Little Richard who convinced him he’d find the true light by going secular. (Richard had also helped Covey supercharge his live show—it became rife with sexual tension for girls—and even christened him “Pretty Boy.”)

By 1965, the year this ditty and its same-titled album dropped, The Stones had already tackled Covay’s sweet “Mercy Mercy” on Out of Our Heads, and Chubby Checker took his “Pony Time” to numero uno. But it was the stunning confluence of Covay, Stax studios, Booker T. & the MG’s and this tune (co-written by Steve Cropper) that set the album's tone and feel. (The album contains other Covay-Cropper killers including dirty grinder “Sookie Sookie” [huge for Steppenwolf in ’68] and northern soul raver “Iron Out the Rough Spots,” which spotlights a true soul takedown by the Memphis Horns.)  

With its injured-pride lyric 
of gender misunderstanding and a classic New Orleans-via-Allen-Toussaint bounce (that bass!), the brash “See Saw” lands hard. Its guitars stutter, its horns blip, and that frog-swallowed answer-back vocal is an hilarious hook that'd stand on its own. Covay’s lung-bursting shouts and swoons will always be a sublime showcase for a voice Jagger had always wished he’d had.

Aretha Franklin made a funked-up hit of “See Saw” in ’68.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

In The Flesh: Asian Fred at Club Congress

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 4:52 PM

It seems that about halfway through each decade since the 1970s, prevailing rock music trends and styles begin to run out of steam, including some of the form’s most recognizable purveyors. This happened explicitly in the ’90s, with the fallout from grunge resulting in a fragmented mess of pop-punk, ska, rap-rock and just about everybody else tentatively embracing the most obvious aspects of then-current cutting-edge electronic music. What all of these sub-sub-genres had in common was a lack of confidence, direction and relevancy.

There were some exceptions, of course, as there are now, in an era of shifting cultural norms and the dominance and creative pinnacle of R&B and hip hop. During the ’90s, there were a few notable bands that doubled down on their own rock ’n’ roll hootchie coo, and Tucson’s Asian Fred is today’s equivalent. Reaching far back into history’s stylebook and sounding like The Band or George Harrison in the immediate aftermath of The Beatles, Asian Fred­–somewhat defiantly–relies on the twin pillars of impeccable craftsmanship and studious inspiration to carry on a tradition while contributing to its canon.

With a dream of a rhythm section–nodding to Stax and even disco–Asian Fred has a deliberate, considered, monolithic style that encompasses the perfectionist technique of, say, Steely Dan, along with the eazy riding of a hundred forgotten ’70s FM heroes. And that leaves Asian Fred as one of today’s most exciting and accomplished straight rock ’n’ roll bands, and one that would stand tall in any era.  

Asian Fred live at Club Congress: 'The eazy riding of a hundred forgotten ’70s FM heroes ...' - KRISTINE PEASHOCK
  • Kristine Peashock
  • Asian Fred live at Club Congress: 'The eazy riding of a hundred forgotten ’70s FM heroes ...'

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The Flycatcher presents We Roll/Finite Fiction/Jess Matsen

Live music at The Flycatcher We Roll Finite Fiction Jess Matsen… More

@ The Flycatcher Mon., Oct. 24, 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. 340 E. Sixth St.

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