DECADE DIVING #1

Several ‘Album Anniversary’ posts have appeared here at Vinyl Connection. We have cruised to Köln with Keith (Jarrett), raved about Relayer and hung out with the Minstrel In The Gallery forty years on. Sometimes it’s just too hard to resist the lure of the decade-driven ‘It was twenty (thirty, forty) years ago, today…’. Yet I’ve never taken a systematic approach, the kind recently embarked upon by Rich over at KamerTunesBlog for the year 1986 under the banner ‘Thirty Year Thursday’. But I’ve thought about it, oh yes indeed. Over the past couple of years I have been wondering about putting the Vinyl Connection diversity on hold for the whole of 2017 to focus exclusively on albums released fifty years previously. The Good, the Better, and the Essential from the watershed year of 1967. It is a treasure trove, believe me.

The jury is still out on that idea, yet one way of testing the waters, in terms of writing, readers, content, discipline —all the blogging parameters in fact— is to experiment a little. So over the coming weeks and months I’ll aim for some posts that dip into the years 1956, ’66, ’76, ’86*, ’96 and even ’06. A sort of longitudinal ‘Listener’s Digest’.

To get yourself in the mood, you might want to sing along with ‘Snoopy and the Red Baron’ (released in 1966, of course).

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more

The bloody Oz blogger

Was rollin’ out the score…

*

1996

Lemonheads - Car Button Cloth

At the end of our recent holiday at the lovely coastal town of Inverloch, we relieved the house’s enormous and bountifully laden lemon tree of a bag fullof fruit with the intention of making lemonade. Well, the ‘making’ intention was Ms Connection’s, aided and abetted by the boy. My intention was to drink the results. But when the lemonade-making process was undertaken, I found an extra role: provide the soundtrack. Bet that surprises everyone as much as it did Ms C.

I could have gone The Lemon Pipers or even Lemon Jelly, but I went for the most obvious choice: The Lemonheads.

Car Button Cloth was The Lemonheads’ seventh album, but the third of those that garnered some chart action in the 90s. In it, the songwriting of main man Evan Dando turns a little darker (‘Hospital’). The humour has a sharper, sadder edge, as in ‘The Outdoor Type’ which has the marvellous ‘stay indoors’ excuse, ‘What if something is on TV and it’s never shown again’. Titles like ‘Losing your mind’ (a rolling guitar lament), and ‘Something’s missing’ (grunge-ish rock with tortured guitar solo) give a clear hint that Mr Dando was not travelling well. Interviews at the time were notorious for his state of fuckedupness. The single ‘If I could talk I’d tell you’ was perhaps as much a description of Dando’s physical state as his emotional inclination to communicate. Still, it’s a glorious piece of jangly power pop that soars melodically and adds zest to your lemonade.

Car Button Cloth insert

Points for creative use of the limited CD insert

Parts of the album —namely those that use huge electric guitar swells and the closing instrumental ‘Secular Rockulidge’— remind me of the 1995 album Neil Young made with Pearl Jam, Mirror Ball. Other songs (eg: ’Six’) are more punkabilly. There’s even a bit of country (‘Knoxville girl’). Have to say, I quite like the darker feel of this 1996 album though there are few sunny alt-pop moments.

The cover of Car Button Cloth is allegedly from a grade-school project of young Evan’s. ‘All of these things sank’ he wrote. Much like the Lemonhead’s career after this album. Still, the lemonade was good and the rest of the drink-making cohort missed the darker overtones, focussed as they were on the sunshine textures of a quintessential summer drink.

*

2006

Joey De Francesco CD

Despite well over ten years of studying piano and achieving some degree of technical competence, I never became a musician. Never managed to get digest the music, never felt the things I played inside my insides. Perhaps that’s why I became such a voracious accumulator of others’ music. Whatever. If I had become a fair dinkum musician, I’d have loved to play the organ. Move over Jimmy Smith, there’s some pasty-faced white boy wanting to give The Sermon!

Another instrument I really enjoy and would have loved to play is the vibraphone. Something about those ringing, endlessly sustained tones cascading from the mallets of Milt Jackson or Gary Burton makes me smile. So cool, so melodic.

As a result, finding a 2006 album by Hammond organ-master Joey DeFrancesco that featured vibist Bobby Hutcherson brought a grin of pleasure.

It’’s a nicely constructed jazz album that opens (slightly surprisingly given the names just mentioned) with robust blowing by tenor sax player Ron Blake (who also plays some soprano and flute) but soon settles down into a swinging modern jazz groove that rarely jolts and always pleases; smooth, melodic, tasteful. Although it probably does not measure up to Bobby Hutcherson’s earlier work in terms of excitement and innovation, Organic Vibes is a classy album that goes down like a mature Cabernet Sauvignon.

One nice little footnote: Joey is playing Jimmy Smith’s 1959 Hammond B3 organ. That’s living jazz heritage, that is.

*

1976

Mott the Hoople Greatest

We are only a few weeks into 2016 yet already it is shaping up to be a bad year for rock musicians going to the great gig in the sky. On 17th January, The Afterlifers (as they will henceforth be known) gained another drummer when Dale Griffin of Mott The Hoople died, aged 67.

The Mott story is well-known. After struggling to sell albums —despite a strong live following in their UK homeland— the band were about to pack it in. Enter David Bowie, who offered them ‘All the young dudes’, giving them a chart leg-up and enough momentum to continue for several more years. Sadly ironic, isn’t it, that Griffin should exit just a few days after their songwriting benefactor.

Personally, I’m not a huge Mott fan. I find too much of their work derivative. When Mott started, Ian Hunter’s vocal stylings were pure Dylan (listen to ‘Backsliding fearlessly’ from the first album) and later he too often strays towards the histrionic end of the spectrum for my taste. Yet at their best, on songs like ‘All the way from Memphis’, ‘Roll away the stone’ and of course ‘Dudes’, they lock into a good-time rollicking boogie sound that is great fun. I love a bit of bar-room piano in me rock ‘n’ roll and Mott deliver this on many songs. Although I have a number of albums on CD, I have to say this compilation mostly does the trick when the need for Hoople arises.

So Vale Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin. By all accounts you were a good bloke, and devoted to your band. And you had a much less silly name than some of your bandmates.

Mott Hoople Greatest Back cover

 

* Having had numerous ‘Cease and desist’ letters from 1537 for including anything even remotely Lego-ish in a photo, I am keen to avoid similar tensions with Rich. The Vinyl Connection legal team cannot defend another front on a different continent. I hope that by staying away from the 1986 mainstream, collision can be avoided.

*

 

24 comments

  1. If you need someone to defend you in these civil cases let me know. If we win the case you can pay me in rare vinyl. If we lose the case, the vinyl doesn’t have to be as rare.

    P.S. I do not have a law degree, but I’ve watched all the Law & Order episodes, which is just as important.

    R.I.P Dale.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That sounds like an offer worthy of the best TV legal minds. My people will speak to your people.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love Joey DeFrancesco. So great to see you feature him. And for that matter Jimmy Smith and Dr. Lonnie Smith are no slouches either. Great post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, SITG. One of the things I love about these ‘Digest’ posts (shorter pieces on a variety of albums) is that I get to include genres outside the mainstream. Chuffed you liked the bit on DeFancesco, and entirely with you on those other organists, to which list I would add Larry Young as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Even if it ends up in messy litigation, I like the anniversary posts!
    I only have the lemonheads one here (and their other 90s chart ones you mentioned), but it’s a good one. Dando made the songwriting sound effortless

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Geoff. Evan at his best wrote fine songs, didn’t he? Just listened to the ‘solo’ album ‘Baby I’m bored’ this morning. Not too shabby at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m pleased they included it’s a shame about ray on the 1001 – the 3-4-5 of the title track/rudderless/my drug buddy’s as good a midset as I’ve heard!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. You’re a blogging magpie! (Blogpie?)

    I think any rhetorical device which gives you a thought-provoking slant into your own collection is a good one.

    I liked this post, although I’m more of a Mott fan than you are and I’d abandoned Mr Dando well before ‘Car Button Cloth’. They were a damn good band on their night the Lemonheads, made some great pop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are probably right about the magpie thing. I just like devices that allow diversity – I get bored with a repetitive format and imagine readers may too.

      Listened to the first two Mott albums this morning, after posting. Enjoyed them.

      I think you wrote about The Lemonheads a while back?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did, I loved ‘Its a Shame About ray‘ and ‘Come on Feel The lemonheads’, saw them a couple times too – very much a university band for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mott were a great support for Free, Oxford, ’70/71…starved for la musica inglese here in Palermo…closest was some euro male covering Stones’ Moonlight Mile on bus audio during trip across the Sicilian mountains…IMO not a patch on l’originale! Grazie Brucè for your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prego, Sue 🙂
      Sounds like there are compensations for the lack of familiar music, though!

      Like

  6. hey hey, lemonade man 😉 yes, you say you never became a musician. how do you explain that? what is it that was missing – considering that you’re creative, as this blog widely shows?

    Like

    1. Guess creativity comes out in different ways. I’m a rubbish photographer too – unlike some, who see so creatively.
      (That’s a blatant plug for P’s blog). He he.

      Like

      1. hehe, yep, i see it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this post…and not because you mention me. No worries if we have some overlap. There will be no legal action. It’s a good thing your musical tastes gravitate further away from the mainstream than mine, which was probably even more so in 1986 since, at the age of 19/20, mainstream was all I knew.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which is where most people begin, isn’t it? We start with what we hear – on the radio, at friend’s houses, in the car on the way to school – and for some (present company included!) that is the beginning of a life-long adventure. Very glad to have your parallel company, Rich.

      Like

  8. Like this post idea a lot, Bruce. I’ve been listening to a few of my absolute favourite albums recently and thinking “wow! this is 20 years old”. As well as those albums, I remember buying Car Button Cloth. Can’t believe it was that long ago, though. I don’t mind admitting that I was slightly disappointed by it at the time. Grew on me a whole lot over the years, though. One of their best, I reckon.

    Like

    1. Good to hear all of that J. (I do value your input very much). CBC certainly lacked the hit-ish immediacy of its two predecessors, but it is a ‘grower’ isn’t it? Now there’s an idea for a group post… What album have you turned around on over the years. Mike L recently did an Alice Cooper one that went from 0 to 4 stars…

      Like

      1. I think that’s exactly what it was, y’know – there wasn’t anything quite as immediate. Do you own the self-titled album from 2006? That’s also a winner (in my opinion, of course).

        Mike’s review was really pretty intriguing, huh? Especially the turnaround. I’d have to think about albums that have grown on me that much, but Kula Shaker’s K was definitely one that would be in there. Initial reaction was “oooft”, but now it’d be a 3 or so out of 5.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I may also have a bit more affinity for the Hoople than you, but I agree that they are not necessarily a band to look to for originality. My most profound Mott thought is that their ’72 version of “Ready for Love” heartily beats out the better-known ’74 version Ralphs’ cut with Bad Company, this despite the fact that the moodiness of the latter track would generally be considered custom built for me.

    How’s that for daring, controversy-baiting commentary?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phew! You’ve thrown down the gauntlet there and no mistake. My first disclaimer would be that I prefer Bad Company (well, the first two albums) to Free. How’s that for a see-and-raise? So even though I’d in no way argue with any posit along the lines of Bad Co being relentless histrionic boogie, I just like the Paul Rogers vocal on ‘Ready for Love’ better. But I prefer the Mott arrangement – especially those tight, bitten-off guitar chords. 1:1 draw, perhaps.

      Like

      1. A peacemaker by nature, here’s what I can offer:

        (1) I will allow your “Ready for Love” vocals assertion to stand alongside the friendly, no-greater-impact disagreement on the overall judgement.

        (2) I will likewise leave uncontested your “Bad Company > Free” provocation, if the following two caveats are written into the body of the final document:
        A. Forgiving its misguided drum outro, the Free song “Fire and Water” individually trumps all Bad Company songs save “Bad Company,” which will hereafter be considered of equal, but not greater stature that “F&W.”
        B. Accepting a lack of demonstrable supporting scientific data and recognizing the possibility of a “circumstance-of-first-VotF-listen” bias, it will be nonetheless be deemed true that the beauty of Simon Kirke’s drums as captured in the recording of the second and third Free albums was never matched in any Bad Company offering.

        Here’s hoping you can see your way to giving peace a chance, Bruce…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I’ll just cede the Sudetenland to you. But I’ll freely allow that I didn’t know Free that well first time around and worked backwards from Bad Co, and that sort of anti-historical bias is hard to overcome. There’s a part of me thinking that playing a day of Free and Bad Co might be fun, but more fun with a mate and a few beers – it’s that sort of music. And anyway, I’ve got piles of Winwood to listen to and another project for a peripatetic shadow peacemaker to prepare, so I’ll just hold up my hands.
          But you have piqued my curiosity about that drums sound. Must check the VC Free Holding…

          Like

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