May 2015 Web stuff (a sticky post)

• Qrates is a crowdfunded vinyl-pressing service. (Qrates website)

• Amos Barshad offers a look at British band Blur’s history after it releases its first album in 12 years, The Magic Whip.
The album isn’t bristling with energy, but might give fans a hint of nostalgia … for something. Go Out
A somewhat more motivated Brit band called Temples will be in your area this spring. Keep in the Dark Triple Door-live, Oct 014

• There have been 3 stylistic revolutions in pop music in the past 50 years, according to a team from two London colleges which looked at more than 17,000 songs from the US Billboard Hot 100.
They also noticed that in the early 60s, “chords called dominant sevenths, found in jazz and blues started to die out”.

It’s Friday music quiz time! [MeFi link] Five! Five music quizzes! Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha! (Full disclosure: all five are classical music quizzes.)

Vintage drum kits of the 1920s and 1930s is a rare, long and colorful visit into instrument history. [via MeFi]
On the same site you’ll find a colorful image gallery of toy drums and percussion, a gallery of early jazz and jug bands and a whole lot more.

RIP Ben E. King, late 1950s lead baritone of The Drifters, best known for his soulful solo classic singles “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me”. (NYTimes obit)

• How Herbie Hancock crafted a hip-hop classic – with a Yamaha keytar.
The single Rockit (from 1983 album Future Shock) includes scratching by the first turntablist (YMMV), Grand Mixer DXT.

Continue reading

May 22 – Wagner birthday, K-Doe ‘Mother-In-Law’

1813

German opera composer Richard Wagner(*) (say it ‘rick-hard vawg-ner’) is born.

He greatly advances the musical vocabulary of chromaticism, motifs, and tonal-shifts … not to mention length! His most famous works are operas, (*) in particular the Ring Cycle, four operas which together last for -days-.

Despite Wagner’s controversial life, his work is celebrated each year at the high-demand Bayreuth Festival in Germany.

Ride of the Valkyries 

1961

25-year-old New Orleans native Ernest Kador, Jr., aka Ernie K-Doe gains a US#1 hit (his only US top-40 hit) with Mother-in-Law.

It’s the biggest hit evar for Minit Records. The song is written and produced by 23-year-old up-and-coming NOLA composer, producer Allen Toussaint. ▷Songfacts▹

K-Doe -will- have two more top-40 USR&B hits: Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta (1961 #21) and Later For Tomorrow (1967 #37).

 ( Website ▷Allmusic bio ▹

May 21 – Hacienda, OK Computer, Velvet Goldmine, Tame Impala, Daft Punk ‘Random Access’

1982

Opening of Manchester, England music venue and clubber mecca Fac 51 Hacienda. (*)

Open through 1997, financed largely by record sales of rock band New Order record sales, it becomes an integral part of the alt-psych-dance Madchester music scene. (*)

A dance club by ’86, it’s playing house by ’87, famous by ’88.

Associated bands include The Stone Roses (Fool’s Gold ), A Guy Called Gerald (Voodoo Ray), Happy Mondays (Bummed, Step On ), 808 State, The Fall, The Charlatans and more. Aug. 1989 

The venue is demolished in 2002.

So famous they made a 2002 movie about it called 24 Hour Party People about it, with a well-rated soundtrack. ▷DM:Happy Mondays▹

See also: Baggy music, Factory Records, Flowered Up

1997

UK alt-rock band Radiohead releases self-produced 3rd studio album OK Computer. Paranoid Android  (UK#1,US#21)

It begins the band’s major success; all albums since (including the 8th The King of Limbs, released Feb. 18, 2011) have gone platinum.

In a pioneering 2007 move, 7th album In Rainbows is released as a digital download — fans told to pay what they want. A couple months later it’s released as an album  — and makes top-10 everywhere. Nude 

1998

Release (at Cannes) of film Velvet Goldmine(*), about the early 70s glam rock era. It stars Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

US release was Nov. 6. Box office fail; but important noless, loads of well-known musicians are heard in the soundtrack credited to bands The Venus in Furs and Curt Wild’s Wylde Ratttz.

▷Ziggy Stardust Companion▹ , 1/12 clips 

2010

Perth Australian psych rock group Tame Impala (originally the Dee Dee Dums) releases debut album Innerspeaker.

Lead track It’s Not Meant to Be garners much college radio airplay.

And I boast that it is meant to be,
but in all honesty,
I don’t have a hope in hell,
I’m happy just to watch her move.

The album wins the 2010 J Award and becomes a Rough Trade top-10 album. A 2nd album is expected in July, 2012.  ( Website

2013

French EM duo Daft Punk releases its first new album in 8 years, Random Access Memories. If you don’t count their Dec. 3, 2010 filmscore for the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.
 
They leave behind the faltering EMI label for Sony. Their first, 1997 debut monster Homework made UK#8. Two singles made USDance#1, Da Funk and international #1 Around the World. Second, Mar. 13 2001 album Discovery did similarly well and was used as a soundtrack for feature-length anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.

VID Groundislava New Flesh

From Groundislava’s April, 2011 debut album.

“On his debut self-titled LP, Groundislava takes old templates of 8 bit and chip-tune styles and turns them into worlds full of oozing, swirling melodies backed by driving drum beats, heavy bass drops and soaring vocal melodies in spots from vocalist Weary.”

Many more trax on Youtube. More on Groundislava at FoF Music and at WeDidItCollective.

May 19 – ‘Head Tucked’, ‘Monkey Doodle-Doo’, Glee

1536

Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII of England and Queen for 3 years, is beheaded on charges of adultery, treason, and incest.
 
She was the cause of a break with Rome for Henry. He’d already been courting Jane Seymour, who was to die the following year following the birth of Edward VI.
 
Anyhoo, after letting things calm down for 4 centuries, a couple of Brit songwriters write a song about the messy affair which was recorded music-hall style by actor Stanley Holloway. ▷Songfacts▹ In 1959 it’s tucked under cover on Sold Out (with mod’d lyrics) by US folkies The Kingston Trio.  ( Kingston site

With her head tucked underneath her arm
She walks the bloody tower,
With her head tucked underneath her arm
at the midnight hour.

1924

New York critics see a hastily concocted, last-ditch Marx Brothers vaudeville stage revue called ‘I’ll Say She Is‘. (*)
 
The critics are there only because the opening night of a dramatic play was cancelled … and are stunned uproariously. The rest, as they say …
 
Their second film, 1929’s The Cocoanuts is based on the 1925 musical written for the Marx’s — Irving Berlin‘s first book musical. It features an oddly staged dance number built around a very clever piece of music (Monkey Doodle-Doo) that any aspiring composer ought listen to closely. (And marvel at the result given the state of sound tech at that time.) Cocoanuts/Berlin 

Groucho takes a look at Chico and Harpo’s lone suitcase when they check into the Hotel.
Groucho: That bag’s empty!
Chico: We fill it up before we leave.

 ( Fansite (*)
Horsefeathers  Animal Crackers  Mirror scene 

2009

Debut of Fox TV musical comedy-drama series Glee.
 
The widely-adored show’s fictional glee club New Directions — wearing spiffy blazers no less — for two seasons, sings only covers of known hits. In 2009, the Glee cast got 25 singles onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2010 it put 80 on the charts.
 ( Website Glad You Came 

See also: List of songs in Glee, Glee Cast discography

May 16 – Annie Get Your Gun, Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde, Popol Vuh

1946

Irving Berlin and Herbert Fields musical Annie Get Your Gun premieres on Broadway at the Imperial Theater.

The story of real-life Wild West show sharpshooter Annie Oakley stars Ethel Merman as Annie; multiple hit songs propel it to 1147 performances, a London version (1304 performances), even a 1999 revival. Naturally 

Of course it’s made intoa film, released May 17, 1950, which will garner a Best Music Oscar. It stars Betty Hutton, Howard Keel. (Judy Garland was MGM’s first choice, but she only lasted a few weeks. ) Keel grew up in poverty. From 1981-91 he appears in TV show Dallas. The film is withdrawn from distribution from 1973 to 2000. Anything You Can Do  No Business Like Show Business 

1966

US pop-rockers The Beach Boys release their 11th studio album Pet Sounds.

Very influential, it has repeatedly been chosen as one of the top pop albums (e.g. Rolling Stone’s #2 of the top 500 albums). Brian Wilson, who co-wrote the songs with lyricist Tony Asher, has cited Beatles album Rubber soul as his inspiration.

The album which Capitol considered not releasing — and several singles, including Sloop John B (US#3) and Wouldn’t It Be Nice (US#8)  — climbs into the US top 10 and is a UK#2. Paul McCartney, like many well-known artists, pays the album high compliments. (*)

 ( Wilson site ‘Sloop’ promo  God Only Knows  ▷R&G’s Beach Boys▹

1966

Release of US songer-songwriter Bob Dylan‘s seventh studio, rock double-album, Blonde on Blonde (US#9,UK#3).

It’s highly ranked on many best-albums lists. ▷RS:#9 of 500 ▹ After some recording in NYC, Dylan took Al Cooper and Robbie Robertson to Nashville to gain the advantage of its session musicians. Hit singles include Rainy Day Women ♯12 & 35 and I Want You.

Despite several hit albums in the 60s, Dylan doesn’t get an album to US#1 (UK#7) until 1974’s over-rated Planet Waves, but 1976 US#1 studio album Desire lives up to its rating (RS#174). ▷Rolling Stone 500, 2012 ▹

1973
Debut of Werner Herzog film Aguirre, the Wrath of God at the Cannes Film Festival.The soundtrack includes ethereal music created by Munich, Germany’s ambient krautrock band Popol Vuh  — the first of many filmic collaborations — later released in the group’s 7th album Aguirre.


Fricke

Popol Vuh (the name comes from an ancient Mayan text) (*) is a 1969 creation of composer Florian Fricke, who owns one of the first two Moog synths (a System 3) in Germany.

We have an old expression in Germany: to have one’s feet in the sky. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

In 1970 the group released its debut space music album Affenstunde (‘Monkey house’) (Liberty Lbs83460); two videos were released along with the album. (*)

It’s followed by one more electronic album, In den Garten Pharaos before Fricke — the band’s one constant member — tires of fighting the Moog and ditches it. ▷Interview▹ He’s soon swept into the 1972 Aguirre project, for which he plays a mellotron-like ‘choir-organ‘. The album can be regarded as one of the earliest ambient music, space music or New Age music works; it’s the first album to use a Moog for completely original music.

By the early 1990s the group has created nearly 20 albums.


Fricke

The musical themes explored by PV cover most of the world’s major religions. ▷Memorial by John Diliberto▹ Diliberto recommends ‘the one to get’, if you can only get one, is the US-released collection TANTRIC SONGS (1981).

▷PV Discog▹ ▷Transcendent Music Of▹
Improv (71)  Kyrie (73) 
BBC: Krautrock-the Rebirth of Germany 

May – More music history – Yardbirds, Nonesuch, Kraftwerk

This month’s odds & ends wrapup includes a link to an online book by and about Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra and Nonesuch Records.


1964

Brit rockers and sound pioneers The Yardbirds release their first single, I Wish You Would.

The Billy Boy Arnold song is included in their first, August 1965, US-only comp album For Your Love, which climbs only to US#96 … a forecast of things to come, although they’ll release many top-40 singles.

They had been the house band of SW London blues club the Crawdaddy since Sep. 1963. Among bandmembers at the time: bassist Chris Dreja, vocalist Keith Relf and guitarist Eric Clapton. The song chases Clapton away (to John Mayall) to be replaced by Jeff Beck.

1965 2nd US album Having a Rave Up includes Graham Gouldman song Heart Full of Soul (UK#2, US#9). 1966 Yardbird single Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (the first to include guitarist Jimmy Page) is has been credited with bringing early funk to the mainstream.

Last album Little Games is released July 24, 1967; their last gig is on July 7, 1968, as they begin morphing to Led Zeppelin.

▷Scaruffi:Yardbirds▹ ▷Eel Pie Club▹

1968

Budget classical label Nonesuch Records (under director Teresa Sterne) releases Krause & Beaver‘s 2-LP/book set ‘The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music’ (HC-73018).

This is before Switched-On Bach hits big-time. Previously Krause & Beaver had been stumping the West Coast sellings synths for Bob Moog.
Sequential Voltage Sources  Krause remembers 
▷Allmusic:B&K▹ 1969 Ragnarok:As I Hear It 
Holzman book:Follow the Music

1964 startup Nonesuch had already released the first recordings of its Explorer series in 1967; it’s the first sizeable label to introduce world music to the popular marketplace.

It is also the first record company to commission an electronic piece: Morton Subotnick‘s important 1967 ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’ (H-71174).

 ( Website ▷Nonesuch Records Listing▹ Electronic vinyl Pt. 2 (10m) 

1981

German electronic music band Kraftwerk releases eighth studio album Computer World.

I’m the operator with my pocket calculator
I am adding and subtracting
I’m controlling and composing
By pressing down a special key, it plays a little melody

Included are songs Computer Love, , and Pocket Calculator in which you may recognize the sound of the stylophone.
 ( Website

May 14 – Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, Louie, Louie

1942

The world premiere of US composer Aaron Copland‘s Lincoln Portrait is given by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
 
The unusual orchestral work includes narration with excerpts of Lincoln documents, and quotes folk music of the Civil War period. The work has become popular, with many performances in recent decades; celebrity narrators include US poet and 1940 Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg, who won a 1960 Grammy Award for his narration.
 
w/Sandburg narration  ▷NPR’s LP page ▹

1966

The Kingsmen in 1963

It’s been called the ‘number one garage band cover song.’ On this date the improbable, indecipherable song ‘Louie Louie‘ charts in the top-40 for the ninth and last time.
 
The cover is by The Sandpipers and reaches US#30. (Their big song that year was Cuban song Guantanamera (US#9,UK#7). )
 
The Kingsmen paid $36 to record their famous May, 1963 cover in Portland, Oregon; it climbed to US#2. (And was banned in Indiana!) ▷Songfacts ▹


Richard Berry

 
The song —  originally called ‘Tie up the crazy guy’ (in Cuban) — was written by Louisiana-born Richard Berry (ex-The Flairs) in 1955 (*) and released in April 1957 backed by the Pharoahs on Flip Records. Berry version 
 
Hundreds of cover versions are released in the 1980s; there’s ▷a whole CD ▹ of them.
 ( Louie Louie fansite