Category Archives: Uncategorized

Musical palate cleanser, trivia edition

Okay, folks — without looking it up, what’s the common thread between the main subject of yesterday’s MPC and this?

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Musical palate cleanser, a pox upon the media edition

Came across this historical note on Twitter…

That is… something.  It inspired me to post the original, which is simply great.  Robyn Hitchcock, man.

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A patriotic Musical Palate Cleanser

A GTP salute to all our veterans, including this one:

There’s only one appropriate MPC for that.

Thanks for your service, folks.

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Musical palate cleanser, no music edition

If you’re a contemporary of mine who grew up on sixties and seventies music, click here and enjoy.

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Musical palate cleanser, another reissue edition

Hey, the Kinks’ Arthur turns 50!  You know what that means.

After all, the group’s 50-year-old masterwork, “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire),” released this week as a deluxe box set, is a surprisingly easy time-travel from Queen Victoria to the parliamentary punditry on the BBC World Service.

“When [the record company] told me they would do a box, I got the tapes out and listened to them,” says Davies. “And ‘Arthur’ is not a concept album. It’s more like a documentary album. And it’s based on a real character called Arthur, who was my ­brother-in-law [Arthur Anning], who came out of the war disillusioned — voted Churchill out. There are lots of parallels in ‘Arthur’ to what’s happening in the world.”

The expanded and remastered “Arthur” includes alternative mixes, unreleased songs and an abandoned solo album from younger brother and perpetually underappreciated guitarist Dave Davies. The record captured the Kinks at their artistic peak but also an odd time for a band that emerged with the Who and the Rolling Stones. In the late ’60s, if you lived in the United States and wanted to see the Davies brothers play a gig, your chances were better in Beirut than Boston. The group was banned from touring the States from 1965 to 1969 for reported bad behavior on a previous tour.

Lots of great background stuff in the linked piece, so read while you listen to my favorite song on the album.

“You’ve reached your top and you just can’t get any higher.”  Sigh.

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Musical palate cleanser, crossfire hurricane edition

Fascinating background story on legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller on the 25th anniversary of his death, from his half-sister Judith (yes, that Judith Miller) here.

Jimmy’s regard for the group, and especially Keith Richards, was mutual. Their initial collaboration resulted in rock ’n’ roll magic, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a song whose lyrics were inspired, quite literally, by the sound of a gardener’s rubber boots stomping through mud outside Keith’s cottage at Redlands where they had been up all night. Jagger had been awakened by the splash of Jack Dyer’s galoshes. “What’s that?” Mick had asked. “Oh, that’s Jack,” Richards had replied. “Jumping Jack.” The rest is rock history.

Jimmy’s six-year collaboration with the Stones resulted in what many critics regard as the most fruitful in rock history. Writing in Rolling Stone in May 2018, reporter/critic Jim Merlis called Jimmy’s five albums with the Stones—Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup—not only the Stones’ best work, but four of the “greatest rock albums of all time.” (I would probably not include Goats Head Soup in that list.)

Merlis wrote that my brother had brought out the best in the band in two ways. First, Jimmy had encouraged experimentation. When the band played the demo for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on a mono cassette, for instance, and Richards said how much he liked the distorted sound of his acoustic guitar overloading the tape, Jimmy suggested that they record the guitar part that way.

So they did.

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Musical palate cleanser, satisfied edition

As a general concept, the idea that a semi-anarchic band like The Replacements would release a reissue album almost sounds like an inside joke.  That they would choose their Don’t Tell A Soul record — surely, most ‘Mats fans wouldn’t rate that 1989 release any higher than, say, fourth or so on the pantheon of their work — as the subject for the reworking only feels like a reinforcement of that.

But it turns out there’s a method to their sort of madness here.  The band was never happy with the final production (per Westerberg, “It sounded good until the label brought in people to mix it to make it sound like everything else on the radio”) and luckily for us, somebody found the original mix of the sessions and used that to release what turned out to be disc one of Dead Man’s Pop.

The overall sound, as you might expect, is cleaner, making the band’s expression easier to reach.  Here’s my favorite cut, “Achin’ to Be”.

The second disc is, well, kind of crazy.  It’s a bunch of raw takes, emphasis on the word “raw”.  There are a couple of cuts where Tom Waits joins them for some what I expect was (very) early morning work under the influence of certain ingested materials.  I like this one, but your mileage may certainly vary.

But the real reason to grab DMP is disc three, which is a live recording from one stop on the band’s tour promoting Don’t Tell A Soul.  I’ve got plenty of Replacement bootlegs, and, sad to say, between poor recording quality and/or the band not showing up on a particular gig, they’re a real crap shoot.  Fortunately, that’s not the case here, and, boy, there’s some brilliant music that reminds me why this band was so vital when it ran.

Take this version of my favorite ‘Mats tune, “Unsatisfied”.  I love the raw bravado of the original — the protagonist has a clue that life’s not fair, but is unbowed, even if that comes across as the result of ignorance of what he’s up against.  The live version is that same guy on the other side of the wall.  He knows he’s beat, but he still can’t quite give up.

Breaks my heart.

That these guys weren’t bigger than they were is understandable in a way — Westerberg’s personal demons, combined with the rest of the band’s frailty and volatility made that pretty much an expected outcome — but it’s still a shame.  DMP doesn’t make up for that, of course, but it’s still a welcomed addition to the ‘Mats catalog.  Go get it.

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