Tag Archives: Tuneage

Musical palate cleanser, better cover edition

“Silver Train” is a fairly obscure Rolling Stones tune from Goats Head Soup (I think it was the B-side to “Angie”).  The official video the Stones released is good evidence that their glam phase was, shall we say, regrettable.

Anyway, here’s a cover of the song from Carla Olson and Mick Taylor.  It’s off their Too Hot For Snakes live album, and, in my humble opinion, is superior to the original.  Listen and let me know what you think.


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Musical palate cleanser, let’s begin edition

Here’s one more MPC featuring a Fairport Convention alumni for you.

I mentioned in my Richard Thompson post the day a friend of mine who used my Thompson shtick to impress people.  My buddy was a drummer, and as much as he liked Thompson, he loved Dave Mattacks, who was Fairport’s drummer at the time.

Mattacks was also much in demand as a session player and this is from one of my favorite gigs of his, XTC’s Nonsuch.  “The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead” is the album’s opener and if you play this on a decent stereo with a little grunt, Mattacks’ initial burst will make you jump in your seat.


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Musical palate cleanser, local boy made good edition

Sadly, another RIP.

Chips Moman, a producer and songwriter who helped define the Memphis sound in soul music in the 1960s, generated dozens of pop, soul and country hits and helped resuscitate Elvis Presley’s career in the late ’60s, died on Monday in LaGrange, Ga. He was 79.

You need to read the entire obit to see his astounding legacy.  Basically, if you like music from the ’60s, the odds are decent Moman had a hand in some of what you enjoy.

He wrote this song with Dan Penn.


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Musical palate cleanser, guitar god edition

I mentioned in passing the other day in my Dave Swarbrick MPC that Richard Thompson was due for one.  Most of you are probably asking who the hell Richard Thompson is.

Well, I’ll tell you.  He’s a brilliant songwriter who was a founding member of British folk-rock’s greatest band, Fairport Convention.  Two of Thompson’s albums that he put out with his first wife, Linda, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight and Shoot Out The Lights, are among the finest rock albums ever produced, regardless of genre.

Thompson is also likely to be the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.

Back in my college days, I’d have friends who would dismiss my love for folk-rock, calling it wimpy and boring.  In response, I’d pull out a couple of albums and play some of RT’s work.  Invariably, I’d get reactions like, “hey, man, that’s good”, “I had no idea” and, of course, “got anymore?”.  (The highlight for me was when I caught one of my fourth-year roommates making the same demonstration to someone else.)

Anyway, here’s an example of his stellar work.  It’s a song he wrote in the late ’80s, “Can’t Win”.  It’s always been a guitar vehicle when he’s performed it live.  This is my favorite version of that.  The song takes a while to build, so be patient.  The fireworks start after the four-minute mark.

If you can’t say “wow” after that…


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Musical palate cleanser, shake it up baby edition

Hard to believe this movie is 30 years old this week, but it is.

Greatest movie lip sync scene, or greatest movie lip sync scene ever?


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Musical palate cleanser, “with integrity and the occasional whiskey” edition

If you’re a fan of British folk-rock, as I am, this is a sad thing to hear.

Dave Swarbrick, a fiddler who electrified the British folk tradition as a member of the band Fairport Convention, died on Friday. He was 75.

His death was announced on his website. The announcement did not say where he died or specify the cause, but he had emphysema for many years.

Swarb was a heavy smoker and his health had been questionable for a long time, something that wasn’t exactly unknown.

A smoker since his teens, Mr. Swarbrick struggled with failing health in the 1990s. He underwent three tracheotomies, and his emphysema grew so severe that at one point he needed oxygen onstage to perform…

A double lung transplant in 2004 improved his condition.

He was a remarkable musician.  My first real appreciation  of his abilities came on Liege and Lief, the first Fairport Convention album in which he joined the group as a full member.  Listen to this take of “Matty Groves”, especially when things really kick off at the 4:30 mark.

And this clip is impossible to pass up.

Ah, the rare British hippie in the wild…

Finally, here’s a recent set with Richard Thompson (whom I really need to feature in a MPC).

And of course you can’t mention Swarbrick’s passing without bringing this up:

… in 1999 however, he joined a list of people, including Bob Hope, Mark Twain and Alfred Nobel, whose deaths have been announced prematurely – in Swarbrick’s case in a Daily Telegraph obituary.

The Telegraph, Swarbrick’s paper of choice (“I’m not a Tory but have always had a soft spot for its gung-ho attitude”), had received erroneous information that he had died in his home city of Coventry. When informed that the musician was still alive (though recovering in hospital from a bout of emphysema) the obituaries editor and his staff were said to be “distraught”. Luckily the piece made flattering reading, describing Swarbrick as “a small, dynamic, charismatic figure, cigarette perched precariously on his bottom lip, unruly hair flapping over his face, pint of beer ever at hand, who could electrify an audience with a single frenzied sweep of his bow”

After the initial shock and apologies Swarbrick could see the funny side, coming out with the priceless one-liner: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”

“After all, I’d enjoyed the text of the obit – it was very complimentary,” he explained. “And it had answered a question I’d often asked myself: whether any paper would bother when I died.” His wife, Jill, said: “He read the obituary and didn’t quarrel with any of the spellings or the facts – apart from the obvious one.”

In fact Swarbrick, or “Swarb” as he was known, went on to turn the newspaper’s error to his advantage, admitting that “I never got half as much attention playing as by dying.”

“In fact,” he told the Oxford Times in 2014, “I photocopied the obits, took them to gigs, signed them “RIP Dave Swarbrick” and sold them for £1. After all, where else are you going to get a signed obituary? I had to stop, though, when The Telegraph got in touch and told me I couldn’t do it as they had the copyright.”


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Musical palate cleanser, lovin’ a little Dusty edition

My last MPC was from Dusty Springfield, so it seems appropriate to follow that with a cut from Shelby Lynne’s 2008 Springfield tribute album, Just A Little Lovin’.  The vibe is totally different, but the result is still compelling.

Take, for example, my favorite cut from the album, the closer, “How Can I Be Sure”, the Rascals’ hit.  (Dusty covered it, so that’s why it’s there.)  Lynne totally inverts the song, delivering it with an intimacy that’s almost too much.  The sparse arrangement, just her accompanied by acoustic guitar, match the mood perfectly.

That’s sublime.

As a bonus, here’s a little studio prep for the song.

By the way, this is another album for which computer speakers simply don’t do the recording acoustics justice.  It’s superbly recorded.  Along those lines, you should read the piece Lynne wrote about why she refused to record the album digitally.  It’s a real hoot.

I was born in ‘68. Mama and Daddy had albums. I grew up listening to their vinyl. I have discovered that having a vinyl collection is so much cooler than having an iPod. Now, I have an iPod and I admit they are genius especially for travel and convenience. But they aren’t really any fun. I don’t call up my friends and say “Hey why don’t y’all come over and bring your computers and let’s have a party”? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl. That’s sexy. It’s really a great excuse to get together and listen to music. Everybody takes a turn looking through the collection and it’s interesting to see what each person plays. The vinyl way is just me. I think if if we all listen to more music together, it really doesn’t matter how we do it. Music will save us all just like it always has. We feed our souls with it. Vinyl just creates a little more discussion for us. You get to look at the covers, the liner notes, sometimes the lyrics are included. Plus you can roll a doobie on it. That’s hard on an Ipod.

If you agree with her sentiments and you still spin vinyl records, you definitely ought to have this in your collection.



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