completelyignored

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Winwood’

Ignored 102: Bruce wears a bolo tie

In Words on August 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Another unstructured music chat between myself and my high school pal Adam.

Adam: Apple Music wormhole: “Hey, I should find some Sam Cooke”.  Always wanted to listen to more.  Then, I find the song “Having a Party”. This is familiar, I say. Who did a cover of this?  Rod Stewart!  Let’s find that. Unplugged… and Seated. It’s so good.  Rod Stewart is a singular talent and voice.  Such great songs.  So many career phases.  Always loved.  Even during this wardrobe era…

Cam: This video may be in the all-time Top 10 of “re-enact the album cover art in the music video”…

Cam: I do think he’s underrated. i guess most people mainly know him for covers, “Maggie May”, “Tonight’s the Night”, very 1980s stuff like “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and maybe, the Faces “Ooh La La”. Pretty unique voice and steady output. always kind of a notch below Elton John but without the cool factor of Bryan Ferry, which is too bad. Great voice, very self aware, weird outfits and hair, etc. I had the album Out of Order on cassette. The one with “Forever Young”, “Lost in You”, etc. The cover was basically a look at the top of his head. Another example of “rockers pushing 50 being marketed to children” that was very popular at that time. I bet he and Steve Winwood had an unspoken rivalry for who could chew up more scenery on MTV in the late 1980s.

Adam: “Forever Young” is a monster of a song.

Cam: I love it. The 1980s were a great decade for songs called “Forever Young”…

Adam: Makes me tear up a little thinking about my kids.

Cam: Seriously. Rod’s “Forever Young” is of the ultimate “hey look, i’m a good father” videos.

DSC08525.JPG

Adam: Listen to the Unplugged… album

Cam: No.

Cam: Did anybody have a sneakily good run in the 1980s as Paul Carrack? “The Living Years” with Mike + the Mechanics plus “Silent Running” or whatever that song is called, “Tempted” with Squeeze, the big solo hit “Don’t Shed a Tear”, some stuff with Ace, I think… monster decade! Also, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow have been pretty steady in generally having the same look for decades now

Adam: “How Long Has This Been Going On” (sic).  Then, “Hey You” at the wall in Berlin.

Cam: Back to Rod Stewart. “Love Touch”, “Young Turks”. He actually had a massive 1980-1989. And the creepy stalker anthem “Infatuation”.

Adam: … And he benefited from the sex appeal thing.  Ladies loved him. He played it up. “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. He seemed like a dirty Limey with spikey hair. Then he did the “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and the ladies said “YES”.

Adam: Go Jays.

Cam: I’m all in on the Jays. Feel like this season… the team that gets hot at the end wins. both leagues. It’s wide open. All the teams are flawed in some way.

Cam: Listened to Bruce’s “Brilliant Disguise” at least 4x this weekend. I know we’ve talked about his phases at length but late 1980s weary Bruce is great. The “Made in the USA” hangover. The fire is still there but subdued. Did some repeats on “Badlands” as well. Great tune but feel like it needs to be even more aggressive, angry.

Adam: Work your way through Darkness on the Edge of Town. It really works best as a full piece. Also, love how Bruce changed his image after “Born in the USA”.  He put on a bolo neck tie and a dress shirt and jacket.

bruce_springsteen_wears_a_bolo_tie_medium

Cam: Yeah, I guess he was fuckin’ around with Roy Orbison at this time too. This wasn’t my fave Bruce look. The tailored suit. He was very lean at this time!

Adam: The video (for “Brilliant Disguise”) is amazing.

Cam: My other weekend deep dive was repeats on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”. could listen to that an infinite amount of times.

Adam: It’s interesting just how grown-up Bruce wanted to look.  Was then doing the Amnesty International shows around then. Plus the first half of Tunnel of Love is a royal “f**k you” to anyone who wanted “Dancing in the Dark” part 2.  He’d toured the world on a gigantic level. Then he opens the next album with “I ain’t got you!?! (Guts)!! Side two opens with “Tunnel of Love”.  But then “Brilliant Disguise” is the highlight with one step up behind it. The echo and drum and synth sounds work best on those songs. “Tougher Than The Rest” is great and has a mean harp solo.  I’d love it sped up just a bit. This is also the Baby Boomers getting to their nostalgia phase and going old school.  Everybody loved Roy Orbison.

Cam: It’d be interesting to see what Orbison would’ve done in the 1990s if he hadn’t died. Between Mystery Girl and the Wilburys, he really ended the 1980s on a high note. It’s hard to imagine a world where Orbison and Nirvana would have co-existed. Also, his duet w/ kd Lang on the “Crying” re-record, which was (really) amazing. “I Drove All Night” is a pretty weird song, at least production-wise. I wonder if O wanted it to sound like that. Basically, you could remove the vocals and it sounds very similar to 1980s ZZ Top. Whereas Bruce put on a bolo tie and Clapton put on an Armani suit and later, a trench coat, O stayed pretty consistent look-wise since the 1950s. Though I think he was slightly more “Southern” then. He was only 52 when he died, which is laughably and obviously tragically young.

Adam: Which “I Drove All Night”? Bruce?  Cyndi (Lauper)?

Cam: The posthumous RO version. Featuring a pantless Jennifer Connolly in the video plus Jason Priestley!

Adam: Vastly superior by Cyndi! I also think that was video done posthumously.  Stock Roy footage.

Cam: I like that song. The more adult contemporary version of Gwen Stefani is basically this era of Cyndi Lauper fast forwarded by 15-20 years.She’s got a similar voice. I feel like Preistly was in another video around this time.

Adam: He was.

Cam: I might be thinking of Johnny Depp in Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open”. Wait… the guy from Friends is in the “Night Moves” video too! I get Bob Seger and Steve Miller mixed up.

Cam: I remember a Chevrolet commercial featuring “Like a Rock” being played incessantly during Sportsdesk for years and developing a Pavlovian reaction to it, that’d remind me of getting ready for school.

Cam: Also, do we know why Chris Isaak didn’t have a bigger career? Hot video of the early 1990s. An entertainer and actor who was apparently funny. Similar hair to Morrissey. Stupid theory: Jeff Buckley destroyed his career? They kinda sorta had the same niche . Albeit, Buckley was the more indie version but equally as hunky w/ slightly more interesting songs.

Advertisements

Ignored 25: #Knopfler etc.

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 5:35 am

#ignored25

I recently reconnected with a high school friend via Facebook, fueled by some past CompletelyIgnored.com pieces. The conversation veered from Dire Straits (within a broader musical universe), the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, ghostwriting, re-casting the Traveling Wilburys, people’s expectations of U2, Roy Orbison’s legacy and how Steve Winwood used to be really popular amongst little kids.

For the sake of this transcript, he shall be “Snake” and I shall be “Fox”.

Here is the conversation…

PART ONE

Snake: Last night, I was watching the Everly Brothers playing with Chet Atkins and friends, wondering how it was that neither Mark Knopfler nor Dire Straits are in Cleveland. It’s a very short arc of thought. I’m a Rolling Stone junkie, but the most I care about RS covers are when they don’t put a legendary and recently deceased musician (Clarence) on it.

Fox: Dire Straits probably would be remembered completely differently if it wasn’t for the “Money for Nothing” video. Rightly or wrongly, he’s always going to be “that guy with the head band who hung out with animated movers” to a lot of people.

Snake: I hate getting nerdish on this like i used to have about Gary Carter being left out of the HOF for seven years inexplicably. Look at the body of work he (ed. either?) put out in the 80’s. His Prince’s Trust presence (he and Clapton on guitar, Elton on keys, Collins on drums)….see, here I go. i think it’s because Dire Straits broke up after the ’92 tour, and his early solo stuff leaned too Celtic at times and was a little underwhelming to have broad commercial success. Perhaps I’d also question who he influenced musically.

Fox: Ooh, here’s another theory: did Mark Knopfler get overshadowed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from late 1970s to early 1990s? Think about the similarities! Both appeared mid/late 1970s, hard to classify (not “classic rock”, not New Wave but enjoyed by hard rock fans, some punks, little kids, critics, etc.), moved seamless into the MTV era by using innovative videos to distract from the fact their singers were weird looking. Petty got the eventual long-term recognition, maybe because he was American and Knopfler wasn’t?!? Parallel: Carlton Fisk overshadowing Gary Carter. Fisk made the HOF in his second year while Kid had to wait six. Makes no sense on paper based on their stats. I’d suggest this was largely fueled by the conscious/subconscious impact of the visual of Fisk waving that ’75 WS home run fair (a series his team DIDN’T EVEN WIN!!) in countless MLB video packages. The true crime is Ted Simmons arguably had a better career than either of them and he was off the ballot in his first year, collecting a scant 3.4 per cent of the vote. Check it: http://bit.ly/1dNH92n

Snake: I resented all the defacto glamour that Fisk got because of that homer. Maybe because Gary played the first part of his career in Montreal? But he was me clutch in New York and was a better defensive catcher.

Fox: Yeah, I think the Carter/Montreal thing was a factor. Similar rationale maybe explains why Dave Winfield was a first ballot HOFer and Andre Dawson took eight tries before he got in? Anyway, I’m working on a kick-ass Bob Boone / The J. Geils Band analogy. Will advise.

PART TWO

Fox: I had no idea Knopfler wrote Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”. Would’ve been (strange) if Dire Straits had done that tune instead (shudder)

Fox: I know. Hadn’t thought of that in a while. Haven’t ever heard him sing it. I imagine it as a pretty straight forward straights tune that has a long instrumental finish. Like a bonus track from making movies.

Fox: Best line from the Wiki entry: “Mark Knopfler considered that they were not suitable for a male to sing“… no (guff)

Snake: He also produced Dylan’s Slow train and played a bunch on Infidels. “Sweetheart Like You” and “Precious Angel” are two or my favorite Knopfler riffs. Knopfler should also get actual points for being part of the Jerky Boys (ed. -style) prank call tape. I gotta hire you first guy! Mark, Mark Knopfler!

Fox: (Darn), forgot about those! Cant recall if I promoted my former blog The Reset Button on Facebook? A recast Travelling Wilburys with Knopfler in the Harrison role?

Snake: Ric Ocasek? That’s Elvis Costello now.

Snake: Though Lynne was also serving as producer for everything with that same sound from Cloud Nine and “Into The Great Wide Open” and that Orbison album.. And then the Beatles tunes.

Snake: Check out a song called “When the Beatles hit America” by John Wesley Harding. Very cool line about it sounded a lot like ELO…

Fox: Hmmm. I think you need somebody more obscure in the Jeff Lynne role. less famous than everybody else… but still massively popular within the context of THEIR ELO. Nick Lowe?

Snake: Was reflecting last night while rewatching Rattle and Hum that (it) was the first rock and roll I found myself that I didn’t know if my parents would like. I remember getting the cd single of “Angel of Harlem” at the Towne and Countrye Music World. And then wanting to know who Charles Manson was, and what the hell that meant about stealing the song from the Beatles. It propelled me down that path. Getting the Wilburys tape at 11 was equally significant. A devoted Beatlemaniac, Dylan disciple, and worshiper at the alter of rock and roll.

Snake: Ryan Adams? Though too antisocial.

Snake: Have you watched the Harrison movie? There’s great footage of them messing around in the kitchen writing. Then recording. They were just hanging out.

Snake: How about Tweedy and Jim James?

Fox: Like the Jim James suggestion. Physically, that could work and he’s got that “oh ya, the guy from THAT band” thing going on. I’ve never gone too deep with U2 beyond hearing the singles really but I’m assuming Rattle and Hum is kinda vexing for the fans? They were in basically a no win situation following up The Joshua Tree so whatever they did would seem secondary. But still, does anybody really care about any of those songs anymore? Aside from “All I Want is You” (think that was that album?!?) which was one of the latter singles from the album and yet the one with the biggest legacy. From y’know, weddings ‘n (stuff).

Fox: Will definitely try to track down that Harrison footage. Seems like one of the few legit “super groups” that was at all authentic. And pound-for-pound, has to be the best from a critical/commercial perspective.

Snake: Good call. I remember reading that while The Joshua Tree was massive here and Rattle… a let down, in England, it was the other way around. It really was no win for them. Black and white was kind of pretentious and I recall people thinking that it was kinda naive that they were discovering all this music that had long been around. I don’t feel that way. They were reverential and clearly raised on rhythm and blues. It’s absolutely worth watching. Jim James also works as an Orbison replacement. Because of the high voice.

Fox: In fairness, every video during that era was (A) either black and white (B) shot in an empty arena or bar. Often… both! See: Simply Red “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. Basically, it was essential to have at least one janitor in your video. Unrelated, is there a reason nobody under 55 ever talks about Roy Orbison? I mean, seriously. Best voice, awesome songs, weird image, died young… seems like it’d be a natural for hipsters to namedrop in lieu of Johnny Cash or even Willie Nelson.

Snake: See also that Roy Orbison and friends video, Black and White Night. Empty stadium is a great call. I picture a Bon Jovi video. “Hey let’s save money and record the sound check!” Roy wasn’t cool. At least, I didn’t think he was so much. Maybe the high voice. Johnny have the finger and wore black. Willie smokes weed. Roy had the shades. But was he blind? I feel like he fell into the golden oldies hole of the 70s/80s. Rock and roll fans got bored of their heroes until they got older. I don’t feel like country goes out of style for country fans. Roy also was very one dimensional. Those other guys are outlaws. Roy was the odd man out of the Wilburys too. They just loved him and wanted to be around him. Fanboys.

Fox: Also, in hindsight. think how strange it was that in 1987-1990, music being marketed to little kids (i.e. us) included Roy Orbison, Steve Winwood, Willburys, the Rolling Stone “Steel Wheels”. These were bands that had been around over 20 years already and still in the Top 40. You’d NEVER see that today for a rock band with maybe the exception of the Chili Peppers and (I guess) Foo Fighters.

Snake: It was the baby boomers kids. That was just the pop music at the time. All the heritage acts that came up with new material of any value got their exposure. Remember that the industry likes predictability. They were marketing at us via our parents. Or am I makin this up as I go.

Fox: Yeah, Roy was soft-spoken, quite effeminate, quite possibly blind (or going for a blind look). Remember the “tough” Roy Orbison single “I Drove All Night”? He still sounded wildly precious over top that bad 1980s production (a great song BTW… and obviously, a black and white video)

Fox: Just saw the IMDB for the Harrison doc. Wow, totally missed that. Never heard of it. Was it “a big deal” when it came out? Normally pretty clued into this stuff.

Fox: You’re also right about marketing to baby boomer kids via actual baby boomers. I mean, record execs were all “hey, the keyboard player from the Spencer Davis Group… these eight-year olds are gonna eat this (stuff) up!!!”

Fox: Ha! Maybe he’s cooler than I thought. The missed opportunity for his publicist was “In Dreams” appearing in Blue Velvet. Between that, Nick Cave covering “Running Scared”, Wilburys and Mystery Girl plus that b+w special, he was on the comeback. And then he died.

Snake: It’s really wonderful. Can’t say enough good about it. Doesn’t feel like Scorsese. Kinda like no direction home. If you subscribe to Beatlemania as the one true religion (or if you just thought George was awesome) watch it. Was on the box when it came out and I got the DVD for my birthday. There is a lot of insight into that in the movie. You’ll eat it up.

Fox: Will definitely check it out. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a music doc and really know nothing about GH besides the basic and the Weird Al parody “This Song is Just Six Words Long”.

Snake: I remember the first time I heard “Roll with It”. He was so cool. Plus back in the high life was a great album. He was really young with the Spencer Davis group and was still young and hip in the 80s. He had an album called arc of a diver in the early 80s with a great song called night train. Think too about how the boomers would love the whole concept of back in the high life. Also, a great great cover of that tune by Warren Zevon. Love Winwood.

Fox: I had Back in the High Life and Roll With It. Both on cassette from Columbia House!!! My Winwood arch…. 1986-1989: love him when I was 9-12…. 1990-1993: quit music fandom to become a full-time sports nerd… 1994-2001: MLB goes on strike, get really into indie rock, pretend that I never knew Winwood existed (much less owned the albums)… 2002-present: get burned out on indie, listen to only 1960s music for two years, read somewhere Jimi Hendrix was scarred (senseless) of Windwood’s musical chops, realize the Spencer Davis Group were awesome.

Snake: He was a fascinating guy. It’s awesome.

Snake: That’s a wonderful arch. Very funny.

Ignored 8: The mediums are dead or dying

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2013 at 2:14 am

Ignored8

It’s about three decades too late to be fishing for cred by quoting Marshall McLuhen, right?

Nevertheless, his “medium is the message” concept continues to ring true across all phases of society. And in the case of popular music, the mediums kinda suck when you think about it.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Whether you get squirrelly over vinyl, CDs, 8-tracks or cassette tapes (we’ve been hearing about this supposedly-pending cassette renaissance for forever), the reality is physical manifestations of music have always been mere vehicles. Accordingly, the message is the message and the medium is just something you store on your BENNO.

Now, this is the stage in the essay where vinyl purists tell me how music sounds “warmer” when played on a turntable. That’s fine. Have your moment….

(pause)

Ok. So speaking personally (and from the heart), the music lover in me has no issue whatsoever acknowledging the fact I haven’t purchased music in hard copy form for at least 3-4 years as of this writing. And really, I have no imminent plans to do so any time soon… or ever again.

Sure, I do miss trolling the stinky walkways of Sonic Boom or shoehorning visits to Amoeba Music during every California pit stop. However, progress is progress and I now revel in making iPod playlists and wondering where the (heck) all the MP3s are on my hard drive.

So I’m positioning this as a eulogy of sorts to every record, cassette and CD I ever owned. To effectively put bookends on an era lasting (ballpark) from 1984 to 2009, here are my best recollections as to my first and last albums in each medium and some self-inflicted nostalgia with regards to the ownership of each.

First vinyl record: Van Halen – “Jump” 7″
Purchase year and retailer: 1984, A&A Records at The Shops on Steeles and 404 (ne: Markham Place)
My family did enjoy deep cuts from Sandra Beech and Sharon, Lois & Bram back in the day (note: the former’s performance at German Mills Co-op Nursery School Play Day 1983 was worthy of an At Budokan-type box set) but I will always “Jump” as the first piece of recorded adult music I ever owned. Which is ironic since the lyrics to “Jump” are pretty juvenile (especially the “Go ahead jump/Might as well jump” part).  More background: my sister was heavily into Cyndi Lauper at the time and requested a 7″ of the noted women empowerment anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. As a means of keeping the peace for my folks, I was able to choose a record as well and opted for “Jump” for some reason. A curious choice because while I thought the tune was completely OK and was fairly impressed with David Lee Roth’s dexterity in its video, I don’t really remember being completely in love with the song. In hindsight, I perhaps should have opted for the Cars’ “You Might Think” although in fairness, that probably would’ve been largely based on the fact that Ric Ocasek turned into a lipstick during the video.

Last vinyl owned: Talking Heads – More Songs about Buildings and Food
Purchase year and retailer: 1999, Cheapies in downtown Hamilton
The vinyl resurgence hadn’t quite kicked into full force in the late 1990s and thusly, you could still get a ton of nicked-up old records for next to nothing during this time. I really wanted to own the song “Artists Only” so I picked up this album for less than $1, even though I didn’t own a record player. Years later, I splurged on the CD and gave this vinyl version to my friend Mike although I seem to remember this record and Teenage Head’s self-titled debut sitting in my office for at least a year. Beside some office supplies.

First cassette: Rick Astley – Whenever You Need Somebody
Purchase year and retailer: 1988, Columbia Record and Tape Club
I’m going to write a full essay or two about record and tape clubs someday. They were kind of ubiquitous at the time and no doubt were responsible for a bulk of the Spin Doctors’ records sold, in general terms. The 12-for-a-penny deal was tantalizing although obviously a bit of a scam that preyed upon the lazy and dim-witted, since you were on the hook to buy 8-12 more albums (at wildly inflated prices) over the next year. Letting your kids enter a record club was somewhat comparable to letting your kids own a pet: they would promise to do the legwork  but ultimately, you’d end up with a whole lot of dog crap. Case in the point: the unexpected comedy of my Dad unsuspectingly receiving a cassette of Robert Palmer’s Heavy Nova on cassette plus a bill for $18.43. Oops! Me and my sister shared a club membership in 1988. Because she was a year and a half older, she got to choose all the cool records: Def Leppard’s Hysteria, INXS’ Kick, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, etc. From what I recall, I chose such gems as Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life (was this album about drugs BTW?!?), Steve Winwood’s Roll With It (could you imagine a 10-year old listening to this in 2013?!?… different times) plus Rick Astley’s blue-eyed soul masterstroke Whenever You Need Somebody. Not sure why I didn’t get Chicago 19 as one of my choices, as I quite enjoyed the power ballad “Look Away”. I still do, actually.

Last cassette owned: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Purchase year and retailer: 1998, Cheapies in downtown Hamilton
As mentioned, Cheapies had a ton of cheap vinyl and it also had a bin (some would call it a garbage can) full of orphaned cassette tapes that were missing their liner notes, cases or both. These retailed from anywhere between $0.10 and $0.50 although I bet if you asked REALLY nicely, you probably could’ve had them for free. I managed to fish the incredible debut from the Jesus and Mary Chain out of this rubbish pile and to this day, it remains in my Top 10 albums of all-time True story: I once listened to this cassette on a speeding motorboat. Please email me for the extended version of THAT extended version of that exciting story.

First CD: Sonic Youth – Washing Machine
Purchase year and retailer: 1995, Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street, downtown Toronto
I was fairly late to the CD game but I did eventually get a five-disc changer in advance of Sonic Youth’s 1995 show at the Warehouse in Toronto. I purchased Washing Machine alongside Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral (fairly cool) and Sponge’s Rotting Piñata (uncool) to christen the device. The album was pretty solid and the concert was great. Helium opened, much moshing ensued and me and my buddies chatted briefly with Brendan Canning (then of hHead, later of Broken Social Scene).

Last CD: The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir – Shyfolk
Purchase year and retailer: 2009, eBay
Early 1990s CanCon indie is a weird black hole in the Internet. Some cool YouTube videos have surfaced but there is a ton of cool music from that era that now seems wildly obscure considering it was fairly popular at the time. Ergo, the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. These guys’ good-to-great albums lapsed out-of-print rather quickly so their music is a bit challenging to track down in hard copy form. I’ve managed to acquire three of these (1992’s Superior Cackling Hen, 1995’s Shyfolk and 2000’s best-of/rarities set 1985-1995). Shyfolk was the last of the three I purchased, on eBay for around $4.95 and quite possibly the last piece of physical music I ever own. Bye.