Before I get to my regularly scheduled mix of opinion, information, and silliness I’d like to wish all my friends at Record Archive the best of luck, and all the love I can give them. As Alayna and her crew navigate the ongoing challenges of 2020 remember you can support them by buying music, movies, gift certificates, and other cool stuff at the Archive’s webstore.
I’m writing this early Tuesday morning November 3rd, 2020. I have no idea who will win today’s Presidential election, and there is a good chance that as you read this a day or two from now the results are still in question. Hell, even if you’re catching up with this blog a week or two later we still may not know what’s going on.
Now, I’m not saying this is likely, but….
What if the election winds up being an exact tie and we get Co-Presidents who have to split the White House down the middle with a stripe made of masking tape? Or maybe they actually use paint. Who would get the side of the WH with the vending machines and master bathroom, and who would get the half with the big screen TV and nicer bedroom? “My Two Presidents” is a Miller-Boyett Production. ©Billy D’Ettorre … any resemblance between this and a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch is purely coincidental.
Let’s focus on music while all of this political stuff gets sorted out.
As I type this I am listening to the Deluxe edition of “Wildflowers and All The Rest” by Tom Petty, which I wrote about a month ago when this box set was first announced. https://recordarchive.com/blog/billys-corner-10-01-20. I’m only on the second disc, but so far it’s as good as I’d hoped it would be, and am glad the songs that got cut from the original release are seeing the light of day. I’m really looking forward to the live tracks in this collection.
Speaking of live music…
Last week I asked for music podcast suggestions, and I’d like to thank reader James Irish for suggesting “Double Lives: A Podcast About Live Albums“.
Hosts Dan Drago and James Hearne grew up in the Rochester area, moved on to Philly and other areas, playing in bands, producing music, hosting podcasts, etc… On this show they highlight and obsess over great live albums, and do a great job at it. They are witty and insightful, without coming off as stuffy historians. Dan and James are first and foremost music fans, and I love the natural chemistry of long time friends discussing a mutual passion. I initially just wanted to hear their take on Aretha Franklin Live At The Fillmore West, but have since listened to (and enjoyed) all seven episodes of their show. These include other artists I like (The Tragically Hip, Ani Difranco, Bill Withers), one I don’t (Phish), and one I was completely unfamiliar with (Portishead). Thanks again to James for the recommendation.
By the way, that Aretha Franklin album from 1971 is a stone cold classic. Not only is the Queen of Soul at the top of her game, but so is her backing band, King Curtis and the Kingpins (with The Memphis Horns). Keyboardist Billy Preston really shines. Pick up the reissue “Don’t Fight The Feeling – The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live At Fillmore West” if you’re an OCD completist like me. This version also includes the opening set from King Curtis.
***** Intermission *****
What did you do during the break?
I took a couple hours to go for a walk, get some fresh air and exercise, listen to a podcast or two, and to do some thinking. I also took the opportunity to twice stroll past my regular polling place to see what was going on.
Turns out not too much. Just a small orderly line both times I looked at the local church gathering the votes in my neighborhood.
Out of an abundance of caution my wife and I voted early last week. Even though things today were way less hectic than we thought they’d be I’m glad we got it taken care of when we did. After all, who could predict what was going to happen.
Well, now that I’ve conducted extensive research in the ten square blocks surrounding my house I can project that there won’t be any trouble regarding voting anywhere in the United States. I’m assuming this means there also won’t be any controversy surrounding the results. What a relief!
I’m glad I could clear this up for you. Now back to the music.
Last Friday saw the release of a disc I’ve been really looking forward to, “Hey Clockface” by Elvis Costello. Before I give you my opinion of it I have a story….
I turned 18 years old in August of 1983, and one of my presents was a copy of the brand new album by Neil Young and his band The Shocking Pinks. It was a rockabilly influenced record called “Everybody’s Rockin'”. It clocked in at a quick twenty five minutes, and I personally loved it. My opinion on this wasn’t the norm though. The folks at Geffen Records certainly didn’t agree with me.
In November 1983, following the commercial failure of Everybody’s Rockin’, Geffen sued Young for $3.3 million, on the grounds that this record and its predecessor (the electronic noise of “Trans”) were “not commercial”, and “musically uncharacteristic of his previous recordings”. Neil filed a $21 million countersuit, alleging breach of contract since Young had been promised no creative interference from the label.
The suit backfired against Geffen, with label owner David Geffen personally apologizing to Young for the suit and for interference with his work.
I bring up this story about Neil Young because now I’m wondering if Concord Records is considering a similar lawsuit against Elvis Costello for not sounding like Elvis Costello.
I don’t like to be too negative in this blog, so I’ll just say that “Hey Clockface” isn’t for me with its spoken word poetry, and musicians playing the type of jazz that only really smart people really seem to enjoy.
Have you ever heard the type of jazz where it seems like there are a bunch of instruments playing different songs at the same time? That’s what I’m talking about. It’s not pleasant to my ears, and I don’t feel any emotional connection to the songs no matter how good Costello’s lyrics are.
I’ve looked at a bunch of reviews online for this album, and most of them are mixed to favorable, so I’ll just set this one aside and enjoy most of the other three dozen records Elvis C. has put out in his career. I personally used his 2009 country/Americana CD “Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane” as a palate cleanser after my one (and probably only) listen to “Hey Clockface”. It’s still a great album title.
Since I try to do my best to be upbeat and point you towards the stuff I like I’ll leave you with a few more quick (for me) positive recommendations:
– The first one involves Bruce Springsteen. Shocking, I know. I wasn’t planning on it, but on my walk today I listened to a podcast where Bruce was interviewed by Conan O’Brien.
To be honest with you I don’t always enjoy interviews with Mr. Springsteen for a weird reason… I’ve noticed that he tends to nervously chuckle at almost everything he says, even when what he’s saying isn’t even a little funny. This makes me uncomfortable, although I bet he doesn’t know he’s doing it, or just can’t help himself.
This wasn’t the case (for the most part) during the 45 minute conversation between Conan and Bruce. There are a ton of great insights and stories from the rocker, plus an equal number of real, genuine laughs. Bruce’s opinion of skiing is laugh out loud funny.
“Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” is one of my very favorite podcasts on a weekly basis, no matter who his guest is. Start with the Springsteen one, and then check out some of the you featuring guests you like.
– I really like the new album from The Mountain Goats, “Getting Into Knives”. Especially enjoyable is the single “Get Famous”, with its accompanying video that cleverly uses bobbleheads. There is something about this song that also reminds me of “Something So Strong” by Crowded House.
– Kudos to Rochester’s own Brian Lindsay Band on their great new single “Love Lives Here”. You’ll definitely dig it if you’re a fan of Bruce, Mellencamp, and/or The Mavericks. I’m really looking forward to the full album from these guys, scheduled for early next year. The only thing bittersweet for me about the video for “Love Lives Here” is that my old work office is practically behind Brian’s head. Check it out HERE.
That’s it for this week. If you’ll excuse me I have to get to work on the “My Two Presidents” pilot, hopefully premiering in January of 2021. I think both Quibi and YouTube Red are interested.
Stay safe, stay healthy.