Friday, July 31, 2009

ROCK Orgy: "Sweet Soul Music"

ROCK Sex wants everybody to join in.


Here's another 'shout-out' song, where an artist celebrates their fellow artists. Soul man ARTHUR CONLEY shows the love to Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and James Brown:

ARTHUR CONLEY -"SWEET SOUL MUSIC" (1967)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ROCK Sex: Son House> Gillian Welch> Depeche Mode

ROCK Sex asks "who's that writing/ John the Revelator"?


Any creative act inspires another. That's the nature of creativity and the mantra of this column. Everything we do tracks back to what has been handed to us from before. Many of the songs we take for granted, such as "House of the Rising Sun", have been around since previous centuries.


BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON ignites today's baton swap. He recorded this country Blues take on an old Gospel song with his wife, Willie B. Harris. (Blind Willie is also responsible for "In My time of Dying" (Dylan, Zeppelin), "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (Zeppelin), and "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" (Fairport Convention).):

BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON -"JOHN THE REVELATOR" (1930)




SON HOUSE did a startling a capella version that became a signature tune in his repertoire:

SON HOUSE -"JOHN THE REVELATOR" (1965)



GILLIAN WELCH and running partner David Rawlings did an epic, confessional sequel to it as the title piece of her classic album:

GILLIAN WELCH -"TIME (THE REVELATOR)" (2001)



DEPECHE MODE also made a sequel as a sociopolitical protest against recent myopic dictatorships. (Sadly, the scathing video wasn't available.):

DM -"JOHN THE REVELATOR" (live, 2005)



"Go tell my disciples..."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ROCK Sex: Chuck Berry> Beach Boys> Plastic Bertrand> The Damned

ROCK Sex thinks "It's such a sight to see/ somebody steal the show".


CHUCK BERRY
kicks this relay race into gear with this homage to the original rock'n'roll grrrls, the teens that made it all explode, with "Sweet Little Sixteen":

CB -"SL16" (1958)



The song was immediately covered by many greats like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and soon the young Beatles. But here's a live version by GENE VINCENT which nicely proves how live Rock'n'Roll was the original Punk rock:

GENE VINCENT -"SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN" (live, 1960)



Brian Wilson expanded the iconography and the sonic palette with this revamp for the BEACH BOYS' worldwide hit, "Surfin' USA":

BB -"S USA" (1963)




Perhaps inspired by The New York Dolls' "Jet Boy", ELTON MOTELLO did his glam-punk variation, "Jet Boy, Jet Girl". Its forward depiction of teen gay sexualilty was too much for radio, and it was declared "obscene" by the FCC as late as 1989:

ELTON MOTELLO -"JET BOY, JET GIRL" (1977)



French pop star PLASTIC BERTRAND quickly used the same backing band and arrangement of that song with less controversial lyrics to achieve far more success. He also turned the 'hoo-hoos' into falsetto 'woo hoos' that emulated Brian Wilson's early surfing hits:

PLASTIC BERTRAND -"CA PLANE POUR MOI" (1978)



"Jet Boy, Jet Boy"
got its most high-profile infamy in a cover by the Punk band, THE DAMNED, in 1979:

THE DAMNED -"JET BOY, JET GIRL" (live, 2004)




So clearly "all the cats wanna dance with Sweet Little Sixteen"!

Monday, July 27, 2009

ROCK Sex: Elvis Presley> Dean Carter

ROCK Sex wants to stick around awhile and get its kicks!


ELVIS PRESLEY swaggered one of the best rock anthems and dance sequences in pop history with the title theme for his film "Jailhouse Rock". It was written by the legendary duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and Mike can be seen tinkling the keys in the film scene:


EP -"JAILHOUSE ROCK" (1957)



DEAN CARTER is one of those criminally overlooked greats who deserved far more success than he got. Throughout the 60's he recorded mayhem in his home studio that perfectly bridged Rockabilly into Garage rock. His frenzied take on "Jailhouse Rock" features the most manic psychedelic dobro solo of all time and a 13-year-old girl playing the clarinet like Morse code!:

DEAN CARTER -"JAILHOUSE ROCK" (1967)



Rockabilly and Garage fans owe it to themselves to check out the Dean Carter retrospective CD, "Call of the Wild". And also the compilation of his crazed bandmates and studio productions, "The Midnite Sound of the Milky Way".

Friday, July 24, 2009

ROCK Sex: Bill Withers> Me'shell Ndegeocello> Queen Pen

ROCK Sex thinks that love is for everybody.


ME'SHELL NDEGEOCELLO
is a monster bassist, underrated singer, and passionate activist. She injected some serious organic Funk into the 90's with her gutsy debut hit:

MN -"IF THAT'S YOUR BOYFRIEND (HE WASN'T LAST NIGHT) (1994)



Her sound and politics hearkens back to the original early 70's Funk. Here's one of her inspirations, the evergreen BILL WITHERS:

BW -"WHO IS HE AND WHAT IS HE TO YOU" (1972)



Me'shell paid tribute to this by covering it with back-up from BILLY PRESTON and WENDY & LISA:

MN -"WHO IS HE AND WHAT IS HE TO YOU" (1996)




Me'shell's take on that song clearly opened up the possibilities of the sexual playing field. Soon after, the rapper QUEEN PEN extended that in this clever rethink of "If That Was Your Boyfriend", with able assist from Me'shell herself, challenging phobic attitudes about love and lust:

QP, with MN -"GIRLFRIEND" (1997)


The taunting chorus is based on the nyah-nyah singsong of children. That same rhythm was used by SLY & The FAMILY STONE in "Everyday People": "...and so on and so on and scooby-dooby-doo-bee!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ROCK Sex: The Yardbirds> Pixies

ROCK Sex is squinting in a poncho with this song.


The YARDBIRDS did this hard-hitting classic, "Evil Hearted You", with its echoes of Italian Western themes in the jarring chords, anthemic chorals, and the almost flamenco blues of Jeff Beck's solo:

YB -"EHY" (1965)




PIXIES extended that cinematic connection by singing it in Spanish. Black Francis had to hustle extra hard to come up with a translation that pleased the song's original composer, Graham Gouldman (of 10CC), who spoke it fluently:

PIXIES -"EHY" (1991)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ROCK Sex: MYSTERY TRAIN's long ride

ROCK Sex is going round, round the bend.


The CARTER FAMILY are universally known as 'The First Family of Country Music'. Led by guitarist Mother Maybelle, they had an incalculable impact on Country, Bluegrass, and Blues artists for decades.

In their famous standard, "Worried Man Blues" (1930) you hear these lines: "The train arrived sixteen coaches long/ The train arrived sixteen coaches long/ The girl I love is on that train and gone."

Here's son-in-law JOHNNY CASH having a family rave-up on his TV show (1969-1971):

THE CARTER FAMILY -"WORRIED MAN BLUES" (live)



These lines inspired Memphis Blues artist JUNIOR PARKER and his producer, Sam Phillips, to co-write this classic:

JP -"MYSTERY TRAIN" (1953)




Shortly afterward Sam Phillips asked another label mate to try his hand on the throttle. Here's ELVIS PRESLEY with one of his signature songs:

EP -"MYSTERY TRAIN" (1955)




Indie auteur JIM JARMUSCH used Memphis, its deep musical history, and the ghost of Elvis in his great film, "Mystery Train". The cast included Screaming Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer (The Clash), Rufus Thomas, Steve Buscemi, Elizabeth Bracco (The Sopranos), Nicoletta Braschi, Masatoshi Nagase, and the voice of Tom Waits. Essential viewing for Rock'n'Roll film fans:

"MYSTERY TRAIN" trailer (1989)


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Friday, July 10, 2009

ROCK Sex: "Take Me To the River"

ROCK Sex takes you to the river and washes you down.



AL GREEN had previously covered the song "Driving Wheel" by that fellow Memphis great, Junior Parker. When Parker passed away, Al dedicated this original song to his memory:

AG -"TMTR" (1974)



BRYAN FERRY, of Roxy Music, often covered soul songs he loved on his solo albums. In late '77 he recorded this homage to Green:

BF -"TMTR" (1978)


Meanwhile, by odd coincidence, his former partner in Roxy Music, Brian Eno, was producing The TALKING HEADS' second album. Though their version was recorded a few months after Ferry's it reached the market before his. To this day many people believe this to be their song. Here David Byrne testifies to the source:

TH -"TMTR" (1978)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ROCK Sex: Rock revolution = busted amp!

ROCK Sex gets caught by the fuzzzzz.

Wanna change the world? Play through a busted amp! Here's a pervasive problem that became a brilliant revolution.



In 1951 Ike Turner and his band made what is arguably the first Rock'n'Roll song, releasing it under singer JACKIE BRENSTON's name. It is a retooling of Jimmie Liggens' "Cadillac Boogie" (1947) but rowdier and revved up. The extra edge came from a fuzzed-out amp that had been broken in transit. Voila, Rock'n'Roll!

JB & HIS DELTA CATS -"ROCKET '88" (1951)




Paul Burlison's amp was damaged before the recording of The JOHNNY BURNETTE TRIO's studio session, and more sonic revolution ensued:

JB3 -"TRAIN KEPT A'ROLLIN" (1956)



Dave Davies of THE KINKS took a knife to his amp to get the distorted snarl he'd discovered. But he went too far and was thrown across the room by an electric shock! (Disclaimer: ROCK Sex says, "Don't try this, kids."):

Kinkies -"YOU REALLY GOT ME" (1964)



John Lennon used a busted amp to get the raw distortion for "Revolution", even singing on his back on the studio floor shouting at the mike to get the extra edge in the vocals:

Los Fabs -"Revolucion" (1968)





Have fuzz, will frazzle!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ROCK Sex: the original "Tainted Love"

ROCK Sex "gives you all a boy can give you".


The original "Tainted Love" was a Northern Soul song performed by GLORIA JONES in 1964. Later, she became the partner and muse of T-REX's Marc Bolan:

GLORIA JONES -"TAINTED LOVE" (1964)




The song was remade in a pretty similar but more Pop fashion in 1975:

RUTH SWANN -"TAINTED LOVE" (1975)


Shortly afterward Gloria Jones and Marc Bolan remade the song:

GLORIA JONES, w/ Marc Bolan -"TAINTED LOVE" (1976)




Marc Almond
of SOFT CELL heard the original played in a dance club and made it into the Synthpop anthem of all time:

SC -"TL" (1981)


From there it has been covered/exhalted/ruined (depending on your bias) by Coil, Inspiral Carpets, My Ruin, Marilyn Manson, The Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, and Danny Noriega.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ROCK Sex quickie: Liquid Liquid> Grandmaster Melle Mel

ROCK Sex says, "Who needs to think when your feet just go?"


Here's an example of the osmosis of that explosive early 80's New York scene.

LIQUID LIQUID -"CAVERN" (1983)


And then in response...

GRANDMASTER MELLE MEL -"WHITE LINES (DON'T DO IT)" (1983)

.

Monday, July 6, 2009

ROCK Sex: Bush Tetras> Romeo Void> Sonic Youth

ROCK Sex would 'be warm in your coat'.

Here's another relay race...


Many bands from the early 80's New York scene had varied takes on using funky rhythms with punky guitar, such as The Talking Heads, James White & The Contortions, Defunkt, The Bloods, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Material, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. The BUSH TETRAS kicked out the jams with this rebuke on urban living, propelled by the jarring jang of the deeply undersung guitarist, Pat Place:

BUSH TETRAS -"TOO MANY CREEPS" (1980)




Pat's guitar style had a strong impact on San Francisco band ROMEO VOID, who hit the big time with this poison pill, featuring the barbed lyrics of singer Debora Iyall:

ROMEO VOID -"NVR SAY NVR (Extended mix)" (1981)



Kim Gordon of SONIC YOUTH was responding to the misogynistic imagery in LL Cool J's "Walk Like a Panther" video with this next classic (featuring a raised fist of support from Chuck D of Public Enemy). But SY got their start in that same CBGB's scene of New York, and the "I don't wanna's" and rhythmic dissonance in this song really recall The Bush Tetras' song:

SONIC YOUTH -"KOOL THING" (1990)




Just to show the baton never rests, here's Queens of the Stone Age doing "Never Say Never" (2000)...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

ROCK Sex quickie: The Ventures> Radio Birdman

ROCK Sex encourages you to get wet.


THE VENTURES, mighty centurians of the guitarstrumental, did the classic theme song for the long-running series, "Hawaii Five-O":

THE VENTURES -"HAWAII FIVE-O" (1968)



RADIO BIRDMAN, the Australian missing link between The Stooges and The Ramones, surfed their tsunami response through clubs for four years before it was finally recorded:

RADIO BIRDMAN -"ALOHA, STEVE AND DANNO" (1978)

Friday, July 3, 2009

ROCK Sex quickie: David Bowie> Bauhaus

ROCK Sex quickie is "jamming good with Weird and Gilly".


DB -"ZIGGY STARDUST" (1972)


BAUHAUS -"ZIGGY STARDUST" (1982)

ROCK Sex: Vince Taylor> The Clash, (& Ziggy Stardust)

ROCK Sex puts the rubber to the road.


UK Rockabilly rebel VINCE TAYLOR should have been his country's Elvis. Instead he ended up having two powerful impacts on the future.

Firstly he recorded this slamming classic:

VINCE TAYLOR & THE PLAYBOYS -"BRAND NEW CADILLAC" (1958)



This was propelled to international status with THE CLASH's stellar cover on the crucial "London Calling" album:

THE CLASH -"BRAND NEW CADILLAC" (1979)


Here are other great versions in the chain by Brian Setzer, The Kelpies, Os Catalepticos, and of course Joe Strummer.





Taylor was a volatile personality whose charisma onstage was matched by self-destructiveness backstage. He was poised for another surge of fame opening for THE ROLLING STONES in 1964 when these both combined for the worst. Binging on acid, speed, and drink, he proclaimed himself a prophet onstage and sermonized the audience with a towel on his head before abruptly tearing up the stage.

This theatrical meltdown had a huge impact on DAVID BOWIE, which inspired him to combine the incident with the feral implosion of Iggy Pop and THE STOOGES to create 'Ziggy Stardust'.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

ROCK Sex: James Brown> David Bowie> James Brown

ROCK Sex meets you again on the flipside.

Here's another example of one artist who inspires another artist who re-inspires the first artist, using the classic song "Fame".


James Brown upended the pop melody formula by perfecting purely rhythmic vamps into a new dance music called Funk. He emphasized driving beat, hypnotic length, and scratchy rhythm guitar:

JAMES -"THE PAYBACK (Part 1)" (1974)



DAVID BOWIE and John Lennon sparked the song "Fame" during an impromptu studio jam, built on a riff by guitarist Carlos Alomar. Carlos had toured with James Brown in '69 and the song is a sonic love letter, or payback, to James' style:

DAVID -"FAME" (1975)



James must've felt turnabout was fair play because he used that arrangement the following year:

JAMES -"HOT (I NEED TO BE LOVED, LOVED, LOVED)" (1976)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ROCK Sex: Muddy Waters> Led Zeppelin> Funkadelic> Tina Turner

ROCK Sex is an inclusive club where no one is denied.

In life, there's not just one angle, and there's not just two in opposition. That limitation is simply that, a limit of imagination. The big picture is only subjective and best seen from many angles. Every perspective is valuable because it opens up new possibility, which 'only' and 'either/or' are blind to.

Here's a sterling example of each creator enriching creativity by bringing something more to the previous.



MUDDY WATERS started it with his recording of Willie Dixon's song. (At this point, if there are any lawyers/accountants around, wrap your head around the concept of free promotion.):

Photobucket

MW -"YOU NEED LOVE" (1962)


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THE SMALL FACES, led by blues wailer Steve Marriott, extended it in their cover:

SF -"YOU NEED LOVING" (1966)



Jimmie Page wedded a crucially memorable original riff with Robert Plant's interpolation of those previous recordings to create LED ZEPPELIN's breakthrough hit:

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LZ -"Wholottaluv" (1969)


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Eddie Hazel re-amped that new chord vamp into other territories with the album intro song for FUNKADELIC:

FUNKADELIC -"MOMMY, WHAT'S A FUNKADELIC?" (1970)




Going her own way from Ike, TINA TURNER deepened her Rock'n'Soul repertoire with this sexy grind on Zep's version:

TINA TURNER -"WHOLE LOTTA LOVE" (1975)



Lawyers will sue, separatists will divide, but those limits aside what is always missed is the real point: culture is a creative hand-off without boundaries. Give credit to creators? Of course. But limit creators from responding to life and each other? Never.

That doesn't protect creators, it kills creativity itself.