This week’s playlist (a day or two early) started out as a ‘what I’ve listened to this week’ one, then mutated slightly. Now it’s *mostly* soft-psychedelia, with a little raw bluesy stuff thrown in. I think it works…
All This Is That by The Beach Boys is from the criminally underrated Carl & The Passions: So Tough, an album I’d put in their top five. This one’s written by Mike Love, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson, and lyrically is gibberish about Transcendental Meditation, but works just for Love and Wilson’s wonderful vocals (especially Wilson’s soaring ‘jai guru dev’ falsetto at the end). The current touring ‘Beach Boys’ often perform this live, and it’s usually the best thing in the show.
Cross-Hatched World by Chewy Marble is a great piece of 60s-esque pop from Modulations, one of my favourite albums of last year. For those who don’t know, Chewy Marble are led by Brian Kassan, the former bass player for the Wondermints, and are very much the same kind of band.
When The World Is At Rest by Janet Klein And Her Parlor Boys is in here for the delightful tuned percussion. Janet Klein, for those who don’t know, does “Lovely, Naughty and Obscure Music of the 1910’s, 20s and 30’s”, and very well, with a wonderful sense of humour but a respect and love for the material.
Wavestrumental by Tripsitter is from California Son – a very strong album let down somewhat by attempts to sound too much like the Beach Boys (down to quoting Friends and When I Grow Up for no real reason). This track, on the other hand, sounds just like the High Llamas, albeit the High Llamas at their most Beach Boysy, and is all the better for it. A gorgeous little mostly-instrumental, with a lovely vibraphone part.
Where Have You Been All My Life by The Stool Pigeons is a cover of the Mann/Weill song best known as a Gerry And The Pacemakers track. The Stool Pigeons are a band led by Lisa Jenio (also of Candypants and The Negro Problem) who do covers of Merseybeat songs with a punk aesthetic. This one’s one of their few ballads, done as a torch song with loud guitars. Great stuff.
Come And Get It by The Knickerbockers is not, as one might expect from a band best known as Beatles soundalikes, a cover of the Paul McCartney song that was a hit for Badfinger. Rather, it’s a remarkably good bit of blue-eyed soul, sounding very like the Spencer Davis Group or the Small Faces at their most bluesy. This really deserved to be a hit.
The Bride Stripped Bare by Don Preston is not the similarly-named Bonzo Dog Band song, but a really gorgeous Stravinsky-esque piece by the former Mother Of Invention turned jazzman (and, latterly, nostaligia circuit performer). It’s a shame Preston’s so overshadowed by his ex-boss, as he’s very, very talented himself.
No More Hot Dogs by Hasil Adkins is the greatest track by the mad rockabilly one-man band, one of many revolving around his favourite themes of murder and meat. This one’s an invitation to (presumably) his girlfriend to have her head cut off and hung on his wall, so she ‘won’t eat no more hot dogs’.
Electricity by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band is from what I still consider one of Beefheart’s best albums, his first, when there seemed a slight possibility that by compromising just *slightly* he could have commercial success. My friend Tilt once said that another song on this album sounded just like the Monkees, and indeed the ‘sung’ vocals here sound very Mike Nesmith. That said, the spoken vocals and theremin part leave no doubt who this is – Beefheart was trying to put his ideas in commercial form, but still using *his* ideas, rather than the pandering of Unconditionally Guaranteed.
Bubblegum by Kim Fowley is one of several attempts that Fowley, whose metier was novelty records, made to be psychedelic. One imagines it might not be wholly serious.
Kyrie Eleison by The Electric Prunes was, until my friend Blake Jones used it as the theme for one of his albums, the best pop-music Kyrie ever. This is from a time when the Electric Prunes had actually split, and David Axelrod was putting out albums of religious-based psychedelic music under their name, involving one or two original members. The band disown the albums now, but I think they’re rather good.
Cherry Picker by Candypants is a typically funny, observant lyric from Lisa Jenio, but what really makes this for me is the bass part, and the chord progression in the bridge, which sounds very Roger Nichols to me.
And Checkin’ In, Checkin’ Out by The High Llamas is unfortunately one of only three of their songs on Spotify, and not at all typical of them. However, it is a great little pop song, in a sort of middle-of-the-road acousticy way.