6.29.2009

WHAT GOES ON: THE FEELIES LIVE IN CHICAGO

New Jersey's uncomparable Feelies are playing tonight for free at Chicago's Jay Pritzker Pavillion (it's that crazy Frank Gehry job behind the bean). This almost makes up for the Clean canceling their US tour.

The Feelies' first record, 1980's Crazy Rhythms, is a revelation. Get it here.





See you tonight!

6.27.2009

PRETTY YOUNG THINGS

Pre-Motown Jackson 5 on the Gary, Indiana label Steeltown:


Jackson 5 - Tracks of My Tears


Jackson 5 - Big Boy

And here's Michael demoing "Working Day and Night" from Off the Wall:


Michael Jackson - Working Day & Night (demo)

But, you know, rarities sort of miss the point. Thriller is ALL HITS.


HAPPIER TIMES

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6.25.2009

SKY SAXON: RIP

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Sky Saxon, legendary Seeds front man, has died.

6.23.2009

ALEXANDER CALDER: LE CIRQUE

Part 1:


Part 2:


Alexander Calder, inventor of the mobile, shows off his kinetic sculpture/puppet show.

6.21.2009

TODAY IS GOING TO BE THE LONGEST DAY

Something to know: A bike ride through Puerto Rican Day traffic is a high stress endeavor. I've never seen so many gleeful expressions and dudes holding comically huge flags. I felt a little left out really. I don't even know where to get flags that big, much less what nation I might endorse.

Nepal obviously has the best flag:



but I imagine a whole sea of people waving Macedonian flags would really impress the bewildered cyclist.



ANYWAY, J.J. Cale is really good. I only discovered this recently. I'm always looking for big, emphatic feelings songs, but sometimes I just want music to sound pleasant and bored. Apparently classic rock equal parts bored and pleasant is called the "Tulsa Sound." I've never been to Tulsa, but judging from its sound, I'm guessing it's pretty boring but also really chill.


J.J. Cale - Cherry


J.J. Cale - Mona

6.20.2009

I HEAR SOMEBODY CRYING: SOUL BURNERS



1. Jean Stanback - I Still Love You

2. George Perkins and the Silver Stars - Crying in the Streets

3. Derrick Harriot and the Jiving Juniors - My Last Letter

4. The Miracles - After All

5. Marva Whitney - If You Love Me

6. Lonnie Mack - Why

7. Double Soul - I Can't Use You

8. Derrick Morgan & Hortense Ellis - I'm Gone

9. Barbara and the Browns - In My Heart

10. Bessie Banks - Go Now

Download

6.18.2009

YOU BETTER RUN: LEE HAZELWOOD'S "COWBOY IN SWEDEN"

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Lee Hazelwood's been getting a lot of play around the house lately, as his music seems to be the perfect accompaniment to any situation: break-ups, languid summer afternoons, late-night drinking, etc. After moving to Stockholm in the 1970's, he released Cowboy in Sweden, an album meant to complement a very Johnny Cash-esque TV production by the same name. Below is a clip from the show.



You can find the album here.

6.17.2009

BAD MEN: GORIES + OBLIVIANS

Big States is headed down to Memphis this weekend to catch the southern installment of the much talked-about Oblivians/Gories reunion shows. Playing Friday and Saturday night at the Hi-Tone and then next weekend in Detroit, the bands will then set off on a European tour. We'll take have a more thorough report next week; 'til then, some vintage clips:


The Oblivians - Bad Man


The Gories - Nitroglycerine

6.09.2009

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN: THE CLEAN ON FILM







New Zealand's The Clean formed in 1978. Led by brothers Hamish and David Kilgour, the band cycled through a few line-ups before recruiting Robert Scott to play bass. Flying Nun (founded specifically to release Clean material) issued the band's first single, "Tally Ho," in 1981, and would go on to be instrumental in the development of the Dunedin Sound, releasing records by cult heroes The Verlaines and Sneaky Feelings, among others.

Dormant for much of the late mid- to late-80's the Clean periodically reformed to tour or release a record. In 2007, the band played a short tour of the east coast, and later this year will be stateside once again, headlining the always worth it Gonerfest; it remains to be seen if the Gonerfest engagement is a one-off, or if the band will be touring more extensively.

6.08.2009

DON'T TREAD ON ME

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As one of Big States' contributors currently lives in California, another is a native and I am from its neighbor to the north, I thought I'd implore all lovers of the West to help contravene Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed plan to cut $143 million out of the California parks budget. Essentially, this amounts to a potential closure of 80% of the states 279 public parks, which despite my hatred of the Los Angeles Lakers, I think is totally a bummer move. Go here for more information.

6.05.2009

LIFE IS LIKE A BIG RIVER

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Map of Big River gold workings, 1887

When I was little, my cousin told me that "time is a river" was the first metaphor. There's no way of knowing for certain. What we do know is that Mary Alice Monroe's book, entitled "Time is a River" concerns a woman with breast cancer who takes up fly fishing. Fly fishing, huh? Sounds an awful lot like A River Runs Through It.

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Mary Alice Monroe: Phony, boring.

Some say Charlie Patton's "Green River Blues" is one of the earliest blues as evidenced by the line, "I'm going where the Southern cross the Dog."


Charlie Patton - Green River Blues

In 1903, W.C. Handy described waiting for a late train when a "lean, loose-jointed Negro had commenced plucking a guitar beside me while I slept."

As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of a guitar in a manner popularized by Hawaiian guitarists who use steel bars. The effect was unforgettable. His song, too, struck me instantly."Goin' where the Southern cross' the Dog"

The singer repeated the line three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard. The tune stayed in my mind. When the singer paused, I leaned over and asked him what the words meant. He rolled his eyes, showing a trace of mild amusement.

Perhaps I should have known, but he didn't mind explaining. At Moorhead, the east and west bound met and crossed the north and south bound trains four times a day. This fellow was going where the Southern railroad crossed the Yazoo Delta railroad, (nicknamed the "Yellow Dog"), and he didn't care who knew it. [source]

So, the river. No one knows how to breathe life into a tired metaphor quite like Bob Seger. Life is a big river; the late summer thunder is my discontent; life on the road, it's a book, turn the page.


Bob Seger - Big River

Frankly, the river is so rich with metaphor that Seger could have just as credibly sung "love is like a big river" or "dancing is like a big river" or, you know, whatever. But I guess "life" is a little more comprehensive.

There is, of course, another "Big River," by Johnny Cash. One of his finest songs, lyrics wise. And I think Bob Dylan agrees, having covered the song several times over the years. Here's a stellar version from the (unreleased) Basement Tapes.


Bob Dylan & The Band - Big River (Take 2)

And as a man uniquely sensitive to both the elemental and the myths of man, Dylan knew that it was only to his advantage to summon the river's majesty in song, as he did on this instrumental from the Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid soundtrack.


Bob Dylan - River Theme


Sexy Spice, Baby Spice, Crazy Spice.

For further proof of the river's metaphorical potency, look no further than the most talented Wilson, Dennis. This song is about walking through the river, and about escaping the rigors of the city, and how he wishes he was like the river.


Dennis Wilson - River Song

MY LIFE IS LIKE A TRAIN RIDE IN FIELDS OF BLUE: KOKO TAYLOR 1928-2009



The Queen of the Blues, with Little Walter, in 1965.

6.03.2009

PEN & PARCHMENT: DRAWING IN THE MIDDLE AGES

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Up now through August 23 at The MET, Pen & Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages examines the work of early draftsmen, starting in about 800 A.D. and ending in the 14th century.

6.02.2009

SANTIAGO ALVAREZ: NOW!



Using available newsreel and crime scene film stock and set to a scorching track by jazz chanteuse (and activist) Lena Horne, Santiago Alvarez's Now! is a key work in the development of Cuban cinema. The island's long history of of conflict and privation stunted the development of modern art forms; before 1959, there was virtually no trace of a native film industry.

After Castro took power in 1959, he busied himself installing socialist government agencies responsible for health care, housing and promotion of the arts. The Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematogr√°ficos (Cuban Film Institute, or ICAIC) was one of the very first, established a mere three months after the revolution. Government funding combined with a near-vacuum of an arts scene engendered wild creativity among the filmmakers, musicians, and graphic artists employed by the ICAIC. The results were stunning and vivid: pop art with an eye towards the Cuban mandate of solidarity and internationalism.

6.01.2009

WHITE WIRES: GIRLY GIRLY GIRLY



Part of an eastern-Canadian garage rock continuum that includes legendary hit makers The Deadly Snakes, The Spaceshits and Les Sexareenos (the latter two being the groups that established King Khan & BBQ as formidable talents) Ottawa, Ontario's White Wires make catchy bubblegum jams like they're going out of style. Appearing at Gonerfest 6 (alongside THE CLEAN!) this September in Memphis.

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