Tuesday, March 24, 2015
The J. Geils Band - "Come Back"
On their way from a gallant attempt at being America's Stones - funny, swaggering, revivalists of classic blues, R&B, and soul - to not-quite new wave (but certainly not the blues) hitmakers extraordinaire (shorthand: from guitars and harp to synths and guitars), The J. Geils Band released the Love Stinks album which points both forward and back.
"Come Back" is a dance marvel, co-writer Seth Justman does mainstream synth work up there with seventies masters Pete Townshend and Stevie Wonder, and his production is flawless. When other co-writer Peter Wolf enters the chorus after the instrumental break, the background singers' stuttering is an amazing thing, one of those great rare pop touches. The extended coda makes me think/demand that there be an extended play twelve-inch dance mix out there somewhere. Disco never, ever died. Always remember that.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Hellacopters - "Gimmie Shelter"
Leave it to garage hard rockers The Hellacopters to open their take on "Gimmie Shelter" by sounding as ominous as the original, then throw it into high gear around the 30-second mark and play the hell out of the thing like their Swedish lives depended on it. The punk/metal "speed it up to make it something unique" trick works, much to their credit. They own this one, complete with tough/freakout vocals, Stooges-like piano, frequent pick slides, harmonica wailing at the end, and somewhere in all of it a "Satisfaction" riff as well. Covers of classics don't get much more daring or better than this.
That they tucked it away on a B-side and later on a stuff-that-didn't-make-albums compilation titled Cream Of The Crap! only shows the (earned) arrogance with which the 'Copters carried themselves during their run. The next time that Microsoft anthem "Start Me Up" pops up on your classic hits station, play this one instead LOUDLY.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Uriah Heep - "Bird Of Prey"
Some fifty-cent LPs you regret, most you don't. IT WAS ONLY FIFTY CENTS. Scoring The Best of Uriah Heep at the closeout sale at St. Paul's legendary Root Cellar Records back in '04 was arguably the best Kennedy coin gamble I've ever taken on a slab of vinyl. Uriah Heep was from the same Brit/heavy/metal cloth as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Like Sabbath they had some mystic occult mumbo jumbo going on, like Purple they had an organ and over-the-top vocals. Me, I eat this stuff up. Speed it up and substitute a lower-range vocal grumble and you have Screaming Trees, who I also love. Also, with Heep putting short songs on the A-side and longer (but not deeper) songs on the flip, I have almost all the Heep I need* in a single album.
And if you're going to buy The Best of Uriah Heep, you gotta get it on vinyl. The back cover features a handy chart that shows who was in/out of the band during its run. And that was in 1976 - early in Heep's run, it turns out - the folks over at Wikipedia were helpful enough to show in/out to present day. You are forgiven if you mix that chart up with the chart detailing the Lutheran Laestadian Divisions in America.
* "Almost" is the key word here. Weirdly, Uriah Heep's best song by far - "Stealin'" - is not included in this package!