Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
The Music Machine - "Talk Talk"

First of all, I have a bone to pick with those weenies over at Wikipedia. At their search engine, unless you type in the "The" in The Music Machine, it brings up some Christian children's music albums called Music Machine, which I read about on Wikipedia and had to supress laughter. (Where the hell in the Bible is "Agapeland"??) But I like to think that whoever came up the religious Music Machine albums was some sort of agnostic double agent secretly in love with The Music Machine, a group of LA-based punk rockers who had long moptops, dressed all in black, and each member wore one black glove (kudos to the organ player for his deft handling of this potentially difficult workplace issue.)

As for "Talk Talk," it hit #15 in 1966. Take a look at these guys on YouTube lip-syncing the song: All the menace of the Stones and Yardbirds unleashed in under two minutes. Except instead of the usual I'm-scared-of-women bluster normally associated with sixties punk, this song is about having the deepest of blues:

My social life's a dud
My name is really mud
I'm up to here in lies
Guess I'm down to size

The song ends with the shortest of choruses: "Talk talk. Talk talk. Talk talk." What's it mean? Does it matter?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
Rank Strangers - "Life During Wartime"

In which a scrappy trio of Minneapolis rockers take an overrated Talking Heads song, lift out David Byrne's lyrics, and add much better music. This is a powerful song, with a paranoid give-you-the-creeps vibe, and after repeated listens I don't know if the narrator is actually living during a war, after a war (my Rank Strangers single names the tune as "Life After Wartime" on the disc, though the sleeve retains the original title), or if the whole Us vs. Them thing is in his mind. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
Donnie Iris - "Ah Leah!"

When it comes to choosing my favorite hands-down hard rock songs of all time, I know they include: "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones, "Workin' for MCA" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Complete Control" by The Clash, and "Ah Leah!" by Donnie Iris. (I never complete the list because this isn't the late nineties.) All you have to do is listen to "Ah Leah!" once to recognize its greatness: Incessant bass, crunching riffs, soaring background vocals, the whole "caw-caw" thing with the keyboards - Chuck Eddy correctly compared it to Uriah Heep - before the guitar solo, the femme fatale who is the subject of the song. But here's what else I love about the tune:

- It originally came out on the Midwest National label, an affiliate of Sweet City records. Indie rock, right?

- Even though I'll have another song blasting on my iPod, when I see (Ah) Leah McClean on TV doing the news while I'm working out at the YMCA, this song immediately takes over my mind. And I hate local news. Come to think of it, I don't even know what (Ah) Leah McClean's voice sounds like. I just know seeing her on the TV at the Y makes my day better.

- The song's video, which you may have chosen to watch while listening to this tune, either features Donnie Iris or Earl Camembert as its male lead!

UPDATES AFTER POSTING THIS: 1) I love how Donnie Iris adusts his bow tie postcoitally before talking to Leah. 2) That YouTube video is from Canada's MuchMore channel. They spell Donnie's name "Donny" ... obviously they don't like him stealing Earl Camembert's look.