Wednesday, April 30, 2008

just a charming fella

Darondo is one of these re-discovered treasures of american music that is so ill that we all wonder why no one was paying attention to him for the past 20 years or whatever. Kinda like how Andre Williams used to live under a bridge in chicago until some one reminded us how great he is, re-issued his records and put him back on tour. I had the pleasure of working the Norton Records Holiday Spectacular at Southpaw a few years back and got to see him perform. They simply don't make them like that anymore...

But I digress. This is from a bay area public access station in the 80's. Let me just say, real pimps are on some wild shit. This ain't no type of motion picture, this dude was out there doing it, for better or for worse.

Oh yeah, and somewhere along the line he found the time to record this beautiful song:

Darondo - "didn't I"

Remember Rita Pavone

So in our upcoming installment of Chances with wolves radio, we ran Rita Pavone's "Remember me", which is a whimsical, poppy little song about lost love and betrayal. I found a few videos of her, and in a lot of them she looks super androgynous, with like a little bowl haircut and suspenders and high-waters on, which was kinda cool considering not too many female singers got down like that in the early sixties. Anyway, here is "remember me" in italian.

And she has a dress on.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An American Poets Song Book

Jim Bartow & The Harlem Blues Consort: Away

Jim Bartow & The Harlem Blues Consort: Philosophy

I pulled this record out of my father's collection. I pulled it out cause I'd never seen it before in any of my travels and it looked interesting. And when I flipped it over I saw that it was inscribed to my pops from the dude who made the record.

My father's name is Larry Cox. He's a good man. He spent his whole life fighting for Human Rights and Social Justice. I admire him greatly.

The inscription is dated march 1976.  Back then my pop's was doing a radio program on WBAI called "taking it easy, but taking it". Political stuff and music and revolution. You know.

I couldn't find any information about Jim Bartow.
On this particular record he sets poems by people like Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and Paul Lawrence Dunbar to music.

The way he arranges the singing of "Away", which is a Robert Frost joint, is so weird and beautiful that I had to share it. I'm also posting one of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar songs. He was a was a seminal American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course I had never heard of him because the teaching of accomplishments by black Americans, at least when I was a kid, was not really a priority in the New York City public school system. It was a quick Langston Hughes joint in February and then it was like: move on.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sex, drugs & Yé-yé

Sheila - "Bang-Bang"

Sheila -"Le Reve"

Sheila-"Ne Raccroche Pas" (Don't Hang Up)

When I was in Paris I was poking around this huge outdoor flea market on the edge of town when I came across a box of french pop 45's from the 60's. I managed to haggle with the dude in french, which I was very proud of.

All the record's had ILL picture covers with these weird french pop singers like the infamous "Sheila" here. Take a moment now to really absorb Sheila's distinct Madonna-like ability to morph and adapt, creating an entirely new look for herself for each subsequent record (a fashion trailblazer if I've ever seen one.)

When I showed the records to my mother (Peace Mom !), who is french-speaking Swiss, she said: "I had some of these records when I was young. C'est Yé-yé."

Wikipedia describes Yé-yé as  "a style of pop music that emerged out of France and Québec in the early 1960s. Yeye means young, innocent, and cute."

It's basically a lot of covers of American rock n roll translated into French. But somewhere in the translation, some of the trashy, rebellious, badassy, juvenile-delinquent spirit at the core of early rock n roll, may have been lost. The French people (God Bless them) just have a fundamentally different attitude towards life than us Americans. They just do. I'm not going to go into an elaborate explanation of the differences here. I'll save that for another blog, or pamphlet  or xeroxed leaflet, somewhere in my future.

Right now I just want to share this music with you. The first one is in fact a cover of the Sonny Bono penned banger (now famous in it's Nancy Sinatra /Kill Bill incarnation). The second is a breezy little french version of The Loving Spoonfull's "Daydream". And the third is a dancy number about phone sex (or something).

To illustrate perhaps some of the subtle differences between American Rock and Yé-yé. Compare the song "School's out for Summer" by American Rock Singer Alice Cooper to it's french counterpart "L'Ecole Est Finie" by Shelia.



Actually those are pretty similar. Forget it.