Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Top 5 60's revivalists!

The last decade has seen a plethora of new pop bands following a retro vibe.
Most of these groups of late have emulated the likes of 'ACDC', 'Led Zeppelin', and 'The Beatles' on occassion, but rarely seen is a charting band paying tribute to some of the music from one the best decades rock has seen.
Here is a guide to 5 of the best and most underated groups showing off their strong 60's influences:

1. Yo La Tengo.

This New Jersey trio has been around since the late 80s, evolving their unique sound throughout each album. Some of the early albums envoke a strong 'Velvet Underground' vibe, whilst listening to anything they've released in the last 8 years, one could hear elements of 'The Beach Boys', 'The Kinks', and 'The Byrds'. They obviously impressed Ray Davies so much to warrant his invitation of backing him for a tour in 2000!

Suggested listening: 'I am not afraid of you and I will beat your Ass', 'Summer Sun'

2. The Lilys.

One of the greatest musical crimes of the last few years is that 'Lilys' frontman Kurt Heasley is not a household name. At first listen to the groups 1996 album 'better can't make your life better', one would believe the music is straight out of 1966.
At this stage of their career, the band sound distinctly like 'Rubber soul' era Beatles with Ray Davies single lead vocals.

Suggested Listening: 'Better Can't make your life better', 'The 3-way'

3. XTC.
Andy Partridge. Another true underated genius released several albums from the late 70s through to modern times, with post-punk group 'XTC'.
Although they started out with a rough punk edge, there was always a catchy melodic undertone to all their work, and by the mid 80's the groups sound was evolving into a beatlesque vision of psychedelia, and Brian wilson inspired pop.
In 1985 they launched a faithful tribute to the 60's under the pseudonym 'The Dukes of Stratosphear', which was recorded entirely with vintage 60's instruments and recording equipment.

Suggested Listening: 'The Dukes of Stratosphear', 'Skylarking', 'Oranges and lemons'.

4. The Wondermints. This group deserves mentioning alone for participating regularly in Brian Wilsons' backing band. Wondermints' keyboard player Darian Sahanaja is also one of the prime instigators of Wilson returning to his lost beach boys' epic 'Smile', and finally releasing a re-recorded version in 2003.

Suggested Listening: 'Bali', 'Wonderful world of the Wondermints'.

5. The High Llamas.
Another group that have been around for several years, with band members often working with the likes of 'Stereolab', and 'Jim O'rourke'. Led by genius Sean O'hagan, almost all of the groups releases are heavily Brian Wilson inspired, perhaps acting as though they themselves were 'The Beach Boys' circa 1966 in a parallel universe.

Suggested Listening: 'Hawaii', Snowbug', 'Can Cladders'.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy' - Tom Waits

A classic interview from the early years of legendary song writer:

The Who story to be told, and retold

This story has been heard many times, but just in case you missed it:

It is the opening night of the Who's North American 1973 tour.
Unbeknown to the rest of the group , someone in the bands entourage provided drummer Keith moon with 8 animal tranquilizers, informing him that swallowing half a pill with a cup of brandy would result in an interesting 'high'.
Keith proceeded to pronounce 'half of one!, I'm Keith Moon' and swallowed all of them at once.
According to Guitarist Pete Townshend, they were the type of capsuals that were to be shot from a gun, rather than to be ingested, let alone by a human being!
Understandably not too far into the bands set, after drumming erratically and changing tempo uncontrollably, Moon keeled over backwards .
After being dragged backstage and injected with a shot of cortazone, the drummer returned to the stage to continue playing halfway through the next song, before collapsing again.

Eager to continue the set anyway, Townshend asked if there was anybody in the audience that could play the drums!
A19 year old named Scott Halpin walked up on stage and took over the role of drummer for the remainder of the set, and although was not rehearsed with any of the timing changes evidently managed to keep a steady hold on the complexities of Townshends music.

Footage of Scott Halpin playing with the who can be seen below:

More Robert Wyatt

The man himself, performing 'Shipbuilding'

Old Salty: An underated genius

It is only in the last few months that I have discovered the genius of Robert Wyatt.
Having played as drummer/singer in the seminal psych-rock 60s group 'Soft Machine',
Wyatt later went onto record some amazing albums, blending the beautiful melodic styling of Brian Wilson, and Van-Dyke Parks, with Syd Barrett-esque eccentricities.
Probably most famous for his haunting rendition of Elvis Costello's 'Shipbuilding' from the early eighties, he is one of those artists that only get better with age.
His latest album 'Comicopera' is possibly his finest work since 1974s 'Rock Bottom' and utilizes the diverse talent of Brian Eno, Paul Weller and Phil Manzanerra without letting any of there distinct personalities overtake Wyatts grand aural scheme.
If you are fan of avant-pop and looking for something completely new and original to add to your music collection, grab yourself a copy of 'Comicopera'.

Move over Action Man

Get your signed Brian Wilson Action Doll while stocks last!!!!
Apparently these are being sold at his shows, but if you can fork out $500US head over to and order online for this unique collectors item.

The Radiant Radish

It is the year 1969.
Imagine you are walking through West Hollywood, perhaps feeling a little tubby or bloated from the previous few years of weed induced munchies.
How fortunate then, that you stumble upon a quaint little health food store and decide to nurture your ailing fitness.
As you walk into the lowly lit store casually surveying the poorly stocked shelves, a shy long-haired man wearing a bathrobe acknowledges your presence with a nod.
A strange feeling of familiarity overcomes you as you glance upon this slightly disheveled looking shopkeeper.
Is it possible that this individual is the very same genius that just a few years prior wrote the modern pocket symphony 'good vibrations'?

Indeed, in 1969 Brian Wilson was a part owner/operator of 'The Radiant Radish' health food store. It was reported that Brian would often open the 'Radish' at various different times of the day, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, mostly not bothering to wear anything but his pajamas.
Having been introduced to cocaine the previous year, his already indulgent behaviour was become increasingly erratic.
During late night binges, rumors were that it was not uncommon for Brian to discuss outrageous ideas for opening 24 hour trampoline or ping pong table stores due to his disappointment at not being able purchase such products on a whim.
Even though he was destroying his body with various illegal substances, Brian was ironically going through a health fad, leading to the opening of his short lived vitamin shop.

The unreleased Beach Boys album 'Landlocked' even included a Wilson penned 'plug' for the store, entitled 'H.E.L.P'.
Unfortunately though, according to several biographers, the store only remained open for a year, due to the owners lack of business skills, and perhaps the failure to order new stock!

The Great Brian Wilson