Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter grab bag

Back to the grind with another version of Friday nite grab bag, after a few days in chilly Amsterdam with old friends, animated conversation, good food and way too much to drink. Here are some great songs that assaulted my eardrums during the past week. Guaranteed: no ditties about bunnies or eggs. Instead you´ll get two great duets by the daughter of Ol´ Blue Eyes, a singer/songwriter turning anarcho punk into campfire singalongs and a new Triffids reissue. Happy easter, folks.  

While in Amsterdam, I got a great Nancy Sinatra album I had previously overlooked somehow from a friend. Thanks again! It´s one of these albums you expect to hate at first glance because of a formula that hardly ever works: a more or less forgotten singer is surrounded by contemporary admirers. On Nancy Sinatra (Sanctuary records ´04) the plan succeeds for once though, mainly because the songs are so good. My current favorite track is the one Nancy recorded with Jon Spencer of Pussy Galore and Blues Explosion fame. Spencer plays the Lee Hazlewood-role with gusto. But even he can´t better these old Nancy & Lee duets, as a golden oldie like Sand (´67) clearly shows.
Nancy Sinatra - Ain´t No Easy Way MP3
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Sand MP3

Ramones tributes are a specialty of mine. The ones I like most don´t only sound like the Ramones, but namecheck da Brudders as well. Johnny And Dee Dee by the Australian band The Eastern Dark (´85) is a good example. Watching a Ramones video makes the singer completely forget his girlfriend for a while. "They´re my heroes in life, and they´re there to take me high..." Rightly so. The Badtown Boys from California recorded their furious ode to Dee Dee in ´91. I saw them live once and they had the look down pat: leather jackets, sneakers and ripped jeans. One two three four... 
The Eastern Dark - Johnny And Dee Dee MP3
Badtown Boys - Dee Dee Took The Subway MP3

Singer/songwriter and comic artist Jeffrey Lewis achieved the impossible. He just recorded an acoustic Crass cover album, and guess what? It works. And it´s big fun, too. For the uninitiated: Crass was one of the most uncompromising punk collectives of the late seventies. They lived in a commune, preached anarchy and did everything themselves. Their music was anything but pretty, but New Yorker Lewis proves on the aptly titled 12 Crass Songs (Rough Trade) that it´s possible to turn their slogan-songs into folky campfire singalongs. Comparing the Crass originals (this one´s from their ´78 debut The Feeding Of The 5000) with the cover versions is priceless.
Jeffrey Lewis - Do They Owe Us A Living MP3
Crass - Do They Owe Us A living MP3

I´ve complimented Domino Records before in these pages on the excellent job it´s doing with the Triffids´ back catalogue. Their newly released Beautiful Waste And Other Songs (Mini Masterpieces 1983-1985) is another goodie. It compiles early singles, ep´s and mini albums like Field Of Glass and the great Raining Pleasure. St James Infirmary has been covered by many, but I´ve always had a weak spot for the Triffids´version.
The Triffids - St James Infirmary MP3

"If memory serves we´re still on a break." Art Brut´s ode to a first love always brings a smile to my face. "I haven´t seen her in 10 years, 9 months, 3 weeks, 6 hours, 13 minutes, 5 seconds..." I do believe the guy is still in love. With Emily Kane. Find it on Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Fierce Panda ´05).
Art Brut - Emily Kane MP3

Let´s close Easter proceedings with one of these heartbreakingly beautiful songs by the late great Townes Van Zandt. This blog isn´t called For the Sake Of The Song for nothing, if you know what I mean... "We´ve got the sky to talk about and the world to lie upon". To Live Is To Fly is from the mighty High, Low And Inbetween album (´72).
Townes Van Zandt - To Live Is To Fly MP3

1 comment:

Paul said...

I think that's my favorite TVZ song. (Sometimes I change my mind.)