Sunday, July 18, 2010

Puppets... still evil, yep

I still have nightmares about this video. Great song.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Under Your San Andreas House

Stumbled across this playing on YouTube... Portastic's (Mac from Superchunk) wonderful tune about California earthquakes from a decade and a half back, while reenacting Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" video.  Sheer genius.  Or idiocy.  Either way, love the dancing cat.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

1968: The Year In Review

Moving right along... 1968 finds us, well, a lot like 1967 found us.  While not the blockbuster year of psychedelic and musical adventure, that's just because 1967 was just a huge leap forward that it couldn't readily be replicated.  So we end up with another great year of trippy tunes, mostly that great UK whimsical stuff, but plenty of the SF and LA scenes as well.  Some of the greatest albums of the UK psychedelic era (Zombies, Small Faces, Pretty Things).  Plus my fave Byrds album and my fave Kinks album.  The Velvets shake things up a bit, and, on the flipside, the birth of bubblegum.

As with most of the mixes from the era, the Beatles/Stones material was just so head & shoulders above everything else out there that the rest of the mix can't help but suffer a bit in comparison, but, all in all, stands sturdily alongside 1967 as the pinnacle of the psychedelic era.

A few videos:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One Less Kink

Sadly, official word is out that Peter Quaife, original bassist for the Kinks, passed away.  Though the volatile Davies brothers took their toll, and he left in '69, he was there for the early hit singles, not to mention many of their finest albums, such as 1968's Village Green Preservation Society and 1969's Arthur, both personal faves.

A little something to remember him by... [dang, embedding disabled... but here's the link.]

Phish + Neutral Milk Hotel = No, Seriously?

Say what you will about Phish... I'm a huge fan, but recognize plenty of my fellow travelers along the less-mainstream scene don't share that joy.. but, c'mon, a cover of a Neutral Milk Hotel song?  Talk about balls.

And, hey, if just a few dozen Phish fans wandered home from the show and decided to check out In The Aeroplane Over The Sea -- one of the most fascinating, intense albums of the past two decades -- how could you not cheer?

A little something from the real thing...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

1967: The Year In Review

Next up, 1967.  One of my favorite years in music, the height of psychedelia, the summer of love, the ultimate fruition of early stabs by the Beatles, Beach Boys, etc. to view rock albums as more than just a pop single and 28 minutes of filler.  (Though still mainly a singles-oriented genre, when you come right down to it.)  It was my desire to make a '67 mix that prompted this whole project; once it became clear I'd need two discs to do it justice, I decided I really needed to redo all my old single-disc annual mixes, and may as well start with '66 (for the reasons noted below).  But '66 was really just a warm up for this one.

'67 was the true blooming of UK psyche, one of my favorite genres.  Sure, you've got Sgt. Pepper (represented here by "A Day In The Life") and the Stones' effort to ape the Beatles ("We Love You," with an uncredited Lennon & McCartney in the studio), plus some Barrett-era Pink FloydTomorrow's inimitable "My White Bicycle," the Pretty Things' early moves into trippy headphone freak-out, the Small Faces likewise leaping away from r&b and dropping a tab or two, more Creation, even twee second tier British Invasion popsters like Chad & Jeremy goin' all acid on us.  And back here at home, you've got the San Francisco explosion, with the first (somewhat lame) Dead album, the first real Jefferson Airplane album (not counting their pre-Grace Slick stuff), and the first Moby Grape album (better than the Dead and the Airplane, by far).  Some L.A. highlights (Love and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield and the Doors, of course, plus the underappreciated but totally cool in a strangely kitschy way West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band).  The greatest Kinks song ever in "Waterloo Sunset."  Arguably the Who's best single in "I Can See For Miles." The Left Banke's gorgeous "Pretty Ballerina."  "Purple Haze."  Ultimate hippie anthem "Get Together." Honestly, what's not to love here?

1967 also saw the non-release of the most famous mythical album of all time, the Beach Boys' Smile, not released that year (or ever), but bits of it (like "Heroes & Villains") cobbled together and slipped out over the years.

Oh, and Neil Diamond singing "Cherry, Cherry."  Kinda didn't envision a whole lot of Neil Diamond on the mixes, but, hey, it's "Cherry, Cherry."  Twice as nice.

Probably one of my favorite of all these mixes.  1968 doesn't flag much in quality, either, though the novelty of '67's rampant experimentation all over the place gives it the edge.

Videos, anyone?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

1966: The Year In Review

Mentioned awhile back my ongoing "Year In Review" mix project.  (Well, actually, didn't mean for so much time to lapse between mentioning it and actually starting to post the mixes, but, as rational people realize, blogging on a regular basis is wholly inconsistent with being gainfully employed, having a family, and just generally having a healthy, well-rounded life.  But what can you do?)

I've been making year-end mixes since law school, around '88 or so, though obviously back in the day I was making 90-minute cassettes off of vinyl.  Evolved to cdr mixes upon getting my first burner back around '98, which led to shorter mixes (74 minutes, and later 80 minutes) but a lot more flexibility when ripping songs off of cd's to a computer and moving 'em around than when you had to spin the albums with the tape rolling and hope for the best.  Kept up with the annual cdr mixes ever since, and at some point retroactively went back and created annual best of mixes dating back to '77.

Last year, I decided to revisit the project and make new, expanded 2-cd mixes for each year beginning with 1966.  Picked '66 largely because it's when I was born, but also because I view it as the first truly great year for rock & roll, what with Revolver and Pet Sounds and Blonde on Blonde, and the earliest examples of rock as a true art form, plus some creeping psychedelia.  (Personally, I think 1967 was the first truly tremendous year, where this project really kicks into gear, but '66 seemed a better starting point.  1965, of course, had some great virtues, and I'll probably circle back and compile it once I've completed the project, which is currently at 1998 -- the worst mix to date, incidentally, but, hey, we'll get there soon enough.)

So, turning now to 1966:  First off, it's the first and last time I used two songs from the same artist, as the Beatles not only had their first perfect album in Revolver, but my favorite song ever ("Rain"), and didn't have the heart to pick one over the other.  (There have been later examples of overlap, such as Clapton's solo debut the same year as Derek & The Dominoes, but never again picked two from the same act.)  Those Beatles tunes open and close the mix, and, not surprisingly, in between there a pretty healthy mix of British Invasion mainstays (Stones, Kinks, Who, plus the Zombies, Creation, Yardbirds, Animals, Hollies, Troggs, Dave Clark Five, etc.).  We've got some of the earliest tracks from the Dead, Hendrix, Bowie.  The first Velvet Underground single, and the first Monkees album.  Arguably the greatest song ever in "Good Vibrations," and of course "Eight Miles High" is pretty damn close.  Throw in a fair number of selections from various Nuggets box sets of early psychedelia/garage band music.  Throughout the mix (and later ones), I was trying to walk the line between obvious, overplayed classics (too many of which would make this come out like a lame Time-Life collection you could buy through a late-night infomercial) and more obscure, arguably less "relevant" tracks that happen to be personal favorites.  So some tunes here might be too obvious in an am-radio-oldies kinda way ("California Dreamin'", "Kicks," "Good Lovin'", "Wild Thing", "Gimme Some Lovin'", "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'", etc.), but in moderation they fit in ok.

Notwithstanding the presence of the Beatles/Stones/Who etc., my favorite songs here would probably be "Hold Tight" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich -- a lesser British Invasion track I'd missed entirely until it showed up in Tarantino's Death Proof -- and the Creation's "Try And Stop Me."  And the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" is one of those gorgeous songs I can hear over and over and never tire of, so, right, there you go.

[UPDATE:  After abandoning the Art of the Mix website a couple years back -- it had been hacked and loaded up with malware -- I've given the cleaned-up & totally revamped site another try, starting with this mix.]

A couple videos perhaps?