The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

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Prof. Wagstaff
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:13 pm

LORD LUTHER -- I Am The Lord is a fun CD from the UK Ace reissue label chronicling the sparse recording career of San Francisco Bay Area's Lord Luther McDaniels, who enjoyed lots of local success but never took off nationally. The disc starts with "WPLJ", his delightful 1955 ode to cheap boozing from when he was a member of The 4 Deuces, and ends in 1964. Luther specialized in R&B novelties and just about everything here is a lot of fun. Great way to kick off my Sunday morning. My faves, at least of the ones actually on YouTube: "A Thinkin' Man's Girl", "Donna Dee", "Tell Ya What"

LOS BRAVOS -- "Black Is Black" is a pretty nifty mid-'60s single (although it definitely goes on the list of "Songs Which Rock A Lot Harder In My Head Than In Reality") which probably led me to think this was a rock band before I picked up their CD. But they're not. Their LP Black Is Black has nothing even close to as good as the title cut, revealing them to actually be overproduced, cheeseball MOR pap. If you think Neil Diamond played rock and roll (I do not) then you might dig this. Reviewers like to make a big deal of the fact these guys were the first group from Spain to have a hit here but there's exactly zero ethnic influence in this stuff so it amounts to nothing more than the answer to a trivia question. The CD reissue I have appends 13 more non-LP cuts but it's more of the same, with the singer doing one of my most despised things in pop music -- acting like he's singing tough rock and roll despite how lame the songs and arrangements are. (I call this "pulling the ol' Tom Jones".) They even desecrate "Bring A Little Lovin'", one of my favorite Easybeats songs. Bleccch. So not my thing. I've got "Black Is Black" on at least four different comps, so this is so PURGED!

THE LOUVIN BROTHERS -- The Louvins sang some of the most gorgeous harmonies ever committed to wax and in the process were a huge influence on The Everly Brothers, which earns them a place in music history regardless of how you feel about their actual recordings. I have two of their LPs burned to a single disc -- 1956's Tragic Songs Of Life and 1959's Satan Is Real. I'd give the nod to the latter but honestly, it's mostly all pretty samey-sounding and unless you're heavily invested in their lyrical concerns, both work equally well as background music. "Satan Is Real" itself is half a song/half a sermon (and I recommend clicking the link both to see the amazing album graphic and because the playlist it's on is misnamed "Stan Is Real", which cracks me up) and just glancing at the song titles should give you a sense of the Louvins approach to Christianity and salvation: "There's A Higher Power", "Are You Afraid To Die", "The Drunkard's Doom", "Satan's Jeweled Crown", "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night", etc. Being a heathen atheist pig, I don't really care what they're singing about but thoroughly enjoy the sound of this stuff solely for the beauty of their voices. But my favorite Louvin Brothers songs (with the caveat that I know nothing of them but what's on this single disc) are actually the three I culled from compilations and appended to the end: "Cash On The Barrelhead", "Red Hen Hop" (which is rockabilly, whether the Louvins intended it as such or not), and most especially their paranoid, apocalyptic warning of nuclear annihilation, "Great Atomic Power".

Next up . . . LOVE (♫♪ . . . exciting and new ♫♪. . . )

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:55 am

LOVE -- Love were the crown jewel of the mid-to-late-'60s L.A. folk-rock-sorta-psychedelic scene and their first two albums, Love and Da Capo, both from 1966, are top-notch and include most of the songs for which casual rock fans would recognize them today: a sinister and definitive take on Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book", their charged version of "Hey Joe" and the absolutely splendid wigout "7 and 7 Is". I'd write more but frustratingly, my CD import copies have some kind of bullshit copy protection on them which prevents them from playing on my computer, so I have to skip them for now. (I will make a point of jamming them in my living room soon just cuz, but I'm not gonna backtrack and review them here once I have. Sorry.)
That brings us directly to their third LP -- and the final one with the original line-up -- Forever Changes, which is an absolute classic. I cannot praise this album enough. It is a masterpiece and I don't throw that word around lightly. Lots of strings and horns flesh out an amazing set of mostly acoustic guitar-based songs with strange and wonderful titles and truly bizarre lyrics to match. It's an ethereal recording -- lush and gorgeous -- bookended by two of leader Arthur Lee's best-ever songs "Alone Again Or" and "You Set The Scene". Full album here. If you like weird '60s rock and are not familiar with it, I urge you to check it out ASAP.
The only other Love disc on my rack is False Start, their sixth album from 1970, which usually gets shit on by reviewers but I think is pretty good, if not up to the standard of the first three LPs. Worth noting for historical purposes, I suppose: it kicks off with Lee's collaboration with Jimi Hendrix, "The Everlasting First", about which I can say, yep, that's Jimi Hendrix. (Legend has it Lee and Hendrix recorded an entire album together but for legal reasons, Lee was never able to release it. I cannot confirm this tale and at this far remove, the likelihood of it ever seeing release if it does exist seems slim, so why worry about it?) Anyway, still bummed I can't jam those first two LPs, so let's move on . . .

DARLENE LOVE -- Darlene Wright was the lead singer of The Blossoms, who were regulars on Shindig! and did backup vocal work for all sorts of big names and on lots of one-off hits. That's them on "Everybody Likes To Cha-Cha-Cha" by Sam Cooke, backing up Elvis during his 1968 TV special, and appearing as The Rebelettes behind Duane Eddy. They sang with artists as musically varied as Bobby Darin, Paul Anka, Buck Owens, Tom Jones, and on and on. Heck, that's even them on "Monster Mash". (Anyone interested in learning more about the stories of backup singers who also likes really great documentaries should check out 20 Feet From Stardom which features a lot of Darlene.) Darlene almost got her big break working with Phil Spector, who gave her the new name Love, but alas, it was not to be. First, Spector dicked her over by using her voice but crediting it to others. That's her, for example, belting out the monumentally great "He's A Rebel" by The Crystals. Now, there really was a group of girls called The Crystals and they really sang on some of their own records, but they were based in New York and Spector was in L.A. and too impatient to wait for them when he had inspiration, so what the hell, just bring in some other girls and bam, The Crystals had another smash. By the time Spector got around to recording songs under Love's name, he'd fallen under the spell of The Ronettes (specifically the soon-to-be Ronnie Spector) and so the songs she was given to sing were not his best stuff, unfortunately. (They're still good, but The Ronettes were getting the A-material.) Anyway, I've got a 29-track import CD that collects much of Love's finest work with Spector -- no matter what name the public saw on the record label -- plus a nice selection of non-Spector stuff, and boy howdy do I love this stuff. So without further ado, here's a selection of my faves:
"He's Sure The Boy I Love" The Crystals
"Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts?" Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans
"(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" Darlene Love
"A Fine, Fine Boy" Darlene Love
"Hard To Get" The Blossoms
"I Gotta Tell It" The Blossoms
"Good Good Lovin'" The Blossoms (I strongly urge you to click this one in particular. Damn I love this song and Darlene's vocal.)
Oh, and she is the undisputed (do not dispute me!) star of Phil Spector's rightfully legendary Christmas album, so here's two of her four cuts: "White Christmas" and one of the indisputably (do not dispute me!) greatest Christmas songs ever, "Christmas (Won't You Please Come Home)" (which was originally recorded as the non-Christmas "Johnny", btw.)
Love recorded with the Blossoms throughout the '60s and into the '70s and I do have lots more of that stuff too, but it's under B, natch, and there are rules to this Project, so that's all ya get.

WILLIE LOVE -- I've got a CD of 21 tracks cobbled together by me from a variety of sources. Willie plays piano and sings the blues. Boy I'm sick of the blues. Aren't you sick of the blues? Uh. . . 1951 - 1954. Standard stuff until this pair of wonderful tracks made me prick up my ears:
"Shout Brother, Shout" and the even better "Way Back".
Less blues, please, alphabet.

LOVE SCULPTURE -- Dang you, alphabet . . . young white British boy blues featuring the not inestimable guitar skills of one Mr. Dave Edmunds. The ridiculously named Love Sculpture, which formed from the ashes of the even more ridiculously named Human Beans, debuted with Blues Helping in 1968 and it's (wait for it) a blues album! The boys do pretty straight-up (occasionally slighty fuzzier and speedier) covers of Freddy King, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Elmore James, Slim Harpo, etc. You know, the usual suspects for this sort of thing. And you know how I always complain about everyone doing "Summertime"? Well, guess what? You guessed, didn't you? (Full disclosure: I've always really dug this version. I'm an enigma is what I am!) Not bad as far as these things go -- although fairly pointless given I own all the originals -- but damn it, I'm sick of the blues! (Have I mentioned I'm sick of the blues?) Their 1970 follow-up Forms and Feelings is a decidedly stranger affair. Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" and (for some ungodly reason) Paul Korda's "Seagull" are the only "songs" covered here, but this go-round the group decided classical music was what their music was missing because, I assume, late '60s! It kicks off with the group-composed "In The Land Of The Few" and culminates in an admittedly fiercely rocking but at 11+ minutes way overlong "Sabre Dance" (yes, Khachaturian's, though Edmunds gives himself a co-writing credit -- as he also does on the group's version of Bizet's "Farandole" -- because why not?) I have affection for these records -- I've owned them since high school before I knew the superior originals covered on the first LP and find the sheer loopiness of the 2nd LP endearing -- but Dave Edmunds would certainly go on to much better things.

Next up . . . not just more love, Love Unlimited!

Prof. Wagstaff
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:56 pm

LOVE UNLIMITED -- The Best Of Love Unlimited (1997 "Funk Essentials" CD on Mercury) reveals Love Unlimited to be undistinguished disco girl group bullshit from the (lack of) imagination of come on maestro Barry White. I like plenty of disco, but not when the rhythms are this sterile. The hit "Walking In The Rain (With The One I Love)" is fairly snazzy and "High Steppin' Hip Dressin' Fella (Got To Get It Together)" is sorta fun, if overlong, but this is mostly pretty pointless; uninspired dance "grooves" and sappy, blandly sung ballads. The one truly great arrangement here (and really, the only reason I won't be purging this) is "I Belong To You".

LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA -- Now this is some serious bullshit. The Best Of Barry White's Love Unlimied Orchestra (part of the same series as the above disc) collects 15 super lame and totally worthless instrumental tracks I honestly can't imagine anyone wanting to dance to no matter how much coke they'd just snorted. (And yet they did! Stupid '70s!) The big smash (#1!) hit "Love's Theme" is easily the best thing here -- shortened by 3 minutes or so, it would've made a decent enough theme song to some '70s TV show about jiggling girls in bikinis, I suppose -- but that is damn faint praise indeed. Shameless product of no artistic value. PURGED! A THOUSAND TIMES PURGED!

Next up . . . oh thank goodness, it's not the blues or shitty disco . . . Lyle Lovett!

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby david cohen » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:45 pm

I was just watching Barry White BURN IT UP on an old Soul Train episode. Don Cornelius was looking pretty fly. What a time to be alive;)

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:00 pm

david cohen wrote:I was just watching Barry White BURN IT UP on an old Soul Train episode. Don Cornelius was looking pretty fly. What a time to be alive;)

Heh. There are a handful of pretty great Barry White songs ("Can't Enough Of Your Love" easily being the best) but mostly he just cranked out endless product, it would seem.

LYLE LOVETT -- That Lovett was ever pigeonholed as a country artist just shows how far appearances go when it comes to public perception. He's from Texas? He sometimes wears a cowboy hat? Must be a country artist! Now obviously, Lyle Lovett plays some country songs, but it's evident from his first self-titled LP from 1986 there's a lot more going on here. Even when working in an obviously country idiom, it certainly sounds nothing like the kind of country then popular (although the album's worst cut and only real misstep, the cheesy faux-rock of "You Can't Resist It", does sorta sound like what bad country would come to be like a few years down the line.) I mean, western swing is country, sure, but c'mon, that's not what listeners to country radio in the mid-'80s identified as their genre. And when you add in the folk, jazz, and blues influences evident here, it all adds to something of greater breadth the label "country" implies. These days, he'd probably be called Americana, but since I'm generally bored by the music which falls under that heading, I'm just gonna call him Lyle Lovett. Except for the aforementioned "You Can't Resist It", I like every cut here. Lovett has a pretty wonderful, expressive voice and he writes wry and interesting lyrics. Now, I get how "Farther Down The Line" got airplay in country markets, but he also placed the old timey "Cowboy Man" and "Why I Don't Know" onto the country charts (the former went Top 10 even.) Strangest of all, he snuck the nasty "God Will" onto the radio somehow. Well, good on country radio programmers and listeners, I guess. He duplicated the success of that record with its immediate follow-up, 1987's Pontiac, once again producing some puzzling (but welcome) hits. I mean if it weren't for the steel guitar, "If I Had A Boat" sounds like pretty pure folk to me (although it's pretty drippy for my tastes), and the marvelous "Give Back My Heart" and "She's No Lady" seem entirely too clever to be in the company of The Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Crystal Gayle, and Lee Greenwood, to name but a handful of the folks it shared chart space with. (In case you can't tell, I have a lot of contempt for most '80s country.) "I Loved You Yesterday", the most straight country of the four hits from the record, and its flipside "L.A. County" are also highlights.
Lyle Lovett And His Large Band came next, in 1989. As the title suggests, Lovett employs a larger group of musicians for this record but more does not necessarily equal better. The first half leans heavy into the jazz side of things but except for "Cryin' Shame" and "Good Intentions" (not on YouTube), the songs mostly fall flat for me. The country side got three more Lovett singles onto the charts, but only the lower reaches. Country audiences were beginning to catch on, I guess. "I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You" was the biggest (#45) and the best, but "Nobody Knows Me" (also not on YouTube WTF?) is a winner too. The third, a straightfaced cover of "Stand By Your Man", is just filler and had no business on a 45, imho.
Lovett didn't release another record til Joshua Judges Ruth in 1992 and it dials back the jazz but adds a thick layer of gospel to the mix. Mostly that doesn't work for me. Lovett had always sounded (perhaps a little too) slick but the best gospel stuff is anything but, imho, so those elements don't really gel with his style. Perhaps worse still, the non-gospelly cuts from the first side (I know it's a CD, but I still think of albums this way much of the time) are just plain boring. (Oh, and what's this 6:01 and 7:12 runtime bullshit, Lyle?) As such, I once again prefer the back half of the record, which more recalls the sound of his first two LPs. "Family Reserve" (again, not on YT) is a lovely folk song, and "She's Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To" is equally lovely heartbreak country.
1994's I Love Everybody is a retrenchment, consisting of songs penned in the '80s but never before recorded. It's pretty hit or miss and even some of the better cuts are marred by some pretty ugly lyrics. Lyle always did come off misanthropic and sometimes sexist, although he's obtuse enough it's often hard to tell what he's talking about. But hearing a phrase like "Jap girl" in the otherwise delightful "Skinny Legs" (not on YT!) is off-putting, to say the least. And is "Creeps Like Me" (not on YT!!!) confessional or some kind of Randy Newmanesque sung-in-character exercise? I dunno. I do know that the "funk" of "Penguins" is utter bullshit and that many of the folkier cuts here are pretty undistinctive.
The last Lovett CD on my rack is 1996's Road To Ensenada which I think is more of a piece with the first two records. I still don't think he's all that successful when he strays from his initial influences -- I don't have much use for the forced-sounding Latin flavorings of "Her First Mistake" or the Cajun fiddlin' on "Fiona" -- and given that listening to Randy Newman's voice is essentially nails on a chalkboard to me, I gotta skip "Long Tall Texan" but I really dig "Don't Touch My Hat" (NOYT!!!!!) and "That's Right (You're Not A Texan)" (fuck you, YT!!!!!!!!) enough to make up for those missteps. The slower ones are mostly lovely too, particularly "Christmas Morning" (which IS on YT, but won't play!)

Next up . . . the Jesus of Cool himself, Mr. Nick Lowe!

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Marvell » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:04 pm

My wife included 'LA County' on the playlist of songs for our wedding.

Not sure what that was all about...

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:10 am

Like k.d. lang, Lyle Lovett had a legit presence on the mainstream country chart in the late 80s and then moved on to other things. There is an episode of "Hee Haw" from that time with scenes in which Lovett is supposed to be yukking it up with the cast like "Hee Haw" guests did in those days, and he just looks uncomfortable. The late 80s were an interesting time in country, when artists and singer-songwriters like Lovett, Lang, Rosanne Cash, Marty Stuart and others seemed be moving Nashville in a thoughtful direction. Then Garth came along and changed all that.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby gozer » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:04 am

i'm going to ask about the impotent sea snakes again, because today i heard someone singing along to "kangaroos (up the butt)" . . .

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:23 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:The late 80s were an interesting time in country, when artists and singer-songwriters like Lovett, Lang, Rosanne Cash, Marty Stuart and others seemed be moving Nashville in a thoughtful direction. Then Garth came along and changed all that.


I think that in music genres that are looked down on by critics or journalists (country and hard rock/metal come to mind) there is a certain amount of suspicion by fans, of artists that aren't really "committed to the cause", or of fringe artists that might look down on fans of the genre.

I was reading an article about black artists in hard rock/metal, and racism. I have no doubt that the artists experience that in person, but from a popularity standpoint, there haven't been a ton of black artists that ply the *mainstream* end of hard rock. King's X is likely my favorite band, but they didn't produce mindless garbage like Motley Crue or Poison. Living Color had a virtuoso in Vernon Reid; but what similar metal virtuoso had a bigger career? Malmsteen, Gilbert, Petrucci? I guess you could say that Buckethead and Marty Friedman were in bigger bands, but they were great players added more as afterthoughts later in a band's career.

Maybe there was a band with black members trying to work toward more mainstream hair metal like Poison, Def Leppard, etc. or standard thrash like Metallica/Megadeth - I'm just not aware of them.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby chainsawcurtis » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:41 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Heh. There are a handful of pretty great Barry White songs ("Can't Enough Of Your Love" easily being the best) but mostly he just cranked out endless product, it would seem.


First I enjoy, greatly this continuing thread. You like what you like and sometimes we agree. Occasionally don't. I was a disk jockey and lighting guy in a very popular and large disco in Saratoga Springs NY from '73 to '76. When this place opened there was no "disco" music as such. We were playing everything from James Brown to the Stones, Doobie Brothers to Isley Brothers. Etc. But when Nam ended and folks started to "Hustle" ushering in "disco," Barry White, MFSB, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and others were doing longer form dance music that really was a breath of fresh air. Heavy on instrumental passages where folks just danced while lights flashed was pure mindless fun.

Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller etc were all dance bands that were doing material that was based on 7 minute sides for 78s. I had two copies of "Who's That Lady" on 45s so I could segue Part 1 and Part 2 before the album came out. I say this only because last summer I got some disks at Goodwill - 99¢ each and one was Barry White's Greatest Hits. I sat out on the deck with a book, a cocktail and my little disk player with phones and there were something like 15 bonafide radio hits on it. I would have no problem sticking it in my car stereo for an hour on a drive. I'm sure he was not everyone's cup of tea but there's definitely some genius there and outstanding production and engineering.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Paleo2 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:53 pm

All the LOVE but no Courtney?

What a Hole. :lol:

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:08 pm

Going to be a while before The Tubes, so just going to drop this here...

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby doppel » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:00 pm

Wag's kitchen?
Image

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:35 pm

doppel wrote:Wag's kitchen?


I'm guessing that the Kansas and Bad Company LPs are saved for the bathroom floor.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby gargantua » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:14 pm

Seems like a long time since he's posted anything.


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