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Sir Douglas Quintet

5 Feb

Everything is cancelled today because of the snow. You can look out and tell that we’re getting walloped, not just because of the rate that it’s falling, but from the color of the sky. Know when you look up when it’s snowing and the sky is as white as the snow? As I look up today, the sky is a hushed, sullen, morbid grey and looks to be dislodging all that’s impacting within itself down to topography that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Welcome to the dive.

When I was making a living as one of the sullen rats who stared at a monitor and typed poor code within 5×5 white cubicles, Mark was one of the few highlights I ever knew in those wretched days. Not only did he talk music enough to keep up with me, he bestowed upon me a gift that very few ever could – he held my head under the waters of a new genre that I had only a tenuous inking of. When I found my footing again, I was newly baptized into the frenzy of Garage Rock.

It was Mark that turned me on to the Sonics : Strychnine, the Leaves : Hey Joe, the Shadows of Knight : Bad Little Woman, early Raiders : (I’m Not Your) Steppin Stone, the Seeds : Pushin’ Too Hard, 13th Floor Elevators : You’re Gonna Miss Me, Adrian Lloyd : Lorna (a must hear that even today, has my heart rupturing), the whole Nuggets collection and the delicious Sixties Rebellion collection, and countless other growling denizens of the garage. The music reached out its steely claws, encapsulated my neck and vibrated my skull with such vigor that as I look back now I believe that I spent close to a year passionately embracing, and collecting, the Garage Band era. As any other music whore could tell you, sometimes you listen to something so powerfully beguiling, that quite unexpectedly, the siren has completely wrapped you into its fold, nested you within, and before you know it – a year has gone by before you are able to loosen its grip and pull away. Such was my time in the jaws of garage. Anybody else ever get the fever that bad?

garageRather than spending phrases on an obscure influential raunchy slice of rock or lament over a balladeer who slays with emotion, I’m presenting someone who is noticeable, who had a hit, and who was there through the pulsing early strobe lights, who played all the beer-encrusted table tops of small halls, who was there watching the mini skirted, calf-booted, fringe swirling vests of teeny boppers, and helped to form and popularize the sound that enlisted thousands of kids with encouragement that they too could form a band.

Sir Douglas Quintet, with the inimitable Doug Sahm, had the quintessential lineup of guitar, drums, bass and organ that was permeated throughout the mid-sixties. Easy, yes? But what came out of that lineup was beautiful, headstrong bliss. They were based out of Texas and had a wide pallet of musical influences siphoned into their minds from that area including Tex-Mex, psychedelic, blues, pop and soul. Out of the maelstrom came what they are more known for, 1965’s ‘She’s About A Mover’, which hit #13, and the 1968 hit ‘Mendocino’, which I favor more.

It’s all I need; nodding rhythm, a pulsing Vox organ, catchy hook and easy enough for any garage aspiring teenage band to play as long as their willing to learn four basic chords.

Not to downplay my selection, but I can’t help but include the video I found showing the stark and silly juxtaposition of the band playing on, of all things, Hugh Hefner’s show ‘After Dark’! What, what? It includes a brief pre-performance interview.

Sadly, Doug Sahm died in 1999. In his sleep. Not a bad way to go is what a lot of us think. But, feast on this track from a band that was shoulder deep in the buzz, excitement and glory of the movement, and who helped to inspire legions of makeshift bands that drove their parents crazy, who felt like rock stars must have felt and had that taste of splendor that could only be had by being in a garage band.

And before I forget, thank you Mark for causing me to spend all that time listening to garage bands.

Sir Douglas Quintet: Mendocino

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A Surprise to the Speakers: ELO

22 Jan

I was never one to continue to listen to whole ELO albums after they were bought, but man could they come out with pop gold singles. They had so many major hits that I think a lot of us forget the many tracks that were ‘minor’ hits for them. And, The Diary of Horace Wimp is one of those.

Horace is a typical geek who, beginning on  a Monday, is constantly late for work and in danger of losing his job, very lonely and seemingly directionless. By the end of the week, a Sunday, he has learned to listen to his “inner voice” and reaches for the nerve to turn himself around. Curious that the day Saturday is omitted from the story. Jeff Lynn explained that it was because football is played on Saturday.

Very catchy and hand-clap worthy, with their trademark operatic vocals modulating upward and outward and a chorus that begs to be turned up.

Don’t be afraid, just knock on the door.
But he just stood there mumblin’ and fumblin’,
Then a voice from above said:

Horace Wimp this is your life
Go out and find yourself a wife!
Make a stand and be a man
And you will have a great life plan!

ELO: The Diary of Horace Wimp

As I looked for an accompanying video, I found this hilarious take on Horace’s odyssey. It looks like it was done for an amature video competition, but no matter, it made me laugh out loud.

Pulling out and listening to The Diary of Horace Wimp by ELO once in a while is a decision never regretted. A perfect surprise to the speakers.

A Surprise To The Speakers: Box Tops

15 Dec

I’m not feeling it yet, the groove of the Nativity Scene just hasn’t permeated through. So, a quick hit from the Box Tops.

Primo listening here for the uninitiated masses and for an unknown reason, this is the song I most associate them with and not ‘The Letter‘. Go figure. Maybe someone else can write a comment about how high this charted (was it even a Top 40 hit?) but as usual, I didn’t notice. All I’ve ever cared about is the feel of a song – you might be one of those that go crazy with one of my mixed CD’s on a road trip.

If I remember correctly, this was a song which someone much older than me played on a stereo when I was just a kid – and even then it was old. I might be right in assuming that the lyrics are celebrating ‘ladies of the night’ but no matter the hidden theme, the lazy Sunday afternoon around the bandstand Souza style horns and muted drums that sound as though they’re made out of oatmeal tins will lift you up and have you singing the chorus. And probably have you playing it for a second time listen.

Tell the socialites to look the other way
It’s instinctive simulation you convey
It’s a necessary function for those without compunction
Who get tired of vanilla every day

Pretty convincing lyrics to me at least.

Box Tops: Sweet Cream Ladies