Thursday Vinyl

I managed a small comeback early this morning by getting into the pool for a very, very easy 950m.

Why not the extra 50m you ask?

Don’t know.

Don’t care.

I had designs on a small bike ride this evening with HRH as well, but I have a flat on the ‘ol classic steel and my other bike is in the shop so, yeah, catching up on the Tour on the tube with Tina the cat it is.

Sucks I know.

Anyway, I’m upstairs now and working a bit on my Hudson Valley experience while we listen to Kelly’s birthday vinyl from this past Tuesday (love you, honey!!), ‘Last Winter‘  by Greg Keelor.

greg-keelor

‘Last Winter’  is the fifth solo effort from Blue Rodeo co-frontman Greg Keelor, and it is surprising in its tone and artistry. Blue Rodeo fans, please set your yearning for that classic country-rock sound aside, for this recording is different.

Clocking in at around 34 minutes, this four-song EP is full of deep thoughts and slow grooves. Keelor has fashioned an intensely personal suite of songs here, and has rendered his vision with the help of his musical collaborator, the former child prodigy multi-instrumentalist (and member of The Sheepdogs), Jim Bowskill.

Keelor describes the tunes on ‘Last Winter’  as being “quiet, meditative, yogic songs”, and this is certainly accurate.

Yup.

That about sums it up.

In lyrical content, production and melody, one is struck by the hypnotic beauty of each track. Starting with the contemplative ‘Gord’s Tune’, Keelor honours the late Gord Downie. With thematic and lyrical allusions to The Tragically Hip’s ‘Bobcaygeon‘, this song is alternately abstract and journalistic – a sentimental tribute to the late singer.

Pensive reflection sums up the bulk of this work, from the sweet spellbinding feel of ‘City Is A Symphony’, to the shimmering strings and Indian raga-inspired sections of ‘3 Coffins‘. With such a departure from Keelor’s regular band sound, one might imagine an A&R rep saying, “I don’t hear a single.”

But that’s not really the point.

With ‘Last Winter’, ‘ol Uncle Greg has given us a glimpse into his soul, as he plunges here into the beauty, art and power of song.

Whatever.

It’s pretty mellow, maaaaan

Fortunately Kelly’s famous “some sort of garlic chicken thighs with some kind of noodle”, just like her mother and grandmother used to pull out of their ass back in the day, will inevitably kickstart things up again as we head downstairs to watch ‘Big Brother’.

You know, this whole post-Ironman thing isn’t so bad.

Advertisements
Posted in Other, Vinyl | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Recovery Vinyl

I tried to be a little active today in between bouts of Tour binging in front of the boob tube, like do some banking, go to the butchers and, yes, I even completed my first post Ironman workout – I mowed the lawn (click HERE).

Now, I’m trying to hash out a little of the whole Hudson Valley saga with a new record I acquired from the very hip Rocket Number Nine record shop in downtown Kingston, NY, ‘The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1‘  by Jackson C. Franke.

r-7231823-1436811166-7622-jpeg

Truly, here is an artist whose life was often beset by tragedy and ill fortune, and one who arguably never achieved his true potential.

Jackson C. Frank has had his songs covered by everyone from Simon & Garfunkel (his former flatmates) and Nick Drake to Laura Marling and even the Counting Crows but really, well, have you ever heard of him?

Of course you haven’t.

Nobody has.

Until the forlorn and absolutely tragic-sounding ‘Blues Runs the Game‘  was featured in the popular television series This Is Us‘ and then, suddenly, BAM! 

Instant fame.

Unfortunately, it was all a bit too late.

He’s dead now you see.

He released his first and only eponymous album in 1965, produced by none other than Paul Simon. After the release of the record, Frank was plagued by a series of personal issues, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and protracted depression that prevented him from maintaining his career.

Frank spent his later life homeless and destitute, eventually passing in 1999 of pneumonia. Though he only released one record, he has been cited as an influence by many singer-songwriters, including Simon himself, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. Rolling Stone journalist David Fricke called Frank “one of the best forgotten songwriters of the 1960s.”

Moreover, the appeal of the reflective world-weary melancholy of these songs extends well beyond the mid-’60s folk circuit where he initially made his name. This three album collection is the definitive version of the man’s work: remastered and sounding richer than ever, it contains 24 previously unreleased tracks, paying rich homage to a maverick and magical talent.

In short, it’s incredible Okie-Folkiefor a tired old body that otherwise feels more “Okie-Brokie”at the moment.

Posted in Other, Vinyl | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Gentle Yoga

It’s been 48 hours since becoming a two-time Ironman (story forthcoming) and today my whole body is all kinds of stiff and sore – and rightly fucking so!

Of course, I took the day off work and am therefore enjoying a nice and easy recovery day.

Already this morning I’ve completed my morning breakfast, coffee and poop routine as well as had an extended cuddle with Toby the “Morning Crack Cat” in front of the Tour, and while I have some errands I need to accomplish today, I also want to give ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning a little TLC so I’m pulling out the yoga mat (much to Toby’s delight) and this ‘Bagels & Bongos‘  album by the Irving Fields Trio.

519mtgbqjtl

Yes, from the same hip cat that brought you ‘Pizza & Bongos‘, comes this 1959 Decca Records jazz classic  ‘Bagels & Bongos‘ because, hey, there’s bagels now with dem bongos bitches!

Because why not?

This was a “guilty pleasure” purchase from The Bop Shop in Rochester, NY a few weeks ago which got to just laying around in the as of late, nearly non-existent early morning core program.

So, for this afternoon’s recovery stretch, it’s Havana to Havannah Nagila. It’s cute Exotica rhythms will make you want to dance and make you proud to be Jewish.

Pass the lox and bagels.

And it’s not overproduced. You can hear the genuine performance-joy that Fields brought into the recording studio.

Don’t judge me, this is some catchy-ass shit!

(It’s also my choice for Day 31 of my 31 Day Record Challenge (Part 2); Any album … for any reason…”)

Your Miami-bound snowbird grandparents weren’t the first Jews to embrace the mambo pace. Neither was Irving Fields, incidentally, though he’s probably the first person to lay down a fusion of Jewish rhythm and Cuban and Puerto Rican stylistics on wax.

Using Latin music as an idiom of Jewish expression, a new language of a hybridized, flexible Jewish identity was born – and no one’s heard from the old language of hybridized, flexible Jewish identity since. ‘Bagels and Bongos’ features classic reinterpretations of numbers like ‘My Yiddishe Momme‘ and ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Shon‘, as well as the transformation of ‘Hava Negillah‘ into ‘Havannah Negillah‘, bound to shake some tuckuses enough to seriously throw off a mean game of shuffleboard.

For this morning’s gentle bendy-twisty “workout” however, it’s just a fun listen to stretch out the limbs to and begin waking everything up a bit in anticipation of needing to have to go back to work soon – i.e. just going back to being an ordinary dad and a husband again…

…beginning with mowing the lawn.

No rest for a 2 x Ironman, I’m afraid…

Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Run (3k)

Well, I’ve made it to my “final” workout; more of a formality really, in just an excuse to keep ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning turning over smoothly and routinely before Saturday’s big Ironman event (click HERE).

God forbid, no major accidents.

This morning it’s simply an easy 20 minutes on the ‘ol treadmill before beginning my work day with this groovy ‘House of Love‘  album by The Grapes of Vaudevillian Fantasy.

2564830

Released in 2001 on the “Groovy Grape” label, this album definitely has some fun memories attached to it.

Besides seeing the band at numerous music festivals over the course of that summer, I also specifically traveled to Vermont and New York City to see this amazingly fun band and group of rag-tag hippie-clingersoner’s.

If anything else, than just to see the cute pixie(ish) lead singer twirl and sashay her way around the stage; she was mesmerizing.

They were definitely fun.

I covered lots of kilometers that summer, saw lots of incredible music, more or less lived out of a tent, drank way more than anyone should ever be allowed to drink and, yeah, consumed just about everything else too…

*sigh*

Good times.

I have no idea whatsoever about whatever became of the band but I still have this CD and, thankfully, it’s a relatively easy process for loading those tracks on my dinosaur era nano and, Bob’s your uncle, that’s what I’m currently chilling to on the treadmill two days out from my second Ironman.

Crazy world, eh?

Posted in Easy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Holiday Monday Vinyl (Part 2)

Still cleaning, still munching, and still listening to great music.

Next up on this afternoon’s record hit list is this ‘McLemore Avenue‘  album by Booker T. & The MG’s.

r-563823-1277246111-jpeg

Thank you Niagara Records!

Booker T. Jones was so taken with the Beatles‘ ‘Abbey Road‘, he claims he had to respond, just to say “thanks.”

Isn’t that nice?

He then convened the MG’s – drummer Al Jackson Jr., bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, and guitarist Steve Cropper, and recorded ‘McLemore Avenue‘, a cover version of the entire ‘Abbey Road‘ album in three long medleys (that approximated the structure of the Beatles’ album – particularly its second side) with a cover of George Harrison‘s ‘Something‘ set aside as a single.

The MG’s even aped the Beatles’ cover photo, with one of them strolling down McLemore Avenue, the home of Stax Records.

I guess that qualifies this album as a “concept” album then, huh?

Fuck yeah, it does!

Having said that, Booker T. & the MG’s really turned an already hip record into one that was funky as hell, and one that kept listeners guessing by rearranging the order of the tunes to suit the MG’s as a band. The set begins with a medley of ‘Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End/Here Comes the Sun/Come Together‘.  The juxtaposition of the first two cuts is jarring but seamless. The quartet nails ‘The End‘, with fine soloing from Cropper and heated work from Jones on organ and electric piano, before a crescendo and a Moog intros ‘Here Comes the Sun‘, done as a summery Jimmy Smith-styled jazz number before turning all sinister on ‘Come Together‘.

‘Something‘ may have seemed a curious choice for a single, but with Cropper’s greasy, bluesy guitar break and Jones playing his organ rhythmically more than melodically, it works beautifully. ‘Because‘, wedded to ‘You Never Give Me Your Money‘, is a spacious blend of melody and psychedelic groove, setting up the final medley. It is the set’s tour de force, commencing with a shimmering ‘Sun King‘. before Jackson’s drums announce a sprightly, funky ‘Mean Mr. Mustard‘ that careens into the guitar overdrive of ‘Polythene Pam‘ and the breezy ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window‘, which morphs into a dramatic, blues-drenched, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)‘ to close it out.

Not only is ‘McLemore Avenue‘ a stellar interpretation of ‘Abbey Road‘, it’s one of the finest Booker T. & the MG’s albums to boot.

 

Posted in Other, Vinyl | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Monday Vinyl (Part 1)

I accomplished my task of a 2-3 hour(ish) bike ride this morning and for the rest of the day I plan on, well, very little actually.

Right now for example, I’m snacking on apple slices and gingersnaps and cleaning records while listening to the newest album by Jack White, ‘Boarding House Reach‘.

220px-jack_white_-_boarding_house_reach_cover_art

Yeah.

I caved in.

At first, I simply couldn’t just based on the album cover alone.

I mean, just look at that shit!

That’s some strange fucking shit.

But, still, I caved eventually* and not just because I dig his whole “no cell phones“, or the “let’s fuck with the hipsters and really force them see the show with their own eyes and not just through an app filter” tour fiasco – it was fucking brilliant!

I do like me some Jack White at the end of the day.

Anyway, Boarding House Reach’  is a deliciously messy, sprawling, daffy, howling set that sounds spiritually hungry, collectively driven and, instructively, a little bit lost. It’s his strangest record, but per usual, it shows his continued devotion to rock’s dark arts: the tangled cultural roots, “mistake”-enhanced recording traditions, self-righteous fury and fetchingly-deranged megalomania.

Just perfect for scouring old records.

Dare I say it, it’s even “Radiohead-ish” in some places (eg. ‘Humoresque‘).

And, hey, Kelly didn’t even complain too much.  While she still thinks it’s “weird”, it’s not “scratch my eyes out” either so, yeah, I’ll take that as a victory.  Think of this as our “maturing”, or maybe “adulting” when it comes to music appreciation by keeping current with some of the newer, still hip, and more interesting performers such as White is.

So go us!

*I found it used for $15.00 and figured that it was a “sign”.
Posted in Other, Vinyl | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Canada Day Vinyl (Part 3)

Okay, time for another record while the BBQ heats up outside and we end up plopping ourselves down again all cool n’ shit in the basement in front of the boob tube for some episodes of ‘Big Brother‘.

Yup.

Kelly and I are sure ripping it up this Canada Day.

That next listen then is 50 minutes then of cerebral Like, WOW man! ass kicking with the ‘Sketches of Brunswick East‘ album by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

1200px-kglw_sketches-artwork

That’s just how we roll.

Trying to make sense of, and/or keep up with, KG & the LW can be a daunting prospect as they are nothing if not prolific, and nothing if not willing to throw curve ball after curve ball.

After releasing two albums already last year (2017), the microtonal experiment ‘Flying Microtonal Banana‘ and the synth prog epic ‘Murder of the Universe‘, they hooked up with Alex Brettin of the soft rock weirdos Mild High Club to concoct a smoothed-out psychedelic jazz album because, hey, why the fuck not?

…And it proves to be a winning combination all around, with a warped pop sensibility mingling nicely with the sonic exploration that the lads of Gizzard do so, oh so well.

The album comprises small snippets, where the warm keyboards team with woozy samples and piping flutes to conjure up mental images of warmly lapping waves and trippy colors, and more fleshed-out songs that have a perfect blend of imaginative arranging and melodic charm. The instrumental segments are nice moments of cool-breeze Zen, helping the listener achieve the perfect state of relaxed calm, while the actual songs have the opposite effect and really get the blood flowing, not in the usual sense that King Gizzard albums do – it’s not a raging volcano of excited blood – but in a more laid-back, happy-all-over way that fills the body and mind with warmth.

The lovely ‘Countdown‘ has a nocturnal groove and cocktail bar feel, turned strange by Stu Mackenzie’s treated vocals; ‘Tezeta”s warped waltz and odd vocals can’t hide the swooningly sweet melody, which sounds like something a Wilson brother might have come up with while on a three-day bender; ‘The Spider and Me‘ finds them effortlessly hitting the sound bands like Tame Impala work way too hard to reach; and the stuttering African jazz-rocker ‘The Book‘ brings in some of their previous microtonal theory and stretches it out into a very satisfying jam.

It’s fun to hear Gizzard being reshaped by Brettin’s soft rock wizardry, and in the process making their third album of the year the most listenable so far. Conversely, working with the Australian wildmen gives Brettin’s work an unpredictable nature not found on Mild High Club albums. This mutual benefaction means this album is a collaboration that works wonders for both sides and will also make fans of both groups very happy.

I’m know I’m just tickled fucking pink myself.

Who cares if I’m listening to a bunch of trippy Aussie‘s on my national holiday.

Posted in Other, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment