Posted tagged ‘folk rock’

Rock Music I Listen To At 68 – Dec. 29, 2019

December 29, 2019

Now that I’m retired, I play more music and actually listen to it.

We have a 5-CD player that shuffles the CDs and the tracks. I dig through my collection and find five albums that I think I’ll want to hear for awhile.

Then I sit back and listen to the random gifts from the player, and ruminate on why I like them.

As a side note, I’m looking forward to the Linda Ronstadt documentary special scheduled for New Year’s Day on CNN.  Like many young men of my time, I had a long-distance crush on this beautiful, elfin, charismatic singer.  I still play her songs too.

This time we have:

1) “Garden Party” and “Windfall” by Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band
2) “Ruins” by First Aid Kit
3) “Love is Here” by Starsailor
4) “Too Much Fun: The Best of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen”
5) “Twelve” by Patti Smith

1) Garden Party and Windfall

This is a double album compilation on BGO Records, an English label, on one CD.  The original albums were recorded in 1972 and 1974.

51cbSDNs0PLI can remember as a kid seeing Ricky Nelson as the all-American teenager on the old (really old) TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  That slice of suburban Americana dates back to the 1950s, and I probably saw the black and white sitcom in re-runs.  It featured the real-life couple of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and their real-life sons, Ricky and David.

Ricky Nelson went on to stardom as a singing teenage heartthrob in the 1950s and 60s, in the style of Elvis Presley.  That phase of his musical career is of no interest to me.

But when his song Garden Party came out in 1972 on the radio, the rueful honesty of it made me listen.  By this time, he was performing as Rick Nelson and The Stone Canyon Band.  The song apparently chronicles a rock ‘n’ roll revival concert at Madison Square Garden in 1971 where he was booed after playing a country version of a Rolling Stones tune rather than another of his old pop songs.  (I imagined a smaller actual garden party when I first heard it, but the sentiment still came across.)

The song’s memorable lines he wrote are of course:

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

The songs on these two albums could be best described as country rock, with often more rock than country.  They actually fit in well with Linda Ronstadt’s music, and bands like the Eagles.

On “Garden City”, both I’m Talking About You which even gets a little jazzy and A Flower Opens Gently By appeal to me a lot.  On “Windfall”, I like the rocking Someone to Love, Evil Woman Child, and Windfall.

Rick Nelson died in a plane crash on the very last day of 1985 along with many members of his band.  He had a rockabilly-tinged album almost finished, which has never been released.

2) Ruins

Speaking of female singers and crushes, the two Swedish sisters who lead First Aid Kit are the current apples of my eye… or I should say ear (and eye).   I found them on YouTube singing tributes to Emmylou Harris and doing Bob Dylan covers (and a daring, for a folk rock duo, version of the Black Sabbath song War Pigs).

71NvHs0u+5L._SL1200_“Ruins”, their most recent album from 2018, shows off their song-writing skills but I think I like their previous album “Stay Gold” a little better — more upbeat.  But this one has its moments, and their singing in harmony always verges on the moving.

Cuts I especially like from the album are Rebel Heart, It’s A Shame, and Distant Star, veering around folk rock, country rock, and that indeterminate category of singer-songwriter.

Performing and touring around the world has taken its toll, and they had to cancel their 2019 summer dates due to burnout.

3) Love Is Here

41BB01R7SZLStarsailor is an English band formed in 2000, about which I know little.  I’m not sure why this is in my CD collection — it must have been recommended somewhere — but I like it in limited doses.  This is the band’s first album, from 2001, which received a lot of critical acclaim.

What sort of music is it?  Wikipedia says Post-Britpop, which apparently is an “alternative rock subgenre,” following in the wake of Oasis and Blur with more American influences.

The lead singer, James Walsh, has this high, almost delicate voice, with a style, he has said, influenced by Jeff Buckley.

The song Alcoholic is strangely moving about an alcoholic father.  Good Souls is slightly more upbeat, about, well… good souls.

4) Too Much Fun

Alright, party time!

51JSPFWQXZLCommander Cody & His Lost Planet Airman came out of Michigan in 1967 but soon moved to San Francisco and got a record contract. They opened for Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and the Doors.

Their raw-edged sound of western swing, jump blues and general barroom mayhem is reflected in album titles like “Sleazy Roadside Stories,” “Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truckers Favorites” and “Country Casanova.”

George Frayne IV founded the group, which became known for its marathon live shows, and took on the persona of Commander Cody.

This compilation is a lively record.  Of course it has Hot Rod Lincoln from 1971, originally a more traditional country song from the 1950s.  Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar is a boogie woogie number off that same first album, “Lost in the Ozone.”  And the compilation’s got Everybody’s Doing It, a bawdy song about singing “hi de ho” … or something like that.

5) Twelve

81GplvHXmQL._SL1500_The more I listen to Patti Smith, the more her voice moves me.  There’s such genuineness there.

Patti Smith of course was in the forefront of the punk rock movement in New York with her first album “Horses” in 1975.  I remember being in NYC on my own odd journey when the album came out.

This album from 2007 of twelve covers includes a variety of moods from White Rabbit to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

The songs aren’t necessarily the best productions or ultimate versions, but Smith’s voice rides with its authenticity over all.  I really like Gimme Shelter, Bob Dylan’s Changing of the Guards, and Paul Simon’s The Boy in the Bubble.  Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise she sings with great tenderness:

“They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise.”