Hey baby, it's the Fourth of July
I have seen Rock and Roll past and it is Dave Alvin.
Last night, I spur of the moment bought tickets to Dave Alvin's show at the Roxy. I had never seen DA live, nor the Blasters, yet I have long loved Alvin's songwriting, seeing him as a former rockabilly guy who has wonderfully evolved into a Californian Steve Earle/John Hiatt type. Last night's show turned out to be a revelation, one of the best concerts I've been in years. Alvin himself was charming and funny, often taking swigs from a Budweiser ("This is a song about drinking. I'm a method songwriter," he said), and playing some of the best songs out of his and the Blasters' catalog: opening with "King of California," and then doing such greats as "Marie Marie," "Out of California," "Abilene," and the sublime "Fourth of July," as well as old folk songs transformed into rockers culled from his Grammy-winning Public Domain record.
Throughout, he also showed off his famous affection for rock and roll past. His own "Little Honey" segued into Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," and a later song slipped, ever so briefly, into the guitar from the Troggs' "Wild Thing." He transformed "East Virginia Blues," an old folk song, into something one would have heard coming out of Memphis in the 50s.
But more so than the song choices, last night's beauty was all about the playing. HIs band was terrific -- large, featuring a fiddle player, a pianist, drummer, bassist, a guitarist/mandolin player, and a guitarist/accordianist. They were all tight as can be, and the fiddler and the pianist especially rocked out. (No, really. They did.) But putting his acoustic guitar down after the first few songs, Alvin picked up his Strat, and just played the best guitar I've seen since the last Richard Thompson show.
All I can say is, if he comes to your town, see Dave Alvin. You will have a terrific time. And it won't even cost you much. (These tickets cost 16 bucks including all the handling surcharges, and this is in Los Angeles.) With all the bands playing concerts as if they just have to do it, a pain in the ass, it's a joy to go to one where it's so clear that the guy and his band LIVE for this. Bravo.
posted by Anon. 10:26 AM
Steve Earle update
Christgau has a great piece in the Village Voice (and on their website) about Steve Earle's new album -- and with a lot to say on politics in music today, in general. Good reading.
posted by Anon. 2:00 PM
More on Flaming Lips
I listened a lot more to the Flaming Lips record this last week. It is a beautiful album. It is gorgeously produced, with lovely melodies. The problem with the record, as far as I can see it: it's all about robots. Well, humans vs. the robots. They're at war. Then the robots realize they love the humans, and give up. The humans celebrate, not realizing that the only reason they're still standing is because the robots love them.
posted by Anon. 10:19 AM
What do you want for nothing? A rubber biscuit?
This wasn't actually supposed to be such a quiet week on Palmermix. But unfortunately, Blogger was acting up, and it took me a while to troubleshoot the problem: somehow it couldn't find my template. This both meant I had to reload the template AND go back and figure out what changes I originally made to the template, so that all my Palmermix specifications were back to snuff. Let me also just say that "skills in HTML" was not what drew me to this unique medium.
But I did at least finally post about my recent Amoeba trip. See below. Listened to the Coldplay for the first time in the car today; I like it quite a bit. The other big surprise for me is how much I like the Zevon record.
posted by Anon. 10:16 AM
Blew $85 at Amoeba Records the other day. The good news is that I got 8 CDs for my milk money. The better news is that already I'm pretty thrilled with the spoils of war.
What'd I pick up?
The Rolling Stones, Between the Buttons
A Stones record I'd never owned. Somehow, my Stones collection has rarely had any of their earlier ABKCO work, aside from the two-disc Hot Rocks, and a copy of Their Satanic Majesties Request, a record I didn't love, but which I still somehow made the bad choice of trading to my friend Jordan for his copy of Eat a Peach -- even though I already owned the Allmans' Decade of Hits anthology and didn't even like the Allmans that much. Satanic Majesties, the bizarre psychedelic detour, did at least have "She's a Rainbow," a favorite Stones song. That's the last time I traded CDs. I did own a copy of Aftermath on cassette -- the first thing by the Stones that I ever owned -- from when I was 13. But Buttons, featuring not only "Ruby Tuesday" and "Let's Spend the Night Together," also features another favorite, "Miss Amanda Jones."
Weezer, eponymous third album
No joke, a couple people had told me that this under 30 minute record was their favorite disc of 2001. Lots of guitar-heavy power pop.
Beth Orton, Daybreaker
The follow-up to Central Reservation, a lovely record. This one doesn't sound as good, though it does have a very cool song, "God Song," that features Emmylou Harris on backing vocals.
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
2000's Parachutes was a very strong record. I haven't listened to this new one yet. I hear that somehow it doesn't follow the tradition of most British bands of succumbing to the sophomore slump.
Sam Moore, Plenty Good Lovin'
The release of the 1970 solo record for the Sam in Sam and Dave, that was never released by Atlantic Records. A funky version of "The Tennessee Waltz" is a highlight.
Warren Zevon, Life'll Kill Ya
One of the best songs on this is an unlikely cover: Zevon's take on Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life Again." Beautiful and affecting, of a song I never much cared for.
Rodney Crowell, The Houston Kid
The former husband of Rosanne Cash and the former leader of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band put together last year this fine collection of songs, including some of rare gay-friendly country songs, as well as the terrific "Why Don't We Talk About It Now," which I first discovered through a mix CD from Mickey Kaus.
Kasey Chambers, The Captain
Instead of this year's over-hyped Barricades and Brickwalls, the Australian country singer's debut from a couple years back is melodic and boasts some terrific songwriting.
posted by Anon. 10:11 AM
I think I love her
Listening this morning to the second disc of the old Rhino two-disc Zevon collection. (A new anthology is apparently coming out later this year.) One of the great highlights is Zevon's cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret," a great garage rock rave-up that Zevon did with the non-Stipe members of REM under the num-de-plume (sorry for the spelling, Francophiles) Hindu Love Gods. Think I've mentioned this song before. The HLG album itself is pretty weak, but the Prince cover is certainly another good reason to pick up a Zevon anthology. There's no such thing as too many Prince covers. Think "Manic Monday," "Nothing Compares 2 U," etc. Elvis Costello once wanted to do a cover of "Pop Life," then got into a fight with Prince in the negotiations, scrapping the cover in the process.
posted by Anon. 12:00 PM