Don’t Worry. Help Is On The Way!

Help! never gets a fair shake. As a Beatle movie, A Hard Day's Night completely outshines it. While undoubtedly the inferior film, Help! certainly has merit. As a Beatle record, Help! finds itself eclipsed over by 1965’s Rubber Soul, with critics pointing to Soul as The Beatles’ turning point to more artistic endeavours, overlooking Beatles For Sale in ’64 and Help! earlier ’65, both featuring darker lyrics and more diverse musical influences. The movie, though, has only been available on VHS until last week, when Apple Corps released a brand new DVD package. Basically I could not be more excited.

In A Word, Dynamics. In Three Hundred Seventy-Six…

During an audition with my band The Pinheads, as we were tearing it up with a cover of “The Power of Love,” Huey Lewis cut us off and said, “I’m sorry, you’re just too darn loud.” …Wait. Was that me or… Marty McFly? Not important; those words stuck. I thought of them at the They Might Be Giants concert last night, asking who, by Zeus, miked the drums? They overpowered the vocals. Why did the guitars blend innocuously into the background, and why bother, John Linnell, bringing a keyboard when no one could hear it? I loved the concert (save for the atrocious opening act,) but TMBG fell into the current rock trend of loudness.

C-H-E-E-S-E-A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S Oh No!

Forget John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I’ll take Ron, Dirk, Stig, and Barry any day of the week (even the eighth one.) The Rutles, scousers as well, made it just as big as those other four guys. Maybe even bigger. Maybe even smaller. They almost definitely “made it” a larger, smaller or equal amount as The Beatles. Unfortunately, like so many of those great bands from the sixties (e.g. The Turtles or The Beau Brummels,) problems with their label have doomed The Rutles’ back catalogue lost to history except for a greatest hits and Archeology, a collection of rare and unreleased songs. AADL fortunately has both records as well as a Rutles documentary.

What is "throat singing?"

If you want to find out, go to the Ark this Saturday, November 17 to hear Huun-Huur-Tu, a male vocal ensemble from Tuva in East Asia. They are known for the other-worldly sounds they make by voicing two or three different notes simultaneously. They perform traditional nomadic songs sometimes accompanying themselves on an igil, a horsehead fiddle, and other stringed instruments. Huun-Huur-Tu has made some recordings on the Shenachie label. One earlier recording is titled Voices which is in the Library's collection. Don't miss a great opportunity to hear these entrancing sounds.

Little House on the Prairie Tunes Come to Life

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Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are noted for telling tales of frontier life. Not often mentioned are the over one hundred musical references in her books. Happy Land Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder is a CD that features a selection of these classic American songs that are ready to get your toes tapping if you’re not already setting off to reread your favorite Little House book. Fans of the Little House on the Prairie books might call this a soundtrack to the books that brings the sounds and music of the stories to life. Pa Ingalls would have his fiddle in high gear with this CD!

“Oh, Listen, Sweetie. They’re Playing Our Song.”

In a committed relationship, a couple inevitably chooses a slow-dancy, romantic tune as “their song.” Choosing the number is tricky. Sometimes it chooses you; at a relationship milestone (first kiss, dance, visit to Red Lobster) you hear faintly a beautiful ballad and boom! Song chosen. Of course, if you and your sweetheart meet at, say, a Beastie Boys concert, and “Sabotage” doesn’t send your hearts aflutter, you might have to choose a song. You could go with the easies, “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel, Elton John’sYour Song,” etc., great songs you’re guaranteed to hear a lot, prompting an alarming rate of swooning. Of course, thousands of other couples will be swooning around you. Now, if as a loving couple, a popular love song is your song, that's great, so don’t go changing. But for you still looking for a song to be your song and don’t want to write one—and, come on, why would you?—then I have a list of rarer love songs. And don’t be afraid to pick one you like thinking lots of people will snatch them up, because no one reads my blogs.

Robyn Hitchcock visits The Ark

My first introduction to Robyn Hitchcock was a cassette tape of Perspex Island that I purchased at a dollar store because it had members of R.E.M. playing on it. Years later Hitchcock brings his quirky guitar laden lyrics to The Ark in Ann Arbor on Sunday, November 11 at 7:30pm. The artist says of a recent album, “To me, the whole record is sadness cloaked in fun. But under that sadness, more fun.” How intriguing is that.

Knights In White Satin

Pet Sounds did not invent concept albums, and Sgt. Pepper’s did not invent psychedelia, but by 1967, critics were fawning over The Beach Boys’ record, and The Beatles were finishing theirs, inviting guests to the “A Day In The Life” session where they recorded their orchestral backdrop. The studios read the writing on the wall: concepts albums and psychedelia were the future. Deram Records commissioned The Moody Blues, an in debt R&B band, to record a rock version of Dvořák's Ninth with the London Phil. But left with the orchestra and no supervision, The Moody Blues ended up recording Days of Future Passed, an original record perfectly integrating the orchestra not as a backdrop, rather integral members of the band. The record, with a cover reminiscent of classical albums, combines classical motifs, vocal harmonies, and lyrical complexity with rock and roll, pop, country.

A High School Musical of a Different Sort

There’s something perfect about a person expressing their innermost feelings through spontaneous song and tap dancing. Agreed? I thought so. Then you shouldn’t miss Pioneer High School’s performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie November 3, 4, and 9-11. The dance moves are up to you, but brush up on the lyrics by checking out the soundtrack at AADL. Tickets can be bought at Morgan & York or at the door.

Van Morrison Said (Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile))

Sure the radio plays “Brown-Eyed Girl” constantly (occasionally with the line about making love in green grass dubbed out,) but that song was just Van Morrison getting started. Astral Weeks, his record following Blowin’ Your Mind (containing “Brown-Eyed,”) defies classification, as it spins a combination of folk, soul, blues, jazz, rock, and everything else for a hypnotic forty minutes. No one sounds like Van Morrison, and, especially during his purple period betwixt ’68 and ’74, he released a stream of great albums. With records like Saint Dominic’s Preview, you can really just turn it on, sit back, and become completely lost in the sound.

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