Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Been a While

I haven't updated in quite some time.

But although I wasn't updating, I still managed to discover a lot of spectacular music in the downtime.

I'll be sharing it all with you in the coming days/weeks/months/whatevers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Factory Blues

Yesterday, I was hard at work sorting building plans for an architectural company. I couldn't move the plans from the room they were located in because they were so old and liable to crumble away. The room was a factory type room with asbestos warning signs and a noticeable smell of natural gas, machinery, and just general death. The whole place looked depressing as hell and like it would probably give me mesothelioma if I stuck around for too long.

That got me to thinking about blues. A factory seems to me much much more depressing than any farmer's field could be - so why aren't there more songs about factory blues? The location of factories wasn't where the country blues was happening at the time, but there was blues to be found in the east as well. Blind Blake sang about his steel mill blues in 1927 but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Seems like an untapped wellspring of songwriting to me.

An Assortment of Random Good Music

No overall theme to this post today, just sharing some random good music for you all.

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Recorded in 1928, it tells the story of a sort of hobo paradise.

Stop Breaking Down - Rolling Stones

This song is off of Exile on Main St and is a cover of the Robert Johnson original from the 30s. Not my favorite cover of Stop Breaking Down, but that's only because the two others are unbelievably good (will post them later. This is still a fantastic song.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Black Keys - Part one

Today, I want to introduce the Black Keys - if you didn't know of them already. I'm reluctant to call them "blues rock" because that makes me think of Cream or Led Zeppelin (not really blues), and the Keys have a WAY more soulful, simple, and trashy blues sound then any typical blues rock band. I like to file it under "Modern Blues" because I think that is essentially what it is - It's not a fusion of anything, not even rock - it's just what modern one man blues sounds like. If blues had directly evolved from the one guy and a guitar style that I post about, it would have come to sound like this, but instead it somehow went in that crappy generic boogie woogie direction that eventually led to Cream, The Rolling Stones, etc.

Anyway, this is a selection of my favorite songs off of their debut album. This and their second album are definitely the most blues influenced. Later they start to wander into other musical territories. Favorite selections from other albums will come later, so check back!

Brooklyn Bound

Leavin' Trunk

Do the Rump

Heavy Soul

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lord, Send me an Angel

This is a fantastic song by Blind Willie McTell. In those days, a bluesman could maximize his profits by recording the same song for different record companies, under different names. Blind Willie recorded many versions of this song under different names and giving the song a different name too. Of course, when you listen to it you can tell who it is and how it's really the same song with modified lyrics or a variation on the melody. Below are my favorite versions of "Lord, Send me an Angel" (yes there actually are more)

Lord, Send me an Angel - White Stripes

The White Stripes cover absolutely deserves mention here because it manages to preserve an old time blues feel even with the higher fidelity recording. I think the woody old time sound of the guitar and that very mild distortion of Jack's voice make the song.

Searching the Desert for the Blues

Recorded under the name Hot Shot Willie, McTell really nails it on this song. The recording quality is quite good for 1933 and you can really hear the jangle of his 12 string guitar - not something I can say for all his other recordings. The inclusion of the female voice answering his verses is also pretty funny.

Ticket Agent Blues

This is another great version. The noticeable reverb effect on the whole recording gives this whole song a really great feel. Some of the lyric changes used for this version are really top notch too. I believe this is the version the White Stripes covered (with lyrics thrown in from the others, too).

Lord Send Me an Angel

This versions is recorded in 1933 without accompaniment from a female singer. The guitar work is fairly clear in this recording so you can pick out the nice jumpy rhythm he's playing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

St. James Infirmary

This is one of those songs that everyone seems to have a version of. Some a direct cover, others use the melody with their own lyrics. It's transcended the borders between blues, jazz and swing, and it's transformed lyrically so much that it's hard to tell what it started out as. Below are my favorite versions.

St. James Infirmary Blues - White Stripes

I think the White Stripes version is the best, and it's one of my favorite songs of all time. It's absolutely haunting. Not sure I've ever heard a more chilling song.

St. James Infirmary Blues - The Wild Cards

Another fantastic version is a little known cover by The Wildcards. It has a swing vibe with some fantastic guitar work.

The next best is the Bob Dylan version, which uses the melody of the song but replaces the lyrics with his own words. That song is called "Blind Willie McTell", and unfortunately appears to have been pulled from youtube and is not able to be uploaded with my usual mp3 upload service. If I can find a way to get it to you, I'll edit this post.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Love These Days

September to December is my favorite time of the year. I love the cold days, the cloudy and grey sunlessness of it all. Living in Southern California doesn't give me much opportunity to enjoy days like that. As Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas come around, some of my music choices mellow to reflect the weather. A slow jazz number like this one below is a great compliment to a day where you want to bundle up and stay warm.

Bye Bye Blackbird