Rock

'Trigger cut' Pavement (Slanted and Enchanted, Matador, 1992)

[Verse 1]
Lies and betrayals
Fruit-covered nails
Electricity and lust
Won't break the door
I've got a heavy coat
It's filled with rocks and sand
And if I lose it

[Chorus]
I'll be coming back today (I've got a message for you)
I'll be coming back today (I keep it in my hand)
You know I'm coming back one day (I've got a system for two)
And I'll be coming back today

[Verse 2]
Ex-magician
That still knows the tricks
Tricks are everything to me
Until it's free
I've got a trigger cut
And I can't pull it back
But if I learn how

[Chorus]
I'll be coming back today (I've got a message for you)
You know I'm coming back today (I keep it in my hand)
You will look at me and say (I've got a system for two)
That you just wish I went away

[Bridge]
Sha-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh

[Verse 3]
I learned the truth
The truth of the words
Truth I made for you
Because it's just as good
And if I spit it out
Before I chew the ring
I'll rearrange it

[Chorus]
'Til it looks just like today (I've got a message for you)
And I'll be comin' back my way (I keep it in my hand)
Then you will look at me and say (I've got a system for two)
That you just wish I went away
Today

Versions: ‘Why don’t we do it in the road?’ cover, Lowell Fulson/m (1969? single/Jewel Records, In a Heavy Bag reissue Sundazed Music, 2006)

Guitarist Lowell Fulson/m, who for ‘contractual reasons’ also recorded under the names Lowell Fullsom and Lowell Fulsom, is described as the ‘most important figure in West Coast blues in the 1940s and 1950s’ after T-Bone Walker.

I love the drums on this song, the way they splash while remaining controlled and the guitar sound, especially so rich and resonant and the determined OCD-nature of the vocals. There’s a kind of whiplash effect to the way he articulates certain words. 

Fulson’s 1966 song 'Tramp’ has been sampled by Redman (‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’), Cypress Hill ('How I Could Just Kill A Man’) and is said to be the inspiration for the Salt-n-Pepa song of the same name.  

‘Why don’t we …’ is, of course a cover by a certain English group released on their 1968 The Beatles, ‘the White album’ – to quote Wik: 

.. (the song) is short and simple; 1:42 of twelve-bar blues that begins with three different percussion elements (a hand banging on the back of an acoustic guitar, handclaps, and drums) and features McCartney’s increasingly raucous vocal repeating a simple lyric with only two lines   

The original eludes me online, but it is surely imprinted on our universal consciousness so no great loss, we’ll have to make do with this cover by a guy with an accent that is part Scottish-part Macedonian, or as it turns out Japanese, replete with trilling shriek effects, the bassline is nice though. 

This version, meanwhile, is described as a ‘funky version cover’ (no date, though my guess would be the 90s) by the Banana Ships, despite the Black (American) men in the video it seems to be another example of Japanese-fandom-weirdness (something residents of that nation definitely excel in) see the personnel listing: bass-Forii (Bible) Shinichiro/ Drums-Saito (AlrightDaiju) Vocal&Guitar-Ishiyama (Heifetz).

If you’re feeling brave, check out this Goth-excess from Lydia Lunch/Clint Ruin; the patron saints of the 90s underground scene and archetypal kohl-eyed star-crossed lovers, howling and writhing …

There is something about this song that attracts the ‘unconventional’ let’s say (even Meat Loaf covered the song on his two-disc album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear in 2010), I could go on adding increasingly stranger versions, many of them high on the histrionics, but will spare you. Having said that I like the Lowell Fulson cover, no games. 

‘Real cool time’ Half Japanese/Don Fleming – single (Split, 1989) plus Laughing Clowns, The Stooges

Never thought I’d be writing this about Jad Fair, but with this cover of The Stooges classic (no, this word is not over-used in relation to the spirit of Detroit, even their messiest/sloppiest/non-conscious moments were touched by greatness and this was maintained despite the lack of recognition, drug-induced conditions) he is switching it on, expressing some definite lustiness. 

I like this cover for many reasons: it reminds me of Laughing Clowns 

a sound/atmosphere that is inbuilt somehow, etched into my being, DNA-mapped even though I wasn’t going to see the Laughing Clowns shows, obviously. I think it’s something about the keeping it loose spirit and the warm, percussive sound – jazzy in the nicest, the most sinister-acting way. 

Yeah we danced around the golden calf
And we had a very sharp knife
And we never did anything by halves
We had a strong philosophy of life
And everything that flies is not a bird

Yeah we give it such a friendly reception
Disarm it and disembowel it with a feather
Hope for the best nothing’s too good
For the lords of the plague
When everything that flies is not a bird

You’re a part of my world here
You’re the air that I breathe in
You’re a part of my world here
The water I urinate in

And the wind and sea get up on their hind legs and walk across the land

I have to cut off the electricity to turn off the light
We had a strong philosophy on light
And everything that flies is not a bird
Is not a bird

“And now, introducing the wonderful Ed Kuepper ...” 

This brings me to the key reason for liking this track the drums, how beautiful is this performance, reminding me of the best loose-wristed, keeping it fluid and so solid at the same time performances by the drumming greats of the 70s transplanted to the rock idiom. I’m not 100 % but I think the drummer here is Gilles Reider. 

It’s the combination of Jad Fair’s switch to expressing longing/desire, the pared back poetry of the lyrics, simple and true like a koan and the drums:

Can I come over tonight?
Can I come over tonight?
What do you think I wanna do?
That's right
Can I come over tonight?
I say we will have a real cool time tonight
I say we will have a real cool time tonight
I say we will have a real cool time
I say we will have a real cool time tonight
I'd say will have a real cool time tonight
I say will have a real cool time
We will have a real cool time
A real cool time tonight


To hear the original from The Stooges 1969 self-titled record: American poetry in its purest form, yes (three minutes or less).

Here’s an interview with Jad Fair from The Quietus (2013) on the reissue of Half Gentlemen/Half Beasts

Versions: 'I don't know why' Stevie Wonder (For Once in My Life, Tamla, 1968) Jackson 5, Thelma Houston, plus live performance

Forming a kind of flawless constellation, three points in triangle, that arguably represents the pinnacle of achievement of Black American Music in the 60s/70s: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Thelma Houston.       

This song with its highly complex lyrics, describing an addictive state of desire that makes no sense, was written by a sixteen-year-old Stevie Wonder. There is something so arresting about the music, with its heavy atmosphere of portent – those descending notes and the dramatic build – but what I like best about it is Wonder’s surprising (and idiosyncratic) vocal performance. Before the two-minute mark there is separation between Wonder’s vocal line and the music itself where he breaks away almost, sounding hazy and drugged; you can hear his breathing as it all falls apart and yet the music maintains its forward movement.

You throw my heart down in the dirt
You made me crawl on 
This cold black earth, baby
No I never, I never knew 
How much love could hurt
Until I loved you baby
Till I loved you baby, baby
Oh baby, I can’t stop 
I can’t stop crying can’t you see
Here I’m pleadin’ on my knees
I’m on my knees
Won’t you help me, help me please
Cause I love you, I love you baby
Sure enough, baby, yeah

Here’s a live performance from 1969 from the Hollywood Palace; check out the ever so hip “thank you” at the start, in acknowledgment of the brief applause from the audience (other listeners appreciate his little knowing laugh later on; I like the opening curtain effect behind Stevie that happens for no reason, as he is in front of it, at the start).

Second star in the constellation …

This gem was recorded when Michael Jackson was eleven years old, or maybe 12. There’s not much to write here, as it’s all there the artistry so obvious clear from first listen, the intensity of his delivery all the extremely cute ad-libs/Soul additions, from the opening drama of the, “sure enough baby, baby …” The “darling, darling, darling” and especially the “baby dear” added to the original “You made me crawl on/This cold black earth, baby” is so sweet.

The Jackson 5 released this version on their 1970 ABC album   

The third …

Thelma Houston, as a vocalist, has a lovely quality of restraint, of singing just behind the musical line and never over-stating and exaggerating things for effect. I like the way she sings in such a controlled, but sensual way: there are no playful additions here, no need. But this version is special, surely for the wonderful grace of the musicianship. Listening to this I can’t help but hear the continuum with the past, where current and earlier hip-hop feeds off this heritage. Obvious to say, I know, but listening to this it’s made so explicit the way the various elements play with notions of fusion, similarity and difference.

Other well-known artists have covered the Stevie Wonder classic then and since, including the Rolling Stones in 1969 with this out-of-synch honky tonk version that has certain charm. 

According to Wik

"The Rolling Stones released a 1969 cover of the song in 1975 on their ABKCO outtake album Metamorphosis. It was recorded on 3 July 1969 during the sessions for Let It Bleed, the night that news broke of Brian Jones' death. It was also used as the b-side for their 1975 single." 

Related article: Versions: “Sunny” Bobby Hebb (Sunny, Philips, 1966) 

 

'Gharbzadegi’ Robert Wyatt (Old Rottenhat, Rough Trade, 1985) plus live performance, 2002

It's so easy to decide on a name
It's a name caller's game
It's so easy to look down from above
Helicopter vision
Get the picture when you're outside the frame
Retrospective my eye
Call it art and you can say what you like
It's a name caller's game
Your perspective describes where I stand
Out of line, out of mind
Calling myopia 'focus', of course,
Makes it easier still
Gharbzadegi means nothing to me
Westernitis to you
...We get so out of touch
Words take the place of meaning

So sweet this drum-beat, splintered and fragile like birds’ bones and the instruments taking the part – the piano repeating a few notes over and again to provide the foundations, (apparently, arguably) echoing Coltrane

with an English accent, poetic-abstract lyrics conveying a radical critique (damning ‘Westernitis’ – Gharbzadegi in Farsi … or Western Imperialism) sung so carefully and consciously as if it were a lullaby; could any listener ask for more? 

Listening to this you can see the deep influence Robert Wyatt had on Radiohead; I could pick any of their earlier/less-commercial tracks to provide proof of the fact, the influence of the Soft Machine alumnus seeps from their music (the way they use momentum, or not – and lyrically as well, the off-hand allusions to politics and the overriding emphasis on the creation of mood).

Wyatt’s song ‘Gharbzadegi’ is labelled ‘rock’/’progressive rock’ on websites of record, but this is jazzy, of course it is; in the way draws attention to the materiality of the instruments and the parts -  focussing on sound as quality in and of itself. 

The way the music disrupts our expectations of the parts the instruments should play (the piano provides the foundations, as if it were a bassline, but then the flourishes and exuberance); in the way the parts rise and fall, the gentleness of it all; the submerged momentum.  

As for the concept: Gharbzadegi 

Gharbzadegi (Persian: غربزدگی‎‎) is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as "Westoxification," "West-struck-ness"[1] "Westitis", "Euromania", or "Occidentosis".It is used to refer to the loss of Iranian cultural identity through the adoption and imitation of Western models and Western criteria in education, the arts, and culture; through the transformation of Iran into a passive market for Western goods and a pawn in Western geopolitics.

The phrase was first coined by Ahmad Fardid, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran, in the 1940s. it gained common usage following the clandestine publication in 1962 of the book Occidentosis: A Plague from the West by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad. Fardid's definition of the term as referring to the hegemony of ancient Greek philosophy, differed from its later usage as popularised by Al-e Ahmad.

Al-e Ahmed describes Iranian behavior in the twentieth century as being "Weststruck." The word was play on the dual meaning of "stricken" in Persian, which meant to be afflicted with a disease or to be stung by an insect, or to be infatuated and bedazzled. "I say that gharbzadegi is like cholera [or] frostbite. But no. It's at least as bad as sawflies in the wheatfields. Have you ever seen how they infest wheat? From within. There's a healthy skin in places, but it's only a skin, just like the shell of a cicada on a tree."

Al-e Ahmad argued that Iran must gain control over machines and become a producer rather than a consumer, even though once having overcome Weststruckness it will face a new malady - also western - that of 'machinestruckness'. "The soul of this devil 'the machine' [must be] bottled up and brought out at our disposal ... [The Iranian people] must not be at the service of machines, trapped by them, since the machine is a means not an end."

Live performance taken from the 2002 Robert Wyatt documentary Free Will and Testament

Words take the place of meaning …

Coda: 

'You trip me up’ Jesus and Mary Chain (Psychocandy, Blanco y Negro Records, 1985) original/acoustic plus ‘My Girl’ cover & Spacemen 3 'Revolution'

With skin so Scottish pale it reflects the glare, it's hard to imagine the logic behind this video-shoot location on a sunny Portuguese beach other than it was meant to be a joke of some kind; as one person adds below the video, ‘The first time ever the band had seen the sun.’

This mix of a 60s pop-aesthetic and noise became standard the following decade, but when JAMC bubbled up onto the surface it was new, for some time. Check out this typically good feature from The Quietus Brown Acid Black Leather: the story of Jesus and Mary Chain’s Pyschocandy’ by Julian Marszalek, published in 2011.

Despite the overall serious tone of the interview, some of it is very funny. I like, for example, the image of JAMC rehearsing at the local community centre in East Kilbride, where the night before ‘old ladies played bingo’ or this quote from Jim Reid: ‘People would look out of their windows and see these skinny guys with sunglasses on pushing all this fucking stuff down the road. And we’d get there and argue for half an hour and then go home.’

Coda:

Released on Fire Records, 1988

‘English Rose’ The Jam (All Mod Cons, Polydor, 1978) & ‘Ghosts’ – live, 1982

So in love with the underwater production sound of this song, and the unexpected chord changes that subtly mark a change in emotional direction even if the vocalist’s performance remains hidden; as if everything is at the same level, at all times.

It’s one of those songs to play to the disheartened, those confronted by the confines of their psychology; alongside this wonderfully over the top performance of ‘A Plea for Tenderness’ – so funny, sweet and urgent, as only a youthful Jonathan Richman knows how. 

Found this great information from a very useful website, Songfacts, so I’ll just cut/paste (rather than fake authorship): 

· Opening with the sounds of a train whistle, a ship's horn, and waves crashing on the shore, this romantic folk ballad was a surprise inclusion on The Jam's third full length album, All Mod Cons.

· Lyrically, the narrator likens himself to old sailors who would leave their mother country, and their lover, their fair English rose. It was inspired by Weller's homesickness when he was touring America and the absence of his girlfriend at the time, Gill Price.

Weller told Mojo magazine May 2010: "It was me emotionally naked, speaking openly about being in love. I was aware it was something that blokes from my background didn't do. They didn't reveal their feelings, their sensitive side." Embarrassed by its honesty, Weller left the track unlisted on the album cover.

· An inspiration for this song was the unpretentious verse of the '60s Liverpool poets. Weller told Mojo: "A fan had turned me on to Adrian Henri, and I leaned through these poets that you could be open about your thoughts and feelings and you could juxtapose a grand, classical image with a street one."

· The song later inspired the name of Manchester alternative rock band, the Stone Roses.

And here’s a live performance of that beautiful, beautiful song ‘Ghosts’ (from the 1982 Birmingham concert, I’m pretty sure).    

Why are you frightened - can’t you see that it’s you
That ain’t no ghost - it’s a reflection of you
Why do you turn away - an’ keep it out of sight
Oh - don’t live up to your given roles
There’s more inside you that you won’t show

But you keep it hidden just like everyone
You’re scared to show you care - it’ll make you vulnerable
So you wear that ghost around you for disguise

But there’s no need just ‘cos it’s all we’ve known
There’s more inside you that you haven’t shown

So keep on moving, moving, moving your feet
Keep on shuf-shuf-shuffling to this ghost dance beat
Just keep on walking down never ending streets

One day you’ll walk right out of this life
And then you’ll wonder why you didn’t try

To spread some loving all around
Old fashioned causes like that still stand
Gotta rid this prejudice that ties you down

How do you feel at the end of the day
Just like you’ve walked over your own grave

So why are you frightened - can’t you see that it’s you
At the moment there’s nothing - so there’s nothing to lose
Lift up your lonely heart and walk right on through

‘Slave’ The Rolling Stones (first version with vocals, bootleg) recorded 1975/1980, feat. Sonny Rollins

‘Slave’ was eventually recorded for Tattoo You but this is the original 10 minute long version know as ‘Black And Blue Jam’ or ‘Vagina’, recorded in 1975 (between 22nd January - 9th February: Rotterdam, Holland, De Doelen, Mobile Record Unit) and 1980 (11th October - 12th November: Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, Pathé-Marconi Studios).This long version was compiled of two cut up tapes from different sources creating the ultimate and finally complete version of ‘Slave'.

Below the video info. 

As one listener correctly noted, in this original raw version ‘(Jagger) wants to be your slave, on Tattoo You it’s DON'T want to be your slave.' Much speculation then ensues among the fans about the significance of this shift, making connections with his split from Bianca and the song, 'Black Limousine’.

The sessions included the long-term Stones collaborators who are so central to their sound: Billy Preston on keyboards and Ollie Brown on percussion.

And also the jazz god-figure, Sonny Rollins, providing yet another reason to venerate him. He also defines the mood, enhances the pure loveliness of ‘Waiting on a friend’ that appeared on Tattoo You (1981) - the record many critics believe was the last great Stones album. 

‘Mick Jagger sitting on the steps with Peter Tosh in front of the 'Physical Graffiti' building, just waiting on a friend’ (to quote another).