Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Critic's Notes & Frames, Part V

Late last year, I included a few samplings from my Facebook page, which I've been treating as an ongoing dialogue with friends about social and cultural matters. (Some have described it as a salon.) Here is even more of the same. As before, it includes borrowings of songs and photos that others have posted and that I've commented on:

On "Let's Get Together For Awhile," Brian Wilson tries his hand at pleasingly relaxed and cool instrumental music for the pad. Think Burt Bacharach on happy chemicals.

6- Bar Taoism.

A reasonable request.

"I Live For You," one of George Harrison's prettiest tracks, was recorded during his sprawling All Things Must Pass sessions. As with his "Long, Long, Long," from The Beatles' White Album, you can hear this tune as either a devotional number to God, or something more secular like a simple love song. Either way, with a gorgeous bed created by Pete Drake's steel guitar and Harrison's pining voice, it's a shame that it didn't turn up until Harrison re-released the 30th anniversary version in 2001 before he died. Perhaps he felt the song resembled, at least in tone, the equally appealing "Behind That Locked Door" (which he did include and wrote for Bob Dylan). It also featured Drake, a country musician who worked with Dylan on Nashville Skyline, so he left it off the original release. But "I Live For You" would have made a much more substantial contribution to the album than, say, "Hear Me Lord."

Axis: Bold as Lunch (with thanks to Bill Haney).

The Secret Life of Edith Bunker. 

When I first listened to "Hanky Panky" as a kid, I knew Tommy James was up to things in this song that I had yet to understand. When I heard it again as a teenager, the bass line finally gave me the answer.

D.C. in the Sky (in memory of David Churchill).

Marxian slip (Thanks to Michael Snider).

Sam Cooke's Night Beat, one of the best albums of the Sixties, is also one of the singer's most enjoyable records. Already a great singer of gospel and pop, Cooke here takes the listener straight through the edge of night where "Trouble Blues" maybe points the way to the tragic moments that lay ahead. Mikal Gilmore (who named a book of critical essays after this album) says this: "[Cooke] is remembered as a sweet soul singer. He was, in fact, one of the most complex blues singers of the last fifty years or so. He made his hurt sound glorious and beautiful, but in the end, the hurt won. With Night Beat, he left us with one of the best albums ever made."

Kevin Courrier is a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic and author (Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of ZappaRandy Newman's American Dreams33 1/3 Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask ReplicaArtificial Paradise: The Dark Side of The Beatles Utopian Dream). Courrier teaches part-time film courses to seniors through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto and other venues. His forthcoming book is Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism.

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