Archive for the 'Death won’t do us apart' Category

Skeeter!

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Skeeter Davis formed together with Betty Jack the Davis Sisters. A car crash in 1953 and the following death of Betty Jack could have put an end to the band, but Betty Jack’s mother insisted that her other daughter, Georgia, take over. So she did, and the band continued touring for a few years. In the 60s Skeeter departed on a career as a solo artist. She recorded a few so-called crossover country hits, melding trad stuff with rockabilly and also covered a few Buddy Holly songs. At ”A Child’s Guide” we kinda like more than anything her duets together with Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare and others. This is country music with a twist, sorta like a slice of lime in your Miller or a bit of salsa on the T-bone steak. Skeeter tragically died in 2004 after fighting cancer for almost two decades.

”Gonna Get Along Without You Now”
http://www.musicwebtown.com/tobrick/playlists/24174/276483.mp3

”Fifteen miles from Memphis…”

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Gene Clark was obviously one of the country-rock greats. He was part of geeky folk collective the New Christy Minstrels (remember ”Green Green”), formed the Byrds together with Roger McGuinn in 1964, and recorded a couple of hallmark albums as a solo artists, most notable White Light from 1971 – a couple of down-to-earth, organic songs that are often mentioned among the first and best singer/songwriter records. What really gets us going here at ”A Child’s Guide” is however his works together with Doug Dillard, simply called Dillard&Clark. Combining the best of two worlds – Clark’s Dylanesque country-folk-rock with Dillard’s more traditional, banjo-smoking, bluegrass – they recorded in 1968 The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard&Clark. This is the kind of music you want, not in your iPod damn kids, but in the cassette player of your old Chevy, playing so loud that you don’t even notice the little squirrel you just ran over somewhere in the outskirts of Tulsa. Here’s probably my favorite song from the album, and one of the catchiest country tunes ever: ”The Radio Song”. It will make you dream sweet dreams of Clark, whose legacy lives on 15 years after his death.


Polish delights

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If you´ve ever watched Roman Polanski´s Rosemary´s Baby you´ve heard the brilliant film music of composer Krzysztof Komeda. His score to this movie is rightfully considered one of the best ever. The creepy main theme, sung by Mia Farrow who stars in the film, sends shivers down my spine every time. A wordless lullaby with harpsichord touches, it´s dark and haunting. Komeda started out as a jazz musician in his native Poland before hooking up with Roman Polanski who was fast becoming one of the most acclaimed european filmmakers. When Polanski moved to Hollywood, Komeda was not far behind. Besides Rosemary´s Baby my favourite Komeda score is for Polanski´s 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, which is , despite what you might think when you hear the title, a comedy. Ahh, nothing lika a good vampire comedy to brighten up your day. Have a listen to the main theme which is just sublime, all dark majestic choirs and a jazzy pop vibe. A short time after Rosemary´s Baby came out, Komeda was in a car accident and ended up in a coma. He eventually woke up and decided to go back to Poland, but died shortly after settling down in Warsaw, not even 40 years old.

"Rosemary´s baby - main theme"

”Fearless vampire killers – main theme”

Hug-o and his Moog-o

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Now here is a pretty spaced out guy. Hugo Montenegro was more of a composer than a musical artist, recording vibrant electro-swinging film music and covers of random hits. His manic pop sound was as much orchestral and retro as it was futuristic and kitschy, relying to a large degree on his Moog synthesizer. His Moog Power from 1969, written in only one week, features a crazy experimental journey through the psychedelic and glossy Moog sound. So follow the white rabbit and wake up on the other side of the Tequila bottle, hearing somewhere in the back of your head the crazy version of ”The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” that you are just about to experience… Hugo Montenegro passed away in 1981, I guess we should mention. Bless his Moog-soul.

Man Of The Millennium

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This piece is about the man with probably the most uncool name in rock history; Curt Boettcher (he eventually changed to Becher, which really isn´t much better is it?). Boettcher was a visionary producer who recorded a trio of albums in the 60s that are all timeless classics according to us here at ACGTGAE. His first studio project was a group called the Ballroom. They recorded an unreleased album filled with psychedelic pop gems that is both otherworldly and adventurous. “It´s a sad world” is a good example of the magical quality in Boettcher´s best work. Next, he hooked up with Byrds-producer Gary Usher and together they masterminded the group Sagittarius, whose lone album Present Tense from 1967 is also pure genius. But Curt Boettcher´s crowning achievement would be with the Millennium. Counting 8 members and with Curt as the leader of the band, they went into the studio in 1968 to create Begin. The record would become what was then the most costly recording session in the history of Columbia Records with Boettcher spending a massive amount of hours in the studio looking for the perfect take and adding new effects and echoes. The end result is truly stunning. Take the opening song “Prelude” for example, an amazing instrumental number that sounds waaaay ahead of it´s time. The whole album is a fantastically hypnotizing ride but since it failed commercially the band soon split up. Boettcher recorded some solo material in a more cosmic singer-songwriter vein in the 70s but it was a far cry from his glorious 60s productions. He passed away quietly in 1987, a good ten years before his records would start to gain wider recognition.

"It´s a sad world"

”Prelude”

Manuel’s last waltz

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Richard Manuel was the soulful member of the Band. With a gospel background and a falsetto voice almost on par with the Gibbs, Manuel took the Band to a higher level. He was also behind some of the more memorable songs, even if Robertson stole the glory with ”The Weight”. Being a shy Canadian, Manuel still had his hand with the ladies – marrying a Swedish model, and demanding polaroids of groupies before allowing them backstage. As popularity grew, he started to drink notoriously (according to drummer Levon Helm, he downed 8 bottles of liqueur a day) and was often way too pissed on stage. After the death of his friend and manager Albert Grossman, Manuel fell into a depression and after a gig in Florida 1986 hung himself. Here is maybe his finest moment – ”Whispering Pines”. Hey, by the way, don’t forget to check out Scorsese’s ”The Last Waltz” for some great footage of Manuel and the Band in action.


Del Shannon – the sad rocker

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Fact: Del Shannon is one of my favourite singers ever. I love the way he always sounds powerful and totally sad at once. Making it big in 1961 with the megaclassic “Runaway”, Del had several more hits (mostly “Runaway”-soundalikes) before the mid 60s found him stuggling to keep up with the changes in pop music. Desperate for a hit, he jumped on a plane to London in 1967 and started working with Andrew Loog Oldham, manager of the Rolling Stones, on a record that would sadly never be released.
The album, which was supposed to be called Home and Away, is solid gold. All killer, no filler. “He cheated” is probably my fave track, in which Del takes on the role as the frustrated guy who´s in love with a girl whose boyfriend is a cheating son of a bitch. Del Shannon recorded one more album of psychedelic pop brilliance, The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover (yup, that was his real name), before becoming a tragic figure travelling the oldies-circuit playing “Runway” to middle-aged people trying to recapture their youth. In 1990 he obviously couldn´t take it anymore and commited suicide, but let´s remember him for that magic period in 1967-68 when he seemed to be invincible, recording one great song after another.

"He cheated"