Sunday, August 02, 2009
Taking a sabbatical. Juggling work/home life is kinda exhausting right now. No time, no energy for this blog. Some folks will be happy w/ that announcement, but it's not a permanent shift: I'm hangin' around this music ghetto 'til the wheels fall off. I'm likely the last guy on earth to realise this, but the two albums Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald recorded together in the late '50s are pure genius. Like, mindblowing. Immense vocal deliveries, subtle sweetness, unadulterated American brilliance on wax. One pathetic hobby of yore in my meaningless life was to collect Top 10s from just about any music dork I met. I've still got a collection of 'em in a file somewhere. Did you know that Neil Hamburger (Gregg Turkington)'s contains records by the Beach Boys, Leonard Cohen and Tupac? That Dr. Jim's seriously lists Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music as a record he likes to play for "pleasure"? That Mark Harwood's contains Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome To The Pleasuredome (don't laugh: it's a definite sentimental fave of mine, too)? I went on tour w/ Jad Fair when he was here in '97; I got his list, too. Besides the obvious (Velvets, Stooges, Beefheart, Modern Lovers et al), he also listed not one but both Ella/Louis albums as separate entries. A 25 year-old Dave Lang was appalled. Why waste an entry? What kind of old geezer listens to such records? I was sure they were nice 'n' pleasant 'n' all, but I saw his duplication of artists as a missed opportunity to list a Peter Brotzmann album or something. Somewhere in the back of my mind I kept a note: before I was to drop dead, I would get my mitts on every record in Jad's list (not too hard; I had 'em all except for those two rekkids!). I got meself a freebie of a double CD containing both the albums and a ton of bone-arse material about a year back. Played it once - didn't hurt - filed it away for keepsake. Earlier in the year I was playing a workmate's itunes "Party Shuffle" on his computer when he was away on an extended break, and it featured the Louis/Ella rendition of the old Hoagy Carmichael chestnut, "The Nearness Of You". The treatment was so note-perfect and, dare I say, moving, that I noted to self that the dust-gathering 2CD would be pulled from the shelf that night and gather dust no more. Geez, and here I was thinking I was going to write about some cutting-edge rock 'n' roll beast like Suicide's sorely neglected second album. That'll wait 'til next time. For now, it's Ella 'n' Louis swinging their way through some Irving Berlin, Gershwin and Carmichael. That's the goods.