Monday, May 24, 2010

Song of the Week: "Down In The Flood", Bob Dylan

Listen - Bob Dylan performs Down In The Flood

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan. The diesel engine that is Bob Dylan just keeps A-chugging along. Today we flip our hat to the man from Duluth with a 2002 live recording of Down In The Flood. The man has still got it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Video Diary: Bob Dylan, "Blood In My Eyes"

From 1993, Bob Dylan does a major rework of the Mississippi Sheiks' original number, recorded in 1931, Blood in My Eyes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Song of the Week: "Moonlight Mile", The Rolling Stones

Listen - The Rolling Stones perform Moonlight Mile

On these digital pages, we good folk at Flip-Central usually like to hip you to songs we think you have not heard before, such as Born Loser. But today's SOTW is a song that we think you most definitely have heard before. We're just betting that it has been awhile since you heard it.

The song is from a small band out of the UK that goes by the name The Rolling Stones. The album is called Sticky Fingers. The song is the closing number on that 1971 album and is called Moonlight Mile.

While the song is credited to the usual suspects of Jagger/Richards, rumors have long swirled that Brian Jones' replacement, Mick Taylor had a more than major hand in writing this song. The way I've always heard it is that Richards wrote the main guitar riff while on a Mississippi Fred McDowell listening binge. Then the two Micks stayed up late working the riff into a full-fledged song. Jagger fleshing out the lonesome road weary lyrics, Taylor, fleshing out a full song structure. The boys later went into the studio in England to record the number for their 1970s debut. Keith Richards plays the dominant open-tuned acoustic guitar as Taylor ads the subtle and muted electric guitar work from his Gibson SG. [Ed Note: It appears that Keith is not on the recording at all, and that Mick Jagger plays the acoustic.]

A favorite moment of mine is when Jagger reflects, around the 3:00 mark, "I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming. I'm riding down your moonlight mile." Then the song breaks into an aggressive surge of strings with a Far-East feel, only to subside in a long, slow descent of loose instruments as the song falls off to it's close. Ian Stewart's piano work is particularly effective in this rag-tag completion to a beautiful song that always makes me want to hit the open road. [Ed note: damn, I hate being wrong. A commenter to this article has pointed out that it is probably one Jim Price on piano, not Stewart]

Made a rag-pile of my shiny clothes. Gonna warm my bones, gonna warm my bones. I got silence on my radio. Let the airwaves flow. Let the airwaves flow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Busker Days: Mark O'Harps "Good Morning America"

As you might recall, I recorded our last Busker Days installment still underground in the Montgomery BART station. (Man that's a great song!)  Directly following that recording, as I made my way to the surface, some familiar sounds penetrated the early morning coldness. If I wasn't mistaken it was the masterful harmonica work of none other than one Mark O'Harps. He was the first busker I became familiar with back in 2004 when I started making the daily trip to SF for work. Back then I worked near Mission and First and it was on that corner that I would regularly stop and take in his ear-bending improvisational playing. I must confess that ever since I started this field recording effort I had hoped I might get a recording. Well, here was my chance.

Give a listen above to Mark O' as he delivers his (per)version of the classic "City of New Orleans", a song written by Steve Goodman and made famous in 1972 by Arlo Guthrie. It's just Mark O'Harps, his harmonicas, mic and amp, and some percussives on his shoe, playing on Market and Montgomery.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Song of the Week: "Deep Water", The Beau Brummels

Listen - The Beau Brummels perform Deep Water

The Beau Brummels. I'm not sure what to make of them. Thanks to Rhino Records' reissues in the early 80s, this was one of the first 60s bands that grabbed my attention. The other two being Love and the Yardbirds. But unlike Love and The Yardbirds, I don't spin a Beau Brummels song with great frequency. Whenever I do, I always think to myself, I need to play these guys more. Well, dang it, that's what we're doing today.

The Beau Brummels were the first band to come out of San Francisco in the Beatles Mania era and did so with a huge bang. Their first single on Autumn Records was a number called Laugh, Laugh which went to No. 15 in the US charts in December of '64. They even "performed" the song on The Flintstones. They followed that up with yet another solid hit, and an even better song, Just A Little in early '65. That song peaked at an impressive No. 8. Both songs written by guitarist, Ron Elliot and both produced by a young Sly Stone.

Then, as is a common story for bands of the mid-60s that weren't called The Beatles or the Rolling Stones, The Beau Brummels began their steady decline into obscurity. That's not to say the songs declined in quality. They didn't. A switch to a new label that tried to turn them into a cover band, loss of band members to the Vietnam War, a band leader who was forced by diabetes to stop touring and the general direction of Elliot's compositions into more introspective, less pop-oriented music all led to the band becoming little more than a "where are they now" band even as they put out their best work.

In 1968, the band, now just Elliot and gifted vocalist Sal Valentino, traveled to Nashville to record what would be there final album, Bradley's Barn. It's a very good album and the standout track, in this writer's opinion, is today's SOTW: Deep Water. It's a beautifully produced song with some of Nashville's top session men (including Jerry Reed) laying down some tasty work on the Dobro, the Vibes and other untraditional pop instruments.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Video Diary: R.L. Burnside, "Poor Black Mattie"

If you don't know about the late R.L. Burnside, you are really missing something. Here he is in 1984 playing his original composition, Poor Black Mattie. Have a great weekend.