Me and My Arrow – Harry Nilsson

April 29, 2008

It’s been a while since I’ve gone out on a limb and bought something on impulse, but two Harry Nilsson albums on once CD for three quid as pretty hard to resist. I picked up Skidoo and The Point in Fopp on Thursday and the CD hasn’t left my discman since. The beats and keyboard lines on Me and My Arrow are decades ahead of their time, crying out to be sampled.

In fact, that’s exactly what Blackalicious did to produce this this juicy rump-shaker.

Both of the Nilsson albums have the charm and humor that you rarely see in comtemporory music these days. On ‘Cast and Crew’ Nilsson sings the credits for the Skidoo movie. ‘I will Take You There’ and ‘Are You Sleeping’ are two classic-cuts of infectious late sixties/early seventies string-laden pop. The Point is an alegorical children’s fable written by Nilsson about a boy named Oblio who is banished to the Pointless Forest only to learn that everything has a point. The narration is class, you can even hear him turn the pages while he’s reading. It’s hard to imagine anyone making records as much fun as these two albums nowadays, but who knows – maybe everyone’s ready to lighten up a little.

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The Beach Boys – Time to Get Alone

April 23, 2008

 

One of my favourites from the Beach Boy’s excellent 20/20. I love the surpise echo effect on the ‘deep and wide’ part around the 1.46 mark. There is an interesting story about this song. Brian Wilson actually wrote it for Redwood (who would later become Three Dog Night), but the rest of the Beach Boys had no intention of letting Brian write for other bands.

According to Chuck Negron: “It all came to a head…when Mike Love, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine came to the studio and heard our version of ‘Time To Get Alone’…They manoeuvred Brian into the control booth and reduced him to tears. It was a cruel and pathetic scene. Danny, Cory and I were in the studio and could see it all happening through the control-booth window. It was as if Brian had turned into a little boy. The conversation appeared quiet and calm, but we could tell it was emotional and intense. The others were doing most of the talking, like overbearing, controlling parents. Brian would move away, and they would block his escape. We couldn’t hear what was being said, but I think a good lip-reader would have picked up something like, ‘We don’t give a shit about these guys, and we want those songs for us.’ We could actually feel Brian crumbling, and when he came out of the booth, a tear dropped down his cheek. His head was lowered and his shoulders sagged. It was the body language of a child who had just been scolded and punished. And this brilliant musical icon – whose songs defined one generation and influenced another – weepingly told us, ‘We can’t do this. I have to give the songs to them. They’re family and I have to take care of my family. They want the songs. I’ll give you any amount of money you want to finish an album, but I can’t produce it. They won’t let me.'”

It’s saddening that such a beautiful rendition of this song can have such torment behind it. As with most of the Beach Boys work, there’s a lot of sorrow behind the splendor. Brian’s autobiography Wouldn’t it be Nice is one of the most harrowing music memoirs I’ve ever read, but at it’s core it’s an inspirational story of redemption.

More Beach Boys posts on the way.


Monade – Regarde

April 22, 2008

Not content with being in one great band, Letitia Sadier now fronts two. Monade’s third album Monstre Cosmic is as wonderful as anything she has done previously. Beguiling melodies, exotic rhythms, complex harmonies – it’s all there. Easily one of the best realeases of 2008 so far.