HomePosts Tagged "Phil Spector"

Phil Spector Tag

Soul Serenade - Patty & the EmblemsCamden, NJ, like many industrial cities in the northeast, has fallen on hard times. Corruption has led three of the cities mayors to prison, and for seven years from 2005-2012 Camden’s police and fire departments were controlled by the state. About 40% of the city’s 77,000 people live below the poverty line.

But it wasn’t always like this in Camden. Camden has been home to the headquarters of the Campbell Soup Company for many years, and the city was also home to the New York Ship Building Company from 1899-1967. At one time it was the largest shipyard in the world. From 1901-1929 the Victor Talking Machine Company, predecessor to the RCA Victor company, was headquartered in Camden. Stars like Enrico Caruso recorded in the company’s Camden studios, where some of the earliest commercial recordings were made.

Soul Serenade - Sonny Charles & the CheckmatesI worked at this classic New Jersey hot dog joint called Syd’s for eight years in my youth. Syd’s had originally been in the Weequahic section of Newark and was a popular attraction until Syd himself passed away. Some years later, a couple of guys who worked for Syd in Newark decided to open their own restaurant in another town, Vauxhall, which is not far from Newark. Lennie and Jack went to visit Syd’s widow, seeking her blessing for their new enterprise, which they hoped to name Syd’s. Their request was granted.

I love the annual showing of It’s A Wonderful Life at this time of the year. It’s become a holiday tradition for me, along with other films like A Christmas Carol (the 1951 version please), and more recently, Polar Express.

What really gets me into the holiday spirit though is coming up tomorrow night. It’s the most magical four or five minutes of television of the year for me. Tomorrow night Darlene Love makes her annual appearance on Late Night with David Letterman to sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” It is an annual tradition that began in 1986, and it has become one of the most special moments of any Christmas season.

Soul Serenade

Ike and Tina Turner - River Deep - Mountain HighImagine for a moment that you are Tina Turner in 1965. On the one hand there’s your husband Ike, a man known for his volatility, and violent temper. You enter Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles to record with the legendary record producer Phil Spector, already know for his eccentricities if not yet for his violent impulses. What is a poor girl to do?

What Tina Turner did was what she did best. She turned in a brilliant vocal performance for what is often regarded as Phil Spector’s greatest work. And while “River Deep – Mountain High” was a substantial hit in Europe, reaching #3 in the UK, it was a miserable failure when it was released in the U.S. in May, 1966.

noconcessionsAh, spring break. Remember those magical weeks of cheap drugs, plentiful booze, and abundant sex? Well, I don’t; in college 30 (sigh) years ago I’d fly from thawing Chicago to somewhat less frigid New Jersey and home, usually with course-related reading material in tow.

Turns out Harmony Korine, the aging enfant terrible of American indie cinema (40, sigh), didn’t either. So he’s made up a movie about the annual ritual, Spring Breakers, which gave me a tingle as I settled in with both my tykes this spring break. (Times have changed.) Oh, those mischievous, lascivious Disney princesses, drawing penises, rubbing against one another, peeing through their bikini bottoms, and miming oral sex with beer-filled hoses and automatic weapons. Good times, ladies.

I also dozed off, more than once. Languid style, Skrillex-devised electronica paced to match arty editing rhythms, and an air of purposelessness will do that to an old horndog. I don’t think Korine will mind. Go with it, find your level, even in your dreams, I can hear him saying. As a critic I should compare Spring Breakers with the rest of his oeuvre, including Trash Humpers (2009) and Julien Donkey-Boy (1999), but as a moviegoer I must admit

Soul Serenade

Candy & the Kisses - The 81Dance crazes. There were a lot of them in the ’60s. Chubby Checker sparked a national frenzy with his version of “The Twist,” which was originally recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. Joey Dee & the Starliters had a variation called “The Peppermint Twist” that got a lot of attention. The Miracles sang about “Mickey’s Monkey,” and the Orlons scored with “The Watusi,” which was second only to “The Twist” when it came to ’60s dance crazes. The Olympics, the Marathons, the Jive Five, and Ike and Tina Turner all celebrated the “Hully Gully” in one way or another.

For awhile there, it seemed as if inventing a new dance craze, or even just singing about it, was a direct ticket to the top of the charts. But the nation lost its innocence when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and shortly after that the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion troops appeared on our shore. Whether it was because of bad timing, or simply bad luck, some dance records just didn’t take off as they might have a year or two early. That was the sad fate experienced by a vocal group called Candy & the Kisses, who hailed from Port Richmond, NY. The group was led by Candy Nelson, and included her sister Suzanne, and friend Jeanette Johnson.

Soul Serenade

Darlene Love - All Alone On Christmas

It’s been a difficult week. Frankly, it’s been tough for me to find inspiration for this column, or any of my other writing assignments. I’ve tried to stay away from the news, but it’s impossible to forget what happened last Friday.

The fact that the tragedy happened during the Christmas season makes it that much more poignant. We will go forward with our celebrations, because that’s what we do. Hopefully we will also find time to reflect on where we find ourselves these days, and how we got here. I know I will.

For more than 25 years, Christmas has not been complete without Darlene Love’s annual appearance on Late Night With David Letterman to sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” The song was written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, and first appeared on the legendary Spector-produced album A Christmas Gift For You, which was released in 1963.

Ok, strap in. The story of the Drifters is a long and complicated one. Back in 1953 there was a prominent vocal group called the Dominoes, which had been formed by Billy Ward. The group’s lead singer was a guy named Clyde McPhatter. Clyde quit the group that year, and the Dominoes went on without him.

The thing is, McPhatter had an important fan. When the Dominoes appeared at Birdland in New York, Ahmet Ertegun went backstage to look for him. When he was told that McPhatter had left the group, Ertegun sought him out, and signed him to his fledgling label, Atlantic Records.

Ertegun encouraged McPhatter to form a group of his own, and they were called the Drifters. No one seems to know where the name came from, and no one at Atlantic liked it much because it sounded like the name of a country and western group. The only thing that anyone can figure out is that the group got their name because the members just sort of drifted in from other groups.

On August 30, 1964, I saw the Beatles at Atlantic City Convention Hall. They played for about 20 minutes, and I barely heard a thing above the screaming of the throng. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The opening acts that night were the Bill Black Combo, Bill had played bass with Elvis Presley in his early trio; the Exciters, who had a big hit with “Tell Him”; and a duo from L.A. called the Righteous Brothers who were still not exactly a household name at that point.

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield had been recording for a year, and had moderate success with their single “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” but real success was still on the horizon. It would get closer when the duo appeared on the pilot of the new music tv show Shindig! two weeks later, and the following year the duo would have one of the biggest years that any act has ever had.

Monday was simply a terrible day for the world of music. It was on that day that we lost two of the greatest songwriters in the history of popular music. Both Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford were best known for their classic soul and rhythm & blues songs, so it is appropriate to pay tribute to them in this column. This week I’ll pay homage to Jerry Leiber, and next week I’ll do the same for Nick Ashford.

I’ll start with the basics, though you may have already read them in the countless tributes that poured in when Jerry Leiber’s death was announced. He came from Baltimore, but moved to Los Angeles where he attended Fairfax High School. He was working in a record store during his senior year when he met Mike Stoller in 1950.

And now we come to the especially sweet portion of our program. This week’s batch of songs are here to show you that no matter how much turmoil may have been going on in the real world in ’63, everything was just A-OK on AM radio. So put your headphones on and your cares away, and come back with us once again to the world of Time-Life’s AM Gold — 1963 style!

(For those with Spotify accounts, you can subscribe to our Best of AM Gold playlist, which is updated regularly.)


Lenny Welch, "Since I Fell for You"#11: Lenny Welch, “Since I Fell for You”; #4 U.S. Hot 100 – Written by jazz bandleader Buddy Johnson in 1945 and popularized by his sister Ella.

Jack Feerick – This must have sounded like an anachronism even in 1963. This sort of string-heavy ballad is part of an earlier tradition of pop. What’s contemporary about it is the naked emotionalism of Welch’s vocal, which would have been unthinkable without the ten years of “race” records and early rock ‘n’ roll that preceded it.

Imagine a Sinatra or a Tony Bennett — singers who know a thing or two about wringing all the heartbreak from a lyric — listening to “Since I Fell For You.” They would dismiss Welch’s huffing and sobbing as gaudy, vulgar showboating. And the thing is, they’d be right. The hybrid approach — pop classicism interpreted with bluesy gusto — is problematic from the start. In the crooner tradition, much of the emotional heavy lifting is done by the songwriter, and understatement is one of the singer’s most important tools.

It’s an art of enormous delicacy, where a subtle change of inflection can alter the mood shading of the song. If you’re going to go big with it, you’ve got to commit to going all the way big. James Brown can whoop and shriek his way through “September Song,” because he’s got the whole band plunging in along with him and devil take the hindmost; the result is ridiculous, but it’s a magnificent kind of ridiculous. Lenny Welch, aping the surface tics of a vocal style he hasn’t fully absorbed while the orchestra plays it straight behind him, just comes off sounding like a putz. In fact, the whole thing sounds like a stunt cooked up by Steve Allen to discredit this crazy “rock ‘n’ roll” fad.

David Lifton – Does this mean we can blame Lenny Welch for Michael Bolton? Thankfully this is such a beautiful song that it holds up to this kind of treatment. it helps that I’m a sucker for a rubato verse — the eight bars or so that precede the first verse — which have become pretty much extinct in the rock era thanks to bridges and instrumental solos (“If I Fell” and “Here, There, And Everywhere” notwithstanding).

Dw. Dunphy – Okay, maybe it is overwrought, but it sure is pretty. I suppose I’m a sap, but everything sounds better when you plop some strings behind it.

Jon Cummings – I’m kind of astonished at Jack’s negative response to this track. In the first place, the sound of this record was hardly anachronistic in a year when Bobby Vinton had two #1 singles and a #3, and in which Steve Lawrence topped the charts, as did “Dominique” and “Sukiyaki.” There’s a reason why the Beatles seemed so revolutionary when they touched down at JFK in ’64 — and why so many artists like Vinton & Lawrence complained about chart placements drying up during the British Invasion. And I would rather hear this exquisite song, and Welch’s excellent (if melodramatic) vocal, 50 times in a row than listen to “Mr. Lonely” or “Blue on Blue” even once. I like the way Welch overplays the emotions — it ties what is essentially a swing-era retread to such early-’60s dramas as “Duke of Earl” and “Tell Laura I Love Her.”

Jeff Giles – I love, love, love this song, but I’ve never heard this version — my favorite cover is the one Al Jarreau cut with David Sanborn and Bob James (I wrote about it here), which I initially heard on the Moonlighting soundtrack. Funny how musical gateways pop up where you least expect them.


The Drifters, "On Broadway"#12: The Drifters, “On Broadway”; #9 U.S. Hot 100, #7 U.S. R&B – That’s Phil Spector on guitar.

Feerick – Another one I’ve heard almost too many times to write about objectively. A wonderful song, in all its many incarnations, and this is a fantastic performance Ben E. King. But still, to me it still sounds a trifle confused about what kind of record it wants to be. See, there’s a part of me, the writer part of me, that hungers for thematic unity; that wants a degree of convergence between the style of a song and its substance; that wants, in short, for “On Broadway” to have a shitload of guitar. The twangly little runs we do hear don’t do much to justify the narrator’s confidence, and they’re fighting for space with the strings, the horns, and the sudden female choir.

(It’s even more surprising given that Phil Spector was the guitarist here. He of all people should understand the effect of arrangement and space on the emotional reading of a song. He didn’t produce, though, did he? That would be an irony; Phil Spector, musician, undone by the production…)

Of course, that may be the point. It’s possible, even tempting, to read those other elements as representing the myriad sights and sounds of the big city, into which narrator’s performing voice will vanish without a trace — in other words, to read “On Broadway” as a tragic song, in which the delusional narrator’s future holds only bitterness, failure, and degradation. There’s always George Benson’s version, I suppose.

Lifton – This was a Leiber-Stoller joint. Spector was apprenticing with them at the time.

By the way, those half-step key changes into every verse is the common thread behind this song and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.

Dunphy – I love this one too. It’s this weird combination of simplicity and the complicated. Listen to how the backing track moves from complementing the strong vocal-group arrangement into something absolutely lush.

Cummings – Not to pick on you, Jack, but Ben E. King was gone from the Drifters by this point — Rudy Lewis sang this track. And while I get your thematic desire for more guitar, even a solo the length of Spector’s here was pretty rare among the 2 1/2-minute pop symphonies concocted for AM radio at this time. (Think of “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which is Roy Orbison’s most guitar-driven hit from the era, and even it only had about 10 seconds for a bridge repeating its central riff.) I suppose when one compares the Drifters’ original with George Benson’s cover, and all its guitar noodling, one can say that Benson’s is more in keeping with the theme — but I still think this is the better record.

Giles – Just about a perfect song, and one that I think bridges the gap between vocal pop and the rock era pretty deftly. The strings are syrupy, but sharp; the vocals are square, but not too melodramatic; the lyrics wedge a bit of social commentary into a sleepy, instantly memorable melody; and then there’s that guitar.

And we’re back! If you had half as much fun reading the first part of our Digging for Gold series as we did putting it together, well that means we enjoyed it twice as much. Where else can you go to get informed debate on topics ranging from World War I-era love songs to Snooki from Jersey Shore?


#6: Brenda Lee, “All Alone Am I” – #3 U.S., #7 U.K. Music by Greek musician Manos Hadjidakis, and was originally used in a film called The Island of the Brave.

Jeff Giles – Dig those quavering vocals, boys and girls. In the days before we lost the Melisma Wars, this is how you let people know you were sad. Also: harpsichord!

Jack Feerick – Songs like this seem to exist only as a sort of employment program for harpsichord players and string arrangers. The details are all in place, but the song itself is pretty slight. The spoken-word repeat is there obviously as a callback to “I’m Sorry,” but also to pad this thing out to an acceptable length for a single.

Jon Cummings – I have a major soft spot for Brenda Lee, whose early-’60s catalog ranks with the very best of them … even Roy Orbison and Phil Spector’s stuff. The sustained sob of this song is typical of what she was able to do at such a young age — other teen stars of the last 40 years can’t sniff her … well, insert your own euphemism here, because Brenda actually was a class act. You know how I decided to go back and check out all her old stuff? Because I wanted to know what Golden Earring was talking about when they sang, “Brenda Lee coming on strong.” It turns out “Coming On Strong” is an AWESOME song, and that got me hooked.

David Medsker – Weird to think that the Beatles are only a year or so away from this. This seems awfully quaint, even by ’50s standards, though I can’t shake the feeling that Quentin Tarantino will use this song in ironic fashion for an upcoming movie.

Dave Lifton – Goddamn, this song sucks.


#7: Gene Pitney, “Only Love Can Break a Heart” – #2 U.S., #4 Australia. A Hal David/Burt Bacharach joint.

Dw. Dunphy – I didn’t know Gene Pitney did “Only Love Can Break a Heart.” I recognize him from the vastly underrated “Backstage” and the overrated “Town Without Pity.” Sorry, but the delivery of the latter is just so melodramatic, I can’t take it after awhile.

Feerick – Bacharach and David are already throwing the pop rulebook out the window here. The structure is unconventional, to say the least — it’s all chorus, basically, with only brief tags of verse, and the middle eight dominates the thing. It’s damned odd, and there’s nothing much for me to latch onto.

Giles – Love can break a heart, but there isn’t a substance known to man that could have broken Gene’s glossy mane. Goddamn. Good for you, Gene.

This sounds like your average tremulous strings ‘n’ things pop ballad to me, but lest anyone doubt its effectiveness, just read the top comment at the video, which tells the heartbreaking tale of a retired GI who’s still pining for the girl who dumped him while he was fighting in Vietnam. I repeat: Goddamn.

Cummings – I find “Only Love Can Break a Heart” excruciating. Except for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” I never got Pitney’s appeal — his voice bugs me. Something about “Liberty Valance” works, though — that whole story-song thing meshes with his overly enunciated vocals. That was his “lane,” as the Idol judges this year are so fond of saying. He needed to “stay in his lane.”

Dunphy – Funny you should say “lane” in this regard. I thought “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” was sung by Frankie Laine.

Feerick – I dunno. I mean, Pitney was a huge and genuine talent, a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who incorporated all kinds of innovative instrumentation into his work, but he sounds hamstrung here. The voice has elements of big-band croon with a community-theater quaver, but there’s a graininess on the low notes that makes me think this guy was holding back the raunch — he could have gotten low-down and dirty if he’d wanted. (He did hang out with the Rolling Stones, after all.) I do love the horn-and-whistling motif—it’s a characteristic Pitney arranging touch, and the old-timey whistling always reminds me of “White Christmas” — but overall I reckon that Pitney was more comfortable singing his own songs, and that consequently “Town Without Pity” is a much better record.

Medsker – Love the chorus to this. Those ghostly backing vocals are both pretty and a little terrifying.

Lifton – Goddamn, this song sucks.


#8: The Everly Brothers, “Crying in the Rain” – #6 U.S. and U.K.; the second song on this disc co-written by Carole King.

Dunphy – “Crying In The Rain” is one of my favorite Everly Bros. songs. I’m not sure why it sets itself apart in my mind from their other songs, but when I hear the name, I go to this song even before “Wake Up Little Susie.”

Giles – Once again, I will embarrass myself by stating publicly that a-ha’s cover of this song was the first version I heard.

Cummings – “Crying in the Rain” was practically the Everlys’ swan song as a chart-topping act. I love the drama of it — the way those boys could slow down a ballad to a snail’s pace and force you to focus on nothing but their harmonies was pure magic.

Medsker – Wow, this really stands out compared to the first two songs. It’s easy to lose sight of their influence without the proper context. These guys were clearly playing a different sport than everyone else.

Dunphy – I agree on the Everlys. They were aiming for a new pop sound while Brenda Lee and Gene Pitney both have feet still tentatively planted in Your Hit Parade.

Chris Holmes – I think if we were to put together a pie chart showing influences on the Beatles, there would be a fairly large slice for the Everly Brothers. And Chuck Berry.

Dunphy – Certainly on the level where vocal harmony is concerned, I agree.

Feerick – I can’t even write about the voices; what more is there to add? Only listen to the drums on this one — riding a light Latin groove, which of course was all the rage at the time; but dig the rolling toms, which simultaneously suggest the rumbling of distant thunder. A miraculous record, with all the elements working together.

Lifton – Goddamn, this song rules. I also love the cover by Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe on the reissue of Rockpile’s Seconds Of Pleasure.

Welcome to the first installment in our latest music extravaganza, Digging for Gold: The Time-Life AM Gold Series! Over the course of the next thousand or so entries, your beloved Popdose staff writers will listen to and chat about the roughly few hundred songs compiled in Time-Life Music‘s wildly popular AM Gold series. Each volume will be split into multiple posts so as not to blow your minds.

What we now know as AM Gold started in 1990 but was titled Superhits. Over the course of the original 20-disc series, Superhits chronicled many of America’s most beloved radio hits from 1962 — 1973, albeit with some notable exceptions (no Beatles!). Time-Life relaunched the collection as AM Gold in 1995 and proceeded to pump out volume after additional volume, including one dedicated solely to classic TV themes. The timeline of the series was expanded through to 1979, even though by that time AM was on its way out as the radio band of choice for music fans.

And so we begin with 1962. The Cold War was in full swing, the Cuban Missile Crisis heightened America’s fears of nuclear annihilation, Marilyn Monroe died at age 36, and an obscure comic book character named Spider-Man made his debut. So yeah, it was an interesting year in America.

But before we start, let’s offer a laurel and hearty handshake for Dave Steed, whose Bottom Feeders series was a cherished Wednesday morning institution here at Popdose. Thanks Dave!

Perhaps I should tell you this before we go any further; in the age-old John vs. Paul debate, my answer is George, and as the years go by that conviction only grows stronger in me. It’s not just the music, it’s about how George lived his life. Nearly ten years on, his death still haunts me.

Woodstock. Gimme Shelter. The Last Waltz. Many people consider these films to be among the greatest rock and roll films of all time. I share their admiration. In the last few years though, I have come to believe that the Concert For George is the best concert film ever made.

The Concert For George achieves this lofty place in my personal pantheon as a result of a perfect storm of elements. There is the beautiful venue, London’s Royal Albert Hall. Then there is an exceptional cast of musicians led by Eric Clapton, and including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Anoushka Shankar, Jools Holland, Gary Brooker, Albert Lee, and Joe Brown. But what really makes the film great is the music of George Harrison, and the deep love and emotion with which the assembled cast performs it.

 

Merry Christmas, everybody! Wait a minute…shit, we missed Christmas. We missed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Valentine’s Day, too. What the hell is wrong with us? Don’t we know we have a responsibility to provide you with at least an hour of rambling per month? Well, schedules have finally cleared up (that takes care of December and January) and computers have temporarily stopped crashing (February), and so we’re finally back with a brand-new episode of The Popdose Podcast! Let there be rejoicing and much drinking from the few of you that aren’t already in a drunken stupor (and that includes two of my podcast colleagues)!

This month, with no burning topic presenting itself (other than Jeff’s mom getting rid of that rash — could we get a doctor to guest on the show, please? Literally, it’s burning), we decided to revisit a topic we covered at Dave’s blog many moons ago:

It’s  been too long since CHART ATTACK! has made an appearance on Popdose, something I intend to rectify (ha! I said rectify! I totally did!) this year. Until then, though, you can hear our brilliant, insightful ruminations on the Top 10 from March 9, 1985!

Before we kick off today’s round of exquisite Mellowmas torture, how about some discount music and a contest? Our friends at Rhino are celebrating the Twelve Days of Chri — er, Rhino, and for the fourth day, they’re not only offering a whopping 40% discount on Heaven & Hell’s limited edition Live from Radio City Music Hall CD/DVD set, but they’re giving away a $25 promo code to one lucky Popdose reader! Here’s what you need to do to enter:

Visit the Rhino site and find out how much you need to spend to get free shipping on your order. Then email the answer to Dw. Dunphy with the subject line “I am the Rhino contest winner.” Our winner will be chosen at random, and all entries must be received by noon PST tomorrow. Good luck!

Jason: Hey, another Christmas compilation from Warner Bros.! Gift Wrapped II: Snowed In.

Jeff: A sequel! With Roman numerals, even!

Jason: There were some good songs on Gift Wrapped – 20 Songs That Keep On Giving!

Jeff: There were? I don’t recall.

Jason: Yeah, the live Buble “Let It Snow” was good. A good version of “Silver Bells” by Meaghan Smith.

Jeff: Who’s Meaghan Smith? Never mind, I don’t care. I used to love Warner Bros. Records. Then they got rid of all their best executives in the mid ’90s.

Jason: So what does that mean for this compilation?

Jeff: Mainly that I have no idea who’s even on Warners anymore, other than the Goo Goo Dolls, who — of course! — are on this. Singing the classic carol “Better Days.”

Jason: What the hell is “Better Days”?

Jeff: Oh, wait, “Better Days” isn’t a Christmas song, it’s THEIR MOST RECENT SINGLE. And that, my friends, is Mellowmas in a nutshell. How fucking crass!

Jason: Oh. And here I was hoping it was a Citizen King cover.

Jeff: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That would be perfect.

Jason: And yes, I totally had to look up the song to find out who sung it.

Jeff: I want a whole album of covers like that. Mediocrity Meets Mediocrity: Covers of Songs You Barely Remember by Artists You Can’t Stand.

Jason: All by the Goo Goo Dolls?

Jeff: Train could cover, I don’t know, Stroke 9 or something.

Jason: I’ve been dying to hear the Goo’s version of “Sex and Candy.”

Jeff: snort

Jason: So what shall we listen to from this steaming pile of coal?

Jeff: We shall listen to the Regina Spektor track “December,” which was apparently recorded just for this compilation. Such a wintry title! Candy canes and hot cocoa!

Jason: Maybe it’s inspired by the George Winston album! Just Regina Spektor playing piano, barefoot. Bald and with a beard, too.

Jeff: Oh, I hope so! And not singing.

Jason: You don’t like Regina Spektor?

Jeff: Isn’t Regina Spektor something that fell off Tori Amos?

Jason: I thought it was shitty that she changed the spelling of her last name to hide that she’s Phil’s daughter.

Jeff: Well, you know. That hair is embarrassing.

Jason: After this track, that might be the least of the problems. We can hope, anyway. She was on the last Gift Wrapped compilation.

Jeff: Which I apparently have on my hard drive. The Mellowmas pain, it all blurs together.

Jason: “My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) [iTunes Live Session Performance].” I gave it three stars.

Jeff: Three stars, eh? That’s a lot to live up to.

Jason: Nah, only the four and five star songs remain on my playlists. There are helicopters on the track, which bummed me out because I thought it was going to be a “Goodnight Saigon” cover.

Jeff: Now I want to hear a holiday mix of “Goodnight Saigon.”

Jason: I think there’s already triangle or something on that song. They just need jingle bells.

Jeff: Let’s listen.

Regina Spektor — December (download)

From Gift Wrapped II: Snowed In

LENNONYCI don’t know about you, but 30 years after his death the mere sound of John Lennon’s voice is still enough to fill me with emotion. An enormous talent was lost to the world on that long ago December night, and more than that a powerful voice for peace was silenced.

I’ve watched most of the Lennon documentaries, and some of them are very good indeed. The problem that they all have, and the new PBS entry LENNONYC is no exception, is that they all have the same terrible ending. You see it coming, you know it’s coming, from the first frame. It’s like a runaway train that’s coming right at you. You’re powerless to stop it.

I would imagine that the story of the Beatles is among the most widely covered stories of the 20th century. There is very little that is not known about the band members, individually and collectively. The most that anyone can hope for from a new article, book, or film about the Beatles is that it will shed a little light on some less-covered aspect of their story. Still, the coverage keeps coming, and that is because we never seem to tire of the subject. Each season seems to bring a new book or film, and in the case of PBS, there are two new films, the other a dramatization called Lennon, Naked.