40 years ago, the last chords of "whiter shade of pale" had long since faded into the memories of the creative collective consciousness of progressive music, but procol harum was just getting around to producing their best album: "exotic birds and fruit." a forgotten gem, released in 1974, along with the 2nd and best solo album of procol harum guitarist, robin trower, "bridge of sighs."
this week i feature the best tracks from both of those remarkable, creative, and very different albums.
here's what you'll be hearing: the songs.
this week there's one beat.... one hour, one beat .... from around the world....
maybe you feel like moving .... maybe you need to get some dishes put away .... or maybe it's been a long day and you need to rest your body while your head does the dancing....
the beat begins at the start of my show .... and pulses for an hour without missing a step .... while the sounds and vibes take you through egypt, india, saudi arabia, israel, greece, spain, and venice beach....
the songs are here.
this week, a fascinating evolution: the best dance tracks from 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004, and 2014...
everyone feels the happiness of dancing mindlessly and mindfully, along with pharrell williams' ubiquitous "happy."
50 years ago you danced in your kitchen while singing "dancing in the street." 40 years ago, you might have been dancing in the mirror to "boogie on reggae woman." 30 years ago, things were much the same with "jump" or "all she wants to do is dance." 20 years ago, you had obnoxious fun with "here comes the hotstepper" or an electronica hoe-down with "cotton-eyed joe." 10 years ago, if you lived in brazil you were dancing at the beach, singing luka's "to nem ai."
this year, you have no choice. you have to get "happy."
check out the dance tracks.
just what has neil young been up to in the last 25 years?
somehow he's managed to write a biography, tour the world a few times, develop several bio-diesel cars, produce some dvds, do benefit concerts, work for environmental causes, survive a brain aneurysm, and release 23 new cds. the kid's been busy... ok, so he's not a kid anymore. and his voice, which was considered "unique" even back in his buffalo springfield days, now alters between unique and very unique.
more than bob dylan, neil has found continual sources of musical inspiration in the last 25 years. his "ramada inn" is a melancholy work of brilliance, featuring unique but rolling, fresh, and driving chord changes, along with poetic phrases and echoes of thoughts...
neil still alternates between acoustic and electric, political and pastoral...
from his acoustic tone poem "bandit":
Made out like a bandit for so many years
What're you looking for?
One more big score?
What're you trying to prove?
Try to get closer but not too close
Try to get through but not be through
i think those of us with weak voices are particularly awed by pure vocal music--a capella--it seems so miraculous. if you think you're hearing anything other than human voices (or other parts of the human body, like hand flaps, or stomps) you'd be wrong. it's all voice.
this week's show features magical groups like take 6 (pure virtuosos), rajaton (from finland), insideout (their "bolero" will leave you voiceless), and brilliant overdubbing by todd rundgren, bobby mcferrin, and imogen heap.
i'll spin the concept i'll play marvin gaye's "how sweet it is" without the instrumental backing, alison krauss's "down to the river to pray," and one of the most beautiful melodies and harmonies from the early 60s re-done by huey lewis & the news, "it's alright"--the perfect message for anyone contemplating weird or hard times.
start with a transcendental vision. wrap that around the cosmic pulsating rhythms of creative electronic trance, with organic and pranic world beats, creative keyboards and guitars, occasionally elegant and sweet vocals, and an overall feel for the unknown, and you've got shpongle.
shpongle is the brain and heart child of simon posford--classically trained brit, producer, writer, keyboards, and guitarist, and raja ram--psychedelic pioneer from australia, flutist, and all-around ambience-maker.
and better still, they'll be in des moines on march 23rd.
as the title of their 2nd cd asks, one should always ask oneself--in the jimi hendrix sense--"are you shpongled"? soon you will be.
appearing with shpongle (on my show and in concert) is desert dwellers. an amazing, psyambient band with a equally cosmic sound.
this week i take a look back at an interesting time...
it's hard to think of the mid-90s as 20 years ago. i mean that was almost the new millenium, right? that's just right over our shoulder. but there's no getting around 1994 being a long time ago. sfunny how that decade just kind of flew by...i guess i must've been busy...
the year kurt colbain joined the 27 year old category in the rock n roll hall of fame, also gave us one of the greatest heavy rock albums of all time: soundgarden's "superunknown." [pictured] the music was creative, heavy, and retro, with a strong flavor of psychedelia.
1994 also featured a then-unknown virtuoso guitarist, buckethead, who took heavy guitar playing to another level of creativity and speed.
so this week, all the new age ambient mellowness i've been playing recently, recedes into the distant present, as i share the loud roots of modern hard retro-rock from 20 years ago. (though i'll sprinkle in some relative 20 year old mellowness from pink floyd, frank zappa, enigma, and the eagles).
oh yeh: you'll definitely want to catch my mashup of "hotel california" and "return to innocence."
remember watching the joaquin phoenix movie "her," and feeling like there was something very subtle going on?.... like you were experiencing the loneliness, ambivalence, love, and longing of his character....they became really real. well, a lot of the emotional ambience from that movie came from the incidental music throughout, by arcade fire [left]. i was so impressed with the feel of it, that i'm featuring several tracks on this week's ambient show (by popular request i do at least one ambient show every month). it's worth checking out because it's not their lyrical indie-pop sound, but some delicate ambient ... feelings, is the best way to describe it.
you'll spend an hour getting very incidentally emotional on my show this week. other spacey but melodic artists: sarah mclachlan and delirium, murasca and duke b, and (also by popular request) lemon jelly's "his majesty, king raam." very trippy, very lovely.
warm up thursday evening and sunday morning with some acoustic chill sounds...
i've come to realize that if you can't beat the chill, go down tempo with it.
this week's show will feature aimee mann, the shins, broken bells, neil young, kacey musgraves, chris isaac, jonathan edwards, the swell season, a soufully sweet song by jack johnson, an amazing, powerful song from the group stateless, and other classy acoustic songs to sip a cup with...
it's hard to define the changes in all kinds of music that began in 50 years ago this week -- when the beatles' appearance on ed sullivan had the world shaking its head, going, "wow. i never thought of that!"
apart from the social, spiritual, sexual, and cultural changes that were begun, musically, this marked the revolutionary shift from rock and roll to rock; from nice to heavy, from the 50s to the 60s. it's that change that i explore this week.
this revolution does need to be discussed every once in a while, because it's easy to forget, simply because so much of the music of the last 50 years has sprouted from that seed. in addition to creating entirely new genres of music (more on those later), the beatles brought a heavier electric sound to what had been (for the entire half-century of popular music) a light and polite style.
on my show this week, you'll actually experience the transition from 50s cute sexism and goofiness (frank sinatra's "wives and lovers [hey, little girl]," dusty springfield's "wishin' and hopin'") to the beatles' heavy bass, drums, and guitars ("i feel fine," "you can't do that,"), which quickly opened the door for other heavy sounds as well (the dave clark five, the kinks, the animals, the yardbirs--even the beach boys got heavier).
in case you missed it the first time, be sure to enjoy hearing and experiencing this evolutionary, epochal shift.
here are the songs you'll be hearing: 1964