Although the early ’60s is considered by some a somewhat fallow period for rock ‘n’ roll music, Roy Orbison is one of the notables who made that era worthwhile. Behind those shades lurked one of the most stunning voices in rock history. He brought operatic intensity and range to the rock era, with tales of romantic angst and longing that have stood the test of time. His influence has reached vocalists from Chris Isaak to k.d. lang to Glenn Danzig (really). Let’s pay tribute to Roy by grabbing your iPod/MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first ten songs that come up.
- The Guess Who — Baby’s Birthday (Shakin’ All Over): In its early days, The Guess Who were a fairly typical ’60s rock band, playing a mix of garage rock, pop and light psychedelia. This song, off of a cool Sundazed compilation of those early days, sounds a bit like on of Mike Nesmith’s tunes from The Monkees.
- Loretta Lynn — You’ve Just Stepped In (From Stepping Out on Me) (All Time Greatest Hits): Doesn’t the title say it all. Another great Lynn wounded woman song, with Lynn telling her straying man that if he doesn’t change his ways, she going to be “stepping out on you someday.” In this song, Lynn hits upon the dilemna of a woman who wants to leave but is scared to.
- Guided By Voices — Ester’s Day (Bee Thousand): Like a lot of people, this album was my first exposure to GBV, who were at the forefront of the low fi movement. Of course, this was due to circumstance, not artistic intent. But they learned how to work it to their advantage, especially on the little song fragments that glued together their albums. The lower fidelity gives this track, and many others, a haunting feel.
- The dB’s — Love Is For Lovers (Like This): Peter Holsapple, the front man for the latter day dB’s, wrote a great piece on this song for the New York Times. This was it, the perfect hit single. Which never came close to being a hit. He talked about the process and the frustration. And frustrating it had to have been, as this song is awash in hooks, full of twists, and has great lyrics. An awesome tune indeed.
- The Boys — Heroine (Alternative Chartbusters): This underrated British ’70s pop-punk band threw a curveball on this slow piano based song. This has a whiff of Beatle-ish psychedelia and arm waving Slade glam balladry. A nice change of pace.
- Fools Face — What You Hide (Fools Face): Fools Face are heroes to a select group of power pop fans who have their limited release albums from the ’80s. This Springfield, Missouri band had four equally adept songwriters who mined the best of pop and power pop from the ’60s and ’70s. The band’s 2002 reunion album was a jawdropper, because other than the beefier production (one of the members had gone on to becoming a big time recording engineer), it otherwise picked right up where its 1983 Public Places album had left off. This is a muscular psychedelic rocker that sounds like a less arrogant Oasis.
- The Saints — Demoltion Girl (Wild About You: 1976-1978): The Saints are true contemporaries of the Ramones, and they were starting up punk Down Under the way the Ramones did in NYC. Whereas the Ramones revved up classic ’60s pop archtypes like Phil Spector, The Saints were turbo-charging basic R & B. Along with Radio Birdman, The Saints established a special hard edge that is always associated with Aussie punk.
- Redd Kross — Secret Life (Show World): Show World was the final Redd Kross album, though there is still a possibility that Steven and Jeffrey McDonald might get another one out. If they don’t, this was quite the finale. After starting out as a teen punk band, Redd Kross settled into classic power pop mode. And with Show World, they perfected their sound. This is a rather powerful soaring ballad that sounds like it was made for ’70s AM radio.
- Split Enz — Marooned (Frenzy): This album was the break away from the earlier art-pop of the first three Enz albums into the radio friendly new wavish-pop that made them known around the world. Frenzy was not quite as slick as the subsequent efforts and had an energy befitting the album title. This song sounds like a mid-point between early XTC and Field Music.
- k.d. lang — Tickled Pink (A Truly Western Experience): The first k.d. lang effort is a bit uneven, but it established that she loved country music so much that she couldn’t take it too seriously. Thus, she brought a fresh perspective to music that respected traditions, while tweaking them to give it a feel that fit her clever lyrical sensibility. The album also let everyone know that k.d. lang is an amazing singer. This song manages to have a country structure, but also has a bluesy feel, augmented by the use of a Hammond organ. Nice.
CHIRP is pleased to announce our partnership with the Ford Fiesta Benefit at Subterranean featuring Jonny Rumble, the Detholz!, and Honest Engines on Thursday, April 29th. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are only $5, and all proceeds benefit CHIRP Radio! RSVP in order to receive the free giveaways (like beer, posters, and t-shirts!). Giveaways are only available while supplies last so come early, get free stuff, and support community radio! This show is 21+.
Next Saturday might mark Record Store Day (something we heartily support, and hope you do too), but the next two days in Chicago mark Record FAIR Days — in other words, the two days of the annual vinyl extravaganza that is the CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights !
Plumbers Hall at 1340 W. Washington Street will be filled to the brim with new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, posters, crafts, and god knows what else. Live entertainment will be provided by Pretty Good Dance Moves, Coins, Judson Claiborne, and the Loneliest Monk. DJ sets courtesy of Alla, Mannequin Men, Disappears, and Deia Does Dylan. Plastic Crimewave will offer up caricatures, Irazu offers up Costa Rican deliciousness, Goose Island brings the beer. How could your weekend be any better? It couldn’t. That’s why we’ll see you there.
10AM-5PM Saturday and Sunday, April 10th and 11th, $7/$5 with CHIRP Record Fair flyer or ad.
There was more to Carl Perkins than “Blue Suede Shoes”. Perkins was a great songwriter and guitarist who brought a stronger country influence to rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll (as compared to Sun Records colleagues Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis). The Beatles knew that, covering a number of his songs, including “Honey Don’t”. And if you want to hear Carl at his best, track down classics like “Movie Magg” and “Dixie Fried”. The last time Perkins played Chicago before he passed away, he was at the House of Blues. Two of his sons were in his backing band (his third son worked in Western Tennessee at the same company as my Uncle Frank). During the set, one of his sons had a heart attack. Really. An ambulance came and took him away. There was a delay, as you can imagine. But eventually, Carl came back out and finished the show. What a trouper! Carl Perkins always let the show go on and you should let the shuffle go on. Get out your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up.
- The Insomniacs — Crystal Clear (Out Of It): A really durned good garage rock band with a mod orientation. The Insomniacs are super tight, with powerful drumming, a mix of fuzzy and jangly guitars and some deceptive melodies. This song sounds like The Jam mixed with the best of the Nuggets collection.
- Northern State — Signal Flow (You Can’t Fade Me)(Dying In Stereo): A mid-tempo number from these three ladies who conjure up memories of the Beastie Boys. Of course, they aren’t that good, but they have loads of personality, and with decent tunes like this one, it entertains me.
- Translator — Come With Me (Translator): Translator had many facets, from songs that blended the Paisley Underground with post-punk vibes to jamming bluesy rock. They also had a pure pop song, best represented by this soaring jangle rocker that is inspirational and has an indelible chorus.
- Jerry Lee Lewis — Red Hot Memories (Ice Cold Beer)(Southern Roots & Boogie Woogie Country Man): A basic honky-tonk number with a big chorus of back up singers, a weepy harmonica and just a little bit of The Killer’s piano magic. Oh, and Jerry Lee’s oversized personality. He refers to himself about 20 seconds into the song.
- The Balancing Act — Fishing In Your Eye (Curtains): Overlooked folk-pop group of the ’80s who recorded for a subsidiary of the IRS label. This song is premised on a cool offbeat jazz rhythm, with the bands usual smooth vocals and a good use of a melodica (though is there ever a bad one?).
- Franz Ferdinand — Send Him Away (Tonight: Franz Ferdinand): A mid-tempo tune from last year’s FF release. I don’t think they’ll ever top the debut, which was pretty much perfect. But Tonight has some really good songs, and this was a respite from the more upbeat numbers.
- Nicole Atkins — Neptune City (Bleeding Diamonds): This is a stripped down version of the title song from Atkins’ debut album. Here, Atkins and her amazing voice are accompanied primarily by a piano. Though the Neptune City album is characterized by lush production, Nicole’s songs are so strong that she doesn’t need all those extras to impress.
- Pernice Brothers — The Ballad Of Bjorn Borg (The World Won’t End): One of my five favorite Pernice Brothers songs. This has Peyton Pinkerton’s wonderful guitar embellishments accompanying a melancholy and romantic melody, which all leads to gigantic chorus: “And we killed the endless summer.” It’s pithy and memorable phrases like that which I offer as proof of Joe Pernice’s brilliance as a lyricist.
- Thee Oh Sees — Peanut Butter Oven (Help): Primitive songs with oddball production. I’m not sure that low-fi is the right way to describe it, as there is a lot going on in the mix. This song just works a two chord vamp with ghostly male and female vocals, punctuated with guitar at just the right time. This band shows that you can always find new wrinkles for old garage rock tropes.
- Lilys — The Lost Victory (The 3 Way): A pithy Kinks-y pop tune from an album that is generally complex as all hell. Lilys have dabbled in a few different sounds, but I’m most taken by their forays into this fey ’60s pop that goes in totally unexpected directions. The songs are catchy but never obvious. Even this short song has a curveball or two.