Friday, January 24, 2014

Music Library: Tom Petty, Tom T. Hall, Tom Verlaine, Tom Waits, Tom Zé


Tom Petty - Southern Accents (with The Heartbreakers, 1985), Wildflowers (1994), and Anthology: Through The Years (with The Heartbreakers, 1976-2000). I'm not much of a Petty fan. I mean, I like "Don't Come Around Here No More" from Southern Accents, and, well, not much on Wildflowers. I like a lot of Petty's early hits on Anthology, but considering their ubiquity on the radio and in culture, I'm not sure I needed a two-disc collection of those songs. And I'm not sure why I would need to post a clip featuring one of those songs.

Tom T. Hall - Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (1968-72) and Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1971-75). Hall, the author of "Harper Valley P.T.A.," is a fantastic poet/story-songwriter in vein of Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt. Since I don't have any of his studio albums, I don't know how he holds up at that level, but these collections are great. I mean, the song in this clip has the hallmarks of a novelty song, but Hall stays on the right side of that line.

Tom Verlaine - Tom Verlaine (1979), Dreamtime (1981), Cover (1984), Flash Light (1987), Warm And Cool (1992), Around (2006), Songs And Other Things (2006). The frontman for Television, who I recently wrote about, Verlaine's solo career has ups and downs. The self-titled first album and Dreamtime are both excellent, with much of Television's jagged friction and some guitar workouts. The first one has a number of Television songs that the band never got around to recordings, too. Cover and Flash Light are both a little lackluster and marred by some serious 80s production crap. Warm And Cool is all instrumental, and I like Tom's shut up and play your guitar phase. The music evokes Link Wray and surf bands with the distinctness of Verlaine's unique style. Verlaine was recording with the re-formed Television the same year, and then there was more than a decade of silence from the man. Around and Songs dropped the same day in 2006 with the former an all-instrumental affair while the latter is has songs with lyrics. Both are quite good.

Tom Waits: Let's break this up a bit.

The Early Years, Vol. 1 (1971), The Early Years, Vol. 2 (1971), Closing Time (1973). The Early Years albums only came out years later, but they are of a piece with Closing Time, a document of Waits's folkie period. While there's a lot of clever songs here, even on early acoustic versions of "Diamonds On My Windshield," you can hear how Waits is striving to become himself, but not quite there. If he'd never progressed beyond the honeyed-oak voice and winking sentimentalism, he would have been Billy Joel.

The Heart Of Saturday Night (1974). Waits's second album, The Heart of Saturday Night, kicked off with "New Coat Of Paint," a statement of purpose if ever there was one. The music was jazzy, the lyrics like Beat poetry, and the songwriting bled all over the stereo. Waits dropped the sentiment for a lovely fatalism. My favorite from Heart is "Shiver Me Timbers," because I have the soul of an Ishmael.

Nighthawks at the Diner (1975). Nighthawks was recorded with studio audience to capture the comedy-show patter of Waits's evolving live show. Waits is still mining the jazzy sound, but the songs are almost country. Waits's voice had started to develop his trademark Louis Armstrong-howling grit. Fascinating stuff.

Small Change (1976), Foreign Affairs (1977), Blue Valentine (1978), Romeo Is Bleeding: Live In Sydney Australia (bootleg, 1979). Waits's jazz-Beat-nostalgia don't-call-it-rock hit a fever pitch with Small Change and its very slightly lesser cousin Foreign Affairs, then mutated to become more and more bluesy through Blue Valentine. Romeo Is Bleeding captures Waits's almost-a-play stage show of the time, but his classic performance on Austin City Limits is an ever better document. The first clip here is "Tom Traubert's Blues," my favorite of his 70s songs, and the first track on Small Change. The second is the beginning of his ACL appearance with words from Foreign Affair's absolutely perfect death ballad "Burma Shave."

Heartattack And Vine (1980), One From The Heart (with Crystal Gayle, 1982). Heartattack is positioned right between jazzbo Tom and the kitchen-sink Tom that was coming into being. It never really settles anywhere. One From The Heart is the soundtrack to the notorious Coppola flop. Waits is trying to please a theoretical audience that wants to hear big band numbers while trying to please himself with heavy percussion tracks like "You Can't Unring A Bell," and the album is even more lost than Heartattack.

Swordfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), Franks Wild Years (1987), Big Time (1988), Night On Earth Soundtrack (1992). Here Waits slipped into a completely new persona, an outgrowth of Jazzbo Tom into Tom Of The Kitchen-Sink Blues where German cabaret music collided with tango and blues and clanky percussion and Waits's carnivalesque dancing bear voice. Swordfishtrombones starts the revolution, but Rain Dogs is the best album here. Franks Wild Years has good songs but also some filler, Big Time is a fun live document, and Night On Earth is a lackluster affair mostly made of instrumentals.

Bone Machine (1992), The Black Rider (1993), Mule Variations (1999), Alice (2002), Blood Money (2002). Waits's blues turned harrowing on Bone Machine, a gloriously bleak album, one of my all-time favorites, and those themes continued through Mule Variations. Both of these albums bring the death ballads to the fore, although they continue with his obsession with the forgotten, unwanted, and just plain weird. The Black Rider, a collaboration with playwright Robert Wilson, is sort of a dry-run for the later, much better albums Alice and Blood Money.

Real Gone (2004), Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards (released 2006 and 2009), tracks from Healing The Divide (with Kronos Quartet, 2007), Glitter And Doom: Tom Waits In Concert (2008), Bad As Me (2011). Real Gone is good-but-not-great, picking up the thread from Mule Variations and turning its attention to political blues amidst the other Waitsian themes. Orphans was a massive box set with a bunch of nonalbum tracks and demos, featuring some excellent Waits material going back to the 80s. I was fortunately enough to find the vinyl-only tracks released in 2009 online. Healing has four fun versions of Waits doing a few of his great latter-day songs backed by Kronos Quartet. Glitter and Doom is an excellently-titled live album and a great document of Waits's 2008 tour, and Bad As Me shows that the old man is still going strong with this persona, even as he turns his attention to his own demise.

Tom Zé - Tom Zé (1970), Se o Caso é Chorar (1972), Todos os Olhos (1973), Estudando o Samba (1975), Correio Da Estaçâo Do Brás (1978), Nave Maria (1984), Brazil Classics, Vol. 5: The Hips of Tradition (1992), Grupo Corpo: Parabelo (with Zé Miguel Wisnik, 1997), Defeito de Fabricação (1998), Live at Middle East, May 19, 1999 (bootleg, with Tortoise), Jogos de Armar (2000), Santagustin (with Gilbert Assis, 2002), Imprensa Cantada (2003), Estudando o Pagode (2005), Danç-Êh-Sá (2006), Estudando A Bossa (2008).  Zé is the oddest and most arty musician to burst out of Brazil's incredible tropicalia movement of the late 60s and early 70s. While his first two albums were interesting, he didn't really come into his own until 1973's Todos os Olhos, which fuses indigenous Brazilian music with sounds borrowed from rock and jazz and, well, everywhere.

This fusion became even more pronounced with Estudando o Samba, a concept album about samba music that employs Zé's oddball ear to levels that are astounding. Listen to how Zé builds on the parts to "Mã," with the repeating guitar part on the left playing in a slightly dissonant key, the fuzz guitar on the left playing a part that blends with the brassier horns when they come in, the call-and-response of the vocals panning left and right, the center-panned punctuation horns, the insistent beat that anchors the whole track. Utterly brilliant.

Correio and Nave Maria are both great albums that try a little harder to please, which makes them ironically less pleasing. After Nave Maria, Zé gave up on music and went to work in his brother's gas station, but fortunately for him and all of us, David Byrne of Talking Heads had become obsessed with him. We have that obsession to thank for the last Talking Heads album and Byrne's first few solo albums, and for Byrne's label Luaka Bop, which Byrne used to find Zé and get him recording again. Hips of Tradition and Defeito are both great, with the former cooking thanks to high production values and the latter a concept album of sorts about various deceptions. Parabelo comes between, and I don't know anything about it except that it is very good. The Middle East bootleg is from Zé's first US tour, which brilliantly backs him with Tortoise.

Zé's post-2000 albums have been uniformly excellent, with full-on classics in Jogos de Armar and Estudando o Pagode. All are worth seeking out. Check out this mini-documentary for Luaka Bop's three-record Estudando collection. Zé is building a song on the sound of glass being sanded at one point! DAMN, y'all! That is so amazingly cool.

OK, one more clip, two short songs in two minutes. Dig it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Music Library: Through The Sparks, Throwing Muses, Thurston Moore, Tift Merritt, Tim Buckley, Tim Maia, The Time, Tindersticks, Titus Andronicus, TK Webb, Tobin Sprout, Tokyo Police Club, Tom Paxton

Through The Sparks - Worm Moon Waning (2010) and Alamalibu EP (2012). Quite good folky, chamber-poppy indie rock from Alabama that hearkens to the good-time Laurel Canyon pop of the late-70s without losing the southern-rock angle that gives it its individual weirdness. The Alamalibu EP is especially fun.

Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona (1991). Is this the epitome of early 90s indie rock? Led by stepsisters Kristen Hersch and Tonya Donnelly with an idiosyncratic but easily recognizable sound and songs with pop hearts but very individual subject matter, this is rock as a facet of the leaders' personalities, trying to reach people but uninterested in being too mainstream. Hell, I don't know what I'm trying to say here. I like it, that's all.

Thurston Moore - Psychic Hearts (1995), "Fourth Day Of July" (with Mike Watt, 2003), Trees Outside The Academy (2007). Stepping out from behind Sonic Youth lets Moore be slightly more garage-y on Psychic Hearts (but not that much, really), more drone-y around Watt's bubbly bass on "Fourth Day," and more acoustic-y, folk-oriented, and heartfelt than usual on Trees. All of these are excellent albums, but Trees may be my favorite because it is so much of a departure for the guy while still clearly within the continuum of his songwriting.

Tift Merritt & The Carbines - various demos and live tracks, 1998-2000. I don't have a Tift Merritt album, but I seem to have a bunch of tracks from her early period when she was a local talent in the Triangle area of NC. This is probably the work of my lovely and talented wife. Tift Merritt has a lovely voice, but the songs are very run-of-the-mill.

Tim Buckley - Starsailor (1973). This is Jeff Buckley's dad, the jazz-folk-groovy-rock dude who also died while very young. I don't really like this album, though. Even though the vocals seems very passionate, the instrumentation is so very busy that it barrels around obnoxiously calling attention to itself.

Tim Maia - Racional (1975). This one is fun! Maia is basically the Curtis Mayfield of Brazilian music, but for a while in the 70s, he was involved with a cult. This is the record (or maybe records? I'm not sure) he made to celebrate the awesomeness of this cult. Some of it is in English, but most in Portuguese, and it is as awesome as a 70s funk-disco-samba celebration of a bizarre cult could be. I mean, check this clip out.

The Time - What Time Is It? EP (1982). Minneapolis funk from Morris Day & co., the antagonists who are neither very purple or related to the Purple One from Purple Rain. Unsurprisingly, this sounds like an album of Prince outtakes. Funky Prince outtakes.

Tindersticks - No More Affairs EP (1995). Considering how wantonly they are plumbing the depths of some of my iconoclastic 60s faves like Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, and even Serge Gainsbourg, I should have picked up more of these guys' albums.

Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances (2008) and The Monitor (2010). Of all the New Sincerity (aka "We Love Springsteen") bands that sprang onto the national stage after the success of Arcade Fire, these guys may be the best. They are smart, marrying witty lyrics to excellent metaphors, passionate about their work, and they rock. The Monitor is especially vital, with an overall theme of using the Civil War as a metaphor for one's struggle against mediocrity.

T.K. Webb - Phantom Parade (2006). Bluesy rock. What will they think of next?

Tobin Sprout - Carnival Boy (1996) and Moonflower Plastic (1997). Bob Pollard's Keef Richards in the early days of GBV, Sprout wrote some of the more poppy GBV songs (my favorite of his: "A Good Flying Bird") before leaving in 1997 (he was also part of the GBV Classic tour in 2010). These were his first two solo albums, made while he was still in the band. Moonflower is the better of the two, but they do put forth a fairly cogent argument that Sprout is at his best when working with Pollard as a foil.

Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson In Crime (2007) and Elephant Shell (2008). Why I have not just one but two of these guys' albums is a mystery to me. I mean, they're good-but-not-great indie rock, but me feeling unoffended if uninspired by a rock band is not exactly a ringing endorsement, right?

Tom Paxton - "The Last Thing On My Mind" and "Fred". I only have two tracks from this folkie who has written dozens of stone-cold classics that seem impossibly timeless to have been written by a guy still alive.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Music Library: Theoretical Girls, These New Puritans, They Might Be Giants, The Thing, J.G. Thirwell, This American Life, Thom Yorke, Thomas A. Dorsey, Three Johns, Three-6 Mafia, Thrones

Theoretical Girls - Theoretical Record 1978-1981. In the Velvet Underground narrative, only 5,000 people bought copies of the first album, and all of them formed influential bands. But, see, that narrative has been turned on its head by the fact that you've heard of the VU and everybody knows who Lou Reed was. Theoretical Girls, however, was a band fronted by avant-garde composers inspired by punk rock, and they played maybe 20 gigs total, three of which were in Paris, and recorded two studio tracks, and that was it. But as these recordings show, the Theoretical Girls (along with Rhys Chatham) gave rise to Sonic Youth and the continuum of noise-punk. This collection focuses on the music of John Lohn. Apparently there is another collection dedicated to the songs of co-lead Glenn Branca, which I'll have to find at some point.

These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid (2008). Electronica band that sounds an awful lot like The Fall.

They Might Be Giants - NO! (2002) and Bed Bed Bed (2006). TMBG are not one of my favorite bands, but they are beloved by many people I like. This is an album and an EP showcasing their children's music, and my kids love this stuff. "Dad! Play that song that goes NO!"

The Thing - Action Jazz (2006). Loud, skronky, Scandinavian, unpredictable, violent rock-jazz. ACTION!

J.G. Thirwell - The Venture Brothers: The Music Of J.G. Thirwell (2010). Thirwell is a experimental composer first and foremost, but his association with the Venture Brothers has given him an audience for his most conventional, albeit slyly subversive, work.

This American Life - The Fix Is In (2000). Like many a middle-class guy, I'm a big fan of TAL, but this episode, the one exploring the lies and double-life of Mark Whitacre, later slightly fictionalized in the Soderbergh movie The Informant!, is one of my all-time favorites.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser (2006). I guess this was material that was unsuitable for Radiohead? And yet what it sounds like is Radiohead.

Thomas A. Dorsey - Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973). Dorsey revolutionized gospel music in the mid 20th century by incorporating sounds from blues and jazz and other popular music, which led to the fruitful interplay between gospel and soul music in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Three Johns - The Death Of Everything (1988). One of the earliest of Jon Langford's many, many side projects, the Three Johns is a band with him and a couple of similarly-named friends fucking around with post-punk and a drum machine.

Three-6 Mafia - Mystic Stylez (1995). Old-school horrorcore rap from Memphis. Quite good! Terrifying to Newt Gingrich cronies, though.

Thrones - Alraune (1996) and Sperm Whale (1999-2000). The solo project of Joe Preston, a supercool SOB who has played in Sunn O))), Harvey Milk, Earth, High On Fire, and Melvins. The music is like an artier OM, but Preston has lots of curveballs to throw at listeners, including a cover of the spaghetti western theme "Django."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Music Library: Thelonious Sphere Monk

I try not to phone these in (despite all appearances to the contrary), but I'm quite stumped about how to discuss the individual output of Thelonious Sphere Monk, who was one of the most singular jazz artists who has ever lived. In a nutshell, Monk played notes that should have been wrong, but he made them right. His melodies are cathedrals of topsy-turvydom, careening around through shifting keys and odd phrasing in a way that technically should be incredibly offputting, but instead they manage to be full of timeless hooks and eminently hummable. There are different types of genius, but this is the kind that is at the peak, the kind of genius that makes the world different.

Blue Note Records Period (1947-52)

Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (1947).
Milt Jackson and the Thelonious Monk Quartet (1948).
Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2 (1951-52).

The earliest tracks with Monk as a bandleader include some of his most enduring compositions, such as "Straight No Chaser," "In Walked Bud," and "'Round Midnight." He would record these many times, though, and despite having Art Blakey or Max Roach on drums for the Genius compilations and despite the Modern Jazz Quartet on the Milt Jackson album, these are not the best versions of Monk's compositions. Which is not to say that these are bad albums; on the contrary, they are extraordinary. It's just that with Monk, there are recordings that are even more extraordinary.

Prestige Records Period (1952-54)

Thelonious Monk Trio (1952)
Monk (1954)
Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins (1954).

All three of these albums, for instance, are outrageously fantastic. Trio has versions of "Blue Monk" and "Bemsha Swing" on it, and if you listen closely, you can hear Monk singing along with his piano notes. Monk adds sax, with Sonny Rollins filling in on several tracks, including both versions of "Think Of One." The straight-up collaboration with Sonny Rollins is a thing of beauty with the two artistes pushing each other into crazier and crazier spaces.

Riverside Records Period (1955-61)

Plays Duke Ellington (1955).
The Unique Thelonious Monk (1956).
Brilliant Corners (1957).
Thelonious Himself (1957).
Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane (1957).
Monk's Music (1957).
Mulligan Meets Monk (with Gerry Mulligan, 1957).
At Carnegie Hall (as The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane on Blue Note, 1957).
At The Five Spot - Discovery (as The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane on Blue Note, 1958).
Thelonious In Action (1958).
Misterioso (as The Thelonious Monk Quartet, 1958).
The Thelonious Monk Orchestra At Town Hall (1959).
5 By Monk By 5 (1959).
Alone In San Francisco (1959).

Both the Duke Ellington and Unique albums feature Monk by himself (on the former) and fronting a trio (on the latter) playing other people's compositions. Brilliant Corners is the best bop album ever recorded, challenging and emotional and heartbreaking and beautiful. It is the pinnacle of bop-era jazz. There's nothing finer. Thelonious Himself is mostly solo piano recordings, but Coltrane sits in on one track. The Coltrane album is excellent, as the saxophonist is still in the process of becoming himself, but still sounds both insanely talented and desperate to distinguish himself from Rollins. Monk's Music is also first-rate, and Coltrane plays on it, too. The Gerry Mulligan collaboration is pretty good. It would be worldshakingly great if not for the run of albums around it. The Carnegie Hall and Five Spot live albums are absolutely amazing documents of Monk and Coltrane's exquisite chemistry, especially since both were discovered and released many years later (2005 and 1993, respectively). In Action and Misterioso, both recorded at the Five Spot with Johnny Griffin on sax, are good, but not great, with great versions of "Rhythm-A-Ning" on the former and the title track on the latter. The Town Hall recording, with Monk fronting a 10-piece orchestra is an excellent reconsideration of his compositions. 5 By Monk By 5 has Monk fronting a quintet with Charlie Rouse on sax playing five of his compositions. It is great-but-not-perfect. Alone is beautiful but unusually melancholy.


Columbia Records Period (1962-68)
Monk's Dream (1962).
Criss Cross (1962).
Miles & Monk At Newport (1962).
In Japan (1963).
Solo Monk (1964).
Straight No Chaser (1966).
Underground (1967).
Monk's Blues (1968).
Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Studio Recordings 1962-1968.

Monk's Dream and Criss Cross are both tight quartet recordings with Charlie Rouse on sax and Monk playing like his fingers are on fire. The Newport album is a weird cash-in that had a 1958 Miles recording on one side and a 1963 Monk recording on the other. I can't remember how I rated the Miles performance, but the Monk one is a little lackluster. The live In Japan album, recorded on the same tour as the class In Tokyo, which I don't have, is pretty good, though. There are a number of albums I don't have from 1963-64. Solo Monk, all of which also appears on Monk Alone, is a lovely solo piano recording. Straight No Chaser is pretty good, too, but not phenomenal. Underground is that phenomenon, though, with a number of new compositions and a version of "In Walked Bud" with vocals. It is his last album for all intents and purposes, and it is a great album, too, as should be fitting for such a giant. Monk's Blues is barely a Monk album, being mostly filled with Oliver Nelson's orchestra playing utterly cheesy big-band versions of Monk's compositions with the man himself semi-consciously sitting in on piano. Monk did not die until 1982, but he made no more albums, either. I say we call it a Nelson album instead. Monk Alone is a later collection of all of Monk's solo piano pieces from this era.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Music Library: Terminals, Tex Williams, Texas Tornados, that dog., Thee Oh Sees, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra

The Terminals - Disconnect EP (1988), Uncoffined (1990), Little Things (1995). Pretty good kiwi rock band with elements of other, better New Zealand acts. There's the frenetic psych-folk rhythm guitars of The Clean or The Tall Dwarfs and the gritty garage-Farfisa of The Clean or The Chills. But this isn't quite up to those levels, even though it is, well, pretty good.

Tex Williams - "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette." About as much fun as any song sarcastically extolling the virtues of smoking could be.

The Texas Tornados - Best Of The Texas Tornados (released 1993). A supergroup with Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, and Freddy Fender having joined forces to play a uniquely Texan blend of conjunto-Norteno-garage-country music. I think this best-of collects songs from only two albums, but it is still excellent.

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun (1997). that dog. was a LA-based band of industry royalty, including Anna Waronker, daughter of record mogul Lenny, and two of the Haden triplets (shout out to my longtime crush Petra), daughters of jazz bass giant Charlie. I don't think the drummer is related to anyone famous, but Wikipedia tells me he's one of Spike Jonze's buddies. Anyway, regardless of their familial connections, that dog. played excellent indie rock featuring some truly first-rate singing.

Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In (2008), Thee Hounds Of Foggy Notion (2008), Help (2009), Singles Collection (2009), Warm Slime (2010), Castlemania (2011), Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011), Putrifiers II (2012), Floating Coffin (2013). Thee Oh Sees put out more music than it may be humanly possible for me to collect, much of it in the form of seven-inches and split-singles and EPs, but these are all of their studio albums to date plus one live album (Foggy Notion) and their first singles collection (of three thus far). I'm not crazy about the live album, which is too murky and self-indulgent to emphasize Thee Oh Sees' more obvious pleasures, and Help is strangely lackluster, but the rest of these albums are fantastic. Thee Oh Sees are influenced by 60s garage-rock, but they are willing to experiment with sound and form in fascinating ways. My favorites are Warm Slime, which opens with a 13+ minute title track that cooks like "Sister Ray" as covered by the Aftermath-era Stones and their buddies the Cramps, and Castlemania, which adds in all sorts of textures and loops as if they were, well, the Cramps covering Their Satanic Majesties' Request. Carrion Crawler, Putrifiers, and Floating Coffin are all first-rate, too. Check them out.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra - "This Is Our Punk Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather+Sing (as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir, 2003), The "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" EP (as Thee Silver Mountain Reveries, 2004), and 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, 2008). Very similar to GY!BE, Thee SMZO play orchestral post-rock built on dynamics, although this band employs lyrics to give their music some structure. Of these, 13 Blues is the best by a pretty wide margin. I'm quite partial to their work as a backing band on Vic Chesnutt's North Star Deserter and At The Cut albums, too.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Music Library: Tassilli Players, Tav Falco, Ted Leo, Teenage Fanclub, Television, Television Personalities, Tempos

The Tassilli Players - In The Fishtank 3 (1999). I don't know anything about this band, but this Fishtank installation is mostly dub. It's no King Tubby, but it's ok.

Tav Falco & Panther Burns - Behind The Magnolia Curtain (1981). Gustavo Falco is supremely entertaining. Unlike many rockabilly throwbacks, Falco and the Panther Burns have a serious dedication to anarchy and art, and pretty much anything can happen with this band. This album is from the period where one Axle Chitlin, a guy who sure looks a lot like Alex Chilton, was on guitar. Here, check out this burst of pure punk spirit.

Ted Leo - Treble In Trouble EP (2000), The Tyranny Of Distance (2001), Hearts Of Oak (2003), Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead EP  (2003), Shake The Sheets (2004), Sharkbite Sessions EP (2005), "Rock 'n Roll Dreams'll Come Through," Living With The Living (2007), Rapid Response EP (2008), The Brutalist Bricks (2010). The great Ted Leo approaches songwriting as if he is on a mission to rewrite the early singles of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe in the style of the Clash. He is guitar pop for now people. I love his music wholeheartedly. My favorite of these is Hearts of Oak, and "Rock 'n Roll Dreams," a joke for fans of Scharpling and Wurster, is exquisite. All of these albums and EPs, though, are excellent. Besides his top-notch songwriting and guitar chops, Leo has a lefty political bent and a well-defined sense of outrage which translates into political songs that are smart and catchy rather than the usual turgid and moronic political fare.

Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque (1991) and Thirteen (1993).  Both of these albums are flat-out brilliant power-pop that clearly and explicitly worship at the altar of Big Star and Gene Clark. Definitely of a piece with albums by Matthew Sweet and Velvet Crush. I've always meant to check out more of their work, but I've never gotten around to it.

Television - Double Exposure (bootleg, 1975), New York Stories (live bootleg, 1975-76), Marquee Moon (1977), Adventure (1978), Arrow (bootleg, 1978), The Blow Up (live album, recorded 1978), Live At The Old Waldorf (live, 1978), Live In Portland 1978 (x2), Television (1992), The Revolution EP (1992), Live At The Academy NYC 12.4.92Marquee Moon is the greatest guitar album ever. I don't know if it is possible to overstate how much I love Television. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd created the mold for interlocking guitar from the elements of the Byrds' Fifth Dimension, Love's Forever Changes, John Coltrane's model soloing of 1961-64, lots of late 60s psychedelic rock, and a whole lot of garage rock. The two early bootlegs document the band coming together. Richard Hell is still in the band with the earliest demos on Double Exposure, which were recorded with Brian Eno. New York Stories has a lot of live tracks where the band sounds shaky, but by the time of Marquee Moon, everything was in its right place. Adventure is a slight step down, but not by much. The four live recordings from 1978 are extraordinary. Arrow, a bootleg, and The Blow Up, an official release, are from the same show and mostly overlap, but each has great tracks not on the other. Old Waldorf, a Rhino Handmade release, sounds amazing and may be the best live album I own. I have two copies of Live In Portland which, weirdly, were recorded by different people from different sources. One is someone's personal equipment, and it captures the room sound better. One is a soundboard recording, which is cleaner, but mixed to favor Verlaine at the expense of everyone else. They are also at slightly different speeds, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition to listen to them back-to-back. Like only a fanatic would, I suppose. The self-titled 1992 album is good but never great. The Revolution EP is pretty poor, and the live 1992 album is also good but not great. Anyway, here's the live version of "Marquee Moon" from the Old Waldorf album, with both Verlaine and Lloyd overdriving their guitars, a completely different approach than the spic-and-span clean album version.

Television Personalities - ...And Don't The Kids Just Love It (1980). Twee as fuck. Dan Treacy's outfit draws on VU and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and points the way to Felt and Belle & Sebastian.

The Tempos - "Two-Timer." Garage-rock classic. Used to cover this with friends a million years ago.

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