What Else Could It Be?

Excuses, excuses. This time it was chopping nearly half off the top of my middle finger in an unguarded moment chopping a carrot. Thankfully, there was not half as much damage as first appeared, and a couple of weeks on all I have to show is a rosy patch of shiny skin about a centimetre long. No photos, this time.

Which leaves me with a few articles piled up, resting in the fertile compost of my brain, awaiting my now-fixed and eager fingers to splurge them onto the screen. Oh, lucky you. And yes, the end of year is coming, and I’ve even started to write my end of year review. Lucky, lucky you.

Before those joys come perennial Loft and Lost favourites Lambchop. If I were ever to become passably famous and appear on Desert Island Disks, their “The Man Who Loved Beer” would be a shoo-in for one of the seven; probably, frankly, first on the list. Their skewed take on country soul1 has developed over the years, but hasn’t strayed too far from their righteous path of wondrousness, to the point that “A Hold Of You” or “Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King, Jr.” from their last album OH (Ohio) would happily have sat on their first record, back in the ‘90’s.

And with that, my heart can’t help but leap on hearing there’s a new record coming, titled Mr M, out on February 21st. Dedicated to Vic Chesnutt, keener fans will recognise, is something of a hero of the band, and whose tracks they have covered over the years. Here’s lead track “If Not I’ll Just Die”, and what a lovely thing it is too. Plus, it starts with a great bit of swearing. They are on one of their big tours next year, so be sure to catch them out on their travels, as not only are they a great live band, they also tend to enjoy hanging round the bar both before and after the show and chatting with their fans. Or getting arseholed with them and then giving them a lift home, which they once did with me. Lovely folks, though frankly I’ll be bringing a “1000 Greatest Jokes” book for Tony Crow.

1 Often erroneously called “Alt-country”; go and listen to some Eddie Hinton or one of the marvellous “Country Got Soul” compilations and you’ll know what I’m getting to here.

If Not I’ll Just Die by Lambchop

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F28251515 Lambchop – If Not I’ll Just Die by MergeRecords

Buy their stuff from Amazon’s Lambchop Store.

Don’t Make Me Blue

The last post’s subject title was, for those of you not paying attention, a reference to an old, old song by one of rock’n’roll’s finest voices. Scratch that. The finest voice. You can line up your Robert Plants, your Jeff or Tim Buckleys, your Feists, your Mark Lanegans all you like, none of them can come close to the sheer futile majesty of Roy Orbison. He had, as someone once memorably put it, the voice of an angel falling backward out of a window. And the songs, once he’d got through attempts at shoehorning him into the doo-wop style of the late 50’s, fitted him like a minx glove lined with ocelot fur. They were odd songs, too, suitably delicate, yearning and with more than a hint of strangeness. I could go on for hours about this, but just pick out some lines from his songs:

“Oh to see my baby again, and to be with some of my friends”

Some? Some? Not all?

Or here’s a great one from his most famous song, “Oh, Pretty Woman”:

“That you look lovely as can be\Are you lonely just like me?”

Who else in the world would sing a song about seeing a beautiful woman in the street, then cold-heartedly pointing out that she’s human like the rest of us, and quite probably quite sad?

And finally, here’s what got me into this reverie to begin with, “Lana”. First off, there’s the sheer unadulterated shock of hearing that first, pure falsetto; if you’ve not heard a Roy Orbison song before, this is an ideal place to start. Secondly, the song itself is strangely backward looking, with a presumably tongue-in-cheek doo-wop section, culminating in a marvellous spelt out bit1. Thirdly, just as the song makes it into its second chorus, it fades out quickly, at a time when most artists would be doing the whole triumphant finish. Roy decides that it’s much more fun to just leave you wanting more. Excellent.

So, “Lana”. Better than “Video Games”. Sure, it won’t get you any credit at a hipster-slim-trousers-rolled-up-above-the-ankle-Meet-The-F***g-Kooples flashmob2 jerkoff session, but you’ll take that chorus to your grave.

1 I have no idea what this is called. Just listen and you’ll know what I mean.
2 Do people still do flashmobs? I hope not.

MP3: Lana by Roy Orbison

Buy “The Monument Singles Collection” by Roy Orbison, Or Just Give Up On Music Altogether As You Are No Longer Worthy Of It

Lana, Oh Lana

Being horrendously behind the times does have some benefits. I’m not one of those people that foolishly went out and bought an iPad or an iPhone when a newer, shinier, better one was just around the corner. I never had a Minidisc player. Betamax? No, sirree. Having better things to do with my life than finding out what was the new hot thing was this summer meant that when I finally discovered that it was Lana Del Rey, I could watch her performing “Video Games” with a sense of perspective.

Of course, I watched her perform “Video Games” on Later, which I watched about a month after it was broadcast, which itself was about three months behind the curve. And I must say that for all the fervent, fevered “SONG OF THE YEAR!!!” magazine articles and blog posts extolling her virtues as graces, as well as those that sniffily pointed out that she was the daughter of Someone Quite Rich Indeed and that her recent upswelling of support may well have been, shall we say it, something to do with being tdoSQRI, as well as those that sniffily pointed out that She Had Had Some Work Done, the cads, the song itself is, well, um……well, it’s alright, isn’t it, but it’s no “Hey Ya”. Or even “Crystalised”.

In that, when you’re busy yelling that something is “SONG OF THE YEAR!!!”, you’d better make sure that a whole bunch of people don’t go “But it sounds like a bunch of other stuff”. Which I am. Nice though the song is, I don’t feel it’s quite as life-changing as either it, or its fans, would like it to be. Sure, it’s a step above Adele and the like, but that’s not enough for me.

For those of you out there yelling “Hey, daddio, this ain’t your bag, you old galloot”1, let me just point out that with the lips and the whole low-down croon/coy sex-kitten duality thing is just tailor-made to push the buttons of ex-priapic middle-aged men currently re-evaluating their wife-and-two-kids-and-steady-job-in-Management thang, in a way that Adele herself and poor, lost Amy never quite did.

Don’t get me wrong. I like it, some. And I’m not quite ready for my Porsche and inappropriate thoughts yet, I’ll have you know.

1 Or whatever Ver Yoof are saying these days. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

MP3: Video Games by Lana Del Rey

Amazon’s Lana Del Rey Page