I DID IT!!
Kept my promise from the previous NOTEWORTHY column to start listening to music with intention. An entire album (remember albums?), without distraction or interruption.
How can I ignore the times we’re in? I’m not. But we have to live the best lives we can. I trust most of us realize what great suffering so many are going through. I feel it’s important to be aware, but not to live in it. Those who watch Fox News are being fed a different perspective, I’ve found. They never show hospitals or grieving families or completely drained medical personnel, they just want to talk about the economy.
It doesn’t do anyone any good to just sit around the house and sink into depression. So I think those of us who are blessed should make good use of our time and examine our lives, psyches and souls and HAVE A LITTLE FUN.The arts are perfect for that, fertile ground to learn and grow. Our excuse before was always, well, yeah, but I don’t have the time.
This column has always been about noteworthy music and other cultural pursuits, now afforded us in very different ways than a couple of months ago. NICOLE RECOMMENDS a while back featured an event at arts collective In Sheep’s Clothing, that offered an unfettered music listening experience. But last week I pointed out that anyone could do it at home. Pick out a favorite recording (any format) and allow yourself the luxury of listening uninterrupted, start to finish. Turn that phone off and don’t answer the door (they’ll leave the package).
That’s key. Uninterrupted. Intentional listening. Not background music. You will enjoy that album more than you have in years or decades, and probably hear things you didn’t know were in there, or had forgotten.
I PICKED PET SOUNDS
Sure it was on the first shelf (alphabetical) but as soon as I saw it I said, Yup. What else? This was the 40th anniversary Fuzzy Package CD-DVD edition, original mono, stereo mix and surround sound. But my monster Sherwood receiver has been acting up and all I could access was the mono.
No biggie. I still marvelled at what Brian Wilson threw into his recordings, that you wouldn’t have detected on your AM car radio. Glockenspiels, bass harmonica, coconut shells, two basses together, theremin, full string sections, all blending like magic, and Brian always conducting those voices masterfully, gorgeously, like Lenny Bernstein on the Four Freshmen. I understand the groovy surf and car songs going global but how could he remain a hitmaker like this? No one else did this.
I did an interview with him when his first solo album came out, and his co-producer Andy Paley told me Brian was the only composer he ever knew of who walked into the studio with every single note of the arrangement already in his head.
What’s next? Can’t go back. Gotta keep having fun. I figured out how to set my sticky Sherwood to handle vinyl so I’ll probably go that route now. I cleaned out my collection years ago but kept the 1800 LPs I couldn’t bear to live without so, I’m good. But I think I have to go to 2x/wk now. You with me?
X’s NEW ALBUM “ALPHABETLAND” (Fat Possum Records) — X gets a lot of attention in this column — as they should, being one of the last standing, a**-kicking, OG LA punk bands — and now they have released their first album in 35 years, with the original lineup (John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake). Slated to be released in August, the group decided instead to drop it on the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut album “Los Angeles.” I can confirm that in those 40 years they have not lost their fire. Available for streaming or purchase on Bandcamp: https://xtheband.bandcamp.com/album/alphabetland
CHARLES CHIMES IN — second it all, Nicole. Thank you X for dropping this now when we could all use a blast of good energy. It’s really hard to believe they are still composing this well and kicking a** musically, 42 years in. Nicole and I saw them just four months ago, or was it four centuries ago, at the Teragram Ballroom DTLA and two generations were mightily impressed. This album shows what that live show did: X was not only one of the very best punk bands ever, one of the very best bands of any kind to come out of LA — but they still are. Glad they didn’t die before they got old.
MUSIC ON TV
Finally watched the 2-½ hour “Jesus Christ Superstar” live production from Easter 2018 that was broadcast again this past Easter. Don’t crucify me for blasphemy but Judas Priest I’m glad they resurrected it. John Legend has really become a superstar and he was a complex, compelling Jesus, Brandon Victor Dixon was a powerful Judas and Sarah Bareilles a perfect Mary Magdalene, Ben Daniels was scary as Pilate and Alice Cooper was totally Alice in his brief campy turn as Herod. Great sets, music and choreography. They nailed it.
Had to watch the GRAMMY Prince tribute, and I give an A-, might have been better but with many outstanding moments. Gary Clark Jr. of course, Legend again, Common, H.E.R. was great but should have gotten out of the way more of Pedro prima ballerina Misty Copeland, Sheila E brought high energy throughout, Morris Day & The Time were so much fun, and the incomparable Mavis Staples was the best choice to sing the final piece “Purple Rain,” rocked hard by his band the Revolution with Wendy Melvoin shredding, before the final all hands on deck ending.
Which was introduced by host and now featured musician Maya Rudolph. Why? Because she’s popular? So are Betty White and Justin Beiber. Because she had a joke act called Princess? Why do they do this? They also pushed her buddy Fred Armisen out there. Two of the unfunniest people on the planet, and certainly with no great credentials as musicians. Considering the towering stature of Prince as a musician, (along with everything else he did), and that awesome crew onstage, it was an insult. They did not earn a place on that stage. Show respect.
Although I was never a big Coldplay fan, a highlight was the slow rendition, piano only, that Chris Martin did with Bangle Susanna Hoffs of their hit “Manic Monday” — which, ‘scuse me, I did not know until that moment was written for the Bangles by Prince. When you heard the way they did it, it was clearly so Prince. Purple good, purple great, what a loss.
HISTORY ON RADIO
Listened Sunday to the broadcast from KUNM-FM in Albuquerque that I mentioned last column, “The Days of May: UNM 1970,” about the infamous student unrest there that resulted in 12 people injured, some very seriously, by rocks and National Guard bayonets, four days after the killing of four students at Kent State. Very well done by producer Kent Ian Paterson. Sex and drugs and rock and roll, politics and protest, Jane Fonda, a college president under siege, music of the era — you might dig it. Still available on the website for another week or so.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org