I recently finished the job of filing all our CDs away in binders and chucking out the cases (for recycling, I’m not a barbarian). It was bloody tedious but also a nice nostalgia trip as I came across a lot of great albums from the 1990s I’d forgotten about, like Pedals by Chicago band The Aluminum Group.
The Aluminum Group took their name from a line of furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames which was reason enough for me to like them, and played a crisp, smooth chamber-pop that was as beautifully put together as an Eames chair.
If their name wasn’t arty enough for you, Pedals opens with a 10-minute song about Marcel Duchamp called “Rrose Sélavy’s Valise” which is about as pretentious a move a band can make. Rrose Sélavy was Duchamp’s female alter ego, and the valise is a reference to this Duchamp work. With it’s epic length and multi-part structure it sounds something like Lounge Prog which should really be a thing.
Were they known as The Aluminium Group in the UK?
Download: Rrose Sélavy’s Valise – The Aluminum Group (mp3)
Photo: Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1920, by Man Ray.
This is an old photo that belonged to my Dad of him working with the great Beryl Reid. I had to do some internet detective work to find out when it was taken, and best I can tell it’s from rehearsals of either the Italian comedy Il Campiello or Edward Albee’s Counting The Ways, both of which she starred in at the National Theatre in 1976 where my old man was a Stage Manager. I’ve a feeling it’s the latter.
As you can see she’s written something on the photo but, like the note my Dad got from John Osborne, it was hard to decipher what it was. So I did some Photoshop jiggery-pokery on the blue pen and figured out that it says “To John, I’m not the tallest partner but you’re lovely – Beryl Reid” which I assume has something to do with the rehearsals. But who knows, apparently Beryl was quite the saucy old bird.
Of course none of this would be a mystery if I’d asked him about it when he was alive, but he never told me any stories about Beryl either so I’ve nothing there I’m afraid.
I had a hard time thinking of a song to go with this post so here’s a track from a favourite album of my Dad’s that came out the year before the photo was taken. I don’t hate The Eagles anymore — don’t love them either — but this is rather nice Country-Rock.
Download: Hollywood Waltz – The Eagles (mp3)
I must admit I haven’t listened to a Maxwell album since his terrific debut Urban Hang Suite way, way back in 1996. He just fell off my radar after that, probably because he only released four more albums in the 20 years (gulp) since. But I might have to go back and listen to the ones I missed because his newest effort black SUMMERS’ night is absolutely gorgeous — sophisticated and sexy soul music that’s classic but very modern.
The new Frank Ocean record might be sucking up all the hype and attention at the moment but this album deserves plenty of love too.
I wonder if bands like The Knack are sick to death of their big hit and wish people would play one of their other songs for a change. Or are they just grateful for the money it probably still brings them?
This was their only hit in the UK and they were derided by the rock press as retro rockers cynically jumping on the “New Wave” bandwagon by putting on skinny ties. That may or not have been true but this was a cracking single and this is a great performance of it.
New t-shirt designs on sale, what I call the song collection. As always they’re only $14 for the next couple of days so get them while they’re smoking.
Download: Pop Muzik (extended version) – M (mp3)
I only have a passing familiarity with the oeuvre of Phantogram but from what I’ve heard they have a knack for big synth anthems. This track from their upcoming album Three (their third, duh) is no exception. If I was young and in a club — and off my head on something — this would have me jumping up and down in ecstasy.
Nick Heyward looks like Edwyn Collins for the Smash Hits set in this video and the group often sounded like it too. Still bloody marvelous though, and the girls in the audience look like they’re loving every minute.
The dramatic tone of this 1967 record always made me think that, in typical French fashion, it was about something highly emotional and existentially crushing. Turns out it’s about a teenage girl getting ready for school in the morning while playing Elvis records and wishing Paul McCartney could help with her homework.
But then again, having kids myself, I know that getting ready for school in the morning can be a trial.
Download: 7 Heures du Matin – Jacqueline Taieb (mp3)
“I didn’t want to be in an ‘agit-prop’ band. I hated all those people in the student union, with their crummy political views, who had votes about squatting. We wrote ‘King Rocker’ about John Lennon and Paul McCartney having a fight with Elvis about who was the king of rock and roll.” — Billy Idol
Download: King Rocker – Generation X (mp3)
Download: (I Love You) When You Sleep – Tracie Young (mp3)
Photo: Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly Last Summer, 1959