Thursday, May 29, 2008

B-sides, Demos, Alternate Takes, Rarities, Bootlegs... Part 2

by Jack Probst

Jen wrote a post on Tuesday all about her favorite b-sides, rarities, alternate takes, etc. from her favorite bands, so I thought I'd dig though my collection and share a few of my favorite gems with the blogging world. Enjoy!

B-side: "Freak Out/Starry Eyes" - LCD Soundsystem - 45:33

This track is a two part, twelve minute epic of groove. Part one is a funky chill out with horns included. It’s fairly repetitive, with James Murphy repeating, “If you do it again/I’m gonna freak out/So do it again” over a sweet bass line backed by intricate percussion. Part two begins after a raging two minute drum solo, and jumps directly into techno trance. It’s disorienting in a good way. A woman robotically recites the lyrics in a sugary voice, like a really sexy machine. This would have felt really out of place on an album, but it’s a track that all LCD fans should hear. Then suddenly, it ends.

Rarity: "Trapeze Swinger" - Iron & Wine - In Good Company [Soundtrack]

Why this song was in a lame movie staring Topher Grace & Dennis Quaid and not on an Iron & Wine record baffles me. I consider this to not only be the greatest song Sam Beam has written, but one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Yes, that is saying a lot. This hushed folk tune plays like a dream, with low hums and chimes. The lyrics beautifully poke at the afterlife and remembrance. “…they went on to say/that the pearly gates/have some eloquent graffiti/like 'We’ll meet again'/and 'Fuck the man'/and 'Tell my mother not to worry.'" These words sound so sweet when sung by Beam, who is almost whispering this lullaby in your ear. It builds ever slowly, but adds so many small musical details, like percussion and guitar riffs played in reverse. I honestly cannot think of a song I love more than this one.

Alternate Take: "I Wanna Be Your J-Lo" - CSS - Rob Da Bank Session February 5th, 2007

I believe this version was recorded for some sort of internet radio show. I originally heard this as two songs in a bunch of CSS demos I found floating online. This live version energetically mixes both styles of songs they were ripping off, which are all about wanting to be your J-Lo. CSS let you know exactly what J-Lo has had to face in her hard life to get where she is today… or maybe it’s just how she seems in the media? Who knows? This track is too fun to think that deeply about. I would really like to see this song on the new album.

B-side: "My Shit's On Fire" - Hot Chip - ???

(Instead of picking a bootleg like Jen, I’m substituting in another b-side. The reason being is I have no idea where it originated. I’ve never been able to track down what single this was a b-side from, so if you know, please tell me in the comments)!

Hot Chip b-sides seem to be hit-or-miss with me, but this is this album material. The opening line, “Not even a thousand R. Kelly records could save me now” is unforgettable and just plain hilarious. It seems to be constantly changing, starting real low and neutral, until the sharp guitar strikes. Then it erupts into a dance frenzy, which quickly becomes more spastic and scattered. Once the smoke clears, things get back to the basics until they sputter out completely.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hayes Carll to Play In-Store at Euclid Records

Euclid Records is pleased as punch to announce that singer-songwriter Hayes Carll will be performing live on our lovely stage in the store at 5 pm, Friday, June 6. Carll will be appearing later that night at the Pageant as part of the third night of Twangfest, the annual celebration of all things Americana. It was one of our most loyal customers who introduced us to Carll just a few months ago. That's one of the best things about working in a record store, learning from the people who shop here.

Here's a video from an April concert in Chicago that should give you a taste of Hayes Carll and make sure you mark your calendar to come on down and see him in our store.

Four Guys Walk Into a Bar . . .

Never mind the 4th of July, it's the 3rd of July that's really worth celebrating this year. That will be the night Ian McLagan, legendary keyboardist for the Small Faces and the Faces, will be bringing his Bump Band to the Duck Room in Blueberry Hill. You can buy them from Ticketmaster, at Blueberry Hill, or from your friends at Euclid Records.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

B-sides, Demos, Alternate Takes, Rarities, Bootlegs

By Jen Eide

All collectors have bands that they get obsessively completest about. I'm this way with the band Spoon--there are still some Australian singles I'm trying to track down--but then there are other special little gems we run across and like to collect. I love to throw these on mixes for friends. Here's a small smattering of tunes that I've been thinking of lately.

Full screen view

B-side: Or perhaps we should call them "non-album tracks" in the era of CD singles. Spoon's "Sunday Morning, Wednesday Night"--from the Sister Jack CD single--is a lush, atmospheric tune whose beauty defies description. It's a perfect slow, shimmery pop song similar in style to "vittorio e." which appeared on Spoon's definitive album Kill The Moonlight. Runner-up: Camera Obscura's cover of ABBA's "Super Trouper"--from the Tears for Affairs three song single--which you can read more about in our Blindfold Test post.

Rarity: Fortunately, Evidence Records rescued most of Sun Ra 45's from obscurity on The Singles double CD. "Love In Outer Space" is odd for the fact that the instrumental track was recorded in 1970 (from Night of the Purple Moon) and the vocal track added on five years later. Everything about this tune, from the bounce in Sun Ra's harpsichord lines to David Henderson's vocal promising "Sunrise / Love everlasting / Sunrise in outer space / Love for everybody" offers up hopefulness and good vibes. Outer space? I'm there.

Alternate Take: Take 15 of The Meditation Singers "Ain't That Good News" on the Specialty reissue Good News. This female gospel group from Detroit--headed by lead singer Earnestine Rundless--never had the widespread success they deserved, but they are credited as being an influence on the Motown sound (a young Diana Ross was frequently in the audience for their shows). The Meditation Singers spawned the careers of Della Reese (who does not appear on this recording) and Laura Lee (who does sing on this track). A young James Cleveland was also an associate early in his career--his distinctive, muscular piano style is heard all over these late 1950's Specialty recordings. The album version (circa 1959) of "Ain't That Good News" was powerful--took hold of your soul and shook it all around--but I love this alternate take. It sounds like they borrowed a trick from the beboppers--the backing vocal harmonies are sung on the upper intervals of the chords which give it a odd and almost otherworldly quality. Amazing. I prefer the alternate to the original.

Demo: I first heard the demo version of the classic Pretenders song "The Wait" on No Thanks! The '70's Punk Rock Rebellion box released by Rhino Records--an amazing set (fortunately still in print) that collects all the important early punk rock singles along with some rarities. This demo later surfaced on the double disc expanded and remastered reissue of their first album, Pretenders. It's a little more raw, the instrumentation is a bit more sparse and the production is definitely not as slick as the album version. Sounds just as tough, just a bit more punk.

Bootleg: Sleater-Kinney's final concert at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on August 12, 2006. I actually considered flying to Portland to catch them, but both of the final shows sold out within ten minutes. My consolation was finding a recording on the Ryspace blog. S-K was one of those rare bands with an amazing chemistry and intensity that translated both in the studio and on stage. I was lucky to see them twice on tour for their final album The Woods--now I have this relic as well. The sound quality is good and by all accounts plenty of other people were recording this legendary event as well--so we can only hope that one day Sub Pop will release this as an "official" bootleg.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lord, Mr. Ford

by Steve Pick

Well, we've been trying to figure out this new-fangled world, and how to post songs that don't have videos, and we think this might work. There are other options, and we'll be experimenting with them to determine which way is best, but this one is kinda fun.

To start things off, I chose a random song from my home computer, a classic Jerry Reed number from back in 1973 called "Lord, Mr. Ford." For those of you who might not remember Reed, the man was a masterful Nashville session guitarist who had a string of early 70s hits that were raunchy, hilarious, and full of impeccable picking.

This particular track is available on most of his hits albums, including this jaw-droppingly great one. It tells the story, 35 years ago, of how bad cars were messing with society. Reed could not have known how much worse things were gonna be in our own time. But, as bad as are the economics Reed describes, he sings with such a palpable sense of joy and ironic fun, and he revs up the guitar so hot, that the song is just plain gonna bring a smile to your face every time you hear it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wilco's St. Louis Shows On Line Now!

There is no fan-friendlier band than Wilco. Our former employees Jeff Tweedy and his manager know that if you reward your fans, they'll stay loyal to you, tell all their friends, and constantly make you more and more popular.

So, last week, Wilco played three sold-out shows at the Pageant here in St. Louis. And now, you can listen to all of them, including the third night, which is already becoming legendary as being one of their greatest concerts ever. Just pop on over to their website, and either relive your experience or learn why those who went have been raving about it all week long.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rosanne Cash Says It All

We just have to share this little essay by Rosanne Cash from the New York Times blog, Measure For Measure, which is chock full of nice essays from songwriters about the process of writing songs. Rosanne, however, not only tells us what it's like to write, but gives us a whole lot of insight into what it's like to hear what's been written. And, makes us salivate for this new song she's co-written with Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why I Can't Dance

By Jen Eide

Believe me, I have tried my hardest out there on the dance floor, and while I usually get off to a good start, something just falls apart when it kicks into the chorus. At this point I try to slink unobtrusively off the dance floor, although if the song is really kickin' I'll play the fool a little while longer. While I'm not as bad as Elaine Benes in the classic Seinfeld episode, it is a problem that I think that instruction or further practice will not help. We all know someone like this.

I'm consoled by the fact that this is actually a neurological condition--it feels better to blame lame dancing skills on something pathological rather than your own horrible ineptitude. Apparently, there is a condition called rhythm deafness which is akin to tone deafness. Musician and medical researcher Jake Mandell has come up with this simple test to diagnose the extent of your impairment. Take the test posted on Mandell's site here.

I scored a 60%, which is not completely rhythm deaf, but enough to explain all my embarrassing moments on the dance floor. Dancers and non-dancers alike, please post your scores in the comments section. If your score was truly bad, there is an option to post anonymously. Happy test taking!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Kid in the Hall

We know, we know, we're either long-winded as all git out, or we don't post anything. We're gonna fix all that soon, but for now, we have to share this picture of our own Jack Probst all buddy buddy with Kevin McDonald of the Kids in the Hall, one of the funniest comedy troupes in the world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blindfold Test, Part 2

by Jen Eide and Jack Probst

A week ago, Jen and I posted a blindfold experiment. This "test" was a mix CD full of covers which I had to try and guess what the song was, who it was performed by, or who originally performed it. We're not keeping score, we're just bored! So for this week I've complied a disc of covers from my collection for Jen to guess. Let the grand experiment begin!

As with last week, we never came up with a blindfold, so you'll just have to be content with the bag that Jen's wearing on her head.

Jen: Pixies "Debaser" from Doolittle. No idea on the artist, but they give it a slightly less frenzied interpretation with a few acoustic guitars peeking through in the mix.

Jack: Correct. This is Rogue Wave with their take on the first track off Doolittle. This was recorded for one of the soundtracks to the show The O.C., which featured all covers. I like how the pacing is different than the original, because it isn't recognizable right off the bat.

Jen: This is from the first Shins album Oh, Inverted know, the one that changed your life. This was my favorite summertime album for awhile and one of the few cassettes I ever wore out. I should really know the title of this since so many songs from this album wound up on mixes I've made. This is a really nerded out version, but the vocalist is staying true to the style of James Mercer's original vocal, though his delivery sounds a little snarky.

Jack: Correct again. This is Of Montreal doing up The Shins' "Know Your Onion!" from a promo only covers EP released some time after Satanic Panic in the Attic. I think it's done fairly close to the original, though a bit speedier and with Kevin Barnes' vocals.

Jen: I always get confused on the titles of Nirvana songs. The tunes are so instantly recognizable and ingrained in our consciousness that I feel like I don't really need to remember what their names are. My analogy for this is that when I am breathing I don't need to be cognizant of the name of the substance called "air" which is going in my lungs. But I think the song is probably "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Jack: Close. This is The Polyphonic Spree covering Nirvana's "Lithium" from the Wait EP. I never cared too much for Nirvana, but it was cool seeing this gigantic band dance in robes for this song live at last year's Lollapalooza. Lead singer Tim DeLaughter is a hell of a lot easier to understand than Mr. Cobain.

Jen: This is "Christian Brothers" by Elliott Smith from his self-titled Kill Rock Stars debut. The band sounds so familiar but I can't place who the artist might be. Interesting choice in's not the first Elliott Smith song I would have thought to cover. It's nice when artists pay homage to other bands by picking a tune that deserves wider exposure.

Jack: Queens of the Stone Age released their version of Elliott's "Christian Brothers" on an import single from their last record, Era Vulgaris. It was hard to track down, but is worth it for this and a very bad ass cover of Tom Waits' "Goin' Out West."

Jen: Nice arrangement with the steel guitars. No clue. Jack just mentioned that this is a band that made my top 10 list last year--though this song wasn't on their album--but I really can't place the vocalist, which makes it particularly embarrassing. He sounds really familiar though.

Jack: You should be embarrassed. Just kidding! This is matt pond PA from their Winter Songs EP covering the Lindsey Buckingham track "Holiday Road."

Jen: I don't even know if this is the title but the lyric goes "Straight up now tell me are you really gonna love me forever...." So I'm gonna guess "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul. Don't know who the covering artist is. What a hysterical choice of material!

Jack: You're right! I could tell it was driving you crazy trying to remember who the song was by! This is Luna performing "Straight Up" from the covers compilation Guilt By Association. It also features Superchunk doing "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child.

Jen: Well, it's "Splish Splash" but I can't remember the original artist. But this version is insane! It sounds like I'm sitting in a hot tub with a lot of shady people from the film Boogie Nights, except the dance music playing in the background is from within the last year or two.

Jack: That would be Dan Deacon bringing a million levels of weirdness to Bobby Darin's classic hit.

Jen: Paul Simon's "Graceland" sans African guitars.

Jack: Correct. Grizzly Bear loves Paul Simon. You can get a free mp3 of this over at Stereogum.

Jen: I'm going to guess that this is Iron & Wine--I recognize the harmony style--but have no idea who the source song is by.

Jack: Yup, this is Iron & Wine covering The Flaming Lips' track "Waitin' for a Superman," but I don't think it was officially released on anything. It should be, though. It's a softer version of a song already rich with sweet sadness.

Jen: I'm curious to learn what this one is. Augh! Jack just gave me a little hint and held up an Apostle of Hustle album cover (I peeked underneath the bag on my head). Their album National Anthem Of Nowhere is one of my favorites from last year and though this cover is not on that album, I am hanging my head in shame from not recognizing the artist. Still no idea on what the song is.

Jack: For shame! This is Apostle of Hustle doing "One More Night" by Stars. This was released on a remix/covers album called Do You Trust Your Friends? which features reworked versions of each track on Set Yourself On Fire.

Jen: I must really look baffled, because Jack just gave me a hint that this is from R.E.M.'s Automatic For The People. Document was the last R.E.M. album I loved. I totally lost interest by the time Green came out, but I enjoy most of the tracks on the new album Accelerate--though I miss the jangle. I'm always nostalgic for the guitar jangle, even though I know they're way past that.

Jack: This is Sara Quinn (of Tegan & Sara) with Kaki King playing R.E.M.'s "Sweetness Follows." Music bloggers Stereogum put together a free tribute to R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People called DRIVE XV. It's still available, so snatch it up while you still can!

Jen: No idea.

Jack: David Bazan's Black Cloud (he was in Pedro the Lion & released a lovely solo EP last year) covering Radiohead's "Let Down." This is from the Stereogum cultivated 10 year anniversary tribute to OK Computer. It is no longer available for download, but you can stream it here.

Jen: No idea.

Jack: The Magic Numbers covering The Smiths' "There is a Light That Never Goes Out." They sing it a bit differently, so it's a bit hard to catch what it is.

Jen: This is definitely Xiu Xiu. There's no mistaking Jamie Stewart's halting vocals and bizarre musical arrangements which frequently evoke free-jazz freak outs rather than traditionally structured rock & roll. Their cover choices are always interesting (two of them appeared on last week's Blindfold Test) though I am not familiar with this song.

Jack: Xiu Xiu knows how to completely break down a song into tiny pieces. This is their version of Björk's "Isobel" and the only thing intact from the original is the lyrics. Stereogum strikes again! This is from their tribute to Björk's album Post, called Enjoyed.

Jen: I hear M. Ward in there, and this sounds like a classic rock song that I just can't place. The guitars are very Byrds-like.

Jack: This is Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins doing The Traveling Wilburys' "Handle with Care." The track features M. Ward (yay!) & Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (boo!) and is on Jenny's solo record Rabbit Fur Coat. I don't usually care for her band Rilo Kiley, and this record didn't do anything for me, with the exception of the cover. It's a little hokey and kinda cute.

Jen: "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as performed by...??? I like the addition of strings to this song, but no one can surpass the freaked out dramatic vocal by Karen O or the sonic intensity of Nick Zinner's guitars.

Jack: This would be The Arcade Fire. I agree with what Jen said. It'd be interesting to hear the strings on the original Yeah Yeah Yeahs version.

Jen: Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" from Heart Shaped World. That opening guitar riff is instantly recognizable. This song loses the sultry crooning and goes for a bit more intensity, especially on the chorus with the weird swirling feedback on the guitars. This is not your David Lynch mood music. I think Isaak's version was used in Lynch's film Wild At Heart.

Jack: Correct! This was a bonus track on certain versions of Giant Drag's Hearts & Unicorns. I love Annie Hardy. She's crazy adorable. Currently she is the only member left and--since being kicked from their label--is selling things on eBay & taking donations from fans to help make the next record. You can read all about it on Giant Drag's website. I still need to make my donation!

Jen: This is a really trippy version of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Modern Romance" from their album Fever To Tell. I've always loved this song. I like what this band is doing with it...sounds like there's a backwards delay effect on the drums.

Jack: This is TV On The Radio. This cover is fitting, seeing as they're friends with YYYs. It appears on their New Health Rock EP.

Jen: Oh, this is fantastic! Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" from the album Nuclear War. This is one of the rarer albums in Sun Ra's canon, but pretty notorious. It's got a great chant that goes "Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/It's a motherfucker, don't you know/if they push that button, your ass gotta go/and what'cha gonna do without your ass." There's a great story about Sun Ra marching into the offices of Columbia records thinking he had the next chart topping dance hit and the executives just looked at him like he was out of his mind. Which, of course, he was. I love this version--whomever it's by--because it is really in that electronica/dance vein, which makes you think that without the profanity it could have a shot at being a chart topping dance hit. Plus, the chorus of children chanting "Nuclear War/It's a motherfucker don't you know" brings the suggestion that none of us--not even the young and innocent--are immune from fears of annihilation in this crazy world we live in. Outstanding! I'm gonna buy this, whoever it's by.

Jack: I knew you would love this, Jen. This is Yo La Tengo playing Sun Ra. Back in 2002 they released an EP with four different versions of the track. Each one is a little different and vary in length, but this version is my favorite mainly because of the chorus of children singing.


Like last week when the inspiration for the Blindfold Tests struck, I still find myself thinking about the cultural disconnect between generations, sub-cultures, economic classes--and now additionally the way individuals access music. Some of the songs that Jack had me most stumped by were free tracks that he had grabbed off of the internet. It's always been my habit to comb singles for B-sides and compilations, imports, and tribute albums for odd tracks, so I'm usually still making the majority of my purchases in the physical realm. What can I say, I like tangible objects and interesting packaging. Which is not to say that I haven't grabbed the free tracks that Deerhoof so generously makes available from their website, or the occasional Sleater-Kinney bootleg--it has just not been my practice to look elsewhere for my oddities. But I think I may start searching out more internet only resources as well. Off to Stereogum to download that Bjork cover by Xiu Xiu!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's Playing | Elvis Costello - Momofuku

by Steve Pick

It suddenly hit me this morning when I heard "American Gangster Time" on Roy Kasten's always excellent Feel Like Going Home radio show on KDHX. Momofuku is a great album. Those of you who know me will not likely be as surprised as I was to make this discovery. It's long been my contention that Costello is not only our greatest living songwriter, he is the greatest purveyor of popular music songcraft in the 160-year history of the concept. Of course, I should love his latest album.

But that was not the case at first. Yeah, I was enjoying Momofuku from the git-go, but I wasn't enthralled with it. I kept returning to it more out of duty and availability, but all I was hearing was a series of Costello signatures - the Farfisa-organ sound of This Year's Model, the ABBA-pop of Armed Forces, the dirty guitars of Brutal Youth, the delicate melodies of All This Useless Beauty, the slippery soul/funk rhythms of The Delivery Man. Nothing sounded original, though I was quickly convinced that "Go Away" would be in the man's stage show for a lot more years to come.

Slowly, however, and in a way that hadn't happened for me in many a year, the songs started getting under my skin. Costello may be tapping into his past arrangement approaches, almost sampling himself, but his ability to wield whip-smart lyrics to melodic embellishments and a near-constant supply of great hooks has rarely been better. If I'd heard this album in 1979, I think I would have loved it immediately, and that's not something I can say about every recent Costello record.

Many people insist Elvis Costello stopped making important music after (and here, you can take your pick, depending primarily on the age at which the speaker stopped paying close attention to new releases) 1980, 1985, or even 1990. I have followed him his entire career, through peaks (the first five albums, King of America, Blood and Chocolate, All This Useless Beauty, The Delivery Man) and valleys (Almost Blue, Goodbye Cruel World, Mighty Like a Rose, North). His best records these past fifteen years have seen him pushing past his traditional approaches, and finding new methods to create pop gems. So, I think I started looking for these innovations and missing the forest for the lack of fresh trees.

This isn't the best sounding video clip ever, but it gives you an idea of what Costello and the Imposters are up to this year:

And just for fun, here's a clip of his first TV appearance back in 1977. Look at that skinny young guy:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blindfold Test

by Jen Eide and Jack Probst

Last week I was playing "Straight To Hell" from Combat Rock by the Clash when Jack had the realization that M.I.A. used it as a sample on the song "Paper Planes" on her recent album Kala. Since I grew up with the Clash song and Jack had not, this got me thinking about the cultural disconnect between generations, sub-cultures, economic classes, etc. Sometimes listeners don't always have the same reference point for what they are hearing. While I didn't have a mix prepared with songs that were later sampled elsewhere, I did have this mix of obscure and not-so-obscure covers. So I'm giving Jack the old blindfold test--he's hearing these tunes for the first time and trying to guess who is performing the songs or who the original songs were written by. We didn't have a blindfold, so he's obscuring his vision with headphones. We'll be better prepared with a blindfold next time.

Jack--"I Heard it Through the Grapevine"... I know it's a famous soul singer, and not the California Raisins. Otis? Marvin?

Jen--You got the tune right. The one you're probably thinking of is by Marvin Gaye, although Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded it first. Knight's version is the definitive one for me with it's frenzied gospel throwdown. This cover--or deconstruction, perhaps--is by the late 1970's UK punk/ska band The Slits, from their album Cut. This album is a early punk classic and influenced an entire generation of musicians.

Jack--The tune sounds familiar, but I have no idea.

Jen--This would have been a stretch for most people, as you don't expect a surf-punk interpretation of a Duke Ellington tune. That was "Caravan," by Marc Ribot & the Rootless Cosmopolitans from the album Requiem For What's His Name. Marc Ribot has played guitar with Tom Waits, among other high profile musicians.

Jack--Kinda sounds like Kim Deal? Or not? This totally sounds like the Who.

Jen--This is "So Sad About Us" by the Who as covered by The Breeders on their sadly out-of-print Safari EP.

Jack--Is that Sleater-Kinney playing? Maybe?

Jen--Close! That was Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein's collaboration with Mary Timony of Helium fame. This is also a Who cover entitled "I Can't Explain" and it's featured on the only EP recorded by The Spells called The Age Of Backwards.

Jack--I know that's X playing. That's all I can tell you.

Jen--I'll never understand how Ray Manzarek from the Doors wound up producing a bunch of L.A. punks, but the best result was this cover of the Doors' "Soul Kitchen." From the definitive American punk album Los Angeles by X.

Jack--A weird version of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary." I like it better than the original...

Jen--Me too. As much as I love the original I must give this instrumental the nod. This is Marc Ribot again from the album Rootless Cosmopolitans. I love his interpretive powers, his ability to tear things down and make them fresh again. I always thought he was the first musician to take Thelonious Monk's approach and bring it to the guitar.

Jack--"Happiness is a Warm Gun" by The Beatles... Wait, is this Kim Deal now? The Breeders? I'm pretty sure they covered it at some point.

Jen--Yup, this is The Breeders from their first album Pod. I like their post-modern spin on this tune, but the smartest decision they made was to leave out the corny lyrics "When I hold you in my arms / And I feel my finger on your trigger / I know nobody can do me no harm." I always thought those lyrics were a foolish songwriting device on the Beatles part.

Jack--I should know this... "I Can't Stand the Rain." Is that the title? I'm drawing a blank. Joni Mitchell?

Jen--You've got the title correct. This was Memphis soul diva Ann Peebles' big hit, though I was guessing that your reference point for this was gonna be Missy Elliot's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)." This is jazz vocalist supreme Cassandra Wilson from the album Blue Light 'Til Dawn. By reinterpreting contemporary pop songs she has redefined jazz music for an entire era--and in a much more successful and creative way than by Wynton Marsalis. You may have been thinking of Joni Mitchell because Wilson has covered at least one of Mitchell's songs and I believe that Mitchell was somewhat of an influence, at least on Wilson's "pop" stuff.

Jack--"Oops I Did It Again", Britney Spears as performed by Richard Thompson. I've not heard this before, but I heard about it. I guess it's good that Neil plays his albums a lot. There's no mistaking that voice.

Jen--Bingo! I love the role reversal here. The fact that an older man is singing these particular lyrics make it creepy in a truly interesting way. From Richard Thompson's 1,000 Years of Popular Hits.

Test Break: "Expectations" by Belle & Sebastian. While not a cover, it does mention The Velvet Underground. Do I get points for that? It's from the album Tigermilk.

Jack--Camera Obscura doing "Super Trouper" by ABBA. I've not heard this before. Lovely!

Jen--I adore this cover. As much as I enjoy the original, Tracyanne Cambpell brings so much melancholy to the vocal that I finally took notice of these very sad lyrics for the first time. I think this cover completely surpasses ABBA's version. This is from Camera Obscura's three song single Tears For Affairs.

Jack--Britt Daniel doing a Sam Cooke song. Is the title "Bring It On Home to Me"? I have this on some compilation.

Jen--Very good! I stumped Steve with this one the other day. This is one of the few solo pieces that I know of by the Spoon frontman (aside from the EP's he recorded under the pseudonym Drake Tungsten in the mid-1990's). Britt quite simply has the best howl and falsetto in the business--both are on good display here. This is from a various artists compilation called Bridging The Distance which features artists from Portland, OR (where Daniel is now a resident).

Jack--Spoon - "Don't You Evah," which Jen told me was a cover a while back. I don't know the original. That little yellow robot dances to it in that video on youtube.

Jen--This is from Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. They recently released "Don't You Evah" as a single with remixes by Ted Leo, Diplo, Matthew Dear and some other folks. But the thing that really impressed me was that Spoon actually put the original version by The Natural History on the single. I thought it was very magnanimous on Spoon's part to give that kind of exposure to a little known band who had already broken up. Go here to hear the original.

Jack--Nirvana doing David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World". I remember the day I figured out the opening guitar part to this while noodling around with the guitar in high school. Yay Bowie!

Jen--From Nirvana's Unplugged In New York.

Jack--Xiu Xiu doing the Bowie/Queen track "Under Pressure."

Jen--This is from the new Xiu Xiu album Women As Lovers. That's Michael Gira from Swans guesting on vocals. Xiu Xiu threw one of the best concerts I've seen earlier this year at the Lemp Arts Center, though they did not perform this song.

Jack--No clue.

Jen--This is another Marc Ribot instrumental, "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" from Rootless Cosmopolitans.

Jack--Elliott Smith doing "Because" by The Beatles from the American Beauty soundtrack.

Jen--I think this was the first Elliott Smith song that I ever heard, though it is so true to the original that I was not sure if I was hearing the Beatles or a cover when I initially heard it in the end credits of the movie.

Jack--Sounds familiar, but in a different language.

Jen--This was from the Mulholland Drive soundtrack--it's Rebekah Del Rio singing "Llorando" in Spanish--which is actually Roy Orbison's "Crying." The performance of this song was a pivotal part of the emotional. I have no idea if Del Rio has any other recorded output, although if she does I'm certain it's outstanding.

Jack--Xiu Xiu doing Tracy Chapman.

Jen--"Fast Car" from Xiu Xiu's album A Promise. I always thought that this is how Jamie Stewart would sound if he were singing his way through a nervous breakdown. Honestly, this tune is so deconstructed that I didn't recognize it as the ubiquitous Tracy Chapman song until after a dozen listens.

Jack--Someone doing "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young.

Jen--This is Cassandra Wilson from the album New Moon Daughter. I love how organic this sounds...replete with cricket noise in the outro. Absolutely gorgeous. I hope that Neil Young has the opportunity to hear this someday.

Well, Jack's promised to turn the tables on me sometime in the near future, so check back to see how I do on his blindfold test.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Look of Love and Other Things

Steve Scariano, who works tirelessly in the mail order department here at Euclid Records, hipped us to some very cool Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 videos. For your consideration, then:

This is pretty wild, as it's part of a 1967 tv special. An A&M Records all star medley of Burt Bacharach hits led by Burt himself and featuring Herb Alpert (who would soon marry Brasil '66 singer Lani Hall), Mendes & Brasil '66, Wes Montgomery(!!!!!!!!), a young and fabulous Liza Minnelli(!), and that crazy Baja Marimba Band.
Dig this crazy '60's scene:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Early Nominees for Best of 2008

by Jen Eide

Best song for a future Apple product commercial--Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)."
Oh, you know how this works--camera shots of yuppie domesticity...happy consumer sitting in his home office...toddler runs by...close up of dog licking camera lens...more lifestyle shots...happy consumer, happy comes the voice-over..."Introducing...the new Apple blah-blah-blah"...the music kicks into to the chorus...and here comes the product shot. "Ooh...ooh-ooh. Ooh-wee-ooh-ooh-ooh." Sweet. Forget Feist. Thao rules.

Comeback of the Year--Portishead, Third.
It's always a triumph when a band re-imagines their sound and are wildly successful. The Euclid staff reviews Third--Portishead's first album in a decade--here. It's worth a read and worth a listen. Ask to hear it next time you're in the store. You'll feel overwhelmed, astounded and a little off-kilter--this is no longer your mom's warm and fuzzy trip hop. Portishead retains their essential style while experimenting with abrasive sounds, tricky rhythms, and crazy kraut rock leanings. And it all works, surprisingly enough. Now if only My Bloody Valentine could pull off such a triumph.

Best song in a foreign language by non-native speakers--The Breeders, "German Studies."
From their new album Mountain Battles. In German with a rockin' oom-pah-pah beat on the high hat! You have no idea how much fun this song is until you hear it--check out the video. Catch the Breeders at Pop's this Saturday, May 10th.

For those who are curious, Song Facts has some interview quotes explaining Kim Deal's decision to record this song in German. Why would you marginalize one of the albums best tracks by singing it in foreign language? Perhaps ultimately it doesn't matter. I've recently discovered that I prefer the German language version of ABBA's "Waterloo," but that could be because one of the male singers is wearing a costume that reminds me of the comic book hero Thor.

Worst song in a foreign language by non-native speakers--The Breeders, "Regalame Este Noches."
Also from Mountain Battles. The problem with the Breeders, it seems, is their inability to edit themselves--Mountain Battles would have made a great six song EP--but this song in particular was a bad idea. "Regalame Este Noches" is sung way too emotively by Kelley Deal. While I've never heard the original Spanish version of "Regalame Esta Noche" by Los Tri-O, I'm quite sure it is performed in a traditional way which is gorgeous--not amateurish and sappy.

Best concert of 2008.
Jack--Holy Fuck at the Bluebird.
Jen--Bon Iver at the Billiken Club. Ok, also Xiu Xiu and Thao with the Get Down Stay Down at the Lemp Arts Center. Don't make me choose!
Steve--Mavis Staples at the Sheldon or Sharon Jones at the Duck Room.

Best Imagined Tour With Bands Featuring Anatomical References.
We were joking around about this the other day when we reviewed the new Elbow album, The Seldom Seen Kid. Steve suggested that Elbow, The Shins and Head of Femur go out on tour together. I always thought that these bands were unambitious in their naming attempts. Why, if Head of Femur had just traveled 7 cm around the superior end of the bone they could have had a much better name--Greater Trochanter. I could rock the hell out to a band named Greater Trochanter! Head of Femur...not so much.

Best Postcard from an ex-employee.
Kevin Buckley (of St. Louis' own Grace Basement) had a month long fiddle gig up at Dolly Parton's joint in Pigeon Forge, TN. Kevin, you must regale us with stories now that you're back from Dollywood. I hear the gift shop is fabulous!

Best Manufactured Holiday--Record Store Day.
If you weren't here to see all the great local musicians performing on our new stage and using our killer new PA gear you really missed out--but check back with us because we will be scheduling some amazing in-stores in the near future. Those who couldn't make it missed out on the great BBQ (and killer vegetarian black bean hummus--thanks HWY 61!). Customers also received free music giveaways, so you'll definitely have to check it out next year. A good time was had by all who turned out! Read about the festivities here.

Best Music Blog--Monitor Mix, by Carrie Brownstein.
If Euclid Records were a kingdom we surely would have bestowed knighthood on ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist turned NPR music blogger by now. But since we aren't--and also since we so often link to her posts--I think that we shall declare her Lockwood & Summit's honorary guest blogger instead.

What makes Brownstein's writing so interesting is that while she does provide traditional music journalism fare such as reviews and interviews, she also provides some interesting insights into how we feel about music, about music as a branding tool, and--on occasion--strays outside the realm of music to discuss books, film, dogs and *ahem* her love of the reality tv show The Bachelor. Which just goes to show you that braniacs have guilty pleasures, too. That she reveals those guilty pleasures in a public forum just makes it that much more endearing.

I Saw Randy Newman at the Sheldon

by Steve Pick

"This is a chord Schubert didn't know, so he never used it," Randy Newman said after pointing out his accomplishment of living twice as long as Schubert had. He was introducing one of his funniest songs, the as-yet-unrecorded "Girls I Have Known Pt. 1," which he claimed to have written while attempting a song cycle to give him a shot at achieving enough to be considered for inclusion on a best of the 20th Century list.

Self-deprecating humor is one of Newman's strong suits, but really, he did write enough classics to be worthy of such an honor. He's comparing himself to the classical composers he apparently always wanted to emulate, but as a songwriter of great wit, heart, and satirical bite, not to mention melodic ingenuity, there haven't been many better. I'd never seen him before, and with nothing to distract my attention from his words, tunes, and piano playing, my respect for Newman has now risen immensely.

I love his records, of course, but live, I concentrated so much more on the lyrics - simple rhyme schemes, basic images, and enormous power - and structures of the songs - Newman mixes European classical song elements with New Orleans interjections a la Professor Longhair.

And, his little stories concerning many of the songs were hilarious and full of insight into his material. "This is a love song for my first wife which I wrote when I was married to my second wife," he said about "I Miss You." "They were both a little concerned about it, but I got a song out of it, and for me that's the most important thing."

In the context of this show, the fluff of "You've Got a Friend in Me" stood out as far more disappointing than it seemed when it charmed me at the end of Toy Story. But, he redeemed himself when he spoke of his work with Disney on the forthcoming Princess and the Frog film. He's arguing with the producers that there is no way black and white people ate in the same restaurant in New Orleans in 1925, when the movie is set.

I was surprised at the strength of his new material, especially "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," which once ran in an abridged version as a New York Times op-ed piece. Here's a video of him performing this song:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Just Wow!

by Steve Pick

I'm not going to try to count up the great songs written by all three of these guys over the last 30 years, but it sure is cool to see them all standing together on the same stage at a concert last month. This video starts in the middle of a lovely "If I Fell" before going into a spirited "Mystery Train" which really hits its stride when Nick Lowe finally feels confident enough to sing a third harmony part near the end. Here's Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello backing up Robyn Hitchcock.

Mark Your Calendars


An Evening with Ian McLagan & The Bump Band

Leave Thursday July 3 open folks, as Euclid Records is pleased to announce that we’ll be bringing Ian McLagan & the Bump Band to the Duck Room. Mac and his band, featuring Don Harvey, Mark Andes and Scrappy Jud Newcomb; will be making there first ever appearance in St. Louis.

Mac’s bio is a who’s who of the greats in Rock & Roll history. He began his career with The Small Faces which begat The Faces and then off to tour and record with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Billy Bragg, Paul Westerberg, Patti Griffin, Bruce Springsteen and many more. All his adventures and more are well documented in his autobiography “All the Rage” which is essential reading for all fans of Rock & Roll. For more info on Ian and The Bump Band check out

More details to follow, but tickets will $15.00 and should be available soon.

Here’s a little taste of Bump

And Mac Talks…

And I would be remiss to not add some classic Small Faces.