Discoveries II

I’ve just finished ‘Hotel California’ by Barney Hoskyns, a book about the music scene of USA’s West Coast, from the mid 60’s ’til the mid 70’s. It was very interesting to learn about L.A.’s best years, about the two most important clubs (the Troubadour and the Roxy), about this big record label man called David Geffen, and about so many talented people who got a record deal and therefore a chance at trial and error, to learn from this and get better, and ultimately become successful! The book concludes how this was such a unique time and all who were present are very lucky to have been a part of it, but if there’s one important thing I’ve learned, it’s that it wasn’t all glitter and glamour. Ego and drugs and money have destroyed a lot. Sometimes it was a very lonely existence, to be a rock star. Everything seemed so empty, relationships and money and possessions, everything but the music.

Though the main characters in the book were Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell and The Eagles, I also got to know a lot of new old artists. Here are my two favorite discoveries:

 

Of course I’d heard For what it’s worth before (“Stop hey what’s that sound”) but I never knew this was a band containing Stephen Stills and Neil Young! Will definitely look more into the work of Buffalo Springfield.

Loving this version by Gram Parsons! (Though some say he actually co-wrote it, Keith Richards was a friend of his.) You can definitely feel the sadness in the voice of this tragic figure, who died age 26.

But yes, let’s end this post with an amazing live version of the song that represents the West Coast’s golden era the best, the rise and decay.

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High Hopes

The time has come. Ladies and Gentlemen, my second most favorite band is –it is so cliché but it’s true– Pink Floyd! I can’t say I know all the songs by heart, like I do with Zeppelin, or that I love all of them, but their music is beyond this world.  It takes you somewhere far away, it is comforting and disturbing, it is Floyd. I started listening to them at the same time I was discovering Zeppelin, and though they didn’t blow me away immediately, I bought myself the Discovery Box for Christmas. Listening to the early albums in the dark (I used to be too cheap to turn on the light) was very frightening. Listening to later work was magical. Their albums are journeys, you can’t really listen to just one track, you need to hear the whole package. Still I want to share some of the pieces with you tonight. (You gotta listen in the evening, with hardly any light on.)

This is pure genious. If anyone knows a more HQ version, I’d be happy to hear it!

I love love love this version from the ‘Live at Pompeii’ (1972) DVD! Got it for only €5, best thing ever!!

Seeing this makes me so happy. Very glad they did a reunion concert in 2005, even though I wasn’t a fan yet back then, just so I can listen to this version of Comfortably Numb. Best. Guitar solo. Ever.

It’s extremely difficult to choose only a few songs, but if there is one I just HAVE to share with the world, it’s the next one. First, I do not like the Final Cut (1983) album at all, it’s the only one where I simply pressed fast forward. The band was falling apart, Roger was mad, and he remained so for a long time. I do not care for his attitude, even so today. Though there is no denying he WAS Pink Floyd, so were the others. Yes David took it to a more mellow style after they continued to use the Floyd name, and maybe it wasn’t as good as their previous work, but this one song just kills me every single time. It’s the last track on their last album The Division Bell (1994), at least, before they released the post Rick album The Endless River (2014) –title taken from a line in this song. It can still make me cry sometimes, makes my heart jump out of my chest. I want this played at my funeral, and at my wedding, or just any other day of my life. I am IN LOVE with High Hopes.

Their music has really grown on me and still is continuing to do so. I would like to get to know their earlier work a bit better, understand Syd’s vision before David joined in. They are so versatile, the albums are all so different! I was fortunate enough to see David Gilmour last year and so I had a little taste of the live experience! Thank you legend for playing my favorite song. By the way, the book written by Nick Mason, ‘Inside Out’, is a real treat! I’ve never had a biography make me laugh out loud so many times!

The girls

As I’ve mentioned, the female singers are seriously (like SERIOUSLY) outnumbered when it comes to my taste in music. Were there so few who made it onto the big scene back then? Or do I just prefer men singing? I know I’ve had more male bands or singer-songwriters blow me away than women. That’s why I’d like to put those handful in the spotlight here:

Grace Slick must be the most powerful singer to me, so effortlessly. No doubt the best female voice of that era.

Stevie Nicks, little hippie with the bad hairdo. Good performance!

I don’t like all of Janis Joplin‘s repertoire, but you must give it to her: she sings with an incredible amount of feeling and power. As if every song is the last one she’ll ever sing. (Is that Mama Cass in the crowd at the end looking flabbergasted?)

Something totally different. Looking up more of Mimi Fariña’s stuff, I came across a performance of her singing 500 miles. I knew I’ve heard it before so I looked up more versions and found the original one, written by this folksinger called Hedy West. This kinda music always makes me think of old movies, very American voice and feel, must be the banjo. Will be the first folk album I buy. Check out 500 miles, and the version by The Journeymen is also worth a listen!

If anyone can recommend more female singers of that time, feel free to post them below. (I do not seem to like very high pitched voices, like Joni Mitchell, or even Mimi Fariña solo… Joan Baez didn’t do it for me either, though her lyrics are good.)

Discoveries

I like to read a lot about the music industry in the 60’s and 70’s, and so I stumbled upon a book by Joe Boyd called ‘White Bicycles – Making music in the 1960s’. Boyd was an American music producer known for starting the famous psychedelic underground club UFO in London and he produced records by Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Nick Drake, and so on. The guy has a story to tell! Thanks to his book, I’ve discovered a lot of bands I hadn’t heard of before. Here are the ones that triggered me into listening to more of their work:

Normally I’m not very fond of female singers, or too folksy stuff, but these two sound just perfect together!

Yup, Jeff’s dad. I’ve heard his name before, but never cared to look up his music. I sure did miss out on some goodness! They were both just as talented, that’s for sure! (Already bought their biography, very curious.)

To me this feels like the Stones meet the Animals. Good voice, good rock ‘n’ roll.

Mm yes, them sweet blues…

I’m always happy as a camper when I’ve discovered some new old band, so I hope you’ve heard something new here too!