Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

Foghat- Fool For The City

‘Rain’ Songs- part four

By Robert Benson

Let’s wrap up our short article series about ‘rain’ songs. If we research this topic, we can find many, more songs to add to the list, in fact, if you want to learn more, you can visit Rain Songs; where you can find almost 800 song titles relating to rain and rainy things, including over 50 named just 'Rain.'

Let's look at a song called “The Rains Came,” that hit the Top 40 (#31 in 1966) for the seminal Tex-Mex and country rock group Sir Douglas Quintet. Although the band was hardly a household name and underappreciated during their existence, they were able to carve a niche in the music arena and their influence was far-reaching and continues to be felt in Texas to this day.

As the legend goes, the Sir Douglas Quintet was the brainchild of Houston music producer Huey P. Meaux, who at the height of the British Invasion, took a stack of Beatles records into a hotel room and listened to them, all the while getting drunk on wine. What he discovered was that the beats often resembled those of Cajun dance songs and he came up with the idea of a group that could blend the two sounds well enough to fool Beatles’ fans into giving a local band a chance.

Meaux had met up with local singer Doug Sahm, who was well known as a child prodigy in country music (he had turned down a spot on the Grand Ole Opry in order to finish junior high school). Sahm was leading a series of bands around San Antonio while he was in high school at the time and wanted to work with Meaux. Meaux told Sahm his idea and Sahm quickly formed a band to take on the project. Meaux gave them the deceptively British-sounding name the Sir Douglas Quintet and then released their debut single, "Sugar Bee," which flopped. But the next single, the garage rock favorite “She’s About A Mover,” quickly became an international hit, peaking at #13 in 1965. They followed up that hit with “The Rains Came.”

After returning from a tour of the United States and Europe, the group was arrested at the Corpus Christi airport for possessing a tiny amount of marijuana. Sahm, feeling that he was targeted for his long hair and hippie image, decided to break up the band upon his release from jail, and moved to San Francisco in early 1966. After languishing in the club circuit with a new version of the Sir Douglas Quintet (they lacked their ‘signature organ sound’) and through many personnel changes, Sham convinced original keyboardist Augie Meyers to rejoin the band and the magic sound was back. The result was the genre-defining sound of one of the best Tex-Mex, country rock albums ever made, 1969’s “Mendocino” (the title track peaked at #27 in 1969). Furthermore, the ground breaking LP made the group extremely popular in Europe, where they would retain a fan base for many years to come.

Sahm, homesick and tired of touring, returned to Texas in 1971 and the Sir Douglas Quintet officially disbanded in late 1972, though some of its members, Meyers in particular, would continue to work with Sahm frequently during his legendary and successful solo career. Sadly, Sahm passed away on November 18, 1999.

Our last ‘rain’ song is of course, “Rain,” by the Beatles. The song was released in 1966 as the ‘B side’ for the blockbuster single “Paperback Writer” (“Rain” peaked at #23 on the Billboard charts, while “Paperback Writer” hit #1). "Rain" is one of the Beatles’ most critically-acclaimed songs, appearing on a number of best-of lists, including Rolling Stone Magazine's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (#463). The songs were both recorded during the “Revolver” sessions, although neither of the cuts appeared on that LP.

The inspiration for the song was to describe the band’s arrival in Australia, which was marked by bad weather; and you guessed it, rain. In fact, John Lennon commented that he had “’never seen rain as hard as that, except in Tahiti.” He also explained that the song was about “people moaning about the weather all the time.”

"Rain" can arguably be called the first psychedelic song released by the group; it contains lyrics that are philosophical and anti-establishment, subjective and open to interpretation; a lyrical trick that proved quite popular for the songwriting duo of Lennon/McCartney. This was also the first song to use a tape played backwards, which created a strange audio effect. It’s reported that John Lennon discovered the technique when he put the tape for another Beatles’ track, "Tomorrow Never Knows," on the wrong way. Interestingly, producer George Martin has claimed that since "Tomorrow Never Knows" found the band experimenting with tape loops -- which he claimed as his original idea -- that John accidentally listened to that song backwards first. While other sources have said that Lennon wanted to record "Rain" completely backwards - until Martin intelligently talked him out of the idea (although considering how big the band was, it might have been a hit).

The ending of the song layers on a backwards track featuring the vocals from earlier in the song: first comes John singing "Sunshine," then "Rain," and then the entire first line of the song “When the rain comes they run and hide their heads.” The song's other sonic innovation came from Paul, who suggested that they slow the entire backing track down to give the song a droning, "Indian" effect. While the recording is in the key of G, the actual song was played in A; John's vocal, on the other hand, was intentionally recorded even slower than the final track and sped up to achieve further disorientation. (The backing vocals, added later, appear to have been recorded as is in the studio.)

The "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single was the first release to use an innovative new device invented by the maintenance department at Abbey Road Studios called "ATOC," for "Automatic Transient Overload Control.” The new device allowed the record to be cut at a louder volume, louder than any other single up to that time.

Additionally, the Beatles created three promotional films for "Rain" which was considered to be among the early precursors of music videos. MTV in the 60’s? Don’t laugh, it did exist, albeit in a different form; the Beatles were music at the time and influenced the whole industry, and still do today. In fact, the British rock group Oasis liked this song so much they originally named their band The Rain.

This concludes our brief look at ‘rain’ songs in music history, check for ‘summer’ and ‘sun’ songs coming very soon!

Music News & Notes

Arctic Monkeys’ New Album Gets Release Date

The Arctic Monkeys have announced the official release date for their as-yet-untitled new album.

The band are set to release the follow-up to 2007’s ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare‘ on August 25 in the U.S. and the previous day in the UK.

The forthcoming album was produced by both James Ford and Queens Of The Stone Age man Josh Homme.

Homme’s produced about half the tracks on the album while Ford produced the other half.

The Arctic Monkeys previously revealed that the new album was heavily inspired by Black Sabbath.


Little Anthony and the Imperials Opting Out Of Oldies Circuit

Little Anthony and the Imperials have just announced they are bowing out of the Doo Wop reunion circuit. Their aim is to get away from the half hour shows in the middle of a whole bunch of different groups and get back to headlining.

According to Anthony Gourdine:

“We headlined those dates for years and it was all about making a living, really. We re-grouped at one of those ‘Doo Wop shows’ and it seemed like a natural progression. For a time, they were OK to do but since our performance on David Letterman last year, the release of our CD You’ll Never Know and our induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4th, our audiences have re-discovered us. It was obvious to me that it was time to move on and get back to our R&B roots.”

Yesterday we looked at the top sellers so far this decade, it amazes me that these shows still have an audience. But, after watching one of the shows on PBS, I can see why. The music and singing is timeless and can still be appreciated by millions.


Bo Diddley Release

Hip-O Select Records continues with their fantastic Bo Diddley reissue series on this Friday with "Ride On: The Chess Masters, Volume 3, 1960 - 1961." The two-disc set is being pressed as a limited edition of 5,000 and, at this point, is only available through the Hip-O Select website.

All 54 tracks on the set were recorded in Diddley's Washington, DC studio which was in the basement of his Rhode Island Avenue home. Home recording was virtually unheard of at this date, but that didn't stop Bo as he put down demos, brought in people for the backing tracks and fully produced the tracks before sending them off to Chess in Chicago.

The set includes 17 unreleased tracks or takes of existing tracks, with those previously released having ended up on the albums In The Spotlight, Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger, and Bo Diddley Is A Lover. The included booklet contains rare photos, liner notes and track-by-track commentary by George R. White.

Again, timeless music....


Sonic Youth World Premiere New Album On ILike

Beginning today (June 2, 2009), alt-indie rock pioneers Sonic Youth will world premiere their not-yet-released album, “The Eternal,” exclusively on iLike, the leading social music discovery service. The exclusive, one-week iLike listening event will culminate with the June 9th retail release of The Eternal on Matador Records.

“This album is a celebration of newfound freedom,” said Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. “Releasing this album with our friends at Matador feels like liberation which inspired us during the recording process. Debuting it on iLike, free from industry constraints, also fit this theme.”

New Music Releases

Alice Cooper: School's Out (remastered vinyl)
Amadou & Mariam: Welcome To Mali (2-LP vinyl with CD)
Beck: One Foot in the Grave (2-LP remastered vinyl)
Boris Skalsky: First Songs EP
Brasstronaut: Old World Lies EP
Cocteau Twins: Garlands (remastered vinyl)
Dave Matthews Band: Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (2-CD & DVD box set) (2-LP vinyl)
The Doors: The Soft Parade (remastered)
Elvis Costello: Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
Faces: A Nod Is as Good as a Wink...to a Blind Horse (vinyl reissue)
Franz Ferdinand: Blood (vinyl)
Girl in a Coma: Trio B.C. (vinyl)
Great White: Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (vinyl reissue)
Iggy Pop: Preliminaires
Miles Davis: Milestones (vinyl reissue)
Neil Young: Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972 (8-CD box set) (10-disc DVD box set) (10-disc Blu-ray box set) Buy Neil Young
New York Dolls: 'Cause I Sez So (vinyl)
Patrick Watson: Wooden Arms (vinyl)
Pink Floyd: A Momentary Lapse of Reason (reissue)
Rancid: Let the Dominoes Fall (3-disc box set)
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 & 2 (remastered)
Rodney Crowell: The Rodney Crowell Collection (reissue)
Scott Matthew: Scott Matthew (vinyl)
The Sounds: Crossing the Rubicon (vinyl)

Despite Vinyl Resurgence, the Digital Tide is Threatening Merchandisers

By George Varga

The fireworks at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers' 51st annual convention may have little to do with music and everything to do with business.

The members of NARM, who will meet June 7-9 at the San Diego Marriott & Marina, will likely encounter an increase in both contentiousness and uneasy new alliances as the increasingly dominant world of digital music goes head-to-head with the brick-and-mortar retail shops, whose ranks have been decimated in recent years.

"This is a last gasp by a lot of people who are not admitting self-defeat," charged Gaylord Fields, the senior editor for Spinner.com, the self-billed "tastemaker rock music site" of Internet giant AOL.

Not so, countered Paul Russe, the manager of Off The Record, an independent record store in San Diego.

"I think there will always be record stores," Russe said. "Otherwise, it's like saying there won't be any bookstores because everything in print will be a digital download. Digital is just a convenience. And anyone who loves music will always gravitate toward record stores."

Read the rest of this interesting article here:
Convention Article