The Galaxy – Enjoying the summertime

Issac Hayes

Issac Hayes

We started tonight’s show with a little bit of Issac Hayes.  Hayes’ work is a cornerstone of the development of funk, and tonight’s selections all serve to highlight some of the important aspects of Hayes’ contributions.  We started with the Theme from Shaft, his classic 1971 recording from the movie soundtrack of the same name.  In winning the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Song for the recording, Hayes was not only the first African American to win an Academy Award in a non-acting category, but he was also the first songwriter to win the award for a song that he had both written and performed.  The song was both popular (reaching number one) and controversial (in 1990, the Fox Network thought it so risque that they were reluctant to include it on an intended episode of the Simpsons.  Next, we heard his Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic, a song that features a thumping funk beat and excellent bass and guitar lines; and Walk On By, a Hal David/Burt Bacharach composition that was also famously recorded by Dionne Warwick (obviously, Hayes’ rendition is way different from Warwick’s, highlighting his unique method of song interpretation) both coming from his classic Hot Buttered Soul album, from 1969.  Both of the latter songs have been sampled extensively by numerous rappers, ranging from the Notorious B.I.G. to Public Enemy to the Wu Tang Clan, and both have been recently featured in various movies.

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Erik Satie (1866-1925) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We then heard a lovely piece of music by Erik Satie, Sports et divertissiments, a series of snapshots, 21 in number (7 x 3, as Satie liked to arrange his works in groups of three), written around 1914, that frequently quote various melodies that were popular in Paris and France at the time.  The individual sections are all short, the longest being 1 minute 14 seconds.  This is all in line with Satie’s desire to write what he called “furniture music”, music that sort of sat in the background – let’s say, in the subconscious.  In reality, Satie was anticipating many of our modern compositional techniques, in his own unique, idiosyncratic manner that has never been replicated, before or since.  But the thing that keeps drawing me back to Satie was his ultimate musicality, and his willingness to apply that musicality in unconventional ways.  Just as with Thelonious Monk, whose music we featured last week, Satie was a unique, extraordinary individual who has the unique ability to draw that individualism out through his music.  Tonight’s recording is a 1993 recording by Michel Legrand.

Dredg

Dredg (l-r: Gavin Hayes, v, slide guitar; Dino Campanella, drums, synth; Drew Roulette, bass, synth; Mark Engles, guitar, backing vocals)

Dredg is a fine band from San Francisco with an excellent artistic sensibility (described by some as “progressive alternative” – I think that is an apt description), and an excellent command of the stage.  They put out a live recording in 2006, recorded in their hometown, that really captures what they bring to the stage (something I had the opportunity to witness in 2009).  From Live at the Filmore, we heard The Warbler, Bug Eyes, Ode to the Sun, Same Ol’ Road, Sanzen, New Heart Shadow, and Triangle.

Faron Young

Faron Young

Outside of last week’s tribute to Doc Watson, it has been a while since I was able to do much country (outside of a Loretta Lynn set I remember doing a few weeks ago).  So we started this set with Faron Young’s Hello Walls (one that I believe he rerecorded on more than one occasion – while I do not have the original, this version is as close to the original as I’ve been able to find – yet the instrumentation differs just a little bit!).  We then heard two from Webb Pierce – his own There Stands the Glass, and then one he sang with Kitty Wells, Oh So Many Years.  We then heard Patsy Cline’s She’s Got You.

English: Sonic Youth live in the Netherlands, ...

English: Sonic Youth live in the Netherlands, 1991. Photo by Channel ®. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the nice things about the recent trend in album remasters is the occasional inclusion of an extra disc that provides live recordings from the same era as the album being remastered, often material that had been previously unreleased.  Such is the case with the recent reissue of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.  They included a number of nice performances from various dates and occasions in 1989.  We heard a few songs that were recorded on March 26-27, 1989 in Dusseldorf and Amsterdam: The Sprawl, ‘Cross the Breeze, Hey Joni, and Silver Rocket, performances that really work well in capturing the essence of what the members Sonic Youth do on stage.

French Kiss (album)

Bob Welch French Kiss (which featured Sentimental Lady) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We closed tonight’s show with a brief tribute to Bob Welch, who passed away a few days ago.  He wasn’t a major musical icon, but he did some splendid, memorable solo work that received quite a bit of airplay in the late ’70s, and before that he was a member of Fleetwood Mac at a crucial time in the band’s existence, serving as a bridge of sorts between the Peter Green era and the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (there is some question as to why he wasn’t included in their HOF induction).  To me, he represents a cautionary tale for those who want a career in music: it isn’t enough to have a good voice, instrumental chops, or songwriting talent, or even to know the right people.  Success in music can be fleeting, and even when success has been achieved it can just as easily evaporate.  From his late ’70s solo work, we heard Ebony Eyes and Sentimental Lady.

Why does it seem that I’ve had to do a lot of these tributes lately?

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