Monday, September 29, 2008

Everything is Broken ... Oh Mercy

This is going to be a quick post 'cause I gotta get to work. Turned on the news this morning and the lines from Dylan's song "Everything is Broken" popped into my head. This from his 1989 album "Oh Mercy," which I think is one of his best. Besides the tunes themselves, producer Daniel Lanois found a new fresh sound for Dylan--one that I can still hear in his latest recordings. If you've read Dylan's quirky memoir, it was this album that he was recording when he describes working in New Orleans.

"Everything is Broken" starts of with the kind of great riff I love--a little surfy in this live cut. In my next post, I'll pull up a few more examples of most excellent riffage.

And apropos to the theme of the previous song, here's another from that album, "Political World." I'd rather be posting a live performance, but couldn't find one quickly, so here's the commercial video version.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nick Cave

Last week, I was stunned (Is that the right word? Yes!) by a live concert by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Crystal Ballroom (see my original post at Culture Shock). I'm a bit chagrined to admit that I only found Nick Cave and his various band permutations within the past year or two. But, I quickly became a fan of his amalgam of intelligent songwriting and charismatic showmanship.

This first clip, "Henry Lee," features a duet with PJ Harvey from his 1996 album "Murder Ballads." It's sexy, macabre and funny all at once:

To illustrate how my mind works: I'm now tempted to jump from the foregoing duet to one featuring Nick Cave and the infamous (and toothless) Shane MacGowan covering Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." Is that the path I really want to take? I'm not sure how to read this one, and am afraid that it obscures what great artists they both are. Are they sincere, or is it all tongue-in-cheek? Okay, let's watch, but promise to come back when it's over.

In some future post, we may take a video tour of Shane MacGowan and the Pogues. For now, let's look at Nick Cave with one of his latest band incarnations, Grinderman. This is a clip of "Honey Bee" from an appearance on David Letterman. Although this tune wasn't on the Portland set list, it captures the crazy energy and showmanship of that live show. The Rasputin-like character is co-conspirator, Warren Ellis, who is a hoot to watch in concert as he bangs away on violins, beat boxes and that mandocaster (electric mandolin) he wields in this piece.

There's so much more, but I promised to limit each post to no more than three clips, and I wasted one on the Shane MacGowan duet! A fellow I once worked for had a saying, "You should never substitute rules for judgment." So, I judge that you ought to see my favorite Cave tune, "Red Right Hand" from 1994. He played this one live last week and it was quite different. Besides the creepy, sinister lyrics, I completely dig the slinky bass line, the booming bass drum, the chime and the simple organ solo in the middle.

If you're wondering what this is all about, go here to read the Mighty Toy Cannon Manifesto describing my intentions for this site.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mighty Toy Cannon Manifesto

When I was invited to add my observations on art and life in Portland Oregon at Culture Shock, I started paying closer attention to the bazillion other bloggers creating this age of information overload. I've read posts from erudite analysts, witty banterers, and egomanical diarists. While many are creating new content, most are recycling flotsam discovered on their own expeditionary journeys. That's okay by me. With so much information floating about, it helps to have curators sorting and sharing. (A few of my favorites are linked on my blog list to the right).

With that in mind, this blog will be akin to your friend with the big record collection. You know, the one who can stay up all night spinning tunes, with each song triggering a recollection of another in an attention-deficit-disorder frenzy of free association.

What I post won't be from my own collection, but what I find on YouTube or similar video warehouses. Like most, I thought YouTube was all skateboarding dogs, things being blown up, and adolescent ravings. I quickly discovered that it is also a rich source of music, both new and vintage. As a musician and glutton for music, YouTube has served me as an able research tool. I'm often surprised at what I discover. And, I'm the kind of sharing person who is wont to say, "Hey, look at this cool thing I just found!"

I'm not a music writer, nor do my insights into music go very deep. Don't expect Greil Marcus here. This will be a tour of my eclectic musical tastes and influences. I'll try to make each post fit within a thematic framework, and include just a few comments to explain what I've posted and why. I'll try to limit the number of videos I embed in each post to no more than three. And I'll try to add a few new posts every week.

Perhaps nobody will ever drop in to visit, or stay very long when they do. Some of my links may go dead if a video is removed from the original source. I encourage you to comment, but won't expect that you will. If this site is only my private repository of free associations and discoveries, so be it.

Why the sobriquet "Mighty Toy Cannon?" I explained the name's origins in my first post at Culture Shock.