Friday Favorite: The Bees

The Bees – Chicken Payback
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Dan Sartain, “Atheist Funeral”

I haven’t had a chance to hear the new (out now for download, on the 31st on CD) Dan Sartain album, Dan Sartain Lives yet, but his new single is out and about, making the rounds. And just as we expect from Dan Sartain, it’s fast and furious. No, it’s not really a change for Sartain, he pretty much always sounds the way he does. But for a very few artists, that’s actually ok – I don’t really need him to be anything but rockabilly mayhem, as long as he continues to do that as well as he has in the past. And if you like what he does, you won’t be disappointed in “Atheist Funeral” (though I think I actually find the instrumental b-side, “Crimson Cinema Of Death (Dan Sartain Lives Motion Picture Version)” more intriguing) and I’m sure you’ll, like me, be anxious as hell to hear the new album.

Dan Sartain – Atheist Funeral

100barrelhouse: The First Rock ‘N Roll Record, Part 1

Little Wonder Records

A few months ago, I came across a long list of records from as early as 1916 that were contenders for the title ‘First Rock N Roll Record’. A closer look at the artists and songs mentioned revealed they were each one of them seriously considered. I did know that the genre’s origins are still a topic of hot debate between those who believe it’s an amalgam of white and black traditional styles from the southern US and those who are of the opinion it’s a populist, white twist to Rhythm & Blues. But I genuinely thought it was decided that either Elvis’ “That’s Alright Mama” or Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, both from 1955, first introduced, or at least popularized the genre to the general public. I had no idea there are 63 songs, spanning five decades that all, in some measure, deserve an honorable mention in the search for the true Rock ‘N Roll pioneer. Though even The King himself once said Rock ‘N Roll was here a long time before he came along.

It made me want to learn more about these records. I will be talking about my findings in chronological order in (hopefully) regular posts. I will be going by the list on the Wikipedia, so it might not be complete, but it’s more than enough to get me started. I know many-a book has been expertly written on the subject, but why read those when you can give my simplistic, amateur-ish attempts at tackling the matter a glance?

Here it is, the oldest record to get a shot at the title:

Who, what, wear, when?
“The Camp Meeting Jubilee” was distributed by Little Wonder Records in 1916 and was sung by an unnamed quartet. Little Wonder Records were the first company to make records cheaply – around 10 cents a record – which made them accessible to all layers of society. Little is known of the artists, because they were mostly uncredited on these discs. All we know with some certainty is that they’re four black men.

Why was it in the running?
It is in the list because it is the first on record to mention the phrase ‘rocking and rolling’. Morgan Wright over at HoyHoy.com tells us that the term has been around for centuries and can be found in literature as far back as the 17th century. It was originally a nautical term that described a ships swaying motions. Eventually, it came to be used in black American spirituals. “Rocking” was the word used to describe the feeling when the spirit got a hold of you. So before 1947 the only people rockin’ and a-rollin’ were black gospel singers. The lyrics in question:

We’ve been rockin’ ‘n rolling in your arms,
Rockin’ and rolling in your arms,
Rockin’ and rolling in your arms,
In the arms of Moses.

Why did it come up short?
Since it was used in a religious sense it’s far removed from the Rock ‘N Roll as Alan Freed (contrary to popular belief he didn’t coin the phrase, but he regularly used it on his popular radio show, cementing it as the name for the exciting new youth-oriented music) meant it, which has sexual and rebellious connotations. It ushered in a new era where kids rule popular culture and decided their interests and lives are totally seperate from their parents’. So rocking and rolling in the arms of Moses just won’t do, I’m afraid.

Listen to the very poor quality original recording of the song. It’s an endearing spiritual that has nothing to do with the later musical genre. Nonetheless, simply being the first to mention the words on vinyl was enough to make it into the history books. I love the idea that families sat around and listened to this record, because it sure sounds peculiar to my modern ears – fun and fascinating but definitely odd. In the middle of the song it’s suddenly religious question and answer time, which is as amusing as it is educational. I so love the reaction to ‘did you ever hear tell of the devil?’. Brrrrrrrr…

Male Quartet – Camp Meeting Jubilee

Next time on 100barrelhouse: Trixie Smith’s 1922 record “My Man Rocks With Me (With One Steady Roll)”.

100best: The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes

Since 2002, The Raveonettes have been knocking our socks off with their unique blend of 50s motorcycle cool, 60s girl group pop, and smutty guitar fuzz. It’s hard to believe that their debut EP, “Whip It On”, is already seven years old, but the Raveonettes have never been the kind of band that shoves their successes in our faces. They seem to just quietly go about their business and – a rarity in the music world – keep getting better and better. With last month’s release of their fourth full-length album (not to mention a goodly handful of EPs and one-off singles), In And Out Of Control, it seemed a good time to look back at their career and pick out their single best song so far. (As always, we encourage you to make your own choice in the comments, in 100 words or less.)

aDawgg:

What happens when modern alternative music is made to live in Phil Spector’s basement like one of those feral children we read about in the National Enquirer? The Raveonettes. And that is a good thing for the music world. The Raveonettes manage to stand at the singularity where the past, present, and future of music are compressed into something utterly unique and potentially threatening to the universe, like a black hole. “Boys Who Rape” is their finest effort yet in the way it is both sickeningly sweet and intensely menacing. Just like that feral child you have in your basement.

The Raveonettes – Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)

Bean:

In an unprecedented move, I’ve picked a song that’s only been around a month over favorites that have been spinning in my stereo for years. Although I normally prefer the darker side of The Raveonettes (“Aly, Walk With Me” and “Somewhere In Texas” were my runners-up), “Bang!” had my full attention from the first few seconds. Sounding like an after-school visit to the malt shop combined with a touch of cheeky sluttiness and the most danceable and sing-a-long-able chorus since Spector’s gals were the biggest thing on the radio, “Bang!” is where The Raveonettes truly perfected their signature sound.

The Raveonettes – Bang!

Tamboosh:

The Raveonettes are often described to have that famous Phil Spector wall of sound. I think they sound more like the wall is being pounded into a bloody pulp by zombies and mole people. In a post-apocalyptic world where our worst nightmares walk among us and our safe haven is a fifties diner, The Raveonettes are all the jukebox will play to underscore our misery and stolen moments of cautious joy. This disturbing yet sensual song about sin and doom will be playing when the ghouls finally fight their way through our barricaded doors and drag us to hell.

The Raveonettes – Lust

The Raveonettes = Twin Peaks?

Am I the only one that’s noticed this? The Raveonettes are the exact musical equivalent of classic television show “Twin Peaks”. It’s like they came from the same odd dimension (a place where it’s still the ’50s but everything is dark and sinister and just a little cheeky) but one came out as visual entertainment, the other as audio. Weird.

The Raveonettes – Vintage Future

Must Hear: Ladyfingers, Open Your Robe

Ladyfingers, Open Your Robe

First things first, I owe Adam Weiner a bit of an apology. He was kind enough to let me hear his new Ladyfingers album hot off the presses (released in April) and, just like last time I wrote about his music, I was in the middle of transitioning from one place to another (geographically, not emotionally or anything) and, sadly, his album had to wait. A shame indeed, because Open Your Robe deserved to be shouted about right away. Hopefully this is better late than never.

Adam correctly pointed out that I missed a Ladyfingers album from last year (My Handbook, which I’ll have to get my grubby hands on asap), so I’m not sure if there was a progression from the sounds of My Prom to those on Open Your Robe, but there is definitely a difference. I’ll admit right now that I was, at first, a bit alarmed to find the growl of My Prom missing on this new album. That urgent rockabilly mayhem that almost sounded like it was tripping over itself – that’s what I liked most about Ladyfingers! But I kept listening and it turns out it’s not really gone – it’s just … less frantic. Urgency and guts still drive the music, but it’s like it’s taken a moment to slow down and take a deep breath.

Slower, yes, but are these love songs? No, I don’t think so, or at least not in the way we tend think of love songs. You’ll find no rhyming of love and dove ’round these parts. Relationship songs, perhaps – sweet in places, dark in others. They definitely feel more personal than anything else I’ve heard from Ladyfingers (again, admitting that I’ve missed a whole album in between). Maybe that’s why, even after my initial surprise, Open Your Robe may be a longer-lasting album than My Prom, if you know what I mean. I’ve listened to this album a lot and it only gets more interesting as I listen.

Check out one of my two favorites below (“Tell Me Again”) and hear the other (“I Just Wanna Be Your Baby”) and more at Ladyfingers’ myspace. Buy and download Open Your Robe from Ladyfingers’ official site on a pay-what-you-can scheme, or order a vinyl copy + download from the same location.

Ladyfingers – Tell Me Again

100bells: The Raveonettes, “Wishing You A Rave Christmas”

To round up their EP spree, The Raveonettes have released this year’s first Christmas delight, “Wishing You A Rave Christmas”. As we discovered with their 2003 b-side, “The Christmas Song”, this holiday suits these two perfectly. They know exactly how to make their smutty fuzz sparkle, like their normal sound just got a fresh layer of glittery snow. Ring in the holiday season with “Come On Santa” below, and download the whole EP at emusic now.

   The Raveonettes – Come On Santa