Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Chasing Yesterday

At their peak of popularity, Oasis were the biggest band…in the UK. Though they had a few hits in the US, they never broke the US market like many expected them to in the mid 90’s. Driven to success with the double-edged sword of talent & sibling rivalry, it all fizzled out in 2009 after a pre gig fight between Liam and Noel Gallagher. Critics mocked their reverent worship of The Beatles, but I admired it. Is it really so different from the latest crop of post-punk bands who worship at the altar of Joy Division? At their best, Oasis could hang with The Beatles. At their worst, they were left in the dust by The Rutles. Where does a band go when it all crashes down?

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The Rutles – Cheese and Onions

The Rutles

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

At some point between declaring themselves “Bigger than Rod” (Stewart, that is) and admitting to indulging in tea, The Rutles released what I consider to be their finest song, Cheese and Onions. A single of epic proportions, it was later looked to for inspiration by none other than The Beatles. The song features an emotive vocal performance by Ron Nasty, in a style reminiscent of John Lennon. The orchestration conjures up visions of the 60’s – hippies & tea. It isn’t just a Nasty performance though, Dirk McQuickly, Stig O’Hara (a guitarist of no fixed hairstyle), and Barrington Womble all contribute to the song equally. Some may say that Womble is the Ringo of The Rutles, but I’d hardly agree – his drumming is essential to the overall vibe. The song itself was released on a 7″ alongside Rutlemania hits I Must Be In Love and A Girl Like You. Galaxie 500 later covered Cheese and Onions in stunning fashion – a Velvet Underground inspired slice of nostalgia. “Do I have to spell it out? / C-H-E-E-S-E-A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S, oh no”

Paul McCartney – New

Paul-McCartney-NEW-Deluxe-Edition

The press for Paul McCartney’s 16th album, New, indicates that it is his 1st record of new material (not cover versions) since 2007’s Memory Almost Full. To view that as an accurate accounting would be akin to viewing the past through rose-colored lenses (which I’ve been known to do on occasion). In 2008 Paul McCartney released a gem of an album in collaboration with Youth (Killing Joke) as The Fireman entitled Electric Arguments. Though it was the duo’s third record, it was their 1st with Paul McCartney’s signature vocals. Experimental yet with strong melodies, it was one of my favorite McCartney releases. A few years off followed by a covers collection record had me a little worried that Sir Paul had possibly resigned himself to riding away gently into the sun, a happy life in old age. I needn’t have worried so – 2013 brought strong collaborations with the surviving members of Nirvana as well as dance outfit The Bloody Beetroots. The new full length by Paul McCartney, New, uses some of those experiences and fuses them into a record that sounds current while also nodding towards his time with The Beatles.

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The Beatles – Rubber Soul

beatles

Part 45 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I debated whether I should really tackle an album by The Beatles – probably the most popular and biggest band of all time (sorry Rolling Stones fans). I 1st became obsessed with all things Lennon while still barely into my teens and the sickness has only progressed from there (I even developed an appreciation for Mr. Lennon’s 3 Amigos over the years). When I was 1st getting interested in buying albums by The Beatles a family friend advised me that the cut off for acceptable records was Rubber Soul (the thought was that this was the end of the soft “tea” era / prior to the lads moving on to harder, mind altering “tea”). Of course, I ignored all such conservative rationale and spent all of my paper route money on every CD by the band (that’s about 13 LP’s and 2 odds ‘n’ sods collections for a span of 7 years). I love every record, but I have to admit – Rubber Soul still remains my favorite.

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The Monkees – Randy Scouse Git

monkeesAttack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

When knowledgeable people discuss groundbreaking music from the 60’s you get your usual suspects – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Love, The Who, Buffalo Springfield….and maybe someone will mention Skip Spence or Moby Grape. The Monkees? Almost never. Manufactured pop group that slowly faded away by the early 70’s that had some great singles. I think that might be the common view (though it seems like it is slowly changing). My opinion? The Monkees were one of THE greatest groups of the 60’s. 4 distinctive voices with a variety of styles on each record – these guys were incredible. My favorite song by The Monkees (and one of my favorites of all time) is “Randy Scouse Git”. A ridiculously catchy drum beat followed by what I’d describe as a pop-waltz introduction with sweet vocals by Micky Dolenz (who also wrote the song). A loose word association game in the lyrics before exploding in the shouted chorus – a preview of the punk rock era that would make its mark on the world less than a decade later. A bid to be taken seriously and inspired by an encounter with The Beatles, this track still makes my jaw drop every time I listen to it. The track was taken from the Headquarters record and was a #5 hit in the UK (and was retitled “Alternate Title” as the song’s title means…well…horny bastard from Liverpool). I had the honor of seeing this track played live by Mickey Dolenz twice – the 1st in 1996 with The Monkees, and the 2nd just last year on his solo tour (in tribute to the fallen Monkee, Davy Jones). Each time he introduced the song with a charming story about the 1st time he met John Lennon and how it tied into everything that was happening with The Monkees in the late 60’s. An incredible performer, those two shows rank highly on my mental “favorite shows of all time”. The chorus puts you back in the turmoil of the late 60’s, with lyrics resonating from an unlikely source:

Why don’t you cut your hair?
Why don’t you live up there?
Why don’t you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?
Why don’t you be like me?
Why don’t you stop and see?
Why don’t you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free.