Ladies. Gentlemen… Jessica…

Songs for Odin compendium no. xxxii

MTX ca. 1990

adies. Gentlemen… Jessica… Don’t mind me, that’s just a joke I’ve sort of always wanted to do but never had the opportunity arise in real life. The situation is, you’re addressing a group of people, and the butt of the joke — named Jessica in this iteration — is someone disagreeable or worthy of deprecation for some reason. Usually it’s a character who is known to the audience to be difficult or unpleasant, or at least to have a well-known history of conflict with the speaker. The implication is that Jessica is neither a lady, nor even a gentlemen, but a separate, uniquely unsavory category all her own. You say it after a pause with an ironic, slightly acid tone. The laugh track helps.

I’m probably not getting it across. I’ve seen it in movies and on several TV shows… maybe, for one, Laverne and Shirley? That’s the sort of venue in which this joke tends to turn up. (Another one like that is “that’s no lady, that’s my wife” — which does often come up.)

Anyhow, I probably would never be so indecorous as to say it in real life, and I doubt I could even pull it off all that well. But when I say it in my head sometimes it makes me laugh quietly inside. I have a low, and often loosely camouflaged, sense of humor. Apologies to anyone actually named Jessica reading this, it’s nothing to do with you. Yours is just the first name that popped into my head. Of course, the joke’s on me in the end, Jessica, as always, because in fact no one at all is likely to read this regardless of whether or not any of them happen to share your name. I might as well have not even bothered to type it. Such is life. Put it on my tombstone.

And… that’s a pretty terrible way to introduce this, the latest collation of Songs for Odin, comprising the most recent eight entries.

At any rate, Jessica, in case you’re new to this whole thing, I’ve been posting a song, usually a live video, each Wednesday for the past year with a little write-up to go with it. (Unless I skip it — sometimes, rather often these days, I skip it and defer till the next week. Sorry, Jessica, but I can’t always manage it, with one thing and another.) I have styled these “songs for Odin” because of Wodensdæg, hence the cute Odin references throughout.

The first “minor secrets” post (for “She’s Coming Over Tonight”) went up on Nov. 30, 2017. At first I was posting several a day, of that one RCKNDY show, and settled into the Wednesday routine only after having done that.

Details about how and why I started doing this can be found in the intro to the first installment; and the Odin conceit is explained, somewhat, in the intro to the second. The subsequent installments may be found here: three; four; five; six; seven; eight; nine; ten; eleven; twelve; thirteen; fourteen; fifteen; sixteen; seventeen; eighteen; nineteen; twenty; twenty-one; twenty-two; twenty-three; twenty-four; twenty-five; twenty-six; twenty-seven; twenty-eight; twenty-nine; thirty; thirty-one.

We are now up to 181 entries, covering 132 different songs. The Songs for Odin playlist is here.

And here, Jessica, is the table of contents: “Speed Racer” / “You Alone” / “Somebody Wants to Love You” / “Queen Anne’s Lace” / “Last Time I Listened to You” / “I Just Wanna Do It with You” / “Together Tonight” / “Sex Offender”

By the way, Jessica, remember when you said that your family was in the iron and steel business because your mother irons and your father steals? Even the laugh track didn’t help you with that one.

Quite a few of these songs are featured in the forthcoming compilation album MTX Shards vol. 3, which is of course not coincidental. You’ll notice references to calling “dibs” on the limited first pressing, and the associated link. As of press time, those buy links have already gone out, so the “dibs” program is no longer relevant. I know it’s confusing, Jessica, as well as boring, but try to keep up. General orders will open on the street date, which is September 10.

Even though you can’t call “dibs” for this release any longer, you can sign up for the Sounds Radical mailing list, which will inform you of future “dibs” programs and other special offerings. Come on, Jessica, this has you written all over it. Fear of missing out, never one to pass up a bargain — this theme has been developed over the course of several episodes. It often results in hilarious mishaps when you do it wrong, remember? Here’s that mailing list link again. Anyway, you have to sign up. It’s in the script.

And that’s the introduction done. Say goodnight, Jessica. Let the aggregation begin….

“Speed Racer”

Adventure’s waiting just ahead: So, as you may have noticed, Sounds Radical announced the release of RAD-018, Shards vol. iii this week, and I figured it’d be timely to do a song from it for the Wodnesdæg Song for Odin thing, test-pressing style.

And here you go, the test pressing, playing “Speed Racer”:

Well, of course, the video is of the test pressing spinning, and the audio is the newly-mastered digital audio dropped in. The image just a visual aid, but you get the idea.

And wait’ll you hear it in real life. This original recording was hastily thrown together on the eve of our departure for our first European tour in Summer of ’92 and quite haphazardly hurried through every stage of the game. I’d gotten so used to the small, thin, brittle sound of it in its original form that I wasn’t prepared for the sound that came out of the speakers when I finally got the disk and put it on. So that’s what it was supposed to sound like, I said to myself. It was a long time ago. One forgets.

Anyhow, that’s a pretty nice situation to be in. Stellar job from Justin Perkins who did the mastering and Dave Polster who cut the vinyl at Well Made Music. They really brought it back to life.

If you’re familiar with that original release of Strum und Bang Live?! on the Spanish label Munster Records, you’ll know that it was styled as a “live” record, and that there were crowd noises snatched from various live records placed at the intro and outro of each track. For this track the intro was from KISS Alive II, and the outro was a laugh track from a comedy record — not sure which one now, but I bet it was a Bob Newhart LP, because I had a whole stack of them.

But, chastened by our experience with the “Danny Partridge” intro (see “The Danny Partridge Problem”), we decided not to open that can of worms for this thing. I bet we could have got away with the laugh track at least, but since we were removing extraneous sound effects it seemed better just to strip them all off and present them as individual tracks the way they were recorded. It was easy to do because this editing was meant to be funny rather than convincing and there was a good space between the “samples” and the actual track in each case.

As for the song itself, well, it’s a fun one. Semi-ironic punk rock TV theme song covers was something we learned, like most everyone else, from the Dickies. Initially, this “genre” was lampoon more than nostalgia, and even, at a stretch, a sort of statement of good-natured nihilism, a wallow in the pop culture gutter, an exercise in irreverence. Hey you with your heavy heavy art rock and tough guy pretensions, get a load of this Brady Bunch song, that’s what we think of your heavy heavy art rock and tough guy pretensions, we love it because it’s trash. And, uh, we mean it, man. I found it thrilling beyond measure when I heard the Dickies’ “Banana Splits” cover coming out of the radio alongside, like, “Tommy Gun” or “Alternative Ulster”. I loved those songs, too, but I also liked them being taken down a peg, and, to be honest, I was a man of my time and loved the Banana Splits just that much more. It hit me where I lived.

Pretty soon, though, this whole thing became standard and ordinary, with no particular meaning outside itself, which is how things stood when we took up that tattered banner ten years or so later. And I doubt anyone hearing the MTX “Speed Racer” cover ever found it pugnacious, or irreverent, or meaningful, or statement-y, or thrilling in that, or in any, way. It was a different world.

Despite the changing tide of the ironic cover ocean, though, it all still works alright when the song being stripped down and fed through the meat grinder is genuinely great, as so many of the TV songs of that era (1960s) were. And as this one certainly is. A good tune survives even the most determined efforts to mess it up and stomp it into the ground and play it for laughs.

At any rate, I had, since my thirteen-years-old Dr Demento and KALX radio days, been compiling a mental list of such songs I always imagined I would try to throw together if I ever had a band and if the opportunity arose, as it did here. Why choose “Speed Racer”? Well, the Dickies had already done The Banana Splits, and Underdog and The New Zoo Revue were too hard to learn in half an hour. I’m sure a band or two besides us has tackled the Speed Racer theme, though I’ve never come across another that I recall. I’m sure it was more or less just as cool, as it pretty much has to be, even though it might not “mean” very much. It’s just a cool song. I still get a kick out of ours though, I don’t care who else did or did not do it.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Shards vol. iii as the weeks go by here. Official “dibs” begins next week, May 10, with orders beginning in June, and a street date of July 9. [These dates were optimistic, as it turned out. Actual dates are, orders August 2, street date September 10. These things happen, especialy to us — ed.] More to come, stay tuned.

notes:

— original Speed Racer intro (English) on YouTube.

— original intro (Japanese) on YouTube.

— more on the Strum und Bang seven inch.

— more on ironic pop culture covers.

— still more on ironic pop culture covers (scroll down to Dickies).

— original post on minds.com.

“You Alone”

Explaining things I didn’t do with things I shouldn’t say: Hello, Wodnesdæg. Welcome to my vanity project, a/k/a Song for Odin. That is, I post a song, type up some commentary, and call it “content.”

Like last week, here again we have the test pressing playing a track from the forthcoming Sounds Rad compilation Shards vol. iii (RAD-18): “You Alone”.

As before what’s depicted is the spinning test press, with the newly mastered digital audio dropped in. Which is great, but the unsquashed sound of the actual thing is that much better. (Call “dibs” to get on the reserve list/waiting list — link in notes below.)

“You Alone” was one of four out-takes from the Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You sessions at Toast Recorders in San Francisco in 1997. Literally an out-take in this case, because it was in the actual edited album sequence on the side B two-track reel, track 13, all set to be mastered when it was swapped out in the eleventh hour to make room for “I Don’t Need You Now”. (Pic here and inset left.)

I can no longer remember specifically why or what the thinking was there, though the mostly acoustic new track really did help the sequence. We did it last-minute, after all the main recording and mixing had been done, at Bob Couver’s laundry room studio known as Foxhound Sound. You can hear the FS studio office chair creaking on that track, a sound I love. Beyond that, it’s all a bit hazy. But I’m glad it happened, because of that sonic diversity, of which there was little enough on the album.

As to why “You Alone” was cut rather than one of the other songs, I can’t tell you. There’s certainly nothing wrong with “You Alone”. At all. In fact, it’s really quite good, in some ways maybe one of the best among them. I don’t know how we chose it, but choose it we did.

(For anyone keeping track, the other three out-takes were: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “King Dork,” and the unfinished “I Was Losing You All Along” — all “shards,” now collected.)

Anyhow “You Alone” ended up on the B side of the “…and I Will Be with You” seven inch, and maybe it should have been the A side. As a slightly arch, self-deprecating love song, it is right in the pocket. Graded against my other such songs, I’d give it pretty much all As. It methodically works through the various senses of the title, in a fairly artful way that feels genuine and doesn’t sound forced. The melody is well-formulated. The modulation that comes out of the bridge is hiding in plain sight, managed so that you can hardly even tell it happened unless you’re trying (which is the best kind of modulation.) And that is one terrific guitar tone as well, unburdened here by the extra compression applied in the original mastering. Try as I might (and as you’ll expect if you know me, I have tried) I can’t find the flaw in it — which may, in fact, make it unique among them.

Your results may vary, but just speaking for myself it’s nice to have one of these that I don’t have to justify or rationalize beyond its simple, effective self. Defending it requires no special pleading. To quote its replacement in the RISASAY sequence: for once I’ve got no explaining to do.

My original idea was for that initial figure played by the bass to be done by or at least augmented by some droning, sitar-like, Beatles-y guitar, distant in the intro, then coming back in as ambient sound in the bridge and getting piercing by the end. Honestly this is still how I hear it in my head. It surprises me when I hear it not being there. What might have been, my stupid revenge, etc. Except it really is just fine as is, I see that now. And believe me, I don’t mind having one thing to cross off my list of regrets so yay me, what a relief.

“Dibs” for Shards vol. iii is now underway, which means you need to sign up to get on the list to reserve a copy of the deluxe 180 gram “sea glass” vinyl severely limited first pressing. At press time, all 300 “dibs” slots are filled, so what you’re signing up for is a spot on the waiting list, which is worth doing because people do drop out when the time comes, plus that’s the way to get on the “club” list for early sign-up for future releases.

Final note: the video thumbnail is via our man Klode, God love him.

Thanks for listening, reading, and dibsing if dibsing you have done. Song for Odin will return next time, with more stuff. See you then. In the meantime, hit it down below, by which I mean smash that like button, murder that subscribe button, ring the hell out of the bell, and leave comments about how I’m a such genius and so good looking too. Thanks.

notes:

— “My Stupid Revenge” my essay about RISASAY.

— original post on minds. com.

“Somebody Wants to Love You”

Once again you’re at a dead end: So yeah it’s that time of the week again, meaning Wednesday, i.e. Wodnesdæg, i.e. Lillördag, i.e. Song for Odin tide. And instead of skipping it I’m just gonna pour a nice neat rye and jump on it, so here I go.

We’re going to continue letting the test pressing do the talking here, with “Somebody Wants to Love You” from the forthcoming Shards vol. 3:

I’ve always liked this track, and let me tell you it has never sounded better. As before, that’s the spinning test press, with the newly mastered digital audio dropped in — the real thing is gonna knock you out, I predict. (Also as before, thanks to our man Klode for the pic.) You can still call “dibs” to get on the waiting list for the deluxe super limited first pressing of this release.

Anyway, this is, of course, a Partridge Family cover, one of the B sides of the 1991 “Love American Style” seven inch. I doubt there’s anyone on this earth who likes it anywhere near as much as I do. Recording it, and particularly playing it live, was for me the realization of a dream stretching back to early childhood.

Because I always wanted to be in the Partridge Family. Fantasies of playing huge stadiums full of screaming girls (or gritty, sweaty, disgusting clubs full of screaming girls) would come later. But my earliest rock star dreams were more along the lines of having learned a valuable lesson about something or other and wearing a puffy, huge-collared shirt under a weird red velvet sleeveless jacket and performing a “concert” about this lesson in a little cocktail lounge for an audience of nice middle-aged people seated at tables who would politely applaud over the song’s fade-out before the credits.

In real life, we never managed to have any “concerts” like that. But we dragged this song down with us into our gutter anyway, and there was a certain ironic satisfaction in that. The momentous nature of the spectacle being lost on just about everyone produced a unique, sad magic.

I wrote this song up pretty extensively on the basis of it appearance in a set in Southampton UK, Summer of 1992. The tl;dr there is that there’s nothing snide about this cover. We’re really trying to “interpret” the song, as one might do with any great song, which it most certainly is. However, irony creeps in anyway, bidden or not.

Snip:

I’m at a loss to characterize the precise flavor of irony at work in this sort of cover song. It’s not “camp,” quite. And it certainly isn’t meant as a straightforward joke, a la, “hey we’re gonna play this cheesy song now, let’s all laugh at how stupid it is”…

But I know people have taken it that way when we’ve done it with various songs (if they even realize it’s a cover, which is a whole ‘nother matter: I really doubt many of the kids in that Southampton crowd were thinking of the Partridge Family while we were playing it.) There is a bit of irony about it, just in the fact that a band like us is standing there “interpreting” a Partridge Family song. There just is. I suppose there’s irony surrounding the entire enterprise of the Mr. T Experience, and in another sense everything is basically irony.

Anyway, if you know a bit about me, you won’t be surprised to hear that my take on “Somebody Wants to Love You” is that it’s a great song per se and full stop, and that our cover of it is as sincere or “serious” as, say, when some band covers Dylan or the Velvet Underground or whatever it is that people tend to cover “seriously.”

Figuring out how to balance the irony has been a recurring theme in these write-ups, as it was in the band that is its subject. The straight and the ironic can be hard to pin down. I’m not sure there’s all that much of a difference, to be honest, or if there is, I’m still kind of lost in it.

All that meta-ness aside, though, I love the sound, the attitude, the arrangement and the, you know, sheer GUITAR of this recording. I think I’d imagined the album we’d do as a follow-up the next year (1992) would be mostly along these lines, i.e. grand but relatively straightforward arrangements of quirky, mildly ironic love songs with piercing lead guitar overwhelming everything. But said album, Milk Milk Lemonade, turned into a far weirder beast (though it still had the guitar.) I’m not sure why it took that turn, and it no longer matters, much, whether it was or was not a good idea. Things happen and sometimes you get swept up in them.

Like I said, I’m sure I’m the only person who likes this track as much as I do. But it is one of my favorites of all the recordings and I’m really stoked at how great the re-master sounds. Cue applause, brief tag with mom joke and teenage daughter looking rueful, a laugh track, outro music and credits.

notes:

— the original, as presented on the TV show, on YouTube.

Wes Farrell, who co-wrote the song.

— original post on minds.com.

Dr Frank — “Queen Anne’s Lace”

She’s not a flower: Happy Wodnesdæg, brothers and sisters. So, the Song for Odin “content” that was lined up had to be deferred for reasons I won’t get into, leaving me without anything prepared as the day dawned. The show must go on, though, as they say, for some reason. So rather than just skip it this week, we’re going to abandon the charted route and wander a bit off to the side, to a tune that has a peripheral connection to the Revenge Is Sweet… album, which has been much on my mind lately.

Here’s yours truly in September, 2012, shouting and strumming out a crude cover of one of my favorite old songs at the “Stardumb Mansion” in Rotterdam, playing Kepi’s guitar. (First night of that Art Tour with Kepi and Stefan.)

“Queen Anne’s Lace” was written by David Olney but known to me mainly from the Del McCoury cover.

It’s long been one of my favorite songs, a terrific composition in many respects, and one of those on the “boy I wish I’d written that one” list. One of the things I like about it is that the song itself provides the answer to the question posed by the relatively obscure title, which is the name of a flowering plant, a kind of weed, really. And the question is, how can you get a whole song out of this plant which is basically just a wild carrot? But, of course, it turns out to be an analogy to a woman’s beauty, and a window into a stark story of loss, regret, and human frailty. It plays out effortlessly, and surprises you by how well it all fits into place, and by the end you totally get why there’s a song called “Queen Anne’s Lace” after all.

“I have fallen like a windblown leaf from her memory.” I find it very beautiful, and moving.

Not that I’m saying this hamfisted caterwauling rendition is either of those things, certainly not. In fact I have no earthly idea why I decided to play it for that little living room full of Dutch and Italian people whose interests clearly lay elsewhere. (A common enough situation for me.) So no, not beautiful or moving. But possibly close enough for Dr Frank.

Believe it or not, this was one of the songs in consideration for the Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You album, though I don’t believe we ever got to the stage of actually trying to arrange or rehearse it. As I’ve mentioned before, there was originally meant to be a faux traditional, pseudo-country-ish sub-theme to that record of which only traces remain in the finished product. Even in the album as it stands, this song would have fit right in. It’s very much in the Revenge Is Sweet… spirit. Not that there was any great lack of my own songs about loss, regret, and human frailty; it was difficult enough to choose as it was. But all that said, when I imagine this song done with that “You You You” guitar sound it sounds pretty nice and dark in my head, and it would have filled a similar emotional “slot” right at the end there, coming out of the foggy mountain top.

But it was not to be, anyway. This is all that remains of that nutty idea, the only time I know of that I ever tried to play it out loud in front of people.

And there you have it. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time.

notes:

— The David Olney original on YouTube.

— The Del McCoury Band version on YouTube.

— “Some Foggy Mountain Tops” and the Revenge that might have been, a little essay, by me, on Medium.

My Stupid Revenge.

— original post on minds.com.

“Last Time I Listened to You”

And it would have succeeded without those meddling pathogens: Hello, friends, foes, and other. Another Wodnesdæg is upon us, which means another Song for Odin, catapulted into the void, for reasons which will only become clear much, much later, if ever. Like the French Revolution. (The “meddling pathogens” come in at the end so read on.)

And what we’ve got here is another track from Shards vol. iii, played for you by the test pressing:

That’s “Last Time I Listened to You”, originally the B side of the “Sex Offender” seven inch (Vital Music, 1990, VMS-6.)

This is a different recording than that one that appeared a couple of years later on the Milk Milk Lemonade album, and I think it’s all-around better. We put it on the Big Black Bugs… re-issue / CD comp. of 1997, but this is the first time it has been re-mastered and scratched into vinyl since that first seven inch.

Those two songs, “Sex Offender” and “Last Time…”, were the only tracks we ever recorded with Andy Ernst at his Art of Ears studio. I can’t remember why we did them that way instead of with Kevin Army as usual. I remember it being a pretty smooth, easy time, from my perspective, anyway. I’d arrived with fully fleshed-out, but perhaps uncharacteristically “do-able,” guitar arrangements in mind and the process of getting them on tape was unusually straightforward. The result was a pretty satisfying, anomalous seven inch that grew in popularity greatly after it went out of print.

This song has been a Song for Odin twice before (here and here) and I quote:

It’s one of those songs where the narrator’s spiel alludes to a backstory and comments on it without providing the actual narrative — only the person he’s addressing knows what happened, leaving everyone else to guess. I like that sort of thing. The Scooby-Doo reference isn’t labored, and as far as I know wasn’t yet an over-used cliché at the time. (I remember some review in those days trying to characterize the flavor of our stuff by saying: it’s like there’s a TV playing in the background of every song. Which is pretty much true, I guess.) The solo is pretty cool, and the several modulations that somehow manage to wind up back in the original key is still a kind of marvel to me. It works surprisingly well solo-acoustic, with a couple of adjustments.

That last point is true, both as to it working well acoustic and how surprising that is. The response when I played it at one of the Lookout Zoomout live stream shows sure surprised me. The nostalgia was thick in the air, of course, and I suppose if people are fond enough of something and floating on a nostalgic cloud, their brains fill in whatever may be missing in the way of rock, roll, loudness, competence…

Come to think of it, that could be the secret of this whole enterprise. And thank Odin for that.

One final word on Shards vol. 3. Our release schedule ran into a bit of a snag, as the queue time at the pressing plant unexpectedly went from five weeks after test pressing approval to about eighteen weeks all of a sudden. We’d thought we were well ahead of schedule with this one, but ’twas not to be. When it comes to vinyl productions these days, particularly in the throes of and, evidently, just coming out of a global plague, schedules are always approximate. (Which I don’t expect to change, much, ever.) You do the best you can. Of course this also delays our subsequent release plans, pushing the Sounds Rad 2021 into 2022. We’re trying to do this as carefully and competently as we can, without cutting any corners, which makes it more challenging to plan. But I think it’s the correct way to do it, even if takes longer.

Still, the half-full part of the glass is that this particular delay is a result of a deluge of vinyl projects and competition for a place in the queue. An indication, in other words, that things are indeed getting back on track to normalcy. Let’s drink that half glass, together. Cheers.

So the new “street date” for Shards vol. 3 is September 10. The buy-links to people on the “dibs” list will go out on August 2. Sounds Rad is still taking names for the “dibs” list. It’s a long list (and thanks for that) but you can (and should) still sign up if you haven’t yet. The link is in the notes below.

Oh, and thanks to our man Klode for the video thumbnail.

Bye for now.

— original post on minds.com is here.

“I Just Wanna Do It with You”

Back when the song was written, Bay Area Rapid Transit did not run to the UK

BART is not a person, but rather an extremely smelly form of public transportation: Hey ho, Wodnesdæg again, which means I’m meant to post a song and type about it and call it a Song for Odin. Once again, though, what with one thing and another, I don’t have anything specifically prepared. It’s funny how I feel this pressure to do this thing each week for absolutely no reason… I know there are those who appreciate the posts and write-ups, sort of, but it’s not like anyone else but me is sitting there expecting anything at all, lamenting its absence and vaguely worried that something terrible will happen if I skip it… At this point, maybe, the observance of Song for Odin is largely superstition, and possibly little else. Nevertheless, just in case, here’s something, to appease the gods in hopes of avoiding the spate of ill luck risked when the sacrifice is skipped two weeks in a row.

It’s “I Just Wanna Do It with You” live at the Euclid Tavern in Cleveland, Oct. 9, 1997.

That’s a pretty good performance, and how I remember this song as its best live “self.” And the crowd is doing its bit, which helps a lot.

As for more write-up, I’m going to go all the way back to the beginning of the “series” and quote from the first “minor secrets” on this song, more than three years back, which was also a pretty good one:

This is another one of those “beloved songs,” a simple, arch love song that somehow punches above its weight. So many of my lyrics read like dyspeptic greetings cards, but maybe especially these. “You’re the one I want to waste the rest of my whole life with…” “It’s not just the Prozac talking…” (Hallmark, if you ever want to get dark, drop me a line.) The thing is, though, who hasn’t felt that way? You’re wasting your life anyway, why not do it with someone you love and drag each other down?

Many people have been confused by the BART reference. A folk tradition even arose positing a son of mine by that name, who for some reason could not be taken to the residence of the person to whom the song is addressed. This is not true. BART is not a person, but rather an extremely smelly form of public transportation.

I think as originally conceived in my bedroom this song was meant to echo the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again” and I had imagined a more measured tempo and a groovier “swingier” feel, maybe some multi-part harmonies, maybe some droning e-bows and a piano doing single eighth notes on the C, maybe even a didgeridoo… Things can get pretty grandiose in my bedroom, then as now.

But of course, for better or worse, I didn’t happen to have a didgeridoo, nor did I have a band that did measured tempos and groovy swingy feels and multi-part harmonies; but I did have a band that could do this. And, in fact, this has a lot going for it. The energy is great and apt. And pointing at the audience at the appropriate time (or should that be “inappropriate”?) was fun and people seemed to dig it.

And, that’s all I got for now. Here’s hoping it’s enough to avoid the wrath of the gods, poor harvests, a plague of hamsters, a vague sense of dissatisfaction, and other bad stuff like that.

notes:

— studio recording, Love Is Dead version, on YouTube.

— another previous write-up of the song, featuring the band Smashcut and a charming story:

— original post on minds.com.

“Together Tonight”

Fear, prejudice, pride, and the verisimilitude of inarticulacy: Well now, you may have noticed that Song for Odin took the past three Wodnesdægs off. If that made you sad, or vaguely distraught, rest assured: it could not be helped. But now you can go ahead and cheer up, as we’re back, picking up basically where we left off, like the hiatus never even happened.

So, take it away, RAD-018–1, 180 gram sea glass vinyl:

We just got these in, the “finished copies” of MTX Shards vol. 3, special “dibs” edition, and there it is playing the lead-off track, “Together Tonight”. The video is just me holding a phone above the spinning record, so I apologize for the shakiness; the audio is the re-mastered digital audio, which sounds great but you know it’s even better on vinyl in the room. Pretty innit?

This is the (remastered) version from the B side of the Gun Crazy seven inch, later included as a bonus track on the CD of Our Bodies Our Selves. There’s a previous recording of this song, released under the title “Let’s Be Together Tonight” on the Munster Records seven inch Strum und Bang. (That’s also the version that appears on the Sicko split seven inch.) Each has its charms, but we had to choose one, and we chose the former — that is the later one.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous write-up for this song the first version was thrown together very quickly before before our Euro-tour of the Summer of ’92, at a Berkeley 8 track garage studio called Smooth Papa’s Greasy Groove Hut, though I’m not sure it had that name yet at the time. (I believe that this and Alex Sergay’s Recording Emporium were same place, but the timeline eludes me, and I could well be wrong about that.) The second one was recorded the same year, almost as soon as we got back from Europe, in the same physical location, but as a three-piece since Jon von had since left the band. By that time it had acquired a 16 track deck, and we recorded this track along with “Swallow Everything,” “More than Toast,” “Not Guilty,” and the Banana Splits cover “Don’t Go Away (Go Go Girl),” launching a sort of new phase I suppose.

Anyway, this means that, after all this collecting and gathering up the shards, we’re still left with one “orphan” (the first, 8 track version) left uncollected. There just isn’t a slot for it. Maybe the maniacs at Sounds Rad will, one day, opt to do a re-issue of Strum und Bang, though, who knows? Or possibly someone will re-issue that Sicko split one day.

(More about the Shards project/concept can be found in the Shards vol. 1 “explainer” here; the write-up for vol. 2 is here.)

In the meantime, this is what we’ve got going on at the moment. You can still sign up for the “dibs” list, i.e., a chance to acquire one of the limited 180 gram first pressing copies. The buy-links go out on August 2. Street date for the standard pressing(s) is September 10. It’s another comprehensive art/design packed created by Chris Appelgren and it’s really beautiful. And sounds phenomenal as well (re-mastered, once again, by Justin Perkins.)

Oh, and that inspired thumbnail is by our man Klode. Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. Maybe there’s another pop song that resorts to Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, having run through all other available metaphors for romantic strife and angst, but probably not because why would anyone do that? The whole song, qua song, is a bit all over the place and random, but it’s held together nonetheless by the melody, the energy, and the verisimilitude of inarticulacy. These things are always worth a try, and, against all odds perhaps, I still like it. Peace.

— original post on minds.com.

“Sex Offender”

Makes the Old Style of Squeamishness Look Positively Libertine: So, it’s Wodnesdæg and time for Song for Odin, that thing I do where I post a song video of some kind and type up some typing about it. So there’s my introduction done. (This one may be a bit long, as the fellow said, because I don’t have time to make it shorter.)

Here’s MTX Shards vol. 3 on 180 gram sea glass vinyl playing “Sex Offender”.

As before it’s a picture of the vinyl spinning, with the re-mastered digital audio as the soundtrack, but you get the idea. Sounds nice this way, but of course it’s only that much better out in the room all analog and everything. As you may know, the original release included a snippet of the intro of the original Blondie recording, intended as a gag to freak people out with the MTX assault when they’d be led to expect the real thing. In this day and age, there’s just no practical way to do that sort of thing, plus it maybe wasn’t all that great of a gag anyway. We learned a bit of a lesson with “Danny Partridge” and in this case it’s definitely not a great hill to die on, so we left it off.

This was originally a single, released in 1990 on this little label called Vital Music, recorded with Andy Ernst at Art of Ears in San Francisco rather than in the usual Kevin Army / Lookout manner. I can’t recall how or why that came about, but I’ve always liked the result. This was one of those cases where I had a fairly elaborate guitar arrangement in my head, but no way to test out whether or not it would work till we were right there in the studio. It could really go awry very badly, but when it did work, as here, it felt like some outlandish magic. I mean, those leads do everything they were meant to do, and things like that don’t always do that.

This arrangement is kind of how I’d imagined “Book of Revelation” would go — and I think that song was half-written at that time — but as you know it all went just a bit different in the event. It would have been the same guitar set up, that old Gibson SG with the Mea Boogie Mark IV amp and a couple of 2 x 12 mini-cabs.

One thing I remember about the recording was that I had do that final “you” high note a few times before getting it sort of almost pretty close to okay, as was and is my wont. Andy casually offered to slow the tape down on that part no problem, take care of that right right away, make it easy for ya. Possessed by some misguided spirit of ethics in vocals, I declined, but now I wish I’d done it, as it would make this particular anecdote kind of Beatles-y rather than the utterly non-Beatles-y reality.

So like I said, this is a Blondie cover, and we put a good deal more into it than the usual sort of cursory work-for-hire covers that we used to do. This was one of my favorite tunes as a kid during my self-administered rock and roll education from a distance via college radio — though I didn’t quite grasp what was going on in it, not really. To be honest, I’m not sure I grasp it all that well even now. But in my naive dreams of joining the punk rock ranks one day I’d always imagined playing it. And that’s what happened. I meant it, man.

The Blondie track’s name is “X Offender”: “Sex Offender” was the original title, but it was re-named because of record company squeamishness and objections.

It seemed only right that a small-time band whose label had no pull over it would “restore” the real title. I wrote a bit about this title bowdlerization in a previous write-up a couple years back and I’m going to go ahead and quote myself on that:

That’s the sort of thing that, at one point in time, seemed so silly and quaint — like Rob and Laura Petrie having to sleep in separate beds or only showing the top half of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show or Spiro Agnew being mad at the Beatles for getting high with a little help from their friends.

But nowadways… well, it’s not so quaint. Things get banned and suppressed for far less than that. And though we live in a cultural world awash with sleaze and gross-outs and mandatory vulgarity, we are squeamish about the least little thing as well, in a way that makes the old style of squeamishness look positively libertine. Different rhetorical pretexts, same basic result, which is literal or de facto censorship. The more things change the more they stay the same. I genuinely thought we got over that hump long enough ago to laugh at it, but I guess I laughed too soon.

This situation continues. There was a time when I genuinely thought liberality and free-to-be-you-and-me in art and culture and stuff had permanently triumphed, but boy was I wrong. Rob and Laura can get away with being in the same bed now, but they had better watch what they say out loud while they’re in there. It’s too easy to say the wrong wrong thing. Best to remain silent and dissemble as to your secret hidden thoughts and the lack of conformity they might signal. All that vexed silence wouldn’t make the greatest sitcom script, but that’s how we live now.

Essentially, our liberal society is dying. But you can still sign up for the 180 gram Shards vol. 3 “dibs” list — the buy links go out on August 2, just around the corner. That’ll show ’em, somehow. The link is in the notes below. The street date, for the standard edition, is still September 10. Thanks to our man Klode for the thumbnail. Bye now.

notes:

— the Blondie original, on YouTube.

— the Shards vol. 1 story; the Shards vol. 2 story.

— original post on minds.com.

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.