Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Springsteen 1975

Not much time to post these days. I have a track I've wanted to share for a while. From my source this is a recording of Dylan's I Want You recorded by Bruce on February 2, 1975. Springsteen was playing this song in live performances quite a bit in early '75, but the fan sites don't have Bruce playing on February 2nd. Could be that this recording is from February 5 at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA. This show was broadcast on FM and has been widely circulated amongst collectors.

Either way, it's an important recording. Hearing Bruce sing Dylan's poetry reminds us of his inspiration for his own lyrics on his early albums. Dylan's lyrics of course are loaded with symbolism, whereas Bruce always tried to keep things more grounded, but the arrangement here is reminiscent of songs like Sandy and Meeting Across The River.

The photo is from October 23, 1975 at Gerde's Folk City, in NYC, where Bruce and Dylan met face to face for the first time. That's Bruce's then girlfriend Karen Darvin by his side. The dude digging the whole scene is John Prine.

Bruce Springsteen - I Want You - February 1975

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Friday, July 14, 2006

The Doo-Wop Motels

By day, I am an architect that restores historic buildings. To most people this means quaint Victorians, civic monuments and places where famous people once worked or slept. In reality, the spectrum of historic architecture is broad and very subjective, and includes properties that are surprisingly recent. For example, if you grew up in a 1950s post war ranch house and that subdivision is intact, it may be eligible for landmark status. It is the recent past that interests me as much or more than the Queen Anne mansions. We've got thousands of fine examples historic homes and important civic buildings, but how many 1940s white ceramic Texaco gas stations are left? What was once a symbol of American progress and the freedom of the open road has vanished.

In the New Jersey Wildwoods, a stretch of distinctive 1950s era motels is threatened by encroaching beachfront development. The land has simply become too valuable for the independent motel operators to resist selling. Now I'll be the first to say that the Doo-Wop Motels are not as important to our cultural heritage as our civil war battlefields (some of which are threatened by big box retail and cookie cutter residential sprawl), but they do represent an era of bustling post-war euphoria and a distinctive period in graphic and architectural design. And the few that are left appear to be remarkably well-preserved. Similar to the Googie Style of 1950's California coffee shop architecture, Doo-Wop is represented by zoomy shapes, space-age imagery, bold colors and graphics that symbolize the exuberance of the post war period. It was an era when buildings in commercial districts and vacation spots looked like the finned, chrome laden automobiles that ruled the roads. To many people, it's a garish, dated look that should be erased from our landscape. But unlike the doo-wop classics forever preserved on record, once these buildings are gone, they're gone. You can't walk into a photograph. There is no reason why a meaningful grouping of these buildings can't be saved, like the Art Deco District in Miami, for example. The area can remain economically vibrant without resorting to non-descript condo development.

Got Googie in your neighborhood? Take a photo, because it may not be long for this world. Send me the pic and I'll post it. And if you are near the Wildwoods, go check out the Doo-Wop motels.

Link: Asbury Park Press 7/8/06

Link: DooWop Usa

Music: I Only Have Eyes For You - The Flamingos

Buy: Ultimate Doo-Wop Collection


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Just learned that Syd Barrett has died at age 60. It's bittersweet that Syd's passing would occur at a time when the remaining members of Pink Floyd would find themselves in the news, with solo tours, quasi-reunions and the acclaimed DVD release of the Pulse tour. As you know, I'm holding my breath for a full blown Floyd reunion, and in my mind's eye I always imagined them to involve Syd in some way. Now it can only be in memoriam, and it's tragic. Actually, Syds' entire life was tragic. I can't think of another artist who had such a profound impact on music in the blink of an eye. Pink Floyd was Syd's band until the drugs took their devastating toll. I really can't endorse Syd's solo work to the uninitiated, but everyone should own The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Floyd's astonishing debut album that is almost entirely the work of Barrett.

More On Syd

Shine On, Syd.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

My Three Songs #1

WXRT in Chicago does a quaint little thing called My Three Songs, where listeners write in with suggestions for groupings of three songs with a common thread or some type of clever connection. I thought it would be fun to do my own versions. After all, as compulsive as I am about music, I have playlists long and short always running through my head. Don’t we all? Of course, my songs will gravitate towards material that you probably won’t hear on FM radio. The images here are related, but as tempted as I was to include Green-Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf, it’s just too obvious.

#1 – Guinevere, by David Crosby and Graham Nash, recorded live on October 10, 1971. A beautiful version of this CSN track from their debut album, albeit missing the third voice of Stephen Stills. Taken from an informal acoustic performance, this song is an overlooked gem, with classic rock FM programming always going for the more well known songs from the debut album and Déjà Vu. Two voices that were meant to sing together.

#2 – Temptation by New Order. I was in college when Blue Monday took over the Earth. The song was simply inescapable. I always preferred the more guitar driven tracks on that album (Power, Corruption & Lies) like Age Of Consent. I really liked Temptation, an earlier work that owes more to the Joy Division sound they evolved from than the synth-pop they would become.

#3 – Green Is The Colour by Pink Floyd, recorded live, unknown date and venue, but probably from 1970. It’s refreshing to me that a fair number of teenage kids today seem to be listening to classic rock like Floyd, Zeppelin and the Who. They’re raised on what they’re fed by iTunes and FM though, and probably have never explored early Floyd music. This track comes from perhaps the most obscure Floyd album, a soundtrack to a film called More, a ‘French hippie film’, according to my sources. Released in 1969, the album hit the top ten in Britain, despite being a weird collection of acoustic songs and instrumental mood music. What’s fascinating about this early work is that you can hear little bits of musical ideas that would fully blossom in their 1970s masterpieces.


Buy Crosby-Nash

Buy New Order

Buy Pink Floyd



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