Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 1/6/11

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues, all the way to #1. Thursday’s is #754:

Ellen Foley – Spirit of St. Louis

Often referred to as the “lost Clash album,” this 1981 obscurity features the band plus several of the sidemen who made Sandinista such a masterpiece backing Foley – already a bonafide pop star at the time in Europe (she had a #1 hit in Holland), who was dating Mick Jones at the time. You could call this the Clash’s art-rock album. It’s a mix of Strummer/Jones originals plus a handful of covers, and Foley’s own sweeping, evocatively riff-driven Phases of Travel. Her lovers-on-the-run pop duet with Jones on Torchlight is still fetching after all these years; her cover of Edith Piaf’s My Legionnaire is decent but nothing special. The two gems here are violinist Tymon Dogg’s wrenching, haunting ballad Indestructible, and the dramatic flamenco-rock anthem In the Killing Hour, a pregnant woman pleading for the life of her wrongfully convicted man as he’s led away to his execution. Otherwise, there’s the lush art-pop of The Shuttered Palace; Dogg’s eerie, surreal The Death of the Psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali and the minimalistic, reggae-tinged Theatre of Cruelty; the resolute feminist anthem Game of a Man; a big powerpop number and a couple of love songs. Foley followed this up with a forgettable new wave pop record; these days, she sings wry, clever Americana songs and can be found frequently on weekends playing New York’s Lakeside Lounge with her band. Oh yeah, she was also the girl on the Meatloaf monstrosity Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Here’s a random torrent.

January 6, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/20/10

Every day, for the next 39 days anyway, our best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s song is #39:

Elvis Costello – Big Tears

One of the greatest intros of all time: Costello kicks it off with a bass note and then a big majestic broken chord, Bruce Thomas’ bass soars in, way up the scale and then Steve Nieve’s Farfisa swoops down and anchors it – and then the Clash’s Mick Jones guests with a surprisingly apt, understatedly sympathetic guitar solo. One of Costello’s best lyrics, too, a shot of adrenaline for any embattled nonconformist. Originally released on Taking Liberties, 1981.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Song of the Day 5/14/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Friday’s song is #76:

The Clash – Spanish Bombs

Their best song, equal parts poignant janglerock requiem and cautionary tale about the deadly effects of fascism. From London Calling.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/7/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Sunday’s song is #172:

The Clash – Gates of the West

English punk apprehensively sets out for America, knowing that it’s a long way, literally and figuratively, “from Camden Town Station to 44th and 8th…stealing cross the shadows, will I see you again?” Joe Strummer wants to know. The searing layers of Strummer and Jones’ guitars are exquisite. Originally issued as a bonus single packaged with the first American release of the Clash’s first album, it’s on a bunch of digital compilations as well.

February 7, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Song of the Day 8/23/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #338:

The Clash – The Sound of the Sinners

Joe Strummer wrote lots of funny songs and this is one of the best, a spot-on parody of gospel music from Sandinista, 1981, Bill Price’s pricelessly echoey, churchy production a perfect fit for Strummer’s scathing satire: “The message on the tablets was valium.”

August 24, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/5/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #388:

Ellen FoleyIndestructible

Singer/actress Foley rode her famous cameo on the Meatloaf monstrosity Paradise by the Dashboard Light to considerable European top 40 popularity before hooking up with Mick Jones. He and Joe Strummer produced, wrote and played on her 1981 lp Spirit of St. Louis (she’s from there) – it’s the great lost Clash album. This is one of its most riveting moments, a slow, wrenchingly haunting ballad written by frequent Strummer collaborator and violinist Tymon Dogg. Foley continues to record and play the occasional New York show. The link in the title above is a video from Hungarian tv; mp3s are kicking around if you do some digging.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/9/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #506:

Ian Hunter – Rain

If you count everything in the guy’s prolific post-Mott the Hoople career, Hunter’s got a pretty impressive catalog of gloomy, Lou Reed-ish glamrock. This is a big, swirling, stately, elegaic anthem with towering, monumental post-Sandinista production by the Clash’s Mick Jones. Mp3s are kicking around; if you’re looking for vinyl, it’s on the Short Back and Sides lp from 1981 (link is to a choice of torrents).

March 9, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 1/19/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #555:

The Clash – Somebody Got Murdered

This one goes out to Gaza, a sad, thoughtful anti-violence anthem from Sandinista, 1981. Part of Joe Strummer’s genius was how intuitively he grasped how interconnected we are within the fabric of society, and how – in the case of this song – a seemingly random killing suddenly becomes anything but if you consider the consequences. Somebody please put some headphones on Fraulein Lipni and blast this loud.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Ellen Foley at Lakeside Lounge, NYC 7/19/07

The most unlikely comeback of the decade is an improbable success. OK, maybe not the most unlikely comeback: who knew that Vashti Bunyan would hit the road again? But this wasn’t exactly expected. As Ellen Foley told it tonight, she was sitting on former Five Chinese Brothers bassist Paul Foglino’s couch, and he suggested that they write some songs together and do some shows. Fast forward to tonight: he wrote some songs, the band worked up some her of her older material and, blam, comeback in full effect.

In addition to her career as an actress, Foley had a successful run in Europe in the 80s as a top 40 singer. Here, she remains a generational footnote, musically at least, best known for her vocals on Meatloaf’s epic monstrosity Paradise By the Dashboard Light. You know, “Stop right theeeeeeeere, I gotta know right now!” But her great shining moment was as the singer on the great lost Clash album, her 1981 Sire release Spirit of St. Louis. If you have a turntable and see this kicking around the dollar bins, by all means, pick it up: it proves that Strummer and Jones (who was her boyfriend at the time) could write gorgeously orchestrated, politically charged ballads. Foley also sang lead on Hitsville UK, the Clash’s lone (and considerably successful) venture into Motown.

Tonight, she was at the top of her game, sounding better than ever – she’s got a big, somewhat showy voice with impressive range – and looking great. Backed by an inspired 4-piece unit including Foglino and Steve Antonakos (what band is he NOT in) on guitars, Steve Houghton on bass and Kevin Hangdog on drums, she delivered a mix of some of her European hits along with Foglino’s wry, bluesy, Americana-pop songs.

On the outro to What’s the Matter Baby, she improvised an explanation: “I was replaced on Night Court by Markie Post!” The audience loved her take of We Belong to the Night (which was a #1 hit for her in Holland before Pat Benetar’s iconically schlocky version). “This song is for…Ann Coulter,” she told the crowd as they launched into a fiery version of the Stones’ Stupid Girl. Foglino may have a thing for goofy songwriting (he’s the guy who wrote the college radio classic You’re Never too Drunk to Get Drunk), but he clearly gives a damn about this unit, tailoring his material to the nuances of Foley’s voice. On one slowly swaying new tune, she mined the verse with her beautifully quiet upper register for everything she could get out of it: “These dreams shine like diamonds/But I’m digging for…coal.”

Her first encore was written about her, she told the crowd, and then did a shambling, fun version of Should I Stay or Should I Go, Antonakos having fun making up some Spanglish in place of Mick Jones’ fractured espanol. They closed the show with a fragment of the big Meatloaf hit (probably to pre-empt the wiseass element in the audience), and it was impossible to leave without a smile on your face. Where Foley wants to go with this is anybody’s guess, but even if all she wants to do is play Lakeside on the random night, she’s more fun than 99% of the other singers out there. If you have fond memories of Europe in the 80s, a thing for brilliant obscurities from the bargain bins, or just enjoy hearing a great voice, you should go see her.

July 20, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments