Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 6/26/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1 (in case you’re wondering, there’s no Michael Jackson on the list). Friday’s song is #397:

Manfred Mann – Living Without You

Randy Newman cover by the 1970 version of the British band responsible for three of the most ridiculous hits in rock history: Doo Wah Diddy, The Mighty Quinn and, as “Manfred Mann’s Earth Band,” Blinded by the Light (you know, “wrapped up like a DOUCHE!!!”). But this sad midtempo ballad is nothing like that. The contrast of the gently skeletal texture of the acoustic guitar against some of the most booming bass ever recorded is exquisite; nice Badfinger-esque slide guitar too.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Marykate O’Neil – mkULTRA

Truth in advertising. The cd cover pictures a deadpan Marykate O’Neil in shirt and tie with old-fashioned 1950s glasses, holding a bottle of a suspicious, possibly mind-altering and tortuous substance designated for some poor unfortunate prisoner of the CIA. Onstage, O’Neil typically relies on a subtle wit to get her melodic, purist songs across, but this is one dark album. Needless to say, this isn’t your typical singer/songwriter fare.

 

Switching evocatively from Boston to a New York milieu, O’Neil’s vocals on the cd’s opening lament Green Street have Barbara Brousal-class subtlety and a lyric glistening with little gems:

 

The last time I saw you on Storrow Drive

You were walking your three-speed Huffy bike…

Dropping a nickel on the dime

 

Set to an imaginative acoustic trip-hop arrangement, Man manages to straddle the line between sensuality and frustration: “How did I get so fucked up,” O’Neil wails. On the bleak, depressed 6/8 ballad Nothing I Say or Do, layers of synth make their way in like a draft under the door. 

 

With its stately, eerily reverberating 6/8 guitar and insistent backing vocals leading up to the end of the verse, Trouble evokes Erika Simonian at her most angst-ridden, all the way up to the top of a towering, roaring crescendo, a vivid East Village tale that namechecks the Lakeside Lounge (yay!). 

 

The way the cd closes testifies to O’Neil’s fondness for classic pop songs. A stark take of Without You surpasses the Randy Newman original but falls short of the transcendent, bass-driven version that made the top 40 for Manfred Mann. The concluding cut, Happy, steals the eerie riff from Walking in the Rain (more evocative of the Flash & the Pan original than the Grace Jones version). “All I wanna be is happy,” is the anguished mantra O’Neil repeats over and over, making it clear that she’s a long way from there as the guitars burn and the percussion reaches a breakneck pace. Intense, powerful stuff. Marykate O’Neil plays Kenny’s Castaways at 8:30 PM on Nov 7; her December 8 show at Maxwell’s is sold out.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment