30 November 2010

The Jayhawks To Tour Behind Album Reissues

Well! Hear is some exciting news to start out the coming new year. The Jayhawks will reform in January 2010 to play seven dates in five cities in support of the deluxe reissues of their first two major label albums, Hollywood Town Hall (1992) and Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995). In Chicago and New York the band will perform the records in full along with other tunes. The Jayhawks line-up is: Gary Louris, Mark Olson, Marc Perlman, Karen Grotberg and Tim O'Reagan.

The concert dates are listed below. (Check here for the venues as well as pre-sale and box office sale dates.)

18/1 Toronto
20/1 New York (Hollywood Town Hall)
21/1 New York (Tomorrow The Green Grass)
22/1 Philadelphia
27/1 Chicago (Hollywood Town Hall)
28/1 Chicago (Tomorrow The Green Grass)
29/1 Minneapolis

As a reminder of how golden these two albums remain, enjoy a couple of their key cuts.

28 November 2010

The Dictionary of (Celtic) Soul: A Listener's Guide To The Soundtrack of "The Commitments"

--We'll ask Jimmy, said Outspan. --Jimmy'll know.
Jimmy Rabbitte knew his music. He knew his stuff alright. You'd never see Jimmy coming home from town without a new album or a 12-inch or at least a 7-inch single. Jimmy ate Melody Maker and the NME every week and Hot Press every two weeks. He listened to Dave Fanning and John Peel. He even read his sisters' Jackie when there was no one looking. So Jimmy knew his stuff.

So begins The Commitments, Irish novelist Roddy Doyle's first book of his "Barrytown Trilogy," a celebration of American soul music via the struggles of a group of Irish unemployed youth who form to become "Dublin's hardest working band."

Director Alan Parker's 1991 movie adaptation probably pulls a little more drama out of the story than Doyle intended, but the saga of Jimmy Rabbitte and his management of a band of vagabonds never takes its eye off the star of the show: the music that bled so successfully into the English and Irish music scene from the 1960s onward. In her review of the film for The New York Times, critic Janet Maslin said, "The Commitments finds Mr. Parker again doing what he does expertly: assembling a group of talented newcomers, editing snippets of their exploits into a hyperkinetic jumble, and filling the air with song. [It is an] exuberant valentine to American soul music and the impoverished Dublin teen-agers who think of it as magic."

TNOP proudly brings you a listening guide to the entire soundtrack of The Commitments in sequential order, along with the context in which they are played. Use it as a guide as you watch the movie or click the links where available to enjoy the originals as your own private playlist. [While the majority of the songs listed are performed by the film's cast, we have listed the artists who made the songs popular for your information.]

Cathy's Clown (The Everly Brothers) - Backdrop is a "boot sale" (or as it is known in the States, a "garage sale," in which Jimmy attempts to sell bootlegged tapes while sporting a Paul McCartney t-shirt.

24 Hours To Tulsa (Gene Pitney) & Needles & Pins (The Searchers) - Performed at a wedding reception by Jimmy's pals and their insufferable synth player.

I Can't Stand The Rain (Ann Peebles) - Amidst scenes of working class North Dublin and a series of often comic auditions, Jimmy declares: "We're gonna be playing Dublin soul!"

Can't Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley) - The camera pans the wall of the Rabbitte household, showing photos of Pope John Paul II and Jimmy at his First Communion, then rises to reveal a large portrait of Elvis above both of them. Jimmy to his Dad: "Elvis is not soul!" The incredulous reply of his Father: "Elvis is God!"

Who's Sorry Now? (Connie Francis) - The Rabbitte's neighbor lady, clearly a product of a by-gone generation, sings a few bars of this song and looks hopefully at Jimmy and his mates, asking "Any chance for me lads?"

Only The Lonely (Roy Orbison) - The core of the new group is in the local pub when the attractive character Imelda Quirke (who will become a backup singer) is introduced to the story. As all the boys ogle her, Jimmy says with a manager's bravado "When this band is successful, the girls will be throwing their knickers at you." [Speaking of the Big O, later in the movie, looking to hock for amps and gear to play with, one of our protagonists will declare "everything's shite since Roy Orbison died."]

Watching vintage film of James Brown on The T.A.M.I. Show - "That's what you've got to measure up to: The Irish are the Blacks of Europe. Dubliners are the Blacks of Ireland. And North Dubliners are the Blacks of Dublin."

Slip Away (Clarence Carter) - In which we are introduced to the grizzled horn player Joey "The Lips" Fagan, who defensively indicates to the others that "I'm 16 years younger than B. B. King." Declaring "God sent me," Joey confidently states that "Our Irish brothers wouldn't be shooting the ass off each other if they just had soul."

Destination Anywhere (The Marvelettes) - This song introduces the three girls (Imelda, Bernie McGloughlin and Natalie Murphy) in the story, who will become singers with The Commitments. Jimmy uses the opportunity to preach that "Soul is the sound of sex and the factory: it grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the shite."

Nowhere To Run (Martha & The Vandellas) - The classic Motown track is a backdrop for a panorama of scenes starring the aspiring members of the band: Declan "Deco" Cuffe serenading first communicants on a local train; Imelda, Bernie and Natalie cautiously trying out their dance moves; guitarist Outspan Foster working his day job in a slaughterhouse; Jimmy seeking rehearsal space in the back of an ancient pool hall; and Steven Clifford and his mates loading an upright piano on the back of a VW pick-up truck.

Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett) - The fits and starts of initial rehearsal center around this classic gut-bucket soul tune.

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Aretha Franklin) - The scene centers around Bernie's family's apartment in the North Dublin projects, where she is missing rehearsal in order to help her mother care for her younger siblings. A character remarks that Bernie - stuck in the traditional role of young women in Ireland - "needs the band more than any of us."

A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harem) - Steven is seen playing the prog rock classic on the church organ when the young parish priest walks in. He convinces the father to allow The Commitments to play their first gig at the church community center in support of the "anti-heroine" campaign.

Too Many Fish In The Sea (The Marvelettes) - The second appearance of the marvelous Marvelettes mark the girls' first stab at carrying the vocals on a number, much to Deco's chagrin.

(Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Mondays (The Boomtown Rats) - This nihilist punk anthem is chosen for microphone check by the group's self-appointed bouncer (and later replacement drummer) Mickah Wallace, blatantly marking not only his opposite musical tastes but also lack of hope of any economic mobility.

Mr. Pitiful (Otis Redding) - While Deco shows no fear at the band's first appearance at the community center by ripping into an Otis Redding roof-raiser, the limited space on stage proves an . . . um . . . impediment.

(Theme From) "Shaft" (Issac Hayes) - Joey "The Lips" drops this unforgettable blaxploitation movie theme on the turntable in his room (located in his mother's house) in his process of seducing and bedding Bernie. The scene is cleverly juxtaposed with Joey's mother downstairs playing a hymn while positioned in front of her shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Take Me To The River (Al Green) - An apt choice marking The Commitments' formal baptism in front of their first "real" crowd at a pub gig.

The Dark End of the Street (James Carr) - This obscure, mournful ballad fits perfectly in back-to-back scenes. In the first, Jimmy is pictured at the sound board while the band plays. He looks around in a subtle fashion and sees for the first time that his creation - his band - is making a real connection with the audience. Unfortunately, that feeling is doused by his realization that everyone around him - the promoters, the equipment people, the band - all want money, instead of the simple satisfaction he feels. The action then moves to the local parish, where outside a poster reads "The Commitments - Saviours of Soul" and the parish priest is shown walking away into the church. Next we hear Steven. "When I was studying, I used to sing hymns," the young man whispers in the confessional. "Now I'm always humming 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' by Marvin Gaye." The priest corrects him: "It was Percy Sledge." The power of popular music permeates even the most traditional, powerful institution of Ireland.

Destination Anywhere [REPRISE] - Some of the band members, reduced to schlepping around their gear in a old, broken down portable fish 'n chips van (former business of trade: "Mr. Chippy"). Unsuspecting boys approach the truck looking for food. "Got any salmon wraps?" they inquire. The logical retort: "We only got soul (sole)."

Hard To Handle (Otis Redding) - What little bit of success the band has had is starting to go to everyone's heads. Shy Dean Fay, tutored by Joey "The Lips" to play the sax, now fancies himself a jazz hipster and wants to improvise during stage performance. Meanwhile, Jimmy, flush with 200 quid in his pocket from a successful door take, has to use it to pay off loan sharks instead of the group members.

Chain of Fools (Aretha Franklin) - Tempers finally boil over and The Commitments are literally at each others' throats.

Mustang Sally [REPRISE] - Jimmy has lured the band back together with the anticipation of an appearance at the gig by The Wicked One himself: Wilson Pickett. The group is now really polished; Deco riffs like a real soul man, and there are unexpected flourishes by Steven on piano and Joey and Dean on brass.

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You) (Aretha Franklin) - Natalie takes the mic and sings this The Queen of Soul gem, a code of her unrequited love for Jimmy.

Try A Little Tenderness (Otis Redding) - As The Commitments wait in vain for Pickett to arrive, we see the bi-polar behavior of stage demeanor vs. backstage bickering, culminating with the victory of the dark side: the public humiliation of Jimmy by his own band.

In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett) - The clock figuratively strikes twelve, and even though a record executive has showed up in the audience, all hell finally breaks loose with the band. And Jimmy finally walks away, saying the hell with it all. He'll conduct the post-mortem in his final "interview".


"The Commitments." Directed by Alan Parker; screenplay by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and Roddy Doyle, from the novel by Mr. Doyle; director of photography, Gale Tattersall; edited by Gerry Hambling; production designer, Brian Morris; produced by Roger Randall-Cutler and Lynda Myers; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 120 minutes. This film is rated R. Starring: Robert Arkins (Jimmy Rabbitte); Michael Aherne (Steven Clifford); Angeline Ball (Imelda Quirke); Maria Doyle (Natalie Murphy); Dave Finnegan (Mickah Wallace); Bronagh Gallagher (Bernie McGloughlin).

The National's "High Violet" Double-Disc Version

A contender for one of the best records of the year, The National has now released a double-disc expanded version of High Violet. In addition to the lauded album, the new package includes B-sides, live tracks and a few new tunes, including "Wake Up The Saints," which you can sample below. "Wake Up" almost jaunty, featuring honky-tonk piano, finger snapping (!) and the horn section that the band has been using extensively on its latest tour. (Not that Matt Beringer is cooperating lyrically with the optimistic sounds . . .)

Here's the track listing for the extra disc:

1. Terrible Love (Alternate Version)
2. Wake Up Your Saints
3. You Were A Kindness
4. Walk Off
5. Sin-Eaters
6. Bloodbuzz Ohio (Live on KCMP)
7. Anyone's Ghost (Live at BAM)
8. England (Live at BAM)

The National - "Wake Up The Saints"

25 November 2010

New Paul Simon Single Drops

Paul Simon has revealed the name and release date of his new album due in the Spring of 2011. So Beautiful Or So What reunites Simon with producer Phil Ramone.

The first single is "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" and it surely is not your standard holiday fare. It's a catchy pop melody mashed up with African rhythm and a sampled 1941 track from Rev. J.M. Gates, preacher and gospel artist. The lyrics are typically thought provoking. To our ears, the song is already one of our favorites of 2010.

Through 27 November, you can download "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" for free by going to Just provide an email address and you'll receive a link directing you to the tune. Or sample it right here (via The Telegraph).

23 November 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover [#26]

"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"
Shawn Colvin
Original Dylan version found on Blood On The Tracks (1975)

Shawn Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota in 1956 and spent her formative teenage years in the college town of Champaign, Illinois, where she first performed in front of audiences. Colvin would come to the forefront of the so-called "new folk movement" in the late 1980s.

Strongly influenced by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, she landed a contract with Columbia, and released two very noteworthy albums, Steady On (1989) and Fat City (1992). The former won her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording, and the latter earned her two more nominations.

In 1994, a collection of interpretation of songs written by some of her favorite artists, Cover Girl, was met with decidedly mixed reviews. In retrospect, the set list is more than suited to her strong points: fluid acoustic guitar work and a marvelous, interpretive voice. The closer on the album is Colvin's take on Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go."

The Dylan cover is a courageous choice; the lyric is surely one of the most beautiful and memorable that the author has ever written. Colvin makes it work by stamping the tune with a female perspective and an adventuresome guitar run. (Why she puts the third verse in front of the second, though, I do not know.)

Shawn Colvin's career triumph was yet to come. Her LP A Few Small Repairs would win Record of the Year honors in 1997.


The content of "You're Gonna Make me Lonesome When You Go" lends itself to intense personal memories for many a listener. Perhaps the last word is best left to writer Pete Hamill, who wrote the original liner notes for Blood On The Tracks:

There are some who attack Dylan because he will not rewrite "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Gates of Eden." They are fools because they are cheating themselves of a shot at wonder. Every artist owns a vision of the world, and he shouts his protest when he sees evil mangling that vision. But he must also tell us the vision. Now we are getting Dylan's vision, rich and loamy, against which the world moved so darkly. To enter that envisioned world, is like plunging deep into a mountain pool, where the rocks are clear and smooth at the bottom.

So forget the Dylan whose image was eaten at by the mongers of the idiot wind. Don't mistake him for Isaiah, or a magazine cover, or a leader of guitar armies. He is only a troubadour, blood brother of Villon, a son of Provence, and he has survived the plague. Look: he has just walked into the courtyard, padding across the flagstones, strumming a guitar. The words are about "flowers on the hillside bloomin' crazy/Crickets talkin' back and forth in rhyme..." A girl, red-haired and melancholy, begins to smile. Listen: the poet sings to all of us:

But I'll see you in the sky above,
In the tall grass,
In the ones I love.
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go.

22 November 2010

Pick To Click: Adele - "Rolling In The Deep"

The second album from Adele will drop at stores and on the web 24 January 2011 on XL/Columbia. Titled 21, the record is produced by Rick Rubin and Paul Epworth (Florence & The Machine, Bloc Party). The Tottenham, London native says the latest effort is "different from (2008 release) 19 - it's about the same things but in a different light. I deal with things differently now. I'm more patient, more honest, more forgiving and more aware of my own flaws, habits and principles - something that comes with age I think."

Here's the official video for the first single, "Rolling In The Deep," a stomping, up tempo number that highlights Adele's powerhouse voice.

In Memoriam: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

20 November 2010

Miles Gallagher Reports From The UK

Our music correspondent in the United Kingdom, Miles Gallagher, reported in this week with a couple of stories.

Miles is still tracking one of his fave new groups this year, Free Energy. The Philadelphia foursome has been making their mark in Europe, and Miles sends us a clip from a recent appearance on the French program Album de la Semaine. The song is "Bang Pop," one of TNOP's favorite singles of 2010.

And he also tells our readers to check out Frank Turner, an English folk punk singer who has been building a steady following on his home turf. Next year he will release his fourth proper CD in early 2011. But this 8 December Turner will provide us with a five song EP entitled Rock & Roll. The centerpiece (and only tune which will also appear on the CD) is "I Still Believe," which struck quite a chord with festival audiences this past summer. It reminds us of some of the very best of Billy Bragg - a good thing to be sure.

19 November 2010

The Decemberists & Gillian Welch: "Down By The Water"

Portland's The Decemberists will release their new record The King Is Dead (a nod to The Smiths?) on 11 January 2011 via Capitol Records. They provided a sneak preview the other night on Conan along with the fine Gillian Welch. "Down By The Water" is a departure from the prog-heavy The Hazards of Love; it will be interesting to listen to the full album and learn the group's set list for their tour which begins on 25 January in New York City, extends across the US and then over the pond to Europe.

Here's the list of dates revealed thusfar:

January 25, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY* SOLD OUT
January 26, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY*
January 28, House of Blues, Boston, MA* (onsale Saturday 10AM ET)
January 29, House of Blues, Boston, MA* (onsale Saturday 10AM ET)
January 31, Olympia De Montreal, Montreal, Canada*
February 1, Sound Academy, Toronto, Canada*
February 2, Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI* (onsale today 5PM ET)
Feburary 4, Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL* (onsale Saturday 12PM CT)
February 5, Riverside Theatre, Milwaukee, WI#
February 6, State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN# (onsale Saturday 12PM CT)
February 7, Uptown Theatre, Kansas City, MO# (onsale Saturday 10AM CT)
February 9, Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO#
February 10, Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO# (onsale Saturday 10AM MT)
February 12, The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA#
February 13, House of Blues-San Diego, San Diego, CA# (onsale today 12PM PT)
February 14, Fox Theater, Oakland, CA# (onsale Sunday 10AM PT)
February 18, Paramount Ballroom, Seattle, WA# (onsale Saturday 10AM PT)
February 19, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR# (onsale Saturday 10AM PT)

* with Wye Oak
# with Mountain Man

March 4, Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
March 5, ABC, Glasgow, UK
March 7, Birmingham Institute, Birmingham, UK
March 8, Bristol Academy, Bristol, UK
March 10, Manchester Academy, Manchester, UK
March 11, Leeds Academy, Leeds, UK
March 13, Trix, Antwerp, Belgium
March 14, Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
March 16, Hammersmith Apollo, London, UK

18 November 2010

UPDATE: Patti Smith Wins National Book Award

From The New York Times:


The rock musician Patti Smith won the National Book Award for nonfiction on Wednesday night for “Just Kids,” a sweetly evocative memoir of her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe and life in the bohemian New York of the 1960s and ’70s.

Accepting the award to applause and cheers, Ms. Smith — clearly the favorite of the night — choked up as she recalled her days as a clerk in the Scribner’s bookstore in Manhattan.

“I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf,” she said. “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” “Just Kids” was published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.

16 November 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover [#25]

"Changing of the Guards" Patti Smith
Original Dylan version found on Street Legal (1978)

Patricia Lee Smith was born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey. Her dream of attending school derailed for a number of personal and economic reasons, she adopted the bohemian life by moving to New York City in 1967 in order to write poetry and study art.

Patti Smith's early years living in Brooklyn and the lower east side of Manhattan with her closest friend Robert Mapplethorpe and their eventual involvement in the orbit of other noted artists is vividly portrayed in her memoir Just Kids, recently nominated for the National Book Award.

In the book Smith writes of her reverence of Dylan, especially as poet. They both share a particular fondness for the work of Frenchman Arthur Rimbaud, a like-minded restless and rambling soul who influenced music, art and literature in the Europe of the later 1800s.

One of Mapplethorpe's first Polaroid pictures taken in 1970 shows Smith surrounded by three album sleeves: a Lotte Lenya LP of Weill/Brecht songs, as well as Blonde On Blonde and Bringing It All Back Home.

By 1975, she had taken to music and formed the Patti Smith Group. The band was starting to make its mark on the New York City music scene at places like Max's Kansas City and CBGB. But on a summer night that year Smith "merely had to lace up my boots, throw on my jacket and walk to work" at the Other End in Greenwich Village. It would be the group's first performance with a drummer. Smith continues:

The night, as the saying goes, was a jewel in our crown. We played as one, and the pulse and pitch of the band spiraled us into another dimension. Yet with all that swirling around me, I could feel another presence as surely as the rabbit senses the hound. He was there. I suddenly understood the nature of the electric air. Bob Dylan had entered the club. This
knowledge had a strange effect on me. Instead of humbled, I felt a power, perhaps his; but I also felt my own worth of my band. It seemed for me a night of initiation, where I had to become fully myself in the presence of the one I had modeled myself after.

In just a few months, the Patti Smith Group would record their debut album, Horses, at Electric Lady studios.

And so it should come as no surprise that on the 2007 compilation of covers Twelve, Patti Smith would finally record a nod to one of her chief muses. But the selection of the song was somewhat curious . . .

I only had one friend who would listen to Street Legal with me. She was very intellectual and artistic, and would sit cross-legged on her couch smoking cigarette after cigarette. We both thought that the newest Dylan record (save the horrible "New Pony," for which we would take turns getting up and lifting the phonograph stylus up and over to the next cut) was quite daring from both a musical style and lyrical standpoint; it was what attracted to us about Dylan: his chameleon-like persona, from large arena rock god with The Band to pancake makeup troubadour wandering the countryside in the Rolling Thunder Revue. And now here was Street Legal, drenched with background female call and response singers seemingly influenced by Bob Marley's I-Threes.
And it wasn't just a whim limited to a disc; he took the album on the road and plowed through almost all of it, much to the audience's chagrin . . .

"Changing of the Guards" has been interpreted by many as a thinly veiled history of Dylan's career up to that point (literally, "sixteen years," the opening line of the song). It is the aggressive seven minute opening salvo which opens Street Legal and was oddly chosen as a single (it did not make the Top 100).

Smith's take is much gentler and almost wary, and the lyrics are more pronounced as a result. Why did she choose this song above all others? Who knows. Maybe its apocalyptic nature fit the time in which it was released in 2007, with the country mired in two wars and partisan bickering more intense than usual. Maybe it is the stark imagery in Dylan's poem. Maybe both. Maybe neither. But isn't that the point?

Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Changing of the Guards" (Street Legal, 1978)

Another Cover: Frank Black, "Changing of the Guards" (All My Ghosts, 1998)

15 November 2010

New Patti Smith Album Set For 2011

Spinner reports that Patti Smith has recorded a new album and it is set to be released in early 2011. Sessions took place in Italy and France, but the bulk of the studio work apparently was done at Electric Lady in New York City.

"My work on the book sidestepped the album for awhile, but Columbia [Records] has been patient," Smith tells Spinner. "I recorded it with my band and my daughter [Jesse] played piano on it. [Television's] Tom Verlaine played some guitar on it."

Verlaine contributed guitar on some very early Smith sides and the two have been acquaintances since the halcyon days at CBGB.

Electric Lady is the studio created by Jimi Hendrix. In her memoir Just Kids, Smith recounts her initial, accidental encounter with Hendrix on the stairs leading up to the recording lair. Years after his death, she cut her first 45 rpm single there: "Hey Joe" (whispering hello to the guitar hero in the opening of the song that Hendrix made famous on his first album) b/w her own composition "Piss Factory," an elegy to Smith's days on a non-union manufacturing line.

Patti Smith and her band, led by long-time collaborator Lenny Kaye, will once again play a three night stand 29-31 December at the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

Here's a classic performance of "Horses" and the aforementioned "Hey Joe" by the Patti Smith Group - Kaye on guitar, Ivan Krall on bass, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Richard Sohl on keyboards - from the Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1976:

Music On TV This Week


Conan (TBS) - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The Tonight Show (NBC) - Annie Lennox
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) - Qunicy Jones; Grinderman
Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC) - Kate Nash
Lopez Tonight (TBS) - Sheryl Crow

TUESDAY, 16 November
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Bruce Springsteen
Last Call with Carson Daly - Japandroids
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) - John Legend

WEDNESDAY, 17 November
Last Call with Carson Daly - Broken Bells
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) - Jay-Z

THURSDAY, 18 November
Conan - The Decemberists
Jimmy Kimmel Live - My Chemical Romance
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - The Frames
Last Call with Carson Daly - Menomena

FRIDAY, 19 November
The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) - The Secret Sisters
Jimmy Kimmel Live - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) - Adam Savage & Jamie Hyneman
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Sufjan Stevens
Last Call with Carson Daly - Fitz & The Tantrums
Tavis Smiley (PBS) - Robert Duvall

12 November 2010

Sneak Preview of Bruce Springsteen's "The Promise"

This coming Tuesday 16 November Columbia Records will release the outtakes of Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town sessions, recorded back in 1977 and 1978. The Boss & The E Street Band had famously been away from the recording studio for almost three years due to a managerial dispute. But then Springsteen came to The Record Plant in New York City with a wealth of material, and this 21 (22?) track archive stands as a great double LP addition to his wonderful catalog.

The majority of the record could be peeled off and titled Born To Run 2.0. "Gotta Get That Feeling" is a full-on Phil Spector era tribute which could have been sung by one of his stable of great girl groups. (Hint to Darlene Love - make this your next single.) The British Invasion is revisited in "Outside Looking In" and The Righteous Brothers are bowed to with reverence via "Someday." And Bruce's deep affection for Memphis soul is reflected in two of the best tracks on the record: the call and response anthem "Ain't Good Enough" and the Miami Horns powered "It's A Shame," punctuated by a fine harmony vocal from Little Steven Van Zandt.

But The Promise also provides a glimpse of what an extended Darkness might have been. And while it's certainly hard to quibble with the tight structure of a four-star album, there are definitely some tunes that must have come close to making the cut. The title song and "One Way Street" are in the same vein. And a serious argument can be made for "Because The Night": alas, Springsteen couldn't find the right lyrical fit until he handed it off to Patti Smith, who then took her version to the Top 10 a year later.

What is also revelatory about this compilation are the compositions that ended up in the hands of or influenced other artists, showing the versatility of Bruce the songwriter: "Fire" (The Pointer Sisters), "Talk To Me" (Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes) and "City of Night" (certainly meant for Willy DeVille).

The Promise is no throwaway of odds and ends. It is a worthy addition to the Bruce Springsteen canon.

Preview The Promise in its entirety (via, and enjoy the promotional film below.

All-Star Lineup To Discuss Dylan & The Band

New York's 14th Street Y has announced a symposium entitled "Bob Dylan & The Band: What Kind of Love Is This?" to be held on 5 December. The six and a half hour talkfest features an all-star lineup of noted Dylanologists:

Greil Marcus: Author of the definitive book on Bob Dylan and The Band, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes.

Christopher Ricks: Renowned critic and scholar of English literature and poetry, and author of Dylan’s Visions of Sin.

John Niven: Novelist whose book Music from Big Pink vividly imagines the world of Bob Dylan and The Band.

Dana Spiotta: Author of mesmerizing portraits of the 60’s underground, including Eat the Document.

Matt Friedberger: Co-founder of the visionary rock band The Fiery Furnaces.

D.A. Pennebaker: Pioneering film documentarian, whose credits include Don’t Look Back, the first film on Bob Dylan.

Stephen Hazan Arnoff: Executive Director of the 14th Street Y writes and teaches widely on music, art and religion.

Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding): Singer-songwriter and award winning author of Misfortune.

William G. Scheele: Museum curator and former Equipment/Stage Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band.

The program of events kicks off on 3 December with the gallery showing of some of Scheele's photographs of Dylan and his mates from 1973-1975. It concludes with a concert on 5 December following the roundtable, with musicians including Laura Cantrell, John Wesley Harding, John Medeski, Jolie Holland and others.

Tickets for the symposium and concert are $75 per (or $35 per if you just want to go to the concert) and can be purchased here.

11 November 2010

Veterans/Remembrance Day 2010

Community Center, Berkeley, California, 2 March 1973.

10 November 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover [#24]

"Spanish Harlem Incident"
Yonder Mountain String Band
Original Dylan version found on Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

This week's selection is relatively new and certainly obscure. But that doesn't mean it's not good.

The four-piece bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band is based out of Colorado. Their sound is a little more agressive than the original American traditional mountain sounds that originated in Appalachia. But YMSB certainly knows their roots, and it shows on this cover of Dylan's "Spanish Harlem Incident."

Bob Dylan's original recording is basically an urban blues about an immediate attraction to a woman that the narrator glimpses on a (presumably Manhattan, given the title) street. The lyric is beautifully layered and poetic in its transference to the reader of the hard to describe feeling that occurs when a total stranger can strike one's fancy in a strong, almost obsessive way.

This particular YMSB live performance is taken from an appearance this past summer at the 2010 9th Annual Northwest String Summit in North Plains, Oregon. No doubt Dylan would be pleased, given his open admiration of American music legend Bill Monroe: the band here uses Monroe's familiar rhythmic cadence while guitarist Adam Aijala takes the lead vocal and matches the melody with the feverish words provided by Dylan.

Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964)

Another Cover: The Byrds, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965)

Still Another Cover: Dion, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (The Return of The Wanderer, 1978)

08 November 2010

Pick To Click: The Naked + Famous - "Young Blood"

This New Zealand outfit shines in the first single from its album Passive Me, Aggressive You. Sounding like continental cousins of Passion Pit, "Young Blood" was voted single of the year in that country. The song is available in the US and UK on iTunes, but no word on when the CD will come our way. In the meantime, The Naked + Famous are appearing live in the next two weeks in Manchester, London, New York and Los Angeles.

Music On TV This Week

[Special thanks to Conan O'Brien for promoting The Night Owl as well as his new talk show debuting tonight on TBS at 11EST/10CST.]


Conan (TBS) - Jack White
The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) - Cee-Lo Green
The Tonight Show (NBC) - N.E.R.D.
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) - Neil Diamond
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) - Toots & The Maytals
Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC) - Matt & Kim
Tavis Smiley (PBS) - Josh Groban
Lopez Tonight (TBS) - Rooney

TUESDAY, 9 November
Conan - Soundgarden
The Late Show with David Letterman - Bon Jovi
Last Call with Carson Daly - The Walkmen
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) - Cee-Lo Green
WEDNESDAY, 10 November
Conan - Fistful of Mercy
The Late Show with David Letterman - Quincy Jones; Snoop Dogg
The Tonight Show - Old 97's
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Jonsi
Last Call with Carson Daly - Alberta Cross

THURSDAY, 11 November
The Late Show with David Letterman - Bruno Mars
Jimmy Kimmel Live - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Robyn
Last Call with Carson Daly - Jimmy Eat World
The Colbert Report - Qunicy Jones

FRIDAY, 12 November
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Kings of Leon
Tavis Smiley - Cassandra Wilson

07 November 2010

New From The Tallest Man On Earth

Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, released his second album on Dead Oceans Records a few months ago. The Wild Hunt is a solid follow up to 2008's Shallow Grave. This week, the official video to the latest single, "Love Is All" was released. The sweet folk confection, complimented by home movies, can be enjoyed below.

04 November 2010

The Live Vault: Richard Thompson

4 November 2010
Pabst Theater, Milwaukee

[On occasion, our far-flung correspondents attend and review shows. Here's another installment.]


Twenty-five years ago, this reviewer sat in the back of an intimate Madison, Wisconsin theater waiting on headliner Randy Newman. But first, a tall, lanky Englishman topped with a beret and an unassuming acoustic guitar stepped up to a lone microphone.

It was Richard Thompson.

The only thing I knew about Thompson was his cult status due to an album that many had praised, but few had actually heard: Shoot Out The Lights (1982), the extraordinary group of songs recorded with his ex-wife, Linda. His notoriety of a guitar boy wonder had only taken root in the UK after his regional success with Fairport Convention in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s.

By 1985, Richard Thompson was caught in the jaws of the music industry machine. He had moved from England to Los Angeles, seeking an audience in the US. But his deal with Polygram had failed to produce sufficient record sales, and he would soon be looking for a new label.

So there Thompson was in a Wisconsin college town, busking before the crowd as a warm up act for Newman (a man who had also known what it was like to be under appreciated by the general music fandom). And damned if he wasn't mesmerizing. Self-effacing and a wizard with his hands, the acoustic performance would stick in my mind for a long time and encourage me to pay attention to his future releases, no matter how obscure they might become over the years.

This past Thursday night at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, a now 61-year old Richard Thompson played to nearly a full house in support of a brand new batch of originals contained on his latest CD, Dark Attic. He strolled on to the stage looking like a Bohemian working man, sporting his black beret, a keffiyeh patterned scarf and jeans. The major attraction for this show was Thompson strapping on his famous baby blue Fender Stratocaster. In tow was a crack band: Taras Prodaniuk on bass, Joel Zifkin on fiddle and mandolin, Michael Jerome on drums and uber-musician and vocalist Pete Zorn (we should probably just list the instruments he can't play).

The first set took some guts, even if Thompson was playing mostly to the faithful. The band played Dream Attic in its entirety, in sequential order. While the album itself was recorded live, and certainly was road tested to begin with, the lyrical content is, ahem, not the most uplifting. ("The happy songs come in the second part of the show," deadpanned Thompson.)

Highlights were many. The opener, "The Money Shuffle," is a driving melody that does not hide the author's disdain for the recent misdeeds of Wall Street. "Haul Me Up" cues into a Sun Records beat that sounds like Johnny Cash crossed with Hank Williams; Zifkin's clever fiddle segued beautifully into a furious Thompson solo. "Crime Scene" is a heartbreaking tale that lyrically pays attention to the humanity that is so often missing in a media that favors sensationalism over the reality of "a soul torn away." That darkness was punctuated nicely by Jerome's use of drum mallets. "Big Sun Falling On The River" painted a vivid picture of the Thames River in London with a melody that could have fit on Rubber Soul.

Then the band started to hit its stride with a grouping of four Dream Attic songs that translate very well to the live stage. "Stumble On" showed Thompson not only as a technically proficient electric guitarist but also a soulful one. The listener can also imagine him playing this tune on his acoustic with his fiddle player late at night in the snug of an Irish pub. A 9/8 time murder ballad dressed as a loud rock jig followed; "Sydney Wells" rouses the crowd to its feet, powered by a soprano sax and fiddle cacophony which melts into a violent guitar solo, mirroring the gruesome chaos of a brutal murderer. "A Brother Slips Away" is searingly poignant, each verse one of remembrance of loved ones lost and the creeping mortality that we all must face sooner or later. And "Bad Again" brings to mind the early 1960s swing of "Got My Mind Set On You." Zorn picks up and honks the baritone sax, bringing a wry smile to Thompson's face, who glides through the vocal with a voice just as solid as it was 25 years ago.

Set two opened with a nod to the Fairport days: "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away" reflects his first band's patented combination of Celtic rock and Renaissance courtyard. "Can't Win" sported a Thompson electric guitar solo that almost exhausts this listener. Almost as if sensing this, the band leader finally picks up an acoustic guitar and treats the audience to "One Door Opens," a Moroccan-tinged melody that highlights how effortlessly Thompson shifts from strumming to finger picking; during this song he looks particularly pleased at one point in nailing a difficult chord.

Thompson has said in interviews that acoustic playing has become more physically challenging than electric at his age. This seems to be borne out after he finishes "Al Bowlly's In Heaven" when he squeezes and shakes out both hands to regain a little circulation. But there certainly appears to be no hangover when he launches into the one-two punch of "I'll Never Give It Up" and "Wall of Death." The former features the sound that Thompson has uniquely patented over the years: a kind of English cousin to Elvis' noted fret-man, James Burton. The latter is the sole selection from Shoot Out The Lights, which benefits from a nice complimentary vocal by Zorn.

The set winds up with the Little Richard flavored raver "Tear Stained Letter," and if the crowd doesn't know it by now, it is surely aware that any guitar solo by Thompson is never an exercise in navel-gazing. Indeed, they have witnessed one of the best ever at his instrument, who is still contributing vital music over 40 years after bursting on the music scene.

SET ONE - Dream Attic
1. The Money Shuffle
2. Among The Gorse, Among The Grey
3. Haul Me Up
4. Burning Man
5. Here Comes Geordie
6. Demons In Her Dancing Shoes
7. Crime Scene
8. Big Sun Falling In The River
9. Stumble On
10. Sidney Wells
11. A Brother Slips Away
12. Bad Again
13. If Love Whispers Your Name

1. The Angels Took My Racehorse Away
2. Can't Win
3. One Door Opens
4. Al Bowlly's In Heaven
5. I'll Never Give It Up
6. Wall of Death
7. Tear Stained Letter
8. Take Care The Road You Choose
9. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

02 November 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover [#23]

"Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)"
Manfred Mann
Original Dylan version found on Self-Portrait (1970)

Manfred Mann, a British band steeped in beat and blues, made its bones on the charts with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," an Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry song that spent two weeks at #1 in the US in 1964. The group then became Dylan cover specialists, recording "With God On Our Side," "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and "Just Like A Woman."

Then came "Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)." The Night Owl's initial exposure to this Dylan composition was like, I suppose, the majority of listeners: this Manfred Mann cover climbed to the Top 10 back in February 1968. The catchy tune, a nursery rhyme that leans musically on (of all things) a flute hook, naturally caught the attention of this then nine year old listening to nascent AM rock and roll radio.


The genesis of "Quinn" is Dylan's famous sessions with The Band in Woodstock, New York back in 1967. That demo was not intended for release, but first surfaced on the bootleg Great White Wonder in 1969. A live take of the song - apparently from the Isle of Wight Festival - first appeared commercially on Self-Portrait (1970) and then once again on Greatest Hits Vol. II (1971). The second take from Woodstock was included on the seminal collection Biograph (1985). Ironically enough, when the bootleg finally reached the light of day on Columbia's double-disc The Basement Tapes (1975), "The Mighty Quinn" was not on the 24-track listing.

Dylan amusingly refers to "The Mighty Quinn" in a chapter of his memoir Chronicles (p. 187):

On the way back to the house [in New Orleans] I passed the local movie theater on Prytania Street, where The Mighty Quinn was showing. Years earlier I had written a song called "The Mighty Quinn" which was a hit in England, and I wondered what the movie was about. Eventually I'd sneak off and go there to see it. It was a mystery, suspense, Jamaican thriller with Denzel Washington as the mighty Xavier Quinn, a detective who solves crimes. Funny, that's just the way I imagined him when I wrote the song "The Mighty Quinn." Denzel Washington. He must have been a fan of mine . . . years later he would play the boxer Hurricane Carter, someone else I wrote a song about. I wondered if Denzel could play Woody Guthrie. In my dimension of reality, he certainly could have.

01 November 2010

Van Morrison - "All Saints Day"

"All Saints Day"

Here comes Sue and she looks crazy
Skipping down the hillside gaily
Looking like the flowers that bloom in May
Won't you make your reservation?
I will meet you at the station
Won't you come and see me, All Saints Day?

Follow my lead, it is no wonder, I seem to be so high
Living my dreams the way I ought to
As the days go rolling by
See me strolling through the meadow
With you baby by my side
Won't you come and see me, All Saints Day?

See the streamline blue horizon
With you baby by the way
Won't you come and see me, All Saints Day?
You can make your reservation
I will meet you at the station
When you come to see me, All Saints Day

When you come to see me, All Saints Day
When you come to see me, All Saints Day.

Written by Van Morrison
Hymns To The Silence
Polydor Records

Still The Greatest

Yeah, TNOP knows: it's Monday. So if it feels like you are already on the ropes, we're going to set things right.

Over the weekend, it was the 36th (!) anniversary of the "Rumble In The Jungle," Muhammad Ali's stunning defeat of George Foreman in the African nation of Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). [The night before the boxing match there was a music festival featuring James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, The Spinners and Celia Cruz & The Fania All-Stars.] And if there ever was an authentic rock and roll boxer, it was Ali -- still "The Greatest."

So when you have worked your Monday morning rope-a-dope to perfection and decide it is time to dance, close the office door and turn up the video from The Hours below.