Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Black Betty Is Blues, Punk, Disco, Pop and Industrial Metal

One thing I love about having a blog about music is I have to type so little. The music says it all.

Black Betty was originally a  powerful song of rhythmic singing and handclaps, with misty beginnings in black folk/work song. Black betty could be booze, or a flintlock gun, or a hot girl depending on how far back you go. It was made popular by Ledbelly in 1939, and remade popular as a southernrock/disco tune in 1977.

Black Betty is so simple and powerful, the musicians can easily take it and play themselves right into it. I wish I could put them here left to right, so you could easily choose your favorite genre. I have my favorites. Scroll down and find yours.

Blues By Leadbelly

In 1977 Ram Jam combines disco drums with southern rock guitars to make a one-hit wonder

Raw punk by Nick Cave. Here it is live. It gives me chills.

If light rock is more your thing, the heavy rhythm from the original song gives Tom Jones an edge:

 Black Betty, by industrial metal band, Ministry. Interesting!

I had hoped to find a very different DJ remix of Black Betty, but they are all very stuck on the Ram Jam version, with added redundant drum beats. The main obvious versions I could not find online were a Black Betty rap, and Black Betty very simply played, where the singer sang the lines, but left the ram-a-lam sound to the electric guitar player.

Coming soon: Your Biblioscope for October.

Friday, September 24, 2010

so, what happens to young punks?

Well, if they don't die of drugs, disease or exposure to the elements...
they turn into old punks...angry, middle-aged people who are either healing from their emotional wounds of their youth or pouring salt on them.
It sounds like a lot of people I know, even people who were ahem, square as all get out when I was a kid,  would really identify with The Victims latest album "Take It As It Comes," featuring songs with titles like, "Wasted Youth," "Just Another Yesterday" and "Behind the Times."

Here's Wasted Youth live:

Live concert footage usually has muffled vocals. At the beginning of the song, the singer is telling his own story...

Kid is gone without a trace
Look in the mirror--
don't know my face
In '68 turned 17,
the year I first got laid
Turn the page, another day, 
another hair turning gray

another song another  lie another day I didn't die
another mother breathes a sigh

but by the end of the song...
he's singing about those kids today

Three kids are sittin' on the fence
Three I can't find in present tense
don't feel compelled to go out lookin' for the  truth
Another case of wasted youth

The rest of the song is just as fast, fun and relevant. I recommend this album.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Velvet Underground Under Review & The Yardbirds Documentary

The Yardbirds: Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja, Keith Relf,
Jimmy Page, & Jeff Beck
My giant, 5' wide canvas is desperately seeking a subject. I had decided to find my reference for paintings from video. I am concerned that a lot of other people may have painted from the same photo, and also about copyright issues.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to work on. It depends on the reference available. What I want to get at is the relationship between musician and instrument--and hopefully, what is going on inside the musician.

So I upped my Netflix to three at a time and got out The Velvet Underground Under Review and The Yardbirds Documentary aka The Story of the Yardbirds. That may sound a little mixed up, but I have tattoos about The Velvet Underground on my arms (Though they have a double meaning. You may as well call one Wild Bill Thompson. And the other 03-20-10.) and a picture of the Yardbirds--Clapton--on inside of my apartment door.

The Velvet Underground
with Nico and Andy
The Velvet Underground Under Review claimed to have lots of rare footage. It was mostly footage of the band hanging around. I wanted to see them playing. There was also lots of stock footage. What I thought was really interesting was the interview with a young guitar player who explained the construction of the Velvets songs. There was also extensive interviews with Billy Name, who made some of the record covers.  Another big negative was that John Cale and Lou Reed did not participate in the making of this documentary, not even in interviews.

The Story of the Yardbirds had a great deal more footage of the band actually playing. There were extensive interviews with everyone in the band, including Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. There was a lot more footage of Beck than Page, but I think Beck had been in the band longer. It's less than an hour long, but gives a good picture of the shortlived band and its scene. There were also interviews with some band management.  I got a lot of images from this, mostly of Jeff Beck. I highly recommend this video.

I am still not sure who will get the first big canvas. I have some Led Zeppelin documentaries next on my Netflix queue. If I paint a giant Jimmy Page from those, it can't be like the standard. And in about 5 minutes I am going to run The Story of the Yardbirds again. I am hoping I missed some pre-slut Page images in there.
Update: I didn't check out the bonus tracks before. I am always cynical about "bonus" anything. It was great! 15 minutes of the the Jimmy Page Yardbirds playing on Germany's Beat Beat Beat tv show. High quality footage. Double recommend!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wah Wah Wild

The first master of the Wah Wah guitar sound was Earl Hooker--before the Wah Wah pedal was invented. He used the volume control on his guitar:

The Wah Wah pedal was invented by accident while making a new kind of amplifier at Vox/Thomas Organ Co. in 1966. If you like stories about circuit boards, click here.

Some of the first guitarists to use it were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Here' s Clapton in  Cream's White Room:

It quickly moved to Motown and became associated with funk (and cop show music). Here is Isaac Hayes live with the Theme from Shaft:

 Wah wah guitar also made its way into Boogaloo. Here is Dave Cortes:

Well, I don't know about you, but I feel all psychedelic after all the wah wah guitar. There is such a thing as too much wah wah, but I am not going to torture you and me  with bad examples (esp. not me, because I have to find the examples). Let's just say you know there's too much wah wah when the music starts to sound really cheap--vinyl leather jacket cheap. And the audience starts to leave.

If you can think of any more very different examples of wah wah and how it's used--please comment or email and let me know. I'm always lookin', lookin' lookin' for somethin' I haven't heard before...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Howlin' Wolf

I painted this from a frame from "The Howlin'Wolf Story: The Secret History of Rock and Roll" movie.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coney Island Cockabilly Rockabilly Fest Grows a New, Um, Arm

I posted this on another not-necessarily-music blog I occasionally write for.
Everything you need to know about this weekend's rockabilly festival, including short answers to "What is rockabilly?" and "What is burlesque?"