Steve Wilson. On music.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reverberations: Rambles, Rants, and Raves (05-05-2015)

Everyday I listen to music. And think about music. Today I was listening to the Real Kids, specifically their eponymous debut album on Red Star, a label started by Marty Thau. Marty was a good egg. Got to know him a little by correspondence toward the end of his life. Let's put it this way, he managed the New York Dolls and started a label that introduced the Real Kids and Suicide to the world outside the Northeastern United States. The fucking Sam Philips of St. Mark's Place, I tell ya.

That Real Kids album is a masterpiece. John Felice is a true believer in rock 'n' roll - as form, process and heart. His Real Kids were not exactly original. With every stud showing, you could see the materials from which they built their church. But it was in the mixing and personalizing of these materials that Felice and crew put their own stamp on the music they love. "All Kindsa Girls" - there are few better rock songs - a lot of Chuck Berry, a wad of Beatlegum, those heart tugging strains teased from Them's "Brown Eyed Girl" on the coda. Whether it was instinct or craft, it was surely inspiration, the inspiration of a kid (Felice) for whom Rock 'n' Roll was a way of life, not just an entertainment.

"Reggae Reggae" gives Felice a second opportunity on the record to diss homosexuals ("she thinks I'm a fag") to complement "the guys are all faggots" from "Do the Boob." So, no - political awareness wasn't John's strong suit. Appalling? Sure. But in the context of Boston-rock in the Seventies not to be wholly unanticipated from a working class Italian kid with fucked up teeth. The guitar sounds on "Reggae Reggae" are so great you just don't care, anyway. A weaving groove of Velvets (think "Foggy Notion") and Paul Revere (early, garage-y), the track is powered by drummer Howie Ferguson's uncanny, unconscious blend of Mo and Ringo. It's tribal, a clarion hip-shaker. The lyrics are ridiculous. What the fuck does it have to do with the Jamaican musical idiom, reggae? Fuck-all as far as I can tell. Apparently it's a - dance? But ultimately it's about drive and thrust, and the 'text' don't mean shit. When the words ("Reggae Reggae") are sung with such exhilaration it sounds revolutionary, just because joy and release always sound like liberation.

Oh, I was listening to The Magic Whip, Blur's reunion album. Am I wrong or is Britt Daniel
from Spoon's whole mid-Atlantic combination of clipped Anglo-diction and marble-mouth booze slur copped from Damon Albarn?

Have a great tomorrow.

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