Author Archives: clif

Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country and Western

I’m going to be too lazy to go very in-depth with this one.  Here’s what I know: Once he made a name for himself, he signed a contract with ABC Paramount that included a full artistic freedom clause.  He used that freedom to produce this album, despite the fears of label executives that a genre cross-over would fail.  From what I’m hearing while I write this, those fears were unwarranted.  This is less a blending of two genres than it is a straight R & B record using songs that had previously been recorded as country.  The lyrics and song structures for the songs chosen (and probably most country songs at the time [and now, probably]) seem pretty easily transferrable from one style to another.  Here’s what this guy has to say about it.

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Relatively Clean Rivers

from Beat of the EarthI’m going to jump ahead of Interstellar in order to give him some time to get settled.

I picked this album after reading an interview with Jeff Tweedy who cited it as  having an influence when he was writing “You Are My Face” from Sky Blue Sky.  That’s my favorite track off that album, so I thought it this album might be worth a listen.

From Record Geek:  ”

“Recorded in 1975, this is a west coast psych tour de force that combines elements of vintage Grateful Dead with folk psych and BTL rural rock (in fact, an album like this very clearly illustrates the difference between rural rock and country rock, as it’s very clearly Americana-influenced but really has no country reference points. That’s one reason the term BTL is useful, it’s an umbrella that encompasses both). Phil Pearlman is the singer and songwriter, and plays the lion’s share of the instruments. […] A very California record, this is full of lots of wide open spaces, jangly acoustic-guitar folk-rock tapestries, twangy, reverbed, Garcia-like electric leads, reedy vocal harmonies, and extended songs that achieve a stoned, dreamy feel. […] I’ve read that only 500 copies were originally made and Pearlman “distributed” many of those just by discreetly depositing them around college campuses and record stores unannounced.”

Pearlman was also the driving force for Beat of the Earth in the mid-60s, a psychedelic, beat-whatever band that he formed, I read, as a school project while at UC-Irvine.  I’ve got that album, which is a forty minute, two track, free-form psych-jam mess.  It’s hard to listen to, but if you want to give it a shot, let me know.

Of further interest, you could check out this article from The New Yorker that is about Pearlman’s son, Adam Gadahn, who is the first American charged with treason in over fifty years and a high ranking al Qaeda operative.  The article briefly discusses Pearlman and Relatively Clean Rivers on the second page.

Roy Orbison – The Essential [Disc 1]

(Note: Fixed.  Check out disc 2 if you’d like.  Later career stuff.)

I got screwed hardcore with my schedule slot.  I’m supposed to follow Mingus?  Thanks a lot, Aaron.

Anyway, we’re going with something a little sweeter, more frivolous this week.  I usually prefer to avoid hit compilations, but after (half-assedly) looking around for what might be considered his greatest, proper album, the consesus seemed to be Mystery Girl, which was recorded just before, and released just after his death in December of 1988.  The end of his career didn’t seem like a good place to start, so I opted for the hits.  Seems like Orbison made his name on his singles, rather than his albums anyway, so I guess a hits comp is okay.  Whatever.

It’s up so enjoy.  He really does have a great voice.  This is what Bob Dylan said about it: “Orbison … transcended all the genres. … With Roy, you didn’t know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. … [He sang] his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. … His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttering to yourself something like, ‘Man, I don’t believe it’. His songs had songs within songs. Orbison was deadly serious–no pollywog and no fledgling juvenile. There wasn’t anything else on the radio like him.”