Saturday, May 30

Chris Stamey - Euphoria, track by track

by Chris Stamey

ROB SEZ: Time to celebrate the release of Chris' quite excellent solo album, Euphoria. (In case you missed it, here's my earlier post with audio for four tracks.  You can listen to all 10 tracks on the album at YouTube.) Courtesy of the fine folks at Chris' music label Yep Roc, here are Chris' own notes about each track:

1) “Universe-sized Arms” - Ryan Adams sent this to me without footnotes, so I can't speak to his lyrical intent. To me, it's about meeting a lover for the first time, that sense of being completed and enveloped by another person, with everything happening in double time. I like that it reminds me both of "Interstellar Overdrive" by Syd's Pink Floyd and a lost Psychedelic Furs track, especially with Mitch Easter's ringing guitar colors. I added the strings and horns to make it a bit more like “Live and Let Die.”

2) “Where Does the Time Go?” - Pop songs have always been more about moments than eons, they are miniatures by nature. After I finished this album, I realized how much it is about extremely minute amounts of time that point on the line we're on between the past and the future, how mysterious it is that the “now” seems fixed but is always a shifting landscape. When I lived in NYC, I was always going through tunnels the Lincoln or Holland, the subway or PATH and it was a good time to think about Einstein and Hawking and Doppler. Of course, it's a cliché, "How the time has flown, I must be leaving the party now, thank you very much," but like many clichés it is also a question that rewards further examination. This tune was the first one written with “brass 'n' band” in mind.

3) “Invisible” - I wrote this with a capo high on my old Silvertone guitar, a clear, “silver” tone. It's about some seemingly magic events that happened to me at a time of great loss. We live in an era of science, tantalized by explanations for everything, but I think there are still “invisible” mysteries everywhere; it's just that we no longer are on the lookout for them. More to the point, I had played bass briefly with NC's own Let's Active and, with that sound in mind, was thrilled to enlist both Mitch and drummer Eric Marshall with me for this groove.

4) “Make Up Your Mind” - I heard the Beatle's Revolver a lot while I was writing this record, my daughter kept it on the turntable for a while. I think I better confess this now; it's pretty obvious in this song’s groove, at least to me, and the way it starts with the chorus, and the play on “too” and “to.” I tried to make the choruses conversational and casual, like you are speaking to someone across a kitchen table (also like “Spooky” by the Classics IV?); then the verses are louder and more preachy, with a riff that remembers the Cramps. The guitar solo was mostly just a test to see if the wire was working, but I left it in, I like how it leaps out and is a bit wonky. Crispin Cioe from the Uptown Horns did the most perfect “surgical strike” brass parts on this.

5) “Euphoria” - This song was written as a kind of dictation, on a brilliantly sunny day in the South, just lines in my head while driving around in my red truck feeling (dare I meta-say?) euphoric. I remembered the words as best I could and jotted them down as soon as I got to a stopping place; the music was pretty easy to recall. We cut it live as a band, with Wes’s Herbie Hancock Rhodes ringing and Matt McMichaels on second guitar, than I doubled the live solo later with Bollywood massed strings. (We actually redid this track later, really tight and punchy like a Nile Rogers tune, but the original version got the nod in the end, maybe one day the other will surface.) It was nine minutes long to begin; we had a lot of fun cutting it — but in the end, the shorter version seemed to fit better. “Little Johnny Jewel,” the first Television single, faded out on one side and then back up on the flip, real magic storytelling, like a syndicated radio show, I first aped this on “Soul Kiss Pt. II” by the dB's and was glad to go there again — the Part II of the song is a bonus track included with this release. My friend Glenn Morrow says this is the return of the Groovegate System, my 1980s It's a Wonderful Life claptrap techno rig that was based on Timmy Thomas's “Let's Live Together” — but it isn't really.

6) “Awake in the World” - This was recorded in sections, with abrupt shifts, like ping-ponging scenes in a movie, to try to match that feeling of being jolted awake, to keep the listener on their toes. The pre-chorus is a bit like “Crosstown Traffic” or “Expressway to Your Heart” by the Soul Survivors and otherwise there are a lot of Sgt. Pepper sonic references here I have to admit, that Salvation Army brass sound! I loved the way Nile Rogers mixed Stevie Ray Vaughn and brass together in the middle of David Bowie's “Let's Dance,” so there's a bit of that in there, too, in the slightly bluesy solo.

7) “Dear Valentine” - Memphis songwriter Chris Bell wrote a number of songs that seemed to conflate romantic and spiritual love, as did Al Green; I think of this as a song in that tradition, that, despite the title, it could be to a lover or to God. (I've done this before, e.g. “Song for Johnny Cash"). In fact, for a while it had the now-embarrassing working title “Bell Song.” It also uses a riff with an augmented 4th walk down like the Big Star song “Back of a Car” and the interior thirds guitar voicing’s of songs like “And Your Bird Can Sing” but these are not direct lifts, as opposed to the cowbell tremelo before the solo, which is an over-the-top direct lift of course but was really fun to do so it got left in the mix. I was so pleased that Norman Blake (the Teenage Fanclub one, not the folksinger) could sing harmonies on this one, I love his voice. (When I was in the dB's, we were often thought of as doing things in the Big Star tradition but I never thought this was very accurate at all.)

8) “When the Fever Breaks” - Richard Thompson's “Wall of Death” (named after the amusement park ride) is a great song, I think both it and “All Along the Watchtower” were on my mind here — songs where you feel like you have come in late to a movie and are missing some kind of back story. Here the “fever” is “life's midsummer-night's dream” and the singer is waiting for death to reunite him with a loved one. I asked Tony Stiglitz and Mitch Easter for an AC/DC and Zep thing and they made it their own. The percussive organ is a Bernie Worrell signature sound, Hammond as conga, Bernie and I toured together in the Golden Palominos and originally he was going to play this part but our schedules didn't match up, Wes got it right. I don't specifically remember even playing the stream-of-consciousness guitar licks, I must have done them very late one night, and so it was a treat to “uncover” them later on a neglected track. This is my favorite song on the record, as far as songwriting goes.

9) “You Are Beautiful” - I hadn't intended to arrange any orchestral textures this time out but couldn’t resist a bit of Harry Nilsson “in the night” on this one, and when Pat Sansone added his amazing massed vocal harmonies (thank you sir) it all seemed to fit. This is a song about having the courage to be at home in your own skin, also about “telling your own truth” as the saying goes, something that comes up often for the first time in adolescence but never really leaves. I've known people in the LGBT community who struggle with the disconnect between the way they are and the way society asks them to be, so this was part of the story here. But really it’s meant to be encouraging to anyone who is brave enough to stand up at any time and say, “this is me.”

10) “Rocketship” - This tune is really just for fun; it used to be that songwriting was more about coming up with a Riff that was fun to play, this is very old-fashioned in that regard. Everyone in my hometown high school music scene loved the MC5, songs such as “Human Being Lawnmower” rewrote the textbook for us. There was a short time in the history of the Five when they adopted a sci-fi stance, with outfits that looked to have been made out of aluminum foil!, although I didn't discover this until later, but I'm tipping a shiny hat to that. I've dragged the dB's Acetone organ around the world with me over the years and was glad to have some Acetone on this tune; too, nothing says “space” quite like a combo organ.

BONUS TRACKS (iTunes does not include bonus tracks in their version of the album — buy the CD or LP from Yep Roc instead):
11) “Draggin' the Line” - I cut this originally for a WFMU benefit CD and reworked it as a companion piece here. Those of you who know Jon Wurster primarily as a comedic raconteur may be surprised to hear that he's the drummer on this, and a quite good one to boot. Lydia Kavanagh, from She Never Blinks, sings this with me.

12) “Euphoria, Cont'd” - The bookend to the title track. Mitch plays this solo, actually, not me much appreciated! The quote that this was based around is from Lost Horizons by James Hilton:  “Then the whole range, much nearer now, paled into fresh splendor; a full moon rose, touching each peak in succession like some celestial lamplighter, until the long horizon glittered against a blue-black sky.” I've always liked one-chord more than three chords, “Right Off" with Miles Davis and John McLaughlin was a key track for me.

13) “Where Does the Time Go?” (Groovy Radio Mix) - Jeff Crawford mixed this one, and it almost went on the album proper. We all dug it but it didn't quite fit in with the rest of the guitar-centric numbers, I was happy that it could be heard as a bonus track.

Friday, May 29

Del McCoury Band - 'Del Sings Woody' live 2014

Flynn Theatre
Burlington, Vermont
Nov. 2, 2014

audience recording (sound quality: VG++ to Ex-; a beautiful recording that was mastered in a pro recording studio)

EXTRA THANKS to Casey C for recording the show & Bill K for professionally mastering the tracks

ROB SEZ: "And now, for something completely different..." I admit this is pretty far out of the musical categories we usually deal with here at the Repercussion Blog. But it's such a cool show that I couldn't help myself. Del  McCoury, a true living bluegrass legend, sings previously unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie, with tunes composed by Del (see more info below). Add to that the sweet sound quality, and you've got something for the more adventurous among you to enjoy. (What's it going to cost you, anyway? Just a few clicks and a little bit of hard disc space...)

SAMPLE: "Wimmen's Hats" (Vermont 2014)

01 Del's introduction
02 New York Trains
03 Cheap Mike
04 Walking the Lady I Love
05 Left In This World All Alone
06 California Gold
07 Because You Took Me In 
     Out of the Rain
08 Government Roads
09 Dirty Overalls
10 Family Reunion
11 Woman's Hats
12 Little Fellow
13 Whole Cake Fritters

Del takes requests for his material
14 Big Blue Raindrops
15 Black Cat 
     County Chains
16 instrumental
17 I'm the Bluest 
     Man In Town
18 The Lime House Blues
19 The Kentucky Waltz
20 Wheel Hoss
21 Evangelina
22 1952 Vincent 
     Black Lightning
23 All Aboard
24 callback

25 It's Just the Night
26 White House Blues


Del  McCoury - guitar, vocals
Ronnie  McCoury - mandolin
Rob McCoury - banjo
Jason Carter - fiddle
Alan Bartram - acoustic bass
From Del  McCoury's website:

The Del  McCoury  Band’s new project, “Del & Woody”, features unheard and unsung words of Guthrie set to music by Del himself. To help bring new life to the work of American folk poet Woody Guthrie, his daughter, Nora Guthrie, gave Del  McCoury exclusive access to the archives of her father’s unpublished work. Now, with the support of Woody Guthrie’s family, The Del  McCoury  Band will perform an evening of never-before-heard lyrics written by the “Dust Bowl Troubadour” set to new music by Del  McCoury and including a multi-media presentation featuring Guthrie’s original words, drawings and other materials from the archives that inspired this performance. In addition, McCoury, will perform his trademark Bluegrass standards and favorites.

Friday, May 8

The Feelies - Two NYC Shows 1977 & 1980

Two separate shows; two separate downloads
New York, N.Y.
Dec. 14, 1977

audience recording (sound quality: VG+; surprisingly good sound for a tape of this vintage)

The Feelies: pondering polyrhythms and shoe styles

BIG-TIME THANKS to ODoc55 for taping and Arbuthnot for sharing what might be the group's second-ever public appearance (not 100% sure...)

01 Real Cool Time (Stooges cover)
02 The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness 
03 Fa Ce-La
04 Clean Girl
05 Forces at Work
06 Big Plans
07 Little Red Book (Love cover)
08 Moscow Nights
09 Crazy Rhythms

10 The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness
11 Original Love
12 Third Uncle (Brian Eno cover)
13 The Thin Line
14 Loveless Love 
15 Forces at Work
16 Moscow Nights
17 Slipping (Into Something)


Irving Plaza
New York, N.Y.
Dec. 20, 1980

audience recording (sound quality VG-; this one has some hiss and is a bit muffled-sounding at times, but not unlistenably so)

MANY THANKS to the taper, and to Dartman and Brandon for sharing

I've awarded bonus points for the dog
01 Phantom Captain Phantom Chief
02 Skating On Thinning Ice
03 Angels With Trumpets*
04 When Company Comes

05 The Boy With the 
     Perpetual Nervousness
06 Fa Ce-La
07 Loveless Love
08 Forces at Work
09 The Obedient Atom
10 Moscow Nights
11 Crazy Rhythms
12 Raised Eyebrows
13 Everybody's Got Something to Hide

     (Except Me and My Monkey)
MYSTERY FILLER (venue, date unknown)
14 The Boy With the 

      Perpetual Nervousness
15 Fa Ce-La

16 The Obedient Atom*

*titles for tracks 3 & 16 are guesses

REPERCUSSION: The dB’s have indirect connections to The Feelies. One example: Anton Fier, who for a time was drummer for The Feelies, went on to found The Golden Palominos, which roped in both Chris and Peter for collaborative efforts. The dB’s and The Feelies also have Hoboken, N.J. in common. While they were in the NYC area, The dB’s often played in Hoboken, at times recorded there, and Gene Holder lived there for many years.


Learn more about The Feelies’ music at the band’s web site, their Facebook pages, or AllMusic

Wednesday, May 6

New Chris Stamey audio; album arrives in June

Chris Stamey album Euphoria in June
Release date is June 2nd. Listen to one of these
tracks from the album, right now:


"Universe-sized Arms"
(composed by Ryan Adams) 


"Where Does the Time Go?"
BLURT magazine has the premiere and a brief story about this track.

I like what I'm hearing, people.
Read what Chris told Bill Pearis at Brooklyn Vegan about the connections between the new album, Mitch Easter and Let's Active co-founder Faye Hunter (R.I.P.).

Read what Chris recently told PopMatters about the Ryan Adams penned song "Universe-sized Arms" (a song that Adams has never recorded)

Here's what Nick DeRiso thinks about "Universe-sized Arms"
Pre-order the LP or CD from Yep Roc here.
Thanks to eagle-eye Fantom for the tip...

from the press release:

To me, euphoria lives inside an electric guitar. That's a place I find freedom, passion, exhilaration: in the spaces between the notes, in the distance between the frets.
— Chris Stamey


Acclaimed North Carolina singer-songwriter, musician, and producer Chris Stamey, who is "a pivotal figure in the history of American alternative rock" (PopMatters), and someone who "remains ever the pop craftsman" (All Music) will release his first studio album in two years, Euphoria, June 2, 2015 on Yep Roc Records. 

Recorded at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium and his own Modern Recording with the help of Jeff Crawford, the 10-song set finds Stamey returning to his electric roots with an emotionally resonant set of rocking, melodically infectious, sonically bracing new tunes, with expansive arrangements incorporating horns alongside unexpected sonic textures. 

"I found these songs inside the same dilapidated old Silvertone lipstick guitar that I'd written my first records on," Stamey asserts. "Maybe that's why it sounds a bit like those records in some ways." In addition to Stamey's own memorable compositions, the album highlights includes the rousing opening track "Universe-sized Arms," a previously unreleased Ryan Adams composition that Adams suggested he record.

Assembling some longtime friends from Chapel Hill's fertile musical community, the album features Tony Stiglitz, F.J. Ventre, Wes Lachot, Matt McMichaels, Eric Marshall (Let's Active), Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony) and longtime cohort Mitch Easter, as well as guests Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Pat Sansone (Wilco). 

Euphoria is the followup to 2013's widely acclaimed Lovesick Blues, and 2012's dB's reunion album Falling Off the Sky. Since 2010, Stamey has been the musical director and orchestrator for a series of all-star international concert performances of Big Star's classic album Sister Lovers aka Third, with a rotating musical cast that includes Big Star's Jody Stephens as well as members of the Posies, R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, Wilco and Yo La Tengo. 

Stamey has also produced and recorded a wide variety of artists at Modern Recording, the Chapel Hill studio that he's operated for the past two decades, including the likes of Whiskeytown, Alejandro Escovedo, Flat Duo Jets, Le Tigre and Tift Merritt. 

Friday, May 1

Alex Chilton - Grinnell College 1987

Grinnell College
Grinnell, Iowa
Oct. 23, 1987
unknown source — but it sounds great (= soundboard quality: Ex-)
LX Chilton: the man, the myth and (sometimes) the musical magic

MOTHER-LOVIN’ THANKS to the taper, pwig2001 & northjersey for sharing

ROB SEZ: When he's on, it's a beautiful thing. He was on this night, as you'll hear. ENJOY!

01 Tee Ni Nee Ni Noo
02 In the Street
03 Rock Hard
04 Stuff
05 B-A-B-Y
06 Make a Little Love
07 Dalai Lama
08 Goldfinger
09 I'm A Replacement  
     (brief, unfinished)
10 Bangkok
11 Thank You John
12 Lost My Job
13 Disco Lady
14 Take It Off
15 Thing for You
16 Little GTO
17 Volare
18 Money Talks
19 Rockin' Daddy

01 The Letter
02 When My Baby's 
     Beside Me
03 No Sex (end cut)
04 Come By Here
05 The Look of Love
06 Sick and Tired
07 September Gurls


There's way more LX and Big Star music here at the blog; just use the artists/groups links, at right