Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Anniversary: David Lindley again


Click the pic above (or the link  at the bottom/below) for the music
[Purchase song @ amazon: El Rayo X]

Like JDavid, I am a relative new-comer. If I don’t dis-remember, I ran across boyhowdy’s personal site (coverlaydown) before I discovered StarMaker. My communication with him led me to my current role:  when Darius pulled back, I somehow ended up managing SMM – with major support from J David. (Obvious, ain’t it? Who else has posted most of the recent material?)

Several of the SMM bloggers are one-time radio DJs - often from their days in college. I am no different. Way back in the 70’s, I did a middle-of-the-night slot at WQFS out of Greensboro, NC. Some of the SMM bloggers are musicians themselves: 2-3 times a year I myself take the stage to a captive audience. In one form or another, all SMMers “live” for the music.

At about the time I took on the admin role, SMM was reeling from legal restrictions: many of us used to post links to MP3 files hosted in various personally controlled online resources and outside pressures had made hosting mp3s impossible. Despite the blog’s policy of “..[we] post only one song per album for a limited time  … and will take it down…” , many of the 30 plus bloggers from 2 years ago have moved on.  The number of bloggers had seriously dropped off by the time I took over from Darius and most of the links to songs had become YouTube videos.  Speaking of which, I work and write from Turkey, where the powers that be have recently blocked tweets and “the tube” – if you follow international news, you must know. (I hope my link below works, since I had to search and access it using devious/outlawed means.)

The mission of SMM, as I understood it, was that the bloggers posted links to music and associated commentary that would drive the audience to further engagement. It is for this reason that the top of each post includes a [purchase] link.

The right side of the blog notes that we are always looking for additions. Let me put it in the middle of the page: if you have an interest in joining the ranks of bloggers, follow the link, top right, and email smmmod2000@gmail.com. We’d be glad to have you on board.

As to “going deeper” - our current theme: I am an inveterate fan of Ryland P Cooder, and it was through his music that I learned about the Cuban music scene. It was through his music that I learned about David Lindley. Nigh on a year ago, I posted about one of his pieces.

Never much of a front-man himself, Lindley has played second fiddle for a number of other folk. Once, previously, in our “work” theme, I posted his rendition of “Do You Want My Job”, a wonderfully island-lilting piece with a message for our times. From his “El-Rayo-X” here is the title track with Jackson Browne:

Monday, March 31, 2014


Blimey, fab historical bio below, enjoyed that. Me, too, I 'm a newbie of not even 12 months standing, tho' my anniversary must be coming up soon. I remember well what first attracted my attention, nearly three and a half  years ago, and why. I had been tasked with researching a Christmas playlist, and, rather than the usual Now That's What I call Xmas fare from all the usual usual, or even just good old Phil Spector, I took the job way too seriously, spending hours and days, scouring the interweb, scooting from blog to blog, hoovering up tracks. Of course, the fact that you could, in those innocent days, download directly, was a distinct bonus, even if you had to delete responsibly after a research and review single listen. (Yeah, right) Christmas 2010 was a riot, tho' my family and guests were exhausted after 6 full days of continuous listening.(Did you know quite how many versions of Daddy, Please Don't Get Drunk This Christmas there are?). This was my first foray to this site, although I then had to plough back through as far as I could muster my strength for, whether Xmas or not, being ecumenically scruple free. (Took bloody ages, to say nothing of the blogs of the associated and kin, listed alongside, some of which continue, many of which don't. Somehow I feel some advertorial coming on coming on for Boy Howdy, nominally still in our band of sixsongs merry pranksters, tho' increasingly quiet, a dude who has introduced me to more music than perhaps anyone I can think of. Thanks, BH. Will we be seeing you at this party?)

So, 22/12/2010, Vince Guaraldi Trio. What more can I tell you? Precious little in fact. I don't even believe I
DLed, but the other song is accessible here. (With baited breath I found the original page and tried to DL from there, but the wretched mediafire blurb about why, blah, blah, blah came up on trying.) Is it a good song? I suppose it depends on your mindset. Rock and roll, it ain't, in lyric or melody, but I have increasingly become a sucker for Mrs Costello and her ilk, exemplary female crooning, with a sympatico piano. Humbug, say you? Fie on you. Christmas ain't Christmas unless it got cheese, preferably a good stilton. Even at the end of March.

Buy it!

I'm supposed to be digging deeper into the artist or the song, and, to be fair, I'm struggling. Anyone can look up wiki and I have little to add to their versions of the truth. So I'm instead going to return to my earlier mention of the drunken daddy. This song was written by a Bill Danoff and a Taffy Nivert , no, me neither, and seems to have first appeared on a John Denver 1975 xmas album, Farewell, Andromeda, and was also the 3rd of 3 singles therefrom, reaching 69 in both the popular music and the country chart. Here's his version, which fails to cut any mustard for me, being an entirely straight (faced) rendition. Better by far, IMHO, is this one, performed by Colin Meloy and his estimable Decemberists. At face value it is every bit as straitlaced, yet somehow has me imagining tongues firmly in cheeks, albeit with reverence. This band, from Portland, have been slowly cranking up a fanbase over 14 or so years, pulling the wool between diverse folky-country powerpop and ballads, with Mr Meloys marmite voice holding it together, often ably abetted by female guest voices, including Laura Veirs, Petra Haden and Sara Watkins, amongst others, not forgetting Gillian Welch. The setting is often staunchly traditional, with string and bellows evident as much as electricity.
I'm uncertain if they have featured before, but, maybe in 8 years time, when someone retrospectivises this day.

Buy it (Denver)

Buy it (Decemberists)

Until then, SMM, many happy returns. And thanks for having me!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Anniversary:Go Deeper-Sunday Morning

The Velvet Underground: Sunday Morning

I’ve only been writing for Star Maker Machine for a little more than two years, but I was a reader for some time before that. I’ve long appreciated the breadth of the music discussed here and the knowledge and writing skill of many of the contributors, many who have unfortunately long stopped contributing to this blog. I’ve followed some of these writers to their personal blogs, and have enjoyed learning from them. I may not be the best person to write about the history of SMM, and I hope that some of the writers who have been involved here longer can fill in the gaps in my knowledge, but I’m going to kick things off, as we look back before we move forward.

From what I can tell, this blog was started by a guy named Paul under the name “Six Songs.” The first post was on February 6, 2008, and the concept was that Paul was going to post a song six days a week, hoping to engage readers to create a conversation in the comments. The first song he posted was Emmitt Rhodes’ “With My Face on the Floor.” But on March 23, 2008, Paul posted “We’re Taking a Break,” writing:

“Posting a new song everyday is surprisingly stressful, even with the Sunday rest. So we're off for some R&R. We may be back with a new format.”

Four days later, Paul teased the blogosphere with the announcement that he had come up with a new concept, and, on March 28, 2008, he announced the new name, “Star Maker Machine,” posting a picture of Joni Mitchell, and the song “Free Man in Paris,” from whence the blog name came. And then, on March 29, 2008, Paul announced the new concept—that he would open the blog up to writers who wanted to post about music, without necessarily starting their own blog. And, in essence, the SMM journey began.

On April 5, 2008, in a nod to the original “daily song” roots of the blog, Paul announced the first theme, “Days of the Week.” The first song that Paul posted was “Sunday Morning,” by Margo Guryan. I wanted to “go deeper” with that song, for historical reasons, but, frankly, it doesn’t speak to me, even though the album that it comes from, Take a Picture, was described by Allmusic as “one of the most exquisite and appealing, if little heard, one-shot "California" (although actually recorded on the East Coast) soft-pop gems of the kaleidoscopic late '60s.” So, instead, I decided to discuss the different Velvet Underground song, with the same title, which was also fleetingly mentioned on SMM back on April 3, 2010. (I also thought about writing about the SCTV soap opera parody, but decided against it.)

When you think of the Velvet Underground, you think of dark themes, drugs, and kinky sex. You think of Lou Reed’s twisted, literate brilliance, John Cale’s unusual arrangements and instrumentation and Andy Warhol’s peculiar Warholness. “Sunday Morning” is a little different. The last song recorded for the band’s debut, The Velvet Underground and Nico, it was the leadoff track, and an attempt to create a hit single. On an album that included songs like “Heroin,” “I’m Waiting for the Man,” “Black Angel Death Song” and “Venus in Furs,” “Sunday Morning” sounds almost benign and friendly, although there is still an unsettling question about what happened the Saturday night before. It was originally going to be sung by Nico, the German singer who was shoehorned into the band by Warhol, but instead Reed took the lead. The song also features a prominent celesta part, played by Cale on an instrument he happened to find in the studio, which makes the song sound strangely happy.

After the first post, Star Maker Machine slowly began to engage other writers and commenters. It appears that Paul stopped writing for the blog in October, 2008, after posting a Pete Townshend demo of “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” in a piece entitled “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss,” to focus on a personal music blog, “Setting the Woods on Fire,” but it appears that blog is also defunct.

As we move forward with Star Maker Machine, we hope to continue to engage, interest and amuse our readers, and maybe lead them to new musical discoveries.