Saturday, April 23, 2016

Child: The Who, The Kids Are Alright

From their first album, and though it wasn’t a hit when it came out, it is now a title that has become ubiquitous with the band. They are the kids. Were the kids. But, if you love them, they still are the kids. The original punks, angry, playful, bombastic. Revolutionaries in stripes and sneakers, dippity-doed hair, mod before mod was a thing.

Who? The Who.

The Kids are Alright set a great standard. The standard for rock greatness. Greatness was Keith Moon’s frenzied, nuclear motored drumming. It is still the greatest drumming I’ve ever heard. Townshed’s spectrum spanning guitar, crunching, driving, melodic, a full on range of sound from a mere six strings.  He wielded chords with an orchestral strength. Daltry sang like he had a brass pair. Entwistle rolled thunder like a Greek god.

1965. They looked so clean cut, so reserved. Yet in this amazing song one finds their personas of greatness, rock gods in waiting, like Clark Kent behind his glasses - almost there, bursting at the seams to do what they were destined to do. There are two versions, but the UK album version has a glorious instrumental break that personifies Townshed’s ability to spin melodic gold.  

The original promo video was filmed in Hyde park at the water’s edge, while holiday makers rowed past. A number of them have stopped to watch the band play, unamplified and lip-synching to a pre-recorded track. Moon is his usual self—a ball of energy, barely able to stay in his seat. Entwistle is straight knife-fight nonchalant, playing his bass with fingers the defied the limits of the bones under the skin. Townshed is reserved, but breaks into a genuine smile, a goofy grin that is unmistakable joy, then he throws in his classic windmill, forever changing the way we would all play guitar thereafter. Daltry is sullen, looking away from the camera rather than giving any of himself to it. He looks off to the side, this way and that—later you see all the girls that had gathered just the side of the band, and the boys on their bikes.  Do you think they knew what they were watching? The very evolution of rock ‘n roll…the kids were definitely alright.

The song is still as fresh as it was in 1965, still packs the same raw, punchy joyous power. It’s a retrospective on youth now, but the song itself is still young, still invokes and evokes the joyousness of abandon and the joy of not knowing any better and not needing to. T
he assured swagger that comes with knowing everything will be fine.

In 2000, at the Royal Albert Hall, they extended the song, and Townsend took the opportunity to sing a new interlude:

"When I wrote this song I was nothing but a kid, trying to work out right and wrong through all the things I did. I was kind of practicing with my life. I was kind of taking chances in a marriage with my wife. I took some stuff and I drank some booze. There was almost nothing that I didn't try to use. And somehow I'm alright."
the kids are definitely alright, still. 


Child: Bettie Serveert's “Kid’s Alright”

Purchase Bettie Serveert's Kids Alright

Back in the bushes we find a cat
Beat him up with a baseball bat
And grandma says we’ll turn out bad
And go straight to hell just like dad

I grew up in a sweet neighborhood where I could almost touch the window of the house across from me. But when you live that close, you can hear all the fighting and crying on the block. The loudest kids are seen as the worse. I remember listening to my quiet and boring neighbors next door try to make my mom crap on the loud boy across the street who ran out of his housescreaming at his parents. Shouldn’t we be more curious about the quiet houses where nothing seems to happen?

In “Kids’ Alright” Bettie Serveert has some fun with adults who get off on predicting doom for kids. Well these kids ain’t so nice actually, beating up cats and all with Louisville Sluggers and yet you cheer for them against their grammie through the line “But don’t you (grandma) get your hopes up high, The Kid’s alright.”

Bettie Serveert is from the Netherlands but played a lot more like an alt-country act from Missouri with some Dinosaur Jr guitar worship thrown in. Carol Van Dijk’s mumbles and snarls, the guitar twangs. “Kids’ Alright” is the fastest tune off their 1991 debut Palomine. In fact, you have trouble listening to this slow album straight through because “Kid’s Alright” is so catchy you want to hear it again and again. Yeah, maybe like a nude scene in a slightly above average film.

Bettie Serveert caught a good buzz early on, even opening up for Counting Crows on a leg of their tour (which made me respect Counting Crows a lot more) and then they fell. I thought Bettie Serveert had broken up shortly after their second album “Lamprey” and the Crows tour but I learned they made another 8 albums. So I dove into Youtube and came across a lot of playful pop which is pretty good but neglects the guitar chops of Peter Visser. Listen to them live and Visser’s work comes through.

Living in Istanbul where you can reach into the house next to you and grab the spoon out of a person’s hand, I always find it eerie how few kids I hear and see.

Posted by LaRay Gun, for Mr. Becker

Friday, April 22, 2016

Child: Steve Martin's A Holiday Wish


From the beginning, what made Steve Martin great was the way he turned expectations on its head. Martin first burst into public consciousness at a time when comedians were moving away from the buttoned-up look to a more 60s counterculture appearance. Yet, he was known for performing in white suits, virtually the dictionary definition of “uncool.” His routines were based on unexpected juxtapositions, and ironic goofiness, like putting a fake arrow through his head. Or interrupting his set with some banjo playing. He is a true comic genius, and isn’t bad as an actor, playwright, musician, author, and art collector.

For some reason, despite the huge number of possible songs that I could have written about, this routine from the 1986 holiday episode of Saturday Night Live immediately jumped into my head. It is a classic example of Martin’s way of twisting expectations. It starts off with Martin, in a stereotypical “sincere television” Christmas setting, with soft music playing behind him, stating that if he had one holiday wish, “it would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.” A beautiful sentiment, but not particularly funny, and we know that SNL at least tries to be funny.

Of course, Martin actually has other wishes, and by the end, “the crap about the kids” gets shunted behind what people would really want for the holiday, even if they wouldn’t ever admit it, and certainly not as part of a sappy ‘holiday wish” TV segment, including a month-long orgasm, unlimited power over every living being in the universe, $30 million a month, and that his enemies “should die like pigs in Hell!”

Then, of course, the children joining hands and singing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Child: Child of the Moon

purchase [Child of the Moon]

Without children ... we don't continue.
I've got one, only one, and that's not "replacement" level. At my reproductive level, if we all do this over time, we'll end up with no one on earth.
Without children ... well ... you know.

But, to zoom in on this week's theme: Here's a trivia question for you to answer: What is the B side of Jumpin Jack Flash?
Of course, to answer that, you need to know what a B side is. But if you're following SMM, you already know. That would be the flipped side of the Jumping Jack Flash 45 RPM vinyl disk that came out in 1968. (The "hit" went on the A side, and the B side had some kind of filler.)
So ... Child of the Moon is "filler". Of sorts. The song "backing" Jumping Jack Flash.

Among my limited collection of early LP albums were two from the Rolling Stones. The year being about 1967, the albums would have been <Between the Buttons> and <Aftermath>. Whereas Jumping Jack Flash appeared on album in the late 60s, Child of the Moon was left for later albums - kind of an obscure Stones song. Interesting to me is the fact that a Google search of <Child of the Moon> brings up a multitude of other references. I would have thought that "Child of the Moon Wikipedia" would resolve/result in the Stones as the first link. (They are - after all - the first) Not so. Child of the Moon, while not a major musical hit, has taken on a life of its own beyond the song: TV episodes and such riding on the name/fame.

Someone else said:
... [the song] actually feels closer to pagan curse than lyric poem, a mixed-bag mojo potion invocation of a dream lover pushed to ritualistic nightmare by the hoodoo “Rain” beat of Charlie Watts’ drums, Brian Jones’ hypnotic saxophone drone, Jagger’s own fixed-pitch chant vocals and Jimmy Miller’s deeply unsettling shouting in those murky opening moments.

OK. Wow.

The song does appears to be a part of the Stones' acid journey - belonging more to the late 60s Satanic Majesty or Beggars Banquet than the mid 60s, when it came out. Must have been fast-lanes/ fast times in 1967-8.

As for lyrics:

Give me a misty day, pearly gray, silver, silky faced,
Wide-awake crescent-shaped smile
... child of the moon