Musical Rabbit Holes

I listen to music. Sometimes, the music triggers memories of other music or artists I did not know about. That’s the rabbit hole.

Superstar

Todays rabbit hole!! Penni and I watch Aussie dramedy TV show ‘The Heart Guy’ (known in some regions by ‘Doctor, Doctor’), and see John Waters [not the US director, the Aussie actor] playing a dodgy lawyer. Thinking that Waters has done a few things I wiki him … but I had no clue. As well as 18 years on Play School (Aussie TV kiddies show),I find Waters played Pontius Pilot in the Aussie stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) … and the rabbit hole looms before me!

Have I even listened to the original UK JC Superstar recording? Not sure. Why did the record come first? Because no-one thought JCS would work as a stage show – who were these Rice & Lloyd Webber kids anyway? Did they ever do anything after JC Superstar? 😜

Anyhoo, that UK album has Ian Gillan hitting some great notes on Gethsemane, just roaring them out. (He did not tour with the stage show as Deep Purple’s ’71 trip to Montreux meant they saw the casino burn down giving them an idea for a song). Apple Music has a lossless digital remaster of the UK album where you can hear all that 60’s analog distorted guitar and boxy 60’s drums. Hearing the songs makes me recall going to a Sydney concert of the JCS “songs without the acting” with John Farnham as Jesus and wait … John Waters singing Pilot! Deeper down the hole I go. That Aussie album comes with 90’s compressed snare booms, 10 second vocal digital reverb sitting over massively fat synths and processed guitars.

Personally, while Gillan put raw energy into the screams on the 60’s album, Farnham has an amazing breadth from scream to ballad. Listening to these two albums beside each other is a nice lesson in how engineering of drums changed, and how rock vocals changed between the decades. Liner notes reveal that Aussie version was put together by David Hirschfelder, who I ran into at Bondi’s Eastside Music once (when he was playing with Dragon after coming home his US stint with Little River Band). Nice guy.

But I am thinking John Farnham and that led me to ‘Whispering Jack’ album with John Farnham singing and Hirschfelder on keys/drum programming. Farnham can really sing you know, go have a listen to ‘Touch of Paradise’ from that album. Pulling the Hirschfelder thread, I find he moved on to play/tour with jazz fusion supergroup CAB! Wow! That gets me listening to their “CAB2” album’s 2000’s tightly-tuned snare paradiddles and flanged, fretless bass under soaring DiMarzio-powered guitar harmonics. (btw, compare the toms on this album with the UK 60’s sound.) That got me thinking about Bunny Brunel who played with Corea and everyone in Fusion including Japan’s Kazumi Watanabe. And today’s rabbit hole ends with me hearing Kazumi’s lovely and peaceful finger style on ‘A Child is Born’.

Lake Street Dive

Ok. My latest rabbit hole is Lake Street Dive. Wow. Love the range of the new album. Before the new album, go back to 2014 and listen to ‘You Go Down Smooth’. Back then, you can still hear the crossover from their acapella and busking days in the simple drum set usage and grungy guitar. Yet the track builds from the clarity of a single voice (and what a voice!) into woven harmonies while driving that beat forward. Listen to this track without your heart speeding up. I bet you can’t. Then skip forward to the latest album Obviously. Hypotheticals! Who rhymes six syllable words in the bridge? That funk just flows into Hush Money which packs words into the verses so the chorus can have space to include yeahs for all of us to sing along. Alongside ‘message’ songs like Making Do or Being a Woman is a Full Time Job, you can capture echoes of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack in Same Old News. These folks are making some great funk music with lush harmonies.As MM said, “Do yourself a favour”.p.s. Fascinating hearing the musical hints/sounds of the 80’s getting teased into new albums, a la Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. Also worth a listen. [rant mode off]

Australian Jazz

Today’s rabbit hole.Started on Apple Music with the Australia & NZ Jazz playlist with @Jayden Blockley. The music robot led me off towards Karate Boogaloo and the parent band The Cactus Channel. Eventually (about 20 songs later, and no I do not feel like Kingswood grunge in this set so stop bloody trying to sneak it in please MusBot!! ok, glad I got that out, feel better now), Anyhoo, eventually got to San Cisco‘s 2020 album “Between You and Me”. Sweet alt pop that I had no idea existed. ‘Shine’ is a tight little pop song the world should hear.Bonus recommendation: MEG MAC does a nice cover of “Grandma’s Hands”.