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Rock Rock And Roll

Neil Young – Homegrown

Neil Young’s “lost” 1974 album, Homegrown, finally saw release this year. Although it has been around for years in various bootleg forms (& some songs from it have been played live over the years), the new release is the first time a Neil Young approved version of Homegrown has been available for fans.

As much as I love Neil Young, it would be quite dishonest to describe myself as anything other than a casual fan. I own a few of his records (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush, Harvest, American Stars ‘N Bars etc.) & this excellent greatest hits collection, but I am by no means a collector or completionist. As such, I have personally never heard any previous bootleg versions of Homegrown before. Although I do know the version of the title track that made it onto American Stars ‘N Bars. I am approaching this as a fresh Neil Young album & with a little excitement, if I’m being honest.

Rock steady rhythm section. Check. Country inflected rock rhythms. Check. Atmospheric, instinctual harmonica playing. Check. Lapsteel. Check. Plaintive falsetto vocals. Check. This is definitely a ’70’ Neil Young album. Homegrown seems to be light on the crunchy guitar sound that Young was already known for at this point.

Separate Ways & Try are heavily lead by the rhythm section, lapsteel & harmonica providing the majority of melodic content. Mexico is one of Young’s melancholic piano ballads. Love Is A Rose is a percussive country rock song campfire song, with hard strummed acoustic guitars adding colour to the percussion more than anything. Homegrown is the first time we hear any crunchy rock guitar. It’s the same classic rock anthem you know from American Stars ‘N Bars, but perhaps a little rawer in the production. A bit of a highlight for me. Even though it’s not as new as much of the album.

Florida feels to me like something between a satire & a pastiche of Jim Morrisons’ spoken word poetry. Neil Young slowly tells a story about an idyllic town in Florida, a horrific gliding accident & a newly orphaned child, over a noise collage of guitar feedback & tape hiss. It’s very different to the rest of Homegrown. There’s a distinct dreamlike quality to it & it really stands out to me.The following track, Kansas, seems to continue the story , opening with the line “I feel like I just woke up from a bad dream” & featuring references to gliding. It’s a subdued acoustic solo track. Melancholic, minimalist melodies which wouldn’t sound totally out of place on After The Gold Rush. It’s hard to write about new music by an artist with a catalogue as vast as Neil Young’s, without comparing tracks to others from his catalogue.

We Don’t Smoke It No More is plodding, blues inspired Rock And Roll, with barroom piano, harmonica histrionics & as solid a rhythm as you’ll find anywhere on Homegrown. There’s plenty of Neil Young’s rough and ready lead guitar playing to go around too.

White lines is all midnight harmonica, galloping country rhythms & instinctive sounding acoustic guitar playing. It has an almost jammed quality to it, improvisational. It reminds me of when a demo is so good it gets included on the album.

Vacancy is a mid tempo rock number with big crunchy guitars. Practically written for stadium & festival gigs. I imagine it would sound thrilling in the open air. Little Wing is another tune which has appeared on other releases. 1980’s Hawks & Doves in this case. It’s another simple, acoustic led ballad with beautiful atmospheric harmonica parts.

To end, we’ve got Star Of Bethlehem, which also appeared originally on American Stars ‘N Bars. A chipper, upbeat Country Pop song with pleasant vocal harmonies & biblical references. Follows in Neil’ Young’s “tradition” of putting pleasant, short & simple songs at the ends of albums. Think Cripple Creek Ferry at the end of After The Gold Rush. That’s the kind of ballpark we’re in here.

Homegrown is out now on Silver Bow Productions.

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Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Little Richard –

Journalist to Paul McCartney: “Aren’t you just copying Little Richard?”

Paul McCartney: “Isn’t everybody?”

Day 20. I’ve saved the most important, to me at least, artist in this list until last. Little Richard, it is fairly well agreed upon, is the originator of what we think of today as Rock and Roll. Without Little Richard, the majority, if not totality, of the music discussed on this blog would simply not exist. Little Richard is Rock and Roll & Rock ad Roll is Little Richard.

I can’t speak to the authenticity of the Paul McCartney quote presented above, but even as an anecdote I believe it & agree with it.

Another reason I saved Little Richard until last is that he very recently passed away, on the 9th May, aged 87. May he rest in peace & may we be eternally grateful for the gifts he bestowed upon the world.

Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!

Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Wop bop a loo bop a lop ba ba!

I got a gal, named Sue, she knows just what to do
I got a gal, named Sue, she knows just what to do
She rock to the East, she rock to the West
She is the gal that I love best

Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie, ooh
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!

I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy
Got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy
She knows how to love me, yes indeed
Boy you don’t know what she do to me

Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie, ooh
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Wop bop a loo bop!

Oh tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie, ooh
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!

I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drive me crazy
Got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drive me crazy
She knows how to love me, yes indeed,
Boy you don’t know what she do to me

Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Tutti frutti, oh rootie
Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

[shortcode https://open.spotify.com/playlist/49s70jbxBv4z18zrIFiqAJ?si=-3se0XlQRqSELX6PpvXMUg%5D

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Blues Rock Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze

Day 14. There’s a fair argument to be made that Jimi Hendrix was probably the most influential musician of the mid-20th century. His incendiary brand of guitar playing & the gritty, aggressive sonic textures he was able to wring from his instrument were pioneering & went on to inspire pretty much all modern Rock music. Many will dismiss this and say that the Kinks (or any number of other musicians) used distortion on their guitars, but that wholly fails to understand what it was about Hendrix’s sound that was so unique. It wasn’t just distorted, it was sustained & loose. It felt like Hendrix was guiding it rather than playing it. It sounded effortless & made generations of Rock fans a) want to play guitar & b) be massively underwhelmed by their own lack of ability.

Purple Haze is a funk inflected Blues Rock stomper. Waves of harmonic distortion crash against “blues & Eastern modalities” (Wikipedia). The psychedelic connotations which many fans & critics ascribed to the lyrics were brushed aside by Hendrix, who described Purple Haze as a “love song”.

Check out this live version from his set at the Atlanta Pop Festival, 1970. The same set where he played his famous rendition of the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. To quote someone from the comments (with the respectable username Spongeboob 69): “His playing is so effortless he probably finds walking harder”.

Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Purple haze, all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me

Help me
Help me
Oh, no, no

Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah, yeah!

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Ooh
Help me
Ahh, yeah, yeah, purple haze
Oh, no, oh
Oh, help me
Tell me, tell me, purple haze
I can’t go on like this
(Purple haze) you’re makin’ me blow my mind
Purple haze, n-no, no
(Purple haze)

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Categories
Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Chuck Berry – You Never Can Tell

Day 13. Here we’ll listen to Rock and Roll pioneer Chuck Berry, with his gloriously upbeat dance number, You Never Can Tell. It’s a super energetic record, but for this post I have chosen a slightly more sedate, downtempo version. His guitar playing really shines at this tempo & would you just take a look at that shirt.

You Never Can tell is an evergreen, kitchen sink drama about a young, married couple just starting their lives together. And why is Chuck writing about these guys? Because they love Rock And Roll, of course.

It was a teenage wedding
And the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did
Truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame
Have rung the chapel bell

“C’est la vie”, say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell

They furnished off an apartment
With a two room Roebuck sale
The coolerator was crammed with 
Tv dinners and ginger ale
But when Pierre found work
The little money comin’ worked out well

“C’est la vie”, say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell

They had a hi-fi phono
Boy, did they let it blast
Seven hundred little records
All rock, rhythm and jazz
But when the sun went down
The rapid tempo of the music fell

“C’est la vie”, say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell

They bought a souped-up jitney
‘Twas a cherry red ’53
They drove it down to Orleans
To celebrate the anniversary
It was there that Pierre
Was married to the lovely mademoiselle

“C’est la vie”, say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell

On the extremely unlikely off-chance that you don’t know who Chuck Berry is, I’m still fairly sure you’ll have heard this song as it used in the extremely famous dance scene in Pulp Fiction, starring Uma Thurman & John Travolta.

Looking for some great music to listen to? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

[shortcode https://open.spotify.com/playlist/49s70jbxBv4z18zrIFiqAJ?si=A7iGmGRwTf-xJKs4_YzKCw%5D

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