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Archive for the ‘The Hollies’ Category

[ATTENDED: May 18, 2018] Pepperville

Pepperville describes themselves as “New Jersey’s best classic harmony rock band.”  They specialize in “the classic sounds of 1960’s and 1970’s harmony rock, as well as other great music from the 1950’s through the 1990’s.  We feature the best of the Beatles, Monkees, The Who, Rolling Stones, Hollies, Beach Boys, Doors, and many more.”

A friend of mine started dating a member of the band (I’ll keep all of this anonymous!).  So we decided to show support for them by going to see the band live.

They were playing The Station in Bernardsville, a delightful dining establishment.

I have never gone to see a cover band before.  I have never gone to a restaurant for the purpose of watching a band before (I have of course been to a restaurant while there was a band, but that’s different).  I had something of an existential crisis while there.  I believe that as a patron I should respect the band by watching and listening to them.  I dislike it very much at concerts when people talk during songs.  A band is not there as background to whatever it is you are doing.

And yet a cover band in a restaurant is there by definition as background to whatever it is you are doing.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG-Harvest (1971).

I like loud rocking songs and I dislike most country.  So really I shouldn’t like Neil Young’s Harvest (at least compared to his more rocking albums).

But Neil is Neil and while I would never say he can do no wrong (he definitely can), I give him the benefit of the doubt.  And on this album he delivers.  Plus, it’s really not a country album at all.

I think what I particularly like about Harvest is the looseness of it, which I see signified primarily by Neil’s harmonica which is never off, but which is never perfect either.  Plus, and I’m sure this has a lot to do with it–I’ve heard these songs a lot and they have really sunk in.

“Out on the Weekend” is the opening track and it was one of the songs I knew least well–which is odd certainly for an opening song.  There’s slide guitar and harmonica.  But it’s followed by “Harvest,” which is so simple and so notable–bass, a gentle acoustic guitar and basically a snare drum play that simple up and down melody as Neil sings “dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup with the promise of a man.”  It’s those steel guitar lines that seems to fade in from nowhere that really rather make the song.

“A Man Needs a Maid” is one of those weird songs that is so odd to me–the song is literally about him getting a maid (but much more): “keep my house clean fix my meals and go away.”  Neil sounds like he is singing from a mile away as he plays the melody on the piano.  And then after the first verse all kind of orchestration fills in–bells and strings and the song gets really really big.  By the time the song comes around again, the chorus is swallowed by the strings and bells.  It feels much longer than its 4 minutes.  I sort of hate it but kind of like its oddness at the same time.

And then comes the wonder that is “Heart of Gold,” another simple melody with soft bass notes and that harmonica.  Incredibly catchy and undeniably great.

Harvest is more of a folk album with slide guitar (and orchestration), but a song like “Ready for the Country” certainly leans toward country (or is it mocking country?).  It’s got a good beat and is kind of fun, with a lighthearted joshing about the country.

“Old Man” is a another slow classic.  When the harmony vocals come in later in the song it’s really wonderful.  I never knew that James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backing vocals on this song and that that’s Taylor on the banjo.  “There’s a World” is a ponderous song from the get go–almost as if it left off from “Maid,” with strings and kettle drums.  After a verse a harp swipes away the song and plays a delicate melody which is just as quickly wiped away as this song which seems so big comes to a rather quick ending–only 3 minutes in total.

“Alabama” introduces a fuzzy electric guitar with what seems like it should be a classic riff but which …isn’t.  It doesn’t quite resolve into anything and the chorus is almost satisfying–it starts really big with a chorus of “Alabama!” but it also doesn’t exactly resolve into anything.  I think I keep thinking it’s other songs, and yet it is distinctly its own.

“Needle and Damage Done” is just great.  A terrific riff and a poignant song simple and brief (2 minutes!) but really powerful.

“Words (Between the Lines of Age)” is nearly 7 minutes it’s the longest by far on the record.  It builds slowly with a big chorus.   There’s a great instrumental section with a nice piano melody.  The song ends with a very Neil Young guitar solo as well.  Pretty great stuff.

I’m not gushing about the album only because it is a classic and all classics have flaws.  But I could listen to this any day, even “Man Needs a Maid.”

[READ: July 1, 2016] Harvest

I have often thought I should read this series.  Of course, the last time I thought about it, there were 50-some books in the series and that seemed like way too many.  Well as of June 2017, there are 120 books in the series, which is an insane series to jump into.  But at work, four of the books came across my desk and if that’s not an invitation to read something, I don’t now what is.  So I’ve decided to read these four and we’ll see if that leads to more.

This story gives a lot of history of Neil himself and a lot of context of the albums surrounding this one.

Inglis starts by talking about how when Harvest Moon came out in 1992, it was a call-back to Harvest and it was highly regarded, even though Harvest itself wasn’t at the time.  Even Neil himself seemed to recoil from the unexpected success of Harvest by playing every kind of music but folk/country for decades.

In fact, Harvest was panned when it came out–described as superficial and without meaning.  It was deemed pleasant rather than passionate.  It also worked to define Neil Young as a melancholy songwriter full of catchy tunes, smiling with prairie straw n his mouth.  Meanwhile other fans dismiss this picture entirely, preferring the gritty songwriter from Tonight’s the Night. (more…)

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Sfeb20156OUNDTRACK: GRAHAM NASH-Tiny Desk Concert #515 (March 14, 2016).

nashI only realized after reading this blurb that he was in The Hollies.  I’ve really only known him from CSN&Y.  And that makes sense now why “Bus Stop” (a song I’ve known forever but never knew the name of) sounds so familiar.

Nash plays guitar (and harmonica) and sings and he’s accompanied by Shane Fontayne on guitar and harmony vocals.  The duo sound great.  Nash’s voice is clear and sounds amazing (because he’s 74 but even if he weren’t).  Obviously I missed the mega harmonies of CSN&Y, but as a solo performer he really shines.

The first song he plays is “Bus Stop” and it sounds wonderful.  I miss some of the inflections that are in the original–but this is clearly a solo rendition (and it has been 50 years after all).

The other two songs are from his new album.  “Myself at Last” he says was the first song the recorded and that it was done in one take (and that musicians love that).  It’s a lovely song with a very Graham Nash feel (imagine that).  I love the chord progression in the bridge and the slight delay in vocals for the chorus.

For the final song, “This Path Tonight,” he asks us to imagine “an incredible rock and roll band playing with us.”  Even though the song isn’t fast, it has a real sense of urgency in it.  The chord progression is intense, and I imagine that with a band this song would be even more exciting.

[READ: January 20, 2016] “My Diagnosis”

This is the kind of story that reads more like an exercise that was later developed into a full story.

The opening of the story is that the narrator’s mother has made the narrator’s diagnosis public.

And the rest of the story is the narrator’s way of obfuscating what that diagnosis is–possibly from herself but definitely from her mother’s friends. (more…)

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