Jonathan Lethem talks about Talking Heads' "Fear of Music →
I’m a serial deconstructor of my own authority in certain areas. Maybe I think it’s some kind of important ethical gesture, like, “I loved this when I was totally full of shit about it, and I might still be full of shit about it— I certainly didn’t have all these weird facts that I’m flinging at you to construct my authority.” I made it very much my business to be able to bore any other teenager on the subject of who Brian Eno was within a few months of hearing Fear of Music, but in fact I had no idea at all when I first laid eyes on his name.
"How to interpret eight fortes? I think maybe I should hurl my whole body at the piano as violently as possible and hope for the best. They would find my bloody corpse weeks later amid the moldy coffee cups, odiferous testament to my devotion to the composer’s intent. How would eight be different from seven? Both must be so searingly loud as to be painful, a distinction between degrees of agony: if seven fortes is like being disemboweled by a wolf, then eight is like being disemboweled by a bear."
Hitler’s Very Own Hot Jazz Band →
#world war ii
Karl “Charlie” Schwedler, an employee of the German Foreign Ministry, discovered he had a talent for crooning and spent the war years heading up the Nazis’ strangest propaganda initiative: Charlie and His Orchestra.
As “Charlie,” Schwedler—who at least posed as a convinced Nazi—penned lyrics that generally followed a fixed pattern. The first verse of each song would remain untouched, perhaps in the hope of luring in listeners. But the remainder of the lyrics would veer wildly into Nazi propaganda and boasts of Aryan supremacy. Charlie’s main themes were familiar ones: Germany was winning the war and Churchill was a drunken megalomaniac who hid in cellars at night to avoid German bombs (“The Germans are driving me crazy/I thought I had brains/But they shot down my planes”). Similarly, Roosevelt was a puppet of international banking cartels, and the entire Allied war effort was in the service of “the Jews.” For the most part, Schwedler’s songs interspersed virulent anti-Semitism with attempts to convince his audience that Nazi victory was inevitable. When Cole Porter’s classic “You’re the Top” got Charlie’s treatment, the revised lyrics emerged as “You’re the top/You’re a German flyer/You’re the top/You’re machine gun fire/You’re a U-boat chap/With a lot of pep/You’re grand,” and the lyrics for “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams” became “I’m gonna save the world for Wall Street/Gonna fight for Russia, too/I’m fightin’ for democracy/I’m fightin’ for the Jew.”
The Stories Behind Donna Summer’s Revolutionary Tracks
Love To Love You Baby
Bogart was having an orgy at his house, there was a lot of coke going on and, to use his own language, they were all ‘f*cking to this track’ and the crowd there had him replay the song over and over again. Suddenly, a ‘Eureka’ thought hit Bogart; he recalled ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ by Iron Butterfly, which had taken up a whole side. In a flash he came up with the idea of doing the same with ‘Love To Love You Baby’ and he needed it within a week. So we just proceeded to get down to it on that weekend, and since things always went very fast back then, within the week he had what he wanted.
I Feel Love
Giorgio had the idea for how the bass should go, and we explained the concept to Robbie that the whole song had to be done with the Moog. He said this meant we would need to lock or sync the Moog to the Studer, and when we asked, ‘What do you mean, sync?’ Robbie [Weder] replied, ‘Well, whatever you play now will then play in perfect time with the first take.’ We said, ‘How’s that possible?’ and he said, ‘It’s something I’ve figured out that even Bob Moog didn’t know his machine was capable of, and now I’ve told him how it’s done…
Please Allow Me To Correct a Few Things →
Mick Jagger responds to Keith Richards’ autobiography.
[T]hose two things I think, are important. Our bond; his talent. We blink at that point, and go 40 years forward, and he has written a book that says, essentially, that I have a small dick. That I am a bad friend. That I am unknowable.
The reviewers, who idolize Keith, don’t ask why this is all in here. We have rarely spoken of such things publicly, and tangentially even then. We don’t talk about it in private, either, and, no, he hasn’t been in my dressing room in 20 years. I thought we both learned that there is no point in sharing anything at all with the press, save a few tidbits for the upbeat The Stones are back in top rocking form! article that accompanies each of our tours. I think Keith never appreciated the tedious hours I had to spend with Jann Wenner to accomplish that.
But I know why it is all here.
Technical interview with the sound engineer on two classic U2 albums and how the band recorded them:
The band subsequently spent almost half a year in a rented house by the sea near Dublin, using equipment rented from Audio Engineering, Ireland’s largest pro-audio hire company, before moving on to the legendary Windmill Lane studios in Dublin for the final mixes. Similarily, Zooropa was also largely recorded in improvised surroundings. These unusual recording surroundings must have awoken the muses, because the stories of the recording sessions for Achtung Baby and Zooropa recount chaotic and almost manic outpourings of creativity. They feature such unusual tales as: the band simultaneously using three rooms to record and mix and the various bandmembers overdubbing in the different studios with people running around with tapes from room to room; last minute overdubs during or even after the final mix; nightly flights home straight after European gigs to complete Zooropa; the filling of 180 2-hour DAT tapes with a procedure called ‘fatting’, complete disregard for standard recording objectives such as separation and low noise levels, and last but not least the interesting dichotomy between the intense 11 months that it took to complete Achtung Baby, endlessly sculpting the songs into perfect shape, and the attitude of ‘recklessness’ and ‘performance first’ encouraged by Daniel Lanois.
“Robbie Adams: Recording U2’s Achtung Baby & Zooropa (1994).” — Editors, Sound on Sound
More music longreads
Once Upon A Time: Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder
Click on the album cover to hear Donna Summer’s pinnacle album and please see the last paragraph below for more details.
Live & More was one of the first two records I ever bought, the other being Back To The Egg. God only knows what my parents thought when I walked in with Live & More - but I think they were oblivious to what it could of meant (and didn’t - it was just a memory of playing “Last Dance” to end summer camp dances).
I had completely forgotten about her 1980s dissing of her core community, and anyway she had become less visible after she left her 70s label, Casablanca, to follow the money at Geffen. The quality went through the floor as she worked with a lesser producers. Donna’s output in the 70s was FURIOUS: 7 albums in four years - of which four were DOUBLE ALBUMS. This is back when albums over 37 minutes were still considered a STATEMENT. No they weren’t all great, but probably only Elton John got close in terms of productivity and product-quality ratio: he birthed 10 albums between 1970 and 1975.
She continued to have the odd cheesy hit but the adventurousness that made her special was replaced by charm that her youngers like Whitney, Anita and Sade swiped soon enough. She was, if nothing, reliant on the kindness of her production team, and this puts her in a fine tradition that extends from Patsy Cline to Nikki Minaj. (If American Idol proves anything, it’s that charm can work for a bit and boy is it fleeting.)
So, in memoriam, a must hear. The Deluxe Edition of Bad Girls absolutely slays, but not just for the original (4-star, a touch overlong) DOUBLE ALBUM STATEMENT. Skip instead to the bonus disc (Track 17 forward), which collects all of the essential, unbelievable original 12” disco mixes from the late 70s heyday, worth it for the drums and horns on “Bad Girls” alone. ”Macarthur Park” is a nonsensical tour de force; never has anyone put that much emotion into the word recipe. “Walk Away,” rarely played on the radio, has got to be one of the great singles of all time. It also includes - as determined last night with our friends Tony & Marcello - one of the extended version of one of the three gayest songs of all time in the duet with Barbra Streisand “Enough Is Enough.”
Listen up or click on the album cover: http://mog.com/m/album/1180797?ci=40000
Desperately seeking Kraftwerk
In a yellow building somewhere in Düsseldorf, the reclusive, bicycle-obsessed creators of electronica are back at work - and not accepting visitors. Alexis Petridis goes anyway