Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pallet Cleanser: Marvin Gaye

I don't need to say much about this album. What I will say is that it's one of the most beautiful listening experiences that you could have, unless you absolutely hate urban soul (go listen to your Johnny Rebel records, Grand Wizard). Why post about Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" on a blog about loud music? Well, in order for loud music to retain its impact you need to cleanse your pallet once in a while. I have a more balanced and sophisticated taste in music than what is presented in this blog. It's just that loud music is what I (mis)spent my youth listening to, and it has a special place in my heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dr. Feelgood: Malpractice

I came across this album in a dusty vinyl shop that I like. The proprietor about had a baby when he saw what I had brought up to purchase. He gushed on about Dr. Feelgood for about twenty minutes before I could get away. I appreciated the story, though. I knew this much about the band before I bought this record: The group Dr. Feelgood were an influential pub rock band which had their heyday in the early-through mid-'70s. They were an influence on many British punk bands, especially The Clash. Joe Strummer belonged to a pub rock group before The Clash called the 101'ers. This is where the two groups rubbed shoulders and the straight-forward essence of The Clash came from this pub rock scene. I didn't know, however, what Dr. Feelgood brought to the table. This is the line-up from that era: Lee Brilleaux (vocals) - Wilko Johnson (guitar) - John 'Big Figure' Martin (percussion) - John B. 'Sparko' Sparks (bass).

I don't know enough about the background of the tracks, yet, to give an informed opinion on each one. There are originals mixed with covers on this album. I wish I could tell you off the bat which ones are which, but I figure if you're interested enough, you'll find out yourself. I will say that their style is straight-up, pure rock'n'roll. This is served with plenty of grit, much like the Stones. This is also a band that would be best experienced live. That's not to say that they couldn't get their sound down on record, though.

The guitarist, Wilko Johnson (second from the right), is especially good. I play guitar and can appreciate his scrappy rhythm and sparse leads--that's my style--it's more his right hand (percussive attack) than his left (fingering technique). His guitar/amp combo gives off a midrange bark that is never clean, is not heavily distorted, but hangs out where overdriven crunch likes to play.

Lee Brilleaux (second from left in the white suit) has the gruff to front the band with authority. This is a full, angry man's voice: imagine Bon Scott's vocals, but lower range. There is never a moment on this album where he doesn't shine. The rhythm section does an excellent job of moving along and providing the foundation for the other two.

The standouts on this album, for me at least, are as follows:
  • I Can Tell: this is a good example of the strong vocals of Lee and the choppy guitar work of Wilko.
  • Back In The Night: Wilko nails it with his stuttering slide.
  • Rolling and Tumbling: This is the one to blow your speakers on. Insane hard blues rock...this is my fave.
  • Riot in Cell Block #9: An awesome version of producers/writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's tune. The Coasters and Wanda Jackson did the most notable versions. Dr. Feelgood does this one good.
There will be many who might not get this music and pass it off as old, unhip, and obslolete. Bullshit! If you are consumed with finding something new just to keep up with or impress the hipster crowd, then you are about the scene and not the music--better pass this one up. I don't care if it's caveman farts blowing pixie whistles, Gustav Mahler, or the future reincarnation of Brian Eno (look forward to whoever he becomes), if it's good music, listen to it. Dr. Feelgood is raw, simple, and loud music. I think it qualifies as good music. Listen to it now.