Guess Who Turned Fifty?
Around 10 days back, my colleague in London mailed me a link with a short note that simply said “Yes they are back! And I can die in peace”. The link was to a lyric video (the kind where you can read the lyrics while listening to the song) of The Rolling Stones’ latest new single, Doom And Gloom. And the note from my colleague who’s obviously a huge Stones fan besides being an erstwhile (or, is he still one?) bass slapper himself, is an example of how much diehard Stones fans love the 50-year-old band.
The single, Doom And Gloom, is one of the only two new songs that the Stones’ 50th anniversary compilation album (to be released in November), GRRR!, will have, and it’s an archetypal rock and roll song, full of exuberance and suited to foot stomping. The lyrics are a bit blah but then who ever said that the Stones are known for the quality of their lyrics—it’s the attitude, the vibe and, well, the Rolling Stone-ness that makes the long-lasting band what it is.
The other notable 50th anniversary earlier this month was that of the first single (Love Me Do) from The Beatles, the Stones’ more famous but much shorter-lived compatriots and contemporaries. I read quite a few features and comments on Love Me Do’s 50th birthday but none was as nostalgic and nice as Anant Rangaswami’s piece in First Post (50 years of Beatles’ Love me do: Keep it simple, stupid). Like Rangaswami, I was also very, very young when I first heard songs by The Beatles, one of the very few pop songs that were played in a household where the musical fare was predominantly western and Indian classical and, the city of my childhood being Calcutta, the de rigueur dosage of Rabindra Sangeet.
But as soon as one grew up to be old enough to make one’s own musical choices, I quickly switched allegiance from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones, a good future trading call because the Stones have outlived The Beatles. And how! Yet, as I’ve grown older and, as the size, range and depth of the rock and pop music smorgasbord has grown to incredible dimensions offering nearly infinite choices, I find some of the Stones’ more recent releases not nearly as memorable as their earlier albums. So although Doom And Gloom has an upbeat vibe to it, I know I’m probably not going to reach out for it the next time I crave for a bit of Stones. It’ll probably be Let It Bleed (1969) or Exile On Main St. (1972), or even Goats Head Soup (1973). Remember Angie?
Perhaps because of the new single from the Stones and the pieces I read about Love Me Do, I got a bit nostalgic about music most of last week. I picked out a vinyl version of David Bowie’s concept album from the early 1970s, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and heard it twice, back-to-back. Then I dipped into Blind Faith’s (1969) only album, also on vinyl and also called just Blind Faith, and on which one of rock’s best supergroups (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Rick Grech and Steve Winwood) does some incredible things in just 42 minutes and 12 seconds.
Serendipitously, on my nostalgic musical trip, I discovered a new podcast that had some really rare old gems. The reputed music blog, Aquarium Drunkard, has just launched a podcast called Sidecar, which, on the lines of the blog itself, is a collection of eclectic tracks on each episode, aggregating to around 27-30 minutes. The first four episodes had some really great nuggets. I heard the late Alex Chilton (American songwriter and singer) do a version of the Stones Jumpin’ Jack Flash; and, after many, many years, the maverick British rocker who called himself Screaming Lord Sutch, do a track called Flashing Light. There were The Shadows (remember them?) doing Scotch on the Socks; The Kinks doing a demo version of I Go To Sleep; and several other bands that I’d never heard before. As for The Beatles, you should check out The Motions (a band comprising three lawyers and a computer guy) doing a medley made up of lyrics from the several Beatles’ tracks. It’s called Beatle Drums. Sidecar. I’m hoping Aquarium Drunkard will keep that podcast going.
If you listen/watch Toronto trio Metz’s official video for their song Wet Blanket, you get an idea of what this band is all about. Their music is heavy, punk-influenced rock that designed to knock you right off your feet. If you’ve been overdosing on all those wimpy, singer-songwriter-driven melancholia-laced stuff that has been routinely floating to the top of the indie music pile these days, Metz maybe just the antidote for you. Metz have been around for a while but it’s only now that they’ve released their first full-length album also called Metz. Well worth a listen.