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Archive for October, 2010
So it’s an incredibly charming narrative, so far. James Fox captures Keith’s voice well. We’ve known as long ago as Robert Greenfield’s glorious ’72 interview just what a good raconteur Keith is. In the early going, though, there’s a really wonderful vignette that essentially explains when Keith became an outlaw.
The book paints a portrait of 1950’s Britain that makes us think more about the Kinks than the Stones — the pinched straits of the British economy after the war and the collapse of the Empire, the conformism enforced by all the men back from serving in the military and now in teaching jobs and the like. Everything seems grey until the bacillus of American rock’n’roll is transposed into the dull Petri dish of ’50s British youth.
Keith — whose harmonies up until ’81 were still one of the things that made the Stones so great — was recruited as a 12-year old soprano into his school’s choir, and they did well, one of the three best boys choirs in Britain, he says. And the moment his voice cracked, they booted him from the choir, and to add insult to injury, held him back in school, because he’d missed so many classes performing. The injustice of it! It was just a hop, skip and a jump from there to Keith wearing a skull ring and flouting every societal norm up to and included snorting his dead dad’s ashes.
The book’s a hoot.
PBS’ new iPad app is out today, and so is their upgrade of PBS.org. Wisely, among the video elements they’re featuring is an Austin City Limits show with the estimable Alejandro Escovedo. Download the app, but if you want to see the video right now link right here.
Kelley Stoltz’ To Dreamers picks up where the most excellent Circular Sounds left off, which is to say, at the portal to Heaven.
Philosophers have debated since back in the day just what, exactly, constitutes Heaven. It’s kind of a big question. For the gang at Tulip Frenzy — who two years ago voted Circular Sounds the 2nd Best Album of 2008 — it’s fair to say that a record constructed, nay, handcrafted as a bespoke paean to the songwriting of Ray Davies, with such alchemical ability that can render a harpsichord a backing instrument in a garage band, is a good place to begin.
Look, some people keep searching for the New New Thing, and maybe it reveals conservative leanings that we think the post-British Invasion sounds of albums like Between The Buttons and Revolver just might represent the Apogee of Man. So of course we believe that in Kelley Stoltz we have found a kindred spirit. We’d say he doesn’t get out much, but just recently we’ve heard his drumming with Sonny and the Sunsets, so we know he isn’t a shut-in, living with cats and his collection of vintage 45s. And yet it is clear that this is a gentleman who has spent many an hour in quiet and solitary contemplation of the classics — you know, The Kinks Kronicles and the like.
If you can listen to the Buddy Holly-esque “Baby I Got News For You” without feeling a thrill, or can hear “Little Girl” without wondering aloud how ONE MAN CAN MAKE THAT ENTIRE SONG, then you have evolved to a higher plane than us. We fully anticipate “Keeping The Flame” will find its way into our noctural reveries — maybe that’s why he calls the album To Dreamers. We could see Devendra Banhart nodding his locks to “Ventriloquist,” and honestly, “Fire Escape” sounds like what “All Day And All of The Night” would have turned into if Ray Davies had chewed on speed served up by the Diggers.
Not everything on To Dreamers is better than Circular Sounds — that would be difficult because Circular Sounds will, we feel confident, have a permanent place in God’s own jukebox.
So maybe let’s just leave it here: there are some albums and some artists that you should play at 2:30 AM, while contemplating whether it’s worth even waking up in the morning. Kelley Stoltz is not that artist, and To Dreamers is not that record. Of course ad agencies go nuts when a new Kelley Stoltz album comes out — I can think of ads for hotel chains and regional banks constructed from ditties from the guy’s last two albums — for this is the soundtrack to a bright Saturday morning with the coffee ready to pour and the dog thumping her tail on the floor, ready to play. And yeah, that’s pretty close to our idea of Heaven.