Sunday, April 15, 2007

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Apologies for the extended period of radio silence. I should explain that when I started on this alphabetical kick, I set myself some limitations - notably, that I would only post tracks by artists whose name began with the letter in question, that I'd choose only one artist per letter and that I wouldn't feature anyone who'd already appeared on Domino Rally. As such, I've been having a nightmare picking tracks for this post, and the results are possibly more random than usual.

Hank Mizell - Jungle Rock
(oh give me a break, when you've already featured Billy Joel where else do you go?)

This is, quite simply, one of the strangest songs ever, with a pretty weird story to boot. Recorded in 1956, the song wasn't a hit until 1976 when it got to #3 in the UK - leading to what must have been the odd spectacle of Mizell aged 53 miming along to his younger self on Top Of The Pops.

I first heard it on some Rock n Roll cassette compilations that my granddad had - I think he lent them to my dad. These were kind of the early 80s versions of those Time Life compilations that you see advertised on daytime TV between infomercials for Abdominizers, Thigh Masters and suchlike.

It always sounded creepy and unfinished, half-written and hollow sounding. The bass line is all over the place (is it even playing the same track as everyone else during the intro?) and the guitar moves into this strange minor-key thing for the chorus. Plus Hank keeps hammering away at those same two (and a bit) notes for the entire length of the song. Totally relentless nonsense - love it!

Visit - Hank Mizell at Wikipedia
Buy - Jungle Rock (import)

Kitchen of Distinction - The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule

Surely one of the worst band names in history. But from 1989 to 1991 I loved this strange little band. Looking back, they were the shoegaze band for grown-ups - rather than writing lyrics where meaning was "up to the listener to provide their own interpretation (mumble, mumble)", KOD tracks were about stuff. But they still had that whole oceanic walls of sound thing going on - seriously, how many delay pedals do you need to get that guitar sound?

And having said that, I've got no idea what this track is about. I guess it's just about that fantastic, huge swell of noise that comes after "everything went...!". And to ask for any more meaning than that from a pop song is a bit silly, really.

This was the first track I heard by them and over the course of the next two years and many purchases I learnt that it was easily their best track. But the bit at 2.17 still makes the hairs on my neck stand on end EVERY TIME which is more than I can say for many records I bought at the time by their hipper contemporaries (see Moose, Lush, Slowdive, et al).

According to Wikipedia their sound influenced bands like Mansun, The Verve and Interpol.... err....thanks?!?

Visit - Kitchens of Distinction at Wikipedia
Buy - Love Is Hell

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Twisted

Awesome skwee-bo scat singing here. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross specialised in writing new arrangements and lyrics for jazz tunes and here is Annie Ross' amazingly liquid vocal to Wardell Gray's melody. I've never heard the original but Ross' lyrics fit the feel of the track so snugly, I can't imagine how it could sound any better than this. The lyrical flow on show here is simply astonishing and I love Lambert and Hendricks' semi-sung interjections throughout (especially at 1.30).

It swings hard, it sounds supercool and it's funny, too (their version of Art Blakey's "Moanin'" is cool, too).

FUN FACT - Annie Ross played the jazz singer (and Lori Singer's mum) in Robert Altman's fantastic Short Cuts, one of stevedomino's top 10 films of all time!

Visit - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
Buy - The Hottest New Group in Jazz

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