Friday, January 28, 2011

Cover of the Whenever 100 -- (Give it up for 100!) The Bugle Sounds Again

I was capable of being a mopey sonofabitch at college -- well, many nights anyway. It was like the Sorrows of Young Werther in Pierpont dorm after some of my few romantic misadventures. There you might find me on the top bunk, the big Anton Corbijn "Love Will Tear Us Apart" Joy Division poster, Meister Brau in hand, watching the sun set over the parking lot as I listened to This Mortal Coil do their versions of "Kangaroo" and "Holocaust" loudly on the stereo, bumming the highs of all the shroom heads who would come to our floor for the famous Grateful-Dead inspired mural outside my door.

Sooner or later, enough beers in me, my buddies would come and round me up and would snap me out of it. We would get ready to go out, priming ourselves with more $3.99 12-packs of gut-burning swill, while listening to whatever I played as D.J. on the stereo, alternating between records and tapes. The glom and doom of the evening would soon make way for an eclectic mix of something like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Clash, the Stones, Stevie Wonder, the Smiths, T. Rex., Hall and Outs, the Jam into the Style Council, the Gun Club, Marvin Gaye, Husker Du, UB40, XTC, REM, the Dbs, Gang of Four, the Who, the Replacements, Neil Young ("hey Bill, can you give me a hand lifting Decade?), and so on.

Of course, "getting ready to go out" implies we had somewhere to go. Even if there was some party somewhere, we generally ended up cemented in our chairs near the mini fridge as more people from the floor stopped by and ended up hanging out as well.

And I had that live EP from Aztek Camera. I must have heard Jim Neil play the famous version of Van Halen's "Jump" on WMUA. Wow, I though, they really reinvented one of the worst and stupidest songs of all time into a nice, wistful folk-rock song.

It didn't take long to find out the the band was really just Roddy Frame with some other guys. And Roddy wrote, played, and sang these genius pop songs and ballads. Songs like "The Bugle Sounds Again," "Mattress of Wire," and "Birth of the True" were stylistic crossings of Dylan and Gerswhin, with perfect classic arrangements and brilliant lyrics over big. juicy, piano-like chords that ebbed and flowed from an acoustic 12-string Roddy played. The modulation at the end of "The Bugle Sounds Again" is pop transcendence. It was just the tonic for a weary lovestruck loser like I was.

Man, now it is clear that I got it all going on. But back then, Jesus. Pass a beer and put on "Isolation," wontcha?

This past week there was an insightful discussion of "Jump" on my Facebook page that serpentined into the Aztek Camera version. That reminded me that I should cover one of those old songs for CoTW. You really have to check out Surf and some other Roddy Frame records. Surf is one of the least discovered records most deserving of your attention. Roddy is just one of those guys who can do it all: beautiful voice, genius songwriter, and exceedingly talented guitarist. There is not dud on Surf. It is just him and an acoustic.

I am not worthy of this cover. I bring nothing but my voice to this one. Roddy's versions kick almighty ass. We listened this one to death, after "Let's Get it On" back then in 1985.

The Bugle Sounds Again mp3

Buffalo Tom Tour Dates

Here are the dates we have so far. Our time on the road will be extremely limited on this record, so if your city is not listed below, please consider meeting us at one of these places:






9 Off / TRAVEL


11 ENGLAND MANCHESTER Sound Control (A hometown homage to "She's Lost Control"?)







Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cover of the Whenever 99.5 -- Today I Started Loving You Again

Nothing like coming home after dinner and a few drinks with friends to make you want to listen to some classic country. I was about to post some Merle Haggard YouTube clips, but since everything was already set up from the day's earlier cover session, I figured I would sing some Merle my own damn self.

I sing this song with Session Americana from time to time. The way they sing the backing vocals make me get the goose pimples.

CoTW 99.5. I had actually forgotten I did a live YouTube version of this earlier, at CoTW 75/76. I thought for sure I had recorded it before, but didn't see it on the list to the right. This is a better version anyway.

Today I Started Loving You Again mp3

Cover of the Week 99 -- Oliver's Army

One more to 100! Woohoo!

As this CoTW project progresses there should start to be a few artists who reappear, and some already have, some of the meat-and-potato foundations blocks of my musical education: Stones; Beatles; Neil Young; Tom Waits; Van Morrison; Replacements; Clash; and so on.

I have only done one other Elvis Costello song, as far as I recall. Well, here is maybe my favorite song from Elvis. I had no real idea of what the lyrics were about when I first heard it in early high school, even as I was learning in class about Oliver Cromwell. But the music is so powerful, influenced by Abba, according to Elvis and the various Attractions. If you listen to the original recording, you can detect bit of "Dancing Queen" in Steve's piano.

So what happens when you take the undeniable melodic hooks and harmonies of Swedish pop sensations and marry them to biting satirical (satire should always be biting) Costello lyrics about imperialism, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and a career in the military? Why, you get "Oliver's Army."

The brilliant lyric unfolds a few smooth double entendres like, "have you got yourself an occupation?" All of this is great stuff, but the music always has to hit me first. Even with Dylan, my favorite songs of his are the ones that I find musically compelling, then I listen to the lyrics. Lots of great poppy bands/artists grab me and pull me in on the music, only to repel me with lyrics. Elvis is at his best when he is firing on all cylinders. The harmonies have always delighted me. I hear harmonies naturally. Some people do not. Many people are great at countermelodies, like Chris Colbourn and Mike Mills. Me, I hear 2-part harmonies on almost every melody I hear. I want to put them on everything. It takes a studio full of others to hold me back. The Everlys, the Loudins, the Beatles, Mick and Keith, Gram and Emmylou -- gimme the harmonies!

I always start these covers thinking I am going to do something different. But not sure if I ever do enough interpretation. Same here; all I do is strip it down a little, I think.

Oliver's Army mp3

99 songs and this is only my second "O" title.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CoTW 97, 98

Just unearthed, these Husker Du songs with Grant Hart playing and singing with Buffalo Tom in Chicago in December 2000. Grant supported us solo on a couple of shows in the Midwest during a mini tour promoting our A-Sides collection. Also notable in his support was Howie Day, who went on to reach the heights of rock stardom, thus joining a long line of openers for Bt who received our midas touch and went on to leave us in their dust: Hole; Pearl Jam; Goo Goo Dolls; Jewel...

It was a thrill for us to play with Grant, Husker Du being directly influential to us when we started, as outlined a bit in this blog (particularly here). By the way, I have been wading into the four or five boxes in my attic that constitue the Janovitz Branch of the Buff Tom Archive and I stumbled across that article where Grant picks the first BT LP as "Album of the Decade." I am still riding the high of that one 22 years later. I will scan it and insert it here when I find it. I have posted a bunch of scans over at the BT Facebook page. Then I have to let go of the nostalgia for a bit and BT gets ready to release our 8th LP.

I've always loved Grant's songs. Here are a couple of my faves.

Pink Turns to Blue

Never Talking to You Again