27 December 2010

Dylan's Rolling Thunder on "Black Diamond Bay"

Bob Dylan's follow-up studio album to Blood on the Tracks, 1976's Desire, was written and recorded in New York city in 1975. It has always been a favorite of mine, in part because the songs are just flat out great and also because it came during a time when Dylan was organizing -- and reorganizing -- the Rolling Thunder Revue. I saw two great shows on that tour (New Orleans and Houston), but that's a story for another time.

Most of
Desire was co-written with Jacques Levy. And there is one song in particular that gets very little attention, Black Diamond Bay. I do remember one smart alack reviewer saying that Dylan must have been reading too much Joseph Conrad when he co-wrote this one. Other than that, silence. For me, this is a great little adventure story song built on a fine guitar riff -- thoroughly enjoyable for me because I love this outing as Dylan does Conrad.

But judge for yourself; here's the story of Black Diamond Bay.

Bob Dylan, Black Diamond Bay (1976, album version)

20 December 2010

"Run Rudolph Run": 'Tell [Santa] He Can Take the Freeway Down'

Chuck Berry

As I noted in the preceding post, I've got two favorite Christmas songs. My last post discussed the first runner-up, but my all time favorite is Chuck Berry's 1958 recording of Run Rudolph Run. I first discovered the song when Keith Richards covered it on his first solo single in 1978. But once I found Chuck Berry's version, I was hooked. It's a rockin' little song with great 50s Christmas lyrics and trademark Chuck Berry vocals and guitar. So "Merry Christmas, baby."

[Editor's Note: Keith Richards re-released his '78 cover of Run Rudolph Run on Itunes this December.]

Chuck Berry Run Rudolph Run (1958)

15 December 2010

Favorite Christmas Songs: Darlene Love on Letterman, "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" (1995)

An annual tradition on Late Night with David Letterman since 1986, Darlene Love performing Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) is a holiday ritual both rock and R & B fans can look forward to, especially given the world of often tepid Christmas songs thrust at us in December. Above is a particularly hot version of this tune from 1995 -- back when Paul Shaffer still had hair.

Back before The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I used to catch Letterman only intermittently. I only caught one of these Darlene Love Christmas appearances, but the year I did, she, Paul and the band rocked my evening. Shaffer creates a Phil Spector style "wall of sound" -- one very like the mono production style Spector gave Darlene when she flourished in the 60s. I was overjoyed; now I had two favorite Christmas songs, Chuck Berry's Run Rudolph Run and Darlene Love with the CBS Orchestra doing Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).
Note: I found out from Echoes in the Wind today that Darlene will be on Letterman this year on Thursday, December 23rd.

08 December 2010

John Lennon, 1940 - 1980

Today is the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon near his home in New York City. I still recall quite vividly Yoko's call for 10 minutes of silent prayer the following Sunday. As many did, I spent that Sunday with close friends quietly reflecting on what John had meant both to me and to a world that mourned the tragedy.

John, I hope you've found the peace now that you worked so hard for in life.

04 December 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (2010 DVD release): "Tumbling Dice"

Though I've been an ardent Stones fan since the 70s, I've never had the chance to see any concert footage from what many would argue is the best tour the band ever did -- their 1972 tour in support of Exile on Main St. This is Mick Taylor's last tour as a Stone and the band is in peak form.

Can't think of a holiday gift for that Stones fan you know? Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones was re-released in October 2010 on DVD for the first time, and this Stones fan will act very surprised (and pleased) if he gets a copy in his stocking. 'Til then, I've got a wonderful bootleg of one of the tour concerts to keep me warm.

Folks, enjoy this little taste above, the Stones live in '72 performing a favorite of mine, Tumbling Dice.