26 June 2014

The Shangri-Las: One Adaptable song I used to play as well as a Phil Sector "Wall of Sound" Gem

Hello Gold Coast Bluenote friends and followers. My name is Mike Baluja, and I am honored to say that I've been granted permission by Jim's family to maintain his blog. My primary objective will be to make sure that his body of work remains accessible to all those readers out there who are interested in the the topics Jim wrote about. I plan on reblogging many of his 512 posts and sharing them on various social networks. I will also do the best I can to attend to any comments or questions along the way. On occasion, I may be moved to post something of my own, sticking as close as possible to Jim's blueprint for GCB. I can't guarantee the same commitment to this blog that Jim showed, but I will definitely try to maintain the integrity and the love he had for music, movies, and art, in general. That said, I would like to leave you with what would have been Jim's final post. It was saved in draft form, so I imagine he still had a few things to edit before publishing it, but he never got the chance to. Here it is...

First, before the Phil Spector mono trip to Paradise, a personal favorite: The Shangra-Las The Train from Kansas City. With easy chords and adaptable lyrics I did a personal rewrite for acoustic guitar every time I play it -- depending on a special city of the lady the song was addressed to. I even included a spoken-over slowing and speeding that train up with a choppy D chord. I played Train from Kansas City every chance I got.

The song Paradise I discovered on a late friend's Phil Spector box set I'd highly recommend, Back to Mono from 1991. It's a comprehensive journey through Spector's pioneering work, including his most ending "Wall of Sound" work. What is the Wall of Sound? he Wikipedia Contributors let songwriter John Barry, "who worked extensively with Spector", describe it:
[It's] basically a formula. You're going to have four or five guitars line up, gut-string guitars, and they're going to follow the chords...two basses in fifths, with the same type of line, and strings...six or seven horns, adding the little punches…formula percussion instruments–the little bells, the shakers, the tambourines. Phil used his own formula for echo, and some overtone arrangements with the strings. But by and large, there was a formula arrangement.
From the songs include and Tom Wolfe's included essay, I learned the merits of mono production. To experience the Wall of Sound is quite simply to fall in love with it.

It seems I'm always working backward; the girl groups were biggest in the early '60s, when I was six. These days its trying to learn the music from the black R and B charts I've never had a chance to explore

For my money, lead singer Betty Weiss (front right) is the hot, hot, hot -- sexier to me than my imagination can muster.

15 June 2014

It is my sad duty to inform the readers of Gulf Coast Bluenote that its author, Paco Malo, has passed away.

As you may have imagined, "Paco Malo" was a pen name. I want to say a few words about the man I knew as "Jim".

We met in high school, and were friends for more than forty years. Jim was a gentleman and a scholar. He held a PhD from Johns Hopkins, and a JD from U of Maryland Law School. He loved to laugh, and did so in spite of a life too often touched by pain. He was a compassionate and generous soul. Jim was that guy who really would have given you the shirt off his back.

And he loved music, man did he love music. The GCB blog was his way to share that love and his wide-ranging knowledge of all things musical. Jim loved the community of blogging, the back and forth of comments, the connection with his readers. On his behalf I say to every reader of this blog, thank you.

For me this post completes a circle. Back in the day when blogs were a new thing I ran a blog, now long shuttered. Jim was fascinated, and had the idea to contribute guest postings, always about music. After a bit of that, he decided to go solo, and Gold Coast Bluenote was born.

Over the years Jim and I shared many a musical discovery. The last note I sent him contained links to a couple of performances I think he would have enjoyed. I don't know whether he got the chance to watch them. I will post them here, for you his readers, his friends.

The first is a bluegrass cover of "Wild Horses" by Old and In The Way. Jim was huge Stones fan, and he appreciated good bluegrass. The second performance features the superb Ana Vidovic. Jim never could resist a guitar.

I hope you enjoyed those, Jim. Ave atque vale, my friend.

One more thing. One of Jim's musical collaborators is going to try his hand at running GCB. That's a tall order, but I think Paco would have been pleased.