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.


Patti said...

Mike, I'm so glad you will be taking over Jim's blog. I am still stunned by his death and am missing him very much, so I love the fact that his blog will remain active.

Jim brought to my attention music that I would otherwise have never heard, which, of course, was his goal.

I loved these Shangri-La pieces. Thanks for publishing his final work.

Baluja said...

Thank you, Patti, for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed Jim's final post. Yours is the kind of response that would have made him glow. Please stop by from time to time to revisit, rediscover, and/or repost your favorite Gold Coast Bluenote entries. That's what they're here for....