Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tomorrow - "Three Jolly Little Dwarfs" (1968)

Extraordinary compositional economy, not just melodically/harmonically/structurally but also dynamically: one of the great drum records but with utterly simple parts and fills. Great power of the chorus hinges on at least three factors: 1) the fact that it's preceded by a break, but there's actually an intensification of energy when the song resumes and the chorus begins, 2) the repeat of its first part, and 3) the fact that it continues after the repeat, building on the drum dynamism with an overdubbed mallet on a bass or kettle drum.

"Three Jolly Little Dwarfs" on Lala.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Pretty Things - "Walking Through My Dreams" (1968)

Dream as sacred ground, rapture in the word "dream" on the high notes in the chorus. Just a back and forth on two chords in the verse, vocals coming in immediately in the first bar of the song, and fourteen and a half seconds into it, you're already in the chorus: a beautiful construction, beautifully sung.

Simple, two-part instrumental break including a guitar solo and then, at 1:40, the full chorus again for the third time already. At 2:14, the full chorus for the fourth time.

And then, a repeat! The fifth time! Each time as rich as the time before.

Sixth, seventh, and eighth times, surrendering the narrative to a wordless choir.

"Walking Through My Dreams" on Lala.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Beach Boys - "Little Pad" (1967)

Exquisite harmony. Extremely evocative of its subject matter. Pleasant, extraordinarily minimal arrangement. And the sheer triumph of a band tapping into the real depths of their own resources (their voices).

"Little Pad" on Lala.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Neighb'rhood Childr'n - "Behold the Lillies" (1968)

Flower as pure religious symbol, transcending negative tendencies of the genre. Purity of intention, purity and innocence in execution.

"Behold the Lillies" on Lala.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wings - "Single Pigeon" (1973)

Depth in the details: the spot-on role-playing in the vocal performance, the harmonic turn in the piano between the first and second verse. Just a little thing, 1:53, post-White Album songwriting, but depth also in small sectional details and the horns that come in at the end are just grand.

Friday, October 16, 2009

John Cale - "Paris 1919" (1973)

There's a sense in listening to this that no one had taken the revival of Romanticism that had originally cropped up in late '60s rock music as seriously as Cale does here, that no one had striven for and landed so lucidly in the past as in this song. It is an anthem and a thing of beauty.

"Paris 1919" on Lala.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stereolab - "Ping Pong" (1994)

Fifteen years later, this sounds like music you've been hearing on commercials for years, but the depth of the composition starts to become apparent when you hear the four-note lead guitar line for the first time. And the late sixties melodicism in the the vocal melody and background vocal parts is very rich.

The unusual chord (the one that first occurs on the last syllable of "recovery" in the lines about "smaller recovery" and "shallower recovery") sounds evocative, though I can't place it anywhere. It's a bVI chord, unusual because it's occurring in a song that otherwise emphasizes diatonic seventh harmony. Would be curious to know what, if any, precedents there are for the use of this chord.

"Ping Pong" on Lala.