...busting up my brains for the words

Monday, February 21, 2005

Vacation from politics

I'm in awe of people who eat, sleep, breathe politics and issues of social import. How do they do it? I hafta just getaway sometimes.
After reading a good political book recently, I reached for the next book I will be spending some time with. Instead of politics (anti Michael Moore book went half unread), I decided to take a break. I'm reading a schmaltzy biography of Lou Reed. This would be Peter Doggett's Growing Up In Public. This is a well enough written, competently realized bio, I suppose. This is the first bio I read about this man. I guess maybe I didn't know much about him, as I didn't know, as Doggett reports, that Lou is gay. This is entirely confusing to me in the book, as it goes on to describe Lou's relationship with a "thing" called Rachel. There are pictures of Rachel available, both in the book and on record jackets and yes, prolly the Internet, as well. And guess what my verdict is....Rachel looks like a woman. So, okay, I don't know what Rachel's private parts are. Male? Female? Both? Neither?
That's neither here, nor there. What difference does it make? People's personal sexual preference is nobody's business but their own.

But this book is causing me to revisit some Lou Reed records I haven't spun for awhile. Sally Can't Dance is one. I've had it on vinyl for years. Bought it as a cut-out. The pricetag is still affixed to its front jacket; $1.92. You know, mostly, I can remember details about purchasing a record. But not this one. I don't recall when or where or why. And I haven't played this record any more than maybe half a dozen times over the past 30 or so years since I bought it. That's 'cos it's engineered badly. Lou's voice is recorded with heavy reverb and it's bass-heavy. This reduces it to muck that's washed out by horns, guitar and maybe some cats and some dogs, too.
This record is the perfect candidate for a remix. But Lou is no big fan of clean mixes. You'd think he would have gained some respect for a clean mix when David Bowie made him a lot of money and success with his production of Transformer. But Lou is a musician who tries to see pretty things through dirty lenses.
Lou's stuff translates well with high production, as Transformer proved. The VU album also illustrated this fact. Before VU came out, all I had of Foggy Mountain Breakdown was a very scratchy, very noisy record.
Any recording artist can put out a record that becomes noisy & scratchy. To whit, I'm now playing a beatup Stonewall Jackson lp. If you heard the ear rape I'm hearing now, you'd know that Stonewall never intended it to be heard like this.
Okay, taking that off post haste, I've plopped on Hank Williams; The First Recordings. Hank's voice comes across perfectly.
Lou had/has a personal relationship with the noise in the message. He has devoted much attention to how his music is recorded. In the 1970s Lou pioneered a sound system known as SBS. It described a recording system with microphones mounted in a bust's ears. Makes sense to me. Our ears are about 6 inches apart. Why shouldn't the mics be?

My expectation would be that if Sally Can't Dance is remixed clean, with a minimum of reverb in Lou's vocals, it would be hot stuff.


  • At 12:12 AM, Blogger R-Five said…

    I used to listen to much more music 20 years ago. Now that the political scene has eased and the Internet has arrived, I'm trying to crawl back. Live 365 on the Internet is wonderful for this, with all sorts of specific genre's including my favorite 50's & 60's, and 80's. Late 30's swing is great, too.

    Maybe there's a music blog out there, or we should make a MOB music blog...

  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    As always, your Comments are a welcome sight here. But I should point out that there are literally thousands of music blogs out there. Hard to believe, isn't it, that someone would actually choose to blog about music rather than the various political questions we spend our waking moment on?
    As far as the notion of a MOB music blog goes, I can't imagine how it might be defined, as I am sure that the musical tastes of each MOBster is completely unique.

    My own personal tastes are beyond definition. Maybe that's why the inconguity of joining a decadent British rockstar with center-right politics is interesting to me. Smash the borders.


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