HerculesAs Brett Ratner’s Hercules wallows in the steroid-spill of yet another summer blockbuster season, it’s an opportune time to think about the nature of myth. Sure, the classic image of Hercules is all brawn and virility, thrashing his way through obstacles—but myth is a flexible, amorphous thing forever being retold. New spins on old yarns.

Take for instance the hero of Allen Toussaint’s “Hercules” (1973). As embodied by Aaron Neville on the Toussaint-produced single, the character is a street-wise kid doing his best to steer clear of trouble. ‘Jungle rule, can’t be no fool/might get caught by the hook of a crook no time for cool.’ Neville’s sweet voice marks the character out as easy prey, vulnerable to his surroundings. He may sing, ‘I must be Hercules,’ but it sounds as if he’s trying to reassure nobody more than himself. The Meters back him up, keeping things tight and claustrophobic, everything held under the weight of the bass figure’s demonic grunt. There is room for little else, here, but fear and trembling (reflected in the icy organ and synth). In Neville’s rendering, the following lines come out a plea: ‘I can feel the pressure, from every side/If you not gonna help, don’t hurt, just pass me by.’

Aaron Neville :: Hercules

Just a year later, Boz Scaggs (who had already covered two Toussaint songs, “Hello, My Lover” and “Freedom for the Stallion” on his previous album) made his own cut of “Hercules,” and the difference is remarkable. Now we don’t have an Oliver Twist character huddled in a corner, but a cocksure Fagin. Scaggs opens the song up to strings and waka waka guitars that come straight off of Superfly. He struts his way through the verses, ditching Neville’s fragile falsetto for something more akin to a meaner Bill Withers. When he sings Toussaint’s lyric, ‘the pimp on the corner looks like the sharpest cat in town,’ he could very well be singing about himself.

Boz Scaggs :: Hercules

Both versions are valid. Both give us a meaty slice of urban desolation. But these are wildly different heroes (which is probably more than you can say about the last two—or five, or ten—Hercules movies). words / dk o’hara

kingtuff

King Tuff performing “Bad Thing” (last summer in the Galaxy Barn at Pickathon) at the Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon. This year’s festival is happening this weekend – August 1-3. We’ll be there again, DJing all three days. Advance tickets still available, here.

RG-BODY

We last caught up with Roadside Graves via their 2011 LP, We Can Take Care of Ourselves, an eleven track song-cycle concerning S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. The band is back in early 2015 with a new record entitled ACNE/EARS. Roadside’s John Gleason on the album’s first taste, “Body”, in his own words, after the jump…

Hamilton-Leithauser

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

I can’t think of a more fitting pairing than that of Hamilton Leithauser taking on Sinatra. Subtle solo piano renderings highlighting Leithauser’s vocals, the pair of covers dig into the ageless nuance of Sinatra’s music. The chairman of the board, indeed. Leithauser on Sinatra, in his own words, below…
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Hamilton Leithauser :: All Or Nothing At All (Frank Sinatra)

There are so many versions of this song, I figured I could do my own without stepping on anyone’s toes, or setting myself up for an unreasonable comparison.  There’s also so many terrible versions of this song, I figured it wouldn’t be all that hard to not be the absolute worst.  It actually has a slightly odd chord progression for such a well-known classic, and it’s a fun one to play.

Hamilton Leithauser :: It Gets Lonely Early (Frank Sinatra)

A sad, dreary, slog that’s kinda fun to sink into. On of my favorites off The September of My Years. It’s a mid-album wallower. The only thing we were missing was like the funereal bell at the beginning.  But we’re plenty dreary. I love this song.

Leithauser gigs Thursday night, here in Los Angeles, at the Echo supporting his solo debut, The Black Hours. We have some tickets for AD readers, plus a deluxe copy of the LP. To land them, leave a comment with your name and favorite Leithauser vocal performance, solo or otherwise. Winners notified Wednesday night.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / original illustration for aquarium drunkard by Ben Towle.

levon_Bob Dylan

Seven and half years off the road, Dylan returns with the Band. Oakland Coliseum Stadium Feb 11, 1974.

Bob Dylan And The Band :: Oakland, CA 1974 (zipped folder, external link)

unnamedGracious Calamity are Kate Lee and Kit Wallach, a duo based in Jamaica Plain, MA. They describe their music as Gospel, Melodramatic Popular Song, Healing and Easy Listening. The descriptions are apt. “Song That Grows Like a Vine,” which appears on their 2011 album Carefree Since ’83, is a borderline spiritual experience. But it’s a demo of the tune, originally appearing on the now-defunct Hooves on the Turf blog, way back in 2009, that truly has the power to transport.

Homespun and charmingly dusty, the demo does as its title suggests, changing throughout, though never requiring more than two voices, two guitars and a kick drum. Kate and Kit’s voices are earthly and heavenly alike, delivering their deceptively plainspoken lyrics with a mystical matter-of-factness, although an air of sorrow and doubt and lingers within the recording.

palacesongswestpalmfront

A retrospective journey through the ever-evolving world of Will Oldham – spanning the lo-fi, acoustic Palace recordings of the early 90s, to the polished country/folk of the very prolific Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Palace :: A Retrospective
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy :: A Retrospective

david bowie at rest

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 350: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ The Fall – Frenz ++ Josef K – Pleasant Heart ++ Ought – Pleasant Heart ++ Girls Names – A Second Skin ++ Modern Vices – Keep Me Under Your Arms ++ The Jesus And Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking ++ Mission Of Burma – New Disco ++ Wire – Ex Lion Tamer ++ Parquet Courts – Borrowed Time ++ The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make? (Hatful of Hollow mix) ++ Deerhunter – Desire Lines ++ David Bowie – TVC15 ++ Televison Personalities – Part Time Punks ++ The Raincoats – Lola ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (Paul McCartney) ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ White Fence – Anger! Who Keeps You Under ++ The Olivia Tremor Control – California Demise, Pt. 3 ++ Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Stick Figures In Love ++ Cate Le Bon – Sisters ++ Women – Black Rice ++ Here We Go Magic – Tunnelvision ++ Trailer Trash Tracys – Candy Girl (Demo Version) ++ The Jesus And Mary Chain – Teenage Lust ++ Beach Fossils – Time ++ Courtney Barnett – Lance Jr. ++ Atlas Sound – Walk A Thin Line (Fleetwood Mac) ++ Twin Peaks – Stand In The Sand ++ Times New Viking – Teen Drama ++ Guided By Voices – Titus And Strident Wet Nurse ++ Pavement – Unfair ++ Silver Jews – People ++ Pavement – Zurich Is Stained ++ Blur – Coffee And TV

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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gtmooreggae

In an October 2010 issue of The Believer, I made passing reference to GT Moore and the Reggae Guitars, as the band Moore rather weirdly left Heron to pursue. However, Moore’s sophomore crew did go on to draw a large enough following on the pub rock circuit to see them through to the onset of punk. And unlike Heron they seem to have toured extensively during this time, opening shows for the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Thin Lizzy, and Dr Feelgood. As mentioned in the Heron article (albeit dismissively in a footnote), they also happened to draw a reggae groove out of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” well before Clapton got there. All right, they could be seen as the simply first in a long line of dubious white boy reggae outfits…but every time I listen to “Move It On Up”, I want to overlook all that. As the band smolders into a late-night, barnstormy funk/rock/reggae amalgam, I want to apologize for reducing them to a footnote in the already wispy history of Heron. For six whole minutes, I want to point and say: listen, here were the original White Men in Hammersmith Palais, the real Regatta De Blanc. Respect.’ words / dk o’hara

GT Moore And The Reggae Guitars :: Move It On Up