Nov 1, 2013

A Cat For Glass, The Archie's Sugar, Plus Delicious (New) Saint-Germaine Jazz, And A Wooden Rock Secret Song!

Having failed to find a suitable picture of Philip Glass playing the piano - he's not the most attractive berry in the patch, you know - I offer you instead a handsome pussycat who's just about ready to practice his scales and arpeggios.

As for Philip Glass, yes, I've accused him of borrowing from Herrmann too much, and occasionally I poke fun at his style (when needed, of course) (is his music the equivalent of spirographs, or what?). But even I recognize the power of his work overall, which at its best is more hypnotizing than that of most composers alive today (and quite a few dead ones, too).

His talent is on full display in this 2003 collection of studies, or "etudes" for solo piano (by the way, there's really no reason to call it "etudes" instead of "studies" unless you're pretentious) (but this is Phillip Glass, so we'll let him get away with it) (for now). They're lighter in spirit then you expect with Glass - and utterly charming, too. Is he the best pianist in the world? No, and even he'll admit that, but this lovely CD casts a wonderful spell.

I'm not even going to try to make a graceful segue from Phillip Glass to The Archies. Why should I? They both have their place in any one's musical library. You can't "etude" all day long, if you know what I mean. Or to put it plainly, I've never trusted anyone who says they're too refined for a little cheesy pop here and there (it's an inhuman position and I don't believe them) (kind of like saying you never have dessert after dinner because your body's a temple) (to which I say, "Pretty boring temple you got there") (but I digress). Besides, there's no denying it, The Archies' music is fun!

The songs for the 1960's-era animated cartoon could have been throwaways, but they weren't, and if the animated series is remembered at all, it's because of the impossibly bright music created by producer/songwriter Jeff Berry, who wrote for Neil Diamond and Carole King; producer/songwriter Ellie Greenwich, a 60's girl-group writer for The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las; songwriter Andy Kim, who wrote for Phil Spector; and lead singer Ron Dante, who later became a producer for Barry Manilow, Cher and Pat Benatar. I know, right? How's that for a list of credits? And all for a Saturday morning cartoon!

Not surprisingly, many of the songs in this collection became top 10 hits - the only time in music history that I can think of in which TV music charted so high - including "Sugar, Sugar," "Bang-Shang-a-Lang" and more. Is it bubble gum music? Yes, of course. But it's also great bubble gum music.

Remember the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Cafe mix CDs back in the 90's? A lot of them were terrific - and still are - but as the series dragged on, it lost its way. I became aware of one of their more current releases a while back, and while I liked it, it still didn't capture that special magic of the original releases. But this new one hits the sweet spot, I swear.

I don't know who half the songwriters and singers are on this 2-disc collection (a bunch of vaguely Euro-sounding peeps; and that's not a knock, I'm just not familiar with them), but I so-o-o-o promise, it's fizzy electro-jazz fun for everyone, and without being too boorishly computer-ish sounding. Somehow, it achieves just the right balance between the new and the old. At last.

Age is something the Secret Song File never worries about. Why? Look below. Ageless. Like Renee Zellweger Grace Jones. It's why this spanking new CD from a certain psychedelic rock band - their second! - is so satisfying, and why The Secret Song File has it on heavy rotation. It's sort of a throwback to the likes of The Velvet Underground, but it's loopy and fresh-sounding, too (the group's from San Francisco) (of course) (I mean that in a good way).

Is it wooden? Yes! Is it the holy mountain of music? Maybe, but who knows if the moon is shrinking. Do vampires get the blues? Are these hints helping? Who can tell? But you're just a click away from neo-psychedelia space rock fun.

I ask you, who out there makes the distinction between "space rock" and "psychedelic rock?"

Split a few hairs in the comments, if you like!


KH said...

Looking forward to hearing the new St. Germain stuff.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised... :)