Late in the actor's life a reporter approached Charles Laughton with a seemingly innocent question: why hadn't he ever done Falstaff? Laughton replied that thanks to his father's trade as a hotelier, he'd grown up among plenty of people who were the real deal, and there was nothing comic, wise or even unintentionally amusing about them. In saying this, Laughton all but explicitly condemned Shakespeare for bestowing these virtues on his beloved alcoholic.
Alright, cue The Yayhoos:
I'm gettin' DRUNK
And Gettin' OUT!!
Man, there's nothing redeeming about a song like that. When I was a pious young lad the pleasures of just such a song would cause me all manner of soul-searching. After years of moral consideration, the only conclusion I've reached is there is a particular tone of guitar, usually played in an open E, that will accommodate one message only: I'm drunk and horny and darlin' that's all the foreplay I got in me! If there's a Devil's Triad, this must be the Dionysian Dual-Tone -- and the Yayhoos play it to perfection.
Actually, there's more breadth and depth to the Yayhoos' songcraft than "humping and booze" (to borrow another band's self-description). But these are veterans of the rock & roll circuit, and their chief concern is keeping the audience on their feet. To that end they pull off some incredible covers of unsuspecting material: the O-Jays "Love Train" gets reverent treatment, while ABBA's "Dancing Queen" turns raucous and celebratory. When the guitars attack in the latter, the listener is having too much fun to concern herself with questions of irony. It's just ... fun! For those of us who have inner Laughtons to answer to, the best tack is to enjoy the Yayhoos first and sheepishly point to the irony of it all later.
The Yayhoos' site is here (Amazon here & here. eMusic here. And an appreciative hat-tip goes to my GG Award-Winning New Testament Scholar Buddy for making the introductions).
I'm a little surprised at the critical garlands being thrown at Nick Lowe's At My Age. It's not that it's a bad album -- not at all. The songs are all straightforward and neatly groomed, most of them clocking in at just under three minutes. The production is understated, befitting Lowe's quiet meditative mood. The guy who gave us "Cruel To Be Kind" still has it in him to deliver the cruel ("I Trained Her To Love Me"), but like the other 11 songs the message is ... "straightforward" is the word that keeps coming to mind. Returning to the earlier chart-topper for a moment, "Cruel To Be Kind" was a snappy little number that got a person singing along, only to inspire some troubled head-scratching when it was finished. There's not as much of that happening here, but, hey: I'm fond of At My Age, too. The current pop-clime seems determinedly set on delivering either angst or nonsense, and in such an environment "straightforward" is truly a welcome delight.
Nick Lowe's site is here. Amazon, eMusic.
Finally, I'm not at all sure what to say about From The Corner To The Block by Galactic, except this is music (hip-hop, funk, what have you) I wouldn't normally have touched with a ten-foot pole ... and I'm thoroughly digging it. DarkoV turned me on to these guys with this posting, and as persuasive as his words of praise are, what really pulled me in was the photo (album cover?) of the drummer. Who doesn't want to hear what this sounds like? From the little bit of surfing I've done, it looks like Galactic is a band that loves to play and invites the rappers of the day to come in and contribute. I'm happy to say none of it is of the chest-thumping variety that brings out my inner Charles Laughton: this is all finely observed material that even the big man from Britain might have appreciated.
Galactic's site is here. Amazon here.