Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Pillbugs Musical Favourites

Mark Mikel "Those are mostly my influences and as much as I like Walk Away Renee (one of the best popsongs ever- maybe THE best) I can't cite the Left Bank as an influence only because I never heard anything else until recently. Any similarities between them and Pillbugs living or dead are purely coincidental.

The Zombies are a band that I also was turned onto in recent years and not a big formation in my production/songwriting psyche. Oddessy and Oracle is killer no matter when it is discovered.The Beatles are a definite fav among the bugs with Tabner possibly being the lowest on that totem pole- Chalmers is also not quite as Beatle-geeked as Davey Mark and me.
I think we all like early Aerosmith, Yes, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, ELP and Alice Cooper but I may be wrong when it comes to Davey.

Every bug LOVES The Who.

I think I'm the only real Spirit fan in the bugs- with the possible exception of Mark Kelley. The other guys like their hits enough but I absolutely devoured their early albums. The same can be applied to Traffic.

I think my love for The Monkees was contagious because now everybody's a huge fan again with the possible exception of Scott. I think he appreciates them enough but he had to put up with my monkeemadness his whole life. Davey's always been a big fan though.

I'm not sure how the others feel about Love. I guess I've always enjoyed them without much interaction with the others. Same with The Moody Blues but I know everyone else enjoys them. I think I was deeper into them than the others- with the possible exception of Mark Kelley.

We all like Pink Floyd but I believe Davey, Mark and I love the early stuff with Syd and immediately after while I believe Tabner and Chalmers don't really delve into it much- if at all.

I believe we are all big fans of the early Queen albums.Other bug loves:The Rolling Stones The Kinks Led Zeppelin The Doors Jimi Hendrix Experience Cream Frank Zappa

Music that I love but have no (or almost no) other bug to share with:Mott the Hoople Marvin Gaye Donovan The Pretty Things Small Faces (except Mark Kelley) Simon & Garfunkel (except Dan Chalmers)

King Crimson (with Greg Lake and Michael Giles. Murnen's more into the later schtuff with Levin and Bruford) Klaatu Cat Stevens There's a bunch of influences. If you name any virtually any OLDER artist, chances are it's enjoyed by at least of one of the bugs. Newer music is a bit of a wasteland with few exceptions.

Harry Nilsson was one of the all time greatest pop/rock voices ever, probably the most underrated singer of the 20th century. Harry's voice is maybe the only voice that can bring tears to my eyes just purely from the sound and delivery. If you can ever get your hands on the album (CD version w/bonus tracks) he did with John Lennon (Pussycats) listen to the bonus track of an early take of Save The Last Dance For Me. Normally that song (who did the original?) sounds trite and cheesy to me but Harry's version...oh my...he makes it sound like the deepest most meaningful love song ever -and if you hear it, and it doesn't choke you up at least a bit -I'd be concerned that your soul may have already left you.I also feel like mentioning that, in my opinion, Harry wrote the best TV show theme song ever- the theme from The Courtship of Eddie's Father (Second runner-up would be John Sebastian's Welcome Back.) I think the original Nilsson recording is called "My Girlfriend." He changed the lyrics to fit the show and called it "My Best Friend." I used to watch the show just to hear the song.

I must confess though. I was a KISS freak as a teen. Scott Tabner's dad Orris (a well-known sports caster and local celeb) got us in free to the Sports Arena to see them. We watched from the safety of the press box. I was 14 and Scott was 13.It was my first concert and (at that time) the most amazing thing I've seen in my life. We formed a rock band immediately afterward called The Bronze Serpent -lol- and we played virtually all KISS songs along with our own songs. No make-up though. That lasted about a year.I lost interest in KISS way before the make-up came off. After Destroyer, I thought every album just got cartoonier and cartoonier. It's funny because most of the music I listened to as a kid- be it The Monkees to Disney records- has aged pretty well. I still find enjoyment in it when revisited. I've tried to go back to KISS maybe 3 or 4 times in the past 30 years and most of it just sounds ridiculous.I say most because the "Bob Ezrin produced" albums still have their moments. The Elder is cool for a listen but not A LOT of listens.I think if I came away with any influence from KISS- it would be their sense of pop melody. They actually had some nice ones on the early records. But the lyrics are inane.I do a pretty funny "Paul Stanley as dinner guest" bit. If you look at them as comedians instead of musicians then their appeal may not seem so bizarre.

When I'm in the middle of working on a new bug disc I tend to be very careful of what I listen to. Everything influences me whether I like it or not.I try not to listen to obscure or fly by night artists because I don't really know if their influence on me will be that good.I tend to listen to the music or albums that have amazed me for years and see if I can tap into that magic. I know- I'm very unhip.But mostly I listen to the work that I'm doing. I listen, analyze, take mental or sometimes written notes...If I listen to it 1000 times and make it so it can last 1000 listens, I may have something there. So the prototype for Buzz For Aldrin is usually playing in my car (the only place I really have to listen to music).AND to a slightly lesser extent... I've been listening to The Beatles EP collection- The mono Magical Mystery Tour is very psych. The Beatles keep me on that straight and narrow road to likeable songwriting. Their immediacy is really something to try and achieve.I have to listen to Brian Wilson (Smile bootlegs, Pet Sounds, Friends) to keep the musical mind working.Pink Floyd's "The Piper At The Gates of Dawn" is essential for me. It keeps me from taking music too seriously.I've been rediscovering Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack" and Yes's "Fragile." I listened to the Dukes of Stratosphear recently- that still sounds very cool too. It has relatively the same effect on me as "Piper" but it inspired me to be a little more original in production. That album (in a way) showed me what NOT to do. I thoroughly enjoy it though.

Mark Mikel

And If I don't play some Kinks on a semi-regular basis (mostly Village Green Preservation Society) I feel like I haven't been home in a long time.
Headquarters will always find it's way back to my stereo before too much time goes by. The textures and song styles are completely unique. The songwriting is extremely good. I find the mixture of virtuosity (Peter Tork) and garage punk (Micky's drumming) to be an alluring marriage. It's a one of a kind album and it took a Sgt. Pepper to oust it. Headquarters balanced on a line between the "let's bang out some sound" garage-mentality and the sophisticated "let's make a finely arranged pop record" studio-mentality.Every track on Headquarters is a one of a kind recording. I don't think it's ever fully appreciated what The Monkees invented during those sessions. Stylistically it was unprecedented and since has never been victim of overkill. The only exception being Zilch and I still believe it is the first instance of rap as we know it today.Even "No Time" sounds completely original to my ears. I've never heard Chuck Berry interpreted quite that way and the piano and backing vocals are killer. The lyrics are hilarious but sung with an incredible amount of heart. Early Morning Blues and Greens is one of the coolest most original Monkees songs ever. The Girl I Knew Somewhere is my favorite song from The HQ sessions, it is a magical track... Maybe the greatest Monkees song ever. Why it was never an A-side is well beyond my comprehension. If that had been on the album it would have had a much better "classic album" standing.

And for pure inspiration outside of the pop realm- Ravi Shankar.

Love that Klaatu. It was recorded so well. The first two albums always sound great. Every time I think about the 4th album (Endangered Species) I cringe. If anybody doubts that colourful psych sounding music was outlawed by the record companies by 1980, just play Klaatu's first 4 albums in succession. You can hear Capitol Records slowly bleed the life out of them. On the 4th album you can actually hear them crying for help (Sell Out, Sell Out). Read a Klaatu interview about it- it's heartbreaking."

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