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The Mix July 19th, 2009: How live performances changes recorded performances

Money Won’t Change You – James Brown
Promised Land – Chuck Berry
Mrs. Vanderbilt – Paul McCartney
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved – The Script
Lennon said if rock and roll had another name it would be Chuck Berry. And he might have added if hip hop had another name it would be James Brown. From the very begining, from 78, 79, the sampling of Brown by rap artists has been ridiculous and for excellent reason, rap is THE rhythm bound music and Brown is the most rhythm bound songwriter of all time. I saw Brown play “Money Will Change you” off “Raw Soul Power” at Summerstage in 97 on a day so hot I thought opening act Chake Khan was going to collapse and Brown was exhausted and old. But he got it together for this smartest of songs and the hook, a keyb squiggle and a horn blast, woke Central from its stupor. What does it take for a living legend to nearly get booed off stage? Try forgetting the lyric to your most beloved songs and never having met your band before. However, this night Berry manages to really blow us away with this travelogue song. Both performances sent me back to the recorded versions and changed my assessment of them especially Brown -who in 67 was readying himself for an assault on American pop music still unequaled. They come to mind because McCartney’s concert on Friday got me to hear the Script, a band I had found derivative though pleasant before, into potential contenders and “Moved’ a deserved hit in the UK though the lyric is a bit wobbly and “Mrs. Vanderbilt” -lost in the shuffle on “Band On The Run” and hurt by an awfully coy first verse, is actually an anthem of utmost nihilism or at least a smarter shrug and smile than the lactose “Pipes Of Peace” stuff Macca usually wants us to sing along to as fully revealed at an overflowing Citifield.
Time Is All Around – Regina Spektor
Denis (Alternative Version) – Blondie
Two bonus tracks. You know an album is great when your favorite song keeps changes and this, only available on the Bonus album, is currently number one but does Regina have nobody helping her sequence her album: this and “Ink Stain” should have definitely made the album and “Laighing With” should have never been the single (“Folding Chairs” would’ve done it) . Anyway, when people complain “Far” is overproduced they mean “Time” where a full band backs her up. But there is reason for it: the song is about the lustrous height of a relationship just before it withers and dies and makes an aural argument to her lyrical concept. The “Denis” version cuts out the French language verse, puts back up harmony behind the verses and Harry deeps an octave on the second “Denis” -all of which warms the song on an ice cold album. No wonder they went with the other one.

Baby, Don’t Be So Violent – DC Snipers
Straight Razor – DC Sniper
Spider Web’s Dan McGee’s other band, this is a little sloppier than a 70s punk group but they are loud enough, fast enough and lyrically astute enough to fit right in and the lead singer on the verses sounds like Richard Hell.
No Baby I – Old 97s
One Straw (Please) – Bright Eyes
I love Rhett Miller and I love Old 97s but it has been a long time since they’ve managed the consistency of “Fight Songs” and “Satellite Rides”….however, this song is just a year old and it is one of the most perfectly constructed break up songs, with two guitars taking you betwwen lines on the verse, a great electric break and a lyric that reads like poetry because if there is never an original thought out there this is that and more so: “You’ve got them tears they fall like pearls, blame it on gravity, yeah, blame it on being a girl.” Bright Eyes is from 97 at the latest which means he was no older than seventeen which is insane and it is great another great song -I miss Conor when he was doing this kinda stuff, the lyric is so simple but smart, “Baby I’m waiting for you to stop shaking…” he says as he maneuvers some girls virginity… Mystic Valley Band are not Bright Eyes and Conor hasn’t opened up his Bright Eyes songbook in years and it’s about time.
Still In Love With You – Thin Lizzy
From 74, you probably think its brian Robertson’s bluesy guitar breaks that make it such a heartbreaker but it isn’t, it is Phil Lynot’s tender achy vocals. This is why Thin Lizzy were not just another hard rock band.

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