Episode 3.1: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession

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Eli and the Thirteenth Confession – Laura Nyro – Columbia – 1968

The source of inspiration for her peers and generations of songwriters to come, Bronx-born Laura Nyro has a legacy that has only grown in legend and mysticism since her untimely death in the early ‘90s. Lauded by Carole King, likened to Joni Mitchell, and emulated by some of today’s cleverest singer-songwriters, her style was singular, speaking of and to the female experience in a way that was at once specific and universal, relatable and abstract.

In this episode, we comb through her 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, a collection of songs so rife with evocative imagery and sense of self that it brought up many of our own memories, connections to our own experiences as young women in 2018, and of course, musical earworms. For a 50-year-old album recorded and produced by a 20-year-old girl, this prodigious record still remains astonishingly relevant.

Listen to Eli and the Thirteenth Confession: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to a new season of the pod! Literally nothing has changed; we’re just calling it a new season because we took a break (because we are our own bosses who determine when and why we go on hiatus and when and why we come back!)
  • Some things we mentioned to check out:
    • The Rock & Roll Explorer Guide to New York City is a dope book if you’re into New York and music and history and where they all intersect and want to know where everything happened. We were pleased to moderate the discussion for the book’s launch at Rough Trade this week.
    • ‘80s Redux is a dope book if you’re into music and the ‘80s and photography of cool people doing cool things.
  • So, uh, more than a year into this pod and this is the first time we’ve actually covered a ‘60s album. Can you believe?
  • We’re gonna talk about this a lot because we’re so shook by it, but something to keep in mind during this whole thing: Laura Nyro was just 20 when this was made. TWENTY.
  • Lol here we are again debating an album’s season.
    • Is Eli and the Thirteenth Confession a fall? Or a summer?
    • Do other normal people classify music like this?
  • Don’t forget to hit up and follow our master playlist on Spotify to hear all these songs, the covers that actually made money, and more!
  • “YES, WE KNOW.” — all of you when Carrie says she hates flutes
  • See our further watching links below to see the debut of “Poverty Train” at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Cry your eyes out when you hear they were yelling “beautiful” at her, knowing she spent her whole life since thinking they were booing.
  • Evergreen Take: “Dated” doesn’t always necessarily mean bad or unenjoyable.
  • “Lonely Women” clearly created a divide in interpretation between the two of us. Slide into our DMs or email us to let you know what you think. It’s complicated and we’re interested.
  • In case you missed it, this album is feminist as hell, and it’s fascinating and surprising to see how much of it translates to today.
  • See our further reading links below for some more info about Laura Nyro’s relationship with Maria Desidero, who may or may not have been the inspiration for “Timer” and “Emmie.”
  • We definitely have very specific wishes of songs that we’d want other bands or artists to cover — so specific we can hear how they’d sound in our brains — that will likely never, ever happen. Message us to find out / Please tell us if you’ve done this too so we don’t feel too weird.
  • Don’t listen to “December’s Boudoir” unless you’re ready to get the Sunday Sads.
  • Talk to us about anything and everything ~feminism~ we covered re: “The Confession” — i.e. second wave feminism vs. fourth wave, “as a father of daughters…” — ANYTHING! We love to talk about this stuff.

Favorite track(s): Luckie and Timer (Carly) | Eli’s Comin’ and Stoned Soul Picnic (Carrie)
Least favorite track: December’s Boudoir (Carly) | December’s Boudoir (Carrie)

Album credits:

  • Laura Nyro — piano, vocal, harmonies, “witness to the confession”
  • Ralph Casale — acoustic guitar
  • Chet Amsterdam — acoustic guitar, bass
  • Hugh McCracken — electric guitar
  • Chuck Rainey — bass
  • Artie Schroeck — drums, vibes
  • Buddy Saltzman — drums
  • Dave Carey — percussion
  • Bernie Glow, Pat Calello, Ernie Royal — trumpet
  • George Young, Zoot Sims — saxophone
  • Wayne Andre, Jimmy Cleveland, Ray DeSio — trombone
  • Joe Farrell — saxophone, flute
  • Paul Griffin — piano on “Eli’s Comin'” and “Once It Was Alright Now (Farmer Joe)”

Further watching:
Laura Nyro in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame | 2014
Laura Nyro’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction | 2012
Alice Cooper discusses his love for Laura Nyro (ed note: OH MY GOD) | 2011
“Poverty Train” at the Monterey Pop Festival (with current intro from D.A. Pennebaker, Michelle Phillips, and Lou Adler) | 1967

Further reading: 
Laura Nyro remembered: “A musical force of nature” | Uncut (June 2017)
Laura Nyro’s Lasting, Eclectic Musical Legacy | NPR (December 2011)
Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, Maria Desiderio | Rabdrake Blog (October 2009)
An Enigma Wrapped in Songs | The New York Times (October 1997)
Laura Nyro’s legacy of passion | Entertainment Weekly (April 1997)

 

Celebrate CBGB with us and the Morrison Hotel Gallery

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While we’re fans of several of the Morrison Hotel Gallery’s shows, their latest exhibit, CBGB: The Age of Punk, is one close to our musical interests here at the pod. With works from artists and photographers like Lynn Goldsmith, Chris Stein, and Mick Rock of the scene’s greatest icons, from The Ramones to Sonic Youth, the gritty, raw energy of ’70s and ’80s Bowery is sure to excite and inspire the punks in all of us to go out and make some noise.

CBGB: The Age of Punk will be on display at the gallery’s three locations (New York, Los Angeles, and Maui) from May 18 to June 17. For more information, visit www.morrisonhotelgallery.com.
Whether you’re planning on checking out the show or not, we rounded up our favorite episodes on the era here to transport you back to 315 Bowery for an hour or so. The time machine lust is very real.

 

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Episode 4: Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club

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Episode 9: Television – Marquee Moon

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Episode 10: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (fun fact, they played CB’s in their early days!)

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Episode 2.5: Blondie – Parallel Lines 

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Episode 2.7: Patti Smith Group – Easter

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Episode 2.9: Lou Reed – “Street Hassle”

Episode 2.11: A NEW WORLD RECORD

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A New World Record – Electric Light Orchestra – United Artists – 1976

Get out your cargo shorts and fire up the grill, because this week we’re going back to Dad Rock territory with ELO’s landmark 1976 album A New World Record. Often thought of as the best representation of ELO’s sound — and the pinnacle of Jeff Lynne’s arrangement, writing and production — this set of songs draws from a bevy of richly melodic influences, from the Beatles to the Beach Boys to ‘50s street corner doo-wop to possibly even John Cale.

With such perennially loved sounds baked into its foundation, what makes A New World Record sound dated to modern ears? How could arrangements and orchestrations of such timeless origin be connected so deeply to one decade? Is it possible, in 2018, to genuinely love this album for what it is, with no trace of irony? Join us for a discussion about that, musical legacies and evolution, and song connections — and maybe, if you listen closely, you’ll hear a dad joke or two.

Listen to A New World Record: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to another episode with your sensitive and feels-feeling hosts!
    • We are highkey passionate the concepts of legacies, preserving history and learning from it, keeping stories and traditions alive, and, as millennials, carrying the torch. As always, we would love to talk to you about how we, as millennials, can carry the torch.
  • We’ve discussed the broad landscape of music that came out in this same time period on several occasions. For more historical context or further discussions, check out our episodes on Television’s Marquee Moon, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut, Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty, Rolling Stones’ Some Girls, Blondie’s Parallel Lines, and/or Patti Smith’s Easters.
  • Seriously, though, when is the last time Jeff Lynne was seen without his sunglasses?
  • Take: “Dated” doesn’t always necessarily mean bad or unenjoyable.
    • And we don’t care if it’s not cool, among millennials especially, to like ELO. We super don’t care. We know we are not cool.
  • Shoutout to Kelly Groucutt and Bev Bevan for being underrated groove champs on this album.
  • “Tightrope” is really just a Beatles song with classical embellishments. Don’t be like this guy and tell us we’re drunk for thinking there’s a connection.
    • It’s also a great ~welcome to the album song~
    • We are highkey here for all of Grace Spelman’s music nerd playlists, but Welcome to the Album, a playlist comprised solely of excellent opening tracks, is truly fantastic.
    • A friendly reminder that at the end of the day, all of the songs have been written. Originality comes when you incorporate past influences and build upon them to make something new and unique. All good art is stealing, and appropriation is the sincerest form of robbery.
  • Shoutout to the Traveling Wilburys. Again. We love those guys.
  • Telephone songs are so cool in that times change, but sad phone calls have stayed relevant.
  • Shoutout to songs that namecheck influences.
    • Question: What would “Rockaria!” sound like if it got “Genius of Love”-d tho? Or if “Genius of Love” got Jeff Lynne-d?
  • “Yerffej Ennyl.” Bruh.
  • @ people who grew up with great expectations for the 21st century: we are sorry. We wish we had robots and stuff like that, too.
  • Yeethoven (pronounced YAY-to-ven, sorry) is an absolutely brilliant orchestral mash-up project by the Young Music Foundation that saw their debut orchestra performing Beethoven interspersed with tracks from Kanye West’s Yeezus. Trust us, it’s fascinating to hear the similarities and see how classical music is very much still relevant in modern music today.
    • It was such a banger that they did it again with songs from The Life of Pablo and it slammed.
    • (Carrie hardcore stans for appreciating Kanye West as an extremely talented producer and  musician, if you’re new here.)
  • Here’s more about how the band used a Moog in a really awesome, early-adaptive way.
  • This video of James Jamerson basslines, animated, from our fave millennial funk torchbearers Vulfpeck is DOPE.
  • SOIP = summer of infinite possibilities. Any song that evokes a feeling of infinite, electric, so-young-and-alive feelings — no matter your age — is a SOIP song.
    • Shoutout to Fanny, again, for those slamming backing “higher and higher” vocals!
    • Seriously, someone please make us a mash-up of “Livin’ Thing” and “Love Train.” HOW does one not exist already?
    • Will we somehow find a relevant way to shoutout Christine McVie in every podcast episode? Stay tuned to find out.
  • If anyone can find us OG versions of “Above the Clouds” and “Do Ya” by The Move, we would really, really love that.
  • Gonna go ahead and file “Do Ya” under “Songs You’d Have To Have Your Head Buried In The Sand To Have Never Heard Before”
  • We promise we’re going to do an episode on the Wilburys at some point. Swear.
  • End of the night songs are great songs. Check out our Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers episode or our T. Rex episode to hear more what we have to say about them.
  • As always, hit up our master playlist on Spotify for all the songs we mentioned today in one place.

Favorite track(s): So Fine and Livin’ Thing (Carly) | Tightrope and Livin’ Thing (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rockaria! (Carly) | Shangri-La (Carrie)

 

Album credits:

  • Jeff Lynne – Vocals, lead, rhythm, and slide guitars, percussion, Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano
  • Bev Bevan – Drums, Minimoog drum, percussion, backing vocals
  • Richard Tandy – Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano, Minimoog synthesizer, Micromoog synthesizer, SLM Concert Spectrum, Electra x320 guitar, Hohner clavinet, Yamaha C7 grand piano, Mellotron M400, Maestro phase shifter, percussion, backing vocals, Systech flanger
  • Kelly Groucutt – Vocals, bass guitar, percussion, backing vocals
  • Mik Kaminski – Violin, Maestro echoplex, Univox univibe
  • Hugh McDowell – Cello, Systech phaser, Mu-Tron III, Mu-Tron phasor, Maestro echoplex
  • Melvyn Gale – Cello, Maestro echoplex
  • Mary Thomas – operatic vocals
  • Patti Quatro – uncredited backing vocals
  • Brie Brandt – uncredited backing vocals
  • Addie Lee – uncredited backing vocals

Further watching:
Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust trailer | 2017 
“Livin’ Thing” live at Glastonbury | 2016 
Saturday Sessions: Jeff Lynne joins CBS This Morning | CBS (2015)  
“Tightrope” live on Zoom Tour | 2001  
“Tightrope” music video | 1976  
“Livin’ Thing” music video | 1976
Classics Album Interviews: Jeff Lynne on ELO’s A New World Record (radio interview) | BBC (August 1990)
Jeff Lynne and George Harrison Play Banjos | Date unknown, but appears to be from a documentary on George Harrison. Reach out if you know which one it is! 

Further reading: 
ELO’s Bev Bevan Talks Rock Hall Induction, Jeff Lynne Rift | Rolling Stone (December 2016)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: My Life in 15 Songs | Rolling Stone (January 2016)
It’s A Livin’ Thing (Jeff Lynne interview) | The Quietus (June 2015)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: ‘All those hipsters with beards are copying me!’ | The Guardian (October 2014)
In Defense of ELO | Square Zeros (June 2014)
Jeff Lynne revisits his roots with ELO and classic covers projects | Goldmine Mag (June 2013)
Electric Light Orchestra, “Telephone Line” | American Songwriter (April 2013)

Episode 2.10: JUJU

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Juju – Siouxsie and the Banshees – Polydor – 1981

In 1981, British rock was in a transitional phase. Punk had, by then, all but completely faded out, and new wave and post-punk were shaping fresh ideas of how rock could sound. It was in this environment that Siouxsie and the Banshees were set to record their fourth album Juju. After going through a lineup change before their previous release, and with guitarist John McGeoch now cemented as an official member, the band was ready to experiment with their sound, to create lyrical and melodic concepts that would mesh together cohesively as one work. The band created and molded the songs for Juju while on tour, working the songs out live and letting them take the dark, theatrical, romantic shape that would give the album its singular sound, the final product of which would help define the subset of post-punk that would come to be known as “goth rock.”

In this episode, we discuss this move from punk to post-punk, detail the Banshees’ stylistic choices and conceptual soundscapes, and (surprise) have a conversation about feminism and punk rock.

Listen to Juju: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to our first post-punk/goth rock episode!
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees use a ton of romantic imagery in their lyrics. We highly recommend following along and checking out the lyrics to each song here.
  • Shoutout to Budgie for hitting those drums for his life, henny!!!!
  • @ VH1: We are full of fun facts and available to host a revival of Pop-Up Video. We’re cheap. Call us.
  • Hello, we’re never not on our feminist-soapbox bullshit, and Siouxsie and the Banshees are no exception.
    • See our further reading notes below for two woke as hell essays about the intersection of punk and feminist identity.
    • Siouxsie’s stylized look totally comes out of a stylized ‘60s girl group aesthetic — except she’s the one in charge, and you can tell she’s a totally unfuckwithable baddie.
    • Revisit our episode and our liner notes on Blondie’s Parallel Lines. We had A LOT to say about the way female artists created and controlled their own images — and the way that got twisted and co-opted by the media and their legacies.
    • Friendly reminder, though, that women can be smart and stylish at the same time!!! Women are complex creatures!!!
  • Be sure to follow our master soundtrack on Spotify for all the song references we’re dropping, from Brian Eno to Sonic Youth.
  • Shoutout to “Monitor” containing, like, three different meanings in one song. Words! They’re fun!
  • Is Sonic Youth the Kevin Bacon of rock and roll? Hit us up and tell us what you think, because we’ve talked about them in three episodes now, so.
  • We’re never not talking about how songs that were accepted in decades past would come off as problematic today. “Head Cut,” banger as it is, is definitely one of them.

Favorite track: Monitor and Spellbound (Carly) | Spellbound (Carrie)
Least favorite track(s): Night Shift (Carly) | Night Shift (Carrie)

Album credits

  • Siouxsie Sioux — vocals, guitar on “Sin in My Heart”
  • Steven Severin — bass
  • Budgie — drums, percussion
  • John McGeoch — guitar

Further watching:
What is Goth Music? A Brief Overview of Goth Subgenres | 2017
Rock Family Trees: Banshees and Other Creatures | 2001
Juju Live Tour | 1981
“Spellbound” music video | 1981
“Arabian Knights” music video | 1981
“Voodoo Dolly” live | 1981
Spellbound: The Story of John McGeoch (radio doc) | Date Unknown

Further reading:
The Story of Goth in 33 Songs | Pitchfork (October 2017)
In Romanticizing Riot Grrrl, We’ve Forgotten the Women of UK Punk That Paved the Way | Noisey (April 2015)
Siouxsie and the Banshees: “We Were Losing Our Minds” | Uncut (October 2014)
Dissecting the Deathly Mystique of Siouxsie and the Banshees | AV Club (July 2013)
Siouxsie and the Banshees: “We Were Losing Our Minds” | Uncut (October 2014)
Juju Re-Release Liner Notes | 2006
The Image of Siouxsie Sioux: Punk and the Politics of Gender | Academic paper (April 1995)