Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia: No Matter What Ray Charles Tells You,

You are NOT routinely on my mind...

As a matter of fact, I rarely consider Georgia in my daily thoughts. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal, but I think maybe Georgia needs to be knocked off that pedestal it's perched atop. Really, it's for Georgia's own good... Lest the whole state become stuck up and diva-y...

So Georgia,
you may have always been on Ray's mind, but you're really not all that... Your southern neighbor probably has you beat for musical diversity, but that's not to say you haven't produced some good stuff...

Just stop acting all better than everybody else already...

Now that we've reached an understanding, we can go ahead and talk about some of Georgia's better qualities without fearing that we're going to be told to get Georgia it's own dressing room, or bring them a Tab, or have their cell phone chucked at our head... These are the things that can happen when good states go bad...

So what does the wiki have to say about wholly average Georgia:

- Georgia is a sovereign Nation located in the Caucasus region of the middle east.

- Georgia was once a part of the USSR

- We are ALL Georgians

- Hold Up... Wrong Georgia... Whew... I was a bit concerned abut having to pull out a write up of Sopho Khalvashi...

Here's what the wiki-ster has to say about the STATE of Georgia:

- Georgia is the third fastest growing state in the nation as of 2007

- Alabama is starting to feel kind of crowded and is considering complaining that Georgia aught to try and slim down...

- The above would combine into a seriously messed up pie.

- Some corporations headquartered in Atlanta are: Arby's, Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia Pacific, Hooters, Cox, and Delta Air Lines. Major corporations in other parts of the state include: Aflac, CareSouth, Home Depot, Newell Rubbermaid, Primerica Financial Services, United Parcel Service, Waffle House and Zaxby's.

- Yes, Arbys, Hooters, Chick-Fil-A, Waffle House and Coca-Cola ALL came from the same state...

- Georgia wants to make the rest of us fat.

- Girl Scouting in the United States of America began on March 12, 1912 when Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia.

- James Arthur Williams, the subject of the non-fiction bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. was a famous resident of Savannah Georgia.

- Jim Williams was by no account ever a Girl Scout.

- Georgia is the name of a coffee based beverage sold by the Japanese subsidiary of the Coca-Cola company in Japan. 'Georgia' sells more than twice as many units in Japan than Coca-Cola does.

- 'Georgia' cannot be purchased in Georgia.

- Georgia has musicians. Don't believe me? See below.

The Selections:

I must admit, and I know it's going to come as a great shock to most, if not all of the people who read this, but I'm really not very cool. I know this implicitly because I don't often listen to Ray Charles, and ALL the cool people listen to Ray Charles.

That being said, I have tremendous admiration and respect for Ray Charles' body of work. Jazz, soul, R&B, rock & roll, pop, and even a foray into country & western.

Ray Charles began recording on the well known Jazz label Downbeat, releasing one single under the label before moving on to Swingtime records, a short lived label owned by black entrepreneur Jack Lauderdale. Again Charles released just one song before moving on again to Atlantic, where he would land 27 tracks on the Billboard charts between 1953 and 1960.

Charles' Atlantic hits included "Mess Around", "Night Time Is the Right Time", and "What'd I Say", which peaked at #6 on the hot 100 chart, making Charles more than just an R&B success story.

In spite of his success at Atlantic, the release of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music two years after moving over the ABC label, where he would record for 16 years, turned Ray Charles from a R&B star and crossover name to a legitimate musical icon bridging genres and eventually, generations.

Much is known about the personal struggles of Ray Charles as documented in the 2004 film Ray, released just months after the singer's death from liver cancer.

Apparently, the soul of Ray Charles has incalculable healing powers, as I began this blog post with a killer headache which has now faded into nothing more than a memory... This is either the work of a disembodied musical genius or half a dozen Advil. I am happy to give credit to either.

Here's Ray's What'd I Say

Band: REM

If you are a regular reader, I think you for your support and worry for your mental health, but I also assume you recall this post, in which I discuss a film centering around the music scene of Athens, Georgia. Athens was on the way to become the new Mecca for alt-rock the world over. Unfortunately for the home of the University of Georgia, Seattle's grunge scene ended up stealing that spotlight, and many of the Athens bands featured in the film were destined to live in obscurity.

As mentioned in the prior post, the big stories out of Athens were REM, and our honorable mention, who we shall discuss later, although I do feel the need at this time to give a plug to Pylon, who were featured in the film, hyped by REM as limitless talents, and whom I have later purchased the first album by, and greatly enjoyed. Here's hoping that Pylon continues in their modern day success and can join the list of uber-successful Athens Georgia alt-rockers.

Unlike Ray Charles, REM is a band I routinely listen to, and a band that I have a highly dysfunctional love/hate relationship with. Luckily for Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry I'm currently loving, rather than hating...

This has a lot to do with the fact that they FINALLY put out another decent album.

To their credit, even through the doldrums of Up, Reveal, and Around the Sun, oddly enough the first three studio albums after the departure of original drummer Bill Berry, REM has always managed to explore alternate sounds without ever fully pinning themselves to a genre, more or less defining 'Alternative' music since the non-genre's inception.

Luckily for those of us faithfully listening, they have returned to their with-Berry form on their most recent release Accelerate. So much so, I was under the impression Bill had actually returned to recording with the band, but checking out the liner notes, the band's official website, and any other info sources reveals that not a Berry is to be found. I guess the 4 legged version of REM finally figured out how to run with 3 legs.

However, my selection of REM stems from much more than the fact they finally managed a post Bill Berry decent album, it extends from the fact they released 10 albums before Berry LEFT, seven or eight of which are very good, and the other two won't put you to sleep the way the late 90's/early 200's stuff will...

Here's some old school REM when Stipe had hair...

And some from the modern day...

Honorable Mention: The B-52's

The 'Other' Athens band was actually the first of the two to chart a single with 1979's Rock Lobster, however it took eleven more years and the death of a guitarist for the B's to reach their peak of success, making their name on the back of what could be one of the most annoying party songs ever recorded, Love Shack.

In fairness, I once liked this song. In fact, I enjoyed it the first five or six hundred times I heard it. Unfortunately, that was about three thousand plays ago, so if I never hear Love Shack again, it will still be as fresh in my mind as ever.

Aside from my detest of the chronically overplayed 'shack', there are some killer 52's tunes that didn't get the love of their pop masterwork. Early tracks like Rock Lobster and Private Idaho are now pretty well known, but other great finds from the early days include Planet Claire, 52 Girls and Dance This Mess Around from their self titled debut, Party Out of Bounds, Quiche Lorraine and Strobe Light from the follow up Wild Planet, Mesopotamia from the EP of the same name, Whammy Kiss, and Song for a Future Generation from 1983's Whammy!, every single track from my personal favorite B-52's album Bouncing off the Satellites, and all the cuts that are not Love Shack off their breakthrough 1989 record Cosmic Thing.

Their 1992 follow-up to Cosmic, Good Stuff, is in my opinion, painfully bad.

I have heard nothing but good things about this year's long awaited next attempt Funplex but I am yet to purchase or listen to the whole album. The titular first release however is the best thing they've released in 18 years, and even without it, they've built up plenty of credit to share in the Georgia honors.

Here's a B-52's classic from 'Bouncing'

And here's this year's model, bringing you Funplex

Next time we'll get all tropical and enjoy the island getaway of Hawaii. All hail Kamehameha!


CRwM said...

No love for the other other Athens band: the Pylons?

Poor Pylons. I still think your boss.

OCKerouac said...

I'm a big fan of Pylon. I gave them a mention and linked to their official site for album buying goodness, but I couldn't bring myself to vault them over REM or B-52's, even though Peter Buck would probably say I should...

OCKerouac said...

BTW, if you like Pylon, they're playing in NYC on December 15th. You can get the skinny on their website, wearepylon.com