Assume The Opposite
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Ronettes - "Do I Love You?"

In the middle of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", he and his band play through the song's chord progression for a full verse without a solo or any embellishment. The genius of the progression, and the earthy sounds of the clearly recorded, perfectly mixed instruments, make the interlude entirely engaging. In another one of Young's classic songs, "Cinnamon Girl", he plays an extended one-note guitar solo with such rhythmic panache that there is a sense of significant melodic movement. These are both manifestations of Young's key songwriting and arranging principle: less is more.

Phil Spector, on the other hand, is a proponent of the opposite, logically true principle: more is more. In terms of percussion, a drum kit is not nearly enough for Spector, he wants hand drums, finger-snaps and hand-claps. A standard horn section is sorely lacking and should be padded with the addition of a baritone sax, at least. Why not add church bells? In the chorus, when the Ronettes' sublime wordless vocal refrain collides with their matter-of-fact answer to the titular question, the song becomes so harmonically dense that it literally kills me every time. The lack of restraint is not limited to the musical aspect of the song, either. The lyrics are not just a testament of devotion, but a scary oath of stalkerly persistence: "I swear I'm going to get you if it takes me all my life. I'll hope and pray and dream and scheme, 'cause I'm gonna be your wife." More, more, more. Sir Thomas Moore and Morely Safer say: Well done, Spector. But Spector, not satisfied with his epic pop gem, adds a brief but stirring riff-based coda that makes it still more in every way. [Buy]


The Multiple Cat - "Little Pieces"

This song, like the LMP song I posted last week, was taken from Snowglobe Records' Tiny Idols Vol. 2, a compilation of rare and unreleased indie rock from between '95 and '99. 1295 and 1399, that is. Medieval indie rock. No, I kid. Mark Griffey lovingly compiled and thoughtfully annotated the collection.

Tiny Idols is notable because Griffey draws these songs from the catalogues of mostly unheard of or little known bands, and yet the quality is consistently high: a testament to the depth of the late '90s American indie rock scene. And though the styles are all over the place, there is something that unites these songs, that makes this a cohesive collection. One can hear a shared spirit of music-making for music-making's sake. For the most part, despite their talent, these musicians did not find a career in playing music. But I can't help but feel that for many of them, at least, this was not a major consideration, that they were just trying their hardest to make the best music they could, a worthy end in itself. You'd be hard-pressed to convince me that the bass player is not having a very good time here. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at July 19, 2006 1:46 PM

"The Multiple Cat" is such a good band name. nice post!

Posted by Dylan at July 19, 2006 4:01 PM

the multiple cat has now morphed into "the marlboro chorus" -- they're on the web with some good mp3s.

Posted by jackwinderberrry at July 20, 2006 1:57 AM

multiple cat are easily one of the most unsung midwestern indie rock bands of the 90's. buy everything by them, great records.

Posted by simakos at July 28, 2006 2:27 PM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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