Nick Currie obtained his stage name from the Greek God of satire and mockery. An apt moniker, as the gifted singer/songwriter is supremely adept in both departments. Erudite in the extreme, and equipped with an unfailing wit, the acerbic yet playful Currie has been not only prolific, but highly influential. No less than Jarvis Cocker and Suede’s Brett Anderson list the redoubtable, quirky Momus as an inspiration.
Unquestionably one of the titanic figures of 20th century music, Thelonious Monk composed and performed mountains of material that now has classic status, but during his initial heyday in the 40’s, it was often dismissed as too quirky, too dissonant, too…weird. Well, Monk’s work is indeed all of those things, but in just the right amount. There is an uncanny air of ineffable mystery that permeates his playing that is striking. His style is angular, uses silence beautifully, and is deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Although hugely influential, no one has ever sounded remotely like him.
Robyn Hitchcock is one of the more prolific and gifted figures in a certain (eccentric) quadrant of music history. After leaving The Soft Boys, a Neo-psych outfit he founded, Hitchcock emerged as a most formidable solo figure. Heavily influenced by Dylan, and Syd Barrett, his compositions tend towards the obscure, the ineffable, the humorous, the surreal. He remains a vital figure to this day.
Syd Barrett, co-founder and main braintrust of Pink Floyd until his mental state made his departure inevitable, was without doubt one of the greatest, most original musicians of his time. Until being ousted from the band, he contributed the vast majority of the material.
Embarking on a solo career, Barrett composed and performed a wealth of brilliant, if patchwork, songs. Flashes of his genius abounded, but his increasingly erratic behavior made production quite challenging, indeed. Syd released 2 albums worth of material, then retired to private life for the rest of his days.
Lee Hazlewood came to be known as a songwriter for, and vocalist with, the wonderful Nancy Sinatra. His gravelly baritone was the perfect compliment to Sinatra’s pure-as-gold pipes. But he was far, far more than that. Listening to his solo material, it’s hard not to be won over by the deadpan idiosyncrasies that pervade his songs and delivery. Wry humour, outright quirkiness, and a wistful sense of loss are Lee’s calling cards. A wonderful musician, the leading light of “Cowboy Psychedelia”. But most importantly, he’s utterly, unapologetically himself.
The Australian-born Nick Cave delivers his poetic, visionary compositions with mind-boggling intensity and fervor. Bad Seeds Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, and others support Mr. Cave in his oft-times dark, tormented sojourn through the hinterlands. These performances are fierce, cathartic, electric.
Mr. Harry Nilsson was unquestionably one of the premier songwriters of his generation. Witty, trenchant lyrics, frequently concerning isolation, accompanied wonderful melodies. When asked who his favourite American band was, John Lennon unhesitatingly replied “Nilsson”. As did Paul McCartney, for that matter.
Featuring the great Kenny Rogers, and guitarist Terry Williams. Three distinctively different and inspired live performances of Just Dropped In, the Smothers Brothers appearance (w/studio version), a Reuben James video, and a lovely live Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, coupled with a performance on Super Hit. Enjoy.
As a special addendum, we also include a gripping, masterful performance of Just Dropped In by the iconic song’s creator, Mr. Mickey Newbury.
Umm…what can one say, at this point, about Mr. Dylan? This post represents but a minute handful of personal favorites composed and performed by one of the great artists of our time. The video quality isn’t great on Restless Farewell, but don’t miss it. Extremely powerful.