World’s Greatest Vocalist: Dwight Yoakam.

Dwight Yoakam can simply do the impossible with his voice. See North to Alaska, among many others, for evidence. He steps into the very large shoes of legend Johnny Horton, and…whoa. A transcendent, jaw-dropping, awe-inducing performance. And, the same can be said of his live 2013 reading of the Red Simpson-penned Close Up The Honky Tonks. Even a young, inexperienced Yoakam—in his 1985 performance above, he shyly asks the audience if they like the show—kills it. A not-many-times-an-epoch talent.

π‘‡π‘Žπ‘™π‘˜π‘–π‘›π‘” π»π‘’π‘Žπ‘‘π‘ : π‘‡β„Žπ‘’ π‘€π‘Žπ‘‘ π‘ƒπ‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘“π‘’π‘ π‘ π‘œπ‘Ÿ-π‘–π‘ π‘š π‘œπ‘“ π·π‘Žπ‘£π‘–π‘‘ π΅π‘¦π‘Ÿπ‘›π‘’.

What follows is a smattering of incredible live performances by this ensemble, some of which include guitar maestro Adrian Belew. David Byrne, it could be argued, virtually created “New Wave” {or *something*} with the inexplicable, unpinpointable, wondrous peregrinations of his vocals. Plus, the unusual “dancing”{or Nureyev/??-like movements}. Much more than an iconoclast, Byrne simply brought into the time/space continuum, things that were previously Noumenal, intangible. An epoch-defining genius.

Mind. Montreux, 1982.

{Granted, Wild Wild Life is nowhere near the preternaturally edgy/”weird”/indefinable ventures into undreamt-of realms, which made this band legendary. But, it *is*, well, fun. And it shows Byrne’s mindboggling theatricality and capacity for adopting a bewildering array of disguises, and such.}

A few comments on our selections {NOT all of them!!}: Cities {1983, 1982, *and* 1980 versions} *might* be David Byrne’s high-water mark as an “umm, what???” (followed by audible hysteria, in my case…) vocalist. The Impossible writ upon a landscape. Pulled Up and Mind, at the very least, are looking uneasily over their shoulders. The “He’s come undone” staggerings/lurchings in Psycho Killer {1983} are also enough to keep one alive for several epochs; the 1979 Mudd Club version is electrifying, mystique-laden; ridiculously brilliant. Both versions of Drugs have an eerie, haunting element all of their own; Dollette McDonald and Adrian B contribute mightily. Crosseyed is simply a collective singe-fest.

𝑻𝒉𝒆 π‘―π’π’π’π’Šπ’†π’”.

The Hollies, a superb three-part harmony group {primarily}, fronted by the amazing Allan Clarke, had many a monster hit, including the Albert Hammond-penned The Air That I Breathe; these are their three finest—all live performances—to mine ear.

π‘‡β„Žπ‘’ 𝐿𝑒𝑛𝑒 πΏπ‘œπ‘£π‘–π‘β„Ž

Bewildering Semaphore-like Movements.

Lili-Marlene Premilovich, later known as Lene Lovich, preternaturally idiosyncratic—and gifted—songstress, happens to play saxophone, is an animal rights activist, and initially wore her hair in braids to keep the locks from the clay, when in art school, studying sculpture. And, damn, she can deliver a tune. With octaves to spare {hear: Momentary Breakdown}.

π…π«πšπ§π€π’πž 𝐋𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐧.

Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers perform their monster hit Why Do Fools Fall In Love live on the Frankie Laine Show in 1956. The 13 year old Lymon simply sizzles and electrifies the Nation with this performance; the prodigy already has a fully formed vocal delivery many talents never attain. Words have a different sound, and even meaning, coming from his mouth. Note the maestro-ism in his approach: rather than hitting the same nail with the selfsame hammer, he eschews the falsetto moments for a more Joe Williams-esque way forward. His stage presence is magnetic yet composed, and, oh, Lymon is a brilliant dancer, too. Other than that, well….but wait! He gives a calm, charming interview (of sorts) with host Laine. I suppose all that’s good enough. Good enough to massively influence generations of musicians, most conspicuously a certain One-GlovΓ¨d individual. To MJ‘s credit, he was quite open about this. That said, a wide swath was cut, and a vast-ish net was cast: heck, The Beach Boys have noted him as an inspiration.

Now, to give a bit of context to this groundbreaking performance. Frankie Lymon met and quickly joined a doo-wop ensemble featuring the doddering, shambling Methuselean figure Herman Santiago, checking in at a full 1 1/2 years older than Frankie L. He was 15 when all appeared on the Laine program. A tenor vocalist and the human being most likely to have actually composed Why Do Fools Fall In Love (it has been disputed for 2.3 epochs at last count…), Santiago functioned as the ensemble’s frontman until something became crystal clear: Lymon was The One. Santiago was the one (small case) scheduled to sing lead on Why during recording sessions until, for reasons which are different depending upon who(m) is asked (late arrival to session, sore throat, missing merkin collection and intensive, time-consuming search required to retrieve same…) (said collection remains at large to this very day), he was unable to do so. Lymon unhesitatingly filled the void, in the session, in our lives, and in human history. I have grown fatigued/verklempt.

Frankie Lymon IIII
Frankie Lymon VI - with George Goldner

The Scott Walker.

Track 6.
Thanks For Chicago, Mr. James.
It’s Raining Today.
Little Things That Keep Us Together.
Old Man’s Back Again.
World’s Strongest Man.
Jackie.
Get Behind Me.
Best of Both Worlds.
Plastic Palace People.
Next.
Such a Small Love.

The above are audio tracks that span a fairly large time period of Scott Walker’s remarkable body of recorded work.

Scott Walker VII
Scott Walker VIII

{NOTE: Revised 11/19/2019}

Scott Walker, born Noel Scott Engel, 1943, a musical artist of profound depth and originality, was (and is) a cherished figure for millions worldwide. Reclusive, enigmatic, innovative, Scott occupies a unique place in the pantheon of recording artists. He’s also very near and dear to my own heart. He will be deeply missed.
Many will remember Scott Walker’s sublime work with ballads; many others love his idiosyncratic, Brel-influenced blossoming into a top-notch composer and performer; still more prefer the uneasy, discomforting terrain and eerie beauty of his later recordings. I’ll remember him for all of it, for everything. There’s no replacing him. We’ll never see his likes again.

Memorial post here.