The Kinks, Rats

Posted in The Kinks on April 2nd, 2012 by Willie

I was wandering around New York City feeling depressed as hell last week when “Rats” by the Kinks popped on my iPod.  It was the kind of song just randomly on my music player without my knowledge, and without me ever hearing it before.  It immediately altered my mood from depressed and sad, to something rocking, vicious, and righteous.  In this digital world where our music collections have outgrown our capacity to possibly hear it all, its a beautiful feeling when a song strikes you like a bolt from the blue.  “Rats” was written by Ray’s overshadowed brother Dave, the lead guitarist of the Kinks, and its just an awesome paranoid rocker about being lost in a city and being bitten by human vermin.  The song has some destructive non-corny power chords, and a driving forceful melody of power.  It’s become one of my favorite new Kinks songs, and it gets my pick of rocking song of the month, a category I just invented.  There is no proper music video of the song, so I’ll just post the youtube still….I’ve gotten heavily into video editing, so perhaps I’ll make my own video for this overlooked gem soon…Look out for it.

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Sly Stone, You Really Got Me, Fantastic Kinks Cover

Posted in Sly Stone, The Kinks, Youtube Favs on February 8th, 2012 by Willie

Sly Stone, I can safely say, is the funkiest man ever born in Texas.  Ray Davies, the mastermind behind the Kinks, was born of a more dainty British cloth.  Don’t get me wrong, Ray’s rebellious awesomeness cannot be questioned, but there is no doubt that he is crumpet eating, village green strolling, nostalgia reflecting English gentleman.  What was so great about the rock revolution of the 1960s was how world’s so seemingly divergent, could merge through music, in thrillingly unpredictable ways.  The song below is such an instance.  This is a fantastic, funky, and fresh studio outtake of Sly tackling Ray’s garage rock classic, “You Really Got Me.”  Words to describe what awaits you behind the play button are useless in the face of Sly’s sleek and sexy guitar playing.  So, do your soul a favor and groove to this.

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The Kinks, Autumn Almanac

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on December 9th, 2011 by Willie

The Kinks.  I love them.  I love Ray Davies, the writer of this song, “Autumn Almanac,” an absolute stunning piece of musical genius from 1967.  A lot happened in 1967.  It was the year when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper to critical and international fame, when Jimi Hendrix was revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, and when the world’s youth was dropping acid and dreaming of the future.  Ray Davies was thinking of the past; of autumn days, his old school notebook, hiking in the woods, and Sunday dinners.  There is no better writer of nostalgic pop then Ray, and this song is his shining anthem to that feeling.  At his creative height, Ray challenged the Beatles in terms of melodic brilliance and was as good as Bob Dylan in creating emotive original lyrics.  He was that good, and “Autumn Almanac” is one of his best songs and greatest examples of his powers.  The song is a stream of consciousness, both lyrically, and melodically, but its not without coherence, form, and beauty.  The song exists at the limit of creativity a person can achieve with an acoustic guitar writing in the pop song format.  I hope you enjoy it.

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John Lennon, #9 Dream

Posted in John Lennon, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on October 9th, 2011 by Willie

I was sneaking under a bus parked over a snowy muddy pit.  I jostled a hinge holding the front of the truck to the freight, and it began to collapse on me.  As it caved in on me, I genuinely thought I was going to die.  This was the phrase that went through my mind, “This is the end of Willie Simpson…”  (lame I know.)  The truck hadn’t completely caved, so I dashed away from the pit and jumped just as the freight tipped over and crushed the bottom of my legs.  I couldn’t feel a thing and I assumed I was in extreme shock.  I was wrong, I had just woken up from an intense dream.  Naturally shaken by such a thing, I went right to my website, which I forgot to update yesterday, and found “#9 Dream,” the John Lennon single from Walls and Bridges that peaked on the Billboard Charts at #9.  Nine was John’s lucky number as he was born on the 9th day of October, and accorded it special status in his life, already borrowing it for “Revolution #9.”  He wrote the song when he was broken up with Yoko Ono, and living with May Pang in Los Angeles, in fact she’s in the backing vocals.  Other famous “Beatle friend” luminaries include the presence of bassist Klaus Voorman, (the German who discovered the Beatles in Hamburg), Nicky Hopkins, (famous British piano player who jammed frequently with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Kinks), and Jim Keltner on drums, (a famous session man who appeared on all the solo Beatle records and a zillion other super famous mega acts albums.)  Lastly, that mysterious phrase Lennon chants throughout the song, “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé” has no meaning whatsoever and is exclusively from the dream that inspired the song.  Enjoy the tune, as its one of John’s best solo efforts, and be careful in your dreams, or you might wake up thinking your dead.

EDIT:  When I posted this at 7 am this morning, I had no idea, that today, would have been John Lennon’s 71’st Birthday.  How’s that for Instant Karma!?

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The Kinks, Brainwashed

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on September 2nd, 2011 by Willie

I promised more Kinks, and by God I’m delivering more Kinks.  For who?  I have no idea.  Who are you people?  Are you even out there?  Is this just a daily exercise in attempting to augment my already distorted sense of self and importance?  If it is, it’s not working, as those last two things are at all time lows.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the theme of this website, and I realized that theme is reflected 100% accurately in its title.  This website is for me.  It’s not about me, rather, it’s for me.  This is the exact website I would read, with music I’d like to hear on a daily basis.  Some of the posts bore me, but I put them up because some version of me in the past was interested in it.  In other words, it’s a chance to exclaim a notion or some admiration I had five years ago.  Exclaim is a stretch, as I’m probably communicating these long dead sentiments to myself again, exclusively.  Well, here’s a new notion that just came to me.  I have a problem with this song, “Brainwashed” by the Kinks.  The crux of the problem rests in how I can’t get over what a perfect rock and roll song this is.  It’s got everything you could ever want out a 2:32 long pop song, and here’s why.  It was released in the 60s yet its still fresh because no one really knows about it.  It laid the groundwork for punk rock while also managing to be perhaps the greatest punk rock song ever created.  Lastly, the lyrics are unassailably inspired.   My spell check is telling me that unassailably is not a real word, driving me nuts as that squiggly red line underneath refuses to disappear lest I add it to the dictionary myself.  Fuck it, its going in the dictionary.  Vote for me.

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The Kinks, Australia

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on September 1st, 2011 by Willie

I’m moving to Australia!  That’s right, come October, I’m packing my life up, grabbing a friend, and taking a 21 hour flight overseas to the land down under.  Actually, I’m headed to South Korea for a week first, and then off to the land of kangaroos.  Don’t worry, it’s only for a year at most, and the website won’t change one bit, except for what time in the day I update it.  Anyway, in honor of this historic event in the life of Willie Simpson, I present you “Australia,” a track from one of my favorite albums of all time Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire.)  This song, from the Kinks’ best album, was the longest cut, and is like some hilarious sardonic commercial for moving to the continent.  Thematically, the song is part of the album’s concept about an idealistic British man named Arthur who is a World War I vet who tries to live the British dream, but can’t find real satisfaction because of the hollowness of such pursuits.  It’s a great groovy 60s song that blends satire, psychedelia, hard rock, and piano pop.  In honor of the this occasion, I’m gonna post as much as I can from Arthur for the rest of the week, assuming youtube is chalk full of videos.  In the meantime, you can vote me as CBS’s Best NYC Local Blogger by clicking here!

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The Zombies, She's Not There, This Will Be Our Year

Posted in The Zombies, Youtube Favs on August 5th, 2011 by Willie

The Zombies were an underrated band.  In the 1960s, the Brits invaded America.  Leading the charge were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and the Kinks.  Right in the thick of that mess of ungodly talent was the Zombies.  A piano/keyboard based pop group armed with their own mix of catchy singles and sentimental rock and roll.  I’m really drunk right now, and can’t sort through for you who sang what, and who wrote what for the Zombies, but I can present you two killer songs that represent the Zombies at their very best.  The first is their break out hit, “She’s Not There,” a charming piece of moody Brit-pop.  It’s one of the catchiest songs of all time, and its structured around a perfect melody, a real piece of genius.  The other you might recognize from a Tiger Woods commercial.  It’s “This Will Be Our Year,” one of my favorite songs ever.  It’s a nostalgic piece of sentimental pop baked to perfection.  Enjoy these British biscuits while you can, and all hail the ZOMBIES!

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My Top 100 Youtube Favorites, a Retrospective, Part 2

Posted in Youtube Favs on June 28th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome back again to my youtube favorite retrospective part 2!  You know the deal, the list is done, and we’re looking back at all the hits that made us laugh, cry, and die.  Let’s start rolling right where we left off!

#74.  The Ramones, Blitzkrieg Bop – It’s more Ramones, the greatest and most original punk ever playing the shit out of Blitzkrieg Bop, in Germany of all places.  Not bad for a bunch of Jewish guys from Queens.

#73.  The Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK – When I was in college, I actually had a history professor show us this video as an example of historical outliers.  That’s all well and good, but I was just fascinated with how the drummer sat at the front of the band.

#72.  Elvis Costello, Pump it Up – Declan MacManus’s punky little pop jam.  You gotta love Costello for essentially being the reincarnation of Buddy Holly in modern times, both physically, and musically. Read more »

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The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on May 23rd, 2011 by Willie

Part 70 of my youtube countdown continues with more Kinks.  The Kinks are the most underrated group of gods from the 60s British Invasion era, and this song, “Waterloo Sunset,” is their overrated masterpiece.  First of all, let me praise it.  From their LP Something Else, “Waterloo Sunset” is a work of genius.  It’s just a simply gorgeous rock ballad with brilliant chords and beautiful background vocals.  So, I just called it genius, how could it be overrated?  Well, its not the Kinks fault.  For whatever reason, rock critics have painted this song as “the most beautiful song of the rock and roll era” according to allmusic journalist Stephen Thomas Erlewine, and Robert Christgau called it “the most beautiful song in the English language.”  Ummm…no.  It’s a fantastic song, but I don’t even think its the best song the Kinks ever made.  I’m not gonna get into which songs are better, because its a matter of subjectivity, but its too easy to knock this song from its pedestal of lofty praise.  Anyway, give this live performance a play, and let me know what you think.  Is it the prettiest song of all time, or is it just an ordinary rock classic, you decide.

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The Kinks, Sunny Afternoon

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on May 19th, 2011 by Willie

Part 66 of my countdown is the Kinks again, this time with “Sunny Afternoon,” from Face to Face.  This is a boozy depressed sunny pop song about the downside of being a rich famous rock star.  The tax man took all his money, his girlfriend left and stole his car, and Ray’s got nothing left but a sunny afternoon, writing some of the world’s greatest pop music apparently.  The funny thing about this video is the irony of them performing the song on a freezing cold snowy day, adding to the songs dripping sarcasm and irony, which is great.  And of course its great, its the KINKS!  One of the greatest bands of all time!  I’m just happy to give them a home to hang out in on my site for everyone to watch while they straighten out their financial situation.

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