Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Oh Well”, Various Artists

I curiouslied Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit in the Sky”, on Wiki-Impedia, just because it is a perfection from somewhere (bluesy version). This led me, Youtube-wise, to “OhWell”, the Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac version. Just because.

It turns out a bunch have recorded “Oh Well”. Hence this blog post. This is very important.

  • Fleetwood Mac/ Peter Green: As I understand, Peter Green formed Fleetwood Mac having left John Mayall. Green basically replaced Eric Clapton in Mayall’s group, tho I think someone was in between. Green named the group after the rhythm section for apparently not wanting to be too shiny. HE wrote the song. If you consult Youtube (and I invite you to), you will see  that the flashy guitar stuff is handled by another guitarist, Jeremy Slade er um Spencer (good rock music name, Slade, that is), kinda like how Duane Allman played the flash while Derek Domino sang “Layla”. The guy with the maracas, Danny Kirwan, was a solid guitarist as well. The good old days.
  • Fleetwood Mac 2: Mac changed a bunch without those 3 guitarists. Buckingham pulled his weight, but Stevie Nicks merely added hers. I like Christine McVey but the new found land differs greatly from Green’s. OK. Buckingham fills the bill here.
  • Tom Petty: Mike Campbell gets his hands on that nervy guitar line. As with FM2, lack of second guitarist duel, and the rock star implement of standing there for a gasping audience, dulls the edge, but a credible honoring.
  • Black Crows with Jimmy Page. Rich Robinson handles the central guitar line, Page gets the flash. A third guitarist also slashes in. Which one is Page? Okay, Jimmy is old, so you can pick him out. The stance of male figure with Gibson guitar, left hand low on the guitar neck, enforcing the virtues of the electric sound, has been learned. Credible, but Page blows the solo.
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Je suis out to lunch: I admit it. I guess I have heard the name. Is he the singer or the guitarist? Another easy channeling of the original.
  • The Rockets: Dunno them either, which is not their fault. They pull the song into an almost polka tempo. I do not speak against that, but their results are a trifle lugubrious. The song is rather anxious, textually.
  • Joe Jackson: What??? Well, he has the basic flex  of the song. You take a risk when a song bases itself on zowie guitar, and you don’t supply that.  It is a creative test, especially for musicians, whether to simulate or agitate elsewhere. Think of “Satisfaction” by Devo. ‘Taint no ways close to the Stone’s version, or Redding’s, Franklin’s, etc. And Yet.
  • The Look: Sludgy rhythm section, 1…2…3…4…

So what’s the upshot here? Influence-wise, what does one do with the excitements one meets? Shift dynamically away or homage? No wrong answer except in the satisfaction gained 1st by artist, 2nd by audience. The original included part 2, “classical” in its way: acoustic, strings, piano.  Memory says both Green and Jeremy Slade (but really Spencer) flipped out from lsd usage. Add them to the long list (Skip Spence..). If you Youtubed, as I admittedly did, all the above, you have things to learn. I can’t teach you this. There is even a used-up-rag version by old and worn out fat Peter Green with no voice left and and and we do not hold our powers forever. This is a blog post on creative learning.

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