06 October 2005

evie sands - "i can't let go" (from the one kiss can lead to another: girl group sounds lost and found boxed set, available for purchase here.)
the nashville ramblers - "the trains" (from the children of nuggets: original artyfacts from the second psychedelic era - 1976-1995 boxed set, available for purchase here.)

in brief : give me rhino records and you may keep your merges, dfa's, and saddle creeks, sir.

rhino recently released two new boxed sets, one kiss can lead to another, a girl group history (w/ a refreshing definition of "girl group"), and children of nuggets, another sequel to the original. let's start, as decorum would dictate, w/ one kiss.

first, the title is genius. one kiss can lead to another--it doesn't mean that it necessarily has to. you know how fickle boys can be, and how prone they are to motorcycle accidents, whether it's jimmy or terry or bobby dylan. and that's only presuming that the british invasion won't wipe us out and keep us from singing about the second date; and that's assuming that we all won't be dead tomorrow, b/c of a much more serious potential invasion. not only does the set capture the essence of the girl group song, it captures both its sound and its time period--and this w/o contributions from phil spector or cameo-parkway, prevented by licensing issues w/ abkco.

evie sands is an interesting woman. she performed the original version of "i can't let go" to no fanfare; several years later, the hollies would have much more success w/ it (and linda ronstadt didn't fare too poorly w/ it in the 1980's). her first single, also on this box, was overshadowed by a version by jackie ross (of "selfish one" fame). another song she tackled first: "angel of the morning."

all of this is an incredible shame--and the reason why boxes like this exist--b/c she has an incredible blue-eyed soul voice, and her interpretation is leagues above the hollies and ronstadt. sometimes one hears a song for the first time, likes what he or she hears, forms an idea of what it will shape up as, but may be ultimately disappointed in where it ends up going. "i can't let go" is song that is so amazing that one becomes quite nervous that it may all go wrong. thankfully, though, this isn't the case. "i can't let go" is essential psych-pop of the highest order, elevated to that level by sands's voice and an exquisite chorus. one is surprised that dusty springfield, who appears twice on this box and usually had such an eye for this thing, didn't cover it, as she did two other songs on the compilation. regardless, sands, on evidence here, would have at least stood toe-to-toe w/ dusty, and that's saying a lot.

children of nuggets, meanwhile, collects the cream from the "second psychedelic era," i.e. 1976-1995. lots of punk, garage revival, power-pop, &c. as w/ evie sands and one kiss, a track like the nashville ramblers' "the trains" demonstrates the necessity for such a collection. the ramblers, a west coast power-pop outfit, released but a handful of records in the mid-80's and never to my knowledge recorded an album. "the trains" is proof of what a pity that is.

i've a thing for train songs; i'm not sure why. dylan does too, but he seems more definite. "the sound of trains off in the distance," he writes in chronicles, "more or less made me feel at home, like nothing was missing ... " ironically, the sound of trains signifies what's missing for the singer of "the trains": his girl. over an approximation of the flamin' groovies at their most beatlesque, he sings, "but when she's not around, i can hear the trains underground, when i'm alone, i can feel the sun going down." the subject matter is somewhat similar to randy newman's "living without you," but what "the trains" excels in particularly is how absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes one's senses keener.

the only thing better than these two releases, then, is the tantalizing prospect of a nuggets set covering the years that have thus far been overlooked, namely, 1970-75. surely, this was no oversight: like george lucas when he joined his space opera already in progress, the folks at rhino know exactly what they're doing. you should too.


Richard said...

That Evie Sands song is peculiarly seductive in that the song never reaches the climax expected. There's really no overwhelming and orgasmic wall of sound - every instrument easy to pick out. Very lean, elegant and simple - a song that one suspects could be taught in a songwriting class.

fred said...

i think the climax, if you will, is the falsetto cry that effectively ends the chorus. to continue the metaphor, it does seem as if she's "faking" it, but as one would, or so i'm told, fake it in real life. the decision to do so is one of the reasons sands's version has the upperhand over the hollies and ronstadt covers, both of which overplay it, like bad porn actors.

the song was written by chip taylor ("wild thing," "any way that you want me," "try (just a little bit harder)," "i can't wait until i see my baby's face"), who, yes, could probably teach people a few things about songwriting.