Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

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Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby harvey k-tel » 14 Jun 2011, 02:21

I was going to start at the beginning with early recollections and whatnot, but, although I have great fondness for some of the music of my youth, I would hesitate to call any of it crucial, so instead I’m going to focus on songs that have informed the way I approach my love of listening to music. Most of these songs will be familiar to the majority of you – I love great obscurities as much as the next person, but again, I wanted to make sure that the songs that I’m going to be stuck with on this island are ones that I’ll keep enjoying even if they’re being played on a continuous shuffle rotation.

I really hope that my desert island looks like this one:

Image

and has a decent supply of fresh water and a nice warm ocean I could swim in and catch fish. That wouldn’t be so bad….for a while.

I enjoy music the most during my solitary moments; driving the car, cleaning the house by myself, stuff like that, so I also really hope that the sound system on this island is a fucking good one that goes really loud, ‘cause you need it loud so you can drown out your own voice when you’re singing along with tunes like this one:



The Rheostatics were a great Toronto band, whose peak period, in my mind, was from 1992, when they released Whale Music, the album that the above tune is on, to 1994 when their original drummer Dave Clark left the band. They were all fantastic musicians who should have been a lot more famous than they were. I play hockey with rhythm guitarist Dave Bidini every once in a while, and I’d certainly miss that, out on my island.

My initial introduction to King Crimson was during their ‘Discipline’ years and I knew nothing about their previous incarnations until I was talking to an old hippie dude in a record store in 1989 and he mentioned that he’d seen them in the early seventies. This naturally came as a revelation to me, and I started hunting down their early material.



I’d never really heard bands stretch out as much as these guys did and the sounds and textures really drew me in. I remember my drummer pal Blake commenting on this tune, saying, “Oh, man, they’re really going for it!” and it’s always stuck with me. Any time I hear a band hit a groove the way these guys did that’s the phrase that immediately comes to mind.

Palm trees are great, aren’t they? I like the ones that are bent almost horizontal ‘cause they’re great for running around on and jumping off of when you’re imitating Mick Ronson…



Man, is that something else or what? I swear to god that cassette lived in my walkman for two solid years in the eighties. That stuff made high school bearable for me and probably contributed greatly to my hearing issues these days. I still get a thrill whenever I hear it.

On days when the heat is unbearable I’ll probably put this on:



It’ll remind me of a great winter day spent at the frozen beach with Basia, watching the dog run around on the snow and ice. I was videotaping at the time, so I’ll always have a precise visual in my head whenever I hear it. Of course, it’ll probably serve to put me in a sad state of mind, and I’ll probably want to keep that feeling going for a while so I’d put this on next:



I’d think about all the people that I missed and wonder if they were thinking about me.

Nostalgia.

Of course I feel nostalgic for all of this music. There’s no way I could write this without feeling something. Unfortunately, I’m just not wired to write with much feeling, or allow myself to get too emotional in print. I do, however, experience a full range of emotions when I’m listening to the music I love: predominantly joy, because that’s what I seek in music, but that’s not the be all and end all.



What is it about Marquee Moon that drags me back every time? We’ve written about it a million times. It’s been written about by others a million times. What’s the power? I dunno. All I know is that when I first heard it in the early 90’s it was like nothing that I’d ever heard before (or since, even though there’ve been a multitude of copyists); the guitar interplay, the vocals, the fantastic drumming…everything about it was the culmination of what I thought music could be when I was in my twenties. Of course, even that perception changed when I heard this:



Even though it’s in the same vein, something about its cold calculation really drew me in from the clutches of grunge’s raw emotion and has held me in its sway ever since.

I’m having a real tough time choosing my last disc. It’s a toss up between some seriously fantastic new shit and some seriously fantastic old shit. I have a feeling that , as much as I love the seriously fantastic old shit, this new shit just digs deeper and has more going for it, so here it is:



I’ve been playing this whole album non-stop for about five months now, maybe even more, and I still get a thrill every time I listen. I can’t see myself ever being let down by this song. It’s just too good.


For my book I’d take the complete unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. Not only will I be able to uncover a myriad of fascinations within its pages, but they’ll also make good fuel for starting fires if I need them.

I had no problem at all coming up with my one luxury item. Here it is:

Image

My drums.

Can you imagine how much practicing I could do all by myself with no one to tell me to shut up? Man, I'd sound like all the drummers I idolize by the time I made it back to civilisation, if I ever did. And if I didn't, well, at least I'd know.

Anyhow, I thought this would be easy and that I'd be able to write great descriptive paragraphs about why this stuff means so much to me, but reading it back just bums me out. It looks like so much more when you're actually doing it, but the end product just seems so lacklustre. It definitely makes me appreciate those that can write with enthusiasm and be informative at the same time.

Thank god I don't have to live up to those expectations day in and day out!

:D
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby never/ever » 14 Jun 2011, 11:32

That is a great account and another well deserved applause for this episode!

The Slint-album is one that transcends decades....superb choice! Great KC-pick too! And Tame Impala is another one I really dig.

Listening to Caribou now...another one of those bands that I have a on/off-relationship with...mmm, may have to give this another chance!
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 14 Jun 2011, 13:12

Good stuff J.

I'm kind of intrigued by that King Crimson track - it's the first time I've heard it and I don't like it much, but it's the same kind of don't-like-it-much feeling that I had when I heard other stuff that later became liked, if you get me! I'll give it another go tonight.

That Slint track is great. Good musicians making something really gripping without showing off at all.

If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)

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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Goat Boy » 14 Jun 2011, 13:17

Good stuff, Harv. Love reading these sorta things.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby harvey k-tel » 14 Jun 2011, 13:18

Sir John Coan wrote:
If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)


Sounds good. Work on your Jerry Lee chops.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Quaco » 14 Jun 2011, 13:25

Great writing, John! I get a lot out of your style. I don't know about being emotional and informative at the same time or whatever you were saying, I just feel like I'm talking to you, which is most of what writing is about.

A good variety of choices, some I know, some I don't, some I've been meaning to go back to. So, thank you!

(Also thanks for reminding me that I have to get back and read moleskin and John Coan's. I didn't have time to get to those before. Sorry dudes, I will!)
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Moleskin » 14 Jun 2011, 13:39

Sir John Coan wrote:Good stuff J.

I'm kind of intrigued by that King Crimson track - it's the first time I've heard it and I don't like it much, but it's the same kind of don't-like-it-much feeling that I had when I heard other stuff that later became liked, if you get me! I'll give it another go tonight.

That Slint track is great. Good musicians making something really gripping without showing off at all.

If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)


You should have a look at the For Carnation if you like the Slint. I discovered both records quite recently, along with Bark Psychosis' Hex. I'll be applying for membership of the EPRA soon I expect.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby The Modernist » 14 Jun 2011, 15:29

Incidentally I've created a sub-forum to archive all these. It's right at the top of the page -easy to miss I know.
I'll move some of the early ones in there today.

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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby The Modernist » 14 Jun 2011, 15:34

Sir John Coan wrote:
If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)


John you're all going to be crowded on the same tiny island.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby TG » 14 Jun 2011, 16:40

Very nice, Mr. K-Tel. I'm enjoying these more each week. It's like episodic posting. I find myself looking forward to each new essay.

Harvey K-Tel wrote:
Sir John Coan wrote:
If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)


Sounds good. Work on your Jerry Lee chops.


See if you can get Quaco to set up some really sensitive microphones on his island and he can record your work.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Minnie Cheddars » 14 Jun 2011, 19:44

Great stuff Harv! I'm loving these.

Can we make a move to two a week? :?:
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 14 Jun 2011, 20:52

Minnie the Minx wrote:Great stuff Harv! I'm loving these.

Can we make a move to two a week? :?:


YES!

It would make sense. Otherwise we'll still be doing them in two years, if you look at the length of the list of people who've volunteered.

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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Minnie Cheddars » 14 Jun 2011, 21:13

Sir John Coan wrote:
Minnie the Minx wrote:Great stuff Harv! I'm loving these.

Can we make a move to two a week? :?:


YES!

It would make sense. Otherwise we'll still be doing them in two years, if you look at the length of the list of people who've volunteered.


Exactly! I'll be in Austin hopefully by my turn and it'll be too hot to type.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Thesiger » 14 Jun 2011, 21:43

Nice to see another vote for Moonage Daysream. Before long someone's going to draw up a list of the most frequently chosen DID tracks and it will be interesting to read.

They've just done that on the Radio 4 DID website and the choices are depressingly uninspiring. Everyone choosing Vaughn Williams' Lark Ascending and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby harvey k-tel » 14 Jun 2011, 21:59

Thesiger wrote:Nice to see another vote for Moonage Daydream.


It was a tough choice for me between Width Of A Circle and MD from the Ziggy Stardust concert, and while Width is a monster jam, I finally had to go with Daydream because it's the better song.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Magilla » 14 Jun 2011, 22:10

Enjoyed reading that Harv, good stuff.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Clippernolan » 14 Jun 2011, 22:13

Nice mention of the Rheos, John. I think they're one of the most interesting bands our country has produced. I think the reason that they're not more famous is that they're unique, they followed their own twisted path, and they embraced the weird, even when they were signed to Sire. I guess that was around Whale Music, wasn't it? "Claire" off of Introducing Happiness could have been an international hit. But, "A Fan Letter To Michael Jackson", for instance, is pretty off-the-beaten-track. My favourite album of theirs is Night of The Shooting Stars, which features Bidini's "Mumbletypeg", one of my favourite tracks from them.

I didn't know that you and Dave Bidini play hockey together. I'm a big fan of his writing, and just finished his 57 1/2 Gigs, which is as good a story about stripped down, and very brave, touring in the backwoods of rock n' roll fandom.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby harvey k-tel » 14 Jun 2011, 22:23

Clippernolan wrote:Nice mention of the Rheos, John. I think they're one of the most interesting bands our country has produced. I think the reason that they're not more famous is that they're unique, they followed their own twisted path, and they embraced the weird, even when they were signed to Sire. I guess that was around Whale Music, wasn't it? "Claire" off of Introducing Happiness could have been an international hit. But, "A Fan Letter To Michael Jackson", for instance, is pretty off-the-beaten-track. My favourite album of theirs is Night of The Shooting Stars, which features Bidini's "Mumbletypeg", one of my favourite tracks from them.

I didn't know that you and Dave Bidini play hockey together. I'm a big fan of his writing, and just finished his 57 1/2 Gigs, which is as good a story about stripped down, and very brave, touring in the backwoods of rock n' roll fandom.


Thanks Rob. I really wanted to post Dope Fiends And Boozehounds off of 'Whale Music', but unfortunately there isn't a decent version of it on YouTube.

Dave and I don't play on the same team, but we're in the same league, and I often play pick-up games with him.
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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Quaco » 14 Jun 2011, 22:40

TG wrote:
Harvey K-Tel wrote:
Sir John Coan wrote:
If you play drums loud enough on your desert island, I'll be able to hear you on mine, and I'll accompany you on the ol' Johanna. How about that? :)


Sounds good. Work on your Jerry Lee chops.


See if you can get Quaco to set up some really sensitive microphones on his island and he can record your work.

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Re: Desert Island Discs: Harvey K-Tel - June 13th 2011

Postby Clippernolan » 14 Jun 2011, 22:47

Harvey K-Tel wrote:
Clippernolan wrote:Nice mention of the Rheos, John. I think they're one of the most interesting bands our country has produced. I think the reason that they're not more famous is that they're unique, they followed their own twisted path, and they embraced the weird, even when they were signed to Sire. I guess that was around Whale Music, wasn't it? "Claire" off of Introducing Happiness could have been an international hit. But, "A Fan Letter To Michael Jackson", for instance, is pretty off-the-beaten-track. My favourite album of theirs is Night of The Shooting Stars, which features Bidini's "Mumbletypeg", one of my favourite tracks from them.

I didn't know that you and Dave Bidini play hockey together. I'm a big fan of his writing, and just finished his 57 1/2 Gigs, which is as good a story about stripped down, and very brave, touring in the backwoods of rock n' roll fandom.


Thanks Rob. I really wanted to post Dope Fiends And Boozehounds off of 'Whale Music', but unfortunately there isn't a decent version of it on YouTube.

Dave and I don't play on the same team, but we're in the same league, and I often play pick-up games with him.


I've wanted to do a piece on the Rheos for some time. But, like you, I couldn't find much music to reference. I always keep my eye out, though.
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