Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Music: The Leaves

I'm listening to a lot of new music this week, thanks to some generous pals and my very BFF, The Internet. Like other forms of pop culture, current music seems to be all over the place; there's a genre and group for every lifestyle segment. He likes Wolf Parade, Pepsi and drives a Jetta. She likes The Mouldy Peaches, Izze's and rides a fixed-gear. It's just another consumer choice.

What's lacking--and I'm a middle-aged fart, so I may very well not know what I'm talking about--is the sense that there's a scene, a place and time where people who make music all know each other, play together, and feed off each other's genius. Maybe that's why I'm continually enthralled by the garage, folk and psychedelic rock that seemed to pour out of Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid-1960's.

The Los Angeles-based band The Leaves started out as surf-rockers. As noted in Wikipedia, their first gig was in a high-school gym, sharing the bill with Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band.* The Leaves' 1966 single "Hey Joe" was later covered by Jimi Hendrix. It's difficult to un-think the iconic Hendrix version, but I like this one quite a bit.

As a published work,"Hey Joe" has a murky history, and is often cited as having traditional folk origins. It certainly is consistent with a long history of American folk and blues ballads devoted to homicide; e.g. "Tom Dooley," "Frankie and Johnny," and "Stagger Lee." Whatever it's origin, singer/songwriter Billy Roberts registered it for copyright in 1962. Since then, "Hey Joe" has been covered by dozens of artists. You must take a minute and listen to the version by a Japanese psychedelic-era band, The Golden Cups. [Link]

Murder Ballad (Wikipedia) [Link]

*An older acquaintance of mine remembers seeing Screamin' Jay Hawkins at a school assembly in Oak Park, Illinois in the late 50s. My high school managed to get the regional touring group of Up With People.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey 50. I purchased the 45 (remember those?) of the Leaves' "Hey Joe" way back in the '80s after reading about it in some Dave Marsh book. Couldn't find the LP at the time. Very '60s garage sound. Thanks for reminding me.