I have just discovered this dude cruising the new streaming music service 'Rdio'. Rdio is making me qualify all of my previous praise for Spotify. Spotify is great if you know what you want, but absolutely lousy for streaming radio. Let me put it this way. I spent (wasted) two hours listening to Spotify's jazz radio yesterday and I heard about five different artists. (Norah Jones, Miles Davis, John Coletrane, Duke Ellington and Nat Cole). That's a 12 year old's list.
My old existential partner Cuda Lee Brown gave me the quick digits 'rdio > spotify'. Damn right!
So I Rdio some Sergio Mendez, and it's groovy. Some of Brasil 66' Beatles covers are a little tiresome but they have some delightful period music. Best hippie music ever - you can hear the sensibility of Pop Art just before it ran off the rails into delirium. Specifically, the hilarious 'Malibu U' and the elegaic 'The Island'. My favorite is 'Casa Forte' which sounds rather like early EWF with beautiful and uplifting vocal harmonies. You just don't hear men and women singing together anymore in America, unless you're in church.
Then I hear 'Wichita Lineman' which I recognized by the chorus but never knew the name. So I check out the YouTube of Glenn Campbell and instantly I see this guy who strikes me as the superstar that might have been. Weird. How does it happen that I'm digging on Glenn Campbell? He's right on the edge of being pure commercial and something else, very original with a bit too much self-respect for the era.
But it's the song of course, and it turns out that the author is Jimmy Webb. Hot damn. I didn't know 'Galveston' but I did know 'MacArthur Park' - hell everybody does. And then blam. I walk into his album 'And So: On'. There's a cut on it called 'Highpockets' that is just got me blown away and it hits me in a minute.
Jimmy Webb is the inspiration for everything Steely Dan became.
'And So: On' variously sounds like the blueprint for Steely Dan, the precursor to Return to Forever's romantic stuff and like the soundtrack for Billy Jack. But Webb can actually sing so it sounds better than most of the 70s stuff I recall. Is this the reason the Fifth Dimension albums always disappointed me? Because all their best stuff was Jimmy Webb? Sounds like it to me. I'm wishing to get the lyrics for all of his stuff.