Friday Factory Tune

Friday Factory Tune: Kodachrome

USA Today, “Kodachrome slide film rolls into history“:

After 75 years, the darkroom door has closed for good on Kodachrome, the legendary color slide film that helped document suburban America in the 1960s and ’70s. [Thursday] afternoon, the last processing lab in the world, located in Kansas, stopped accepting rolls to be developed.

Noon local time was the deadline for film to reach Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kan., and the small, family-run outfit was swamped with mail. ABC News reports that Dwayne’s deliveries today included 500 FedEx packages and 18 bags from the Post Office, almost all of which was Kodachrome. After 75 years, the darkroom door has closed for good on Kodachrome, the legendary color slide film that helped document suburban America in the 1960s and ’70s. This afternoon, the last processing lab in the world, located in Kansas, stopped accepting rolls to be developed.

That’s Paul Simon’s song as performed in Tokyo, 1991.

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Friday Factory Tune: Last of the Steam Powered Trains

Christmas gift-giving cannot go wrong with model trains, (now-digital) cameras and copies of “The Village Green Preservation Society.” Accordingly, this week’s Friday Factory Tune is The Kinks, 1969, “Last of the Steam Powered Trains,” sliding into “Picture Book.”

When we saw Ray Davies a few years ago, he joked about “Village Green Preservation Society,” saying if you hang around long enough, a bomb becomes a classic. You can interpret the record as a nostalgic rebuke of industrialization, but there’s room for that, even with manufacturers.

Believe this performance comes from January 1969 and the British TV show, “Once More with Felix,” Felix being a British model, not Latin for “happy.”

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Friday Factory Tune: Shoot Out the Lights

In honor of Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) being named chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over incandescent bulbs and more, here’s Richard Thompson, “Shoot out the Lights.”

The performance almost makes one want to sign up for the Sundance Channel to watch the Elvis Costello “Spectacle” show. Really. Here’s “The Weight” with Elvis and the Imposters, Levon Helm, Ray LaMontagne, Nick Lowe, Richard Thompson, Larry Campbell and Allen Toussaint.

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Friday Factory Tune: ‘Noise Annoys’

Just because manufacturers object to OSHA’s new guidance that would mandate redundant, unnecessary and expensive noise abatement technology on top of already effective hearing protection doesn’t mean manufacturers are blase about harmful, loud sounds in the workplace. On the contrary. Noise annoys.

At least that’s what the Buzzcocks always said.

Here’s the group doing the song in 2007. Thirty years of loud music. Better write them up, OSHA.

UPDATE: Watching the two videos in succession, one’s struck by the changes in editing styles in music videos. The 2007 video suffers from the bane of many new music videos, so many jump cuts you can never see the performers play their instruments.

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Friday Factory Tune: Now Be Thankful

To mark the holiday, we offer this live performance by Fairport Convention, 1970, from the Maidstone festival, “Now Be Thankful.”

Sounds like a traditional, but it’s by Richard Thompson and David Swarbrick. Thompson was about 20 when he co-wrote the song, and he still tours as one of the world’s best songwriter/guitarists/peformers. Fairport Convention, meanwhile, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007. And who knows where the time goes?

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Friday Factory Tune: Una Furtiva Lagrima

Nick Cave brought his noisier guitar band, Grinderman, to the 9:30 Club this week. He’s an extraordinarily good performer.

The original schedule had the warm-up act listed as Armen Ra, a classical theremin performer. But Ra was replaced by Shilpa Ray, a bellowing woman with a harmonium. The names scan the same, and one obscure instrument’s just as good as another to the hipsters, eh?

We were disappointed by the evening sans theremin, the first electronic instrument. It was invented in Russia by Lev Sergeivitch Termen, a student of physics, astronomy and the cello. Essentially two oscillators controlled by proximity, the theremin became a popular classical instrument in the ’30s, a soundtrack staple of ’50s science fiction movies, a key element in the Beach Boys’ hit, “Good Vibrations,” and now seems to have achieved some cachet with somebody. Anyway, here’s Armen Ra:

Here’s Nina Hagen interviewing him.

And build your own theremin at home! It’s easier with a kit.

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Friday Factory Tunes: Reach for the Skies

Not enough brass here at Friday Factory Tune, so we’ll rectify that today.

The Chicago Public Radio show, Sound Opinions, alerted us last month to the timeliness of this Royal Air Force Central Band performance.

In the U.K. another hot young star is climbing the charts: Winston Churchill. The wartime Prime Minister ousted The Killers’ Brandon Flowers from the top five, and he’s now neck and neck with Phil Collins and KT Tunstall. Two of Churchill’s most famous speeches appear on the RAF’s Central Band’s new album Reach for the Skies, marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Reach for the Skies” is also the title of Richard Branson’s new memoirs and tribute to aviation. He writes:

In this book I look at the history of flight through the stories and people who have inspired me. These are tales of miraculous rescues; of records made and broken; of surprising feats of endurance and survival, including some of my own adventures, as well as developments in the future of air (and space) travel. This is a story of pioneers, and of course it includes the world famous Montgolfiers and the Wright brothers. But I also want to describe some of the lesser-known trailblazers — people like Tony Jannus, who in 1914 created the world’s first scheduled commercial flight, flying his passengers over the waters of Tampa Bay at an altitude of just fifty feet; the ‘bird man’ Leo Valentin, who in the 1950s jumped from 9,000 feet with wooden wings attached to his shoulders; and my friend, Steve Fossett, who dedicated his life to breaking records and having adventures.

This is their story. It is also, in a small way, my own.

Proposed book club topic: Richard Branson holds the same place in British imagination that Winston Churchill held 70 years ago. Discuss.

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Friday Factory Tune: The Times They are a Changin’

We celebrate duck hunting with this staging of the Byrds’ performance of “The Times They are a Changin’.”

That’s what this song’s about, right? The seasonal transition from upland bird hunting to waterfowl?

The clip, we think is, from the Hullabaloo appearance of Nov. 29, 1965, with Michael Landon hosting.

Manufacturing connection: That’s a cool 12-string Rickenbacker that Roger McGuinn’s playing, isn’t it? Premier Guitar Magazine had a nice feature on McGuinn and Rickenbackers in the November 2008 issue, “Roger McGuinn: Rickenbackers, Martins & Byrds.” While not knowing our guitars very well, this model appears to be a 360/12. A later model played by McGuinn sold for $117,500 at auction.

Bonus Byrds/Dylan election preview, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” What a lugubrious version.

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Friday Factory Tune: My Name is Jonas

Last Friday your blogger was at The Thermals show at the Black Cat in Washington. The band has a fine, Portland-honed taste in cover songs, but the encore still caught us by surprise: “My Name is Jonas,” the Weezer song. Apparently it’s anthemic.

The audience sure knew all the lyrics, including the traffic report:”Workers are going home. Workers are going home.”

And that’s enough work-related imagery to qualify as this week’s Friday Factory Tune. Here’s a version by Weezer from a concert in Japan.

The full refrain:

The building’s not goin’ as he planned.
The foreman has injured his hand.
The dozer will not clear a path.
The driver swears he learned his math.
The workers are goin’ home. (x4)

The driver knows his math? Hey, it’s about the skills shortage!

And here’s a version by the Thermals. The band’s recent KEXP performances are good, including this new song promoting the Smart Grid.

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Friday Factory Tune: Bear Cage

A Friday Factory Tune to commemorate this month’s 20th anniversary of German reunification, “Bear Cage” by The Stranglers. It’s a confused but amusing bit of Cold War equivalency evoking a divided Berlin (the name of the city comes from the German word for “bear.”)

Bear Cage by The Stranglers from Buddy Society on Vimeo.

Always loved the chanted part of the refrain: “Gee, (G.) I’m (M.) living (B.H.) in a bear cage
Gee, (G.) I’m (M.) living (B.H.) in a bear cage”

GMBH is the acrononym for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, a limited liability company.

The B side of this 1980 single was topical, too — “Shah, shah, a go go.” Here’s a live version from a 1979 concert in Paris, a great set showing The Stranglers at their inventively most aggressive. That’s Dave Greenfield playing the analog synthesizers.

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