“SONG FOR EWE”
with DOUGLAS McCOMBS of
TRTS, BROKEBACK & ELEVENTH DREAM DAY
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today’s guest is a guitar and bass playing polymath-rocker, who plies his trade and ploughs his furrowed brow with the instrumental bands Brokeback, which he leads, and Tortoise (or TRTS these days) which he co-founded. He is also bassist for the more trad rocking Eleventh Dream Day who have released what for me is one of the albums of the year “Works For Tomorrow”. He doesn’t fight it, he feels it, and he thinks and talks a great game, it’s the masterful Douglas McCombs…
I first met Doug backstage at the Town & Country club in London (now the Kentish Town Forum) where Tortoise were touring with Stereolab around the time of Tortoise’s breakthrough epic “Millions Of Us Now Living Will Never Die”. We talked about James Brown, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, PiL, Supersuckers (of whom they weren’t fans) and Irwin Allen disaster movies (of which they were fans). You can read a full re-print of the interview with the original xeroxed cover of Velvet Sheep fanzine from 1996 right here…
Earlier this month to coincide with the release of the new Eleventh Dream Day album I grilled Doug about his favourite 13 albums for The Quietus. It wasn’t a disappointment – some obvious like Neil Young & Television, some punk bangers like Minutemen & Hot Snakes, a bit of fluid jazz from Alice Coltrane, a nod to friends like Stereolab and some very obscure like Aki Tsuyoko.
It was with interest I asked Doug to choose a lesser heralded song he’s enjoyed lately, and he didn’t disappoint…
Over to Doug:
“”Here’s my “Song For Ewe”
I was watching the Wrecking Crew documentary which contains interviews
with many musicians I admire and I pulled out the David Axelrod record
“Songs of Experience”. This recording features many of the top Los
Angeles session musicians of the time playing “serious” music as opposed
to the pop hits that they were most famous for playing on (this
recording is often considered jazz fusion).
Regardless of how you categorize your record collection (I personally
don’t delineate between “serious” music and “pop” music), you can hear
why it might have been a welcome break for them to play music like this.
The music is composed but there is a lot of space for them to stretch
out. One of my favorites is the bass player Carol Kaye. She’s
practically the star of this particular song.
Another aspect I like about this is the angle of the producer/arranger
becoming the star. This seemed to be a trend of that era with Jack
Nietsche, Herb Alpert, Lalo Schifrin, Axelrod and others making all
kinds of unusual instrumental albums.
THANKS TO DOUG AND TO KEN AT THRILL JOCKEY.
THERE’S A NEW TRTS ALBUM COMING EARLY NEXT YEAR, BUT I STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU PICK UP THE EDD ALBUM RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW