keith seatman & douglas e. powell - broken folk (belbury poly mix)

From the Broken Folk EP, a fave from last year I didn't include on my 2019 playlist because it's not on Spotify, etc.

More from The Listening Booth

uta, part two: psychedelic poetry

In part one, I shared a video of Uta Taeger performing 'Hier, aujourd'hui, demain', the A-side of her 1969 single, on sixties French television. The B-side is the superb 'Baudelaire':

Uta - Baudelaire (1969) (Vinyl rip)
(If you are seeing double subtitles, either turn off the subtitles in the player or go to Youtube and disable captions.)

Here, Uta recites the title poet's 'Recueillement' from Les Fleurs du mal over a potent psych rock jam, brimming with fuzzy, heavy guitars, phaser effects and rhythmic electric organ. The song's credits read 'musique de Groscolas', referring to Pierre Groscolas, at the time a songwriter, session musician and backing vocalist, most notably for Eddy Mitchell. Groscolas, who was also a founding member of the sixties band Le Cœur, would go on to find success as a solo singer-songwriter in the early seventies, releasing more standard fare than the striking 'Baudelaire' shows he was capable of conjuring up.

The Shangri-Las
The Shangri-Las

'Baudelaire' is an interesting pairing with the A-side, a cover of The Shangri-Las' haunting 1966 single 'Past, Present and Future'. An unusual girl group release, the original is sombre and stripped back, its arrangement mostly a simple piano accompaniment borrowed from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Over this, lead vocalist Mary Weiss forlornly speak-sings a soliloquoy that captures the devastation and shock of first heartbreak. Uta's version has a slightly sped up tempo and there's a lighter touch to her vocal delivery, but the cover otherwise sticks close to its source in tone and theme, the lyrics a mostly faithful translation.

Flip the record over and the change in style is stark. It would seem 'Baudelaire' has nothing in common with the A-side, save for the spoken word vocals. Here you have a psyched-up reading of a weighty, once-banned poem backing an angsty teen ballad about failed first romance. 'Baudelaire' is just the sort of wild experiment that sometimes gets smuggled onto a B-side, where an artist can let loose and express something that the main cut, intended for radio play and chart success, doesn't allow. But looking more closely at the two songs, they may be more of a deliberate pairing than it would seem. It turns out there's actually an intriguing thematic continuity between them. And though the A-side is the more radio-friendly, it's a curious choice for a debut single. A teen pop song from three years prior – an eternity in pop years back then – that didn't quite crack the American top fifty, covered by a nearly thirty-year-old actress, wasn't a likely formula for a hit record. These two things taken together make me wonder if this wasn't more of an artistic endeavour than an attempt to launch a new female pop star. Perhaps it was even, in a sense, a concept single.

8tracks recently introduced changes that affect listeners outside North America. My tips: