Hey y'all, this is Mercer West and Julian Bozeman of Quiet Hooves of Athens, GA. We're writing from our shadow-home, the Whitehaus in Jamaica Plain. We're on tour for two weeks come see us play. We just released a real expansive record, Saddle Up, on our homemade label Party Party Partners. Saddle Up is hundreds of instruments buzzing ambitiously inside of a Tascam 8 track cassette recorder. We are traveling as 7 Quiet Hooves on tour but 5 Quiet Hooves had to stay home in bed sick. Among them is our little man Javier Morales (of The Dream Scene) who arranged and recorded every instrument on our new album. Julian composed the songs and sang the songs. Other than that we Quiet Hooves did not even lift the finger. Javier slaved over our songs for a lonely year and now we have the rights to his fruit.
Our ongoing commitment to micromanagement turns over this coveted Selector assignment to our little man sick at home in bed with the sheets pulled up to his chin. I tell him that he needs to spiritually penetrate the hundreds of recordings on Youtube that influence the making of our music. "On my desk by tomorrow morning," that's what I tell him. He tells me his fingers hurt too bad. We used to sit around and watch Youtube all the time in the golden http://www.gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.com/ days. --Mercer West
Spanky and Our Gang, "Leopard Skin Phones"
Hyperactive production and arrangement courtesy of Bob Dorough and Stuart Scharf. This album is one of my favorite examples of the late 60s, early 70s confluence of jazz and pop (when all the jazz guys had to start slumming it in the pop world because no one was paying to hear jazz anymore). Recorded at the dawning of the 16 track era.
The Beach Boys, "All I Want to Do"
The Beach Boys are an endless source of enjoyment and inspiration for me. The Sunflower and Surf's Up albums are probably the apex of their work as a group not only from a songwriting standpoint, but from a production standpoint as well. These albums were mostly recorded in Brian Wilson's home studio on Bellagio road in Bel Air and perfectly engineered by in-house engineer Stephen Desper. "All I Want to Do" is a dreamy piece of perfection and his probably on of Mike Love's and Brian Wilson's best collaborations. "Feel Flows" is one of Carl Wilson's first songs to appear on a Beach Boys album. Totally futuristic to my ears, I wish he'd written more songs like this.
Vangelis' use of synthesizers is permanently tattooed on my brain. I can still remember running in slow motion every time I heard the theme to Chariots of Fire come on the radio when I was a kid.
Leo Kottke, "Vaseline Machine Gun"
12 string wizard born in Athens, Ga. Makes me want to put slide guitar on everything.
Todd Rundgren, "It Takes Two to Tango"
"All The Children Sing"
Something/Anything is a pretty incredible feat, a double album's worth of singles. Three-quarters of which were recorded by Rundgren all on his own. Right after this he would take his dose and leap into the sky and record another masterpiece (A Wizard, A True Star).
Asylum Choir, "Icicle Star Tree"
Daughters of Albion, "1968: John Flip Lockup"
Before Leon Russell fell into the swamp completely he turned out these two psychedelic masterpeices. Asylum Choir was his recording project with Marc Benno. Daughters of Albion was the duo of Greg Dempsey and Kathy Yesse (aka Kathy Dalton) whose album Russell produced and arranged. Both were recorded in his home studio on Skyhill drive in the magical world of 1960s LA.
Vanity 6, "Drive Me Wild"
This is from one of my favorite Prince albums. The magic man alone in the studio, crafting this weird jewel of minimal, girl-group synth pop. And giving all the credit to The Time for some reason. *Members of Quiet Hooves coverd Prince's Dirty Mind in its entirety this paast Friday Nov. 12th at the Showpaper Gallery on 42nd Street.
Jerry Goldsmith, "Noah Cross" from Chinatown
This has been a big influence on me for years, especially the percussive use of the piano. For this score Goldsmith came up with an elegant combination of ideas he'd developed for Planet of the Apes and Patton. Written in 10 days.
The Move, "Chinatown"
Killer single from The Move as they were morphing into The Electric Light Orchestra. Roy Wood took the one man band to the extreme, playing everything from guitar and drums to french horn and bassoon. All for the purpose of writing and recording great pop songs. I have a feeling he was probably a big influence on Todd Rundgren.
Billy Goldenberg, music from "Ransom for a Dead Man"
Billy Goldenberg got me into Columbo. He really stands out among all the great composers for television and film from the late sixties and early seventies. What I really like is how the production played a part in the compositions. He had no problem with throwing his flutes and keyboards into the swimming pool. Watery spiders crawling all over the crime show dissonance.
Fleetwood Mac recording of Tusk
One of my favorite albums. The production is late 70s in the best way. Lindsey Buckingham turns in some of his best songs, coming off like a geeked up, new wave Buddy Holly. For this album he took his songs home and ran them though a Smiley Smile filter. Home studio meets millions dollar studio. He also turns Christine Mcvie's and Stevie Nicks' songs into soft (art) rock gems. My favorite part of this clip is at the end showing Buckingham using his bathroom as a reverb chamber and recording vocals on his hands and knees.
Dennis Wilson, "Make It Good"
Second most talented person in the Beach Boys. Master of the masculine ballad, always going for the gut with huge powerful chord changes. Wagner meets Brian Wilson for that California classical sound. Dennis Wilson was dating Christine Mcvie and hanging around the Tusk sessions while working on his Bambu album.
Ennio Morricone, "Forza G"
The man of a thousand scores. Not only one of the best film composers, but probably one of the best composers of the last 50 years in general. I really like how he handles the dark stuff.
The Carpenters, "Love is Surrender"
Richard Carpenter drops some Christian pop into a Brazillian groove. The lead vocals make me think Walter Carlos singing through a vocoder for some strange reason. The perfectly multitracked background vocals foreshadow The Singers Unlimited and a million television commercials. Why do so many people hate The Carpenters? At least the Japanese get it.
Jack Nitzsche, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Opening Theme)"
This guy produced and/or arranged hundreds of records over a four decade period, helped create Phil Spector's wall of sound, worked with a slew of legendary artists from Doris Day to The Germs. His score for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is probably his most famous and its use of musical saw and glass harmonica are really inspiring. His work on the film Performance is probably his best and the one that's influenced me the most (couldn't find any videos for that) with it's inventive combination of greasy slide guitar, malevolent moogs, and distant blues moaning. An inventive man with a widescreen palette.
Charles Fox, "If I Could" from Pufnstuf
Charles Fox has done a million things but my favorites are probably his scores for Pufnstuf and Goodbye Columbus where he deftly mixed pop influences with your usual kaleidoscopic mood shifts of film scores. This opening song from the film Pufnstuf made me go out and buy a chromatic harmonica.
10cc, "Worst Band in the World"
Four ace songwriters, singers, producers, multi-instrumentalists. Indulged heavily in the modular songwriting style pioneered by Brian Wilson in the mid sixties. One of their songs might contain enough riffs for an entire album.
Van Dyke Parks, "On the Rolling Sea When Jesus Speak to Me"
What a guy. Mr. Behind-the-Scenes. Has worked with everyone from Harpers Bizarre to Silverchair. He even gave Three Dog Night and Buffalo Springfield their names. Song Cycle and Discover America are required listening. He really knows how to write and arrange songs in the most unfamiliar ways.
Kate Bush, "Suspended in Gaffa"
The Dreaming is one of her best albums. Dense fairlight soundscapes. Esoteric song structures and subjects. Pure, unbridled creativity.
Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick, "Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets"
Burt gives Dionne the run down on one of his (and Hal David's) best songs. Great arranger and master of the asymmetrical pop melody.
Fred Karlin, "I Am You, You Are Me, We Are One" from Lovers and Other Strangers
Karlin did some pretty good film scores (The Sterile Cuckoo, Westworld) and this is one of my favorite compositions of his. Mirrored flutes over intertwined guitars. bouncy.
Randy Newman, "Cowboy"
Randy Newman probably gets more attention for his cynicism, satire, and cgi-toon soundtracks than for his arranging and songwriting skills. This one was intended for Midnight Cowboy (it got beat out by "Everybody's Talking") and is a great piece of Aaron Copland inspired songwriting. Julian really likes Randy.
Peter Schickele, "Things We Said Today"
"Where Does the Garbage Go?" from Sesame Street
Peter Schickele is probably best known as the musical comedy act P.D.Q. Bach, but he is also a gifted composer, arranger, and songwriter. His arrangement of this Beatles song exemplifies one of the things I like best about arranging: being able to take something this familiar and turn it inside out. Schickle takes this well known love song and turns into an instrumental murder mystery. His contribution to Sesame Street and his work with the group The Open Window makes me wish he'd explored pop music more than he did.
Robert Dennis, "Milk Crisis" from Sesame Street
Robert Dennis was in the psychedelic chamber group The Open Window with Peter Schickele. This song, along with giving me flashbacks to my childhood, inspired me to buy an electric piano from Julian. I also have a weird memory of staying home from high school and getting stoned and watching this while listening to John Coltrane's Interstellar Space.