Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Roches

Hammond Song

Hammond Song by The Roches

The Roches are a kind of hard band to classify. Caught somewhere between folk music history and the awesome 80s, they're kind of like college rock for girls like my mom who went to college in the late 70s and didn't really completely fit into the disco or the "back to the earth" scene. Its Joni Mitchell done by Gilda Radner. They're also hard to classify because while they're most famous for their harmonizing and their endearing Irish American sister power they also found their home in the Greenwich Village scene of the 70s and 80s, collaborating with Robert Fripp, Laurie Anderson, Phillip Glass, Television, and The Patti Smith Group. They actually got their start as back up singers for Paul Simon in 1973 and later he produced a few songs on Maggie and Terre Roche's first album. Later their third sister Suzzy joined the group and their self titled album The Roches was produced by King Crimson's Robert Fripp who contributed some awesome Frippertronics. The album was named best album of the year by the New York Times. The three women continue to tour to this day, still undefinable they now walk the line between awesome nerdy moms and awesome pillars of undefinable rock history.

Here is a smattering of The Roches. I had a really really hard time finding decent videos or music you could download for free. But if you go to itunes and buy this
or this
chances are you won't be disappointed.

From an interviw with Suzzy Roche

You’ve worked with some very experimental musicians. Have you felt that their approach was similar to yours in any way?

I feel like that I am totally in that world. I have worked with the experimental theater group The Wooster Group for many years. I consider myself definitely to be in that area. And I think the Roches’ music is very unusual, and part of that is because of the structure - three voices almost as a choir, people don’t really do that. It’s usually just one lead singer.

above: Suzze with The Wooster Group

How did Robert Fripp end up producing records for The Roches?

(Laughs) Well, he claims that he came to see us play, and when he came up to us and approached us, we said that we had no time for him, and walked right by him and ignored him! (Laughs) I don’t remember that! John Rockwell was doing music reviews for the NY Times at that point, and he insisted that [Robert] go see us, and that’s how he happened to come see us. We worked together very well, we had a lot of fun with Robert. He was very, very strict and very, very crazy too. We had some wild, wild things going on with him, and also a very intense musical experience with him as well. (Laughs)

How significant was being a part of the folk community in Greenwich Village in the 70s?

We were, like, in the dregs of the folk thing, after bob Dylan left. And so it was kind of a wild wasteland at that time - a lot of weird things were happening down there. But I think, honestly, our real thing that happened to us happened to us when we were really little. We grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey in a very little town that was very conservative, but also very beautiful with a lot of woods.

Which did you learn first, how to sing or how to play an instrument?

Well, we were singing in choirs and then there were guitars brought into the house. There was a person on a public TV station who taught guitar, and we all learned how to play the guitar from that person. And in those days, no one had a guitar that we knew. I don’t even know why we got one! So we started learning little songs, and Maggie started writing songs and there was always the harmony singing going on.

from Mr Sellack

O Mr Sellack
Can I have my job back?
I've run out of money again.
Last time I saw ya
I was singing Hallelujah
I'm so glad to be leavin' this restaurant.

Now the only thing I want
Is to have my old job back again.
I'll clean the tables;
I'll do the creams;
I'll get down on my knees and scrub
behind the steam table.

from Damned Old Dog

Do I wanna be a dog?
any diddlin' male would do
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn't be fussy for you

Limpin' around in the moonlight
coverin' up what I did
words decompose all around me
nuisances I committed

Do I wanna be a dog
cut the heat out of me
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn't have to goddamn human be

from The Married Men

One in Louisiana
one who travels around
one of 'em mainly stays in heart-throb town

O the married men
the married men
never would have had a good time again
if it wasn't for the married men

Givin' it to the married men
the married men
all o' that time in hell to spend
for kissin' the married men

The Boat Family

I am a little piece of chocolate
expensive and mean
no nutritional values have I
you may have me
once in a while
I will make you smile

You are a fifty pound bag of soybeans
more than a bargain to me
you take hours to cook
you have serious taste
you make me sob

I am a poison and I am fun
illegal lightweight luxury
you are the law the long hard road
grave inevitable destiny

This is story of the boat family
came over here from the Red China Sea
moved into the sovereign state of Suffern
when they got their picture taken they were laughin'

If nothing else go and download Factory Girl from itunes. Its their rendition of an old Irish folk song, and guaranteed to put a lump in your throat.

Factory Girl

As I went out walkin' one fine summer's mornin'
the birds in the branches they did gaily sing
the lad and the lasses together were sportin'
goin' down to the fact'ry their work to begin

I spied a fair damsel far fairer than any
her cheeks like the red rose that none could excel
her skin like the lily that grows in yon valley
she's my own bonnie Annie my factory girl

I stepped did up to her just thinkin' to view her
but at me she cast a proud look of disdain
sayin' "Stand off me young man and do not insult me
for although I am poor sure I think it no shame"

"It's not to insult you fair maid I adore thee
ah pray grant me one favor it's where do ya dwell?"
"Kind sir forgive me it's now I must leave you
for I hear the dumb sound of the factory bell"

Now love is a thing that does rule every nation
good mornin' kind sir and I hope ya do well
my friends and relations would all frown upon it
besides I'm a hardworkin' factory girl

Oh it's true I do love her but now she won't have me
for her sake I'll wander through valley and dell
and for her sake I'll wander where no one can find me
I'll die for the sake of my factory girl

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the Roches! True originals! Great voices, clever songs - some amazing lyics. Every woman should listen to "Losing True." I highly recommend their first three albums. If you can find it, Maggie and Terre Roche's SEDUCTIVE REASONING (the first-ever Roches recording of Maggie's genius compositions) is perfect. Out-of-print, but copies (expensive!)can be found."Willard's Wormholes" website has a great write-up of the album, and the song "Malachy's" is there to sample.