Wednesday, June 10, 2009

T Bone's Paralysis

The wonderful PowerPop blog tells me something I didn't know. In Genius is Pain, or something, I learn that the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's phenomenal psychobilly ditty Paralyzed features T Bone Burnett on drums.

I'm very familiar with Paralyzed. (If you're not, there's a link at PowerPop to stream it for your edumacative needs. Be careful before partaking of the mp3, as it's quite likely to be a shock.) I first heard it on Kenny Everett's World's Worst Wireless Show, a 1977 confection in which Kenny played hour-long slabs of really, really, terrible, misguided, misfiring music. I listened to all the shows all the way through with my then boyfriend, and it being 1977 and all, and us being young and not exactly in an unaltered state of mind, it was quite amusing.

In those days (you youngsters) we'd tape the radio with a microphone, and so our tapes included the odd bout of strangled laughter. For Paralyzed, however, there was nothing but mystified, respectful silence. In the end, it came only third in Kenny's league table, being outvoted by Zarah Leander's Wunderbar (which I can barely remember) and Jimmy Cross' I Want My Baby Back, a teen-angst-death-car tune that was truly sick-making and probably deserved to win if only for trying to be funny in a staggeringly unfunny genre.

Paralyzed, on the other hand, was a work of mad genius, in the vein of Wild Man Fischer (except moar in every dimension). I couldn't tell you why T Bone Burnett, now the highly respected producer, the man who made Robert Plant famous (with Alison Krauss) and the man who made Jack White famous (with Cold Mountain), decided to produce and play drums on three of The Legendary Stardust Cowboy's fifteen minutes of fame, but I can tell you it sounds more like a drumkit being thrown down a stone staircase than someone actually trying to perform music. In that respect, it matches the other instrumentation.

Once I came to the States, I learned that the vanishingly few clever things that British DJ's did were ripped off American DJs (as always, the exception being John Peel), including playing terrible songs. Despite that, I really miss Kenny Everett, who had a joyous relationship with sound, sampling and radio fun. Listening to Paralyzed brings a little of it back.

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