Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words Fail Me

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- it still amazes me that there's obscure late 60s pop and rock left to discover that's actually really good.

Case in point: My new favorite song.

From 1968, and the all but forgotten album Pilgrim's Progress, please enjoy wiseguy L.A. singer/songwriter Mark Levine (also all but forgotten) and his hilarious and oddly haunting "Going to the Country."

Featuring acoustic lead guitar by Ry Cooder and genuinely astounding piano work by the late great Larry Knechtel.

"Sock it to me, rock it to me, Periwinkle Blue...nicest knockers this side of Malibu..."

That's Levine in the shades in the picture. The girl -- Kathy Deasy, presumably the spouse of producer/guitarist Mike Deasy -- may or may not be the one from the song.

Despite the stellar personnel, the album was originally released on Hogfat Records, which must have been either a vanity label or the least heralded indie imprint in rock history. Of Levine, I can find absolutely no biographical information whatsoever, or any clue to his subsequent career (if there was one).

The album itself is uneven; as somebody over at Redtelephone66 said, some of it sounds like Levine was trying to make the greatest rock record of all time and some of it sounds like he was just goofing around with some friends. In any case, "Going to the Country" simply slays me, especially that single note bass-line climb at the end of every verse.