Bobby Lightfoot's Week Of Beauty #2: "In Stereo" by King Radio

Aw, just listen to this shit. The flute trio, the string section, Frank Padellaro's plaintive ruminations about how that one song that is the one thing that gets you through something is "just a piece of crap inside your stereo...". Listen to the bass. This is producer Peter Baldwin playing an old Gibson hollowbody with dead flatwound strings and a mute.

It's so damn great.

This is mixed by Mitch Easter at the Drive-In in North Carolina. I haven't heard such good, inventive and disciplined bass playing since I don't know when. I had the good fortune to tour and to play many shows with King Radio last year and in '04. I played bass on many shows and Clavinova, bells and organ on many others. The bass lines on the King Radio album are so fantastic that I would make it my duty to replay them note for meticulous note, an undertaking that caused me no small amount of stress.

The first show I played with King Radio was in front of 500 people outdoors in Amherst and I was a nervous wreck, playing bass. I psyched myself up and right as we were about to go into the first song who should appear in the front row but the bassist Peter Baldwin himself. I about shit. And then I chewed that shit up left right and center. What a god damn day. And the next day was the show were I opened for Cheap Trick. They don't make weekends like that anymore.

My original motivation for the Week Of Beauty was learning that Frank had gotten a job with Fishman and moved to New Hampshire, ostensibly putting the final lid on King Radio. The band was a dead hassle live; we had to travel with 7 people in a van and Frank had to contract string quartets in whatever town we were playing and give them scores and hope for the best. Sometimes it was celestial and sometimes it was, in Frank's words, "like 15 mallet and string instruments falling down a flight of stairs".

"In Stereo" was left off of the album. Christ knows why with these guys. I prefer to look at it as a Beatle single that wouldn't appear on an album like "Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane" with Sergeant Pepper.

Listen to how appealingly the verse resembles "Baby You're A Rich Man". Listen to the 4-on-the-floor appearance of the string section. Listen to how the flutes rise into the refrain and how triumphantly the strings enter on the second verse section. Above all, listen to the amazing, distinct, plaintive, hypnotic, carressing bass. Take it from someone who has lived on, played, and slept with a bass guitar for 25 years. The swooping figure on the verses ("Baby You're" etc.), the Colin Moulding passing tone choices on the refrain, the funky middle eight. Listen to how he discards the flashy choice.

King Radio, my friends. "In Stereo". RIP.


Blogger Ben said...

Now that's some good music. The bass playing is indeed masterful, but moreover it's so incredibly functional - drives the rhythm, shapes the texture and the harmony.

Plus, I'm a sucker for electric pianos. Heck, I'm a sucker for good music. I think music like this could be described as "tjmla" - this just makes life awesome.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not dead. sleeping. give me a ring some time you knucklehead. we're going to mix with Mitch in the fall and I'm still hoping for some input from you.

6:41 PM  

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