Listen – Noel Harrison – Strawberry Fields Forever – MP3
The weekend is winding down and I have to say that all in all it’s been fairly decent.
Yesterday we took our old cat to the vet, fairly sure that it was going to be her long walk to the gallows. She’s lost a fair amount of weight recently in addition to having developed an unquenchable thirst. As it turns out, this old cat is diabetic, and all we have to do is change her diet – to wet cat food which she loves like crack, so no problem there – and start her on an insulin regimen, which shouldn’t be that big a deal.
Aside from that the biggest travail was having to box up and return my latest portable iPod speakers. For the last few years I had a Sonic Impact iF1, which was a very groovy self contained speaker with a hard shell and a rechargeable battery, which allowed me to bring the ole pod to work and keep myself sane with a minimum of difficulty.
Sadly the trusty iF1 died a sudden death a few weeks ago. I did my due diligence and after a fair amount of research ordered the newer Sonic Impact system. Sadly, they’ve made some design changes that I wasn’t happy with (mainly dealing with how securely the iPod mounts while playing, and a wholly unnecessary clock feature) so after much consideration I arranged a return and ordered something else.
This may not sound like a big deal to you, but the advent of the iPod has made a huge impact on my musical enjoyment, especially at work. Now, instead of lugging around a pile of CDs I have a huge library at my fingertips – including all of my Iron Leg and Funky16Corners mixes – and I can listen to everything from Beethoven, to Sol Hoopi, to Kaleidoscope to Eddie Bo whenever I feel like it, as the mood suits me.
As I inferred before, having this luxury/convenience goes a long way to helping maintain my psychological well being in a less than hospitable work environment, so having the right portable speakers (I can’t wear headphones at work) is important, in addition to the fact that the iF1 became a regular part of our packing for vacations. Hopefully the replacement I get will be just what the doctor ordered.
That said, the tune I bring you today is yet another cover of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (there was a version by Richie Havens in the last Iron Leg Digital Trip podcast), this time by Noel Harrison.
If the name sounds familiar, you’re either a 60s pop culture nut, or a bit older than I am. Harrison – son of the famous Rex – was a regular cast member of ‘The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.’ was well as a minor pop star of the mid-to-late 60’s. His musical high point being his vocals on the Oscar winning ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ from ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ in 1969.
Harrison made a few very cool albums in a kind of elevated singer/songwriter-y mode for the Reprise label between 1967 and 1969. Though – like his old man, whose somewhat “limited” vocal skills can he heard in ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Doctor Doolittle’ – Harrison wasn’t a technically gifted singer, he had a way of working with a song that owed a lot to the French chanson style, and was also a great judge of material, covering songs by Donovan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen (no great singer himself) and others.
His cool take on the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ comes from his 1967 ‘Collage’ LP. Dig if you will the spare acoustic guitar backing weaving around Harrison’s vocal, making for a much simpler, but no less cool version of the psychedelic classic.
I first turned on to Harrison via his self-titled 1966 debut on the London label which features a mellow reworking of Oscar Brown Jr.’s vocalese of Miles Davis’ ‘All Blues’. His albums are a staple of the flea market/garage sale world, and are all worth picking up. Rhino Handmade also did a restrospective compilation on CD.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back later in the week.