Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Best Beatles Album Never Made

...hey, I can dream, can't I?

Title: Imagine If All Things Must Pass At The Speed Of Sound

Side One, Disc One:

The Art Of Dying (Harrison)
Mother (Lennon)
Eat At Home (McCartney)
What Is Life (Harrison)
Working Class Hero (Lennon)

Side Two, Disc One:

Juniors Farm (McCartney)
Isn’t It A Pity (Harrison)
Imagine (Lennon)
Let ‘Em In (McCartney)
My Sweet Lord (Harrison)

Side One, Disc Two:

Jealous Guy (Lennon)
Heart Of The Country (McCartney)
I’d Have You Anytime (Harrison)
Woman (Lennon)
Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey (McCartney)

Side Two, Disc Two:

If Not For You (Harrison)
I’m Losing You (Lennon)
Hi Hi Hi (McCartney)
I Live For You (Harrison)
Just Like Starting Over (Lennon)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Has Anyone Seen A Giant, 2-Story Inflatable Pig?

Roger Waters wants to know where his giant inflatable pig went after it broke free from it's tethers at the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival this weekend. It was last seen cruising at a comfortable altitude of 4,000 ft somewhere above the desert north of L.A. sporting a huge shit-eating grin. It's left side is adorned with the word "OBAMA", which should make it "easy to identify", according to Waters. Yes, with all the giant pigs floating around L.A. at the moment this will be of tremendous help. Thanks, "Pink".

Apparently the show organizers are offering a $10,000 reward and 4 tickets to Coachella Music Festival for life for it's safe return.

In the words of Waters himself:

"You know that I care what happens to you
And I know that you care for me
So I don't feel alone
Or the weight of the stone
Now that I've found somewhere safe
To bury my bone
And any fool knows a dog needs a home
A shelter from pigs on the wing"

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Musical Reference Guide From My Past... now online, and I'm totally psyched! Actually, they've officially been online since 2002, but I just stumbled across them so it's new to me. They say they're currently in the process of updating entries, and it becomes very obvious very soon. The Flaming Lips entry, for instance, stops after "Clouds Taste Metallic" which was released in 1995. But it's still a blast! Especially glancing at all the old covers under the "Magazine" section.

Trouser Press used to print (remember books?) an Alternative Music Guide which focused on under-the-radar type bands with entries that included a very detailed discography, album notes and comprehensive commentary. I spent hours and days pouring over it's contents until the covers were worn, and discovered many new excellent bands and artists in the process. Elvis Costello, as an example, was considered 'alternative', which just seems silly now in retrospect. And there's now which is the difinitive resource for all things music related, but it's still going to be fun revisiting an important part of my musical past.

Here's part of the Wikipedia entry for Trouser Press magazine which eventually spawned the reference guide:

"Trouser Press was a rock and roll magazine started in New York in 1974 as a mimeographed fanzine by editor/publisher Ira Robbins, fellow Who fan Dave Schulps and Karen Rose under the name "Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press" (a reference to a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and an acronymic play on the British rock TV show Top of the Pops). Its original scope was British bands and artists (early issues featured the slogan "America's Only British Rock Magazine"). Initial issues contained occasional interviews with major artists like Brian Eno and Robert Fripp and extensive record reviews. After fourteen issues, the title was shortened to simply Trouser Press, and it gradually transformed into a full fledged professional-level magazine with color covers and advertising.

As the 70's music scene transformed, so did the magazine's editorial focus. From 1976 on, Trouser Press frequently centered on the growing punk movements in both London and New York. The magazine provided in-depth articles on bands like the Sex Pistols, Boomtown Rats, The Clash, The Damned, the Ramones, Television, and many other similar groups, long before other U.S. music publications did. In 1980, the magazine introduced "America Underground", a recurring column devoted to local music scenes from different areas of the country. By the early 80's, the magazine's focus was almost exclusively on new wave, alternative rock, and underground rock from both sides of the Atlantic. Starting in 1982, flexi-discs were included with every issue to subscribers only, many of which have since become collector's items. Although the magazine seemed to be thriving with an ever growing circulation, editor Robbins ceased publication after the April 1984 issue (#96), citing a lack of interest in the continuing but stagnating new wave scene that left his writers with very little left to say."

For those that are interested, I've posted a link on the right rail.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Best Album You’ve Never Heard

Talk Talk
Spirit Of Eden
Release Date: 1988
Track Listing: The Rainbow (9:05)/ Eden (6:37)/ Desire (7:08)/ Inheritance (5:19)/ I Believe In You (6:08)/ Wealth (6:35)

It’s like nothing else in the Talk Talk catalogue.

You’re probably familiar with “It’s My Life”, which was nearly mangled by No Doubt a few years ago. But this band (and singer/ songriter/ arranger Mark Hollis specifically) on this album are miles away from their early synth-pop beginnings. For starters, take a look at the running time of each of the songs. The shortest track is 5:19, not the stuff singles are made of, and it certainly was not going to earn them a slot on Top Of The Pops.

The previous album, The Colour Of Spring, offered clues to this new direction, with more complex rhythms and sweeping string arrangements, but it still contained fare the pop listening masses could digest in bite sized chunks, such as "Life’s What You Make It" and "Chameleon Day".
On Spirit Of Eden, though, they conceived a difficult masterpiece that would solidify their standing with the critics and single handedly destroy any future of pop acceptance or stardom from the general record buying public.
Compare It’s My Life and Spirit of Eden and you’ll be hard pressed to believe it’s the work of the same band. Mark Hollis’ haunting vocals are the only clue that it is. The album is more organic and the songs are of the slow-burning quality, which is to say that they start by creating a moody atmosphere and then build to a crescendo of organic and very affecting powerful instrumentation.
The lyrics are about loss and redemption primarily, heady stuff for former purveyors of the “New Wave”. Believe it or not, this album has been compared to “Kind Of Blue” by Miles Davis, in the way that it totally changed the rules, upended expectations for a genre of music and alienated fans of the artists former work while solidifying their cult status among the diehard. Jazzheads will have a conniption over that comparison, but in a weird sort of way it's actually appropriate.

Again, this is not an album of singles, it was intended to be digested in one sitting. Any attempt to break up the suite of songs is futile and not what the artist intended. It is the aural equivalent of a Salvador Dali painting; complex, graceful, haunting and beautiful, weird to the unitiated. Unlike anything you have heard before.

The next release, Laughing Stock, would continue this concept (it's almost it's equal--the two together would have made a terrific double album!), and would be the last ‘proper’ album under the Talk Talk moniker. Mark Hollis has done some solo stuff, but nothing as strikingly beautiful and unique as Spirit Of Eden.

Shame, that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nick Lowe sees second coming of "Jesus of Cool"

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

"I never liked any of that punk rock music. I thought it was awful."

Those words sound strange coming from Nick Lowe, whose early music helped pioneer the punk and New Wave sounds of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Lowe, 59, was behind some of the most potent music of the era, recording his own songs and writing and producing for the likes of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and The Damned.

His first solo album, "Jesus of Cool," was recently reissued by Yep Roc Records to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its release, which some see as a landmark in the evolution of punk -- fast, hard, rebellious rock music.

"That horrible beat and that screaming about absolutely nothing. It was the worst aspect of white music writ large," Lowe told Reuters in a recent interview.

"What I did like was the mischief it caused. That interested me much more. I wanted to do something that was a little more insidious and change things a little higher up the food chain."

Far from the nihilism or amateurish nature of punk, the music on "Jesus of Cool" encompasses a variety of styles -- power pop, British Invasion, rhythm & blues, reggae or hard rock -- and filters it through Lowe's mischievous wit and irreverence.

The songs are hard to confuse with punk, but listeners can clearly see the source of punk's inspiration.

Lowe said that listening to the album is akin to listening to an oral version of a 30-year-old home movie.

"You sort of recoil in horror from your hairstyle, your clothes, your antics. But despite all that, we did know how to have fun back then. I have grudging affection for it," he said.


Lowe got his start in the band Brinsley Schwarz, a purveyor of pub rock, in which bands would play songs modeled after R&B, country and old rock 'n roll, but sped up and with a dollop of attitude.

When that band split up in 1975, Lowe hooked up with his friend, Jake Riviera, who was starting Stiff Records, one of the most important independent labels to emerge from Britain in 1970s. At Stiff, he was named house producer, helming sessions by Costello, Ian Dury, the Damned and Wreckless Eric.

"I could feel that there was going to be a major change in the air," Lowe recalled. "I didn't know what it was going to be. But I could feel it. I and a few of my friends took a look at the way that the music business was, and realized that the first thing we had to do was tear it down and start again."

Lowe said that music lovers look back at that period and see it as the dawn of a new tomorrow, but he saw it as an end.

"We were just gathered around the corpse stealing the stuff out of the pockets. We thought we'd all be back in regular jobs by the end the year," he said.

Lowe would go on to score hits in the late 1970s with "(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass" and "Cruel To Be Kind." He also penned "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding," which was a big hit for Costello in 1979.

But when "Jesus of Cool" was being conceived, he had little inkling the music would continue to resonate.

"I really thought the music would be completely forgotten by the end of the year. And all that would remain would be the attitude -- it was quite rude and cheeky ... And this record would just be forgotten," Lowe said.

"I didn't know it was still going to be talked about in 30 years. I didn't even think there would be a pop business in 30 years."

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Kinks In The 70's

The Kinks were one of the most innovative bands of the British invasion era, but were (and still are) overlooked in almost every way, especially their songwriting abilities and influence on the future of Rock And Roll. The so-called ‘Holy Trinity’ of British rock (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who) have been lauded as pioneers,and rightfully so, but where’s the love for the Kinks who put out just as many, if not more great albums during their existance?

The band released 10 LP’s between the years 1964-1969, seven of which were full blown classics, containing such songs as ‘Well Respected Man’, ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’, ‘All Day and All Of The Night’, ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’, ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Till The End Of The Day’, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, the absolutely gorgeous ’Waterloo Sunset’, ’David Watts’, ’Death Of A Clown’ and ’Victoria’, to name but a mere few.

I mean, come on! I’ll put those songs, and many other album tracks, up against anything by the ’Holy Trinity’. Well…at least the Who and The Stones. Don’t get me wrong, the Stones and the Who were great bands, but the Who hasn’t put out anything earth shattering since 1978 (Who Are You) and the last interesting album the Stones did was Tattoo You, released in 1980. The 1970’s made these two bands superstars of the frickin’ galaxy, and while the kinks had their 5 minutes in the majors they never really received the wide spread acclaim and long lasting adoration that they so rightfully deserved.

I don’t want to go on too long about this, but I do want to try to encourage you to sink your teeth into some of the best forgotten rock and roll ever laid to wax. Start with the 60’s stuff, if you’re not familiar, but don’t write off the 70’s. Like many ’Classic’ 60’s artists (Bob Dylan, The Who, The Stones, etc etc) the albums they released during that decade were spotty but contained some really, REALLY good tracks!

Here’s my own FAVORITE KINKS SONGS FROM THE 1970’S list, but start wherever you want. It’s well worth the diggin’!

Underneath The Neon Sign and Everybody’s A Star from “A Soap Opera”
Life Goes On, Stormy Sky, Juke Box Music and Mr. Big Man from “Sleepwalker”
The First Time We Fell In Love, Education and Schooldays from “Schoolboys In Disgrace”
Nobody Gives and Preservation from “Preservation Act”
Complicated Life, Muswell Hillbillies and Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues from “Muswell Hillbillies”
Misfits, Out Of The Wardrobe, Rock & Roll Fantasy, from “Misfits”
Low Budget, Catch Me Now I’m Falling from “Low Budget”
Celluloid Heroes, Maximum Consumption and Motorway from “Everybody’s In Show Biz”
Lola, Strangers, Get Back In Line and Apeman from “Lola VS The Powerman”

And I hear that Ray Davies two solo releases aren’t too shabby, either.

...and here's LOLA, from 1970!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mr. Agreeable Picks The 10 Most Annoying Singers Of All Time

So I have this friend who lived in Canada for a spell and was recently forced to ‘relocate‘ to Mexico for reasons he‘s yet to share with me. Let’s just call him “Mr. Agreeable”, ok? He’s a very opinionated guy who’s just a tad unstable, and when he asked if he could guest on my blog I immediately agreed.

Out of fear.

So, just a simple caveat that the words and opinions of the following entry are those of “Mr. Agreeable" and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Uncle E or the curators of Uncle E’s Musical Nightmares (heretofore known as UEMN) Any damage or hurt feelings caused by the following blog entry is the sole responsibility of "Mr Agreeable" and by reading the following one absolutely and legally waives ones right to take legal action or sue Uncle E or the UEMN collective.--Uncle E

Yahoo did this list where some professional ‘blogger’ listed and ranked what he felt were the most annoying singers of all time. What this so-called 'pro' had to say was crap, so I kept the list, got rid of his comments and wrote my own. Here they are. If you don’t agree with me, tough s#!t, complain to Uncle E. Complain to Blogger, what the hell do I care?

…in descending order…

10. Celine Dion
I would’ve chosen her as my #1 pick as most annoying, but whatever. So I lived in Canada for a spell, eh? 18 or so years, and found out that all SANE Canucks despise three things: Anne Murray, Americans winning the Stanley Cup and friggin’ Celine Dion! My wife (and most women, I’ve come to find out) love that cotton-candy-canker-sore-inducing song from Titanic, and played it a ton when it came out. It was inescapable, and the year it came out is the year I came closest to poking a hole in my ear canal with an ice pick. As her French-Canadienne brethren would say, "Écouter A Diantre, idiote!"

9. John Mayer: Don’t know much about Mr. Mayer, to tell you the truth, but I can tell you that from his picture he looks like some weird whiney emo hybrid of Matt Dillon and Donnie Osmond, and that’s enough to earn the guy a spot on this list. I also hear that he cries when he sings. Bet that goes over really well at the biker bars, eh Johnny-Boy?

8) Conor Oberst: Sorry, I actually admire this guy, own two albums of his. And that stunt he pulled on Leno (singing the anti-Bush rant “When The President Talks To God”) was just really brilliant. Go to Hell, Yahoo!

7) Lily Allen: Again, not familiar. Guess I need to hang out at the GAP more often…

6) Devendra Banhart: The self proclaimed leader of the new “Freak Folk” movement. I don’t care how hard this dude tries to deny it, he IS responsible and should be dragged through an Agave field for his crimes against humanity. The dude can have his communes, flower power, peace, love, eternal groovyness and fourteen friggin‘ years sitting on the ledge of the seventh level Of Dantes purgatory!!! And what’s the appeal with that god awful warble of a voice he’s been 'blessed' with? Perhaps he’s Tiny Tim reincarnated, eh wot?

5) James Blunt: First and foremost, I don’t believe the guy’s a dude. Secondly, “Beautiful” was sooo overplayed there should be a law that mandates the immediate destruction of the master tapes. Anyone caught playing the song “Beautiful” (or anything by Mrs…ahem…MR. Blunt) should be forced to eat pea soup out of Devendra Banhart's scraggly hippy beard.

4) Frankie Valli: A voice perfectly tailored to shatter eye-glasses within a 14 mile radius. I have no friggin' clue why this half-wit was so popular during the 60's and 70's. All I know is that listening to that “BayyaaaYAAAAAAAAYAAAYAAAABAYYYYAAAAYYBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! wail of his is enough to send one into an epileptic fit.

3) Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins): Yes, despite all his rage he's still just a rat who can't sing in a cage. Who‘s supremely annoying. This faux prog rocker wannabe has plagiarized everyone from Genesis to Yes to Queen with lukewarm results every time. And Billy? Grow some hair, willya? Pete Gabriel did the bald schtick so much more convincingly back in the 70’s, brother.

2) Scott Stapp (Creed): You can feel this so-called Christian rocker’s spiritual torment every time he screeches and bellows into a microphone. He wants to be Bono so bad it’s embarrassingly obvious to everybody without a white cane or a hearing aid, and you know what the funny thing is? He REALLY thinks he’s an important artiste. Yes, that’s ‘artist’ with an ‘e’ on the end to denote his poncy-ness. Knob!

1) Michael Bolton: BLORRRRRFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music To Outsource By...

Turning Japanese by The Vapours
A Passage To Bangkok by Rush
Rock The Casbah by The Clash
London Calling by The Clash
Do You Know The Way To San Jose? by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Berlin by Lou AReed
Haitian Divorce by Steeley Dan
Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills & Nash
RIO by Duran Duran
Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants
Pompeii Am Gotterdommerung by The Flaming Lips
Africa by Toto
O Canada, trad
China Girl by David Bowie/ Iggy Pop
Back In The U.S.S.R. by The Beatles
The India Song by Big Star
Tour De France by Kraftwerk
Mexico by James Taylor
Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles
Mozambique by Bob Dylan
Down Under by Men At Work
They've Got An Awful Lot of Coffee In Brazil by Frank Sinatra
Summer in Siam by The Pogues
Bangladesh by George Harrison
Radio Ethiopia by Patti Smith
Mexicali Blues by The Grateful Dead
Holiday in Cambodia by The Dead Kennedys

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Retro Ad Of The Week!

As Buck, the porno-actor audiophile wannabe in Boogie Nights, says:

"See this system here? This is Hi-Fi... high fidelity. What that means is that it's the highest quality fidelity!"

Moon Safari Turns 10

10th Anniversary Edition
Released April 15, 2008

From Astralwerks Official press release, slightly edited by E:

"Moon Safari promised something new, different and exciting. In many ways the album felt like a step into the future, which is ironic really as the ingredients were a mix of new wave, euro disco and synthesizers. Somehow though, it felt like an album ahead of it's time.
Recognized 10 years after its original release as a genre-defining classic, “Moon Safari” is not only a benchmark in electronic pop, but also the album that established Nicolas Godin and JB Dunckel as two of the most imaginative musicians working today.

To celebrate the band’s illustrious first 10 years, Astralwerks is presenting a 3-disc expanded, deluxe version of the album.

Disc 1 features the seminal debut album while the 10-track second disc includes rarities, remixes (Beck, Moog Cookbook) and key songs from radio sessions recorded during 1998 on both sides of the Atlantic. Disc 3 - a DVD - is the hour-long Mike Mills documentary “Eating, Sleeping, Waiting and Playing” filmed in New York, London and Paris during Air’s first tour."

The band is an odd mix of Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson and Brian Eno, space age lounge pop with strong, memorable melodies. If the Jetsons were swingers, Moon Safari would be their soundtrack!


01. La Femme d’Argent
02. Sexy Boy
03. All I Need
04. Kelly Watch The Stars
05. Talisman
06. Remember
07. You Make It Easy
08. Ce Matin Là
09. New Star In The Sky
10. Le Voyage De Pénélope

01. Remember (David Whitaker Version)
02. Kelly Watch The Stars (Live at the BBC 1998)
03. J’ai Dormi Sous L’Eau (Live at the BBC 1998)
04. Sexy Boy (Live at the BBC 1998)
05. Kelly Watch The Stars (Moog Cookbook Remix)
06. Trente Millions d'Amis (Live on KCRW 1998)
07. You Make It Easy (Live on KCRW 1998)
08. Bossa 96 (Demo)
09. Kelly Watch The Stars (Demo)
10. Sexy Boy (Beck Sex Kino Mix)

DVD Component: “Eating, Sleeping, Waiting & Playing” (Directed by Mike Mills)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Today Is Record Store Day!

'Record Store Day' is the idea of independant record store owners across the nation who hope to remind us that a)there's still some of 'em left and b)because we download most of our tunes nowadays they are quickly going the way of BETA.

From the New York Times:
Some retailers are hoping that the effort (Record Store Day) is not too late. Jammyland and the Downtown Music Gallery, two East Village institutions -- Jammyland, on Third Street, specializes in rare reggae, and Downtown, on the Bowery, in avant-garde jazz and new music -- are facing untenable rent increases and are looking for new homes.
Jammyland is "the model of what a great record store can be," said Vivien Goldman, the author of "The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century" and other books. "D.J.'s congregate there from all over and exchange ideas. It's a crucible of music knowledge."

For a local music shopper with a memory of even just a few years, the East Village and the Lower East Side are quickly becoming a record-store graveyard. Across from Jammyland is the former home of Dance Tracks, a premier dance and electronic outlet, which closed late last year, as did Finyl Vinyl, on Sixth Street. Stooz on Seventh Street, Sonic Groove on Avenue B, Accidental on Avenue A, Wowsville on Second Avenue and Bate, an essential Latin store on Delancey Street -- all gone, to say nothing of stores in other neighborhoods, like Midnight Records in Chelsea and NYCD on the Upper West Side.

"Rent is up, and sales are down," Malcolm Allen of Jammyland said as he sold a few Jamaican-made 45s to a customer last weekend. "Not a good combination."

Here in little old Northern California we don't have a lot to choose from. There are, I think, only two half decent used CD stores and three crappy, overpriced retailers. The two indies can have some decent stuff, and the prices are great, but whenever I patronize either place it's usually deader than dead. It's a real pity. Those places are where we all learned about great new bands, bought our bootlegs and possibly even met our significant other.
I know it's probably too late for the brick and morter stores. Hell, I hardly buy the actual things anymore. But I still browse during my luchtime occasionally, hoping to find that long forgotten classic I used to own.

Oh well.


Alice Cooper's Lost New Wave Classic

In early 1979 venerable shock-rocker Alice Cooper enlisted the help of Cars/Queen/ Devo/The Stranglers/Bowie/Cheap Trick producer Roy Thomas Baker for Flush The Fashion. If you’ve ever heard demo versions of any Cars songs, and compare them to the finished studio versions, you’ll be able to identify the influence Baker had in the studio. Slick, professional, of it’s time.

Cooper had been struggling to create a decent follow up to Welcome To My Nightmare since 1975. All the albums leading up to Flush The Fashion sounded like retreads of his past glories and he needed to sound ‘hip’ again. Thus the collaboration with Baker.

Roy Thomas Baker was a VERY hot commodity around this time and Cooper was on the downward spiral, so why Baker decided to partner with Cooper is anyone’s guess. I’m really glad they did, though. Flush The Fashion is one of Alice Cooper’s best releases, his best since Nightmare, but it absolutely sounds like nothing that preceded it.

The longest song clock’s in at 4:06 (the grand ‘Pain’), but most stay close to the 3 minute mark. It’s a ‘new wave’ album to be sure, but it is also definitely an Alice Cooper album. If the music is new wave, the lyrics are typical of his past discography. Song titles like ‘Leather Boots’, ‘Grim Facts’ and ‘Dance Yourself To Death’ are all within the boundaries of Cooper Town.
The songs, for the most part, are all tense, short bursts of energy. Choppy guitar and synthesizers rule while the albums sole hit ‘Clones (We’re All)’ would have fit nicely on a Gary Newman record. This song was even covered by faux-prog rockers the Smashing Pumpkins and remains one of Cooper’s best known to this day. Never once does Flush The Fashion sound like he's trying to appeal to the 'new wave' set, it just sounds like he's written a killer batch of songs.

It’s throwaway pop for sure, but it’s really good throwaway pop.

I’ve always believed that the early Alice Cooper Group were one hell of a great garage band, and I think Vince Furnier's late 70's and 80's exploits have done much to tarnish the reputation of this once fantastic and vital group (his severe alcoholism might have had something to do with it!)
This album, however, is his last great album. I could care less about anything he's released post 1980. If you have another opinion please share it.

"Talk Talk"
"Clones (We're All)"
"Leather Boots"
"Aspirin Damage"
"Nuclear Infected"
"Grim Facts"
"Model Citizen"
"Dance Yourself to Death"

...and here's a supremely cheesy video of Clones (We're All)...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Check this out!

Once again my link button on blogger is on the fritz, or maybe I'm just too idiotic to figure out what the issue is.
At any rate, a friend from The Great White North sent me the following link to "Vinyl Heads". I'd explain further, but you have to see it for yourself.
Sorry, but you'll have to "cut and paste" the link into your browser.

Thom, if you're reading this...HELP! EMAIL ME, DUDE!! TELL ME WHAT I'M DOING WRONG!!'s the linkypoo:

The Eels: Susan's House

Cleaning out my Ipod and came across this song from the Eels 1st album Beautiful Freak. Never a "Beck wannabe" as the critics often dubbed him, Mark E is an undervalued songwriter> I don't listen to him enough. I'll have to remedy that today....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Death Of CD's? Say it ain't so...

There's a pretty cool debate happenin' over at NPR's "All Songs Considered" about the death of cd's. I was going to post a link but something's buggered with bloggers 'dashboard', so I'm going to copy and paste it verbatim. The comments by the music fans are the real fascinating read, some very different opinions. Some have gone totally the way of MP3's, others still prefer that shiny plastic disc with the miniscule artwork and liner notes, many still drool over their double gatefold vinyl LP's.

Myself? Well, I buy very few actual cd's anymore. That pleasure is reserved for the REALLY special releases and re-packaged re-issues (Nick Lowe's Jesus Of Cool, anyone?). I'm still an album guy too, so when I download I will usually download whole releases, then burn to to a cd (as back-up). I even go so far as to print out the cover on glossy photo paper and stick 'em in a slim jewel case!

Anyway, here's the article and the reader resposnses.


R.I.P. The Compact Disc, 1982-2008?
by Robin Hilton

I recently came to work with two large tote bags filled with compact discs and dumped them out on a table in the middle of the office. To me, they were garbage. But for the vultures that are my fellow NPR Music producers, it was like finding a mountain of free money. They shuffled through the pile, grabbing everything that caught their eye. At one point, Stephen Thompson held up my discarded copy of Radiohead's OK Computer and incredulously asked, "Why would you get rid of this?"

For about a year now, I've been slowly purging my once-proud CD collection. Twenty-five years' worth of music, from the first disc I ever bought (Pink Floyd's The Wall) in 1984, to more recent releases.

Of course, I'm not really getting rid of them. I'm ripping everything to a massive hard drive hooked up to what has become my stereo: my computer.

This is partly because I don't like having a house overrun with thousands of CDs. Invisible sound files on a hard drive are simply more convenient. You can also do a lot more with digital files and iTunes, like delivering an endless stream of music through the house in any conceivable configuration, by artist, genre, or favorite playlists. Changing out a CD in a player feels as clunky and outdated as flipping a record on a turntable.

But I'm also purging my CDs because I believe they're a dying format. There's never been a more obvious trend. CD sales continue to plummet at a breathless -- and, if you're one of the big labels, alarming -- rate. Meanwhile, digital download sales continue to climb.

None of this is as sexy as having a tangible package of music, with artwork and liner notes. And downloading files isn't nearly as cozy as flipping through the local bands section of a record store. But the truth is, I never listen to actual CDs more than once or twice. After that, they're ripped to my computer -- I put the discs away and never look at them again.

Lately, I've felt a sense of urgency to get rid of the rest of my old CDs before they become as obsolete as 8-track tapes and cassettes.

So, what does your CD collection look like? Is it getting smaller? Do you even buy actual CDs now, or do you just download everything?

Tags: cds | compact discs are dead | downloads

11:38 AM ET | 04-14-2008 | permalink

I did the download thing for a while, but decided that nothing beats having those lovely liner notes, in that clear plastic case, and that CD that you can pop into your hi-fi - with no loss in sound quality, and no annoying DRM to hack around. So I'm back to the ol' physical copies, either from a record store or an online outlet.

Yes - it's even worth the shrink wrap, IMHO.

Sent by Tim | 2:25 PM ET | 04-14-2008

I still buy CDs because I'm old-fashioned and want a tangible product for my money.

However, I too keep my CDs stored away and only listen to the ripped files on my computer or my iPod.

I tell myself I'm keeping them because the songs on my computer are all mp3s at low bitrates, but this may just be an excuse. Maybe whenever I get a computer with a big enough hard drive I'll re-rip my CDs to a lossless format and then get rid of them.

For now, though, I have a hard time letting go.

Sent by Kyle | 2:33 PM ET | 04-14-2008
My house sound system is wired to my computer and iPods go everywhere. I mainly purchase downloadable copies. I only by CDs if it is an album that can't be downloaded, but it is quickly ripped and discarded.

I do have about 600 vinyl records left.

Sent by Wayne | 2:37 PM ET | 04-14-2008
My computer will never replace my stereo. Hence the very act of maintaining a digital library kind of makes my head hurt. Why do all that crap when I can just throw the cd in the player (or record on the turntable) and start the act of simplying enjoying music?

So yeah, I still buy cd's (and records). Lots of them. One day they may not make them anymore but that won't make them any less valuable to me.

Sent by xtianDC | 2:39 PM ET | 04-14-2008
I hear what you are saying, Robin, but I take the opposite view. Despite having a large collection that takes up space, I like having cds. Similarly, I like having books on my shelf. Both books and cds are nice to look at for me, and each item has memories. To be sure, I rip the albums on my ipod, but just because I like having my collection when I'm out an about. Then again, I also make time to listen to an album every night before I go to bed. It is a great way for me to relax and decompress from a long day. I just sit on my sofa with a cup of coffee and magazine or a book while the music plays for about an hour.

That's great, Pablo. Bob was just asking me whether I ever just sat and listened to an album all the way through and did nothing else. I still do it, but not very often.

Sent by Pablo | 2:51 PM ET | 04-14-2008
I'm doing about half CDs, half downloading. It comes down to which is cheaper: the used CD or the album download price. Because format death aside, I'm still a sucker for the album, and I don't usually need the instant gratification.

However, downloading won a considerable victory this weekend when--after my wife and I bought tickets to see REM, Modest Mouse, and The National--I turned right around and bought the new REM for us to listen to while we ran errands the rest of the day. I couldn't have done that with a CD.

Sent by Mike | 3:16 PM ET | 04-14-2008
Yes, low bitrates are annoying, packing is fun, but ya'll are missing two key reason to keep buying CDs.

First, hard drives inevitably break. Maybe not today or next month, but they will fail. CDs have finite life spans too, but they're apt to last many decades, whereas hard drives count their lives in years. You scratch up a CD, you lose one album. But when that HD goes, your entire collection goes with it. I've had it happen to several friends and shudder at the thought.

Second, Digital Rights Management means you don't really own most of those tracks you buy online through iTunes. They're just kind of letting you borrow them for a fee. Better not lose that laptop or ipod. Don't load that music library on to too many computers. After a few times, DRM will stop letting you do that, assuming you are a criminal. And want to upgrade to a higher bitrate when better technology comes along? Woa there, cowboy, I'm afraid you'll have to buy every single song all over again.

All that considered, I'll stick to paying a couple bucks extra for a full-quality, tangible, lasting CD that's mine for sure. I do some downloading, but prefer the ole real world medium, especially for albums I love.

Even if I do end up listening to rips of CDs on my computer most of the time, it's still worth the shelf space.

Sent by Kevin | 3:16 PM ET | 04-14-2008
I think Pablo makes a great point in comparing CD's to books, but like others have been saying, it's really all about vinyl records. Sure I have loads of music on my computer and iPod (as Pablo said, for convenience), but my "collection" is split between CD's and vinyl (mostly because promoters only send CD's nowadays), and I'll proudly display them on my shelf as long as I still enjoy listening to music.

To me, it's owning the actual "thing" that someone put countless hours of hard work into, and not just having a few sound files on my computer. That's what makes vinyl so nice, it's like having a book. The sound exists on the record, like words in a book; the grooves in the album are the real sound waves, just like the fading ink in my dad's copy of Time And Again (on loan to me for 20 years now) is real ink.

Call it "emotional" or "romantic" but isn't that what real music collectors seek? Isn't that the whole point of still going to record stores, sifting through boxes of unorganized singles?

I do 90% of my listening from my iPod and computer, but when it comes to "owning" music, I have to have it on my shelf, where I can look at it and say "yes, I own that music."

Sent by John Michael Cassetta | 3:39 PM ET | 04-14-2008
Just when "All Songs Considered" has you in a place of contentment and relaxation with posts about comfort food and silly videos about the song writing process, what do they do? Go for the kill.

I will most likely be moving this Fall and my CD collection will not be able to come with me. I know I will have to either store the CDs or sell them, but I really didn't need to think about that right now. So thanks.

Every time I try to prune my CD collection, I fail miserably. I don't know how I came to have a Spin Doctors' live album in my collection. I don't want it. It certainly has overstayed its welcome. I don't think I have ever listened to it, and yet there it sits in my "secondary CD rack" hidden away in a corner of my bedroom away from those who would use my CD collection to cast dispersion on my street cred. (Oh crap! Am I going to need a separate hard drive for my secondary "nobody can ever know about this" music?)

I would have to agree that i think that CDs are on their way out and will end up in the same category as other dead formats like 8 tracks and tapes. They will always have their fans, but their influence is waning.

If you like album art and liner notes, there is no better format then vinyl if you can find it, not to mention the unique sound of vinyl. Although a high res monitor and iTunes is a new way to look at album art I guess. And if you don't want something that will take up a lot of room, well you can't get much more compact then downloads.

I find that I am downloading a lot more now and if I want something concrete in my hands, I buy vinyl if available.

As for ripping albums before selling them back, I am still torn. In one sense it seems like selling someone your car, but keeping a spare set of keys in case you ever need to use it again. In another sense, I'm poor. Buying all that music again if it is available at all doesn't make much sense either.

Now you'll have to excuse me while I work at pulling this knife out of my back. I still have months to go before I have to give up the illusion that I can keep my CDs as they are.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Friend, terrible chess player and fellow blogger extraordinaire Greg Pate recently posted a comment asking about the pros and cons of subscribing to Not that I’m an expert, but I was a member for about 9 months, until my daughter’s dentist recently informed me that she will most likely need braces in a few years (my daughter, not the dentist).

While a member I downloaded probably 500 songs when all was said and done, and found some remarkably interesting and under-the-radar stuff. That’s the thing about EMUSIC, though. They focus on making the more obscure, independent stuff available and pretty much ignore your tried and true favorites from yesteryear. If classic rock and roll is your kick, EMUSIC ain’t for you.

That being said, they recently added pretty much the entire Rolling Stones discography in addition to the Kinks, so they may have plans to ‘branch out’ to appeal to the classic rock set.

If you’re a music nerd like me, and have the time to sample and research new bands and artists, then EMUSIC could be right up your alley! You can search by ‘similar artists’ or by ‘genre’, or by the ‘editors picks’, or even other EMUSIC subscribers who share your musical tastes. It’s fun and can be extremely rewarding when you find a gem. I myself downloaded 150 songs from the Kinks 70’s output last month and have been very happy that I got them for about one third the price itunes charges. The better price and the lack of the stupid “MP3 security locks” are two big pros for EMUSIC, the smaller inventory is a bit of a downer.

Now the costs.

You start by getting 50 free downloads. Once completed you can stop right there, leave and never come back, or you can choose one of their plans.

10 downloads a month for $5.99, 30 for $14.99, 50 for $19.99 (my choice). If you’re a REAL fanatic, then you have the options of 100 downloads a month for $24.99, 200 for $49.99 and 300 for the paltry sum of $74.99 each month. Sign up for an annual contract and receive 20% off.
To put this into perspective, 300 downloads loosely translates to about 25 complete CD’s EACH MONTH or 300 albums worth of songs PER YEAR.

3,600 songs a year.

If you have that kind of money and that kind of time you’re a better and richer man than I.

Does this help, Greg?

Monday, April 14, 2008

John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band

“Mother, you had me, but I never had you
I wanted you, you didn't want me
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye, goodbye
Father, you left me, but I never left you
I needed you, you didn't need me
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye, goodbye
Children, don't do what I have done
I couldn't walk and I tried to run
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye, goodbye
Mama don't go
Daddy come home”

God. The first track from John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band is a killer.

Some of the saddest, most heart wrenching lyrics you’ll ever hear, John Lennon's voice a desperate howl of despair and hurt. The instrumentation sparse with only piano chords and a simple drum beat to accompany his words and explicitly strong and recognizable voice.

It’s truly powerful.

It’s been well documented that this album was inspired by his primal scream therapy, and after three straight listens it becomes apparent that Lennon is letting it all hang loose, baring his soul for the world to judge in the hope he receives a little closure, or at least some peace, from his obviously troubled past.
After the harrowing “Mother” he tells himself to “Hold on”, that it’s ‘gonna be alright’. Then it’s back to righteous anger in “ I Found Out” and the sublime “Working Class Hero”(one of the few songs on this album I'm ashamed to admit I was familiar with).
Here’s a particularly powerful lyric from “I Found Out”:

“I seen through junkies, I been through it all
I seen religion from Jesus to Paul
Don't let them fool you with dope and cocaine
No one can harm you, feel your own pain
I, I found out!
I, I found this out!
I, I found out!”

Then comes the paranoid “Isolation”, which brilliantly segues into the sad nostalgia of “Remember” which, like “Mother”, utilizes simple drums and piano to great effect.
The optimistic (?)“Love” comes at exactly the right time, because for the last 6 tracks Lennon has put me through the emotional wringer and I physically needed a reprieve from the intensity.

On paper, the lyrics for “Well Well Well” read like a McCartney composition:

“I took my loved one to a big field
So we could watch the English sky
We both were nervous feeling guilty
And neither one of us knew just why
Well, well, well, oh well
Well, well, well, oh well”

Musically speaking though, this is the song that best relays his message of despair and pain, in my opinion. Raunchy blues guitar licks and a pounding, and very effective, drum beat complimenting Lennon’s howls of pain.

“Look At Me” finds the man pleading for his love to “Look at me/ Who am I supposed to be?” and "God" is pure poetry, plain and simple. It’s thus far my favorite song, both lyrically and musically, on the entire album. He starts by informing us that “God is a concept”, and that he doesn’t believe in Hitler, Zimmerman, Elvis, Jesus, Kennedy, Buddha, the Bible, the I-ching or The Beatles and ends by telling us fans that the “dream is over”.

The album ends with “My Mummy’s Dead”, which finds our hero finally coming to terms with the death of his mother, or at least confronting the fact she’s gone forever.

John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band is an emotional album, but not unlistenable
by any stretch. As a matter of fact, it’s quite melodic and catchy in a lot of areas, surprising given the nihilistic and unflinching lyrics. Most of all I think it’s a very rewarding album, in the way that really good, difficult albums continue to challenge and amaze you after multiple listens.

Sad. Desparate. Nerve-wrenching. Honest. Optimistic. Angry. Naked. Affecting. Sad. Beautiful.

You know what the really sad part of this is? It’s the first time in my 40+ years that I’ve heard this album in it’s entirety.

Sometimes it’s like that though. It’s what keeps me going, knowing that there are hundreds of masterpieces like this out there just waiting for me to discover them.

Thanks for the referral, Philbert!

I owe ya one!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lyrics Revealed: James Brown’s Funky Drummer!

In our ongoing effort here at The Nightmare to make your music listening experience a little more enjoyable, we would like to introduce “Lyrics Revealed”, a new series designed to shed a little light on those favorite songs of yours with incomprehensible lyrics.
Finally, you’ll be able to actually SING in the car instead of mumbling along with an embarrassing, confused look on your face!

This weeks installment: Funky Drummer, by James Brown.

Come back, cover Shades, good God It's a raid

Cut off the lights
And call the law
Cut off the lights
And call the law

Standing over there
The devil's on his way
Call the law
Call the law
The devil's on his way

Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice

Make me sweat!
Still good
It's still good
Still good
It's still good

Turn over
Turn over
Turn over

Take me in the chain
Take me in the chain
Take me in the chain

Tall women Is all I need
Tall women Is what I want

One more time
I wanna give the drummer
Some of this funky soul
We got here

You don't have to do
No song, brother
Just keep what you got
Don't turn it loose
Cause it's a mother

When I count to four
I want everybody to lay off
Let the drummer go
When I count to four
I want you to come back in

I got to holler
I said it's in my feet
Feels so sweet

It's in my shake, good God
About to work me to death
It's in my shake
About to work me to death
It's in my shake

I'm about to blow
I'm about to blow

One, two, three, four
Get it!

Ain't it funky?
Ain't it funky?
Ain't it funky?
Ain't it funky?

One, two, three, fo!!

Next time: Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Summer Toons!

Over in my neck of the woods temperatures change virtually overnight from 50 degrees to 90. This change in temperature usually comes hand in hand with a change in my musical tastes and this year is no different.

It’s time for Summer music!

More up-tempo guitar based songs in the morning, lazy acoustic strumming in the afternoon and sedate electronic noodling-type stuff in the evenings is usually par for the course. Decades and genres don’t matter much to me during this time, a good summer tune is a good summer tune, know what I mean? It’s a time when any genre can be mixed alongside another usually totally unrelated genre as long as the feel is similar.
Before the advent of the I-Pod I would have made mixed cd’s, which was time consuming and a little tedious. Now I just drag the songs I want into a play list. Much easier and certainly a lot faster.

I’ve just started the list and here are a few selections:

A Girl Like You: The Troggs
The Only One I Know: The Charlatans UK
Waterloo Sunset: The Kinks
Psycho Killer: Talking Heads
Shut Your Eyes: The Shout Out Louds
Love Vigilantes: New Order
Casey Jones: The Dead
Accidents Will Happen: Elvis Costello
I Hear You Knockin’: Dave Edmunds
Higher Than The Sun: Primal Scream
Peaches: The Stranglers
Come Down On Me: Lemon Jelly
La Femme D’Argent: AIR
It’s Summertime: The Flaming Lips
Save The World: Orson
What You Do To Me: Tennage Fanclub
Redemption Song: Joe Strummer version
No Woman No Cry: Bob Marley
John Prine: The Sins Of Mephisto
Revolution Solution: Thievery Corporation
Everybody’s Happy Nowadays: Buzzcocks
Someday: Cracker
Soul Kitchen: The Doors
Like A Rolling Stone: Dylan
‘39: Queen
Wave Of Mutilation: The Pixies
You Are My Face: Wilco
Moon Over Marin: The DK’s
God Only Knows: The Beach Boys
Ballad Of Wendell Scott: Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper
Monkey Man: The Stones
Summertime Blues: Who (Live At Leeds)
Kalimba Story: Earth Wind and Fire
Nutted By Reality: Nick Lowe

This is, of course, only the beginning. I’ll be adding more later.

Any suggestions?

Slim Whitman Sings Stairway To Heaven?

Ya gotta love those wacky Canadians!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Just Something I Thought Was Funny

Not to long ago "" listed The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History. Each entry containes a back story on the creation of the name and then another paragraph on why the editors at thought the name was worthy enough to be on this shameful list.
I'll list a few to whet your appetite, but if you want to read the whole article you'll have to go to the right rail and search out the link!

ENTRY #1:The Alan Parsons Project
The story: Founder Alan Parsons started a "project" with other "project administration personnel" to "drill down" on this whole "music" thing he'd heard so much about. So he named it that.

Why it's ridiculous: It's one thing to just name your band after yourself, like ego cases Dave Matthews and Ben Folds did. But once you've made the choice to be lazy, you're not allowed to get all clever with it afterwards. Besides, it makes the band sound like the sort of after-school activity all the kids who didn't make the basketball team got stuck with. "Today, class, we're going to build Alan Parsons... from common household items!"

ENTRY #2: Stone Temple Pilots
The story: One of the band members thought the logo on the STP car treatment spray bottles was cool. So yes, in case you were wondering: a lot of thought went into this.

Why it's ridiculous: Most of the band members seemed to think titling songs "Kitchenware & Candy Bars" and getting addicted to heroin was a fantastic idea, too. Evidence suggests they might not be the guys to turn to for well-reasoned decisions. The mental image of four guys flying around ancient Aztec temples matches up better with a psychedelic rock band, not a bunch of cock-rockers penning songs like "Meatplow" and "Sex-Type Thing."

ENTRY #3: Smashing Pumpkins
The story: More of a cautionary tale than anything else, bandmates Billy Corgan and co. reportedly dashed the name off quickly so they could get on with their lives, not realizing they'd be fielding lame pumpkin-based jokes about it for the rest of their lives.

Why it's ridiculous: According to a November 1993 Washington Post interview with bass player D'arcy Wretzky, even the band thinks Smashing Pumpkins "is a stupid name, a dumb bad joke and a bad idea," which should tell you something. These days, they claim the name doesn't even have anything to do with pummeling squash fruit, in that "smashing" was meant to imply "great" (as in the British slang), like that somehow makes it less stupid. It'd be like accidentally crapping yourself on a bus, then telling everyone it's okay, because you meant to: Nobody cares why you did it, Shitty Pants.

ENTRY #4: Def Leppard
The story: Singer Joe Elliott thought of the name Deaf Leopard while he was in school (presumably while failing something). The spelling was later changed so the band didn't become confused with punk bands (who are known for their flawless spelling).

Why it's ridiculous: Putting aside '80s metal bands' fascination with animals for a minute (White Tiger, Whitesnake, Great White, Jackyl, Ratt) unless you're a Mozart-level talent, there's simply no excuse for including a word in your band's name that means you can't hear sounds. You might as well just call yourself Terrible Music and save people the energy of mocking you.

ENTRY #5: Of Montreal
The story: Frontman Kevin Barnes has told many conflicting stories about where this Athens, Ga. band got their name, but the one that seems to have gained acceptance is that he was dating a girl from Montreal and it didn't work out.

Why it's ridiculous: What's the word for those people who change their explanation for something 100 times before settling on an excuse that sounds vaguely implausible? Oh, that's right, liars! Barnes named his band Of Montreal because he wanted people to think his band was from Montreal. He knew just as well as everyone else that if your group is from Montreal, you can record yourself taking a poop on a xylophone and Pitchfork will give it a sparkling review. Meanwhile, the last time a great band came out of Athens, Michael Stipe still thought he was straight. But why not just name the band "We're from Montreal" then, and get it over with? Oh right, because Barnes wanted to make it extraordinarily difficult for fans to use his band's name in a sentence:

Of Montreal Fan: Ever heard of Of Montreal? I'm a fan of Of Montreal. In my book there's nobody above Of Montreal.

Hot Indie Chick: You're hooked on phonics, aren't you?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Quiet One

Did you know that you can fit all of George Harrison's Beatle compositions on one 80 minute CD?

It's true.

"Never Get Out Of The Boat", which is an excellent new music blog I discovered (right rail, "Friends That Deserve Your Eyeballs"), goes into it in much greater detail than I am able, or willing, to do here. It focuses a little more on the 'Classic Rock' genre than I and contains obscure factoids about artists such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Randy Newman, Richard Thompson and Al Cooper.

As the below list of his Beatle contributions aptly demonstrates, George Harrison was sadly underutilized.

And in the immortal words of the man himself, "Isn't It A Pity"?

Cry For A Shadow
Don't Bother Me
You Like Me Too Much
I Need You
If I Needed Someone
Think For Yourself
Love You To
I Want To Tell You
Only A Northern Song
Within You Without You
It's All Too Much
Flying (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)
Blue Jay Way
The Inner Light
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Savoy Truffle
Long Long Long
For You Blue
Old Brown Shoe
Here Comes The Sun
I Me Mine

Hairway To Steven

My neighbor just bought himself an electric guitar.

I know this only because he insists on practicing outside, with the amplifier apparently pointing directly at my house.
His musical tastes run the gambit from decent to abysmal, with the greater percentage focusing on the abysmal. The decent: Alice Cooper, The Eagles, Pink Floyd.
The bad? Toby Keith, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks (sorry all you modern country music fans out there, I just can't get into it!), and many more.

As God is my witness I thought California had a law banning the practice of Stairway To Heaven by beginners.
Apparently not, though, ‘cause that’s what he’s attempting as I write this. I have heard the beginning to Stairway at least 12 times this morning and he always stops and re-starts at exactly the same moment.

I really shouldn’t be baggin’ on the guy. I couldn’t play the theme to Batman, much less Stairway To Heaven, if my life depended on it. I can, however, warble my way through "The Barney Miller Theme" on the bass, but I digress. It’s really annoying the crap out of me right now and since I have this blog I am going to rant!


Hear that?


Sweet, sweet silence.

Maybe I won’t publish this now that he’s…oh crap.

He’s back again, this time with “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath!

You know, I’ve got some water balloons in the garage. It might be a good bonding experience for me and my youngest daughter to fill ‘em up and lob ‘em across the fence.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bogus Band Bio #4, part VI: “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment!”

Previously, on Bogus Band Bio:

“I’m hallucinating,” Steve thought to himself as keyboardist Gregg Rolie started to bang out the opening riff to ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. His eyes turned to the red light bulb above the door to the studio. ‘This has already happened. THIS HAS ALREADY FREAKIN’ HAPPENED!!” Steve yelled, out loud this time, and violently threw his mike stand through the framed pastel portrait of Andy Kim, destroying it instantly.

“Hey, WHOA,” yelled Schon. “A little respect for the mighty Kim, bro! My mother painted that!”

Steve started hyperventilating, and soon fell to his knees.
He had every intention of playing along with this 'dream', he really did. But this was just too surreal to keep up the facade. He could smell the putrid sweat emanating from Schon’s ratty headband (or was it the leather trousers?) for God's sake. And how often does one dream odors, anyway?

Neil Schon once again broke the silence. “This better not be the Peyote, Steve. You signed a waiver!”


Oh, right.

Steve remembered that back in the late 70’s, friend and confidante Gary Glitter gave him some Peyote at one of his famous swinging ‘fish bowl’ parties. Steve had heard of Peyote, but just that it was natural and benign, with an effect not unlike pot. He didn’t realize until it was too late that the main psychotropic ingredient in Peyote is Mescaline, which can be highly addictive. Steve ended up hooked for over 12 months before the band decided to have an intervention. The thought of being forced out of Journey was just too painful, so he agreed to 2 months of rehab (at the "Viv Hashian Clinic For Drug Dependancy") and to sign a ‘Band Document’ (a letter of intent, really), which was the 'waiver' Neil was referring to.

His head started swimming again, but this time he couldn’t breathe. There was something blocking his throat. He tried to cough but all that came out was an ever expanding river of white foam.

“Get an ambulance,” cried Neil.

Then Steve, once again, blacked out.

What Steve couldn’t have known is that the boys were sending him to Lakeview Nervous Hospital, an infamous lunatic asylum run by, reputedly, the Devil himself…

…and now onto tonight’s episode:

The needle containing the salivation inhibitor methohexital plunged deep into Steve Perry’s right thigh, followed by the muscle relaxant suxamethonium.
The nurse, dressed in a blue and green smock casually placed the electrodes on both sides of his head and smiled, slyly. She glanced to her right and nodded. Steve followed her gaze to an unkempt grey haired man wearing a pair of very thick glasses, the right lens cracked down the center, and felt a bead of sweat drip from the tip of his nose. The man positioned himself to Steve’s right and forced a rubber “plug” of sorts into his mouth, holding it in place by securing a leather strap around the back of his head. Once finished he swiftly moves out of Steve’s field of vision.

The former front man for the soft rock band Journey started to feel a little drowsy but was keenly aware of the sound of a switch being thrown and the eerie hum of electricity.

The electrodes deliver a massive electrical stimulus which immediately forces Steve's body into uncontrollable seizure-induced convulsions. His muscles tighten and the metal gurney shakes along in unison with it’s occupant.

After what seems like an eternity (even though it’s only been six seconds) the droning of the ECT machine stops.

“Again.” says the man with the cracked lens. “1400 milliamps.”

“…no…” whispers Steve.

The nurse gives a concerned look, knowing full well that the maximum dose of milliamps allowed by law in the state of California is 800.
But she complies anyway, the man pulls the switch again and Steve, for the fourth time in as many days, loses consciousness...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sniff 'N' The Tears: Drivers Seat

Fellow blogger and newspaper colleague Thom G over at Surface Tension (link on the right rail) just posted a video of The Kings new wave Canadian classic “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide”, and it got me thinking of British band Sniff 'N' The Tears and their song Drivers Seat, simply the best "one hit wonder" song of the 1970's. I personally think that this is one of the best songs of any decade, and it's a damn pity the album it came from is long out of print.

It was used to great effect in the film Boogie Nights (that P.T. Anderson knows how to pick the songs for his movies, doesn't he?), but the song and band are largely and unforgivably wasting away in the overflowing "where are they now" files.

The drummer is a metronomic maniac and the guitar never lets up it's mannered ferocity throughout the entire song. Steady bass playing and terrific keyboard/ synthesiser riffs by Alan Fealdman round out the sound.

This is, unfortunately, an abbreviated version of the song. But it's good enough.

Pay special attention to the guitarist in the video. I think it's Scott Baio!

More Tales From The "Well...DUH!" Files

"Rap music has increasingly glamorized the use of illegal drugs, portraying marijuana, crack and cocaine as symbols of wealth and status, according to a new study by the journal of Addiction Research & Theory.

The report found that rap artists had moved away from the lyrics of the early days of the genre when they often warned against the dangers of substance abuse.

"This study showed that in fact much early rap music either did not talk about drugs at all, or when it did had anti-drug messages," said Denise Herd, of the University of California at Berkeley, who headed the research team."

I wonder what percentage of our tax dollars went towards funding this groundbreaking research?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Can't Be Far Behind...

From the LA Times

LOS ANGELES - "With her 18th chart-topper "Touch My Body," Mariah Carey has passed Elvis Presley for the most No. 1 singles on the Billboard singles chart, and is now second only to the Beatles."

To put this into horrible perspective, Nick Lowe's highest Billboard chart entry (Cruel To Be Kind) peaked at #12 in 1979. Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone peaked at #16. The Clash's London Calling peaked at #5. Lola by The Kinks? #9...

Sweet God in Heaven, what have we been feeding our youth?

I better triple my daughters daily aural dose of Flaming Lips and Miles Davis for at least a month.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

If You Get A Chance...

...pick up (or download, or whatever) The Shepherds Dog by Iron and Wine. One of my favorite albums last year by a (relatively) new singer/ songwriter unfairly linked to the maligned "Freak Folk" contingent. Like M. Ward (another favorite of mine, buy "Post War" NOW!), his first efforts were lo-fi Americana, subdued affairs that recalled Nick Drake's Pink Moon.
This one feels more polished, fuller but not overproduced, and it still has plenty of back porch charm.
Here is the official review of this fantastic under-the-radar-but-not-for-long album:

"Iron & Wine have shown an impressive work ethic since the release of The Creek Drank the Cradle in 2002. A flood of singles, EPs, and albums, each with high levels of quality, have made Iron & Wine and Sam Beam stars in the indie rock world. Introspective, leaning toward morose, and heavily bearded stars, but glittering just the same. 2007's The Shepherd's Dog goes a long way toward validating all the attention I&W have been getting; it's their best, most diverse, and most listenable record yet, as Beam and co. take another leap away from the lo-fi, one-dude-in-a-bedroom beginnings of the group. Here Beam surrounds himself with a large cast of musicians, and they blanket the songs with a wide array of instrumentation, everything from accordions to Hammond organ, piano to backward guitars, vibraphone to bass harmonica. Nothing too strange in the everything-goes world of indie rock circa 2007, but for Iron & Wine, it's a widescreen revelation. Perhaps working with Calexico on 2005's In the Reins inspired Beam to use all the colors in the paint box. Maybe it's a natural progression. Either way it leads to an inspiringly lush album, full of imaginative and rich arrangements. Not to say Beam has cast aside the vital elements that made the band so interesting to begin with; his whispered vocals still conjure shadowy mystery, the songs are still melancholy as hell at their core, and as always there's a lingering sense of Southern gothic foreboding shrouding the proceedings. The increased production values take these elements and goose them. The recognizably I&W songs like the dark and creepy "Peace Beneath the City" or the gloomy country ballad "Resurrection Fern" sound bigger and have a different kind of impact. Take "Boy with a Coin," which in the past would have been spare, spooky, and a bit insular, but now is huge and spooky thanks to the propulsive handclaps and atmospheric backward guitars that would make Daniel Lanois jealous. Along with these pumped-up variations on the band's classic sound, there are songs you'd never imagine hearing on an Iron & Wine album. The danceable (!) "House by the Sea" has jumpy Afro-pop underpinnings and a bit of wild abandon in Beam's more passionate-than-usual vocals; "Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog)" is a funky mix of David Essex's "Rock On," a backwoods-sounding Meters, and of all things, dub reggae; and most shockingly, "The Devil Never Sleeps" actually rocks with a rollicking barroom piano, a loping tempo, bongos, and lyrics about nothing on the radio, leading to a sound that's ironically perfect for the radio. By the end of the record, you may feel a few pangs for the discarded, sparse sound of early Iron & Wine, but the beauty and majesty of The Shepherd's Dog will pave right over them, and you should be able to enjoy the masterful songcraft, inspired performance, and note-perfect production with no guilt and a fair bit of awe."

Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) is touring the U.S. soon with the likes of Calexico and Califone. If he comes to Northern California, and I can spare the dough, I'm there!