Friday, May 30, 2008

Any Suggestions?

I need some new music.

Given your rock snob credentials, I'd love to hear some of your suggestions for some albums and bands you think I should give a spin (or 2, or 3 or 100) that you haven't seen me mention on this blog. Any decade, any genre is ok w/ me. Remember, what's old to you may be new to me.

Thanks guys. Looking forward to it! And for your efforts, here's a funny little video entitled "She's So Hot", by Flight Of The Conchords...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long Haired Leaping Gnomes And Flutes

Was Ian Anderson (or Jethro Tull in general)ever really considered cool? I mean, did legions of teenage boys, after seeing Jethro Tull or listening to Aqualung, dream of becoming a 'flautist'?
'Cause what I remember was some scraggly-looking dude leaping and prancing on stage with what seemed like a 7 foot silver flute singing about someone 'sitting on a park bench'. That's the enduring image for me. Aqualung was either about lung cancer or peodophelia, I don't know which (perhaps both?), but I don't care enough to bother doing the research.
Frilly, puffy 'jester' shirts and medieval imagery doesn't scream ROCK AND ROLL to me. What I picture are pre-pubecent boys with 14 sided dice contemplating whether or not to use all their 'hit points' to slay the dwarf that's preventing them reaching the 'Bog Of Dispair'.
Don't get me wrong, I like the odd prog record. But Tull, to me, was never appealing in any way, shape of form. Just plain silly, really.
And the flute? In a supposed heavy metal band? It just doesn't wash with me, man. The only band that I can recall that used a medieval instrument to great effect was AC/DC. They used the bagpipes on High Voltage, and it worked wonderfully.

But a friggin' flute? As a LEAD instrument?

I'd like to hear from you if you think I'm wrong. If someone can make a compelling argument on why the flute belongs in rock and roll I'll buy them a Lord Of The Rings chess set.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What A Steal!

I just downloaded two in-studio interviews/ performances by Nick Lowe, singing tracks off of his newest album, At My Age, and talking between tracks about his influences in addition to anecdotal information about the songs. In other words, Nick Lowe 'Unplugged'. Pretty cool stuff. What it is, really, is NPR's 'Fresh Air' series available for purchase on itunes. They're categorized under 'AUDIOBOOKS'. There are a ton of others as well, such as Flight Of The Conchords, Leonard Cohen, Ray Davies, etc etc etc.

And you know what it cost me for two, 51 minute performances?


Monday, May 26, 2008

Blogger Comment Hall Of Fame, Entry #1237AX

Sometimes blog surfers hit a past blog entry of mine and leave a comment so interesting, so intellegent, that I just have to give 'em props.
A fellow (I assume) left one on my blog today on an entry entitled "The Kinks In The 70's" (April 25th), and I thought it worth sharing. His handle's "JACKO", but unfortunately his profile doesn't allow one to go any further. Jacko, if you're reading this, you really should start a blog, dude!
To me, the "COMMENTS" section is the most interesting part. The folks who read this blog are all passionate about music, and it can get...interesting. Philbert, Rumproast, Holly, Hal, Thom, Frank, Rob, Jim, Rich, Tammy, John, etc etc etc have all left amazingly insightful, brilliant, opinionated and offtimes very funny comments. They are what make this blog real, and human. All are welcome and all are very much appreciated. Keep 'em comin'!
Here's JACKO's alert, bright, keen, quick-witted, sharp, smart, intelligent response to the entry:

" I stumbled in here by accident...what a great discussion! I'm a huge Kinks fan. First thing that struck me interesting about Uncle E's original post is the 'holy trinity' concept. For years i've said there was a big four, Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who. I've also rolled my eyes a little whenever someone tried to make Zeppelin or Floyd a part of that club.

Not that they don't deserve the acknowledgement. But those were 'second generation' British legends. Everything that followed the initial Invasion '64-66 stemmed from that big four. All the lesser and later acts emulated the style of one of those four. Garage/Punk, Psychedelia, Folk, Music Hall, Country, the lyricism, the thematic album statements...every strain of their experimentation was followed by others. Only Dylan's innovations, and perhaps Brian Wilson among outsiders can be said to have been as pervasive down to the most obscure garage band in those days. The influence of Hendrix, Lou Reed, Zappa, Neil Young and the other titans was to be felt and assimilated after the initial burst. Even Clapton's best work didn't occur until years on.

Ray Davies' artistic growth mirrored Lennon and McCartney's in many ways. Like them, he had a sustained period of concentrated brilliance from '64-70, roughly. From that point on, there were many moments of offhanded greatness, but nothing quite as focused or as fresh. Perhaps he, like they, had simply already offered their essential innovations to the world in the 60s, and was merely trying to remain viable once the youngsters had caught up. There has often been a feeling of aftermath about the later work of many 60s legends in that way.

The 'quintessentially English' theory has some teeth. But there is more to explain what happened to them commercially. For one, at that time, Americans were enamored of all things British, so I tend to downplay that a bit.

I look at it as being more a function of who Ray Davies was. He was an introvert. Lennon and McCartney were more extraverted in their songwriting and musical expression. They tended to 'present' their personas outward, musically speaking. So did Jagger and Richards. A large part of Rock n Roll has been the showing off/exhibitionism element, after all. This made it an easier reach for the audience to identify with them.

But Ray Davies wasn't like that. The secret to the Kinks has always been, they don't bring themselves over to you or overwhelm you with their sound. Just like the introvert behind the pen, they tend to draw you into their world. You have to make an effort, as a listener, to get to know him on his own terms. To allow yourself to be drawn into someone else's world. You become involved with him, essentially. Like a longtime secret penpal.

He was a role model for other sensitive, introverted songwriters in this regard. He and Brian Wilson were the first to really betray a non-romantic, emotional, sentimental, nostalgic sensibility. To bear their hearts openly. It was poetry, but for the writers it was also confessional. Neil Young, Bryan Ferry and others would follow along in those self-effacing footsteps later on. You can enjoy their songs on the surface in passing/on the radio/as a casual fan, but really understanding it is about being invested emotionally with him as a devoted fan.

A simpler aspect is in the very sound of their music. They kicked things off with some blues-based riffers, like their contemporaries, but that's not really who he was. And it confused the public. He wasn't going to keep writing 'You Really Got Me', or 'Satisfaction' or 'A Hard Day's Night', for that matter.

Whimsy and nostalgia always played better with the British. Americans expected guitar driven rock, largely. Which is precisely what doomed them as a singles act, as well as that of another underrated, first class band of the day, The Zombies. Three chords, a solo and a memorable hook is what they wanted. But he was going to different places altogether.

Pete Townshend admired him because he was also an introverted, sensitive songwriter, though that fact was often lost in the bombast of The Who's live act and the bluster of their frontman/vocalist. Townshend always tried to balance that out with some very delicate, decidedly Kink-like vocal harmonies and dynamics.

The Kinks themselves didn't follow the formula and hide behind the loud guitars, at least not in their prime. They were always at their best when they didn't, for it allowed Davies to do what he did best, wear his heart on his sleeve for all to see, and share witty observations and absurdities to make the personal insight worthwhile.

In my estimation, Davies the pop composer/songwriter was the equal of Lennon/McCartney, Wilson and Bacharach for that matter. For all the other great work they did, the '65-70 stuff is their real legacy. Kontroversy is the equal of Help or Out Of Our Heads. Face To Face stands right there with Rubber Soul or Aftermath. Something Else, Village Green and Arthur are as brilliant and vibrant in their own way as anything else from those years, as were Lola and Muswell Hillbillies. Maybe even more so in that they were so unique and enigmatic and so beyond trend, if not remembered as such in the general public's collective memory.

In those days he was a leader in innovation, creating a magical private world, even if not many were listening. His work into the 70s was in the same vein, though not as focused or consistently brilliant as before. Finally they became trend followers, trying to recapture the audience and success so cruelly denied them before, and if not innovative anymore, at least it was supremely well-crafted rock. But you could say the same for most solo-Beatles material, post '81 Stones, and late period Who."


I've got a really annoying song stuck in my head. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred is the culprit. Can anyone out there help me rid my brain of this aural cancer? Ever happen to you? What did you do?

Thanks, it's driving me mad!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great Albums Released In 1977

A new 'serial' blog topic. I hope to get all the way to present year by the end of the year, culminating in my "Best Of 2008" selections. If I leave any of your favorites off, leave 'em in the "comments" section and I will add them to the list. As long as I agree, of course...

The Jam, In The City
David Bowie – Low
Television – Marquee Moon
Iggy Pop – The Idiot
Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
The Clash – The Clash
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Randy Newman – Little Criminals
Talking Heads – Talking Heads ‘77
Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
David Bowie – “Heroes”
Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
Suicide – Suicide
Ramones – Rocket To Russia
Dave Edmunds--Get It
The Kinks--Sleepwalker
Queen--News Of The World
Rush--A Farewell To Kings
Weather Report--Heavy Weather
Stranglers--Rattus Norvegicus

Friday, May 23, 2008

My New Guilty Pleasure…

ALBUM TITLE: Flight Of The Knife
BAND NAME: Bryan Scary And The Shredding Tears
SOUNDS LIKE: Queen, ELO, Sparks, Jellyfish, Squeeze, Wings.

One part 70’s ELO/ Queen inspired prog, one part British invasion pop a la Paul McCartney and one part early 80’s power pop makes for one of the most interestingly backwards listens of the year. The band goes from tight arrangements and crazy time signatures to overblown orchestral pop on this album, often within the same song.

Did I mention it’s also a concept album?

Yes, it’s a sci-fi tale about flying machines. If it sounds like it has all the ingredients for a pretentious progressive stew it does, but for some bizarre reason it works extremely well. Great guitar (the sound of Brian May, underrated player that he is, is all over this record), and Bryan Scary’s voice is a dead ringer for Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze.
Again, I cannot overstate that this has everything to do with the best of their influences and absolutely nothing to do with the worst from the genre (“Tales From Topographic Oceans“, anyone?). It’s not a modern album, but it sounds fresh. Take “Purple Rocket” for example. In it’s first 90 seconds the band runs the musical gambit: 60‘s surf, mid 70‘s power pop, jazz fusion and early 60‘s bubblegum.
Take the $0.99 plunge and download this song in particular from Itunes, Amazon, wherever. If you like it, then you’ll love the whole album.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Fleshtones: “Are You Feeling Good, Say YEAH!”

Formed in 1976 in Queens, NY, The Fleshtones have outlived their CBGB contemporaries by a mile and are still putting out first rate garage rock, releasing one of the best albums of the year in “Take A Good Look”.
Perhaps inspired by the rash of modern day competition like the Hives, The White Stripes and the Neck Spiders, “Take A Good Look” sees the New York boys invigorated and , dare I say it, inspired. It’s like 1977 all over again and these guys are here to show these young upstarts how it‘s done…properly! Like the best of their contemporaries (The Gruesomes, The Fuzztones, The Cramps and The Flamin’ Groovies) they make ample use of fuzz guitar, relentless surf drums and greasy Farsifa organ to create a sound not unlike a private beach party from Hell, complete with zombified surf demons dancing the ‘mashed potato’ and the ’swim’.
In other words their music is just plain fun! Nothing deep, no revelations of any kind, but that’s the beauty of these guys. They haven’t changed one bit, which is both their strength and their weakness. Over the course of thirty years they’ve had stretches of mediocrity, but this new one brings them back to the forefront of the genre in a big way, and I for one am glad to see it.

Track Listing: total running time just over 30 minutes.

First Date (Are You Coming On To Me?)
Shiney Heinie
Love Yourself
Back To School
This Time Josephene
Ruby’s Olde Time
Feels Good To Feel
Jet Set Fleshtone
Never Grew Up
Down To The Ground
New York City
Take A Good Look

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tom Waits Interviews...Tom Waits

VERY intertaining press release, this. Tom Waits interviews himself and does a damn fine job! He's appearing in Terry Gilliam's new movie as the Devil. Can't wait for that!
Here's a sample question and answer so's you get an idea of the interview:

QUESTION, TOM: What's scary to you?
ANSWER, TOM: A dead man in the backseat of a car with a fly crawling on his eyeball.
Mc Cain will win. Germans with submachine guns. Going around a sharp curve on the Pacific Coast Highway and the driver of your car has had a heart attack and died, and you're in the back seat.

Sorry 'bout the cut 'n' paste jobbie, but it's worth it.

Tom Waits' True Confessions
by Tom Waits

I must admit, before meeting Tom, I had heard so many rumors and so much gossip that I was afraid. Frankly, his gambling debts, his animal magnetism, coupled with his disregard for the feelings of others... His elaborate gun collection, his mad shopping sprees, the face lifts, the ski trips, the drug busts and the hundreds of rooms in his home. The tax shelters, the public urination...I was nervous to meet the real man himself. Baggage and all. But I found him to be gentle, intelligent, open, bright, helpful, humorous, brave, audacious, loquacious, clean, and reverent. A Boy Scout, really (and a giant of a man). Join me now for a rare glimpse into the heart of Tom Waits. Remove your shoes and no smoking, please.

Q: What's the most curious record in your collection?
A: In the seventies a record company in LA issued a record called "The best of Marcel Marceau." It had forty minutes of silence followed by applause and it sold really well. I like to put it on for company. It really bothers me, though, when people talk through it.

Q: What are some unusual things that have been left behind in a cloakroom?
A: Well, Winston Churchill was born in a ladies cloakroom and was one sixteenth Iroquois.

Q: You've always enjoyed the connection between fashion and to us about that.
A: Ok let's take the two piece bathing suit, produced in 1947 by a French fashion designer. The sight of the first woman in the minimal two piece was as explosive as the detonation of the atomic bomb by the U.S. at Bikini Island in the Marshall Isles, hence the naming of the bikini.

Q: List some artists who have shaped your creative life.
A: Okay, here are a few that just come to me for now: Kerouac, Dylan, Bukowski, Rod Serling, Don Van Vliet, Cantinflas, James Brown, Harry Belafonte, Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thorton, Howlin Wolf, Lead Belly, Lord Buckley, Mabel Mercer, Lee Marvin, Thelonious Monk, John Ford, Fellini, Weegee, Jagger, Richards, Willie Dixion, John McCormick, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, Hoagy Carmichael, Eurico Caruso.

Q: List some songs that were beacons for you.
A: Again, for now... but if you ask me tomorrow the list would change, of course.
Gershwin's second prelude, "Pathatique Sonata", "El Paso", "You've Really Got Me" (Kinks), "Solider Boy" (Shirelles), "Lean Back" (Fat Joe), "Night train", "Come In My Kitchen" (R.J.) "Sad Eyed Lady", "Rite of Spring Ode to Billy Joe", "Louie Louie", "Just a Fool" (Ike and Tina), "Prisoner of Love" (J.B.) "Pitch a Wing Dan Doodlec (all night long)" H. Wolf, "Ringo" (Lorne Green), "Ball and Chain", "Deportee", "Strange Fruit", "Sophisticated Lady", "Georgia On My Mind", "Can't Stop Loving You", "Just Like A Woman", "So Lonesome I Could Cry", "Who'll Stop The Rain?", "Moon River", "Autumn Leaves", "Danny Boy", "Dirty Ol' Town", "Waltzing Mathilda", "Train Keeps a Rollin", "Boris the Spider", "You've Really Got a Hold On Me", "Red Right Hand", "All Shook Up", "Cause Of It All", "Shenandoah", "China Pig", "Summertime", "Without a Song", "Auld Ang Syne", "This is a Man's World", "Crawlinking Snake", "Nassun Dorma", "Bring it on Home to Me", "Hound Dog", "Hello Walls", "You Win Again", "Sunday Morn' Coming Down", "Almost Blue", "Pump It Up", "Greensleeves", "Just Wanna See His Face" (Stones), "Restless Farewell", "Fairytale of NY", "Bring Me A Little Water Sylvie", "Raglan Road", "96 Tears", "In Dreams" (R. Orbison), "Substitute", "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues", Theme from Rawhide, "Same Thing", "Walk Away Rene", "For What it's Worth", theme from "Once Upon A Time In America", "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", "Oh Holy Night", "Mass in E Minor", "Harlem Shuffle", "Trouble Man", "Wade in The Water", "Empty Bed Blues", "Havanagila"

Q: What's heaven for you?
A: Me and my wife on Rte. 66 with a pot of coffee, a cheap guitar, pawnshop tape recorder in a Motel 6, and a car that runs good parked right by the door.

Q: What's hard for you?
A: Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane. Math is hard. Reading a map. Following orders. Carpentry. Electronics. Plumbing. Remembering things correctly. Straight lines. Sheet rock. Finding a safety pin. Patience with others. Ordering in Chinese. Stereo instructions in German.

Q: What's wrong with the world?
A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley's dog made 12 million last year... and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio made $30,000. It's just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.

Q: Favorite scenes in movies?
A: R. De Niro in the ring in Raging Bull. Julie Christie's face in Heaven Can Wait when she said, "Would you like to get a cup of coffee?" James Dean in East of Eden telling the nurse to get out when his dad has had a stroke and he's sitting by his bed. Marlena Dietrich in Touch of Evil saying "He was some kind of man." Scout saying "Hey Mr. Cunningham" in the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird. Nic Cage falling apart in the drug store in Matchstick Men...and eating a cockroach in Vampire's Kiss. The last scene in Chinatown.

Q: Can you describe a few other scenes from movies that have always stayed with you?
A: Rod Steiger in Pawn Broker explaining to the Puerto Rican all about gold. Brando in The Godfather dying in the tomatoes with scary orange teeth. Lee Marvin in Emperor Of The North riding under the box car, Borgnine bouncing steel off his ass. Dennis Weaver at the motel saying "I am just the night man," holding onto a small tree in, Touch of Evil. The hanging in Oxbow Incident. The speech by Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner as he's dying. Anthony Quinn dancing on the beach in Zorba. Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick covered in feathers in the church as the ladies stick needles in the voodoo doll. When Mel Gibson's Blue Healer gets shot with an arrow in Road Warrior. When Rachel in The Exorcist says "could you help an old alter boy father?" The blind guy in the tavern in Treasure Island. Frankenstein after he strangles the young girl by the river.

Q: Can you tell me an odd thing that happened in an odd place? Any thoughts?
A: A Japanese freighter had been torpedoed during WWII and it's at the bottom of Tokyo Harbor with a large hole in her hull. A team of engineers was called together to solve the problem of raising the wounded vessel to the surface. One of the engineers tackling this puzzle said he remembered seeing a Donald Duck cartoon when he was a boy where there was a boat at the bottom of the ocean with a hole in its hull, and they injected it with ping-pong balls and it floated up. The skeptical group laughed but one of the experts was willing to give it a try. Of course, where in the world would you find twenty million ping-pong balls but in Tokyo? It turned out to be the perfect solution. The balls were injected into the hull and it floated to the surface, the engineer was altered. Moral- solutions to problems are always found at an entirely different level; also, believe in yourself in the face of impossible odds.

Q: Most interesting recording you own?
A: It's a mysteriously beautiful recording from, I am told, Robbie Robertson's label. It's of crickets. That's right, crickets, the first time I heard it... I swore I was listening to the Vienna Boys Choir, or the Mormon Tabernacle choir. It has a four-part harmony it is a swaying choral panorama. Then a voice comes in on the tape and says, "What you are listening to is the sound of crickets. The only thing that has been manipulated is that they slowed down the tape." No effects have been added of any kind except that they changed the speed of the tape. The sound is so haunting. I played it for Charlie Musselwhite and he looked at me as if I pulled a Leprechaun out of my pocket.

Q: You are fascinated with irony, what is irony?
A: Chevrolet was puzzled when they discovered that their sales for the Chevy Nova were off the charts everywhere but in Latin America. They finally realized that "Nova" in Spanish translates to "no go." Not the best name for a car... anywhere "no va".

Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: Jim Jarmusch once told me "Fast, Cheap, and Good... pick two. If it's fast and cheap it wont be good. If it's cheap and good it won't be fast. If it's fast and good it wont be cheap." Fast, cheap and good... pick (2) words to live by.

Q: What is on Hemmingway's gravestone?
A: "Pardon me for not getting up."

Q: How would you compare guitarists Marc Ribot and Smokey Hormel?
A: Octopus have eight and squid have ten tentacles, each with hundreds of suction cups and each have the power to burst a man's artery. They have small birdlike beaks used to inject venom into a victim. Some gigantic squid and octopus with one hundred foot tentacles have been reported. Squids have been known to pull down entire boats to feed on the disoriented sailors in the water. Many believe unexplained, sunken deep-sea vessels, and entire boat disappearances are the handiwork of giant squid.

Q: What have you learned from parenthood?
A: "Never loan your car to anyone to whom you've given birth." - Erma Bombeck

Q: Now Tom, for the grand prize... who said, "He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of"?
A: Mae West

Q: Who said, "Half the people in America are just faking it"?
A: Robert Mitchem (who actually died in his sleep). I think he was being generous and kind when he said that.

Q What remarkable things have you found in unexpected places?
1. Real beauty: oil stains left by cars in a parking lot.
2. Shoe shine stand that looked like thrones in Brazil made of scrap wood.
3. False teeth in pawnshop windows- Reno, NV
4. Great acoustics: in jail.
5. Best food: Airport in Tulsa Oklahoma.
6. Most gift shops: Fatima, Portugal.
8. Most unlikely location for a Chicano crowd: A Morrissey concert.
9. Most poverty: Washington D.C.
10 A homeless man with a beautiful operatic voice singing the word "Bacteria" in an empty dumpster in Chinatown.
11. A Chinese man with a Texan accent in Scotland.
12. Best nights sleep-in a dry riverbed in Arizona.
13. Most people who wear red pants- St. Louis.
14. Most beautiful horses, N.Y.C.
15. A judge in Baltimore MD1890 presided over a trial where a man who was accused of murder and was guilty, and convicted by a jury of his peers... and was let go- when the judge said to him at the end of the trial "You are guilty sir... but I cannot put in jail an innocent man." You see - the murderer was a Siamese twin.
16. Largest penis (in proportion to its body)- The Barnacle

Q: Tom, you love words and their origins. For $2,000...what is the origin of the word bedlam?
A: It's a contraction of the word Bethlehem. It comes from the hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem outside London. The hospital began admitting mental patients in the late fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century it became a lunatic asylum. The word bedlam came to be used for any madhouse- and by extension, for any scene of noisy confusion.

Q: What is up with your ears?
A: I have an audio stigmatism where by I hear things wrong- I have audio illusions. I guess now they say ADD. I have a scrambler in my brain and it takes what is said and turns it into pig Latin and feeds it back to me.

Q: Most thrilling musical experience?
A: My most thrilling musical experience was in Time Square, over thirty years ago. There was a rehearsal hall around the Brill Building where all the rooms were divided into tiny spaces with just enough room to open the door. Inside was a spinet piano- cigarette burns, missing keys, old paint and no pedals. You go in and close the door and it's so loud from other rehearsals you can't really work- so you stop and listen and the goulash of music was thrilling. Scales on a clarinet, tango, light opera, sour string quartet, voice lessons, someone belting out "Everything's Coming Up Roses", garage bands, and piano lessons. The floor was pulsing, the walls were thin. As if ten radios were on at the same time, in the same room. It was a train station of music with all the sounds milling around... for me it was heavenly.

Q: What would you have liked to see but were born too late for?
A: Vaudeville. So much mashing of cultures and bizarre hybrids. Delta Blues guitarists and Hawaiian artists thrown together resulting in the adoption of the slide guitar as a language we all take for granted as African American. But it was a cross pollination, like most culture. Like all cultures. George Burns was a vaudeville performer I particularly loved. Dry and unflappable, curious, and funny -- no matter what he said. He could dance too. He said, "Too bad the only people that know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair."

Q: What is a gentleman?
A: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn't.

Q: Favorite Bucky Fuller quote?
A: "Fire is the sun unwinding itself from the wood".

Q: What do you wonder about?
1. Do bullets know whom they are intended for?
2. Is there a plug in the bottom of the ocean?
3. What do jockeys say to their horses?
4. How does a newspaper feel about winding up papier-m??ch???
5. How does it feel to be a tree by a freeway?
6. Sometimes a violin sounds like a Siamese cat; the first violin strings were made from cat gut- any connection?
7. When is the world going to rear up and scrape us off its back?
8. Will we humans eventually intermarry with robots?
9. Is a diamond just a piece of coal with patience?
10. Did Ella Fitzgerald really break that wine glass with her voice?

Q: What are some sounds you like?
1. An asymmetrical airline carousel created a high pitched haunted voice brought on by the friction of rubbing and it sounded like a big wet finger circling the rim of a gigantic wine glass.
2. Street corner evangelists
3. Pile drivers in Manhattan
4. My wife's singing voice
5. Horses coming/trains coming
6. Children when school's out
7. Hungry crows
8. Orchestra tuning up
9. Saloon pianos in old westerns
10. Rollercoaster
11. Headlights hit by a shotgun
12. Ice melting
13. Printing presses
14. Ball game on a transistor radio
15. Piano lessons coming from an apartment window
16. Old cash registers/Ca Ching
17. Muscle cars
18. Tap dancers
19. Soccer crowds in Argentina
20. Beatboxing
21. Fog horns
22. A busy restaurant kitchen
23. Newsrooms in old movies
24. Elephants stampeding
25. Bacon frying
26. Marching bands
27. Clarinet lessons
28. Victrola
29. A fight bell
30. Chinese arguments
31. Pinball machines
32. Children's orchestras
33. Trolley bell
34. Firecrackers
35. A Zippo lighter
36. Calliopes
37. Bass steel drums
38. Tractors
39. Stroh Violin
40. Muted trumpet
41. Tobacco Auctioneers
42. Musical saw
43. Theremin
44. Pigeons
45. Seagulls
46. Owls
47. Mockingbirds
48. Doves
The world's making music all the time.

Q: What's scary to you?
1. A dead man in the backseat of a car with a fly crawling on his eyeball.
2. Turbulence on any airline.
3. Sirens and search lights combined.
4. Gunfire at night in bad neighborhoods.
5. Car motor turning over but not starting, its getting dark and starting to rain.
6. Jail door closing.
7. Going around a sharp curve on the Pacific Coast Highway and the driver of your car has had a heart attack and died, and you're in the back seat.
8. You are delivering mail and you are confronted with a Doberman with rabies growling low and showing have no dog bones and he wants to bite your ass off.
9. In a movie...which wire do you cut to stop the time bomb, the green or the blue.
10. Mc Cain will win.
11. Germans with submachine guns.
12. Officers, in offices, being official.
13. You fell through the ice in the creek and it carried you down stream, and now as you surface you realize there's a roof of ice.

Q: Tell me about working with Terry Gilliam.
A: I am the Devil in the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus--not a devil...The Devil. I don't know why he thought of me. I was raised in the church. Gilliam and I met on Fisher King. He is a giant among men and I am in awe of his films. Munchausen I've seen a hundred times. Brazil is a crowning achievement. Brothers Grimm was my favorite film last year. I had most of my scenes with Christopher Plummer (He's Dr. Parnassus). Plummer is one of the greatest actors on earth! Mostly I watch and learn. He's a real movie star and a gentleman. Gilliam is an impresario, captain, magician, a dictator (a nice one), a genius, and a man you'd want in the boat with you at the end of the world.

Q: Give me some fresh song titles you two are working on.
A: "Ghetto Buddha", "Waiting For My Good Luck To Come", "I'll Be an Oak Tree Some Day", "In the Cage", "Hell Broke Loose", "Spin The Bottle", "High and Lonesome".

Q: You're going on the road soon, right?
A: We're going to PEHDTSCKJMBA (Phoenix, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, St. Louis, Columbus, Knoxville, Jacksonville, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta). I have a stellar band: Larry Taylor (upright bass), Patrick Warren (keyboards), Omar Torrez (guitars), Vincent Henry (woodwinds) and Casey Waits (drums and percussion). They play with racecar precision and they are all true conjurers. I'm doing songs with them I've never attempted outside the studio. They are all multi-instrumentalists and they polka like real men. We are the Borman Six and as Putney says, "The Borman Six have got to have soul."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An Overdue Shout Out To Some New Friends

I’ve discovered a few new excellent blogs that I think are worthy of your eyeballs folks, and I have recently added them to my link list. They join the esteemed list of others who have been with me since the beginning and I urge each and every one of you to frequent them regularly. BUT don’t forget about the old tried and true, they’re still as entertaining and informative and controversial as ever…

4 Minutes Of Fame: A dude who will punch you in the face to defend his taste in music.

Breakfast In Toronto: What the hell do you THINK it’s about?

A New Beat, Jim and Candace Dyar: Local North State writers go it alone.

Pink Hollyhock: Editor/ writer and tireless, very patient wife to Steve Brewer.

Prehistoric Sounds: Extremely cool reproductions of old music magazine articles.

Starlight Dreamvision Academy: Uncle E’s High School co-conspirator, published artist/ cartoonist / novelist/ kids show writer, general miscreant.

The Post Punk Progressive Pop Party: Prolific poster of post-punk information.

The Vinyl District: Vinyl LP enthusiast with a penchant for 80’s rarities.

What I Listened To On My Way To Work Today: Again, what the hell do you THINK it’s about?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Everything New Is Old Again

My folks hated my record collection when I was a kid. AC/DC, The Dead Kennedy’s, The Pistols, The Clash and many others scared the crap right out of their tightly wound puckers. As a matter of fact, my aunt told my mom that if I continued listening to AC/DC that I would turn gay.
“You know what AC/DC means, right Carol? It means they ’operate on either circuit‘, if you know what I mean!”
If my folks hated a record I was listening to it was a good sign that I was on the right track. Now, to be fair, my folks were a little on the older side, being in their late 20’s and early 30’s during the heyday of the psychedelic 60’s. But even those parents that came of age grooving to the music of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Starship pretty much stopped listening to anything new after about 1970. Sure, they bought new albums by their favorite 60’s artists, but the new bands didn’t interest them much, and even disgusted them in some cases (disco, anyone? punk?).

So how ‘bout today’s kids? Sure you have the teeny bopper top 40 kids who devour each new trend that comes along like so much cotton candy, and when they’ve had their fill vomit it into the gutter and move to the next flavor, but what about the hipper types? You know what they’re listening to, right? YOUR music collection from the 70’s and 80’s, that's what! They’re thumbing their way through your library, scarfing up your old ELO, Queen, Zeppelin, Bowie and T-Rex CD’s like there’s no tomorrow, probably scratching the hell out of them in the progress.

Even today’s new releases echo the sound and feel of those albums. To wit: The Strokes are a hybrid of the Velvet Underground and Television; Pop Levi is pure Marc Bolan; Ryan Adams more than echoes, well, every singer/ songwriter from the 1970’s; LCD Soundsystem, although unique and amazing in their own way, is basically New Order with cowbell. And even though it may sound different, isn’t modern electronic dance music the natural progression from disco? Not that that’s such a bad thing. For someone who grew up on music from the 70’s and 80’s I find it refreshing that these new bands are finding new and exciting ways to update the sound.

Back to the kids. My daughter, poor thing, gets quizzed everyday on the way to school by her music obsessed dad.

“Who’s this?”, I’ll bellow.
“The Flaming Lips, Daddy.”
“And this one?” “
“That’s Bob Dylan, DUH!”
“Ok, here’s a harder one: who’s THIS?”
…and she replies, “M Ward”.

I’m trying to instill in her a sense of musical variety, to respect all genres and to abhor the mainstream. Perhaps I’m fighting a war I can’t win, though I’ll probably stay delusional about it until she enters her teens. With my luck she’ll be a ‘modern country’ fan, move to Nashville and marry a much older Kenney Chesney .
Ok now I’m gonna have nightmares for a week. And as ThomG is fond of saying, “I think I just threw up in my mouth a little…”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Most Influential?

What/ who do you feel were the most influential songs/ albums/ artists of all time? And why?

The Velvet Underground? Roxy Music? The Beatles? The Kinks? The Ramones? The Stooges? Bob Dylan? Big Star?
Sgt Peppers? The Banana Album? Rocket To Russia? Kind Of Blue? Blonde On Blonde? Never Mind The Bollocks? London Calling?

And who would you consider to be the influencers of tomorrow?

Here's a list of widely recognized influential singles to get yer brain juices flowin':

The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows”
Kraftwerk “Trans Europe Express”
New Order “Blue Monday”
Primal Scream “Loaded”
Bob Dylan "Like A Rolling Stone"
The Kinks "You Really Got Me"
Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”
James Brown “Funky Drummer”

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Justified Digression...

Will Elder, my favorite Mad artist, has passed away. For more information on Bill Elder's contributions to MAD magazine, the world of comic art in general, the advetising industry and much more seek out the wonderful "The Mad Playboy Of Art" softcover, and go to Philbert's blog from the link located on the left rail. I've also included a link to a fantastic article.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite pieces of Elder art from the 1950's entitled "The Restaurant!". You need to click on the image to really enjoy the detail. The detail is amazing. Enjoy.

Plucked From Obscurity: “Sausalito Summernight” by Diesel

The best song ever from a Dutch quartet about a California road trip, “Sausalito Summernight” reached #25 on the US charts in 1981. Almost unclassifiable, this song was wrongfully pegged as “New Wave” (wasn’t everything?) by the rock critic elite of the time. Lead vocalist/guitarist Rob Vunderink’s (I can hear the laughter from here, Phil/ Dave!) guitar solos echoe early Mark Knoffler and the drums and bass pound away in perfect unison for the full 5:08. I know what you’re thinking. “A great rock song from the Dutch? No waaayyyyy, maaan. Not possible!”

But it’s true, I tells ya!

It’s the lyrics, I believe, that make the song truly unique. For a Dutch band they sure have the whole California road trip thing down pat.

To wit:

“We left for Frisco in your Rambler
The radiator running dry
I've never been much of a gambler
and had a preference to fly

You said "forget about the airline,
let's take the car and save the fare."
We blew a gasket on the Grapevine
and eighty dollars on repairs”

Anyone who’s ever traveled the Grapevine above Los Angeles will be able to sympathize with “blowing a gasket” on that infamous pass. I’ve traversed it many times, once in a U-Haul trailer, and I can tell you I worried about that very thing as I sputtered to the top going 15 miles an hour! It goes on:

“Hot summer night in Sausalito
Can't stand the heat another mile
Let's drop a quarter in the meter
and hit the sidewalk for a while

I'll have a burger and a root beer
You feed the heap some of the grape
A shot of premium to boot, dear
We'll get across the Golden Gate

Another mile or two to the frisco
200 gallons from LA
the engine stompin' like a disco
we ought to dump her in the bay”

And the following is extremely appropriate given today’s California gas prices ($407 currently in Northern CA)…

“Cashing all my checks
Sweeping out my bank
Spend it on a Rambler
With a whirlpool in the tank
Look out over here
Watch out over there
Can't afford a blowout
'Cause we haven't got a spare…”

I don’t know, maybe it’s the ‘been there, done that’ connection, but I truly think this is one of the lost great songs of the last three decades, right up there with “I Got You” by Split Enz, “Drivers Seat” by Sniff ‘n’ The Tears and “This Beat Goes On/ Switchin’ To Glide” by The Kings. Instantly memorable, both lyrically and musically, without an ounce of pretension. It's just plain FUN. Guilty pleasure? Maybe. It never won any awards, but that's never how I've measured musical talent. As a matter of fact I usually watch the Grammy's to see who to avoid.

There’s a great line from one of the Austin Powers movies where Austin’s father says, “There are two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures….AND THE DUTCH!”

He obviously hasn’t heard this song.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"My Albums Are Worth HOW Much?"

Record Collector listed some of the most valuable albums of all time and I thought you folks would find it as interesting as I did. If you're lucky enough to own any of these I'd love to hear it. Just type your address in the comments section and let me know when you'll be out of town, ok?

$200,000: Quarry Men – That’ll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger [1958 acetate]
$20,000: Quarry Men – That’ll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger [1981 private reissue]
$20,000: Beatles – Beatles (White Album) [numbered 1 – 10]
$10,000-£5,500: Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen [A&M, some with press release]
$10,000: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody [blue vinyl + press pack]
$10,000: Ron Hargrove – Latch On [MGM 7”]
$6,000: John’s Children – Midsummer Night’s Dream [Track withdrawn 7”]
$6,000: John Lennon/Yoko Ono – Unfinished Music No 1: 2 Virgins [LP]
$6,000: Crows – Gee [Columbia 7”]
$6,000: Beatles – Abbey Road [export issue, yellow & black labels: Decca]
$6,000: David Bowie – Space Oddity [unreleased pic sleeve Philips 7”]
$6,000: Beatles – Please Please Me [black & gold label, stereo]
$6,000: Beatles – Love Me Do [7” demo]
$5,200: Bobby Charles – See You Later Alligator [London 7” 1956]
$5,000: T.Rex – Ride a White Swan/Summertime Blues/Jewel [Octopus unreleased 7”]
$4,000: Marc Bolan – Hard on Love [2-sided acetate of unreleased LP]
$4,000: Willie Dixon & the Allstars – Walking the Blue/Crazy for My Baby [London 7”]
$4,000: Plastic Ono Band – You Know My Name/What’s the New Mary Jane [unreleased 7”]
$4,000: Chords – Sh Boom (Life Could be a Dream) [Columbia 7” 1954]
$4,000: Bread & Beer Band (with Elton John) - Bread & Beer Band [Rubbish LP 1969]
$4,000: Beatles – Yellow Submarine [export LP, Odeon sticker on Apple sleeve]
$4,000: U2 – Rattle & Hum [CD, LP & Cass flight case promo]
$4,000: Pink Floyd – Arnold Layne/Candy & a Currant Bun [demo, in promo p/s]
$4,000: Pink Floyd – Apples & Oranges/Paintbox [demo, in promo p/s]
$4,000: Pink Floyd – See Emily Play [demo, in promo p/s]
$4,000: Pink Floyd – It Would Be So Nice/Julia Dream [7” demo, in promo p/s]
$4,000: Beatles – Golden Discs [unreleased, 2 x 1-sided test pressings]
$4,000: Jackie Lee Cochran – Ruby Pearl [Brunswick 7”]
$4,000: Billy Nichols – Would You Believe [withdrawn Immediate LP]
$3,600: Dark – Dark Around the Edges [SIS LP, private pressing]
$3,600: Penguins – Earth Angel [London 7”]
$3,600: Toby Tyler – Road I’m On (Gloria) [acetate]
$3,200: Mac Curtis – Low Road/You Ain’t Treatin’ Me Right [Parlophone 7”]
$3,000: Bo Street Runners – Bo Street Runners [Oak EP 1964]
$3,000: Friends – Friends [Merlin LP, white label test pressing]
$3,000: Beatles – Please Please Me [7” demo]
$3,000: Barons – Don’t Walk Out/Once in a Lifetime [London 7”]
$3,000: Police – Can’t Stand Losing You [A&M 7”, uncut white vinyl test]
$3,000: Pet Shop Boys – Introspective [3 x clear vinyl LP factory custom pressing]
$3,000: Jimi Hendrix – Cry of Love [red vinyl, factory pressing]
$3,000: Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love/Livin’ Lovin’ Maid [7” withdrawn]
$3,000: Rusty York – Peggy Sue [demo 7”]
$3,000: Uglys – I See the Light [demo 7”]
$3,000: U2 – Joshua Tree Collection [Island 5 x 7” black box set]
$3,000: Kate Bush – Eat the Music [cancelled 7”]
$3,000: Blue Men – I Hear a New World [Triumph unreleased LP]
$3,000: Tinkerbell’s Fairydust – Tinkerbell’s Fairydust [unreleased Decca LP]
$2,400: Beatles – Let It Be [export issue]
$2,400: Pink Floyd – Point Me At the Sky/Careful with That Axe, Eugene [demo, promo p/s]
$2,400: Pink Floyd – It Would Be So Nice [one-sided demo, plain white sleeve]
$2,400: Beatles – Abbey Road [export, Parlophone sticker on Apple sleeve]
$2,200: Pharaohs – EP [Decca 7”]
$2,000: Beatles; etc – Our First Four [4 x 7” in presentation pack]
$2,000: Elton, John; etc – Warlock Music Sampler [publishing sampler, LP]
$2,000: Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request [silk sleeve, promo LP]
$2,000: Status Quo – Technicolor Dreams [withdrawn official 7”]
$2,000: Smiths – Meat is Murder [unissued promo EP; 7” & 12”]
$2,000: Queen – Complete Works [14 LP box; 600 autographed]
$2,000: Plebs – Plebs [Oak, 1-sided test pressing]
$2,000: Pet Shop Boys – Compiled EP [CDr, autographed]
$2,000: Wings – Back to the Egg [in-house pic sleeve, die-cut sleeve]
$2,000: Musketeer Gripweed & the Third Troop – How I Won the War/Aftermath [LP stock]
$2,000: Elvis Presley – Stuck on You/Fame & Fortune [78 rpm]
$2,000: Elvis Presley – A Mess of Blues [78 rpm]
$2,000: Thin Lizzie [sic] – the Farmer [Ireland only 7”]
$2,000: Joker’s Wild – Joker’s Wild [Regent Sound 1-sided 12”]
$2,000: Leviathan – Leviathan [2 LP, acetate]
$2,000: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – Woman is the Nigger of the World [white label]
$2,000: Howard Riley Trio – Discussions [LP - 99 copies only]
$2,000: Game – Addicted Man/Help Me, Mummy’s Gone [withdrawn 7”]
$2,000: Charles Blackwell Orchestra – Those Plucking Strings [white label]
$2,000: Forever Amber – Love Cycle [Advance private pressing, LP]
$2,000: Beatles – Something/Come Together [green label demo]
$2,000: A Jaes – I’m Leaving You/Kansas City [Oak 7”]
$2,000: Rolling Stones – Rolling Stones (1st album) [1st pressing; 2.52 version of Tell Me]
$2,000: Tintern Abbey – Beeside/Vacuum Cleaner [Deram 7”]
$2,000: Werly Fairburn & Delta Boys – All the Time [London 7”]
$2,000: Rolling Stones – Fortune Teller/Poison Ivy [withdrawn Decca 7”, solid centre]
$2,000: Marc Bolan & T.Rex – Christmas Bop [unreleased 7” – labels only]
$2,000: Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland [2 LP test pressing]
$2,000: U2 – I Will Follow [7” brown vinyl mis-pressing]
$1,900: U2 – Three EP [7” brown vinyl mis-pressing]
$1,900: Commodores* – Speedoo/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On [London 7”]
$1,900: Commodores* - Riding on a Train/Uranium [London 7”]
$1,800: U2 – Achtung Baby [CD & Cass in ‘User’s Kit’]
$1,800: Thor’s Hammer – Thor’s Hammer [export EP, with gatefold p/s & bonus 45]
$1,800: Ringo Starr – Steel [7” 1-sided promo interview disc]
$1,800: Clovers – Nip Sip [7” gold lettering]
$1,800: Alexis Korner Breakdown Group – Blues from the Roundhouse [10” LP]
$1,800: Tantones – So Afraid/Tell Me [Vogue 45]
$1,700: Cupids – Now You Tell Me [Vogue 7”]
$1,700: Grannie – Grannie [LP, private pressing]
$1,600: Little Wilbur – Heart to Heart/Alone in the Night [Vogue 7”]
$1,600: Doctor (Isaiah) Ross – Flying Eagle [Blue Horizon LP]
$1,600: Wooden Horse – II [withdrawn LP, with sleeve]
$1,600: Smiley Lewis – One Night [London 7”]
$1,600: Nirvana – Penny Royal Tea (Scott Litt Mix) [1 track promo CD]
$1,600: Rolling Stones – History of the… [Decca unreleased 3 LP box]
$1,600: Rolling Stones – Promotional Album [Decca promo only LP]
$1,600: Oasis – Vox Box [9 CD guitar amp box
, in-house

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Stole This One From Philbert...

There are only a handful of people in my life that I have met that I can have serious discussions about music with. As Thom G has said, most people only view music as background, not as an important strand of your DNA. Thom G is one, Philbert is one, Hal is becomming one. I can remember spending HOURS and HOURS having listening parties with my pal RUMPROAST pouring over old issues of the NME and discussing the merits of new releases. He still is providing me with endless ideas for this blog in addition to introducing me to wonderful new bands. With Philbert and Thom at work it can get a little dangerous. Once the topic of music comes up it has the potential of eating away at the day. I, like these individuals, think of music as a passion. It's something to immerse yourself in, to study and to discuss. It's what marks the important events in my life. I don't remember much about my short tenure at college, but I sure as hell remember the music!

Anyway, during one such discussion Phil brought up the topic of song sequencing. An important aspect of THE ALBUM that I often forget about, it can make or break a recording the same way that a producer can. Do you have any albums in which you think the sequencing could have been improved upon? An opening song you thought would have fit better in the middle or the end? I know I have a few, but it's going to take more thought before I post. Maybe later.

How about you?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Perfect Album

How many perfect albums do you have in your collection?

By perfect I mean every single song a winner, produced right and sequenced right. An album that you can listen to multiple times over several years and still say “wow, this still sounds fantastic”. A record that doesn’t get old or boring but maybe even gets better over time.

Although there are many albums in my collection I consider to be great albums there are only a select few that I would consider “perect”, based on the criteria outlined above. London Calling by the Clash is one. So is Jesus Of Cool by Nick Lowe. The Beatles had a few, although I would probably discount Sgt Peppers due to the “Reprise” at the end (not a ‘real’ song in my opinion thus disqualifying it). From the Britpop era I would have to say The Monday’s Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and The Boo Radleys Giant Steps. I love Caribou’s Andorra and would currently classify it as ‘perfect’, but I haven’t lived with it long enough to judge it so yet. Dave Edmunds Get It qualifies. So does Bob Dylan’s Hwy 61 Revisited. David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin, Pet Shop Boys Introspective, The Doors debut, and Lou Reed’s Transformer fit the bill. I gotta include Queen's Sheer Heart Attack in there as well. My friend RUMPROAST sent me some albums through the mail a while back that I'd forgotten over the years which I still deem pretty close to perfect, as well as some new ones I'm sure will be included in this list in the near future. Some albums I used to to think were perfect at the time now sound dated and, well, not so perfect. And Philbert, ornery cuss that he is, has introduced me to singers/ songwriters/ bands from the 60's and seventies that made absolutely stunning releases that I would have never heard were it not for him slipping them in my "in-box" at work for me to peruse. Thanks fellas!

Like I said, I know they’re out there and of course it’s subjective, each of you will have a different list. But as John Prine once sang, “That’s The Way The World Goes ‘Round”.

Let’s see what you can come up with.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mr. Agreeable Pays A Visit To Redding And Mocks Uncle E’s Music Collection

Mr. Agreeable was recently pardoned (for unspecified crimes against Canadian Parliament) and decided it would be a nifty idea to pay me a visit. My wife, who has heard secondhand the ‘foibles’ of Mr. Agreeable has decided it would be a better idea to take the kids to her mother’s place in San Diego until he departs our humble abode. Which we all hope will be very soon.

In the meantime he has finished off all my rum and diet Coke, littered my modest surroundings with his Du Maurier Special Mild smokes, scratched my SCTV DVD's and urinated in my shrubberies.

Best let him have his way, I say. He is a formidable knob who has written down some thoughts about his sabbatical to the North State and is forcing me to allow him to post them on this blog.

If anyone from my current employer is reading this I apologize in advance. Thank God only two people read it.

Y'all who live in Redding have two seasons, don’t you? F*%king cold and f*%king hot! It’s bloody May and it’s already close to 100 degrees outside!! Why do you choose to live here? I don’t understand it, eh? Everything is the colour of sun dried tobacco and bird droppings and the best you can do for culture is an evening with an Elvis impersonator at your convention center and a local rodeo where an aggravated bull jumps into the stands and attacks the locals.
Actually, that was quite entertaining, I must say.

It’s too damn hot to go outside so I’m perusing E’s Itunes and cranking his air conditioning to 32 degrees so I feel more at home. The PG&E bill? Sounds like an EP, not an MP. To translate for you Yanks that’s E’s Problem, not My Problem!
Anyway, his musical tastes are terrible, I’ve discovered. He’s got over 13,000 songs and the only band worth anything in his entire collection is RUSH. No Trooper, no Prism (except Spaceship Superstar, the best damn song EVER!), no Loverboy, no BTO, no Triumph, no Chilliwack, no Platinum Blonde, no Glass Tiger, no Honeymoon Suite, no Cony Hatch, no Helix, no Sheriff, no Corey Hart, no Frozen Ghost and worst of all no Anne Murray! Man the boy has forgotten his roots, eh?
I won’t go into the gory details, but let’s just say that E’s taste in music has degraded to the point of it becoming an embarrassment. If he was still in Canada he’d be brought up on treason charges and politely shot by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I can’t stand it here anymore. I need to leave this horrid place and return to Saskatoon, where the air is cool, the beer isn’t watered down and Burton Cummings is worshipped like the God he is.

Bye all you wankers. I’m leaving this retched pit never to return. Besides, all the Scrub Oaks around here are making my ass itch…
I'll leave you with a video of my favorite Canadian artist, Stompin' Tom Connors singing his million-seller "The Hockey Song".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My First Time...

Here's a topic of discussion for you: what was the first album(s) you ever bought with your own money and what was the last album you most recently purchased?

The first albums I ever bought with my own cash (from picking zucchini, if I recall) were the following: John Lennon's "Double Fantasy", AC/DC's "Back In Black" and The Rolling Stones "Tattoo You." The latest was Sloan's "Never Hear The End Of It"

...and yourselves?

Friday, May 9, 2008

An Album For The Go Go Reagonomics Generation

BAND NAME: Neon Neon
ALBUM TITLE: Stainless Style

Only Gruff Rhys (singer/ songwriter/ madcap of Super Furry Animals fame) would have the cajones big enough to attempt a concept album about John DeLorean.

Couple that with the fact that he uses vintage analog synthesizers to obtain an authentic Reagan era new wave soundscape and you should come to the conclusion that the guy is absolutely bonkers.

Aside from a few misguided ’raps’, Stainless Style is a wonderful, irony free trip back to the future. There are many allusions to early electro and tight, tuneful “new wave” pop--think Altered Images, New Order--but it never comes across as a pale comparison, rather a fantastic re-creation of the best from that decade.

It’s a relatively short listen, 12 songs in all and just over 40 minutes, but the cohesiveness and sheer fun-factor of the album make it seem substantial. The ’concept’ is secondary to the music (thank God!), and overall I have to admit I think it’s a stronger release than SFA’s latest, “Hey Venus”. And that’s no small compliment.

Frank, author of the fantastic music blog “Vinyl Goldmine” (RIGHT RAIL LINK) and frequent Canadian commenter and master of great musical taste "RUMPROAST" are going to love this one…

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Morning Jacket: New Album & Tour

The Louisville, KY band My Morning Jacket will be releasing a new album, Evil Urges, on June 10th with a supporting tour to follow.
MMJ has dramatically evolved since their 1999 debut The Tennessee Fire (which was recorded in a grain silo, by the way). At Dawn, their second, was more melodic but just as introspective and moody. Their third album, It Still Moves, expanded the sound and scope of the band and was their best effort up to that point.

For 2005's "Z" they pretty much buried their southern fried tendencies and released what I considered one of the very best albums of that year. Think Neil Young fronting the Flaming Lips in a canyon on Mars and you've got a pretty good idea of what this amazing album sounds like.

Intended as a stop-gap, the live double disc set "OKONOKOS" received lots of great press due to it's amazing sound and unique interpretations of their studio recordings. Plus it really showcased the band's instrumental chops with absolutly stunning versions of Mahgeetah, Dondante and Off The Record, along with many others.

The new album, in stores June 10th, is supposed to take the musical concepts of "Z" even further into space, with funk, psych, jam and pure rock 'n' roll being represented. Early reviews are positive.

"My Morning Jacket throws fans another sonic curveball on its new studio album, "Evil Urges," due June 10 via ATO. The 14-track set sports the most adventurous music of the Kentucky-bred rock act's career, beginning with the title track, a falsetto-driven groove-fest that opens the disc.

MMJ is uncharted territory with songs like "Highly Suspicious," whose robotic funk beats and falsetto singing wouldn't sound out of place on a Rick James or Prince album.

Strident rockers like "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 1" boast unusual touches, from fluttering synth lines and multi-tracked vocal parts to chopped-up beats and electro effects on the bass and guitars. Appearing near the end of the disc, "Part 2" of the track is an eight-minute-plus mash-up of disco drumming and grandiose production unlike MMJ has ever attempted.

Elsewhere, "Thank You Too" conjures a lost soft rock classic from the '70s, as frontman Jim James tenderly croons, "You really saw my naked heart / you really brought out the naked part."

James and his acoustic guitar are also at the forefront of "Librarian," while "Remnants" and "Aluminum Park" will satisfy fans of MMJ's straight-ahead, double-guitar attack."

The best part of this is that they are touring the US first, and will be coming to Berkeley (near San Francisco for all you non-USA readers) which is only a stones throw from where I am. Here's the tour stop locations:

New York, NY Radio City Music Hall (June 20)
Louisville, KY The Great Lawn at Louisville Waterfront Park (August 16)
Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre (18)
Council Bluffs, IA Stir Cove (19)
Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheater* (21)
Dallas, TX Palladium Ballroom (23)
Austin, TX Stubbs (24)
Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre-Atlanta (27)
Miami, FL The Fillmore Miami Beach the Jackie Gleason Theater (29)
Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues- Orlando (30)
Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues- Myrtle Beach (31)
Charlottesville, VA Charlottesville Pavilion (September 2)
Washington, DC Constitution Hall (3)
Philadelphia, PA Festival Pier Penn’s Landing (5)
Boston, MA Bank of America Pavilion (6)
Berkeley, CA Greek Theatre (19)
Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre (21)
Tempe, AZ The Marquee (23)
Las Vegas, NV The Joint (24)
San Diego, CA SDSU Open Air Theater (25)
Portland, OR McMenamins Edgefield (27)
Seattle WA McCaw Hall (28)
Minneapolis, MN Orpheum Theatre (October 2)
Milwaukee, WI Riverside Theater (3)
Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit (4)
Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre (9,10)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Willie The Pimp Gets His Own Bust!

Frank Zappa, underrated guitarist and king of all things politically incorrect ("He's So Gay", "Titties 'n' Beer", etc) is getting a bust erected in his honor(he would have had a laugh at that!) in his hometown of Baltimore.
The idea was submitted to the arts commission by longtime Zappa fan club president Saulius Paukstys. According to the Associated Press:

"In 1995, a quirky bunch of Lithuanian artists and intellectuals managed to erect a bust of the eccentric rocker in downtown Vilnius, the capital of the former Soviet republic. Before the initial sculpture was erected, there was no known connection between Zappa and Lithuania. The mustachioed, antiestablishment musician was born in Baltimore to an Italian immigrant father and died of prostate cancer in 1993 at age 52, never having visited the Baltic state.

But his music was popular among the Lithuanian avant-garde, particularly after the country declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. Paukstys, an art photographer, launched the fan club and even set up an art exhibit with imagined correspondence between himself and Zappa, whom he had never met."

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Quick One While He's Away...

Favorite opening and closing track contained on one album. Here, I'll get you started:

London Calling and Train In Vain from London Calling by The Clash

Cruel To Be Kind/ Love So Fine from Labour Of Lust by Nick Lowe

Baba 'O Riley/ Won't Get Fooled Again from Who's Next by The Who

Movin' On Up/ Shine Like Stars from Screamadelica by Primal Scream

David Watts/ Waterloo Sunset from Something Else by The Kinks

Taxman/ Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver by The Beatles

The Abandonned Hospital Ship/ Bad Days from Clouds Taste Metallic by The Flaming Lips

Five Years/ R&R Suicide from Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie

I'm looking forward to seeing what you folks come up with.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Best Swansong?

There have been many discussions on the greatest debut albums of all time, but I don't seem to remember seeing one on the greatest swansong albums. Perhaps it's because most bands call it quits after releasing a whimper rather than a bang, but some actually do go out in style.

Such as:

Let It Be, by the Beatles
Burning From The Inside, by Bauhaus (until they shocked everyone recently and released Go Away White this year)
Odessey and Oracle by the Zombies
Loaded by the VU (I don't count 1973's Squeeze)
Achtung Baby by U2 (Oh, what's that you say? They released more albums after this? Well my God, you learn something new every day...)
Laughing Stock by Talk Talk (possibly the best swansong album ever)
Raw Power by the Stooges (again, last years the Weirdness doesn't count)
More Specials by the Specials
Special Beat Service by the English Beat
Strangeways Here We Come by the Smiths
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols (in a rare case where the debut and the last are the same thing)
Avalon, by Roxy Music
All Shook Down by the Mats
Synchronicity by The Police
The Gift by The Jam
Pink Moon by Nick Drake (Death)
Grace by Jeff Buckley (Death)
The White Room by KLF
Closer by Joy Division (Death)
Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix
Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons (Death)
Third/ Sister Lovers by Big Star

That's all I can think of. Any more?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Trouser Press Covers From The Past

Odds 'N' Sods

Bands, albums and such...

CHINA CRISIS: Criminally ignored and unfairly labeled “The English Steely Dan”. Sophisticated synth-pop with political underpinnings. Recommend you find and download Working With Fire And Steel in it’s entirety.

FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: I really dig these guys! Loopy electro with a sense of humor. Some you can chill to, some you can dance to. Lifeforms and the greatest ‘hits’ sampler entitled “Teachings From The Electronic Brain” will be all you’ll need.

IGGY POP: This guy and the work he did with the Stooges, although panned at the time, was groundbreaking to say the least. The Stooges stuff is great of course, but his solo stuff in the seventies is outstanding. Listen closely and you’ll hear the birth of goth in there, too!

JOHN PRINE: A magnificent songwriter that is respected by fellow musicians but unrecognized by the public. Damn shame, because (terrible hair-do's aside)his songs are Americana at it's finest.

LLOYD COLE: Like the Jazz Butcher, very underrated--still is, unfortunately. He’s been putting out consistently great records since the 80's, each different and each with their moments. I think that Antidepressant, one of his newest, ranks among his finest.

MERCURY REV: A weird carnival of a band. Ever seen the film “FREAKS”, from the 1930’s? The Rev’s music could definitely soundtrack it! It WILL take some getting used to, to be sure, but it’s worth the patience in the end. Deserters Songs is a must, but All Is Dream is a very close second.

OZRIC TENTACLES: Just a screwed up band with super sonic chops! Elements of electronica mixed with live instrumentation and Tolkeinesque imagery makes for a very entertaining listen. Sounds horrible, right? A prog like electronica band? Well, it isn't, the pure musicianship of the band saves it from self parody. This is what YES should have sounded like!

(EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS: Up until John Hughes single-handedly destroyed their credibility these guys were pretty cutting edge. They SHOULD have been bigger than U2. Radiohead cite them as a huge influence, as do many others. New Gold Dream is their undisputed masterpiece, but everything before is equally excellent.

(EARLY) ROXY MUSIC: Search out the stuff when Brian Eno was in the band, b-sides and all. Not to say Bryan Ferry’s stuff wasn’t good (it was!), but the dynamic between the two made for some groundbreaking and very influential records.

SUPERGRASS: The lone survivor of any merit from the Brit-pop movement (well, other than SFA, but I never considered them from that movement anyway!) still releasing great albums.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I May Have To Eat My Words...

Just previewed the new R.E.M. album "Accelerate", and I am loathe to admit that I am pretty darn impressed!
You may remember a few posts back, sometime in March, I pretty much slammed the band and it's singer, Michael Stipe, as washed out has-beens. Still think Stipe is a prissy ponce poseur of the first degree, but upon first listen of "Accelerate" it appears that he and his crew have staged an impressive comeback.

More, perhaps, later...

Oh, and by the way...that album on the right rail, "Dig Lazarus Dig" by Nick Cave, well it's friggin' awesome!

LYRICS REVEALED: Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War"

I've come to appreciate Bob Dylan immensely. Believe me when I say it wasn't always so.
It took me about, what, 38 or so years to really 'get' Dylan and it's mostly due to an album in his massive discography that often goes unnoticed entitled "John Wesley Harding". It's a beautiful, relaxed and mostly acoustic set with some of the most affecting songs I've ever heard.
If you've read some of my posts you've no doubt come to the conclusion that the majority of records in my collection skew to left of the dial. Alternative, punk, etc. I have, however, had my musical horizons broadened in the last couple of years, and that includes an appreciation for Dylan. Would the Beatles have evolved the way they did without his influence? I doubt it. Love him or hate him, you've got to respect his place in history.

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

For a song that was released in 1963 it sure is strangely appropriate in 2008, don’t you think?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is My Sense Of Humor That Odd?

I received an email from a co-worker a couple of days ago that went something like this:

“Is there a local annual event, a local tradition, a local cool thing to do that we can have the writers start researching for our Winter Holiday magazine? Any great ideas? I had thoughts about downtown Red Bluff but I'd like something closer to Redding.”

I replied, via email:

"Cottonwood has an interesting, albeit politically incorrect, tradition where the local elected officials dress up in Medieval garb (tunics, capes, etc) and conduct jousting matches on donkeys substituting Christmas trees for the traditional lances. When done they regale the stunned onlookers with stories of alien abduction whilst washing down Buckley's cough syrup.

Hey, may make for an interesting story…”

So she forwards this “idea” and gets the ball rolling on a story for the magazine. I had to, of course, intercept the thing before the writer had a chance to start his/ her research on the X-Mas donkey jousting.

I’m not even sure Cottonwood has “local elected officials”.

I just wanted to lighten the mood, lessen the tension, but apparently this person either thought a) it was a great lead on a peculiar local Christmas tradition and would make an excellent story or b) that they simply glanced and forwarded the email without really reading it.

Lots of people don’t get my warped sense of humor, but some do. SCTV, Monty Python, Christopher Guest and Reno 911 fans get it. People who think Larry The Cable Guy is the funniest thing since Gomer Pyle do not.

For example, I think the following “song collage” by They Might Be Giants (I knew I’d work music in here somehow!) is extremely funny. Not neccessarily the video, but the song (entitled 'Fingertips') itself. As a matter of fact I think it's brilliant.

But like I said, I may be a little tetched in the head.