Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The right song at the right time...

Doing a little more stereo testing tonight, needed vinyl to try out a turntable. Just wanted something in good shape that I could stand listening to, and pulled out this LP which isn't even one of my favorite Cockburns. But when I cued up the title track and dropped the needle... ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhh. It was, for whatever reason, the right song at the right time. It sounded so good through this cobbled "system" I had hooked up to test it... texture is the only word I can ineptly and inelegantly describe the music as... and the lyrics a perfect complement:

and the lights lie tumbled out like gems the moon is nothing but a toothless grin floating out on the evening wind the smell of sweat and lube oil pervades the night and the rush of life in flight at the speed of light a million footsteps whispering a guitar sounds -- some voices sing smoke on the breeze -- eyes that sting far in the east a yellow cloud bank climbs stretching away to be part of tomorrow's time. earthbound while everything expands so many grains of sand slipping from hand to hand catching the light and falling into dark the world fades out like an overheard remark in the falling dark. light pours from a million radiant lives off of kids and dogs and the hard-shelled husbands and wives all that glory shining around and we're all caught taking a dive and all the beasts of the hills around shout, such a waste! don't you know that from the first to the last we're all one in the gift of Grace?
it was a pleasant moment... played and enjoyed the whole LP but this track... four times.
("System" - B&O Beogram RX2 into a decrepit Heathkit AA15 integrated amp into Sound Dynamics Titanium speakers)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Musical Fragment #1

I'd read about Sloan or maybe heard a song by them so stopped at the CD store and bought Between The Bridges. I walked down the street to a retro shop and went in to browse. The owner, a young woman, nice-looking in a slightly geeky kind of way, said - in a mmmmboy! Southern accent - "Is that Sloan? Bless your heart!"
I felt I'd made a good purchase.
Took it home, played it, it sucked. The retro store went out of business maybe six months later. I still have the CD. It's yours for a quarter.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Being hip - I give up!

I've been subscribing to Spin for years and years, and Blender for a long time too. Every year I'd think about letting one or the other lapse. I finally let them both go. To steal somebody's joke, I got tired of leafing through them vainly looking for something about rock and roll. The pictured cover shows Tila Tequila, who has little or nothing to do with music... well, Wikipedia lists her as "singer/songwriter" but last of seven or eight pastimes. Even when there is a band in one of these mags, they dress them in designer clothes and there's fine print telling you the makers and the prices of each article of clothing. Holy jumping jesus, if somebody would have tried that on the MC5 in 1968 they'd have been maimed by the band. And every artist/group fawned upon by these mags that I've checked out sucks beyond belief: The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hives, Fall Out Boy, Outkast, Of Montreal, The Arcade Fire, and on and on. Well, Flaming Lips are okay but we knew about them before reading Spin articles.
So in a faltering economy, I guess I don't need magazines that in effect tell me who to avoid listening to.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why I don't sing karaoke

Besides the fact that I can't really sing, that is. I've looked at those books of songs they have and there's nothing for me. No Sorrow by the Merseys... what about She's Not There by the Zombies? Nope. Hungry or Kicks or Just Like Me by the Raiders? Guess not. Sunny Afternoon or I'm Not Like Everybody Else by the Kinks aren't on the list. Nothing by the Flaming Groovies - not even Shake Some Action! What about Get What You Deserve or Life Is White by Big Star? Huh-uh, jeez. Let's go mainstream... Rain or She Said She Said by the Beatles? No? What about Revolution #9? Maybe more 1950s? Sixty Minute Man by the Dominoes? One Hand Loose by Charlie Feathers? Crud, I almost feel like a weirdo...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Riley Puckett and Google Safe Search

Warning: this post has no point.
For some reason I was using Google image search for pictures of Riley Puckett, an influential pre-WWII hillbilly guitarist/banjoist. Riley has a bit of a frightening aspect, probably partly due to being blind; he was blinded in infancy when a sugar of lead solution (which is too scary to contemplate) was used to treat a minor eye ailment. And back in those days it apparently wasn't practically mandatory for the blind to wear sunglasses like it is now. Anyway, every time I use Google image search it reverts back to "moderate safe search." Damn it, this is America, for the moment anyway, and I don't need a nanny filtering out all the tranny midget amputee porn. So I reset it once again to "no filtering" and whammo! - a picture of a three-way right in the middle of pictures of Riley. Did some porn star steal his name?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Grammy's not better than a damn...

Sunday night I was sick, nigh unto dying. Bereft of energy I collapsed onto the sofa, too weak to move even after I realized the Grammys were on. McCartney was singing I Saw Her Standing There with Dave Grohl on drums. Okay, not bad, although I speculated that Sir Paul was somehow sucking sustenance from these younger musicians he's always performing on awards shows with and that he might possibly live to be 150. My head was fogged so I may have these out of order but I remember: Justin Timberlake and TI performing Dead and Gone, with the kind of awful echo-vocal rapping that I hoped had gone away by now, followed by NARAS president (ie Grammy head honcho) Neil Portnow lodging his tongue firmly in Obama's rectum, saying that as a two-time Grammy winner BO should understand the need for a Secretary of the Arts. My condition began to worsen. The line about "Our finest national treasure is our culture and the arts." would have been more convincing had it not followed that gawdawful Justin/TI song. Somewhere in there was Radiohead (did I really hear Gwyneth Paltrow introduce them as 'the most influential band' or was that a fever dream? I've heard dozens of guitarists point to the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as their inspiration to start - and that was just one performance - so I don't think Radiohead's in it). Anyway they did some hideous song called 15 Steps -hopefully off a short pier - with the USC Marching Band that reminded me of previews of that Drumline movie. The tribute to the Four Tops was pretty good, and the Roll of the Dead was a can't miss of course, and then there's the Bo Diddley tribute... umm, we'll stick BB King and Buddy Guy out there, but our target audience doesn't give a crap about them, so we'll add renowned bluesman John Friggin' Mayer and toss in Keith Urban for the country crowd... nice. Anyways, somewhere in there I found the strength to move to bed and collapse there, where... the TV was shut off!!
Hey, while looking up who all those dorks were on the Grammys I found this blog with lotsa funny photo captions, it sure is funnier than mine!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bye Bye Lux

Lux Interior of the Cramps is gone at age 60. Another great band I never got to see. Although remembering his performance in Urgh! A Music War, it might have been a bit too much for me. I saw another video of the Cramps playing a mental institution. I'm not sure how therapeutic that was, but it was fun to watch.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

David Allan Coe - live and local!

I hadn't thought much about DAC lately. Once upon a time I had five or six of his 1970s LPs, but after a purge of vinyl in the late 1990s (moved into a small house, what can I say?) all I kept was my fave, 1975's Human Emotions (subtitled Happy Side/Su-i-side), a concept album about DAC's marriage breaking up due to his wife's affair with his best friend. But when I heard he was coming to my hometown, on a Saturday night no less, I was intrigued, even though I'm accustomed to being a homebody these days. I went ahead and plunked down $30 a pop (ouch!) for tickets for me and the wife. I hadn't been to the venue in its current incarnation and when I picked the tickets up noticed that there was seating for about 20 and the remaining 180 the place would hold were gonna have to stand. Ruh-roh. We got there before the doors opened but the seats were gone anyway. Oh well, there's another bar next door (hey, this is a college town!) with nice plush booths and I can go over to the common wall and hear when the opening band kicks in... This turned out to be a great solution, and we killed the next... well, don't remember the amount of time but four beers... in comfort. Headed over and caught the last few songs of the openers, a young and energetic Texas band whose name escapes me. I was getting in the mood for some outlaw country by this time, but first a quick hop back to the other bar for a vodka and coke while they reset the stage for DAC. Returned and snagged a spot right against stage right. A few minutes later security moved us back to let DAC through.

Holy cow. Blonde-dyed hair to his butt (my wife says it's a weave). Beard to match, dreadlocked with beads, down to that big belt buckle. An orange Converse Chuck Taylor on one foot, a purple one on the other. He was moving slowly, leaning heavily on a cane, and was helped onto a stool onstage. I wasn't so sure this was a great idea suddenly. Then he strummed his guitar, and doubts vanished as he launched into a nonstop barrage of classic songs, his and others. A lot of them were melded into medleys and there's no way I can remember them all (note previous alcohol intake). The classics got the full performance: You Never Even Called Me By My Name, If That Ain't Country I'll Kiss Your Ass, Longhaired Redneck, Would You Lay With Me In a Field of Stone, Please Come To Boston, The Ride, Take This Job and Shove It. We got bits of Jack Daniels If You Please, Fuckin' In The Butt (from one of his X-rated LPs), Whippin' Post, One More Silver Dollar, Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain, and a few zillion more, even a few lines of Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You ! Once upon a time I would have taken notes but that ain't as much fun as saluting each classic lyric with an upraised Bud sixteen-ouncer while leaning against the lead guitarist's amp (his oldest son, wearing a shirt with a pic of Dylan from Don't Look Back, who was brandishing a Gibson SG and dancing on a dozen effect pedals and rocking out very nicely indeed). I was about ten feet from Coe, we were facing each other the whole show, definitely a scary proposition for us both. DAC did some of his famous name-dropping, updated to include Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker, played a new song or two, and ended with one about his children dealing with his death that I'd like to hear again. And it was over. I followed securitythrough the back door as they helped DAC out, moving even slower than before, to his black Suburban with leapord-skin seat covers. He painfully removed his outer stage shirt and replaced it with a flannel one, and then... climbed into the driver's seat! Beautiful.

My main mark of whether something was a good time is if I wish I was back there. I do, a lot. And waitress, bring me another tallboy Bud!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jim Ellison, come back, I miss you!

I was testing some high-end stereo components as a favor for an acquaintance; they had belonged to his son, who was killed in an auto racing accident. I tried a few different artists and, liking the sound of the system, remembered one of my favorite sequences of songs to enjoy through a good stereo rig: the last four tracks of Material Issue's Freak City Soundtrack. Halfway through I saw the irony; an artist that died too young playing through the sound system of another who died too young.

Grab some Material Issue and play it loud, anything they did is pretty frickin' great. Be like me if you want and hit track 8 on FCS. Ordinary Girl... seductive bass, searing guitar and solid drumming, and of course hooky as hell, And a great solo. Long sustain into a crashing chord and Echo Beach kicks in, manic tempo, the whammy guitar flirting with feedback, coolness practically dripping from the speakers, multiple guitar solos, is he doing that Townshend thing with the pickup switch? Whammy totally detunes the strings and it's over... studio chatter, "That's a good tempo" and She's Goin' Thru My Head launches, another fast one, lyrics are Jim's daydream about a perfect life, 1970s power-pop style. Fade out into a cold start, Jim yelping "Have you ever gotten...", the band kicks in and he finishes "high? So high you couldn't come down?" This is Help Me Land, maybe I read too much into it but it seems a fitting end to the last completed MI studio album. Lyrics like "Did you ever feel left out - so out you could'nt come back in?" and the chorus "I'm trying hard to understand, you gotta help me land..."

No one helped Jim land. This album sold poorly, the label dropped him. People wanted grunge in the mid-90s, not power pop. A longtime love came to an end on his 32nd birthday. A couple of months later Jim was found dead in his garage of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Play their stuff if you've got it. If you don't, check it out.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Please stay tuned...

I really wanna do this blog right. It involves more time investment than my other blog where I just get on and rant about somebody tailgating me or runny applesauce or whatever... so the posts will be more random. But hopefully better ;)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Concert flashbacks #1 - Billy Joel October 21 1978

This was pretty much my first concert. And I remember very little about it. It was at Kansas State University's Ahearn Fieldhouse. The half a ticket stub that is my sole souvenir reads Saturday 8:00 PM (ticket price: eight bucks!). According to the one website I found listing BJ tour dates - this one wasn't listed but he was in St. Louis 10/20, Omaha 10/22 so apparently he was talked into stopping in our fairly small town for a Saturday night gig in between. I'd been hearing his songs (mostly new songs from 52nd Street) on the radio and seeing them performed live was pretty cool. A couple months later my older cousin bought me the LP for Christmas... I don't think he even knew I'd seen the show. I remember: the familiar songs; no doubt he played a lot of unfamiliar ones too; he had a dark blue jacket but the K-State crew played a red light on him to make it look KSU purple; four of us went, me, Brad, Kerry and a girl I don't remember the name of. It almost seems like he played solo but I suppose I was too enthralled by the new experience to pay attention to the band.