Sunday, February 28, 2010

No career 4 Dada

Group 87's 2nd album, A CAREER IN DADA PROCESSING (1984), isn't the lost treasure of the ages I was hoping 4, but it IS pleasant instrumental lite-jazz-rock background music, & it's growing on me after a coupla plays.
The problem is I never hadta wait 4 their marvelous 1st album (1980) 2 grow on me -- I was hooked B4 the Nd of the 1st track.
DADA apparently took 4ever 2 get recorded. Along the way, G87's drummer Terry Bozzio (4merly of U.K. & Frank Zappa's backing band) & bassist Patrick O'Hearn left 2 4m Missing Persons, & I guess keyboardist Peter Wolf was off writing songs w/ & producing Jefferson Starship & Heart. Producer/engineer Ed E. Thacker was apparently unavailable -- or G87 lost him when they left Columbia Records, which released the 1st album. DADA came out on Capitol.
This left trumpeter/keybsman Mark Isham & guitarist Peter Maunu, who were the heart of the group & wrote the best tunes on the earlier album. They drafted-in drummer Peter Van-Hooke & kept going. When this all happened isn't clear: O'Hearn got a songwriting credit on DADA's title track & is noted 4 "further contributions" along w/ 4mer Blood, Sweat and Tears drummer Bobby Colomby.
I've never missed a bassist B4, but DADA could use more bass. & replacing the flashy & splashy Bozzio must've bn tough -- like replacing Bill Bruford or Neal Peart: do-able, but.... Van-Hooke does fine here, but 1 thing he DOESN'T do is call attn 2 himself.
MayB all these changes R why DADA sounds kinda sad, downbeat, almost Dpressed. There isn't a single tune on it w/ the anthemic life-affirming power of the 1st album's "One Night Away From Day" or "Future of the City." There isn't even NEthing as hypnotic as "The Bedouin" or "Moving Sidewalks."
But in its own modest low-key way, DADA is Njoyable -- if U don't Xpect NE fireworks. I was hoping 4 some more, so I'm a little disappointed.
"The Mask Maker," the title tune & "Angels and Obelisks" sound the most like the 1st album -- tunes in which a repeating, slightly mutating pulse, rhythm or musical phrase is played over&over & then Isham's trumpet or Maunu's gtr R showcased on top of it. At its best this can make 4 some nice, haunting instrumental work, as it did in places on the 1st album, especially on trax like "Bedouin" & "While the City Sleeps."
But there this approach was a sorta backup 2 the drama, fireworks & impressive solos. Here the moody, haunting stuff is the best stuff there is. & if it don't grab ya....
Don't get me wrong. There's some nice tunes & textures here, & "The Apple Bites Back" is ... almost forceful. But the closing "Death of Captain Nemo" is a real downer, & there's definitely nothing here that'll jump outta the speakers & go 4 yer throat like parts of the 1st album did.
After this, Isham went on 2 do movie soundtracks & an occasional album, including the very-New-Age VAPOR DRAWINGS, which is all 4gettable keyboard-wash stuff w/ 1 standout called "On the Threshold of Liberty." I'm not sure where Maunu went, tho he wrote the best themes on the 1st album. G87 never recorded 2gether again. I'd imagine DADA sold even less than the 1st album. I'm sure '84 was an even-worse yr 4 an instrumental-rock mood-music album 2 get noticed than '80 was.
DADA may grow on me more, & if so I'll update WHY here. I'm sure I'll B playing it more, just 2 C if the haunting, gently flowing tunes lead NEwhere. But I wanted 2 B stunned again like I was w/ the 1st album (which I think is 1 of the top all-instrumental rock albums ever), & that ain't gonna happen.
I wouldn't recommend this 2 NE1 -- 2 quiet & moody & samey. But if U ever trip over a copy of that 1st album -- grab it!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I predicted all this stuff yrs ago, in weak & undramatic science-fiction short-stories I couldn't sell 2 NE1.
MayB I wasn't convincing enuf. Or mayB no1 could Blieve that w/ all the wonders we had heading R way in the optimistic not-2-distant future, people could still B counted upon 2 make the absolute worst of it.
What I never predicted was that the technology was gonna come after me, 2....
In the morning while I try 2 wake up I switch on the computer, waking up slowly while I drink a potta coffee & try 2 figure out if I wanna B alive 2day or not. Sometimes I'll call-up CNN 2 C what new outrage occurred overnite. But usually I just use the laptop 2 regress in2 fantasy. Music, books, other people's writing & opinions -- something non-threatening. The Internet's great 4 fantasy or escape -- there's lotsa games & chatrooms & e-mail & blogs, lotsa chances 2 talk 2 people U're never really gonna meet, so they'll never havta B disappointed by U. Not in Reality, NEway.
When that gets boring, I've got CDs or the iPod, the same 200 familiar songs over & over. It's very comforting. & now & then if something gets boring I drop it & add something else. No chance of the unXpected ever happening & catching me off-guard.
Earphones plugged in, iPod attached 2 my belt, in 1 hand I've got the cellphone & I can call or text or keep up w/ CNN if I want, or check gas prices, or check directions 2 wherever I'm going -- not that I'm actually GOING NEwhere. I adopted Karl Malden's 1st Rule Of Travel a long time ago: Don't Leave Home.
I go 2 work, & bash on a computer 4 hrs. Sometimes I get phonecalls, more disembodied voices. Very seldom do I havta deal w/ Real People & their Dmands, thank Ghod. Mostly nobody bugs me, & I'm grateful. Just like the very few other people I interact w/ every day, when I go out in2 Reality I put on my Game Face -- all the walls go up & I am unreachable, unmoveable, unhurtable. Pretty comfterble in my isolation.
In the car I can plug-in the iPod, or I've got CDs. Who needs the radio? Ancient technology. The last thing I want is some1 else's tastes 4ced on me. Or commercials telling me what I SHOULD want, what I SHOULD need. I know what I want. I know what's best 4 me. When I'm out in Reality, mostly what I want is 2 B left alone.
2 make me even more portable & unattached 2 wires or accessories I've got the bluetooth phone, the works in my ear, so I can go NEwhere & talk if I have 2. MayB people think I'm talking 2 myself as I wander around a store or a park or a parking lot, sometimes loudly talking 2 whoever's at the other Nd. I don't care what they think.
But the truth is that in my unguarded moments I sometimes C other folks Cmingly talking 2 THEMselves as they wander around, sometimes raving in2 the air -- & I wonder if NEbody's listening. In their own little world, completely distracted, waving their arms around. I've Cn them walk out in fronta cars they didn't even realize were there -- never realized even after the car honked at them. Sevral times.
I C people wander thru stores w/ their bluetooths or earphones on, the phone or the iPod humming away, & sometimes they never say a word 2 NE1 -- they're like Stepford People or Pod People. 2 quiet. At lotsa stores now U can do a self-checkout: Scan yr groceries or whatever, slide yr card, bag up yr stuff & U're outta there in 30 secs & U never even hadta Xchange meaningless pleasantries w/ some cashier who probly wishes she was somewhere else doing something else, NEthing else. She's got her Game Face on 2, just trying 2 Get Thru It.
But when U look around at some other folks these days, I'd rather have the quiet 1's. At the other Nd of the spectrum, there sure are a LOTTA folks drinking a LOT of NRG drinks or NRG shots or various kinds of coffees or sodas, all hyped-up, in a REALLY big hurry. 2 go nowhere. 2 do nothing. & they're awfully loud & awfully anxious & awfully busy 4 people w/ nothing 2 do.
U C them on Fri's & Sat's, frantic 2 find a party 2 go 2. The traffic backs up 4 miles on the way 2 the stores & malls, people just released 4 their wknd, screaming 2 get 2 the stores, then we can mark that off R list & get on2 the next thing. Whatever that is.
All things considered, I'd rather have the quiet 1's. They don't interrupt me, they don't throw chaos in2 my quiet life, they don't get me thinking about what it all means. & during these long gray cold winters, I don't want 2 think at all. I want 2 disconnect. & it Cms like every1 else wants 2, 2.
In the words of '70s rock critic Lester Bangs, we have Bcome post-human, mimicking the things we worship. We would all like 2 run as smoothly & quietly & purposefully as the technology that surrounds us & that we've Bcome part of. But Real Life isn't always that smooth. & technology doesn't always work that perfectly.
Ever C how people react when the equipment doesn't work right or there's a glitch in the system, even 4 just a few secs? They get SO frustrated, as if: The technology's here, it's supposed 2 work absolutely FLAWLESSLY, 100 percent of the time.
I 1nce saw an apparently overly-busy & rudely preoccupied young woman SCREAM at a cashier at a gas station when she actually had 2 spend 10 secs walking from her car in2 the store 2 get a receipt 4 the gas she'd just bot. She was FURIOUS. She told the cashier: "You don't understand -- I don't WANT 2 have 2 deal w/ people. I don't LIKE having 2 deal w/ people."
I guess she'll never get those 10 seconds back. Or the 90 seconds she spent yelling.... But if she keeps going on like that, sooner or later she'll never havta deal w/ The Real World or real people again. Bcos nobody will talk 2 her.
More & more, I think this self-consciously busy young woman is speaking 4 all of us. More & more folks prefer not 2 deal w/ people. It's not worth the trouble. No frustration, no pain, no hurt, no miscommunication. & really, what have U lost? Remember the line from the Harvard Lampoon's old "Deteriorata": "Take comfort in knowing that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet."
Better 2 meet & chat on-line rather than take the risk of actually meeting some1 in Reality & mayB not liking them, or having them not like U (& what the hell's WRONG w/ U?), or possibly get yr feelings hurt. Way safer 2 deal w/ all Reality from the privacy of yr own little room, where U can mayB let down yr guard & B yrself safely Bhind yr own locked door. & mayB that's the only place. Reality can B pretty F'in frightening sometimes. Back 2 The Dungeon. It's better this way, really.
I'd like 2 think people R cutting themselves off from something important by trying so hard 2 avoid personal contact all the time. But I understand the need 2 escape....
So, pretty modern & slick & flashy & fast-paced, isn't it, Bing post-human? Also kinda cold & distant. Uncaring. I think people can still connect Dspite the technology. Seems like it. Hope so.
Otherwise the next word 2 B used 2 Dscribe all us slick, flashy, fast-paced, high-tech post-humans will B "posthumous."

The Good Olde Days....?

Turned the stereo on this aft 2 play some CDs, & my sorta-faverite local FM station (Seattle's KZOK 102.5 FM, "The Classic Rock Station") was playing Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding."
& I hadta just crank it up & let it go....
Took me back about 35 yrs, back 2 when my highschool buddy Jeff Mann & I would cruise up & down Nampa-Caldwell Blvd & thruout Boise, Idaho w/ Elton cranked-up loud & Jeff hanging-out the driver's-side window of his Mercury Capri at stoplites, screaming "Rock and Roll!!!" at startled passers-by....
In early '74, my fave local AM station (KFXD-AM 580 in Nampa) played "Love Lies Bleeding" more often than mosta the big hits & I always wondered why Elton & MCA Records didn't release that 1/2 of the song as a 5-min single -- coulda worked, & the song sure rocked more than NEthing else I remember ever hearing at the time.
When I heard it again this aft it occurred 2 me that the song's secret weapon -- even more than the long melodramatic opening, Elton's piano, David Hentschel's synthesizers, the strong tune, & Bernie Taupin's bitter lyrics -- is Davey Johnstone's driving, howling guitar, which punctuates brilliantly thruout the song's 2nd 1/2. The great backing vocals don't hurt either. It's always bn 1 of my faverite things that Elton ever did, I just hadn't heard it in quite awhile -- even tho I've got the GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD album in the house & could play it NEtime. Sometimes stuff just hits me harder when it comes unXpectedly outta the radio.
...& then they messed it up by following-up w/ ELO's "Evil Woman," which I always thot was boring & cliched, tho I know there R millions who feel diffrently....
4 me, The Good Olde Days run from the Nd of gradeschool up thru when I was sorta 4ced 2 Bcome a grownup -- from when I discovered music on the radio in the fall of 1970, up til when I went in2 the Air Force in Dec 1982. The period covers junior-high & highschool, my aimless 5+ yrs after highschool, my 3 yrs inna record store, & a yr of unemployment B4 I joined up. & there was music going practically non-stop (in my head at least) thruout it all.
At 1st I listened 2 & bot what every1 else did pretty much, but I got weird early & Njoyed & bot records that apparently made no known chart (& I'm still looking 4 some of them 2day) -- just Bcos they sounded good 2 me. By the time I met old buddy Jeff I'd given up buying 45's & was getting in2 albums. At 1st we talked all about the Beatles. Jeff was a HUGE Beatles fan. As soon as I hadda job I bot copies of the Beatles' '62-'66, '67-'70, ABBEY ROAD & the mindbending WHITE ALBUM -- followed shortly by the Moody Blues' 1st 7, which was my personal obsession & had bn since I 1st heard "Tuesday Afternoon," "Nights in White Satin," "Ride My See-Saw," "You and Me"....
Then Jeff Bcame a Wings fan & turned me on2 VENUS AND MARS. I already knew about BAND ON THE RUN. Then came Queen's A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, which Jeff played in the car on R way 2 R junior-yr school-newspaper banquet. I play NIGHT AT THE OPERA 2day & that nite still replays in my head.
Then came Kansas's LEFTOVERTURE, which Jeff & I both thot was something of a joke at 1st, but we caught on fast. On my own I was looking in2 Boston & Blue Oyster Cult & Journey, & we both were grabbed by Fleetwood Mac's louder stuff.
I was also looking 4 more stuff 2 follow-up the Moodies -- middle-period Genesis albums like A TRICK OF THE TAIL, & I stumbled over the Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS after reading sevral rave reviews of it & grabbed it IMMEDIATELY, knowing only that it had 1 of my then-fave BB's songs on it, "Sloop John B," & "Wouldn't it be Nice," which I never really liked that much. The resta the album was a revelation....
Also tripped over the Incredible String Band's THE HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER, which Cmd almost more like a comedy record in places. Nice but VERY diffrent from what I was used 2, tho my intrest in British folk sounds later led me in2 Steeleye Span & Fairport Convention & Nick Drake & Gryphon & Al Stewart & Amazing Blondel....
Around the same time I met highschool buddy & fellow frustrated fiction-writer Don Vincent, who urged me 2 continue looking in2 off-the-wall stuff. Don was the kinda music fan who would try something sight-unheard, just Bcos he liked an album's strange-looking cover. But 4 Don it always Cmdta pay off.
He bot David Sancious & Tone's TRANSFORMATION (THE SPEED OF LOVE) cos he liked the mysterious, cosmic cover painting of a guy hatching out of a giant egg. Inside the album was some rather Xtreme synthesizer-based jazz-rock ... which sometimes had some nice tunes, or themes, or motifs, or whatever. & the good stuff was so impressive & melodically strong that I Nded up buying a copy 2. Neither of us knew Sancious usedta play keyboards 4 Bruce Springsteen -- didn't matter. & this album sounded NOTHING like Bruce.
Don was willing 2 take a gamble on some pretty wild stuff -- specially if it was cheap. He was the 1st among us 2 try out Gryphon, Amazing Blondel, Nektar, Synergy, George Winston, Pat Metheny, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind, Rick Wakeman, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Return to Forever, & other off-the-wall stuff like Ethos, SFF, Eloy, Oregon, Shadowfax, Bo Hansson ... lotsa stuff. & he always Cmd 2 get something listenable out of it, the trick always Cmdta work 4 him. I'd pick-up something by some unknown weird band & Nd up w/ 40 mins of unlistenable noise....
I made a few discoveries. I was the 1st among R group 2 hear Providence, & Nded up buying copies 4 all my friends (at $2.19 each!) 4 Xmas gifts. After Don discovered RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE, I was able 2 track down Gryphon's other albums & distribute summa those around the group 2. On my own I tracked down Happy the Man & Gentle Giant & finally found some King Crimson I could ACTUALLY HEAR, then later drifted in2 Al Stewart & Nick Drake & Sally Oldfield (Mike Oldfield came much earlier, TUBULAR BELLS was probly the 1st "Strange Music" album I ever bot, if it wasn't Yes's YESSONGS), Caravan & Camel & Renaissance & U.K. & Illusion & Steve Tibbetts & Sky & Group 87....
We sometimes copied each other's buying habits if R tastes were similar. When I worked at the record store I could stay pretty up-2-date on weird stuff & keep friends updated. & sometimes playing Group 87 in the store 2 C if mayB Don would buy a copy sold a coupla more as well.
But there was lotsa stuff that Don liked that I could never get in2, & lotsa stuff I loved that he thot was worthless -- & that was fine as long as we didn't inflict 2 much of it on each other. When Jeff, Don & I shared an apt in 1978, at least we all had bedroom doors we could shut 2 lock-out R roommates' unwanted music. Don & I useta have long discussions about whether Gentle Giant's GIANT FOR A DAY really was The Worst Album Of All Time. (W/ 30+ yrs of hindsight I can say w/ authority: Not Even Close. & I'd liketa find a copy of it 2day....)
When Jeff heard me playing King Crimson's "Red" & "Starless," he called it "mindfuck music," & that's stuck w/ me -- I think on some level KC's Bob Fripp would probly approve.... By that time, we thot Jeff's tastes echoed the hard-drinking hard-living crowd he hung-out w/ at work: Ted Nugent, Molly Hatchet, AC/DC, REO....
In some ways I'm following the same take-a-musical-chance mindset 2day, tho I try 2 do a little more research now B4 I put $$$ on the table. I would never have tried-out Van der Graaf or Can like I did recently w/o this "try anything 1nce" attitude in my background.
But I miss the days when I could just breeze down 2 the local record store & C what's new or what's available cheap in the cutout bins. If I'm lucky I get 2 hit my fave "local" used record store 1nce a yr -- it's 35 miles away, & I'm not even out in the sticks. It's just things R diffrent now & I live inna diffrent place.
Don's in Idaho & Jeff's in California & I'm in Washington, & I'll bet that no matter what the Xterior evidence shows, I'll bet none of us think we've changed all that much since 1978 -- less hair, a few more lines on the face, but not really that much diffrent, just a 50-yr-old teenager, still remembering The Good Olde Days just as clearly as if they were last wk.
I'm sure there's more good times 2 come. I'm not done yet. Far from it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update 10

Hey there y'all. Tooka coupla days off, hung out w/ the girlfriend & watched silly movies.
Also saw ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, an impressionistic '60s history connected by re-made Beatles songs (not unlike MAMMA MIA, tho MAMMA MIA was totally lite & silly, & ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is a lot darker in places). It was pretty good, & summa the remakes were really Xcellent. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" made a BEAUTIFUL wistful, longing love ballad. & "With a Little Help From My Friends" made perfect sense as a lads' singalong. Especially liked the nod 2 Joe Cocker's cover-version of the song at the Nd of it. "Let it Be" was pretty moving, 2. Summa the other early Beatles tunes I don't know 2 well also worked really good: "Hold Me Tight" & "It Won't Be Long."
Summa the later songs don't work as well, coming off as mere cover versions rather than re-interpretations. Bono's version of "I Am the Walrus" doesn't quite work, but I think U gotta B REAL brave 2 sing that song these days -- still think David Bowie could do a great version of it.
But: Joe Cocker has a nice cameo during "Come Together," & Eddie Izzard is HILARIOUS doing "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" The 2-disc DVD includes 2 outtakes of this song, & both outtakes R just as hysterical as the take they used in the movie....
So overall, worth Cing, & summa the remakes R quite Xcellent.

SOMEDAY fairly soon I'll B hitting the used book & record store w/ summa the stuff I've accumulated here over the past coupla yrs (like a lotta music I just CAN'T HEAR) & I'll C if there's something new (2 me) out there I can trip over. I'll keep ya posted.
Thanx 4 voting in the Strange Music poll -- there's still plenty of time 4 U 2 make yr vote count -- & so far my Iowa buddy Crabby is the only guy who wantsta join OGRENET. I'm kinda bummed....
More soon! -- TAD.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dclare yr independence! ("Strange Music" poll)

Not trying 2 steal the thunder from NE1's recent readers'-survey results or best-music-of-the-decade blog posts or NEthing like that, but I thot it might B briefly amusing if we were 2 Dclare R independence from standard popular-music buying patterns (in honor of George Washington's birthday) & cast R votes 4 R Favorite "Strange Music" Albums Ever.
I'll lead-off, of course. I have a baker's dozen titles onna list already prepared -- & I doubt I'll havta Dscribe NE of them cos I've written about all of them here (or at the olde website) B4.
I'll take yr choice 4 yr fave weird album ever, yr Top 10 faves, yr Top 100 if U feel that NRgetic & brave. MayB we can get a dialogue going here, mayB we can turn each other on 2 some great new sounds. MayB it'll just B fun 2 C what all U guys out there listen 2....
Do I havta Xplain what I mean by "Strange Music"? Strange music is what U'r pointing at when U say something sounds strange or diffrent or just not Top 40 pop -- or whatever the standard radio 4mat is these days. Is there 1?
4 Xample, Fleetwood Mac's TUSK I would say definitely IS strange, while Mac's RUMOURS pretty definitely is not. If U were 2 counter that RUMOURS does subtly & subversively shed a diffrent lite on the morals & mores of American male/female relationships circa 1977, I could probly go along w/ that. But don't push me.
4 other Xamples: I'd say the Velvet Underground definitely IS strange, whereas the Ramones pretty definitely were not. At least based on my limited listening. I'd say Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span & the Incredible String Band definitely WERE strange, whereas the Kingston Trio definitely were NOT. Bob Dylan I'm not sure about. Lou Reed? He'd probly say Hell Yeah! Genesis was strange 4 at least 1/2 of their career, whereas Phil Collins definitely was NOT. Kansas clearly IS while Styx we're gonna havta make a case-by-case call on. Gentle Giant clearly IS while Whitney Houston clearly IS NOT.
All clear as mud? Great. Onward.
Here's my 13 fave Strange Music albums ever, & U should know me well enuf by now that U'll probly B bored w/ the list:
* Providence: EVER SENSE THE DAWN.
* Moody Blues: THE PRESENT.
* Nick Drake: BRYTER LAYTER.
* Beach Boys: PET SOUNDS.
* Gryphon: TREASON.
* Happy the Man: CRAFTY HANDS.
* Group 87: (1st).
* SOME Camel album, tho I don't know which 1: NUDE, THE SNOW GOOSE, BREATHLESS, Side 2 of THE SINGLE FACTOR -- something!
* Beach Boys: SMILE.
Mosta these hit me at an impressionable age, teens or early 20s. The newest of them is the Moodies album, preceded just slightly by SINGLE FACTOR, NUDE & Group 87. The rest R solidly in the '70s or earlier. What this sez about me I'm not sure, Xcept that stuff I loved at that age I played over & over, so it has left its mark even 2day.
So, wanna give this a shot? I'd love 2 hear more about yr faves. So far I think the biggest response I've gotten 2 NEthing lately was that piece about checking-out people's music & book collections. I thot mayB a poll would bring U all out & get U on the record about yr tastes.
So vote early & vote often....

In other updates: Currently reading Paul Theroux's THE HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA, about taking a long canoe trip thru the South Pacific. I ran outta rock-music criticism 2 read, & I'd 4got10 how good Theroux is, how wonderfully cranky he can B.
The book opens w/ Theroux & his wife breaking up, & him thinking he might have cancer. Then he's invited 2 take a book tour of Australia, & his crankiness really kicks in. He catches people at their worst & Mbarrasses them w/ their own stupid words. & he's not even trying 2 set people off....
We'll C where this goes. Theroux's travel writing (which I've written about B4 here) has only 1 drawback -- it can get a little overlong, & this is a long book. But it's also a breath of fresh air.
Also started Rush drummer Neal Peart's ROADSHOW, about touring the US & Europe on a motorcycle during Rush's 30th Anniversary Tour. The intro is funny & in4mative & I'll B getting back 2 Neal, but 4 now Theroux has shouldered him aside....
The weather is beautiful here, a wk of April in the middle of Feb, sunny & temps above 60. It's great. I feel really good 4 the 1st time in mo's, but I can't help but feel that the weather's setting us up 2 get zinged in Mar & Apr -- it's way 2 early 4 this. But I'm loving it while it's here.
Hope U all R well, & let me hear from ya....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I want more....

Well, it took me 30 yrs 2 hear them, but I think it was worth the wait.
Can's 2-CD ANTHOLOGY (2007) is the best new-2-me music I've heard in 4ever -- lighter & brighter than Van der Graaf, more involving than Fleet Foxes, way funkier than Norah Jones, tho not as hitbound as Jordin Sparks. Probly the best "new" stuff I've heard since the Dixie Dregs or Amazing Blondel's ENGLAND.
I like them. At their best, they sound like no1 else. I lean more toward their earlier, louder, more primitive stuff & would actually like some of it 2 B louder, wilder, more outta control. But I'm a sucker 4 Jaki Liebezeit's tribal-rhythm drumming & Michael Karoli's tasty & sometimes twisted guitar.
& the ... um ... vocalists? Malcolm Mooney & Damo Suzuki R both OK w/ me. Their twisted yowling & chanting & mumbling WORKS w/ this music -- if Liebezeit's drum patterns Rn't propulsive enuf, the vocals work up their own rhythm that keeps things moving. This is the 1st music I've heard in awhile that makes me WANT 2 move, tap my feet, bounce around the room.
A lot of this collection -- especially the earlier stuff -- is edited segments from longer pieces, & I'm keeping that in mind. I realize I may not B getting the full effect of these guys' work, but judging by the best stuff here, I'd like 2 hear more.
It mighta turned-out diffrently. The assemblers wisely opened the set w/ the hypnotic, repetitive "Father Cannot Yell," B4 plunging the listener (me) in2 the atonal gtr-chopping noise of "Soup." If they'd tried 2 B smart-asses & led the 1st disc w/ "Soup," I might not B writing this now. Instead, by the time I got 2 the track & heard Karoli apparently chopping in2 his gtr w/ a chainsaw, I was sorta ... ready 4 it & all I could do was laff.
Then came Suzuki's twisted mumbling on "Mother Sky," actually very pleasant. In this context, Mooney's singing on "She Brings the Rain" turns that song in2 a sorta gentle blues-jazz #, no big deal tho pleasant. MayB the compilers wanted 2 show all sides of the band. & that's fine. But from what I've read in other reviews, wouldn't "Deadlock" have been a better choice 4 another piece from SOUNDTRACKS?
More Suzuki on "Mushroom," more good mumbling & hypnotic rhythms. The repeating chorus-lines of "Outside My Door" coulda made it a hit (so what if that line's Bing shouted over & over?), & "Spoon" apparently went 2 #1 in Germany. I Blieve it -- also quite hypnotic.
I can't actually remember "Halleluwah" without playing it again (which I'll B doing soon), tho I Cm 2 remember more hypnotic rhythms. As 4 the abyss of noise that is "Aumgn," I find what sounds 2 me like a deep, delighted, demonic laff 2 B VERY disturbing, & I wonder what the full 18-min piece sounds like. & whether I'd survive it.
"Dizzy Dizzy" is very pleasant, w/ some nice murmured vocals by Karoli, possibly the 1st sign of these guys mellowing a little. Then the 1st disc closes w/ a big slab of "Yoo Doo Right," which has all the drive & great rhythms of the earlier stuff, but never Cms 2 get where it's going -- or the version I've got here has the climax edited off the Nd. As this long piece built slightly in in10sity, I wanted it 2 just get louder & wilder -- I wanted more thrashing, bashing, shrieking, freaking CRAZINESS ... & I was mildly disappointed when that didn't happen.
The 2nd disc plunges us back in2 more of the group's early recordings, from DELAY 1968 & UNLIMITED EDITION. "Uphill" is abrasive & jerky & loud, like much of the stuff here from MONSTER MOVIE. At 1st I wasn't sure, but I like it more each time I play it -- both the jerky, propulsive rhythms & the way Mooney sings it.
"Mother Upduff" is amusingly odd, & there's some great musical chaos going on Bhind Mooney's recitation & at the Nd. & summa the lyrics R just inXplicably hilarious: "Mother Upduff hadn't been out of Dusseldorf in 80 years...."
I skipped a few of the shorter trax from UNLIMITED EDITION & LANDED 2 get 2 summa the later highlights. & then Can started mellowing: In this context, "Moonshake," "Future Days" & "Cascade Waltz" R all quite pretty, & "Future Days" is very ... wet, like it coulda bn recorded in a bathroom. Or at the seashore. & the vocals on it R very nice....
& then they mellowed some more. "I Want More," "Don't Say No" & "Aspectacle" R pleasant enuf 4 what they R, but they show Can sorta Dvolving in2 pleasant, bouncy-disco mood-music w/ kinda nice murmured vocals & brief, catchy lyric lines ("No one can/Understand/You're dealing with/A crazy man...."). OK, but U can hear this kinda stuff elsewhere. It's pleasant, but it's not distinctive.
Liebezeit is still moving stuff along, but he sounds kinda "normal" now, not like a possessed master tribal drummer. Karoli's gtr is still pleasant & shows occasional noisy signs of life, & Irmin Schmidt's keyboards sometimes make some neat noises, but....
There's still 9 trax on this collection that I haven't played yet. There was a hint of some more attractive atonal noise at the start of "Below This Level," but I hadta go 2 work so I couldn't finish it. I'll listen 2 the rest (& go back 4 more on stuff like "Halleluwah") & if I stumble over NEthing major I'll add it here.
NE music that can get me bouncing around the room is pretty impressive 2 me, no matter what kinda noise they're making. The fact that Can at its best is propulsive, hypnotic, powerful, grating -- & I haven't had 2 turn NE of it off yet -- well, I'll B looking 4 more early stuff by these guys: MONSTER MOVIE, TAGO MAGO, SOUNDTRACKS, EGE BAMYASI, FUTURE DAYS, SOON OVER BABALUMA. From what I've read, there's a lot more great stuff out there 2 hear.
...& who's next? Oh I dunno -- mayB I'll try some early Brian Eno like Rastro urged me 2 do awhile back....

Friday, February 19, 2010


Sorry 2 havta get political on y'all, but this has bn buggin me 4 months....
THIS IS AN EDITORIAL. The opinions Xpressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mployees of TAD's Back-Up Plan ... but they probly do. This editorial is about Washington state sales taxes & etc. We'll save an editorial on federal income taxes 4 a later time -- like when I actually have solid, scary #'s 2 work w/....
Washington's state budget 4 the new year has a $2.8-billion shortfall, & 2 recoup the $$$ Gov. Christine Gregoire has suggested new (or increased) taxes on cigarettes, gasoline, sodas, bottled water, candy, energy drinks, & bigger taxes on industrial polluters.
Washington already has some of the nation's highest taxes on cigarettes & gasoline, & possibly alcohol. In beautiful Wash., at my little store, a pack of Marlboro cigarettes will cost U $7.27 after the 8.9% state sales tax -- a case of double taxation. The state's built-in tax onna packa smokes is currently $3, & the Gov is suggesting raising it by another $1. A carton (10 20-cigarette packs) of Marbs will cost U over $60 after sales tax. In neighboring Idaho, where they don't have that built-in tax on smokes (or at least they didn't last time I was back home), a packa Marbs will cost U $3 less, almost 2 the penny. The cheapest pack of smokes in my store is $6.18 after tax. Compare that w/ where U live....
Last time I checked, Wash's built-in gasoline tax was 42 cents per gallon. It's probly higher by now. Which means a gallon of regular gas at my store will currently cost U around $2.83. Unless it's gone up 2day....
Why should I care? I'm still getting paid, right? & I don't smoke or drink, tho the gas tax gets EVERY1.
I care Bcos it all trickles down. I warn smokers when another price hike on cigarettes is coming -- I'm already warning them that smokes R probly gonna go up another $1 per pack. They usually don't pay a whole lotta attn til it happens, & THEN the bitching REALLY starts.
But they're bitching at the wrong guy. They needta go yell at those bozos down at the state capitol in Olympia.
If Gov. Gregoire thinks a 3-cent built-in tax onna bottle of soda or a penny-an-oz. tax on bottled water isn't gonna hurt NE1, she otta know better. She was the state's Attn Gen B4 she was elected Gov, so she knows how this stuff works: The tax goes up, the manufacturer raises his prices 2 recoup, the stores raise their prices 2 keep their profit, & U pay higher prices as a result.
& what's all that new tax $$$ go 4?
Wash started the Lottery & scratch-ticket sales 2 generate more $$$ 2 repair & build new roads & schools. I don't C that many major rd-improvement projects -- tho there was 1 on the rd right in front of my store last summer that did nothing but add a center-turn lane & a new surface over about 2 miles, did nothing 2 ease the massive traffic backup -- & it cost $3 million! & now the police R patrolling it heavily EVERY day & nite, writing speeding tickets 2 generate more revenue....
The only new school in Wash that I KNOW of that's bn built in the last decade was a brand-new highschool in Raymond, built 2 replace a non-earthquake-proof 75-yr-old 3-story structure from the early-1930s. It was cheaper 2 rebuild from scratch than 2 prop-up the old 1. & the new school was built in the Xact same spot, on a floodplain, right next 2 a river, 4 a student-body that had bn steadily Dclining 4 yrs, & probly still is.
The school cost $10 million. The state paid 4 about 1/2 of it, the school district passed a bond issue 2 pay 4 the rest. I was 1 of the guys who wrote local-newspaper articles Xplaining why the new school was needed, tho I didn't really Blieve it. But try 2 come out against a new school & a big Xpensive bldg project in a town that's dying & needs new jobs -- w/o Bing Cn as anti-school, anti-jobs, anti-community. U won't B living there 4 long. & if U R, nobody will speak 2 U NEmore.
& of course the new school looks XACTLY like a prison, as so many new schools Cm 2 these days. What in the heck R we saying 2 R kids?
1 of my roommates who both smokes & drinks & has there4 earned the right 2 complain about state gov't idiots, wonders how much U can legally tax 1 item. If the built-in tax on smokes is already $3/pack, how much higher can it legally go?
I think this is a legit question. Near as I can tell, Wash already has the 2nd-highest cigarette prices in the US, behind only New York state. As I've said 2 smokers so many times over the past few yrs, nobody zings U like Washington....
I'm more intrested in where the state's tax $$$ goes, & why they need so much, & always more more MORE.
At 1 point the Gov was projecting that the state's tax deficit might go as high as $10 billion+. With the economy in the toilet, tax revenues have bn slow 2 come in, people Rn't buying as much stuff so less tax $$$ is generated, & so on. When the deficit amount was reduced 2 $2 billion, there was apparently no Xplanation about where the other $8 billion went. The state also had a $2 billion "rainy day fund" a few yrs back. It's bn raining 4 months -- no idea where that $2 billion went.
More than NEthing, I wanna know where the LAST $10 billion we gave the state went. How R they spending R $$$? All on rd's & schools? Every time there's a really big road project, residents get taxed more 2 pay 4 it -- the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge (which we coulda had 4 free but we were 2 stupid), the proposed tunnel along Seattle's downtown waterfront 2 replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, the proposed new State Highway 520 bridge across Lake Washington -- state residents will pay all new fees or tolls or taxes 2 build each of them.
Unlike some critics, I've bn 2 Olympia a few times, & I think there's a lotta unnecessary costs that could B cut there. I've bn inside the state Department of Ecology bldg, which has the most beautiful cafeteria I've Cn since I got outta the Air Force. It's a beautiful setting, really, a great place 2 eat lunch.
Why do they have it? They're a 2 MINUTE drive down the street from NE restaurant U'd ever care 2 have lunch at.
The Gov's staff has 2 many mgrs pulling down 2 much $$$ -- salaries at the highest level of state gov't have bn WAY 2 HIGH 4 YRS. They should all take a 10-percent pay cut 2 get us thru these tough times. The Gov should lead the way by Xample.
Don't hold yr breath 4 it.
As an alternative, I suggest the state close the Dept's of Ecology, Natural Resources & Fish and Wildlife. Closing those 3 dept's & firing the Mployees should save at LEAST $2.8-billion EASILY. & 1/2 of them have state pensions or retirements they can fall back on. In this state, the Dept's of Ecology & Natural Resources Xist only 2 tell people what they CAN'T do on their own property, & Fish and Wildlife has "managed" the wildlife in the state so horrendously badly (while also telling people what they can't do on their own property) that everybody goes 2 Idaho or Oregon 2 hunt or fish.
& buy cigarettes. Or other big-ticket items. Oregon has no state sales tax.
Why do I care about all this? I don't much, really. I'm not a home-owner, so I don't havta worry about rising property taxes while the value of my property goes DOWN. I don't smoke or drink, & I'm onna pretty limited income, tho the gas & soda tax gets me a little.
Washington state is so brutally, ruthlessly efficient about collecting child-support $$$, U'd think they could put summa that same ruthless efficiency in2 finding ways 2 save $$$ inside the state gov't.
(1 area that could use more efficiency is the food-stamp program. I don't doubt people need them, & every1 Cms 2 have a food stamp card under the current economy. But why is it almost EVERYBODY I C w/ a food stamp card also hasa wallet full of $50's & $100's, & is driving either a brand-new car or at least 1 WAY newer & better than mine? I wanna ASK some 1, but it's gotta B just the right person so they don't think I'm trying 2 imply NEthing ... Hey, I'm available 4 free $$$, I'm just not sure I wanna know how they got it....)
If I can get THIS upset about something that doesn't really hit me 2 hard, it must B so dead-obvious by now that 1000's should B protesting around the capitol bldg in Olympia. Why Rn't they? MayB cos life is hard enuf & Xpensive enuf out here that 1 more tax is just 1 more thing 2 shrug off.
There R already calls from some state politicos that now is REALLY The Wrong Time 2 talk about raising taxes again when the economy is still in the toilet & noises about "Recovery" sound like a cruel, MT joke. But don't Xpect those no-tax comments 2 amount 2 much....
The longer I live here the more I think Wash only hasa coupla good things going 4 it.
1 is that this is the only place in the country where I can do my current job & keep up w/ my bills. If I were 2 go back home 2 Idaho, I'd take a pay cut of over 1/2.
The other good thing is that it's the 2nd BEAUTIFUL day in a row & Spring MAY B here (tho it Cms 6 wks 2 early -- just the weather lining us up 4 a blizzard in March?), & I Cm revitalized by an NRG I haven't felt in mo's.
Hope U R the same, & sorry 4 the heavy serious real-life issues of 2day's post. We'll C if this really IS a free country or if the Powers That B try 2 shut me up....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Proud member of OGRENET!

I'm usually not Mr. Reactionary or NEthing, but after reading the results of Mark Prindle's recent "Top 7-3 Readers' Survey" & some other best-music-of-the-decade blogs recently, I think mayB it's time 4 me 2 fess up:
I'm old. Done. Over the hill. Outta touch. Retired.
Which doesn't mean I'm giving up, of course. They can have my laptop when they pry it outta my cold dead hands. (Which is, hopefully, a LONG way off.)
I'm just saying that musically-speaking, I'm totally fucked in the head, dude.
As far as current music goes, I mean. But U probly already knew this.
Some Xamples: In Mark's huge list of "Best of the 2000's" results, I recognize a handful of titles. & I've heard mayB 1/2adozen of them.
My buddy Gardenhead has bn writing his ongoing "Distended Top 20 Albums of the Past Decade" since the middle of Dec over at ASLEEP ON THE COMPOST HEAP. Last time I checked he was about 1/2 finished. I'm still hanging on 4 more. His writing's really great. U can SEE the music he Dscribes, if that makes NE sense.
The thing that gets me is: I don't know NE of the albums he's written about so far. Don't know artists, titles, songs -- completely oblivious 2 all of it. & summa those folks R pretty popular....
So yr liable 2 C a few changes here at the Back-Up Plan. (Yeah sure, like what? Writing in Real English...?)
I'd like 2 start by announcing that I'm proud 2 B a member of the newly-formed OGRENET -- the Old Guys' Review Exchange NETwork. A group of opinionated guys who Just Can't Help blogging about their opinions on practically everything, but especially about music. & their lives. & sometimes books. Jobs. Old love affairs. & other stuff.
Of course, officially I'm the only current member of OGRENET. But I'm pretty sure I know some guys who'd join me....
My buddy R.S. Crabb at THE THOUGHTS OF R. SMITH would probly B thrilled 2 B a member of OGRENET -- consider this yr official invitation, Crabby!
The Crabster qualifies Bcos he rants & raves about stuff even more than me, & each wk he posts a Top 10 of whatever's playing in his CD player. That's good enuf 4 me. & tho I think he's mellowed a bit in the past yr, he can still get pretty cranky. & so can I, Ghod knows....
However, NE organization worth its weight in tax-free donations must have an Initiation. So, 4 the Crabsta's initiation, he must change the name of his blog 2 THE THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK.
...Rastro at LA HISTORIA DE LA MUSICA ROCK might B open 2 joining -- age-wise he qualifies, he's in his 40s -- but he's WAY more in-touch w/ current music than I am. WAY more. Not sure how cranky he is. But the invitation's out there, R....
Drew at DREW'S ODDS & SODS might qualify. Not sure about his age or how cranky he is, but judging by his fondness 4 '70s rock, I'd say he's probly a member-at-heart already.
Mark Prindle is probly just a touch 2 young 2 join OGRENET -- in his mid-30s, he's 2 young 2 B a curmudgeon just yet. & in his ongoing efforts 2 try 2 keep up w/ all the Hip New Bands That The Young Kids Dig, I'm sure he's probly on a 1st-name basis w/ some bands that would scare the living shit outta me....
U're probly wondering about the requirements 2 Bcome a member of this new society/network/conspiracy/task force/underground movement/whatever. Glad U asked.
U might B a potential member of OGRENET if:
* Yr cranky/grumpy/pissed-off/Dpressed at least 1/2 the time.
* U actually walk around telling people who don't care that "Rock & roll just ain't bn the same since 1971."
* U really think the Last Good Music Year was 1971. Or '72. '73. '77. '79. Or '82 at the absolute latest.
* ... & U have a list of reasons WHY.
* ... That U carry around in yr pocket....
* U spend 1/2 yr time searching 4 old songs & albums U haven't heard since U were 12 yrs old.
* U spend the other 1/2 of yr time Bing Dpressed when these songs & albums -- 1nce U find them -- don't sound as good as they did when U were 12 yrs old.
* U kick yrself Bcos U didn't grab intresting-looking off-the-wall albums 30 yrs ago when they were only $3.99 in the cutout bin of yr fave local record store. Now yr paying 4x that much 2 get the same albums on CD.
* U think the Who peaked w/ SELL OUT.
* U think Yes peaked w/ THE YES ALBUM.
* U think the Beatles peaked w/ A HARD DAY'S NIGHT.
* U think Led Zeppelin peaked w/ THE BROWN BOMBER.
* Pink Floyd peaked w/ PIPER....
* Rush peaked w/ PERMANENT WAVES... or 2112....
* U remember what band Terry Jacks was a member of....
Think U qualify? Comment below. I'll start collecting names.
We'll all get 2gether, mayB have R 1st Annual Convention at the Worland, Wyoming, Days Inn.
We'll need nametags. In BIG print, 4 those of us who can't C 2 well NEmore.
& a logo! Gotta hava OGRENET logo! How bout a cartoon of some old, withered, gray-haired, prune-faced guy, sitting in a rockin chair, right next 2 1 of those old Victrolas, w/ the horn sticking right in2 his ear? That'd B great.
Now if I just knew some1 who could draw....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Funny Ways....

Spent some time over the past coupla days looking at the results of Grandpa Web-Reviewer Mark Prindle's recent "Top 7-3 Readers' Survey," a poll of what the readers of his website ( think R the best rock albums ever.
...& I think some1 could score a pretty solid gov't grant 2 Xplore in more depth the demographic data revealed in this survey. Almost 370 readers took part. I think it's fairly safe 2 say that Mark's readers R drawn 2 Xtremes, that many of them Njoy music that hits them HARD -- & I'm just talking about the stuff I've either heard or know about by reputation.
Mark asked 4 his readers' Top 7 picks 4 All-Time Best Album, Best Album of the Past Decade, & Best Artists. I hadda damn hard time coming up with 7 albums I've loved since 2000, & as a result I only sent Mark 6....
(BTW, my Top 7 All-Time picks were: The Go-Go's TALK SHOW, Bangles' DIFFERENT LIGHT, Moody Blues' THE PRESENT, Gryphon's RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE, Providence's EVER SENSE THE DAWN, Nick Drake's BRYTER LAYTER, & ... yes, the Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS.)
But there's some intresting stuff in the poll results, & if yr the kinda person who reads music-review websites & blogs like this 1 & Mark's, U otta look thru the list of also-rans. I won't spoil Mark's countdown by revealing the All-Time Best choice, but it's a very respectable winner that I'm sure U've all heard -- & it's not PET SOUNDS or SGT. PEPPER or DARK SIDE OF THE MOON or LED ZEP 4.
But I think the list of also-rans is REAL intresting, especially the LONG list of albums that got only 1 vote each. Among those finishing in the Top 73 were Nick Drake's PINK MOON (pretty good placement 4 an album that's sposta B stark & Dpressing, sorta the singer's Famous Last Words, tho the 3 songs I've heard from it R all great), King Crimson's RED ("Starless" is amazing & the pounding title track only slightly less-so, but the rest ain't that stunning, & the GREAT DECEIVER box didn't make it?), Captain Beefheart's TROUT MASK REPLICA, & (of course) the Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS.
Among the many off-the-wall runners-up were: Kate Bush's THE DREAMING, 2 by the Butthole Surfers, Can's EGE BAMYASI, TAGO MAGO & FUTURE DAYS, 4 Beefhearts, Miles Davis's obnoxious LIVE EVIL, IN A SILENT WAY, BITCHES' BREW & KIND OF BLUE, Genesis's FOXTROT & THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY, Crimson's DISCIPLINE & LARK'S TONGUES IN ASPIC, Love's FOREVER CHANGES, 1 by Magma, Steve Reich's hypnotic MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS, Roxy Music's very smooth AVALON, 3 by Sparks including the robotic NUMBER 1 IN HEAVEN, Tangerine Dream's 2-disc ZEIT, & Yes's RELAYER.
Among the suprising 1-shots were: The 5th Dimension's MAGIC GARDEN (which Nick Drake reportedly loved 4 its mix of pop & orchestrations), Syd Barrett's MADCAP LAUGHS, the Beach Boys' LOVE YOU & SURF'S UP, Blue Oyster Cult's 1st 4, Kate Bush's HOUNDS OF LOVE & THE KICK INSIDE, 3 more by the Buttholes, the Byrds' NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS, Camel's MIRAGE (DEFinitely not their best album), 2 more by Can, another Beefheart, 3 by Faust, 1 by Bo Hansson (who's '70s albums have summa the most dated, primitive-sounding keybs ever), the Hollies' DISTANT LIGHT & ROMANY (Xcellent tho arty), the Incredible String Band's HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER & WEE TAM AND THE BIG HUGE, Jefferson Airplane's trippy AFTER BATHING AT BAXTER'S, 2 more by Magma, Mars Volta's DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM, Mellow Candle's SWADDLING SONGS (heard by even fewer people than Providence!), Pat Metheny's SECRET STORY, Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.'s LIKE A DUCK TO WATER (what, no Tonto's Expanding Head Band?), Os Mutantes, Harry Partch (this 20th-Century modern-classical composer invented his own strange instruments & got his lyrics from hobos' grafitti), Soft Machine's THIRD, 3 more by Sparks, Triumvirat's ILLUSIONS ON A DOUBLE DIMPLE (by reputation, they're sposta B the German version of ELP), Tubes' REMOTE CONTROL (Xcellent pop concept album about TV-addiction), 2 early "hippie"-era T. Rex albums, Van der Graaf Generator's PAWN HEARTS & GODBLUFF, Vangelis's BLADE RUNNER soundtrack, & Brian Wilson's SMILE reconstruction....
In the 21st Century countdown, my pleasure at Cing Fleet Foxes' 1st was sorta balanced-out by finding Animal Collective's MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILLION above it, & Brian's SMILE above that. Not that I wish Brian ill, he's bn thru enuf. I think his version of SMILE is gorgeous musically -- but Brian's voice is shot.
I also wonder if some1 w/ a sense of humor even weirder than Mark's was trying 2 have some fun w/ this whole survey idea. Among the REALLY suprising titles getting a vote each were: The Carpenters' SINGLES 1969-73, ELO's OUT OF THE BLUE, Fleetwood Mac's RUMOURS, Dan Fogelberg's THE INNOCENT AGE, Elton John's TOO LOW FOR ZERO, Journey's ESCAPE, Stacy Lattisaw's PERSONAL ATTENTION, Steve Martin's LET'S GET SMALL (great album, really, & I guess there IS a LITTLE bit of music on it....), the Moody Blues' KEYS OF THE KINGDOM (their worst ever), Frank Sinatra's COME FLY WITH ME & WATERTOWN, Michael W. Smith's CHRISTMAS, & Richard Brautigan reading some of his poetry.... Rn't mosta these way 2 NORMAL 4 the kinda folks who read Mark's website? (I didn't vote 4 NE of these, BTW.)
...Overall, I think it's real intresting 2 C what Mark's readers Njoy listening-2. & of course there R 100's of titles in the list that I've never even HEARD, so it's also good 4 research purposes.
As 4 the Xtremeness of it all -- well, I haven't heard more than a handful of the titles on the 21st Century list, but as 4 the All-Time list ... I pretty-much think that I fit right in....
Now, about that grant....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Somehow I don't think we're in Kansas anymore....

Sometimes I hava hard time separating the memries from the music, don't ya know. I 1st heard Kansas's LEFTOVERTURE at a party in early 1977, which I attended w/ my highschool sweetheart Allison. The party was 4 a coupla Newspaper-class friends of R's, Cheryl & Cathy, who we'd worked w/ 4 2 yrs trying 2 get the school newspaper out on-time.
The party was LOUD & there was a lotta talking & I couldn't hear the music 2 well, tho I recognized "Carry On, Wayward Son." None of the resta the record made an impression on me -- I'm not sure I really heard it. But I wasn't myself -- Allison had screamed at me in the car when I couldn't find the party & wouldn't stop & call 4 directions (why do guys do that?), so we arrived an hr late & I wasn't happy. & when the other partyers started passing around the Green Smoke, Allison turned 2 me & said: "I think we're too square for this party." & she was right.
I started hearing "Carry On" on the radio more often & liked it. My best friend Jeff Mann bot the album, probly looking 4 something 2 add 2 the pantheon of Beatles, Elton John, Wings & Queen albums he'd bot & played over&over. At 1st we both thot LEFTOVERTURE was 2 arty & pretensious, especially the self-absorbed lyrics about the Meaning Of Life. "Carry On" was OK, but we'd play the rest & laff at the silly words -- most of it was just 2 concerned w/ The Meaning Of It All 4 us 2 take seriously. (A coupla yrs later we all started 2 talk like this, taking everything Very Seriously. Jeff got 2 the point where he could do 2-hr raps about The Meaning Of Life & how The Machine crushes everybody....)
We even briefly talked about writing R own Meaning Of Life concept album in which all the lyrics would Dgenerate in2 meaningless gibberish. All we hadta do was find some1 who could PLAY -- neither of us could play a note.
Now I wonder what we were laffing at. We realized pretty fast that it wasn't all garbage -- very quickly we picked-out the vivid, cinematic epic "Cheyenne Anthem," which was good enuf 4 me 2 buy the album 2. But at 1st a lot of it just didn't work 4 me, like the airy "Opus Insert," which I've never liked much. Then there was "The Wall," which Cmd 2 speak directly 2 my situation but which was just 2 obvious & self-conscious. & I hadn't yet Ntered in2 my heavy Art-Rock-worshipping phase, which was about a yr away.
By then, R friend Don Vincent had bot the album & loved it. & repeated listenings revealed much 2 Njoy -- along w/ "Cheyenne Anthem" there was the loopy keyboard hook on "Questions of My Childhood," the glorious drama of "Miracles Out of Nowhere" (I sure didn't mind the Meaning Of Life lyrics THERE), the more streamlined rockin' of "What's on My Mind," which I resisted at 1st, & even "The Wall" grew on me. When the music was this strong I could almost ignore the lyrics.
Don also bot SONG FOR AMERICA, which is how I heard the magnificent title track. Parts of the rest were OK 2, sections of "Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman" (what was up w/ these Deeply Significant titles?), & the ghost story "Lamplight Symphony." But the heavy rock on "Down the Road" & "The Devil Game" turned me right off. (Later I heard MASQUE & thot the simple, brief "Two Cents Worth" was the best thing on it, just 4 its simplicity. & tho "The Pinnacle" had some neat imagery & music ... & more self-indulgent Meaning Of Life lyrics, "Mysteries and Mayhem" & others continued the boogie I found undistinctive -- loud, thudding heaviness & mysterious lyrics I could get from NE heavy-metal band....)
Tho I came 2 love LEFTOVERTURE, Don was an even bigger fan, & bot POINT OF KNOW RETURN the wk it came out, eating-up those Meaning Of Life lyrics. I thot the title-track single was pleasant but simpler than the great stuff on LEFTOVERTURE. I didn't want Kansas 2 get simpler. "Dust in the Wind" was Dpressing & self-absorbed, & a big hit. The album as a whole didn't grab me, but there were parts that weren't bad -- "Portrait (He Knew)" was kinda intriguing tho 2 heavy, & the slide in2 boogie noise at the Nd didn't thrill me. The opening of "Closet Chronicles" was promising, but I didn't think the rest Dlivered. I was disappointed w/ Kansas's stylistic drift, but I still liked them overall & I still thot they were better than Styx....
Don't think I ever heard a note of TWO FOR THE SHOW, tho I'd bn something of a sucker 4 live albums previously. Just another delicate studio band playing 2 loud on-stage, I thot.
By the time of MONOLITH I was convinced about Kansas's drift in2 simplistic boogie. "People of the South Wind" was an OK single, tho I thot "Reason to Be" shoulda bn an even-bigger hit, even tho it almost sounded like Kansas-meets-Styx. "On the Other Side" was OK, but I can barely remember "A Glimpse of Home," & I couldn't get thru overdone stuff like "How My Soul Cries Out for You" & "Stay Out of Trouble."
AUDIO VISIONS had mayB 3 Dcent songs. My local FM station played the heck outta "Relentless," which was almost memorable. "Hold On" Cmd like a standard ballad, reaching 4 something more but not making it. "Got to Rock On" was a pedestrian rocker, confirming their slide in2 mediocrity. I thot the best of all was the closing "Back Door."
Then came the solo albums by songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist Kerry Livgren & singer/keyboardist/songwriter Steve Walsh, which I barely paid attn 2. Then the "comeback" albums w/ new singer John Elefante -- I thot the singles were OK but inconsequential, & I never cared enuf 2 buy or play the albums.
When Kansas's 2-CD best-of box set came out in 1994 I was living in Wyoming & grabbed the package 4 Old Time's Sake. & I learned a few things. Like "Journey from MariaBronn" offa their 1st album -- just as magnificent as "Song for America," & w/ a better Nding. & the demo of "Can I Tell You?" beat the version on their 1st album.
& then there were the liner notes, which downplayed the guys' Deep Thots & Dpicted them as a buncha jokers from Topeka w/ a really odd sense of humor, who loved 2 rock out & mayB show off 1nce in awhile....
But mosta the live trax included in the box did them no favors. "On the Other Side" was OK, but "Death of Mother Nature Suite" was ugly, & "Incomudro" -- tho an OK per4mance -- had a continuous low-frequency hummm running thruout. Yrs after hearing it the 1st time, "The Pinnacle" sounded lots better, w/ a nice air of darkness & mystery even tho it wasn't a complete success, & "Mysteries and Mayhem" summed-up the "boogie!" side of the band that I'd never liked.
... & yet at their best I still think they were really good, & I still play LEFTOVERTURE now&then & it still sounds great. & I wonder why they couldn't keep the balance Btween the arty & the rocking going 4 a little while longer. Was it Kerry Livgren's Born-Again-ness? The calls 4 more boogie while they were touring? Did they think boogie would pay the bills if nobody was listening 2 the arty stuff? Did they just get 2 old? It's a mystery....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update 8

Needed a break from work. Took a coupla days off, hung out w/ the girlfriend & watched silly movies. Also saw Michael Jackson's concert-documentary THIS IS IT, which wasn't silly at all. It was actually pretty great, & I was never even that big a fan.
The documentary shows MJ preparing 4 the series of concerts he was scheduled 2 do B4 his sudden death last summer -- & the man shown on stage in the movie is not at all the flighty-voiced reclusive weirdo we'd Cn Dpicted in the media over the past 20 yrs. Makes me wonder if the media was snowing us 4 all those yrs....
Thruout the movie, MJ is down-2-Earth, involved, sure of what he wants, committed -- very clearly THERE. He helps pick out some of the dancers 4 the show, talks over w/ his backing band how 2 get the sounds he wants. He is unfailingly direct. He was IN2 it, not at all hesitant or shy or ... odd. He was perhaps just a touch thin -- but then, he always was.
& almost all the songs sound great, even the 1's I never liked much. "Beat It" & "Thriller" both sound amazing. Even "Billie Jean" sounds pretty good, & I never liked it much. "Human Nature" was a suprise 4 me. The only songs that R weak R 2 early Jackson 5 hits, "I Want You Back" & "The Love You Save," both of which MJ takes 2 fast -- but he follows them w/ an Xcellent rendition of "I'll Be There."
& even if he's only per4ming at about 50% -- sevral times he tells the crew he's trying 2 conserve his voice 4 the real concerts -- MJ is still pretty riveting 2 watch, even tho he drops lines of songs, even tho mayB his moves Rn't quite as sharp as they 1nce were -- I couldn't tell the diffrence. It doesn't matter.
& whatta backing band he had, including an amazing guitarist & a great drummer -- & their names were all new 2 me.
I guess we're lucky the rehearsals were videotaped 4 MJ's use. The rehearsals + the Bhind-the-scenes documentaries R pretty impressive. Moving, even. U might wanna check this out, especially if U were a fan....

...Fri aft I played the 1st 4 trax on Can's 2-CD ANTHOLOGY, & liked them -- especially the rhythmic propulsiveness of most of it -- made even a spazz like me wanna get up & bounce around the room. If the collection had opened w/ "Soup" (in which I SWEAR at 1 point Michael Karoli takes a chainsaw 2 his guitar), I mighta switched the thing off & never have gotten NE farther. But Bcos the assemblers softened me up w/ the hypnotic opener "Father Cannot Yell," by the time I got 2 the chainsaw-cutting part I just laffed. I especially liked the twisted gtr & the hypnotic drumming -- so, Jaki Liebezeit got his mesmerizing drum rhythms from some forbidden voodoo ceremony? Hey, I Blieve it. & how 'bout Leon Muraglia's cheerfully perverse liner notes? (He Dscibes the pieces assembled on Can's SOUNDTRACKS as "Surprisingly whistleable and song-based." Yeah, right....)
I have yet 2 hear more than the opening of "Mushroom," or NE of "Halleluwah," "Aumgn," "Yoo Doo Right" or NE of Can's other supposed masterworks, but I'll B listening 2 more of this package SOON & I'll give U a full report here.
So far, w/ me learning about Van der Graaf Generator & now Can, 2010 is already a pretty good music year 4 me.
I'm also kicking myself, cos back in my record-store daze we had all of Can's middle-period albums available in the cutout bins 4 $3.99 or less -- FUTURE DAYS, EGE BAMYASI, SOON OVER BABALUMA. I always wanted 2 check them out. & in 1990 I remember reading a review by Dave DiMartino (I think) in the pgs of the old MUSICIAN magazine, RAVING about how great, influential & overlooked Can was. & it STILL took me 20 yrs 2 look in2 them. Why? Probly Bcos if I'd tried NE earlier I wouldn't have bn able 2 HEAR them. So far, I'm impressed.
...I can also report that Van Morrison's STILL ON TOP -- THE GREATEST HITS has probly everything by Van U'd ever wanna hear Xcept 4 "Caravan," "Cypress Avenue," "Madame George," "Almost Independence Day".... I can also report that "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," "Wild Night" & "Into the Mystic" all still sound great. & I plan 2 investigate "Listen to the Lion," "St. Dominic's Preview," "Wavelength" & others real soon now....

THE ULTIMATE PROG ROCK BOOK ... has yet 2 B written. I've read a coupla attempts at a Prog history/overview, neither of which were stunning. Now I'm trying 2 get thru Jim DeRogatis's KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, which covers summa the same ground, psychedelic & associated mind-Xpanding music from the '60s 2 the '90s.
But tho there R good things in it -- a nice overview of Krautrock, a brief tho intresting history of Can, LOTS on Brian Eno, pretty good work on XTC, Wire, Hawkwind, Incredible String Band, Love, Captain Beefheart & others -- & some revealing stuff, like a brief interview w/ Phil Collins & Tony Banks that indicates there were some rather heavy self-imposed restrictions on later Genesis & that Banks wasn't real happy w/ them or the slim chance of ever doing NEthing as adventurous as their Peter Gabriel-era work again....
Dspite this, the book is frustrating. DeRogatis's Standard Rock Critic Attitude pisses me off. Tho he devotes a lotta space 2 Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett & some other critically-acceptable oddballs, a lotta folks who qualify as psychedelic he has no use 4 -- Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Grateful Dead. Hendrix gets some space. I was also suprised 2 C Parliament/Funkadelic here.
But his attitude toward Art Rock really makes me crazy. No book on psychedelic rock can get by w/o trying 2 make some kinda sense outta Gong. DeRogatis doesn't bother. & tho I agree w/ his opinion of the 1st King Crimson album, he ignores everything else they did. Genesis, Yes, ELP, Moody Blues, Gentle Giant, Tangerine Dream & others R mentioned, but usually that's about all. His verdict: "Art Rock's legacy as a Bad Trip is ultimately well deserved."
No. If you're gonna cover the territory, U should COVER IT.
The Ultimate Prog Rock Book should include both history & reviews of the music, should try 2 cover the territory, & squeeze in as many acts as possible -- from the Moodies & Pink Floyd & King Crimson 2 Yes, Genesis, ELP, Hatfield and the North & National Health & Soft Machine & Matching Mole, 2 Kansas & Happy the Man (& possibly even Styx, & Jefferson Airplane/Starship's science-fiction chorales), David Sancious 2 Jade Warrior, Camel 2 Van der Graaf, Rare Bird 2 Nektar, Kevin Ayers & Robert Wyatt 2 Peter Hammill, 2 Os Mutantes & Wigwam, Marillion & IQ & all that newer stuff I haven't heard, like the Mars Volta. (Does Coheed & Cambria qualify? I think they do, & at least it's some kinda prog from the 2000's that I've actually heard some of.)
How 'bout Pete Townshend's rock operas & Xperiments? Absolutely. I'd rather have the category 2 open than 2 narrow. The Pretty Things' S.F. SORROW, PARACHUTE & EMOTIONS? U betcha. PET SOUNDS? Of course.
So why isn't there a book (yet) open enuf 2 cover all this stuff? There's gotta B enuf prog & weird-music fans around who'd buy an authoritative guide if 1 were available. I think the folks at the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock ( could do a helluva job -- & mayB they have already & I just haven't found it yet. They've got the info & the knowledge, already 2gether in 1 space -- but U may not B able 2 haul the whole website w/ U next time U hit the used record store....
4 me, the next best thing so far is the ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO ROCK, even tho I don't agree w/ all their opinions & ratings, & even tho they have their share of errors & blank spots. They also have enuf space 2 treat off-the-wall musical acts w/ some depth. & some of the writing is pretty great.
Course the kinda book I want would probly B at least 1/2 as long as the ALL MUSIC GUIDE, & would probly havta B in the same tiny type.
But if there's something that's a close 2nd out there that y'all know about, please clue me in & I'll check it out....
Either that or I'm gonna havta write it myself. & that could B a rest-of-my-life project....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A place to belong II

So, how many demons from yr past do U carry around every day? & in what ways R they running -- & ruining -- yr life right now?
Nic Sheff's TWEAK (2007) covers about 2 yrs in the life of an early-20's methamphetamine addict who's bn abusing drugs since his mid-teens. Sheff relapses 2wice & recovers 2wice within the timespan of the book, & tho there's a muted hope 4 the future at the Nd, there R absolutely no guarantees. In fact, the Nding Cms kinda flat.
There is a brief 2-pg epilogue at the very Nd, written a yr after the rest of the book. At the closing of the main text, Sheff has recovered & Bcome sober at a rather oppressive & silly rehab somewhere in rural Arizona. Tho this rehab center has stupid rules that I think Sheff is justified in rebelling against, he slowly learns that the system works 4 him. The main text closes at a point of high drama & emotion, in which Nic's parents R finally willing 2 admit that they mighta had some role in turning Nic in2 the basket-case he has Bcome.
But in the epilogue, his parents Rn't even mentioned. A yr has passed & many other things have happened, but Nic's previous talk about planning 4 the future & what he's gonna do w/ his life is all dropped. The Nding Cms tacked-on, artificial, not at all "authentic," as Nic sez he's trying 2 B now. I can't Blieve either he or the publisher was happy w/ this Nding.
Up til the Nd the book is involving, gripping -- a clear Dpiction of massive, death-defying drug abuse written from the inside w/ nothing held back. 1 thing the book DOESN'T do is romanticize the addict's life. Nic spends mosta his time as an addict in drudgery -- trying 2 score, shooting up, worrying about $$$, blowing $2K on drugs in less than 2 wks, stealing from his parents, relatives' & friends' houses, trying 2 find more connections 4 more drugs....
In 300 pgs, Sheff abuses meth, cocaine, heroin, smokes pot, takes lotsa pills -- U name it, he gives it a shot. & there R hints about more Xtreme Bhavior in his past, mosta which is revealed thru flashbacks, including a period when he lived on the street & sold his body 2 men 4 more drugs.
There is an amazing amount of graphic Dtail in the book -- not just surrounding the drug abuse, but also the sometimes-frantic sex apparently Ngaged-in in an attempt 2 make SOME kinda meaningful connection w/ some1 -- so much that I'm suprised the book was marketed 4 an audience age 15 and older. But Nic sez he had his 1st sexual relationship at age 12, so mayB I'm Bhind the times.
There R horrors here that R Byond Dscription, Xamples of drug-induced psychosis that will give U the chills -- as in Nic's complete mental breakdown in his mother's garage, where he Nds up lurking 4 hrs until his mom & the police arrive....
Then there's Nic's dream-girl girlfriend, who's in even worse shape than Nic is, & who -- at a point of great stress when it Bcomes obvious that she's bn using 4 mo's & Nic hasn't noticed -- triggers Nic's relapse & a headlong plunge in2 his worst addiction-binge yet.
But all thru this book Nic talks about things I had no trouble relating 2 -- his constant racing thots, his inability 2 do NE job no matter how meaningless w/o giving Absolutely Everything He Has 2 it, his constant drive 2 B accepted & liked by every1, his inability 2 get along w/ his parents & keep from causing them pain, his separation anxiety stemming from his parents splitting-up when he was young....
Tho I don't think the Nding is 2 "authentic" -- I always want 2 know MORE at times like those -- this is the best Dpiction of drug use written from the inside that I've read. It ain't Xactly Njoyable, but it is ... addictive....

Friday, February 5, 2010


300 posts!
...if U count the 225 I did at my old website.
Can U Blieve? Nope, me neither.
All this in less than 14 mo's. If it weren't 4 those 2 mo's I was outta bizness w/ computer problems, I mighta hit that 300 mark within the 1st yr. (Jeez, I was such a poster-boy 4 OCD 4 awhile there. Thank Ghod I've slowed down a little bit lately....)
NEway, if y'all R out there & yr bored, drop me a line & let me know what U like or dislike, what U'd like 2 C more of or less of. I aim 2 please.
You want more music? MayB less on books? I'll do what I can, but I only get about 1 day a wk when I get the house 2 myself & can crank-up the tuneage. I can read just about NEtime....
Some off-the-wall musical artist U'd like another opinion on? Some weird writer U want me 2 check out? Some overlooked music or book U love that U wanna share? Bring it on! U can all join in....
U'd mayB like less silliness? I don't C THAT happening. MayB U'd like MORE silliness? Just how much can U take, NEway?
MayB U'd like me 2 B more direct, do more "This REALLY SUCKS!"-style reviewing? Blieve me, when I find something that Dserves that kinda treatment, I'll rant & rave about it here. Haven't found NEthing Dserving of such trashing recently.
MayB U'd like less autobiography? I don't think that's going 2 B possible....
I still have this LIST of stuff I'd liketa write about just in case all else fails or I suddenly run outta stuff that I stumble over in the course of my daily routine.
Some review items that may B upcoming in the future include: It's A Beautiful Day's 1st 2 albums (yeah, sure); early Journey; Spirit; Clannad; Kansas; Aaron Copland; Jethro Tull; Yes; Miles Davis's IN A SILENT WAY; the Outlaws' GHOST RIDERS; "The softer side of loud bands;" The most "cinematic" rock songs; Great rock&roll songs about $$$, sex, working, driving, twisted relationships, & total madness; More Great Lost Singles (possibly); Dave Marsh's BEFORE I GET OLD; Charles Platt's DREAM MAKERS series of interviews with science-fiction writers; John Clute & Peter Nicholls' ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION; the PENGUIN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC; the PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ; the SALON.COM GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS; Byron Preiss's THE BEACH BOYS; more science fiction; Air Force Xperiences; Newspaper Xperiences; & 2 much more....
Currently reading: Nic Sheff's TWEAK, the autobiography of a young guy who's bn abusing methamphetamine & other drugs since he was in his mid-teens. I stumbled over it this past Mon & have bn unable 2 put it down. It's vivid, Dtailed, involving, horrifying. Nic holds back NOTHING. So far Nic has relapsed 2wice in the 1st 200 pgs of the book. There R horror stories here that R Byond Dscription, tho summa them R perhaps day-2-day horrors that all addicts go thru. But still -- I'm suprised the publisher allowed this much graphic Dtail in a book intended 4 teens age 15 & up. But then, Nic sez he had his 1st sexual relationship at age 12, so mayB I'm way Bhind the times. I'll hava full report when I finish, but I wouldn't wish this life on my kids....
More soon....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Afterglow of the Undertow

We here at the Back-Up Plan remain convinced that the ORDER in which U hear an artist's work has a big impact on yr perceptions of them.
Bcos we heard the loud&loose YESSONGS B4 NE other Yes music (other than "Your Move" & "Roundabout"), we now find Yes's studio versions of mosta those same songs 2 B ... kinda stiff.
Bcos we heard Renaissance's LIVE album B4 NEthing else, we now find almost ALL of their early studio work 2 B 2 prissy & 4mal 2 listen 2 (w/ only a couple of Xceptions).
& tho we remember hearing (& not much liking) "Money" in the summer/fall of '73, we later heard the live version of "Astronome Domine" offa UMMAGUMMA under such stressful conditions that we barely remembered a note of it later, & this was long B4 we ever knew what a Pink Floyd WAS ... even tho the song later directly triggered the 1st piece of short fiction we ever had published.
So, we will now herewith attempt 2 Xplain R rather bass-ackward views on Genesis, specifically about R fixation on their Middle Period, & R lack of patience 4 both their later "pop" period & their earlier work w/ Peter Gabriel....
We bot Genesis's 1976 album A TRICK OF THE TAIL 2nd-hand after reading a coupla rave reviews about it. The reviews + the album's gently-fantastic/cartoony cover-art Cmd 2 rein4ce the idea that here was some textured, delicate, lite, flowing, fantasy-flavored, non-threatening, not-very-loud Mood Music of the sort we preferred R Art Rock 2 B back in that post-highschool period, when we were busy trying 2 creatively-write R asses off, & during which time we also had big addictions 4 Renaissance, Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Providence, Happy the Man, Moody Blues, etc.
Tho TAIL tended 2 trail-off toward the Nd, much of it was sublime melodic keyboard&guitar-dominated Art Rock. We especially liked Tony Banks' gorgeous keyboards & the ghostly gtr work of Steve Hackett & Mike Rutherford. & drummer Phil Collins' vocals were mostly almost-modest. The only place he showed-off much vocally was on the funny "Robbery, Assault and Battery," where he was clearly playing a part.
The big melodramatic showpieces really won us over: The ghostly gtr & the shivery Nding of "Entangled," the wistful epic "Madman Moon," & the supreme fantasy-drama & gorgeous choruses on the 9-min "Ripples."
The follow-up WIND AND WUTHERING was perhaps not so great, or mayB we just couldn't hear it, but there were still a few classics scattered thruout: The gorgeous melodramatic lovesongs "Your Own Special Way" & "Afterglow," the bouncy, charming (& overlooked) knockabout instrumental "Wot Gorilla?", & the flashy percussion-solo-middle-break & last 1/2 of the epic "One for the Vine," mayB the 1st hint we had that Collins was some kinda drummer. The good stuff was REALLY good -- but mosta the rest just sorta faded away, tho we were still big fans.
We weren't thrilled at 1st w/ the SECONDS OUT double-live album, tho 2 sides of it were pretty good, but it took awhile 2 grow on us. None of the recent material repeated here sounded very good -- we were 2 attached 2 those recent songs. But summa the remakes of their older stuff were glorious.
We had resisted buying the album at 1st, 4 whatever reason -- another delicate studio band ruining their best effects by bashing their songs out 2-loudly on-stage, mayB we thot. But then we heard "The Carpet Crawl" on the radio & started wondering if mayB there wasn't something there after all. That beautiful, restrained remake helped pull us in2 the resta the album.
Tho it took awhile 2 grow on us, 2 full sides of the album were especially good: More great keybs, ghostly gtr & that ominous feeling of lurking doom on "Firth of Fifth," the silly "I Know What I Like," the rather good&dramatic "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (tho R fave part was the Nd, stolen from the Drifters' "On Broadway"), & the gorgeous, 4ceful closing 2 "The Musical Box." & then there was the sublime full side of "Supper's Ready," just stunning in places. We started wondering if this (departed) Peter Gabriel guy mighta had some talent after all, tho we never liked his voice much (more on this later).
Then Genesis Bcame The Incredible Shrinking Band. Hackett left. The reviews 4 AND THEN THERE WERE THREE... were not good, many comparing the band's sound 2 "the dreaded Moody Blues," which was really all we needed 2 hear. We liked the album fine after some adjusting: Some trax continued the Xcellent melodrama of the past: "Undertow," "Snowbound," "Burning Rope," "Deep in the Motherlode" -- really superb melodramatic prog w/ lotsa keyboards. & we didn't even miss Hackett's work in the thick mix.
The attn-grabbing "Down and Out" gave Collins a chance 2 show off w/ its changing rhythms, & "The Lady Lies" was a nice dark fairytale. But some of the other songs were really weak, & the band's breakthru hit "Follow You, Follow Me" was just lame.
Around this time we started noticing the band's work on imported EP's. The melodramatic epic "Inside and Out" was supposedly Hackett's last work w/ the band, & featured a long gtr/keybs duel during the instrumental fade-out. Quite Xcellent.
Another EP featured a devastating 3-min piece called "Vancouver," about a girl running away from home -- restrained & haunting, a perfect miniature.
Did DUKE come next? We've blocked it out. We TRIED 2 get in2 this album, but found it sludgy & boring, the 2 hits didn't help much, & even a long instrumental piece at the Nd showed no real signs of life. Their worst.
ABACAB was a little more like it, tho it showed the 1st signs of "streamlining" the band's sound in an attempt 2 get more radio time. The title track was pretty lively, "No Reply at All" was an OK hit, "Keep it Dark" was intrestingly dark, & some of the others weren't 2 offensive. R fave, however, was "Like It or Not," which slowly built in in10sity & had some great swinging choruses especially toward the Nd. We thot Collins was really starting 2 Njoy Bing a singer, & that his divorce had apparently given him lotsa good material 4 songs....
THREE SIDES LIVE had a little bit of good stuff, tho we thot it was 2 quick 4 another live album. The studio side had 2 classics: "Paperlate" & the bubbly "You Might Recall...." The live stuff peaked w/ a vicious, driving version of the Gabriel-era "In the Cage."
After that we slowly lost intrest as Genesis Bcame more popular. The dramatic "Mama" sorta put us off, both the song & the video -- we WANTED 2 like it, but.... Then there was the silly "Illegal Alien" & the not-bad "That's All." But by the time of INVISIBLE TOUCH we gave up. Who needed 2 buy the album when U could hear the whole thing on the radio every hr?
As 4 Gabriel, we're on record saying we never liked his voice much, tho we DEFinitely think that lyrically he's much weirder than his old school chums. MayB we just haven't heard enuf. (We have Genesis's PLATINUM COLLECTION best-of & have tried 2 get in2 the disc of Gabriel-led stuff there, but Xcept 4 the funny "Counting Out Time," we haven't had much luck.)
We Njoyed Gabriel's hypnotic "Shock the Monkey" & the gorgeous "In Your Eyes" -- but R "fave" is the devastating "Family Snapshot," a metaphorical piece about kids growing up ignored & unloved & what could happen when they grow up. That song tears us up every time we hear it -- so we don't play it 2 often. U should try 2 track it down. Even if that was the only good thing Gabriel ever did, his career woulda bn worth it....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Early Valentine's Day....

Various Artists: TINA'S ALBUM/BOISE IDAHO 1977-1982 (a mix tape)
including Journey: "Lights"
Barclay James Harvest: "Hymn"/"Spirit on the Water"
Renaissance: "Northern Lights"/"Ocean Gypsy" (live)
Genesis: "Afterglow"
Boston: "Used to Bad News"/"A Man I'll Never Be"
Illusion: "Everywhere You Go"
Journey: "Patiently"
Fleetwood Mac: "Silver Springs"
Shoes: "Too Late"/"In My Arms Again"
Kate Bush: "The Man With the Child in His Eyes"
Camel: "Breathless"
Todd Rundgren: "Saving Grace"
Genesis: "Your Own Special Way"
Gentle Giant: "On Reflection"
Genesis: "Ripples"
Journey: "Feeling That Way"/"Anytime"
Renaissance: "Ashes are Burning" (live) (opening)

Here's a quick look at summa what I was listening-2 right after highschool, Btween '77 & '82, Cms like 10,000 yrs ago now -- the more accessible stuff, the stuff that wouldn't scare people outta the house. Some of it also coincides w/ my 1st Dream Job, working in The Musicworks record store in Boise (Shoes, Kate Bush & Fleetwood Mac come from this).
Much of this music is also connected 2 the weirdest & possibly worst relationship w/ a woman that I've ever had. So, Happy Early Valentine's Day.
Tina was the redhead I fell 4 after my highschool sweetheart broke my heart. The match was doomed from the start, Bcos Tina's 1st boyfriend was my best friend -- & he warned me she was nuts. He had no idea how right he was.
But Tina & I were both lonely, young & stupid. We put-up w/ each other 4 almost 3 yrs, thru yelling arguments & tears & break-ups & make-ups. She made me crazy, & not in a Good Way. Inna lotta ways, actually. In addition 2 making every day a Crisis, a Drama, also while allegedly w/ me she apparently slept w/ enuf other guys 2 field at least the offense 1/2 of a football team. I lost track after awhile. All this while refusing 2 have sex w/ me. We didn't have sex 4 the last 9 mo's we were "2gether." (I didn't cheat on her -- possibly cos I could never tell if some1 was intrested -- still can't.)
& why did I put up w/ this crap 4 3 yrs? Bcos I was DUMB. Ain't love grand?
My best friend told me I'd B achieving a minor miracle if I ever got Tina's clothes off. Well, getting her clothes off wasn't that tough. I was proudly able 2 proclaim that I'd per4med a minor miracle within 2 wks of meeting her. The Rest took awhile longer....
At some point in the proceedings I figured out that Tina -- tho loud -- was painfully shy. That during sex she preferred 2 B Somewhere Else, so that she wouldn't B Mbarrassed. So I assembled the songs above, those from my collection that she played over&over, so that during intimate moments she could clamp the headphones over her head & I could continue w/o Mbarrassing interruptions....
I wish I could report that she was worth the trouble -- I don't really remember. MayB she was 2 the OTHER guys on her football team. I remember us 1nce interrupting a session long enuf 2 go out & eat pizza, then continuing where we left off when we got home, the only time THAT'S ever happened 2 me, which indicates there musta bn SOME kind of inspiration there....
But I doubt that I was a very inspiring partner either. It took me YEARS 2 figure out how things were sposta work & how 2 make my partner happy. Until I was 35, as a matter of fact. Ghod knows I TRIED. But there were YEARS of thrashing & flailing & laughing & Mbarrassment. Ghod, biology can B brutal.
So, if Tina wanted music so she could lie back & think of England, who was I 2 object?
So what if this particular selection is a little high on the melodrama? ("Hymn," "Afterglow," "A Man I'll Never Be," "Patiently," "Silver Springs," "Your Own Special Way," "Ripples" -- probly the whole damn thing.) Tina was definitely a Drama Queen & I'm 1 myself a lotta the time. So what if there's 2 much Journey & Boston & Genesis & 2 much Art Rock in general in this selection? (Hey, watch yr mouth -- middle-period Genesis was pretty great, I've gotta write them up sometime....)
I like 2 think the inclusion of more down-2-Earth trax like those by the Shoes & Todd Rundgren help balance things out a bit. The Shoes songs R breathy, heartbroken brilliance, & Todd's "Saving Grace" is merely the best thing he's ever done, "A song for our generation," as he wrote in the liner notes 4 SOMETHING/ANYTHING?
This is the only mix tape or CD I've ever made 4 NE1. My highschool sweetheart 1nce told me that Mike Oldfield's OMMADAWN (Side 1) was great music 2 have sex 2, but she never tried it on me. (She also Bqueathed me Gentle Giant's "On Reflection." Probly a good thing she never heard "Funny Ways"....)
My X-wife's mix CD would B 75 mins of nothing but Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know."
If I were 2 assemble a mix CD 4 my current/most recent girlfriend, it would include Rod Stewart's "Handbags and Gladrags," all of Nick Drake's BRYTER LAYTER, & Caravan's "All the Way (With John Wayne's Single-Handed Liberation of Paris)." & I would wanna add Blue October's "Calling You."
The downside of all this? Well, these 20 songs sometimes make me think of a psychotic redhead from my distant past. I haven't Cn her or talked 2 her since 1982. Last I heard, she had married a distant friend of mine & they were living w/ her even-more-psychotic mother -- the alcoholic mother who had twisted her Byond repair 2 Bgin w/.
Even after she was married, she kept calling me, saying that I was more attractive 2 her now that I was Off Limits....
I've never dated another woman named Tina. They're all Trouble.
I've never dated another redhead. They're all crazy, Rn't they?
...Hey, wait. My mother was a redhead....

Update 6

Currently re-reading Jon Savage's ENGLAND'S DREAMING (1991), about the rise & fall of the Sex Pistols & British Punk Rock. 1st read it a coupla yrs back & was suprised by how good summa the writing was -- frighteningly good.
Savage was on the scene while it was happening back in '76-'77 (he includes diary Ntries from Back In The Day), & he is a brilliant observer. The mass of sheer DETAIL is amazing. This book covers many of the same happenings as Tony Parsons & Julie Burchill's thin, angry, disappointing THE BOY LOOKED AT JOHNNY, but covers them infinitely better & is much more balanced.
Especially good: Savage's recounting of the Pistols' final per4mance in San Francisco, & the long section about the decline & death of Sid Vicious. Summa this stuff is just scary. U can feel how powerful the Pistols were in concert, when they were good. & what a black hole they could create when things went bad. I wasn't even a fan, Xcept 4 "God Save the Queen," but still....
This time around I'm noticing a few minor problems w/ the book -- there R some typos, & when Savage quotes some1 yr not always sure who's speaking.
But. The clear, Dtailed storyline, the sheer mass of in4mation, the power & effectiveness of the writing, & the occasional snapshots of Punk stars & scenemakers (Poly Styrene, Siouxsie Sioux, Adam Ant, Jordan, The Buzzcocks, The Clash, Wire, The Damned, The Slits, many more) make this the best history of Punk that I know of. Hard 2 C how NE1 could do better....
Also looking at Jim DeRogatis's KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, about psychedelic/"head" music from the '60s in2 the '90s. As in most "strange music" books, the usual suspects R all here: Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, etc. But so far it Cms thin. Moody Blues, Caravan, Camel & others R ignored, & Yes is listed only as a must 2 avoid. Best thing I've found so far is a brief & amusing section about the history of Can, w/ great quotes from the band-members. There's some good stuff here, but....
LOCAL TALENT DEPT.: Recently heard a local (Bremerton, Wash.-area) bar-band called Soulstice. They mainly do Fleetwood Mac covers. I'm told they have some originals as well but seldom per4m them. Their version of Mac's "Seven Wonders" sounded pretty good (mayB cos I haven't heard the original that often), & I was suprised 2 hear "Silver Springs," 1 of my fave Mac songs ever. They also sounded pretty good on "Gold Dust Woman" & "The Chain," but then I always liked it when the Mac got loud. I wouldn't have minded if these folks had hit a little harder. They have a webpage at MySpace under the name "The House of Soulstice"....