Monday, May 28, 2012


...Well, it's a better title than "CD Update 2," right...?

Here at KTAD, we strive 2 play nothing but the very best upbeat oldies & off-the-wall weird stuff 4 yer working hours. Along with the usual Motown, Bare Naked Ladies, Ronettes & Phil Spector-produced oldies, this weekend's playlist looked something like this:

Lighthouse -- Sunny Days, One Fine Morning.
Sly -- Thank You Falletinme etc.
Pogues -- If I Should Fall from Grace with God, Lorelei, Thousands are Sailing.
Nektar -- Cast Your Fate, King of Twilight, Fidgety Queen.
Squeeze -- ARGYBARGY: Pulling Mussels from the Shell, Another Nail in My Heart, Separate Beds, Misadventure, I Think I'm Go-Go, If I Didn't Love You, Farfisa Beat, Here Comes That Feeling, Vicky Verky, Wrong Side of the Moon, There at the Top.
The Jam -- Strange Town, When You're Young, Eton Rifles, That's Entertainment, Funeral Pyre.
Caravan -- Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss, Be All Right, A Hunting We Shall Go....
Tommy James and the Shondells -- I Think We're Alone Now, Mirage, Baby Baby I Can't Take it No More, Mony Mony, Sweet Cherry Wine, Ball of Fire.
Todd Rundgren -- We Gotta Get You a Woman, I Saw the Light, Couldn't I Just Tell You, Just One Victory, A Dream Goes on Forever, Real Man, The Very Last Time, Bang the Drum All Day.

Comments? Well, 1 20-something who claimed he played bass 4 jazz & R&B groups had 2 ASK ME 2 identify Sly.... Another youngster said he liked my music choice while The Jam's "That's Entertainment" was playing -- that track really IS a bitter all-acoustic classic. I've found that "Funeral Pyre" has also gained power & grimness from playing in public. & "Strange Town" I hereby nominate as Port Orchard's Official Theme Song....
Played Lighthouse's "Sunny Days" Bcos Sat was 1 of the prettiest days we've had here this Spring, sunny & near 80 degrees. Nektar's "Fidgety Queen" is still a 4gotten heavy-rock classic, but the CD version of the formerly-killer "King of Twilight" seems a bit trebly.
Started playing Squeeze 4 the great "Pulling Mussels," then couldn't stop. The ARGYBARGY album gains in charm & bounciness when played in public on a CD player with some actual BASS. The runner-up trax on this CD sound much better now: "Another Nail," "Misadventure," "If I Didn't Love You," Jools Holland's great "Wrong Side of the Moon," even the formerly-drab "There at the Top."
Caravan sounds as great as ever, with the driving "Memory Lain" & the locomotive-like power of "Be All Right," & the zap&pow effects of the early parts of "Hunting" -- the orchestra really adds a lot 2 the sweeping final section.
Tommy James still sounds great, especially on the wondrous, spectral "Sweet Cherry Wine" & "Mirage." Folks looking at TJ's DEFINITIVE COLLECTION 4 possible purchase might want 2 know that the mixes of some singles sound significantly diffrent -- the great "Ball of Fire" especially is about 30+ seconds longer, & the CD really highlights the bubbly keyboards in "Mirage" & the shimmery guitar in "Baby Baby"....
All Todd's best still sound great, especially "Couldn't I" & "Dream" & the high-tech "Real Man," even the bitter "Very Last Time." "Bang the Drum" is still a great silly singalong.
Hoping 2 add more weirdness in the days ahead. Can't wait 2 inflict Weather Report's live "Boogie Woogie Waltz" on summa my nitetime customers -- they'll love it!
...Oh, & regarding the Bare Naked Ladies (you got the list of trax in my last installment) -- I still think they R WAY underrated: Great song construction, killer hooks, high memorability, lotsa layers of tunes & meaning (try "In the Car," "I'll Be That Girl," "Light Up My Room"), the instrumentation is amazing, & their lyrics R often hilarious. But they're a lot more than just a comedy group. When they swing in2 something that's sincere & heartfelt (like the amazing "What a Good Boy"), the impact is that much heavier Bcos of the contrast with their lighter stuff. Their STUNT album has maybe 2 weak trax outta 15. & tho their GREATEST HITS is a lot more scattered, it's still well worth investigating....
...On a personal note, gotta LOT of work done around the house on Mon: Mowed the lawn, washed the dishes, took out the trash, unloaded a pickup-load-full of brush-garbage. It's amazing what a little sunshine will do. Hope you're getting some where you're at....
More soon....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

#564: CD-era update

Been a nice, smooth Memorial Day weekend so far -- weather's FINALLY gorgeous, sunny & in the 60s 2 low 70s, & gas prices haven't jumped up as predicted -- yet.
Still working on which CDs keep me most motivated at work. My overnite bag is full of discs, 2 the point where it's uncomfortably heavy 2 carry, but I've yet 2 find anything that'll keep me going from beginning 2 end. The last few days' playlist looks like this:

Adele -- Rumor Has It.
Spinners -- It's a Shame, I'll Be Around, Could it be I'm Falling in Love, One of a Kind Love Affair, I'm Coming Home.
The usual MOTOWN GOLD oldies -- played LOTS of times.
Turtles -- Happy Together, She'd Rather Be With Me, You Baby, She's My Girl, It Ain't Me Babe, Let Me Be, Elenore, You Showed Me, Outside Chance, Sound Asleep, Grim Reaper of Love.
Ronettes -- Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, The Best Part of Breakin' Up, I Wonder.
Righteous Brothers -- You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.
Ike and Tina Turner -- River Deep Mountain High.
Church -- Under the Milky Way, Reptile.
Badfinger -- No Matter What, Baby Blue, Name of the Game, Rock of All Ages, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch/Should I Smoke?
Sly and the Family Stone -- Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin, I Want to Take You Higher.
Bare Naked Ladies -- Brian Wilson, One Week, It's Only Me, If I Had a Million Dollars, Get in Line, It's All Been Done, Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Pinch Me, What a Good Boy, Light Up My Room, I'll Be That Girl, Leave, Alcohol, In the Car, Never is Enough, Who Needs Sleep, Some Fantastic.
Lick the Tins -- Can't Help Falling in Love.
Modern English -- I Melt With You, After the Snow, Carry Me Down, Tables Turning.
Fleetwood Mac -- Say You Will, Peacekeeper.
Police -- Omegaman, Secret Journey, Darkness.

I'll B adding more strange stuff, but the problem with mosta the weird stuff I like is that my faves rock out 4 maybe a track or 2, then the mood changes, leaving me with more weight 2 carry in my overnite bag. I need stuff that keeps me moving -- Nick Drake is not gonna work 4 me at Work.

COMMENTS? Well, there've bn a few. There's still a few folks saying I always have good music playing when they come in2 the store, & that's always good 2 hear. But I've heard more comments about the fact that I cut my hair SHORT 4 the summer after growing it out down 2 my shoulders over the past 2 years. (Cut my hair at home, BTW, with nothing but some sharp scissors & my electric razor -- only took an hr, & there wasn't even that much blood....)
1 Regular was SHOCKED that I would play something as recent & as POPULAR as Adele. Hey, don't judge me. The booming drums on "Rumor Has It" keep me moving, & the ending makes me laff every time. & at least it's not "Rolling in the Deep" or "Someone Like You"....
Also had folks asking 4 IDs on Bare Naked Ladies. 1 Regular mis-identified The Church as The Cure, & there R a few similarities.... Couple folks noticed I was rockin' out 2 Sly's "Thank You" & thrashing around 2 "Rumor Has It"....
I have my own issues. While reading Gerri Hirshey's pretty-Xcellent NOWHERE TO RUN: THE STORY OF SOUL MUSIC (review coming soon), it's Bcome pretty obvious 2 me that I hava real shortage of Soul/R&B in the house. Sure, I've got some Motown & some Spinners & some Stylistics (which I'm sure will NOT work at Work), but I've got hardly NE Aretha, NO James Brown, etc. Since the Soul/R&B has bn workin as a pretty good motivator 4 the last coupla wks, I'm gonna havta remedy this....
I have my own issues: Y'all already know I love The Ronettes. "The Best Part of Breakin' Up" slipped by as an ACCIDENT, & tho the words R pretty predictable, the performance is pretty great & gets better as it goes. The song is like some Ronettes-meet-the-Beach-Boys thing, especially the great false-ending. & I love the sultry way Ronnie sings "Come on beebee, don't say meebee...." Overall, it develops the same power & impact as "Be My Baby" & "Baby I Love You" & the amazing, joyous "I Wonder." Makes ME wonder if I actually HEARD "Breakin' Up" when I was testing-out their best-of a few months back.... Why didn't any1 warn me 30 years ago about how great these songs R? (Would I have paid any attn?)
Speaking of impact, "Lovin Feelin" is still stunning, & "River Deep" is somewhere beyond that -- 1nce I play the 1st I havta go on 2 the 2nd -- it's intresting how the more you play "River Deep" the clearer it gets. At 1st I just thot Tina was trying 2 scream her way thru the Wall Of Sound. Now I see she sings her way around it. It musta sounded kinda muddy on a car radio in '66 tho ... if anybody played it....
...& "You Showed Me," a Turtles hit I'd always resisted 4 being sludgy & boring, actually has a gorgeous midsection, + some neat harmonies.
More soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#563: Look into the mirror....

Hey, did you know Bret Easton Ellis's controversial 1991 yuppie-horror novel AMERICAN PSYCHO has ... RECORD REVIEWS in it? I was kinda suprised.
As a big horror fan, I tried 2 read AM PSYCHO a few yrs back, couldn't get in2 it & gave up. This time around I read the 1st 50 pgs or so & got mildly bored, so now I'm skimming -- only 2 trip over an entire CHAPTER that is nothing but reviews of Genesis's 1980s output, starting on pg 133.
But here's the thing -- Ellis & his psycho narrator Patrick Bateman go on&on&ON in endless, mind-numbing detail about fashion & brand-names (I assume all this stuff is correct). But Xcept 4 Genesis & a couple refrences 2 INXS and Huey Lewis and the News, all other refrences 2 music in the 1st 130 pgs of the book R botched. ALL of the oldies mentioned R attributed 2 the wrong artists.
Lotta diffrent ways 2 take this. Either Bateman the narrator thinks all the artists' names R interchangeable & don't matter (he even gets Genesis members' names scrambled-up toward the end of his reviews), or Ellis isn't that big a music fan & couldn't care less, or his publisher blew it on the fact-checking. But this is obvious stuff: "Cherish" was not done by the Lovin' Spoonful. "Be My Baby" was NOT done by the Crystals.
If Ellis/Bateman lavished so much attn on fashion & brand-names -- you ALWAYS know what EVERY character is wearing, you may not know what they LOOK like but you ALWAYS know how they're dressed (you also always know what everybody's eating or drinking) -- why would he blow-off the music details? Hmmm....
Course this book isn't about music. & tho I'm mildly bored, I havta admit I'm enjoying the way Ellis slips in sneaky details about his main character's slimy pursuits. Just little flashes here & there. Like when his girlfriend asks why she couldn't come over 2 see him the night B4, & when she gets distracted Bateman answers: "You couldn't come over last night because your neighbor's head was in my refrigerator." & no1 notices. ... OK, so I hava odd sense of humor....
His Genesis reviews R pretty funny 2, especially when Bateman rattles on about the band's DEEP EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT 2 their music, & how former member Peter Gabriel never made a solo album as consistent, tuneful & challenging as INVISIBLE TOUCH....
Course I don't recommend you read what is sposta B a pretty tough novel just 4 the silly music reviews. & I'm aware I haven't gotten 2 the really tough stuff yet. (Just 1 fully-detailed but only mildly messy murder so far.) I don't even know if I'm gonna B able 2 finish it. But there WERE some intresting things going on here....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#562: The CD Era dawns -- uneventfully

Started playing CDs at work seriously on Sun nite after finally discovering on Sat that the store's CD player actually WORKS -- & sounds BETTER than the shagged-out old cassette player, which had started eating tapes.
Sat nite's CD playlist looked like this:

Police -- It's Alright for You, Does Everyone Stare?, On Any Other Day.
Bangles -- Most of GREATEST HITS: Hero Takes a Fall, Going Down to Liverpool, Manic Monday, If She Knew What She Wants, Walk Like an Egyptian, Walking Down Your Street, Following, Hazy Shade of Winter, Be With You, I'll Set You Free, Everything I Wanted.

Barrett Strong -- Money.
Martha and the Vandellas -- Dancing in the Street.
Junior Walker and the All-Stars -- Shotgun.
Supremes -- Stop in the Name of Love, Up the Ladder to the Roof.
Jimmy Ruffin -- What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.
Four Tops -- Reach Out I'll Be There.
Gladys Knight and the Pips -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
Marvin Gaye -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine, What's Going On.
David Ruffin -- My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me).
Temptations -- I Can't Get Next to You, Ball of Confusion, Papa Was a Rolling Stone.
Jackson 5 -- I Want You Back.
Stevie Wonder -- Fingertips Part 2, Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours.
Spinners -- It's a Shame.
Edwin Starr -- War.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles -- Tears of a Clown.
Undisputed Truth -- Smiling Faces Sometimes.

Raspberries -- I Wanna Be With You, Tonight, I'm a Rocker, Ecstasy, Cruisin' Music, Starting Over, Overnight Sensation.
Hawkwind -- Urban Guerrilla, Sonic Attack, Psychedelic Warlords (all played repeatedly).
Keane -- Somewhere Only We Know, This is the Last Time, Bend and Break, Your Eyes Open.

Tho I played the Hawkwind trax repeatedly & the MOTOWN GOLD CD is almost as great (& as complete) as THE MOTOWN STORY (see below), the only stuff that REALLY grabbed me all nite was Keane. Every time I play that HOPES AND FEARS CD (1nce every year or 2) I'm reminded how great those 4 songs were. Whatever happened 2 those guys, anyway...?

Also got some apparent local-radio Bad News on Sun nite: KMTT FM "The Mountain" has apparently stopped running the Xcellent syndicated garage-rock/Oldies program "Little Steven's Underground Garage" every Sun nite from 10 pm 2 midnight -- at least they didn't run it this past Sun nite & didn't Xplain why. I tried 2 call them, but the toll-free number 2 their Seattle studio was busy. Maybe other fans of the show were complaining -- I hope so.
Does this mean no more loud, obnoxious, radio-underplayed music on Sun nites? That means I'll have 2 supply MY OWN....

Have started Max Barry's novel JENNIFER GOVERNMENT, about a weird future in which EVERYONE works 4 some corporation -- it's outrageous & funny. Have also just gotten in2 Gerri Hirshey's NOWHERE TO RUN, an acclaimed history of Soul/R&B. Likely I'll have reviews of both in the not-2-distant future....
More soon....

Sunday, May 20, 2012


4th in the series. I think....

Miles Davis/Bill Laswell -- PANTHALASSA (1998): In a Silent Way/Shhh/Peaceful/It's About That Time, Black Satin/What If?/Agharta Prelude Dub, Rated X/Billy Preston, He Loved Him Madly.
Hawkwind -- EPOCHECLIPSE best-of (1999): Silver Machine, Master of the Universe, Urban Guerilla, Sonic Attack, Psychedelic Warlords (single edit), Assault and Battery (Part 1), Motorhead, Back on the Streets, Quark Strangeness and Charm, 25 Years (12" remix)....
Egg -- THE CIVIL SURFACE (1974): Germ Patrol, Wind Quartet 1, Enneagram, Prelude, Wring Out the Ground Loosely Now....

PANTHALASSA is a collection/remix of Miles trax from the albums IN A SILENT WAY, ON THE CORNER and GET UP WITH IT -- the latter 2 got pretty "mixed" reviews as they say, but I've wanted 2 Xplore more of Miles's noisy jazz-rock, so....
The SILENT WAY suite/condensation (the original album only has these 4 trax) opens with some electronic murk, then John McLaughlin's gorgeous raindrop-guitar-tones. Miles' soothing trumpet follows, 3 mins in. It's still beautiful, & wisely Laswell doesn't mess with it much. Is this the best jazz-rock piece Miles ever did? There's some Xtra gtr doodling at the end, with the gtr, trumpet & keys sounding like they're suspended in space.
Then in2 the more straightahead trumpet&keyboard jazz of "Shhh." Miles's piercing tone goes nice with some nice bouncy keys from Joe Zawinul & Keith Jarrett. There's solid drumming & cymbal work from Tony Williams. This is a nice lite groove, spacey but pleasant, not murky. Some nice sax from Wayne Shorter & bouncy bass from Dave Holland. The groove gets bouncier ... & then the "Silent Way" theme returns at the end. A nice 15-min remix of an album that was sometimes a little 2 "drifty." Good waking-up music.
"Black Satin" opens with some Indian percussion, then gets loud & funky, with some piercing, electronicized squiggly trumpet. This is followed by some obnoxious trebly gtr, with lotsa feedback -- then gtr, trumpet & keys all squalling. The gtr gets pretty spacey, but the drummer is ON IT, he is WORKIN. (Is it Williams? Jack DeJohnette? Al Foster? There's a list of 2-dozen players on the backcover, but no credits 4 who plays on what.) The piece ends with just spacey gtr & keybs.
"Rated X" is hotter & faster, mostly keys & drums. It COOKS, but it doesn't really GO anywhere. Maybe they're waiting 4 Miles 2 come in? ... This is a feverish groove, but it's BACK-UP -- there's no lead instrument. Nobody's taking over.
Miles finally shows up on "Billy Preston," which Preston doesn't play on. (Think Miles 1nce did a piece entitled "John McLaughlin," 2....) There's lotsa wah-wah'd trumpet, lotsa percussion -- it's funky, but it's funky wah-wah mood music.
Rock critic Lester Bangs 1nce called "He Loved Him Madly" 1 of the most depressing pieces of music of the '70s. & it DOES sound like a funeral. It was at least partly supposed 2 B a tribute 2 the late Duke Ellington. The suprise is it's also PRETTY, with nice laid-back gtr, some pretty flute from Dave Liebman, spacey atmosphere & good bass. Miles enters 5-1/2 mins in, soft & mournful. There's some hushed, ominous, brooding keys & gtr -- this section is dramatic & powerful; Miles's electronicized trumpet sounds lost & in pain. This sounds MODERN, like it coulda bn cut last week. Lotsa Xcellent bass & gtr & drums (Al Foster?). It doesn't go NEwhere much in 13-1/2 mins (the original recording was over 30 mins), but it's VERY intresting....
Overall, worth it all 4 "Silent Way" & "Madly"....

The best stuff I've heard by British heavy-space legends Hawkwind -- & I haven't heard all that much -- would make a really good best-of. But nobody's gotten it right yet, & they've had at least 4 chances at it. (& there's all that lauded stuff out there I haven't heard yet: "Magnu," "The Demented Man," "Kerb Crawler," "Hassan I Sahba," "Psi Power"....) EPOCHECLIPSE features a couple more winners I hadn't heard B4, but there's good stuff that should B here & is missing. (See the review of their STASIS best-of below....)
Anyway. "Master of the Universe" has some pretty good keybs & sax in the middle. "Urban Guerilla" is Bcoming a fave rave of mine -- nice gtr by Dave Brock, an Xcellent vocal by Bob Calvert, & hilarious lyrics you CAN'T take seriously: "So let's not talk about love and flowers and things that don't EXPLODE...." Possibly their greatest hit.
"Sonic Attack" is a hilarious recitation by Calvert, written by science-fiction writer Mike Moorcock. Am I the only person who thinks this stuff is FUNNY? (Do not panic. Think only of yourself....) Calvert made a pretty great front-man....
"Psychedelic Warlords" has the previously-mentioned great verses & choruses, + some nice Nik Turner sax in the middle, but the single edit cuts off 2 quick....
"Assault and Battery" opens with some NICE pastoral keys & nice Nik Turner flute, + some strong Brock gtr. But the choruses R kinda dull....
"Motorhead" sounds a LITTLE like Lemmy's future band, but with added Xcellent violin from Simon House, + more good sax. & Lemmy's vocal should B mixed LOUDER!
"Quark Strangeness and Charm" is bouncy & punchy -- almost sounds like Roxy Music. The lyrics R pretty silly. "25 Years" almost sounds like New Wave! With great late-'70s keybs!
I might get back 2 more of this later....

I grabbed Egg's CIVIL SURFACE cheap, mainly 4 the odd keyboard sounds that top Egg Dave Stewart added to National Health & Hatfield and the North. Needless 2 say, Egg sounds a lot like those bands -- especially when the famous Northettes add wordless vocals....
"Germ Patrol" opens with lite keybs straight outta the Hatfields, + heavy drums from Clive Brooks. It develops in2 a rather nice march after 7 mins of noodling. Then abruptly fades out....
"Wind Quartet 1" really is a 2-1/2-min woodwind quartet piece written by bassist/French-hornist Mont Campbell -- & it's very nice, tho very diffrent from mosta the rest of the album....
"Enneagram" goes back 2 the Hatfield/Health sound. Nice, noodly, washy, pleasant keyboard-based mood music you can drift off 2. There R occasional driving sections of some force, then the circusy, bubbling organ parts take back over....
"Prelude" really sounds like the Hatfields, thanks 2 wordless vocals by the Northettes (Amanda Parsons, Barbara Gaskin, Ann Rosenthal). Deep, brooding, ominous keyboard tones close it.
"Wring Out the Ground" opens with some forceful singing from Mont Campbell, followed by a stately, grand main theme on keybs. Then Stewart's hyperactive keybs take over. At the end, Campbell overdubs himself multiple times 4 stronger vocals -- if he were a little more relaxed vocally, this'd probly B an even stronger 8 mins....
Might get back 2 this. Hatfield's & the Health's albums had 2 grow on me, 2....

More noise coming in the future. Possibly some actual music, 2.
Also made a big discovery at work Sat nite -- our store CD player actually works, & sounds better than the cassette player. So I spent the evening playing old Motown hits, Florence + the Machine's "Shake it Out" & others, & mosta the Hawkwind trax listed above.
We R about 2 get in2 a whole new realm of weirdness....
More soon....

Friday, May 18, 2012

#560: The songs they love to sing

There's been way too many music people dying lately. Most of Donna Summer's work never did much 4 me -- back in the day I'd agree she had a strong voice, but she was everywhere, every song she did was SO popular, we heard her 24/7, it was all too much. Even if I did think that her multiple-Donna-chorale ending 2 the long version of "Love to Love You Baby" was pretty great....
When her ON THE RADIO/GREATEST HITS album came out, we played it 2 death in the record store (just like we did with BAD GIRLS), & I braced myself 2 get sick of Donna. But 2 songs really stuck with me....
"Heaven Knows" was a really nice duet that showed some signs of real feeling rather than her producers' usual mechanical, pounding thump-thump-thump. And then there was "I Love You," which got ZERO airplay in our area as the follow-up 2 "I Feel Love." As romantic & sentimental & idealistic as a Dream Come True, I was knocked out by it, & was also stumped that something that great peaked at #37 as a single. But somebody at Casablanca Records was smart enuf 2 add it 2 the best-of. I ended up buying a single that had those 2 songs back-2-back. Much later, I bought the album, 2nd-hand.
Later on, I was a sucker 4 Donna's overproduced "State of Independence" -- as silly as it was, there were some great moments in it, especially her vocal on the verses & her repeating of the line "This state of independence shall be...." It peaked at #41.
Those 3 songs stuck with me, & I played all 3 of them at work Thurs nite after I heard Donna had died. "I Love You" is still a knockout, & the other 2 still sound pretty good. But then, a lot of Donna's work -- like a lot of disco -- probly sounds better now that it's 30+ years later & we're not hearing it 24/7. A little distance helps.
I also think this is a good illustration of my theory that there R some songs that recording artists R just MEANT to do -- it's the reason they were put here, if you will. 4 me, Donna Summer IS "I Love You" & "Heaven Knows" & the chorale ending of "Love to Love You Baby," & the best parts of "State of Independence." She might have some other great songs I haven't heard yet, + there R all those HUGE hit singles from '79-'80 that maybe someday I'll B able 2 hear without my ears closing involuntarily. But 4 now, those 3+ songs sum her up 4 me.
This works with a lot of other artists, 2. It seems 2 work especially well with folks I don't like that much. But everybody has (at least) 1 song they were MEANT 2 sing.
Whitney Houston was meant to sing "I Want to Dance With Somebody," the only thing of hers I've ever come close 2 enjoying.
John Denver was put here 2 sing "Rocky Mountain High."
Paula Abdul was put here 2 sing "Blowing Kisses in the Wind."
Celine Dion was meant 2 sing "Nothing's Broken but My Heart."
Vanessa Williams was meant 2 sing "Save the Best for Last."
Marvin Gaye was put here 2 sing either "Ain't That Peculiar" or "What's Going On." (& I LIKE him....)
Tom Petty's Ultimate Song is still "Even the Losers." I can hardly stand anything else of his that I've heard.
Jim Morrison was put here 2 sing "People are Strange." Or possibly "Light My Fire." Perry Como should have sang The Doors' "Touch Me."
Gladys Knight was put here 2 sing either "If I Were Your Woman" or "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
I think Elvis was meant to sing "Promised Land." You may of course have other nominees....
...This game seems 2 work best with artists you Rn't that thrilled with. The more you like a recording artist, or the longer or more varied their career, the harder it is 2 pin them down 2 1 "Ultimate Song." I couldn't pin down the Beatles, & wouldn't want 2. Same with the Moody Blues. Heck, I can't even pin down Tommy James and the Shondells....
But I've always thot Aretha Franklin was put on Earth 2 sing 2 stunning classics: "Daydreaming" & "'Til You Come Back to Me." But I admit that as I get older I'm starting 2 really appreciate "Think" & "Chain of Fools" & "Respect." So....
The silver lining here is that EVERY artist has 1 great moment, no matter how bad you might think they are. I can only think of 1 Xception: Engelbert Humperdinck was apparently put here 2 sing NOTHING. Too bad that didn't work out. But I feel the same way about Gary Puckett....
Tom Jones was put here 2 sing "She's a Lady."
Kenny Rogers was put here 2 sing "Love Will Turn You Around." Or possibly "I Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In."
Kim Carnes MAY have been put here 2 sing either "Voyeur" or "Draw of the Cards."
Tina Turner was surely put on Earth 2 sing "River Deep, Mountain High." Oh, & "Nutbush City Limits."
Frank Sinatra was put here 2 sing "That's Life."
Dean Martin's Ultimate Song was "Ain't That a Kick in the Head."
Bruce was put here 2 sing "Born to Run."
David Bowie's ultimate was either "Suffragette City" or "Changes" or "Modern Love" ... or "Space Oddity."
4 me, AC/DC was put here 2 do "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."
The Band were put here 2 do "The Weight."
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd was put here 2 do "Tuesday's Gone."
ZZ Top was put here 2 do "La Grange."
There R some I'm having a little trouble with....
I GUESS Van Halen was put here 2 do "Jump," but I sure ain't no Xpert. & really don't want 2 B.
Sammy Davis Jr. was NOT put here 2 sing "The Candy Man." But I don't have a back-up nominee.... Maybe "I Gotta Be Me"...?
What do you think? Any other nominees & the songs that sum them up?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

#559: I think we're all bozos on this bus....

From Nov 1970 2 Oct '73 I rode a bus 5 to 10 miles 2 gradeschool & junior-highschool, & if I wasn't already addicted 2 the radio by then, riding on the bus sure helped, cos thank Ghod R bus drivers cranked-up the radio 2 help cover up the screaming & screeching of the 50 or so kids carried along R bus route.
The radio was almost always tuned to Tacoma's KTAC AM 85, probly the #2 Top 40 station in the Seattle-Tacoma market in the early '70s. Seattle's KJR AM 95 was the top-rated area station, but they were farther away & harder 2 pick-up clearly.
In the morning KTAC seemed pretty lightweight & there was lotsa talk & silliness (syndicated short comedy programs like "The Tooth Fairy" & "The Adventures of Chicken Man"), but I also 1st heard Badfinger's "Day After Day" & "Baby Blue" on the 1/2-hour morning ride 2 school. The winters were cold & rainy, but I didn't mind so much back then, & on the way 2 school I would sit & sing along with the latest hits with my old buddy Mike Harvey, the world's biggest Carpenters fan.
In the afternoon, KTAC was a lot livelier, even venturing 2 play stuff I have NEVER again heard on the radio anywhere else -- Rare Bird's great guitar-driven "Birdman," Manfred Mann's Earth Band's "Living Without You," Brenda and the Tabulations' "One Girl Too Late" (great fake-Motown!), Johnathan King's silly "A Tall Order for a Short Guy," Billy Lee Riley's laid-back "I Got a Thing About You Baby," Joey Gregorash's non-hit version of Neil Young's "Down by the River".... & every afternoon at 3:30, just as we were getting outta school & rolling toward home, KTAC'd put on "Stairway to Heaven" for all us junior-high-school-aged listeners who were sucked in by the mysticalness of it. You could almost set your watch by it.
Their afternoon playlist was pretty wide-open. Many times pulling up in front of my house, the empty bus would B ringing with the vocal hysteria of Nilsson's long version of "Jump Into the Fire" -- kinda nightmarish 4 little 13-year-old me. Maybe not as spooky as Led Zeppelin, but still....
I 1st heard "Won't Get Fooled Again" & "Behind Blue Eyes" on that afternoon ride home. & "Cover of Rolling Stone." "Kodachrome" & "Mother and Child Reunion." "No More Mister Nice Guy" & "Elected." "Bang a Gong (Get it On)." Joni Mitchell's hilarious "Raised on Robbery." Stevie Wonder's "If You Really Love Me" & "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." Lee Michaels' great "Do Ya Know What I Mean." Joe Cocker's great "Feeling Alright." & sometimes KTAC would slap on the old hits, like "Tears of a Clown." Or "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
Mornings were usually much more laid-back: Bread doing their gorgeous "Everything I Own" & the just-TOO-sweet "If." Three Dog Night doing "Never Been to Spain" & "Old Fashioned Love Song" & "Family of Man." I remember Bing suprised 2 hear the Moodies' 5-year-old "Nights in White Satin" while it poured down rain outside the bus & the rolling green hills of western Washington went by.
& of course they always played the REALLY big hits: "American Pie," "You're So Vain," "Killing Me Softly," "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Joy to the World."
KTAC wasn't immune 2 playing crap either, if it was a big enuf hit: They were suckers 4 the Osmonds, "One Bad Apple" & "Sweet and Innocent" & "Go Away Little Girl." Ugh. Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman." Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Candy Man." Dr. Hook's excruciating "Sylvia's Mother." Melanie's annoying "Brand New Key." Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves." Not everything from the '70s is golden, Ghod knows.
But even tho I thot I was pretty open-minded at the time (4 a kid who started out with the Partridge Family), there was so much I missed, there was so much I ignored -- there was so much R rather-openly-formatted local radio never even PLAYED.
Looking back, I think I was lucky 2 hear the range of music that I did. I think I was lucky 2 grow up at a time when radio was still pretty open, when a song didn't havta B a Top 40 hit nationwide 2 still get some airplay. KJR is still with us, still playing yer standard '60s & '70s rock&roll oldies on FM, but KTAC is LONG GONE....
I went back a few years ago 2 see how much the old neighborhood had changed. I found my old house & even my old school -- which back in the day had a unique, airy, sprawling early-'70s open-campus design & more recently was stunningly adding a 2ND FLOOR.... But everything had changed SO much, everything was SO built-up, & I got so disoriented ... I hadta pull over & let the girlfriend drive....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#558: The Motown Story

I've bn playing an edited, "highlights-only" taped version of THE MOTOWN STORY at work a lot lately -- & practically nothing else since Weds. I knew it was all great stuff, but when you put it all together it's amazing how addictive it all Bcomes....
THE MOTOWN STORY was a 5-album best-of that Motown released in 1971 2 mark their biggest hits & "corporate evolution" over the company's 1st decade. I checked-out a copy from the local library a decade or so ago & didn't realize a disc or 2 of the package was missing 'til I got it home. But that didn't stop me from taping what I thot were the "best" parts....
Course my ears have opened up a little bit more since then. There R none of Marvin Gaye's classic duets with Tammi Terrell or Kim Weston on this tape, & I've since Bcome a sucker 4 that stuff. "It Takes Two"? Great! The original "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"? Marvelous! "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing"! & especially "You're All I Need to Get By"....
Was never that big a Gladys Knight fan, Xcept 4 "If I Were Your Woman" & "I've Got a Song in My Heart Again," so this homemade "best-of" doesn't include her KILLER version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," released a year B4 Marvin Gaye's....
Marvin's "Ain't That Peculiar?" & Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" & Edwin Starr's "War" Rn't here cos some1 lost a couple of the records....
But all the really obvious Motown hits R here, all the way back 2 Barrett Strong's hilarious "Money." & when you connect them all 2gether, it's really amazing how the upbeat hits just keep on comin....
I already adored Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" & Stevie's "I Was Made to Love Her," & the Four Tops' "Reach Out I'll Be There," Marvin's "What's Goin' On?," Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," The Miracles' "Tears of a Clown," & NE number of Supremes hits ("Stop in the Name of Love," "Back in My Arms Again," "Love is Here and Now You're Gone," etc), but what's getting me recently is how even the stuff I never liked that much B4 has all these little touches of genius scattered thruout....
Some of this is thanx 2 Motown's great studio band, the Funk Brothers (James Jamerson on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Earl Van Dyke on keyboards, Marv Tarplin & others on guitar), but it's also thanx 2 some great producers & amazing songwriters.
Smokey Robinson's clever-but-so-natural lyrics always seem 2 grab me, even on songs I never liked much -- The Miracles' "I Second That Emotion" opens with a really great verse, sweetly sung by Smokey:

Maybe you want to give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat
And maybe you'll go away and never call
And a taste of honey's worse than none at all....

After that, I'm sorry but as clever as it is, the rest of the song's an anti-climax 4 me. It's almost TOO lite -- maybe if they'd punched it up a bit. I have the same problem with "Shop Around." I've never had NE doubts about "Tears of a Clown," tho:

But don't let my show convince you
That I've been happy since you
Decided to go
Oh I need you so
I'm hurt and I want you to know
But for others I put on a show....

Those words added 2 a brilliant, punchy, "carnival"-like production -- well, I thot it was a freaking knockout in late 1970 & still do. Can you believe that Berry Gordy & Motown sat on that song as an album track 4 THREE YEARS B4 finally releasing it as a single?
Smokey's got more great clever-but-natural lyrics on Marvin's "Ain't That Peculiar?" The song's chock-full of great lyrics, 2 go with a lite-but-driving production & some neat backing vocals. Why don't oldies stations play it more often?
I'm also swept away by Motown's songs of adoration: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" of course, but also Stevie's joyous "I Was Made to Love Her" ("worship and adore her," "build my world all around her," "I was made to live for her") & "My Cherie Amour," a beautiful song it took me YEARS 2 even HEAR -- Ghod knows where I was at....
But even the less-successful stuff has moments of brilliance. The Marvelettes' "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" is full of great lines. This one just jumped out at me over the past couple nites:

You may think that love is blind
But it's as clear as a highway sign....

THE MOTOWN STORY may have some minor problems -- 2 many Supremes trax (even if most of em R cosmically great), not enuf Jackson 5 (only "I Want You Back" is included), coulda used more Junior Walker, 2 much Temptations 4 me, & maybe just a few 2 many Four Tops hits -- but there's no denying mosta this stuff, even if you're not a fan. Who doesn't love Motown?
Well, I didn't like some of it 4 years, or maybe just didn't hear enuf: The Supremes' "Reflections" I didn't get hooked on 'til it was used as the theme 4 the TV series CHINA BEACH. & summa their early hits R just kinda ... I dunno, silly? But it's only fairly recently I've noticed the heavy drive of "You Keep Me Hanging On" -- it really pushes hard, & I love Diana's spoken bit about 1/2way thru: "And there ain't nothin' I can do about it...."
Tho I think Marvin Gaye could almost do no wrong back in the '60s & '70s, something weird happens at work every time I play "What's Goin' On?" I always loved the song, but I'm not sent in2 stunned rapture & screaming along with it, as I am with Diana's "Ain't No Mountain."
The past couple nites when "What's Goin' On" has come on, I've gotten goosebumps all over both arms & had chills even if I'm sweating. Not sure what's up with that. 1 customer suggested that the store's haunted & that the ghost really likes that song. Until a better Xplanation comes along....

Friday, May 11, 2012

#557: On the dark side of the moon....

KWOR Radio sat just back from the banks of the Bighorn River, a ranch-style house with a few years on it and a transmitter tower out back, blasting five watts of pure power into the Wyoming wilderness.
KWOR was basically an Oldies station, running a couple hours of local news and talk and Rush Limbaugh in the mornings, then a syndicated, satellite-supplied 24-hour Oldies format the rest of the time. On Friday nights they broadcast local high-school sports events, football and basketball games.
On Saturday nights, the only local live DJ came in from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to play his own twisted favorites on The Dark Side of the Moon....
Tom had begged Don the station-owner/manager for the chance to go on the air with his own big box of oldies. It's not that KWOR's usual programming was lacking, it's just that Tom thought it was ... a little boring. It was the same old stuff over and over and OVER.
Tom figured it was only fair -- Don and his skeleton crew of employees had stolen enough of Tom's work off of the front page of the local newspaper for their morning newscasts. At least they usually gave credit for where they got the information, but....
Tom had literally begged for the spot. He'd even offered to do the work for free.
"Please let me do this," he'd said. "I've gotta got out of newspapers before my brains dribble out of my ears...."
Don had laughed and then thought it over. Tom DID at least have a sort-of "radio voice," a trait he'd picked up by mimicking radio DJ's from about age 12 onwards. It was like Tom had missed his calling in life.
Finally Don gave in, asking only that Tom provide a tentative playlist up-front, and that he not play anything TOO WEIRD, too drug-oriented, or too laced with obscenities. After all, their listeners were fairly conservative folks in the sheltered confines of North-Central Wyoming.
And besides, it was the middle of Winter. Don didn't want anybody to be TOO shocked....
Tom had been at it for a month. He'd had a pretty good time. What he didn't realize up front was that his audience was mostly teens, and farm families who had to get up early in the morning. So his listening audience probably numbered about 5.
Tom didn't care. He had a blast anyway. He didn't care if nobody could hear him in the neighboring towns, Ten Sleep and Thermopolis, both 30 miles down the road in different directions. It didn't matter -- he got a charge out of being in charge and playing what he wanted.
Sometimes his musical choices got kind of dark -- after all, he was in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Winter. So then he'd have to play something upbeat and life-affirming to counteract his program's drift. He'd sit in the studio with the long version of Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" cranked up LOUD and tears running down his face. Music hit him pretty hard sometimes. On a previous weekend he'd played Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?" and gotten chills. He got goosebumps all over both arms. And he didn't know why.
Nothing that weird on this Saturday night shift. As The Turtles' offbeat non-hit "Grim Reaper of Love" came to a sudden close, Tom told his single-digit audience: "We're winding stuff down here on the dark side of the moon. If there's something you'd like to hear or something I can play to make your dreams sweeter, call me toll-free at 1-800-788-4679...."
Then into Dion's chilling B-side, "Daddy Rollin' (In Your Arms)." Thirty seconds in, the phone rang.
The phone hardly ever rang. He'd heard from maybe half a dozen listeners in the month he'd been doing the show. There were some weird folks out there, too. Either that or they were all drunk. Who could blame 'em? He picked up the phone on the fourth ring.
"KWOR. You say 'em, we play 'em."
"You think you could play 'Seasons in the Sun'?" a woman asked.
"Ehhhh," Tom said. "I dunno, sounds a little too normal for me...."
There was a long pause. "You're a real asshole, you know that?" the woman said.
Do I know you? Tom wondered.
"Okay, tell 'ya what," he said. "I'm not gonna play 'Seasons in the Sun' because everybody's heard that one a million times. What I WILL do is play something else by Terry Jacks that I'll bet you haven't heard since you were a little girl, OK?"
"Look, trust me. It's gonna be good. You'll thank me in the morning."
"Mmmm, ... all right. God forbid you should ever have to play anything NORMAL...."
Tom hung up, quickly downed some cold bad coffee, and followed up Dion with The Beatles' classic B-side "I'm Down." Though he hated to miss McCartney's date telling him to keep his hands to himself, he stumbled out into the hall and into the haphazard record library. Things were ALMOST alphabetical in there, and he didn't have to thrash around too long before he found what he was looking for -- a classic almost-hit on the light-blue-and-white London label, from 1971: "Where Evil Grows" by the Poppy Family -- Terry and Susan Jacks in disguise.
After McCartney's hysteria, "Where Evil Grows" came on low-key and contained, with just a hint of a threat:

I liked the way you smiled at me...
I felt the heat that enveloped me...
And what I saw I like to see....

Tom drifted. Outside it was approximately 24 degrees, not even that cold for Wyoming in February. A couple weeks from now would be the annual Bighorn Basin Sauger Derby -- local fishermen out ice-fishing on the river. If they were lucky, the temperatures would stay "warm." Forty below zero in February wasn't uncommon for North-Central Wyoming's Bighorn Basin.
Tom looked out the window into the pitch-dark. A car passed on Highway 20 in front of the station, and Tom saw that it was snowing again -- more of that light sandy snow that'd blow off into Nebraska after a couple of days. There was already 18 inches of it outside, and driving through it was like bombing through sand when it started to pile up. Nothing to worry about on his short drive home.
The Poppy Family finished off with a sneaky guitar solo and Tom faded into the bubbly underwater sounds of The Chantays' "Pipeline," his usual low-key closer. The news would kick-in automatically at the top of the hour. After that the Oldies satellite feed would take over until Don came in Monday morning.
Tom was tired, as usual at the end of his shift. Drained. Barely thinking at all. He had no idea what new old sounds he'd haul in for next Saturday night's show. But he'd think of something....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#556: Author's Notes

I've written about this B4 -- about how I sometimes think that "Author's Notes," the stories BEHIND the stories, R sometimes far better than fiction, tho no1 seems 2 agree with me.
There was a time I wouldn't read a writer's comments on his own work, when I wouldn't even read BOOK REVIEWS -- all that stuff useta B BORING 2 me. All I wanted was THE STORIES.
But by the time I 1st started trying 2 write fiction (around age 16), all that stuff suddenly got a whole lot more intresting. & later, when I got sucked-in2 the reporting/journalism/non-fiction end of writing, it Bcame an addiction. I read very little fiction these days -- it takes a heckuva good novel 2 hold my attention now. I'm doing good if I can finish 2 novels a year, & maybe a handful of short stories.
Probly the writer who got me hooked on the behind-the-scenes stuff was Harlan Ellison, who practically made an Art of the Author's Note in his short-story collections of the '60s & '70s (DEATHBIRD STORIES, SHATTERDAY, etc), & became an Author's Note Legend with his vivid & lengthy writer-intros in his massive DANGEROUS VISIONS all-original-fiction anthologies. (In fact, those long intros & the amount of work they took R supposedly 1 of the reasons his massive LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS anthology never appeared.) Harlan sometimes got zinged 4 being outrageously honest about writers' pasts & accomplishments, but I never thot he went overboard....
Harlan's wordy non-fiction never topped his stories, which were always vivid & wild & massive in their emotional impact. Some of his non-fiction got close tho -- like a long piece about being arrested & held in New York's "Tombs" central jail in MEMOS FROM PURGATORY, or his 2 big GLASS TEAT books of late-'60s/early-'70s TV criticism.
There were others in the same period doing something similar, if at not-as-great a length. Editor Ed Ferman in the old MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION sometimes went a long way toward making fiction-writers look pretty cool in his chatty author-intros. But he was apparently trained by prior F&SF Editor Avram Davidson, who would go well over a page sometimes, if he thot the writer was worth it or that writer's appearance in the mag was a big-enuf event.
Judith Merrill was doing some of the same kinda thing in her chatty intros & Btween-story discussions in her late-'60s YEAR'S BEST SF series. Damon Knight would sometimes chat a bit when intro-ing writers in the pages of his late-'60s/early-'70s ORBIT collections. Damon would go on 2 write a 250-pg Author's Note in his Xcellent overview of legendary '30s/'40s SF writers' group THE FUTURIANS (1979).
Best-of book-editors were always pretty generous when it came 2 intro-ing writers & providing lists of credits, & sometimes tossed in a little flavor about how it felt 2 BE a science-fiction or horror writer. Terry Carr was 1 of the best in his annual BEST SCIENCE FICTION OF THE YEAR collections in the '70s, & in his long series of UNIVERSE original anthologies. Robert Silverberg did some pretty great author's intros 4 his NEW DIMENSIONS series, & sometimes reminisced about what it was like 2 create his own massive fiction output in the intros 2 many of his own short-story collections. Silverberg also wrote a classic intro 4 James Tiptree Jr.'s 2nd short-story collection, WARM WORLDS AND OTHERWISE (1974), tho in it he failed 2 catch on that Tiptree was a woman....
Gardner Dozois carried on this chatty tradition in his massive, still-continuing BEST SF OF THE YEAR series, which started back in 1983. David Hartwell is still doing a great job with his annual YEAR'S BEST SF, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling followed Dozois's model 4 their YEAR'S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR in the '90s, & Karl Edward Wagner did a great chatty job editing THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR in2 the early '90s.
Now-superstar fantasy writer George R.R. Martin wrote a great set of story-intros 4 his 2nd collection SONGS OF STARS AND SHADOWS (1977) -- neat little peeks in2 how his dark, moody, fiercely romantic early stories were written. George shoulda done more intros like that.
I've said here B4 that I think SF writer Barry N. Malzberg shoulda bn an essayist. Some of his intros & notes R far better than his short stories -- summa the best Xamples appear in his BEST OF and MALZBERG AT LARGE, & as an afterword 2 his novel REVELATIONS. & in THE ENGINES OF THE NIGHT (1982) he wrote a brilliant 200-pg author's note 4 the entire science fiction field. An Xpanded version of this book, with the added brilliant essay "Tripping with the Alchemist," is also available as BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS.
Horror writer David J. Schow wrote some screamingly funny intros & afterwords 4 his 2 early story collections SEEING RED and LOST ANGELS (both 1990), focusing mainly on summa the weird circumstances under which the stories were written & published -- & how he developed a coupla pen-names, 1 on purpose & the other Ntirely unXpected.... SILVER SCREAM (1990), a massive original-story horror-movie-themed anthology that Schow edited, features 50 PAGES of author's notes at the end, a sorta roll-the-credits 4 the nearly 2-dozen writers who contributed. It's like heaven, if you're in2 this stuff:  Full of behind-the-scenes info, & screamingly funny.
Orson Scott Card wrote some great in-depth intros & author's notes 4 his best-of-the-'80s SF anthology FUTURE ON FIRE (1991). Tho I didn't agree with all his choices 4 the best stories of that decade, I was sad there was never a "Volume 2"....
Stephen King occasionally did some VERY good, chatty, background-info-filled author's notes 4 his short-story collections like SKELETON CREW and NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES and FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT. Maybe he's still doing them in his newer collections, I don't know. & I currently have none of those collections in the house, so can't double-check. Also apparently don't have either IT or THE STAND, which 4 me R King's 2 best novels -- apparently I thot I'd never read either of those epics again, so.... But if YOU haven't read them, what the heck R you wastin' time readin ME 4...?
The best RECENT Xamples of classic Author's Notes I know of were printed in Leisure Books' reissues of Jack Ketchum's dozen classic horror novels from the '80s. Each of them features an intro or afterword of some kind focusing on how the books were written & what kind of troubles Ketchum had as they made their way in2 print. The afterword 2 SHE WAKES especially amplifies some of the points in that fine novel.
But best of all R the notes Ketchum added 2 the reprint of OFF SEASON, his scary & grisly 1st novel, originally published by paperback giant Ballantine Books back in 1980. Ballantine were apparently nervous about the over-the-top violence in that book -- a tendency Ketchum has become famous 4. He recaps the WEEKS of bargaining over the story that he & his then-publisher went thru B4 the book ever saw print.
Ketchum claims that Ballantine constantly tried 2 get him 2 "soften" the story, telling him "We'll let you keep the rape scene if we can cut the beheadings...." Ketchum REALLY gives you a feel 4 what it was like 2 B a struggling horror writer....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

#555: Oooh, it's a mystery....

Now hava whole new bag of musical tricks at work, including a ton of tapes I put 2gether 15+ years ago that R numbered but have no other info on them, so that when I slap something on the tape player I have no idea what I'm gonna get.... It's sure 2 B something from The Collection, but I don't know WHAT. I'm sure I've got some kinda contents lists buried around here somewhere, but that doesn't help me at work....
The result so far is that I'm constantly suprised ... which is kinda nice, since I was getting bored with the old stuff. I'm also noticing that summa this new stuff I DON'T RECOGNIZE until some1 starts singing, IF they do. Which means its bn 2 long since I've played summa this stuff....
Tho I worked part-way thru Fri nite with some Old Reliable Oldies, I started the grab-bag approach as Fri wore on & carried it in2 Sat nite. The playlist so far (from memory) has included:

Beatles -- Thank You Girl.
Focus -- Hocus Pocus 2.
Fleetwood Mac -- Dissatisfied.
Jethro Tull -- Love Song.
Turtles -- Grim Reaper of Love, Outside Chance, We'll Meet Again.
Elvis -- Blue Moon of Kentucky, Mystery Train.
Left Banke -- Desiree, I've Got Something on My Mind.
Dream Academy -- The Edge of Forever, In Places on the Run, Johnny (New Light), This World, Bound to Be.
Clannad -- In a Lifetime, Theme from Harry's Game, In Fortune's Hand.
Spider -- New Romance (It's a Mystery), Shady Lady.
Christopher Cross -- I Really Don't Know Anymore, Minstrel Gigolo, Poor Shirley.
The Who -- Dreaming from the Waist (live).
Pete Townshend -- Zelda, Now and Then.
Badfinger -- In the Meantime/Some Other Time.
Judie Tzuke -- Welcome to the Cruise, Sukarita, For You, These are the Laws, Stay With Me 'til Dawn.
King Crimson -- Elephant Talk, Frame by Frame.
Pretenders -- Don't Get Me Wrong, Hymn to Her.
Moody Blues -- The Other Side of Life, No More Lies.
Procol Harum -- In the Autumn of My Madness/Look to Your Soul/Grand Finale (live).
'Til Tuesday -- Voices Carry.
Alan Parsons Project -- I'd Rather Be a Man.
Trisha Yearwood -- Thinking About You.
Pam Tillis -- I Was Blown Away.

...That's all I can remember. A coupla people asked about Judie Tzuke, sucked in by the huge production on her STAY WITH ME 'TIL DAWN album (1979) -- + I had it cranked-up pretty loud 2 increase the dramatic impact. I even wrote down her name & the album title 4 1 guy so he could look it up on the Net. Maybe I helped her sell another 1....
Didn't have NE other signs of intrest, tho lotsa folks noticed I was rockin' out pretty loudly 4 Cinco de Mayo. Hey, it was Sat nite, right...? Even Procol Harum sounds pretty rockin' if you crank it up loud enuf, as I did -- those live trax have great biting guitar & lotsa good bass, & Gary Brooker's vocals R great. & then there's the orchestra....
This Grab-Bag approach will B continuing. Ghod knows what else I recorded eons ago & then 4got about. Should B fun....

Am also re-reading John McPhee's brilliant THE CURVE OF BINDING ENERGY 4 about the 5th time -- more missile-base research. & in off moments I'm re-reading Clive Barker's BOOKS OF BLOOD (starting with "The Age of Desire," also plan 2 re-read "Dread," "Revelations," "In the Hills, the Cities" & a few others), & am slowly getting in2 Jack Ketchum's COVER -- which so far isn't as immediately gripping as most of his other novels, but it's still pretty vivid. Usually he goes right 4 the throat 1st thing (as in JOYRIDE or THE LOST or OFF SEASON), not sure why he's holding back here. But he's almost always pretty freakin' great, so....
Plan 2 do a post on "Author's Notes" soon -- have written about this stuff B4, about how sometimes the writers' stories BEHIND the stories R better than the actual fiction, tho I'm not sure NE1 agrees with me. This post will appear as soon as I finish a list of all my faves so I don't 4get NE obvious 1's....
My roommate is "enjoying" a long weekend & will B filling the house with his blaring TV during mosta his waking hrs, so it'll B at least Tues B4 I can play NE music & at least Tues nite/Weds morn B4 I can get NE new music reviews posted. Sorry 4 the delay.... NEbody gotta room they wanna rent? Somewhere where there's JOBS? I know, I know, stop laffing....

Friday, May 4, 2012

#554: Allabored....

Going 2 B changing-out almost all the old tapes I've bn taking 2 work 4 motivation & uplift. Most of them just Rn't Doing It NEmore. At least they weren't on Thurs nite. Rush's "Force Ten" & "Time Stand Still" still worked, but mosta the rest of the stuff I've bn carrying around in my old brown fake-leather overnite bag just ain't workin NEmore.
I didn't think it was POSSIBLE 2 hear Van Morrison sing "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" 2 MANY TIMES, but I could B wrong. Olde favorites by Rush, Nektar, The Nice, even Hawkwind R losing some of their OOMPH, at least 4 motivational purposes.
So it's time 2 drag 2 work a new batch. We'll C how my customers react 2 David Sancious & Tone's noisy "Transformation (The Speed of Love)," or Mike Oldfield's sensual "Ommadawn," or the woodsy Olde English sounds of Gryphon, or the silliness of the best of Caravan. A whole new round of Xperiments lies ahead, folks.
Only 1 tape kept me moving on Thurs nite, & that was my homemade Beatles' "Top 40" -- not really their top 40 songs, just 37 or so of the best Beatles songs I could find that I didn't already have on-tape at that time. This little item features:
Taxman, For No One, Got to Get You into My Life, It's Only Love, Tell Me Why, I'm Happy Just to Dance With You, Things We Said Today, Anytime at All, No Reply, I'll Follow the Sun, Everybody's Trying to be My Baby, There's a Place, I'll Be Back, I'm a Loser, She's a Woman, The Night Before, I Need You, In My Life, Wait, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Norwegian Wood, Hello Goodbye, Across the Universe, Old Brown Shoe, Oh! Darling, Rock and Roll Music, Ticket to Ride, Help!, Please Please Me, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love, I Should Have Known Better, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, Slow Down, Rock and Roll Music, Tomorrow Never Knows, You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).
 ...As you can see, a bit of a mish-mash, but it does keep me moving. Which a lotta other previously-useful stuff ain't doin right now 4 some reason, so it's time 2 shake things up a little. Ghod knows what's up next, but I'll keep you posted....
(But B4 I continue, what a collection of Great Moments, eh? The slashing guitar in "Taxman"; the driving horns in "Got to Get You"; Ringo's great cymbal-smashes in "No Reply"; the trebly showbizzy sound in "Tell Me Why"; the sly lyrics of "Night Before"; George's hilarious confidence in "Tryin' to be My Baby"; everything about "There's a Place" & "For No One" & "It's Only Love"; the great muted gtr in "I Need You"; Lennon's depressed vocal in "Spoil the Party"; the amazing backgrounds in "Tomorrow Never Knows".... These guys were pretty good. Do you think they'll ever catch on...?)

Should also have some more new reviews posted here inna few days, possibly including Miles Davis & Bill Laswell's PANTHALASSA, more of Soft Machine's THIRD, Egg's THE CIVIL SURFACE, Wigwam's HIGHLIGHTS best-of, Illusion's (2nd) & ENCHANTED CARESS, & who knows what-all else. Hope you'll check back....

BTW, if you've bn following heavy-guitarist Ted Nugent's recent escapades in the Gnus, you might wanna take a look at my buddy Crabby's detailed in-depth recap of The Nuge's entire recorded output over at The RS Crabb Music Consortium. Crabby notes both Ted's good stuff & the silly stuff -- I'm a sucker 4 the comedy. But I'll never admit it in public. If yer a Ted fan, check him out. It'll B well worth yer time....
Crabby's bn doing these catalog-recap things 4 awhile now over at the Consortium -- awhile back he did a write-up on ELP, & more recently he did a piece on forgotten '70s art-rock band Pavlov's Dog -- who had a vocalist named David Surkamp who sounded like Rush's Geddy Lee on helium. Drop by the Consortium, leave Crabby a comment or 2, & maybe he'll crank out a few more catalog-recaps in addition 2 his usual Top 10 at his other site....

Also: Been reading some non-fiction as research 4 a post I wanna do about what it was like working 4 3 years at The Biggest Missile Base In The World (Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, 1986-1989). I can report that there's some pretty good nuke-missile history books out there, tho I wish there were more. Currently reading Tad Bartimus & Scott McCartney's TRINITY'S CHILDREN (1991) which is VERY good on the history & development of nuclear weapons all the way back 2 the Manhattan Project. The chapter on life as a missileer at F.E. Warren seems a little thin....
David E. Hoffman's THE DEAD HAND (2009) is VERY good on Cold War history, & really changed my mind about Ronald Reagan's dealings with the Russians. The parts of the book about Russia's germ-warfare program R almost as chilling as Richard Preston's THE DEMON IN THE FREEZER. There wasn't quite enuf on nukes, & I don't think the book quite lived up 2 its own hype, but it's still a good solid read if you're in2 recent history....
Neil Sheehan's A FIERY PEACE IN A COLD WAR is solid on the history of nuke missiles & who got them started & placed on bases across the West back in the '50s & '60s ... but it's a little dry....
...& if you're in2 Vietnam history, awhile back I re-read Michael Herr's DISPATCHES (1977) 4 about the 3rd time, & it's as brilliant & vivid & hallucinatory as ever....