Friday, September 27, 2013

#716: Those weren't the days

Hey, while researching music I might've forgotten over the years for The Record Store Book (which is over 53,000 words now, thanks for asking), I stumbled over a bunch of Godawful stuff I'd forgotten about from Back In The Day, probably because I'd successfully blocked it all out.
About some of this stuff I can only ask: What were we thinking? And by "we," I mean You Out There, because I sure as hell didn't buy any of this crap.
When looking back we all think that the late '70s & early '80s was all fun New Wave and silly Hair Metal bands, but it wasn't. There was a LOT of crap out there -- very successful crap. It was almost as bad as today. (Oh, and I found some good stuff I hadn't thought of in 30 years, too, but we'll get to that in a bit.) First, get a look at this list....
* M -- Pop Muzik. This is the music of the future? Ghod help us all....
* Lipps Inc. -- Funkytown. I admit, the last time I heard this -- unexpectedly, a year or so ago -- it sounded kind of cute. But the reason it sounds cute now is because we're 30+ years past the time when we were bombarded with it twice an hour....
* Olivia Newton-John -- Physical. #1 for 9 weeks! WTF?
* Kenny Rogers -- Coward of the County, Lady, She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life. Ugh. It was a great few years for Kenny, back then. I thought he actually had one good song, the modest "Love Will Turn You Around." I still think that little instrumental riff right after the choruses was "borrowed" from somewhere, but I've never been able to figure out where....
* ONJ & ELO's XANADU soundtrack. The worst movie ever? There is actually one kinda charming overlooked song here -- ONJ's "Suspended in Time." Believe me, when you're forced to listen to junk like this, you really notice the stuff that sounds promising....
* Air Supply -- Lost in Love, All Out of Love, The One That You Love, Every Woman in the World. I'll admit that "Lost in Love" sounds ... almost OK now, but that big balloon on the cover of their second album was a perfect metaphor: These guys were lighter than air. And their best(?) moments were a few years later, with almost-tolerable stuff like "Sweet Dream" and "Making Love Out of Nothing at All."
* Rupert Holmes -- Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Him. Ever notice the similarity to Barry Manilow here? Barry probably wished he could write a song as good as Holmes' overlooked "Nearsighted."
* Rick Springfield -- Jessie's Girl. Whatever. But Rick's version of Sammy Hagar's "I've Done Everything for You" was pretty good....
* Frankie and the Knockouts -- Sweetheart. Boring....
* Pablo Cruise -- PART OF THE GAME. Worst album ever? This will smooth out your ADHD issues in no time....
* Manhattan Transfer -- EXTENSIONS, Boy From New York City, Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone, etc. How 'bout those ManTrans guys dressin' up like future-retro robots from some '30s sci-fi nightmare? But their version of "Birdland" had more life in it than Weather Report's ... if you can TAKE it....
* Devo -- FREEDOM OF CHOICE, Whip It, etc. Is this the future? Thank Ghod it wasn't.
* Kim Carnes -- Bette Davis Eyes. #1 for 2 months! Why?
These are merely the worst offenders....

Oh, the good stuff? Glad you asked....
* The Dickies -- Stuck in a Pagoda with Trisha Toyota. This is hysterical & shoulda been a big hit. The Dickies never did anything slow. & they do a funny sped-up version of "Nights in White Satin," too....
* The Yachts -- Tantamount to Bribery. Ghod, I haven't heard this in 35 years. Clever wordplay atop better-than-average pub rock.
* Nazareth -- Holiday. Why wasn't this a hit?
* Foghat -- Wide Boy. I was never a fan, but why wasn't THIS a hit?
* Flying Lizards -- Money. Hey, if Devo can make the Top 20, why not this clanky, mechanical desecration of a rock&roll classic?
* Hawks -- Let Me In. The only song I remember from their first album. Pretty gorgeous, with a nice long chimey guitar outro....
* Charlie -- Power Cut, Fight Dirty. These were pretty punchy, well-produced, radio-ready songs that never broke through. One of dozens of unlucky acts signed to Arista Records -- which meant they were cut-out within 3 months....
* Surf Punks -- My Beach. Great, quick, cheap laughs. The Ramones go surfing. Funny for 2 minutes. Stretched out over an album it gets boring real quick....
* The Pop -- Go! Great! Simple, loud, crashing! Try and find the album! On Arista, of course....
* Spirit -- My Friend. From JOURNEY TO POTATOLAND, released back when Rhino was a Very Strange Small Label. More life in these 2 minutes than the whole rest of the album....
* Madness -- One Step Beyond.... Love that sax.
* Carly Simon -- We're So Close. This ironic little classic is all I can remember from her SPY album....
* Stevie Wonder -- I Ain't Gonna Stand For It. He's done so much great stuff, some of it's inevitably gonna get lost....
* Heart -- Mistral Wind (live), Sweet Darlin' (live). They've never done an album I can listen to all the way through, and they lost some real memorable riff power when guitarist Roger Fisher left....

Ghod knows there might be more coming soon....

Monday, September 23, 2013

#715: Improper toilet training

From The Book:

At this point, I'd like to make a few True Confessions about my music-listening habits:
* I'm a creature of habit. I tend to play one side of an album, get totally addicted to it, and never flip it over to see if there's any Good Stuff on the other side. This can go on for YEARS. Sometimes I discover there IS good stuff buried on the other side -- 30 years later....
* I'm picky. I keep the songs I love, that I can't live without, and pretty much ignore the rest. As Chuck Berry allegedly once said, "Nothing but the best, and later for the garbage." Maybe other listeners do this too, but I never hear them brag about it.
* I'm easily bored. I have a short attention span, and it gets shorter as I get older. Bore me for five minutes and I'm done. See above.
* It can take me years to catch on to some obvious things. It took me two years to admit that The Cars might have some talent -- and that was just because my co-worker Loren kept playing their first album over and over in the store.... Don't know what I was thinking, or why I couldn't hear. It took me almost a decade to decide Madonna was an Artist. I'm still not sure about Prince....
* I can condemn artists to Musical Hell for minor infractions, or for major assaults against good taste, and never listen to them again.
* I LOVE to make sweeping judgements about stuff I've never heard. Just ASK ME about any heavy metal band. Rap? I'm your man.
* I have this theory that every artist has one song they were put here to perform. Or, ALMOST every artist. Even Whitney Houston has one great song, possibly two. Even The Band has one great song, and I think almost all of their stuff SUCKS. (See previous item.) Even John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, Joan Baez, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, name your poison.... There are VERY few artists that are COMPLETELY unlistenable. But then, what are we supposed to do with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap? Or Engelbert Humperdinck? Debbie Boone?

...The Book is now just over 52,000 words, and I am seriously running out of material. A long, detailed Playlist from the period pushes it to 56,000 words. But I'd like about 10,000 more words of actual STORY. So I guess I'm gonna have to Make Something Up. I could use another sub-plot. Or more sex to go with the drugs and rock and roll. Or something.
Still, not bad for a month's work. I'm to the point now where I'm gonna have to go back through and read the whole thing again and see if it makes sense, or if any more useable memories are jarred loose. I'll keep you posted....

I'm addicted to the Good Stuff on THE VERY BEST OF BOOKER T. AND THE MG'S. Ever since hearing "Time is Tight" on the radio awhile back, I couldn't get the music out of my head, so I caved-in and bought the CD cheap. And actually got all the way through it.
And the best stuff on it's really great -- "Time is Tight," "Hang 'Em High" (which I hadn't heard in YEARS), "Green Onions," "Hip Hug-Her" (which I swear I've heard before, though Ghod knows where), "Mo' Onions," "Melting Pot," etc. Really great '60s R&B grooves.
However. When they were less inspired, Booker T and friends sound like fairly bad '60s-movie background music. The worst of it sounds like that cheezy organ music from NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. You can really do without their versions of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" and The Rascals' "Groovin'." In fact, the only version of "Mrs. Robinson" you ever really need to hear is Frank Sinatra's....
Coming soon: Junior Walker and the All-Stars' ESSENTIAL -- if only so I can hear "Take Me Girl, I'm Ready" for the first time since 1972....

Also played some of Carlene Carter's LITTLE LOVE LETTERS, after a previously-ordered cheap copy apparently got lost in the mail.
This is an Olde Favorite -- still love the fresh, happy, brash sound of "Every Little Thing," "Sweet Meant to Be" and "Heart is Right," and the goofiness of the two "Little Love Letters." All these make me bounce around the room every time. I might even play the whole thing through and find something new I didn't hear the first time around. And everyone knows I'm a sucker for women country singers....
Kevin Ayers' BEST OF may have gotten lost in the mail, or may just be taking its time coming in from England....

Haven't heard or read anything else new and shocking lately, what with writing my ass off when I can, working when I don't want to, and cheering for the Seahawks when they deserve it. Fall has officially started here, with occasional torrential downpours the past couple of days, overnight lows down into the low 50s, and snow in the mountains. And to think it was in the 80s just a week ago....
Gotta go research 1980-81 music for The Book and see how much I've forgotten -- back soon with more....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#714: Do-Overs

Ever hear a song that you think ALMOST does what it's supposed to do, but still doesn't quite make it? Whether it's the thin vocals or the lame production or the lack of drama in the playing, it just doesn't QUITE make it over the hump to "classic" status? So much so that you wish someone else would re-record it BETTER, so the song could become what it was obviously SUPPOSED to be?
Here's some of my choices for underachievers -- songs I wish someone would update and punch-up. I love the originals, but I still wish someone would take another whack at them....
* The Supremes: "Up the Ladder to the Roof." This was a Top 10 hit in 1970, but I can't help feeling it would have been better if Diana Ross had sang it. Or someone with a little more vocal projection.
This was the first single from the "new" Supremes, with lead vocals by Jean Terrell fronting Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong. Wikipedia says producer Frank Wilson actually asked Terrell not to go too far out with her vocals, fearing they might come across as "too soulful" and "not appeal to a white audience"!
Listening now, that's exactly what this song is missing. I've got the original 45, and it seems just barely punchy enough on the lead vocal. But the CD version softens Terrell's vocals even more. You can hear the excellent backup by The Funk Brothers just fine, but Terrell is just too soft, too crooning, she almost murmurs -- except at the very end of the last verse. A little more punch in the vocal and this could've gone right to the top.
I don't know -- it seemed charming enough coming out of the radio when I was a kid. But recent listens at work show it's just TOO SOFT.
* Buffalo Springfield: "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" and "On the Way Home." Buffalo Springfield's first album was mostly produced by Charles Green and Brian Stone, who managed the Springfield and previously handled Sonny and Cher. Green and Stone produced a record that sounds pretty primitive for 1966 -- it's recorded sparsely, with wide sound separations. This isn't helped on CD. I'm sure we've all heard that CD-version of "For What it's Worth" that comes on the radio and has NO Stephen Stills lead vocal -- just guitars chiming away in one channel and backing vocals coming in on the choruses way over on the other side....
"Clancy" is similar, very sparse-sounding -- which is too bad, because it's a great song with Neil Young's usual vivid, twisted lyrics. Use of the word "damn" in the last verse allegedly got "Clancy" banned from airplay. Richie Furay's vocals are just fine -- but Green and Stone allegedly told Young that his singing voice was "too weird."
If "Clancy" were to be updated today, there should be more punch in the vocals and more of a dramatic attack in that final verse and the closing choruses. Surprised Neil hasn't tried it himself....
I think Young's "On the Way Home" could have been a hit. Produced by Jim Messina in 1968 as the Springfield was falling apart, it features another nice Richie Furay lead vocal. Is Neil anywhere on this? The production is dated but OK, and I even like the horns. The sorta pastoral, reflective string middle-section is OK too, but there's something lacking. It's just tossed off too quick. They were probably lucky to get it on tape at all, since Neil and Stephen were gunning for each other by then. But still....
* The Kinks: "Days." I think the massive hit version of this is still waiting out there for someone. I THINK it was a big hit in England for some balladeer in the late '60s or early '70s, but I can't track down who. The only other version I've heard was by Kirsty MacColl -- who surprisingly did an even flatter, less emotional version than the Kinks' Ray Davies.
I think this is one of Ray's most emotional songs -- it thanks a lover for helping him deal with his life and not be scared; he mentions how he treasures each of the days they had together -- but it's done so modestly that it almost slips away. It gains strength on repeated listenings, but it still doesn't seem to hit with the impact that it should. Maybe the production's too low-key? Would a big string section help? Can you imagine what someone like Barry Manilow could have done with the downplayed emotion in this song? Simon Cowell, here's your next big ballad hit....
* Kate Bush and Pat Benatar: "Wuthering Heights." This is a special case. I love Kate Bush, but on this song her voice sounds like Dolly Parton on helium. And the instrumentation is just a bit too ornate. It could use some drama. Pat Benatar's version adds the drama with Neal Geraldo's excellent guitar solo in the middle, but Pat's delivery is kind of flat -- and so is Geraldo's unimaginative guitar work during the verses and choruses. If you could somehow mix the two....
...That's all I can think of, off the top of my head. I'll listen around and see if I can add more to this list, including maybe some NEWER stuff....

Monday, September 16, 2013

#713: Meanwhile....

...The Book is over 46,500 words, 85 single-space-typed pages, about three-quarters of the way toward what used to be a "normal-sized" novel. If I can write 15,000 more words, then I can start thinking about what to take OUT.
It's been an interesting experience -- things about my old record store days are still coming back to me, stuff I haven't thought about in 30 years, happenings I've never written about anywhere. Every few days I think I really have exhausted the material ... and then something else starts bubbling up.
Am still writing 500 to 2,000 words per day, even on work days. It's a great way to wake up. I have a couple more little things to toss in, then am about due to read back through everything and see where I want to go next.
Only thing that bugs me so far is I can see there's a lot of telling and not enough showing -- a lot of describing and not enough dialogue. But I'll be working on that....
Also, my journals from back then tell me little bits and pieces of some things that allegedly happened, but I've COMPLETELY forgotten about the rest of some incidents. Guess that's where the "fiction" will come in. Luckily, this hasn't happened too often. What I CAN remember from those days has kept coming back to me like it was last week -- and at least once these memories have forced me out of bed at 2 a.m., over to the laptop before I forget everything.
Needless to say, I'm now making notes constantly....
May post some more short, funny sections here if more occur to me -- if it's something that can stand on its own and doesn't need much explaining....

I remain musically bored. The last two CDs I ordered either got lost in the mail or were stolen out of my mailbox. That bag of CD's I take with me to work hasn't seemed worth the trouble to put on the player, most nights lately. But work itself hasn't been much of a problem, recently. Maybe it's because things are starting to cool down into Fall, and the nights are becoming less busy. Maybe it's also because I have other things to think about, these days....
Anyway, I do occasionally play some music at work, mostly the Same Old Stuff, but also including:
JoDee Messina -- Heads Carolina Tails California.
Kansas -- Miracles Out of Nowhere, Questions of My Childhood.
Doobie Brothers -- Neal's Fandango.
Jethro Tull -- Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day, Teacher.
Led Zeppelin -- Good Times Bad Times, When the Levee Breaks, Over the Hills and Far Away.
Fleetwood Mac -- Oh Well, Why?, Green Manalishi.
Florence + the Machine -- Shake it Out.
Modern English -- I Melt With You.
Church -- Reptile.
Sly and the Family Stone -- Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin.
Marvin Gaye -- What's Goin' On?, Inner City Blues, Trouble Man, Ain't That Peculiar?, You're All I Need to Get By (with Tammi Terrell).
Rascals -- See, People Got to be Free, A Beautiful Morning, Carry Me Back, Good Lovin'.
Stevie Wonder -- I Was Made to Love Her, My Cherie Amour, For Once in My Life, Signed Sealed Delivered, If You Really Love Me.
Four Tops -- Reach Out I'll Be There.
Gladys Knight and the Pips -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
David Ruffin -- My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me).
Temptations -- I Can't Get Next to You, Ball of Confusion.
Jackson 5 -- I Want You Back.
Supremes -- Up the Ladder to the Roof.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles -- Tears of a Clown.
Undisputed Truth -- Smiling Faces Sometimes.
Blondie -- Dreaming, Call Me, Hanging on the Telephone, Union City Blue.
Boston -- Used to Bad News.
Chicago -- Questions 67 and 68.
Spinners -- I'll Be Around, I'm Coming Home.
BTO -- Blue Collar, Roll On Down the Highway.
Pam Tillis -- Homeward Looking Angel.
I don't think JoDee Messina is the most natural vocalist in the world -- she sounds kind of awkward and hesitant at the start of "Heads Carolina." But once she gets rolling and those choruses kick in, all my reservations go right out the window. Great stuff, and it makes me smile every time.
One Store Regular was thrilled to hear "Miracles Out of Nowhere," though at first he couldn't place who it was. He said hearing it made his night. That's always nice to hear.

Was bummed when longtime science-fiction writer and editor Frederik Pohl died over Labor Day weekend. He was 93, and over the past few years had been writing a popular online memoir at The Way the Future Blogs.
Pohl was a heckuva novelist in the '70s and '80s -- books like GATEWAY, BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON, HEECHEE RENDEZVOUS and MAN PLUS had a big impact on me. I was only able to get halfway through his CHERNOBYL, a "docudrama" about that Russian nuclear disaster -- it was a little TOO Real, if you know what I mean. I still have Fred's THE YEARS OF THE CITY on my bookshelf waiting to be read. For awhile in the '70s and '80s, Fred Delivered The Goods every time, whether it was a new novel or a short story in one of the SF magazines.
He also had an amazing career as an editor. In the '60s he edited GALAXY and IF magazines through their best years, boosting the careers of writers like Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, James Tiptree Jr., Keith Laumer and dozens more.
In the mid-'70s he was editor of Bantam Books' SF line and brought out difficult novels like Joanna Russ's THE FEMALE MAN and Samuel R. Delany's DHALGREN and TRITON. Brave, uncommercial choices. But they usually paid off....

Have also read (and heard) that Linda Ronstadt has lost her gorgeous singing voice, due to Parkinson's Disease. I was at times a big Ronstadt fan -- didn't think everything she did was great, or sometimes even worth listening to -- but moments like "Long Long Time" and "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me" are in my collection, plus the entire MAD LOVE album, especially the great "I Can't Let Go" and an amazing dramatic vocal on Elvis Costello's "Party Girl"....

If you haven't already, you should check out 2000 Man over at Dropped for Negligible Interest. Though I hesitate to compare bloggers, 2000 reminds me a bit of Rastro before he went quiet. I like 2000's mix of old and new stuff, and especially his nostalgia trips to Back In The Day (as in his recent posts about albums by Bruce Springsteen, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, etc.) -- anybody who reads here shouldn't be surprised by my addiction to that. Be sure and give 2000 a look. And my thanx to Crabby for turning me on to another great blogger....

Haven't read much for fun lately -- have been too busy writing with most of my free time.
Will be Back Soon with at least a short list of "do-overs" -- oldies I wish someone would re-record BETTER....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

#712: "Strike One"

From The Book:

Toward the end it all just seemed like drudgery and paychecks bouncing. Cleaning up after everyone else and telling customers "I'm sorry, we're out of that," and either getting paid two weeks late or never getting paid at all.
I started getting pretty grumpy at work. Even at what had once been My Dream Job.
So I started telling customers how I felt.
When customers came in asking whether The Cars' then-new album PANORAMA was any good, I told them the truth.
I told them it sucked.
"You CAN'T say THAT!" my Manager Robyn said when she found out. "We won't SELL any! Just tell people if they liked the last one they'll probably like this one! NOBODY CARES about your opinion!"
"But Robyn, you KNOW it sucks!"
"Wall of Voodoo ALWAYS tells people EXACTLY what he thinks," I explained, falling back on the in-store behavior seen since day one on the part of the company's resident heavy-metal expert. "If something sucks, he TELLS people that!"
"NOBODY CARES about the crap HE likes!" Robyn said. "And besides, The Wall doesn't work here!"
That was probably the first official step on my downhill slide toward quitting the record store. And probably the first time I ever really pissed-off Robyn, who had once been my hero -- who I would never have gotten the job without....

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#711: "But what's she REALLY like?"

From The Book:

It's a normal morning at the record store. Gary my Manager's on the phone from the new Capitol Blvd. store, wondering how much Current Hit Product he can "borrow" from our other stores for Capitol's Official Grand Opening, which is set for this weekend.
Robyn, my former Assistant Manager and now Manager of her own store at Fairview and Five Mile, is in the store picking up mail and new albums to go out to her store.
"Ask Sheena how she sits on Tom Petty," Gary says over the phone, wondering if he can grab some copies of Petty's recently-released hit DAMN THE TORPEDOES album to build-up the stock at Capitol.
I turn to Robyn. "Gary wants to know how you sit on Tom Petty...?" I ask.
There is a pause. Robyn grins. She's not-too-secretly in lust with Tom Petty.
"Well," she says, "usually like THIS!"
And she spreads her legs and kneels, as if to straddle Tom Petty if he were lying on the floor beneath her.
I back away, laughing and waving my hands in surrender ... and accidentally hang up on Gary....

Monday, September 9, 2013

#710: "The Voice"

From The Book:

Even in the middle of the stress and financial ruin that marked my last few months with the record store, there were still some good moments.
One was learning that a voluptuous, earthy female voice had started answering the phone at the alarm company all our stores used.
It wasn't so much WHAT she said as the WAY she said it. I'd call up the alarm company just before locking up the store, give the gorgeous voice my name and alarm-code number, and she'd laugh and say "Whatever you say, honey! Have a great night!" And I'd be out the door and on my way home.
And then it escalated.
Again, it wasn't so much what she said.... It was her sultry voice that grabbed me, her throaty, knowing laugh. That warm, buttery voice was like being smothered in kisses, like being surrounded by warm lips. I could cuddle inside that voice forever.
I started looking forward to closing, so I could toss the meagre amount of cash we'd made that day into the bank bag, reach for the phone, and hear that voice purring into my ear -- even if it was just for 30 seconds. I'd pass on my name and my alarm code, and she'd sigh and say "Have a great night, sweetheart!" And that would make my night.
She seemed to know exactly what she was doing, because as we got used to each other she stepped it up: The hints and innuendoes were becoming more and more obvious. That voice was laughing lightly, teasing, inviting, welcoming.
Maybe she was just bored with her job and wanted to liven it up. Or maybe she knew exactly what she was doing, and wanted to see how far she could push it.
I already had a fantasy going and I'd never even met this woman. I didn't even know her name.
Already I was thinking of asking her name, asking what she looked like, asking whether she'd ever consider going out with some geeky guy she'd never met....
I couldn't just let it lie there.
One night at closing I was suddenly circling around the ceiling after just talking with her on the phone for 30 seconds. I was giddy with it.
"GOD, you've got a GORGEOUS voice," I said. "You give GREAT phone."
She laughed, delighted. "So do YOU, sweetie! Sweet dreams!"
I walked on air out to the car.
After that I couldn't let it go. The next time I worked, I called Brad at the Overland store. Even though he was married, Brad always seemed to have the latest information on any attractive women who shopped regularly at our stores. He was our go-to guy when it came to hot-women rumors.
I asked if he'd ever talked to the woman with the voluptuous voice.
"Oh sure," he said casually. "I've met her. Her name's Ann."
"You're making it up!"
"No, man, really."
"Is she as gorgeous as she SOUNDS?"
"Oh, man, she's a freakin' knockout!"
Brad described in detail a heavenly vision with long dark hair and a huge chest. She sounded like Just My Type. Somehow I held it together.
"Does she talk to ALL the guys this way?" I asked, cringing.
"Oh yeah," Brad said, confirming my worst fear. "We've all talked to her. We've all got crushes on her."
I felt momentarily deflated, but Brad was saving the best for last.
"She thinks YOU'RE crazy," he said, "and she wants to come out to Fairview and meet you!"
"Brad, you're F'ing MAKING IT UP!"
"Then why didn't you TELL ME?!"
The next time I closed, I invited Ann to come out to the store anytime. She sounded delighted and asked what time would be good for me.
"ANY time, really!" I said, a bit too eager. "We never have any customers anyway...."
And she laughed, and I was circling around the ceiling again.
I was thrilled about this, the first positive response I'd had from a woman in months, and I told everyone that the woman with the gorgeous voice at the alarm company wanted to meet me and thought I was crazy.
"I'll agree with THAT," said Robyn my Manager.
But I never got to meet the woman with the voluptuous voice. For some reason, Ann stopped answering the phone. And the next step in my ongoing drama with the record store kicked in way too fast....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

#709: Back in black

I'm back, technical issues resolved. Went a couple weeks without Internet access, now fixed.
The real news: The Novel is now over 36,500 words, and I'm still going. Added about 1,500 words earlier today. Have been able to write at least 500 words a day; on my best days it's been more like 5,000.
This story is the longest thing I've ever written, already. I finished proofreading through what I have so far a couple days ago, and I think it's not bad. I think parts of it are pretty good, vivid, funny.
The downside is that if this is really going to be a novel, I'm only about half done. The good news is, more stuff to toss into it is still coming to me.
I plan to post at least one or two small sections here -- something short and funny. I already have a couple things in mind. They'll be appearing soon.
I'm surprised that I've been able to remember as much about my record store days as I have for this book. I've only had to consult my journals a couple of times for extra details -- most of the time stuff just pours out. And that's a good thing.
But I need more. So I'll be thinking about it....
While on vacation, about all I did was write. My Girlfriend had to work, and with no direct Internet access I had plenty of free time, so it was all good. We did get down to see my GF's Father in Oregon, again -- and we took the DIRECT route home this time, not the eight-hour scenic tour. Also got out to the beach before I went on vacation, so that was all taken care of.
While off, I sniffed at a couple of music-related books. Jim DeRogatis and Carmel Carrillo's KILL YOUR IDOLS lets a new generation of rock critics have at the older critical generation's sacred cows -- with mixed results, so far.
While I agree that SGT. PEPPER and DARK SIDE OF THE MOON could both have been better, I'll not put up with young snot-noses going after PET SOUNDS and SMILE. And SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO is a total bore, no arguments here.
But Jim Walsh's write-up on RUMOURS is just a fantasy about shooting the members of Fleetwood Mac -- he doesn't even TALK about the ALBUM. And that album could USE a good trashing. I've always thought that there's a lot of filler on it....
I don't think Walsh's fantasy is very funny, but then I remember Lester Bangs once suggested going after James Taylor's throat with a broken beer bottle, and I thought THAT was funny, so....
There are a few newer albums critiqued: NEVERMIND, OK COMPUTER, MELON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS, etc., but most of the items up for slashing are the critic's babies you'd expect -- Dylan, Springsteen, Clapton, U2, Stones, Neil Young, etc.
I was shocked to see someone go after the Sex Pistols. And the Dead Kennedys! And Patti Smith! Co-editor Carrillo reviews her old boyfriends in the context of old rock & soul hits. That's a breath of fresh air -- at least someone did something different with the idea.
There IS a cut-up of TOMMY, and a hilarious discussion about LED ZEPPELIN 4 that ends up defending the album instead of critiquing it.
But I was looking for some DANGEROUS critical choices. Why didn't anyone go after The Velvet Underground, or Lou Reed? Between them they have three good songs in their careers.
Or how 'bout Bowie, that poseur! Four good songs in a decade and he's STILL making albums?
Or The Ramones? One great joke -- three great songs!
Two former Beatles get chopped up -- Springsteen gets zinged twice! Even Captain Beefheart takes a beating.
Other than Pink Floyd, no prog-rockers get slammed. This was kind of disappointing.
I'll be reading more of this, but it's not quite the cheap laughs I'd hoped for, so far.
And at the back of the book, there are short bio notes on each of the contributors, plus a list of their Top 10 fave albums -- most of which are raked over the coals by somebody elsewhere in the book....
BLUES AND CHAOS is a collection of late music critic Bob Palmer's best work, covering topics from blues pioneers to classic rock to late-'90s guitar noise. Some of it's pretty good, though I haven't gotten very far. So far have enjoyed his liner notes for the Led Zeppelin box set, a lengthy interview with Eric Clapton, and a short but hilarious piece on why he took a "mojo hand" with him to studio sessions when he was producing blues albums.
There's a lot more here -- over 400 pages -- and you can still get copies cheap. Palmer was the blues and world-music expert at ROLLING STONE for a lot of years. He knew a lot about a lot of different music, but he comes across as really modest -- like he's sharing all this info with you, not lecturing.
...Will be back soon, with some book sections, plus I'm coming up with a list of hit songs I wish someone else would re-record BETTER -- starring The Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, The Supremes, and more.
Oh, and I've got another nominee for that "Worst Best-Of's" post I did awhile back: THE BEST OF WEATHER REPORT....