Sorry to get all political this morning, but these people are absolutely beneath contempt.
From yesterday's Huffington Post:
Republican senators sound increasingly unlikely to try and block Elena Kagan's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but in the meantime they've focused some of their attention on an even more difficult target: former Justice Thurgood Marshall, a civil rights pioneer and the first African-American to sit on the high court. Marshall's name came up 35 times during the first day of Kagan's confirmation hearings.
There's "no doubt he was an activist judge," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Klingon) said of Marshall on MSNBC Monday. "Let's admire the man for the great things he did, but let's not walk over and wipe out the things that really didn't make sense as an obedient student of the practice of law." The Salt Lake Tribune tracked Hatch down after Monday's hearing to ask if he would have voted for Marshall, the man who successfully litigated Brown v. Board of Education not long before he joined the Supreme Court. "Well, it's hard to say," was Hatch's response.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, likewise decried Marshall as "a well-known liberal activist judge" in his opening remarks during the hearing.
"Well, it's hard to say."
Well, actually no, it isn't. So by way of a heartfelt personal response, please enjoy brilliant power pop wiseacres Something Fierce and their 1990 tribute to the great man -- "Poetic Justice Thurgood."
Specifically, why his distinctive drum fills sound so, er, distinctive.
I don't know where or when that was recorded, but apparently it's been widely bootleged. In any case, I thought it was worth sharing, and frankly I'm a little amazed that I never knew the guy was left-handed.
My old chum Dave Immer is seriously irked about some recent court decisions granting the rights of individuals to corporations. And the consequent disastrous impact on what laughingly passes for our democracy. As well he should be.
But enough of my yakking -- here's Dave himself, to say it in his own inimitable way.
Dave's a rather frighteningly talented multi-instrumentalist/producer/engineer/songwriter kind of guy; back in the day, he twiddled the knobs for some of those Floor Models songs I've been inflicting on you of late, but don't hold that against him. In any case, you're doubtless more familiar with his work on the original Ghostbusters soundtrack; he's the co-author (and I believe singing backup) on this little ditty.
In any event, to the above rap I can only add -- right on.
Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means, Yes, my Oriental top hat containment dome specialist Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to...well, it's a secret, actually, but it involves the blood of Catholic babies and a new recipe for Wheat Thins.
But perhaps I've already said too much.
That being the case, and since things will be a little quiet around here till we return, here's a fun little project for us all:
Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Song Either Referencing A Song (or Songs) or Having the Word "Song" in the Title!!!!
Self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much. And apologies if we've done something like this before, but of course as you know I'm senile.
"Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel/Writin’'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' for you." Right, Bob. You didn't actually write that song, hopped up on the goofballs, in the hallway of a Nashville studio while the highly paid session guys waited for you to finish it.
What a fricking liar.
7. Edward Bear -- Last Song
"This is the last song I'll ever sing for you..." I don't know what the woman in question had to say when she first heard this piece of crap, but I hope it was "God, I fucking hope so." Incidentally, the following excerpt from Edward Bear's Wiki entry -- The band is a favourite of Quentin Tarantino, who feels the band should be regarded as "The Beatles of Canada" -- is the single most terrifying thing I've ever read.
6. Buddy Holly -- Peggy Sue Got Married
"You recall the girl that's been in nearly every song..." The greatest sequel in pop music history, I think; this is the version overdubbed in stereo by The Fireballs in the early 60s, and it's one of my favorite things ever.
5. Tone Loc -- Funky Cold Medina
"And like Mick Jagger said/I can't get no satisfaction..." I think we all know the feeling, my friend. This remains one of the last truly great frat-rock (in the 60s sense) records, incidentally, although at the time it came out, nobody seemed to notice its obvious lineage.
4. The Pogues -- And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Folkie Eric Bogle's often-covered anti-war classic. The Pogues version seems to be regarded as definitive, or at least as definitive as these things get, and with good reason.
3. John Lennon -- How Do You Sleep?
"The only thing you done is 'Yesterday...'". I still say this is a very nice piece of music let down by an embarrassingly bitchy lyric. Seriously, if John was that pissed he should have picked up the phone and spared the rest of us the temper tantrum. IMHO.
2. Fountains of Wayne -- Peace and Love
Because, you know, we like to have something recorded in this century. Plus, this inspirational verse:
Lying on the floor Just playing my guitar Trying to find the chords for "Just The Way You Are"
And the Numero Uno Eskimo Club bottle of a song just has to be...
1. The Guess Who -- When the Band was Singing Shakin All Over
A rather dispiriting ode to their first hit, the kick-ass cover of the same Johnny Kidd and the Pirates song later immortalized by The Who. From their even more dispiriting 1975 album, and I mean so dispiriting that even a rabid Guess Who fan like myself was relieved that the band packed it in immediately after.
Incidentally, if you don't get the Eskimo Club bottle metaphor, I'm old enough to be your grandfather.
But alrighty then -- what would your choices be?
[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best or worst performance as a Nazi by and actor or actress -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, it would be an act of great kindness if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment, despite the clunkiness of the new commenting system. Thanks!]
Fron 1962, and the soundtrack to the cinema classic Girls! Girls! Girls!, please enjoy the King, the incomparable Elvis Presley, and his immortal ode to my all-time favorite hors d'oeuvre, the haunting "Song of the Shrimp."
I've actually never seen Girls! Girls! Girls!, or at least I don't think I have; with a lot of the in-decline Elvis movies, it's pretty difficult to keep them etched in your memory, if you know what I mean.
In any case, the song in question first came to my attention on the conceptually interesting Elvis bootleg Elvis' Greatest Shit, which I have written about here on an earlier occasion or two. And of course, given the on-going tragedy in the Gulf, "Song of the Shrimp" now takes on a metaphorical and emotional heft undreamed of by anyone connected with the original recording.
And as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who glean's the song's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.
I've been meaning to post this one for ages. From Michael Penn's 1996 album, which would be worth having if for no other reason than the unbelievably cool The Prisoner homage on the cover, please enjoy the gloriously melodic "Me Around."
As you can hear, it's a seamless mix of Face to Face and Revolver era Kinks/Beatles, and I think it's a fricking little pop masterpiece. Endlessly inventive, too; the way the guitar riff starts to walk on the last verse, and then those off-in-the-distance "wah doo dah" vocals that sneak up on you...the whole thing just knocks me out.
Seriously -- I figure if you make just one record as good as this one over the course of your lifetime, you pretty much deserve immortality. On the other hand, the the guy gets to go home at night to Aimee Mann, so the hell with him.
My review of the remastered (and expanded with bonus tracks) version of The Rolling Stones masterpiece Exile on Main Street leads off the music section of the current edition of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo ReviewSound + Vision. At better dead tree periodical racks now.
Unfortunately, absolutely nothing from the issue is available on the mag's website, so you'll have to buy the issue to read my senile ramblings.
In any case, the shorter version is: I like what the Stones have done with the place. And here's my favorite of the bonus tracks -- an early alternate take of "Soul Survivor," sung by Keith Richards with just the right mix of on-the-nod nonchalance and nasal passion.
Fun fact: If I don't get hit by a bus or something and keep writing for S+V (assuming it stays in business) until 2012, I will have been contributing to said rag, more or less continually, for 40 years.
Two songs with the same title and the same theme. And as different as night and day.
From 1967, please enjoy barking mad British eccentrics The Bonzo Dog Band and "I'm Bored."
And from 1979, consider if you will the irrepressible Iggy Pop and his meditation of the same name.
To be honest, I've never been able to decide which one of these I love more. Iggy's rocks harder, obviously (great guitar work courtesy of Scott Thurston, currently of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which always amuses me). But the Bonzos track is just drop dead funny on every level.
From 1963, and written and produced by Pharaoh of the Falsetto Lou ["Rhapsody in the Rain"] Christie, please enjoy The Tammys and their thoroughly unhinged slice of girl group multi-culturalism run amok, "Egyptian Shumba."
Somebody has described the above as Phil Spector meets Sun Ra, which strikes me as a little much. But I'll say this about those girls -- they sure made quite a...well, the word racket comes to mind.
To be honest, I hadn't given much thought to Christie of late until last week's Listomania, when reader Dave nominated this hitherto unknown to me Christie gem from 1966 --
-- which includes the immortal line "A flash of suspicion, you learned a new way of kissin'." Which brought me to Christie's Wiki entry and thence to the discovery of the compilation of his girl group productions and the quite astonishing song up top.
There's more research to be done about this stuff, I suspect, but not by me, I'm afraid. Seriously, that way madness lies.
Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means, Yes, my Oriental "strokes if you got 'em" aide Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off to beautiful downtown Ennis, Texas to attend the ceremony in which staunch British Petroleum defender Congressman Joseph Linus "Joe" Barton [R-Corporate Whore], will be presented with the coveted Biggest Asshole in the History of the World Award. Could be a hot one, obviously.
That said, and since things will be a little quiet around here till we return, here's a fun little project for us all:
Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Song or Record With a Lyric Referencing Jealousy (Romantic or Sexual)!!!
Self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much.
Okay, a really obvious choice, I know. But I really liked this song (and the album its from) back in the day, and despite the annoying earnestness I've detected with benefit of hindsight, I still do. Sorry.
5. The Beatles -- No Reply
One of John's best, I think, and one of the reasons why, years later, I found his "Jealous Guy" kind of depressingly literal.
4. Lesley Gore -- Judy's Turn to Cry
Okay, here's the song's scenario. Narrator Lesley is at a party, and to spite former boyfriend Johnny (who had dumped her in a previous song) she makes out with some other guy. At which point, Johnny jumps up and cold cocks the poor dope. I hate to say it, but Lesley was really a bitch.
3. Marianne Faithfull -- Why D'ya Do It?
I don't know who the woman who was fucking Marianne's boyfriend in this song was, but I certainly hope she had an unlisted phone number and lived in a doorman building.
2. The Killers -- Mr. Brightside
These guys mostly put me to sleep, and this song, while okay, is not an exception to the rule. Still, as you know, we like to have something recorded in the current century.
And the Numero Uno ode to the old Green-Eyed Monster is...ohmigod, it's a fricking tie!!! Between...
1. Rick Springfield -- Jessie's Girl
Don't know who said it, but this really is Othello with guitars.
1. Steely Dan -- Through With Buzz
An absolutely brilliant evocation of that latenight moment when you're lying awake torturing yourself by thinking about some other guy's hands all over the thighs of the girlfriend who just dumped you. Funniest line: "Maybe he's a fairy..."
Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?
[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best and worst big budget remakes of B-pictures -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, it would show a really nice spirit on your part if you could head over there and leave a comment, despite the clunkiness of the new commenting system. Thanks!]
From 1984, and Stiff Records -- the World's Most Flexible Label -- please enjoy the unhinged stylings of howling weirdo John Otway and his rendition of the venerable and melodramatic country weeper classic "Green, Green Grass of Home."
Heh heh. I love that picture sleeve; in case you haven't noticed, that's Otway's head pasted (rather crudely, in those pre-Photo Shop days) over actual album cover boy Tom Jones.
In any case, as a always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.
...from 1978 and the generally undervalued First Light album, please enjoy Richard and Linda Thompson's should-have-been-a-hit "Restless Highway."
When FL first came out, it was widely derided for an over-reliance on the services of high-priced American session players (in retrospect, kind of a dumb criticism) and a general sort of trying-to-be-Fleetwood Mac-or-something vibe. That's as may be, and on balance, it's hardly the Thompsons' best album, but it doesn't change the fact that this particular song is exquisite. Or that Richard's briefest of twelve-string solos (right before the last round of choruses) still absolutely kills me.
From 1973 and the largely overlooked album Louisiana Rock & Roll, please enjoy Potliquor and "H." Their (I think tremendously haunting) ode to...I'm not exactly sure what.
I mean, given the title I have my suspicions, but I've never quite figured it out, despite repeated, even obsessive, listenings.
Anyway, the absolutely perfect not-a-superfluous-note guitar solo at the finale is by the song's author (and singer), Les Wallace. And it's as close to vintage Mick Taylor with The Rolling Stones as anything I've ever heard, I'll tell you that for free.
Amazing production on that, as well; I particularly like the way it's all but impossible to discern where the guitar ends and the clavinet begins. Seriously -- I can't think of another American hard rock band of the same vintage whose records sound as good as that.
Potliquor (I've been a fan since back in the day, thanks to being on a lot of record company mailing lists in college) were an interesting bunch, actually, and definitely worth reappraisal. Their three albums (released between 1969-73) were wildy uneven, but the good stuff was out of this world and there were times they got really close to the sort of mutant blues/metal soundscapes normally associated with Brits like The Move.
Exhibit A in that regard -- the title song from their second album, Levee Blues.
I've tried to track these guys down over the years. Don't know where the aforementioned Les Wallace is, but drummer Jerry Amoroso is on Facebook and has threatened to get in touch with me (hi, Jerry!). Auxiliary bassist and friend of the band Leon Medica (that's him on both of the posted clips) believes they're all alive and well, and has been in touch with keyboardist (turned Christian singer/songwriter) George Ratzlaff from time to time.
Incidentally, the aforementioned Leon Medica, who kindly phone chatted with me a couple of weeks ago and who's a heck of a nice guy, has had a remarkable career as a musician (a founding member of the still touring Louisiana's LeRoux) and producer since the Potliquor days; check out this list of credits. The part about working with Sir George Martin, especially.
In any case, you can legally download all three original Potliquor LPs over at Amazon here.
And if Les Wallace is out there -- dude, give me a holler. I really want to know what the song is about.
From a very interesting piece in the current issue of MOJO. The person being quoted is the great John Hiatt, about why Little Village -- the sort of roots-rock supergroup featuring himself, Nick Lowe, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner -- didn't really happen as it should have.
"It came apart and I'm not sure how. Nick says he's not sure either...I was scared. I think we all were. We were thrust out there when we were just finding our legs. Some shows were magic, you could levitate, the whole place was vibrating...But some shows were...not good."
I think I can safely say that the live version of "Little Sister" above was recorded on one of those nights when, as Hiatt observed, the whole place was vibrating.
And there's a postscript: Hiatt again, from the same article.
None of us has spoken to any of the others about it since, but I still hold out the hopes of a second record. Maybe I'm dreaming. So as I'm the one who keeps talking about it....I think I'd better pick up the phone."
I know it's not really the season, but given that the Hanson kids have a new record out, I thought I should share this with you because it's one of the funniest fricking things I've ever read.
It's by Jon Stewart, and appears in his 1999 collection Naked Pictures of Famous People.
December 15, 1996
Greetings and happy tidings to all, in this the beautiful season to celebrate the Savior's birth. The tree is up and the Christmas Ham is awaiting my apricot glaze, so once again it's time to check in for our yearly Hanson Family update. A promise from the heart to keep this year's news-letter as brief as possible (I hear you sighing, Uncle Jack! Just kidding, I can't hear you!). It's hard to believe that a year has passed since my last correspondence. Time sure flies when Jesus is flying the plane! It's a crisp afternoon here in Sooner Country. Gary and the boys are off hunting snow rabbits so the girls and I broke out the old Smith-Corona to fill everyone in, Don't worry, Peg, there's a Pumpkin Pie waiting for my men when they return -- hopefully with a fresh kill.
We're awaiting a wonderful Christmas. As is our family tradition, no gifts are exchanged but all the children will prepare a drawing, poem or play. This year's theme is Genesis. The girls are painting a beautiful mural of God's creation of man, using only the juices of fruit they grew themselves. Isaac and Taylor are preparing a heartwarming skit on the Garden of Eden (Taylor makes a beautifully innocent Eve) and little Zach, well, let's just say shouting "Let there be light" and Clapping the Clapper on and off doesn't show great inspiration. It doesn't matter. We love all our children equally, and still believe greatly in last year's Christmas theme, "Abortion Is Murder."
Some Hanson Highlights: Gary's working on a book about our methods of teaching the children called All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, at Home with My Parents; Who Taught Me Better Than Any Government-Run Public School That Denies Prayer Could. The girls once again won the yearly Hanson Home School Science Fair. They devised a method for testing the bacterial content of foods using only Litmus Paper, Paper Clips and a homemade Centrifuge. These girls are going places! The boys did well too. They built a mobile depicting the fallacy of evolution. As for Zach, well, let's just say sneaking something into our dinner and waiting to see if anyone would eat it and become ill didn't impress these judges. But we love all our children equally and hope one day Zach will tell us what it was, and why I can no longer hold down solid foods.
In Hanson Sports News, it was a very good year. The Hansons played a very strong schedule, going head to head with the only other Home School Team in the area, the Jurgensons. It was great fun.
Oh, before I forget, the boys continue with their little music project. They recently played the Devlin County Pan-Asian Wet and Wild Jamboree for Vietnamese Exiles. I don't want to go into too much detail, in this, the season of good tidings, but the crafty little Asian gentleman who organized the fair tried to cheat the boys out of their $50 performance fee. We nearly came to blows over the matter, but eased off when both parties quoted the same piece of foreboding scripture at the same time. I can't say I condone the boys' interest in this pursuit of popular music, but as I always say, "Encouragement is next to Charity, which is next to Faith, which is next to Cleanliness... and we all know what that's next to."
Jesus loves you, Eileen and Gary Hanson and the Hanson Family
P.S. Any donations to the charity to help that poor boy in our neighborhood with the cleft lip would be greatly appreciated. We've raised some money, but he still looks odd when he eats in public, which is often. Remember, Charity begins at home, which, as you know, is where we have our school.
Dear Hanson Super Fan Friends and Family,
Hey everybody! It's that time of year again! And what an amazing year it's been. I apologize for the Fan Club stationery, but it's all I could find. Normally I would just ask Carmen where she put the newsletter paper, but I gave her the day off. Most of her family is somewhere in South America, but bless her heart, she still seemed set on not working the holiday. Although I'm sure you could make a case that that's when I would need her most.
I feel bad about the stationery even though I'll bet none of you care. I'll bet you're just impressed that with all the amazing things happening to our family I still make a point of personally sending out the yearly holiday update. I agree! That is exactly what I told Gary, who was of the mind that if you all really need information, you can visit our official Web site like everybody else. But that's crazy. Being stars doesn't mean we can't take the time to stay in touch with our friends and family. By the way, the unofficial sites are not sanctioned and contain a great deal of fabricated information. I can't stress that enough. Our official site has received over two million hits to date!!
You're probably saying to yourself "Wow, that must be making them a fortune!" You would think!! Although perhaps you are not taking into consideration a poorly negotiated contract that paid a one-time up-front fee and neglected any back end or merchandising considerations.
But you know our Gary. I think when the Lord was passing out business acumen, Gary was downstairs getting good hair. Of course you can't tell that to Gary. I guess he figures his year and a half of technical school and previous work experience selling homemade knickknacks at mall art fairs qualifies him to manage a world-famous band.
A big "I'm sorry" on behalf of Gary, the boys and myself for not being at Ned and Irene's annual family reunion picnic. The girls told Carmen it was a hoot. Unfortunately that was the weekend before the Grammys and as you might imagine we were swamped. While the boys were sad to miss Irene's annual mock apple pie, their dinner with Fiona Apple softened the blow. I had heard through the grapevine that Irene was a little bent out of shape. I'm sure that's not true because Irene and Ned are God-fearing people and very aware that envy is a sin.
Ooops! Please excuse the sloppy penmanship. I'm jotting this update from the back of a Limousine the boys bought me for Christmas, and the slick leather interior doesn't offer great stability. Lincoln, my driver, and I have developed a very funny joke where he calls me Miss Daisy and I pretend that's my real name.
Well, enough chatter, I better have Lincoln take me home. The boys and Gary are in Dnsseldorf, but Zach still likes me to spend at least six hours a day in his room, cleaning the shag carpet, strand by strand, with my teeth. Anything for my little angel, because, as I always say, I love all my three boys equally.
It's been a wild year. The Lord sure works in mysterious ways, or as I like to say, "What a long strange trip it's been!"
Jesus loves us, Eileen, Gary, Zach, Taylor and Isaac (collectively known as Hanson)
P.S. You can stop sending money for the gimp boy with the Cleft Lip. It turns out we had enough money left over from just one mall show to ship him and his entire family off to Nebraska.
December 28, 1999
To Whom It May Concern,
HO, HO, HO! Zach has Herpes. There. Are you Happy now? You try controlling an eleven-year-old multi-millionaire with a hard-on for strippers. For those of you wondering about last year's newsletter, there wasn't one. If you must know, I was at a retreat in Hazelden, Minnesota, and they didn't allow pens, pencils or any other sharp implements for that matter. It's been quite a ride... quite a... I sit here, alone in my Hotel suite. Pen in one hand, bottle of Glenlivet in the other. A gun at my feet. Darkness all around me...
First of all, to all you Nosy Parkers in the crowd, I did not embezzle money from my family, I don't give a rat's ass what that judge says. I am their manager... co-manager... was their co-manager. I had every right to that money. I gave birth to those boys. What did Gary do? His three minutes of dirty business? Foreplay?! Please. Whispering "The Bible says be Fruitful and Multiply" before ejaculating and passing out isn't foreplay. Seven times I allowed that man to sully me... seven times.
I'm tired ... so very tired. Someone had to have some fiscal responsibility. Christ! Do you know what Taylor and Isaac did on their big "Africa Tour"? Sat in a hotel restaurant ordering Lasagna made from 1,000-dollar bills and White Tiger's Blood. Not all the time, of course. No, sometimes they would lock themselves in their hotel rooms doing what looked and tasted like high-grade Brazilian Heroin. Where was their father, you might ask? Oh I don't know, maybe shacked up in some Backwater Indonesian Fuckee Suckee bar. Maybe it's just me, but I still believe in a thing called Statutory Rape Laws.
You think I'm bitter? You think I'm beaten? You think I might take the pills I have in my hand, wash them down with Scotch and glide off into a world of euphoria where all my pain will cease? HA! No, this old girl has some fight in her yet. Believe it!! I know things. Things that would be worth a lot of money if they got out. And not the usual bullshit, the "Taylor is fucking Naomi Campbell" shit. I could put a lot of people in jail... Think I'm bluffing? Try me... I dare you... I... I miss my angels. I just want to talk to them. To tell them Mommy loves them... to ... tell them... I could fucking kill Gary with my bare hands and not blink. I could stare into his eyes as he begged for my mercy and forgiveness and I could snuff out his life and then go back to my lunch as though nothing happened. I miss them so much. Do they care? Of course not.
Hey, some crude garage mix of the little bastards rehearsing Christmas music just went to Number 1 on the Holiday Charts. Think Kenny G is choking on his own cock over that one? I believe these tiny ingrates, who I gave life to, could sing into a bag of their own shit and ten million girls whose life ambition is to someday get breast implants would spend their hard-earned abortion money just to cradle it in their arms.
But hey! It was a great run, huh? Better to burn out than fade away! What do I care? I still have more money than any of you will ever have in a lifetime of being paid by the government not to grow corn.
Merry Fucking Christmas, God is dead, Eileen Hanson
A heads-up for any reader in the vicinity of south Jersey: My old chum (and frequent PowerPop commenter) Peter Spencer will be performing at Kline's Gallery in Lambertville tonight (Saturday) at 7:30 pm.
The admission is $10 (cheap!). The joint is located at 25 Bridge Street (Lambertville, NJ, natch). For more details call the club at (609) 397-0314.
Pete's a singer/songwriter/guitarist and one of the few of the breed whose solo sets never reduce me to scowling fidgets. Here's a very cool early take on of one of his best tunes, "Everybody Danced" (a more elaborate version can be found on the splendid studio album pictured below).
I think that's a great song, by the by; first time I heard it I was briefly convinced that somebody had stolen a page from the diary that I, thank the lord, never actually wrote.
In any case, if you can't make the gig, you can still order the CD (and some equally splendid others) over at Pete's estimable website.
Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means, Yes, my Oriental home lube-job specialist Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading off the annual Traci Lords/Marguerite Duras Film Festival in Kalispell, Montana. Not sure which of the honorees will be attending, but it sure sounds like a hot one!
In any case, since things will be a little quiet around here for the forseeable future, here's a fun little project for us all:
Best or Worst Rock Era Record or Song With the Word "Ain't" in the Title or Lyrics!!!
Self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much.
And my totally top of my head Top Seven are:
7. Elvis Presley -- Ain't That Loving You Baby
The Ivory Joe Hunter song. EP's version here was recorded in 1958 but not released until 1985 (on the brilliant but now out of print Elvis blues comp pictured above). A different, mid-tempo version (with the Jordanaires) was a minor hit (in the early 60s, if memory serves) but this vastly superior bare bones revved up assault on the tune is one of the most genuinely exciting records in the Presley canon.
6. Marvin Gaye -- Ain't That Peculiar
On balance, not only my favorite Marvin record, but probably my all-time fave Motown record as well.
5. Queens of the Stone Age -- You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar (But I Feel Like a Millionaire)
Because, as you know, we like to have something recorded in the current century.
4. The Skeletons -- I Ain't Lying
From the 1997 album by America's greatest roots-rock/bar band. The opening verse about the Arab girls and Israeli boys holding hands is perhaps even more startling today than it was then, but my favorite is still the following:
I'll tell you about this guy we knew Who thought he'd figured it out He said time was just a concept And he was gonna sit it out He sat down by the sewer on Wednesday And on Thursday he died And at the coroner's inquest They called it sewercide
3. Marvelous 3 -- I Could Change
One of the great kickass rockers of the last ten years, with a chorus to kill for. And this inspirational verse:
New Year's Day, lyin' next to my bed With a hand in my pants and a song in my head About being depressed 'til I figured out It ain't the 90's anymore
2. Bobby Marchand -- Ain't No Reason for Girls
And speaking of Queens of the Stone Age, Marchand sang lead on the original version of "Rockin' Pneumonia," and made a whole slew of really great New Orleans R&B records in the 50s and 60s. Including this one, which seems to come from a very personal place.
And the Numero Uno grammar-deficient song of them all has simply got to be...
1. Television -- Ain't That Nothin'
Not necessarily the greatest Television track, but if pressed probably my fave, although I'm not entirely sure why; it might be the way that tiniest hint of Hammond organ sneaks in on the verses.
Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?
[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best or worst performances by non-actors in a drama or comedy -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I would take it as a personal favor if you could kill a minute or two leaving a comment over there. Thanks!]
Well, at least when the girl is the utterly amazing Cheri Knight on bass and vocals.
The song, which kills me, is called "All the Way Down," and it's from the 1992 EP Lone Green Valley by the equally amazing Blood Oranges, a criminally undervalued band that was alt-country well before the term achieved any currency.
Seriously, Knight's singing on this -- listen to the line "Some night it's gonna have my white throat by the moonlight and I'll be gone" -- just gives me the cold chills. When I consider that Cristina Aguilera is an international superstar and Knight is probably working a day job at this very moment, I swear to god I contemplate taking a hostage.
From 1970, and produced by the great Sir George Martin, please be patient and try to enjoy Seatrain and their actual Top 40 hit "13 Questions."
Seatrain featured the late Andy Kulberg, an alumnus of The Blues Project, who were and are one of my favorite bands of all time. That said, and I'm pretty sure I actually saw them at some point, I remembered Seatrain's music only barely, and this particular song not at all. In fact, the only reason I bothered to unearth it is because -- to my astonishment -- the guy singing lead here is none other than Lloyd Baskin, the same guy who sang lead on that pre-Velvet Underground record by Lou Reed and John Cale I wrote about last month.
In any case, as far as "13 Questions" goes, when I listened to it the other day I couldn't quite decide if I liked it or not; I finally warmed up to the thing about half way through, which I guess is a way of saying it takes a really long time to get where it's going. As for the rest of the album, there's an amazingly high level of musicianship throughout, but the songs -- including perhaps the first (and certainly the most irritating) cover of Lowell George's usually ingratiating "Willin'" -- just leave me cold.
And if you can hear a George Martin influence in the above, you are more perceptive of ears than I am, that's for sure.
From sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, please enjoy original Late Night With David Letterman writer and (more recently) creator of TV's Monk, the drolly amusing Andy Breckman, and his should have been an anthemic MTV hit "I Had a Good Day."
Breckman had (and continues to have, actually) a sort of parallel career as a sardonic solo folkie, and to my knowledge this unreleased demo is the only time he ever did one of his songs with a rock band. An acetate 45 was on the Folk City jukebox for years, which is where I first heard it; this digital version comes from a 1996 CD sampler on Gadfly Records, a Vermont indie label near and dear to my heart for reasons that I won't bore you with at the moment.
In any case, "Mr. Greenblatt died/I had a real good day" never fails to lift my spirits.
Just as a postscript to our truly depressing item on Emmit Rhodes last week, here's one of his early songs to put the whole thing in some weird kind of perspective.
From the eponymous 1967 album by The Merry-Go-Round, it's Emmit's often covered and truly exquisite "Time Will Show the Wiser."
A great track, obviously, but the thing about it that really hits me over the head of late is -- what a young man's song it is, at least lyrically. I mean, we all know the feeling, but I can't imagine many people past their teens who'd be capable of articulating it so nakedly and naively.
Of course, the Beatles/psychedelic touches are pretty damned sophisticated for a bunch of guys barely out of a high school when they recorded it.
No Weekend Listomania today, as previously explained, but fear not, it will return next week.
Tanned, rested and ready.
And in the spirit of Richard Nixon summoned up by that phrase, from 1997 (and their epochal A Sound For Sore Ears collection) please enjoy brilliant beyond words Minnesota wiseguys Something Fierce and the haunting and audacious "Watergate."
The last time I wrote about these guys, in 2009, it was on the occasion of the imminent release of a fabulous box set CD anthology of their complete oeuvre, an artifact to which I had contributed some liner notes. Speaking of the song in question, I opined that...
"One song [from the set] deserves particular mention...specifically, 'Watergate,' in which [they] posit -- over a hilariously overdramatic instrumental bed -- that A Girlfriend From Hell is the metaphorical equivalent of the Nixon scandals and sustain the conceit for more than five fricking minutes. If nothing else, this must be the first song in history to contemplate rhyming 'spill the beans' with 'Haldeman, Mitchell and Dean,' and I would like to go on record, at this juncture, as saying that this song remains for my money the most audacious conceptual masterstroke on any '90s rock album by anybody. So there."
I stand by the assessment, obviously.
In any case, you can order said best-of box (and the rest of the Something Fierce catalogue) over here. There should be a link to their Facebook page over there as well.
First the bad news. No Listomania tomorrow (and thus no clue today, obviously). Apologies all around, but alas I got mugged by reality this week and had to spend a fair chunk of time that would have otherwise been engaged in picking the Top Ten Oud Solos Evah instead helping a dear friend convalesce from major surgery.
The good news, however, is that you can now enjoy, from 1965, the premier episode of the hilarious radio serial The Adventures of Chickenman.
A parody of the TV Batman show, obviously, but it quickly took on a life of its own. Chickenman (secret identity: shoe salesman Benton Harbor), also known as the Winged Warrior and the Fantastic Feathered Fighter, started out on a local top 40 radio station in Chicago (WLS-AM) and for years I thought the show had been a strictly local phenomenon; it turns out, however, that it was syndicated across the country and beyond (GIs heard it in Vietnam, apparently). In any case, it's one of the great fondly remembered hoots of my late teens.
Oh, and please check in tomorrow -- as I said, no Listomania, but you'll definitely find something worth your attention in its place.
There's a new film coming out about genuine powerpop god Emitt Rhodes, and the man himself surfaced at a screening in Los Angeles last week.
My old chum Eric C. Boardman was there, and wrote me thusly:
Saw the documentary One Man Beatles: Something About Emitt Rhodes tonight. Skip it if you ever want to enjoy the music again. Emitt and two bandmates were there for Q&A. Avoid that, if you have sharp objects in the house. We all left wounded.
35 years of moping in a grim ranch house in Hawthorne, CA has not been good for him. Five pounds short of Kevin Smith, he reluctantly trundled on stage clutching a 16-ounce beer in a paper bag. He responded to questions slowly and painfully with short, sour sentences. The other two musicians, a former Grass Root and Leave, were chipper and tried for fun. But Rhodes cannot experience such a thing.
The film answers very few questions and just leaves you cranky and soiled. The article below will fill you in. I don't think I will be slapping "Fresh As A Daisy" on anytime soon.
As they say, you shouldn't have been there.
I can't seem to find a working link to the 2004 article Eric mentions, by writer Erik Himmelsbach, which ran in the now defunct LA paper City Beat. But if you really want to get bummed, here's the opening two paragraphs.
Emitt Rhodes still doesn’t know what hit him. Thirty years ago, he was the new Paul McCartney, an ambitious kid who craved the perfect pop song. Then he got blindsided into submission by the heartless business of music. Now he’s just another sad guy with a boatload of talent that got buried in a black hole of depression. Rhodes’s dreams collapsed in full view. That he showed early promise as a recording artist and made a tuneful blip on the popular consciousness perhaps justifies an examination of his specific version of life gone astray, particularly to those who obsess over the minutiae of Los Angeles pop-music history. But, in a way, Rhodes’s story could be anyone’s. Certainly, most of us have been one fateful step away from a similar plight. What if, for example, while on an early leg of your particular journey, you were stopped dead in your tracks, crippled by an obstacle that made it impossible to continue pursuing your true calling – yet the majority of your life still lay before you? You’d have options, of course. You might shrug, dust yourself off, and seek fulfillment elsewhere. Or you might decide to live in misery. Stripped of your true love, would you simply count the days until your death? How many of us could live happily if we felt our existence had no meaning? Three decades later, Rhodes is a disoriented 53-year-old musician, still trying to crawl from the emotional wreckage. “Life disappoints me. It’s a bitter place,” he says, pounding a plethora of cocktails across the table at an El Porto oceanside cantina. “I’ve had all the good stuff, and I’ve have all the bad stuff. Sometimes I’m happy to be alive, and sometimes I couldn’t care less.”
There’s an autumn coastal chill, but the stout, bearded Rhodes is oblivious to the weather. He wears baggy shorts, a matching polo shirt, and battered tennis shoes. When I first met him, more than six months earlier, he wore exactly the same thing. He’s had two wives and three kids, but communication with them is rare. He owns his Hawthorne home – located directly across the street from where he grew up – but must rent out the bulk of it to cover his nut. His own personal space is a glorified flop at the front of the house, with room enough for a mattress and a TV. He doesn’t drive anymore, not since he crashed his car a few years ago – Rhodes lapsed into a diabetic coma with his young daughter in the passenger seat. The totaled vehicle still sits in his driveway, too easily symbolizing the state of its driver’s life...
It gets worse from there, if you can believe it.
Seriously, I'm finding it very difficult to reconcile the fact that the man described in those two paragraphs once actually wrote and sang the profoundly uplifting song above.
From 1983, it's Bleecker Street's finest, the fabulous Floor Models, and the broodingly melodic "A Shot in the Dark."
This was essentially recorded in somebody's living room on a home four-track machine, but despite that it, it's pretty slick, I think. (For which I must credit the production assistance of ex-Beatlemania guy David Grahame, who went on in the 90s to co-write that million-selling Mr. Big annoyance "To Be With You").
The sound of it actually reminds me of some of the Marshall Crenshaw demos that have floated around over the years, in particular "My Favorite Waste of Time." Not the song, just the sound.
In any case, "A Shot in the Dark" is by my chum Andy "Folk-Rock" Pasternack [left, with Rickenbacker] and it's sung by the irrepressible Gerry Devine [second from right]. The bass player is on the far right, some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels.
We had a couple of tunes I've always suspected could have been hits back in the day, and this is the one I kinda thought had the most commercial potential. Of course, I'm a fairly unreliable judge of these sorts of things. Or as Chuck Barris famously said -- what do I know? I like cold toilet seats.