From 1995, and the soundtrack to TVs Friends, please enjoy the great Paul Westerberg and a really spiffy remake of Jonathan Edwards 1971 hit "Sunshine."
The original version has never been a particular favorite; about the best I can say about it is that when it came on the radio I wouldn't necessarily change the station. Westerberg's cover, on the other hand, has always killed me in its vintage Replacements sort of way.
I should add that I had more or less forgotten about the cover till somebody at Facebook posted it this week in honor of Edwards 75th birthday.
I also should add that the depressing title of today's post is a line from Georg Büchner's even more depressing early 19th century play Wozzeck.
From 1994, please enjoy the official trailer for the brilliant rock biopic about you know who as a punk band in Hamburg Backbeat.
Sheryl (Twin Peaks) Lee as Astrid. What more do I need to say?
I should add that when the producers were trying to figure out who should do the soundtack, they went to Ringo and said "What do you suggest?" Ringo replied "Get a bunch of young kids who've never played a Beatles song in their lives."
The soundtrack band thus became:
Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum): vocals (Paul McCartney)
Greg Dulli (The Afghan Whigs): vocals (John Lennon)
Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth): guitar
Don Fleming (Gumball): guitar
Mike Mills (R.E.M.): bass guitar
Dave Grohl (Nirvana): drums
Henry Rollins (Black Flag): vocals (Stuart Sutcliffe)
I don't have the CD anymore, but I think I'm gonna have to order a copy.
So a certain Shady Dame and I were watching Bohemian Rhapsody earlier yesterday, and I've turned into a shameless Queen fan, which I wasn't when they were an actual band.
That said, is anybody here alive who actually was alive when Live Aid happened?
The reason I ask is -- and given that this was pre-internet so I have no idea how I heard it -- there was a rumour going around that weekend that The Beatles were going to do a reunion set with Julian Lennon filling in for John.
Specifically, that Billy Ocean said he had seen them rehearsing.
Anybody remember that? Or have any info on how that story got around?
Words fail me. Except that this Aaron Lewis guy is a huge asshole.
Apart from the obvious rightwing boilerplate lyric tripe -- although I must admit I wasn't prepared for this bit...
Am I the only one/who quits singin' along/every time they play/a Springsteen song
...I find the track terrifying on several levels.
To begin with, all those lines about how 'this isn't the freedom we were fighting for,' coming from a sunshine patriot who has never worn as much as a Boy Scout uniform, would be hilarious if the record itself wasn't likely to get somebody killed.
And here's a clue, Lewis -- the only thing YOU'VE ever fought for is a better time slot on the tour your shit nu metal band Staind did with Limp Bizkit back in the 90s.
I should add that the song is available through Toby Keith's record label, a subsidiary of the same Universal Music Group that just acquired Bob Dylan's publishing for around a gazillion dollars. Which means they have more money than they need or is good for the health of the Body Politic.
Also -- given, as I said, that the song itself is likely to get somebody killed, I want a massive class action suit against both UMG and Lewis himself toot sweet.
From 2011, and their (alas) final studio album Sky Full of Holes, please enjoy power pop deities Fountains of Wayne and the (heretofore unknown to me) bonus track, a delightfully nasal cover of The Mooody Blues' "The Story in Your Eyes."
I should add that I had a version of Sky, and am pretty sure I reviewed it (enthusiastically) somewhere, but for the life of me I can't find it if I did. I should also add that whatever CD I had of the album, it clearly didn't include the Moodies cover, or I would have remembered. Or it might be on an old laptop of mine that died a few years ago. In any event, a great take on the song.
I should also add that it's not exactly a state secret that I pretty much loathe the Justin Hayward incarnation of the Moodies, with the conspicuous exception of "Story." As I'm fond of saying, pretty nuch all of their post Denny Laine work is so earnest that all their albums should be called The Moody Blues Cure Cancer.
So last weekend, our pal Sal Nunziato -- over at his invaluable Burning Wood blog -- posted a set list of cover versions, mostly of familiar songs, but occasionally by artists I was not particularly familiar with (you can see the entire list over HERE.)
In any case, this 2009 Prince live performance absolutely blew my tiny mind and I suspect you'll have the same reaction.
I know it's a cliche, but damn if that guy wasn't quite possibly the all-around greatest musical talent in the lifetime of anybody who reads this here blog.
In any case -- thanks, Sal. Now I gotta go check out some of your other choices.
So anyway, here's the shortest possible intro I can come up with for this, and please bear with me.
In any case, I have a brilliant young friend named Tommy Perkins. He's one of the ridiculously talented people I've met at my watering hole in Forest Hills over the years -- he was actually a bartender at said place, the Keuka Kafe -- and he was and is a total joy to hang out with. I used to go there for lunch, and it was pretty much just him and me, and we woud shoot the shit and he would turn me on to all sorts of great music I was heretofore unaware of. And generally have a great time.
Here's an example.
I mean -- wow.
I should also add that sometime in the summer of 2019 I mentioned to to him that my band The Floor Models was about to embark on a tribute album to The Byrds, but that we lacked a title for it; he raised an eyebrow and said "Uh, In-Flyte Entertainment."
Have I mentioned wow?
In any case, Tommy's doing some undergraduate work, at a college I won't mention, for an English degree, and he recently wrote this paper about The Bus Boys, a band that seems more relevant than ever, and he passed it along to me. My response was -- dude, this is brilliant, and frankly, given the fact that I spent most of my adult life as a professional (heh) rock critic all I can say is I wish I had written it.
The Bus Boys’ Minimum Wage Rock 'n' Roll as Great Black Music
In the article It Didn’t Jes Grew: The Social and Aesthetic Significance of African
American Music, Kalamu ya Salaam argues that music is the mother tongue of African
Americans and goes on to outline criteria for what he terms Great Black Music. According to
Salaam, GBM is characterized by its oppositional stance to cultural norms and celebration of
African American identity in a white-dominated world. The 1980 album "Minimum Wage Rock
and Roll", by The Bus Boys, is a satiric and upbeat example of this rebellious and humanizing attitude.
Lyrically, the album covers topics of wage-slavery, gentrification, cultural appropriation, and
racism with wit and subversive humor. Musically, these ideas are presented over a contemporary
style of rock music that pays homage to its black founders while pushing limits at the time by
incorporating elements of the burgeoning New Wave movement. Given that rock and roll had
become the mainstay of white musicians by the time of Minimum Wage Rock & Roll being
released, The Bus Boys are iconoclastic for their efforts to emphasize the medium as one of
black origins and as a vehicle for expressing the challenges faced by African Americans in the
In their song “Did You See Me?” The Bus Boys directly postulate about their listeners’
lack of familiarity with rock music’s black origins: “I bet you never heard music like this by
spades”. In a single line, the band decries the complete cultural appropriation of rock music by
white artists and audiences over the two and a half decades since Chuck Berry, often cited as the
“Father of Rock and Roll”, released Maybellene in 1955. Though such an assumption may seem
harsh, Salaam explains that this kind of frank honesty is an imperative quality of GBM. “For us,
there remains a raw element in our cultural expression precisely to remind us who we are, and to
affirm that we do not ever want to forget or give up the fight against our condition of forced
submission to alien conquerors” (Salaam 355). Through their honesty, The Bus Boys both
entertain and inform their audience while remaining true to their own cultural identity and
refusing to be assimilated.
“Coming out of Reconstruction, we African Americans literally found ourselves
emancipated but unliberated…only this time as wage slaves” (Salaam 367). As Salaam,
describes, the economic realities faced by African Americans from emancipation onward create a
stark portrait of disadvantage and inequality. With a lack of upward mobility and bills to pay, an
element of indentured servitude pervades the lives of many “free” African Americans through
the present day. The Bus Boy’s title track, “Minimum Wage” sums this up perfectly with what
Salaam describes as “acceptance of the contradictory nature of life” (Salaam 357).
I make the minimum wage
I said that I work, I work
For the minimum wage
I wash the dishes, I mop the floors
I'm glad I'm alive, who could ask for more
I'm not unhappy, why be sad
Think of all the good times that we've had
We work so hard
Yes, we work all day
We work so hard
But we need to stay
The Bus Boys subversive and satiric approach to rock music is perhaps best exemplified
in their songs which deal most directly with race relations in America. “There Goes The
Neighborhood” is a reference to the common utterance of white communities who feared the
possibility of black neighbors. However, removed from the context of the early days of white
flight and blockbusting, The Bus Boys instead refer to whites moving back into urban areas that
are now predominately populated by African Americans and the resulting gentrification and
displacement of these black residents.
There goes the neighborhood
The Whites are moving in
They'll bring their next of kin, oh boy
There goes the neighborhood, boy, boy, boy
I ain't moving out for no Carol and Bob
The inner city is too close to my job
And oh, oh, oh, it doesn't look too good to me
Just as they did in “Minimum Wage”, the lyrics to “Neighborhood” make the best of the
speaker’s reality by finding a silver lining in the inner city being close to one’s workplace,
despite the poor conditions of both when compared to the opportunities of affluent, middle-class
suburbs. This somewhat jocular indignation about white society attempting to reclaim African
American neighborhoods is a refusal on the part of The Bus Boys to be recolonized after finally
gaining a pittance of independence. Salaam recognizes this type of rallying cry as a key
component of GBM. “The social and aesthetic significance of GBM is very precisely its warrior
stance in the face of the status quo and its healing force for the victims of colonialization.
Ultimately, the best of our music helps us resist colonization and reconstruct ourselves whole
and healthy” (Salaam 375). The idea of being “whole” in terms of one’s identity as an American
and human being with full civil rights is the subject of “KKK”. In the lyrics, The Bus Boys
describe the inequity by which African Americans have been allowed to serve their country in
warfare for centuries and yet are still denied other fundamental opportunities. If true equality is
possible, the song speculates humorously, perhaps African Americans will break down all
exclusive barriers in their way, including those surrounding membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
If I can fight in Vietnam
If I am good to Uncle Sam
If I am good to join the war
Fellas, please don’t close the door
I am bigger than a nigger
Wanna be an all-American man
Wanna join the Klu Klux Klan
And play in a rock & roll band
This plea to be regarded equally is as much one on behalf of African American society to an
unjust United States as it is one on the part of an African American band in a white-dominated
industry built on the innovation of black musicians. The Bus Boys arrival on the popular music
scene marked them as a significant minority voice in a rather homogenous genre. The Bus Boys’
outspoken humor and combining of traditional musical elements with current trends was indeed
timely. The Allmusic review of their album explains their significance as early purveyors of a
more modern sound in rock music:
“One of the first African-American groups to emerge to national prominence in the new
wave scene, the BusBoys were willing to embrace the contradictions and confront the
stereotypes that faced black musicians playing what had come to be known as "white"
music…the music was certainly prescient, blending straight-ahead rock & roll and old-
school R&B with George Clinton-esque absurdity and harmonies and new wave
synthesizer squeals”. (Deming)
Much like their forebears from the early days of rock and roll, The Bus Boys
contributions are somewhat overlooked today. Much like their forebears as well, the
controversial ideas presented within The Bus Boys’ music may have garnered attention but
ultimately made only a temporary impact to be overlooked for more whitewashed alternatives.
Salaam postulates that the inherent nature of change is a key component of Great Black Music.
Although The Bus Boys’ Minimum Wage Rock & Roll has faded into obscurity over the past
forty years, it remains a strong example of GBM for its pushing the limitations of rock and roll
and serving as an honest, humorous and humanizing African American voice of rebellion.
BTW -- I had no idea that the Bus Boys were not only still active but had made a totally awesome and obviously relevant album just last year
Please enjoy -- from their splendid just released EP -- veteran NYC rockers Diamond Dupree and the kick ass title track "Cool Smooth and Easy."
I had the great good fortune to be playing bass and piano on said song; in retrospect, I think it's the hardest-rocking thing I've ever been involved with. Kind of a cross between Little Richard and The Yardbirds, which is kinda cool.
I should add that DD frontman and old friend Rafael Fuentes actuallly owns both the guitar on the cover and that amazing hand-cranked portable record player from the 40s. Both of which are also kinda cool.
I should also add that you can get the aforementioned EP over at Amazon HERE.
[I originally posted a version of this in 2007, back when the world and this blog were young. I've done some obligatory rewriting, and I've swapped out some of the choices for other songs, in an attempt to disprove the fact that I'm the slacker I demonstrably am. But I think the results are pretty entertainining in any event. Enjoy! -- S.S.]
Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Hollywood, where we've wangled cameo roles as torturees in a forthcoming episode of the Neflix revival of 24. Apparently, we're going to have to cross some sort of picket line, but as far as I'm concerned those rich writers are just greedheads. I mean, really -- does Aaron Sorkin really need a better royalty deal for the Criterion Blu-ray Edition of A Few Good Men? Feh.
So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.
But in my absence, here's a fun project for us all to contemplate:
Best Guitar Break -- or Breaks -- on a Rock Record in Which Said Breaks are Under Two Minutes Long
You know -- the most succinct, the most melodic, the most inventive, the most menacing, the most technically accomplished -- however you define a great guitar break.
Yeah, yeah, I can already hear the harrumphing -- because of the time constraint, this list is necessarily going to be skewed towards (mostly) out and out pop records. Which means that a lot of stuff by a lot of my faves (Richard Thompson, for example, who I think is pound for pound the greatest rock guitarist ever) and a lot of yours (Duane Allman or Stevie Ray Vaughan, perhaps?) can't qualify.
That being the case, may I simply say to both you and me --- tough titties.
Okay -- here's my reasonably well considered Top Ten.
10. James Burton (Ricky Nelson) -- Hello Mary Lou
Rockabilly guitar doesn't get any better. (Also: Moah cowbell!)
9. Pete Townshend (The Who) -- The Kids Are Alright
[This one's my favorite, partly because it's gorgeous in its minimalism, but mostly because it was edited out of both the American versions -- single and album -- back in the day. Why? Somebody at the American record company thought the feedback was a mistake. Hahahahahahahaha...]
8, Either Keith Richards or Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) -- The Last Time
[Honorable mention: Keith on the faster than the speed of light solo on "She Said Yeah."]
7. Dave Edmunds (With Brinsley Schwarz) -- Let It Rock
I can't tell you how many hours I spent learning all those licks.
6. Paul Kossoff (Free) -- All Right Now
If there's a more beautifully structured single-note blues rock solo ever committed to a recording medium, I haven't heard it.
5. Neil Young -- Cinnamon Girl
4. Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) -- I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better
[honorable mention: "Eight Miles High," which may clock in over two minutes]
3. John Lennon (The Beatles) -- You Can't Do That
Yeah. He was just a rhythm player.
2. Elliot Randall (Steely Dan) -- Reelin' in the Years
I can't think of better guitar work on a commercial pop hit.
And the most awesome short form guitar on a rock record obviously is...
1. Tom Verlaine (Television) -- See No Evil
Verlaine. Sheesh. Also Richard Lloyd, but he isn't playing the solo.
So as attentive readers are aware, I've been in an avian mood of late, for obvious reasons. And as I noted on Tuesday, Byrds founder (and architect of their sound) Roger McGuinn just turned 79.
On a less happy note, the great bluegrass fiddler Byron Berline (a frequent Byrds collaborator) passed away last Saturday. And on this day in 1973, the Byrds great guitarist Clarence White was run over and killed by a drunk driver as he was loading his amp into the back of his car in the parking lot of The Troubador.
In their honor, I thought I'd repost something I originally put up last year. To wit: through the miracle of studio magic, a recording of me playing bass and singing with those guys on their classic "Tulsa County."
For those keeping score at home, I found an incomplete Byrds version of the song on YouTube, and thought it would be cool to dub my parts on to it. It was originally gonna be included on the just released Floor Models Byrds tribute album -- now available on various digital platforms, with Amazon coming any minute now -- but ultimately we thought the legal hurdles would be insurmountable. And also that it might piss Roger off.
In any event, enjoy. And may the surviving Byrds fly forever.
From 1989, please enjoy Aerosmith and the official version of "Janie's Got a Gun."
I can't tell you how much I dislike Aerosmith as a rule. Basically, the best you can say about them is that they're a pretentious version of The Yardbirds crossed with a slicker, irony-free version of The New York Dolls with a flag of their collective dick up front.
That said, the above record is a masterpiece. Great music mated to an extremely well-written lyic about a serious subject.
I should add that Liv Tyler just turned 44. Yipes. I should also add that I was hoping to post the incredible version of said song the band did on SNL, but I couldn't find it.
From 1992, please enjoy Annie Lennox and her insanely great "Walking on Broken Glass."
Lennox basically does nothing for me. I kinda vaguely liked her remake of "I Only Want to Be With You" as The Tourists in 1979, but other than that, her stardom stuff with Eurythmics and her subsequent solo hits put me to sleep.
The above, however, is an absolute masterpiece. It's like what would have happened had Mozart written and produced a great 60s soul/r&b record.
Which is to say here's a very nice (unsolicited) plug for the new Floor Models tribute album to The Byrds, lovingly titled In-Flyte Entertainment, over at a website -- Poprock Record -- heretofore unknown to me.
Author Dennis Pilon goes on to say:
For those of us who can’t get enough of the Bryds, a very special record is due out soon from an exquisite jangle-friendly band, The Floor Models. You can get a taste of their fab back catalogue from the 2012 retrospective HERE.
But here I want you to enjoy their indie-fied version of “Lady Friend,” a teaser from their soon-to-be-released album, In Flyte Entertainment: A Tribute to the Byrds.
I thank you, Dennis.
And BTW, you can read more stuff by Dennis over at that Poprock Record website HERE.
And speaking of coincidences, I hadn't lisened to Abbey Road all the way through in I don't know how long. But on Friday, having lunch at my local watering hole, the thing came on the sound system. And I thought -- hey, that's pretty damn good, and yeah, it totally holds up.
But then when I got home, somebody sent me this, and my tiny mind got blown for the second time in a week.
Ladies and germs, please enjoy -- from their new charity album of Beatles covers -- the fabulous Tenacious D.
I should mention that Paul McCartney digs the hell out of the above and presumably has given his blessing to the entire project.
So there's this Facebook group I follow that's devoted to getting early 70s all gal band Fanny into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. I've been kind of agnostic about it, because back in the day I wasn't crazy about them. I thought they were good musicians and obviously talented, but they didn't do it for me, and I was of the opinion that if they were guys nobody would have given a shit.
I actually reviewed one of their better albums for CREEM, and needless to say, I would have been run out of town if I had written this now.
That said, I stumbled across this clip on YouTube today and had my tiny mind blown.