Saturday, January 13, 2007

I gots my questions...

A few thoughts to ponder...

—Are clams really all that happy?
—Is rain always right?
—Is pie truly that easy?
—Are dogs actually that sick?
—Should we do an autopsy on door nails?
—Are mice all that quiet?
—Are rocks always solid?
—Should we be impressed with minds like steel traps?
—Is the sky the true limit?
—Is snot really that slick?
—Do the eyes really have it?
—How light is air, really?
—Is gold all that good?
—Are sheets always white?
—Are whips all that smart?
—Are machines usually that well-oiled?
—What is the exact I.Q. of box of rocks?
—Do logs actually sleep?

The Bottom Five WORST Guitar Solos of All-Time

Dedicated to those who don't have a clue how to grind an axe!

1) "I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll"—JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS (1982)  Not sure who the guitar player is here (I don’t think it’s Joan), but it sounds like he/she played it in his/her sleep!
2) "I Love It Loud"—KISS (1982)  It’s a mystery who actually played this stillborn thing (it's most definitely NOT Ace Frehley) because the lead guitarist position for Kiss was in flux at the time, but whoever it was, it sucked like a Hoover vacuum...
3) "Mad About You"—BELINDA CARLISLE (1986)  Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor ruined a perfectly good love song with his squealy solo that sounded so out-of-place with the rest of the tune—hey Andy, come back when you learn how to play that thing, okay, Bud?!? Good rule of thumb: guitar feedback and love songs generally are not a good mix!  The Carpenters had a song called "Goodbye To Love" that suffered from a similar malady.

4) "Hot Blooded"—FOREIGNER (1978)  Mick Jones sounded like he was playing with an ice pick here instead of a guitar pick...
5) "Hot Girls In Love"—LOVERBOY (1983)  With all apologies to Loverboy's Paul Dean, I’m not sure why this one bugs me—it just does.  Dumb song and even dumber video too...

DISHONORABLE MENTION: "Cover Of The Rolling Stone"—DR. HOOK & THE MEDICINE SHOW (1973)  This would have made the above list, except for one little thing—it was supposed to sound bad!

The Top 25 Greatest Rock & Roll Guitar Solos of All-Time

Dedicated to those who have an axe to grind...

1) ACE FREHLEY/PAUL STANLEY, Kiss—“Detroit Rock City” (1976)  More Ace than Paul here, but this one has always been my favorite, and I can’t actually say why. It just is…
2) JIMI HENDRIX, Jimi Hendrix Experience—“All Along The Watchtower” (1968)  This was Jimi’s finest hour, musically.  Sadly, it was all downhill for him after this one, but when he wasn’t all drugged-out, he could make some amazing sounds with his fingers.

3) JOHN ENTWISTLE, The Who—“5:15” (Live-2000)  Greatest bass solo ever recorded!  A three-and-a-half minute roller coaster ride that'll render you awe-struck, dumb-struck, and downright dizzy, courtesy of the greatest bass player on the planet.
4) RANDY RHOADS, Ozzy Osbourne—“I Don’t Know” (1981)  I could list most any solo he ever did here and it would be appropriate.  Another favorite of mine is his solo on the live version of “Children Of The Grave” on the Tribute CD.  One can only imagine what this guy would have gone on to do, and if he were still with us, he would be even more revered than Eddie Van Halen is.  What a waste…
5) EDDIE VAN HALEN, Van Halen—“Eruption” (1978)  Speaking of the devil, one can only guess how many countless guitar players were inspired by this track…
6) ALLEN COLLINS, Lynyrd Skynyrd—“Free Bird” (1973)  I didn’t know until recently that he played this whole damn thing all by himself!  This guy was better than I ever realized...
7) BUDDY HOLLY, The Crickets—“Peggy Sue” (1957)  Short, sweet and petite, but very cool, and way ahead of its time.  Ol' B.H. had really cool initials, too!
8) DRAKE LEVIN, Paul Revere & The Raiders—"Louie, Louie" (Live-1965)  This rambunctious solo made Keith Richards and Dave Davies look like rank amateurs!

9) ERNIE ISLEY, The Isley Brothers—“That Lady” (1973)  Under “blistering” in the dictionary it says “listen to this”.  Every time I hear this lazer-like guitar work, it makes me think of a hot summer day.  This thing could melt the siding clean off your house!
10) DUANE ROLAND/DAVE HLUBEK/STEVE HOLLAND, Molly Hatchet—“Fall of The Peacemakers” (1983)  Sort of a poor man’s “Free Bird”, but still mighty fine guitar work.
11) ANGUS YOUNG, AC/DC—”Let There Be Rock” (1977)  Never ceases to amaze me how this little dude rolls around on stage like that and NEVER misses a note!
12) ACE FREHLEY, Kiss—”Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Live-1975)  Space Ace gets to stretch his muscles and jam a bit—a rarity on a Kiss record.

13) DAVE EDMUNDS, Love Sculpture—“Sabre Dance” (1968/1994)  Khachaturian’s classical classic gets re-worked into a four-minute guitar solo by Sir Edmunds.  The cleaner, meaner ‘94 version (even with the drum machine) is every bit as cool as the original, too.
14) RANDY BACHMAN, Bachman-Turner Overdrive—“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” (1974)  Not necessarily the solo here, but the sinewy guitar work throughout the entire song is downright awesome.

15) PETE TOWNSHEND, The Who—“Shakin’ All Over” (1970)  Pete isn’t particularly renowned for his lead guitar work as much as he is for his songwriting and power chords, but on the night The "'Orrible 'Oo" recorded Live At Leeds, he sounded like Jimi Hendrix.
16) RITCHIE BLACKMORE, Deep Purple—“Highway Star” (Live, 1973)  “Stupid-fast” is an apt description of the solo here on Made In Japan.  Fortunately in this case, speed don’t kill...

17) BILLY GIBBONS, Z.Z. Top—“La Grange” (1974)  Rev. Billy G. delivers a feedback-laden six-string sermon that would bring Godzilla to his knees.  Haw-haw-haw-haw, indeed!
18) NILS LOFGREN, Bruce Springsteen—“Tunnel Of Love” (1987)  This is the one that The Boss yodels along with, but for some reason, it really works!
19) JOHN ENTWISTLE, The Who—"My Generation" (1965)  “The Ox” gave the world its first Rock ‘N’ Roll bass solo here.  Often imitated, never equaled…
20) TED NUGENT—“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” (Live-1978)  Ah yes, the good ol’ days when Ted talked through his guitar instead of out of his ass…
21) RANDAL CHOWNING, Ozark Mountain Daredevils—"Jackie Blue" (1975)  Just like "You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet", not only is the solo cool here, but the slide guitar throughout the entire song is downright hypnotic.  Just as an aside, when this first came out, I thought it was a chick singing this song, so imagine my surprise when I saw OMD on "The Midnight Special" with this bearded dude with a high voice singing it!
22) HENRY PAUL/HUGHIE THOMASSON/BILLY JONES, The Outlaws—"Green Grass & High Tides" (1975)  "Free Bird" inspired a wave of copy-cat triple-lead guitar solos that lasted over five minutes from other Southern bands, and this was the first (and best) of them.  No doubt all the Album Rock DJs back then loved this song because it lasted long enough to smoke a joint or two…
23) SCOTTY MOORE, Elvis Presley—"Hard Headed Woman" (1958)  Guitar solos were a rare commodity in the ‘50s, especially good ones!
24) DUANE ROLAND/DAVE HLUBEK/STEVE HOLLAND, Molly Hatchet—"Boogie No More" (1980) Yet another mini-"Free Bird", but a damn good one.

25) ACE FREHLEY, Kiss—"She" (Live-1975)  Another of the rare times when Kiss would just jam on stage and allow Ace to really cut loose.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

She's got legs, and she knows how to use them...

1) Belinda Carlisle (The Go-Go’s)  Loved to watch her dance on stage in those high heels too!
2) Bebe Neuwirth ("Cheers"/"Frasier")  When she’s not made up as Lillith, she’s hot.  She’s a dancer on Broadway too and she sure looks good in fishnets!
3) Fran Drescher ("The Nanny")  Best enjoyed with the "mute" button on.  The girl that played the oldest daughter on that show had pretty nice legs too…
4) Jane Leeves ("Frasier")  She’s a dancer too—I love that scene where she and Niles are tango-ing and she lifts her leg over his shoulder.  Yeoww!  Got plenty of exposure as one of Hill's Angels on "The Benny Hill Show" too.  (Get it? Exposure! Benny Hill Show! Har-de-har-har...)
5) Anni-frid "Frida" Lyngstad (ABBA)  Put Agnetha’s tush and Frida’s legs on the same body and then we’d really have something to behold!
6) Catherine Bach ("The Dukes Of Hazzard")  Why ELSE do you think horny teenagers like me tuned in that show week after week?  The high drama?  The sublime humor?  The clever dialogue?  The charisma of Boss Hogg?  The "General Lee"?  I think not…
7) Angie Dickinson ("Police Woman")  She’s old enough to be my mother, but STILL has dynamite legs!
8) Tina Turner  Couldn’t possibly leave her off this list, now could I?
9) Mercedes Ruehl (Movie actress)  Awesome legs, but she sometimes gives me the creeps because she looks and talks like Ralph Macchio in drag!
10) Ann-Margret (Movie actress/Dancer)  Like Ms. Dickinson, she's old enough to be my mom also, but she's still got it, too!  Her legs were well-represented in the Tommy movie...

You're not well, Mr. Blackwell

That’s a line from a Kiss song—hope Gene Simmons doesn’t mind me pirating it!

Every year about this time, I'm forced to ask this question: "Who the hell is this Mr. Blackwell douche-bag, and why are his opinions considered so damn important?"  Once again, this self-appointed twit gave the world his unsolicited opinions this week about who’s best-dressed and worst-dressed in celeb-dom.  And as per his usual, his worst-dressed list is nothing more than a lame collection of pot shots at the usual way-too-easy targets like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, et al., and bad puns like "From Streep you could weep."  Hey, Numb-nuts, that was Meryl Streep's movie character!  It was her job to dress like that—she doesn’t dress like that in real life (The Devil Wears Prada is an overrated film, btw).  I seem to remember one year the vaunted Mr. B. even put down the gal that played Mimi on the "Drew Carey Show" for the same thing.  What a maroon!  To me, he’s yet another one of these worthless celebrities that America makes famous (and reveres) for no good reason (รก la Ryan Seacrest, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Kato Kaelin, et al).  In the words of Pete Townshend, "Why should I care? WHY should I care?"

R.I.P. Yvonne DeCarlo

Our first major celebrity passing of the new year is actress Yvonne DeCarlo—better known as the matriarch of "The Munsters"—who died yesterday at age 84.  That character was perfect for her—Lily could rag on Herman a lot and be a bee-yatch sometimes, but overall she was alright in my book, and as TV moms go, I’d put her right up there with Mrs. C. and Shirley Partridge.  A lot of people don’t know that Yvonne DeCarlo was a fairly serious movie actress (and singer) back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and was quite the hottie in her day, often playing seductresses and femme-fatales.  She initially was reluctant to even do Lily Munster, but her husband was a Hollywood stuntman who was seriously injured while filming How The West Was Won long about that time and they really needed the paycheck, thus a legend was born.  If nothing else, you have to admire her stamina in doing that show day-in and day-out—didn’t it look as if that wig she wore weighed more than she did?  Unfortunately, she was typecast by Lily after "The Munsters" went off the air, and was reduced to roles in crappy B-movie schlock like Blazing Stewardesses and Satan’s Cheerleaders, the occasional "Fantasy Island"/"Love Boat" spot, and doing denture commercials on TV, but bless her heart for being the most delightfully ghoulish housewife of all-time—now reunited with Herman and Grandpa in that Great Crypt in the Sky!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Oops! They did it again!

Well, the (C)Rock & Roll Hall of Fame folks have outdone themselves this time.  While they did manage to get it right by FINALLY voting Van Halen in (see my previous December 7th post), imagine my absolute horror in hearing that in the same induction class with them will be Rappers Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.  You gotta be shittin’ me!  Must we remind these dunderheads again that this is the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame?  Who they gonna induct next, Tone-Loc?  Okay, I do realize that Rock ‘N’ Roll means different things to different people, but this is a joke!  If and when someone puts together a Rap/Hip-Hop HOF, then I’m sure Gaspasser Flush and crew belongs there.  Meantime, they belong in the Rock Hall about as much as Liberace does.  In the words of former Denver Broncos head coach Lou Saban, "They’re killin’ me, Whitey, they’re killin’ me!"

BTW, for the uninitiated out there—I can’t stand Rap, and I refuse to officially recognize it as a form of music.  And don’t forget, you can’t spell "crap" without it!  Call me narrow-minded all you want, but I'm being honest here...

As for the other Class of '07 inductees, The Ronettes should’ve gotten in years ago, being one of the better "Girl Groups" of all time...Patti Smith?!?  Puh-leeze!  She’s never been more than a mere cult figure in Rock—yet another act that all the Rolling Stone critics go ape-shit over for no particular reason.  Her only real hit, "Because The Night", needed an assist or two from Bruce Springsteen, too—I'd have sooner voted Patty Smyth (of Scandal fame) into the Hall—at least she had some talent...R.E.M. are borderline HOF’ers, at best.  I like some of their stuff (as did Leonard Bernstein, I presume), but overall I think they’re pretty overrated, and Michael Stipe’s over-seriousness about everything wears thin on me after a while.  R.E.M.’s a good band, not a great band, but since they’re another group the critics go ape-shit over, they got voted in the nanosecond they were eligible, just like U2 did.  Van Halen had to wait three years. Figures...

Getting back to VH, what’s really going to be intriguing is who will actually be there to accept their award and/or perform at the HOF ceremony.  For those of you who’ve lost track of this soap opera, the band is now strictly a family affair—only those with the last name Van Halen are allowed in the band now, evidently.  Eddie has apparently burned his bridges with singer Sammy Hagar (again), as well as with singer Gary Cherone (who had the proverbial "cup of coffee" with the band in 1997), and bassist Michael Anthony has also been told his services are no longer needed.  So currently, it’s down to Eddie, Alex, and Eddie’s 15-year-old son Wolfgang replacing Anthony on bass (whether young master Wolfie can actually play the bass is a matter of conjecture).  There are also rumors of Eddie trying to do a deal (runnin'?) with the devil to lure back David Lee Roth—even though they hate each other’s guts.  However, Diamond Dave claims he has not talked to Eddie in two years, and warns that a reunion with Van Halen could result in a "NASCAR-style wreck," or "Jerry Springer style fight."  I tend to agree.  Hagar, to his credit, has taken the high road in all this, but he’s basically said he’s through with Van Halen, and I can’t say I blame him.  Officially, it's going to be the original four (Eddie, Alex, Mike and Dave), plus Sammy being inducted, but it's anybody's guess what's going to happen at the ceremony.

What on earth has happened to Eddie Van Halen?  Does he not look like the second coming of Charles Manson in these photos?  He seemed to be a genuinely nice guy until about ten years ago, but he’s become so petty and childish since kicking Sammy out the first time, thus rendering his band totally irrelevant now.  I know he’s had health problems with the mouth cancer and all (smoking’s bad, mmm-kay?), and no doubt the drugs and alcohol have taken their toll over the years, but what I don't get is why he’s also become such a total jerk to everyone he ever worked with except his brother.  It’s pretty sad to see a guy who was once the Wayne Gretzky of Rock ‘N’ Roll guitar players become such a pathetic has-been.  Come back to us, Eddie—we miss you!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Starsky & Son? Sanford & Hutch?

Thanks to the miracle of DVD technology, I've spent a ton of time re-visiting old TV shows from the '70s, and a favorite of mine has been "Starsky & Hutch".  Over the course of this, I couldn't help but notice the connection between S&H and my all-time favorite sitcom, "Sanford & Son".  It's amazing how many people made at least one appearance on both S&S and S&H—practically everyone from S&S except Fred, Lamont and Bubba!

First off, Captain Dobey himself, Bernie Hamilton, played a cop on S&S (subbing for Smitty in one ep), and ironically, the late Richard Ward, who played Captain Dobey in the S&H pilot episode only, played Fred’s poker-playing buddy on S&S.  Captain Dobey’s wife was portrayed by Lynn Hamilton (no relation to Bernie), who was of course, Fred’s long-suffering girlfriend Donna Harris.  Aunt Esther (the late LaWanda Page) played a blind woman in an ill-advised attempt at an S&H spinoff featuring Huggy Bear and some hick white guy—“Huggy & Honky”, perhaps?  Esther’s TV husband Woodrow (Raymond Allen), had a recurring role as Hutch’s shifty mechanic, and Fred’s best friend Grady (the late Whitman Mayo) appeared on a latter-day S&H ep.  Huggy Bear himself, Antonio Fargas, played Grady's "lawyer/tailor" on S&S, and the late Pat “Mr. Miyagi” Morita, who played the politically-incorrect Ah Chew on S&S, did S&H also.  Even the late Stymie Beard (of "Little Rascals" fame) appeared on both shows, as did late actress Fritzi Burr (the “White Esther” who appeared on several S&S eps as various “ugly white women” for Fred to ridicule).  Other famous personalities who made appearances on both shows include actor Roscoe Lee Browne, “The NFL Today”’s Jayne Kennedy, and the late Scatman Crothers from “Chico & The Man".  Too bad Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson never appeared on S&H--I can see it now: "Freeze, Dummy!"

While I'm on the subject of "Starsky", a few observations: If these guys were undercover cops, then why'd they go on stakeouts in a car that stood out like a turd in a punchbowl?  Ironically, the red Torino was originally supposed to be a green Camaro, but the producers had already done a deal with Ford to provide all the vehicles for the show, thus a legend was born—every block around town had at least two red Gran Torinos with white stripes when I was in 7th grade!

I also find it amusing how they recycled the same rundown hotels/store fronts/theaters, etc. (in L.A., I assume) for location shots in multiple episodes, even though the characters and situations were different each time.  Example: In one episode, this old movie theater was a porno house, and about two episodes later, it was a ballet studio!  One particular episode I watched the other day almost made me cry, too.  Starsky drove by a gas station that had unleaded for 62 CENTS A GALLON!  Absolutely heartbreaking...

And, finally: Why is it every cop show (and movie, for that matter) features a stereotypical blustery, ball-busting commander like Capt. Dobey (or the guy in 48 Hrs. being another example) who constantly bitches at his people for failing to do the job?  Meantime, the guy is always some out-of-shape donut-eating hack who makes Homer Simpson look like Lance Armstrong—totally incapable of chasing down a criminal if his life depended on it.

Anyway, in spite its flaws, "Starsky & Hutch" is the quintessential '70s crime drama show.  I hear those "Police Woman" reruns are out on DVD now too.  Oh, goody!

Miscellaneous (a)musings...

A FRIENDLY REMINDER... those of you who haven't done so yet--TAKE DOWN your outdoor Christmas decorations, already!  A good rule of thumb: if it's Elvis' birthday (like today), and you still have your Yuletide stuff out, this is a sure sign of mental illness, because Christmas is OVER!  Or as they say in Brooklyn, OVAH!  I will, however, excuse the good people of eastern Colorado and western Kansas who are still stuck in that snowdrift—just get to it whenever you can, folks...

I love the commercials for this insomnia reliever product called Ambien: "Side effects may include drowsiness..." I would hope so!

...there will ever come a day when Tony Danza plays a character than isn't named "Tony"?

...a version of the classic song "Soul Man" that doesn't include "Play it, Steve!" right before the guitar solo?  Surely somebody named Dave or Louie has played guitar on a version of the song...

Actual patient name at my workplace last week: Donita Doctor. Apparently so!

Was stopped at a traffic light the other day behind a vehicle called the Chrysler Pacifica. The way the sun was shining off the nameplate on the back, I thought it said "Pacifier"!

In between all the "American Idol" promos, Fox-TV did manage to work in the big football game tonight between Ohio State and Florida.  While the talking heads were yapping away during the pre-game show, the "Star-Spangled Banner" began playing in the stadium.  You could tell that Fox was about to fade to a commercial instead of airing the anthem, but wisely decided to stay with it, once the song started.  Good thing they did too, or I would have been forced to author a nasty rant about Mr. "Truth, justice and the Republican way", Fox-TV head honcho Rupert Murdoch, accusing him of being a phony patriot for allowing this to happen.  Maybe next time, huh?