Saturday, April 14, 2007

R.I.P., Don Ho

I just heard the news of the passing of singer Don Ho at age 76--here are the details.  Even though I've had more than just a little fun at his expense over his surname, I never meant ANY disrespect to him as a performer, and I DO recognize that he has a legion of followers out there, and that he was also well-loved.  And I have to admit, his remake of Peter Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey" was a total crack-up, too...

And, how strangely ironic that D.H. would pass away during the same week when another man named Don and the term "ho" were the flashpoint topic in the news...

Aloha, Don...

I STILL hear him Rockin'...

Tomorrow may be April 15th, but tax day isn’t a total bummer because it’s also the birthday of one of my all-time favorite musicians, guitarist Dave Edmunds.  You may not know his name, but chances are you’re familiar with at least some of his work if you listen to Rock at all.  He’s produced some major acts over the years (Foghat, the Stray Cats and Fabulous T-Birds, to name three), hit the Top 40 a couple times (with 1970’s “I Hear You Knockin’” and 1983’s “Slipping Away”), and he was a member of the band Rockpile, which he formed with bassist/producer Nick Lowe.  Edmunds has your basic cult following in Rock circles, but it’s a pretty big cult all the same.  I used to wear this Dave Edmunds concert shirt I got at one of his shows back in the ‘80s, and people would come up to me and say, “Man, where’d you get that shirt? I love Dave Edmunds!”  I first got into Dave in the summer of ’79 when his album Repeat When Necessary came out and the song “Crawling From The Wreckage” got a fair amount of airplay on the old KY-102.

By the way, who’s the nandofuck that came up with those gawdawful call letters (KYYS)?  Why on earth would you want your radio station named after a lubrication jelly?  But I digress…

Dave’s career goes all the way back to the late ‘60s with a band called the Human Beans (not to be confused with the Human Beinz of “Nobody But Me” fame) who did a cover version of the Tim Rose classic “Morning Dew”.  Edmunds later formed a trio called Love Sculpture, which was sort of a poor man’s ZZ Top, and they covered many old blues and Rockabilly classics, and did this manic rendition of Khachaturian’s classical classic “Sabre Dance” that was beyond belief.  He eventually went solo in the early ‘70s, yielding the fluke hit “Knockin’”, as well as songs like “Down, Down, Down” and “The Stumble”.  But it was when Edmunds hooked up with Lowe in the late ‘70s that his career really took off.  From 1977 through ’79, Edmunds and Lowe recorded albums under their own names, but it was in fact the band Rockpile, which was rounded out by guitarist Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams (who later toured with Dire Straits).  The irony of all ironies is how when the band finally put out a record under the Rockpile name, 1980’s Seconds of Pleasure, it wound up being sub-par compared with their previous output under the Lowe and Edmunds names, and after one Rockpile tour, the band broke up, rather acrimoniously...

Normally, I don’t condone artists who make careers out of doing cover versions of other people’s work (Linda Ronstadt, White Courtesy Phone!), but I make an exception for someone who takes other people’s songs and adds their own touches to them or improves upon the originals, and that’s where Dave Edmunds excels.  And it’s not like Dave just plays the hits, either—he often took obscure tracks from legendary artists like Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley and made them his own, like “Dear Dad” and “Paralyzed”, respectively.  Dave’s version of another Elvis song (Costello, that is) “Girls’ Talk” blows the original away, and Dave’s rendition of Bob Seger’s “Get Out of Denver” is even faster than the original, if you can believe that.  DE also did a far superior version of “Queen Of Hearts” two years before Juice Newton had the big hit with it.

And there certainly was no dearth of original material along the way either, and much of it written by Nick Lowe, and much of it was very witty, including tracks like “Television”, “Not A Woman, Not A Child”, “What Did I Do Last Night?” and “I Knew The Bride”, which NL himself had a hit with in 1985, and which is now routinely played at wedding receptions the world over.  Bruce Springsteen wrote a song specifically for Dave in 1982 called "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)" and “Slipping Away” was written by ELO’s Jeff Lynne, whose collaboration on two of Dave’s albums in the mid-’80s was rather derisively dubbed “Edmunds Light Orchestra” by uninformed critics.  Even with all the electronic drums and ‘80s overkill, Dave still managed to sound cool.  He would later take that technology and put it to good use on 1994’s Plugged In CD, on which Edmunds played EVERY instrument himself, including an updated version of “Sabre Dance“ that really kicks...

Oh, did I mention that Dave Edmunds could put on a pretty good live show, too?  I saw him and his band nearly blow the roof off the Uptown Theater twice back in the early ‘80s.  I also have to thank Dave not only for his own body of work, but for considerably broadening my musical horizons over the years—it was through him that I came to know the work of Nick Lowe, and it was through Lowe that I came to know the work of John Hiatt, who has subsequently become one of my favorite songwriters of all-time...

1) Tracks On Wax 4 (1978)
2) D.E. 7th (1982)
3) Repeat When Necessary (1979)
4) Get It (1977)
5) Plugged In (1994)

Happy 63rd, Dave! Hope we still hear you Rockin’ for a long time…

Saturday the 14th... surely bad luck to someone out there...

Just wanted to clarify my position on Dangerous Don here, lest anyone think I'm playing both sides of the fence.  I think he deserved to be fired not merely over this one incident, but because he's made a career out of this sort of thing, and the fact that he's an equal-opportunity disher-outer of vitriol is no excuse, either.  While I do admit to "piling on" sometimes in situations like this involving people I don't like, I ain't shedding any tears for Imus.  He won't be hanging out at the homeless shelter any time soon (he's loaded), and I have no doubt he'll land on his feet somewhere else, just like Marv Albert did.  Remember when he had his little scandal a few years back, and everyone thought he'd trashed his career?  Well, last time I checked, Marv's still calling NBA games on TBS/TNT, so Imus should have no problem resurrecting his precious career in satellite-land with his buddy Howard Stern.

By the way, I loved what MSNBC replaced Imus with on TV—a two-hour daily discussion of why they dropped him!  My suggestion was to run a test pattern in his place and see if anyone noticed the difference...

As for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, now that they got what they wanted in the firing of Imus, why don't they turn their attention to their own people who spew out the same kind of racial crap?  I'm not just talking about the Rap and Hip/Hop people, either—I'm talking about people like "Boondocks" cartoonist Aaron McGruder.  I absolutely LOVED his comic strip with Huey and Riley in the papers—it was timely, top-notch and brilliantly written—but when McGruder got big-headed and converted the strip into an animated series on Cartoon Network, it was a major disappointment to me.  There was just too much "nigga"-this and "nigga"-that coming from a 10-year-old's mouth, and after just a few episodes I grew tired of it and stopped watching.  C'mon Al and Jesse—let's see you guys bitch about that crap...

According to U.S. Olympic Ski Team party boy Bode Miller—for whom skiing is more of a hobby than a serious pursuit—he doesn't plan to participate in the 2010 Winter Games because "there's too much emphasis on winning" in the Olympics.  Yeah, Bode, all that competition crap is pretty pointless, ain't it?  Just go smoke another bong and stop embarrassing us, numb-nuts!

I saw some schmuck on Faux News Channel yesterday morning hawking his campaign to have Rosie O'Donnell removed from "The View" because she "offends ALL Americans" with her remarks.  True, Rosie's an idiot, and heaven knows there are numerous people who I'd love to see removed from the public airways (Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, Geraldo Rivera--come on down!), but if we took that attitude and fired every TV personality who offended someone, even Johnny Carson couldn't hold down a TV job if he were alive today.  If you don't like this stupid twit, then don't watch her!

Stopped into Dick's Sporting Goods today to look around and stumbled across an assortment of "Texas Hold 'Em" poker tables for sale.  Must I repeat myself?  POKER IS NOT A SPORT!!!  It's no more of a sport than Monopoly or checkers, so why then is it all over ESPN, the sports page in the paper and sporting goods stores?  I don't get it...

Speaking of D'sSG, the Colorado Rapids new soccer stadium in Denver is called "Dick's Sporting Goods Park".  I couldn't help but wonder if they have signage around the stadium just like the old Dick's Root Beer stand we used to have here in Raytown which read "Parking for Dicks" that omitted the apostrophe in the most inopportune place...

Top 15 Yes Tribute Band Names:
1) Yep
2) Hell Yes!
3) Yeah
4) Okey-Dokey
5) Affirmative
6) Sure, Why Not?
7) Yes-indeed-ely-doo!
8) Yepper

9) Aye, Aye
10) We'll See...
11) Fine And Dandy
12) Soitenly!
13) Sho'nuff
14) Aw, What The Hell...
15) Eeeee-Yesss! (featuring Marv Albert and White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson)

"First Base--Bugs Bunny; Second Base--Bugs Bunny; Third Base--Bugs Bunny; Shortstop--Bugs Bunny; Pitching--Bugs Bunny..."

That's what this tribute the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing tomorrow to honor Jackie Robinson kinda reminds me of.  All the players will wear Robinson's #42 for one game in honor of the 60th anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier in baseball.  Coincidentally, it's also nearly the 13th anniversary of when Major League Baseball sheepishly realized it should start honoring Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier in baseball in the wake of Ken Burns' 1994 PBS "Baseball" documentary.  No word yet on if all the players will actually change their names to Jackie Robinson for the game too...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Your 411 on 4/11

No time for losers, and congrats to me for emerging victorious in my fantasy hockey league on Yahoo!  My mighty Johnstown Chiefs made a thrilling comeback in the league finals over the weekend to secure my fourth fantasy sports title in the last five years (two in football, one in baseball).  Special thanks to goaltender Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild for his stellar play and three shutouts in the last two weeks of the season, which wound up being the difference between me winning and losing.  We had no championship trophy for our league, but I do have a PCV valve that I never used on my old car—it looks kinda-sorta like a mini-Stanley Cup—so it’ll suffice as the makeshift Holland Cup!

This was also my first go-round as a league commissioner, and it went quite swimmingly.  True, I didn’t have the Pacman Joneses and Ron Artests of the world to deal with, but I still think I made a better commish than Bud Selig!

And now we can all kick back and watch the real deal, as the NHL playoffs begin tonight. Let the games begin, and GO DEVILS!

We now know who Anna Nicole Smith’s baby’s father is.  Can we now please lay this two-bit whore to rest once and for all?

…about all this Don Imus hoop-de-doo: It made everyone forget all about Anna Nicole…for about half a day, anyway.  Another cool thing about it:  I just love watching Imus (in the words of Louie DePalma), "squeal like an eel, and squirm like a worm!"  And, oh by the way, MSNBC announced today that they will no longer simulcast "Anus In the Morning" on the tee-vee.  So much for my insomnia cure—d'oh!

"Trouble Walkin’"—ACE FREHLEY (1989) "I am trouble walkin’."  When I first heard this, I thought Space Ace was singing, "I have trouble walking," which in his case, was especially true during the Kiss days trying to navigate around in those platforms.  He never quite mastered the Earth’s gravitational pull, and was known to wind up on his keester on-stage a time or two…

I couldn’t help but note the irony of the Cleveland Indians having to move their series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (By Way of El Segundo) to Milwaukee’s Miller Park this week, being’s how Milwaukee was "home" to the Cleveland Indians in the film Major League.  Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium was a great old ballpark, but was apparently a lousy actor, so old County Stadium in Milwaukee—which was right next door to Miller Park—stood in for it.  Evidently, Cleveland’s current ballpark, Jacobs Field, couldn’t act either, since Baltimore’s Camden Yards starred in the sequel Major League 2.  So far so good for the current Tribe, as they won last night 7-6 in their "home away from home", and they didn’t even need Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger or the dude that played Pedro Cerrano who now lectures us in those dumbass Allstate commercials...

Speaking of Miller Park, it’s too bad that more corporate names on stadiums and arenas aren’t as simple as this one, or say Wrigley Field, Philips Arena or Busch Stadium.  Those at least still sound like they were named after a person, unlike these ludicrous monikers like M&T Bank Stadium, National Car Rental Center and Quicken Loans Arena.  Even Target Center, United Center, Qwest Field and our new Sprint Center don’t sound nearly as heinous as crap like Networks Associates Coliseum.  And you know it's only a matter of time before they name some poor stadium after a law firm—can't you just picture "Dewey, Cheatem & Howe Park"?

What Might Have Been, Vol. III

Another installment in my little ongoing anthology of TV and movie castings that did and didn't happen, thus altering popular history in unfathomable ways:

  • Shirley Temple was considered for Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, but 20th Century-Fox wouldn’t loan her to M.G.M., and Judy Garland was their first choice anyway.  Shirley also auditioned for "The Little Rascals" twice and was turned down.
  • Rob Lowe lost out to Billy Zane in Titanic for the role of Cal, thus couldn't be called an "unspeakable bastard"—at least not that time...
  • Reba McEntire was actually considered for the role of "unsinkable" Molly Brown in Titanic, but touring commitments prevented her from taking it.  Cathy Bates wound up with the role.
  • Hal Linden of "Barney Miller" was offered and turned down the lead role on "St. Elsewhere".
  • James Caan passed up plum roles in both the M*A*S*H movie and Apocalypse Now, and was also considered for Han Solo in Star Wars.  Come to think of it, it would probably be quicker to list the actors who WEREN’T considered for Han Solo.
  • Nancy McKeon of "Facts Of Life" fame was once considered for Monica on "Friends". They made the wise choice on that one, I think.
  • Oprah Winfrey’s first name was actually supposed to be "Orpah", but someone screwed it up on her birth certificate, and the name stuck.
  • Actor Dennis Quaid was turned down for the role of Luke Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard", as was Gerald McRaney.  Both actors are no doubt eternally grateful…

Monday, April 9, 2007

Anus In The Morning

Since this is the hot-button topic of the day, here's my .02-worth on the Don Imus flap and his ignorant remarks about the Rutgers chick basketball team, who lost to Tennessee last week, where he referred to them as "nappy headed hos" on his "Imus In The Morning" radio/TV show, for which he's been suspended for two weeks, beginning next Monday:

Granted, Imus is a frequent target of my verbal bazooka in this here space because he's a crashing bore and an acerbic jerk with all the personality of a ball-peen hammer—obviously, I don't like Imus to begin with, so I admit to being biased here.  BUUUT—all that being said, I had no idea this schlub was a complete and total moron, too!  Sure, I can see how somebody might say some stupid shit like that when sitting around the bar surrounded by their buddies after tossing down a few (hell, I'm guilty of it myself), but how fucking dumb do ya gotta be to say something like that on a national radio/TV show that bears your own name?  If I'd have said shit like this when I was DJ, they'd have jettisoned me the nanosecond I uttered it!  What I don't get is why his suspension doesn't kick in until next week, but, for whatever reason, D.I. gets four more days to impersonate a dead man on the air in the interim.  I also find it ironic that all this time (even before this colossal brain fart), Imus claims that his show has been attempting to do comedy!  Evidently, I never received that memo, because his show was/is about as funny as Alzheimer's Disease...

It feels strange to me to actually side with a phony grandstander like Rev. Al Sharpton, but in this case I think he's right and Imus should be fired.  And while it's true that every other Rap/Hip-Hop artist (and their mother) uses the term "ho" ad nauseam, I don't think there's a double-standard here because Sharpton has spoken out against the Rap/Hip-Hop community using terms like that about women, but that rarely gets publicized.  None of that excuses Mr. Imus' behavior here, anyway—I'm sorry, but a guy who's been on the air as long as he has oughtta know better!  Furthermore, Imus' show has a history of this kind of crap anyway.  A vaunted member of his cast of characters, Sid Rosenberg, was removed from the show last year after ignorant cracks he made about singer Kylie Minogue’s bout with breast cancer (can you please explain to me where on earth you find humor in ANYONE having cancer?), and Imus himself also once admitted to hiring someone to write "nigger" jokes for him in a "60 Minutes" interview some years ago.

By the way, Imus should avoid sports topics altogether in the future, because he constantly displays his ignorance—this is the same guy who had to ask during Super Bowl week if Johnny Unitas was still alive.  If and when they do fire him, Imus can take the rest of his cronies, apologists and yes-men with him, especially that bozo on his show that does the lame Bill Clinton impressions.  Hey bud, Slick Willie wasn’t all that funny to impersonate even back when he was President, and doing him now is sooo '90s!

Feel free to challenge me on this topic—I'd enjoy some good give-and-take on it.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

King Biscuit rides again!

Well, lookie what I found! If you are a fan of live concert recordings from back in the day, I hereby direct you to the Concert Vault of the legendary "King Biscuit Flower Hour" (I always thought it was "Flour"!), which was a nationally-syndicated radio show that used to air here on the old KY-102 every Sunday night and featured great live recordings from just about every major band.  KBFH has put some of those shows out on CD over the years (I have Billy Squier, John Entwistle, The Romantics and Foghat in my collection, for instance), and now they have archived nearly 400 concerts from the '60s through the '90s that you can listen to online.  It doesn't cost a thing—you just have to register and log in—and they continue to add more shows to the archive, plus downloads will apparently be available (for a fee) soon.

In many cases, these aren't merely the 60-minute over-the-air broadcasts, but FULL-length concerts that are available here, so there's tons of stuff to enjoy that was never aired (all uncensored too).  There's some incredible vintage stuff, too—like two very early Who shows from the Fillmore West in 1968 and '69, plus some early Led Zeppelin from that same era, as well as some prehistoric Jefferson Airplane shows from 1966.  I found several shows I remember listening to and taping off the radio way back when, like Kiss from early 1984 during the misbegotten Vinnie Vincent era, and a really good one of Ozzy Osbourne with the late Randy Rhoads on guitar from '81.  You will also find some very early Stevie Ray Vaughan from one of his first tours, and a very interesting early Elton John gig that was recorded just five days before the show he did that would become his first official live album, 11-17-70 (or 17-11-70 to our friends on the other side of the big pond).  I even found a 1985 Roger Daltrey concert I wasn't even aware existed.

Some of the older recordings from the '60s are a bit iffy in places, with a fair amount of snap, crackle and pop, but overall the sound quality is quite good on most of these recordings.  I feel like I have a new toy to play with here...

Bless the Biscuit!