Saturday, May 19, 2007

You say it's your birhday...

Today is the birthdate of two of my favorite Rock ‘N’ Roll peeples…

Thankfully he didn’t die before he got old, thus Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend turns 62 today.  Certainly one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, Pete so brilliantly channeled his teenage angst into a lifetime of timeless songs and incredible concert performances over the last 40 some-odd years, and surprisingly continues to play concerts enthusiasticallysomething he didn’t always do in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.  Too bad his solo career has also been so iffyI wish he’d just stop trying to top Tommy and Quadrophenia with these lame concept albums (Iron Man, Psychoderelict, etc.) and just make albums of individual songs like Empty Glass or even ...Chinese Eyes. Townshend can be a very contradictory personality sometimes, and he often does and says things that make me go “Huh?”, but there’s no denying the influence Pete’s had on me and my outlook on life.

Oddly enough, P.T. isn't even my favorite member of The Whothat title goes to the late John Entwistlebut I can relate to some of the stuff Pete went through in his youth.  His childhood and mine were similar in that we were both separated by several years from our siblingsPete was much older than his two brothers, and I am way younger than my brother and sisterthus I relate very well to that family dynamic and the feelings of isolation that come from that, as well as those "awkward teenage blues" as Bob Seger once put it.  I’d like to meet P.T. someday and just shoot the shit with him about life.

“GROOVER McTOOBER”You probably know him better as Dusty Hill, longtime bassist for Z.Z. Top, who turns 58 today.  For someone whose fingers merely resemble small Bratwursts, this man sure plays a mean bass.  A self-proclaimed Elvis fanatic, Dusty had the balls to sing “Viva Las Vegas” back in the early ‘90s, not to mention a wonderfully sloppy version of “Jailhouse Rock” on the live side of the Fandango! album.  Both birthday and get-well wishes go out to “The Dust”, as it seems he had to go on the DL this week to undergo treatment of a benign growth in his inner ear that has been affecting his hearing, forcing ZZ to cancel part of their current European tour.  Hell, this guy’s toughhe once accidentally shot himself in the gut and survivedand the good news is it appears Dusty will not require surgery for this current ailment, so he should be back up and looking for some Tush in no time at all…
Happy b-day, Pete and Dusty!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Highs and Lowes

No, I ain't talking about the hardware store chain, but rather singer/songwriter Nick Lowe, who I am currently up to in my A-to-Z CD odyssey.  Not only a fine bass player, Master Lowe is a witty songwriter and was very influential in the punk/new wave scene during the late '70s.  He was a prolific producer as well, having worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, et al, as the in-house producer at the fairly legendary Stiff Records.

Nick originally played in a band called Brinsley Schwartz before going solo in the late '70s, producing his own records and also working with guitarist Dave Edmunds on his solo albums, thus leading to the short-lived band Rockpile.  Lowe later landed in another short-lived supergroup, Little Village with John Hiatt and Ry Cooder in the early '90s, all the while recording his own albums and producing records for other folks.  Perhaps his most famous solo track is 1979's "Cruel To Be Kind" (co-written by Ian Gomm), the video for which featured a recreation of sorts of his own wedding to country singer Carlene Carter, also featuring fellow Rockpilers Billy Bremner as the caterer, drummer Terry Williams as the photographer, and Edmunds as the limo driver.  Lowe also wrote the wedding reception standard "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll)", which was closely modeled after Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" (made rather famous in Pulp Fiction).

His Royal Lowe-ness has authored some of the funniest lines I've ever heard in Rock 'N' Roll. A few samples:
  • "When I'm with you girl, I get an extensionand I don't mean Alexander Graham Bell's invention..." (from "Switchboard Susan"quite possibly the greatest double-entendre line in Rock 'N' Roll history!)
  • "Everything about you, refrigerator whiteyou're cold, pretty mama, like a Utah freeze better than a Ukraine wind." (from "Refrigerator White")
  • "The singer is a bookie, the drummer is a whore, the bass player's sellin' clothes he never woulda wore..." (from "They Called It Rock")
  • "Best be fleet on your feetor the S.B.G.'s gonna be clearin' the streets/They never made no provision in the 'riginal plan for half a boy and half a man..." (from "Half A Boy And Half A Man")
  • "There's a saint beneath the painta tart without a heart is what she ain't..." (From "Saint Beneath The Paint")
  • "Well, I woke up this morning lyin' in a strange bed/I was so hungover I was wishin' I was dead/Turned my head and it cut me like a knife 'cus the woman lyin' there surely wasn't my wife..." (from "What Did I Do Last Night?", recorded by Dave Edmunds)
  • "Ian jacked it in, but we've got Pat McGlynn, and so long as he's a Roller, then we'll love him..." (from "Rollers Show"--a dead solid perfect parody of the Bay City Rollers!)
  • And my all-time favorite: "Well, do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hitit was ghastly..." (from "All Men Are Liars")
And if you want to hear a really good record, check out Nick Lowe's sadly-overlooked 1990 release Party Of One, which Edmunds co-produced and played on. "Liars" and "Refrigerator" are on there, as well as other great songs like "(I Wanna Build A) Jumbo Ark", "Gai-Gin Man", "You Got The Look I Like" and "Shting-Shtang".  His 1988 release Pinker And Prouder Than Previous doesn't suck either.  If you like old-school bar band Rock 'N' Roll mixed with a little humor, you'll love this stuff.

My all-time Nick Lowe Top 10:
1) All Men Are Liars (1990)
2) What Did I Do Last Night? (1977-Dave Edmunds)
3) Refrigerator White (1990)
4) Bobo Ska Diddle Daddle (1985)
5) Half A Boy & Half A Man (1984)
6) Rollers Show (1978)
7) Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine (1982)
8) I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock 'N' Roll) (1985)
9) Tanque-Rae (1983)
10) Shting-Shtang (1990)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where's That Confounded Band?

I completed my Led Zep-a-thon today as I methodically charge through my CD collection alphabetically.  Zeppelin certainly had a prolific 11-year career, and there's no questioning their impact on Rock 'N' Roll, but as good as they were at times, they were often just as perplexing at other times to me.

Oddly enough, I first got into Led Zeppelin even before I truly got into The Who (my #2 band of all-time behind Kiss) long about 1979-80 when what where then called "Album Rock" radio stations were really embracing the band's history after the release of their final studio album, the so-so (Zoso?) In Through The Out Door.  Their first five albums and about half of Physical Graffiti impressed me enough to make me realize there was much more to hard Rock than just Kiss.  And when Zeppelin announced plans for an American tour in the fall of 1980, my older sister said she would gladly take me to Chicago to see them (there was no Kansas City date announced).  Unfortunately, drummer John Bonham's untimely death at age 32 on September 25th scuttled that plan for good.
 What confounds me about this band is I've never heard a really good live concert recording of them.  I've heard a few good individual live cuts here and there, but never a really consistently good complete performance from start-to-finish.  While I certainly don't expect anyone to perform their songs in concert note-for-note just like on their records, Zeppelin far too often would go off on these tangents in concert and just do these self-indulgent jams that were downright boring at times.  For instance, it took them damn near half-an-hour to play "Dazed And Confused" on The Song Remains The Same, and we got nearly 15-minutes' worth of "Whole Lotta Love", too, not to mention an interminable ten-minute drum solo.  And on more than one occasion, it sounded like Jimmy Page forgot to tune his freakin' guitar before hitting the stage.  Legend has it that Led Zeppelin was white-hot in concert back in the day, but I have a feeling The Who on a bad night would still blow them off the stage every time...

Still and all, there's no denying the powerful influence this band has had on everything that came after them.  All four of them were/are outstanding musicians/songwriters too, and you can't sneeze at a band who produced the most-often-played song ever in the history or Rock 'N' Roll radio ("Stairway To Heaven").

My all-time Led Zeppelin Top 10:

1) “How Many More Times” (1969)  Love the bass line from John Paul Jones here...
2) “The Immigrant Song” (1970)  Greatest howl(s) in Rock 'N' Roll history!
3) “Communication Breakdown” (1969)  Short, sweet and to the point…
4) “Rock And Roll” (1971)  Let me get back, let me get back, indeed!
5) “Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid” (1969)  Killer riff on the first half of the song.
6) “When The Levee Breaks” (1971)  Very atmospheric song--almost takes you there...
7) “D’yer Ma’ker” (1973)  Boogie on, Reggae Plant…
8) “Ten Years Gone” (1975)  Very underrated song from Physical Graffiti.
9) “Black Dog” (1971)  Best Led Zeppelin “Dog” song ever!
10) “Hot Dog” (1979)  R. Plant sings “Hee-Haw”; 2nd-best Led Zep “Dog” song ever...
HONORABLE MENTIONS: “Boogie With Stu”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “The Crunge”, “Down By The Seaside”, “Celebration Day”, “Thank You”, “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?”

Farewell Falwell...

Well, Jerry Falwell bit the big one yesterday at age 73.  While I’m not taking any great delight in his passing, I ain’t exactly shedding any tears over it, either.  Surely you don’t expect me to sit here and praise this man, do you?  My opinion of him hasn’t changed one iota just because he’s dead, and I’d be a total hypocrite if I said anything good about him now.  To be brutally honest, my initial reaction to the news of his death was "Please tell me they found him in bed with a prostitute!"  Sorry folks, but to me, Rev. Falwell was nothing more than a money-grubbing religious phony and hate monger who hid behind the Bible to spread his misguided bigotry and force his morality on weak-willed, emotionally-crippled people, all the while fleecing them of their money and lining his own pocketbook.  He’s not the only one—I’ve despised nearly all T.V. evangelists with a passion for years now—but he's the poster boy for that whole movement, and like I've said before, the bigger they are, the less I trust them.

Falwell’s remarks in the aftermath of 9/11 are really all you ever need to know about him, if you’re an intelligent free-thinking individual:

“...what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be minuscule if, in factif, in factGod continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve...The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this...The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Wayall of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say, ‘you helped this happen.’”

Our nation was grieving and hurting, but instead of being a healer—which is what a Holy Man should be—this bastard (along with his lackey friend Pat Robertson) pointed fingers and assigned blame to our country for the acts of foreign terrorists who attacked our country because they (the terrorists) hate us.  Then again, what else should one expect from a man who went out of his way to find homosexuality in an innocuous cartoon character aimed at three-year-olds?

Good riddance to a fucking asshole, I say…

Monday, May 14, 2007

Post 207

...Nothing special about that--I just couldn't think of a clever title today!

Q: Who is the only member of Kiss to ever appear on "Saturday Night Live"? And no, it ain't who you'd think!  Answer below...

...I'm finally through the K's in my A-Z CD-playing sojourn that began 3.5 months ago, and today I listened to my Krokus greatest hits CD.  Far from the greatest metal band in the world, but for better or worse, they remain the most successful band Switzerland ever produced.  They had a couple cool songs back in the early '80s, like "Eat The Rich" (not to be confused with the Motorhead song of the same name) and "Screaming In The Night", among others.  If nothing else, Krokus holds the world record for the most unnecessary and blandest hard rock song cover versions of all-timenamely "American Woman", "School's Out" and "Ballroom Blitz".

Did y'all catch the "Extreme Makeover" show last night about the house they remade in the Kansas City area?  If so, can you please explain to me the appeal of this show?  House remodeling on TV is about as exciting as those Sunday morning fishing shows to me.  The last time they did one of these things in K.C., I had to take detours on the way home from work because of all the hysteria surrounding it.  And given the neighborhoods they do these home makeovers in, the made-over house winds up standing out like a turd in a swimming pool...

While I'm at it, check out this little blurb about the other half of the "Extreme Makeover" franchise.  I'm especially intrigued by the part that read, "McGee allegedly was goaded into videotaping 'hurtful and horrific statements' about her sister's appearance."  Why do I have the feeling that this is not an isolated incident in "Reality TV World", either?  These lame-ass shows are so freakin' contrived that even Reverend Jim on "Taxi" could see through the B.S.  So why is it the American viewing public can't seem to see through the same B.S.?

Kudos to the steakhouse owner in Louisville who had the stones to tell unconvicted double-murderer O.J. Simpson and his entourage to take a hike last weekend on the eve of the big horsie race.  The restauranteur knew damn well that the "real killers" weren't on the premesis, so there was no reason for The Juice to be there, anyway.  I guess O.J. and crew wound up chowing down at a Chick-Fil-A in Paducah eventually.

Just for the record, I do think O.J. did it...

The U. of Missouri fired its openly-gay men's lacrosse coach today following a losing season.  I can't resist askingwhy is it news that they would have an openly-gay lacrosse coach?  After all, as Brother Carlin has already accurately pointed outlacrosse is indeed a faggot college activity...

GREAT KISS TRIVIA ANSWER  A: Bruce Kulick.  Several years before joining Kiss, young master Kulick was a member of Meat Loaf's touring band during a 1980 "SNL" appearance.  Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone also toured with The Loaf for a time during the early '80s.  Impress your friends with that little hunk o' trivia...