Saturday, August 4, 2007

Crossing The T's--Part II

Pete Townshend’s solo career has been a tad frustrating to meseems like he‘s always out to try and top Quadrophenia and Tommy with these half-baked Rock operas like The Iron Man and Psychoderelict (and The Who‘s Endless Wire), and they always wind up being big disappointments.  I wish Pete would just do an album of songs now and then about whatever’s on his mind at the timeI’m tired of all this lofty artsy-fartsy stuff.  I much prefer more topical songs from Pete like the title track from Empty Glass (“I stand with my guitarall I need’s a mirror, and I’m a star…”), “A Little Is Enough"  (“Common sense would tell me not to try and continue…“), “Jools And Jim” (“They don’t give a shit Keith Moon is deadis that exactly what I thought I read?...Morality ain’t measured in a room he wrecked…”) and “Slit Skirts" (“No one respects the flame quite like the fool who’s badly burned…/Have to be so drunk to try a new dance…/Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts…”).

My All-Time Pete Townshend solo Top 10:
1) “Gonna Get Ya” (1980)
2) “Slit Skirts” (1982)
3) “White City Fighting” (1985)
4) “Jools And Jim” (1980)
5) “Empty Glass” (1980)
6) “Rough Boys” (1980)
7) “Face The Face” (1985)
8) “A Little Is Enough” (1980)
9) “Give Blood” (1985)
10) “Heart To Hang On To” (1977-w/Ronnie Lane)

It’s a damn shame they only made two albums, because this was some fun stuff!  Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison secretly put out the wonderful Vol. 1 in 1988, and just as Roy’s career was experiencing a major upturn, he died of a heart attack.  There was no replacement for Roy on 1991’s Vol. 3 (Vol. 2 doesn't exist), but wouldn’t Carl Perkins have made a great Wilbury?  Or maybe Dave Edmunds?  I heard they’ve recently repackaged the two Wilbury CDs, adding some bonus tracks and a new DVD of their videos and such.  Sounds dandy to me.

My All-Time Traveling Wilburys Top 10:
1) “The Wilbury Twist” (1991)
2) “Poor House” (1991)
3) “Handle With Care” (1988)
4) “End Of The Line” (1988)
5) “Cool Dry Place” (1991)
6) “Dirty World” (1988)
7) “She’s My Baby” (1991)
8) “The Devil’s Been Busy” (1991)
9) “Heading For The Light” (1988)
10) “Rattled” (1988)

Canada’s Triumph got off on the wrong foot with me in the late ‘70s, and it took them a while to finally win me over.  These Rush wanna-be’s had the audacity to pretty much rip off Kiss’ stage showapart from the fire-breathing, make-up and blood-spitting, anyway.  Their breakout hit “Hold On” was about all you heard on Rock radio in the summer of ’79along with Billy Thorpe’s “Children Of The Sun” and fellow-Canuck Pat Travers‘ “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)”and it wore thin on me real quick.  As time wore on, I learned to tolerate them a bit, as the song “Magic Power” caught my attention, as well as “I Live For The Weekend”.  Like .38 Special, they were a good-but-not-great band, and ironically I saw both those bands as opening acts at the same concert at Arrowhead in ‘81, on the bill with Loverboy and Foreigner.

My All-Time Triumph Top Five:
1) “I Live For The Weekend” (1980)
2) “Magic Power” (1981)
3) “A World of Fantasy” (1983)
4) “Lay It On The Line” (1979)
5) “Spellbound” (1984)

The Tubes were notorious for their borderline-porn live stage act in the ‘70s, during which lead singer Fee Waybill (born John Waldo) would become his alter-ego “Quay Lewd”, sort of a poor man’s Ziggy Stardust, if there is such a thing!  The band toned things down for 1981’s Completion Backward Principle album, and people started taking them seriously. “Talk To Ya Later” was a great track, and “Don’t Wanna Wait Anymore” is one of my favorite power ballads of all-time.  They had an even bigger hit with 1983’s “She’s A Beauty”, but in 1986 the album Love Bomb lived up to its title (in spite of a great single “Piece By Piece”), and The Tubes went down their own name. [Sorry, bad puns...]

My All-Time Tubes Top 5:
1) “Piece By Piece” (1986)
2) “Don’t Wanna Wait Anymore” (1981)
3) “Talk To Ya Later” (1981)
4) “Sushi Girl” (1981)
5) “She’s A Beauty” (1983)

What is that?  A Twisted Sister CD?  In my CD player?  Damn right, Mr. Niedermeyer!  I have a soft spot for these guys, even though they were more cartoonish and campy than a serious Rock band.  Dee Snider is a charismatic dude (even if he didn’t always dress like a dude at times!), and TS made some of the funniest music videos ever.  And I must be the only person in the world who loved their final album, 1987’s Love Is For Suckers.  Bloody hellthat thing couldn’t possibly be 20 years old already, could it?!?

My All-Time Twisted Sister Top 10:
1) “Love Is For Suckers” (1987)
2) “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” (1987)
3) “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (1984)
4) “Tonight” (1987)
5) “Out On The Streets” (1985)
6) “I Wanna Rock” (1984)
7) “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” (1983)
8) “Shoot ‘Em Down” (1981)
9) “Stay Hungry” (1984)
10) “The Fire Still Burns” (1985)

Crossing The T's--Part I

SAME AS IT EVER WAS…It took the Talking Heads years to really grow on me, and I still think they are way overrated overall, but they did have their moments now and then.  David Byrne is a rather strange duck, as evidenced by his videos, but at least he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  I’m not convinced that this band deserves to be in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, though.

My All-Time Talking Heads Top 5:
1) “Life During Wartime” (Live-1984)
2) “Love For Sale” (1986)
3) “Take Me To The River” (1979)
4) “Once In A Lifetime” (1980)
5) “Road To Nowhere” (1985)

WELL, ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?.38 Special is one of those good-but-not-great bands that was always an opening act but not a headliner (a la Loverboy, Ratt, Warrant, etc.).  These guys weren’t bad live, but I’ve always questioned why they needed Donnie Van Zant in the band, apart from his surname.  Guitarist Don Barnes sang the lead vocals on all their big hits while Donnie jacked-off on-stage pretending to play third guitar (watch their live videosit‘s pretty obvious he’s faking it).  Jeff Carlisi wasn’t too shabby a lead guitarist, though.

My All-Time .38 Special Top 5
1) “Chain Lightning” (1982)
2) “Rockin’ Into The Night” (1980)
3) “Teacher Teacher” (1984)
4) “Fantasy Girl” (1981)
5) “Back To Paradise” (1987)

LONESOME GEORGE DOES UNNASTAND!Sometimes one wants filet mignon for dinner, and sometimes one wants a big greasy sloppy cheeseburger.  Well, if Led Zeppelin is Rock ‘N’ Roll filet mignon, then George Thorogood & The (Delaware) Destroyers are a Town Topic double cheeseburger!  I was instantly hooked when I first heard “Move It On Over” in 1978a welcome respite from all the disco being played at the timeand George’s takes on other people’s songs (especially Chuck Berry’s) are always wonderfully raw and once in a while he comes up with good original stuff too, like “Bad To The Bone” and “Get A Haircut”.  His longtime drummer Jeff Simon is a very underrated timekeeper too.  Quite possibly the best bar band ever, Lonesome George and the boys are like a runaway freight train when they kick it into gear live.  Sometimes raw and sloppy is (Thoro) good!

My All-Time George Thorogood Top 10:
1) “It Wasn’t Me” (1978)
2) “Move It On Over” (1978)
3) “(Let’s) Go Go Go” (1985)
4) “Long Gone” (1985)
5) “Bad To The Bone” (1982)
6) “You Talk Too Much” (1988)
7) “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (1977)
8) “I Really Like Girls” (1988)
9) “Cocaine Blues” (1978)
10) “Get A Haircut” (1993)

HARD TO BE EASYThree Dog Night had one helluva chart run in the early ‘70s, and there was about a three-year stretch from 1970-72 where everything they touched turned to gold, and I clearly remember how “Joy To The World“ was just about all you heard on AM radio for three solid months in the summer of ‘71.  TDN did very little original material of their own, but they were one of those groups who were lucky enough to have great material written for them by the likes of Paul Williams (aka Little Enos Burdett), Randy Newman, B.W. Stevenson, and even John Hiatt, among others.  Too bad singer Chuck Negron pissed most of the group’s success away with his heroin addictionby the Bicentennial they were already has-beens.

My All-Time Three Dog Night Top 10:
1) “An Old-Fashioned Love Song” (1971)
2) “Liar” (1971)
3) “Celebrate” (1970)
4) “One” (1969)
5) “Out In The Country” (1970)
6) “Shambala” (1973)
7) “Never Been To Spain” (1972)
8) “One Man Band” (1970)
9) “Family Of Man” (1972)
10) “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” (1970)

ON SUNDAY, MAYBE MONDAY OR ‘TIL TUESDAYANY OL’ DAY WILL DO!Singer Aimee Mann must have had a thing for days of the week, judging by her song titles and band name.  ‘Til Tuesday is one of those bands comprised of three guys and a girl, and guess who everyone focused on!  Actually, one of the guys did look like a girl, but it was obvious from the start that Aimee Mann was the focal point, and she became a solo artist after three albums with the band.  Mann’s recent solo albums have been critically acclaimed (which probably means they suck), and she’s quick to diss the ‘Til Tuesday material now, which is a shame because that first album and about half of the second one were pretty good stuff.  The girl still has very sexy eyes, too.

My all-time ‘Til Tuesday Top 10
1) “On Sunday” (1986)
2) “No More Crying” (1985)
3) “Maybe Monday” (1985)
4) “Winning The War” (1985)
5) “Coming Up Close” (1986)
6) “Voices Carry” (1985)
7) “(Believed You Were) Lucky” (1989)
8) “What About Love” (1986)
9) “Love In A Vacuum” (1985)
10) “The Other End Of The Telescope” (1989)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

"Cool is the rule, but sometimes bad is bad..."

Let's hear it for Roger Clemens and his stellar performance today for the Yankees:  the fucker didn't even get out of the second inning (against the lowly White Sox, no less), giving up nine hits and eight runs in 1.2 innings.  Okay, only three of those eight runs were earned, but still, this douchebag is supposed to be George Steinbrenner and the Yankees' personal savior.

After a cooler-than-normal July here in K.C. (attention, all you global warming crazies!), August has started off muckin' fuggy here.  Therefore, I decided to take a proactive stance instead of suffering in the beastly heat by moving my computer and big TV into my 9' x 12' bedroom to take advantage of the meat locker-like conditions provided by my mighty little window unit air conditioner, since my central air is just about worthless when it gets above 85 degrees.  It's a little cramped in here, but I'll manage. I always do...

Unbelievable scenes from the Twin Cities last night.  Here's actual footage of the bridge collapsing taken from a security camera. Oddly enough, I've never driven on that bridge, even though I've visited the Twin Cities three times in the last five years. What's really scary is there are probably lots of other older bridges just waiting to do the same thing.  Considering the time of day it happened, I'm amazed that the carnage wasn't worse than it was. Sad, very sad...

Nice documentary last night on PBS on the rise and fall of Stax Records.  Their story is even more interesting than that of Motown Records, and probably would make for a great mini-series on TV, if they ever decide to make one.  Again, I highly recommend a visit to 926 E. McLemore Avenue in Memphis to the Stax museum, if you're ever down that wayit's quite fascinating.  To paraphrase Mick Jagger:  don't mind the maggots (on your way there)...

"All Along The Watchtower"--JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE (1968) "Businessman drink my wine/Plowmen dig my earth..."  I thought Jimi was inviting us to "Come and dig my earth."

I took my mom out to watch our mighty Kansas City T-Bones minor league beisbol team play on Tuesday night over on the Kansas side out by the Kansas Speedway.  We're talking minor minor league baseball, but it's surprisingly entertaining anyway, in spite of the fact that some of the players are in worse physical shape than yours truly.  Sadly, with minor league players, you also get minor league umpires, and the bozo who worked home plate must have worked for FEMA at some point, based on the bizarre calls he made.  Luckily, the T-Bones prevailed despite of this yahoo's efforts, and the game was most enjoyable thanks in large part to the guy on the right in this here photo.  Talk about your dream jobsI sure wouldn't mind travelling the country from ballpark to ballpark and spending a couple hours jacking off in a chicken suit (at $10,000 a showright!), and yet no one would know what I looked like and no one would bother me in real life, kinda like how a certain band that wore make-up operated in the '70s...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday evening comin' down

TOM SNYDER, 1936-2007
Sad news today with the passing legendary late-night talk show host Tom Snyder at age 71 of leukemia.  Yes, he was skewered by Dan Aykroyd's mimicry of him on "Saturday Night Live", and yes, he was a tad pompous at times, but Tom was positively humble compared with today's self-important ratings whores like Bill O'Reilly.  More importantly, Tom's shows were ultra-cool and most enjoyable.

I remember staying up late on many a summer (i.e., non-school) night from about age 12 onward and watching the "Tomorrow Show" after Johnny Carson called it a night, and I thought it made me more "grown-up" by watching Tom's show.  I didn't know who half his guests were sometimesI had never heard of actor David Niven, for instance, before seeing him on "Tomorrow", but came away thinking how smooth and debonair the man wasand I found Tom's relaxed demeanor and easy banter with those guests very appealing.  Then again, there was one particular "Tomorrow Show" I missed in its first run, but I damn sure knew who the guests were, as Tom conducted the infamous Halloween, 1979 Kiss interview where Ace "I'm a plumber" Frehley was totally crocked, thus pissing Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley off no end, but Tom seemed to love it.  The Kiss interview will also be featured on the new Kissology-Volume II DVD due out August 14th.  Tom also had the balls to interview John Lennon, Elvis Costello and Johnny Rotten (for whatever that was worth).

Tom later hosted his own radio show in the late '80s, which I occasionally got to run the board for during my brief stint at KKJO in St. Joseph, MO circa 1988-89.  Unlike his direct competition at the time, Larry King, T.S. was actually friendly to his callers (none of that "Alexandria, Virginia--HELLO!!" crap), and I always prayed for the St. Louis Cardinals games to run long so I could run the entire Snyder show on tape-delay during the first part of my Midnight-6AM airshift just so I could listen to the whole broadcast.  I also remember Tom had this nutbag who would call the show and when he got on the air would start playing his harmonica instead of talking.  T.S. finally caught on to his pattern of using fake names like "Tony from Orlando", "John from Denver", "Jack from London" and "Christopher from Columbus", etc., and once actually predicted it was him calling based on the name he gave before he answered.  Funny stuff.

So long, Tom--it was good to know ya (in a roundabout way)...

BILL WALSH, 1931-2007
More sad news today with the passing of former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, ironically also following a battle with leukemia.  Walsh led the Niners to three Super Bowl titles in the '80s, and is credited as the innovator of the "West Coast Offense".  Walsh is one of those coaches who was a brilliant tactician (not unlike current coaches like Denver's Mike Shanahan and New England's Bill Belichick) who often used strategy to outwit his opponent.  Of course, it didn't hurt to have the likes of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, et al, on his squads too.  R.I.P., Bill...

For the first time ever in Kisstory, guitarist Paul Stanley was unable to answer the bell for a Kiss concert and did not perform at the band's show in San Jacinto, CA on Friday night.  Paul apparently fell ill the night before at a sound check, and his heart rate leapt to 190 BPMnot a good thing!  So, at his insistence, and apparently with the approval of the assembled fans at the venue, Kiss played a full concert as a three-piece for the first time, as Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer played a set loaded with songs featuring Gene and/or Eric on vocals.  What's ironic about all this is that the Starchild is the one who generally takes the best care of himself.  Sounds like the boy is doing better now, and all is well again, thankfully.

This was not, however, the first time Kiss performed as a trio.  Back in 1982, Paul, Gene and late drummer Eric Carr did a rather bizarre one-song lip-synch gig (at the dying Studio 54 in New York, no less) for the song "I" from Music From The Elder when Ace was about to leave the band anyway, and he basically said, "Fuck itI'm not coming!"  They also substituted "guts" for "balls" in the lyrics.  It was a strange time for the band, indeed...

I once attended a Kiss concert wherefor all intents and purposesPaul Stanley also wasn't there.  It was at Civic Arena in St. Joseph on November 10, 1992 on the Revenge tour, as Stanley was suffering from the flu, and almost from the get-go, I could tell there was something wrong with him.  He lethargically sang the opening number "Creatures Of The Night", in a very low register, and hardly even moved around at all, as per his usual.  Then they reeled off about four or five Gene Simmons songs in a row, and when it came time to do "Heaven's On Fire", Paul announced that he wasn't feeling well and that Gene would sing it.  It was rather humorous to hear Mr. Demon bullshit his way through the lyrics, until he finally threw up his hands and said, "Hell, I don't know the words to this one!"  It was an admirable effort, and I give Stanley credit for playing hurt that night, but it was like watching Dale, Jr. driving on three wheels at Daytona, and I would've had more respect for Kiss if they had postponed the show and returned when Paul was better.  As it was, they wound up cancelling the next two shows on that abbreviated tour after St. Joseph.

"Feel Like A Number"BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND (1976)  "I feel just like another spoke in a great big wheel..." I always thought he said, "Smokin' a great big weed."  As I've said before, Mr. Seger:  confounded, manenunciate!

I was rather pleased to read today that the lowlife who murdered "My Sister Sam" actress Rebecca Schaffer in 1989 was himself attacked by a fellow prison inmate and stabbed numerous times.  If you've ever seen this scumbag's taped confession of how he killed her, you'll agree that he deserves to be attacked a lot more often...

Was also tickled to hear newly-inducted Baseball Hall of Fame Royals announcer Denny Matthews confirm during his speech yesterday that the Guy's Foods promo he read on the air during a game in 1970 did indeed go, "Fans, while you're in the store, be sure to grab Guy's nuts."  Young Dennis thought his career was toast at that moment, but little did he know it was just the beginning, and 37 years later, the man is still going strong.  Congrats again, Denny!

Evidently fallen St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock's father has had a change of heart and has decided not to wage a legal battle against Mike Shannon's Steakhouse restaurant for serving Josh the alky-hol that he so fervently requested on the night he went out driving drunk off his ass and killed himself.  Nice to see that the elder Mr. Hancock came to his senses, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Shannon is now grieving the loss of his wife of 48 years, Judy Shannon, to brain cancer.