Saturday, January 12, 2008

Let There Be AC/DC!

The good Dr. Sardonicus beat me to the punch this week with his tribute to the mighty AC/DC.  Not trying to play copycat here, but I had been meaning to do my own AC/DC post for some time now, but just never got around to it, so here goes...

My first real exposure to this band was in Speech Class during my sophomore year in high school (1979-80), of all places.  One of our class projects entailed each student putting together a 15-minute "radio show" feature about a particular group or artist.  I did mine on The Who (and got an A-minus, thank you very much), and another guy did his project on AC/DC.  The jaundiced look on the teacher's face was priceless as he played bits of "Whole Lotta Rosie", "Highway To Hell" and "Let There Be Rock".  Those songs even managed to sound really cool on that cheesy government-issue single-speaker school record player, so I went out and bought my first AC/DC LPs shortly after that, and I've been a fan ever since.

Angus and Malcolm Young are the brothers of guitarist George Young of Australian '60s band The Easybeats (of "Friday On My Mind" fame).  George is the oldest, of course, Angus is the youngest, which naturally leaves Malcolm in the middle [insert rim shot here].  George paired up with fellow-Easybeat Harry Vanda to produce and manage AC/DC, and they've been about as consistent as any band out there, even after the death of original lead singer Bon Scott in early 1980.

Losing a drummer or a bass player is one thing, but losing a lead singerespecially a very beloved one like Bonwould be a lethal blow to most bands.  But, in one of the most amazing feats in music history, AC/DC not only recovered from the loss of Scott, but managed to unleash one of the absolutely killer albums of all-time, Back In Black, seemingly without missing a beat!  AC/DC fans took to new singer Brian Johnson right away, and he couldn't have asked for a smoother transition.  It's a bit of a David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar (or Ginger vs. Mary Ann) comparison, but I honestly like Bon Scott and Brian Johnson equally.  Scott was the more witty songwriter of the two, with lines like "It was one of those nights when you turn out the lights, and everything comes into view..." from "Touch Too Much", but Johnson is one of the best screamers of all-time, and he's far more reliable than Scott was (i.e., not likely to get too fucked-up to sing in concert).  Johnson also seems like a very humble guyas do the Young brothersseemingly ego-free and very approachable, which is refreshing in the Rock 'N' Roll biz.

I've only seen AC/DC once in concert, but it was quite a dandy show at Kemper Arena in 1983 on the Flick Of The Switch tour.  There were two things I totally marveled at that night, one being how incredibly good the audio wasthis was one of the best-sounding P.A.'s I've ever heard at a concert, especially for a raw band like this.  The other thing that amazed me was how Angus could roll around on stage and do all his berserk histrionics without missing a single note!  That little dude is one of the most underrated guitar players ever.

One more little AC/DC tidbit for you:  Once upon a time back in the early '80s, I was channel-surfing on the TV one night and happened upon our local-yokel Jesus station, Channel 50, and they were on a crusade against Rock music and objectionable lyrics at the time.  On this night, they were dissecting "Highway To Hell" and the lyrics thereof, and they put the HTH album cover on the screen and the camera zoomed in on Angus' image (complete with devil horns, of course).  Someone on the show then made the comment, "And did you know that this young man drank himself to death recently?  How sad that Satan got inside him and destroyed his life, praise Jesus!" (or something like that).  Obviously a misinformed idiot she was, thinking it was Angus who had died and not Bon Scott, but I always thought it would be totally delicious if Angus could've burst through their studio doors and shocked everyone by showing he could "rise from the dead".  All those God-fearing pinheads would've most assuredly had some major skidmarks in their underwear!

My All-Time AC/DC Top 20:
20) "Thunderstruck" (1990)  It never ceases to amaze me how Angus keeps that riff up throughout the entire song in concert.  This song has also become a sports event staple.
19) "Riff Raff" (1978)  I didn't think much of this one at first, but it grew on me profusely over time.  Love the line, "I never shot nobodydon't even carry a gun!"
18) "This Means War" (1988)  Closing track on the Blow Up Your Video album with a catchy little riff not unlike the one from "Thunderstruck".
17) "Touch Too Much" (1979)  See my above commentary on Bon's lyrics here.
16) "That's The Way I Wanna Rock 'N' Roll" (1988)  Another favorite from Blow Up Your Video.
15) "Back In Black" (1980)  Did you ever think you'd live to see the day when college football marching bands would play this songfrequently?
14) "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)" (1976)  Interesting use of bagpipes here.  I truly believed it when Bon sang "I tell ya, folks, it's harder than it looks..."
13) "Rocker" (1976)  Quite possibly the fastest AC/DC song of all-time.  Speed don't kill, in this case...
12) "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" (1976)  A late bloomer, this one didn't become a true hit until five years after its initial release.
11) "Hells Bells" (1980)  Baseball pitcher Trevor Hoffman's favorite song, and another sports stadium staple.  Also one of Brian Johnson's finest vocal performances, and perfectly-timed, since it was most AC/DC fans' first taste of him.
10) "Beatin' Around The Bush" (1979)  This one would qualify as a Major League "rave-up", as they used to call them back in the '60s.
9) "Heatseeker" (1988)  Live version from the 1992 Live double-CD (clever title, guys!) is even better.
8) "Girls Got Rhythm" (1979)  Very underrated track from Highway To Hell.  Should get more airplay that it does...
7) "Shot Down In Flames" (1979)  Bon Scott sums up the bulk of my love-life rather succinctly (with one notable exception, that is) in 3 minutes and 23 seconds!
6) "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" (1981)  Concert staple that naturally lends itself to pyro and boom-booms.
5) "Problem Child" (1977)  Bon Scott's life story, it would appear.  Great lines in this one, like "What I want I take, what I don't I break" and "With a flick of my knife I can change your lifethere's nothing you can do..."
4) "Big Balls" (1976)  Quite possibly the greatest double-entendre Rock 'N' Roll tune in recorded history.
3) "Shoot To Thrill" (1980)  My favorite song off Back In Black and it always reminds me of a special person named Susan whom I used to work with and is no longer with us who was really into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, and I really miss her...
2) "Whole Lotta Rosie" (1977)  Not to blow my own horn, here, but I do a fairly good Bon Scott impression during the "Wanna tell you a story, 'bout a woman I know..." portion of the song.  By the way, "19 stone" translates to approximately 285 pounds in Americanjust a big hunk-a hunk-a woman!
1) "Let There Be Rock" (1977)  This song just rocks from start to finish, even on that cheapo Raytown South High School record player.  Angus totally smokes (on guitar) here too.

[NOTE: I'm sure you're now asking, where's "Highway To Hell" and "You Shook Me All Night Long" on your AC/DC list, Brian?  Well, those are classic tunes, to be sure, but jeez Louise, those songs have been played to death so much on the radio and/or at drinking establishments by unimaginative DJs that I'm sick to death of them!  Even so, I do always stay tuned for the tail end of the "You Shook Me" video where the blonde cutie raises her leg up over her head...]

Havnagootiim, Vishnuuerheer...

...I'll give you a couple seconds to decipher that greeting!

I finally broke a nasty losing streak at the casinos by popping a slot machine for a nice jackpot last night, reaping a net profit of $246.  It had been nearly two years since the last time I won anything of note at the gambling houses around here.  Every time I go gambling, I also get a chuckle out of these people who do the whole valet parking thing. Why on earth would you pay some total stranger to park your car?  The way these maniac attendants drive, I wouldn't let them go anywhere near my vehicle.  And what, you're too lazy to walk a little further from your car in the parking garage to the front door?

Speaking of the never-ending pussification of America, the commercials for these voice-activated car stereo systems crack me upyou know, "Play artist so-and-so." I mean, how fucking hard is it to reach over to the radio and push a button or two?  Have we gotten that totally lethargic in this society now?  Pitiful, pitiful!

You gotta love this new gimmick Coors Light has been hyping lately with its beer bottle labels where the mountains turn blue to let the consumer know when their beer is cold enough to drink.  Seems to me that if you can't figure out how cold your beer is, you probably shouldn't be drinking it anyway...

I loved watching the Packers and Seahawks playing in the white stuff in today's playoff game.  When the elements play a part in football, it makes the game even more fun sometimes.  By the way, you don't suppose the luxury-car owners in Green Bay drive Lambeau-ghinis, do ya?  Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!

I'm initiating a new regular feature today, since TV Land no longer does their old "Retromercials" anymore.  Here's an oldie but a goodie from the good folks at Chuck Wagon dog food.  Even though we didn't have a dog, I loved these ads all the same when I was a kid...

Just for shits and grins, I rented the ancient '70s ABC cartoon show "Hong Kong Phooey" this weekend.  You think they'd get away with that title today?  For the uninitiated, HKP was a mild-mannered dog named Penrod (voiced by the late Scatman Crothers) who worked as a janitor in a police station.  When trouble arose, Penry would leap into a file cabinet and morph into Hong Kong Phooey, legendary martial arts superhero crime fighter.  I hadn't seen this thing since I was in 5th grade, and trust me folks, as Huey Lewis once sang, "Sometimes bad IS bad."

I can't help but laugh at VH-1's promos for their various "reality" shows, like the current one featuring Scott Baio and this new "Celebrity Rehab" thing which includes D-list hacks like Jeff Conaway and Brigitte Nielsen ostensibly working out their drug problems on national TV instead of in real therapy like normal folks.  At the end of each promo, this little "Watch and Discuss" message pops up, as if VH-1's programming is somehow educational or profound.  Yes, let's all kick around the plight of Bret Michaels of Poison, shall we?  Doesn't it just break your heart when a millionaire Rock star just can't seem to find the perfect tattooed skank of his dreams to doink?

Another commercial on VH-1 that makes me chortle is the one for these annual Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camps.  Similar in concept to baseball fantasy camps, one can pay mega-bucks to hang out with real Rock stars and jam (assuming one has musical ability, that is).  In past years, these camps have featured some fairly big-name folks like Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley of Kiss and Roger Daltrey of The Who, but this year's lineup of stars is a tad less stellar, with such Rockers as Alan White of Yes, Elliot Easton of The Cars, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, and get thisDavid Ryan Harris from John Mayer's Band!!  Who from who's band?  Never heard of 'im!  I don't suppose they managed to nab any of the guys from Winger too?  Is Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap available?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dead again

For the second time in ten years, Kansas City’s most-enduring Classic Rock station, 99.7 KY, has bitten the proverbial dust.  The original KY-102 was born in 1974, and dominated the airwaves by the end of the decade and well into the ‘80s.  KYbtw, NOT named after the lubricant jellywas our Album Rock champion (back in the days when they actually did play entire albums), and so many of us grew up with the station that it felt like a death in the family when the corporate suits killed it in late 1997 and changed to a “Modern Rock” format (which lasted all of a year before being changed again).  Meantime, KY was resurrected down the dial at 99.7 a few months later with more or less the same on-air staff, and all was well againfor a while, anyway.  Their ratings were fairly dismal at the time of the first switcheroo, and they never really improved afterwards.  KY rested on its own laurels and the station got stale, with only their longevity to hang their hat on.  They stuck with the same tired morning show team far too long and the station just took its audience for granted.  As of the last ratings period, they were ranked 17th overallin a 20-station market!  To wit, KY's demise was not only inevitable, but totally justifiable.

Now the format is being changed to something called “Quality Rock”, whatever that is.  The station will be called "The Boulevard" and will supposedly feature the likes of Tom Petty, U2, Dave Matthews Bland, David Bowie, et alessentially only Rock people who get nominated for Grammy Awards.  Sounds more like "The Dead End Street" to me, therefore I won't be tuning in...

Meanwhile, KY’s second demise feels more like “Oh well, whatever...” than a death in the family.  Classic Rock on the radio (as I like to hear it, anyway) has been dead and gone for years, and I’m totally bored with both KY and our other Classic Rock station, 101-The Fox, which have practically identical playlists (i.e., the same 500 songs over and over).  Thus, I’ll have no problem catching all those Boston and Mellencamp songs played ad nauseam over at 101, which is more or less the KY Graveyard anyway, as 3/4 of their on-air staff are ex-KY jocks.  The only reason 101 outdrew KY in the ratings is the yearly bounce they get from carrying Chiefs games (although this year the bounce was more like a muffled thud).  This is what happens when radio stations are run by corporations instead of people who actually give a shit about the music.

Click here for further commentary from the guy who I really think made KY what it was back in their heyday, Mr. Randy Raley.

On my way to work this morning, I tuned in KY before the format change had taken effect, and sure enough, I came in right during the organ solo of Boston's "Smokin'"!  Seemed only fittingone more for the road, huh?

R.I.P., KY (1974-2008)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Here comes your 20th nervous breakdown...

Elvis’ birthday was two days ago, which means if you haven’t taken down your outdoor Christmas decorations yet, you're are a moron because Christmas is OVAH!

“KILL MOOSE AND SQUIRREL…”Looks like Boris and Natasha never give up.  That's a real moose who literally got "strung up" by his antlers (click pic to enlarge) when workers in Anchorage, Alaska were raising power lines.  Fortunately, Bullwinkle was safely lowered back to earth all in one piece.  Then again, if he weren't in one piece, there's one place he could go for help:

Are y’all as sick as I am already with all the overblown ESPN-like analysis on the New Hampshire primary and Iowa Carcass?  The talking heads at all the news outlets are splitting so many hairs right and left—did Obama say the right things?  Does Edwards need a haircut?  Did Huckabee look Christian enough?  Did Hillary put her pantyhose on straight?  This is going to be a very long year…

I checked out the newly-released “Mod Squad” DVD set this week—talk about going back in time!  I hadn’t seen that show in probably 35 years, and I didn’t remember all that much about it, except the really cool theme song.  One thing I always wondered—what on earth were they running from in the opening title sequence?  I thought cops were supposed to be the chasers, not the chase-ees, and these three were high-tailing it like they were being chased by bill collectors on pay day.  The plots on the episodes I watched were thinner than Ron Howard’s hair, but these DVDs are worth it alone just to see what people wore back then and all those cool late ‘60s cars, not to mention gas prices at 32.9!  The special features also include recent interview clips with Peggy Lipton, who has aged remarkably well since back in the day.

I’ve also been watching the first season of “The Odd Couple” recently, and Felix and Oscar had this neighbor kid named Phillip who appeared in several episodes. I didn’t recognize the kid visually, but his voice sounded very familiar to me, and it was driving me nuts until I looked him up on, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the kid who did the voice of Linus on the “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” special!  It scares the shit out of me sometimes how my memory retains stuff like this…

Congrats to the Baseball Hall of Fame for finally getting it right and voting in relief pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage for the class of ’08.  Even though he pitched for the Evil Empire (Yankees), I always respected his talent and career achievements, and his induction into the Hall has been long overdue.  I don’t get why relief pitchers aren’t recognized for what they do like the other position players are.  The Pro Football HOF does the same thing with kickers and punters by acting as if they don’t exist—Jan Stenerud is the only pure kicker who has been inducted so far, and the greatest punter ever—Oakland’s Ray Guy—has been totally snubbed.  Hell, if they can recognize non-players like owners, commissioners and announcers, then why do these guys always get ignored?

I was reminded the other day of a discussion at work one day a few years back.  Some mammogram films had gotten stuck inside this Rolodex-type viewing machine and someone said it was because the person didn’t hang up the films properly.  To which I replied, “So what you’re saying is they weren’t well-hung!” [Place rim shot here]

Big mouth Al Sharpton is at it again, causing a big stink over this Golf Channel announcer chick Kelly Tilghman’s ill-advised “lynched in a back alley” remark about Tiger Woods.  Yes, it was a dumb thing to say on TV, and far be it for me to defend anyone from the friggin’ Golf Channel, but if you watch the video, it clearly wasn’t pre-meditated and was out of her mouth before she knew it.  Still, Big Al’s doing all his typical “our race has been offended” opportunist histrionics and wants this gal to be fired and strung up by her nut-sack and all, never mind that Woods himself said he wasn’t offended and everything’s cool at his end.  I’d love it if Tiger would go a step further and tell Sharpton and his tag-team partner Jesse Jackson to put a fucking sock in it already...

One of my favorite movie scenes of all-time.  Try to suppress your laughterit's damn near impossible!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I don't need no doctor...

The good folks at Gallery of The Absurd did a nice job depicting Dr. Phil's lame attempt to score some serious ratings for his show by offering his "help" to Britney Spears over the weekend.  Whatever respect I still had for this man has now completely vanished...

I first became a fan of Dr. Phil when he started out on Oprah’s show, and I also thought he was outstanding on the first season of his own show.  He dealt with a variety of topics, and even if they didn’t necessarily apply to me, I enjoyed listening to his advice.  I bought a couple of his books and found them somewhat helpful as well, but Phil started gradually losing me as a viewer when his show started completely revolving around selling his books for whichever ill of mankind he was out to cure at the time.  One season, it was all about parenting (or the lack thereof) and a bunch of “family-this” and “family-that” crappola, thus kicking us single people to the curb in the meantime.

The next season, he got on this whole big weight-loss kick.  I’m overweight myself, but I found very little of that crusade’s advice helpful, let alone entertaining.  Dr. Phil's true jump-the-shark moment for me was at the beginning of that season when his weight-loss “challenge” commenced and they presented it to be some sort of “Survivor”-esque elimination contest with a bunch of overweight people living together in the same house, with the first one to fail to lose enough weight being kicked out, etc.  I felt very betrayed when I realized that Dr. Phil had “gone Hollywood” by playing this asinine “reality show" gambit.  The “reality” show trend continued on with the “Dr. Phil Families” he featured later that season, complete with cameras in their homes, thus giving the show an MTV/”Real World” feel with its contrived "mini-dramas" revolving around pregnant teen girls.  Such phony bullshit!

Then he started including Mrs. Dr. Philhis annoying wife Robinon the show and she always came across to me as a control-freak nag, and I couldn't stand her shrill voice with that Texan drawl to boot.  Dr. Phil didn't stop therehe brought his oldest son Jay on the show frequently to promote some book that he wrote for teenagers.  Jay was likeable enough, but he hardly struck me as being an authority on teenage angst, seeing's how his pampered little ass never seemed to have experienced any!  Then there was the Danny Bonaduce pity-party on the Dr. Phil show a couple years back, and so on and so forth...

Does Dr. Phil really expect us to believe that helping Britney Spears was his sole motivation for visiting her this weekend?  How dumb do you think we are, Doc?  You know damn well if he could've bagged Britney to be on his show, his ratings would've spiked like gas prices right after a terrorist attack.  Hate to say it, but in this household, the Doctor is out!  As Fred Sanford once said to Merv Griffin, "I used to like you...dummy!"

Monday, January 7, 2008

Stop! Or I'll blog!

Happy birthday to Paul Revere of The Raiders, who hits the big 7-0 today.  I'm on record as not being all that enamored with his current nostalgia act in Branson, which is more of a Rock 'N' Roll oldies revue than a Raiders show, but I do give him credit for still performing and, if nothing else, keeping the group's name alive.  I've never met PR in person, but I've heard from more than one source that he's a real nice guy, as is former Raider Mark Lindsay, whom I did have the good fortune to meet in 2001.  A tip of the hat to both of these gentlemen for being my first real taste of Rock 'N' Roll at age three.

After reading the booklet that accompanies the new Kissology, Vol III DVD set, I'm very disappointed in Paul Stanley's commentary on Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, and their departures from the band during this decade.  This is usually Gene Simmons' forte, but the Starchild chose to rip away on these two, especially Peter.  A sample quote:  "To this day my biggest regret was watching our hard-fought-for resurrection of the original line-up turn into a miraculous second lottery win where 2 individuals chose once again to throw away the winning ticket...Whether it was drugs, alcohol, family members or advisorsthe possibilities were lost...What a waste."  Well, Paul, didya ever stop to think that maybe Ace and Peter just don't wanna be in the circus forever?  Both of them appear to have remained clean and sober during this time, and they seem to be at different places in their lives, and not to mention were probably fed up with only being able to play the same bloody set list night after night.  Perhaps if you and Gene had gotten past your own egos and let them contribute more to the Psycho Circus album in '98 and if you had continued making new music after that instead of resting on past laurels, Ace and Peter might still be in your band, which currently looks like a Kiss tribute band.  I also think it's bogus that Ace and Peter aren't allowed to add their commentary to these DVDs and tell their side of the story.  End of sermon...

...that Britney Spears is going to be this year's Anna Nicole Smith?  Sad to say this, but it's only a matter of time before she offs herself...

The Seattle Seahawks' quarterback's last name is pronounced "Hassel-BECK", not "Hassel-BACK"!  Got it, now?  Oy!

I watched the so-called "classic" 1971 film Billy Jack for the first time last night.  I got about halfway through and gave up on itI could no longer take the antics of the tree-hugging hippie kids at the school!  Even Howard Hesseman in his pre-Dr. Johnny Fever days couldn't save this turkey.  Go ahead and hate this movie, go ahead and change the channel!

A little trivia you can impress your friends with: ya know who the singer is in the background on the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" radio ads?  His name is Dave Bickler, and you might remember him as the original lead singer of the band Survivor, particularly on "Eye Of The Tiger".  He left the band not long after that because of throat problems, but quietly made a comeback on these damn funny commercials, and ironically has made more money doing this than he ever did with Survivor.  Bickler formed the band with a guy named Jim Peterik, whom you're also familiar with, if you love Top 40 oldieshe sang lead vocals for the one-hit-wonder band Ides of March on 1970's "Vehicle".  Trivia class is now dismissed for today...

Well, it Depends on what it is!  A little humor from my girl Julie Brown, yet another redhead I always found myself attracted tosexy AND funny, what a concept!  Her 1987 cult-classic album Trapped In The Body Of A White Girl is finally out on CD too, after all these years of only being available on vinyl.  Great songs too, like the title track, as well as "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid" and her greatest hit, "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun."

You don't suppose former Rainbow/Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio has any male relatives named Stu or Ray, do you?

Here we have Andy Jackson and hack actor Jeff Conaway from TV's "Taxi".  The latter has been resembling Keith Richards more and more in recent years too.  Uhh, drugs are bad, mmm-kay?