Archive for the ‘Music that doesn’t suck’ Category

R.I.P., J. Geils

April 12, 2017

I don’t want the blog to turn into an obit column, but I felt compelled to note the passing of John Warren Geils Jr., the guitarist behind the J. Geils Band.

You may recall the band’s Eighties hits — “Centerfold,” “Love Stinks,” and “Freeze-Frame” — but I stumbled across them in the Seventies, my initiation likely being the live album “Full House,” which I still have on vinyl.

There were a bunch of keepers on that one, my favorites being “First I Look At the Purse,” “Pack Fair and Square,” and “Whammer Jammer.” Magic Dick could do magic for real — dude could make a harp sound like a sax.

Charles P. Pierce, who has his own recollection of the band, found another keeper online, “Floyd Hotel,” from 1973. As usual Peter Wolf and Magic Dick play starring roles, but Geils contributes a few worthy licks on slide. And keyboard player-songwriter Seth Justman tinkles them ivories right nice too.

“Take out your false teeth, mama, I want to suck on your gums.” With lines like that you can almost excuse the stagewear and hairdos. Hey, it was the Seventies, what can I tell you?

Rock ‘n’ rage

March 19, 2017

Jaysis. What a weekend. First we lose Chuck Berry and then Jimmy Breslin.

Berry remains on tour extraterrestrially — “Johnny B. Goode” is on golden records aboard the Voyager I and II spacecraft, launched in 1977.

One of my favorite Breslin books is “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”  What could I tell you? There are so many keepers in there, like this graf:

The Baccala Family runs all organized crime in Brooklyn. The gang has been in Brooklyn longer than the Ferris Wheel at Coney Island. It was formed in 1890 under the leadership of Raymond the Wolf. He ate babies. Raymond the Wolf passed away one night from natural causes: his heart stopped beating when three men who slipped into his bedroom stuck knives in it. Joe the Wop, who had sent the three men, took over the mob. Joe the Wop shot nuns. A year later he dropped dead while being strangled.

I didn’t know this quote until I read it in his obit, but it works for me, too:

“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.”

I’ve never raged as well as Breslin or Berry, but I keep on trying. If only they hadn’t set the bar so damn’ high.

Reel scored for pennywhistle and putty knife

March 17, 2017

It’s not as boondocky as it looks: The Trek 520 shoot took place just west of Albuquerque.

There was a time when I might have begun St. Patrick’s Day with a dollop of Irish in the coffee and ended it with a few pints of the black, playing Clannad, The Chieftains and The Pogues in between.

Not this year.

We’d been contemplating the renovation of Herself’s office, and as it happens the dude who does that sort of thing for us was available this very week, the same week during which Herself was scheduled to take a business trip to Florida.

Bejaysis.

So instead of getting my Irish on I arose early to feed and water the menagerie, swallow a bit of (unenhanced) java, and record the voiceover on my Trek 520 video (see screenshot, above) before the hooley resumed. The cats took up their positions under the bed and Mister Boo — well, nothing fazes The Boo save a late meal, so he was fine.

And I broke out the old iPod Nano, the better to hear The Chieftains by. May yis all be in heaven a half hour before the divvil hears you’re dead.

 

The music a’Waits

March 14, 2017

OK, apropos of nothing in particular, check out this interview with Tom Waits at The New York Times Style Magazine.

Beck and Kendrick Lamar are in there, too, if that’s how you roll.

The money quote for me — from Waits, of course — is about inspiration and how it strikes:

If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects.

 

Can’t make it all alone

December 24, 2016

An appreciation of “Fairytale of New York” from Michael Brendan Dougherty.

The backstory from Wikipedia.

An alternate version from Christy Moore.

So happy Christmas. I love ye, baby. …

 

 

WWFP (What Would Frank Play)? Part III

December 7, 2016

As the Pestilence-Elect uses the economy as a sex toy, I expect FZ might perform the entire album “We’re Only In It For the Money.”

WWFP (What Would Frank Play), Part II

December 6, 2016

What would Frank Zappa play as Agent Orange assembles his Cabinet of tools, fools and ghouls? Why, “I’m the Slime,” of course.

WWFP (What Would Frank Play)?

December 5, 2016

WWFP at The Inauguration? I’m gonna go with “Dumb All Over.”

 

Leon Russell, R.I.P.

November 13, 2016
Leon's walk along the high wire is over.

Leon’s walk along the high wire is over.

We interrupt our discussion of the decline and fall in order to tip the Mad Dog top hat to Leon Russell, who like Leonard Cohen has gone west.

I heard him first as half of Asylum Choir, with guitarist Marc Benno. Then there was the Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour with Joe Cocker, the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison, et al. Saw him perform once at Folsom Field in Boulder, and wow, what a show. Dude never really stopped playing — he would chat to the audience between songs, tinkling the ivories.

Here’s one of his most popular tunes, and one of my personal favorites. Damn, that Next World Orchestra just keeps getting bigger and better.

 

 

The news just repeats itself

August 19, 2016

Now and then I miss working in a newsroom. This is not one of those times.

Most days, daily journalism is like any other gig, only more so. Hours of tedium interrupted by moments of pandemonium.

But news in the era of what Charlie Pierce calls He, Trump, is a whole other ballgame. It’s like trying to sip delicately from a fire hose hooked to a septic tank. It can’t be done, and nobody should have to try, not even for money.

And certainly not for free.

Instead I’ve been trying — and mostly succeeding — in paying attention to the bicycle, may God save her and all who sail in her.

There’s Bicycle Retailer‘s big 25th-anniversary celebration, for example. I need to dash off a column and cartoon on that topic, which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, seeing as I’ve had 25 years of practice.

And I’ve ridden four different bikes in four days — Sam Hillborne, Steelman Eurocross, Soma Saga, Jones Steel Diamond — and loved every minute of it. Well, not every minute — the Steelman’s low end of 36×26 is a tad tall on steep, sandy single-track for an auld fella — but still, it beats perching in front of the Mac, letting the shit monsoon wash over me.

This morning I got up, grabbed some coffee, and when Herself went out to walk The Boo, I shut off NPR’s “Morning Edition” and started playing some John Prine instead. Sometimes a fella needs a little country to restore his faith in a bigger one.