Monday, January 31, 2011

KEEP IT SIMPLE JERK



If someone were to ask you what Chuck Berry's biggest hit was, what would be your guess? You know all the Berry classics. A first guess might be "Johnny B. Goode", or maybe "Sweet Little Sixteen", or "Roll Over Beethoven", right? Nope, it was "My Ding A Ling" a corny novelty song, that he didn't even write. So, you know what were dealing with here; record buyers are, by and large, lame brains. Despite hefty record sales, you can't think hit when you think of Chuck Berry, because despite all of the iconic rock n' roll songs he's written, he's still relatively under appreciated when you consider what he's given us. Part of it is his fault. His habit of hiring pick up bands without rehearsing first, playing without set lists, forgetting his own lyrics, and totally straying from the original recorded versions of his songs, is all his doing. But, hell, he's Chuck Berry. It's part of the package.



Back when my brothers and I were in the process of backtracking to early rock n' roll, one of the first records bought was "Chuck Berry's Golden Decade." It had all the songs we'd heard on the oldies station and, as an introduction, was exactly what was needed. Not long after that, the "London Sessions" LP was added to our collection ('72 I believe). Even back then, we thought that "My Ding A Ling" was a stinker, so, of course, it had to be the hit. Around that time, when my cousin told us that she had been thumbing home from a Berry concert at a local college and was actually picked up by Chuck Berry himself (in a VW bug), it only added to the package. Suffice it to say, that in the boy's room, there was a huge amount of respect for the man.



The other night I ran into a video of Electric Light Orchestra doing Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and all I could think was "jeez, and people wonder why punk rock happened." They managed to drag Berry's concise thumper into six and a half bloated minutes of solo after solo after solo. It was so far removed from the simplicity of the original, it's like the fat guy pushing his way to the front of the buffet line. Compare and contrast, if you will:


Chuck Berry, early 60's

Let me introduce the next clip by saying that if you prefer the Electric Light Orchestra version because Berry's version is sloppy, and a half-effort, you're at the wrong party. Berry shows warts and all. The Electric Light Orchestra version might be tight, but at what expense? Just look at all the people on stage, and all the cello players and such. It's obscene. (It brings to mind the lyrics of the Weirdos' "Destroy All Music": "I'm gonna kick in my radio, I'm gonna burn my tickets to see ELO". There's one for your bucket list.)


Electric Light Orchestra's circle jerk, 1978

Here's a few to wash your ears out. If you haven't already, watch the Chuck Berry video above, and then watch the subsequent versions below, from '72, 87, and '07. I swear, in a few years it'll be a blues song. It already kinda sounds like one in the '07 version. (It's like Chuck Berry's in Bizzaro World, where the blues come from rock n' roll, not the other way around.)

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Listen:
Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode mp3 at Tune the Proletariat
Chuck Berry - Maybelline mp3 at Teenage Kicks
Chuck Berry - Nadine mp3 (via Box.net) at Dr. Mooney's 115th Dream
Chuck Berry - Memphis mp3 at Noise Variations
Chuck Berry - Back In the USA mp3 at Weekly Tape Deck
Chuck Berry - Blues For Hawaiians mp3 at Clumsy & Shy
Video:
Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethoven (live, TV, 1972) video at YouTube
Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethhoven (live, 1987) video at YouTube
Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethoven (live, 2007) video at YouTube
Visit:
Chuck Berry's Official site
Chuck Berry at Wikipedia

Sunday, January 30, 2011

AND HE PLAYS GUITAR


Earlier today, I was going about my business, and I was thinking about that A-Bones video from yesterday, and how Billy Miller reminded me a little of Nick Curran. Then, when I went online, I headed to YouTube to a look for videos of someone completely different, and went I there, one of the featured videos was Nick Curran. (Coincidence, or tracking?) It's a real good one, the performance anyway. (The video quality is okay.) It's Curran with the Barshakers, from 2000, doing Little Richard's "Lucille". There aren't many in Little Richard's league of bona fide rock n' roll shouters. The names that always seem to come to mind are Don & Dewey, Gerry Roslie of the Sonics, and Nick Curran. (I need to hear some more A-Bones, because Miller sounds close.) I know, that's probably something I've said in the past, but it bears repeating. Not a lot of people can sing like that. The League of Hot Shit Shouters, yessir.



~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Nick Curran & the Lowlifes - Kill My Baby mp3 at KEXP (No one has "Baby You Crazy" posted!)
Nick Curran & the Lowlifes - Baby You Crazy (live, 2009) video at YouTube Essential (and I know, I throw that word around a lot).
Little Richard - Lucille video at YouTube
Nick Curran & the Lowlifes - No Fun/Shot Down (live, 2009) video at YouTube Dig it, the Stooges done inna Fats Domino stylee.
Ronnie Dawson (Curran on Guitar) - Sucker For a Cheap Guitar (live, 1997) video at YouTube (Not a member of the league)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A TIP OF THE HAT TO YOUR SPOUSE



I don't remember how I ended up there, but today I found myself on the blog of Miriam Linna, Kicksville 66. If you don't know the name, she's one half of Norton Records, one half of Kicks Magazine, which can only mean one thing, she's one half of Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, two of the most passionate rock n' roll fiends to have ever entered my sphere of cognition. If you've never read the now-defunct Kicks magazine (their first joint effort), any description that I can offer wouldn't be sufficient. (But, like most things I'm not sufficiently good at, I'll try anyways.)



It was a rather haphazardly laid out magazine, that was all about regular good ol' fashioned rock n' roll. By that I mean, they made no effort to present anything current, unless it was part of a lineage of rockers, you know, as in fifties real-thing rockers. It had word balloons here and there, all sorts of oddball in joke references in hand written captions that you wouldn't get unless you delved a little bit more into their world, a world in which Chan Romero was a household name, and Hasil Adkins was as authentic as Link Wray, Jerry Lee Lewis, or the Sonics. It was packed, every primitive square inch of it, and the writing, casual as it was, made it seem like you were shooting the shit with them over a beer. It was, and still is, my favorite music magazine ever, and I'm loath to admit that I only have one of my issues left. (It you want to see what the fuss is about, they have remaining copies of the last issue for sale here.)


Billy Miller and Miriam Linna's band, the A-Bones

So, that's why I'm a little giddy. One of my favorite rock n' roll writers has a blog that I didn't even know about until today. It's not a normal must-update-today type blog, it is, in her terms, "what life was like in NYC in the seventies, at least for one awkward kid from the boondocks" (the boondocks being Kent, Ohio). What makes it an interesting read, besides her writing, is that Linna was dialed in. Before moving to New York, she was pals with Peter Laughner (Rocket From the Tombs), and various pre-Pere Ubu members and pre-Dead Boys members. And, right after moving to New York, she was the drummer for the Cramps, for their first year of existence. She was the president of the Flaming Groovies fan club, saw the Stooges in '73, received two original still sealed Sonics LPs for her birthday from Lux Interior, and basically ran with a crowd that knew shit from shinola. It's like a scrapbook, with a lot of words and a lot of memories; a memoir in blog format. A five star time suck.



I haven't even touched on the record label, Norton Records (which is excellent), or the current band she's in (with Miller), the A-Bones. Another post perhaps. Here's some semi-related stuff: songs the A-Bones covered, Cramps influenced mixes, and a bunch of Miriam Linna/Billy Miller links at the bottom. Note: I couldn't find any mp3s of the A-Bones.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Songs the A-Bones cover:
The MC5 - One of the Guys mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - All Night mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Sentinals - The Bee mp3 at Beware of the Blog
16 more songs the A-Bones cover at Beware of the Blog
Norton Records artists:
Hasil Adkins - She Said mp3 at Beware of the Blog
The Hentchmen - All About Girls at Ghetto Recorders
Post Linna Cramps (she never recorded with them):
The Cramps - I Was A Teenage Werewolf mp3 at Zdanz
The Cramps - Tear It Up mp3 at Lost Turntable
The Cramps - Fever mp3 at Zdanz
The Cramps - I Can't Hardly Stand It mp3 at Zdanz
Lux & Ivy's Favorites - 11 full length mixes (in zips) at Beware of the Blog Cramps influences, many of them covered.
Read:
Kicksville 66 - the blog of Miriam Linna
Miriam Linna at Wikipedia
Norton Records
Nortonville - Norton Records blog
Interview with Billy Miller and Miriam Linna about their involvement with Hasil Adkins
Added 2/1/11:
Lengthy interview with Billy Miller at Turn It Down This is excellent: Kicks, Norton Records, Esquerita and Hasil Adkins.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A BIG OL' MESS


Here's a backlog of neat stuff from the past few days, none really related, but judging by the "Current Boss 10" list (top left of your screen) on this particular night, that doesn't seem to bother anyone.

First up is a Dick Dale video, from 1963, a movie called "A Swinging Affair." It's really awesome. I had a laugh last night trying to imagine what would be going on in the heads of his band members. They all look they're in a daze, like zombies. And what about the chick (and I do mean "chick") in the blond bouffant. By the end of the song, she's ready to pounce on the unsuspecting King of the Surf Guitar. The whole time her dance partner seems to be trying to talk her down. Reel her in, brother! Dig it!



Next is a great jiggle club number at Diddy Wah, Ernie Fields doing "Workin' Out." I swear, just about everything Adam (the host there) puts up is right up my alley. (The man has taste!) And here, from A Barrel of Nails, is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A nice downshift. Ooh, here's a good one: the Bamboos doing an instrumental cover of THE Tighten Up (the Archie Bell & the Drells one), courtesy of Rollo & Grady. Soul Sides has U Roy and Hopeton Lewis's "Tom Drunk," and an earlier Stranger Cole cover of the Guess Who's "These Eyes" (retitled "Crying Every Night"), using the same rhythm.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Ernie Fields - Workin' Out mp3 at Diddy Wah
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Strange Things Happening Every Day mp3 at A Barrel of Nails
The Bamboos - Tighten Up mp3 at Rollo & Grady.
U Roy & Hopeton Lewis- Tom Drunk mp3 at Soul Sides
Stranger Cole - Crying Every Night mp3 at Soul Sides

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE HARDER THEY FALL



I'm a sucker for uprisings. Is that sufficiently shallow for you? I know. Nevertheless, the situations in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt are incredible, especially when you consider the first one, in Tunisia, all began with someone lighting themself on fire in protest. How far they go remains to be seen, but my "what if" sensors are fully raised. So there's an admittedly loose reason to post a few versions of what should be a standard for most of you.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come mp3 at The Cargo Culte
Keith Richards - The Harder They Come mp3 at Rollo & Grady
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - The Harder the Come (live) mp3 at JonSolomon (Note: Low quality recording, record store appearance)
Joe Jackson - The Harder They Come mp3 at PopDose
Video:

Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come (w/movie clips) video at YouTube
Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come (live, 2006) at YouTube
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - The Harder They Come (live) video at YouTube
Rancid - The Harder They Come (live) video at YouTube
Madness - The Harder They Come (live) video at YouTube
Willie Nelson - The Harder They Come video at YouTube
Read:

Waves of Unrest Spread to Yemen, Shaking a Region at the New York Times

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WANDA ON TV



I wanted to get this up here (might add to it later). Wanda Jackson is on Conan tonight, If you're not from the U.S., I'll post a link when it becomes available. For anyone who resides in an area where it has not yet aired, and you're thinking it might be on too late, think about this: Wanda Jackson is seventy-something years old, and she's still out there. You can stay up.

Added 1/26/11: Here's the link to the video: Wanda Jackson - Funnel of Love (live on Conan) video. The video below is from a TV appearance 52 years earlier.



~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Wanda Jackson - Shakin' All Over mp3 (via Box.net) at Dr. Mooney's 115th Dream
Wanda Jackson - Fujiyama Mama mp3 at Log-Line
Wanda Jackson - Let's Have A Party mp3 at Fonsl's Velt
Wanda Jackson - Whirlpool mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Wanda Jackson - Man We Had A Party mp3 at Mustard Relics
Wanda Jackson - Savin' My Love mp3 at Bousculadet
Wanda Jackson w/Lux & Ivy - Funnel of Love mp3 at Mustard Relics
Wanda Jackson - This Gun Don't Care mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Wanda Jackson - Blue Moon of Kentucky mp3 at Snuhthing Anything
Wanda Jackson - Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On mp3 at Rocky-52.net
Wanda Jackson - Yakety Yak mp3 at Rocky-52.net

Monday, January 24, 2011

TIME OUT



Broadcast's music used to be hard to categorize. Unfortunately, it can now be categorized as music that will never be made again. Lead singer Trish Keenan passed away a few weeks ago, after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Though there's no question that she had a remarkable voice, one read of the endearing tribute by Bob Stanley (of Saint Etienne) paints a picture of a pretty cool and caring individual.



How to describe Broadcast's music? Let's just say if you put the Velvet Underground, Air, Stereolab, Suicide and April March, in a blender, tossed in a bit of Dusty (you can substitute Petula Clark or Lulu), a liberal sprinkling of clouds, radio static, and, what the hell, a hit or two, maybe a little feedback, and mixed it all up, you'd get close. It's quiet and noisy at the same time. Good stuff. Some of it is made for "whooa..." sunsets, some for staring at a star filled sky, some for the wee hours, drifting off to sleep, or driving at night. But it's all somehow calming and it all features that voice.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Broadcast - Where Youth and Laughter Go mp3 at Clumsy & Shy
Broadcast - Elegant Elephant mp3 at Days Are Numbers
Broadcast - Oh How I Miss You mp3 at Unpiano
Broadcast - Come on Let's Go mp3 at The Big Beat
Broadcast & the Focus Group - A Seancing Song mp3 at Clumsy & Shy
Broadcast - Echo's Answer mp3 at The Finest Kiss
Broadcast - Long Was The Year (live) (via Box.net) mp3 at Citizen Dick
Broadcast: Black Session (La Maison de la Radio: Paris, France 2000) (12 song set zip) at Aquarium Drunkard
Broadcast's Radio Mix 5 (streaming) at Future Crayon (Broadcast blog)
Broadcast's influences - Silvers Apples, Ennio Morricone, The United States of America, Velvet Undergroud, and Squarepusher mp3s at Clumsy & Shy
Video:
Broadcast - Come On Lets Go video at YouTube
Broadcast - America's Boy video at YouTube
Broadcast - Valerie (and Her Week of Wonders) video at YouTube
Visit/Read:
Trish Keenan - Remembered by Bob Stanley (of Saint Etienne) at Caught By the River
Broadcast Official site
Broadcast at Wikipedia

Sunday, January 23, 2011

PARTY TIME


The Detroit Cobras checklist probably went something like this: "Guitar, bass and drums?" "Check." "Singer?" "Check." "Cool covers?" "Check." "Obscure covers?" "Check." "Originals?...Originals??" "Uhh, we'll get to those." They never really got to that point, where they created a band identity by writing their own material. Their band identity is all about reworking covers to make them sound like Detroit Cobras songs. And while some people may dismiss them as a cover band, others will counter that they're a damn fine cover band. One thing is certain, they are damn fine cover picker-outers. I ran into a blog last night that is great in concept, if only it were updated more frequently. It's called, simply, "Detroit Cobras Covers", and they post the original versions of songs the Detroit Cobras have covered. (There's a couple songs from there below.)

One note: The "Right Around the Corner" video below is from a concert cruise in NY. I gotta say, with the intimacy of the band (being stageless), and the probable abundance of libations, it seems like the perfect way to see them; and I bet original material was the last thing on anyone's mind.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Detroit Cobras - Hot Dog mp3 at Bloodshot Records
Detroit Cobras - Heartbeat mp3 at Cows Are Just Food
Detroit Cobras - On a Monday mp3 at Catfish Vegas
Detroit Cobras - Right Around the Corner mp3 at Hejven.se
Detroit Cobras - Last Night mp3 at Ryan's Smashing Life
Detroit Cobras - Insane Asylum mp3 at Cover Me
A few that the Detroit Cobras have covered:
Koko Taylor w/Willie Dixon - Insane Asylum mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Ruby Johnson -Weak Spot mp3 (via Box.net) at Detroit Cobras Covers
The Olympics - Secret Agent mp3 (via Box.net) at Detroit Cobras Covers
Video:
The Detroit Cobras - Right Around the Corner (live) at YouTube
The Detroit Cobras - Cha Cha Twist (live) at YouTube

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ALL NIGHT LONG



This might be the best song you hear tonight. This is Chess to the core. Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle", with, I believe, Willie Dixon singing back up. It's badass. The video is equally hot shit.


Koko Taylor, with Little Walter on harp

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Koko Taylor - Wang Dang Doodle mp3 (via Box.net) at Dr. Mooney's 115th Dream
This one's good too. A little later, and different, but good:
Koko Taylor - Come to Mama mp3 at Giant Panther
Read:

Koko Taylor at Wikipedia
Chess Records at Wikipedia

Friday, January 21, 2011

STONES PLAY WAYLON


Let's just get this out of the way, for you one song cherry pickers: The Stones doing "Waylon Jenning's "Bob Wills Is Still the King" live video is here. It's okay, Ron Wood plays pedal steel. Hey, I'm a card carrying Jagger-doubter, and I found it interesting. Stick around for the Wills.

I'm lame. My whole country and western lack of knowledge thing is downright embarrassing. I know the big names, and some tier two stuff, but when it gets deeper than that, I defer. I know I like 'em old, and I know I like 'em authentic. One who's both, the archetype of (the "Chuck Berry of" if you will) western swing is Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. (That always bothers me, that whole "and his" jive. Seriously, you don't own them.) My initiation to western swing was from an early 70's Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airman concert. (There you go, another "and his"! Knock it the hell off!) They were riding high on their hit cover of Johnny Bond's "Hot Rod Lincoln". A friend gave me and my brother some tickets that he won from a radio station. Of course, they played their hit, and songs that sounded a lot like it. But they also dipped into their hat and pulled out some rockabilly and some western swing (including Bob Will's biggee "San Antonio Rose"). Other than the odd rockabilly hit on the oldies station, this was my introduction to both western swing and rockabilly. Weren't the 70s great? You could get a musical education from a bunch of long haired potheads.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Listen:
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - San Antonio Rose mp3 at The Rising Storm
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Big Ball's In Cowtown mp3 at The Rising Storm
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - What Makes Bob Holler mp3 at The Rising Storm
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Cotton Eyed Joe mp3 at Rocky-52.net
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airman - Hot Rod Lincoln mp3 at CHS1968.com
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airman - Seeds and Stems mp3 at The Rising Storm
Watch:
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Ida Red video at YouTube
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen - Everybody's Doing It video at YouTube
The Rolling Stones - Bob Wills Is Still the King (live) video at YouTube
Read:
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Extensive Fan site, bios, the works

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WE AREN'T THE WORLD



In the early 80s, Afrika Bambaataa, former gang member turned rapper, had already pushed the limits of the relatively new genre by incorporating breaks and samples, not just from soul, funk or other sources commonly used, but from artists as diverse as Kraftwerk and Billy Squire (?). He just flat out ignored what was expected and, in "what the heck" fashion, broke barriers. In doing so, he enabled others to follow suit. But Bambaataa had a good knowledge of all types of music, which other rappers didn't necessarily share, and it led to some rather corny combos (Run DMC's "Walk This Way" anybody?).

After sampling unusual source material, the next step was collaborations. Two years before the questionable Run DMC-Aerosmith ditty, Bambaataa had his Time Zone project, a series of one-off singles, each with a different collaborator. The second of these, in 1984, was World Destruction, in which he enlisted then Public Image singer, and former Sex Pistol, John Lydon.



Knowing their mutual admiration for each others work, producer Bill Laswell suggested Lydon. As Bambaataa told, "I was talking to Bill Laswell saying I need somebody who's really crazy, man, and he thought of John Lydon. I knew he was perfect because I'd seen this movie that he'd made (Copkiller), I knew about all the Sex Pistols and Public Image stuff, so we got together and we did a smashing crazy version, and a version where he cussed the Queen something terrible, which was never released." The recording took less than five hours to complete.

Let me tell you, if you haven't heard it, It's powerful, and it's a damn downer. Unfortunate as it is, "World Destruction" is still a more accurate commentary of the state of the world than other well meaning songs. With lyrics like "The human race is becoming a disgrace," it isn't the kind of song you could imagine pop music elite swaying back and forth to. It wasn't a feel good song. It was a damn wake-up call, still left unheeded 27 years later.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Listen:
Time Zone - World Destruction (via DivShare) mp3 at The Bomarr Blog
Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock mp3 at Darrell Kim's blog (Samples Kraftwerk & Baby Ruth)
Public Image Ltd - Rules & Regulations mp3 at UtahDave
Public Image Ltd - This Is Not a Love Song (live, 2010) mp3 at The Sound of Indie
Watch:

Time Zone -World Destruction video at YouTube
Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock (live) at YouTube
Public Image Ltd - Rise video at YouTube
Read:
Time Zone entry at Wikipedia
Afrika Bambaataa at Wikipedia
John Lydon at Wikipedia
Afrika Bambaataa page at WhoSampled

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TURN IT UP, MOM


I had to get this down while it was still in my head. Sorry to report, there's not much in the way of a pay-off either, because there's just one Nat King Cole song down there. And this is not to necessarily inflict second hand significance. This is just why the song holds significance for me, and that's second hand as it is.

When my Dad was a teenager, he was friends with Pat. This Pat was one of the first guys, outside of his brothers, that my Dad would roughhouse with, which landed him in a little trouble when he was in school. Nothing major, but memorable enough for him to use as an example about not succumbing to peer pressure when I was in junior high. (I'd been in a little trouble.) It wasn't until high school that my Dad's friend Pat would be anything but an old story. But, when I was 14, I bought my first surfboard and started started surfing, my Dad would tell me that his old friend Pat rode some big waves in his day, and said something along the lines of "if you ever hear of Pat Curren, that's the guy I hung around with." Curren, I would soon learn, was a prominent big wave surfer in the fifties. Yet, the more his name popped up in surfing books, or an odd oldie clip in a surf movie, the more I started to doubt that my Dad had actually been that good of pals with him. They just seemed so different. Curren was known for riding massive Waimea Bay fearlessly, at the same time my Dad was an ordinary suburban guy starting a family. Nevertheless, the former friend Pat stories kind of faded out, so the incongruity was never discussed.



Fast forward to the nineties. My Dad was visiting Mexico quite a bit. Long since divorced, he'd go down with his girlfriend, Mickey. Even after they broke up, they remained best buds, and continued to travel together. On one trip, I think it was in Cabo San Lucas, they became separated while in town. Tired of looking for my Dad, Mikey went into a bar to have a beer. There was an American there in the bar, and small talk was initiated. It turns out that the guy, roughly my Dad's age, had spent some of his teen years in Mission Beach. He gave Mickey a note to give to my Dad. She read it, and put it away to give to him later. When she eventually found him, she gave him the note. Unsigned, it read, (slightly paraphrasing) "I'll never forgive you for punching me in [teacher]'s class." My Dad, ten types of worked up, said "Curren's here?!?!" The note was from Pat Curren. I'm not sure, but think I remember that they met later that night to reminisce. Regardless, it just reminded me to keep stories, like my Dad's, open ended.



On a totally unrelated day, roughly around 2004, I was in a store somewhere that had cheap cassette tapes. They had a Nat King Cole tape that was about three of four bucks. My Mom kind of liked Nat King Cole, and I was on my way to her house, so I bought it. When I gave it to her she seemed delighted, reading the cover while we're talking. She put it on, and after several minutes, as one song started, she stood up, walked over to the stereo, and turned it up. It was unlike her. It was as if she was being transported. She got a smile on her face, and started quietly singing along. After the song ended she said that it reminded her of the first boy who ever kissed her. He'd been kicked out of another high school, and was way more experienced, but it was memorable to her. She said that the song reminded her of him, because he had unruly hair, and was often barefoot. That particular song was was a hit for Nat King Cole a few years earlier, and the boy seemed to fit her interpretation of it. Then, she said "It was Pat Curren." At this point, I'm half blown away, and half questioning whether or not she's pulling my leg. But, as she went into more detail, I could see her sincerity. "Did you ever tell Dad?" I asked. She said that she hadn't, because it never came up. It was then I realized that she hadn't heard the stories that my Dad had told, because it was driveway talk. Dad and son type shit. And she really didn't have a clue how respected Curren was in the annals of surfing; not at all. To her, he was just Nature Boy.



Notes: What prompted this whole thing was a video on Aquarium Drunkard (tonight's chance visit). It was a band called Dirty Gold, and the song (nice, a little soft for my tastes), was "California Sunrise". The video uses a lot of old surf footage, and Curren is seen a couple times (at 1:48, dark hair and beard, and again at 2:45, face down, asleep.) The three photos, that are not of Nat King Cole, are Curren; two from back in the day and the bottom one more current.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Nat King Cole - Nature Boy mp3 at All-Art.org
Nature Boy, song entry at Wikipedia
Dirty Gold - California Sunrise video and blurb at Aquarium Drunkard
Dirty Gold - California Sunrise video at YouTube
Pat Curren, #45 of 50 Greatest Surfers of All Time at Surfer Magazine
Pat Curren Page at Legendary Surfers

Monday, January 17, 2011

MAN AND GUITAR


How could I have possibly not posted Mississippi Fred McDowell? Here's a couple versions of "You Got To Move", because that's probably the one McDowell song that most people might know. (And, of course, it's cheap bait to attract Stones fiends.) I'm certain you'll like them, and the other songs too. If you don't, you should probably skip the blues altogether...or just start with the awesome videos. (They really are awesome. I must be that age...I'm just flat out amazed at the availability of stuff that I never dreamed of seeing.)



A couple notes: The songs from Hell Hound On My Trail can be previewed, streaming, here. And, you really ought to read the nifty write up at Boogie Woogie Flu.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Mississippi Fred McDowell - You Got To Move (1965) mp3 at Hell Hound On My Trail
Mississippi Fred McDowell - You Got To Move (1971, live) mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
Mississippi Fred McDowell - You Gonna Be Sorry (1964) mp3 at Hell Hound On My Trail
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Been Drinkin' Water Out of a Hollow Log (1959) mp3 at Hellhound On My Trail
Mississippi Fred McDowell - 61 Highway (1964) mp3 at Hell Hound On My Trail
Mississippi Fred McDowell - A dozen more mp3s at Hell Hound On My Trail
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Someday Baby (1971, live) mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Get Right Church (1971, live) mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Red Cross Store (1971, live) mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
Mississippi Fred McDowell - When the Saints Go Marching In (1971, live) mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu
Watch:
Mississippi Fred McDowell - John Henry video at YouTube
Mississipi Fred McDowell - Clip from Blues Maker, video at YouTube

Sunday, January 16, 2011

CLOCKED OUT


Last night, when I'd normally be plugging away at some sort of post, I got kind of sidetracked. It started inauspiciously enough, just poking around looking for an idea of something to post. I happened upon a post about Rocket From the Crypt, which led to breaking out some of their records, and then watching a little of the DVD of their final show. Before I knew it it was 10:00 and time for the Swami, a radio show on San Diego's FM94.9, hosted by RFTC singer/guitarist John "Speedo" Reis, aka the Swami. It's a weekly mish-mash of way out and wild sounds from all eras & all genres, and it's the best three hours of radio you'll listen to all week. (A sample playlist can be found here). By 1:00, when the show, and my fucking around, ended, I decided that I'd leave a Rocket post for another day. I woke up this morning, and dang me if it wasn't another day.

I'd put off doing a post about Rocket From the Crypt for a while. I'm not nuts about doing posts about bands that I know members of, because it opens the subjective can of worms. (So, full disclosure: I count a couple of the members of Rocket as friends, the kind that you can shoot the shit about music with, and I mean music in it's broadest sense.) Another reason is that it would be hard to fit in everything in one post. Because, I'm of the opinion that Rocket From the Crypt is the best rock n' roll band to come out of San Diego, (are you ready for this?) ever.



Though I'll cop to being a little subjective, when the objectivity hat goes on, they still come out winners. There really aren't a whole lot of bands that you can compare them to. They had the energy of a punk band, but weren't. They had horns, in a band that rocked hard (none of the Jersey shuffle stuff). The song writing was good, and there were enough in-jokes to keep even the most obsessive fiend busy. And they had Reis' voice, a raspy sneer, the type that made the 60's garage bands sound so anti-pop (as Wesley Willis once documented in song "Speedo can really sing!", which they copped on "Born In '69"). They lasted all of seven or so years, but in that time put out a fuck load of records, so many that their official web site threw it's hands up at having a complete discography.



That's another thing. The sound and efforts of their recordings vary wildly. There were some records, particularly the 45s put out by Sympathy For The Record Industry. that went from studio to vinyl in a matter of weeks. Timetables prevented over thinking things, and the immediacy of those records were reflected in raw productions. Then there's the "Scream, Dracula, Scream" LP, their first for a major label, Interscope. Interscope threw the bank at them, funding long top notch recording sessions (and a free tour, in which every gig was paid for by the label). The LP was produced by Reis (with mixing assistance from a few others) and he went all out; there were strings, brass (obviously), accordion, percussion gizmos, and big, loud, arrangements. The sound was thick and layered. Let me put it this way: Before it was released, Reis invited me and, then road manager, Max Bristol (of Flapping Jet Records and the Widows) over for a impromptu listening party. His audio set up was pretty damn dynamic, and as we had Reis annotating different parts as we were listening, it would be reasonable to think that, by the end of the night, we'd have heard everything, right? That wasn't the case, because after it came out and I had a copy, I was still picking out things I hadn't heard before. I'd go into more detail, but if you really listen to music, you'll know what I mean. Pick it apart, it's fun.



Live, oh boy, it was a show, let me tell you. They were were tight, a well oiled machine, and the songs went from one to the next at breakneck speed. When there was between song banter, it was usually something along the lines of "Anybody here from Florida? (Cheers) I hate Florida." Reis could be deceptively corny, for example saying "here's my solo," playing an errant solo, and finishing it with "did you like that?" And, there was action up there as well. The unofficial effort indicator in these parts is horn player sweat. That is to say, if the horn players are sweaty, then you know the whole band is working it. The horn players sweated.


Live, three songs in less than five minutes.

Even with all of the above blabbing, it's really just scratching the surface of the band. A lot could be added. There's the varying matching outfits that they wore at almost every live gig. The fact that they almost never gave a straight answer in an interview. The nicknames, which were used on just about every piece of written material about the band. The touring antics (of which I've heard a few). Their Halloween gigs, which were always big events (their last gig was on Halloween, recorded and filmed for the "RIP" two-fer swan song package). And there's Reis' other projects; he was in Rocket, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes simultaneously, and was in earlier and later bands Pitchfork, the Sultans, and his current band, the Night Marchers; not to mention his record label and way-rad radio show.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Listen:
Rocket From the Crypt - This Way Out mp3 at Headphone Music Recordings
Rocket From the Crypt - Pigeon Eater mp3 (via Box.net) at Sonic Masala
Rocket From the Crypt - Fat Lip mp3 at Buzzgrinder
Rocket From the Crypt - Chariots On Fire mp3 at Headphone Music Recordings
Rocket From the Crypt - Strudy Wrist at Recidivism (Direct linking to mp3 disabled, scroll to bottom of post.)
Rocket From the Crypt - When In Rome at Recidivism (Direct linking to mp3 disabled, scroll to bottom of post.)
Rocket From the Crypt - Bucket of Piss (live, Vancover 03) mp3 at Transmission 3000
Rocket From the Crypt - Young Livers (live, UK 98) mp3 at Transmission 3000
Rocket From the Crypt - Middle (live, San Diego 01) mp3 at Transmission 3000
Full live sets:
Eight live sets at Transmision3000: Over 100 idividual mp3s from shows in San Diego, Vancouver, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK.
Radio:
Swami Sound System (Live, Saturdays 10 PM-1 AM, Pacific Time) at FM94.9 SD
From the Swami Records stable:
Drive Like Jehu - Do You Compute (live) mp3 at Swami Records
Beehive & the Barracudas - Erotic mp3 at Swami Records
The White Apes - Ghundi Crawl at Swami Records
Watch:
Rocket From the Crypt - On A Rope (official) video at YouTube
Rocket From the Crypt - I'm Not Invisible (U.S. TV appearance) at YouTube
Rocket From the Crypt - Born In '69 (French TV appearance) at YouTube
Rocket From the Crypt - On A Rope (UK TV appearance) at YouTube
Rocket From the Crypt - Bring Us Bullets (San Diego TV appearance) at YouTube
Rocket From the Crypt - On A Rope (final live show) at YouTube
The Hot Snakes - Brain Trust video (Windows) (Quicktime) at Swami Records
Read/visit:
Rocket From the Crypt at Wikipedia
John Reis interview at Self-Titled
Rocket From the Crypt official (and no longer updated) site
Swami Records Official site

Friday, January 14, 2011

GIVE THE PRODUCER SOME



Following yesterdays post about the Evasions' "Lost Studio Sessions", this morning I received a message from David Doyle, who I know from years ago as the bass player of the Unknowns, a San Diego band from the early 80s. Back then, his band mate, Mark Neill, was just starting to record other bands, with equipment that was considered dated, though Neill's template was studios of the past, and his get-up intentional. That was a long time ago. After years of plugging away, recording scores of bands, Neill is finally getting his due recognition. You see, now Neill is officially recognized as hot shit, having produced the Black Keys' "Brothers" LP (of which, I presume, you've heard a song or two).



Doyle asked me if the Evasions' sessions were the same sessions that Neill recorded in a garage of band friend, Chris Davies (guitarist for another local band, the Penetrators). So, I asked about the type of tape Neill preferred back then, and after speaking with Neill, he answered that the tape reel would be either Ampex, or Radio Shack. The Evasions tape was indeed in an Ampex box, and Neill also confirmed recording one song ("Exodus") that was on the tape, but wasn't posted yesterday. So, the Evasions songs in yesterdays post were recorded by, I'll say it, hot shit producer Mark Neill. The songs are from roughly 1980 or 81, so they are some of Neill's earliest work. But, really, just a blip for Neill, who has recorded a fuckload of names you may or may not recognize: Deke Dickerson, Big Sandy, Rip Carson, the Paladins, Billy Zoom, Carl Rusk, the Tell-Tale Hearts, Los Straightjackets, Ricky Nelson, and his own band, the Unknowns. Oh yeah, he also helped Liam Watson set up Toe Rag Studio, which was where the White Stripes "Elephant" was recorded.



Recording notes about the Evasions songs in the previous post, and "Exodus" below, from David Doyle (added 1/15/2011): "In a conversation today, Mark mentioned he had never heard these tracks on actual speakers and only had a pair of David Clark headphones that I had loaned him at the time to listen and mix these tracks on! Also he is grateful to have the opportunity to hear them after all these years and sends his regards. I thought it was a Fender reverb unit he was using but it was the reverb in the Kustom PA head he was using to mix with! He also remembered only having enough mics for the drums and guitars and took the bass direct..."

Here's a sampling of Neill's work. A few notes: Doyle also said that Neill remembered the bass amp blowing during the recording of the Evasions' "Exodus", but there were a couple takes on the master, so the one below is most definitely not the final amp-blowing take. And the two Tell-Tale Hearts songs were recorded by both Doyle and Neill. To learn a whole lot more about Neill, I recommend the interview, and partial discography (extensive as it is), both completely honorable time sucks. Finally, a big fat thank you is due Doyle, for being invaluable in connecting the dots.

~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~
Listen:
The Evasions - Exodus mp3
The Tell-Tale Hearts - It's Not Me mp3 at Mr. Suave
The Tell-Tale Hearts - I Get Up In the Morning mp3 at the Che Underground
The Unknowns - Flip Your Switch mp3 at the Che Underground
Dan Auerbach - Heartbroken In Disrepair mp3 at Giant Panther
Dan Auerbach - Trouble Weighs A Ton mp3 at Quiet Color
The Black Keys - Next Girl mp3 at Jonk Music
The Black Keys - Chop and Change mp3 (via Box.net) at JP's Blog
The Black Keys - The Wicked Messenger mp3 (via Box.net) at JP's Blog
Read:
Interview with Mark Neil, producer at The Black Keys Fan Lounge
Soil of the South Recording Studio
Mark Neill - Incomplete (but exstensive) discography with song snippets
Mark Neill's Facebook
Previous post (1/11) about the Evasions
Previous post (12/09) about Neill and the Black Keys
The Unknowns at the Che Underground
The Tell-Tale Hearts at Che Underground
The Black Keys official site
The Black Keys Breakthrough Year: Here's How They Did It at the Chicago Tribune