Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ringtone beats Coldplay

Damn, this is so funny I had to share. Coldplay should have been worrying more about cellphones instead of their precious new album leaking. Ha-ha-ha!!!

Building A Better Rat Trap


I’ve been meaning to write about the Boomtown Rats for some while and today’s big Live 8 announcement seems like an opportune time. People are actually thinking about Sir Geldof again. It feels like it’s been twenty years or something, yes? This Live 8 concert series happens to coincide with the re-release of the Boomtown Rats catalog. Is this a coincidence or a conspiracy? I’ll let you be the judge. My only comment for Live 8 is they should let the Spice Girls play! How can Mary J. Blige or Destiny’s Child be considered more political? Here’s the announced concert line-ups so you can click and see for yourselves. But the point of this post is not to criticize Live 8 (at least not much), but to talk about one song from the Boomtown Rats first album.

Like “Mary Of The 4th Form”, “Joey’s On The Street Again” was good enough to be included on the US release of their second album, Tonic For The Troops. “Joey…” was so good it didn’t even have to be re-recorded. It was a song that seemed like it could have come from Springsteen’s Born To Run album, though Geldof claimed he didn’t nick any ideas from Bruce since he had never heard any of his music. I can accept that. Just because a song tells a story about street life and has a saxophone taking a solo doesn’t mean it’s all because of the Boss or Clarence Clemmons. Further tracing might lead to West Side Story and then to James Dean and then to Marlon Brando in The Wild One. The romantic rebel is a well worn archetype. “Joey’s On The Street Again” proceeds to turn that archetype right on its head with a post-modern shakedown.

The first verse begins appropriately at a rock and roll show. It had to be one hell of a show since “dawn was breaking” when Joey decides to sneak in and check it out. I’ve tried to pretend I was with the band to get in for free and it never worked, but Joey “never used to pay” and get away with it. The next verse is one of the finest portraits of loneliness out there: “he was no great draw at pulling the chicks, he used to lie against the wall like he was holding up the bricks” – and soon after we learn that Joey is a legend to the neighborhood kids. He is a loner, a romantic rebel to be admired, but never gotten too close too. Anytime something crazy happens he gets the blame whether he was responsible or not.

That kind of societal pressure can wear on a man. So by verse two we find out that Joey has grown older “without a cause”, so he decides to stop rebelling. Society has beaten him down. He gets married, has kids, and gets a job. Still he gets into “brushes with the law.” They probably wouldn’t let the man have any peace as he walked the straight and narrow. The things you do as an adolescent and young adult can haunt you the rest of your life. A romantic rebel who flames out gets everybody’s awe, but one who settles down gets antagonized if he doesn’t merit just pity.

Joey doesn’t take it. He cracks and goes back to his life as a loner. There’s no warning. He just says he’s “leaving” one day. He disappears completely, although rumors start spreading from people who said “they’d seen him, they were nearly always wrong.” Here’s where Joey takes a mysterious turn in the song. A “rumor, floating from the docks, saying a crazy stranger had been found lying among the rock” suddenly makes the rounds which either means they think Joey killed this man, or perhaps the crazy stranger was Joey himself? The first scenario is far more likely as the chorus kicks in again to remind us that Joey was considered crazy after all, plus everybody knew Joey.

It’s hard to say if Joey knew he was a legend to the younger kids. He seemed too insular and aloof to have been that big on socializing. A romantic rebel is not going to conform to anything or anybody. He was a legend though, as much for his crazy actions as for his absence from what’s likely to have been the city of Dublin, since this was where the Boomtown Rats were based. After he leaves his admirers begin to question why they are hanging around. The city with its alleys and dirt stink. There are too many people packed in like sardines, a person can barely find room to have a quiet time to think. Maybe Joey’s life has inspired others to get out before they get completely beaten, before they end up like the characters in Geldof’s first number one hit, “Rat Trap” do.

That inspiration may be enough to redeem Joey but we all know the rebel archetype always gets it in the end. Where would the glamour be if they didn’t live fast and die young? Joey doesn’t end up dead though, he just ends up missing. Maybe he couldn’t take either lifestyle. Maybe he was just a “crazy cat” and nothing more. Joey’s fate is left up to the listener’s imaginations. It’s up to you to decide whether Joey was a rebel to admire or just another low life chump chewed up and spit out by both proper society and the underground.

That seems easy enough. He’s got to be a romantic rebel worthy of our idolatry, right? The way the song has just told his life, those uplifting choruses you can’t help but sing along with – crazy cats are worshipped in rock and roll. That Dionysian urge is where it’s at. Until you run into the existential mojo of the 20th Century smacking you right upside the head. Because Geldof gets it – the implicit quaking fear at the heart of the romantic rebel’s being – the sad fact that there’s a real good chance that as my favorite poet named Shelley (Pete, that is) sang, “there is no love in this world anymore.” Geldof beat Shelley to the punch with the ending lines of “Joey’s On The Street Again” with “don't believe it, don't believe it what they say on TV, there's no romance, no romance, for Joey in this city.” There’s no romance for us either. Taken to heart, we see that Joey’s story is just simply depressing – neither hero nor chump is he. The ending of the song is like being beaten in the head with a hammer. After building Joey up in our minds, it’s a complete shocker of an ending and it hurts, but perhaps it’s a hurt we needed.

All of the Boomtown Rats albums have been recently re-issued so for those with money – go buy them. If you’re like me – you’ll just pull out the original records and shake the walls.

Here are the complete lyrics of "Joey's On The Street Again"

Sooner or later when the dawn was breaking
The joint was jumping and the walls were shaking
Joey sneaked in the backdoor way
Pretending he was with the band, he never used to pay
He was no great draw at pulling the chicks
He used to lie against the wall like he was holding up the bricks
And all the things that guy used to do to get his kicks
He was a legend in his lifetime with the neighborhood kids

They said "Joey did this" and "Joey did that"
Oh that guy was crazy, what a crazy cat
Then something strange would happen, there's trouble on the way
And trouble only means one thing....
Joey's on the street again.

Joey grew older, older without a cause
Got married, had some kids and had his brushes with the law
Settled down and got a job, then said "I'm leaving" one day
"I've gotta hang loose a while, take care while I'm away."
People said they'd seen him, they were nearly always wrong
'Cause no one knew how much he had, where he'd gone or for how long
'Til one day there came a rumor, floating from the docks
Saying a crazy stranger had been found lying among the rocks.

The said "Joey was this" and "Joey was that"
Oh that guy was crazy, what a crazy cat
But no one quite believed it, all rumors are the same
And now if something happens they say....
Joey's on the street again.

When Joey moved away
A lot of the kids said "I can't stay around here"
They said "I'm moving out, going away
They said "I'm leaving, getting out
"I'm gonna go somewhere where it doesn't stink
Away from the alleys, somewhere I can think
Wash the dirt from my hands, watch it wash down the sink
It's a strain on the brain living close to the brink

Look at the brickwall gravestone where some kid was sprayed
Saying nobody could be bothered here to rule O.K.
Don't believe it, don't believe it what they say on TV
There's no romance, no romance
For Joey in this city.

I snagged the lyrics from this good Boomtown Rats fan site.

Wally's Old Record Collection Part Two

Once again, it’s time to tromp through the past here at Soulfish Stew. Here’s the second part of the list I made in 1986 of the records I owned. Keep in mind, it’s just records. I had every Doors album with Morrison, but most were on cassette. We pick up the list at number 35.

35. Josie Cotton – Convertible Music
36. John Cougar – The Collection
37. John Cougar – The Kid Inside
38. John Cougar
39. John Cougar – American Fool
40. John Cougar Mellencamp – Uh-Huh
41. John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow
42. Damned – Damned But Not Forgotten
43. Damned – Phantasmagoria
44. Damned – Eloise EP
45. Danny And Dusty – The Lost Weekend
46. Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters
47. Dead Kennedys – Frankenchrist
48. Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard In My Back Yard
49. Debut LP / Magazine Compilation
50. Diet Plan – The Melting Pot EP
51. Doctor’s Mob – Headache Machine
52. Dokken – Breaking The Chains
53. Donovan’s Greatest Hits
54. The Doors – The Soft Parade
55. The Doors – Other Voices
56. Dream Syndicate – Medicine Show
57. The Dukes Of Stratosphear – 25 O’Clock
58. Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A Changin’
59. Bob Dylan – Empire Burlesque
60. EBN-OZN – Feeling Cavalier
61. Echo And The Bunnymen – Crocodiles
62. Echo And The Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
63. Echo And The Bunnymen – Porcupine
64. Fabulous Poodles – Think Pink
65. Fear – More Beer
66. Flamin’ Groovies – Supersnazz
67. Flamin’ Groovies – Now
68. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome

The notables:

I guess it was his small town loser charm, or perhaps his rebellious streak, but I was a huge John Cougar fan for many years. “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” was one of my 8th grade roller rink favorites, but it was the one-two punch of “Hurts So Good” and “Jack And Diane” from American Fool that not only bowled me over, but all of America too. My cousin Freddy along with his cousin, Boo on his mother’s side, invented a dance to “Jack And Diane” that was amusing primarily because they were mishearing the lyric, “let the Bible Belt” as “let the ball bounce” although now that I’m older I’m beginning to wonder if Boo wasn’t some romantic ideal of Freddy’s. This is the South after all. My retrospect take on Cougar’s huge success then – catchy songs about everyday folks, and the huge Don Gehman produced drum sound of Kenny Aronoff’s was the key.

I bought most of my records at the Cat’s store in Murfreesboro. It had a tremendous import section and the staff was knowledgeable and friendly. The best clerk was Jim Ridley who is now known best as the Nashville Scene’s resident movie reviewer. He used to write film reviews for a local Murfreesboro paper when he was still in junior high school so it’s no surprise that’s what he does for a living. He used to write more about music and I wish he still did since it was his guidance that led me to so many great things. I don’t know if the Dead Milkmen’s Big Lizard In My Back Yard could be considered great, but he’s to blame for that purchase. It was a typical Friday night for me as I stopped in at Cat’s to wait for my friends to meet me. All of a sudden I heard this dialogue over the speakers between a couple of friends discussing the new Camaro one had just gotten – yep it was my first hearing of “Bitchin’ Camaro” and I thought it was the funniest stupid punk stuff ever. Jim was the one who had put it on. He didn’t get to hear all of it because he had to sell it to me on the spot. Soon “Bitchin’ Camaro” became the college radio hit of the summer and fall of 1985 and I’ve never tired of it.

I wonder if I’m one of the few people around who owns a Diet Plan record. They opened for the White Animals at Cantrell’s back in May of 1985. I thought they were pretty cool so I bought their record. It’s still pretty cool, very typical mid-80’s New Wave music. They were from Boulder, Colorado. If anybody out there knows what happened to them, drop me a line.

I wasn’t just a New Wave and punk fan. My first real love was metal. I felt like an outcast and metal was my soundtrack of alienation. In those pre-internet days it was hard to always find the metal and we were all starved for it. We’d stay up late on Sunday night’s just to hear Metal Shop on the radio. My school notebooks were emblazoned with every metal band’s names that I could think of whether I had heard them or not. A junior college outside of Nashville had a metal radio show and if the weather was just right you could get their weak signal. When that good fortune occurred, my friend Gonz would tape the shows. One night he recorded the show and the best song was by the new band Dokken. It was a live track called “Paris Is Burning” and it just blew us away for some reason. I went out and bought Breaking The Chains and it didn’t take too long to see that our enthusiasm was unwarranted. Hair metal by the numbers was well on its way to ruining metal for many years. I turned to punk rock for aggressive music without a second thought. Thanks Dokken!

We'll traipse through more of my record collection circa 1986 next week as we go from Generation X to The Lovin' Spoonful.

Just Priceless

This is what makes writing reviews so rewarding. Here's a comment on my recent Oasis review from over at Blogcritics:

Comments: I suggest you don\'t let the guy who wrote the review about DBTT ever write a single review ever again. He is a loser who wouldn\'t know good music if it jumped up and started dancing before his eyes. The new Oasis album is quality, better than any album by Keane, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand or any other joke band out now. Oasis were and still are the best band that has been for the past 10 years. I think it will be a very long time before we see a band that almost as good as Oasis.


Funny, since I never once mentioned Keane, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand or joke bands in the review. The poster just assumed I liked those bands which is really a stupid assumption. And just because the new Oasis is better than those groups still won't make it good.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Have a good weekend and remember Memorial Day

Don't look for anything new here until Tuesday. I am going to enjoy some much needed downtime. Have a happy and safe three day weekend, and make you sure you take some time out on Monday to remember those who've given their lives so we could enjoy ours.

Eddie Albert RIP

Eddie Albert - star of one of my all-time favorite show, Green Acres, has died at the age of 99. I was just watching the rerun of The Longest Yard last night and marveling at how tough and mean he acted as the warden.

CD Review: The Jan Martens Frustration


The Jan Martens Frustration are from Gothenburg, Sweden joining a fine line of heavy Swedish acts to make waves here like The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and their forerunner Union Carbide Productions, The Hellacopters, and The Nomads. This self-titled CD collects also features all the tracks from the band’s debut H Bomb Club EP. They’ve been labeled garage rockers, but they sound too heavy for that. I’d call it fallout shelter rock instead.

Garage bands also don’t groove like these guys do. It’s that TSOOL groove – riffs written loud and large alongside a prowling and surly bass. The trouble is that The Jan Martens Frustration isn’t as experienced as TSOOL in song writing. Too many songs just fail to ignite, instead they just puff along with the same tempo until ill advised bridge sections stop them cold for thirty seconds before resuming with the groove. It might be somebody’s cup of tea, but not mine. Heavy music needs to not only thud, but to explode at some point. How about changing the flow? Or delivering a blistering guitar solo that takes a tune into the stratosphere? I found myself thinking those thoughts too often during this album.

There were some songs that rose above the others. I liked the synthesizer on “Dead Weight” because it reminded me of “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East. I thought both “Through The Fence” and “Catch As Catch Can” had single possibilities. “Get Along, Get Together” rocks out like vintage Spirit. I wish that the Mark Lanegan style vocal channeled on the chorus of “Convolutions” had been used more often. “Linger On” was a highlight just for the fact that only a band whose first language isn’t English would come up with such a laughable line for a chorus. “Lingering on” doesn’t really posit a sign of strength does it.

The Jan Martens Frustration gets a passing mark for trying, but they need to go listen to TSOOL a little bit more before making their next record. If they want to be more garage, I suggest their countrymen, The Hives. If that doesn’t work out, they can always find a couple of ladies and become Abba. You can find The Jan Martens Frustration CD at the Hidden Agenda wing of Parasol Records and possibly Ikea.

1979 Flashback - The Records Live


British power pop legends, The Records, are still going strong as John Wicks And The Records. They've generously made available a couple of live shows from 1979 at their website (they're not on the MP3 page - they are on the News page). If you've never got to hear the thrill of "Starry Eyes", "Teenarama", or "Affection Rejected" (and that's just for starters) or if you're a lifelong fan, be sure to stop by and get some free and legal music!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

CD Review: The Orange Peels - Circling The Sun

Cosmic skies, Palo Alto, ankle bracelets, broken promises, melancholy mornings, and a sun swallowing ocean all come to mind with this latest release, Circling The Sun, by The Orange Peels. I could play word association games forever, but I’m sure you just want to know what this latest permutation of what’s called The California Sound sounds like and whether it will change your life. One thing it doesn’t sound like is The Eagles so there’s no need to worry about being stuck in the “Hotel California” here. It also doesn’t sound like The Beach Boys. It actually sounds like mid-80’s Prefab Sprout or Dream Academy mixed with a good dose of Hoodoo Gurus.

There’s an elegant and dreamy feel to album opener, “Something In You”, that’s evocative enough it could be used in a Volkswagen commercial. “California Blue” is next up with chiming guitars framing a bittersweet tale – “I turned off my colored world and just faded to gray” – this is a California that’s not always sunny and fair. The Orange Peels recall the underrated band, Deathray, on the churning title cut, “Circling The Sun”, a straight ahead rocker with maudlin lyrics. The pristine piano line on “So Right” reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne’s “You Can’t Kill Rock And Roll” which I’m sure was unintended, but still a pleasure to hear for this rock scribe. Just when you think the album is degenerating into simple mope rock, see “Long Cold Summer” for reference, they come right back with a song that could have been a Hoodoo Gurus outtake with “What’s It Like Mary Jo?” which is easily the peppiest song on Circling The Sun.

I don't reckon the record will change your life, but it will provide a good soundtrack for the summer when the ebullience is just too much for you. The album will be released June 14th and the band will be playing a record release party on June 16th at Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco. Circling The Sun is available through the always stellar Parasol Records.


More Detail On The Arrests

WMCTV 5 has more info on the arrests made this morning. It appears to be a violation of The Hobbs Act, which is what I suspected. The press conference should be happening as I type, but I haven't been able to find anything on the net. I'll put a link to a transcript up when I get the chance. I know, you normally don't find lots of politics here, but this is a HUGE deal.

Okay, I haven't got a transcript, but the Soulfish wife says there wasn't much forthcoming from the FBI in Memphis. News Channel 5 in Nashville does have copies of the indictments. It's some fascinating reading for what will likely be dubbed E-Cyclegate.

Here are the links:

USA v. John Ford
USA v. Roscoe Dixon and Barry Myers
USA v. Kathrn Bowers and Barry Myers
USA v. Ward Crutchfield and Charles Love
USA v. Chris Newton and Charles Love

Is it mean of me to wish that Jimmy Naifeh is involved too? And wasn't the Republican charged in this sting one of the one's that enabled the Democrat Wilder to keep power even though the Republicans were the majority? I feel like Arsenio from back in the day, this is a thing that makes me go hmmmmm.

Bi-Partisan Sting

4 of Tennessee's legislators have been arrested today. Few details have emerged, but the story can be read here. I believe they were arrested for using public office for personal gain. If that's the case they probably should haul off every one of the legislators in Nashville.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CD Review: Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth


The truth is that the new Oasis album is more of the same stuff they’ve been peddling ever since Be Here Now – medium tempo rock that’s moderately catchy, lyrically lame, and a diminishment of the reputation built from their first two albums. Don’t Believe The Truth is being heralded as a return to form by their record company, but that’s what they’ve been saying for each new Oasis release. It’s as if they can’t accept that Britpop is dead, so they haul out the corpse periodically for rock critics to either chant curses or poetry over while the general population yawns and buys the latest hip hop album. I was hoping Oasis could be Sally Field for a day with this new one – I really wanted to like them, I really did.

Part of the hype surrounding Don’t Believe The Truth is how Oasis is now a true band with all the members contributing songs to the cause (with the exception of poor little Zak Starkey who barely rates a mention on the drum). As with Heathen Chemistry this is not necessarily a good thing. The opening track, “Turn Up The Sun”, was composed by Andy Bell and it is as boring as anything in his old band Ride’s catalog. I guess it could be called shoe-geezer rock. One of the frustrating things about Oasis is how they almost come up with a good song every so often – take “Mucky Fingers” for example: we have a Velvet Underground meets Mott The Hoople style tune that could have really stirred things up, but instead it just paces the floor for a few minutes before disappearing leaving you with that I’ve heard that song before sinister similarity. At least it rings true lyrically – as long as Oasis are on about me, me, me you’re on solid ground since narcissism is their greatest strength.

When they start delving into love, rest assured you’ll get lots of cheap bromides or even worse like “you turn me on, your love’s like a bomb, blowing my mind” from “Love Like A Bomb’ which turns a likeable enough tune cringeworthy. What little they’ve learned of love came from the Beatles and you’d think mining that rich shaft would yield something better than “Let There Be Love”; yet another five plus minute clunker in the Oasis songbook that trys so hard to be an anthem you begin to wonder if the Gallagher’s are hoping somebody will knit them a flag or something. I don’t know who “kicked a hole in the sky so the heavens could cry over” them, but I sure wish they would stop. I’m starting to wonder if Bonehead wasn’t the brains behind the whole operation.

The album’s first single, “Lyla”, has been touted by Noel as being, “… the soundtrack of our lives doing The Who on Skol in a psychedelic city in the sky (or something...”, but I don’t hear it, though an argument could likely be made comparing the track to It’s Hard era Who. In its defense, it has hit no. 1 in the UK. When your main influences seems to be The Beatles and Slade you know there has to be some good stuff on the record too. I thought “The Importance Of Being Idle” was nice in a Kinks “Sunny Afternoon” vein although I doubt Noel would be satisfied merely with “..,a bed beneath the stars that shine” but the line about him being lazy was funny. “The Meaning Of Soul” is a brief, frenetic surprise from a band known more for overindulgence. Andy Bell’s “Keep The Dream Alive” is too long, but it is pretty.

So Don’t Believe The Truth continues the Oasis story along in a non-spectacular way, but what was I really expecting. At the height of Britpop one could be forgiven for thinking Oasis might end up as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. Who could have known that they’d just end up being the next Wishbone Ash churning out lackluster album after album? Their own shadow looms large and perhaps it's unfair to think they’re capable of capturing the essence of their former spark and I should just accept what they’re giving – mildly engaging derivative rock and roll. In a world where rock and roll music is quickly becoming just another marginalized genre another disappointing record from Oasis is still better than nothing if you're bored enough.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

CD Review: Fall In Love All Over Again With Col. Knowledge & The Lickity Splits


When I got the Col. Knowledge & The Lickity Splits CD in the mail, my first reaction was what a stupid name for a band. After reading the promotional material I was more intrigued – Col. Knowledge had done the entire record using the most primitive of methods hoping to break out of Athens, Georgia into the big time. It just might work if the world suddenly goes crazy for pop garage Sixties revisionist rock and roll.

Col. Knowledge is a hit in the world I inhabit, however narrow it may be, despite the goofy name. The guys, all in their 20’s, that make up the group must lead interesting lives. They’ve managed to completely miss the pernicious influence of modern rock to craft an album that is sublime as anything Herb Alpert was able to unleash during the 6th decade of the 20th Century. Okay, I’m stretching it with Alpert, but there is a credit for brass on the record.

The music is the throwback jersey you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford. It recalls British psychedelic mavens The Move at their earliest and lightest stage. The songs are full of little whirling moments with carnival organ sounds and lights. It’s all over the top. The songs are played with such verve, there’s an unaffected genuine appeal that’s often missing from revivalists. Tim Schreiber’s vocals are completely self assured going from tenor to falsetto with each change of tempo, a thrill ride pleasant rush in garage land one second and the soul kitchen the next. At times I pictured The Osmonds with Vic Mizzy sitting in for a jam session, but don’t let my addled mind scare you. Make your way over to the Col. Knowledge site and listen to some samples from the album.

So pick up the Col. Knowledge album from Alive Records and prepare to fall in love all over again with rock and roll in its purest form.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wally's Old Record Collection

Ever since I got my first job (it was at McDonalds) I’ve blown most of my disposable income on records. I started working in the spring of my senior year in high school and it has been 20 years since I graduated from Riverdale (the class of 85…our class slogan was “Alive In ‘85” to which I would add “Dead In ‘86” since I was fancying myself as a nihilist). I’ve been wrestling with all sorts of ways to commemorate that time frame here and I finally decided to just put up a list of all my records that I made early in 1986. This first of many, many entries will cover The Bangles to The Clash. I’m holding this list to just vinyl – no tapes, if you wonder why you don’t see things I’ve waxed rhapsodic about in the past it’s probably because I had it on cassette. A few comments will follow the list below.

1. The Bangles – All Over The Place
2. Battered Wives
3. The Beatles – Rubber Soul
4. The Beatles - Revolver
5. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
6. The Beatles – Reel Music
7. Chuck Berry – Johhny B. Goode
8. Big Country – Steeltown
9. Black Flag – Everything Went Black
10. Black Flag – Damaged
11. Black Flag – My War
12. Black Flag – Slip It In
13. Black Flag – Loose Nut
14. Black Flag – In My Head
15. Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality
16. Black Sabbath – We Sold Our Souls To Rock And Roll
17. The Blasting Concept II
18. Blondie – Parallel Lines
19. Blondie – Eat To The Beat
20. The Breakfast Club Soundtrack
21. Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
22. Camper Van Beethoven – Telephone Free Landslide Victory
23. Joe “King” Carrasco – Party Weekend
24. Cheap Trick – At Budokan
25. Circle Jerks – Group Sex
26. Circle Jerks – Wild In The Streets
27. Circle Jerks – Wonderful
28. City Without A Subway
29. The Clash
30. The Clash – Black Market Clash
31. The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope
32. The Clash – London Calling
33. The Clash – Sandinista!
34. The Clash – Combat Rock

The notables: Rubber Soul was and still is my favorite Beatles album, the British version. In the summer of 1985 I took it to a party the assistant manager of McDonalds was throwing and Linda was nice enough to put it on. It was the Beatles after all, but soon the crowd of college students grew restless, the record was removed and Prince’s Around The World In A Day replaced it. I was dressed like an idiot (I was wearing a prep outfit I had bought to impress a girl…green pants and a golf shirt) and I quickly got tired of people asking me what my handicap was on the fairways so I took my Beatles and split. My fragile ego was always taking a beating but I had Black Flag to cheer me up. Everything Went Black may only be a compilation, but it’s a blast of anti-authoritarian songs and the commercials for shows on side 4 made me wish I was on the West Coast getting to creepy crawl the Westwood. I may have been feeling rotten some in 1985, but in 1982 I was perpetually depressed. High school was a mortal drag with no end in sight so Black Sabbath was called upon night after night to bring me solace, some moral clarity in the abyss of teenage life. It’s all an incredible over reaction to me now. High school isn’t worth agonizing over at all, but agony was sweet with Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality rocking the house. That hacking cough that begins the proceedings, the Geezer Butler bass run on “After Forever”, the maniacal sludge of “Into The Void” and the apocalyptic “Children Of The Grave” are burned into my brain to this day. Blondie’s Parallel Lines has been in my collection a long time. I got the record as a birthday present the year it came out. I had seen Blondie perform “One Way Or Another” on the Mike Douglas Show and I was hooked. The one record on this list that I liked okay, but was yet to really love was Singles Going Steady by the Buzzcocks. It grew on me over time until it’s definitely on the desert island disc list. I’ve got two copies, once I had three. One of the great things about buying records in the mid-80’s was all the amazing mid-line records you could find like The Clash. I bought it one night at the local Sound Shop for 3 dollars. I went home around midnight as usual, put the record on and I was amazed. This couldn’t be the same band that had just had a hit with Combat Rock, could it? The sound was so raw and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I instantly loved it and it has only gotten better over time. I can even understand the lyrics now.

There'll be more of this list next week. Probably be seeing bits and pieces all summer since I had way more records than most 19 year olds should have.

Congrats Emmy!

My eldest daughter, Emmy, has made it through kindergarten! She is now officially a 1st grader to be. Her teacher had many nice things to say about her and she also had a bit about how Mo and I are such great parents. You think it's right to fool the teacher so?

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged Comes To Life In Zimbabwe

from Cox and Forkum.

The brutal dictator Mugabe (Rand would have called him the Atilla archetype) wants the farmers back. After brutalizing them to get them to leave, Mugabe has learned there is more to agriculture than just throwing some seeds on the ground. Who is John Galt, indeed.

MTV News Ain't Got Nothing On Me

De Novo Dahl are starting to get some major attention. Pitchfork Media has a review of their Cats And Kittens album today. just remember, you read a review of the album here first in February.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Half Bakered

If you haven't stopped by Half Bakered in a while, you really should. The on again off again Memphis blog is on again in a big way with Mike turning evocative phrase after phrase on everything from punk rock to politics to just living in Memphis. Of course, Mike's most entertaining moment of this year for me was when he resigned from the Rocky Top Brigade. He's iconoclastic and curmudgeonly at times, but always damn interesting. Plus he's got great taste in music. One of these days I'll revisit the city of my birth and look him up and see if he'll go have a Dyer's hamburger with me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

CBS bites

Ever in pursuit of younger demographics CBS has canceled a whole bunch of shows including one of the few shows the wife and I both liked to watch together: Joan Of Arcadia. The last few episodes of the show looked like it was jumping the shark, but I still hate to see the show get canceled. CBS is such a lame network. It seems like they are forever canceling shows that don't attract young viewers. They did it in the early Seventies when they canceled all of their rural shows even though they were all getting great ratings. A pox on them.

The evil behind the E-1's is finally revealed!

I used to be in a band with these insidious and evil looking children. I'm lucky I made it out alive.

Faces only a mother could love? You be the judge.


To read more about them, head to the Exotic Ones website here (spacefink) and here (zoomga).

Tidying Up

I've added some sites to the sidebar today - I'll let you figure out which ones, including updating the long list of Rocky Top Brigade members.

Reciprocation Is The Name Of The Game

I noticed a referrer from a blogspot site I had not noticed (usually it's just one of the random hits generated by the blogger system) but this one was from a site that had linked to me. It's called Hits In The Car and it's a pretty good music related site, so check it out. I'm honored by the link so I will reciprocate and add it to my sidebar. That's the way it's done in Blogland.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Citricritic leaves the building

It's a shame we have to bid goodbye to one of Soulfish Stew's loyal readers. Citricritc has closed up shop citing a fear of Republicans keeping him from emigrating to Canada. I'll miss you stopping by Citrus.

Some Music Links

Just a few music links for you today. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm working on what will be a series of posts about my record collection circa 1985/6 since it was 20 years this month that I graduated from Riverdale High in Murfreesboro, TN. The alma mater is running through my head as we speak, "...on a hill besides Howard Johnsons", it's a shame I never learned much from there. Yes, I know the line is actually "by Stones River" too. Being not quite sure how to handle this milestone of a year, I've debated everything from putting in general nostalgia laden stories about the era to ignoring it completely. So I've settled on this: I'm going to post a list of the records I owned which I had made back then, with some reviews of the more notable ones, notable to me personally of course. Before I can get that started, here's a couple of links to bands that made records that will be on the list.


Meat Puppets

And here's a link to a band that probably was just a baby in 1985, but I've been digging the heck out of lately: The Mountain Goats.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Soulfish Wife Has A Blog

It's called Mo Hates Everything. Except for her family, although I'm pretty sure she hates some of them. Her first rant is towards Oasis. The watermarked CD strikes again!

Think 101 Times

Newsweek definitely screwed up major league with their outright lie about the Koran being flushed down toilets at Gitmo, but the Pakistani reaction on Newsweek's retraction is so stoopid it makes my head hurt.

Quote: "They should understand the sentiments of Muslims and think 101 times before publishing news which hurt feelings of Muslims."

The lie of an article hurt their feelings, so a bunch of Muslims went beserk protesting resulting in people dying. I don't know about you, but I don't start a riot everytime my feelings get hurt...if I did my life would probably be a 24 hour a day riot.

Be religious. Take it seriously if you like. But stop being so damn dumb. And if you're Muslim, please don't believe anything you read from the American media.

Monday, May 16, 2005

CD Review: Stoneage Hearts - Guilty As Sin


“Rock and roll boys and rock and roll girls are the only people I want to be with, rock and roll boys and rock and roll girls are the only people I can agree with” sings Dom Mariani on one of the many stellar tracks off the new Stoneage Hearts album, Guilty As Sin, and he’s been doing the rock and roll thing so long you better believe him. Mariani was a member of the seminal Oz rock band The Stems who could have eaten the Men At Work for lunch and still have room left for an INXS dessert. Stoneage Hearts are carrying on the rock and roll blowtorch with such fierceness the Vines better watch their back.

We’re talking prime rock and roll material here: the classic trio format with Dom on vocals and guitar, Ian Wettenhall on vocals and bass, and the Mickster on drums. It’s a rock and roll vehicle stripped down to its essential elements, a primer coated beater hiding a nitro powered motor winning every drag race it enters. It’s not mere primitivism that gives the album its oomph, because the Stoneage Hearts could probably outplay any local gathering of prog rock musicians. Mariani blows up song after song with intricate and powerful guitar riffs and notes. Wettenhall may have a name better suited for a law firm, but he lays down fluid dive bombing bass runs that fill in the spaces which is essential for a trio. This leaves Mickster to keep it solid and he does; keeping his head while everybody else is losing theirs. Baroque and bombastic psychedelic cuts mesh with straight up garage stompers to make one glorious traditional, but never staid record.

The Mariani penned epic “Eye Of A Lie” starts the proceedings off with a bang; a huge psychedelic opus grand and sweeping. The churning rocker “Your Smile” showcases Wettenhall’s voice, which resembles Peter Case. You get some bang for your buck with Stoneage Hearts: two distinctive vocalists and two songwriters. Most bands can barely produce one in these times dominated by studio computer trickery. “Green With Envy” features some fast and twisted fretwork from Dom. Wettenhall breaks out the harmonica on “Fussy Garbos” on a song with a classic telling her off line, “I’m the garbage man, but your trash isn’t good enough”; my notes read damn this shit rocks and I’ll stick with my first impressions there. It takes a lot of cheek to write a song with rock and roll in the title these days, but the punky “Rock’n’Roll Boys Rock’n’Roll Girls” succeeds lyrically and musically. “Biff Bang Pow”, a cover of the band they resemble sonically, The Creation, is thrown in for good measure.

Guilty As Sin is put simply; one hell of a rock and roll album and while the days of rock and roll ruling the marketplace are over, the Stoneage Hearts should rule over the hardy true believers CD and record players this summer. The album is available through Alive - Total Energy Records. Get it today, you know you don’t want to hang around with anybody else.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Danny and Dusty - The Lost Weekend


Twenty years is a long time and then when you consider the Danny and Dusty album, The Lost Weekend, was recorded in one marathon 36 hour stretch a score seems even longer. This one off booze fueled document is arguably better than anything Dan Stuart and Steve Wynn ever did with their own bands of the time. A whole generation has grown up since 1985 so I’ll start with a brief summary of the “Paisley Underground” movement.

It was a loosely knit group of bands centered around Los Angeles in the mid-80’s. A short list would include The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, Rain Parade, Game Theory, The Long Ryders, and The Three O’Clock. There was quite a bit of variety: there was the full blown psychedelia of Rain Parade, the jangle pop of The Bangles, the desert rock of Green On Red, the Velvet’s influenced Dream Syndicate, the Americana roots rock of The Long Ryders, and the child like pop psych of Game Theory and The Three O’Clock. The one common thread was how each group harkened back to the old Sixties rock and roll sound, many of the groups using vintage instruments and dressing in Sixties fashions. It was a self conscious act of rebellion against the overbearing modern production techniques that were gaining ever increasing favor in the rock and roll/pop music universe. The Bangles were the only band to hit the mainstream, but the rest are still cult favorites.

Green On Red was the one I liked best. I liked Dan Stuart’s Neil Young like wail and the music that sounded like the Arizona desert where they were from. Gas Food Lodging was always the record I turned to when I got tired of the punk rock usually on my personal play list. I liked the road weary resignation of the record. It fit with my own delusions of becoming the next Jack Kerouac. The Dream Syndicate didn’t do much for me musically, but I did like Wynn’s vocals. When Stuart and Wynn got together with members of their bands and The Long Ryders a classic was born.

The Lost Weekend is sloppy at times, but it is an inspired sloppiness. Wynn and Stuart sing like they are life long pals and the backing players really cook, especially Chris Cacavas on the piano. The songs are populated with drifters, losers, dreamers, gamblers, and drinkers. It’s all done with an aw, shucks boozy feeling which makes you want to head for the nearest dive bar to get drunk on cheap beer. “Song For The Dreamers” is an exuberant ode to anti-heroes, Al Capone and Fidel Castro both makes an appearance, while “Miracle Mile” conveys the sinister depths of a gambler on a losing streak. “Send Me A Postcard” has a sing along chorus, “we’re two brothers home on the range, long on talk, but short on change” that always gets me smiling. There’s good natured camaraderie reminiscent of Waylon and Willie.

It was very appealing to me in 1985 and the appeal has lasted. I didn’t become the next Kerouac and after reading about his last alcoholic years I’m glad. The “Paisley Underground” artists all made some good albums, and even though they didn’t have a huge impact on the mainstream their legacy is secure. It may not be psychedelic and it may have just been done on a lark, but The Lost Weekend is for me the best album to come out of that scene.



Rantzilla had a post linking to me. I don't really know why...I assume he was just hitting the next blog button. I hope he liked what he saw.

The Darth Side Calls

I know I'm probably overdoing the Star Wars links - if it makes you feel any better; I have not nor ever will dress up like one of the characters, but when you run across Darth Vader's blog (The Darth Side), you feel compelled to share...it's as if a Dark Force is compelling me to link to it. So here's a post about having a cookout with Ewoks as the main course.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

CD Review: Robbie Fulks - Georgia Hard


Drinkin’, cheatin, and lamentin’ – the new Robbie Fulks album, Georgia Hard, has a little of all three along with a healthy dose of humor and top shelf country picking. It’s ironic that Nashville’s best songwriter is a guy that couldn’t make it in the city’s Music Row hit writing factories. Of course, it wasn’t for lack of talent. It was just business as usual for the tin ear executives who run the town. Of course, it’s a Nashville tradition to overlook those who regularly go on to become legends of country music. There’s some perverse pleasure in seeing Fulks come into Nashville to record Georgia Hard with some of the finest session players augmenting his band and then turn around and go home.

According to recent interviews Robbie has said he was listening to and enjoying early ‘70’s country more and it shows. The first big standout on the album is the countrypolitan flavored “Leave It To A Loser” which features a string section, a spoken interlude, and a bombastic chorus that would have been a perfect vehicle for Elvis Presley to sing circa 1974. The title cut features a protagonist missing the South, “some things just aren’t the same everywhere”, with a musical backing that could pass for The Marshall Tucker Band. There are little Floyd Cramer style piano flourishes all over the record and some superlative guitar playing. Fulks comes up with a honky tonk song worthy of Dwight Yoakam’s best with, “Each Night I Try” even though Fulks will never be able to “drink his teardrops dry.” Fulks manages to throw together a crazy quilt of country styles together – there’s Glen Campbell, Jimmy Buffet, Charlie Rich, Buck Owens, and Roger Miller type material; there’s even a country jazz instrumental. To Fulks’s credit, the album never falls into mere homage or parody. His talent binds the whole record into a stand alone document worthy to hold its own against those influences.

Did I mention that Georgia Hard is funny too? I know I did, but let’s mention it again. “I’m Gonna’ Take You Home (And Make You Like Me)” would just be a cute exercise in Fulks putting on a stupid accent except that the song is a duet with his wife, which makes it still sorta dumb, but it's a sweet sorta dumb. He manages to question our current President’s Southern roots in “Countrier Than Thou” in a way that should make even a conservative chuckle. I wish more country artists had listened to Roger Miller when they grew up. Maybe we’d have more great records like Georgia Hard. It's available at Yep Roc Records May 17th.

A Catcher In Green Brook Park

"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'F**k you' signs in the world. It's impossible" - The Catcher In The Rye

As a parent I am called upon to be a protector of innocence, while letting the children in on what the real world is actually like at the appropriate time. It’s a tightrope often dictated by events out of my control. Something as simple as a graphic DVD cover image can scare a small child for weeks, but you can’t blindfold your kid while strolling through the video store. There is no longer a true family hour television block. The mainstream music of the moment is hip hop filled with cursing and even if you don’t listen to it in your own home, you’re likely to hear it blasting out of the pimped out rides tooling down your city streets.

It’s true that you can’t shield a child forever from the reality and trauma of adulthood. You shouldn’t even try. Our oldest daughter already knows about death. She knows that movie monsters aren’t real, but that there are real ones all too human. We’ve taught her to scream and kick if a stranger ever lays a hand on her. She knows about the insidious evil of drug addiction thanks to a wayward relative. After yesterday, she now knows a crass obscenity.

She was one of the best students in her school’s accelerated reading program so she got to go to the local park with a bunch of her kindergarten peers for a pizza party picnic. Later she went with the Soulfish wife over to her grandmother’s house. The Soulfish wife was in the kitchen when she heard our daughter ask grammy what “suck your d**k” meant. One disadvantage of being an accelerated reader is the ability to read something like that. It was written at the park somewhere and she just happened to see it. She’s trying to read everything she sees now, which is good, but to be honest we didn’t see this issue coming. Her grandmother explained that what she had seen was obscene, and not something to be repeating.

It’s a minor evil in a world filled with major ones, but it’s still a shame that you can’t even go to a playground without little pieces of innocence being stripped away. I immediately remembered the scene in The Catcher In The Rye where Holden is waiting to see his sister in the museum in Central Park. Then he sees the scribbled F**k you on the wall. The implication in the book is that the epithet was probably written by a child (it’s written in crayon) which disgusts Holden all the more.

I’m sure that my daughter is not going to go around repeating the crass scribbling she comes upon. She’s been raised better than that. I’m extremely proud of her ability to read (she’s even more amazing at math) since half my house is given over to books. Still, a part of me wishes I could keep her a kid forever. When she was around three years old, we were hanging around outside one late afternoon. The moon was out and she saw it. She started to jump up in the air reaching with her arms at the height of each leap. I asked what she was doing. “I’m trying to get the moon,” was her reply. She knows she can’t grab the moon out of the sky now, but as long as she keeps reaching for it metaphorically I’ll be okay with her growing up as long as it doesn’t happen too fast.


Debunking The Jedi

I found this piece debunking the Jedi on Slashdot today. You've got to have quite a bit of geek in you to enjoy it, and I think the article is awesome myself.

Watermarks, Paranoia, & Greed

I received the new Oasis album, Don’t Believe The Truth, via UPS yesterday. It’s a promo copy for review by Blogcritics. It’s supposed to be a return to their glory years, but it sounded fairly uninspired and half-baked the first time I gave it a spin. There’ll be a full blown review of it here soon; maybe it will grow on me. What was absurd to me was that the CD came with a watermark both on and in the disc itself. The paranoia and greed of these multi-million dollar industries continues to astonish me.

The watermark in the disc is track one: a 24 second admonition to not copy or distribute this disc to anyone. I’m also told to take very special care of the disc since the record company can trace it back to me. My name is also emblazoned on the label of the disc. What’s really funny is that it isn’t even a proper disc; it’s a CDR. I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the habit of purchasing CDR’s from used record stores. By now I’m so skittish about having this disc, I’m wondering if I’m even allowed to review it without being charged some hidden fee. Because money is what it’s all about. Forget about art. Forget about entertaining the bored. It’s like the Wu-Tang Clan said, “cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M.” Filling their corporate coffers is what the major labels are all about.

Here’s what the record company is paying me to review this album: nada, zip, nothing, a big fat zero. Sure, not very many people will see the review here, but thousands upon thousands will see it at Blogcritics, plus it’s likely to be out there on the net as long as this present version of society exists. That’s a damn good return on what has to be a minimal investment for the marketing department of Epic Records. A press photo, a couple of Xeroxed copies of blather about the new album, and a CDR with no cover can’t cost much. The watermark is probably the most expensive part. It’s enough to make this unpaid reviewer question what he’s doing. Everybody’s getting fat and rich and I’m helping them for nothing more than what’s likely to be a tepid Oasis set that I can’t even give away as a gift.

It may just be the imminent release of the new Star Wars movie, but I’m beginning to really feel that the music industry is part of the dark side. They’re extremely powerful – witness their pursuit of out of court settlements with downloaders, and also very stupid – their steadfast refusal to admit that video game and DVD sales have helped erode the music market (along with the fact that bad music is being peddled and that most baby boomers have replaced their old records with CD’s…what a boon that must have been for the music industry). I don’t advocate downloading copyrighted material for a few reasons. It’s illegal for starters and if you get caught the recording industries mafia goons will get at least two grand off of you. There’s plenty of free music out there, lots of it independent that’s way better than most of the drivel on the big labels. But I'm not about to cry any tears when rich people like Don Henley and Sheryl Crow cry about all the money they're losing. Plus it's very laughable when they bemoan all the little people being laid off because of downloading. I wonder how many people lost their jobs when record plants started going out of business when CD's first really made inroads into the market. Where was the outcry and support from rich musicians then?

I know this song has been quoted time and again, but Elvis Costello’s diatribe against the radio programmers of the late ‘70’s, “Radio Radio” where he spit out the line, “I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, I wanna bite that hand so badly” fits the situation with the music industry today perfectly; except it has to be twisted around. Those lines show what they are doing to the consumers of their lackluster products. I’m beginning to wish I’d gotten into something besides music consumption. But I’ve seen the light. Once I get through the several dozen more major label releases I’m supposed to review, I think I’ll go completely indie. As soon as I’m done with the new Oasis CD, I’m going to take a hammer and smash it to bits. I’m not taking any chances.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Here Comes Trouble for Music Maven

The ever readable Here Comes Trouble has started a fantasy band at Music Maven called Arsenic And Old Lace. I need to start my own group up. I used to do this whole fantasy band thing back in junior high school before I could play guitar. I was just a dreamer. I would come up with a band name...let's see I had V.S.L.R. a pop group, Mission Control a sort of prog band, and Slayer a metal band (how prescient was that back in 1980?). I used comic book artists and writers for the musician's names so V.S.L.R. was composed of Mike Vosburg, Steve Leiahola, Cory Robbins, and some other dude. The Cory Robbins character thought V.S.L.R. was too lame for him so he formed Slayer and he sang on the first few records until he was replaced by Tony Isabella in a move similar to when Ozzy was replaced by Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath. There were other fantasy acts, but way too many to mention although I guess I'll give a shout out to the imaginary rocker Pablo Marcos, one of my few solo stars. He was sort of a more macho version of Rod Stewart. I would write album's of lyrics, draw pictures of the bands, and then sing how I thought the songs should go. When I started really being in rock and roll bands, I revisited those old notebooks full of fantasy albums hoping to maybe use a lyric or two. But it was all so terrible. Maybe in few days I'll dig up some of the metal lyrics for you. They were Spinal Tap worthy.

I also used to make up fake radio stations and make deejay tapes. The most bizarre had to be WHMA, a radio station supposedly owned by Dallas Cowboys great Harvey Martin for some reason. That was super weird considering I hated the Cowboys then and still hate them today. I guess I must have just liked Harvey. There weren't any tapes of it since it was actually a television show airing nightly from my bedroom in 7th grade - my version of WKRP naturally. I was either being incredibly creative for a young kid or a big dork. In my defense, I was an only child growing up out in the country. Of course, the call letters of WHMA should have actually been KHMA since it would have west of the Mississippi. But hey how would an 11 year old know that? Especially when he hadn't been west of the Mississippi himself. And still haven't. Damn! One of these days I'll get up enough courage to go into Arkansas!

Aaron Is The Mac!


Fellow Blogcritic and all around culture maven, Aaron McMullan AKA the Duke, has a CD's worth of songs available at his site, Mondo Irlando for the musically curious and bold.

Titled 120 Removed (April Songs) it's idiosyncratic folk music, just a boy and his guitar telling stories about his life, his loves, and his hates. It's lo-fi for high brow and low brows alike with deft lyrical twists and turns. It will make you laugh out loud ("Chicks Dig Whinin'") and it will make you think ("Ballad Of The Three"). Go check it out. It's as free as a bird now.

Easy Reader tm

It's cool that Morgan Freeman won his domain name case, but how in the hell can you trademark your name? He'll always be the ultra cool Easy Reader to me no matter how many Oscars he wins.

CD Review: Esther Phillips - Jazz Moods - Hot


Great art often comes through great pain. Imagine what it must have been like in 1949 to sing at an amateur contest at Johnny Otis’s Barrelhouse Club in Los Angeles. Just that alone would be a highlight to a young life, but when Johnny Otis then gets you a record deal and a place in his show it must have been like a bolt of lightning hitting the teenage Esther Phillips. Otis would call her Little Esther the girl singer and she would be a part of his show for several years having hits with “Double Crossing Blues” and “Mistrustin’ Blues” also. By the 1960’s she had gone out on her own where she would score the biggest hit of her career with the sublime “Release Me” after country singer Kenny Rogers rescued her finding her in a dive in Houston. The Beatles invited her to the U.K. to host her own television special after her version of “And I Love Him” became a hit. But there was a dark side to her success that would ravage and weaken her body contributing to her early departure from this mortal coil in 1984. To tell it straight, she was a junkie.

She also had one of the most distinctive voices in soul, often compared to Nina Simone and her idol Dinah Washington. It was rather nasal, yet it had a cigarette twang. Her phrasing was always on the one and her voice gave off a “don’t mess with me” authority. She was able to sing just about anything cutting blues, R&B, soul, jazz, pop, and country sides during her career. When the 1970’s rolled around she was working for Creed Taylor’s CTI under the Kudu label. This is the era that Jazz Moods – Hot documents. The 11 songs included are culled from the From A Whisper To A Scream, What A Difference A Day Makes, The Best Of Esther Phillips, and Black-Eyed Blues albums.

Esther was at the peak of her talent with choice material to sing. She brought not only her soulful voice, but also her own experience to Gil-Scot Heron’s “Home Is Where The Hatred Is”, a heroin addict’s lament. Another winner from the From A Whisper To A Scream record is “Your Love Is So Doggone Good” although I’ll admit it makes me blush with its steam. That album was nominated for a Grammy, but Esther lost out to Aretha Franklin who famously handed the statuette to Esther on air telling her that “she deserves it.” Every track is a winner on Jazz Moods – Hot, but a couple of other standouts are her version of Joe Cocker’s “Black-Eyed Blues” and her cover of a song Dinah Washington had a huge hit with in 1959; “What A Difference A Day Makes.”

The fact that she could make such enduring art while fighting a heroin addiction that probably began in her teenage years is amazing. Her own sad tragedy guarantees that her life will be romanticized and this only makes her music that much more compelling.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Not Bad


Sure, you're bald as can be, but that doesn't stop you from somehow being one of the sexiest people in the galaxy.click here to take the test!

The Soulfish wife thinks Picard is sexy, so I'm cool with looking like him when I'm 78.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Three More Worthies

I've added three more links to the Soulfish Sidebar. Drumroll please, for:

Vinyl Journey - an absolute treasure trove documenting one man's quest to digitize his record collection. MP3's and personal remembrances of the music he loves make for some of the best reading on all of the internet.

Blog To Comm - I've talked about this blog before, but I'm only now getting the energy to place a link to them permanently here. Don't let my laziness spread, go visit this awesome music blog now.

and finally a musician's blog: Boblog AKA the Bob Mould blog. Oddly enough, I've decided to put it under just the links section as Bob Mould. I don't think many folks would know it's Bob Mould related under Boblog. Suffice it to say, I'm a huge Husker Du fan.

So have some fun visiting people much more erudite than myself, just don't forget to come back and visit me again too.

CD Review: Charlie Poole And The Roots Of Country Music - You Ain't Talkin' To Me


It was a lifetime ago when Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers entered a studio in New York City to cut some music for Columbia Records; it will be 80 years ago this July. It was such a different world with no television, central heat and air, personal computers, or wireless phones to name just a few obvious things. Records were still being cut to wax cylinders or 78’s and radio had never heard of the creeping evil called demographics. Charlie Poole was a record nut. He’d get a favorite and play it over and over, especially if there was a banjo in it. He’d been playing banjo since the age of 8 and had developed his own unique three fingered style after severely injuring a hand playing baseball. This appreciation for records and his own confidence that him and his band, the North Carolina Ramblers, could do better is what led to the group to leave their Piedmont region homes in North Carolina and travel to New York City in the hopes they would be able to make a record of their own.

It sounds incredible today, but Poole got his trio (Posey Rorer on fiddle, Norman Woodlieff guitar) an audition for Columbia A&R man-producer Frank Walker who gave them $75 to cut a record. This session from 1925 led to “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues” selling over 102,000 copies which was an extraordinary amount at a time when 20,000 sold was considered a smash hit. The same session also yielded “White House Blues”, later a staple of both Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers, and recently revived by John Mellencamp. Poole’s high treble voice and banjo style is just as appealing now as it obviously was then. Those 1925 sessions predated Ralph Peer’s Bristol sessions giving ample ammunition for historians and music lovers to credit Poole for the birth of country music. He’s considered by many to be the “patron saint” of country music.

Poole was also a hard drinking hell raiser which wasn’t all that uncommon for a man who worked in the mills and moonshine industries when he wasn’t entertaining people with his music and stage antics. As the liner notes from You Ain’t Talkin’ To Me by Henry “Hank” Sapoznik point out: …a Charlie Poole show was something to see. Punctuating sly twists on familiar songs with his rat-a-tat picking style, Poole would leap over chairs, turn cartwheels, clog dance on his hands, and shake up audiences with repertoire that just as surprising. Typical sets would careen from prim, cautionary heart songs to a ditty usually reserved for bawdy house anterooms to fiddle tunes to over-the-top dramatization, [and] versions of popular songs, before drawing to a close with a contemplative hymn. If that wasn’t enough to keep you amused and you decided to start talking during his show, he would shout you down with his razor sharp wit.

Poole continued to have hits with his North Carolina Ramblers even after Posey Rorer left the group. The Ramblers even expanded to a twin fiddle line-up toward the end of their recording career. But by the start of the 1930’s Poole’s recordings were not selling, but this was due more to the Great Depression than any declining quality in his work. By 1931 he was back working in the mills. He had even pawned his banjo. When it looked like he would never play music again, he was asked to come to Hollywood to provide music for a film. Poole then went on a twelve week drinking binge to celebrate which ended with his death at the age of thirty-nine. This tragedy has only solidified his legend among fans of old-time music.

The You Ain’t Talking To Me box set is arriving just in time for the annual Charlie Poole Festival held in Eden, North Carolina. It contains 43 tracks by Charlie Poole – a great representation of his craft. The material shows the range of influences on him. From the liner notes: ...Poole had a crazy-quilt repertoire. Traditional and recent ballads and tunes, slightly dusty popular songs rescued from a Victorian piano bench or learned off stray 78’s, bathetic lamentations from the Civil War era, the first winking, nudging music from vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley, heart songs, event songs – he loved them all. The box set also contains 29 tracks by other performers, many of them contemporaries, either influential to Poole or influenced by him. It’s highly recommended if you are a fan of bluegrass, folk or old Appalachian country music. Charlie Poole may have went to New York City carrying a banjo on his arm with the hopes of just making a record, but he also carried the blueprint for country music in his other arm creating a body of work now revered. He’s the country music equivalent of Robert Johnson and just like Johnson, his icon status is due to a large degree to the way he lived his life. But much more important is the actual music produced. Don’t let this deal go down without you.

New Star Wars flick


Yeah, yeah I'm a little late in posting this link, but in case you haven't read Kevin Smith's review of Star Wars III: Revenge Of The Sith, here's the link, but I'm warning you - if you don't want spoilers, then run away. I didn't even bother to see the first two prequels to Star Wars, but it's looking like this one is a classic. I guess it's time to dust off the old light saber and get myself to a movie theater.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Unintelligible At Any Speed

A school band has been instructed to not play "Louie Louie" any longer due to its "raunchy lyrics" - sheesh, you'd think this wouldn't be happening in this day and age. "Louie Louie" is about as obscene as a Sunday School class. I wonder how many lousy hip hop songs the band is allowed to play?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Beware The Number 616!

It turns out that the number of the beast wasn't 666 after all. My Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden albums just got a lot less scary.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sacred Cows

It's always fun to see sacred cows go to the slaughterhouse, even when they're some of the sacred cows I love.


There is a site that parodys Instapundit. Since Instapundit is part of the Rocky Top Brigade I also get dragged into the parody. Cute. It's from the Malkovich Mediator.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Goblinhaus exclusive

My pal Shrub at Goblinhaus will soon have a whole bunch of pics up from the 2005 Hauntcon held in Dallas. Here's a teaser pic of Ed Neal and Michael Berryman posing with the Goblinhaus "old hag" logo designed by super artist Kara.


I'm sure that hanging out with such horror movies icons was a blast, but I bet Shrub and Kara are just as excited that their beloved Dallas Mavs have tied up their NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets.

Friends Of Sound Issue 6 On The Net

My NYC connection, Chad with help from his pals, has dropped issue 6 of Friends Of Sound into the ether so be sure and check it out. Then you can always go and help a transplanted Southern boy out by buying some toys from Chad's work - Kidrobot.