Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll be seeing you after Halloween with more reviews, opinions, drivel, what have you. Until then why not pay a visit to Old Haunts and Goblinhaus to get you in a good Halloween mood. First one to tell what the picture is from wins a Wally mix CD.

CD Review: Miguel Mendez - My Girlfriend Is Melting


Miguel Mendez was born and raised in the LBC and attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School with Snoop Dogg. Mendez has collaborated with dudes like Farmer Dave (All Night Radio, Beachwood Sparks), Joel and Kevin Morales (Dios Malos), Tiffany Anders, and Sam Jayne (Love As Laughter). He's a guitaris, pianist, producer, and engineer. I copied all that from the CD My Girlfriend Is Melting. I guess it's all supposed to sound important and probably justify one's interest in him. It definitely sounds cool, though it's likely he will now get bombarbed with questions about Snoop when he does interviews.

Mendez is being touted as the next Beck which is sort of depressing for an old dude like me. Hell, I still remember all of those new Dylans (Forbert anyone?) and the new Springsteens. The laid back, dude lay off the 'ludes, ambience of lead off track "Drinking Beers" definitely cops an acoustic Beck vibe. It's creaky and fuzzed over with that 4 track feel. This mumbling country hippie bit gets to be damn slow by the time you get to the 5th cut "Wide Awake" which sounds like its being sung through an empty bong. Maybe the title is supposed to ironic since you'll find it difficult to stay awake through it.

It'd be a shame if you nodded out because the next song begins to show some promise in the kid. "Catchin A Wave" has some nifty piano notes and it sounds like some original neo-psychedelic threatening to take over the album. The Beck doppelganger interrupts the proceedings again on the next song, but "Number Race" which follows is some willfully weird yet beautiful music. My Girlfriend Is Melting needs more of these askew moments. "Fond Memories" slots into the stoner who dug Beck a little too much mode until somebody thinks to let some Beatles influence color the proceedings producing a much more genial hue to things.

Much of the album is slow to thhe point of catatonia and you wonder how much effort was required to make things seem so effortless. If you like sitting around the house passing stuff around while staring at black light posters of unicorns you'll probably dig this album. If you like Beck when he's not funky, then you might dig Miguel too. I'm just hoping his next release heads for strange and uncharted sounds and maybe next time his girlfriend won't be such a witch. Get it? His girlfriend is melting like a certain witch did and...ah hell forget it.

CD Review: Propaghandi - Potemkin City Limits



When most people tell you they disagree with you, but they'll defend your right to say what's on your mind you've got to figure they don't really mean it. Well I'm here to let you know that I disagree with most of the lyrical content of Propaghandi's new Fat Wreck Chords disc Potemkin City Limits, but the music rocks and if I was still doing radio I'd damn sure play it on the air. Their unholy meld of punk rock thrash melodics with prog rock is an energetic and inviting assault to the senses whether you agree with the politically charged polemics or not.

Before we go over Propaghandi's politics how about an explanation of the album title. The term "Potemkin village" comes from an apocryphal story about this Russian dude Potemkin who made up a bunch of fake village facades to impress Catherine The Great as she went by once. Since then the term has come to mean any false construct, especially in a political context, meant to hide something bad. Sounds like normal politics to me.

Politics to Propaghandi are to the left. The Ward Churchill quotes inside are a dead giveaway. There are little quotes scattered throughout the lyrics booklet with the best being the famous lines of Ralph from Friday The XIII "You're All Doomed" which was included on the same page with the words from "Superbowl Patriot XXXVI" which manages to take a potshot at that beloved knight Sir Paul McCartney. His performance did leave something to be desired didn't it?

The album begins with "A Speculative Fiction" which posits a scenario where Canadians (Propaghandi are from Winnipeg) kick America's ass. Note to Propaghandi: it would never work. A few bombs during hockey season would do you guys in. Joking aside, they can stay pissed at the United States forever as long as they keep rocking this hard. Lyrics like "We both profess noble intent as we civilize human impediments" from "Fixed Frequencies" or "Really, it's not so much the incessant ruse of assigning profound meaning to the meaningless curios" from "Fedellah's Hearse" may read clunkily on the page, but the band comes off like a thrash Manic Street Preachers once the music is cued up. There's also a weird echo of Anthrax contained in the din. I'll admit to being ignorant to who Fedellah was, but the song kicks ass.

"Bringer Of Greater Things" seems to be about some issue with the Saskatoon Police. "America's Army (Die Jugend Marschiert)" is about how the government owns everyone's children. The lyric booklet has a reference to Ender's Game at the top. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it. America as big bully seems to pop up often like on "Name And Address Withheld". The funniest line on the album comes from "Rock For Sustainable Capitalism"; in reference to the WARP Tour's bands - "Hope they ship all those shitty bands overseas like they did the factories". I find their railing about music being bought and sold amusing as hell. I hope you do to when the cashier is giving you your change after after purchased Potemkin City Limits.

CD Review: Echo And The Bunnymen - Siberia


The front cover of the latest Echo And The Bunnymen album, Siberia, is a non-descript photo of pincipals Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant peering from what appears to be an abandoned building. The inside cover shows the word "verboten" written in red paint on the structure which left me wondering what the connection between a German word and Siberia would be. Trying to match an album cover up with the music inside may seem a bit much to some, but Echo is a band that always seemed to me to be wrapped up in symbols and mythology. They were more than a rock band during their halcyon days when they wore military anoraks to the stage and the promise of youth seemed eternal.

An album like Porcupine lived up to its cover with music suggestively prickly and cold. Ocean Rain looked to be wondrous and enchanting and it was. Siberia's cover is prosaic with the only promise perhaps one of haunting echoes. The appearance of Hugh Jones as producer is notable. He co-produced Heaven Up Here. Another echo from the past. Which could be a very good thing. Since Ian and Will have revived the Bunnymen name each succeeding release has been a pale imitation of past greatness heavy on ballads and rockers that sound more of mid 90's Britrock than classic Bunnymen. Those albums were all of decent quality, but they all seemed to miss the mark. Where was the serpentine shards of guitar and the propulsive bass? The dynamic pauses had all been shunted aside for some seamless weld that held no spark.

Siberia makes attempts at reconciling the old with the new making it the best release since Will and Ian decided to take Peaches and Herb's advice. McCulloch's vocals have long since transcended the days when they regarded as aping Jim Morrison. They possess a burnished sublime beauty all his own well showcased on "All Because Of You Days"; a slow burner of sentimentality given a real ache by Ian. "Parthenon Drive" is being touted as the song most like the past and it does have the muted slippy drive of old giving it a recoil and snap I wish they would embrace more often. Hints of the old dynamic tension surface fleetingly on "In The Margins"; a good example that it's the notes you don't play that sometimes makes a song.

McCulloch also has a way with those "in between" songs; those tunes that are neither ballad nor rocker. "Of A Life" is the best of this sort. A mild Madchester bass lopes under the title track reminding me that Echo never got the proper credit they deserved for helping to inspire the "baggy" scene. Some hard rock flourishes show up in "Sideways Eight" and get full blown on "Scissors In The Sand" which manages to meld The Who, Joy Division, and Echo And The Bunnymen into one monolithic screamer. The album tumbles back down to a fitting soul searching end for "What If We Are?" where even the sappiest of questions deserves an answer.

Siberia is less I'll meet you halfway there as it is taking a few steps back before going forward. We'll just have to accept that they sound more like "Bring On The Dancing Horses" than "The Cutter". The promise of youth may not be eternal, but McCulloch and Sergeant are aging gracefully without tarnishing their past. I bet they would still look cool in military garb though. Echo And The Bunnymen will begin a North American Tour in November.

College Football Predictions - Week 9

GEORGIA TECH by 3 over Clemson
winner Georgia Tech
spread Georgia Tech

Oklahma by 1 over NEBRASKA
winner Nebraska
spread Nebraska

BYU by 6 over Air Force
winner BYU
spread BYU

Ohio State by 3 over MINNESOTA
winner Minnesota
spread Minnesota

FLORIDA by 5 1/2 over Georgia
winner Florida
spread Florida

usc by 31 over WASHINGTON STATE
winner USC
spread Washington State

Texas by 36 1/2 over OKLAHOMA STATE
winner Texas
spread Texas

ucla by 7 over STANFORD
winner UCLA
spread Stanford

Michigan by 4 over NORTHWESTERN
winner Northwestern
spread Northwestern

TENNESSEE by 14 1/2 over South Carolina
winner South Carolina
spread South Carolina

Current record: picking winners 48-32
picking spread 32-48

Looks like if I was a gambler I'd be coming out even at the moment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Euroweenies Say No Halloweenie

A small group of Euroweenies have it in for Halloween. Maybe we should make the largest piece of flaming poo in history and leave it on their doorsteps. Or perhaps we should send some kids to do some rolling over there. I can see it now - the customs official inquires, "What are you doing with all of that toilet paper, sir?"

The kid replies, "I've got a problem with some leakage, you know, down there, and the European toilet paper makes me break out in a rash."

Anti * Society Issue 1959

I've wrote about my old fanzine numerous times. I've included some pages from time to time and finally decided to post all of the issues over the next year. I posted the first issue some months ago. If you want to read it, just check the archives. Today it's issue #2, the one which garnered rave reviews from Flipside magazine (they said it was "punk as hell") and the Beastie Boys mag Grand Royal. It holds up pretty well considering the thing dates from around 1994. There's even a mention of Rosa Parks in one column that touched a nerve with me in light of her recent death. Just click on the pictures and you should hopefully be able to read the material.
















Say It Ain't So

Yahoo is reporting that Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo is heading back to Harvard. They also quoted him on meditation and celibacy:

"I decided to try celibacy because I heard it would help the meditation, and I tried meditation because I heard it would help with the music," he said. "So, it all really comes back to the music.

"Listen to 'Make Believe' and compare it to the previous album, 'Maladroit,"' he continued. "I know I can hear a difference in my singing. My voice just sounds much more sensitive and dynamic now. I also notice a difference in the lyrics. I'm much more open and communicative about my emotions now."


And here I thought his vocals sounded better thanks to Pro Tool technology. I would slam on Cuomo for such a pompous interview, but the dude did record the Pinkerton album which gives him an almost endless supply of slack cutting.

Piggies

I don't know what I hate more: the religion of peace or the jerks that capitulate to them. Besides, I don't see pigs going around strapping explosives to themselves in order to kill innocent people. I'm eating some delicious bacon right now.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Googie

During the recent powerball frenzy I was asked what I would do if I won millions of dollars. I'd build a bigger house on the same street. I'd buy some oceanfront property in North or South Carolina. But most of all I would open up some sort of store (maybe books, maybe records or CD's, DVD's, or toys) built in the Googie architectural style. So if there are any wealthy benefactors out there who want to donate to that cause, please get in touch.

To All The Blog Spammers

To all of the blog spammers who have been hitting my site with their stupid comment posts like "I love your blog. Visit here for premium dog food" etc... I hope you realize you are wasting your time since my blog is worth nothing. Nada, zero, zilch. Which is true because I don't have blogads here and I have don't have that many links from Technorati registered blogs. I'm all about keeping it free, folks. I'm going to institute some things to keep the blog spammers out.

Friday, October 21, 2005

CD Review: PROTECT


I am a father. That trumps anything else in my life, period. This means putting my kids first and I gladly do so. It also means worrying about them growing up in a world with people in it willing to exploit and harm children. It would be nice if the world we lived in didn't need an organization like PROTECT - The National Association To Protect Children, but it does. Here is their mission statement: PROTECT is a national pro-child, anti-crime membership association. We are founded on the belief that our first and most sacred obligation as parents, citizens, and members of the human species is the protection of children from harm. We are committed to building a powerful, nonpartisan force for the protection of children from abuse, exploitation and neglect. We believe that this must be done through a determined single-issue focus, a meaningful mainstream agenda and the use of proven modern political strategies. What does this have to do with music?

Punk rock label Fat Wreck Chords is a corporate sponsor of PROTECT and they have just issued a compilation album whose proceeds will go to benefit the organization. There are 26 artists included with 15 songs never previously released. As with any compilation album there's some stuff I really love and some that has me leaping to hit the skip button before 5 seconds have elapsed and this will apply to most consumers. If you say you like everything on here I'd be tempted to call you a liar, but whatever. Here are my favorite goodies from this disc: MxPx's "Broken Heart's Disease" is primo pop punk, NOFX's "Red State" stoops to stereotyping, but damn if the song doesn't rock with the sort of abandon I cherish, a never before released live Jawbreaker cut, "Want", shows why the emo kids hold them in such reverence, Hot Cross brings some Iron Maiden guitar along with them on "Tacoma", and Western Addiction keeps the old school hardcore punk rock torch blazing fiercely with "When Friends Attack" and this is just a tiny bit of what I appreciated.

Punk rockers and parents unite! Go and buy this album today. It's for a worthy cause and the music is good. Your kids might just thank you someday.

What's Happening



I know what I'll be doing the first weekend of November. I will be watching a massive amount of the TV Land 48 hour What's Happening marathon. I will then subject my friends to multiple "hey, hey, hey's." Great to see this fun show make it back onto the national airwaves.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

College Football Predictions - Week 8

Last week was a very good week for picking winners. I went 8-2 in what I dubbed the week of the favorites. I hedged my bets on the spread and got killed going 3-7. My grand total for the season is 41-29 picking winners, and 28-42 picking against the spread. Here are this week's very unsure things:

IOWA by 2 1/2 over Michigan
winner Iowa
spread Iowa

SOUTH CAROLINA by 8 over Vanderbilt
winner South Carolina
spread South Carolina

MISSISSIPPI STATE by 1 1/2 over Houston
winner Mississippi State
spread Mississippi State

NOTRE DAME by 18 1/2 over b.y.u.
winner Notre Dame
spread B.Y.U,

ALABAMA by 3 1/2 over Tennessee
winner Alabama
spread Alabama

Texas A&M by 4 1/2 over KANSAS STATE
winner Kansas State
spread Kansas State

U.C.L.A. by 9 over Oregon State
winner U.C.L.A.
spread U.C.L.A.

TEXAS by 15 1/2 over Texas Tech
winner Texas
spread Texas

L.S.U. by 6 over Auburn
winner L.S.U.
spread Auburn

u.s.c. by 30 over WASHINGTON
winner U.S.C.
spread Washington
I'll soon have music reviews of the new Propaghandi, Lagwagon, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Western Addiction to name but a few, but until then how about some random links to things I like.

First is the poem The Oldest Map With The Name America by Lucia Perillo. I like its style, its tone, the lines connecting humanity through time, and its praise of exploration large or small.

Next on the list is the poet Lew Welch. I've written about my appreciation of his poetry before. This time around I'm including a link to the poem After Anacreonwhich contains the lines from which I assume the band Guided By Voices arrived at their name.

One of the first sites that really got me excited about the internet around 1996 was one devoted to listing all of the samples and pop culture references from the Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique album. A version of that site still exists today so shake your rump on over there and find out what foundation the record was built upon. I've got some memories of days spent cruising around with Toby in his Olds listening to that album while we were scouting out new places to skate.

I won 27 cents playing Powerball yesterday on a $2 investment. I went in with some office mates and it was fun to daydream about becoming wealthy, but this dream of wealth can't match my childhood daydreams about Oak Island. If you don't want to click over to the several Oak Island sites available the story goes: kids find a depression in the ground under a tree. Branches in the tree look like they might have been used with a pulley so they start to dig under the tree for what could be buried pirate treasure. Every ten feet down they would find a layer of material until years later when they made it to 90 feet they found a stone inscribed with a code. They kept digging until The Money Pit flooded and people have been trying to find out its secret ever since. This story, which I probably caught of public television at some point in the 70's, fired up my imagination. I've yet to find a treasure, but I'm still always on the lookout for my own version of The Money Pit.

Maybe The Red Hand Gang should have investigated the island. They could have ganged up with the kid detectives from The Double McGuffin.

Since this has careened off into a mention of a kids show (which needs to be
released on DVD) and a kids movie I thought I'd mention a movie that used to be shown with regularity on the CBS Children's Film Festival: Hand In Hand. It was a British film from 1960 about a Roman Catholic boy's friendship with a Jewish girl. Their parents try to keep them apart, there's a rafting accident on a flooded river, and the boy thinks the girl has drowned. The story is told via flashback and even though I haven't seen it since I was a little boy it has stayed with me. Most people who've ever seen it say the same thing. Some enterprising company needs to bring this great film to DVD.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Office Thiefs Suck

I got finished with my lunch today and decided I would finally eat the Snickers bar I bought last week. I opened my desk and it was gone. I know it was there when I left yesterday. And then just a minute or so ago I discovered my cannister of Emerald mixed nuts was gone. So to all of you office thiefs out there: I hope you choke and die eating the food you've stolen from me and others.

Dreaming

Not much to see here today. I'll get back on track soon, but right now my mind is skittering around in a hundred million directions. I should know. I've counted them. In the meantime, how about one of the many stories I have up at goblinhaus.com. This one's about getting bitten by a dream spider. As usual it has an O. Henry style ending. And please no comment like, "what a dog of a story."

Dream Spider

He knew that something had bit him. There was a swollen red bump that was sore and it itched. He ended up getting some salve to rub on it, but really the pain from the bite was nothing compared to something else. Since he had been bitten his dreams had taken on a different feel. It was as if they weren't really his dreams, but somebody else's. Which is not too surprising, for a dream spider had bitten him.

Dream spiders are the color of sand and they belong to a little known genus called bibliogaimanicus. Once they were confined to a very small equatorial habitat, but with the rise of world trade a few have made their way into countries like ours. They like most to live near dusty books and warm fireplaces. The victim of the spider bite liked to lounge by the warm fire on nights when the wind howled and the cold air made its way through the brittle windowpanes.

A careful and deep look into his eyes would perhaps reveal a troubled mind, but he had taken to hiding himself away. A few weeks had gone by and he now knew the source of his night visions. It was her dreams. The lady he slept beside each night. Get bitten by a dream spider and you will gain admittance into the love of your life's sleeping subconscious. It is a realm that can be very scary and that doesn't even
include nightmares.

She couldn't think of him sleeping alone so she would search him out and make him join her in the bed. So night after night the torture of her dreams ran through his mind, one film trailer after another. She dreamed of everyday things like the kids, work, cooking, shopping, and even sleeping. She dreamed of her childhood. She had the standard panic dreams. There was the one where she found herself back in school wearing only panties and a bra. She fell off of cliffs. She drowned. There were the standard car wrecks and plane crashes. These were enervating mind numbing ordeals.

Some of her dreams were interesting. These were the ones filled with grandiose visions. Otherworldly realms filled with unimaginable things sometimes arced through the night to fill his mind with lightning flashes of speculative power. Nightmares made her heart race and body sweat. If she awoke suddenly, darkness would engulf his spirit so deep he sometimes doubted he could wake back up himself. But in the morning he would rise to the warming sun and his agitation would fade as the day wore on. How could he ever tell her?

When night fell and she went to bed she would become somebody different. She was an athlete, ballerina, librarian, and once a dictator. The multiplicity of her dreams was astonishing, but there was something that nagged at him. He couldn't quite figure it until he was left alone for a few days while she went on a business trip. It occurred to him that he was never in her dreams. It would not have bothered him so much except he was also not in her love dreams.

She spent her time in these entwined with movie stars, rock stars, and soap stars. Total strangers or even worse, men from the neighborhood would bed her. A panoply of consorts would bring her to fruition night after night with her spent form glistening and aching in the gauzy hazeworld of subconscious desires. She never seemed to remember these dreams, but he often wondered during those times when she would awaken so gently in the dawn with such a smile on her face.

She still smiled at him when she fed him his meals. She still gave him a special bath every so often. They still frolicked and played when the weather was nice. But since the dream spider had bitten him, nothing could compete with those smiles in the morning after a night of love dreams. It broke his heart. And he couldn't get her to understand his problem. He almost killed himself by jumping in front of a speeding truck, but he lost the nerve. Really, he just wished he could go back to his own dreams, especially the ones he dreamed in front of the fireplace. He really missed those fire hydrants.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Coming Into The Big Town

I'll be making a rare Nashville appearance tonight as I come into the big town to meet a friend from Texas and ultimately end up at the White Animals show at 12th & Porter. Now if I should happen to go crazy, get belligerent, and tear off all of my clothes please don't let anyone from Metro get out their tasers. Just tell them to let me run around until I fall exhausted to the ground. I know that having to wait until I run out of steam takes away precious time that could be better used in handing out traffic tickets, but I'd like to not die due to a combination of mine and the police's stupidity. Actually the odds of me getting crazy are very slim. I'm an exemplar of sraight edge punk for the most part and I'm not too big on ripping my clothes off in public. I did streak across Manchester Highway once during the 80's. I'd just put in a long shift at Mazzio's Pizza. It was 2 AM, the middle of summer, and the heat was stifling. I pulled over to the side of my road just before my turn off, stripped off my nasty pizza uniform, and ran around over the hot pavement buck naked. It was more dumb than liberating, but 60 hour weeks were doing me in. It'll be easy to find me on the highway tonight. I'll actually be the one obeying the speed limit. I wouldn't want a Serpas sized fine to ruin my evening.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

College Football Predictions - Week 7

I finally had a good showing last week going 6-4 both picking winners and against the spread. My cumulative record is now 33-27 winners, and 25-35 spread. This week is the week of the favorites here.

Alabama by 12 1/2 over MISSISSIPPI
winner Alabama
spread Alabama

TEXAS by 18 over Colorado
winner Texas
spread Colorado

Georgia by 16 over VANDERBILT
winner Georgia
spread Georgia

MICHIGAN by 3 1/2 over Penn State
winner Michigan
spread Michigan

LSU by 6 over Florida
winner LSU
spread LSU

usc by 11 1/2 over NOTRE DAME
winner USC
spread USC

ARIZONA by 4 1/2 over Stanford
winner Arizona
spread Arizona

Auburn by 7 1/2 over ARKANSAS
winner Auburn
spread Auburn

Florida State by 7 over VIRGINIA
winner Florida State
spread Florida State

NEVADA by 1 over Louisiana Tech
winner Nevada
spread Nevada

Happy Birthday Harper


Today is my daughter Harper Lee's 4th birthday! Happy Birthday! Your daddy loves you girl. Here she is playing dress up which usually means layer upon layer of anything and everything from her closet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More Of The Dead



8 Track Heaven knows the score.

CD Review: All Tomorrow's Party - Yoo Doo Right, Yoo Doo Slide



Tetsuo Kitame is known as the "Japanese" Jim Morrison and All Tomorrow's Party is his group. The band name references The Velvet Underground and the title, Yoo Doo Right, Yoo Doo Slide, derives from prog-rockers Can. So what does a recombination of The Doors, VU, and Can sound like? Maybe it's just the product of the trans-oceanic divide merging with time lapse and cultural differences for All Tomorrow's Party amazingly comes out resembling bad Mudhoney, Beatles, and 13th Floor Elevators. The biggest problem seems to be that can't seem to decide if they want to be the Strawberry Alarm Clock or The Creation.

There's not a hint of the "Lizard King" hiding in Kitame's vocals which are blander than most English as a second language singers. The very first track on the album is somnolent instrumental dicking around that gives no promises of future good things to come of which there are few. Maybe the boredom it produces is just meant to replicate the state of being strung out on heroin, hence the title "Sympathy For The Junkies". If I ever get stupid enough to try some, I'll get back with you on whether or not that's what All Tomorrow's Party were attempting. If you can manage to stay awake for the entirety of the song, you will get treated to some proto-punk crud with "Love Can Bring You Down" which is powered by what sounds like a classic Big Muff distortion pedal. So for a couple of tunes we rock out in a not terribly disimilar way to those halcyon days of the early 90's when Mudhoney would rock all its good alternative babies to sleep at night.

The "Japanese" Jim Morrison has to show us some variety or perhaps that he's heard a few of The Elephant 6 artists's work. We are treated to some rather limp psychedelic 60's shadows flickering with too much homage and too little personality. Big drums save "In Shade Of Blue" from complete oblivion. It's only when All Tomorrow's Party has the urge to turn up the distortion and wail with a decadence normally not allowed in Japanese society that the record becomes engaging; see "Bad Bee Says" for reference. They need to drop the drippy pop music touches and just go for a punitive punk rock assualt on the senses. As it is, Yoo Doo Right, Yoo Doo Slide available from Alive Records, doesn't feature enough meat for this carnivore.

This platter was also reviewed by these two esteemed rock critics:

bmarkey

Jones Violet

Reverbians


There's huge amount of bands at Myspace and well, most of them stink. This garbage field makes the great bands stand out even more. Like The Reverbians for instance. They broke up a few years ago, but their legacy lives on thanks to Myspace (even if you're bound to get the unexpected error page every other time you try to link to something there). Hell, there's even some photos of their dancing robot...I'm still wondering how much they had to pay the midget to wear that shiny suit. They played trashed out, reverb permeated garage rock not because it was cool, but because that's all the stupid idiots knew. Their worship of Evel Knievel and the B-9 Robot should clue you in: beware what happens when nerds discover reverb. I've heard they used so much reverb live, the sounds are still bouncing around the solar system.

Get You In The Back With A Stiv


It was a foggy messed up morning and the only thing fit to be played was some Dead Boys. All I needed was to hear the line "I'm gonna beat up the next hippie I see" and the world was put right. The fog lifted and next on the agenda will be "Neat, Neat, Neat" by The Damned. Photo of Stiv lifted from Punk Turns 30.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Few Years Of Rock And Roll Shows In Nashville

This was originally posted at the White Animals message board. It should reach a wider audience here.

I had started back to college in 1988. Since I didn't have a car or live on campus, I used to hitch a ride into town with my father. This left lots of free time in the afternoon while I waited for the ride back out into the country where we lived. When I wasn't getting drunk at B&L Pizza, I spent my time in MTSU's library perusing old microfilm issues of the Tennessean just to see what music acts were listed in their Sunday Showcase section. Mainly I was looking for mentions of The White Animals.

I chose 1978 as my starting point because it seemed like a good place to start. The Sex Pistols had toured the year before. Punk was out of the bag. What follows is just a month by month list of acts that played Nashville or Murfreesboro that I thought either notable or just too big to be left out. There are the occasional personal references and some pop culture entries too. I hope you enjoy the history. Maybe you were even at some of the shows.

January 1978: Ted Nugent appears at Volunteer Jam IV

Herr Harry Phranks and Steins is in business at 1909 West End advertising dart throwing nights, ballgames on a 6x6 screen, and Luv's Disco on Saturday nights. The band Next of Kin performed on Fridays.

Saturday Night Fever was only in its third week of release. Star Wars was in its 29th.

The first Exit/In listing I find is for Barefoot Jerry.

The Bay City Rollers "The Way I Feel Tonight" is the #7 song for the week of January 8th, 1978.

Nazereth, Mahogany Rush, and Sammy Hagar play Nashville for 4 dollars.

Eddie Money and David Olney appear at the Exit/In.

There's a big ad for a Ramones show to be held at War Memorial for February 24th with the Runaways opening!! Tickets are $5.25 advance and $6.25 at the door. It's a Sound Seventy Production. I was 11 years old and oblivious living in Murfreesboro. I wouldn't find out about the Ramones until they appeared on the Sha Na Na show. I could be dejected about what I might have witnessed, except there was nothing to see. The concert was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. I wonder how many of the future members of Nashville's vibrant indie rock scene were preparing to attend that show.

Maybe nobody knew who the Ramones and Runaways were or maybe the ticket prices were just too high. Clapton was about to hit Nashville for $6.50.

February 1978: There's a blurb about Paul Cook and Steve Jones forming a new band.

March 1978: Atlanta Rhythm Section plays Vanderbilt. WRVU was not a new wave station in these days.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Breakdown" is featured in Showcase's song lyric section. Tom Petty is quoted in the accompanying interview, "Nobody likes disco, but for a few poofs in platform shoes".

Muddy Waters plays Exit/In as does Warren Zevon also.

Journey comes to town "loving', touchin', and squeezin" with Ronnie Montrose, and Van Halen opening at the War Memorial Auditorium.

David Bowie plays Municipal.

B.B. King performs at the Exit/In.

Vandy's Rites of Spring is just a "yawn" jazz festival.

April 1978: The Grateful Dead play for the first time ever in Nashville.

Exit/In notables: George Thorogood and Joe Ely both come through town.

May 1978: Cheech and Chong light up the Exit/In with some Labrador.

"Werewolves of London" broke into the top ten songs.

Tim Krekel makes an Exit/In appearance once all the smoke had cleared from Cheech and Chong's show.

June 1978: The first listing for a club named Springwater.

July 1978: A hot Nashville summer gets hotter when the "Boss" Bruce Springsteen shows up to play a little 3 hour gig.

Foreigner with Journey opening play Nash Vegas. Imm not a big Journey fan, but I've got to give them props for being on the road and playing shows.

August 1978: Kevin Gray's guitar lessons start paying off as he joins Rob Jackson at Herr Harry Phranks and Steins. I'm sure there might have shows before, but this was the first "listed" one I found. Kevin Gray would go on to form the White Animals.

Muddy Waters is at the Exit/In again.

September 1978: "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by Taste of Honey is the number one tune. Disco's death grip has really hit the country in earnest.

Pat McLaughlin plays Springwater.

George Thorogood roars back to town to play Vanderbilt's Sarrat Cinema.

October 1978: Little Feat does a show at Vanderbilt.

Boston touches down at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

An October Showcase runs a picture of Lita Ford captioned "punk rocker".

There's an ad for a November 9th Black Sabbath show with Van Halen opening. Ozzy is wearing a home made "Blizzard of Oz" shirt.

Queen tickets are $8. I bet that was some show.

Tickets for Bob Dylan's first Nashville appearance go on sale and they sell out in minutes. Tickets were ten bucks for a December 2nd concert. He ends up doing a 3 hour show with many anecdotes, two encores, and said he'd be back, that he hadn't been put out to pasture yet.

Kiss clothing line debuts in November. I bought some shorts.

An article about Deborah Harry appears where she says she's flattered to be thought of as a sex object. She says Blondie are a restrained version of the Ramones. Note: this is before "Heart of Glass" made them superstars.

December 1978: Vanderbilt must have loved George Thorogood because he's back again at Sarrat Cinema.

Dylan plays the aforementioned show.

Captain Beefheart rocks Exit/In.

The Grateful Dead come back to town.

Carl Perkins appears at Exit/In.

Rob Jackson and Kevin Gray are still playing Phranks and Steins.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail appears on public television Channel 8.

Chic's "LeFreak" comes out. I'm in the 6th grade.

January 1979: Suddenly now listed at Herr Harry's Thursday thru Saturday - The White Animals!!

Brownsville Station smokes up Exit/In.

Marshall Chapman plays the Exit/In with her opening act: The Ramones.

March 1979: Elvis Costello with the Rubinoos play at War Memorial on the Armed Funk tour March 12th. Tickets are $7.50.

Dukes of Hazzard premieres on CBS. The advert in Showcase proclaims it's the "real Georgia".

Rush plays Municipal Auditorium with Molly Hatchet opening.

When Steve Forbert plays Exit/In, he's billed as "this year's Bob Dylan".

Cheap Trick keeps the great concerts at War Memorial chugging along.

April 1979: Herr Harry Phrank and Steins becomes plain Phrank and Steins.

"Heart of Glass" appears in the top ten. I am completely smitten by Debbie Harry and I vow to get her "One Way Or Another".

May 1979: The Village People with Gloria Gaynor appear at Municipal Auditorium.

Supertramp plays Municipal.

The plans for a Woodstock II are announced. Tickets would be $37.50 and only available in the US.

The Smokehouse is listed for the first time in Showcase. It would become Cantrell's.

Chic gets their freak on at the Opryland Gaslight Theatre.

Mitch Ryder plays Exit/In.

Rick Nelson has a garden party at the Tennessee Theater

The Jacksons shake their bodies down to the ground at Municipal.

Albert King brings the blues to Exit/In.

In what looks like the busiest May in Nashville concert history up to that time, AC/DC with Bon Scott play the Tennessee Theater on May 22nd.

Disco is at its peak. "In The Navy" tops the charts. Nashville has 7 discos listed in the Showcase guide. Murfreesboro had a disco. Even Smyrna gets one called Robs and Tobs. "Makin' It" hits the top ten. When will this madness end? I predict it will end in August of 1979, because I have a knack for these things.

Cowboy George and the Beer Drinking Rodeo are the house band at the Smokehouse.

June 1979: Hank Jr. plays Exit/In.

The Cars bring their new wave to Nashville.

July 1979: There's a Showcase article on the Boomtown Rats.

Bad Company sells out a show in Nashville.

The Kinks (who would later get the prestige of closing a show opened by the mighty White Animals) billed as the "original heavy metal band" do a show at War Memorial.

The Bay City Rollers bring their sonic assault to town.

Kiss does a show. I was in 7th grade and Kiss was still my favorite band. I didn't get to see them live until the first reunion with makeup tour a few years ago. They were incredible and I felt like a kid again.

Journey's hard tour work has paid off. They come to town and sell out. A few years later during the Frontiers era, a show at Murphy Center sold out so fast that another show was added which also sold out. I was a junior in high school during this period and I never saw so many souvenir concert jerseys at one time before or since.

The White Animals leave Phranks and Steins to become the house band at the Smokehouse. I wonder what happened to Cowboy George.

August 1979: Nashville gets launched into the punk rock era on August 2nd when a band named after an insane asylum plays Phranks and Steins. Yep, the immortal Cloverbottom are unleashed.

The birth of the skinny tie band signals the death throes of disco when "My Sharona" comes out of nowhere to go to #2 in the country. It's almost impossible to describe what this song would do to me when it hit the airwaves. The volume dial would go off the hook and I would enter into some dance like state that involved loud singing and bopping around. I can't begin to imagine what my poor mother was thinking when it would come on in the car. I never wore seat belts then and our car would be bouncing and shaking as I tried to dance inside it. That incredible guitar riff laid waste to almost everything I had heard before (except for Kiss).

Greg Kihn plays Exit/In.

September 1979: The White Animals open for Marshall Chapman on Vandy's lawn.

October 1979: The Fabulous T-Birds, Paul Butterfield, and Muddy Waters play a "free" show at Memorial Gym!!

BB King and Bobby Blue Bland play the Tennessee Theater.

Tim Curry comes to Underwood Auditorium.

Robert Palmer does too.

The Eagles play Murphy Center in Mufreesboro. There would be lots of Long Run t-shirts worn the day after the show.

Rock 106 presents the Police with Eddie and The Hot Rods opening on October 15th!!

"Ride The New Wave" at the Exit/In with the Hots and Cloverbottom on October 27th.

Albert Collins plays the Exit/In.

Skatetown USA premieres.

November 1979: The Jacksons come back to Nashville.

ZZ Top wearing cheap sunglasses passes through the 'ville.

KDF presents David Johansen at the Exit/In.

The Ramones come back to headline at the Exit/In. I may be wrong, but I believe the Ramones won't appear again in Nashville until 1989.

The Cramps bring their brand of bad music to the bad people of Nashville at the Exit/In. Was November cool or what?

December 1979: Cloverbottom plays at Flanigans. A picture of Cloverbottom is used and captioned "prom picture".

Roller Boogie comes out. Although disco never died, it was definitely well out of date by now and starting to really smell.

The number one record in the country at the end of 1979 was the danceable, but most assuredly new wave "Pop Musik" by M.


Also along the great continuum: I also did some more culling of data during my first year back in college. There's not as much info as before, but it might be of some interest to some.

1981: Showcase mentions Joe Loftis and the Pinks. Joe was the original drummer of The White Animals.

November 1981: Dylan is back to play Municipal. Tickets were $11 reserved and $9.50 general admission.

Jack Emerson, a Vanderbilt student, and co-owner of the Praxis label produces an EP titled Never In Nashville featuring Factual, No Art, USR, and Cloverbottom. It's to be given away at shows. The first proper Praxis release is OFB's "Pink Cadillac".

REM plays Cantrells. Jason and the Nashville Scorchers open the gig.

U2 plays Vanderbilt's Underwood Auditorium and REM opens for $5.

1982: REM plays the KO Jams nightclub in Murfreesboro. KO Jams was located at 1511 East Main Street.

And that's it. By my second semester back at MTSU, I had a car so I quit spending my afternoons in the library.

CD Review: The Knitters - The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters


I first saw X in the documentary Decline And Fall Of Western Civilization. They were one of the best bands featured and even though their music posessed a ragged punk charm it was vastly different from the hardcore punk of bands like Black Flag, Germs, and Circle Jerks. It was as if time traveling musicians from the Fifties had been dropped into the Los Angeles punk rock scene and told to adapt. Rockabilly, blues, country, and punk collided for a potent blend of rock and roll. But the time travelers got homesick and in 1985 three of them joined forces with a couple of Blasters to form The Knitters. The punk spirit, which some could argue is but an echo of the original rock and roll one, was present on Poor Little Critter In The Road, but the music was a throwback to blues, folk, country, and rockabilly. It was just a side project, but it's now regarded as a country punk classic. It's even had its own tribute album and now twenty years later The Knitter are back.

It doesn't offer up the novelty of the first album for the simple fact is we know they can do more than punk. The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters has a little more studio shine than Poor Little Critter In The Road; think of it as a movie sequel filled with the things you loved about the original blockbuster with a few extra special effects. There are no car chases, but there's a good helping of new originals with some good and not so good cover songs. The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters isn't really all that modern and this is good.

The band is at their best when John Doe and Exene Cervenka's fractured harmonies meet. The 'tombstone shoes" of the X song "In This House That I Call Home" have worn well. There's a sequel within the sequel as the chicken stomping "Wreckin' Ball" gets an update. This time he's killing cattle and the results are hilarious for all non-bovines. Dave Alvin's "Dry River" is a yearning spiritual while "Long Chain On" finds Alvin layng down some tasty reverb picking. The only real misses are the cover of "Burning House Of Love" which doesn't come close to matching the intensity of the orignal and a misguided cover of "Born To Be Wild" that gets its motor running on terrible early before heading out the highway toward awful. Thankfully it's the last song on the album so it can easily be avoided. Let's hope we don't have to wait twenty years before The Knitters record a third album.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Web Musing

Just a few neat things about the internet:

I located a childhood friend by googling his name. He was really into World War history. We used to have these wars with the girls in 3rd grade that would rage on for months during recess. We would eventually negotiate very elaborate peace treaties to end the war always temporarily. I wish I had kept some of those treaties. I found my old pal because he had made some models of World War I planes and posted them on the web. He moved with his family to New Orleans after 5th grade and we'd lost touch soon after. Our paths were quite similar - he became a punk rocker too and last I heard he was pursuing a PHD at Auburn.

I was doing some research at Ancestry.com and came across a message from a woman wanting to learn about her husband's father. Her husband happened to be one of my cousins from my mother's side of the family. I emailed the lady and the next thing I know my mother is organizing a family reunion with them in Mississippi. My cousin's father died when he was very young and he hadn't seen relatives from his father's side of the family in ages.

I've shared emails with Suzanne Vega about Henry Rollins.

I've gotten email from a Blue Oyster Cult fanatic just because I mentioned BOC in the comments of a post at Blogcritics.

I get to waste my time and yours with this sort of stuff.

Anti-Dentite

I thought about asking my dentist if I could blog this before he started up the drill to give me a filling in one of my molars, but then I distracted myself by recalling the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is exposed as being an "anti-dentite bastard" and I forgot about blogging. Really, there wasn't much to blog about. My dentist, an old high school friend, shot me full of gum numbing dope, left me alone to stare at his fish tank screensaver for ten minutes or so, came back and shot a stream of compressed air and water at the offending tooth, asked me if that hurt, and when I said no the drill went in and I closed my eyes for the next half hour or so. Soon it was over and the whole left side of my head felt funny and all I could eat for lunch was mashed potatoes. I don't long for the old days, but a trip to the dentist is almost pleasant these days. Spit cups and pain are just childhood nostalgia. Note, that this is just regarding fillings. I had some periodontal work done a couple of years ago that had its fair share of pain and blood.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Donovan - Try For The Sun


Try For The Sun - The Journey Of Donovan is the most expansive stateside collection of Donovan yet with 3 discs and a DVD. It's a deserved and lavish treatment for a critically underrated artist. The chronological collection gives you a good dose of Donovan's folk rock Hickory sides, all of the hits, an ample selection of of album gems, some live performances, and some of his children's recordings. The macrocosm of the Sixties musical explosion is contained within.

It begins simply with Donovan in his folkie persona highlighted by "Catch The Wind" which is currently being used to sell Volvos. Donovan was very good at folk music. During this phase of his career he stole a scene from Dylan in docu-pic Don't Look Back. I wish this period of Donovan's career had lasted longer. The folk playing segued right into a sometimes ornate psychedelic period in which Donovan hit the big time with hits like "Sunshine Superman", "Mellow Yellow", and "Hurdy Gurdy Man" all produced by Mickie Most. This material would define Donovan and inspire such things as smoking banana peels and the Allman Brother's "Mountain Jam". The boxset digs deep into this sometimes sublime and silly well. "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" retains a childlike romanticism, but the spoken word bits on "Atlantis" bring to mind Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge".

Donovan's musical journey continued to correspond to his peers. He went from simply produced to more complex production and then back to simple. He recorded children's songs. His material began to harken back to the folk era with echoes of the blues which can heard on some of the live performances included in Try For The Sun. A handful of Donovan's later material is also included. Liner notes were written by Anthony DeCurtis. Donovan chose which songs to compile and I think he did a good job. He's one hippie I like.

"Included are every one of Donovan's 17 U.S. chart singles (and 8 well-chosen B sides), plus more than a dozen signature album tracks, 12 previously unreleased studio recordings, 7 previously unreleased live concert numbers (from 1967 and 1971), 2 live concert numbers previously unissued in the U.S., and a track from his rare 1964 demo. The bonus DVD marks the long overdue premiere of the 1970 documentary, There Is An Ocean. Filmed during a voyage to Greece, the documentary presents a revealing portrait of Donovan in the company of friends and family, with plenty of never-before-seen live performance footage included."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Screeching Weasel Weasel Mania


During the days when I put out my own fanzine, Anti-Society, I reviewed a demo tape by a band from Texas. No, it wasn't Screeching Weasel. They're from Chicago sillly. The band was named Coolfork and the reason I reviewed them was because a former bandmate of mine played bass for them. I came up with the term "twizzler rock" to describe their music which at that point was heavily influenced by the yet to hit it huge Green Day. The term sounded a little tougher than bubblegum punk. My terminology never caught on, but the genre sometimes referred to as geekcore sure did. My friend quit Coolfork before they later morphed into Bowling For Soup where they would have trememdous chart success.

Screeching Weasel is from that same pop punk universe. It all began after Ben Weasel saw the Ramones in 1986. It was the July 1976 England Ramones concerts revisited. Along with his friend Jughead they began a band to emulate their heroes. This simple three chord approach was almost the complete opposite of the testosterone heavy hardcore currently big in Chicago where Naked Raygun ruled. The first Screeching Weasel album came out on Underdog Records in 1987 with songs about their suburban lives. "7-11" was a catchy tune, but the record made hardly a ripple across America. It would still be awhile before Screeching Weasel would get the sort of popularity in the underground that Descendents and Adrenalin O.D. enjoyed.



They would break up in 1989, but Lawrence Livermore who ran Lookout Records liked the band and told them he'd sign them if they would reform. Lookout Records would become the home to many of the best pop punk bands of the 90s with Green Day being the most notable. 1991 saw the reunited Screeching Weasel, bolstered by the arrival of Danny Vapid, release My Brain Hurts on Lookout. Ben Weasel began to write a column for Maximum Rock-n-Roll. Screeching Weasel had arrived with if not a vengeance, at least a hell of a lot of momemtum. The Gilman Street geekcore crowd had their own version of The Ramones to inspire them.

They would release a bunch of classic albums on various labels, break up, get back together again, and then break up once more. Between breakups there would be The Riverdales releasing more great pop punk. Fat Wreck Chords has compiled 34 of Screeching Weasel's best songs from those classic records with Weasel Mania. The name is in homage to Ramones Mania. Some of my own personal faves are "Cindy's On Methadone" from My Brain Hurts. "She's Giving Me The Creeps" off of Kill The Musicians. "Jeannies Got A Problem With Her Uterus", from Wiggle, has a title that's clunky but the song is catchy and very reminiscent of The Dickies. Roller rink style organ lends a good touch to "Peter Brady" while the cicumspective "Every Night" shows a more serious side of the band; both originally on Anthem For A New Tomorrow. Screeching Weasel reunited for Bark Like A Dog released on Fat Wreck Chords and bark it did with several standouts included on Mania. I like the crunch of "Phasers On Kill" and "Cool Kids" the best. "Dummy Up" from Television City Dream rocks while the stutter step of "Static" off of the Emo album is the definite high point of the last few tunes on Weasel Mania.

So look beyond the commercial juggernaut that pop punk became and find out where it came from with Weasel Mania. Twizzler rock didn't catch on as descriptive parlance. Screeching Weasel didn't become MTV stars. But I think both are probably the better for it.

College Football Predictions Week Six

The record so far is like the fish sandwich at Arnolds from the "Buddy Holly" video: its not too good. But I persevere in my quest to prove that I don't know nuthin' about picking no football games.

My record at picking winners this year: 27-23
Picking against the spread: 19-31

This weeks picks:

GEORGIA TECH by 4 1/2 over NC State
winner Georgia Tech
spread Georgia Tech

West Virginia by 3 1/2 over RUTGERS
winner West Viriginia
spread West Viriginia

MICHIGAN by 7 1/2 over Minnesota
winner Michigan
spread Minnesota

TEXAS by 14 1/2 over Oklahoma
winner Texas
spread Texas

NAVY by 1 1/2 over Air Force
winner Navy
spread Navy

TENNESSEE by 3 over Georgia
winner Georgia
spread Georgia

lsu by 15 1/2 over VANDERBILT
winner LSU
spread Vanderbilt

Memphis by 2 1/2 over CENTRAL FLORIDA
winner Memphis
spread Memphis

ARIZONA STATE by 10 over Oregon
winner Arizona State
spread Arizona State

USC by 37 over Arizona
winner USC
spread Arizona

As always the hometeam is in capital letters.

Railroad Earth

October is my favorite month. I love the cool nights, the crisp air, leaves turning color, baseball playoffs, and the build up to Halloween. The best Halloween blog has to be Old Haunts. If you've got old Halloween photos laying around be sure and send them there. Shrub and Kara are checking out all of the haunted attractions down the Dallas, Texas way and writing about it at Goblinhaus. I'm probably not going to contribute anything to them this year, but last year they published a bunch of essays I wrote about Halloween. Here's one of them:

. The Boy With One Red Shoe .


There is a pretty good reason why my parents wouldn't let me go to haunted houses. It was because they would scare me right out of my shoes. I come from a lower middle class background. Sometimes it was low enough that all I would have for supper would be butter and bread sandwiches. So I know my parents didn't have the money to keep buying me shoes if I lost them. If you lose a shoe at a carnival they won't reimburse you.

Carnivals were a fixture of my youth. The town where I grew up, Murfreesboro, TN, would see several come through town in a year. There were 3 shopping centers and one large freestanding department store called Clarks and they would all host a carnival at least once a year, sometimes more. My father would take me to every one.

I would ride the kiddie rides and play some of the games. My father loved playing the games, especially if he was winning. The nights were fun, but sometimes they would drag on for a little fellow. It was on one of those long evenings that I was able to convince my father to take me into the haunted house.

It was a typical low budget carnival haunted house. It had a faded facade filled with scary imagery - bats, cobwebs, vampires, werewolves, and witches with a blood red background. The house itself was actually an poorly air conditioned semi-trailer. We got in the long line and my father admonished me to hold his hand. I was extremely excited as the line moved slowly toward the metal steps that would lead us into the horrors within. I could hear buzzers going off and people screaming from inside.

We stepped to the entrance and gave a man in greasy coveralls our ticket. The line inched forward. I was the only small kid in the line. The grown ups towered above me, their legs were like tree trunks. We went through the door and suddenly everything was black. I held on to my father's hand. My heart was starting to pound and nothing had even happened yet.

I shuffled ahead and the buzzers starting going off, people screamed, and light burst out just a few feet in front of us. We moved some steps forward and a buzzer screamed, a light crackled on and I saw a monster lurching behind a piece of cheap chicken wire. My mind reeled with fright. Another buzzer sounded and another cage appeared out of the dark. I jumped. I began to get disoriented as the stale air made me sick. Another buzzer razzed and I tried to close my eyes as tightly as I could. A strobe light pierced through the gloom and I saw an old crone moving behind the wire. She would tear through it and eat me alive. I was bumped from behind and lost my father's hand. I couldn't take it anymore. I pushed through the people in front of me, leaping past cages filled with demons and ghouls.

It was a long journey through a tunnel filled with danger. I would make it even if I had left my father behind. I saw the exit and I blasted through it into the candy colored lights of the midway attractions. My father found me at the bottom of the exit's steps a few minutes later. I was gasping for breath still reeling from the fright. He was concerned and disappointed at the same time. He calmed me down, but he was quick to inform me that the house wasn't scary at all. We were about to leave when he noticed that I had lost one of my red tennis shoes.

He asked the carnie if they'd get my shoe for me and we were told to get it ourselves. I wasn't about to go back in there, so my father went in and fumbled in the dark for it. He came out of the exit without the shoe. There were just too many people inside trampling through. The carnival wouldn't close until after midnight so my father decided not to wait and try to retrieve the shoe. I would get another pair of shoes the next day, but I wouldn't get to go inside a haunted house again until I was 17. It's hard to plead your case with your parents when you've been scared right out of a shoe.

Super Bender



It will be garage band mania at the 5 Spot this weekend. Visit Super Bender to find out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Flotsam And Jetsam

Random bits of brain matter for you. I know it's only aired one time, but the ABC remake of Nighstalker stinks. I wouldn't mind having one of those new Mustangs though. The thing didn't even get a dent in it when the new Kolchak ran over the monster. Bad news: House will be off the air for a month and a half. Good news: it's because the baseball playoffs begin have begun. Go Yankees! Yep, I root for the Evil Empire. My father always rooted for them plus he actually worked for George Steinbrenner at the Bridge Company in Nashville during the early Seventies.

I bought a Texas Longhorns hat because of Dazed And Confused plus I have several good friends that live in Texas.

I'm doing my roadwork every morning once again. I don't want to be part of everybody being overweight in America.

I've become apolitical again, been listening to The Who..."meet the new boss same as the old boss" indeed.

Emmy earned her first Girl Scout badge on Monday. It was for fitness. Harper's soccer team will have to score more than 9 goals in a game if they want to win in the 3 and 4 year old division.

Computer background of the moment: the Zen Arcade cover.

Screeching Weasel's greatest hits CD is totally kicking.

Raisins are the best. But combine them with oatmeal and you've got a juggernaut.

If natural gas prices rise as high as they say they will it will be heat or eat at the Wally household this winter. Maybe I need to invest in some electric blankets.

True North Records sent me a slew of CD's and I will get to reviewing a few of them soon.

Time seems to move faster but my body moves slower.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Slamina Blanc

Today's topic is inner groove cryptology with the White Animals. The White Animals were one of the biggest bands in Nashville until they called it quits in 1987. Along with Jason And The Scorchers they landed music videos on MTV and for awhile it looked as if the White Animals might land a major label record deal. They toured the college rock circuit and their mixture of Sixties flavored rock, Seventies punk, and splashes of dub reggae won praise from coast to coast. They were faintly damned for being a frat band, but it was just sour grapes on the Nashville Art Posse's part. The White Animals would play frat parties and they could play whole sets of cover songs if they wanted, but it was never their focus. It ended up creating a rock and roll multi-subcultural fan base. Frat boy accountants to be would stand shoulder to shoulder with future alternative rockers while punk rockers slamdanced in the background. Through it all the White Animals exhibited a casual cool coupled to a total love for playing music. A White Animals show was always an event and after the song "Ecstasy" dropped their shows became patchouli soaked events because of the line, "that patchouli that you wear."

Their original material was as good if not better than the cover material they did. Kevin Gray and Steve Boyd were Nashville's version of Lennon and McCartney, each with a different style that complemented the other. Gray's songs tended to rock more while Boyd tended to play the injured romantic crafting darker more complex material. They were rock and roll classicists doing their own Chubby Checker twist on things creating one of the most original sounds of the Eighties. They evolved over the course of an EP and several LP's released on their own Dreadbeat imprint which saw frequent spins on my record player. While listening to the tunes I would look at the cover art and read the liner notes.

I noticed that their song publishing was controlled by Slamina Blanc. That's funny. It's animal spelled backwards followed by blanc which means white. It was while figuring out which side of Nashville Babylon was the first side that I discovered that the White Animals liked to leave cryptic messages in the inner grooves of their records along with the side numbering that is usually present. I went through all of their thirty three and a third releases and found statements on most. Since the group, who reformed in 1999 to play periodic shows, will be performing at 12th and Porter on October 14th I thought I'd share these messages - the written equivalent to a hidden track on a compact disc.

The EP Nashville Babylon's messages are:
that side "vulgar, animalistic, nigra, rock & roll, bop..."
this side "I can still use my snout!"

The this side message is a reference to the Zap Comix character "Wonder Wart Hog" who overcame his impotence by using his snout. The message on side one, that side, is just a description about what lay in the grooves using the standard putdown response of the rock and roll haters back in the Fifties.

Lost Weekend with the great "I Must Have Been Hypnotized" cover:
side one "What am I...an onion?!?"
side two "Mimi's favorite band"

I never knew Mimi, but she had good taste. I don't know what the onion bit is about. Maybe it was an inside joke, or perhaps some pop culture reference that's too obscure for me.

A one-sided 12 inch single was released of the dub version of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" titled "These Boots Are Made For Dubbin'" and it's message was a homage to a Stanley Kramer film. "It's a dread, dread, dread, dread world!"

Ecstasy was the biggest release by the White Animals. It sold so well it went into a second pressing. They lost the photos that were used on the back cover and in the liner notes so the second pressing had a new back cover and insert. The messages on the inner grooves were kept the same.
side one "Virginia is for lovers" plus there was a drawing of a heart
side two "pocket full 'o hope in the ninth"

I assume the reference to Virginia was because of the many shows the White Animals performed in that great state. I'm a baseball fan so I really liked the message on side two.

A 12 inch single of "Help Yourself" and "She's So Different" came out, but there were no secret messages. It was just the names of the songs inscribed in the inner grooves.

Their next full length album was supposed to be the one to launch them to stardom. They called in Busta Jones to produce the album and recorded it in Memphis. It was simply titled White Animals, but it is often called The Purple Album or Drums In Church because of the purple painting on the cover. It was a good record and the inner grooves reference directly to the album.
Side one "Hossman you're the greatest"
Side two "Bustamup"

Hossman was a reference to Hoss Allen, the legendary WLAC deejay who helped spread R&B and black gospel throughout the eastern US. He's heard at the first of the song "Caught Up In The Dread" saying "so sit back and let the spirit commence."
The second side inner groove is obviously a reference to the producer Busta Jones.

A live album was released soon after this one and it was simply titled Live. It was a rather spartan affair and while the performance was hot it was obviously just released to hold the fans until the next studio album. There were no inscriptions in the inner grooves.




The next inscriptions would be on the album In The Last Days.
The A side "The old order changes..."
The B side "...yielding place to new"

In The Last Days was the band's last album, until they released a CD of new material recently, and the messages were all about the end of the band. Kevin Gray gave a lengthy interview in the Nashville music paper of the time, The Metro, about rock and roll being for the young and that it was time for him to step aside and go back to medical school. Which is just what he did. He now practices medicine in Texas. But luckily for us White Animals fans, the lure of playing rock and roll was too much for him and he got back together with his bandmates in 1999 for an incendiary pair of shows at the Exit/In. They've played a handful of shows every year since proving that you don't have to be young to rock. If The Rolling Stones can still do it, the White Animals should be able to also. So go out and see them next week at 12th and Porter. Nothing will be hidden in the inner grooves there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hello Larry

Has anybody ever saved your life? Literally saved your life? Somebody came close to saving mine once. I know that sounds weird since I'm obviously alive and all, but bear with me. He was the kid of my mother's best friend. He was the one that helped turn me on to the best that hip-hop had to offer back in the early 80's. His name: Larry Jones.

He was about 4-5 years younger than me. His mother worked with mine and they became best friends. So I got to spend lots of time with Larry on the weekends. Larry had a couple of older brothers. One was much older so we didn't have much to do with him. The other one was about 4 years older than me. My mother probably thought I'd become friends with him, but I couldn't stand the middle brother so I ended up hanging out with Larry. I never considered the kid my friend, but he liked Star Wars and Hot Wheels and when I was eleven those were important things. I also liked the fact that his parents could care less what we did.

I would spend the night on Saturday and get to stay up and watch Saturday Night Live. I could walk a few miles down the street to my girlfriend's house and spend the afternoon with her. It wasn't that I just used Larry. Far from it. We went down to Stewart's Creek many times just to wander the banks. We'd head out for a place where new homes were being built and have dirt clod wars with other kids from Larry's neighborhood. We'd spend lazy Sunday afternoons playing Star Wars or something else. I remember one day spent catapulting over the couch arm doing somersaults in the unused living room of Larry's home. I usually had fun hanging out with Larry.

But he often made things difficult. The age difference was one drawback. The other one was his completely wrecked homelife. His mother was a decent lady, but his father might as well have not been there. He was like a ghostly presence just hanging around rarely showing any emotion unless a ballgame was on the tube. This lack of control, while nice for me when I visited, was bad for Larry. He would get into insane screaming matches with his brothers that wouldn't end until he got belted one. I know this is not that unusual for a family, but these arguments happened constantly when he was around either of his brothers and the violence that always ensued couldn't have been too healthy.

I'd have to belt Larry too. He would decide to fight me and the fights always came from nowhere. We'd be having a good time and the next thing you know he'd be hitting me. Which was unwise since not only was I older, but I was much bigger. I'd let him hit me for awhile and ask him to stop since I hating fighting, but eventually his mosquito swats would piss me off enough to make me punch him in the head. It never took much more than one or two swings and he would stop. It wasn't until years later that I got to thinking that perhaps the reason he wanted to provoke me was some misguided attempt to find out if I actually liked him.

I sort of figured that Larry wasn't very popular with kids his own age from the way the neighborhood kids acted around him. But I found for sure when I was in 8th grade. I was invited to a big birthday blowout he was throwing at a local pizza parlor. I was having a great day just riding my bike around with some friends when my mother told me it was time to go to the party. I didn't want to go. I almost told my mother I wasn't going, but I decided it might be fun. I turned out to be the only kid who came to the party. He had invited everybody in his class at school. I felt awful for him. It was an embarrassing deal.

I started to see less of Larry. Not because his classmates hated him. It was because my family moved to the other side of the county. He came out a few times to see me at our new place. It was far out in the country so I told Larry that I had seen Bigfoot climbing the trees. He actually believed me. I knew then that I wouldn't be hanging out with him much more. I was in high school and he was still in grade school. He'd also taken to shoplifting and while I never told on him (until now) I wasn't a big fan of crime.

The shoplifting was probably just another manifestation of Larry's feelings of being unloved and unliked because his mother was always buying him stuff. He almost died then due to the onset of juvenile diabetes. I gave him a bunch of my comic books so he'd have something to read in the hospital. I was visiting him one cold winter weekend around this time when we decided to go see if the creek was frozen over. A thin film of ice covered the water under a bridge. There was a bunch of debris in the middle of the creek. A fallen log led to the debris. I decided to walk across the log. You can guess at what comes next.

I made it across the frozen solid log. Then I stepped onto the debris field. The thin ice gave way almost instantly plummeting me in freezing water up to my waist. This was disconcerting for a couple of reasons. One being that the water was very cold. Two was the fact that I couldn't swim. Yet I was oddly calm throughout the incident. Larry came across the log and helped me get out of the water. I could have just straddled the log and slid my way to safety, but I insisted on standing back up and walking back to the bank. Larry's house wasn't very far so I wasn't worried about frostbite. I got into a lukewarm bath and let me tell you...there was shrinkage. I don't recall Larry making a big deal about saving my life, since he didn't really. I was suitably grateful for the help he offered, but I pulled myself out of the water. I probably wouldn't have even attempted the stupid stunt if I had been down at the creek by myself.

But I wasn't down there by myself. I know the reason I didn't panic or become a "teenager drowns in frigid creek" byline was because I knew Larry would do whatever he could to help me if I couldn't help myself. My initial fear only lasting a few seconds. It was replaced by a little inner voice telling me how stupid I was followed by Larry yelling "Grab my hand." I had the log in a death grip by the time he said those words, but I know that he could have pulled me out if it had come down to it. That's about as close to saving a person's life as it gets I bet.

The reason I think about this is because Larry died a few years ago. I didn't even know he was dead until my mother told me months afterward. The diabetes combined with hard living caught up to him. He turned to more serious crime after he turned eighteen. He served time in prison and from what I could piece together he became nothing better than a two-bit thug. Just examined on the surface his life seems like it was a waste. Except he was there when I fell into a creek in the middle of a deep freeze ready and willing to offer me a helping hand. So here's to you Larry. I might have never considered you a friend when I was younger, but I'm proud to say you were my friend today.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Vacation

Where have I been? Technically on vacation, except I've spent two days washing the siding on my house with one more to go. If only I had a pressure washer! One side of the house will have to wait until I get one, but luckily it's the side that gets most of the sunlight during the day so the mildew invasion there is minimal. I will be back next week with reviews of the Donovan boxset - Donovan being one of the few hippies I've ever liked, a review of the Screeching Weasel best of that hits stores next week, and a look back at Nashville's White Animals since they'll be playing 12th and Porter soon. Well, time to take Harper to her 2nd regular season soccer game and then it'll be back to the bleach and water mixture I'm using to clean the house and then it'll get even better - mowing the lawn before it gets dark. Where's Rex L. Camino and his landscape expertise when I need it?