Homework of the Bowie Kind

Per my homework from the most recent episode of Mad at Dad, I’ll be listening to Bowie’s Diamond Dogs top to bottom with headphones. My assertion is that it isn’t better than the Mick Ronson era albums of the early 70s, Michael Butler’s is that it is superior. We shall see.

New Iron Maiden Album

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I have never bought an Iron Maiden album in my life, but I think Michael Butler is selling me one. Here is his track by track of the album, Part 1 and Part 2. I really love this and in fact where he gave Disk 1 a 5.5 out of 6, I would have given it 6/6 because I like the song “Speed of Light” better than Butler does. Wow!

Slip It In

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I just listened to the episode of the Rock and Roll Geek Show where he interviewed Inger Lorre about the rise and fall of her band the Nymphs. He got to the end and said “I’m going to play one more song, I don’t even know what it is.” Following that, I heard the opening notes of Black Flag’s “Slip It In”, the version Henry Rollins recorded for Rise Above, the West Memphis Three fundraising album. Inger sang the female voice on that version.

I haven’t heard this song in a long time, but from the first few notes, my pulse quickened and I got excited. My body had a visceral reaction even before my mind had registered what the song was. I must have listened to the song easily 500 times when I was in college, mostly the live version on my second-hand Walkman. I’m at a similar weight to back then, and my body is as much like it was then as it has been in decades. I instantly felt like a dumb 20 year old with endless pools of free floating aggression and anger, looking for anywhere to go. This music, slam dancing at the Metroplex, doing ridiculous feats of physical stupidity, that is where it went. I’m glad I survived all that in one piece.

It only took a few seconds of an unfamiliar version of a familiar song to bring it back. Here’s to surviving your youth.

Darkness – Barbarians

Yesterday I listened to Michael Butler do a track by track of the new Darkness album Last of Our Kind. I liked it, I like the Darkness in general. This album is something special though. It is somewhere between a theme album and a rock opera. What do you suppose the theme would be? Well, no. It is about medieval life and warfare. The opening song “Barbarians” is about the Danish invasion of East Anglia in 869. I like the video too, which is goofy, violent, and full of visual jokes that play off the themes and lyrics.

This album isn’t what immediately springs to mind when you think about a soundtrack to Song of Ice and Fire or Nicola Griffith’s Hild books but you know, it might work. If you go to the Darkness website you can listen to it via streaming. Check it out.

Rock and Roll Geek Scoring System

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By and large, I really like Michael Butler’s Rock and Roll Geek album scoring system. He gives each song a 0, 1/2 or 1 and then adds it up and it almost always comes up with something sensible. However…

I am listening to this episode where he is scoring both the new Scorpions album “Return to Forever” and Black Star Riders album “Killer Instinct”. I haven’t gotten to the end yet but in the middle he has the Scorpions ahead by 1/2 point. To my ears, they are nowhere close. The Black Star Riders is a way better album. I cannot see ever actually listening to this Scorpions for anything other than ironic cheeziness. It’s too bad to be enjoyable and not bad enough to be fun. Butler is giving it good scores on a song by song basis but it is mostly sucking the life out of me. Conversely, when he switches over to a Black Star Riders song I pick back up and reengage. I would put this album on for enjoyment.

It’s worth a listen to see what you think but I wouldn’t score them anywhere close.

Old School

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Here is one of the things about being a packrat who never throws things away. When you lose a lot of weight, you can fit in your old clothes because unlike normal people you never got rid of the things that didn’t fit. That means in some cases you may have some really old concert shirts that are still hanging around.

What I am wearing here is not some ironic hipster artifact. I bought this at a concert at the Omni in Atlanta in what must have been spring of 1988. “Wild Wild West” was still a big hit at the time of the show, so it couldn’t have been much after that. This was right around the height of my attending rap shows. I saw Public Enemy multiple times, Run DMC, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Eric B and Rakim, Stetsasonic, Doug E. Fresh, Whodini, BDP. My one big regret is never seeing the Fat Boys. To this day, every time I am in Myrtle Beach and see a restaurant sign that says “All You Can Eat”, I hear the song in my head and picture the video.

My rap going fell off a lot into the 90s. Basically, I was anti-correlated with white people interest in hip-hop. As that grew, I faded. I am proud of going to all of these shows (all of them at the Omni) with 10,000 or more people and being one of 100 white guys in the crowd. One of the upsides of attending T.W. Josey High School in Augusta GA for one year is that it let me be comfortable with being the only white person in a crowded room. It can be pretty fun. A large part of why I knew anything about the rap of that time is that the black kids at school treated me and my brother as projects and brought us up to speed. That was an era when disagreements were solved by the guys going into a break dance off. It was hilarious and much more entertaining than fist fights.

Although in the late 80s I was also attending punk and metal shows at the Metroplex a few blocks away, you can make a case that I have as much street cred for early hip-hop. If anyone questions that, I will note that I saw Krush Groove in the theater with my brother. It was packed and we were the only two white kids in the place. That predated by years the first time I attended a punk show. When I did start going, I might have worn this shirt to see The Jody Foster Army or The Circle Jerks and I probably wore an Anthrax shirt to this show. That’s how I rolled.

Two Projects to Support

Here are a few interesting projects in the fundosphere (emphasis on “fun”.) I talked about the first on the podcast I released today and played a song by the band, but Cats Laughing – a Minneapolis based SF/fantasy supergroup – has a Kickstarter to fund their reunion show at Minicon 50. I have long loved this band and am excited to see this happen. The project is already funded and is now reaching for the stretch goals. Adam Stemple, Emma Bull, Steven Brust and Lojo Russo. There is a lot of good music and fiction produced by this crowd, and you can be part of this. This Kickstarter closes January 18th.

The currently running Humble Bundle for books is a set of digital graphic novels from Image Comics. This is truly a treasure trove. The highest level is $18, and if you pay that it will unlock the East of West special, the first 18 issues of Saga and the first 48 of The Walking Dead. That is a complete steal. Even just Saga by itself is a good deal. Considering you get hundreds of other issues in addition is phenomenal.

This includes the first collection of one of my current favorite series, Velvet. Also, Sex Criminals, Satellite Sam, The Manhattan Projects, The Fuse. These are all things I buy in paper at full price, I don’t think you can go wrong here.

In fact, here are series in the bundles that I have reviewed for Pull Box Picks:

Of every Humble Bundle I’ve ever seen, this might be the best value. I can attest to about half of the issues contained in here that they are well worth reading. If you support it, there is no reason to not go straight to $18. Unless, like me, you already own everything in that tier. The Humble Bundle closes January 20th.

I highly recommend both of these projects. Go, money! Fly and be free!

New Podcast: Alphabeatical

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I am a fan of the Ink Panthers podcast. I love the cartoonist hosts Mike Dawson, Alex Robinson and frequent guest-host Tony Consiglio. The show is on my list of ones that always made me happy to hear an epsiode. In February 2014 they sort-of closed up shop on the podcast, ceasing weekly production. However, I stayed subscribed and was pleased to find they still publish an episode every now and then.

I just got to the “Winter Special” from November, and in it they mention Alex’s other podcasts. He has long been a co-host of The Star Wars Minute, a killer concept where in each episode they discuss in depth 60 seconds of a Star Wars movie. The newer one is what I subscribed to, called Alphabeatical.

Alphabeatical is another OCD type completist podcast. In it, they discuss every Beatles song in alphabetical order, “from 12 to Y” as they say in the show. The shows are generally around 10 minutes an episode and come out two or three times a week. With the episodes relatively short, I just downloaded them all and am listening to a few every day before I get into my regular episodes. Eventually it will just shuffle into my standard chronological queue.

I am usually hard on multi-person podcasts, and even though they have four hosts I don’t mind the interactions. It is not a constant race to the next in-joke, and I like the differences in insight amongst the guys. Even more interesting is that there can be wildly varying opinions about the songs. Some of the guys didn’t like “A Day in the Life” so it is not as if they are hewing to common wisdom. It is waning for me as I age, but at one point I was enough of a nut to own the book of the Abbey Road studio logs which they refer to repeatedly in the podcast.

If you like Alex Robinson’s graphic novels and/or are a serious Beatles fan, try this show. You might like it.

Rock and Roll Twitter

Steve Conte NYC

Yesterday was a big day in my intersection of rock and roll and Twitter. First, I listened to Rock and Roll Geek Show episode in which he did a track by track of the Steve Conte NYC album. I really loved that episode and the album. It is now my all-time favorite of his track by tracks. My previous favorite was the one where he and Berton Averre went over Get the Knack.

Funnily enough, I tweeted to Steve Conte yesterday and he retweeted it.

I think that is pretty cool that I got a retweet from a New York Doll. True he is not an original Doll, but 60% of them have passed on so I’ll take what I can get. This album is truly terrific. It is good solid American rock and roll, and I highly recommend it. Go to the Amazon MP3 page for it and just do the preview. A few seconds of each song will be enough to let you know if you want it. (Spoiler alert: you will.) Steve Conte, you rock – figuratively and literally.

Silver Springs

I have said it hundreds of times and I will say it thousands more. The best song on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album is the song they cut for time. I remember watching their episode of Behind the Music and the discussion around it. Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham both asserted that everyone loved the song but it was just too long to fit on the album. I called bullshit because the albums was only 39 minutes long, and even in 1976 there were plenty of 44 minute LPs.

Having kicked this thought around for a decade, even though I love the song and it is my favorite Fleetwood Mac song of all time, for a long time I thought those guys were right. It’s not the the total running time of the album would be technically infeasible, it’s that in the era of needing two sides of nearly equal length, it couldn’t possibly be sequenced well with “Silver Springs” on it.

.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 “Second Hand News” Lindsey Buckingham 2:44
2. “Dreams” Stevie Nicks 4:14
3. “Never Going Back Again” Lindsey Buckingham 2:15
4. “Don’t Stop” Christine McVie 3:12
5. “Go Your Own Way” Lindsey Buckingham 3:38
6. “Songbird” Christine McVie 3:21
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. “The Chain” L. Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, C. McVie, John McVie, S. Nicks 4:16
8. “You Make Loving Fun” Christine McVie 3:31
9. “I Don’t Want to Know” Stevie Nicks 3:15
10. “Oh Daddy” Christine McVie 3:58
11. “Gold Dust Woman” Stevie Nicks 5:02

That’s the thing, Rumours is an extremely well sequenced album. That’s a big part of what makes it such a classic album as a whole. Not only is every single song on it very strong, the rhythms, ebb and flow, tension and release is better than any album of its era. Adding five more minutes of mid-tempo melancholy is very tricky. Whichever side you put it on, 2.5 minutes plus or minus 20 seconds has to trade to the other. If you put it on Side 2, that would pretty much mean moving “I Don’t Want to Know.” That leaves Side 2 as a downbeat, dirge heavy album closer. It has to be on Side 1, which means that you probably can’t displace a slow song. That pretty much leaves “Second Hand News” as the one to move, which robs the album of that great opener.

I think there is one reasonable option. That is to move “Never Going Back Again” to Side 2, right after “The Chain” and put “Silver Springs” in that spot on Side 1. I finally empathize with Buckingham and Fleetwood. Years ago I laughed this off, but they are right. Is this a better album with “Silver Springs” on there, given the two sided LP/cassette constraints they were working with? I think my suggestion is reasonable but I can’t state it is better than the original. In the CD era, it’s a no-brainer. The song belongs on there. In the LP era, what they went with might have been for the best, as much as it pains me to say so.

As it is, “Silver Springs” remains my single favorite Fleetwood Mac song. I’m sure some contribution to that is the fact that it hasn’t been played to death like all the hits have been. My second favorite song of theirs is “It’s Not That Funny” but only in the live version. I remember the concert they played over and over on HBO in the early 80s and that song was a staple. Lindsey Buckingham played the hell out of it and won me over. At this point, I could take or leave all the hits with a strong chance of leaving them. As long as I have those two songs, I’m good.

Still Drunk, Still Seeing the Junk

I was pleased over the holidays to see this post on the Beatnik Turtle blog. Tom, aka the guitar player of the band and one of the primary co-conspirators with me in inflicting the song “Drunk Man’s Junk” on the internet noticed that every scotch mentioned by name in the song was available in the Heathrow airport duty free shop. This is was a great and fun note on which to end 2010. I love Beatnik Turtle as a band, I love all the guys I’ve spent time with, and I love that song. It’s gratifying that after 15 months, it’s still the highest ranked song in their popularity list. I didn’t even commit voting fraud!

For 2011, may all you out there keep your heads up but your kilts and your liquor down.

The Greatest Xmas Song Ever Written

Before we get too far from the holiday season, let me put in a pointer for my single favorite modern Xmas song. The title of this post is not my editorial postion, it’s actually the title: “The Greatest Xmas Song Ever Written” by American Heartbreak. This is the sadly defunct band of my good friend Michael Butler of the Rock and Roll Geek Show. On Facebook a few weeks ago I saw a thread about how bad most post World War Two holiday songs are, and that prompted me to spread the love for this song. It’s a super catchy, basically anti-Christmas song that is a perfect antidote to the treacle of most. “No stores are open/ No one shops for me/ I wish Christmas never came/ Every year’s the same/ It looks like/ It looks like/ I’ll be by myself for Christmas.” When the syrup of most songs gets on your nerves, try this shot of tabasco. I apply some every year and I love it.

If you want, the player below will let you hear it, or you can download it directly. It should also show up in the podcast feed because, hey, it’s the time of year for giving. Again, you are welcome.

Pregnancy Humor

My wife is in the end game of her pregnancy. I just happened to randomly see this video which I guarantee is 100 times funnier when you spend every day with a woman exactly this pregnant. Every line of this song is hilarious and on the mark. It doesn’t hurt that this parodies the only Beyonce song I’ve ever liked. For your viewing and listening pleasure, I present “All the Pregnant Ladies (If you liked it you should have put a thing on it)”. You are welcome.

Thomas Peake Farewell Concert and Peakecast

Tomorrow Sunday December 20th 2009 will be the “Thomas Peake Farewell Celebratory Concert” at the Eyedrum – 290 MLK Jr Drive SE in Atlanta. Doors open at 3 pm, music starts at 4 PM and will go until the wee hours. A variety of bands will perform, from ones that Thomas helped in their careers, was friends with the members, and even a band that is debuting as a live act at the event. It will be a great time for lovers of music and lovers of Thomas alike. A salient point of the whole deal is that all the money raised by the concert will be given to the East Atlanta Kids Club, a charity that Thomas was intimately involved with in his life.

I wish I could be there to hear the music, help send off a friend, and spend a little more time with all our mutual friends. At the memorial in September I saw many people that I hadn’t seen in 20 years. If there is one thing I need in this life, it is more ways to get these groups of people together that don’t require someone dying first.

We’ve had a self-imposed deadline of getting the next episode of the Peakecast out before this show and I made it today by about 22 hours. Peakecast Episode Three is out in the world now and captures Thomas and Arthur Davis spinning tunes as guest hosts of Personality Crisis. Their set list is unique and weird and not at all like anything Jon Kincaid would have played, or anyone else for that matter. Check it out. This is just the beginning of what there is to be published. That is literally the first tape out of a big box, and we’ve been informed by Dena Peake that there are more boxes where this came from. It’s not as good as having the big man around to spin us some tunes but we’re now taking what we can on that front. If you care, tune in, subscribe, listen, comment and share your memories. Every memory gets more precious every day.

25th Anniversary Destroy All Music Festival

For you Atlanta GA area lovers of the industrial noise, this Saturday Oct 24th is the 25th Anniversary Destroy All Music Festival being held at the Eyedrum. I was sent the press release by Tony Gordon, longtime co-host of the Destroy All Music radio program on WREK FM. I saw him and his co-host Ellen McGrail at the memorial for Thomas Peake. I hadn’t seen Ellen or Tony since I left the ATL in 2003. In the 2001-2002 time period when I was doing a lot of work for the station, I’d go in on Sunday mornings to work on things and hang out a little with Tony while he did his shift. I really like the guy and was glad to see him and Ellen again, even under the somber circumstances. When I was at WREK in the 1980’s, the original series of Destroy All Music festivals were going on. It’s great to see them return with ear splitting vigor.

The festival will be this Saturday, Oct 24th with doors opening at 6 PM, music starting at 7 PM and as the press release says “continuing on until all music has been destroyed!” The lineup will be:

Andrew Coltrane

Wasteland Jazz Unit
Sean Meehan
Tamio Shiraishi

Traum
Mr. Natural
Graham Moore

Fenton

If you are in driving distance of Atlanta and dig the avant noise scene, this is the place to be. Check it out.

Free Mojo Nixon MP3s at Amazon

I have no idea how long this deal will last but the last one like this I linked to was about 2 hours from when I posted it. I’d recommend jumping on this sooner rather than later. Right now, all Mojo Nixon albums are available for free from the Amazon.com MP3 store. I downloaded them all last night. I have a number of these on vinyl and/or cassette but there are multiple albums I’ve never heard of. If you have any interest, I’d suggest you strike while the iron is free.

Enjoy Every Sandwich for $1.99

Here’s a deal I need to take advantage of. In the Amazon MP3 store, they have the Warren Zevon tribute album Enjoy Every Sandwich on sale for $1.99. I don’t know how long this will last, so if you are interested one should buy sooner rather than later. The late great Warren Zevon is one of those anomolous artists whose last albums of his life were amongst his strongest. To this day, I can’t hear “For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer” without getting tears in my eyes.

Warren, you crazy bastard, I miss you. How are we to get along without your insanely catchy tragic songs?

Update: That sale didn’t last long. It was so short that I didn’t even get in on it. I was on a beach store’s wifi at the time I posted this and it didn’t seem prudent to buy it right then but I didn’t realize that the sale would be off even a few hours later. Woops! I might still buy this at $6.99.

The Band

One of my favorite groups of the 60s and 70s is The Band. I love their music and I loved how they defied the psychedelic times by wearing clothes out of the 19th century and singing songs about the Civil War. As I get ever more burned out on “oldies”, this is music that always holds up for me.

We all know “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Two of the songs that always perk me up are the lesser known “Chest Fever” and “Acadian Driftwood.” I like their music that is influenced by New Orleans and Cajun music. I used to live in Lafeyette and really learned to love Cajun and Zydeco back then. In fact just this morning I listened to the most recent episode of The Subdudes podcast so I already had my ears buzzing with the New Orleans sound.

A month ago the Greatest Hits album was on sale from Amazon for $1.99 and I picked it up then. I have several of their albums on cassette somewhere in this house, but for that price it makes sense to just get it again in digital form. I’m listening to it right now and enjoying it all over again.

Hey, buddy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap, here on the street?

I got six on each arm and two more round my feet

Life is a carnival, believe it or not

Life is a carnival, two bits a shot