RIP, Lux Interior

Lux Interior, lead singer of the Cramps is dead at age 62. The one time I saw the Cramps was one of the highest energy and craziest shows I ever attended. I’m in my early 40s now and forced to live in a world without Lux, Joe Strummer, Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone, Robert Quine et al. Our crappy world gets a little less punk every day.

Fleetwood Mac Historical Controversy

Soundstage on PBS has recently shown a 2 part concert from Stevie Nicks. For no apparent reason this started me thinking about old Stevie songs and old Fleetwood Mac and reading about some of their history. I ran across a bit about the controversy on the Rumours album, where Stevie Nicks really wanted the song “Silver Springs” on the album but it was long, so it was cut in favor of “I Don’t Want to Know.”

I just sat down and listened to both songs, and I’d have to agree with Ms. Nicks. As good an album Rumours is, in the alternate world where they made the decision differently it would have been an even better album. Although they put it on the CD reissue 20+ years later, I would argue that if “Silver Springs” had been on the original album it would have been my favorite song on there. In fact, I’ll go on a limb and argue it as the single strongest Stevie Nicks composition I’ve ever heard.

There is not really any importance to refighting 33 year old arguments, but I’d say from my perspective time has proven Nicks right.

The Gentle Readers Rocked

We went to Atlanta last weekend and I got to see the Gentle Readers play. It’s an increasingly rare occurrence that they perform a show and I never know when it will be the last time, so I really wanted to go and catch them one more time. It was great, although I was probably the person most into in the room. Most people were there for the Susi French Connection, who were also great. It’s hard to have a bad time during a bunch of 70s covers. I gamely played along, although when they did “The Hustle” I got the hell out of the way. I didn’t want to cause a 13 disco pileup.

All in all it was a fun weekend, although with a high ratio of ass hauling. We did a little shopping in Atlanta. There was one moment where some sort of reality show came through the TJ Maxx we were in. Reality my ass, there is an unavoidable field of contrivance an unreality that surrounds these affairs and I could not wait to get out of the room with it.

I hope it isn’t five more years before the next Gentle Readers show. Even if it is, I hope I can make it to that one too. I need me some Lee Cuthbert guitars. As the song goes, “When the amplifiers hum, that’s where I belong.”

Free Amazon MP3s

A while back, I made my first ever purchase from the Amazon DRM Free MP3 store, Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets. I liked the experience and thought it was pretty cool. Now via Ruby comes this link to a bunch of free MP3s. I just spent a bunch of time going through all 67 pages (?!?!) of those and downloading a crazy amount of music from Ian Gillan, Mott the Hoople and others. This should keep everyone busy this weekend!

Eno and DRM Free MP3s

I can hit the quinella and make a new post that ties together two recents posts about music I love and DRM protected music. I realized that Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets is probably the album I love most that I don’t own. Somewhere in a box I believe I have a cassette of it that I recorded during an overnight at WREK. That was one of the perks of working in the station – bring blank cassettes and tape all the music you can stand too. I went to search for it on Amazon and I found that it is available as a DRM free MP3s.

I’ve never bought MP3s from Amazon. For that matter, I’ve never bought from iTunes either. I have one song I got via a coupon for a free download, Jimi Hendrix’ “When 6 was 9”. Apple has never received cash from me for music or movies, mainly because of my disdain for DRM protection, even when defeatable. I downloaded the OS X version of the Amazon Music downloader, completed the purchase and the downloader came up and within a minute or two I had the songs. They are in good sounding 256 kb unprotected MP3s. The downloader tool created an Amazon directory in my OS X Music folder, and it also added them to iTunes. 20 seconds after the purchase, I was listening to the album.

This is really a winner, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not getting involved with DRM music but I will buy it this way. Everything about the experience was pleasant and Just Worked. I like it when it goes like that. Brian Eno (or probably his record label) made a little money he might not have any other way. I wish it could just go straight to Eno. Now, if record labels were largely disintermediated out and bands could sign up directly with Amazon, we’d really have something.

A quote from the album seem appropriate now:

Some of them are old, some of them are new
Some of them will turn up when you least expect them to
And when they do, remember me, remember me.

Purity of a Pop Song

One of my favorite pop songs is Sugar’s “Gee Angel”, partly for the purity and simplicity of the lyric

There’s nothing in this world
That I’d rather do
Than buy a set of wings
And fly away with you

That’s a beautiful sentiment. Everyone needs someone to fly away with.

Desert Island Discs

I’m currently listening to Wim Merten’s ” Maximizing The Audience“, which is perhaps my all-time favorite song. That put me in mind of other of my favorite bits of music. There is not much here that you’d hear in oldies radio and several songs that few or no one that reads this will know. (Chris Campbell might be the one.)

Here is a list of some of my favorite pieces of music of all time. These are mostly individual songs even when they are the title tracks of albums. If they aren’t I’ll note that.

  • As stated above, Wim Merten’s ” Maximizing The Audience
  • Television’s “Marquis Moon”
  • John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” (I really consider all 3 parts as one long piece)
  • Muszikas’ “Cold Winds are Blowing”
  • Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out the Lights”
  • Brian Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire”
  • Frank Zappa’s “Watermelon in Easter Hay”
  • Michelle Malone’s “Brand New Dream”
  • Pixies’ “Gouge Away”
  • Bad Brain’s “I Against I”
  • T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy”
  • Warren Zevon’s “For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer”
  • Camper van Beethoven’s “All Her Favorite Fruit”
  • Captain Beefheart’s “Tropical Hot Dog Night”
  • John Cale’s “Paris 1919”
  • The Clash’s cover of Toots and the Maytal’s “Pressure Drop”
  • Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”
  • Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

I’m going to arbitrarily stop because I could perhaps go on all day. That, my friends, is one smoking mix tape.

Groadies I Have Known

I am subscribed to the Large Hearted Boy music and literature blog. Today was a post about the PDX Pop Now festival. The thing that jumps out about that is that the band Jonny X and the Groadies are friends of mine. I’ve known Jonny for 10 years and on the last national tour they did we had a house full of Groadies in Atlanta. Check out their music and if you are in PDX, go see them. You need some midi metal mayhem in your life. I’d be seeing them if I could.

The Siderunners Live

I’ve gotten a few emails from Nate “Siderunner” Van Allen pointing to the Siderunners website. Although the band is somewhere between on hiatus and defunct, they are releasing MP3s of the live shows they did on their last tour. I don’t know how many times I’ve played them in my show and I’ll definitely be playing some of these as well. Ever since I first heard X and Jason and the Scorchers, I’ve always been in the market for some good cowpunk. Let’s do this thing.

Thermos Greenwood

I’m listening to last week’s Personality Crisis and Jon has on these crazy guys from Thermos Greenwood. I don’t know how it is that I’ve never heard of them. They seem to come from that whole old Atlanta musician Glen Philips/Bruce Hampton/Swimming Pool Qs axis. I liked all the songs they played and want to find out more about the band. The banter between these two old southern guys reminded me of the Subgenius shows. Big chunks of their conversation could have been between Philo Drummond and Ivan Stang.

Listening to them talk with lots of hilarious asides and malaprops, at one point they made a normal statement but because I was conditioned to expect the wacky I misheard it. Although they didn’t say this, when it hit my ears the statement became:

The hole is greater than some of my parts.

That sounds just dirty enough to be true.

NYC, 1977

Via Caitlin comes this link to a great essay by Anthony Bourdain about what it was like to live in New York City in 1977. I really like how he is working at deromanticizing the punk era with statements like this:

The irradiated spawn of tormented loners who had grown up listening to the Stooges and the Velvets, wannabe poets, failed romantics — anyone with enough enthusiasm or anger to pick up a guitar, it seemed, converged on the only place that would have them.

I’m really liking Bourdain lately. His Without Reservations show is good, but above and beyond that:

  • His show used a Gentle Readers song as the background when they were at the Bada Bing.
  • He had Harvey Pekar on a recent episode.
  • He pointed out the sanctimonious fullness of shit of Sting in an episode from Peru. His point was that when Sting wants to preserve the way of life of indigenous people in the rain forest, he is asking them to stay in a brutally difficult lifestyle, working 14 hours every day of their life to survive in poverty. Bourdain pointed out that you might not be doing those people a favor and maybe it’s time for that traditional way of life to end.

All in all, I think Bourdain has got it going on.

Sgt. Pepper Must Die

Here’s a great article of musicians talking smack about other highly regarded albums. No one will ever agree with all these. For example, I highly agree with the inclusion of Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds but was kind of incensed by Nevermind and Daydream Nation. Oddly, Wayne Coyne was the one down on Nirvana and when you read his criticism it is mostly of stuff outside and after the album itself. I don’t think you can deduct from the Nirvana account the fact that Nickelback exists, even if they did try to rip off the sound. That’s just blaming the victim.

This does touch on something I was already thinking about blogging, which is the anniversary of Sgt Pepper. It was the very first compact disk I ever bought, years before I even owned my own CD player. It’s hard to think back that far, but for years the Beatles were unavailable in CD form, and when they started releasing them they did one album per month with Pepper being released on the month of its 20th anniversary, 20 years now past. It’s the CD I’ve owned longer than any other, and probably the only one I have guaranteed to never be played from start to finish ever again. If I were to sell some, it would be the first on the list.

A lot of time this record tops lists of “Best albums of all time.” There is no way, it is not even near the top of best Beatles album. I looked back over the track list, and there are 13 songs of which two are the same one with a reprise. Of the 12, there is a block of 5 consecutive songs I hope to never hear again – “Fixing a Hole”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “Within You Without You” and “When I’m Sixty-Four”. I think all of these songs are filler and completely throwaway. Any reasonable candidate for a best album of all-time cannot have filler disposable songs, and this album is practically half-full of it.

There are two songs on here that I find eminently relistenable, and they are not songs you hear regularly on classic rock radio. They are “Good Morning” and “Lovely Rita”, the latter being one of my favorites of all Beatles songs. They are unpreposessing great pop, unburdened by the weight of being held up as some sort of superlative and minus the twee pretentiousness of songs like “A Day in the Life.” If you cut out the middle of this album and made it an EP, it would be a pretty good one. Taken as a whole, I agree with Billy Childish that it is the worst Beatles album up to that time.

How Jonathan Coulton Did It

Jonathan Coulton has a long post relating the case study of how he became an internet buzzworthy artist with an income. He very kindly name checks me in it. I’m pretty sure the timetable is slightly different, in that I played his “Dance Soterios Johnson Dance” in an EGC episode the day after I found it in a Little Gray Book show on the PRX feed. In fact, I played it straight from the episode, reblogging it but in audio. I do believe that was before any Coulton was played on the Daily Source Code. I’m pretty sure my interview with him was his first in a podcast as well. Not trying to pull rank or anything, just make sure people see the flag of EGCistan on the top of that mountain.

I think his post should be required reading for anyone trying to make money from music using the internet as the backbone. I particularly like his conclusions:

I wish I could say it went exactly as planned, but the truth is there was no plan. I just knew that many of the people who heard my music liked it, and I imagined that it must be somehow possible to make a living as an independent artist, letting the internet to take care of a lot of the work for you. It was an optimistic assumption, and one based largely on laziness and wishful thinking, but it turns out to be true.

I’ve been trading emails with him the last few days, where I mentioned a biscuit-headed crazy idea I’ve been kicking around how writers could make extra money while giving away their work. I’ll try to blog that this weekend. For now, check out Coulton lay out the story of His Life On The Intarweb and glory in the joyful weirdness of it all.

Used CDs Are Bad Bad Things

When you think about things that really need a lot of oversight when they are sold used, what springs to mind? How far down that list are music CDs? Apparently states are passing new laws putting restrictions on how you can sell used CDs. Dear bob, does the insanity have no bounds? Florida now has a waiting period that prevents retailers from selling the CD inventory until 30 days after they purchased it. Can this have any other real intention than driving used CD retailers out of business? The ostensible purpose is to combat counterfeit CDs, but making stores sit on the new inventory for 30 days seems designed to hurt their cash flow and reduce the viability of their business.

I think it was Freakonomics that pointed out that a healthy used market for entertainment goods counter-intuitively helps sell more new goods. You’d think they were competing for the same dollars but their finding was that having a place to sell the used goods back makes it less risky to purchase new. I can only hope that is true, and that the Big Music Machine having gotten their way on yet another bit of draconian protectionist legislation finds themselves making ever less money. Of course, if that happens the fault will always be elsewhere other than their business practices. Big Music can never do wrong, you know.

Randall Bramblett Rocks!

I did go to the show last night at the Rivertown Jazz and Arts Festival. A friend called a few minutes before I was ready to head back, so I missed the first 15 minutes or so of the Randall Bramblett Band. It was a fine show, and I liked it a lot. It had that good Americana sound going on, with a tinge ofAllman-esque southern rock. It was the least jazzy band I’ve ever seen at the Jazz and Arts fest, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t really good. Bramblett did have a few really jazzy saxophone solos. During the course of the 75 minutes I saw, he predominantly played keyboards, but he also played guitar, harmonica, and sax.

There was much dancing, and I captured some footage of the show and the revelry with my CVS camcorder. If and when I can assemble that, I will publish in my videoblog (that hasn’t had anything new in over a year.) If you are in the Grand Strand and didn’t come, you missed it and it was free.

Rivertown Jazz and Arts Festival

This Saturday is the annual Rivertown Jazz and Arts Festival. Last year the headliner was John Scofield, this year it is the Randall Bramblett Band. I wasn’t familiar with him, but looking up his bio I see he played with Sea Level, Traffic and Greg Allman before launching his solo career. This is the one time of the year that national touring acts play walking distance from my house, so I always want to take advantage of that. I’m looking forward to it.

RIAA Gets Everyone’s Money

Correspondent Derek sent me this link to a story about how Sound Exchange (aka, the RIAA) collects webcasting money for every artist even the ones that have nothing to do with the RIAA. That is to say, the RIAA will collect money for every song that is ever webcast from here on out, whether or not the artist is one with a relationship with them. If you are an artist, you have to actually go ask them for the money. If you never do, they keep it. This stinks to high heaven.

In related news, I saw an article about how well the RIAA is doing its job. Nothing to do with lobbying, but their real primary business, drawing heat away from the member labels. Pretty much everyone hates the RIAA and about everything they ever do. However, when you hate the RIAA brand, you aren’t hating Sony, Warner Bros, Universal, BMG, Elektra, Arista, Capitol, et al. Don’t forget that when you hate the RIAA, you hate all these labels. Vote with your wallets.

Rocket City Riot Drops

I feel paternal about this item. A long time back, this podcast was serializing the new Rocket City Riot album one song at a time as he finished them. We were doing a short interview every Saturday, which was a lot of fun. At least one of these was done with John Mark while he was in Bangladesh. Well, that album is now out and available for purchase from Magnatune. RCR was the first band I ever paid money for at Magnatune, and I’ll be doing it for this one as well. High energy indie rock and roll that not only moves your booty and makes you bang your head, but also sticks it to the man! It don’t get better than this.

Siderunners Final Show

The Siderunners will be having their final show tonight at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. If you can make it, this would be the one to see. Show starts at 9 PM CDT, 2100 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL – (773) 281 – 4444   It sucks that this is the last one, and it makes my screwup that kept me from seeing them in Wilmington NC last fall that much dumber. At least I got to see them in Chicago once.