Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Seminal Captain Beefheart

In tribute I listened to the "Trout Mask Replica" album in its entirety this morning. That was tough. I still think that "The Old Fart at Play" (who is now breathing freely I hope) is the Captain's masterpiece, but "Well" (" mind cracked like custard...") and "Orange Claw Hammer" also moved me. Captain Beefheart got MS and died on December 17, 2010. I was surprised to hear about it on National Public Radio. I didn't realize that he was an icon. I am extremely different and not always diffident but this guy's bizarrinality was too much even for my mirror. I give NPR credit for the mention of his death. They even played a little of his stuff.

MS is a horrible quagmire of a disease. My wife's favorite sis died of its complications. Judi II. The II is for Gemini, she was. I've had cancer and I was lousywithit. But multiple sclerosis? Plez i donwanthatone Sir. Try to rest in peace now Cap'.

Anyway, I'm not supposed to have dessert at breakfast. But since Frank Zappa produced "Trout..." I followed it up with "Freak Out". The beyond amazing F. Z. didn't have enough money yet to produce the Mothers' first album, so thanks to Tom Wilson. Tom died in 1978, too young (47, heart), as did Frank (52, prostate) in 1993. Frank's "Trouble Every Day" is one of the best songs ever written. Where? Duh, top five? Don't worry no one ever really listened to "Trouble...".

Sorry, as P----- H---- sang, I'm just ramblin' on and on and on. I guess in held twas in I. And now I'm too stuffed to eat my (lunch) pizza. I'm a stuffed pizza? Or should I just stuff it? You just don't understand me and all that other stuff they hand me.

Don't worry about my loss of nomenclature and structure and punkuation and Spelling. It's part of the tribute to a mosunusualman. Don't be too hard on me. I like Beethoven too.

I almost blew off "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" writing this. I did catch the fact that "road kill" stuffed toys are now available. Don Van Vliet wouldn't have approved of that. Well maybe in a song.

So ends my rant 'n' roll. If the Cubs would just win the World Series the world could end. 'Cause Voice is missin' Janis, Guitar is missin' Jimi, and right now I'm missin' Cap'n and his Mother.

Jim William is so bozo.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Hey Joe Henry, Thx...

for these words (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in your tune. i heard it on your b-day.

"Somebody used my mouth (to laugh) out loud."

"Somebody made my heart into a silver spoon."

"Nobody knows the man I keep hid."

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Great Soundtrack

If you like Bob Dylan songs that is. I saw a movie called "Masked and Anonymous" (not too sweet a movie-see my web site) with a great soundtrack.
"Most of the Time" by Sophie Zetmani is my favorite song. It's better than Dylan does it, but that's not too hard to believe. Did you ever hear "Like a Rolling Stone" done in Spanish hip-hop? Awesome, by Articolo 31 with Dylan on the chorus in English. "City of Gold" by The Dixie Hummingbirds is one of the two songs on the cd which are not in the movie. I'm glad it was included for sure. "Gotta Serve Somebody" by Shirley Caesar is the other tune which wasn't in the movie. Again, much better than Dylan's version in my opinion. "If You See Her, Say Hello" is in Italian by Francisco de Gregorio. "Senor" is a nice version by the late Jerry Garcia. The traditional song "Dixie" is sung by Mr. Dylan. Those are my 7 favorite tracks. All of the songs except for "Dixie" and "Diamond Joe" (another traditional tune) were written by the great poet Bob D. There are 14 tracks. Also of interest are "One More Cup of Coffee" by the Turkish singer Sertab and a Japanese "My Back Pages". There is not a bad tune anywhere. Only one regret about the soundtrack: "Blowin' in the Wind", which runs during the final credits for the movie, wasn't ready in time to be included. Thousands of people have recorded this song, but I've never heard anything like this unique, tremendous version. It's unrecognizable except for the words. It was performed by Percy Faith and His Orchestra!! What the #@*^&? I'm not normally a fan.
At the same time I purchased (from Amazon) Marianne Faithful's "Easy Come Easy Go". Not as good. The title song's o.k. She does a nice "Down From Dover" which was written by Dolly Parton. "Sing Me Back Home", a Merle Haggard song, is really nice (with Keith Richards-they are old buddies). My wife says she sounds like a "lounge lizard".

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Old Hippies Music Review

Well of course I musn't tell the little lady's age, but we've been married almost 40 years. Some subtraction reveals the musical era that she and I grew up in. We didn't make it to Woodstock but did get to go to a 3 day music festival at Goose Lake, Michigan in the summer of 1970. Details are a little foggy, because the promoters announced "Do Not Take The Brown Mescaline!" a few minutes too late for me. One of the biggest disappointments, other than the bad psychedelics, was that one of the best English blues groups, Savoy Brown, was a no-show. The good news was Ten Years After, The James Gang and Jethro Tull were there, and dozens of other super, famous groups. The wife and I were music buffs then and now. In the summer of '66, when I woke up in the hospital with nothing much to do (except to eat Seconal for pain), I teethed on "The Pied Piper", "Sweet Pea", "Summer In The City", "I Saw Her Again Last Night". I think I also fell in love there for the first time but I never saw that princess again-well maybe once. My future wife knew her first love about the same time and she also had a second love, the Beatles. She got to go to their concerts in 1965 & '66. She probably couldn't hear the singing for the screaming but it had a lifelong effect on her nonetheless. So I'd say 1966 was about the beginning of our musical travels.

Over the years our eventual accrual of lps, cds, and tapes has reached over 600 collectibles. Unfortunately (or fortunately from my point of view) my family's music taste got stuck in the 1960's & 1970's. I tell myself that this is not unnatural. We have advanced just a little bit into the following three decades. The following are the best plays in the collection and consciousness of an opinionated couple.

Hopefully every musical taste is present: Judy Collins-Recollections (Elektra, 1969), Bob Dylan-Blood On The Tracks (Columbia, 1975), Beatles-(White Album) (Apple, 1968), Grateful Dead-American Beauty (Warner Bros., 1970), Rolling Stones-Let It Bleed (London, 1969), Janis Joplin-Pearl (Columbia, 1971), Spirit-The 12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (Epic, 1970), Rod Stewart-Every Picture Tells A Story (Mercury, 1971), Bob Marley and The Wailers-Legend (Island, 1984), Pink Floyd-The Wall (Columbia, 1979), Paul Simon-Graceland (Warner Bros., 1986), Patsy Cline-12 Greatest Hits (MCA, 2003), Johnny Cash-American IV/The Man Comes Around (American, 2003), Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble-The Real Deal:Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Epic, 1999), Abigail Washburn-Song Of The Traveling Daughter (Nettwerk, 2005).

Out of so many decisions the girl & I only agree on fifteen. So she is half wrong on the next seven. She likes "Are You Experienced?" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience but I prefer "Axis, Bold As Love". I love Leo Kottke's "6 & 12 String Guitar" but she prefers "Greenhouse". She loves the great Tom Waits extravaganza "Orphans", but "Rain Dogs" is a little better for me. She likes The Traveling Wilburys' Vol 3, I prefer Vol. 1. As for Bruce Springsteen, she likes "Born In The U.S.A" and I like "The Rising" better. Her favorite Led Zeppelin album is the first, I prefer the varied compilation "Early Days & Later Days". Of course her Fleetwood Mac pick "Rumours" is not close to "Then Play On", even though the group is the same on these two selections in name only.

Now female and male opinions diverge completely. The rest of HER picks are (PFFFFFT): The Concert For Bangladesh, Blessed Are... by Joan Baez, Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town by Emmy Lou Harris, Against The Wind by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, Moondance by Van Morrison, Belladonna by Stevie Nicks, Angel Band by (OH NO NOT) Emmy Lou Harris again, Brave & Crazy by Melissa Etheridge, The Principle Of Moments by Robert Plant, and Running On Empty by Jackson Browne. The rest of my picks are: Disraeli Gears by Cream, The Doors' first album, Rides Again by The James Gang, Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround by The Kinks, Waiting For Columbus by Little Feat, The Inner Mounting Flame by The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Uncle Meat by The Mothers of Invention, Shine On Brightly by Procol Harum, The Joshua Tree by U2, Recycling The Blues & Other Related Stuff by Taj Mahal, Shady Grove by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, The Eminem Show by Eminem, and any "Best of" Beethoven. My copy happens to be put out on the Metacom label. DRUM ROLL...25 BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME! HER: "Idiot Wind"-Bob Dylan, "Piece Of My Heart"-Big Brother & The Holding Company, "Mother"-Pink Floyd, "No Woman No Cry"-Bob Marley, "Closer To Fine"-Indigo Girls, "Hard Rain"-Bob Dylan, "Willow"-Joan Armatrading, "Talkin' About A Revolution"-Tracy Chapman, "Sugaree"-Jerry Garcia, "River"-Joni Mitchell, "Boulder To Birmingham"-Emmy Lou Harris, "Hello In There"-John Prine, "Anchorage"-Michelle Shocked, "Bridge Over Troubled Water"-Simon & Garfunkel, "Red, Red Wine"-UB40, "Shine A Light"-Rolling Stones, "Too Far From Texas"-Stevie Nicks, "Strong Enough"-Sheryl Crow, "Who Will Save Your Soul?"-Jewel, "Into The Fire"-Bruce Springsteen, "Let It Slip Away"-John Hiatt, "Tears In Heaven"-Eric Clapton, "Trouble Me"-10,000 Maniacs, "She's A Mystery"-Roy Orbison and finally "Oh Happy Day" by The Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Some of those singles I can see are not too bad, but I can do better.

My taste in music is so ancient that not all of the recording labels mentioned are still in existence. Elektra is a now dormant subsidiary of Warner Bros. which itself is now a subsidiary of Sony. The Rolling Stones' London label is now managed by Polydor. MCA has been absorbed by Geffen Records.

Picks for the best guitarists, lyricists, & vocalists (as these catagories define rock) are.........
Guitar-HERS: Leo Kottke, Jimi Hendrix (this amazing talent could play his instrument with his teeth), Jerry Garcia, Alvin Lee, Stevie Ray Vaughn
HIS: Same except Frank Zappa instead of Garcia

Songwriters-HERS: Lennon & McCartney, Bob Dylan (nee Zimmerman, who will be recorded in history as one of the 20th century's great poet's), Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton
HIS: Tom Waits, Keith Reid (wrote for Procol Harem), Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem), Dylan & Springsteen
Vocalists-HERS: Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, Emmy Lou Harris, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen

HIS: Jagger, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, Tom Waits, Alan (Blind Owl) Wilson. Blind Owl's voice is the antithesis of Tom Waits's. Even though Bob (The Bear) Hite was technically Canned Heat's lead singer, Al sang their most famous song.
That's a good lead in for THE ACTUAL 25 BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME (in my opinion), as "On The Road Again" is one of 'em. Then there's "Rattlesnake Shake"-(original)Fleetwood Mac, "Trouble Comin' Every Day"-Mothers of invention, "Alcohol"-Kinks, "The Thrill Is Gone"-B B King, "Louis Collins"-Garcia/Grisman, "Lose Yourself"-Eminem, "Wang Dang Doodle"-Koko Taylor, "Graceland"-Paul Simon, "Well Intentioned Blues"-Guest/Horowitz(National Lampoon), "Darlin' If"-Spirit, "Tusk"-Fleetwood Mac, "Yellow Moon"-Neville Bros., "Tango Till They're Sore"-Tom Waits, "Voodoo Child"-Stevie Ray Vaughn, "Star Spangled Banner"-Jimi Hendrix, "Hurt"-Johnny Cash, "Strawberry Fields Forever"-Beatles, "Cry Baby"-Janis Joplin, "Love In Vain"-Rolling Stones, "Unsquare Dance"-Dave Brubeck, "Visions Of Johanna"-Bob Dylan, "Nebraska"-Bruce Springsteen, and I agree with the lady on "Oh Happy Day" & "Willow".

I have to mention the sound reproduction equipment I used in researching the survey. My primary speakers are as old as my marriage. They are Realistic Mach 1s (the good screw terminal #4024) and sound as good as the day they were born. I would be interested to know if many people still use these. They are unbelievable. My secondaries are little Optimus 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 speaker enclosures with big sound. I use a Yamaha turntable with Audio-technica cartridge. My cd changer is Optimus. My digital synthesized receiver is also Optimus which is a Radio Shack brand. Realistic was the ancient Radio Shack brand. I can see people snickering but it is good stuff at a good price for the most part, although I am not enamored of the cd changer (replaced now by Teac). The double cassette deck I use is a Teac. 

Sadly many of the great stars mentioned have passed on. Janis Joplin, who I think is the greatest female blues vocalist of all time, died from too much Southern Comfort and heroin at the age of 27. That is one of music's great tragedies. Likewise the booze & drugs did in Jim Morrison of The Doors before he reached the age of 30. Frank Zappa died from prostate cancer. He was an absolute genius. Jerry Garcia & Roy Orbison had heart attacks. The great blues artists BB King & Koko Taylor are gone. Bob Marley died from brain cancer. The great country singer Patsy Cline died too young (30) in a plane crash and another country icon, Johnny Cash had diabetes finish him. Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter disaster. I don't think Ludwig von is with us anymore. John Lennon was murdered by a crazy fan. Another Beatle and also a member of The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, died of cancer. The two lead singers for Canned Heat, Blind Owl & The Bear died young, both in 1970, Alan Wilson committing suicide. All 3 members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience are gone now, drummer "Mitch" Mitchell succumbing in late 2008. 3/5 of Spirit are dead (Ed Cassidy, Randy California, & keyboardist John Locke). John Bonham of Led Zeppelin choked on his vomit in 1980. Fortunately many of the rest are still with us, making great tunes. How does Keith Richards keep going? I would have picked him to go 1st, not his bandmate Brian Jones (drowned).

Thanks for listening to good music.

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