Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's Turkey Trot

So here we are, at the beginning - legally - of the holiday season. And it's off to a non-roaring hesitant start.

Thanksgiving morning was spent watching the stupidly scripted and produced (yet supposedly wholly family oriented) pre-parade show on TV. I'm assuming this is so the youngest kiddies will be engrossed while the other family members over the age of 8 are busy googling or showering or cooking or decorating or drinking in the basement. OK, yeah I watched it, but I was doing so whilst I made breakfast for my wife, which is my weekend gift to her. Afterwards I worked on the outside Christmas lights. My wife thought it would only take an hour, but somehow I stretched it out to three point five. And can you please tell me what exists in this hyperkinetic world that transforms fully operational strands of lights to useless green cords as soon as everything is in place. As always, I escaped with an aching back & feet. BUT, as we all know, that leads to my favorite thing that begins with "V" that isn't Velvet Underground or Vampire Weekend: Vicodin.

Black Friday will be spent cleaning the castle in preparation for Saturday's holiday kickoff party - you know, the one for which more than half the guestlist has found better things to do? I want to cancel; wifey says no, screw those people. She actually said that! HA! I'm with ya, baby!

Today I found out about another corpse: Guy Peellaert, who put together a marvellous book called Rock Dreams back in 1975 died from a touch of the heart attack. He also designed the cover for Bowie's "Diamond Dogs". Check out his work here:

At the time, his blend of paintings/drawings and photos was groundbreaking, and the visionary images were mindblowing. And one of his works incorporatee a photo taken at the Gratiot drive-in. How did he get that - he was from Belgium!

Also, Jody Reynolds of "Endless Sleep" fame, died. We'll leave it at that, I'm not getting into another death trip during the holidays. That's a death trip in itself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Music Sucks

This past week I've seen numerous TV ads for the American Music Awards. I've always thought they were out-of-touch, since their creator Dick Clark has been out-of-touch since about 1963. The winners always seemed to be his showbiz "friends": Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Elton John, Cher - people who at the time had f#*k-all to do with what was happening in the music world (except for Elton, who just sucked, but was just plain unavoidable). The AMA's started at a time when Bowie was HUGE, Lou Reed had released "Transformer", Blue Oyster Cult was massive, etc, and who gets awards? Meat f#*king Loaf. Dick Clark had the 50s all sewn up, but as far as I'm concerned, he was a stroke victim as soon as The Beatles sang "yeah-yeah-yeah".

I digress - well, not actually, because the spirit of Dick Clark appears to still be alive and, well...


FAVORITE COUNTRY ARTIST: Garth Brooks (what year is this?)

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Eagles (Is this watch broken?)


FAVORITE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM: Alvin & The Chipmunks - no f#*king comment.

FAVORITE ALT-ROCK ACT: Linkin Park - Alt? They're Limp Bizkit's illegitimate brother!

it goes on like that...

Man, just check out some of these other winners:

Chris Daughtry (he beat out COLDPLAY). Jordin Sparks. Taylor Swift. Carrie Underwood.

Do you see a pattern here? Aren't they all hooked up one way or another with American Idol or something?

Sorry. I do NOT populate my record collection based on those f#*king morons on American Idol, or any other shows of that ilk. Never have; never will. It's despicable, and anyone who doesn't see anything wrong with getting the soundtrack to your life from clueless TV judges honestly needs to get a f#*king clue about music.

Not sorry: I am a music fascist. I have spent my entire life (except for maybe the first 2 years) absorbing music, and where someone might have spot-on financial tips or can zero in on technology or anything else, I don't half-step when it comes to music. And when I see bullshit like The Jonas Brothers getting the breakthrough act award, shit that is so blatantly commercialized and whored strictly for fame & money (and yeah I know everyone wants money, but I pride myself on music for music's sake, period), well, I just wanna puke in their face.

I just have to say that Coldplay winning NOTHING is amazing. I used to like them; I don't anymore, & everytime I see a picture of Paltrow I hate them even more. But for them to get beat in every single category is unbelievable. The AMA's are like the 2000 & 2004 presidential elections.

And Dick Clark is the whole Bush family, with a speech impediment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

May You Never Hear Surf Music Again

And it keeps going on and on ...

Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the original power trio The Jimi Hendrix Experience, died Nov 12 at the age of 61 from natural causes.

Mitchell was heavily influenced by jazz and had a rather light drumming style, which is odd when you think of Hendrix. But Mitchell provided the roll to Jimbo's rock. I often wondered what Hendrix's sides would've sounded like with one of the ham-fisted four-on-the-floor drummers that are so prevalent today.

Before Hendrix, Mitch drummed with r&b stalwarts The Pretty Things & soul/jazz ensemble Georgie Fame's Blue Flames. But being picked for The Experience provided him a life one could barely dream of. It's his drumming heard on all the Hendrix sessions, as well as the famed Woodstock gig.

Mitchell was the drummer for "The Dirty Mac", the pickup group John Lennon enlisted for a segment on The Rolling Stones' "Rock & Roll Circus" TV special from 1968. Along with Lennon & Mitchell, the band also included Keith Richard and Eric Clapton.

After Hendrix's death Mitchell helped finish tracks-in-progress for posthumous Hendrix releases, always with the approval of Hendrix's family foundation.

At the time of his death, Mitchell had just finished "Experience Hendrix", a coast-to-coast tour spotlighting (what else) the music of Jimbo and featuring guitarists Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin (Howlin' Wolf's guitar man) and David Hidalgo & Cesar Rosas from Los Lobos, among others. An autopsy showed natural causes; Mitchell was not a partier.

So Mitchell's death brings the entire Jimi Hendrix Experience together in the stratosphere (bassist Noel Redding died in 2003). If one believes spirits gather in some great beyond, then moreso than any other musical death that comes to mind, including Bird, Robert Johnson, Lennon or Trane, this one had the power to manifest something truly awesome in scope, and has completed a triumvirate so powerful that all I can say is the cosmic residents better grab something & hold on tight.

By the way, the title of this post refers to a line from Hendrix's cosmic jam, "Third Stone From The Sun". If you hear screams & howls in the sky, you'll know why.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I know death is always on the job, and it seems like the quality of corpses lately has been ... extraordinary.

On November 9, Mama Africa, MIRIAM MAKEBA, age 76, died from a heart attack after performing a 30 minute set at a human rights gig in Italy. Most people old enough to know her have dug her 1966 hit, "Pata Pata". It was one of a handful of records from the 50s and 60s that at the time sounded "weird" or "strange", but today they are considered some of the first "world music" songs known to an American audience.

Harry Belafonte helped get her into the US, and she won a grammy with him for "An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba". She testified against apartheid at the UN & had her passport revoked, unbeknownst to her at the time. Unable to return to South Africa, she was granted honorary citizenship to 10 countries.

She was married to SNCC leader Stokeley Carmichael and "Papa Africa", Hugh Masakela (he of "Grazin' In The Grass" fame, one of the all-time coolest grooves ever). She played the concert at the "Rumble In The Jungle" for the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire. Nelson Mandala was a close friend and was instrumental in her return to Africa. She was a guest on "The Cosby Show". She has received Peace Prizes (not from the Nobel cats, though) and has been nominated for grammys. And she ranks 38th in the list of 100 greatest South Africans.

Go to You Tube. Check out the videos for "Pata Pata" and "The Click Song", among others.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Geez, Death, Take A Break Already

STUDS TERKEL - Died Oct 31, age 96. Chicago's favorite son. Author, blacklisted in the 50s, radio host for almost 50 years (Dylan was a guest at his genesis), Pulitzer Prize winner. There is just has too much to him for me to thumbnail it here.

JIMMY CARL BLACK - Drummer and "The Indian Of The Group" from The Mothers Of Invention died Nov 1, age 70, from lung cancer. He was very vocal about Zappa's shitty treatment of the band, but willfully rejoined him for awhile after being kicked out. Also lead the band "Geronimo Black" and was a member of The Grandmothers, a band made up of (you guessed it) Mothers alumni.

YMA SUMAC - November 1, age 83, also cancer. Dig her pic at the top of the post. She was an other-worldly exotic vocalist with a 200-octave range (would I lie?). In recent years she was conveniently lumped in with the ultra-lounge/exotica scene, but was most active from the 50s to the early 60s, same time frame as Martin "Quiet Village" Denny, another exotica figurehead. It is rumored that rather than Peruvian, she was really Amy Camus from Brooklyn, and that her agent or studio moguls flipped the name around for extra exotic strangeness.

BYRON LEE - He of "...& The Dragonaires" fame. What you'd probably know him for most is the song "Jamaican Ska" that ol' Annette sings in "Back To The Beach". Or maybe "Tiny Winey" if you pay any attentiion to the steel band on Caribbean cruises. Well, he was for sure a Calypso King. He started back in 1956, those pre-ska days of Mento music, and he more or less rolled with the changes all the way through reggae, all the while still doing calypso & soca. He was active up until his death from cancer on November 4 at the age of 73. He was a bad-ass cat.

MICHAEL CRICHTON - Nov 4, age 68, cancer. He's the one who gave us Andromeda Strain (not the actual strain, tho), Westworld, Congo, Jurassic Park, and he also created ER.
and finally, ...
RUDY RAY MOORE - Yeah, that's right, Dolemite! This guy's gettin' oral sex in a limo when he gets picked up from prison! (in the movie Dolemite, that is, although who knows?) He was around since the 50s, doing Redd Foxx-style standup (no, not Sanford-type stuff; this was the original x-rated deal) and he was a soul singer, too. But we know him best as the pimp/hustler/player called Dolemite. He had problems with diabetes (gulp) and died at the age of 81 on Oct 19.
OK, OK, now take five, willya?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Goin' Back To The Village Of Love

Nathaniel Mayer died Nov 1. He was a Detroit cat who released some great sides on the legendary Fortune record label, including the international hit "Village Of Love". It had the standard primitive Fortune sound, but the quality was a notch upward from most Fortune singles. Yet typical of Fortune's history of gaffe-ridden releases, the song breaks for a guitar solo that's buried so deep in the mix anyone else would've done a 2nd take, but geez, that would mean more tape. Regardless, that song is a bonafide standard from the post-doowop/pre-soul twilight world of 1962. It's way noisy (Nate screams out half the song) but still couldn't prepare anyone for his next single: "I Had A Dream". I used to imagine spear-wielding African tribespeople in the studio doing the backing track. Once, many many MANY moons ago Nate was a guest on a radio show I used to listen to, "Old & Gold". I called the station during the record-playing segment to tell the host that "I Had A Dream" was on a par with ANY punk record EVER released for chaos, energy & bollocks-out rocking. He said "wait, Nate would love to hear that". Next thing I knew, I'm talking to Mr Nathaniel Mayer hisself, telling him the same thing! He was chuffed, to say the least. And I was as nervous as a record nut having a word with Nathaniel Mayer!

And who can forget his other chestnut, "I Want Love & Affection (Not The House Of Correction)"?

In recent years Nate, with help from local musicians & Dayton's Black Keys, had a couple albums released to critical acclaim. Of course they sold next to nothing. He had a series of strokes awhile back, but his death was still a shock. Recently I saw former Dirtbomb bassist Troy Gregory who during a conversation said, "...and I won't be playing with Nate anymore...". I thought it was an artistic choice until he said, "well, he's been sick..." I had forgotten about that. And I bet Troy's glad he had the chance.


The Godfather said it in 1973, after Jerry Ford -??!?? - but today it really applies: We just got a funky new president. Even though he can't dance.
Washington has long been known as Chocolate City, and all these stupid sobriquets don't really apply, because Brother 'Rack is the whitest brother this side of Colin Powell (not that that's a bad thing).
Anyway, Daddy-"O", get on the good foot & FIX US, MAN!!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Death Takes No Holiday

I'm back after a few weeks away from Blogville. Geez, what's happened? McDonna gets divorced, gas prices plummet, and of course, death gets greedy.

Pictured above, Alton Ellis, called "the godfather of rocksteady", died at the age of 70. His best known track is "Dance Crasher", but my favorite by him is "I'm Still In Love With You". Just go check his stuff out, you should've already done so. Catch-up time for you.

Although silenced for a number of years now, one of the greatest voices in the world, Levi Stubbs, has also gone. Even though I have been thoroughly sick of Motown for quite some time, I'll be the first to admit that you would be hard pressed to find a more soulful, emotional voice than Levi's.

Edie Adams was both sultry & lucky - to be Ernie Kovacs' wife. And now that she's dead too, they can rekindle their flame, although I think it was out cold long before Ernie kicked off decades ago. Edie used to have a Muriel Cigar TV ad in which she purred, Marilyn-style, "why don't you pick one up & smoke it sometime?" Uh-huh, baby.

Jack Narz died too, and he hosted lotsa game shows in the 50s & early 60s. The one that instantly comes to mind for me is "Seven Keys", where you acquired keys for winning rounds of questions, and the key could open the door to a new car.

So that's death for you.

Now what's this I hear about Neil Young FINALLY releasing his Archives VOL 1 in January. The first 10-disc set is retailling at $450??!!?? I thought he was a man of the people? Did he CONVENIENTLY forget that no one has a job? I am not happy with him. I guess everyone's a pig at some point, even "everymen".

A word about my recent trip to Hawaii: it was fabby-poo, I spent less money than I expected, and I didn't want to leave (another Mai-Tai, mahalo!). I had the ol' iPod peppered with all kindsa Hawaiian & island-type music, but what shuffled to the top most of the time?

The Fall. Perfect.