Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I'm sure you all out there are just relieved that this new post pushes ol' Bearthur's maudes out of the way. By the by, that artwork puts me in mind ofn one of my favorite artists, John Currin

WFMU's hour of soul single sensation, Downtown Soulville, plays every friday evening. Check out the archives, especially the March 13 marathon edition where numerous Detroit references are made (host Mr Finewine hails from Mo-wood), or his great Eddie Bo tribute ( http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/30851 ). Weird to hear a New York show mention the Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak.

Bob Dylan has done it once more with Together Through Life. I read something the other day where they still referred to him as a "folk singer". Jeez, how long does it take? Then again, I guess a case could be made that a folk singer is exactly what he is. He pulls in heavy influences from the country, blues, standards and yes I guess even the folk genres. IMHO He is our most gifted musical storyteller, with an uncanny economy of language and an adequately entertaining style. And his band ain't too bad either. But in ranking his latest group of "raggedy old codger albums", I'd have to rank this one 3rd out of 4. But it's still much better than Neil Young's latest. That guy hasn't made a solid album since he laid Crazy Horse off (although his "I Hate George Bush" lp was pretty fine).

Y'know what's annoying about Facebook, aside from the obvious? The hundreds of e-mails I get alerting me to every comment made against my own comments, and the comments made by my "friends", and comments made by their friends. What the f#%k do I care what someone said to one of my "friends"? It just brings out the ol' prickeroo in me. Then I start getting salty. Like I lie in the "pick your five ". I never really met Edwin Meese. I wouldn't watch The Breakfast Club over & over again. I wouldn't want Liberace on my side in a bar fight. Wait, yes I would. And I told a friend's daughter to sleep with the Dean to get into a certain University. I'm just really sick & tired of it. Except my nephew just joined, and I think he's a pretty good candidate for smart-ass ombudsman. Except he seems pretty sincere in his postings. At least when he's talking about his dead goose.

I sent an electronic facebook message to my ex-wife's uncle, who just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary. Now I get a message that it's his birthday. I can't take it anymore.

I never had so many friends. I'm a regular Bill W!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Notes From The Overground

Just thought I'd shart off some miscellaneous tidbits of news since we last gathered:

Colonoscopy: Big news - I am no longer a probe virgin. Also I am polyp-free. Now. I have the pictures to prove it.

Did you know (no you di-int): apparently African sixties garage bands sound like American garage bands, i.e. there is no ebonically-tinged dialect to be found. This is evidenced from the collection "Cazumbi: African Sixties Garage Vol 1". Nope, not even a hint of Beyonce-speak as in "Please tsell me what tsahm it is."

And speaking of that attractive talentless young thing, I would have much more respect and appreciation for her if she actually sounded like the YouTube clip from the Today show making the rounds. I won't provide a link, but it's not hard to find andyou really must check it out. I could hardly contain myself. You'll L-O-L!!

Maude is dead! That's right, Bea Arthur has gone to that great pastel-decorated lanai in the sky. There is a burning question I could never get answered. No one ever broached the subject on the interweb: in Maude, back in the 70s, Bea Arthur was rather zaftig, not obese or anything, but she definitely had an ass & was very amply bosomed. But in Golden Girls, she's as flat as the man her voice hints at. That cannot simply be a result of dumping a few pounds. She should still retain some tittage I would think. So what then, a breast reduction? Double mastectomy? A sapphic-friendly tape-down? Friends of Dorothy (ha) need to know!

Sound alert: an e-mail from Skyroo online ordering sez that my pre-release order of Bob Dylan's Together Through Life has been shipped. Will I get it before the world-wide release date of Tuesday? I paid extra to get it post-haste, pronto and asap!

At this year's TriBeCa film fest you can be among the first to see Woody Allen's new film starring Larry David! The role he was destined to play? Maybe! And in more L. D. news, the cast of Shinefeld (that's how my mother pronounced it) will be featured in the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Looks like I'll be subscribing to HBO again for awhile.

Notes from the silver screen: Speaking of the pisher formerly known as the Woodman, I also saw Vickie Christina Barcelona this weekend. Pfeh. Also saw Seven Pounds. At the end I was ready for suicide. And a friend gave me a copy of Cadillac Records. I hear Beyonce isn't tsoo good in that, either. Impossible!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back To Vinyl

I am a happy obsessive. I went to Record Time for the 2nd Annual International Record Store Day and it appeared to be a rousing success. At least for proprietor Mike Himes, can't vouch for other jam emporiums. Mike said pretty early on all those specially released 7" singles put out by all those vinyl-sympathetic artists were sold out. Great news!

As soon as I walked through the door I picked up the new Neil Young CD, he's kinda bitchin' about stuff per usual but it really - how do the kids say it - rocks. Also picked up two (two!!) CDs by Mister Ernie K-Doe, an anthology of singles from the infamous A2 record label (that's A-Square, as in Ann Arbor) except glaring in it's absence is anything by The Rationals (licensing, I'm figuring), the new CD by The Black Lips and I think another one I can't remember.

Now the vinyl, that's where the real gems came in. A big stack of singles including ? And The Mysterians doing Tommy James' "Do Something To Me", an original release of "Last Nite" by The Mar-Keys on Satellite (that's before they changed their name to STAX), "Love Power" by The Sandpebbles, "Treat Her Right" by Roy Head (did you check out those You Tube clips?!!??)and much much more including one of the greatest mid-sixties soul records ever, "Give Me One More Chance" by Wilmer & The Dukes. I made my companion Per put headphones on & listen to it to prove it's greatness. And albums, well I got a "Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith", "Mose Allison Sings For Lovers", a Lambert Hendricks & Ross lp, a double lp Bebop comp, a New Orleans r&b comp, ... let's just say I'm not paying bills this month.

Let me jump back a second ... remember the last post where I said I never experienced a listening booth before? Well Record Time had three turntables set up with headphones to check your vinyl before you buy it. ALMOST a listening booth.

And I saw my sorta-kinda-not-quite-friend (because he doesn't really know who I am) Willy Wilson, the last great radio dj in Detroit.

And - remember a couple posts back when I was big upping East Lansing & mentioned their music shop Flat Black & Circular? Well I just found out Ra Ra Riot who put out one my favorite albums of 2009 (The Rhumb Line) did an in-store appearance! And all Record Time had was ME!!

So that was my day, an obsessive trip to the record shop. No more purchases. Until the Beatles Mono Box in September.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Supply Is Limited

Saturday is Record Store Day, & I'm going to visit one of my old haunts, Record Time in Roseville. I've been going there since the 80s, and after all this time Mike Himes is still the owner. He's been written up & quoted in the UK press during all the Detroit garage action. Record Time was my favorite place for 12" singles in the suburbs. Mike's taste was similar to mine, so he was always referring stuff to me. Matthew Smith from Outrageous Cherry used to work there in the 80s. So did a number of the guys in The Witches. One of their best staffers whose name I can't remember dj'ed my niece's wedding. Another cat who worked there made up these cool WKNR Keener survey t-shirts which I never bought, and now I wish I would've. Kid Rock did some very early-day rapping gigs there, he was more wigger than the beer guzzlin' hick he portrays himself as today.

Back when I was a tot, you could buy records at barber shops in the hood. Also at "electronics" stores, where they sold TVs and radios and of course record players - that's where Brian Epstein worked when someone came in asking for a Beatles record. I never was in a shop that had "listening booths", but I always thought that was the coolest thing. At Record Time you can listen to CDs on boomboxes chained to a shelf as long as you give the clerk your keys or something like that. You could also buy records at "dime stores", the precursor to Kmart. My sister worked at one & that's how she built our singles collection. "Music liberation", similar to what I do today on the internet.

I bought records at an electronics store as late as 1970. I saw a yellow pages ad for some place in Ferndale. I called them & asked if they had this & that, which they did, so I hopped a bus over there & bought a stack of 1950s r&b. That night I also made my first trip to the Grande Ballroom and saw my first (and only) Who concert. That has no pertinent meaning, I thought I'd just throw that in.

Young people today don't get the importance of the Record Shop Experience. I wouldn't expect them to. But to go into a place where everyone's hanging out, listening to/talking about/obsessing over music, well, it's a beautiful thing. Amazon & eBay & all the rest make it so incredibly easy. You can sit in your drawers with a drink & a smoke (I love that analogy) & it doesn't get any easier than that. (Interesting fact: a good number of my on-line purchases have been vinyl) But the push & pull of an in-store scene makes it so ... I don't know, authentic? It's a sad reality that record shops' days are numbered. I don't see that reversing, either. I'm just glad I was able to experience it. You should too while you still have the chance.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Number One With A Bullet

I knew it would happen. I didn't want it to, but I knew it needed to.

Phil Spector had a need to hide behind a gun. He was a short Jewish mama's boy. He had very bad hair back when hair was probably the most important thing. His musicians were defined by him yet ultimately surpassed him and led happier lives with their new boss Brian Wilson (another troubled genius who never had to point a gun at anyone). He had bad luck with women yet he coerced one of the most exotic and popular women in the business to marry him. He also had power, influence, money. And a gun collection.

He made a million dollars before his 21st birthday. Not an extraordinary thing nowadays, but this was the end of the 50s. He learned from the masters at Atlantic records, studying all those big city r&b and pre-soul records. He learned and certainly surpassed his teachers. He hung with and befriended the young Stones on their first US visit. A few years later he would find kindred spirits in The Beatles and would be forever linked with their worst album, and yet have success with numerous solo Beatle releases. He played a cameo in Easy Rider as a cocaine dealer with no lines (no pun intended). He was here, he was there. He was everywhere, baby.

No one will be able to think of Phil Spector anymore without the stupid wigs and his murder trial. Hopefully that won't overshadow his hits - those massive, fantastic little 7" records, never to be paralleled - but the two pieces will forever be linked.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stacks Of Wax

Lookout! It's happening again next Saturday April 18: INTERNATIONAL RECORD STORE DAY !!!!

I didn't think it would go past the first one, but it did! But I know better this time. Not accepting any free subscriptions to Paste Magazine, to be sure (looked at maybe the first 2 issues, never even opened the accompanying CD - this magazine is truly dire). Also I will refrain from asking store clerks for assistance, because unless I'm looking for Animal Collective (which I'm not) or Butch Walker (ditto - sorry Tom) I can figure it out on my own. (in all fairness, I already have Animal Collective - just haven't listened to it yet. Is it anything like Paste?) So, I guess I'll be expanding the back catalog, as usual. But nothing too exotic - Fela or Sleepy LaBeef are never in the racks.

A lot of bands (lot is a relative term) are releasing limited run vinyl singles & eps for this occasion. That's futile of course, but I appreciate the effort. We gotta do whatever we can to keep music stores alive & open. Things point to their total demise, and the prominence of bands releasing exclusive stuff via "Rock Band" is growing at an alarming rate. And people eagerly wait for it, and some make the argument that the quality therein is better than any other media. Think that's an overstatement? You'd be wrong.

I could go on ad nauseum, but everyone has their own viewpoint. Just get out next weekend & buy a CD - and not from Best Buy. Please.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Green Still Goin' Strong

The Spartans of East Lansing went all the way there. They made it past the bouncers, they got to the stage, but in the end they got the gong. But they went farther than everyone else.

I have some good memories of East Lansing. My dear friend Keith used to, ahem, go to school there in '73-'75, or '76. He lived a modified version of the punk lifestyle at MSU, so very cool at 19, 20, 21, when all that stuff was exploding around him. I remember going for a visit, prowling the halls of various dorms, swigging from whiskey bottles like we were Johnny Rotten. One time I distinctly remember passing the closed doors of some auditorium, asking who was that singing on stage. "That's Loudon Wainwright III" (Rufus' dad, y'know) I cracked open the door & remarked. "he ain't too 'Loud', is he?" My g-g-g-generation, what can I say.

Some of my ex-in-laws lived up there, still do, and there were plenty of great memories with those folks. My daughter graduated from MSU what seems like a hundred years ago, now that she's a wife and mother.

I saw The Stones in 1994 when Spartan Stadium was just remodelled, or just re-somethinged. I remember some decent record shops, like Flat Black & Circular. And then there was Dooley's, a bar big enough to throw the biggest party in town, and of course Beggar's Banquet, the bar where someone wrote "leave the stones alone" on the wall outside. Someone would paint over it & it would always show up again. And Larry's Shop-Rite for great prices on booze. And the always questionable chocolate cheese from the campus dairy.

And then there was the bar whose name I can't remember, where The Ramones and Patti Smith played. Chances Are maybe? And the street musician King Swami. Maybe not so much street.

Anyway, a lot of memories that can wash away any defeat thrust upon that great city.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coming In June

The new Fall lp on Domino. Photo from show at KOKO, London, 4/1/09