Thursday, September 30, 2004
"A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purposes when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger."
-Justice William O. Douglas
I'm bracing myself for tonite's hour and a half of carefully scripted tedium referred to as a "debate".
Fear is an interesting thing. It's been used to motivate people since the first fish crawled onto dry land...hell, probably even before that. Not really saying anything new there. We've all taken Social Studies. We all have (or have had) jobs. The Republicans are rather shamelessly using FEAR against John Kerry. If you vote for Kerry, our country will be less safe. That's what they're telling me. It's a pretty reprehensible tactic. The Democrats have every right to be a wee bit pissed off about it. Or, they'd be justified if they themselves were not actively engaged in similar fear-mongering. Truth of the matter is those sneaky little Dems are doing the exact same thing.
If I vote for anyone but Kerry, the world as we know it will end. Particularly, horror, if I vote for Ralph Nader. The fear rhetoric is all over the web, all over the news. Just go to Google. It's a little more insidious, even, in that the "Party of Choice" is trying to steer me away from choice. Scare me into voting their way. A bit hypocritical, methinks. But what do I know?Kerry voters obviously know best. Voting for a third party candidate is considered "idealistic". Idealists-what a terrible group of naive idiots. I mean, what have they done for us? All we've managed to get out of idealism is...well, a Constitution, a Declaration of Independence, a Bill of Rights, the Suffrage Movement, Unions, Civil Rights...well a few more inconsequential things. Nuthin' major. Perhaps the most disappointing thing to come out of all this has been the buying out of two of my favorite writers: Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. By siding with fear over everything they've previously stood for, they've now tainted a pretty respectable body of work. Cowards.
For the record, I'm not entirely convinced I'm going to vote for Nader, either. I'm actively researching all other possible third, fourth, fifth-party candidates. We'll see.
In other very bad news, Tom Waits is only doing 2 North American shows...with Seattle being the only announced stop in the good ole US of A. Bastard.
No politics, next post. I promise.
Today's slabs of hot rockin' tuneage have a bit of a theme....
Shane Macgowan: St. John of Gods (mp3): Everyone knows Shane. Don't think I have to say much about the man, missing teeth and all. I worship him. Yep. This song is taken from his underrated Crock of Gold album. It's one of the best tunes he's written in years, a big middle finger to "The Man".
Red Star Belgrade: Highway to Hell (mp3): Yep, it's the song you think it is...all altpunkcountryfied. Go to Red Star Belgrade's info page. The song comes from Bloodshot Record's 5-year anniversary comp Down to the Promised Land.
(Click on song....Go to Briefcase....Download from there.)
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
tryin' too hard
One week from today i'm gonna be Real Gone. Yes. Now here's an interesting quandry...I've found the album on numerous sites, ready and available for download. I have no moral problem, obviously, with downloading stuff. Especially in Mr. Wait's case, cuz I spend an obscene amount of money on the man, 'specially if he'd get off his ass and announce the U.S. tourdates. I'd buy the album anyway...on cd and vinyl (hell, 8 track if it were available). But therein lies the issue...A new Tom Waits album is an event for me, a carefully planned out day, as it were. Pacing outside the record store, holding the item(s) in my hands, handing over the hard earned dough, the expectant 2 block walk home, pouring the glass of Scotch purchased especially for the occasion, and then, finally, down goes the needle (or up comes the lens...depending). I'm one of those Waits fans. So...as much as I wanna hear the album NOW, I'm gonna wait (heh...pun...kill me). It's just not the same. Perhaps I'm just a bit off my nut, but I think I aint alone.
I'm listening to the new Bruces album, The Shining Path as I write this. It's Alex McManus from Lambchop's "side" project. (When is an album/band a side project or just another work by somebody who happens to play with someone else?). It's pretty good...sad and lonely sorta stuff. I think a Lambchop post may be coming soon...just cuz I wanna. Maybe I'll combine it with the new David Kilgour record, and follow with a whole Flying Nun week. (And in a related rambling aside: With albums by Richard Buckner, American Music Club, The Clean, The 6ths, Crooked Fingers, Lambchop and the aforementioned Kilgour rekkid, can we finally put Matador to rest, and sing sing sing the praises of the greatness of Merge? No? Ok, room for everybody here at the Mountain)
New episode of the Gilmore Girls tonite. Will Dean run into an unfortunate and very fatal accident? Will Rory take her new found sexual freedom with her to Paris and talk Emily into a little fun? Will Sebastian Bach continue to be unexpectedly hilarious? Will Luke and Lorelai keep from spiralling into Moonlighting-like tedium? (my bet on the last one there is yes...the writers are too good...really, it's just a new excuse for their Billy Wilderesque bickering). Who knows...but the show that consistently offers brilliant dialogue and obscure references will continue to draw me mothlike to the flickering tubes that are my television.
Oh, yeah, tunes.
I can't find a whole lot on Jim Ford. I first heard of him years ago in a review from No Depression. I was sufficiently piqued by the review to seek out his one album, Harlan County, which was made in the mid 60's. Boy howdy, was I pleased. You can see a considerable Van Morrison influence in his tunes, but only by way of New Orleans, and only if Van was a good ole boy who happened to fall in love with Ray Charles. Some very brief bio info exists:
" Originally from New Orleans, Jim Ford lost interest in his academic pursuits and, in 1966, drifted out to California. He was passing through L.A., on his way to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, when he met two session musicians, Pat and Lolly Vegas. The Native American rockers -- who later formed the commercially successful Redbone -- had worked on the Shindig television show at the time, and had already recorded their Pat and Lolly Vegas at the Haunted House album for Mercury. After hearing his songwriting talent first-hand, the Vegas brothers brought Ford to the attention of Del-Fi Records' honcho Bob Keane, known around the L.A. music scene for his "open door policy." Keane released a couple of Ford's singles on Del-Fi's Mustang label, both of which sank without a trace. Del-Fi/Bronco recording artist Viola Wills also recorded one of his songs. Along with Pat and Lolly Vegas, Ford wrote the P.J. Proby hit "Niki Hoeky" (it peaked at number 23 on Billboard's pop charts in January 1967), which Ford's former girlfriend Bobbie Gentry also sang on one of her later albums. In 1969, Ford got the opportunity to record his debut album. Harlan County (released on the Sundown label, a small subsidiary of White Whale) featured funky, mid-tempo country, and R&B-flavored rockers with a driving Muscle Shoals-style rhythm section, with backing and arrangements by the Vegas brothers and Gene Page. "
Harlan County is a "lethal slab of country/soul", said an anonymous reviewer on the web, and that just about sums it up. Harlan County is one of my all-time favorite albums, and I think a true lost classic.
Harlan County (mp3) is the first track..."In the black hills of Kentucky I was raised, in a shack on Big Bone Mountain". Followed by horns, sweet soul backing vocals, a Swing Low preachin' interlude, cornbread...ah, damn. It's just too damn good.
Dr. Handy's Dandy Candy (mp3) has one of those guitar lines that'll make you sweat, and the chorus will have yr neighbors knocking on the door...not to shut you up, but to get themselves some of that "dandy candy". Kicks Van's ass all over the floor, and can't take the time to mop up after.
(click on song...go to briefcase, and grab from there. thank you)
Thursday, September 23, 2004
I think as I get older, more and more people are gonna die. Now that sounds sorta like a stupid thing to say...and it is, I guess. But the cultural icons that affected my life, the ones who I grew up with....well, when I was in my teens and 20's, if someone famous died, I didn't really have a reference. It sucked, but I didn't care so much. They were too distant from my cultural starting point. Or I was too young to appreciate fully what their passing meant.
Russ Meyer died the other day. And Tammy Faye has lung cancer. Two extremely disparate individuals, to say the least. But both influenced my life in very singular ways. Meyer...well, let's just say he influenced my life, and leave it a that. Tammy Faye...I grew up in a religious household. My parents were big supporters of PTL Club. I remember watching as a child and thinking there was something not quite right about Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker. Of course, we all knew what transpired later. But, as I grew older, and started paying attention to what the woman was saying...I dunno, I started to appreciate her. Here's a woman who's essentially been shit on for the last quarter century or more, and all she does is love people. I remember Bill Mahrer trying to bait her on Politically Incorrect, and she wouldn't say a negative word. I'm still dumbfounded by the weird relationship she formed with Ron Jeremy. It seems as if she truly believes the best parts of her religion. She's an easy target for mockery. Too easy. What has she ever done wrong to anyone to deserve that? Really? Has she molested any young boys? Does she wear any more makeup than Paris Hilton? Does she sing any worse than yr average Indie Band of the Day? Nope, nope and nope. Cut her a break. I hope she makes it...I just think the world's a little nicer with her in it.
Watch "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"
On a completely different note, I've been reading Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, by Nick Tosches. I've been a fan of his for awhile, and I just finished his rather controversial take on Emmett Miller and the minstrel tradition, Where Dead Voices Gather. Tosches is an extraordinarily gifted writer and wordsmith, completely unafraid of his subjects, or the reactions he might receive from his take on said subject. His fiction is equally as good as his non-fiction, and, with In the Hand of Dante, he wrote one of his finest works yet, alienating many, and gaining even more fans at the same time. Check 'im out.
I've been waiting to put drinking songs up until the Tofu Hut finished its fantastic run on the same subject (I know I keep linking to it, but it really is a great site). I didn't want to repeat anything. Today it's drunk country day.
Hank Thompson (please ignore the dorky picture on his site) was a great country and western singer, writing and covering some of the best sides of the 40's through the 60's. "Known as the "King of Western Swing," Hank's brand of music, from it's first introduction in the '40's, was like no other. A magical blend of big band bravura with fiddle and steel guitar, "Western Swing" transcended the boundaries of country music. It was "big band homesteading the country!" Combined with Hank Thompson's personal genius for innovation and presentation, a bright new sound and era was born in music." His specialty was drinkin' songs and he has a new comp out called, appropriately enough, Drinkin' Songs. Get it.
Freakwater (couldn't resist that link) are Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin, both stalwarts of the indie rock (whatever that is) scene. But their music is pure hillbilly goth, seemingly straight out of the Appalachian mountains. They're both involved in other projects, solo and otherwise, so a new Freakwater album is always something to look forward to. The song below is taken from Feels Like the Third Time on Thrill Jockey.
Roger Miller. Well, y'all know who Roger Miller is. Mr. King of the Road and one of America's greates songwriters.
Marti Brom is a mean, mean rockabilly queen. In fact, the track below is from her album called Mean. Great album cover...apparently she appreciates alcohol. Me too. Drink up.
Freakwater: My Old Drunk Friend (mp3)
Marti Brom: I'm Drinking Too (mp3)
Roger Miller: Chug a Lug (mp3)
Hank Thompson: A Six Pack to Go (mp3)
(click on song...stumble over to the briefcase and hazily download from there)
Friday, September 17, 2004
parked in a chicago garage
Much has already been written about Johnny Ramone already. I'll leave it to others to properly eulogize him, but suffice to say it's yet another in a long line of losses to those of us who came of age in the 70's and 80's. Much sadness.
So, in honor of Johnny, and in honor of my new hometown, I'm going to put up some songs from a great little unheralded label from Chicago, Dunwich. Everyone's familiar with the wonderful Nuggets Box Set from Rhino, of which I own both. Dunwich was one of the leading exporters of the garage rock movement (whatever that is) at the time, and several of their artists, most notably the Shadows of Knight, are well represented on the Nuggets albums. To quote the afore-linked site:
"The Chicago-based Dunwich Label was owned by Bill Traut, Eddie Higgins, and George Badonsky and, after trying to distribute their first hit, "Gloria" by themselves, they quickly struck a deal to be distributed by Atco. Traut started as a jazz musician, playing saxophone and other instruments in sessions around Chicago in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He teamed up with Eddie Higgins, a jazz pianist, and eventually (early 1960s) both went to work for Seeburg Corporation. Seeburg was a juke box maker, and Traut and Higgins were busy producing background music. Seeburg rented a small space at Universal Studios, the top recording studios in Chicago, and Traut had a small office there. The two decided to produce jazz records, and approached Nesuhi Ertegun of Atlantic, who let them work on some Atlantic jazz recordings, in addition to having them record a couple of albums by Eddie Higgins himself. In 1963, Bernie Clapper, who ran Universal at the time, offered Traut the use of Universal during "down time" to make recordings, and if anything was successful, Universal would be paid back for the studio time. Traut and Higgins decided that they wanted to leave Seeburg and start producing their own records, and met George Badonsky, a sales representative for Atlantic, who was interested in joining them in a new venture. They produced a few songs, and put one out called "Silverthumb" on their own Amboy records (named for Badonsky's home town). Second thoughts about a Chicago company named for a city in New Jersey led them to change the name to Dunwich, after an H.P. Lovecraft novel, "The Dunwich Horror." The three started as Dunwich Productions in 1965. They hit the pavement around town looking for acts to sign. They latched onto the Shadows of Knight when they were playing teen nightclubs in their suburban hometown, Arlington Heights. Chicago disc jockey Clark Weber mentioned to Traut in 1966 that if he could find a "clean" version of Van Morrison's "Gloria" (which had been out by Morrison's group, Them, but censored off the airwaves), he could sell a million. Traut took him up on it and had the Shadows of Knight record it in a "teen-clean" vein, and it indeed sold a million, putting both the group and the first single for Dunwich Records on the map."
Dunwich lasted a little longer than one could reasonably expect, putting out some delicious slices of vinyl fuzz and Brit-beat, but, as all good things, finally fell. Luckily for us, the marvellous Sundazed Music has rescued several of their titles, most notably putting out two great compilations, Oh Yeah and If You're Ready. I've pulled a couple tracks off each, and you can find them below.
The music is typical of the time, short and full of sex, drugs 'n' rock and roll. But it goes to show that a city known for it's blues and "indie" rock, was also responsible for some of the best balls-out, organ-drenched rawk, too.
And, on a sidenote, go to Little Steven's Underground Garage webpage for great links, news and streaming radio broadcast. The man knows his shit. great site. Great tunes. Also check out a great music blog, Garage Hangover. He's got some great downloads and info. One of my favourite blogs.
Things To Come: 'Til the End (mp3)
Saturday's Children: Born on Saturday (mp3)
Shadows of Knight: Lightbulb Blues (mp3)
Banshees: Project Blue (mp3)
(As usual, click on link...go to briefcase for downloadin' fun)
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
You know, I can tell I'm getting older. I'm really getting excited about the upcoming American Music Club tour. Two nights in this fair city, and I'll be at both shows. Does this mean I have to revoke my membership in the Official Making Fun of Eagles and Styx Fans Group? Am I now part of the "Reunion Group"? Gad. I could make the excuse that I'm really going for Will Johnson of Centro-Matic, whom I dearly, and currently, worship, but that would be a lie. No, Johnson's just icing on the cake. Too many nigts in college, in the early 90's, drinking cheaply made martinis with my roommate Mark, staring out at the street from our bay window, listenting to the ohsotortured vocals of Mark Eitzel. Sad, yet sadly true. Whoo boy.
So, apparently Fat Possum is suing Epitaph records. Read all about it here. I'm a little mixed on this. Fat Possum has long been one of my favorite labels...I own every album they've released. (hmmm...perhaps an mp3 post is due soon). It's dirty, scuzzy, nasty, dirt-on-the-guitar-strings blues...with great packaging (when yr artists are as "pretty" as theirs, ya gotta find some way to draw people's attention...I mean, who buys cds for the music these days?). I've heard for years how they have no money, creating tensions between themselves and their artists. Epitaph was supposed to solve all that. I haven't found a response from Epitaph in regards to the lawsuit, so I don't have both sides of the story. I'm a fan of Epitaph's subsidary Anti Records, in part because of their signing of Tom Waits and Merle Haggard. I'll leave the whole "Epitaph aint punk rock" argument to the Maximum R'n'R people, but if any of Fat Possum's claims are true, and we may never know for sure, well...
The songs going on today have nothing to do with each other, really, except that they all made appearances on my media player thingy set on random. I guess they're all part of that "old weird america" thing that Magnet erroneously tried to cover a while back. I think my reaction to that belongs on another post, so I'll just give you the tunes.
The first song, "She's a Humdinger", is by a band called The Farmer Boys, from Arkansas. It's oft covered by the best country band in the world, Halden Wofford and the Hi Beams. If anyone can figger out definatively whether they're singing about a girl(human) or a bovine, I'll give them a free Gmail account.
The Maddox Brothers and Rose were a Western Swing Hillbilly band from the '40's. I quote:
"The Maddox Brothers (Cliff, Cal, Fred, Don, and "friendly Henry, the working girl's friend") and their sister Rose called themselves "America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band." They weren't kidding. On the air in Modesto, California by 1937, the group made their first records, for the 4-Star label, in 1946. From 1951 till 1956, they recorded for Columbia. At that point, the family act broke up, though Rose maintained a successful solo career for many years after. But throughout the 1940s and 50s, the Maddox Brothers and Sister Rose tore down the honky-tonks from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf Coast with slap-bass boogie and a party-down attitude." More info here, including discography.
Finally, Hobart Smith. Wow. This song, "Fly Around My Blue Eyed Girl", besides having one of the greatest song titles ever, just makes me about as happy as a plum in juice. Think of a great slightly out of tune, rollicking barrellhouse piano playing reels in a church basement. You're about halfway there. Think of one of the finest old timey songs you've never heard, lift yr hands and sing hallelujah. Yessir.
Farmer Boys: She's a Humdinger (mp3)
Maddox Brothers and Rose: Shimmy Shakin' Daddy (mp3)
Hobart Smith: Fly Around My Blue Eyed Gal (mp3)
(click on song...go to briefcase to download...i'll get my own damn server someday, really)
Monday, September 06, 2004
yr cowboy days
I wonder what Chuck D thinks of this?
Happy Birthday, Shannon. This here is for you.
I'd like to thank The Tofu Hut for linking me. If yr new here, please bear with me whilst I slooooooooowly work on making this site better (and feel free to offer comments on how I can improve the site. cheaply. Really, I like advice). I'm a bit of an ignant newbie at this. And if yr a regular reader here, get yr ass over to the Hut. It's a great site, and he's currently posting "drunk" songs. Very nice. While yr at it check out Modern Drunkard Magazine, straight outta Denver, CO, where if yr not drinking, well, yr not really doing anything. I oughta know, I lived there for 7 very wet years. Also, check down a few entries for the history of my blog name, and some appropriate mp3's (Tom Waits alert). Enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Currently enjoying the 3rd and 4th books in the Thursday Next series. If yr a big fan of puns, literary references, and British humour from Jerome Jerome to Terry Pratchett, I would highly recommend checking the series out. I saw Jasper Fforde speak at the bookstore I worked at while living in Denver...he had me in tears, he was that good. They're a bit of a "lite" read, but you won't be disappointed.
The Willard Grant Conspiracy is one of my favorite bands. I once compared Robert Fisher's voice to the voice of god, wandering out of the deser chanting "repent". Still seems about right. The band (loosely, it's mostly Fisher and friends) unfortunately gets lumped in with the "alt-country, whatever that is" movement, which I think is a bit unfair. Sure, they've got fiddles and steels, and whatnot, but I'd put them closer to the Calexico/Richard Buckner brand of burnt desert tunes ( now there's a list I'd like to see people make). The band is a loose aggregation of fellow travelers, featuring such luminaries as Chris Brokaw, Edith Frost, and Kristen Hersh. You can find some great live mp3's at their homepage. Check it out. I'm going to toss on a song from 4 of their albums. Enjoy.
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Beyond the Shore (mp3)
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Split Tender (mp3)
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Notes From the Waiting Room (mp3)
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Color of the Sun (mp3)
(Click on song...go to briefcase...download from there. please)
Sunday, September 05, 2004
not sly fox
Bill Fox is a genius. At the risk of getting in some trouble...well, if yr a Guided By Voices fan (which I wholeheartedly am), I think Fox is a step above even Bob Pollard. There, I said it. Really. Whereas Bob has been known, at times, to need just a touch of editing (just being honest), Fox has released only two solo albums, both in 1998, since the breakup of his band The Mice. Both men share a love of lo-fi, highly infectious melodies, but where Pollard drifts toward Who-like bombast, Fox's style is more in keeping with the mellow-era Kinks meets Basement Tapes style Dylan. I don't think there's a wasted note or phrase in any of his too few songs.
To be honest, there's not much info about Fox on the internet. Scat Records has some info about The Mice, and some mp3's, although the only song by The Mice I'd recommend is "Not Proud of the USA", which you can download from the above link. Fox, like Pollard, is from Ohio, Fox being from the Cleveland area. I'm originally an Ohio boy, which may explain a bit. Here is some more info on one of his albums. There's a rumour that he's recording a new album, which I await with very bated breath. We'll see.
I put these songs up because I genuinely want people to buy his albums. Let him know that there's an audience for him...that the world needs another Bill Fox album. Go here to find his two solo albums, "Transit Byzantium" and "Shelter From the Smoke". You won't be disappointed, or I swear to god I'll give you yr money back. Yep.
It's hard to pick out just a few songs by Fox. These are my favorites at the moment, 2 from each album. (If anyone is reading this and has anymore info on Fox, for fuck's sake lemme know.)
Bill Fox: Thinking of You (mp3)
Bill Fox: When I Blow (mp3)
Bill Fox: Over and Away She Goes (mp3)
Bill Fox: Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel (mp3)
(Click on song....follow the hunt to the briefcase....slyly download from there)
Thursday, September 02, 2004
hubris - overbearing pride or presumption
I must confess. We are a nation of idiots. A wise man (men? woman? women?) once said, and i paraphrase, that we get what we deserve. George W. Bush is the president we deserve. I'm almost speechless (pun intended) after last nite's episode of the Republican National Convention. The blatant manipulation of truth and rhetoric was so obvious. Make no mistake: Veep Dick and Traitor Zell knew full well what they were doing, revelled in it, and didn't believe a word they were saying. You could see it in their eyes. Americans are becoming sheep, we step in line, and never, never, never question. Sheep. BAAAAAA. Tell us what do. Tell us how to vote. Don't tell us what we don't need, or want, to know. We're being lied to, the truth distorted, our rights raped, and We. Don't. Care. It's unpatriotic and unamerican to want our country to be more than a series of propaganda films? BAAAAAA, Sheep, BAAAAA.
We resolutely refuse to take responsibility for our own actions. Other countries don't hate "us". They hate what we've done to them, what we do to others, our hubris. Jesus, are we really so blind? So arrogant? BAAAAAAAAA.
The Democrats are no better, but I've already discussed their brand of idiocy in a previous post.
Voting for Bush or Kerry is naive. But we can only handle our entertainment in simple doses. We don't like to think. Nader may not be the answer, either. I honestly don't know. What I do know is two things: 1. My vote has never been, and never will be, for sale. 2. Canada's a nice place..... (yesyes, kneejerks....i know....). I'm really not sure if i want to be an American anymore. Seriously. I don't know what this country is now, what it's becoming. And i'm being told i should leave if i disagree with where we're going. But where we're going...i don't recognize it anymore. Sorry.
There are some great mp3's about W. here. Enjoy, i guess.
Tomorrow, i'm going to talk about a wonderful musician named Bill Fox. I'll put some of his songs up. They'll make everyone happy.