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Thursday, December 30, 2004


In preparation for our long drive to Charleston and back, I bought two CD’s: Bob Marley’s ‘Babylon By Bus’, and the Stones ‘Black And Blue’. Both albums got much playtime, during the drive, and at the beach house in SC. I must have heard the ‘Bob Marley Live’ record from 1975 a thousand times, and though I’ll never tire of tracks like ‘Burnin’ and Lootin’ and ‘Them Bellyfull (But We Hungry)’, ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ and ‘No Woman No Cry’ have attained “Stairway” status, which is to say I never need to hear them again. I wanted to dig deeper into Bob, to get beyond the ‘Legend’ tracks, and ‘Babylon By Bus’ was a great start (not to mention the vinyl I got for x-mas, ‘Exodus’ and “Rastaman Vibration’). First off ‘Babylon..’ must have been a double record, because it’s a long CD, it has 13 tracks, and many of them clock in at 7 plus minutes; it got us most of the way through Virginia. The standouts for me are 'Rat Race’ (Written by Rita!), ‘War/No More Trouble’, ‘Kinky Reggae’, and ‘Rebel Music’, but it’s another start to finish record that never disappoints. Even the standards, ‘Is This Love’, ‘Lively Up Yourself’, and ‘Jammin’ feel fresh and new. Bob’s band, at this point, was a crack team of reggae masters including Junior Marvin, who’s lead guitar propels Marley’s songs into the atmosphere, and the Barrett brothers, Carlton and Aston, on drums and bass respectively, who keep Bob's music firmly planted on terra firma. After the Bob, I put in the Stones. “Black and Blue’ is an often over looked classic by the Stones. It gets chalked up as a transitional record, a second tier Stones album, but I love it, and it went well with the Bob because texturally it has a similar feel. ‘Hey Negrita’, and ‘Oh Cherry Oh Baby’ are reggae riffs, and the added funk of ‘Hot Stuff’ kept the up the groove that Marley’s record had inspired. ‘Memory Motel’ is one of my all-time favorites. “What’s all this laughter on the 22nd floor, it’s just some friends of mine and they’re bustin’ down the door.” I can’t get enough of it. My Baby was diggin’ on ‘Melody’, the Billy Preston showcase on the record. And then there’s ‘Hand Of Fate’, probably the most classically hard rocking song the Stones ever did, I could easily hear a band like Thin Lizzy doing this song. “I killed a man, I’m highway bound…’ It kicks ass. Both of these records, as I said, found their way into heavy rotation at the beach house, and helped create the mood that prevailed during our stay, one of joy and rapture, the way only truly authentic records do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


It went very well. I took the Acela to DC, then my Baby and I drove through the night, leaving DC around 2 AM, to Charleston, SC., arriving around 10:30 AM. It was a tough ride for me because I hadn’t the chance to prepare for an all-nighter, so my Baby did most of the driving. I gave her a break from mid-North Carolina into South Carolina, but I had to put her back in the driver’s seat, as I was starting to suffer from blurred vision. Neither of us got any real sleep on the drive, and as we arrived in Charleston, we stopped in on a friend who had the keys to the beach house I was to stay at during our visit. We attempted some small talk, but weary as we were it was apparent that some rest was in order. We made our way to Folley Beach, just off James Island where My Baby’s folks live. Our Friend Jim owns the beach house, and it was the perfect spot for me to spend a few days while getting to know My Baby’s family and friends. My Baby dropped me off, and then headed to her parent’s house, where she would be staying for the duration. In the meantime, I acquainted myself with the couch on the ‘sun porch’ where I would spend the more peaceful hours of my visit to Charleston. The view of the ocean was spectacular, and fit in well with the subject matter of the book I was reading, Blue Latitudes, which is about the travels of Captain Cook. Over all, I did more napping than reading, but that was most enjoyable as well. A few hours later found me meeting Mom and Dad. Mom was as welcoming and endearing as one could want, but it was Dad, after all, that I was most concerned with; Moms always take to me, Dads do not. I was thrilled, however, when Dad came in, introduced himself, and sat with me for a brief, but as I’m told, not very common chat. Over the next three days I gained a sense of ease, which was given to me by them, and for that I am eternally grateful. My conversations with Dad did not get any longer, but it was quality that I was after, and by Christmas morning I felt accepted, if not a bit tentatively, but it was beyond tolerance, and for me that spells a win. After the initial meet and greet, we went back to the beach house, ordered pizza, and hung out and partied with some friends. All of my Baby’s friends were very nice, and supportive of my cause. We played a lot of the ‘80’s Game’, which is a Trivial Pursuit knockoff dedicated to that particular decade, and I made a lot of whiskey sours. Day 2 consisted of doing the gift thing with the family, which was lovely, and not nearly as uncomfortable as I had prepared myself for, a nice lengthy nap on the porch by the sea, and dinner at Jim’s house in Charleston proper. Jim is a wonderful man and a gracious host, so I’m not going to embarrass him with detail, but I will say that Jim lives very well, and his home reflects his passions. Robert cooked dinner, and it was splendid, as was the atmosphere, and the company. Day 3 I got to lounge around quite a bit during the morning and early afternoon while My Baby went to the mall to do returns and other holiday ritual whatnot, thanks Baby! Then we went back to Mom’s and ate again. A serious amount of food was put before me this weekend, and I did my best. After the Sunday supper, we went to a sports bar to meet some friends and watch the Jets lose, actually some were watching Washington lose as well. Day 3 ends with another evening at the beach house playing the 80’s Game with even more friends, even more drinks, and even more of a wonderful time. We left early the next morning, 7 AM, and this time I drove the whole way back to DC. From Charleston to I-95 was a bit slick still, it having snowed the night before. Being a ‘notherner’ I was well prepared for the drive, the citizens of South Carolina were not. We saw countless accidents. Heading north on I-95 was surreal. The pine trees lining the roads were coated with ice, and as the sun came up it created this sparkling wonderland, a vision that won’t soon escape me. The further north we went the more snow had fallen, (I would like to point out at this juncture that North Carolina is now my LEAST favorite state – HEY, SNOW IS FROZEN WATER, NOT ACID!) until we got into Virginia, and by then any sign of snow had disappeared. We made it back to DC in twelve hours, four more than the night trip down, due to bad traffic in northern NC, and again from about 50 miles out of DC. We also stopped at a Waffle House in NC (anybody who really knows me, knows this is a must on any trip south) for a lengthy and somewhat humorous lunch, and I made a quick stop for fireworks at South Of The Border – they’re not for me, okay! – which is another must.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Things are getting nutty at the job, and I am about to embark on my journey to Charleston to celebrate Christmas with my Baby and her family. It will be the family meet and greet for me, which sort of doubles up the stress factor, but hey, I love her so what can I do? Anyway, this will probably be my last blog until after the holiday, so, if you do celebrate the christian way, then Merry Christmas to you and yours. Otherwise, enjoy a few days off, read a good book, spend some time with family. If, however, you're all uptight this holiday season, offended by public displays of christian faith/idolatry, or pissed of at those who are offended, well then a Merry Fuck Off to you. The world doesn't need your griping, we're trying to get on with things here, and your noise isn't helping. I, for one, am planning on enjoying the holidays, my family, and my friends, in peace.
Happy Ho Ho Ho

Monday, December 20, 2004


It’s all music. Tony Alva came up from Atlanta for a holiday visit, and he stopped by Smoke and Mirrors this weekend. On Friday night we had a session with K.I.D.D., and we threw Tony Alva into the mix. We had him doing some vocals on the hook for “All The People”, and then we had him playing a ‘familiar riff’ on guitar for a new song K.I.D.D. is working on, tentatively called “Spouses”. It was a great session, one of those nights where it’s all love, and the creativity flows like good freestyle. I love bending and blurring the lines between genres, and the give and take between the rock and rap camps at Smoke and Mirrors has always been satisfying, and successful. Tony and I spent Saturday working on an old folk tune called “Never Leave Harlon Alive”. Tony brought his Guild acoustic, a Neumann TLM 103, and his great voice; what else do you need? Sunday saw Rob Machold in for another drum session. The Smoke and Mirrors/Skyway team is working up some commercial material, pop if you like, for a project a friend of George’s is working on. Chris, George, and Rob gathered in the live room to bang out an arrangement, and it’s coming along nicely, very catchy. After that more drum tracks were laid down for George’s new original project about a future battle between robots and humans. This project is still in the writing/arranging stage, but its promise is vast, and we’re very excited to be working with George on such an ambitious project. Tonight Chris and I will be working with Geek Farm again. Their ‘little demo that could’ is turning into a full-blown album, and that’s very exciting as well. They have the songs, good songs, and working with them, pushing them to achieve their potential, is what I got into this crazy world of recording for in the first place.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


DISCLAIMER: The following is based on heresay and conjecture, and has been slightly fictionalized for your reading pleasue. I, in fact, was not there.

Upon mentioning the Scorpions, most Americans think of such songs as ‘No One Like You’, ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’, and ‘Winds Of Change’, and undoubtedly these are the hits they are known for worldwide, but the history of this German band dates way back before the glory days of the mid-eighties. In fact, our story begins in Hamburg circa 1964, when Rudolph Schenker changed the name of his band from ‘Nameless’ (The Regulars?) to the Scorpions. Because Rudolph had a job after school, he paid his little brother Michael a few pfennings to learn popular songs of the day, which he would then show to Rudy who could then teach them to his band. What Rudy didn’t know, at first, was that little Michael was a born musical genius. At first Rudy refused to let Michael play with the band, he was after all ten years old, and who wants to be upstaged by their ten year old little brother? By 1971, however, Rudy realized that what he needed to get his band out of the clubs in Hamburg was a whiz guitar player, and so he relented, and Michael became a Scorpion. That year they got the chance to record a movie soundtrack, which in turn became their first album, ‘Lonesome Crow’. Then the band broke up. The rhythm section got drafted, and Michael was lured away from his brother by a British rock outfit called UFO. Rudy is no quitter, however, and soon enough he and vocalist Klaus Meine had replaced Michael with Ulrich Roth, and hired a new rhythm section. While Michael was accumulating acclaim in UFO, recording such classic albums as ‘Phenomenon’ (1974), ‘Force It’ (1975), ‘No Heavy Petting’ (1976), ‘Lights Out’ (1977), and ‘Obsession’ (1978), he was also gaining a reputation as an alcoholic and a drug abuser, and he frequently disappeared during tours and recording dates. In 1975, Rudy got a phone call from Mick Jagger, the Stones were auditioning Mick Taylor’s replacement in Holland (while recording ‘Black And Blue’), and he was looking for Michael. Rudy hung up on him, a decision that just might have saved Michael’s life. Rudy was not going to send Michael into the wolf’s den. In hindsight it appears that most of Michael’s bad behavior was due to the fact that he hated UFO vocalist Phil Mogg, and since his English was practically non-existent, his only outlet seemed to be getting wasted, or splitting the scene. Meantime, in the Scorpions camp, things were going well. Ulrich Roth was certainly no slouch, and his hendrixian style provided the exotic touch to the Scorpions vinyl output during the seventies. Between 1974 and 1978, the Scorpions released four studio records (Fly To The Rainbow, In Trance, Virgin Killer, and Taken By Force) as well as a live album (Tokyo Tapes), and toured endlessly around Europe, the US, and Japan. Success in the US, however, eluded them. Rudy and Klaus wanted to streamline their songwriting, making it more accessible to the US, Ulrich wanted to explore further the direction he had been pursuing, far out space jams. An amicable parting of ways was achieved, and before Ulrich left to form Electric Sun, he even had a hand in finding his replacement, Matthias Jabs. Recording for their 1979 release, ‘Lovedrive’ had barely begun, when Rudy got another phone call. It was Michael. He had left UFO again, and for good. He was strung out, broke, a mess; could he please come home now? Poor Matthias was put on hold, while Michael came in, finished the record, and briefly toured. Chrysalis records, however, had paper on him still, and so Michael gave Matthias his gig back, and went on to form MSG (Michael Schenker Group) in 1980. The Scorpions would go on to conquer the world. UFO in losing Michael lost steam, and by the mid-eighties they fell apart amid squabbles and drug dependency. Michael had more acclaim than success doing the MSG thing, and during the nineties he would be lured back into the UFO fold. They recorded some marginal records, and did some successful touring, banking upon Michael’s cult status as a guitar player. In the end, he resumed his old habit of walking off mid-set, blaming Mogg for not being sober, and it seems that his tenure with that band is now officially over. Rudy and Michael are still close, and they both still sport their trademark white and black ‘mirrored’ Gibson Flying V’s.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


February 1981 saw the release of the penultimate (sic) Metal album. During what is referred to as The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden, chief purveyors of that brand, truly did have a revolving door of members, but it’s the line-up on this record, and the live EP that followed (Maiden Japan), that I have always considered to be the greatest Metal band that ever took the stage. Paul DiAnno, who would be replaced by Bruce ‘opera man’ Dickenson, exuded far more emotion and presence in his vocal performance. Alas his proclivity for strong drink and living on the edge of the rock and roll lifestyle forced the band to fire their frontman, but before that happened, they managed to record ‘Killers’, an album that would force the Metal world to step up to a new benchmark.
The twin guitar attack had been tweaked between their first record, ‘Iron Maiden’, and this, their second release, by the replacement of guitarist Dennis Stratton by Adrian Smith, one of the finer guitarists of that period.
‘Killers’ simply delivers the goods. From the opening instrumental anthem of ‘Ides Of March’ through to the hyper boogie of ‘Drifter’, ‘Killers’ hits all the marks and then some. What I love about this record, and Metal from this period in general, is the dynamics involved in the songwriting and arrangement. As opposed to the ‘beat you about the head for the entire record’ ethos of modern Metal, ‘Killers’ ebbs and flows in and out of tempo changes and shifts in time signature. Iron Maiden knew when to let you catch your breath, because they knew you’d need to gather yourself for the next onslaught of riffage.
No matter how you look at it, which criteria you judge upon; songs, band, artwork, ‘Killers’ comes out on top in the world of Metal.

Monday, December 13, 2004


A while back I blogged a list of great live albums, and like my double album post, I left off the Dylan. Jason claims that the definitive version of "Idiot Wind" resides on this record, and I would say the same of "Maggie's Farm". You gotta give Bob props for the guitar players he gets. On this record he's got T-Bone Burnett, and a guest appearance by Mick Ronson on 'Maggie's Farm'. Tres cool. I must admit that I bought this record, the first Dylan record I owned, because U2 had done 'Maggie's Farm' on the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour back in '85. I quickly went out and bought 'Highway 61 Revisited', and haven't looked back (har har har).


The jury reccomended the death penalty for Scott. Good. Now let's see if the Judge sees it their way. I know torture is unconstitutional, but c'mon, just this once, please, can we rip this guys balls off? Hurt him real bad, and then kill him? Please?


U2, O'Jays, Pretenders, Buddy Guy, and Percy Sledge; okay great, but still no Sabbath? No Skynyrd? Can a Geezer catch a break? It seems we're breaking into the eighties here, and if I see any of those shitty metal bands get in before Sabbath, well I'm afraid my mind will break for good.


SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Gen. Augusto Pinochet was indicted Monday for the kidnapping of nine dissidents and the killing of one of them during his 1973-90 regime, and the former dictator was placed under house arrest.---CNN

It's about time, though this indictment is but a drop in the bucket in terms of what this man is guilty of, it's a start. Here's to hoping they nail his ass to the wall, and the floor, and every other surface in the house of his house arrest.

"Pinochet has been diagnosed a mild case of dementia."

I'll say.....


This comment was found on Jeff Jarvis' blog, I couldn't help myself.

"What a bunch of crap. He forgot to mention that abortions are being performed on little girls without parental consent, that Family planning are giving our daughters free pills so they can screw like rats, fisting is taught in sex ed classes , anal sex is taught, and kids are given the mesage, try it, you may like it. A generation of girls has been indoctrinated to believe bi is cool and so they play the game. The only thing that is omitted is that anal sex is dangerous as is Bi sex if your bi lover also has a gay lover. They forget to tell the kids that gay sex causes AIDS at a rate that is over 90% higher than normal sex. They are now targetting really young kids for teaching this joys of getting it up your butt--because as NAMBLA says, get them before 8 or it's too late. And if you resist offering your kids up on a plate, you are a prude--it is your fault there is an AIDS epidemic and that 50% of little girls have been screwed by 14 and 30% of college kids have some form of STDs, but Jeff calls that enlightenment. I think he's got a freakin problem if he gets turned on by a filthy creep sitting in a radio station telling his listeners he is wearing ripped jeans and no gotch and talking cyber sex."

This person is obviosly very disturbed. The tone suggests:

1) Roving bands of abortion weilding maniacs preying on pregnant teens.
2) Family Planning Poster: "Take this, then screw like rats!"
3) Fisting and anal taught in sex ed? "Okay now bend over Billy, Jimmy got your lube?" C'mon. Are you serious? You mean 'discussed', and why not? Ignorance is no weapon against immorality. And, yes, it's true, they may like it.
4) A Generation of girls indoctrinated into becomimg bi? Certainly this is not happening. I gotta find the health text book being used that has been able to acheive this monumental phenemenon.
5) Gay sex causes AIDS. That's news to me. If you use a condom during gay sex, does it cause AIDS in the rubber? Will the rubber get sick?
6) Educators are targetting children they can teach anal sex to. Hmm, why target them, why not indoctrinate them all, like the girls?
7) There is an AIDs epidemic. Where? In Africa, yes, because they don't use condoms.
8) "50 % of girls get screwed by age 14." First, where does this statistic come from? I do not believe it. And the use of langauge, 'getting screwed'; they couldn't possibly be having sex, or making love.
9) "30 % of college students have an STD", again where do these 'facts' originate? What study did this come from? Your own?
Where do these people come from, and how do they get so misinformed?


Lester Bangs (1948-1982) was a true defender of the faith, if not otherwise completely full of shit and himself, and that's what made him the perfect rock critic. He believed that rock was something more than music, and that belief translated to both consumer and artist. We must equally praise and blame him for it.

"The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious" -- Lester Bangs


As Fred mentioned on his post, the Wilson family time-shifted the holiday again this year. I am certainly no traditionalist, and moving Christmas up two weeks is fine with me. Given the fact that nobody really knows what day Christ was born on anyway, and the fact that we are a multi-denominational family, having our holiday land on the sixth night of Chanukah gave it some credibility, at least in a traditional sense. It works out well, because now we are free to spend ‘actual’ Christmas with our various in-laws, or, as in my case, I get to travel to Charleston, S.C., to meet my Baby’s family for the first time. We have tried doing it in early January, which I thought was cool because it landed on the twelfth day of Christmas, AND it gave me extra shopping days, but Fred likes it better in December. He feels it fits in better with the holiday season in New York, which is a very romantic and fun time and place to experience. This Wilsmas (yesterday) was lovely, and much loot was given and gotten. I’m definitely getting much more out of the giving these days, but I did get some real cool stuff. My brother Rod and his wife Karen gave me a heap of vinyl from their collection, including Dylan’s ‘Blonde On Blonde’, Bob Marley’s ‘Exodus’, and ‘Rastaman Vibration’, and ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison. Nice! I'm sure the Gotham Gal will get around to blogging her fantastic holiday supper, but in the meantime I gotta say that I've never had brisket so tender, and the candy-cane ice cream cake, well best not think on it, there's three hundred and sixty four days to go until I see that again.


Jerome, if I din't love you I'd be real upset. It seems the Steelers are the real deal after all. I'm not giving up on the Jets, mind you, but, well let's just say I feel better about Pittsburg beating the Pats in the post season, and that's what it's coming down to, for me. At this point I'm more of a Patriot hater than a Jet fan. I'm far more invested in seeing the Pats lose in the playoffs than I am in seeing the Jets in the Super Bowl. The Jets will win a couple of three more games, and make it to the playoffs, and who knows, maybe there's a miracle in the works? In the meantime I'm liking the Steelers more and more.


PUGHTOWN, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Last week's defrocking of a United Methodist Church pastor who broke church law by living openly with her lesbian partner was a victory for the denomination's conservative wing. But more broadly, did it signify a decisive turn for the denomination? Conservatives hope so. The church-trial verdict shows "we will not surrender to the popular culture on matters of sexual ethics." That's the contention of Mark Tooley, the Methodist specialist at the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Sexual ethics? So what is unethical sex? I would think rape qualifies, and knowingly transmitting disease to an unwitting partner, but outside of that, what's unethical about two women living together in a loving enviroment? Methodists, "Frankly, sir, I don't see any method at all."


ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Police shut down a bar that was showing a successful musical revue featuring nudity because the business didn't have an adult entertainment license. The manager of The Armory bar in midtown Atlanta, Doug Youngblood, said police overreacted Saturday night. He said the show had been running since August and is theater -- not adult entertainment. The revue, "Naked Boys Singing," has spent six years off-Broadway in New York and road show versions are playing in several cities. The gay-themed show, billed as celebrating "the splendors of male nudity in comedy, song and dance," features six male actors who are in the buff for much of the performance.---CNN

Now, I'm not likely to attend a performance of 'Naked Boys Singing', but I see nothing wrong with it. It does beg the question that is pervasive across the country today: how far is too far? When does nudity become adult entertainment? Where is the line? Does it have to do with sex acts? Money changing hands...er...g-strings?


It's comforting to see that we're not alone. England suffers from acute celebrity worship syndrome as well.

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A protester has attacked a controversial waxwork Nativity scene featuring England soccer captain David Beckham as Joseph and his pop star wife "Posh Spice" Victoria as the Virgin Mary. "He pushed Posh and Becks over. It caused some damage but we don't know how much. The baby Jesus is fine."

Close call....

Friday, December 10, 2004


As America moves backwards socially, covering it’s ears and eyes like a child, the rest of the free world is comfortably moving along the path of progress. Canada’s Supreme Court ruled gay marriage as constitutional, and Parliament is expected to pass a bill granting gay men and women the right to marriage under law with full legal benefits. The Dutch have already done this, along with Denmark, Hungary, France and Portugal. New Zealand has legalized gay marriage as well. Bob Mould has a good post on this. The land of the prudes and home of the prigs, as Jeff Jarvis might say, is becoming less tolerant. How can we expect to lead the free world, to spread democracy, if we don’t offer our citizens the rights they are supposed to be guaranteed by our constitution? In this country freedom is a farce, but it makes great decoration, much like a throw rug. It looks nice, but its function is to be trod upon.


Or near abouts, when Bob Geldof made a heap of phone calls to enlist the cream of the Brittish pop crop to aid him in his Band Aid project. The single, 'Do They Know It's Christmas', started a trend of all-star sing-a-longs to provide famine relief in Africa. Well, they're back. Band Aid 2004 offers a new song, plus the old one and a live version. Returning are Mr. Geldof, Bono, and Midge Ure, accompanied by the latest brit poppers. I don't know if the likes of Coldplay and Radiohead can top Simon Lebon's "but when you're having fun", but I'm sure it will sell well in merry olde England, and guess what? There are still millions of starving Africans to feed, and hunger does not end with that continent. The benefit fad may have passed, but the need, and the pioneers are still with us.


Last night was Andy Rock's inaugural shift behind the bar at Olive’s in Nyack. It’s Vinyl Night With Andy. He brings a crate of records, mostly mine - plus his Appetite and Van Hagar, and people write album side requests on Post-It’s. It’s strictly first come first serve; Andy deals a straight deck on that account. Lots of good records were played, Lou’s ‘Rock And Roll Animal’, Neil’s ‘Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere’, The Stones’ ‘Exile’, ‘Spectrum’, ‘Purple Rain’, The Police’s 'Ghost In The Machine’, but the record that sounded best, sounded right in the hole that is Olive’s, was AC/DC’s 'Highway To Hell’, it just punches through. We kept saying, okay, I kept saying, “Those are loud guitars there”, because that’s the AC/DC sound, no bullshit, just really loud guitars. A guitar plugged into an amp, and turned up all the way. Simply marvelous. Anyway, we did take a break from the vinyl for an hour of Pantera, I was a bit out of my element at that point. With or without guns, Pantera fans get scary, add alcohol and they get scarier. But they had to mourn their guy their way, and I’m sure that’s the way Dimebag would have wanted it, lots of hollerin’ and air guitar.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I'm sitting here looking at the prototype of the packaging that Fred Caputi has done for 'All The Brick's - Pink Floyd's The Wall', which came out better than I could have imagined, but my heart is sick over this Dimebag shit. It makes me think. Roger Waters' impetus for writing The Wall began with an incident during a concert where he spit at a fan. That fan, back in 77, probably was ecstatic over being gobbed upon by Mr. Waters, but it would seem that Dimebag must have done something worse than spitting. It's getting to the point where you really need to be careful who you fuck, literally or figuratively, for fear of getting shot. We don't know, at this point, what transpired between Darryl and his assailant, and it could be something heavy, but what about the innocent victims who just wanted to blow off some steam at a show? They didn't deserve to get shot. There is a Wall being built in this country, a Wall of fear, and we all need to tear that fucker down. No more guns, please. Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Jam Master Jay, and now Dimebag.....

UPDATE: Seems the motive was the break-up of Pantera, well nice going dude, no chance of a reunion now dick. The Monster was an ex-marine, bush league football player. A Pantera listening fromer marine who is most likely taking steroids is a recipe for disaster even without a gun.


Dimebag Darryl, formerly of Pantera, and now formerly of the planet earth was shot and killed onstage last night in Columbus Ohio during a performance by his new band, Damageplan. His brother, Vinnie Abbott, the drummer, may have been shot as well. Though I'm not a huge Pantera fan, I'm not much for thrash, I am a Dimebag fan. His skill as a guitarist was legendary, as was his love of Ace Frehley, which makes us brothers, and I will morn him as such.
Another argument for gun control. I must add that it went down in a red state. How many more bodies before we wake up America!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


In response to Chris’ comment on his blog about my Double Album blog wherein I mentioned the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, I decided to do some research about the classic albums that were made with it (at least in part). What I came up with is an incomplete (I’m quite sure) list of albums and some neat quotes.

Deep Purple – Machine Head, Who Do You Think We Are, Burn
Faces – Long Player
Led Zeppelin – III, IV, Houses Of The Holy
Bob Marley – Live
Fleetwood Mac – Penguin, Mystery To Me
Bad Company – Run With The Pack
Nazareth – Rampant
Zappa – 200 Motels
Blackfoot – Highway Song Live
Stones – Exile, Black And Blue, Some Girls, Tattoo You

“The recording (Deep Purple, ‘Machine Head’) would be made with the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, which is quite simply a 16-track studio perched on the back of a lorry and painted with camouflage colours, for reasons best known to the Stones.” – Roger Glover

“The whole environment in this place in Holland was not really right and extremely inconvenient. I was parked in the street. They were on the third floor of this building. Every time I wanted to go and adjust a mike, I had to walk up four flights of stairs and down ten corridors. In the end, there was a misunderstanding between Keith and I, which caused an argument from me. I lost my rag, and supposed it was years and years of nonsense that had built up... I said my piece and told the Rolling Stones they could go fuck themselves. That was the end of that... I've never listened to the record (Black And Blue). I'm sure they fucked it up.” – Glyn Johns

“Glyn Johns [you know, the Stones’ engineer] had their mobile recording unit set up in a big Mercedes truck outside – huge cables running out of it and everything. [Johns] had this primitive video system running from the auditorium to the truck, and he would just talk to us from outside through the monitors.” -- Matt Hanks

“Because we rented the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio, we could relax and take our time and develop the songs in rehearsals. We didn't have to worry about wasting studio time.” –Jimmy Page

If anybody has any more info on this, please comment away….


I’ve mentioned this great record by Jazz-Funk master Billy Cobham on a number of blogs, but I can’t resist giving it some special attention. Given the fact that Andy Rock has it on heavy rotation in The Listening Room, it’s been on my mind. Recorded in two days at Electric Ladyland in New York, Billy Cobham (drums), Leland Sklar (Bass), Jan Hammer (Keys) and the late Tommy Bolin (guitar) banged out this record mostly live in the studio.

“JH: Yeah, you don’t expect that anymore after all these years and years of people polishing things to death. That was all played live at Electric Lady Studios. They were just simple vamps, you know the writing is not as important as to how the people who are playing, play together, how they clicked and where we took it with improvisation.”

Apparently Tommy Bolin, the youngster discovered by Jan Hammer, and hand picked by Cobham to fill a spot originally slated for Hendrix, arrived at the session worried because he couldn’t read the charts Cobham had written. After being put at ease by Hammer and Cobham, he went on to play the most amazing guitar he would ever put down on vinyl.

Less angular than the Mahavishnu records that Cobham and Hammer had done with John McLaughlin, ‘Spectrum’ has a more natural grove orient to it, and therefore is much more accessible for rock fans who are interested in some serious playing.

I can’t recommend this album enough, and if proof is what you need, check out ‘Quadrant 4’, if your still not sold, then I give up, because it gets no better than that.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Personally I’ve been a fence sitter on the issue of file sharing, i.e. Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire et al. On the one hand, an artist should be compensated for the distribution of said artist’s work, on the other hand, file sharing is a great way to spread the word about a new band, or turn someone on to a golden oldie. In the end I feel, and it seems I’m not alone, that file sharing can only help an artist in the end. If, say, reading Fred’s blog, I become interested in Rilo Kiley, and I then log onto Limewire and find the song, download it, listen to it, enjoy it, and buy the record, well then who’s a victim there? Even if I don’t end up buying it, nobody loses out because I wouldn’t have bought it anyway. But, now the chances of me buying have increased, and I’m sure that translates into more product sold in the long run. So, I guess I’m off the fence, and Laars Ulrich can suck my ass.


Barry wrote the ones that make the whole world sing, and what an amazing task that must have been. Songwriting is such an undefined process, there’s no one-way to do it. Many times I’ve been asked how we (Chris and I) do it, and often you battle preconceived notions created by how it has been achieved by others. With us, it’s never cut and dried, and I have a hard time believing that it would be for any partnership. Who writes the lyrics? We both do. Who writes the music? We all do. We certainly don’t follow the Elton/Bernie example, which is an extension of the old time Broadway method; one guy does the lyric, the other the tune. Both Chris and myself are capable of, and have, done the whole job by ourselves, but since we spend so much time in the studio together, that rarely happens anymore. More often a song will develop using the method I call ‘What About This’; simply tossing out ideas that compliment each other, patching them together, working up bits, chord progressions, lyrics, and stuff to tie them together. Digital recording has made this process very easy, as far as assembly goes, but it’s still a challenge to put up the antennae and receive the instructions from the Divine Center Of Cosmic Inspiration. Now, say you’ve done all that. You’ve mapped out your song, the chords, the lyric, the basic arrangement (verse, chorus, bridge, ect..), and now it’s time to show it to the band. Unless you’re a solo performer, your going to have to bang the work you’ve done around in a live room with a few other musicians. Ok, so your drummer worked up a cool bit using all tom toms in the chorus, which really brings it out of the verse section nicely. What has just happened is writing as well. Your bass player wrote a counter melody to the bridge that took that bit to another level, well now he’s a writer too. My philosophy is that these additions, these embellishments, qualify as writing, and should be credited as such. You will find many, and not surprisingly wealthy, artists who disagree. Roger Waters certainly does not agree. His ego, and zest for control, will not let him entertain the thought. Mick and Keith never gave Brian Jones, or Mick Taylor any credit, and the credit they have given Ron Wood has been for ‘inspiration’ not writing. I don’t think they make out royalty or publishing checks for inspiration. Now I’m not opposed to making money, I’d like very much to receive checks, I’d like even more to cash ‘em, but my motivation to write songs is not based in finance, it’s art, and for me, it gets better with collaboration, and I intend to give credit where it’s due. Sounds all nice and (excuse the pun) harmonious right? Not all the time. A writing partnership can be as frustrating or stultifying as any other relationship, and like other relationships, communication is key. Sometimes hard compromises are in order. Sometimes egos need to be stroked, and sometimes arguments are unavoidable. One should always believe in their vision, and be true to it. So what happens when visions conflict? Good question. Personally, I pick my battles. I’ve met those who don’t. It’s very hard to work with somebody who won’t compromise, and to that end, their shit must be worth their stink. I have been lucky to find, in Chris, somebody who respects and listens to my input, it isn’t always going to be like that in life.


Army took a beating, as somewhat expected. Kudos, however, go to Bobby Ross for at least getting a couple of wins out of the Black Knights this year. The Jets remain in good post-season shape, the Giants fall further back behind the soaring Eagles, and the sometimes soaring Falcons. It’s not too late to arrange an accident involving McNabb and Brady. I’m not so worried about Vick, this year….

Friday, December 03, 2004


Rock music, as we know it, began in the heart and soul of a black man. Everybody knows this. Robert Johnson to Sonny Boy to Muddy and Chuck and a guy named Richard Penniman. Johnny Johnson, Chuck Berry’s pianist is more responsible for the state of popular music today than Elvis or any other white man. Back in ’89, Fox television (I believe) tried to develop an award show for rock music; the award to be given was called the Elvis. When Living Color took the stage, they suggested calling it a Chuck, and when the Replacements took the stage, Paul Westerberg put it simply, but aptly; ‘Elvis Who?’ Indeed. The question put to me that inspired this blog was, ‘do black people listen to Rock?’ Well you’d have to ask one, but in my life, I have known many black people who listen to Rock. My good friend from high school, Jerome Adams, is a black rock fan, and my friend Niko, who is white, is a member of the Black Rock Coalition. I know that when I go to see Rock concerts, I always see black people in attendance, and the rap artists I work with all want Rock guitars on their Hip Hop. There’s a black member of the Libertines. And what about Jimi, and the Bad Brains? The new bass player for the Stones is a black man. So the answer is yes, there are many black people, both on the stage and in the audience, in the world of Rock. I guess the best response to a question like that is; ‘Do white guys play basketball?’


On my way home last night I was thinking about how I listen to music, what I listen for, and why I like what I like. Because I’m a musician, engineer and aspiring music producer, I do hear production value, and mark it for what it is when I hear it. Obviously, I appreciate a well-produced record. That being said, in the end it matters very little. Take ‘Exile On Main Street’, my professed all time favorite record, for an example. The production is gritty, recorded as it was on the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit from Keith’s basement at Nellcote in the south of France. Although the quality of the recording might be considered sub standard, it fits the content, and in the end, it’s the songs that sell the record. All the Gus Dudgeons and Bob Ezrins in the world can’t do what they do without the Elton Johns and Roger Waterses. My number two follows suit; The Clash’s ‘London Calling’, produced by renown maniac Guy Stevens, was recorded in a shitty little room with less than state of the art gear, but the results are mind blowingly fantastic, and again, the grittiness suits the content. Not every record can, or should, sound like ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (Number Three?).


What a great title. Yesterday, after I blogged the double album blog, I had a sneaking suspicion, more of a nagging in the back of my brain, that I had left out something big. Well as Jason pointed out, I left out something monumental. Before The White Album, came this great record from Bob Dylan. Unlike John Lennon, I do believe in Zimmerman, prophet or not. As a whole, I prefer ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, but without a doubt credit must be given to Bob for doing the double album first. Fred picked ‘Blood On The Tracks’ as his number one, and be that as it may, I think he’s going to need another Bob record up there, and I believe it should be one of these two. I must admit that I haven’t given ‘Blonde On Blonde’ a good listen in some time, so I’m going to do that, and then I’ll lobby Fred with my resulting opinion.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


At some point during the career of a great band or artist there comes a time when a surplus of material is at hand. One of two things usually happens; they either watershed, or they put out a double album. It happened to the Clash twice, and the second time it resulted in a triple album, ‘Sandinista!’ In ’68 it happened to the Beatles, and the outcome was ‘The White Album’, or ‘The Beatles’ as it is technically titled. I’ve recently blogged what I think of that particular album. Historically though, it is very important because it was the first. In ’72 the Stones hit a songwriting stride, and it resulted in ‘Exile On Main Street’. This would definitely take the number one spot on my ‘all time best’ list, and number two would go to The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ (’79), both of which have made the cut on Fred’s list. The bone of contention, at this point, seems to be over an album that came out in ’73, Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. Though I believe ‘GBYBR’ to a great record and worth inclusion into the top fifty, I don’t think it’s as consistent as either ‘Exile’ or ‘London Calling’. Also in ’79 Pink Floyd released ‘The Wall’, which again deserves it’s place in the pantheon, but it’s not their best effort, just their biggest, much like Elton’s ‘GBYBR’. It is better than Pink Floyd’s first double record, ‘Umagumma’, which can be fun, but it’s a rehash/live stuff type record, and therefore does not fit the bill. U2’s ‘Rattle And Hum’ is a great record, if not cumbersome, and somewhat ill defined. Again, since it features live cuts, it doesn’t count. The double album is somewhat of a dinosaur these days. Cd’s offer longer playtime, and thusly a single record often times out at almost an hour, or roughly three quarters of a double record, and packaging has changed as well, gone are the days of cleaning an ounce of pot on the record you just bought. I suppose, as usual, I’ve left something out, and I rely on you to refresh my memory.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federally funded abstinence education programs that are used in 25 states contain false and misleading information about contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases, said Rep. Henry Waxman.

Abstinence, as a policy, is truly laughable, and what's worse is that it's dangerous. When the time comes, and we all know it will, what happens to the teenager who has been given no support in terms of options? They will do without. They will have unprotected sex, because they thought that they could wait, but in reality they couldn't, and there they are, wherever they are, without a condom. Hell, it seems I thought about little else when I was sixteen, I couldn't wait to get Mr. Happy into action, and when, thank God, the time came, guess what? I had a condom (stole it from Dad), and nobody got sick or knocked up. I don't know where she is, and I can't even remember her name, but I know that neither one of us did the other any harm, quite the contrary in fact. Abstain? Why? I see no reason to do anything of the sort. Percieved morality cannot substitute for intelligence. If you educate your child, and give your child love and respect, then your child will make the right decisions. 'Just say no' never works.


For Christmas, in 1976, my brother Rod bought me my first LP, The Beatles, ‘Abbey Road’. That incident launched a lifetime love affair/obsession for me; it’s the alpha with no omega in sight. Within the year, using my meager allowance, I purchased ‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’, Magical Mystery Tour’, and both the red and blue greatest hits packages. I will always be grateful to Rod for sparking my interest in the Beatles, and thusly giving me a strong musical foundation. Again, here, there’s a difference between my favorite, and what I would call the best. ‘Revolver’ is the record I’m more likely to listen to, it has a magical quality I can’t quite put into words, it just feels comfortable, like on old friend. It was through this record that I began to understand the stereo spectrum and how to manipulate it. Certainly ‘Revolver’ is my favorite, but is it the best? It’s so hard to say, but I think, in the end, ‘Abbey Road’ takes home the blue ribbon. The production is super tight; the songs are fantastic, if at times rather silly (‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, ‘Octopus’ Garden’). Side two is a groundbreaking masterwork, and probably the coolest thing Paul ever had to talk John into. ‘Sgt. Pepper’ would be the most important album, but song-by-song, ‘Abbey Road’ is the superior album. Don’t get me going on the ‘White Album’, just don’t go there. Okay, I will go there, I don’t much care for it. Too many songs, and not enough good ones. ‘Blackbird’, please…I can’t stand all that McCartney crap…’Obla Di Obla Da’? What the hell is that crap? Awful. ‘Rocky Raccoon’? Just plain stupid. Cut the record down to the John stuff, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, ‘Savoy Truffle’ and I guess ‘Back In The USSR’, but that’s it. No, it’s ‘Abbey Road’ for my money.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


In September of 1985 Kate Bush released ‘Hound Of Love’, an album that would prove to be the zenith of a singularly influential and groundbreaking career. A protégé of David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Bush would set the standard for artists like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple. ‘Hounds Of Love’ is one of those great records that take you on a journey to places remote, exotic, and strangely familiar. I used this record as the soundtrack to a performance of ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’ that I directed in college. The first side consists of five songs, each examining aspects of the overall theme – love. ‘Running Up That Hill’ may well be Kate’s finest moment, and that side’s finale; ‘Cloudbursting’ proves her place in the pantheon of rock greats. The fact that she’s able to write, arrange, and produce herself successfully puts her in a very small group of artists. The second side is a whirlwind trip through the psyche of that obsession, that disease or disorder we call love. Not only is this record one of my all-time favorites, it is the best record I have found to make love to, yes, even better than ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. Try it out sometime.


I’ve been remiss in my blogging, the holiday threw me off my schedule, but I promised to blog my Turkey day repast. My Girl and I cooked for my Mother and Father. We showed up at noon, my Mom purchased the turkey and baked a delicious pumpkin pie, my Baby and I did the rest. I quickly assembled the stuffing; I used Stove Top and added diced onion and kielbasa, which I then stuffed inside the waiting bird. It was a relatively small turkey, 12 pounds, so it didn’t need all day to cook, just less than three hours in fact, which gave us plenty of time to work up the side dishes. First I peeled the potatoes and turnips for my sister-in-law's renowned mash. Once they were boiling I started the string beans, which I cooked in a pan on the stovetop with oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and diced onion. While I prepared these dishes, my Baby made the gravy (using the spare bird parts), the cranberry sauce (from scratch), a broccoli and cheese casserole (her recipe, not mine) and the squash (sautéed with herbs). We spent the down time pouring over my grandmother’s photo albums, and magically the meal came together with all the elements arriving at the table with expert timing, sort of, the bird had to wait a bit, but it held up very well. All told, cooking to clean up, the meal took just over five hours. It was all about teamwork, and for that I was very thankful.


If Fred is going to pick one album a week, I’m going to lobby one album per week for his consideration. This week Fred picked ‘The Joshua Tree’; I think it was a good choice. In keeping with that era, I’d like to nominate R.E.M. for admittance in Fred’s Fifty. My personal favorite is ‘Green’, mostly because of ‘You Are The Everything’ and ‘11’, my two all time favorite R.E.M. songs, but the album does have a couple of songs that leave me flat, namely ‘World Leader Pretend’ and ‘Wrong Child’, so I wouldn’t call it their best. Many would cite ‘Automatic For The People’, and it does have ‘Everybody Hurts’ and a few other great songs, but greatness, to me, means consistency. The two albums that stack up in that vein are ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’, and ‘Document’. I have a hard time picking between the two. ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ offers ‘Begin The Begin’ followed by the awesome ‘These Days’, and the sublime ‘Fall On Me’. It contains elements of the truly weird, ‘Underneath The Bunker’, punk, ‘Just A Touch’, harmonious bliss, ‘Swan Swan H’, and pop songcraft, ‘Superman’. On the other hand, ‘Document’ features it’s own collection of killer tracks, and from the start of ‘Finest Worksong’ to the end of ‘Oddfellows Local 151’ there’s really not a moment of down time. Those two songs, ‘Fireplace’, and their cover of Pylon’s ‘Strange’ show off the bands ability to deliver searing rock, while ‘King Of Birds’ picks up where ‘Swan Swan H’ leaves off. Peter Buck displays his considerable banjo chops on ‘Lightning Hopkins’, and Stipe gives us social commentary on ‘Welcome To The Occupation’, ‘Exhuming McCarthy’ and ‘Disturbance At The Heron House’. As a whole, I think ‘Document’ would be their most consistent (no ‘Hyena”) and therefore best LP.

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