Thursday, April 27, 2006
Recently I have engaged in some poorly motivated blogging. I could blame it on the various stress factors in my life, of which there are many, but basically this is due to me just being a jerk. In the future I will try to refrain from the 'I Told You So' blogtype. It's not a flattering approach, and it's mean spirited. I had come to this conclusion on my own, but last night a friend, reader, and blogger reinforced those feelings. I am human, and as previously stated, a jerk, so I may lapse from time to time, but I'll try to reel it in a bit - besides, it's not Tony's fault that he's so wrong about everything...
Seriously, Tony, I've taken some cheap shots, and I apologize.
Now, enough of that.....moving forward.
I will be on the road for the next two weeks. I'll be in Atlanta for a week. I'll get to see Tony and his brood, and with any luck I'll make it to the Clermont Lounge as well.
Then I'll be in New Orleans for a week. I'm looking foreword to visiting one of my favorite cities. I'm sure their economy could use the enormous amount of money our crew will spend on drinks alone. For depravity's sake, you pretty much have to go to N.O. to top the Clermont.
During my absence, Chris will be holding down the fort out at Smoke and Mirrors, moving foreword with Geek Farm, Strikes Again!, and House of Blondes, perfecting the art of mixing, and hopefully not getting too pissed off at my not being there.
Two weeks on the road means a goodly chunk of change for Jackson, and although I now have more overhead than I used to, I still think this road trip will result in some sort of gear for S&M. I'm thinking a stereo pair of spiffy pre-amps. Air purification is another item on the agenda as well.
Also, during my absence, I feel it is safe to assume that George Vitray will kill many virtual soldiers, and make more headway on the 'Robots Kill Everyone' record.
Maybe, by the time I return, Podblaze will be up and running again. Bastards. I'd protest them, but it wouldn't do any good - DOH!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to a personal low, with only a third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, a national poll released Monday said.
So, at this point, there must be some folks who supported him in the last election who have changed their viewpoint. I wonder why they would do that?
U.S. President George W. Bush, at a fundraiser for Rep. Jon Porter in Las Vegas, Nevada, said: "I strongly condemn the killings that took place."
"The innocent life lost in Egypt is a heinous act against innocent civilians," Bush said.
"I assure the enemy this: We will stay on the offense," he said. "We will not waiver." - CNN
What? I know eighth graders with a better command of the English language. How long do we need to hear the same tired soundbite? Apparently it doesn't work. In a game of chicken, it's the crazy ass fucker who's not afraid to die who wins. Guess who that is.
"Our addiction to oil is a matter of national security concern" - GWB
Seven years later, GW wakes up to a crisis - an actual crisis that he didn't have to spin intelligence to create. Go back to sleep George. Let some qualified people take care of things, really, you've done enough.
Seriously, nobody wanted to listen to uncle Al back in 2000 - nooooooo, it was too much gloom and doom, crazy Al Gore talking that crazy talk. Well, how do you feel now, huh? How are those gas prices treating you? Enjoying your Oil War?
Monday, April 24, 2006
It seems demonstrations and protests can effect change. I wonder if somebody in Nepal thought that "Their efforts make no difference at all, and change nothing". I also wonder if any Nepalese protest songs were written or performed during the protests and demonstrations. If so, I wonder if "like most protest songs, and protests period, in this day and age they have little to no effect on anything."
Okay - so I'm not just wondering, and am actually taking a not so thinly veiled shot at Tony - but hey - slow news day.
Don't kids go to school to learn anymore - okay, so I'm not exactly without sin on this account, but you can bet whatever I was doing instead of the work I supposed to have been doing, I wasn't slowing down anybody elses progress.
First off, I don't like the term 'pacifist', I prefer 'peacenick'. The non-violent mind set is not natural. Mankind is never in a natural state of peace with his environment, or those with whom he must share it with. Non-violence must be practiced, it's something you consciously work on.
This morning, like many Monday mornings over the past three years, I took the train from DC at 7:00 am so I could get to work in New York by a reasonable 10:15 (gotta love production hours!). I always sit in the 'Quiet Car'. I choose to spend my three hours asleep if I can manage, but, alas, that is easier said than done.
The 'Quiet Car' has rules. No talking, no cell phones, no anything that will disturb those who choose the 'Quiet car'. Almost invariably somebody - invariably a 'suit' who's business is more important than the rules, or the comfort of the other passengers - ignores the rules, and either a) engages an associate in loud conversation or b) does said loud conversing on his cell phone.
This always upsets me. My initial reaction in never non-violent. Today I was wishing I had an empty beer can with which to pelt the offender. Empty beer cans are great for this. It's very hard to actually injure somebody with an empty beer can, but it's also hard to ignore one when it smacks upside your head. It's an attention getter.
Again, I did not have such a weapon at my disposal, and that is for the better. Had I pelted the 'suit' with an empty can of MGD, it would have resulted in even more disruption of the quiet in the 'Quiet Car'. This was something I did not want on my conscience. I merely wanted this guy to know he was an asshole. I managed that by using the peacenicks only weapon - dirty looks.
I dirty looked that guy so bad it must have cause internal bleeding, it made me feel better, him worse, and resulted in a peaceful ride for everybody in the 'Quiet Car'.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jawad al-Maliki, new shiite nominee for Iraq PM. I hope this works out. I really do. I know certain readers think I want US policy in the Middle East to fail - that is not the case, my pessimism should not be mistaken for a caustic aversion to progress.
He does seem a bit worried though. I would be too.
Helpful hints to Mr. al-Maliki - send the wife and kids out of town for a while.....
Assholes. Now, granted, I'm not sick. I don't smoke pot for medical reasons, but I do know that the effects of marijuana help relieve nausea, which is a major side effect to almost every known drug therapy. If people can benefit from drug therapy, but have tolerance issues based around nausea, wouldn't a combined therapy inclusive of marijuana be beneficial? I don't get it.
Blah blah Heavy Metal Band bla blah Scorpions blah blah UFO Thin Lizzy blah blah.
Album cover Jpeg
Metal blah, blah blah 1981 blah blah guitar blah
Album cover jpeg
Blah blah because I know everything about metal blah.
I have recieved two e-mails today with the same content:
"Hi, Do you buy books online, use Google, or download to an Ipod? These activities will be hurt if Congress passes a radical law that gives giant corporations more control over the Internet. Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. Amazon.com doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer. Politicians don't think we are paying attention to this issue. Many of them take campaign checks from big telecom companies and are on the verge of selling out to people like AT&T's CEO, who openly says, "The internet can't be free." The free and open Internet is under seige--can you sign this petition letting your member of Congress know you support preserving Network Neutrality? Click here: http://www.civic.moveon.org/save_the_internet A list of all the ways you might be affected by Net Neutrality is located on the bottom of this link: http://civic.moveon.org/alerts/savetheinternet.html Thanks!"
Obviously this is a MoveOn originated attempt to stir up some action. I recognize the fact that MoveOn is a very reactionary organization, but I support their motives, if not their actions.
Again, a comment found on AVC....
"i thought i was going to dig neil's music until the end. i guess i was wrong. i can understand hating war and all of that. personally, i support the war and i think it is the right thing to do.
but knocking bush even though he's done such a great job defending the USA really put neil in the same tub of shit with the dixie chicks and barbara streisand.
joining the chorus of jerks who are willing to risk stunting the optimism of our soldiers and citizens is more than i can stomach.
encouraging combative terrorists to keep on keepin' on because the american political scene is so screwed up by all of the dumb assed comments of michael moore and al gore.
way to go neil. you frikkin ASSHOLE.
i'm trashing all of your crap and i'll never spend another dime on your sorry art again. thanks a lot for 28 years of nothing!"
I wasn't aware of the great job President Bush had done defending anyone from anything. The de-indoctrination of America will take some time I'm afraid.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Howie Klein, former Reprise exec, has a review of the new Neil Young record up on his blog. I can't wait to hear it.
Let's impeach the president for lying
Misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
One of the choir members has a blog, and talks about the experience here.
"All I knew was that we were singing on a new Neil Young record, but when the lyrics we were supposed to sing flashed on the giant screen, a roar went up from the choir. I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was "Let's impeach the President for lyin'!" Turns out the whole thing is a classic beautiful protest record. The session was like being at a 12-hour peace rally. Every time new lyrics would come up on the screen, there were cheers, tears and applause. It was a spiritual experience. I can't believe my good fortune at being a part of this.
It was also recorded on analog in the A room at Capitol Records, which they're talking about selling and turning into condos. No ProTools, no 'flying in', no Auto-Tune. Just real singing, and real songs, from a real artist. And to hire a hundred live singers? Incredible."
As I donned my Canucks jersey today, I said to myself; it's time to check in on the NHL. Bad news almost all around. Hue's Wild, my Canucks, and Tony's Thrashers are all sitting out the post season, and for each it was a case of being a few games short.
Chrispy's Hurricanes, which are his by default since they are what used to be the Hartford Whalers, have clinched their division, and are heading into the playoffs with a decent head of steam.
I cannot support any team from Carolina no matter where they used be. In the spirit of the underdog, and since they were my third choice when I was looking for a team to support, I'm going with Edmonton in the post season despite the fact that they squeezed my Canucks out of a spot in the race for the Cup.
The Boston Globe has named Gilbert the 'Unsexiest Man' alive. I'm not sure. I think Karl Rove has him beat on that account. Besides, women are constantly saying that they find humor sexy, and Gilbert is the funniest man alive, so shouldn't he be on an altogether different list?
Good riddance, though the damge has been done. It's incredible the amount of influence one man has had on the world. Sad, and incredible.
I've been thinking a lot about Van Halen lately. Partially because of the Klosterman books I've been reading, partially because of recent discussions on this blog, but mostly because thinking about Van Halen is the type of thing Jackson does.
I belong to a select group of Van Halen fans that I'll call the First Wave, basically I'm talking about guys like Tony Alva, my brothers, and the rest of the hard rock record buying public who were blown away by the first VH record back in 1978 - the Cal Jam generation, if you will.
To us, VH was mind blowing because we had never heard it's likeness before, the VH sound was something wholly new - but not really. We had never heard Billy Cobham's Spectrum record, we didn't listen to Mahavishnu - we liked to think we knew what Mahavishnu was, and certainly we dropped the name John McLaughlin when citing guitar gods - but in actuality, we hadn't a clue, because if we did, VH wouldn't have come off as mind blowing as it did.
About a year and a half ago I was living in Nyack with Andy Rock. Andy is about fifteen years my junior. He's a hard rock fan who was raised on Guns and Roses and Motley Crue. Andy and I had a very healthy symbiotic vinyl based relationship. I turned him onto seminal bands that I though he should check out (The New York Dolls, Rose Tatoo, Jeff Beck, Billy Cobham, Budgie....), and he forced me to revisit what I though I didn't need to, namely the first two VH records.
Ask me what my favorite VH record is, and I'll tell you 'Women and Children First', ask Tony Alva and he'll say 'Fair Warning', but ask either of us, or anybody in fact, what the best VH record is, and invariably they'll say the first one is the best followed by the second (VHII).
I hadn't listened to either of those records in years, for the same reason the 'Women and Children First' became my favorite VH record. I had heard those first two records so many times that I didn't need to any more. I knew a guy in college who had taken acid every day for a year. After that, he didn't need to actually drop a tab anymore, all he had to do was think about it, and off he'd go. That's how the first two VH records were to me - it was in me already. Andy disabused me of that notion one fateful night.
We had been doing bong hits and listening to 'Blow By Blow' and 'Spectrum', then somebody put on VHII. Andy and I looked at each other immediately - we went back to the Cobham record, back to VHII - it was undeniably similar. We knew, without a doubt, that Eddie and Alex Van Halen were unabashed Cobham heads. Further inspection revealed that the drum intro to 'Hot For Teacher' was lifted directly off 'Spectrum'.
What was new about VH was the attitude, and the solos. Mahavishnu didn't have David Lee Roth, and nobody played leads like Eddie. VH took bebop influenced fusion, jacked it through Eddie's hot rod Marshall, and had David Lee spout testosterone infused Southern Californian doctrines on top. It was a formula that took the world by storm, it was so good, we thought it was actually something new, and in a way, it was.
Unfortunately, it was a formula, and like most bands, they began to lean on it. By the time '1984' came out, it seemed the only thing left to do was add keyboards. Exit David Lee, and yours truly.
The most obvious formula used by Van Halen is the 'spoken word breakdown', and inevitable moment in the song where the band takes it down a notch while David Lee espouses rhetoric on a) automotive activities - "reach down between my legs and ease the seat back...", b) fashion - "hey man, that suit is you, you'll get some leg tonight for sure..." and "I like the way the line runs up the back of the stocking......", c) memories - "remember when that girl was prom queen..." d) the rough side of town - "See a gun is real easy, in this desperate part of town....."
You get the idea.
In the end formula helps a band define itself, but destroys what is good by putting too fine a point on it. If one were to chart the musical output of Van Halen, one would end up with a graph that looks like the cover of their fifth record, 'Diver Down'
From the start, every successive VH record was a little less awesome than it's predecessor. The initial record was so good, that it took a few records before the trend was noticable. Certainly by 'Diver Down' it was evident that VH was a 'once great' band in decline. I would end up giving away my tickets to see them on that tour. I had seen them in 1980, and didn't think they could possibly top that show. The next record, '1984' was so bad, I have never owned a copy. By the time Van Hagar hit the scene, I wasn't even interested anymore.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention Michael Anthony. Michael's contribution the the VH sound cannot be undersated - he is integral, but it's not his bass playing that makes him so important. This is not to say that his bass playing sucks, it does not. Though this notion was prevelant in the eighties, looking back, he simply was adequate as a bass player in a band of virtuosity. What makes Michael a valued member of VH is his outstanding vocal harmonies. Without him nobody would much care who can't wait to feel anybody's love tonight.
Dear Neil Young (if you possibly get to read this),
I'm a Long time fan who respected and loved you for over 20 years. Unfortunately, I won't be buying any more of your music and will be throwing my concert T in the trash. With your new childish album bashing the President and the war I've completely changed my attitude towards you. I won't be listening to any more of your f^**ng out of key singing and retarded guitar solos.. Go Back To F(^*ng Canada and bash your "own" Govt. you piece of Shit..
Fan No More
This is a comment found on Fred's blog. I doubt this person ever was a Neil fan, certainly they weren't listening too closely for the past 20 years.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
It certainly was uncomfortable being a Neil fan when his pro-war 9/11 reaction 'Let's Roll' came out. I guess Neil is human, and got caught up in the same mind set that so many Americans had - a justifiable reaction. Now it's five years later, and Neil is back on the peace train. I am much more comfortable with the anti-war Neil.
Mostly, I just hope these new songs are better than 'Let's Roll'. I can forgive Neil his momentary lapse - as I said, many fell into that trap, but bad music is....well...bad. Almost as bad as war.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Chuck Klosterman gives this date as the year zero of 'glam metal'. I use it as the marker for the end of Heavy Metal. It is the release date for Motley Crue's 'Shout at the Devil'.
An argument could be made that suggests this trend began with the release of Van Halen's first album in 1978.
Van Halen would become the blue print for the LA glam metal/hair metal of the mid eighties - an offshoot of Heavy Metal that was neither heavy, nor metal.
It took a few years, but by 1984, what was known as Heavy Metal was dead and gone. All the good old Hard Rock/Heavy Metal bands of the seventies had either broken up, or jumped on the Hair Metal bandwagon. Black Sabbath officially sucked on 1983's 'Born Again'.
Judas Priest's 1984 release 'Defenders of the Faith' was a formulaic rehash of their previous record 'Screaming for Vengeance' which in hindsight shows all the signs of the mediocrity that has plagued that once great band ever since.
Crappy formula based Priest......
The good stuff.....
Thin Lizzy were embarked upon their farewell tour in 1984. UFO had become a drug addled shadow of it's former self, and even AC/DC was showing signs of suckiness on 1983's 'Flick of the Switch'.
AC/DC's misguided eighties releases....
The good stuff........
The most telling of all - Motorhead's 1983 release, 'Another Perfect Day' was deeply affected by the melodic guitar playing of former Lizzy axeman Brian Robertson.
I still like the record, but not as much as this one......
The Scorpions released their mammoth selling 'Love at First Sting' in 1983.
I'd say 1980's 'Lovedrive' rocked me much more akin to a hurricane than that, again, formulaic record.
Even the NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal) bands were putting in lackluster performances on vinyl. Iron Maidens' last good record was 1983's 'Piece of Mind', Saxon's 1984 effort, 'Crusader' sucked even to those who thought that they didn't always suck. Udo left Accept, and Krokus opted for sheen where grit had served them best.
The problem was, it had all been done. The only thing left to do was cash in, so they did. At the same time all these new bands kept popping up out of LA. - Ratt, Poison, Skid Row, ect..... In 1984, a metalhead was asked to make a choice - Motley Crue, or Metallica - Glam or Thrash.
I went back instead, I discovered where the music came from, and in the process I found The Stones, Pink Floyd, Punk Rock, Prog Rock, anything other than what was being sold as metal. I knew it was dead, and I thank Sub Pop for finally driving the steak into it's ungodly heart.
I'm a literary junkie. I need to have a book at all times. Reading is like oxygen for me. I'm currently in the middle of three books. Normally, I read one at a time, as most people do. There have been points in my life where I'd start one book, and put it down in favor of another - better book. That is not the case here.
I started an excellent biography of Neil Young - 'Shakey' by Jim McDonough. I got as far as 1970 when he joined CSN, and then I left it in Nyack. So I went out and bought Chuck Klosterman's 'Killing Yourself to Live' (pretty good), and after that I read an AC/DC biography (Two Sides to Every Glory) which was written at the eighth grade reading level, but still provided some insight. Not having been back to Nyack to get the Neil book, I went out and bought two more books which I am reading concurrently.
I am not a multi-tasker, but the books I chose support this approach. I bought another Klosterman book, his first, 'Fargo Rock City', which is his treatise on 80's Hair Metal, which I would argue, for the most part, is not metal at all, but I am enjoying anyway.
I also bought Allison Weir's 'Wars of the Roses'. Allison Weir has written a good amount of historical non-fiction, mostly about Tudor England, and I'm enjoying this book very much. The Wars of the Roses are a complicated portion of English History, and it takes a deft hand to sort through all the lineage and tell a straight story. A task that Ms. Weir is worthy of.
I read the Klosterman book late at night and on the train. These are the moments in my life when I need light reading. I read the Weir book when I'm relaxing about the house, undistracted, and not overly stoned.
Life is, after all, about balance.
Someday I'll get back to that Neil young book.
Friday, April 14, 2006
In the late seventies, a young teenage Jackson sought to expand his musical horizons by immersing himself in his brother Rod's vinyl collection. One LP, Be Bop Deluxe's 'Live In The Air Age' fascinated me. The album cover drew me in, and the music kept me riveted.
A blend of glam (Bowie, Queen, Roxy Music) prog (Rush, King Crimson) with a hint of that Steely Dan sheen, Be Bop Deluxe made five records (Four studio plus the forementioned live record) before disbanding in the early eighties.
Guitar snobs will know the name Bill Nelson, the creative force behind Be Bop Deluxe. A virtuoso on the level of David Gilmour or Michael Schenker, Nelson never quite got his due.
I can't recommend one Be Bop Deluxe album over any other - they are all good. A good place to start would be where I did with the live record, or at the beginning:
Axe Victim is the glammiest of the Be Bop's efforts, with a distinctive Bowie/Ziggy vibe. 'Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus' anyone? Despite the obvious ode to Ziggy, Axe Victim is a great record.
Not only are we talking about a great band with great songs, but album covers that rule as well. The cover art for 'Sunburst Finish' is one of the greatest works of art associated with rock music.
Anyway, check out the Be Bop Deluxe and be one of five Americans in the know.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
We will take it as given that Mutt Lange blew his load sometime in the early eighties. It's my opinion that Def Leppard's 'High N Dry' was his last great record, quickly followed by AC/DC's 'For Those About To Rock' later the same year which was good, but not great - but we can blame the band for that. From that point he went back to Def Leppard for 'Pyromania', which began a long descent into crap from which he has yet to emerge.
None of that is the point of this blog.
The first AC/DC LP that Mutt did was 1979's 'Highway to Hell'. The album prior, 'Powerage' was produced by the former Easybeats team of Vanda and Young (George Young - elder brother to Angus and Malcolm). Atlantic wanted AC/DC to go with another producer, they tried Eddie Kramer for three weeks - didn't work. Angus is quoted as saying that Eddie couldn't produce a decent fart. I don't know about that. Anyway, they ended up with Mutt, and history was made.
'Highway to Hell' is certainly a glossier, cleaner sounding record than 'Powerage', but is that better? I'm not convinced. AC/DC would revert back to Vanda/Young for 1989's 'Razor's Edge', their most successful record since Back In Black (Mutt). They missed the grit, as did many others, including the newly appointed Atlantic exec at the time.
AC/DC is about grit, grit and great songs. There is no doubt that Mutt got great performances, and thusly great records out of AC/DC, and at a time when they needed a more professional touch to appease the American record company, but MY favorite AC/DC records are not the Mutt Lange produced offerings (Highway to Hell, Back in Black, For Those About to Rock). I prefer the earlier, dirtier records; 'High Voltage', 'Let There Be Rock', and 'Powerage'.
As far as Def Leppard is concerned, or I should say - as far as I'm concerned there are only two Def Leppard albums; the first one, and the second one. The second one, 'High N Dry' is the better one, produced by Mutt, but that's not why it's better. It's better because the songs are better.
'Exile' is underproduced, but it's the best thing the Stones ever did. 'Dirty Work' is a overproduced piece of crap (except for the two Keith songs).
What is best in life? Great songs.
Jackson likes it dirty.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I like this new thing. This new thing is great. I can do this with this new thing, and I can also do this other thing with this new thing. I really like this new thing. If you want this new thing too, you can go here.
Hey, look at that. That's weird.
Would you look at that?
You all are so wrong. I can't believe how wrong you all are. I am right. I am very right. I am the rightest, and you are so very wrong. People look at you and laugh at the ridiculousness of your wrongness.
I am so happy that I am right, and that you are wrong.
I've been away, I spent all my money, where's my fatted calf?
So, what's new?
Chris has been giving the warmongering republicans shit while I was away - good man.
The Legal Diva and I found a home in Brooklyn. We have a tiny front yard, a back courtyard - perfect for grilling, and a nice big room that will serve well as a place to have Super Bowl parties, and maybe a Record Release party. Our upstairs neighbor is some sort of synthesizer/electronic music guy. He's blasting his work all day long. I think we should introduce ourselves.
I just got back from South Carolina where I had a word with my future father-in-law about my intensions toward his daughter. I was not harmed, in fact, they sent me away with a ton of food.
I just found out that I'll be away again from the 29th of April until the 12th of May. I will miss my niece's batmitzvah, and the Legal Diva's birthday. On the upside, I'll be visiting New Orleans, Atlanta, and perhaps a quick side trip to Austin, where I may be able to book some time at Dave Murray's studio and have some pedal steel put on some songs for the Rock and Roll record, or maybe I'll just get high in Bill's garden again and write another song.