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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The world of Rock music is full of nose dives. Once mighty rockers laid low by all manner of means. The most horrific tale of complete loss of integrity, of total submission to suckdom is that of Genesis.

Genesis began as a harmless whimsical art rock group from the stuffy affluence of British suburbia, and has ended up an economic enterprise loosely associated with guitars, very loosely.

The first record, 'From Genesis to Revelation', is beyond reproach.

Made by novices, it holds up well, and is at least as good as the Moody Blues or David Bowie of the same era.

The second record, however, indicated a sea change. On 'Trespass' the music looses innocence, gains a slight threatening edge, and opens wide with a definite declaration of what we now call Prog.

The third record, 'Nursery Crime', introduces Steve Hackett and Phil Collins The tunes start to mature, and the character of the band solidifies. What that character is, and how it is defined are not easy questions, but they had developed a distinctness which would carry through subsequent releases for some time to come.

1972's 'Foxtrot' got them in the British charts (#12), and gave us their first classic, 'Supper's Ready'. While earlier efforts such as 'The Knife' and 'Musical Box' showed us the promise, 'Supper's Ready' delivers on it.

'Selling England by the Pound' is probably my favorite Genesis record. Here's where Gabriel grabs the ring. 'I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)' propelled the album to #3 (in England), but 'Cinema Show' is what it's all about.

So, your a successful Rock band, two hit records under your belt, what else do you do but self destruct? 1974's 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' was a good idea. Idea. Sometimes ideas don't come to fruition as foreseen. Let's make a double album. Let's make a concept double album. Let's use it as a springboard into America.

Gabriel says he needed more time and wasn't given it. Upon listening I'd say they all needed more time - OR - they should have made it a single record. If 'The Lamb.....' was one disc, it would have killed. There's a great record in there, it's simply weighed down by half baked ideas.

What do you do when your singer quits? Odds are that 'let the drummer sing' would not be among your immediate responses, but that's just what they did. Phil's voice is not dissimilar to Peter's, and despite a definite loss, they made good. 'A Trick of the Tail' is probably my second favorite Genesis record. Far more cohesive than 'The Lamb...', 'Trick....' finds the band falling into step remarkably well after a major shake up.

By 1977's 'Wind and Wuthering' some impetus seems to have been misplaced. Although 'All In A Mouse's Night' and 'Eleventh Earl of Mar' rank among my favorite Genesis tunes, the album is a bit.....well,...... windy and wuthery.

Although the band was very happy with the record, apparently they weren't all happy with each other. Apparently Steve felt that there was not enough Hackett making it onto the records, and off he went. The remainder spent little time mourning their loss and promptly returned to the studio to record the penultimate good Genesis record. The sadly aptly titled 'And Then There Were Three' is truly a pivotal record. It contains the swan song of the classic Genesis style (Burning Rope) as well as the prototype of what would be the new Genesis (Follow You, Follow Me).

This is where I draw the line, sort of. The successive three records, 'Duke', 'Abacab', and 'Three Sides Live' mark the decline of Genesis. The word 'boring' comes to mind. Sure they play some classics on the live record, but they don't mean it. Not really. In 1983 they put out their eponymously titled record. Again, we have a dichotomy. 'Genesis' is ground zero for sell-ou crap, BUT, there are two good songs on it. God knows why, but they decided to toss in some quality in the form of 'Mama', and 'Home By the Sea'.

The rest is such utter shit that I won't even mention any of it except to say that predictably their successive releases sold gazillions of copies.

America! What a country!


In order of appearance, these are the four records that changed everything when introduced to yours truly.

Rod bought me this for Christmas when I was 12. It was my first LP. I immediately became a huge Beatles fan, buying many of their records.

Again Rod, I think he got it as a part of the Columbia record deal that many of us ended up regretting. I did not regret discovering this record. My family, no doubt, must have. I went absolutely mad for Kiss. They dominated my late 70's life.

Once, more, Rod gets the nod. The cover was so fucking cool. The music took me at an instant. I felt it was made for me. I knew, somehow, that there was more music like this out there. It was like a door opening up to a whole new world. I exploded into a vinyl madness that has never abated.

This could have been Rod, or Fred, but it was Tony Alva who plugged me into the Stones. Yet again, I'd go out and buy all their records, but this landmark also ushers in the breaking down of all barriers. Everything was now fair game, genre be damned.


Tony's recent post brought on some waxing of the old nostalgic. I've owned a number of skateboards, but the absolute best, coolest, most excellent skate ever assembled was the Bones deck that somehow fell into my hands.

Ray Rodriguez

It had originally been owned by Tony Alva (ours, not the other actual Alva), but I think it passed through Mr. L Smart before I got a hold of it. In fact, I think it was Mr. L Smart who put the Kryptonic 70mm Red's on it.

I think I put the Indy 169's on it. I never used anything else.

That was the best skate ever. I broke it, snapped it in half upon an attempted invert landing. The only fitting death for such as the Bones deck.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Jackson steps aside, endorses McLovin.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


George finished a project. No, it's true, really. All kidding aside, ViaSkyway's new release, Voyager Suite, is not only done, but it's here, and the video is here.

I had very little to do with this project. I aimed some mics at some drums. Most likely I pressed the record button a goodly number of times. I know I listened to it in various stages of completion. I probably had a few 'notes' which probably elicited very little response. George is generous in his handing out credit, but this one is all him regardless of who played what.

The Voyager Suite is George's response to the 'Golden Record' that got shot off into space on the Voyager and will carry a sampling of Earth culture so as to hip the spacemen who find it to our demeanour. I think there's a Chuck Berry tune on it, and that's cool. Anyway, George, in his infinite wisdom, actually came up with a message for them. A proactive request. Imagine that, instead of shooting up a rocket filled with a time capsule, why not actually engage the little green men in some meaningful dialog?

George asked them to send us the plans. Help us figure out space travel, because, after all, "by the time you get this, we'll all be dead."



The former Four Fellas have re-emerged with a new moniker - White Label - and a new band member. I think the chick bass player/singer is a good move.

I'm really proud of Josh, my nephew, who plays the drums. He's really improved. He sets the bar fairly high for himself on this cover of Baba O'Reilly.

At this point the band has been together longer than any of the bands I was in. Then again, I don't think they have the same issues. Yet. Ah, to be young again. I tell you, I wish I had started making music at an early age. Those kids have a seven year head start on me. I hope they, or at least some of them, make it count.

Friday, March 21, 2008


In the very early eighties, Mr. L Smart, Andbillions, and I were serious Hard Rock fans. Dedicated, even pioneering. We were the first to get into Motorhead, Saxon, Scorpions, Accept, and I know I was the first of our crew to get the first Motley Crue record, the original pressing on Lethur Records, which Mike Honaker borrowed without asking and never returned. Shit, we were digging the first Ozzy record while others sat on the fence until, of course, they had no choice but to accept the undeniable greatness of the original Ozzy band.


When Lagasse and Tony Alva weren't around, when it was safe, we'd pull out certain unapproved records from their secret hiding places and indulge in something new, something different, something just plain good.

The first B-52's record is as pure of a work of art as you can find. It's astounding. Mr. L Smart and I dug the boldness, the simplicity, the earnestness. If most of the rest of their catalog wasn't so mediocre, I'd lay genius on them, but they fall short for the most part in their attempts to follow this near perfect offering.

"There's moon in the sky and it's called the moon."

"Some say she's from Mars, or one of the seven stars that shine after 3:30 in the morning........WELL SHE ISN'T!"

"Why don't you dance with me? I'm not no Limburger"

Hmmm, maybe genius isn't far off the mark.

You can roam if you want to, but I'm gonna slap this one on instead.

Mr. L Smart found The Ramones. Somehow he got a copy of 'Road To Ruin'. What a total pivotal moment. I can't express fully how much this record influenced me. Let's just say that "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do" was the first song that I could play in it's entirety on guitar. I remember Palmer saying The Ramones were crap and that "It's A Long Way Back To Germany" wasn't even a song. My God! That's all the song you need!

I think Mr. L Smart's brother Mike introduced us the Gang of Four's 'Entertainment' album. Andy Gill's guitar work on that record floored us. While shredding up and down the neck was de rigeur in the Hard Rock and Metal that we loved, here was a completely different approach to expressing rage and discontent through the guitar. Sure, much like The Ramones and the B-52's, there was a certain silliness to it, but, again, like The Ramones and the B-52's that silliness was juxtaposed with seriously subversive threat.

You can't talk subversive threat without getting around to DEVO. Our record, and still my fave, was 'Freedom of Choice'. We were skateboarders, and at the time there was a very strong connection between DEVO and skating. This I know was a matter of contention with certain senior members of our little community, but Mr. L Smart and I could not deny the greatness of DEVO. Or the silliness. Or the subversive threat.

By 1982 most of what I'll call 'the skateboard gang' had graduated high school. The secrecy was no longer necessary. By that time our tastes ceased to recognise boundaries. Also, we had begun to experiment with the reefer. I'll always love the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of those halcyon days, before it all went to shit, but there's room on my plate for much more, from Public Image to Public Enemy, as long as you meant it, I'm listening.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


There have been two semi-recent developments in the way we work at Smoke and Mirrors. One is new, the other is not.

Let's begin with what's new.

GarageBand. Now, GarageBand isn't all that new. I remember when it came out. It was touted as revolutionary, but since I already had a recording studio that employed a digital platform, I figured GarageBand was for those who didn't have what I already had. I still don't have GarageBand and am not looking to get it, but I have been using a lot of tracks that were recorded by clients at home via GarageBand, and I gotta say, in the right hands, it's a great thing.

Get Help, House of Blondes, and Himalaya have all brought in tracks that they worked up in GarageBand which we import and add to the project. It's a great way to work. The artist can take his or her time in the comfort of their home to work out a part, record it, put on effects, bounce it and put it on a disc or drive, and then bring it to us.

Sometimes they bring whole projects, demos, developed in GarageBand, and we sort through it, replacing some things (drums), keeping others (that weird guitar part that was an accident and nobody can figure out how it was played but everybody loves it).

I've really opened up to digital media. I fought a lot of it for a long time, Sisyphus like. Hell, I didn't join the digital recording world until 1999. I've tossed out that frame of mind. You gotta roll with change. You ride the wave that your given; no sense in fighting it.

You don't, however, have to throw away the past. That brings us to the second semi-recent development: Tape.

We've added a two-track reel machine to our arsenal. Digital audio is great for editing and mixing; tracking is easier too, but in the end, digital audio has an edge, a slight harshness. What we're doing is running our mixes out to the tape machine to give it that analog benefit. The smoothing of the edges, the rounding of the sound, and the natural tape compression are added to the mix. It's amazing how much better things sound after dumping them to tape.

Of course we're forced to dump the tape back into the computer to create the final files, but at least we've made every attempt to bring back warm. I like warm. Warm is good.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


A while back Stinkrock blogged about movie characters he'd like to be. I commented that I'd like to be Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man, but I've since reconsidered, and it's gotta be Bill Blazejowski, Michael Keaton's brilliant debut performance in Night shift.

What happened?

He was good in 'Mr. Mom', as well as 'Gung Ho', although he played pretty much the same character.

Then came 'Beetlejuice', and with his over the top and forced delivery came enormous praise, fame, and a complete 180.

Mike wanted to be taken seriously as an actor I guess. What a shame.

Nothing Michael Keaton has done since Night shift comes anywhere near that watermark.

Bill Blazejowski, simply put, cannot be topped.

Ironically, the funniest line in the movie was not his.

"Barney Rubble, what an actor!" was delivered by Bobby Di Cicco as 'Leonard'.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008




Tuesday, March 04, 2008


But there's hope that it will be time well spent for Eric Mangini. It seems he's been Offensive Lineman shopping, as I suggested a few months ago. It's clear that Eric reads Savage Distortion, and that's a good thing. If he keeps listening to me the Jets will be successful.

I'm not exactly happy to see Jonathan Vilma go, but I understand that sacrifices must be made for the greater good. Besides, he going to New Orleans, so I'm cool with that. Maybe another Saints jersey will be necessary.

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