Round the Dial
Wednesday 06 November @ 09:32:51
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I learnt a unique and indispensable skill, which is to make rock n’ roll. I stopped my parents dressing me and started becoming a conniving sonofabitch, which I’ve always been since the beginning of The Stooges.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “We’re All Mad Here” —by Tom Waits
RIP: Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay and actor/singer Richard Harris. Somewhere, the world’s first authentic hip hop remix of “MacArthur Park” is in the works, and it’ll still sound better than anything you’ll hear on the radio today.
Greetings, Dial-heads. Finally! Those infernal elections are over, Fall has settled into a stable—if chilly—groove, and we’ve got a little breathing time before we’re engulfed in images of night-vision bombings and uniformed talking heads. My advice? Check out of the whole madhouse and dig into a couple of hot-off-the-presses new releases ASAP. As usual, there are far too many for even the most curious and financially-blessed of us to get into ‘em all, but I lucked into one the other day that not only stands out above the rest, but comes courtesy of one of our most (I’ve said this before, but I don’t mind sayin’ it again) underated Twin Town artists. Before we jump in, however, here are a few noteworthy observations/reminders:
1) If you think you’re pretty smart, you might not be.
2) The colder it gets, the more palatable warm beer is.
3) Most of your problems weren’t caused by monkeys.
4) The sale is over.
5) A good pair of headphones is worth a thousand speakers.
Love Songs From The Grassy Knoll
Local singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Bill Patten returns with the long-awaited follow-up to his innovative, scratch-and-bump-meets-rocka-rolla debut, Alligator In The Pond. While that album ran the gamut stylistically from soul-weary, funki-fied crooning, (the title track) to balls-to-the-wall rawk (an absolutely incendiary cover of the Bobby Vinton classic “Blue Velvet”), Love Songs finds the beat-savvy, blues-y guitarist laying down a mellower, less frantic set of tunes. That’s not a bad thing, in this case. Having already established his quirky, dark sense of humor on Alligator, Patten seems to have shed any traces of self-consciousness and dove right into the thick of things. The shake-n-rattle is still in Bill’s roll, but it’s a little tighter, a little more focused, and positively packed with notable lyrical jabs and jibes. The opener, “You Gotta Let Her Go,” could easily be streaming like a sunny ’70s daydream out of a tinny AM transistor radio, Patten’s trademark, weepy guitars draping themselves naturally over a phat backbeat and a classic tale of the guy who just doesn’t realize what a good thing he’s got. Before it’s over, we’re treated to a by-now-familiar Patten scat/rap: “Now my tone of voice/Is givin’ her a bone of choice/Whatever I’m drivin’ it’s a Rolls Royce/Eyes can’t see, ears too deaf to hear/You’re losin’ the game of containin’/A good woman with fear...” Backed by a hot-%@!#$& lineup of simpatico souls (Matt Case on turntables, Justin Morse on crash cymbal, Bill and Tom Schmid on trumpets), Bill’s smart/smart-ass prose fairly crackles. “Sandy Sandy” blows in from a hot Mexican desert, with lonesome harp hoots and busy, South Of The Border guitars. Throw in the chorus, with spooky, Ghost Riders In The Sky voices wailing, “...Sandy, Sandy, Sandy...” and this track becomes equal parts Zombies freak-pop and Marty Robbins pioneer soap ballad. If “Sandy...” left the listener with any doubts about where Patten’s outlaw heart truly lies, a horn-heavy (think Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire”) tribute to “Benicio Del Toro” should put ‘em to rest. “Holding My Tongue” rings with Meddle-era Pink Floyd neo-psychedelia and cuts with lines like, “Your eyes they see beyond me/But I can guess where you’re at...” “Arizona” is dirty, pool-hall blues, with nasty axework and chuggin’ harmonica dueling over a crunchy rhythm line with snaky scratchin’—honest, exciting, alive music. “Promenade” is a veritable celebration of life, made for the open highway and uncertain futures: “Promenade, promenade, Quiet Riot covering Slade/Hand in hand makin’ fun of the sun/Speedin’ down a country lane/To hurry up so they could park their swan...” Like all the best records, Love Songs ends too soon, and with a track that makes ya wanna hit repeat just one more time. “Lock And Key” is the perfect, laid-back cut to wind things up—the end of the day, the cucumbers on your eyes, the bubbles in the bath, the olive in the martini, the terry in yer cloth: “You can open the gate, tempt me with escape/But you know I’d never flee...(Crash cymbal!)...You got me under lock and key...” All in all, more good music in less time (24:15) than I think I’ve heard since the Ramones’ heyday—this one’s a keeper. Until next time—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to add yer own a wop bop a lula to my a lop bam boom, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.