Round the Dial
Wednesday 02 April @ 11:58:05
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “In my next incarnation, I want to become a dolphin.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Runnin’ And Gunnin’ You Down”
—The Blood Shot
When I found the above quote from ’70s/’80s schlock rocker Robert Palmer a few years back, I filed it away along with forty or fifty others that I thought I might someday use in a column. Most of those, cool ones from folks like Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Paul Westerberg and Hunter S. Thompson, were used up rather quickly. Bob’s quote (I don’t know the man well enough, really, to call him by such a familiar title, but then everything else about Mr. Palmer is stuffy enough, so I’ll stick with Bob), however, simply sat as useless and idle as George W. Bush’s little willy, right next to quotes from people who probably, at one time, caused some sort of excitement for said willy—people like Debby Boone, Carly Simon, and Shaun Cassidy. Shallow people, shallow music, shallow quotes, whattaya expect, right? I never thought there’d come a day when Bob’s quote would have any social, musical or timely qualities whatsoever. Shows how much I know.
By now, everybody out there in ‘Dial-land knows that the U.S. armed forces are using dolphins and other, normally peaceful sea creatures to help fight the war in the Middle East. Leave it to our fucked up government to find a way to use Flipper and Buddy The Laughing Seal to help kill our fellow human beings, eh? Right on, dudes!! Way to go!! I don’t want to go too far off on a tangent here, especially since so many stand-up comedians are having a field day with this one (“Send some New York City rats in them Afghani caves!” is one I recently heard), but it does get one to thinkin’ about where this whole thing could lead us someday. I mean, it’s one thing to unleash battle-trained dogs, rats, squirrels, jungle beasts (has anyone ever seen the damage a full-grown, pissed-off elephant can cause in an urban setting?), and tiny, deadly germs and microbes upon the world, but methinks it’s quite another to train highly intelligent mammals with a proven capability for complex interspecies communication to fight, kill, spy on, and maim human beings.
Like, what’s going to happen when the dolphins finally agree amongst themselves that (shades of Planet Of The Apes) they’ve had enough of our bullshit and, knowing all of our deepest, darkest military secrets, decide to stage a surprise coup and take over the planet? And what up with porpoises? Aren’t they as smart as dolphins? Are they going to be the generals and majors to the dolphins’ intellectual community? What part will squids, moray eels, and jellyfish play in the Great Oceanic Rebellion of 2029? Is Spongebob Squarepants part of a secret, nefarious plot by salt-water seditionists to brainwash human children? I guess, if it’s going to happen, we should all pray it goes down before Bob Palmer kicks the bucket and reincarnates as a powerful, sea-bound leader of the New Dolphin Army.
Has anybody even stopped to wonder how we talked these happy, peace-loving ocean-dwellers into helping us greedy, war-mongering land scrubs fight a bloody, imperialistic war in the first place? I mean, besides the fact that no other sane nation on the planet really wants to pledge allegiance to the flag that was? Was there a private, televised three-way meeting between Bush, Tony Blair, and Bubbles, the leader of the dolphin community? And what did Bush and Blair say to make Bubbles want to “help out” allied forces in this war? “Listen, um...Bubbles...” I can hear Bush muttering, “we like your kind, you know, we really do. Just the other day I bailed my daughters out and took ‘em to see some of your cousins at Sea World. Loved it, they just loved it.” “Er, so sorry, G.W., old chap...” Blair would interject, “but we really should be getting on with this, shouldn’t we then?”
“Right, right, Tony. So, Bubbles, as I was sayin’, we respect your kind, we don’t necessarily agree with your policies on non-aggression and whatchacallit, eco-conservatory-ism, but we think you’re kind of cute. So we’re prepared to refrain from dumping any oil on your major undersea cities for a period of oh, I don’t know, two years? If you’ll help us in this Iraqi thing, that is. Now, I don’t want to get ugly here with you, God knows Jeb loved Flipper as a boy, heh, heh, but I’ve got friends in Texas who’d personally love to get the clean-up money on a large spill offa Galveston...whattaya say, Bubbles, we on the same page here?” Of course, for reasons of national security, by the time human beings read the transcripts of this historic meeting, it’ll be far too late. The dolphins will have taken over, and Bob Palmer will have his revenge for not having had a chart hit since before the turn of the century. Thank the gods that Fred Neil, Jacques Costeau, and Marlin Perkins didn’t live to see this abomination of nature.
The planet Earth is over three-quarters water. That’s a lot of space to set up shop, a lot of areas to begin building undersea satellite reflector beams that project back to Earth with 24 hour, non-stop Bob Palmer tunes. Every T., cable, dish, radio, and communications device on the planet would be barraged with a constant stream of music that only underwater creatures could possibly tolerate. Once all of humanity has been beaten, captured, and put to work building and staffing gigantic underwater malls, corporate-chain seaweed clubs, churches, and government edifices (Oh, yes, every war-like nation/empire eventually grows fat, stupid, decadent, and falls—history speaks for itself on that note—and just as Egypt, Rome, France, England, Russia, and the USA did and will, so too will the mighty Dolphin Empire), the dolphin Bob Palmer, who will not only be the undisputed Head Dolph, but also Musical Director of Planet Earth, will set down a work routine, every day from dawn to dusk, that will be accompanied by the following:
Dawn—Reveille: “Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)” will be played at full volume in every human barracks and sleeping quarters. Rise and shine, motherfuckers!! It’s wet-suit time!! 10 a.m.—Mid-morning calisthenics: “Addicted To Love” shall be cranked in the seaweed fields, ship wrecks and sweat shops the world over as millions of half-dolphin, half-human clones—all looking exactly like those marble-complected, robotic back-up singers in Bob’s videos—whip and berate their foolish, helpless human subjects. Noon—Half-hour kelp lunch break: “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” will complement time-out for sustenance, supervised breeding, and prayers to Neptune. 6 p.m.—Ten minute plankton dinner followed by lights out: “Simply Irrisistable” will blare until Bob tires of hearing it.
Repeat ad nauseum, for the 23 or so years only the strongest humans will be able to endure before either keeling over stone dead, crumpling into a heap of babbling insanity, or growing fins and joining the Human Undersea Resistance League (H.U.R.L.), which will be led, of course, by a reinvigorated, gill-sporting, 95-year-old Don “Captain Beefheart” Van Vliet, and will find the human race discovering a whole new golden beginning 20,000 leagues under the sea. First, of course, we’ll all have to rise up and take out the dolphin Bob Palmer. Just ask yourself this—will you be ready? Me, I’m thinkin’ about joinin’ the Y and learnin’ how to hold my breath underwater for a really, really, really long time. And now for your regularly scheduled ‘Round The Dial, and more CD reviews...
It’s always rewarding, after writing a slobbering review for a band’s debut EP, to find that you were right, it really was just the tip of the iceberg, and once in a great while, you find that the songs you liked best on the EP weren’t even the strongest in the outfit’s catalog. Such is the case with Lost, the full-length, Mike Wisti-recorded project from local gut-bucket country-rockers Hungry Horse; tunes from their 20-minute EP like “Funny At The Time,” a wry, post-ironic tale of surviving the self-wrought hazards of a wild youth that I raved on and on about, turned out to be merely finger food for the main course.
And what a course—jam-packed with Neil Young (yep, there’s a reason why they use Horse in their band name, kids) licks, road-side beer joint lyricism, and whiskey-soaked harmonies, Lost is one local record you’re gonna be glad ya found. Kicking off with the reflective, Jay Farrar-ish “Empty Blue Sky,” the quartet sets the album’s tone—dark, meditative, witty, resigned, and hesitantly hopeful all at once—right from the get-go. “Full Tilt Bender” showcases the Horse’s raunchier side, as lead singer/guitarist Kevin Kadidlo rouses himself after tearing up the town over roaring, dirty country-blues guitars: “Got my white flag flyin’ out over all the damage I done/My apologies to each and every one of you...”
“Dashboard Jesus” struck me not only for its fragile beauty amongst the ruined lyrical landscape of the ‘Horse, but also because at times this music reminds me of the mighty Athens band The Dashboard Saviors, who hit upon exactly the same musical ethos these cats do. Not that this song sounds like any particluar Saviors tune, though. It’s an original number, albeit with the shades of classic Neil that permeate here and throughout the band’s repertoire (you can almost hear steel guitar whiz Ben Keith in the background—wait, no, that’s ‘Horse pal J. Wadeland, and a fine job he does, too) like a welcome injection of country/rock truth serum, rather than a cheap, modern urban imitation. It’s just there in the FEEL of the record. You simply don’t write songs like this, you don’t play music like this, unless you’ve been screwed, blued, tattooed, built up an’ broke down, loved an’ left, and seen your own worst enemy staring back at you from the bathroom mirror five days a week as you get ready for your fucked up day job. “Floral Dress” is a Scud Mountain Boys-ish tale of neglect, loneliness and depression, punctuated by an absolutely scathing guitar solo. Every broken home should have a copy of this album.
“Stateline” steers us back to the ‘Horse’s pounding, frenetic, freight-liner blues side—a white-hot, chugging murder ballad with a pounding, locomotive beat and growling axework: “Now I’m burnin’ up a mile at a time/When you leave a dead man back across the state line/Your mind it tends to wander...” “Shallows” is a drop-dead gorgeous, from-the-gut love song to a man’s dog, a good jukebox, and a healthy bottle of whiskey: “Whispering sweet nothings in a dog’s ear/Don’t try to tell me it’s a waste of time/You all can piss away your hours til they turn into years/This is how I spend mine/I guess it’s plain to see I prefer the company of my dog/I take her everywhere I go/She don’t help with the rent/But she never jumps the fence and she’s got more sense/Than any ten men I know...(we’re) just caught in a hole and can’t get out/Maybe that’s what this life’s all about/Can’t feel the bottle pull you under/Can’t tell the shallows from the deep...”
And that’s Hungry Horse in a nutshell—you’re only mortal when you’re sober, and you only worry when you’re dry. Life is a never-ending blur of neon beer signs, deathly hangovers, loyal dogs, unfaithful partners, triumphant late-night highs, soul-sucking, empty lonely days, 18 beers and a pickup truck, thin ice and you’re outta luck. And you wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’ve got a hankerin’ for some down-to-earth, from-the-soul, down-an’-dirty country/blues/rock that pulls no punches and knows exactly where your buttons are and when to punch ‘em, these guys are for you. You’ll get a chance to catch ‘em live here in Minneapolis this Friday, April 4, at The Terminal Bar, along with Shamus 73 and a band TBA. Don’t miss this gig.
Upcoming: More CD reviews, rants, raves, and rock ’n’ roll. As always, check out our live acoustic in-store this Saturday afternoon, 4/5, at Twin Cities Leather And Boot (570 North Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 651-917-8100), from 3-5 p.m., when local rock legend Danny Viper will make a very special appearance. And finally, I highly recommend checking out The Hang Ups, The Waxwings, and Robert Skoro at The Turf Club on Friday, April 4—the Waxwings in particular will give yer ears a pleasant tweak. 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 complain that I’ve now made it virtually impossible for you to present any rational argument concerning the musical merits of Bob Palmer to your friends, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.