Round The Dial: Hippie? Don't Bet on it?
Wednesday 12 July @ 12:56:59
By: Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If you’re looking for youth, you’re looking for longevity, just take a dose of rock ‘n’ roll. Rock n’ roll is good for the soul, for the well-being, for the psyche, for your everything. I love it. I can’t even picture being without rock n’ roll.”- Hank Ballard
SONG OF THE WEEK: “The Thing That Only Eats Hippies”- The Dead Milkmen
Hey, ho, gang! Just a few short words this week then it’s right into a couple of fresh CD reviews. I’d like to thank all the folks who’ve written in asking for copies of my Songs For Peace CD compilation- I appreciate the kind words and rest assured, your free discs are on the way! I’d also like to respond to the not-so-kind folks who anonymously left notes in the ol’ ‘Dial comments section. First of all, in defense of Mr. Wayne Kramer (co-founder of the MC5), I’d like to say here and now that whether or not you believe Mr. Kramer is an honest, talented song-writer/tunesmith or not, you’ve got to at least give him credit for putting his name to the statements he makes to the world. That’s a helluva lot more than I can say for the nameless yahoo who so viciously attacked Wayne’s credibility and artistic merits.
You know, I only have to listen to a line or two of Wayne’s music to FEEL the truth and sincerity behind his words. Can’t say the same about the comments left in regards to his personal beliefs, his music and his morality. I can see why you chose not to leave your name with your comment though- I wouldn’t wanna piss off a founding member of the MC5, even if he is older than God. Thankfully, most regular Pulse readers are intelligent and eclectic enough to at least give Wayne’s music a spin and judge for themselves. Me, I just can’t stand a bully, and especially one who hides behind anonymity. Pee-yew.
Also, for the judgmental jerk-off who keeps leaving notes and sending me e-mails referring to me as a “Hippie,” thanks for the laughs. I read your letters to some of my closer music buds (none of whom are hippies, though some of us do remember that generation- I think most of those cats are lawyers, doctors or investment bankers now, though) while cranking up some great NEW local music and some excellent OLD rock n’ roll (yeah, crazy ain’t it? You can listen to ALL kinds of music from ALL different eras and actually educate yourself while being entertained! A-fucking-mazing, MAN!! Oh, and far-out, too!!) at the same time!
Easy, little buddy- I’m only razzin’ ya … actually, I’d be happy as hell to make you a couple of free mixes, too, if only to prove to you sonically that somebody like Hank Ballard (you probably don’t remember him, as he was famous long before the “Hippie” days you seem so fascinated by, but you may remember some of the hits he wrote that were made famous by other people- from little dance ditties like “The Twist,” which was a smash hit for Chubby Checker, to ass-shakin’ jukebox thumpers like “Look At Little Sister,” which Stevie Ray Vaughn breathed new life into years after most people had forgotten its author) rides nicely between a shoe-gazer nugget from Modest Mouse and a lost gem by Wreckless Eric. And so on. Yadda yadda yadda.
Hmm…think I’ll pound a few brews (Oops! Is that not a proper thing for a “Hippie” to do? What? You say pounding brews makes me a REDNECK? Jesus, make up your mind, MAN!) and make that mix anyway- might help to wash away the taste of bad vibes and ridiculous, pious prattle that your letters generate. Anyway, thanks for the peace and love, bro- maybe when you start to grow some facial hair you’ll feel brave enough to sign your name to ‘em. Whoo hoo!! Now on to what everybody else comes here for- NEW MUSIC!!
Walks The Plank
Royalty, Etc. Records
Local sonic seducers Middlepicker, who rose from the ashes of the late, great Grickle-Grass, return with their second album in just a few months’ time, and boy is it a doozy! Kicking off with the skittering, nervous jitter of “Bank,” this record finds the band (Kyle Kosieracki, Bill Zastera, Kristin Anderson and Justin Lawson) continuing down the treasure-laden hard-pop lane they began treading with their debut, Middlepicker Brings The Nasty.
“Top Down” is a driving, anthemic blast of summer joy, Kosieracki howling “Who’s got the chops to make me shiver?/ Who’s got the top down?” and the band absolutely shredding along in perfect harmony. “(P)irate” wends its way slyly out yer speakers, then begins to reveal itself as another catchy, post-punk romp replete with Black Flag-ish back-up shouts, finger-cluckin’ axe work, and anti-sentimental, smartass lyrics like, “So when your GPS is crashing, your fuel is nearly dry/ I’ll pass you in the doldrums and we’ll wave sweet bye-bye/ Severed heads but the driver never dies …”
There’s not a bad cut on this record, and stylistically, the songs span such a wide swath of musical territory it’d be tough to tag the band in any one specific genre, but I’d call this stuff thinkin’ people’s post-punk super-power-pop. Only after quaffing a few jugs of rum with the crewmembers and hoisting the captain on the petard, though. Another fun, thought-provoking collection of great local music from one of the brightest rising stars on the Twin Cities’ horizon. Keep it comin’, mates! Check out Middlepicker and the rest of Royalty, Etc. Records’ stable at royaltyetc.com.
On An Island
On An Island, Pink Floyd axe-man Dave Gilmour’s third solo album for Columbia Records, finds him carrying on the grand Floyd tradition with fierce- if a bit laid back- pride and a sense of continuing sonic exploration. As with his 1978 album About Face, this release actually feels like a valid extension of his work with the psychedelic rock pioneers in the Floyd, and reaches out emotionally in the same manner as tracks like “Murder” did back then.
Right off the bat, one gets a blast of that mind-blowing, experimental sound-scaping Gilmour brought to his former band with the trippy, breezy cut “Castellorizon,” and the album only gets better from there on out. The title cut simultaneously recalls the warm, soul-feeding grooves of Animals and the post-lysergic, harmonic ruminations of Obscured By Clouds; “The Blue” is a gentle, dreamy nod to both star-crossed lovers and the sea; and “Take A Breath” rocks quietly in a way only Dave could conceive of.
Other stand-out tracks on a nearly flawless album include the haunting, sax-driven instrumental “Red Skies At Night” (shades of Dark Side here, o yea!), the reflective “This Heaven,” which finds its author thanking the stars for his own good fortune as well as finding his own personal Nirvana in, “the faith in my children’s eyes.” “Smile,” an almost-acoustic love letter featuring gorgeous slide guitar work and Gilmour’s soothing, hypnotic vocals, could almost work as a post-script note to notoriously cranky former bandmate Roger Waters, with lines like: “Wasting days and nights on this fight/ Always down, and up half the night/ Hopeless to reminisce through the dark hours/ We’ll only sacrifice what time will allow us/ You’re sighing …” An excellent addition to an already incredible canon of open-minded, curious, soulful music that only gets better as the years fly by. Buy it. columbiarecords.com.
That’s a wrap for this week, kiddies. Thanks again for all the mail (both good and bad- I do so enjoy taking the piss outta big-mouthed windbags from time to time!), and tune in next time out as we check in with local writer Jim Walsh’s latest musical project and a few more special surprises. Until then- make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/CD’s you’d like to see mentioned in this column, or you’d just like to share your thoughts- good or bad- with somebody who’ll give as good as he gets, send replies to: Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com