'Round the Dial: Ass over teakettle
Wednesday 18 April @ 16:10:29
by TOM HALLETT
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I hate that song."- The late Don Ho, on his signature hit "Tiny Bubbles."
SONG OF THE WEEK: "Roxy Roller" â€“ Brinsley-Schwarz
RIP: Don Ho, 1930â€“2007
It had been a long and particularly dead Friday night last week as I pulled DJ duty at a local pub--the most excitement I'd seen had been two very well-lubricated (and huge, and hairy, and quite dirty in every sense of the word) fellas who insisted I play the entire 17-minute version of Iron Butterfly's "Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida." "Don't be playin' that pussy radio edit either," growled the largest fella on one of his many trips up to my booth. After suggesting (in vain) that he and his buddy might want to throw a few bucks in the ol' tip jar to make up for their particularly selfish request (after all, there were seven or eight other drunks in there who wanted to hear Built to Spill, Wilco and early Bowie), I gave up on any hopes of monetary remuneration and, with a sigh loud enough they could hear it up at the bar, spun the dreaded, drum-solo-infested psychedelic classic. All 17 minutes of it. Sigh.
But I couldn't let it go at that--I rearranged my playlist, threw in a one-minute clip of Vincent Price laughing, then tore into the TV theme for "Charles in Charge." I won't say the wannabe 49ers actually shot darts at me out of their reddened and half-lidded eyeballs, but I will say they didn't look very happy. Right about the time the TV theme finished and I had sworn under my breath that I wouldn't take another request from those two even if it were one of my own favorites, the wimpy plastic legs on the lawn chair I was using gave way and I, completely sober, took a spill backwards.
I landed in the box I use to carry my equipment, ass over teakettle, legs and hands waving in the air like a beached walrus (COMPLETELY SOBER!! Kee-rist!!) and remained that way for several interminable seconds until a fat, grease-stained hand reached down and helped pull me out of my own pile of shit. It was the larger of the two rubber-boot-sporting loudmouths who'd requested Iron Butterfly. He winked at me as I dusted myself off and tried to explain that I'd only had one beer (so far), and that the chair itself was the object of idiocy, not myself. He then tipped me a couple bucks, thanked me for playing Iron Butterfly, and said, "'A Pirate Looks At 40' would sound great next, bud."
I reluctantly spun his over-played Jimmy Buffett request, all the while watching him and his pal whoop it up at the bar and realizing that it had probably taken quite a bit of courage for the old duffer to come up and make his request in the first place, and also that I'd judged him on his taste in music and by the way he dressed, acted and smelled before I knew a damn thing about him. So I guess my lessons for this week are not to sit in funky chairs, not to go to work sober and not to judge a (even an inebriated) book by its cover. Thanks, Cap'n Jack--and you're right. Next time I'll save the theme to "Charles in Charge" 'til the punk crowd stumbles in around midnight. And now on to our regularly scheduled reviews ...
Blood on the Slacks
Despite its rather cheeky title (Now's where you're supposed to chortle, Mr. Dylan), Minneapolis "Supergroup" Golden Smog returns in fine form not long after the release of their most recent full-length, the excellent Another Fine Day. Blood on the Slacks is an eight-song maxi-EP--not quite an album, not quite a buffed-up single with extra tracks, that the band (Jayhawks Gary Louris and Marc Perlman on guitars/vocals and drums, respectively, former Run Westy Run co-front man Kraig Johnson and Soul Asylum's Danny Murphy) began recording more as an actual EP, which then germinated into a longer project after they were bitten by the recording bug while hanging with producer extraordinaire Ed Ackerson a while back.
Blood contains six original cuts and two killer covers, including David Bowie's "Starman" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Tarpit." Two of the original cuts were recorded in Spain during the Another Fine Day sessions with producer Paco Loco, while the rest were whipped out in two days over this past winter and include Peter Anderson and Ackerson in the actual band lineup. Does this mean the band will someday release an alternate version of the album Ã la Dylan's Blood on the Tapes? One can only hope.
Rolling out on a bouncy groove with "You Can't Even Tie Your Own Shoes," a classic 'Smog cut, the band establishes immediately their innate kinship, both musically and personally, and perfectly blends the distinguished Minneapolis country-rock oeuvre all of its authors have flirted with over their respective careers with the jangly, pop licks of both AFD and some of The Jayhawks' most recent work. Bowie's "Starman" is given a fairly straightforward, respectful treatment here, and listeners can tell in one listen that the tune is an old fave of the band members. Plus, unlike Bowie's version, you can actually understand all of the lyrics without returning to the liner notes to check the words. Smashing stuff.
"Look at You Now" is upbeat, snappy even, with blasts of horns, impossibly catchy keyboard riffs, and positively smoking axe-work; "Scotch on Ice" is a harp-augmented, melancholy piece that finds the band in perfect harmony and contains some of the sharpest lyrics to come out of the Jayhawks camp since Tim O'Reagan's recent, highly underrated solo debut. "Magician" is a deceptively campy instrumental ditty, replete with circus-sounding keys and xylophone that recalls some of the nights I've spent waiting in line at Golden Smog gigs.
"Without a Struggle" lopes out on a country shuffle, with sweet slide guitars and Louris' unmistakable vocal sugar layered over it like three spoonfuls in your coffee. The Dino Jr. cover, "Tarpit," is re-invented as a mellow, harmonica-laden vehicle for Johnson's dulcet pipes and revealing of the band's deep-seated musical knowledge and simple love of their craft.
Album closer "Insecure" is a shaky, rattling, boozy anthem with driving snares, nasty lyrics and growled vocals over a veritable cornucopia of musical acumen. While this maxi-EP doesn't really forge any unbroken ground for the band (remember, their first EP was ALL covers), it does make for a nice, fun listen for fans who may be eagerly awaiting their next full-length effort. A "hidden" track at the end of "Insecure" finds edgy, paranoid guitars ringing out as if to say, "Watch out, we're coming back and we're gonna kick some ass." Very tasty stuff and a must-have for 'Smog fans, 'Hawks fans and fans of decent music in general. The album is due out on April 24 at a record store near you. Check it out for yourself at losthighway.com or myspace.com/goldensmog.
You won't be sorry ...
â€¢ Want a good dose of fear long before Halloween? Three members of the Jackson family (the three who haven't made as much money as Michael and Janet), LaToya, Jermaine and Tito, are teaming up for a new reality TV show, where they'll attempt to suss out a new "family" band Ã la The Jackson Five. Should be about as much fun as cutting your toenails, and frankly I'd rather see LaToya get tasered on her recently cancelled stars-as-cops television gig. Blah.
â€¢ While Al Gore may have blown his chances at winning the U.S. presidency anytime soon, he's still workin' the Green end of things with a flourish. Gore-Fest (aka Live-Earth Fest), a musical event devoted to raising awareness of environmental issues, will kick off on no less than seven continents on July 7. The U.S. gig will be held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and will feature the talents of Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, The Police, The Smashing Pumpkins, AFI, Bon Jovi, Fallout Boy, John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, Rihanna, Roger Waters and (ack!) Kelly Clarkson. The UK version, which will run simultaneously, will be held at Wembley Stadium in London, and will feature The Beastie Boys, Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Duran Duran, Bloc Party, Damien Rice, David Grey, the Foo Fighters, Genesis, James Blunt, Razorlight and Snow Patrol. Tickets go on sale soon, so Google Live Earth Fest and get more details.
â€¢ The Doors are back in the news, after a Dayton, Ohio, cable news director approached current Florida governor Charlie Crist about pardoning The Lizard King (who would've turned 60 this year), 38 years after he was charged with indecent exposure in Miami for flogging his molly in public. Or was it something to do with a sheep? All I know is, the look Jim has on his face in the photo of him being led off-stage by stern MPD cops is priceless, and is exactly the same look I get sometimes when I get letters to this column. Gov. Crist will need the approval of three other members of the Florida cabinet to pardon Jim (whom I suspect is long beyond caring), but he himself was recently quoted as saying, "I'm willing to consider it." Meanwhile, The Doors of the 21st Century (Robbie Kreiger, Ray Manzarek, former Cult front man Ian Astbury, and a revolving cast of drummers) are experiencing their own problems, with former drummers John Densmore and Police skinsman Stuart Copeland both involved in bitter lawsuits with their former mates and Densmore filing for divorce. Ah, Jim, if only you could be here now, shucking for Viagra between episodes of CSI Miami ...
â€¢ Motley Crue front man Vince Neil has announced that he and the band (along with soon to-be-announced special guests) will be hosting a four-day pleasure cruise in January of 2008. The cruise will include a trip from Miami to Key West and Calica, Mexico, as well as meet-and-greets and charity poker events. OK, there's lots of room for jokes here, but I'm just gonna say if I were on that cruise and the ship went down, I'd head towards Tommy Lee--at least we know one thing will float after the crash. (Tell me it's going to be called the Motley Cruise. It is? It's less funny if it's true. -ed.)
â€¢ The Beatles' back catalog will soon be available on iTunes after Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono recently reached an agreement concerning licensing. The deal is predicted to net Paul another $400 million to add to his already humongous post-Beatles fortune. The late John Lennon wasn't available for comment at press time, although the day after the agreement was signed, NYC was hit by a Nor' Easter the likes of which it hadn't seen since the winter he was murdered. Oh, John, do you control the weather while Paul runs the World Bank? Another question that'll have to wait until my predicted overdose--I'll try to send a message back in a rain cloud ...
â€¢ A 28-track collection of Nick Drake tunes, many of which are previously unreleased and which include covers the late Brit singer/songwriter did in his last days (A Mozart piece, as well as readings of tunes by Drake faves Bert Jansch and Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time") will be released on June 20. The press announcement also states that long-lost duets Nick did with his sister, Gabrielle, and his mother, Molly, will be included. The now highly respected singer/songwriter, who died in 1974 from an OD of anti-depressants, will also receive special treatment for several other exciting upcoming releases, so keep yer ears peeled, Drake fans.
â€¢ Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong (who cut a fundraising single with U2, a cover of the classic "The Saints Go Marching In," last year to benefit the havoc raised recently by flooding in New Orleans) has picked up a hammer and begun to physically help rebuild the priceless 9th Ward in N.O. Good on you, BJ--it's nice to see a "star" backing up his words ("American Idiot" will go down in history as one of this generation's most potent commercial protest anthems--mark my word) and pitching in where needed. Kudos!
â€¢ In the "Ohhhhh Noooo!!" category, '80s boy-pop band Menudo plans to reunite for an album and possible tours later this year. Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse? Ahhhgghh!!!
GIG OF THE WEEK: Don't miss Greg Ashley's Medicine Fuck Dream this coming Monday, April 23. The fiery rockin' outfit includes members of Gris Gris and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and should lay waste to the beer-soaked but beloved boards of Big V's stage. Also on the bill are The Blind Shake and Magic Castles. This is a Ryan O. Show--you know what that means--bring a sober driver! Christenson's Big V's is located near the corners of Snelling and University in St. Paul at 1567 University Ave. Call for more info at 651-645-8472. SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!!
That's all I've got for this time 'round, people. Tune in again next time for more reviews, rants, an' rock 'n' roll news. Until we meet again--make your own damn news.
If you've got local gigs/events/CDs you'd like to see listed in this column, or you just don't understand why I didn't just lay in that box and drink beer all night, send replies to: Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com. ||