Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Laughing At or Laughing With?

The tax cut extension “deal”. Sigh …

I hear the laughter. Either Republicans in Congress are laughing

  • at both Obama and the middle class

or

  • with Obama at the middle class

Which is it?

Based on Obama’s professed admiration for Reagan, the people he chose for the Bowles-Simpson catfood commission, and the inclusion of the payroll tax “holiday” in this deal, it’s the latter: Obama is laughing with Republicans at the middle class. Either way it’s galling.

Watch (or read the text of) Keith Olbermann’s special comment on this. He nails it.

Call your representative and senators. Will the Democrats in Congress eventually fold? Probably. But at least you’ll be able to say you tried to do something about it.

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“He’s Gonna Play an Organ!”

Of late as I’ve listened to my “guyPod” I’ve been delighted by what I’ll characterize as “watery” organ in a pair of tracks.

The older of the two is the title track from the 1977 album Show Some Emotion by British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading. Listen to the organ played by John “Rabbit” Bundrick when the chorus kicks in at 1:01, 1:40, and 2:50.

The organ stays around for most of the chorus, but it’s those first four longish notes that get me. Juicy!

Then we have the British duo Tears for Fears. After their enormously popular 1985 second album Songs from the Big Chair, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal took nearly four years to release their third, The Seeds of Love. The pre-album single was the title track of sorts, “Sowing the Seeds of Love”.

In it there is but a single instance of watery organ. It comes, courtesy of Orzabal or maybe Nicky Holland, at 3:33.

Frothy!

These are visceral reactions, I know. I’m not going to try to put into words what I like about the organ I’ve highlighted here — because I really don’t think I can. But I thought them worth sharing anyway.

While I’m on the subject of “Sowing the Seeds”, I have to comment on this attention-grabbing track as a whole. There is a lot happening in this track; it’s a musical kitchen sink — one could get away with calling it a mess. I love how Stewart Mason puts it in on his review of the track on AllMusic.com:

The combination of old and new, along with Roland Orzabal’s unblinkingly earnest “all you need is love” lyrics, is almost overpoweringly bombastic, but the song goes so thoroughly over the top that it finally becomes almost admirable in its excesses.

Here is album reviewer Stanton Swihart’s take, also on AllMusic.com:

As for the title track, it manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy. Full of arcane references, lovely turns of phrase, and perfectly matched suite-like parts, it updates the orchestral grandiosity — though not the actual sound — of the Beatles’ psychedelic period.

Beatles-influenced? Certainly. The track draws from “I Am the Walrus,” “Penny Lane,” and I’m sure several other Fab Four tracks.

I alternate between considering “Sowing the Seeds” to be an ambitious success and a ridiculous overreach. Ultimately I give it a thumbs-up. Its message, after all, is a progressive one, so I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

An end to need,
And the politics of greed

Indeed.

Plus, the video is effective. Directed by Jim Blashfield, it won two awards at the MTV Music Video Awards — Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects
With respect to my positive verdict on “Sowing”, evidently I have — or had — a lot of company. I had no idea before I researched this post that the single went all the way to #2 in the US. Really?! That is astonishing. (This must have happened very soon after I began to ignore, for the most part, new music, a change in behavior I trace back to 1989, the year this single was released.)

As for the post title, (why do I so often feel compelled to explain my titles? because many are obscure references related to the post subject only tangentially, that’s why!), it is a line from Don Rickles’ 1960s stand-up comedy LP Hello Dummy. The organ to which Rickles refers is not a musical instrument.

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Chuckie Baby and Gene Gene

The Gong Show

Image via Wikipedia

For a reason I’ll not go into here I’ve been thinking now and again about Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. Gene Gene (Gene Patton) was one of the regulars on the ’70s TV game show The Gong Show, which was produced and hosted by Chuck “Chuckie Baby” Barris.

I intended to search online for video of Gene Gene, but the thought wasn’t occurring to me while I was using the computer.

A couple nights ago, though, I had just turned off my computer and come upstairs from my basement lair when I had the thought. Son #3 was still online, so I took a chance: “Hey [son #3], how would you like to search for a funny video?” To my surprise, he brought up YouTube and seconds later, we were convulsed in laughter watching Gene Gene, Chuckie Baby, and the celebrity panel of judges — sassy Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In fame, and young David Letterman.

It’s Friday and therefore an especially good time to share this. You may not laugh, but you’ll be hard-pressed to suppress a smile.

Soon after viewing this clip with son #3, I convinced son #2 to take a look. The video kept freezing, so his reaction was understandably muted. Still, though, there is no doubt he liked it because he later told me he posted it on his Tumblr blog.

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Weezer Impresses Geezer

UPDATED 10/30/09, 7:19 am:
At the end of this post I’ve added YouTube video of Weezer’s performance last night on the Late Show with David Letterman.


I plead guilty to having for the most part ignored new music since the late ’80s. As a dad of three boys ranging in age from 12 to 18, that hasn’t been easy to do.

 

One of the few artists to have (barely) penetrated my musical consciousness since the late ’80s is the band Weezer.

Weezer live at the P.C. Richards & Sons Theater in New York

They were one of son #1’s first favorite artists. More recently, son #2, age 14, has become a Weezer fanatic. Monday night he was thrilled to learn he was one of the winners of a Weezer fan photo contest on Facebook run by iheartradio, the web streaming portal property of terrestrial radio giant Clear Channel Communications. The prize: two tickets to an invitation-only Weezer show at the P.C. Richard & Son Theater in New York City.

Yesterday I took the afternoon off to escort my son and three friends to the show (one of those friends won the contest too). I hadn’t expected to see the show myself, but the promoters, as they crossed off the names of the contest winners and their guests lined up outside the theater waiting for the doors to open, offered me free admission.

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Little Green Doggy Bag

My favorite DJs on Blip.fm have turned me on to several cool songs I’d long forgotten. In some cases I’d either forgotten or never knew the title and artist — like in the case of “Little Green Bag” by George Baker Selection, a number 21 hit in the U.S. in 1970.

You know how a song gets stuck in your head? Well, usually it’s just part of a song — the part of the song that contains what music industry insiders refer to as “the hook” — because it grabs you.

Can a song be one large hook? I ask because “Little Green Bag” is stuck in my head in its entirety.

Suffice to say, “Bag” is hook-laden. I warn you: Don’t play this video unless you’re prepared for a musical brain imprint that could take days to fade.

Smiling yet? Go ahead. Play it again. Or play one of the many other videos of this song on YouTube. I can wait.

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Rock Shows at the Concertgebouw

UPDATED 7/28/09, 8:23 pm:
Corrected date of 10cc/Rory Gallagher concert (H/T commenter Milo, publisher of the Gallagher tribute site Shadowplays).


I’ve been focusing on music here lately. For this post I exercised my memory cells in order to compile a list of the rock shows — that is, concerts — by “name” acts that I’ve attended over the years.

The list below is in pretty close to chronological order, but almost all the dates are approximate. Headliners are listed first for shows with multiple acts.

By the way, the title of this post is based on a line in the Paul McCartney and Wings song “Rock Show” — “If There’s Rock Show at The Concertgebouw …”. The Het Concertgebouw is a concert hall in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The list:

Chicago Spectrum Philadelphia 1972
5th Dimension
Bill Withers
Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles 1972
Yes Spectrum Philadelphia 1973
J. Geils Band Warner Theater Wilmington, DE 1973
Doobie Brothers Spectrum Philadelphia 1975
10cc
Rory Gallagher
Tower Theater Upper Darby, PA 12/5/75
Tom Waits Irvine Auditorium Philadelphia 1976-78
Dave Mason Irvine Auditorium Philadelphia 1976-78
Elvis Costello & the Attractions Tower Theater Upper Darby, PA 1976-78
Beach Boys Spectrum Philadelphia 1978
Stevie Wonder Spectrum Philadelphia 1986
Monkees
other revival acts
Mann Music Center Philadelphia 1987
Paul McCartney Veterans Stadium Philadelphia 1996
Karla Bonoff some park near Norristown, PA 2000
James Taylor Hersheypark Stadium Hershey, PA 2006

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Not Just Another Pair of Parens

Listeners to my selections on Blip.fm wouldn’t be surprised if I were to write a post on a song with a parenthetical title — for example, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)” — due to my propensity for “blipping” such songs. That post won’t be this one, though. Rather, this one is about a song by a band with a parenthetical name. Wow! The song is “She’s Not Just Another Woman” by 100 Proof (Aged in Soul), um, I mean the 8th Day. I’ll explain the confusion about the name of the band after I get through extolling the virtues of the song.

“She’s Not Just Another Woman” went to #11 on the US pop charts in 1971. I have a memory of it being played in my junior high school cafeteria during lunch break, but that memory must be inaccurate, for the last lunch break I had in that particular school was at the end of September 1970. Distant memories are easily confused, aren’t they? Musical memories may be especially prone to confusion.

“Just” plants its instrumental hook in the opening measures. Then it cooks along with Steve Mancha’s demonstrative lead vocal so gritty some may find it abrasive. The variations in tempo and the hard, straight-ahead drumming that punctuates the up-shifts work particularly well for me.

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Blip.fm DJs — What’s Your BLA?

Regarding my recent unplanned, unannounced hiatus:
I was gratified by the presidential election result, but in the aftermath of the election my interest in blogging suddenly decreased. After having been emotionally invested in the election for so many months, a letdown was inevitable I suppose. I haven’t a clue about my future posting frequency, but I’m happy this post gets me off the
schnide. I’ve recently been distracted from blogging by Blip.fm, the subject of this post.

Blip.fm is a music community site modeled after the ultra-popular microblogging site Twitter. Sign up for Blip.fm and you become a Blip.fm DJ. My DJ name is nitetalker. A blip is analogous to a Twitter tweet.

Like a song you just heard on your iPod or the radio or wherever? Search for it on Blip.fm and if you find it — and you probably will — blip it. That’s the essence of Blip.fm — everything flows from there. A blip consists of embedded streaming audio of the chosen song and an accompanying comment of 150 characters or less. Writing a comment is optional but it makes blipping a lot more fun.

search results, the most recent blip by one of my favorite DJs

Blip.fm: search results followed by the most recent blip by one of my Favorite DJs — Jeffie

As other DJs view and listen to your blips, some of them may favorite you, meaning they become one of your listeners. You may return the favor. Some DJs may give you props for what they feel are particularly inspired blips on your part. Here again, you may return the favor.

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Matching Mismatches

I’ve heard one of my favorite songs, “My Old School” by Steely Dan, hundreds of times. However, it was not until this past Saturday, October 18, just hours before I went to a college football game in Newark, Delaware between the University of Delaware and The College of William and Mary, that I realized this part of the song lyrics specifies the commonly used moniker of the visiting school:

I was smoking with the boys upstairs
When I heard about the whole affair
I said oh no
William and Mary won’t do

Is this lyric a reference to the college? When I told Mrs. QC of my revelation, she insisted it has to be a reference to the college. Color me skeptical. I’ll revisit this controversy at the end of this post.

Now to the topic at hand — the football game. The University of Delaware is “my old school” for both myself and Mrs. QC. We went to grad school there. I previously wrote how I used to attend Delaware games when I was growing up.

It was a beautiful day for football — sunny, not too breezy, temperature pushing 60°. Mrs. QC and I bought subs on the way to Newark and then tailgated briefly before going into the stadium.

The game was a mismatch. Au contraire, Steely Dan — William and Mary did do — they rolled to a 27-3 victory. It was the first time Delaware failed to score a touchdown in a home game since 1990.

My thanks to Mrs. QC for taking these pictures. Click ’em to enlarge to 800 × 531 pixels.

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The west stands at Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.

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The Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (in blue) and the William and Mary Tribe at the line of scrimmage prior to one of the first plays of the game.

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The Jumbotron (video display) is new at Delaware this season. It's not all that jumbo-sized, though. I couldn't see it very well from my seat at the 15-yard line near the other end of Tubby Raymond Field.

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