Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In My Dreams

Started the day out with wind, rain, cold and a computer that wouldn't power up. I need a Magic Carpet Ride. Where would I go? Someplace where it isn't raining, or cold, and computers always power up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lynyrd Skynyrd Coming Back For More With God and Guns

9-29-09. The day I've been waiting for, almost a month now. The day the new release from Lynyrd Skynyrd hit the market. The day that will go down in my history as the day I got as lucky as I've ever been in my life. In it's infinite wisdom, the powers that be at Walmart sent 1 copy of the new Lynyrd Skynyrd CD to their Big Supercenter in Rome, NY. One copy, that has been in my hands since 8:45 this morning.

It's cold, rainy and dreary here in my town. My early morning client, or I should say her dog, didn't want to stay out in it. Got done at the usual time and since I had my scrubs on and was cold, I stopped back at the house to change into something dry and warmer. The rest of Tuesday is mine so I headed out for the 20 minute trip to Rome about 10 after 8.

I hit the electronics department 1st and it wasn't there. The one reason that I went to the store in this nasty, rainy weather was not yet out of the early shipment box. I saw the box on the help desk so I just made myself look at a number of CD's that I wasn't interested in. I wanted "God and Guns" and nothing else. People kept interrupting her, the lady that was stocking the shelves. New releases from other artists were what they were looking for. Which as it turned out, was extremely lucky for me.

Something made me stay away from the new releases and in the aisle near the card marked Lynyrd Skynyrd. I watched that like a hawk and my patience paid off. I saw her find the card, pull it forward and drop my prize in it's rightful place. She wasn't yet away when I reached over and grabbed it. I thanked her and said that I'd been waiting for that CD to come out for close to a month. She laughed and said this was my lucky day as the copy I had in my hand was the only one they sent. ONE COPY???? To me, that one copy is worth it's weight in gold.

"Still Unbroken", the "Skynyrd Nation" is alive and still rockin' on. I'm shedding tears of joy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Your Daddy's Greg Allman

I live very close to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. I can get there in 15 minutes. On November 12, in the Event Center Greg Allman will be appearing. From what I am able to read, it's not the Greg of "Whipping Post" or "Midnight Rider". It's not the guitar and balls to the wall performances of the past. It's Greg and his keyboard with a much more mellow, somewhat introspective style of music. I guess you could call it the grown up Greg.

I would love to go. The problem is going to be finding someone to go with me as Hubby isn't willing to spend that kind of money on a concert. Nosebleed seats are $35 plus, each. I don't think that's bad, but he isn't an Allman Brothers, or Greg Allman fan so I may have to go alone, which isn't thrilling me. We'll see, in the meantime there's always this....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Influential Chuck Berry

From Wikipedia

"Chuck Berry is an influential figure and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's website, "While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together." Cub Koda wrote, "Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers." John Lennon was more succinct: "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986."

The man that singlehandedly shaped rock and roll, according to what I read, was also a convict, having served 3 sentences for various crimes. His first as a young man when his car broke down on the side of the road and he carjacked a passing motorist with a gun that didn't work. He was convicted of Armed Robbery and sentenced to reform school. The second was due to his invitation to a 14 year old Apache waitress he met in Mexico to come work in his club as a hatcheck girl. After she was fired she went into prostitution and was arrested. He brought her here so he was arrested under the Mann Act. Transporting women across state lines for the purpose of sex is illegal. America was up in arms over Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his 13 year old cousin and Chuck was a black man plus an ex-con. It took 2 trials to convict him but they managed it. His third trip to the "big house" was for income tax evasion. There also was the little matter of a video camera installed in the ladies room of a restaurant he owned called The Southern Air in Wentzville, Missouri. It's estimated that he paid 1.2 million dollars to 59 women plus legal fees.

Whatever, or whoever Charles Edward Anderson Berry really is, you have to admit he made some fine music. "Maybelline", "Memphis, Tennesee", "No Particular Place To Go", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Johnny B. Goode", "School Days", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and his only number 1 hit "My Ding-a-ling". In 2003, Rolling Stone named him number six on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

His compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight was also named 21st on the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 2004 six of his songs were included in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list, namely "Johnny B. Goode" (# 7), "Maybellene" (# 18), "Roll Over Beethoven" (# 97), "Rock and Roll Music" (#128), "Sweet Little Sixteen" (# 272) and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (# 374).

Also in 2004, Berry was rated #5 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and in 2008 his song Johnny B. Goode won first place in the 100 greatest guitar songs according to Rolling Stone Magazine

The video is a medley of the Rock and Roll Anthems of Chuck Berry. I usually don't like medleys, but this one is different as it doesn't cut the song off in any way that detracts from ones enjoyment of it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maybe You Really Had To Have Been There

When I started doing the research for the group I chose to feature this week, I found a phrase in the first paragraph of their Wikipedia entry that made me stop and think. From Wikipedia: Allmusic music journalist, Jason Ankeny states "Clad in Civil War era Union Army uniforms (complete with fictitious military ranks) and bizarrely pedophilic lyrics, Puckett and the Union Gap were in their own way as far-out and singular as any other act of the period." My first reaction to that statement was a shocked "Where did THAT come from?"

This was a group that sang love songs. So they dressed in Civil War uniforms, so what? Paul Revere and The Raiders dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms. This was the age of hippies who dressed in whatever they chose to dress in. We were striking out on our own, being nonconformists and yet conforming on some really strange level. However, my issue with that Wikipedia entry is not with the sartorial choices the band made. My issue is with "bizarrely pedophilic lyrics".

Beginning at about the age of 15, we girls couldn't wait to become 18. We experimented with clothing styles and makeup that made us look older. We were interested, not in the drippy "boys" of our age, we were interested in MEN! Those 20, 21 and sometimes as old as 22 adult males of our acquaintance who appeared to us to have so much more to offer. Did we fully understand what it was they had to offer? Uhhhh, no. This was NOT yet the age of burning bras and multiple sexual partners. We read about that happening in a place called San Francisco, but we didn't live there. We lived in Middle America where we had the same values our parents and grandparents had.

We lived in the smaller cities and towns of America where we went to church on Sunday. There was not yet a birth control pill. We didn't worry about STD's we worried about getting pregnant. For us that might have been a fate worse than death, and we were loathe to find that out. Pregnant girls were not allowed to continue their education in those days. They were deemed to be "that" kind of girl and not someone the rest of us would have been allowed to associate with. Our lives were totally controlled by parental whims. We had rules and woe betide those of us who broke them. Our parents would KILL us.

The "older men" that we were dating were also raised with the same rules. Their parents still had some influence over their behavior. They were raised to understand that if they became fathers before they were married, they'd better make sure the girl was the right choice for them because she would be their wives. There were exceptions to the rule, but no female of my acquaintance wished to find herself pregnant and out on the street so we pretty much all, despite rampant running hormones, controlled ourselves. It was easier to say no and not have problems with the "men" some of us were dating.

I suppose, that for someone unfamiliar with the society and culture of the 60's, the songs that Gary sang would have that pedophilic connection. Things are different now. On TV we can watch Maury Povich deliver DNA test results that show women to have had so many partners at the time they became pregnant that they have no idea who the baby daddy is. These days it's common for single mothers to have multiple children with multiple fathers. That concept is accepted in the very way that teenaged girls of the 60's found it acceptable to be infatuated with the "older men" who were so much more interesting than the schoolboys we saw every day. Besides, how else would we get to ride around in those Thunderbirds, Mustangs, Camaros and Cadillac Fleetwoods they drove? If the boys of our acquaintance had a car it was usually on loan from Dad. Family sedans, not the flashy cars we ooohed and ahhhed over. Looking back on it all, maybe it was the car and not the guy we were interested in.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tedly Von Nugenburger?

A little something for my southern friend, The Sharer.

A good start to a rockin' weekend, yes?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just For The Fun Of It

There's a little Renegade in all of us. Sometimes we just have to play with it a little.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Free Just Might Not Be "All Right Now"

Sometimes it's hard to find enough information to do a post on a One Hit Wonder. I am aware that unless the members of the band truly enjoy each other's company, or they have a massive concert following of the likes of Phish or the Grateful Dead, one hit wonder band members tend to go their separate ways early in their careers. The English group Free is no exception. Frankly, they might not have stayed together even if they were powerhouse hitmakers.

Formed in London in 1968 they were: Paul Rodgers, Lead singer age 18. Simon Kirke on drums also age 18. Lead Guitarist Paul Kossoff was 17, and bassist Andy Fraser was 15. Their first gig was played at The Nag's Head Pub in Battersea, London on April 19, 1968. They were given their name, Free, by British Blues Legend Alexis Korner.

Like most groups of the time, their problems were mainly drugs and egos. Lead guitarist Paul Kossoff's problem with drugs led to erratic behavior on his part. If he showed up at all there were times he wasn't capable of playing his instrument or contributing in any way that was positive to his bandmates He finally became clean and died of drug related heart problems at the age of 25. Paul Rodgers' and Andy Fraser's constant disagreements had led to the breaking up of the band before that happened.

Andy wrote their only hit song "All Right Now" while in school and Paul publically claimed credit for being it's writer. It became a number 1 hit in over 20 British territories, a number 4 hit in the US and was credited by ASCAP as having been played on the radio over 1,000,000 times since it's release in 1989. I guess some people's egos cloud their judgement.

Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke went on to form the band Bad Company. After it's breakup he became a solo artist in the UK during the 80's and 90's and is presently singing with Queen as Queen + Paul Rodgers. At least with Queen, unlike Free and Bad Company, the only one his ego can hurt now is himself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Foreigner Revisited

Among the weekend birthday bounty that I received was a Walmart $5 CD one of my brothers decided to honor my big 60 with. I survived the shock. What shock? Both the choice of CD and the fact that he actually spent his money on me. What he gave me was Foreigner, Extended Versions. I liked Foreigner, he did not. He is a head banger, and while I do like some of that, my preferences are usually ignored by him.

This particular Extended Version CD is a live recording of Foreigner made at the Texas Station in Las Vegas in....2005! While it doesn't contain all of the Foreigner hits that I like so well, it's got enough on it to satisfy. The singer is not Lou Gramm as his brain tumor surgery created problems with his voice, but I have to say Kelly Hansen does a good job as his replacement.

1. Head Games

2. Cold As Ice

3. Waiting For A Girl Like You

4. Dirty White Boy

5. Starrider

6. Feels Like The First Time

7. Urgent

8. Jukebox Hero/Whole Lotta Love

9. I Want To Know What Love Is

10. Hot Blooded

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grazin' In The Grass

Originally recorded by a trumpet player, Hugh Masekela in the early 1960's, Grazin In The Grass became a hit for the Friends of Distinction when a member of the group wrote lyrics to Hugh's recording. A light hearted piece of pop fluff that just fits the over all mood of my day. For a Monday, and a busy one at that, it just floated along with a relaxed and happy attitude. Can you dig it?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Day Older

So, I made it to the big 60 today. Got a glimpse of my thighs when I rolled out of bed this morning. Odd...I never noticed how much like cottage cheese the texture of the skin looks there. *Sigh* I guess it's time to meditate on something besides growing older.

Scratch THAT!!!! I got MONEY for my birthday. I'm going SHOPPING!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clowns, Jokers And The Enigma.....Gerry Rafferty

Imagine that you're talking to me, maybe at a party where music is played and people dance. At some point in our conversation you will get the feeling that I'm not listening to you any more. You might see my head nodding, or my hips keeping time to the music. The expression on my face might indicate to you that I am someplace far away from where I'm standing, lost in the words of the music. You'd be wrong. I am not hearing the words of the music, I'm listening to you as you speak to me, I'm FEELING the drums or the sax, or the sound of the vocalist as he sings. It might even be the cowbell that I am physically keeping time with. I don't know why it's like that, it just is. Most of my friends, that have known me for years, have called it my motor running.

Music triggers something in me. All kinds of music can do that to me if the arrangement of the instruments played and the quality of the vocal instrument used when right. I'm no music critic, it's a matter of my brain supplying what should be there next. Since this is all an automatic response that happens from some point in my subconscious, I can't ever define what is or isn't there. But, this post isn't about me and how I enjoy music, it's about Gerry Rafferty. It's too bad he didn't get to enjoy what should be there next.

Gerry was born in Paisley, Scotland the son of a Scottish mother and a deaf, singing Irishman. He was raised on Irish rebel songs, traditional folk music, Catholic hymns and 50's pop. By the age of 21 he was playing the guitar and composing and singing his own songs as a busker on the London Underground. That experience was most likely the inspiration of one of his most poetic and popular songs released in 1978. Busking is the act of performing on street corners where one hopes passerby's will put money in your container if they like what they hear. Sort of an interesting start to a music career.

His first recording contract came as the result of his joining a duo who played music and told jokes onstage. They were called the Humblebums. Following a performance by them in his hometown of Paisley he approached their leader and asked him to listen to his compositions. The duo was impressed and they became a trio. Unfortunately, differences in direction drove them apart. He wanted to play music, they wanted to tell jokes and use the music as a counterpoint of sorts. They parted ways and the record label that had signed them up tried releasing a solo album with him, but it just wasn't very successful.

Next he joined forces with an old School friend, Joe Egan and created a band called Stealers Wheels. Reports were that there were a lot of problems with the lineup of the band and a lot of legal matters that needed work. Despite the unsettled atmosphere they did manage to release a hit single called "Stuck In The Middle With You". There was no mention of what the problems were, just that they were lengthy and numerous and resulted in Gerry's first being with the group, then not with the group and then with the group again. When I was reading about the upsets there, I kept thinking if that was what he meant by "Clowns to the left, jokers on the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

In 1975, Stealer's Wheels broke up finally, but the legal wrangling lasted for another 3 years, making no one but the lawyers happy. Certainly didn't make Gerry happy as he was constrained from recording for the entire time. When the lawyers finally got everything straightened out in 1978, Gerry went back to work and recorded a solo album. Titled City to City it contained the only almost perfect song I've ever felt in my life, "Baker Street". It lifts, it supports, it gently caresses. It has, for me, the single most spine tingling saxophone solo ever recorded. It glistens, it's graceful and if any part of it is disappointing, it is that it ends.

From the same album he also had a hit single with "Right Down The Line". Like "Stuck In The Middle With You" it has merit, but it's not "Baker Street". After "Baker Street" maybe I expected too much of him, because I just didn't breathe in any thing else he recorded in the same manner. His second album did well, but he seemed to have lost his momentum and no successive album charted as well as the first one did.

In 2008, he may...or may not...have disappeared. Reports were that he had been living in the Westbury Hotel in London and had been asked to vacate. His room was in deplorable, nearly unlivable condition and the other guests were bothered by his habit of relieving himself in various corners and other places throughout the hotel. In July of that year he checked himself into St. Thomas Hospital suffering with a chronic liver condition. By August he had disappeared leaving his belongings behind. There was no missing persons report filed by the hospital.

After months of unconfirmed sightings and rumors that he'd been in touch with his family, his spokesperson, Paul Charles told the Independent Newspaper in February of this year that he'd been in touch with Jerry who was living in the south of England with a friend. Mr. Charles said he was alive and well with no further plans to record or tour. This was contradicted the very next day by the Daily Telegraph who reported a portion of a statement made to Channel 4 news in England by Gerry's solicitor. "Contrary to reports, Gerry is extremely well and has been living in Tuscany for the last six months......he continues to compose and record new songs and music......and he hopes to release a new album of his most recent work in the summer of this year".

The truth? I don't think we'll ever know. It appears that possibly Mr. Charles was more accurate in his claim. Summer has come and gone and we've not heard from Gerry Rafferty. Did his downfall occur due to drug or alcohol addiction? Was it simply a matter of too much life and a mental breakdown? I don't know, but I suspect there won't be anything coming next.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Armed And Dangerous

You're cruisin along playing the radio and just as you pull into the driveway of your happens. THE song. The one that you really, really, REALLY want to hear starts playing on the radio. Naturally, you're in a situation where you just can't sit there and listen to it and you don't have a copy of it at home to ease that particular yearning with. I tell ya, it's FRUSTRATING!

Oh...wait! I just realized something. It would be MORE frustrating to be trapped in a car driving along and listening to this song when you really want to shake that bootay to the music. I can just see that now. Sitting at a stop light wiggling in the car seat while those around you give you "the look" and roll up their windows just in case it's contagious. They look at you like you're out of your mind or maybe you need to go to the bathroom. "Agnes! You best roll up that dang window before whatever she ails from gets ahold of us!" People! People! People! I'm not a dog that needs to hike it's leg and baptize your tires. Sheesh!

Yep, it's all Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr's fault. I just can't help myself. I make a fool out of myself wiggling my groove thang around like there's a flea a bitin' on my butt. I'm NOT crazy. I'm not suffering from epilepsy or any other kind of twitchin' disease. No, the devil hasn't got ahold of me and I don't steal babies, dogs or cats and sacrifice them in the woods under a full moon.

I'm just an old rocker chick with a few high gears I haven't stripped out yet. I can still rock and roll with the best of them. Especially when my butt is being prodded by that Jr. Walker and his big SHOTGUN.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We'll Meet Again....Dame Vera Lynn

Vera Lynn, whose popularity in the UK during World War II as the "Armed Forces Sweetheart", proves that sometimes music...good music is timeless. At the age of 92, she has been introduced to an entire new generation of music lovers. She is no stranger to me, my Dad was in the Army during that war, and although she was a British singer, he loved her music.

From Wikipedia

On 13th September 2009, Dame Vera became the oldest living artist to make it into No. 1 in the UK album chart, at the age of 92. Her collection We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn entered the chart at number 20 on 30th August, and then climbed to number 2 the following week, before reaching the top position. In doing this, she beat out the re-mastered Beatles' album of songs. In its third week the album went Gold with sales of over 100,000.

Found this video with pictures of current families saying goodbye as their loved one goes off to serve and protect. If you're like me, grab tissues before viewing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Climbing Mountain

Sometimes, when delving into the history of something one finds that there are more questions than there are answers. How does a band that is considered to be influential in the creation of the hard rock genre get to be a one hit wonder? How does a one hit wonder get listed on VH1's 100 Greatist Artists of Hard Rock even as far down as number 98? Since they played their fourth live concert at Woodstock in 1969, how did they get totally omitted from both the movie and volume 1 of the soundtrack? Why did Guitar Hero III chose their one hit as a playable recording in 2007? Why are they a one hit wonder? Where do you go to find the answers to these questions? After days of research, I'd say apparently nowhere. I could not find a single answer to any of my questions.

So, who or what exactly is Mountain? Originally Leslie West recorded a solo R&B album with bassist and former Cream collaborator Felix Pappalardi and drummer ND Smart. The name of the album was Mountain. They liked what they'd done together and decided to form a group. Since Leslie West was a big man with a big voice, they decided to call themselves "Mountain". They didn't want to be considered Cream wannabees so they added a keyboardist by the name of Steve Knight, acquired Ginger Baker as manager(THAT Ginger Baker) and set about making history. Unfortunately I suspect the kind of history they made wasn't exactly what they planned on.

Their first album, released in 1970 "Climbing" did that much. It climbed the charts until it broke the top twenty, producing their one and only hit single "Mississippi Queen". Their second album "Nantucket Sleighride" also made the top 20, but never produced a hit single. Every one of their albums achieved critical acclaim without ever finding that needed popularity that would have placed Mountain among the widely remembered much revered music icons of my generation. They certainly had the talent and the drive to succeed, but why they didn't really get anywhere is anyones guess.

I can speculate that since they broke up in 1972 that the problem was internal strife or maybe even mishandling by their producers and record label. Quite common problems throughout the history of recorded music as I've found through my research into all the other bands I've had the pleasure of writing about. It appears that record labels wanted, or at least knew how to market the wannabee Creams, Beatles or Rolling Stones that they were making so much money off of to start out with. Music labels are industries, not philanthropic organizations. They also, much like the movie studios before 1960, tried to exercise tremendous control over their product. Control that sometimes just didn't work.

In 1973 Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi reformed Mountain with new people. That version produced a double album "Twin Peaks" and a studio album "Avalanche" which again didn't take them anywhere. They broke up again due to Felix's concerns that he was going deaf. The band became another one of those long forgotten or "never heard of them" groups for the next decade.

In 1983 Felix Pappalardi was shot in the neck by his wife. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife was charged with second degree murder. Charges were eventually reduced and she was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 16 months to 4 years in prison. After her release she disappeared into private life.

In 1985 Leslie West again formed another version of Mountain which still exists to this day. They appeared at the Heroes of Woodstock anniversary concert on August 15 of this year. Leslie said it was 40 years to the exact day of their original appearance at Woodstock in 1969.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rockin' On With Def Leppard

When Def Leppard formed in 1977 it was the brainchild of 3 young men who were students at Tapton School in Sheffield, England. Rick Savage (bass) Pete Williams (lead) and Tony Kenning (drums). Lead singer Joe Elliot auditioned for lead guitar and it was decided that he was better suited to vocals. Ummm, yeah, never having heard him play guitar, I can't say he was, but I also can't feature what they'd have sounded like with someone else providing the vocals for the songs. Besides, it was Joe that provided the name of the band.

None of the research I did turned up the name of the school he attended, nor why he did what he did, but he wrote reviews for imaginary rock bands for his English class. One of the imaginary bands he named Deaf Leopard. They always wanted to be hard rock rather than punk, so the spelling was altered by drummer Tony Kenning to fit the harder style of a hard rock band.

What was thought to be the last addition to the original line up was Steve Clark. Singer Joe Elliot says Steve played in it's entirety Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" as his audition piece. For reasons unknown, Tony Kenning quit the band just as the recording of a 3 song extended play 45 was to begin. For those sessions the drummer was Frank Noon. I couldn't find out why their first record was an EP. I wasn't familiar with that type of record until I happened to find one in the 80's at a local record store. It wasn't a Def Leppard EP. I don't remember ever seeing another one and I'm assuming that was because music sales in the U.S. were all about the singles at the time. The song "Getcha Rocks Off" from that EP soared in the UK largely to a BBC DJ who was all about punk, hard rock and new wave.

By the end of the month of November in 1978 they had found a replacement drummer for their band. A 15 year old named Rick Allen. It took them a year to build a loyal following and get a recording contract, and once their first album came out, it charted well, but they were beginning to lose their British fans. Many of their early fans were turned off by what they viewed as Def Leppard trying too hard to appeal to American audiences. I don't know they were intending to appeal to Amerians specifically but they did appeal to AC/DC producer Mutt Lange. The first album he produced for them didn't chart as well as their first album did, but it brought them to the attention of Ozzy Osbourne and Blackfoot who hired them in 1982 to open for them. Also in 1982 Pete Willis was fired for excessive cinsumption of alcohol during performances and Phil Collen replaced him.

Their third album, Pyromania was released in 1983 and on the strength of "Photograph" "Rock of Ages" and "Foolin" went on to sell 6 million copies placing them right behind Michael Jackson and "Thriller". They were popular in the United States, but not in their native England. It was something that bothered them greatly and may have contributed in part to Steve Clarks problem with alcohol and drugs.

In 1984 Rick Allen was involved in an accident that eventually cost him his arm. Speed and not being belted in were contributing factors. His arm was originally reattached, but infection set in and it had to be removed in order to save his life. Once released from the hospital he thought he couldn't continue to drum for the band. Joe Elliot stopped to see him and between them they started designing a drum kit that would allow Rick to play with his feet. He returned in 1986 barefoot and one armed behind the drums. Rick Allen played on.

There have been many changes in the line up over time. Steve Clark was given a 6 month hiatus from the band to see if he could get his addictions under control. Unfortunately he wouldn't stay long enough in rehab and died from the combination of drugs and alcohol. They last released a record in 2002 and are still touring in the US and Canada. I've spoken to people who attended their current tour with Poison and they say that Def Leppard can still rock on!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Putting Truth And God Back Where They Belong

I've begun to wonder, with so much hatred aimed at Pres. Obama, how did he get elected? Another thing I'm asking myself is when did we begin to use the word liar as a label for someone who Believes in but MAY be mistaken in what they tell us?

If I tell you something in good faith that turns out to be a situation in which I was misinformed...did I lie? Apparently In Congress it does, especially if I don't agree with the other side.

Something else I've begun to wonder. Since in some minds, the Republican Party is the last bastion of the "keeping God in Government War", why are they ALWAYS the ones to be so unloving and faithless? Why do they believe they have the right to control what happens in our government? Would I be correct in saying that I BELIEVE they do this because they want the Constitutional Separation of Church and State to mean what THEY want it to mean? That it is designed to be a one way street keeping government out of our churches, not churches out of our government?

Not once did I meet a single Democratic Liberal who believed that any part of the bill would result in the forced suicide of our elderly. You know us Godless Liberals, the downfall of this great nation? Yet, it was the self proclaimed Christian Conservatives who bought that falsehood, hook, line and sinker. (Most of them still believe it) Those citizens of the good ole US of A who spend their time decrying the absense of God in the buildings of our government and in the heart of our accused Muslim Terrorist, supposedly non citizen, BLACK President, should let God into their hearts before they try to force him into a building. Had they done that, they too would have seen just how sick and disgusting that particular falsehood was. Am I a liar because I beleive that?

The TRUTH: Our Healthcare Industry is too expensive and does NOT produce results enough to justify the cost. Controlling what the insurance company can charge is only half the problem. We NEED to find a way to control what doctors and hospitals can charge for their services. We NEED to control the fraudulent practices that are rampant. Double billing, billing for services not rendered, billing for unnecessary surgeries and expensive tests that are ordered because the doctor owns a share in the lab that provides those expensive tests.

All of this could have been addressed during honest and openminded discussions with an eye towards the designing of a healthcare bill by our Legislators. This could have happened at any time in the past 10 years when they KNEW that the cost of insurance was increasing at a rate that was downright inflationary. It didn't happen did it? Did the rate of Health Insurance inflation go unnoticed while Congress was counting the money they were receiving from the Insurance Industry? Would I be a "liar" if I said that in my heart of hearts I BELIEVE that to be the case?

It seems to me that IF God was in the Hearts of the Christian Conservatives who sit in the halls of our Government, then they HAD to know the 'pulling the plug on granny' and the 'death panels' were LIES. Yet, ALL of them sat silent while their fellow members fanned that particular flame. NOT ONCE did ANY of the Christian Conservatives open their mouths and say "that's sick and disgusting". It took an accused Muslim Terrorist who supposedly is a noncitizen BLACK President to utter those words. Would you call me a liar if I said I believe those to be the words of a MAN who keeps God in his HEART where HE belongs?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just The Way We Liked It, Solid and Raunchy

Near the end of 1959, when I was 10, Mom and Dad bought their stereo record player. It was a cabinet model with one speaker in the cabinet and another in a removable wooden box that could be set up to 6 feet away from the unit. You didn't lift the top to reach the turntable, you slid it back into the area above the fixed speaker. It was big enough to hold it's own as a console without being a big bulky unit that took up a lot of space in the living room. It came with a stationary spindle on which one could stack up to 10 LP's and it also included a removable spindle that would hold the same number of 45's. That removable spindle made it a marvel of modern technology back in the day. Nonstop music without ever removing a 45 from the turntable until all of ones selections were though playing. In those days 45's ruled.

Of course, now that we had the means to play records in this way, we had to have the records. Mom's old 78's didn't survive the plop down to the turntable without acquiring scratches and those scratches meant the needle would skip badly across most of the disk. Most of the new vinyl LP's with their 10 or 12 songs on them only cost 3 or 4 dollars each, so Mom stopped frequently in the record sections of department stores to spend her pin money.
She'd buy 45's when the money was tight, they were cheaper. The stereo must have been expensive, it came home with 2 LP's and 6 of the new 45's with the big holes in the center of the records. I can only remember 4 of the first ones she bought. They were "Wake Up Little Suzie" by the Everly Bros. "Little Boy Sad" by Johnny Burnette. "The Bristol Stomp" by the Dovells and "Tall Cool One" by The Fabulous Wailers. The Dovells and The Fabulous Wailers were a distinct departure from what I was accustomed to hearing in our home. They were...dare I say it? Rock and Roll. Purchased by MY Mom and Dad?

Who were the Fabulous Wailers? They were teenagers from Tacoma, Washington. Kent Morrill - keyboards, vocals, John Greek - Guitar, Trumpet, Richard Dangel - Guitar, Mike Burk - Drums, Mark Marush - tenor sax, Rockin' Robin Roberts – vocals. That's who they were. They could be considered to be one of the most influential original garage band groups. They were the inspiration behind groups like Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Kingsmen.

The got their start in the clubs popular in the Pacific Northwest in 1958. They performed a blend of sax driven R&B and Rock and Roll in the style of Chuck Berry. They worked with anyone and everyone, promoting and producing their own style of music and in 1959 exploded on the national scene with an LP "The Fabulous Wailers" and four 45's. Among the released 45's, "Tall Cool One" found it's way into our home in 1960, along with the new stereo.

Kent Morrill wrote "Tall Cool One" while still in high school. He wanted to name the song "Scotch On The Rocks" but his Mother didn't think a group of high school boys should be playing something with a name like that so, it became "Tall Cool One". That was my introduction to the Wailers back in 1960, but there was a lot more to come.

Currently, and the quality of their music should have suggested that there would be a currently, they are involved with the Ventures on a 50th Anniversary Album called "Two Car Garage". Although the line up of the group has changed over the years, original member Kent Morrill is still with the group and still rocks on!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dinosaurs And Liquid Architecture

There are days when I'm online that tend to create in me the sense that I am a dinosaur. Come to think of it, those days exist in "real" life too. I may be 59, but much like any twentysomething, I too have my "whole" life ahead of me. It just happens to be somewhat shorter a "whole" life than it used to be. Maybe I am more aware of it today due to the recent death of many of the icons of my life, and maybe it was the death of my friend Sue this past week. She wasn't the closest of my friends, but she was a friend. I spoke with her Wednesday evening, she was found dead on Thursday morning. Life plays those kind of tricks on you. Those tricks are conspiring with each other to make me old.

I have been told that old is a state of mind rather than age. Whether we are old or not old supposedly depends on how interesting we find new things and how willing we are to accept change. Does this mean that I am not old if I embrace the new technology by standing in line at 3 in the morning to be the first on my block to buy the new whatever? Will I prevent aging if I wear all the latest fashions, call everyone "Du-u-u-de". or wander around listening to hip hop? What do I do with the parts of my body that have migrated south and won't look at all attractive in halter top dresses, or daisy dukes? Lets not go there, it ain't pretty.

We've established that I won't wear today's fashions and I have no use for a cell phone that I can text with or go online with. Frankly, I enjoy my time online, but it isn't something I wish to have intrude on the rest of my life. I am quite capable of going somewhere and enjoying the scenery or the company or the music I'm hearing without having to grab a phone and report to someone. I have to carry a cell phone as part of my employment, which doesn't mean that I have to do much with it beyond take calls and follow through on them. When I'm with my friends, I have little need to contact other of my friends and waste my time sharing what's happening every minute of the day. I appear to be out of touch with the modern world that way. Don't care either.

I am also out of touch with the modern world when it comes to much of the music I listen to. While I do like Pink and Kid Rock, I would much rather listen to Blondie or Bob Segar. That might be due to the memories associated with the songs of my youth rather than the quality of the music. Those songs connect me to the people that shared my life, some are still around, some are not. I don't live in the past, but I am a product of the memories of the events in my past. The music of the time accompanied me during many of those events. Sometimes it is that music that reminds me of the event, and recreates the pleasant emotions I experienced then. You might call it the music that raised me.

One of my new online "friends" is Sam Andrew. He is a member of 2 bands that brought me my all time favorite blues rock singer, Janis Joplin. Sam is a guitarist who played with both Big Brother and the Holding Company and The Kozmic Blues Band. Sam is an artist both on the guitar and with paint. I asked him if, when he played, he saw color and form. His response to me was that he saw transparent form and he called music "liquid architecture". He continues to create this liquid architecture with the re-formed Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Much of what they play in concert are the songs that were hits for them and Janis in the 60's. They are older, and wiser. Currently the singer that tours with them is Sophia Ramos. She's not Janis, but then who was or ever could be? Sam says he no longer uses drugs and his current addiction is to coffee, which he thinks he probably should stop. Much like my life, the structure of his existence has changed. Births, deaths, world events, societal mores, daily stress and yet there is the ever fluid music that connects it all. The structure changes, the tides ebb and flow and the life of a dinosaur is touched by butterfly wings and raindrops.

Big Brother and The Holding Company with Sophia Ramos

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creating My Own Musical "Supergroup"

What would they have sounded like if they'd had the opportunity to play together? What would they have added to music that we don't have now? What more would we have marveled at?

Presenting..."The What.

Keith Moon, Born: August 23, 1947. Died: September 7, 1978. Occupation: Musician and destroyer of hotel rooms and drum kits. Member of: The Who. Accomplishments: Revolutionized the way that drums were played in the genre of music called Rock and Roll. With accelerated drum rolls and cymbal crashes he forever changed the perception of a drummer from one who provided nothing but a background beat to one who played a lead instrument in the band. He did nothing half way, he was either the best or the worst at every facet of life. The funniest, the meanest, the most violent, the most peaceful. He died in the same apartment that Mama Cass Elliot did from an overdose of a prescribed medication used to prevent alcoholics from drinking. RIP

Billy Powell, Born: June 3, 1952. Died: January 28,2009. Ocupation: Musician and only keyboardist for a southern rock group. Member of: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Accomplishments: Survivor of the 1977 plane crash which took the lives of his fellow bandmates. He was the only member of the band able to attend the funeral for Ronnie Van Zant. Originally a roadie for the band he sat down following the instrument set up and played his own version of Free Bird. Ronnie Van Zant was impressed and asked him to join the band as their keyboard player. He is credited with crafting the intro to Free Bird on Skynyrds debut album. After missing an appointment for a heart check up the day before, Powell called 911 complaining of shortness of breath. When the EMT's got there he was unconscious and unresponsive with the telephone still clutched in his hand. He was pronounced dead at the scene. RIP

Cliff Burton, Born: February 10, 1962. Died: September 27, 1986. Occupation: Musician and head bangingest bass player in the history of Metal Rock. Member of: Trauma and Metallica. Accomplishments: Made heavy use of distortion and other effects most usually associalted with non-bass guitars. Was instrumental in developing the signature sound which Metallica is known for. As a classically trained pianist he used his large knowledge of theory to add to the band's sound and was able to teach Hetfield and Hammett to harmonize. He died from injuries sustained by being thrown through Metallica's tour bus window following a roll over crash. RIP.

Stevie Ray Vaughan. Born: October 3, 1954. Died: August 27, 1990. Occupation: Musician who taught himself to play by listening to the music of Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds and The Beatles. Member of: Triple Threat and Double Trouble. Accomplishments: An influential electric blues guitarists ranked number 7 in Rolling Stone Magazines top 100 Greatest Guitarists and number 3 in Classic Rock Magazines top 100 Wildest Guitarists. His signature sound was a combination of simultaneous lead and rhythm parts. He used very heavy strings on his Fender Stratocaster and tuned it a half step down from E flat to give his playing a fuller sound. He played clean and loud. After years of cocaine and alcohol addiction he suffered a near death dehydration episode. Hospitalization determined that whiskey was eating away at his stomach and cocaine had crystallized again in his intestines eating away at those. He went into rehab and successfully gave up drinking and drugs. He stayed clean and sober until his death in a helicopter crash in 1990. RIP

Bradley Delp. Born: June 12, 1951. Died: March 9, 2007. Occupation: Musician with a high vocal range and the ability to play guitar, harmonica and keyboard. Member of: Boston and Beatlejuice. Accomplishments: One of the most recognizeable voices in rock music. He is often considered to be a key influence in the rock vocal scene. Adjectives that could be used to aptly describe his voice are; golden and soaring. He lit two charcoal grills in the sealed bathroom of his New Hampshire home, pinned a suicide note to his shirt, laid his head on a silk pillow and went to sleep...permanently. RIP

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Blues Image And I Got A History Lesson

Formed in Tampa Florida in 1966. The Blues Image's claim to the One Hit Wonder parade was a song they titled "Ride Captain Ride". The inspiration for the song has often thought to be found either in the exploits of Sir Francis Drake and his Golden Hind, or in the USS Pueblo incident which occured in 1968. There are those who are probably more accurate in their assessment that call it an "acid trip".

During my background research I could not find any reference in naval history to a ship with 73 men aboard that sailed from San Francisco Bay. The crew of the Golden Hind numbered anywhere from 80 to 100 men at any given point in time, and of course sailed from England. The USS Pueblo's captured crewmembers numbered 83, and they sailed from Japan before the incident occured, not San Francisco Bay.

In 1968, North Korea hijacked the USS Pueblo which was sailing in international waters off the coast of Korea. It was a naval spy ship. It left Japan on a spying mission on January 5, 1968. It was under orders to intercept and provide surveillance of Soviet activity in the Tsushima Strait. The purpose of this mission was, of course, to gather signal and electronic data on North Korea. Somehow they were not informed of the North Korean attempt to assassinate South Korean leaders on January 22, and the next day they were approached by a North Korean sub chaser and the Pueblo's nationality was challenged. After displaying the American Flag, North Korea demanded that the ship stand down or be fired upon.

An attempt to get away was outmanouvered by the Koreans faster sub chaser with the help of Soviet style Mig-21 fighters and a Soviet torpedo boat whose guns were not manned. The US claimed that the Pueblo was well outside the 12 mile limit which is the international standard. North Korea, however claims that their waters stretch to 50 miles from their shoreline. Constant radio contact with Japan allowed the US to be fully informed about the incident. Since it couldn't run away being obviously outmanned the Pueblo did follow the Korean sub chaser as demanded. It stopped when it reached the 12 mile limit and was promptly fired upon, killing one crew member.

For 11 months the captured crew were kept in POW camps and subjected to serious incidents of torture and mistreatment at the hands of North Korea. The United States offered an admission of spying, an apology, and a ransom for their release. The men were bussed to the DMZ between North and South Korea. Led by their Captain single file across the Bridge of No Return into South Korea, the US verbally retracted the admission, the apology and the ransom offer. North Korea kept the ship which is now a tourist attraction. It is also still fully commissioned by the United States Navy.

I suppose the song "Ride Captain Ride" could be a paean to the men of the USS Pueblo, but the song says 73 men, not 83 men. The Songs co-writer, singer/guitarist of the Blues Image, Mike Pinera says that the inspiration behind the song came from his electric Rhodes piano which has 73 keys.

"So I say, Okay, I need a first word. And what came into my head was 73. I liked the rhythm, and I went, "73 men sailed in, from the San Francisco Bay." ... The song sort of just wrote itself from there"....Mike Pinera. Yep...acid trip.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Riding On The Rails...Grand Funk Railroad Style

Wikipedia describes Grand Funk Railroad as an "American rock band popular in the 70's. The band was formed in 1968 by Mark Farner (guitars, keyboards, lead vocals) and Don Brewer (drums, lead vocals) from Terry Knight and the Pack, and Mel Schacher (bass guitar) from Question Mark & the Mysterians. Terry Knight, a former band-mate of Farner and Brewer, soon became the band's manager. Knight named the band after the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line in Michigan. First achieving recognition at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, Grand Funk Railroad was asked back to play two additional days. Patterned after hard rock power trios such as Cream, Grand Funk Railroad, with Terry Knight's marketing savvy, developed its own popular style."

Under Terry Knights guidance in 1970, they sold more albums than any other American band. Their first album, released in that year went gold. Their second album "Closer To Home" went multiplatinum, and produced their first chart hit "I'm Your Captain" which, despite it's success, did not make number 1. Their early success was largely due to the money spent on advertising. Grand Funk Railroad might have been a very popular band, but the critics didn't like them so they received almost no airplay on the radio. In 1971 they broke a record held by the Beatles. They scheduled a concert in Shea Stadium and sold it out in 72 hours. Towards the end of that year they became dissatisfied with the managerial style and fiscal responsibility of their manager and fired Terry in early 1972 with just 3 months left on his contract. Terry sued for breach of contract which set off a protracted legal battle. At one point he repossessed the bands gear before a concert at Madison Square Garden. It seems to me that all they had to do to avoid that was let Terry's contract run out without renewing it.

In 1972 the band hired a keyboard player named Craig Frost to become a 4th member of the band. He was not their first choice. They had wanted Peter Frampton who had to decline due to contractual commitments with A&M records. The addition of keyboard to their sound changed their style from sort of a garage band based rock and roll to a critically acceptable rhythm & blues pop. With the hiring of Todd Rundgren as producer in 1973 they were finally able to produce 2 number one singles. "We're An American Band" went to number 1 in late 1973 and their second number 1 hit was a remake of Little Eva's "Loco-motion".

Although they were highly successful in the mid 1970's, personal issues, burn out and musical direction issues were taking it's toll on the band. Having learned from their experience with Terry Knight they forged on and completed their contractual commitment to Capitol Records. After the release of their last record with Capitol in 1976, the band went their separate ways. That same year they reunited and joined forces with Frank Zappa which resulted in a short lived renewal of spirit. By 1977 the stress became too much and they parted ways again.

Mark Farner went on to a solo career, Brewer, Schacher and Frost formed a band they named Flint. That didn't really go anywhere and Frost left to join Bob Segars Silver Bullet Band. In 1996 the three original members reunited and did various projects over the years. Again there seemed to be problems and Mark Farner acrimoniously left the band again in 1999. Brewer and Schacher have continued to perform as Grand Funk Railroad along with various other members of various other bands. Mark Farner is still recording and playing concerts with his own band. However, none of them have ever achieved the success they had in the 1970's. At least they're still rockin on.

Sometimes The Only Harmony To Be Had Is In The Music

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1997 because in their words, "they are America's longest running experiment in vocal harmony and social relevance." The three of them were veterans of other 60's groups that were discontented with the directions those groups were taking and had dropped out. Steven Stills was a member of the Buffalo Springfields. David Crosby sang and played rhythm guitar with The Byrds and Graham Nash was the voice behind the high harmonies that helped the pop group The Hollies reach the top of their game. Crosby, Stills and Nash met in Los Angeles in 1968 thanks to introductions provided by Cass Elliot. Neil Young was added as a fourth member after the trio's first record proved to be a big hit.

Their first release in May of 1969 provided the group with two Top 40 Hits due to their marvelous harmonies, the focus on the relevance of the songs they did and key airplay on the new FM radio format. Their early success created the necessity for concert performances which required a more fleshed out instrumental sound. Up to this point the multitalented Stephen Stills had been playing whatever instrument was called for, however this would not have worked while on tour.

Their first choice was Steve Winwood, who declined due to his own newly formed band. Atlantic record head Ahmet Ertegun suggested Neil Young. While they appreciated Neil's talents, there was initial resistance to his addition from Stills and Nash. Stephen Stills time with the Buffalo Springfield hadn't been to his liking, and Neil also was a member, so they had history that needed airing. Nash just didn't like being forced to accept someone who was unknown to him. A few meetings with Neil, some honest negotiation and a clear view of who they were and where they wanted to go dissolved the resistance and Neil along with Greg Reeves on bass joined what then became Crosby, Stills Nash & Young.

The newly restructured group went on tour with their first concert being held at The Auditorium Theater in Chicago. Joni Mitchell was their opening act. Their second appearance was also in August at Max Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, NY. I have to wonder what that felt like. While I was watching the documentary "Woodstock, Now and Then" during an interview Graham Nash stated that "all eyes were watching them because no one knew if they had what it took". The must have had that undefinable "IT" that creates a major star in the music business as they are considered to be a "super group". Oddly, they were predominantly an acoustic group. One tends to associate the phrase "super group" with the loud electric instrumentals of a group like The Who.

Their success added to the volatile nature of their partnership and after their 1971 tour the group broke up and went their separate ways. Whether together or solo, their work carried them all into the top positions on the music charts at the time. They tried again as a group more than one time, but their egos, constant bickering, very strange behavior on the part of Stephen Stills and the stress of David Crosby's two fighting girlfriends took it's toll on their personal relationships. None of this ever interfered with the quality of the music. They might not have been able to stand each other except for short periods of time, but once on stage and performing, they were pure magic.