Tuesday, December 22, 2009
MERRY CHRISTMAS! It's been a while since my last post for a variety of reasons. First off, I finally succumbed to a bit of Big Star fatigue. After two and a half years focusing on one band and three albums, I just kind of got worn out a bit. I've been listening to two types of music that are anything but power pop. The first is a CD called The Legendary Cantors. It's a compilation of renowned Jewish cantors from the early to mid part of the last century. I got hip to them reading an interview with Ornette Coleman and it fell right in with an increasing interest in the Old Testament (there's far more of an emphasis on the New Testament in your typical mainline Protestant church such as the one I attend) and my wife's family's Jewish roots. The music has something so timeless, universal, soulful and even eerie about it - like listening to an old Charley Patton record. The Jews Blues. And then get this. Despite making a snide comment about them in the promo copy for the book ("Released at a time when ELP and Elton John were plodding from one packed stadium to the next"), I;'ve been listening to ELP (along with early Moody Blues, Yes, and King Crimson) for the first time ever (other than what you'd hear in your college dorm or in passing on the radio). So it's been Tarkus and Lark's Tongue In Aspic around here! Can't say that it will be a permanent habit but it's good to walk outside your little listening box (actually mine is pretty darn big) and visit some other places for a while. So I get in the car and crank up Knife Edge. Sort of clears the mind and ears a bit...
Monday, December 7, 2009
Just got invited to join this fan new page on Facebook. There's a link posted to an interview Alex did with The Idler in England in 1996. If you haven't read it, it's definitely worth checking out.
If you're on Facebook, you should check out http://www.facebook.com/brokedoc?v=info&ref=nf. Broke is a documentary about the rapidly changing music industry and explores the question of just how an artist can break out today. A good friend has been working on it (T-Bone Burnett is involved) from inception and from all reports it sounds like it's going to be a really top-notch effort.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Here's a rarity for you...a photo of the first "new wave" band in Buffalo, The Blue Reimondos. On the right is Pete LaBonne. He had a lead role in the book as you might remember. I'm in the middle and our bass player John B. King is on the left. And no, blue Lacoste shirts and khakis were not our uniform although that's approximately what we always wore and never changed into rock and roll /punk attire for performances. In the background you can see the every expanding audience of empty Stroh's bottles that we performed for several nights a week in Pete's basement. We were diligent about practicing but couldn't get many gigs because we had graduated from covers to nearly all original (Pete's material). This was '75-'77. By the time new wave / punk started to get accepted we were done - only to get back together (with the wonderful Deb Parker on bass) in '79 and back up Alex for that one monumental gig.
Just received the January issue of Down Beat magazine and there's a full page review of the Big Star box set - notable right off the bat because it's a jazz magazine that only occasionally touches on rock when it's deemed to be of ultra-importance or interest. The review is interesting because while the reader is obviously knowledgeable, he's not pre-determined to slobber over the project without reservations. He makes several points that I think are well considered: the three official studio albums should have lead off each respective disc and then followed with the outtakes and rarities at the end of each disc. Also, the sequencing of Third is random and distracting (he opts for the 1978 PVC sequence which I agree is by far the best). None of this is earthshaking but the review reminds me that critics tend to be predisposed to what they're writing about and skew it all accordingly. There is indeed such a thing as constructive criticism (the box set gets 4 out of 5 stars). The Chris Bell reissue gets 3 stars and includes this interesting line "melodically, his posthumous 1992 solo album always delivers...but Bell's singing and lyrics often go down easier with Chilton as his creative foil."
Friday, December 4, 2009
Sorry for being AWOL for a bit. Was under the weather for a while and then had the Thanksgiving rush with house guests. As a result (and for some other reasons), I skipped the Box Tops show at the local casino last Friday. The reports were that the band played a fairly long time for a casino gig (can't gamble if you're rocking out) and Alex was in fine voice. He later went with some local fans and friends (John Lombardo - co-founder of 10,000 Maniacs) to a local music tavern and played some more tunes for the faithful. That's about what I know.
If you haven't read the above linked article about Alex's career from '75-81, you've got to check it out. Great interviews and commentary from people like Jim Dickinson, Jim Duckworth and Richard Rosebrough. Reallyy well done.
Have been listening to Fleetwood Mac's Future Games and Bare Trees recently. You don't hear or read about that Mac phase much but those albums have some really great material. Love the sound and the vibe...
More soon. I promise.