Greetings From Laurel Canyon!
Mercury is out of retrograde and a new cleaner “energy” is blowing into Hollywood for what looks to be a very busy month of March.
It’s pleasant here in Laurel Canyon and nice to be home. I woke up next to a warm, snoring young Jonah Sidel. Five years old is fucking cute. Tomorrow is the first day of little league.
I’m so glad to be home for change. My four days of frigid NYC weather seems to have effected Susan. It’s her turn for another round of the wicked sniffles. Sorry to state the obvious, but whatever happened to having just a normal cold? These days a cough or dry throat always turns into a Homeric journey.
Music legends Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana are teaming up for a summer tour that is sure to rock your socks off.
Well, it may be too hot to wear socks in the summer, but this is a tour that any rock fan wouldn’t want to miss. Rod Stewart, a man who began his career nearly five decades ago and still has it going on, as evidenced by his 2013 release, Time, and multi-Grammy winner, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, are sharing the stage for a tour titled “The Voice. The Guitar. The Songs.”
Two of music’s greatest icons. One stage. Eighteen cities. It will definitely be a night to remember. Though tickets don’t go on sale until this Friday, March 7, we have your hook-up to scoring tickets to a show in the city and venue of your choice.
Twenty long years ago, when humans still walked on all fours and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was President, Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus was the undisputed Grand Poobah of Indie Rock. Pavement had just released its slacker masterpiece, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, with its great anthems “Gold Soundz,” “Range Life,” and “Cut Your Hair,” all of which demonstrated Malkmus’ uncanny ability to write bewitching songs complete with sly word play that sounded, well, tossed off. Like in a half hour, tops. While stoned. And riding his skateboard.
But two decades is a long time, and Pavement long ago sulked its acrimonious way out of existence, with Malkmus in the tour bus with a coat over his head, refusing to speak to his band mates while calling himself “the little bitch.” This would have been when—1999? By which time Pavement had been together 10 years. According to the calculations of some creationists, this made them even older than Earth. Me, I believe Malkmus was just burned out. He needed a new start, a shift in musical direction, and some fresh faces around the 4-foot tour bus bong. Like the song goes, flux = rad.
For a so-called slacker, Malkmus sure didn’t waste any time, putting together The Jicks by 2000. Since then the Jicks—they’re Malkmus on guitar and vocals, Mike Clark on keyboards and guitar, Joanna Bolme on bass, and Jake Morris on the skins—have released six very fine LPs, although I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say their recorded work hasn’t quite measured up to Pavement at its finest. What once sounded effortless now sounds labored, although to Malkmus’ credit the labor seems like one of love.
“I turn 29 in a week, I’m five years older than the rest of the guys in the band and I’m guessing that I’m the only one who still remembers vinyl as a main musical format before CDs were introduced… only just, mind you.”
“Having said that, I don’t exactly have the those warm fuzzy memories that people talk about (usually in the lead up to Record Store Day) of being a young kid digging through their parents’ record collection and the excitement of hearing the crackle when the needle hits the vinyl. If I’m being honest, my first experience with vinyl was a yellow 7″ of ‘The March of the Bunnykins’ by the Royal Doulton band and the Thunderbirds theme tune on flexi-disc cut off the back of a Frosties cereal box.
Music wasn’t such a big deal in my house when I was younger—my old man definitely got me into Pink Floyd, but that wasn’t until he bought his first CD player and his first order was Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here—2 records that definitely drove me to pick up a guitar in the first place. The only vinyl record I remember playing a lot of was Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which would have been played so often that I probably wore the grooves out.
Sporting a thin frame, six fingers on his left hand and a personality the size of the Sears Tower, Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor was simply incomparable. While some continue to deem him as an aberrant madman swaddled in amplifier gristle and reeking of discount hooch, he was truly one of the greats of the blues. Any well-considered list of the genre’s indispensable LPs will include the loose, crazed, and eternally blistering 1971 monster he cut with the Houserockers.
Essentially a neighborhood band that transcendeth all geography, the Windy City weekend booze-joint mania of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers eventually became celebrated all over the world. Their incendiary self-titled ’71 debut long-player also provided the Alligator label with its inaugural release; it stands as one of the greatest first albums ever recorded in any genre in large part because the trio’s sound was already fully-formed and confident.
In fact, Alligator Records came into being specifically to issue this rough diamond. The scoop is that Bruce Iglauer, then a shipping clerk for one of the USA’s most laudable (and still extant) indies Delmark Records, had been trying to get his boss Bob Koester to sign Taylor. When the situation appeared hopeless, Alligator was born.
In retrospect this might seem shortsighted on Koester’s part, but please cut the man a little slack. The Houserockers’ offerings were considerably more aggressive and gnarled than was the material that served as Delmark’s bread and butter at the time (Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, etc); they didn’t even have a bass player for crying out loud.
I’ve always been lucky when it comes to cops. Three times my friends and I got nabbed red-handed smoking pot; all three times the cops gave us a pass. Now my cousin T., on the other hand, is an arrest magnet. My favorite T. story involves the time he was pillaging the trunk of a car abandoned along the highway when he saw a state police car approaching. T. did what any rational idiot would have done—he climbed into the trunk and locked it behind him. Realizing he could die in there, he was reduced to plaintively calling for the state trooper to set him free. I hail from feckless stock.
But if I’ve been lucky with cops, I’ve never been lucky with The Police, the London trio whose long string of new wave, reggae-inflected (or should that be infected?) hits were the bane of my existence from 1978 to 1983. My suffering began with “Roxanne” and became exquisite as “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and “Spirits in the Material World” conquered the airwaves. Those were dark times indeed, my friends.
I will be the first to admit that my hostility towards The Police is for the most part directed against vocalist-bassist Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, aka Sting. I can’t abide his singing, and find him find arrogant, humorless, pretentious, and not half as smart or “spiritual” as he thinks. How spiritual is this? “I come from a family of losers, and I’ve rejected my family as something I don’t want to be like.” Why, the unmitigated gall! I’m a loser in a long line of losers, and I’m proud of the fact. It’s the winners in this world you should fear. They’re the ones who start the wars, run the corrupt corporations, and hand out the death sentences. As for us losers, we lock ourselves in car trunks.
Riding high as “Band to Watch in 2014″ as designated by the San Diego Reader, the trio from the aforementioned locale, Brothers Weiss deliver a kick in the ass with their new track “Conversations” which we’re delighted to debut today. Some say My Morning Jacket, while we say Led Zeppelin are solid touchstones. And indeed they happen to be big fans of our fetish item of choice…
“The first vinyl record I ever listened to was my dad’s 1967 copy of John Mayall’s The Blues Alone.“
“He gave it to me as a gift when I was nearing graduation from high school. It was one of the last albums to survive from his record collection from his young days, and I still love listening to it. The fact that Mayall played and recorded every instrument and vocal part besides the drums is amazing.
I love the high register, haunting nature of his voice along with the reverb-drenched blues backing it. There was just something special with the way this album resonated through these tiny speakers hooked up to my dad’s turntable. Before I knew it, I had bought my own and was digging through every $1 bin at the local swap meet every Saturday afternoon to find the next album I needed for my collection.”
“Like many people of my generation, my introduction to vinyl was through my parents’ dusty record collection. They had what seemed like hundreds of LPs in boxes, on shelves, and in various piles throughout the house where I grew up.”
“Even as a five-year old, I was allowed to use the record player myself and was free to pick out and play whatever I liked. Records in our house were not forbidden “adults only” objects; they were meant to be played with and thoroughly used.
Both of my parents came of age in New York City during the folk revival of the 1960s, and their record collection very much reflected that era. Their shelves were full of albums by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, and of course Dylan. My mother also had a vast collection of bluegrass and country records: Flatt and Scruggs, Doc Watson, and a little Johnny Cash. These cornerstones of American folk and country music were the first musicians I ever remember hearing.
As a young child, it was very easy to get interested in these records. We had things like Peter, Paul and Mary singing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and Woody Guthrie’s album of children’s music, Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child. As I listened to these records, I began to understand that in addition to the kid’s stuff, these same voices also sang songs of a completely different nature. Something I recognized as strange and even a little bit scary. Words like “blood” and “chains” occasionally crept through the music. My parents would often attempt to explain the deeper, sometimes concealed meanings in certain songs.