Archive for the ‘Ralph Ellison’ Category

vonlastintSOUNDTRACKSURFER BLOOD-“Demon Dance” (Live at SXSW, March 27, 2013).

surfer blood

I’ve liked Surfer Blood since I first heard them.  They write catchy, mostly short, poppy songs.  And usually after a few listens, the hooks really grab you.  The strange thing about the band is that the hooks aren’t always readily apparent, which makes their songs sound kind of samey sometimes.

Of course, samey isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.  Surfer Blood is quite distinctive and I tend to enjoy everything they do.  This new song sounds like their other stuff, which is fine.  But the most distinctive thing about the band of probably their singer who sounds like a less-affected Morrissey.

Having also listened to the song from the album I can say that the singer is far harder to understand live, so maybe live is not the best way to hear a new song from them, but for an old favorite, Surfer Blood has a great energy live.

Watch the show here and hear the studio version here.

[READ: March 27, 2013] The Last Interview and Other Conversations

Melville House has published a number of these “Last Interview” books, and as a completist I feel compelled to read them.  I have read criticisms of the series primarily because what the books are are collections of interviews including the last interview that the writer gave.  They don’t have anything new or proprietary.  The last interview just happens to be the last one he gave.   So it seems a little disingenuous, but is not technically wrong.

There’s so far five books in the series, and I figured I’d read at least three (Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace and Roberto Bolaño–the other two turned out to be Jorge Luis Borges–who I would be interested in reading about and Jacques Derrida (!) who I have always loved–I guess this series was tailor made for me).

At any rate, these interviews are from various times and locations in Vonnegut’s career.  There are six in total.  I don’t know if the titles they give here were the titles in the original publications but here’s what’s inside:

  • “Kurt Vonnegut: The Art of Fiction” from The Paris Review, Spring 1977 (by David Hayman, David Michaelis, George Plimpton, Richard Rhodes)
  • “There Must be More to Love Than Death” from The Nation, August 1980 (by Robert K. Musil)
  • “The Joe & Kurt Show” from Playboy, May 1982 (by Joseph Heller and Carole Mallory)
  • “The Melancholia of Everything Completed” from Stop Smiling, August 2006 (by J.C. Gabel)
  • “God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut” from U.S. Airways Magazine (!!!), June 2007 (by J. Rentilly)
  • “The Last Interview” from In These Times May 9, 2007 (by Heather Augustyn) (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KISS-KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 DVD (2006).

I have just received a used copy of this DVD set and I’m delighted with it.  It made me wonder why I never got it in the first place.  And a little investigation led me to this realization: Kiss released this (and two other) box sets with a different bonus disc depending on which location you bought it from.  So, if you wanted all three bonus discs you had to get three complete sets.  I knew that Gene Simmons was a money grubbing guy, I mean he admits it in every interview he does.  But I can’t get over that he tries to screw over his fans so much.  I mean, only die hard fans will care about the bonus discs, so the most die hard will track down all three sets to get these various shows.  Thanks for all your support, Kiss Army!  What a jerk.

So, obviously, I’m not tracking down all the bonus discs, although it’s somewhat hard to decide which bonus disc to get.  (Actually, I ordered Volume 2 used and I don’t think there was a bonus disc at all.  Whoops).

But on to the set.  I have only watched disc 1 so far.  But I have to say that I’m thrilled to see Kiss in full concert mode right from the start.  Gene always said that he wanted to put on an amazing show.  And they did, right from the start.  Full makeup (which is certainly silly, but it was very different back then).  Pyrotechnics, Gene spitting blood and breathing fire, even Peter’s drum set rising in the air.  They also had this fun synchronization on stage: all three of them rocking left right left (or sometimes Ace going right left right) they must have spent a lot of time practicing).  That’s quite a show 30 years ago.

Some funny things: The story is that Gene has a super long tongue.  I had no idea it was out of his mouth so much in the show.  When he sings a line, he flicks his tongue after every verse.  When he’s not singing it’s pretty much always flapping around.  Frankly, it’s pretty weird.  Paul shakes his head back and forth constantly while singing.  It’s like a hyperactive primping.

On the plus side: I had more or less forgotten that Kiss was actually a band.  They are such a commodity, that I tend to overlook the actual music-playing part these days.  So it’s cool to see them actually playing guitar and bass (and to hear Gene screw up from time to time).  There’s a great spot in the final show of disc 1 where Gene actually sings the wrong words to a song.  Its the third encore and he clearly thinks he’s playing “Rock and Roll All Nite” instead of “Let Me Go, Rock n Roll.”  I’m delighted that they left it in!  And it’s nice to see Peter and Ace actually having fun on stage.  Ace sits on the drum riser and Peter pokes him with a drumstick.  Like a bunch of kids rather than a corporation!

It was also great to see Kiss in their heyday in Michigan, being treated as rock gods.  As a super fan back at the time, I would have probably peed my pants at the opportunity to see them that close (of course I was 8, but you know).

Sarah commented, how many time are they going to play “Firehouse” a song she’d never heard before. (The answer is 6).

A couple minor quibbles: I can’t believe that Paul has been saying the exact same between-song banter for the past 30 years!  I’m also surprised during the early shows that they end a vocal line early (this is most obvious in “She” when they both sing the line “She’s so co-old” but they sing it like “She’s so co–” and they back off.  It’s just weird.  Oh, and when they first started playing, Peter was a maniac, singing really loud and often off key with all kinds of screaming.  He almost ruins “”Black Diamond” in the early shows.  Later on, he calms down a bit and sounds great again.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the discs in the series, to see what they change, if anything, during the Love Gun years.

[READ: January 18, 2009] “Peckerwood”

I actually read this because I thought it was by Harlan Ellison.  I didn’t realize this was Invisible Man Ralph Ellison.

And I have to say I was rather disappointed in this story.  Of course, now, re-reading the opening blurb, I see that this is an excerpt from a soon to be published posthumous novel.  So that makes a LOT more sense. (more…)

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