Archive for the ‘Peter Gabriel’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Cabana Room, Spadina Hotel, Toronto, ON (December 23 1983).

This is “Rheostatics and Trans Canada Soul Patrol 1983 at The Cabana Room – Spadina Hotel Christmas Party show. Amazing sounding recording considering it is from 1983.”

As far as I can see it is the only recording of the band with the Trans-Canada Soul Patrol.  And that basically means that it’s a lot of these early songs only with saxophone–lots of saxophone (it seems like only one member sof The TCSP is there).  According to a cassette recorded in 1984, the band was:

  • Drums – Dave Clark
  • Guitar – Dave Bidini
  • Tenor Saxophone – Charlie Huntley, Dave Rodenburg
  • Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ray Podhornik
  • Voice, Bass – Tim Vesely

So it seems likely that it was a similar e lineup in Dec 1983.  I only hear guitar bass and drums, but I can only hear one sax.  And does that mean that Tim was the main singer back then?

This show is loose, dare I say sloppy.  There’s a total drunken party vibe going on, as befits a Christmas Party.  But the most notable thing is that sax–soloing all over the place.  Dave Clark gets a lot of shout outs during the set–trying to get him to do a solo or “lay the groove.”  Before “Thank You” (the Sly and the Family Stone song), Dave tunes his guitar with harmonics and someone “sings” Rush’s “Xanadu” briefly.  The band puts a massive echo on the first chorus–it’s pretty obnoxious.  And in the middle of the song Dace Clark starts chanting songs: “Fly Robin Fly,” “You Should Be Dancin'” and “Convoy.”

During “Chemical World” someone asks “What do you think Ronald, am I better off dead?” and then there’s a shout out: “show us your teeth, Paul.”  (None of these guys are in the band, right?).  Someone jokes that Clark is still playing drums even though his mom said that playing drums is not a career.

It’s unclear what’s happening or how serious the band is but they tell people “watch out, guys, you broke a fuckin’ beer bottle, okay.”  They introduce “The Midnight Hour” by saying it’s a song written by Wilson Pickett called, “Go Fuckin’ Nuts, no I don’t know what it’s called.”

This is the only recording I know of with “Big in Business,” which they describe as “something marketable.”  And after two shows where “Man of Action” gets cut off, we finally get to hear it to the end.

By the time they do “Louie Louie” the whole thing is a drunken mess.  There’s shouts of Merry Christmas, comments about it being the last  time they’ll play in 1983, calling people up on stage.  It sounds like Clark is looking for his girlfriend.  “Louie” is a massive party jam with all kinds of people singing along, including a woman with a very high singing voice, and someone going “shock” like Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” after each “Louie Louie” line.

The set seems to be over but then some one encourages them to sing “Shake Yer Body Thang,” which they do with lots of screaming and shouting and letting it all hang out.

It’s nice seeing a relatively young band acting so cool and comfortable and fun on stage, even if I’m really glad they got rid of the horns (and their whole sound).

[READ: August 28, 2016] In Short

Manguso’s book review of four books of aphorisms is fun because she (an aphoristic writer herself) breaks it down into 36 paragraph-sized chunks.  Including that “Hippocrates coined the word aphorism to describe his brief medical teachings.”

A few interesting things: She says that she doesn’t so much read prose as “root through it for sentences in need of rescue.”

John Gross, in his introduction to the Oxford Book of Aphorisms, says the word aphorism took on a moral sand philosophical tone after the Renaissance.  By the 17th century the definition included witticisms.

James Geary wrote The World in a Phrase: A History of Aphorisms and offered a five part definition of aphorisms: it must be brief, it must be personal, it must be philosophical and it must have twist.  But the best thing that Geary has said is: (more…)

Read Full Post »

shadowSOUNDTRACK: ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE-Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989).

The band with an amazing pedigree created a band with a preposterous name and an equally preposterous album title.  But who cares, right?  After the pop frenzy of Big Generator, why shouldn’t the “real” members from Yes (excepting Squire) form a band?  They even brought Bruford back (he has said that he didn’t realize all three other guys were part of it, he thought it was a solo recording).  Perhaps the most insulted person should be Tony Levin.  Not only did I not know he played bass on the album (Bruford brought him over from King crimson), but I can’t even hear him on it!  I have listened to this record a couple times recently and I can’t hear any bass at all.  It’s like the anti-Chris Squire album!

I remember when this came out I was pretty excited.  I remember drawing the album cover (look, kids, Roger Dean is back!), and I remember joking about the preposterous “Teakbois.”  But when I listened to it again (first time in probably twenty years), I didn’t recognize a lot, and I liked even less.

abwhThe album opens with “Themes,” a six-minute, three-part mini epic which should hearken back to Yes of old.  There’s an interesting slow circular keyboard piece and a pretty piano melody and then it gets funky, sort of.  About 4 minutes in, it changes to a new thing altogether but again the sounds are so…bleah,  the guitars sound pretty good (some great guitar work from Howe) while those keys just sound….  You know I said that Wakeman would never play the sounds on 90125 & Big Generator, but he went even blander on this song.

Track two is only 3 minutes long.  It’s dramatic and angry with some good keyboard sounds.  It’s probably the best thing on the album.

“Brother of Mine” is another three-part mini epic that runs over 10 minutes.  The guitar chords and style remind me of mid 80s Rush. There’s lots of interesting elements and the main verse reminds me of maybe early Genesis or Marillion.  Although the solo and other sections seem…obvious instead of groundbreaking.  The middle part is pretty good, with a very classic Yes feel.  But the final section sounds exactly likes something from a Disney movie, perhaps The Little Mermaid (which came out the same year).

“Birthright” starts off ominous with some interesting percussion.  Although all the percussion on this album is rather disappointingly electronic.  Not that’s there’s anything inherently wrong with electronic drums, it just seems wasted on someone as amazing as Bruford.  It feels vaguely like a Peter Gabriel song.  It’s pretty good but it gets a little melodramatic by the end.

“The Meeting” is a treacly ballad.  It sounds nice but is nothing special.  “Quartet” is the third mini epic.  This one is nine minutes and four parts.  The first part is folky and reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel.  Part 2 references tons of old Yes songs in the lyrics (which seemed to make reviewers of the album giddy) but which really just shows how weak this song is compared to those other songs.

elp“Teakbois” has got to be the biggest WTF recorded.  I’m all for bands embracing other cultures and it’s awesome that after Paul Simon released Graceland other bands added multicultural elements to their sound, but this 7 minute monstrosity sounds like AWBH went to the Caribbean and joined a tourist band.  I don’t know if they released many band photos for this album, but this songs makes it seem like this could have been their cover.  There is a chorus near the end of the song in which they sing “cool running” and I was relieved to find out that the film with that name came out four years after this song.

“The Order of the Universe” is another 9 minute, four-part epic.  Just thinking of this song makes me think of the closing credits for The Lion King (which came out five years after this at least) or something.  There are some interesting parts to it.  But the “Rock Gives Courage” section is dreadful and Anderson sounds like he’s singing a pop metal band

“Let’s Pretend” closes this album.  It’s only 3 minutes long and is co-written by Vangelis.  It’s a fine song, completely inoffensive.

So what is up with this disc?  Am I imposing a 21st century attitude on it?  Am I missing that it was actually really influential (on Disney songwriters anyhow) and that it’s not their fault that other people have poisoned the sound for me?  I understand that musicians change and grow, but with these four names, you’d expect something a lot bigger and better than this.

Maybe when I listen to it in another 20 years I’ll actually like it again.

[READ: May 10, 2015] The Shadow Hero

I really enjoy the stories that Gene Luen Yang creates.   And this one (which I later found out is actually meant to be an origin story of an already extant character) was really interesting.

The story begins in China.  In 1911 the Ch’ing Dynasty collapsed and soon after the Spirits who were born with China and watched over her had to decide what to do.  The Dragon, the Phoenix, the Tiger and the Tortoise came to a council.  Later, the tortoise left the country with a man who was too drunk to know why he was even on the ship he was sailing on.

Then we see that the story is told by a first person narrator when he says that his mother came to America a few years later.  She had high hopes of the prosperity and beauty of the country, but her hopes were dashed by the realization of the ghettos and slums of Chinatown.

His father (the drunk from above) owned a grocery store and Hank (the narrator) helped out.  His mother, the stronger-willed of the two was a driver for a rich woman and took no crap from anyone. (more…)

Read Full Post »

oct13SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Rhinoplasty (1998).

Rhinoplasty_primusThis is a kind of follow-up EP to Miscellaneous Debris–a covers and live song compilation EP that runs 48 minutes.

While there are some of the same artists covered, there are also a few surprises.

XTC-“Scissor Man.”  I didn’t know the original of this song, but I like the cool bass and the chorus’ da da da da nyow”  They tack on about a minute and a half of extra nonsense at the end, but it’s a still a fun cover.  The original is quite similar (Primus should be commended for getting more people into XTC, although it’s a small shame that this song is on the same album a “Making Plans for Nigel”).  See the original:

Peter Gabriel-“The Family and the Fishing Net” is next and fortunately this song is off a different Peter Gabriel album (although it is also called Peter Gabriel)  The original of this song is 7 minutes long (Primus lops off 30 seconds).  The Primus version is quite faithful (which shows just how odd the PG version is).  You can compare here:

The first surprise (sort of) is their cover of Stanley Clarke’s “Silly Putty.” It’s obvious that Claypool is a huge fan of Stanley Clarke, it’s just an unusual sound to hear from Primus.  There’s some turntable scratching by Disk from the Invisibl Skratch Piklz.  The song is quite faithful to the original spirit (although the original had horns).

The next surprise is “Amos Moses” as done by Jerry Reed, a honky-stomping song if ever there was.  And their version is honky-stompin and pretty much right on to the original–a huge surprise to me.

The Police-“Behind My Camel” is an unusual choice –a Police song with no words?  It’s one of their weirder songs too, and Primus does it perfectly. (If not a bit heavier with more popping bass).

“Too Many Puppies” is the first song the Les ever wrote.  I believe that this is how it was originally written, although it is listed as a remix.  It sounds quite different–watery bass instead of popping bass and no I don’t like it as much.

Metallica-“The Thing That Should Not Be” is quite faithful to the original, even down to Les’ growly singing.  He says in the Primus book that he wished he had sung it more like himself and I kind of do too–I’d have liked to hear a bit more “Primus” in the version as well.  But it’s fun to hear them do other people’s songs reverentially.

There are two live bonus tracks.

“Tommy the Cat” is a fun wild live version–it has changed somewhat over the years–a little faster and Les’ singing is rather different.  This version is 9 minutes long.  The first part is the song proper (I love that Ler plays the same wild guitar sounds perfectly and Brain is perfect with the drums).  But this song also features a bass solo at around 3:31 (which is primarily Claypool playing the song “The Awakening” from his Holy Mackerel album (it’s a cover from the Reddings) and a drum solo at 5:30 (which is okay, nothing special).  By 7:30 the song more or less resumes till the end.

It blends right into a live version of “Bob’s Party Time Lounge” (from The Brown Album).  It’s one of my favorite recent songs from them  and the live version is quite good.

As with Debris, this is a really enjoyable stopgap–one that shows how normal the band can sound, but which also lets you see just what formed Primus.

[READ: January 12, 2015] “Amazing Proposal Stories”

In this one page story, Simon Rich gives us three “amazing” proposal stories.

The first one comes from Alice.

On Valentine’s Day her boyfriend did something really special, which involves a ship, the US Embassy and, uh, hostages.

The second one comes from Kayla. (more…)

Read Full Post »

824SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Miscellaneous Debris (1992).

debrsiAfter the success of Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Primus created this five song EP of covers.  Les had just gotten a new Carl Thompson “rainbow bass” and he used the EP as a way to try it out.

This EP is, interestingly, their most listener friendly release thus far.  In part because they are playing more conventional songs (even if in an unconventional way).  Although they are not the most obvious covers:

Peter Gabriel-“Intruder.”  This is an earlier Peter Gabriel song (when he was still kind of weird).  The Primus version is suitably spooky and weird, but it is a great version.  It sounds a lot like the original, which is creepier than you might expect from Gabriel–but he was a weirdo before he became an adult contempo sweetheart.

XTC-“Making Plans for Nigel”  One of XTC’s more popular songs, this version is faster than the original, but right on and quite fun.

The Residents-“Sinister Exaggerator”  The Residents are quite weird (and may be the one band that is closest in spirit to Primus). This version is indeed pretty close to the original (although you can hear the lyrics better on the original!).

The Meters-“Tippi Toes”  The Meters area n old school funk band.  This is a song with no lyrics.  The Primus version sounds more full than the original (which incorporates Tiptoe Thru the Tulips”)  but it is quite faithful otherwise.

Pink Floyd-“Have a Cigar”  This is clearly the most popular original on the disc.  But Primus do a great job with it (Les is under the impression that Roger Waters didn’t like their version–but what do you expect?). They have a lot of fun with this song–keeping it close to the original (except for Ler’s guitar, mostly) and the twisted lyrics that say “who the hell’s this guy they call Bob Cock?”

So while this is a great introduction to Primus, it is not entirely representative of their sound. And yet, it sort of is as well.  Hence the title.

[READ: January 6, 2015] “One Saturday Morning”

Tessa Hadley continues to impress me with her beautiful stories in which really nothing happens.  It opens with a girl practicing her piano and ends with her and her brother looking at a bug.  And in between something almost happens, but not quite.

Set in the 1960s, Carrie is a ten-year old girl practicing her piano.  Her brother is outside playing cricket and her parents are out shopping for their party that evening.  Carrie hates practicing the piano–the music just doesn’t speak o her.  She also fears that her piano tutor is mad at her because of a childish letter she wrote and may have left at her tutor’s house.

While she is thinking about this, the doorbell rings.  She doesn’t recognize the man right away but she quickly realizes that it his her parents’ old friend Dom.  Dom is a big man, somewhat intimidating but affable. Carrie is intimidated by him though, especially since her parents aren’t around.  He hasn’t been around since he moved a way a few years ago.  But he says he is in town and wanted to visit friends.  She assures him that her parents will be home shortly and invites him in.  But rather than entertain him, she runs upstairs to hide. (more…)

Read Full Post »

yitaSOUNDTRACK: WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia) xpnand wxpn.org online-Prog rock Marathon (2012-??).

Every January, Dan Reed plays a prog rock marathon on WXPN.  This year I was able to enjoy portions of it.  I rather wish the playlist was still available (you can search, but only by artist), because I’d love to rave about the tracks they played (like the live “Supper’s Ready.”)

I was delighted by the great mix of songs they played and (as I learned from reading this book) I was surprised by how many prog artists I didn’t even know.

In 2014 I’ll be listening again and maybe this time I’ll copy the playlist to document what I’ve missed.

[READ: July 7, 2013] Yes is the Answer

This book was sitting on a cart outside of my cube.  I was intrigued by the title (it didn’t have that trippy cover, so I didn’t know what it was).  But “Yes is the Answer” was calling me.  Especially when I looked at the cover and saw that the cover had an excerpt from a William Vollmann story in which the protagonist plays In the Court of the Crimson King (track 5) for Reepah and watches her face as they band went Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!.

Quoting Vollmann (from The Rifles), playing King Crimson?  What could this book be?   Then I saw the subtitle and I knew I had to read it all.

I’m not going to review these essays because that would be like making a radio edit of a side long track, but I’ll mention the band the author focuses on and any other relevant details. (more…)

Read Full Post »

chelotti SOUNDTRACK: PETER GABRIEL-“The Book of Love” (2010).


This is a cover of the Magnetic Fields’ song (not the fifties song).  I have this strange relationship with the Magnetic Fields.  I love the songs that Stephin Merritt writes.  His melodies are simple but timeless.  And his lyrics are usually wonderful.  Like from this song:

The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

And then there’s Merritt’s voice.  It is deep.  Almost comically deep, especially when he sings slowly, it brings on a strange profundity to these words.  And it works pretty well.  Although sometimes I want the songs to be…more.  And that’s where the covers seem to come in.

Gabriel’s cover doesn’t change the song really at all.  But it has Gabriel’s voice, which soars and it has Gabriel’s sense of instrumentation, which also soars.  Perhaps it’s that Merritt’s songs deserve bigger and lusher treatments–they practically scream for Broadway.    And while Gabriel’s version is nowhere near Broadway over-the-topness, it fleshes things out nicely.

Of course, it may very well be that Merritt’s understatement (and oftentimes, just one instrument) provide a successful counterpoint to the spectacle that the song could be.  And maybe that’s why they are so successful.

But Gabriel’s version is really great, too.

[READ: April 20, 2013] X

One more book of poetry for April, this one by Dan Chelotti.  It is Chelotti’s debut, and Chelotti’s poetry is wild and weird and often quite funny.  It is also unapologetically modern.  As you can see from the first poem “Ball Lightning”

I am looking out over
one of the first real gray
days of autumn listening
to a podcast in which
these two men are talking about
the phenomenon of ball lightning.

Or, more sadly in “ Grieving in the Modern World” in which he compares the way people’s grief in the old days was so public, but now it seems so small and insignificant, oh and besides:

…the microwave is
almost finished heating
my dinner , and the newshour
is about to begin. (more…)

Read Full Post »

ricky1.2SOUNDTRACK“WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Alapalooza (1993).

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_AlapaloozaAlapalooza came out hot on the heels of Off the Deep End.  I was in college, the perfect time for a “Weird Al” rebirth.  And the fact that “Jurassic Park” and “Bedrock Anthem” had a great videos (and my college cafe played MTV), meant I got to see these videos quite a bit.  (So I was surprised to read recently that this album didn’t sell like gangbusters (it went gold whereas Off the Deep End went platinum)).

“Jurassic Park” is a crazy wonderful parody–a spoof on the crazy song “MacArthur Park,” a song that I like a lot because it is over the top and absurd, although truth be told, I like “Jurassic Park” better.

“Young Dumb and Ugly” is a heavy metal song this is certainly dumb.  This is one that parodies a style so well that it’s actually not a very fun song to listen to.  “Bedrock Anthem” is a Red Hot Chili Peppers mashup/parody with the intro from “Under the Bridge” melding into a rocking parody of “Give It Away.”  I’m not exactly sure that it works as a parody (the Yabba Dabba part is a wee bit forced) but the song rocks well and Al and co. do a great job with it.

I never much liked “Frank’s 2000″ TV.”  I’m surprised to read (Wikipedia) that it’s a style parody of early R.E.M.  I can kind of hear it but compared to some of his other style parodies, I don’t think it really works.  “Achy Breaky Song” is the most apt song, lyrically, ever: “Don’t play that song, that achy breaky song, the most annoying song I know.”  It’s surprisingly mean about the song it is parodying and it turns out the proceeds from the track were donated to United Cerebral Palsy, as both Cyrus and Yankovic felt that the song was “a little bit, well, mean-spirited.”  “Traffic Jam” is a synthy number that sounds like it’s from the 80s.

“Talk Soup” was commissioned as a new theme for the show Talk Soup.  Although the producers approved the lyrics and enjoyed the final result, they decided against using it.  Which I can understand as it would make a terrible TV theme song.  It sounds a bit like Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

“Livin’ in the Fridge” is a fun parody of Aerosmith and it really sounds like them.  This parody works both as a twist on the original and lyrically–it’s very funny.  “She Never Told Me She was a Mime” is a weird original.  It doesn’t sound like any other bands, and is kind of a classic rock type of song.  The lyrics are pretty funny, but not all that funny.  And there’s not all that much to enjoy musically.

“Harvey the Wonder Hamster” is an awesome anthem which at 21 seconds, can be enjoyed again and again and again.  It’s funny that I felt that “Talk Soup” sounded like Peter Gabriel because “Waffle King” is actually a style parody of Gabriel.  This is a weird song because the verses are good, but the chorus falls kind of flat.  But the final song is a wonderful twist on Al’s usual polka medley.  This is a polka version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  I read complaints that it sounds too much like the original (which it doesn’t) but it’s a testament to Al’s skill as a mimic that he can make his crazy polka version (which is much faster and with lots of his silliness thrown in) sounds so much like queen.  It’s certainly an Al highlight.

After this release, Al put out Al in the Box a 4 CD box set and then a series of greatest hits type albums–an actual Greatest Hits and then a collection of Food Songs and TV Songs.  I would never have bought the Food album except that I got to meet him after a show and I wanted something for him to autograph (which he did).  He was super duper nice and very cool.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Ricky Ricotta Books 7

Dav Pilkey planned to do nine books in this series (with Martin Ontiveros adding pictures).  According to Wikipedia, he had serious family emergencies for a while, which is why such a prolific author had literally no output for a number of years (from 2007-2010).  It also explains why book 7 is the last book that Pilkey has written in the series.  But the good news is that he’s back writing and that the eighth book is due out in December.

Of 2014.  Oh.

Well, in the meantime we have this book to enjoy.  Ricky and the Mighty Robot are learning what is fun and what is not fun (most of the things that Ricky likes to do are too small  for the robot to do and are consequently not fun for him).  Meanwhile, Uncle Unicorn lives on Uranus.  And he has turned it into a universe-wide dumping ground for toxic waste. I really liked seeing that all of the other bad guys from the series had a cameo dumping their stuff on Uranus.

But then Uncle Unicorn has had enough of the trash and he wants to leave.  He plans on going to Earth, but he knows that Mighty Robot is his major enemy.  So he sends Mighty Robot a gift–a Ladybot who immediately hypnotizes him and chains him up.  And now Ricky is alone. (more…)

Read Full Post »

ookSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“Polka Party!” (1986).

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_Polka_Party!Despite how much I loved Weird Al, I turned up my nose at this album when it came out.  I distinctly remember seeing it in the Ridgewood books and records store (records in the basement) where I bought my vinyl and dismissing the platter.  It’s a little unfair to have dismissed it based on the cover since Al was all about the accordion but I thought it was a serious polka album and I was too cool by half for that nonsense.  Interestingly, the album sold very very poorly, and I’m not sure if it was because of the cover.

As a result I don’t really know these songs all that well.  Those first three discs I listened to all the time but I didn’t get this one till much much later.  And it seems that four albums so quickly may have sapped some of Al;s creativity or at the very least eroded the good songs to parody (his more recent releases come every three years or so and they are really solid).

“Living with a Hernia” I like because the video is funny, although I did not care for the original.  “Dog Eat Dog” is a Talking Heads style parody and it’s really good–sounds a lot like the Talking Heads, although I’m not sure it’s all that funny (at least not any funnier than a Talking Heads song). Sometimes the original songs that Al parodies are so bad that I don’t want to like the parodies.  “Addicted to Spuds” is one of those songs.  The parody is very funny, but I hate the original so much that I can’t entirely enjoy this song.  “One of Those Days” is another of his earlier generic rockers (piano and simple structures that don’t lend itself to a lot of fun) and lyrically, it’s a little blah.  “Polka Party!” is what the album was named for and it’s another medley of tracks.  Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” sounds so different here, totally removed from it’s original music.  It’s amazing, though, how many of these original songs I didn’t know (what was going on in 1986?).  I do like the little sneak of INXS.  This song is also the first one where Al’s lyrics became racey because of the songs that were so popular (“Nasty,” “Venus”).

“Here’s Johnny” is  parody of  a song I don’t know at all although I can tell immediately that he sounds just like the original–he manipulated his voice perfectly.    “Don’t Wear Those Shoes” is another blah song.  Al tends to use really over the top violent imagery but it’s  unfortunate when it seems to be the only thing funny in a song like this one.  “Toothless People” is a parody of “Ruthless People” which I don’t even remember being a song.  I don’t even remember the movie being all that popular.  I couldn’t even tell who the original was by even though Al is putting on a good voice (it was Mick Jagger).  “Good Enough for Now” is a decent country song–pretty funny, and yet really not that far from country songs that you hear now (and maybe then, too–I’m not much of a country fan).

The lackluster side 2 is utterly redeemed by the fantastic and awesome “Christmas at Ground Zero” a stellar and hilarious song about nuclear panic it even includes a sample from Ronald Reagan (in the video).  Outstanding.

Overall this disc is pretty disappointing   Al took two years to make the next one and whatever he did on the break certainly worked because the next album was Even Worse!

[READ: January 22, 2013] The Adventures of Ook and Gluk Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future

This is a pretty surprising book.  It is drawn by George and Harold who made the hilarious Super Diaper Baby which was based on an incredibly childish premise.  But this book, even though the spelling is awful like when George and Harold make comics, is book is pretty smart and intense.  And very Zen.

So Ook and Gluk are cavemen.  They are in a tribe whose king is King Goppernopper (the fact that everyone gets his name wrong cracks me up, I love that kind of juvenile joke).  Goppernopper hates Ook and Gluk (the fact that he gets their names wrong and his minions help him to pronounce it is very funny as well).  Ook and Gluk rescue a dinosaur who is trapped in quicksand (and yes there is a scientists disclaimer that cavemen and dinosaurs did not live at the same time, but George and Harold offer a disclaimer that the scientist is dumb and their story tells the truth).  And the dinosaur and her baby (Lily) make the King look foolish.   The King promises revenge.

Which he gets in Chapter Two when a Goppernopper from the future comes back in a time machine to 500,001 B.C and steals natural resources from the cavemen (to sell at a huge profit in 2222 AD.  Future Goppernopper traps Ook and Gluk in the future and King Goppernopper promises to bring the rest of the cavemen to the future to work as slaves. (more…)

Read Full Post »

ny2209SOUNDTRACK: ELBOW-Leaders of the Free World (2005).

elbowSo this is where Peter Gabriel has been!

The opening track of this album starts quietly with a vocal doppelganger of Peter Gabriel crooning in his low voice.  In fact, throughout the album Peter Gabriel’s voice pops up.  It’s certainly not a case of trying to be Gabriel, as their music isn’t at all the same, it’s just that the voice is eerily similar sometimes.

This is my first exposure to Elbow, so I guess everyone has long known about this Peter Gabriel thing.  But I’m new to the party.  I’d read that this was their best disc, so I got this one first.

I’ve now listened to this record a half a dozen times and I’m still not exactly sure how to classify it.  And even though I like it, I don’t think I love it.

They remind me a bit of early Radiohead, and yet that’s not quite right.  And they remind me sort of of Coldplay, but that’s not right either.  They have similarities to Doves, but they’re not quite as mopey.  I guess they’re just a good rocking British band.  This album contains many heavy moments, but there are also some thoughtful, mellow sections. And lyrically it’s quite interesting, especially the title track.

I’m intrigued enough by it to want to check out other records by them, and although I said I didn’t love the record, by the sixth listen I was singing along with most of the tracks.  Weird.  But good weird.

[READ: March 4, 3009] “Al Roosten”

I had mixed reactions to George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation some time ago, but I started this story and it sounded promising.  And it was.

Al Roosten is a dumpy, middle aged man.  All of his life he has lived in the shadows of thinner, nicer, and, well, better boys and girls.  Now that he is an adult and an owner of an antiques shoppe called Bygone Daze, he has been invited as a Local Celebrity to take part in an anti drug “auction” (the winner has lunch with the “celebrity”).

Al goes on after Larry Donfrey (of Donfrey Realty).  Larry showed up to the auction in just a swimsuit.  His studly physique elicited quite the reaction.  Buy when Al struts on stage, the whoops and hollers are more start as mockery but soon morphs into pity.  And this sets off a story that takes place mostly in Al’s head.  He changes his mind about Larry several times in the story from admiring him to hating him to pitying him to being super pissed about him.

Al exacts a small bit of revenge backstage (and a very satisfying one, I admit).  But on the way home he questions himself and feels bad for what he has done.  After talking with his dead mother, he gathers his strength, and plans to do something about his failing business.  And yet once again, he questions his motives and behaviors.

This was a fun piece about the self-reflection that can lead to impotent behavior in one’s life.  It’s a great examination of blame, frustration and catharsis.  This tips the balance of Saunders’ work to the positive for me.

Read Full Post »