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Archive for the ‘The Eagles’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-This Ain’t Hollywood Hamilton ON (December 15 2017).

This is the final Rheostatics concert of 2017.  And it’s the most recent concert available of the Rheostatics Live site.  This entire show is fantastic.  The band is in perfect form.  While they have fun and goof around between songs, the songs themselves sound amazing.

There’s a lengthy, amusing introduction by “Failed Hamilton mayoral candidate Steve Bunn” who describes the band as created by “David Cronenberg who combined the genetic materials from Stompin’ Tom. Joni Mitchell, Martha and the Muffins and Gino Vanelli, giving rise to the founding fathers of the can-rock renaissance.”

As the opening notes of Stolen Care begin, Clark asks: “Can someone turn off the house music in the monitor.”
DB: “We hate Haircut 100.”
Martin: Almost as much as Spandau Ballet.
DB: “Although, our next album is going to have a little bit of house music all the way through it.”

“Stolen Car” is just beautiful.  The band sounds in great form.  martin is having fun, Hugh sounds terrific.  And there’s a long, glorious ending.  It’s followed by a soaring and lovely Soul Glue.”  The next song is one of the best versions of “AC/DC on My Stereo” I’ve heard.  The band seems into it and Tim’s bass makes it a but more interesting than usual.

They start a regional antipathy between the locals.  While in Hamilton, DB says, we’re more into Ancaster ultimately, but it’s nice to be here.  Dundas, that fucking blows. Dunville’s alright  Don Mills?  Burlington sucks shit kind of, though, am I wrong?  I mean it’s great.  Bronte though that’s really the pits.  Here’s another song to divide you further.

It’s a lovely version of “It” with pretty pizzicato from Hugh.  Clark and Martin have this ending that they want to do and the keep forgetting.  They want to just have a short high note.  So they do just the ending.  And then once more.

A delightful version of “The Headless One” follows.  Tim and Martin’s voices are wonderful together.

Audience: Double Dave
DB: I know its confusing, eh?  Considering that we are both excellent drummers we get confused a lot.
Clark: Dave actually is a smoking drummer
DB: Like Bun E Carlos.
Clark: Yes in that style.  I like to learn from him.  I’m always looking for a swinging drummer.

MT: Now we’re gonna do “Take It Easy” by the Eagles which is about…  I was driving down the road trying to loosen by load.  It’ about constipation.
Like the Local Rabbits the protagonist in that song clearly shit in a bag

Audience: Stop talking and play.
Martin: You guys just fucked it up, now we’re gonna talk for ten minutes.
DB: Didn’t you see, the ticket price includes patter: WARNING: may include patter.  Not even good patter.
MT: Music n’ patter.
Clark: Cheerful stage patter.

This leads to a pretty intro for “Michael Jackson.”  The middle section has a wild chanting nonsensical part where they sing “suck out the poison” over and over but the end has a great rocking jam with some pretty funky almost disco bass from Tim.

Thanks to our buddy Dale Morningstar for opening the show and and ripping it up.

A new song by Timothy Warren Vesely which features Dave Bidini on the bass its called “Rear View.”

They talk about their first show in Hamilton. No, before La Luna.  Before The Regal (with The Waltons) The Other Side was pretty weird–it had that freaky mural.  Tim: Where was that place they had to push the pool table aside?  DB: Every place.

Martin: Am I officially a Hamiltonian?  I’ve been here 8 years.  DC: Maybe you’re going to get beat up Toronto boy.  MT: “Toronto boy gets beat up in alley.”

This leads to a lovely “PIN.”

Dave Clark plays a clinking melody (like to one he described at a previous hows pluh duh duh duh ding” which is an introduction to “Northern Wish”  But the music is all wonky.  Thumping bass and drums.  They quickly start it properly and its a beautiful version with a fantastic ending of the whole crowd singing “Land Ho!”

DB: My mother in law is from the North End of Hamilton.  They came from Northernish Italy, the Veneto.  Any one here from the Veneto in Italy?  You never know in Hamilton you’re pretty much always two feet away from an Italian.  Much like Martin and I.  This is a song about people travelling. A pretty “Mountains & The Sea” follows.  The transition is a little rocky but they pull it of. There’s a delightful high-pitched solo from Hugh.

MT: We all went to the school of the entertainment arts in Forest Hill Toronto.  We were told how to project ourselves to the back of the room and to drink water–particularly bottled water.

Clark demonstrates the “proper way” to drink from a water bottle … his thumb is pointing up because I’m feeling great about life when I drink water.  I’m touching just the upper edges of the cap.  I do not want to touch the drinking part with my fingers.  I’ve been touching all kinds of things tonight.

MT: Your iPad is dirtier than the toilet in this joint.

Very fucking pro-Tim Vesely crowd tonight, what’s gong on?  “King of the Past” is fantastic with some great soloing by Hugh and amazing vocals from Tim and Martin.  The end features a little folk jam that’s quite a lot of fun, too.  It segues into a wonderful “Christopher.”

DB: Here’s a song you might have heard on the radio at some point in your radio lives.
Clark: If you listened all day for three weeks at one point in time you might have heard this once.
MT: All five of us have Toyota Echos and we head out on the highway.  This song is about how we head out on the highway in a sort of arrow formation Toyota Echo convoy.

“Claire” sounds lovely with a cool solo from “hometown boy, local legend, martin Tielli.”  They start chanting M-A-R-T-I-N instead of “C-l-a-i-r-e”

We’ll get to all your favorites hopefully before the night is done.  If not that’s why they invented recorded music.

Martin tunes his guitar and then runs through a quick “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
DB: And this ones called “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Tim: “I’m pretty sure it was that guy.”  DB: “Totally fucking guilty.”  But it’s really a soaring “California Dreamline.”  The wonderful weird noises Martin is making on his guitar are a perfect segue into a totally rocking “Horses.”

And then its time for the encore break.  Amazingly they play for an hour after the encore.

MT: “This is the fake walk off… I just have to change my shirt.”

Clark returned first and sings a capella “I’m Not Afraid,” then he gets behind the kit to do some drumming before “Legal Age LIfe.”

That’s Dylan Hudecki to my left.  Also with them is George Collins and Skye of the Gas Station Islanders.  They all join in on a fun and raucous “Legal Age Life.”

Martin’s in his uber on the QEW.  He’s got to get home to host his late night radio show.  It’s a quasi-religious program.  He plays only Hawaiian gamelan music and reads from the scriptures.

All these years, I had no idea that the 12 bar blues section was an actual song.  It was written by (Canadian) Jack Butwell in 1974 and then covered in 1983 by NRBQ. Although it isn’t played tonight.

Clark: can we do “Supercontroller?” This is a good audience for that.

DB: This is our most Quaalude song ever.
MT: [In total disbelief] Quaaludes?  This is a lots of coffee song.

This segues into the opening notes of “Dope Fiends” which leads to a couple of huge medleys.  “Dope Fiends” winds up being 16+ minutes long. The beautiful soaring end of “Dope Fiends” is shattered bu the roaring guitar of PROD.  Mid song–“Hey Tim, are you ready for your close-up?” (a zippy bass chord solo ensues).  Then there’s a section of Calling out the chords:  G then B flat just for a little bit now back to G then to G sharp.  DB to audience: “That feels right, do you guys like G sharp? It not G it’s not A it’s G sharp.”  Tim: “Now let’s go to A flat  A flat is a downer go back to G sharp.”  Then to D minor. Another bummer.  Lets go to E.  MT: Dave play this one solo … E minor, which Dave turns into “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Go back to G sharp and PROD  When it ends Martin plays the riff to Rush’s “What You’re Doing” and the band joins in.  He tacks on a bit of “Working Man” before it’s over.

DB starts asking for a beer and the audience asks for Wendell Clark.  We haven’t played that …  Only if you’ll sing it.

They start to play Part II.  MT: That’s the part I wrote!  The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part I and II begins and mid way through Part II, they go to G for a run through of “Bud the Spud.”  DB: shouts “Don’t film this–copyright violation.  Jesus Christ, Daron, have some respect.”   Bud continues: “He knows a sign that rises up in the sun that says Martin Tielli.  …because he’s got his own fucking touring truck that’s filled with potatoes.  Dave says: It was really weird they played a medley of other songs and we wondered when they were going to finish Bud the Spud and play their own songs.

DB: He’s got another big load which is a fucking lyric that outs you in a whole nother…
Tim: Yes, it’s very Eagles.
Clark: Comedy high of the night.

This leads to a discussion of masturbating in the car, which people do.  (MT: There’s people who do everything which the internet has told us.)  Dave tells a story of a hitchhiker from Saskatchewan to Calgary.  And the driver said do you mind if I masturbate while we talk and the friend said.  This leads to an impromptu song called I know “Jerking Off All The Way To Calgary.”  It’s rude and hilarious, with Martin’s line: “That’s a lot of uncomfortable time.”  The y finish off Wendell Clark.

MT: Dave, you’ve gone blue!

Clark: Are we gonna do another song or go home.  DB: I vote go home.
No! Lots of requests especially for “Record Body Count” and lots for “Aliens.”  Also: Superdifficult, Queer, (Clark: queer is a good one). The Jane Siberry song?  And a loud solitary one for “Do You Believe in Life After Love?”

You should all go out and buy Tom Wilson’s book Beautiful Scars.  It’s an amazing Hamilton story.  And there’s copies of the West End Phoenix for sale.

They end the night after all that silliness with a great, solid version of “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It all goes well until Martin gets messed up (laughing) just after the loud section starts (he misses the “morning time has come” high note).

[READ: October 2018] Polish Porno Graphics

So yes, this is a book of graphic sex stories.  I found it at work and thought it was a book of Polish artists depicting pencil drawings of nudes.  I kind of assumed the title was a poor translation because I didn’t imagine our library would have anything quite like this.  I also thought it would be a uniquely Polish look at art (I like looking at Polish books).

But nope, this is a series of largely wordless (although the words which are there are in English) sex comics.  Some are a little cartoony, but for the most part they are pretty realistic and very very explicit.  There’s lots of drawings of people copulating in various, mostly unexpected ways and places.  Don’t read any further if you’re easily offended. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG-Harvest (1971).

I like loud rocking songs and I dislike most country.  So really I shouldn’t like Neil Young’s Harvest (at least compared to his more rocking albums).

But Neil is Neil and while I would never say he can do no wrong (he definitely can), I give him the benefit of the doubt.  And on this album he delivers.  Plus, it’s really not a country album at all.

I think what I particularly like about Harvest is the looseness of it, which I see signified primarily by Neil’s harmonica which is never off, but which is never perfect either.  Plus, and I’m sure this has a lot to do with it–I’ve heard these songs a lot and they have really sunk in.

“Out on the Weekend” is the opening track and it was one of the songs I knew least well–which is odd certainly for an opening song.  There’s slide guitar and harmonica.  But it’s followed by “Harvest,” which is so simple and so notable–bass, a gentle acoustic guitar and basically a snare drum play that simple up and down melody as Neil sings “dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup with the promise of a man.”  It’s those steel guitar lines that seems to fade in from nowhere that really rather make the song.

“A Man Needs a Maid” is one of those weird songs that is so odd to me–the song is literally about him getting a maid (but much more): “keep my house clean fix my meals and go away.”  Neil sounds like he is singing from a mile away as he plays the melody on the piano.  And then after the first verse all kind of orchestration fills in–bells and strings and the song gets really really big.  By the time the song comes around again, the chorus is swallowed by the strings and bells.  It feels much longer than its 4 minutes.  I sort of hate it but kind of like its oddness at the same time.

And then comes the wonder that is “Heart of Gold,” another simple melody with soft bass notes and that harmonica.  Incredibly catchy and undeniably great.

Harvest is more of a folk album with slide guitar (and orchestration), but a song like “Ready for the Country” certainly leans toward country (or is it mocking country?).  It’s got a good beat and is kind of fun, with a lighthearted joshing about the country.

“Old Man” is a another slow classic.  When the harmony vocals come in later in the song it’s really wonderful.  I never knew that James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backing vocals on this song and that that’s Taylor on the banjo.  “There’s a World” is a ponderous song from the get go–almost as if it left off from “Maid,” with strings and kettle drums.  After a verse a harp swipes away the song and plays a delicate melody which is just as quickly wiped away as this song which seems so big comes to a rather quick ending–only 3 minutes in total.

“Alabama” introduces a fuzzy electric guitar with what seems like it should be a classic riff but which …isn’t.  It doesn’t quite resolve into anything and the chorus is almost satisfying–it starts really big with a chorus of “Alabama!” but it also doesn’t exactly resolve into anything.  I think I keep thinking it’s other songs, and yet it is distinctly its own.

“Needle and Damage Done” is just great.  A terrific riff and a poignant song simple and brief (2 minutes!) but really powerful.

“Words (Between the Lines of Age)” is nearly 7 minutes it’s the longest by far on the record.  It builds slowly with a big chorus.   There’s a great instrumental section with a nice piano melody.  The song ends with a very Neil Young guitar solo as well.  Pretty great stuff.

I’m not gushing about the album only because it is a classic and all classics have flaws.  But I could listen to this any day, even “Man Needs a Maid.”

[READ: July 1, 2016] Harvest

I have often thought I should read this series.  Of course, the last time I thought about it, there were 50-some books in the series and that seemed like way too many.  Well as of June 2017, there are 120 books in the series, which is an insane series to jump into.  But at work, four of the books came across my desk and if that’s not an invitation to read something, I don’t now what is.  So I’ve decided to read these four and we’ll see if that leads to more.

This story gives a lot of history of Neil himself and a lot of context of the albums surrounding this one.

Inglis starts by talking about how when Harvest Moon came out in 1992, it was a call-back to Harvest and it was highly regarded, even though Harvest itself wasn’t at the time.  Even Neil himself seemed to recoil from the unexpected success of Harvest by playing every kind of music but folk/country for decades.

In fact, Harvest was panned when it came out–described as superficial and without meaning.  It was deemed pleasant rather than passionate.  It also worked to define Neil Young as a melancholy songwriter full of catchy tunes, smiling with prairie straw n his mouth.  Meanwhile other fans dismiss this picture entirely, preferring the gritty songwriter from Tonight’s the Night. (more…)

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10SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-Fear Fun (2012).

fjmI can’t get over how much I’ve been enjoying this album for the last two years.  Father John Misty is J Tillman from Fleet Foxes.

This disc is a gentle folk album with vaguely country leanings.  The arrangements are spare and yet the verses and choruses are so great to sing along to. “Funtimes in Babylon” has this infectious chorus: “I would like to abuse my lungs, smoke everything in sight with every girl I’ve ever loved.  Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee deep in mud.  Look out, Hollywood, here I come.”  “Nancy from Now On” has a great propulsive chorus with oohs and tinkling bells and pianos and Misty’s engaging falsetto.

I was introduced to this album by “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which opens with the super catchy line, “Jeeeeesus Christ, girl.”  I love the big crashing drum sound he has here.  “I’m Writing a Novel” is a fun romp, with the great line “I’m writing a novel because it’s never been done before.”  “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” introduces a great organ sound.  It’s a full song at only 2 and a half minutes.

“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” opens with a slide guitar and turns into a stomping song with more Ooohs and a great chorus.  “Only Son of the Ladiesman” has a great chorus with the fun couple: “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodgers fan.”  “This is Sally Hatchet” has cool guitar blasts and a great bridge.

“Well You Can Do It Without Me” is a countrified 2 minute stomper.  “Tee Pees 1-12” is a big stompin’ honkey tonk song with fiddles and slide guitar.  The disc ends with “Everyman Needs a Companion” a slow ballad with a great piano melody and a fun to sing along with verse and chorus.

I love the lyrics on this album, especially the song “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” a slow ballad with a great story:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining, the high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish, aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The gentler side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

In addition to all of the great music on here, the CD packaging is fantastic with that great cover, done in a cardboard gatefold sleeve including two huge books full of words and drawings and lyrics and everything.  I’m really looking forward to his next release.

[READ: September 14, 2014] Grantland #10

Despite my being in the middle of reading several other things, I was looking for a short article to read the other night and grabbed my Grantland 10.  And, of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I put everything else on hold and blasted through this issue.

And so all of my loves and hates are the same with this issue.  I never know how anything they talk about nearly a year ago turned out, which stinks.  And yet I get so wrapped up in the writing that I don’t care.  I’m not sure what it is about the writing for Grantland that i enjoy so much.  It is casual but knowledgeable.  Often funny but not obnoxiously silly. And I suppose that now I feel like I’m in on all of the secret stuff they talk about so I’m part of the club.  I fear that if I were to ever go to the website I would get sucked into a black hole and never emerge.

I often wonder how they choose what goes into the book.  This issue has some new writers and the surprising absence of some regulars.  I wonder what went on there.  And as always, the book could use some editing and maybe actually listing the urls of the links that were once in the online version.  But I think I’m talking to deaf ears on that one.

This issue covers October-December 2013 (that’s ten-twelve months ago!  Some of this stuff feels ancient!)

(more…)

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  9SOUNDTRACK: UNIVORE-“Vampire” (2013).

univoreI never watch the ads that come before Youtube videos.  But this came on as an ad and I was utterly mesmerized by it.

I didn’t even know what it was for.  Turns out that Univore is a band and “Vampire” is one of their songs.  The 1 minute ad video was actually the whole thing.

It’s got a simple buzzy synthesized riff, backing vocalists singing “Oh yea” when appropriate and an occasional deep voiced man saying “vampire.”  The video is of an older gentleman (who a little research suggests is Marco Casale) dressed like a vampire running around a small green space on a campus.  The whole video looks like it took 15 minutes to film.  It is weird and wonderful.

I still know nothing about Univore, which may be for the better, but I did enjoy this video.

[READ: April 6, 2014] Grantland #9

I’m surprised that there aren’t better cover images online for these books.  For #8 i had to use one with a big flash in the middle of it and this one is the illustration from the Grantland website.  The books are quite pretty so why uses these pale imitations?

So this issue proved to be a lot better about weird typos and “we just took this from the web and pasted it and never bothered to check to see if there was anything weird” problems.  So thanks for at least running it through Spellcheck.  The only other thing left is to either remove the lines that talk about attached links/images if they are not there or to include the url or make up a tiny url (but that would be actual work!).  Oh, and please make sure all of the footnotes are included.

I have given up on ever finding out how these things turned out several months after the fact–I’ll just happily live in ignorance of reality there.

This issue was taken from during basketball’s downtime which was a nice change (even though the still managed to talk about basketball).  There was more pop culture and some wonderful articles about team nicknames and mascots–something I absolutely love.  So this is one of my favorite issues overall.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVEN KATZ-In the Garden of Earthly Delights (2009).

Since I mentioned an album my Aunt Marg gave me, I’m also going to mention this one, that she gave me the following Christmas.  She told me that Steven Katz is a classical guitarist in St Croix.  They saw him play when they were on vacation and they were amazed that he this amazing guitarist who was just sort of hanging around in St Croix (that’s the life, eh?)

I enjoy classical guitar, although I suspect if I was able to play it I’d enjoy listening to it even more.  As it stands, I can appreciate the fast trills (and Katz is masterful at them) and the general feel for the form.  On the other hand, I’m a terrible critic of this kind of music.  It all sounds kind of samey to me.   This is not a criticism of the genre or of Katz, it’s simply an admission that I like the stuff, but I couldn’t tell you a grand master from a regular master.  The one big difference I can say is that unlike the Gipsy Kings (of whom I am quite a fan) there are no extended clapping sections (well, a small clapping section in “Moroccan Roll”).

All of Katz’ composition are beautiful (all the songs are original except for one cover).  They often feature slow sections that are very moody as well as virtuosi parts (that I’ll bet are amazing to watch).  Katz is an amazing guitarist (of course I think anyone who can play this style is amazing).  He plays a Flamenco acoustic guitar over some simply keys and percussion on most of the tracks.  If I had any song to quibble with it would be “Parting at the Ganges” which has a cheesey keyboard in the background and chimes that are clearly sampled–that isn’t a bad thing necessary, except when they stop abruptly and start again.  But I only noticed that on my third listen.  But most songs have simple arrangements (bongos and whatnot).

On the plus side there’s some really unexpected guitar lines at the end of “Gypsy Caravan” and the whole feel of “Moroccan Roll” is very cool.  “Shake It Up” diverges from style on the rest of the disc with some interesting and familiar south of the border musical setups (before returning to some amazing fretwork).  I also really liked the opening of “Desert Rain Cry” because it sounds (I’m sure completely unintentionally) like the opening of Rush’ “Xanadu” (without the wooden blocks).  (The rest sounds NOTHING like the Rush song).

I mentioned the Gipsy Kings above and the comparison is apt because like the Gipsy Kings, Katz also does  cover of Hotel California. Unlike the Kings’ version, there are no vocals. Also unlike their version, this version is quite subtle.  He uses his guitar to play the vocal line, but he does it in a flamenco style–incorporating the melody into the fingerwork–it’s very cool.  He also incorporates the famous guitar solo into his playing–you hear it but he’s not “just” playing the solo.  It becomes and entirely different song than the original.

I went to Katz website and he is funny and self-deprecating, but he also tells us that he has played with all kinds of people including Dr. John, Mavis Staples, Edgar Winter and Mountain (this last one shows that he’s not a young man).   But I’m also quite certain he is not this Steve Katz who was in Blood Sweat and Tears.

[READ: February 21, 2012] “Thief”

I have read two other things from Walter, both of them via McSweeney’s journals.  It’s interesting to read him outside of that context as this piece is different from those two (I’m also amazed that he is releasing his sixth novel!).

I didn’t like the way this story started out, but once we got past the awkward introduction, I thought it was extremely compelling.  And then when it ended, I had some weird feelings about the conclusion.  But more on that later.  (I’m learning that when I say things like “I didn’t like the beginning, it’s usually like the first paragraph or two, which isn’t really fair, but which can often make or break someone’s interest in a story).

So the story starts out with observations about the Girl from her dad (capitalized because all three kids are apparently referred to as Little, Middle and Girl).  Wayne is watching his daughter sleep.  He had her when he was just 19 and she changed his world.  Now she’s 14 and he doesn’t like that Girl hangs album covers on the wall and wears her hair like Peter Frampton (I did enjoy the very simple pop culture references that set the time of this story perfectly).  Then he looks in on the sleeping Middle (who is so unlike Wayne that he thinks of him as the Milkman’s kid) and Little.  Any of the three could be the thief.  Little is a greedy sumbitch (I love the detail about his first words).  Middle is a pretty unlikely candidate (he’s bookish and timid).  And then there’s Girl.  She walks to the bus stop but sneaks a ride with the guy in the Nova; she’s probably smoking pot.

One of them is definitely the thief.

Wayne has a giant jug in which he dumps his change.  It is the family vacation jug.  After two years of change, it will be full enough for a vacation.  And this year’s is Kelowna, BC and the Bedrock City there (yes a Flintstone’s Theme Park–which was real, but is now sadly closed).  Wayne suspects that the Girl doesn’t want to go to Flintstones land and is stealing money to sabotage the trip.  His wife thinks he’s crazy, but he has set little traps and he knows the vacation jug is moving and emptying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE STILLS-YOUNG BAND: Long May You Run (1976).

I’ve known the song “Long May You Run” for a long time, but I never really realized it came from a non-Neil Young album.  The album is by The Stills-Young Band and the history of the album may be more interesting than the album itself (in sum: CSN&Y broke up, C&N made and album so S&Y made an album.  C&N were supposed to be on the S&Y album but they fought and S&Y removed their vocals).

So what we get is nine songs.  Five written by Neil Young and four by Stephen Stills.  The songs are played by Stills’ solo backing band and while the credits suggest that they played on each others’ songs, it doesn’t really seem like it.  It seems like you get 5 Neil Young solo songs and four Stephen Stills solo songs.

It’s also odd that the cover of the album shows buffalo running in the plains (nod to Buffalo Springfield, I’m sure) but so many of these songs are about water.  Maybe that disconnect feeds the whole thing.

By the way, “Long May You Run” is a catchy little country number that I never realized was about his car until recently.

Stephen Stills’ first song is the utterly unsubtle, possibly seductive in the 70s but hilariously outre in 2001 “Make Love to You.”  It’s full of 70s synths and has a very serious tone (despite the 70s synth).  And the lyrics, hoo boy:

Girl your body said everything and I know you knew/I wanna make love to you, make you feel all right/I wanna make love  to you, yes, it’ll take all night

Which is about as long as the shower you need to take after hearing that song.

“Midnight on the Bay” is a pleasant enough song from Neil.  It’s a bit too much into the 70’s-lite music genre for my liking, but it’s not too terrible.

The thing about Stephen Stills is I like his voice.  It’s unusual and unique and I like hearing him sing.  But man his lyrics are crazy.  I like the opening riff of “Black Coral” with its staccato piano.  Yet it seems like he’s got but one thing on his mind.  The song is ostensibly about being underwater:

Got to move slow/Take it easy down there/You’ve only so much air/When you get a little deeper/If you slow down/You might keep her/The sea, unforgiving and she’s hard/But she’ll make love to you/Show you glimpses of the stars.

But maybe that’s metaphorical.  Because when you go deeper, “I saw Jesus, and it made sense that he was there.”

“Ocean Girl” is sort of Neil’s answer to that song.  It’s got a very 70s wah wah sound and a very easy to sing chorus.  Consider it a catchy but inessential Neil song.  “Let It Shine” is also Neil’s song (and there’s more stuff about his cars here–so you know he’s really into it).  It’s a more substantial song than most of the rest although it has a very easy feel.

“12/8 Blues” (love the title) feels like an Eagles song (“Life in the Fast Lane” to be specific, although they both came out in the same year.  Hmm).  It’s fairly generic (like the title) but I like it (crazy time signatures are my thing, man).

“Fontainebleau” is an interesting angsty Neil song that I think would have done very well with CSN&Y.  I never really paid attention to the lyrics before, but it’s fairly interesting and the guitar solos are soft but cool.

The final song goes to Stills.  “Guardian Angel” feels like a combination of all of his other songs, and it’s probably his best on the disc.   It’s got the slinky 70s vibe of  the first song, the staccato piano and, interestingly a chorus that would sound great with the 4 part harmony of CSN&Y.  It also rocks harder than anything on the record (which isn’t saying all that much).  The end has a cool extended instrumental section which I rather like as well.

So this is a weird little hybrid record.  There’s some good stuff for Neil Young fans, although it’s far from essential.  I actually don’t know much about Stills’ solo work so I don’t know how this compares, but he does seem a little one-track here.

[READ: November 4, 2011] “He’ll Take El Alto”

I don’t read Gourmet magazine.  I’m not a foodie and it seems like it’s just a food magazine.  But here’s the second article in Gourmet by a writer that I really like.  The first of course would be David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster.”  Is Gourmet more than just recipes?  Does it often have contributions from respected authors?  Am I missing out?

This issue is the Latino issue, so it deals with food from Cuba, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  And Junot Díaz is our resident Dominican, so he’s given the task of talking up the cuisine.

Unlike Wallace’s essay, which was about a trip to the Maine Lobster Festival, Díaz’s essay is about how upper Manhattan (known as El Alto) has become a hotbed for Dominican food.

Díaz explains how when Dominicans first arrived in New York, there were no restaurants.  Dominicans had to eat Cuban food to approximate their home food.  But now that there are vast enclaves of Dominicans living in El Alto, there are excellent restaurants everywhere (the sure sign that a culture has made it is when you have people from other cultures as your waitstaff).

Díaz revel as his own and his friends’ and acquaintances’ preferences for favorite Dominican restaurants.  As this article is four years old and most of the places seem to be holes in the wall (which everyone knows serves the best food, even if they don’t last very long), I’m not going to bother saying which places they are or checking to see if they are still extant).  Okay, well, Malecon is still around, anyhow. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS–The Heart of Saturday Night (1974).

What would be more shocking–hearing this and then going to Bone Machine, or listening to Bone Machine and then hearing this. Holy cow. Tom’s voice is so NOT Tom Waits on this record. It kept me thinking of The Eagles or something. The tone, the pacing, I kept expecting him to bust out “Desperado.”  He also has some crazy beat-inspired poetry (what the kids today call spoken-word pieces)  Indeed, these spoken pieces would stay with him in one form or another for his whole career.  But seriously, how much a man can change in thirty years!

Like Closing Time, this album has several different styles.  Primarily, it has a sloppy, bar sound, the sound that Closing Time‘s cover conveyed.  And that sound is all over “New Coat of Paint.”   But there’s also piano ballads.  And those ballads, combined with Waits’ non-gravelly voice, give “San Diego Serenade” and “Shiver Me Timbers” that Eagles’ ballady sound.  And then “Semi Suite” brings back that muted trumpet. 

“Diamonds on My Windshield” is a beat poem set to a walking bass.  It’s clichéd, except that no one actually does it as well as Waits.  And although I don’t really like the blues in general, I enjoyed “Fumblin’ with Blues” quite a bit.  There’s something about Waits’ sloppy (but not) style  that makes the song interesting.  Even though this is considered a classic, this album is just not really my style and it’s one I listen to quite infrequently.

[READ: September 21, 2011] “An Anonymous Island”

This story is translated from Korean by Heinz Insu Fenkl.  

I felt like the heart of this story was completely unoriginal in content; and yet I can’t tell if it is a common story, if it is a kind of folklorish story, if it’s sort of a story from ancient writings or if it’s just something that happens.

The beginning of the story shows a woman listening to her husband.  He is watching the television,bemoaning the fact that anyone can be anonymous these days (this struck me as a funny sentiment given how much everyone in America bemoans the lack of privacy or the fact that everyone is on the internet).  You can get off at one bus stop past your own and no one knows you.  Back when he was a kid everyone knew everyone else, a village was a family.  And as the woman listens, she flashes back.

The flashback is to when she was a teacher in a small village.  A village where everyone is related.  Everyone treats each other with respect and deference.  Except for one man, Ggaecheol.  Ggaecheol is a bum–he has no job, he has no home.  The village tolerates him because he is an idiot and he is impotent.  But whenever he wants a meal, he simply walks into someone’s house and sits down and says, feed me.  Which they do.  Typically he sleeps outside, but when it’s cold, he walks into someone’s house and sits at the foot of their bed.  He says he wants to keep the woman warm, so the men, amused by his impotence, allow this.

There’s an old Monty Python skit in which the town idiot, despite being mocked by all, does great with women.  The punch line, showing the idiot with a couple of hot girls in bed with him: “I may be an idiot, but I’m no fool.”  And so it is with this story.  The bum is sleeping with everyone in town.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS-Closing Time (1973). 

This is the first official Tom Waits release.  There’s a couple “Early Years” collections which are really fascinating for how much he doesn’t sound like the 21st century Tom Waits, but these at least show glimpses of the man to come.  There are some songs on here that I knew of from different artists, and had no idea TW had written them  (Tim Buckley covered “Martha” the same year this came out (that’s pretty amazing), The Eagles covered “Ol’ 55” on their album the following year.  However, Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man” is not a cover of Tom’s song). The funny thing about the record is how much he sounds like a late 70s lounge singer. How can an album as stripped down as this sound of an era? I don’t know, but it does. It’s also nice to know that his opening song “Ol’ 55” has had such a long life.

My wife does not like Tom Waits, but I think I could sneak this album past her.  You can tell that it’s Tom (before years of abuse to his vocal chords).  His voice is in fine non-gravelly form, just a little bass heavy.  And he is crooning to us.  He even has one of his sweet songs (“Midnight Lullaby”).  It’s hard (but not impossible) to imagine that this man would have turned into the man from Bone Machine.

As I was saying about the mid 70’s, the style of songs here could easily have been played on the same radio station as Springsteen (this album came out the same year as Greetings from Asbury Park–and Springsteen made famous “Jersey Girl” one of Tom’s early songs).  Indeed, many of these songs were covered by other artists.  The funny thing to me about the album is that although Tom is the pianist, I feel like the album is more focused on the trumpet (that muted trumpet seems to be everywhere (giving the album more of a jazzy feel than a rock feel).  And yet, despite this overall jazziness, “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You” and “Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)” is a pretty straight-ahead folk song.  There’s also the beautiful ballad “Martha” played only on piano–such a gorgeous melody.  Perhaps the least exciting song is the instrumental ballad “Closing Time.”  It’s a simple piano melody with more trumpet.  There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not that inspirational.

I find that as I get older I like this album more (which is somewhat ironic since he recorded it when he was 24).  It’s tempting to say that the album–with its many styles–is unfocused, but Waits’ albums all seem to follow in this multiple-styles vein.  He’s not afraid to try something new (see his entire output since 1983).  But this one is a surprisingly straightforward album.  I can’t wait to see if Sarah likes it.

[READ: September 21, 2011] “Town of Cats”

Murakami is (in my limited experience) a master of the surreal. And yet for his more recent short stories, he seems to be switching into more of a story within a story conceit.  And that’s fine too, because the stories and the stories within the stories are clever and creative and still a bit surreal.

This story starts out a little awkwardly: at Koenji Station, Tengo boards a train with absolutely no destination in mind.  He can get off anywhere that he wants, he decides. He imagines going to the beach and enjoying a nice day.  But then he realizes that all along he has ben heading in one specific direction: to visit his father in a nursing home.  This is especially surprising for Tengo as he has not visited his father in over two years (and Tengo is his only relative).

As Tengo thinks back to his childhood, it is full of nothing but anger.  Anger that his father took him on his work (collecting fees for Japanese TV) every Sunday and that Tengo never had any chance for fun.  In fairness to Tengo’s father, Tengo’s mother died when Tengo was just a baby and his father had to take care of him as best as he could.  But there was no love, no warmth, no emotion.  And the more he thought about his father he realizes that that’s what his father was like–no intellectual curiosity of any kind.  Just work work work.

And yet Tengo can’t shake a memory from when he was only a year and a half or so of his mother standing near hs crib with a man who wasn’t his father kissing her naked breasts.  This memory has always been with him and he can’t help but wonder if his father really isn’t his father at all.  (more…)

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