An overlooked pairing

1 02 2019

I don’t know how I never picked it up on radar. I had been a staunch supporter The Black Crowes, but I didn’t know this was coming out (way back in 1999). I think I played it once, thought it was good, and moved onto other stuff.

But I’ve been revisiting Crowes stuff after having seen Magpie Salute last week. So it seemed to make sense to dig out this one. Think about it: the Crowes got to play with Jimmy Page! How many bands can sag that? Fucking cool! And Jimmy got to play with a fucking groovy band. What a great moment in rock.

I don’t think the Crowes get enough credit for what a great band they were. I’d put them right in the Hall of Fame if it were up to me.


I’m Taking Whiskey To The Party Tonight…

18 01 2019

If Women And Children First had a smell, it would be a mix of whiskey, weed, cigarettes and pussy.

Dig those moves, vampire…

10 01 2019

Over the 35 years since its release, I’ve come to take for granted Van Halen’s 1984. It’s a rock album for fuck sake. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it really changed my life in a very real way, and was sort of a simultaneous celebration of one the handful of amazing periods in my 47 years on this planet. I suppose it was more about Van Halen, but that album was the first of theirs that I really had a chance to digest.

It all started with “Jump.” That hit the airwaves right around Christmas break during 7th grade. My dad gave me a Sanyo boombox with a cassette player-recorder, and I wasted no time recording the hits of the day onto cheap tapes that I would play over and over on my paper route. In a few months I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I played that song 100 times. I already liked Van Halen, but I became a dedicated fan the minute I heard that song. The rest of the album was just gravy.

Perhaps part of it is simply the title, but I often cannot separate that album from the year of its release. So much good happened in that school year. I had just started junior high and made a number of friends that are still in my life in some way. Junior high was so much more exciting than elementary school. And it was filled with what I felt at the time to be fantastic beings – Girls!

A great school year, where I had finally started getting good grades across the board, bled into a “rad” summer. I had no responsibility. I spent my time at my friend’s pool, playing baseball, hanging out in large groups of guys and girls, flirting, giggling, telling ridiculous jokes, and basically burning limitless amounts of teen energy. I remember some cool dude playing the whole album in his boombox one day at the beach.

I couldn’t care less about it now, but then baseball was one of my passions. The Detroit Tigers got out to a 35-5 start and won the World Series that year. I even got to see Game 3 from the left field lower deck of Tiger Stadium. I’d almost forgotten how much that mattered to me at the time!

Oh, yeah, the USA 🇺🇸 killed it in the Olympics in LA (cuz the Soviets boycotted.) Very cool Cold War shit right there.

It was a very transforming, exciting time. And it was a big year for my relationship with music. Not only did I basically turn away from the softer pop of the time, the seeds of wanting to learn to play guitar were planted then, and bloomed later in high school. Eddie Van Halen supplanted The Beatles as my favorite musician. If not for him, I wouldn’t have picked up a guitar and later moved on to bass.

Rarely to I dwell for more than a split second on wishing I could relive my past. I think if we’re all honest, any of us would at least be curious about what you could do if you went back in time. But if I land on that thought, I look at that as a year that was maybe the single best calendar year in my life.

That record is that year. That year is that record. For me, anyway…

That Which Passed 48 Years Ago

27 11 2018

George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass – more ambitious than the White Album in scope – is just brimming with rock beauty. Masterpiece is so cliche, but that’s more or less what it is. It’s easily the best of all the Beatles’ solo output. I hope one day we’ll hear a version of this with a deconstructed “Wall of Sound”®️ . It’s just too cluttered in spots, but nothing could keep these great songs from getting through. Let’s hope in another 48 years, people are still digging it.

The…Fall of Ziggy Stardust…

3 07 2018

45 years ago today, David Bowie, without previously informing most of his band members and inner circle, killed Ziggy Stardust on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon.

Artistically, I see this as significant because it’s about as rare as a $3 bill for a music superstar to flush the very formula that lead to his (or her) superstardom. Imagine the Beatles getting brush cuts and singing doo-wop in 1965.

My personal interest in Ziggy’s “retirement” is that it watching that very concert on VH-1 Classic is what turned me from enthusiastic Bowie supporter to slightly overboard devotee. Even more specifically, “Moonage Daydream,” blew my (you might think small) mind.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

29 06 2018

David Bowie “killed” Ziggy Stardust because he felt like the character had subsumed him, and he was worried he’d be driven mad like so many of his family on his mum’s side. Truth be told, he was probably bored with it all.

Anyone that really gives a shit about Bowie knows this; I’ve said nothing profound. It’s Bowie cannon, part of the official story.

Bowie-ites also know he created this character from an amalgamation of Vince Taylor, The Stardust Cowboy, and a wee bit of Iggy Pop. Again, nothing terrifically revealing.

But what I’ve never really heard anyone seriously suggest is that Ziggy was Bowie. The song “Ziggy Stardust” tells a story of both what Bowie already was and what he’d come to be after the character made a rock god.

The song is so autobiographical – we see in hindsight only – as to be prophetic, if that makes sense. And the song really is the character. Most of the rest of the The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars masterpiece is either about Ziggy’s world, or nothing in particular.

Consider this…

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly,

And the spiders from Mars.

He played it left hand

But made it too far

Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band

Weird and Gilly are Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey, his bassist and drummer. The real band didn’t become The Spiders From Mars until after the tour in support of the album picked up steam. Fiction became reality in that sense.

Of course Bowie played guitar…though not left hand. But he made it too far, nearly self-destructing within a two-three year period.

Now Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo

Like some cat from Japan, he could lick ’em by smiling

He could leave ’em to hang

‘Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan.

Aside from Marty Feldman, there isn’t likely a celebrity in history more known for his “screwed up eyes” than DB.

Bowie was massively influenced by Japanese culture, especially kabuki. No one knows what screwed down hair is, but his flame orange mullet – coming after the song – gave the character a distinct look. That Bowie look is the most emblematic of his many amazing styles.

And supposedly he had a big dick, attested to by many lovers. Snow white would certainly describe him.

So where were the spiders,

while the fly tried to break our balls

With just the beer light to guide us,

So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?

I’d be completely bullshitting to cram a lot of autobiography into those verses.

Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were voodoo

kid was just crass, he was the nazz

With God given ass

He took it all too far but boy could he play guitar

Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind

Like a leper messiah

When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band.

Ziggy played guitar

Bowie certainly was crass, though in a tasteful way, if one could make such a contradictory conclusion. The nazz – it means he was cool as fuck, the shit, da bomb, bad ass… I’ve seen lots of rock shows, live and otherwise, and his Ziggy stage presence was second to none.

Where this gets prophetically autobiographical is in his descent into a personal hell from ’74 to ’76. Cocaine psychosis. Heavy occult practice – he had his swimming pool in L.A. exorcised as he believed Satan dwelt therein. Fascination with fascism, Nazi/Third Reich history, and to some extent Hitler himself. With the help of massive quantities of coke and booze, he really “sucked up into his mind” and was lucky to have survived to tell about it.

So, what started as a fictional character around which he could tell an apocalyptic yarn, ended up being a road map for his climb to the top and near tipping over the cliff.

“Here I am with the mighty and the high, feeling like I don’t belong…”

13 02 2018

You may enjoy these videos from Noel Gallagher’s Detroit appearance on February 9. What can I say, I had a great seat!