Saint John

28 01 2009

Since John Lennon’s tragic murder, both musicly and personally, he has been sainted, if not deified, by his fans and the media.  The Lennon-McCartney songwriting team is the most successful duo in music history.  Since John’s death, though, he has been the Mozart to Paul’s Salieri (Yoko Ono even said as much.)

Aside from the music, John has been seen as a visionary, a man of peace, a “working class hero.”  Paul’s the writer of sappy love songs and of little or no mental substance or social consciousness.  His years of reclusivity in the Dakota, after the birth of Sean, are affectionately known as his “house husband” years.  He baked bread and raised his child.   People with romantic notions about John point to these years as evidence of what a great human being he was.

It, then, surprised me to see this 1999 interview with his (famous) son, Julian.  I assumed that his oldest son had mended fences with him and they were on good terms when he died.  Apparently, he was not such a great father to Julian even after fatherhood and marriage to Yoko had seemingly softened him.

My point isn’t to bash John Lennon.  If he were here, I think he would admit to being a flawed character.  I just wish others would acknowledge that he was human and far from perfect.  He didn’t walk on water.  He was not a saint.  He was not the author of world peace.  Hell, he wasn’t even really a man of peace. The man who penned “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” for Sean didn’t even give his ex-wife enough money to do more than clothe and feed him.  Understanding him as a brilliant musical mind and a fascinating and important person seems more appropriate to me.


Macca on Colbert

27 01 2009

McCartney will be on the “Colbert Report.”  His appearance is to promote the new Fireman album Electric Arguments.

Noel spot on about Radiohead

27 01 2009

“Radiohead, I’m totally having it until the little fella starts singing.” — Noel Gallagher, Q magazine

I couldn’t agree more!  I have a couple of Radiohead albums and I love the music…until Thom Yorke opens his mouth.  That’s a pretty damned good band, but I really could do without Thom Yorke’s whiny singing.  He’s a brilliant guy but not the best of vocalists, at least not in my humble opinion.


Brian Wilson Presents Smile — Brilliant!

25 01 2009

brianwilson-smileSmile might be the greatest album never released.  Or, more accurately, it may be the best album to take 38 years to be released.  Even Axl Rose doesn’t sit on projects that long.

I got my hands on MP3s of Smile maybe 12 years ago.  I also got the Beach Boys box set that had some Smile stuff in it.  Someday I’ll write about the album (as a Beach Boys release) but suffice it to say, it is amazing.  It’s quirky, odd, almost avant garde.  It’s definitely trippy and might have been a huge flop had it seen the light of day in 1967.  There again, it could’ve given Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band a run for its money.  We’ll never know.  [If you really want to know more about Smile, just google it.  There are dozens of websites about it.]

It’s really hard to get me to pay much attention to old bands retreading their old material (e.g. The Who doing a Quadraphenia tour or the annual Stones tour on the strength of 35 year old songs.)  So, when Brian Wilson Presents Smile was released a few years back, I completely ignored it.  One, I assumed Brian could no longer sing.  Two, it wasn’t a Beach Boys release.  Three, I figured that I already had Smile as it should have been released.  I was happy with my bootlegs.  But I saw this disk at the library the other day and it called to me.

The most simple way to sum up my feelings about this album is that it is brilliant!  Throw whatever positive adjectives you want at it, they all work; great, fantastic, stupendous, tremendous, awesome, amazing, etc.  If you like the Beach Boys (or just quirky music) run to the store and get it.

Many of the songs on Smile were sung by Carl Wilson, probably the best singer of the Wilson brothers.  Carl, sadly, passed away years ago, thus, Brian had to be the vocalist.  Even deaf in one ear, he nailed the songs.  Unlike some of his contemporaries, his voice is still in tact, and it seems natural to hear the songs sung by him.

His back-up band is dynamite.  They do everything vocally the Beach Boys did on the original Smile.  Musically Brian Wilson Presents Smile is nearly identical to Smile as it can be found in bootleg form. [EDIT — I CHANGED THE FOLLOWING TO REFLECT THE FACTS I’VE LEARNED AND SOMETHING OF A CHANGE OF HEART] The most glaring change was to the choruses of “Good Vibrations.”  Brian brought back the original Tony Asher-penned lyrics to the song, replacing his cousin, Mike Love’s re-writes.  I personally don’t like the changes, but I like them better than when I originally wrote this.  I also don’t like Mike Love, so anything that sticks it to him is fine by me.

If you’re still reading this post, stop and go over to or wherever you like to buy music and pick up this one.  Tell ’em I sent ya.

Video Flashback: Kingdom Come’s “Get it On”

23 01 2009

I was lucky enough to see the first of the two Monsters of Rock shows that rolled into the Pontiac Silverdome, June 17, 1988.  It was my last day of my junior year in high school.  We went straight from school out to the Silverdome.  It was also the first time I drove my car (16th birthday present) anywhere.  Someday I’ll write more about that show.

The band that opened up the show was Kingdom Come.  This song was a hit at the time.  These guys, who were little more than a pretty good Led Zeppelin tribute band, really went nowhere after that tour.  They faded into oblivion.  This song was pretty good at the time and got the crowd going for the show.

So here’s your spring/summer 1988 flashback.

Sir Paul McCartney on “Carnival of Light”

21 01 2009

Beatles fans will know of the unreleased song, “Carnival of Light,” an avant gard piece put together for events at the Roundhouse theater in London in early 1967.  It was never credited as a Beatles song when performed at the Roundhouse, but it certainly was done while the group was a working unit.  As Sir Paul explains, George and Ringo vetoed it being placed on the Anthology series.

I’ve heard bits and pieces of what purports to be “Carnival of Light.”  It’s mostly electronic sounds and noodling.  It exists in bootleg form and is something of a Holy Grail to Beatles fans.  I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing that would blow anyone away, but I hope it finds its way onto the market someday.

Video flashback: Van Halen’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman”

21 01 2009

I remember catching a bit of “America’s Top 10” (with Kasey Kasem) one Saturday morning and an excerpt of this video was playing.  Until I found it on youtube a few months back, I had not seen the video before or since.  From what I can gather now from the ‘net, Van Halen hit no. 9 with this song for the week of April 17, 1982.

The video is pretty cheesy.  It borders on tastelessness, but it’s also funny in a very campy way.  This was back in the good ole days of objectifying women in music videos.  It’s mostly harmless fun, but would probably never be played on MTV these days (not because MTV has standards, but because it’s politically incorrect.)

I love the noisy guitar intro. Those are the kinda sounds I used to like to get out of my guitar when I played.  Eddie’s the man.