Night Music: Tinariwen, “Sastanisqqam”

I apologize, again for any absence of contributions of late, but I am working on this book (third rewrite) and trying to drive some decent mileage to my site ( gets you there!) and help Diane with her dog walking business.

And, of course I am still playing in the band, though I quit the Biletones around Christmas time. But, cooly, my pals drummer Nick Bell and songwriter/singer/guitarist Tom Nelson wanted to keep playing with me.

So, we formed a new band called Jackknifed Big Rig. We are already playing out, in fact there is a pretty good vid of us I will post shortly in the new configuration.

Anyway, I was at my guitar lesson the other day, and after 20 years, Steve Gibson, my master and I talk about a lot of stuff in addition to playing scales and licks and such. A lot of music theory discussion, and engineering, and sharing of ideas and songs and bands and such.

Well, a couple of weeks ago Steve saw these guys at a nice little Berkeley venue, and he turned me onto them. And, just the visuals–traditional middle eastern garb, mixed with sand and camels and Gibson SGs played upside down and backwards–are great.

But, these guys are really good. I mean, really good. Check out these tunes and tell me if you can resist…

This one has a killer vid!

Night Music: Meat Loaf, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

I confess to a strange and circuitous relationship with Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell album.

I did buy the album when it came out, and remember selling a friend–John Takauchi–the poster from within the album for $10, a hefty sum at the time. I do see the original album goes for $35 or so on Ebay, but did not see any posters that came with the initial pressing of the 1977 disc.

I did like the album, though I thought Jim Steinman’s songwriting a little overwrought and too angst-ridden, but Meat sings well, the band is great, and well, Todd Rundgren produced the whole thing and played guitar and those are good credentials.

The album came and went but suddenly I crossed paths with Meat who is a big Fantasy Baseball player, for we met a couple of times years ago when the National Fantasy Baseball Championship drafts were held in Las Vegas.

However, in 2011, after Diane and I had actually been together for a half-dozen years, Meat dropped in again.

I have to remind readers old and advise readers new, that my partner in life, Diane Walsh and I share very little musically. Over our 10 years together we have attended only one life concert together that did not involve either my band, or the band of a friends.

She likes the hit WTF and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Thrift Shop just to give an idea of the range of what she will listen to, but, as for liking bands or albums or things I like, we are on not just different planets: more like as I have written that music, for Diane, is something to listen to while at the gym.

Di and I have driven cross country a couple of times, and I mostly tried to mitigate the gap in our musical tastes by finding classic 80’s and 90’s, living on Boston and Georgia Satellites and their ilk while in the car.

But, during our second trip from Chicago to Berkeley we traveled Route 66, and during the end of May and we ran into some torrential rain just outside of Tulsa. The rain pelted us on the Interstate so hard that we had to pull over.

As we sat there, mesmerized by the crazy falling water, Paradise by the Dashboard Light came on the radio. Diane and I had never discussed this song (I might have mentioned that I met Meat) or album, but I started singing Meat’s part when the vocals came on, something not unusual for me. The cool thing was that right on cue, Diane began singing the Ellen Foley part, and we sat there, on the side of the freeway, pouring rain, singing the duet to and with one another about as spontaneously as permits.

It was quite fun, and one of those little magic moments in relationships, and as it is, a bunch of the songs from the album are on my shuffle for times when a cross pollination of our musical tastes is appropriate.

But, a week ago, as I was surfing for something to watch among the 300 derelict channels we get, the film Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise was on and I found it pretty fun and interesting.

There was a clip of Paradise that is not the one below, but it does appear to be from the same tour. But, Meat and Karla DeVito (I believe) are great in the performance. And, overblown or melodramatic or whatever, the song and performance make pretty good theater.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats: I’m Listening

This is not an upbeat tune, but it has a drone-y appeal. From the most recent album

This is another midtempo tune with a dubious sexual ethic. From 2015

This is from 2014. I’m sensing a pattern.

These guys can play and are fun, in a biker chick line of coke kind of way. I’m not denigrating that at all.


Night Music: Jefferson Airplane, “Volunteers”

Since Paul Kantner passed away recently, I have been seriously into listening more and more and deeper and deeper into the catalog of his fantastic band.

Last weekend I was in Phoenix for LABR, and I wound up having a great discussion about music with Sirius/XM’s Kyle Elfrink.

We talked about a lot of stuff, however, Kyle asked me who my favorite bass player was and I said Jack Cassady. “Who,” asked Kyle? Kyle is in his early 30’s meaning he was born long after the Airplane split up, so he certainly can be forgiven this oversight which I promptly corrected by sending the link to The Other Side of This Life from Bless its Pointed Little Head.

However, while checking that video out I first stumbled onto this version of Volunteers the band played when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course the retired Grace Slick was absent, but the rest of the band was there full force. I think what I love–what being an old guy who is proud to call #iambecomingabesimpson my very own hash tag–is the band core of Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin, and Cassady, look so neat and trim and nattily attired, yet they still kick the shit out of the song.

The bonus was I stumbled onto this fantastic interview with Kantner and Slick who reminisce about touring with The Doors and Jim Morrison, the first time both bands were in Europe. Its awesome.



Night Music: Van Halen, “Oh Pretty Woman”

I remember the first time I heard Roy Orbison’s great Oh Pretty WomanIt was one of those songs I did not need to hear twice before knowing it was killer, and the song has pretty much been a seminal tune over the 50-plus years since its release.

I never really thought about who would cover the song and why because the song was so much Orbison’s that “why bother?”

So, the last band I expected to infect me with a revisionist cover was Van Halen, who were still shy of their great 1984  disc.  But, starting with the fantastic clunky chunky metal effects pyrotechnics Eddie V coaxes in the Intruder prologue, to the great chorusy arpeggios that kick off the song, it nailed me at first listen and truth is, I now prefer the Van Halen’s version to Orbison’s.

This isn’t like Jimi Hendrix owning All Along the Watchtower, where Bob Dylan’s version is fine, but the song is clearly Hendrix’s now and forever. The Orbison version is still great, but Van Halen added a layer of rock and roll guts to the song that sort of works in concert with the emotions of love maybe lost and maybe found that should be part of the pain of life and relationship that rock and roll speaks to at its core.

I dunno. Maybe I am just getting sentimental as I move towards #iambecomingabesimpson, but fuck it. It is what it is.

Crawling From the Wreckage

This live version from 1980, is like the studio version, full of Lowe-isms while popping Dave Edmunds up front. I’m sure that’s Elvis Costello introducing the tune, by the way.

I’m not sure of the pedigree of this Graham Parker version. He wrote the song, of course. It’s certainly styled less to please pop, more skiffle and Dylan than Chuck Berry. But Parker knows how to sing and that drummer knows how to make a shoe box rock. For better or worse, you decide that, Parker gives his words more attention here.

Night Music: Television, “Glory”

My friend Michele Friedman and I have been searching for some interesting music to see live for a while now. I tried to get us tix to the Replacements tour but got aced out; however when I saw Television was going to be playing the Fillmore, I knew she, and our friends Leslie and Lisa would be down.IMG_0355

I was right, and last Tuesday we crossed the bridge and saw Tom Verlaine and his crew deliver a sonically beautiful set, pulled largely from their best known piece, Marquee Moon.

Truth is the band was lots better than I imagined, with very clear guitars ringing through Vox AC30s (not that I imagined them being bad, they just completely exceeded expectations).

It was good to see Verlaine and company: none of us had ever seen them before though I was a tad bummed they played very little from the second album, Adventure which includes my favorite song from the group, Glory.

So, here it is last year in Copenhagen.

The Angels, Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again

The Angels were big in Australia in the 80s, though it seems like even in Australia a band should have known enough not to call themselves the Angels. This is a band playing funny looking instruments, and a singer who gives away the song’s best joke with his t-shirt. But the joke is funny enough (in the crowd’s enthusiasm) to keep on giving, all the way to the end.

The Go Betweens, “Was There Anything I Could Do”

I came to the Go Betweens backwards. I fell for a band called Stars, from Montreal, in the early aughts, and discovered the Go Betweens through various recommendation engines from there.

The Go Betweens are named after a Joseph Losey movie, which immediately tells you they’re not grinding, but they’re terrific songwriters and a strong band in every way. They are not twee even if they are not hard.

This song gets the call tonight because I just found this charming video, which is perfectly undercutting and musical at the same time.