While We’re On Classic English Punk. . .

Just ordered John Lydon’s new biography Anger Is An Energy for Amazon Prime delivery on Thursday. I looked at it at Barnes & Noble and it must be 500 pages. (I’m definitely a guy who shops at B&N and buys on Amazon and will be the first to bitch and whine when B&N goes under. What a hypocrite.)

Why does Lydon need another biography? I guess I’ll find out, but I read the first one years ago and liked it a lot. Ty Cobb must be up to like five bios at this point, with a brand new one also on the shelves. I’ve only read the I-think-most-well-known-supposedly-much-tall-tales-and-nonsense one by Al Stump.

And forgive me for treating you like a musical three-year-old, but the new Lydon bio inspired me to listen to the Pistols’ Spunk, the prior-to-Sid Bollocks version with Matlock on bass. Again, I’m guessing you all have this as well as Bollocks and you know that Steve Jones (the guitarist on both albums) played bass on Bollocks, because, true to his rep, Sid couldn’t play.

I give you a typical choice here in Anarchy. Notice the more raw sound, the bouncy bass and Lydon’s a-little-flatter-than-Bollocks vocals as well as slightly different lyrics and delivery.

It isn’t difficult to tell Steve Jones played bass on Bollocks because, on that version, the bass simply doubles the guitar, creating quite a powerful sound wall, but very different from the Matlock Spunk recordings.

Hey, if I taught one person one thing today, maybe it was worth it. I’ll let you know on the book.

Hey Hey: Cool Pic

My friend sent me a link to an article about Blondie that included this photo from 1980. Reminds me of a cross between that picture of the original Baseball Hall of Fame inductees all sitting together you’ve seen a million times before and that Ellen selfie of the stars from last year’s Oscars.

Can you name them all?


Lunch Break: The Beach Boys, “Down at the Drive-In”

All these thoughts about food and adolescent bands reminded me of this tune from around 1964 by the Beach Boys.

I was a huge Beach Boys fan, at least till the British wave first hit. And, I was always enamored of Pet Sounds from first listen, which was a few years into the arrival of the Beatles and Stones.

I saw the Beach Boys live four or five times, though, during their hey day (I was at the show that was recorded and released as The Beach Boys in Concert) and their Surfin USA album was the first album I ever owned (a departure from the purchases of singles, that had dominated my life and appetite previously).

That meant that I started to buy albums as well as 45’s for a while, and for sure I got new Beach Boys albums, including Shut Down Vol. II from which I got to know this song.

By 1966, the side of Shut Down II (I think it was the second side) was on the record player spindle, along with side four of Blonde on Blonde and some other stuff I put on to hear every night as I went to sleep.

I remember liking this song a lot back then but have not thought about it for years (the food references, brought it up, I guess) but I was amazed when I listened that it is really a pretty tight little pop tune.

Pretty good words. Good Chuck Berry chords. Fabulous harmonies. Though the dullest break/solo in the history of time. I mean, Carl Wilson lays a couple of licks down during the finale: I wonder why they didn’t have him throw those in earlier?

Anyway, food, and being 14 aside, this is a really nice number from an era now long gone.  I have to say too, how sad hearing this makes me in way. I posted Brian Wilson on Saturday Night Live a while back. I noted how pathetic the performance was. In deference, surely, to how vibrant this stuff is.

Miss the real Brian.

Lunch Break: The Who, “Tattoo”

Well, since we have been talking about both selling out, and tattoos, it just seemed right to post this as some lunch break fun.

The Who Sell Out is my favorite album by the band, and I brought this disc into the tattoo parlor when I was inked with my Tigger/Owl tat (in memory of my late wife Cathy, and son Joey) as I thought it would be perfect background music (it was).

BTW, I love Keith’s playing, but I also think it is a good example of Townshend being frustrated with him when he says “can’t you just be a metronome?”

Night Music: Dire Straits, “Solid Rock”

I couldn’t watch the political news today. Too depressing.

So I streamed KTKE and on came the Straits, a band I had not heard for a while.

During the new wave rush, Dire Straits were a serious fave of mine, and Mark Knopfler was similarly both a fave guitar play, and songwriter too.

With riffs (dude fingerpicks, which makes me totally wonder how he gets such a throaty sound out of his leads sometimes) influenced by Richard Thompson (Knopfler once said he learned the most from listening to Thompson) and Dylan-esque words and vocals, Dire Straits were just different enough, just edgy enough, and way good enough to survive.

Somehow they seemed way smart enough too, which may sound snotty, but I mean it in the sense that the band played challenging music. But, I think if we all look at the bands we really loved the most–The Velvets, Replacements, The Stones, Dylan, Iggy, etc.–all dared us to ride along on their artistic and musical journey.

Dire Straits third album, Making Movies made my essentials list. Making Movies jumped the band ahead from their early sound to what sounded like new territory at the time. The entire album is fabulous, and since I was jonesing for a little crunch from Mark and his axe, here you go.

Sleep tight.

Lunch Break: REM, “What’s the Frequency Kenneth” and “Man on the Moon”

It is hard to appreciate just how on top of the Remnants Peter is till he leaves for a few days.

Meaning guilt is enough of an impetus for Steve and me to acknowledge the void, and to try and fill it up a tad.

So, I thought I would turn to a band I really have loved over their career, who have a great body of work, and yet who have barely merited a whisper in Remnantland.

I was a fan with my first listen to Radio Free Europe, and with their third album and the song Fall on Me the issue of buying their next disc sight unseen was beyond settled.

I do have all their albums, and I think I put their brilliant Automatic for the People on my essential 30 or 50 or however many albums we listed a few years back.

For a sample, I picked a rocker from the great Monster album, a song fostered by a news miscue elicited by Dan Rather, but not meant to be heard by the viewing public when he asked “What’s the frequency Kenneth”, ostensibly of the sound guy on the news show.  This is kind of a fun live version, with a couple of different performances spliced together.

For a second piece, a live treatment of the beautiful Man on the Moon that concludes said Automatic for the People as perfectly as does The End wind up Abbey Road.

Breakfast Blend: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, “Prove it all Night”

The Biletones have had as busy a summer–one that has compounded just how crazy my day job has been–playing no fewer than five gigs since June, with one more benefit ahead mid-October.

Demanding or not, it is big fun, not just playing, but playing live is among the greatest feelings I have experienced.

Unfortunately, because the band does have day jobs and busy lives, we only manage practice once a week, and with that many performances on top of one another, we have pretty much kept the same set list all summer.

And, needless to say, we have become sick of most of the songs we play, no matter how much we might like them at the core.

Since there is roughly a month between the last two shows this run, we did troll one another for song suggestions, coming up with roughly ten tunes new to us to throw onto the possibles for the October soiree.

One that made the cut was The Boss’s Prove it all Night, a great cut from his equally great Darkness on the Edge of Town record.

Darkness made my Essential 50 albums, and it clearly stands as my favorite Springsteen album amongst a very strong body of work.

Say what you will about Springsteen, being a superstar, dismissing his “art” due to his fame along with the spectacle of arena rock that follows him, but, mark my words, his band is as strong and tight as any other group whoever hit the stage, and no one is more dedicated–performance by performance–to delivering a quality and entertaining show to his minions as is Springsteen and his cartel.

Similarly, Bruce is an excellent song writer, penning a variety of numbers over the years that do indeed explore the angst and uncertainty of life that we associated with rock’n’roll. In fact, because Bruce and his band have endured, we have seen him grow and reflect upon life, not just as an artist, but as an aging and maturing one who accepts his life and fate and is able to translate that experience into songs that hit a chord with his audience.

If there is a problem with Bruce and the band, he has a voice, and they have a sound that seem to make it hard to break out. Rarely do the songs from album to album differ in essence and approach as say the Stones do when you compare Aftermath to Beggar’s Banquet to Their Satanic Majesty’s Request.

True, Bruce has had his more than interesting explorations, such as the uber-satisfying Nebraska but as noted, the essence of the band has been constant over the years, and thus I think as a result he gets dismissed a little.

In fact, Springsteen and the band have been largely missing from this site (there are other bands too I have thought of that deserve reminders of just how good they are) so I thought I would try to right.

The clip below is and excellent example of the Springsteen way, which is basically concocting a four-minute gem for an album, and then blowing it into a ten-minute tour de force live.

What is different about this clip, is that Bruce is the lead guitar player, and he delivers killer notes and tone (thank you Mr. Telecaster!). Roy Brittan also provides a  lovely keys in this treatment, but the guts all go to Bruce.