2 Hours Of 2 Tone

When you work out of the house, streaming a two hour concert in the bottom corner of the monitor is an acceptable use of screen space.  I’ve got no one to annoy if my speakers sneak up to eleven, no one to mock my chair-bound dance routines.

Admittedly, two hours of 2 Tone’s second-wave cockney-ska might be more than most of you can take.  But if you’ve got the inclination, this British live-in-concert film from 1981 is great stuff. It’s even got a charmingly paternal intro:

“It’s an off-beat top-tapping sound, a rhythm for their feet that takes high-spirited youngsters off the streets and into a music that speaks to them. When these bands start swinging, our young people are in total agreement. The only word for it is fun!”

A few bands on here everyone knows (The Beat/Madness/The Specials), a few I only know a little (The Bodysnatchers/The Selector), and there’s one I’ve never noticed:  Bad Manners.  Whoever these Bad Manners are, the big bald guy who leads the sweaty charge is everything a rude boy ought to be.

I can’t help but think how much I’d love to play in one of these acts – no one’s that great, but it all adds up.  Just a half-dozen friends going nuts for a 10-song set.  There’s room for everyone:  Blacks and whites; native sons bouncing to immigrant sounds; boys and girls; punks in leather, nerds with trombones. Racial harmony, world peace. International reconciliation.

Ska looks a lot like Heaven. Give this movie ten minutes, you just might see the light.


h/t to Dangerous Minds


Rock Of Ages

Above is just one slice of “The Timeline”  a rock-n-roll comic floating around the intertubes.  Please view the whole thing here:  http://ouchthatshot.com/the-timeline-the-full-rock-of-ages-comic/

Seemed to sum it up pretty well.

(Sum it up?  Summit up?  Climbing somewhere higher?  Is rock going anywhere?  I doubt it, but I’m ok with that. It’s just the folk music of our times, resonance dissipating with distance, sooner or later yelping a high-lonesome final cry, echoing from down in some holler. As ancient as oaks carved with the healed-over scars of young-lover’s initials. Lost off a forgotten path, brambled and disused.  Waiting to be digitally discovered by the robots of NPR 2500, reminding young tots of the importance of endangered Beatles, Leppards, Byrds and Monkees.)

Silence Gagged and Golden

You can thank me for keeping your RSS feed whistle-clean, but my oughtta-write-that list is about to burst.  There’s been a lot of nifty shiz that I’ve been up to over the last year or so that hasn’t made its way up to the blog.  And like trees falling in the woods, if no one’s there to hear, it’s like it never really happened.

So hear me now or hear me later.  I keep my lips zipped too much these days — and such silence is not spun of gold.

However, for Exhibit One, I’ll throw out a nicely-countered counter-example.  Lou Reed & Metallica’s exposition of what not to do when the mic’s been passed to you:

Lulu Grant Wentzel

The music doesn’t really bug me. Great art is hard to come by, and just because you throw some world-class talents (if you ask the fans) together doesn’t mean that the Godz will descend and mightily bless the frets. But it was worth a shot.

The budget’s what gets me.  Months before this came out, there were websites built and photos printed and talk-shows booked.  Did someone think they had a hit?  Strange to think about how much went into putting this on the shelf, to carefully craft the image, to have it all undone by some clerk with a well-witted sharpie and a little free time.

Oh well, I’ll jam with ya Lou. Give me a ring. It’ll be golden.

Ace Wields Mah Axe!

Grant Wentzel Kiss Guitar

Well, actually it’s the impostor Tommy Thayer who’s all gussied up in the Spaceman’s galactic get up on a recent issue of Guitar Player.  But that’s beside the point.

KISS really used to scare me.  There I was, a sweet little guy, about 9-years old, watching a perfectly innocent episode of 3-2-1- Contact on PBS.  The show did a little fieldtrip to explore the science of stage lighting and pyrotechnics and showman-type stuff.  Fun right?  It was until the concert began and out strutted the freaky foursome of KISS.

I was old enough to know about KISS:  To know that they were EVIL and that KISS stood for “Kids In Satan’s Service” and that they ate bloodied bats with long tongues and were blatantly anti-Christian and probably un-American too.  And I knew that I would never join them.  I would never turn into one of those long-haired teenagers that hung out at that house up on the corner and played metal music out of the open hatchbacks of their Trans-Ams.  They probably smoked cigarettes and snuck beers from their dad’s keg-o-rators, too.  No sir, that would never be me and that would never be my music.

The culture wars had just begun, but I knew that I would stand my ground.  Hand-in-hand with the Beaver, we’d fight the good fight to stop the People Against Goodness And Normalcy.  And Heavy Metal too.  It seems that we’d lost PBS to the dark side of libidinous liberalism, but that was just one battle, not the war.

(Warp ahead a couple of years or so.)

It was late one night during my past life of rock ‘n roll slummery.  I was still hovering around the 10th step of my ongoing post-hippie rehabilitation, when my buddy Chad “The Bad” popped by practice with an object of much interest.  Down on one knee, he reverently unlatched the black and curvy case before him.  A deal was struck and a check was written.  Glam unleashed, the time had come to spread some glitter.

Ace, I owe you an apology.

Police On My Back! That Was A Cover?

The Clash have always been ready and willing (and with impeccable taste) to borrow a tune, digging deep into the roots of reggae for such gems as Police & Thieves, Armagideon Time, and Pressure Drop; and a little old-fashioned American rock ‘n roll like Brand New Cadillac and I Fought The Law.

However, the fact that they covered one Eddy Grant, formerly of The Equals and most famously of Electric Ave., came as a surprise. Here’s the original:

And here’s The Clash:

Anachronistic Trick

For $30, this trick isn’t the cheapest one in the book, but it’s already done the job of snagging some attention for one of the hardest working bands in rock ‘n roll.

While many industry insiders get their new releases in oddball packaging to keep ’em off the ‘net for a little bit longer, the band explains that at this point in their career, “We’re kind of more worried about being ignored than being ripped off.”

I admit that I haven’t heard the album, but I’m curious:  How would this sound, on a nice vintage hi-fi in a faux-oak paneled basement, as compared to the mp3 version on the computer in front of you?

I’d rather surrender myself to the shag-carpeted comfort of the former.

Un-Mixed Tapes

Eventually, I’ll get back to some real writing, but in the meantime here’s an interesting take on old media spooled out into something new.  more here.

When There Can Be More Than One.

Saw this over on the Melvillian blog this morning.  The whole series is here, and well-worth a look if you enjoy visualizing your puns.

And So It Begins

Does this man look happy about it?   I’m not seeing it.  However, I would like to point out that he’s ready to pounce on the old school correspondence with a blast from his ready-to-roll dual-pen launch pad.  (I used to have one of those as a kid.  My grandpa always had a closet full of them with little gold plaques that read things like, “Pittsburgh Business Services — Where it’s our business to service your business!”)

Full ash try too.  Ah, the good old days, when every meeting started with a firm shake and the admonition: “The bar’s over there, help yourself!”

That all changed back at the start of the ’80s.  This broadcast blames it all on the MBAs.  It might be on to something; certainly insightful and with cool Australian accents, just like Bon Scott & Hugh Jackman.

Mister Tambourine Man

Combing two great tastes to taste even greater together, Shawn Feeney has sketched out some visual puns set high upon the stages of rock ‘n roll.  More of his series “Musical Anatomy” perusable here.