Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The Standells - "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White"
Excerpts from That '70s Show: The Complete Guide, by Bill Tuomala. Written on spec. Unpublished.
Hyde: Punk is the nihilistic outcry against the corporate rock 'n' roll takeover. It's the soundtrack of the revolution, man.
Forman: I thought you said Blue Oyster Cult was the soundtrack of the revolution.
But Hyde instinctively knew that both punk and the metal of Blue Oyster Cult had the potential to be such soundtracks: punk had the anger and the outcry, but metal spoke to the proletariat in America, where punk was for college kids. Hyde would also utter populist slogans like "The three true branches of the government are: military, corporate, and Hollywood."
That '70s Show exhibited a class consciousness not seen in prime time much in that era (or any.) Blessed with being a sitcom, it could get away with it. Freaks and Geeks, which debuted a year later, also showed such honesty but was a dramedy and didn't make it through a full showing of its first season.
Hyde spent his early years in a broken home until his mother abandoned him when he was a teen. He was taken in by the Formans, where Red Forman - a straight-talking, no b.s. Old Mil man - would come to admire hime more than his own son Eric, the kid with a perpetual smirk who laughs at his own jokes
In the first season Halloween episode, it is revealed that Hyde was meant for academic brilliance until he was blamed for ruining a classmate's project, a wrong actually committed by Forman, who never 'fessed up. Meaning Forman learned early that the kid lower than him on the economic scale could be a handy scapegoat. In season two, he would blame Hyde for stealing his stash of cash that he had hid in his Candy Land game box, it would turn out Red had borrowed it in order to have money to get the water heater fixed.
In the second season episode "Burning Down The House", Hyde claims to have been making out with the popular and fetching Kat Peterson (Amy Adams, yessir), Forman and Donna don't believe him, but she is soon seen leaving his bedroom.
Hyde: "She's slummin' it, I'm lovin' it."
Jackie, a spoiled pretty rich girl, plans a small dinner party where she imagines her friends as aristocratic, intellectual elites. (Dark-skinned foreign exhange student Fez is, of course, the servant. With an English accent.) Kelso invites everybody, the dinner party turns into a regular messy teen party, and chaos ensues. At the party Kat ignores Hyde, but once her friends leave, she approaches Hyde. He says: "You know, for a rich girl you're kinda skanky. C'mon let me show you the garage." They leave to go make out. Hyde being a teen male and preferring to have a hot makeout buddy that he doesn't have to spend any other time with, is fine with this arrangement. The downfall of his future relationship with Jackie was that he ended up a boyfriend and was expected to act as such once Jackie escaped her greasy fantasies like that one where she replicated Olivia Newton-John in her Grease-y tight black pants.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Jason And The Scorchers - "Absolutely Sweet Marie"
When in 1985 after returning from spring break in the Chicago area where my parents were then living, I took a trip to the record store at the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks to buy albums by two groups I had heard in Chicago on the radio and MTV: Run-DMC and Jason and the Scorchers. The Scorchers' Lost and Found LP quickly caught on with a few of us in the dorm. My pal Gary then went out and bought a prior release, the Fervor EP, taped it, then (bless him) handed the EP over to me to keep.
The Scorchers' combination of country and rock 'n' roll - cowpunk, some called it - provided a map to other cowpunk and roots rock artists I gained an affinity for in the mid-eighties: Del Fuegos, Steve Earle, Georgia Satellites, Social Distortion, True Believers. This in turn made the late eighties-into-nineties music of the Geardaddies, Jayhawks, Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo, and Wilco all the more welcome. And gave me the insight to look back and get into the Flying Burrito Brothers, maybe my favorite band ever to sing along with.
Upon digging the Scorchers' Fervor EP out of the archives, it is apparent to me now, in 2013, that the Scorchers were playing a game at age 19 that I was not aware of. The production team includes Jim Dickinson, the late Memphis legend who among many many other accomplishments produced Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers album. The credits on the back of the EP include a "Thank You Friends" (a song from said Big Star LP) and it was recorded in part at Sam Phillips Recording Studio and mixed in part at Ardent Studio, both of these are Memphis recording institutions.
And so, on the first song of this EP, they go about and cover Bob Dylan off of Blonde On Blonde (recorded in Nashville, and the Scorchers were orginally known as "Jason and the Nashville Scorchers", looks like the Scorchers beat Steve Earle to the punch by years in deciding to record in Memphis rather than Nashville to avoid the tinniness of the sound.) For this one they dropped the usual production team of the rest of the EP, it was instead guided by Terry Manning of Stax Records and Ardent Studio fame, who they also wisely had produce their first full-length. Their version of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is, um, scorching. Driving rhythm section, inventive guitar work, soulful harmonica (!), and distinctive bleep-you-if-you-don't-like-my-accent vocals. Over before you want it to be, on "Absolutely Sweet Marie" Jason and the Scorchers proceed to own the song, which is a very Hendrix thing to do. I cannot think of a higher compliment.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Black Sabbath - "Children Of The Grave"
The only advantage I can see to this winter that won't end is that winter is metal weather and spring's weather is meant for cheerful clever pop or the Beach Boys or something bright and nasally I don't want to deal with. If you're listening to the likes of Black Sabbath's gloom 'n doom and it helps make sense of the gloom 'n doom of the gray skies, threatening snow, and whipping wind, then you are in a better place. Not to mention we got North Korea threatening to start a war and while sixties peace-and-lovers don't like to admit it, seventies greats Sabbath could match up with anybody in the Woodstock lineup when it came to anti-war and don't-blow-up-the-world songs, plus had a sound that stood up to repeated listenings. Unlike say, Country Joe and the Fish.
"Children Of The Grave" has a Love Conquers All message that sixties snobs should appreciate, the "problem" for the hippies was that Sabbath riffed away in headbanging glee, with the bass taking the lead early alongside drums that sound like an incoming thunderstorm, soon to be joined by guitar effects that mimic missile strikes, and Ozzy's raucous vocals. So yeah, it's not Dylan, the Airplane, the Beatles, or (thank the Lord) Joan Baez. It's murky metal telling kids they have the power to make the world a better place.
Sixties sellouts would hear this tune in some form years down the line anyways when Blondie used the exact same beat from "Children of the Grave" in their hit "Call Me." So have some fun and close your eyes and imagine your favorite sixties casualty in a disco in 1980, having giving up protests and changing the world, having ditched weed for coke, in white blazer, shirt unbuttoned, showing swank necklaces. He ponders Reagan's chances in November, dancing to that Black Sabbath beat.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
April Is National Poetry Month
The Guess Who - "Bus Rider"
Beer On The Bus (Smokes In The Car)
Beer on the bus
December after Christmas
Twenty-four cans of Premium
The Friendly Beer
Beer on the bus
The bus, not the beer count
Step on board
Driver smiles, nods
You'd love to offer
You guys blasting
While the bus cruises
Or maybe Dennis Hopper
took the 18 Large over
You're passing out Premos
to keep the passengers cool
Hopper gets pissed
He's hiding, sober
falls for you