Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Peter Laughner & Friends - "In The Bar"
circa mid-1970s

I lead a boring life. I watch UND hockey games on a laptop hooked up to my TV, binge on Netflix, and read a lot. My social life, as The Music Machine once infamously sang, is a dud. Avoiding people is sort of a twisted pastime of mine. But with writing I can let my imagination run wild, put it on paper, and then revise it from there. It's truly the most fun I have, even if apathy, lack of discipline, and other assorted mental landmines abound. Sometimes it gets dreary, sometimes it's just a chore. But in the good times? As Herb Brooks said in Miracle: "Ever see him when his game's on?"

At some point, the small fun project I did to keep the writing muscles warmed up became the focus of the writing. And that's just fine. Time to write, a forum to present it, and the promise of this being possible again next week. Notebook in the bookbag, index cards in its pockets, a laptop on a clean desk with a lamp. That is all I ask.

And one more thing, a quote from Peter Laughner: "Here I sit, sober and perhaps even lucid, on the sort of winter's day that makes you realize a New Year is just around the corner and you've got very little to show for it, but if you are going to get anything done on this planet, you better pick it up with both hands and DO IT YOURSELF."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Jack Scott - "There's Trouble Brewin'"

Giovanni Domenico Scafone Jr - he later went by the decidedly non-ethnic "Jack Scott" - was born in Windsor, Ontario, and moved to Detroit as a youth. He later served in the army, meaning that he was the rare man who left Canada to come to the United States to serve in the military. At one point, he formed a group called the Southern Drifters. This was clever, a nod to his Windsor roots. Because everybody (except Journey) knows that Windsor is south of Detroit.

When you think of the rockabilly sound, Jack Scott's music is likely what you have in mind. Swaggering beat, incisive guitar leads, and a greasy wannabe tough guy on the vocal. (I hear more Jack Scott than Elvis Presley in Johnny Bravo's voice.) On "There's Trouble Brewin'", he finds out that his gal has been stepping out with Santa Claus. He hints at malice towards old Saint Nick but ends up declaring the old man to be "a goof." Whew. As the man said: "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Jeff Beck Group - "Morning Dew"

Earlier this month while doing my research reading the Wikipedia entry on "Hey Joe", I came across notes about Tim Rose and "Morning Dew." I was left shaking my head (more Twitter-like "smh" than a literal shaking of my noggin) on account of 1) said Mr. Rose, and, 2) Claims about the Grateful Dead. First off: Tim Rose had claimed "Hey Joe" is a traditional song - nope - and also changed like two words in "Morning Dew" and somehow absconded off with a songwriting credit. Who was this Tim Rose joker? Well, he was a folkie who early in his career had been in a band with somebody named Jim Hendricks and they called themselves The Big Three. Note this group did not later mutate into the formidable power trio The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Rose ended up being bigger in England than the US (natch.)

Then we have the Grateful Dead. Wikipedia says "Morning Dew" was made famous by the Dead, a tidbit I was unaware of. I didn't even know the Dead were associated with the song. Me, undoubtably like many other hard rock fans, had discovered the tune via the Jeff Beck Group's Truth album, on that one Rod Stewart had been the vocalist. He was a notorious folkie in his early days and I'm guessing he didn't even learn the song from the Dead.

And here's what happens when I drink lots of coffee and do my research read Wikipedia and start getting near that late sixties heavy British rock rabbit hole. I realize that: The Truth album leads off with a cover of the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" - on which Beck had played. And on the Jimmy Page & Black Crowes album Live At The Greek, they play "Shapes of Things" in the style of the Beck Group, but the guitar solos are drawn from both the Yardbirds and Beck Group versions of the song. And Robert Plant's Dreamland album from 2002 contains covers of both "Hey Joe" and "Morning Dew." Page and Plant's band Led Zeppelin? First known as The New Yardbirds.

Oh, and the Beck Group's take on "Morning Dew"? It's folk rock at its finest and/or heavy rock at its most poignant. Chilling stuff.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Los Locos del Ritmo - "Hey Joe"
circa mid-sixties


Mexican Rock And Roll Rumble And Psych-Out South Of The Border. Ordered in the nineties via mail order. No, not Amazon Marketplace, where you can buy old CDs for like a penny and get them for four bucks total with shipping and the third-party dealer mails them to your door in those cute little padded envelopes. (And you hope the mailman leaves them on the floor in the lobby beneath your mailbox so you don't have to make a special trip to the post office solely for your meager little score.) No, mail order, where you had a catalog of a company's releases, you filled out the order form - having to use tiny little print on those things, right? - calculate your shipping costs and sales tax (if applicable), stuff it in an envelope with a check or money order, and then wait for your goods to show in the mail. How quaint! Almost as much fun as going to your local record shop, asking the dude behind the counter if he could order you Mott the Hoople's Brain Capers album, and he'd flip through this huge catalog the size of two Minneapolis phone books, and he'd say: "Yeah, we can order that. Should be in next Tuesday. We'll call you."

Thankfully nowadays, songs like those on Mexican Rock And Roll Rumble And Psych-Out South Of The Border - mid-sixties south-of-the-border garage bands doing rock 'n' roll songs, singing them in Spanish - are all over the web. On YouTube, on random sites, and on Amazon, where I'm eyeing up buying Los Nuggetz for myself for Christmas.


My favorite song on Mexican Rock And Roll Rumble is where Los Locos del Ritmo ferociously attack "Hey Joe."

1. It's always fun to hear "Hey Joe" played at the faster speed. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's version is the one most well-known these days, and part of the genius of his version is that Jimi slowed the song - normally a fast-paced one that was up there with "Louie Louie" in being covered by garage bands coast to coast - down to make it unlike any of the prior versions.

2. "Hey Joe" seems like it's an old folk tune, but it's not. Lester Bangs: "There was this one song called 'Hey Joe' that literally everybody and his fuckin' brother not only recorded but claimed to have written even though it was obviously the psychedelic mutation of some hoary old folk song which was about murderin' somebody for love just like nine-tenths of the rest of them hoary folk ballads." (I also used this quote in a blog post last year about The Litter. I went on to write: "[Versions of 'Hey Joe'] all kinda sound the same once you've heard The Jimi Hendrix Experience's reimagining anyway." I am now declaring May of 2012 Bill Tuomala to be wrong! THIS VERSION of "Hey Joe" by Los Locos del Ritmo is uniquely brilliant and clocks in at #2 after the Hendrix version on my all-time "Hey Joe" list!)

3. This is recycled material from me, I've used it in my zine and on the radio: Since I don't know Spanish and Los Locos del Ritmo were from Mexico … I am dying to know - In this version of the tune, where does Joe plan to escape to?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
David Essex - "Rock On"

I'm guessing this is the only David Essex song you'll ever need. Certainly, it's the only one most of us have ever heard, though I wonder if its flipside "On and On" is some sort of continuation of the single. Horribly covered by some soap opera actor in the eighties, in the nineties REM was smart enough to reclaim the song by quoting it on their eerie single "Drive."

It sounded out of place on the radio in the early seventies, and likely would in any era. Bass-driven and echo-heavy, it's first verse is an homage to old rock 'n' roll without sounding like any sort of rock 'n' roll at all. (John Fogerty had to be nonplussed upon hearing it.) "And where do we go from here?" anticipates Guns n' Roses "Where do we go now?" in "Sweet Child O' Mine." More significantly, the funhouse look at rock 'n' roll of "Rock On" anticipates the brilliantly haunting book Rock Dreams, which was released just a year later.

This tune leaves more questions than it answers. The question bugging me this week: Is "Jimmy Dean" a confidence that he knows the late James Dean on the familiar basis or does it to harken to singer Jimmy Dean, he of "Big Bad John" note, who is also known for his microwavable breakfast fare?