Archive for January, 2008

Reconsidering Roth

January 25, 2008

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Long has the debate raged on whether David Lee Roth is an idiot-savant or just an idiot. The illustrious Phil N. sent me this today. It will end the debate for you; I’m not sure which way.

Runnin’ with the Devil

I Hate (and Love) People who Illustrate that I Have No Musical Talent

January 17, 2008

Most great guitarists can’t sing. Most great singers aren’t great musicians. Most virtuosic guitarists can’t write lyrics or melodies for shit. This motherfucker can do it all. And it pisses me off.

If you’ve never heard Fairport Convention, you are missing something. This is from their early years when they rocked out a bit more. Richard Thompson on tastey psychedelic leads and lead afro.

A Little Help from My Friends

January 14, 2008

I’ve been otherwise engaged the past few days, but a few friends have sent me some wheat they separated from the chafe. The first is from John H., but you may know him as The Axer, The Missing Link, or Edwin Van Hooydonck. Or you may not.

This is perhaps the most profound song of the English Pub-rock movement.

This comes from my longtime friend and sometimes bandmate Phil N. He sits at his drumthrone even as we speak waiting for Neil Peart to somehow be incapacitated.

He called this “a rare David Gilmour rocking-out moment.” It comes from a Pretty Things reunion show.

(Re)discoveries

January 9, 2008

Gil-Scott Heron is best known through hip-hop samples, but as you can see, he is both a gifted poet and singer, and unfortunately, often a prophet. I am fortunate enough to have had a friend in college cool enough to be a fan of his. What a subtle killer band.

An incredible reinvention of the closer from my favorite record bar-none Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Chills guaranteed.

Charlie Wilson’s Book of Secrets

January 6, 2008

For someone who loves movies, I don’t see very many, particularly at the theater. The fact that I’ve seen two movies in two weeks is pretty much shocking. I almost see a lot of movies, but my girl and I always talk ourselves out of it somehow. Either the showtimes are too early or too late, or we just can’t bear the crowds at the suburban multiplex. We tell ourselves, “We’ll just wait until it hits Netflix.” By the time it does, we’re often not as excited over it and don’t bother. As of late, this cycle has, unfortunately, become the rule instead of the exception.

But on the day after Christmas, the stars came into alignment, or misalignment, depending on your point of view, and we found ourselves with some friends at the suburban multiplex to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It seemed like the thing to do. You’ve simply got to see at least one holiday schlockbuster; it’s the patriotic duty of all Americans, isn’t it?

There is undeniably a certain innocent charm to the first film in the series. The historical scavenger hunt is a light piece of cheesy fun, but the second film doesn’t quite achieve the same vibe. It apes it’s predecessor in every possible way, with a few tacked on cliches involving the rekindling of romances, the most sickening of which is between Cage’s Ben Gate’s estranged parents. It’s fine to drag John Voight through the shit, he’s already done it to himself, (His journey from Midnight Cowboy to Coming Home to Anaconda is quite the cautionary Hollywood tale.), but let’s leave Helen Mirren out of this, if you don’t mind. I never thought I’d feel embarrassed for her at the movies.

A few of the historical things are interesting and fun, but I’m just not capable of the level of suspension of disbelief required to embrace this film. My more computer-saavy friends laughed hysterically every time the comic relief/tech guy hacked into some security system in seconds with practically no equipment. The movie is good for unintentional laughs. The once genuinely interesting Nick Cage’s hair was the primary topic of conversation as we walked to our respective cars. How much of it is his? What a weird dye job! And who doesn’t hate an adventure movie where the villain is not really a villain. Come on, Ed Harris! Did I mention that it takes fucking forever for the action to actually get started?

On the flip side, the same friends and I took a chance on Charlie Wilson’s War a few days later and were richly rewarded. The film tells the true story of a Texas congressman’s contributions to helping the Afghan Mujahideen turn back the Soviet invasion of their country in the 1980’s, and the impact of this on today’s polictical landscape. I know. It doesn’t sound like fun, but it sure as hell is.

Despite the star power on display both behind, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and legendary director Mike Nichols, and in-front of the camera, I had somewhat low expectations. I’m not sure why, perhaps a National Treasure hangover. I’m not really big on Julia Roberts, either, never have been.

Tom Hanks is in the dubious position of being so good at what he does that he’s taken for granted. It’s not like Jack Nicholson being Jack and chewing up the scenery. He is the real thing. It’s a blast to see him playing a character who is morally flawed instead of the usual Jimmy Stewart roles he’s given. He plays the title charcter with great charm, style, and surprising sexuality.

As expected, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is savagely funny as the dumpy CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, and Julia Roberts is refreshingly tongue-in-cheek as socialite Joanne Herring. Her aura of Hollywood glamour is put to good use here. It’s probably the most I’ve ever enjoyed her in a film.

Does the movie gloss over some finer political points in it’s effort to entertain? I’m sure. If you’re looking for a documentary, go rent one. If you want a well-written, well-acted, well-paced film brought to you by some of the most talented people in the movie business, go see Charlie Wilson’s War. When one of my friends excitedly commented on the sheer massiveness of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s moustache, he meant it as a compliment.

The Old Grey Whistle Test

January 6, 2008

See what I mean about The Old Grey Whistle Test:

My favorite Tom Waits song from my favorite Tom Wait’s record, Small Change.

The late great Bob Stinson giving a perfect Westerberg pop song a generous dose of danger.

Fuck yes. Tell me that albino is not a bad motherfucker. Back and forth from Moog keytar to sax to a drum duel and back again?!?!

Two Things David Bowie Loves (Other Than Lou Reed and Mick Jagger’s Cocks)

January 3, 2008

Robert Wyatt was the drummer and vocalist for jazz-prog pioneers The Soft Machine during the late 60’s. In 1973, he fell from a third-story window during a party and was paralyzed from the waist down. His career as a drummer ended, Wyatt has made a series of eccentric solo albums and soundtracks, including this cover of Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding from 1983. The performance comes from the old BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test. If you dare type that show into youTube’s search engine, take a jar to pee in and a granola bar, because you will be stuck at the computer for a long fucking while. You’ll see.

I bought the vinyl reissue of The Pretty Thing’s S.F. Sorrow about a year ago, and I finally grew some balls and invested some time in it. It is extraordinary as advertised. I read an interview with The Replacement’s Paul Westerberg when I was 19 or 20 where he cited them as an influence, and was intrigued. Over the years, I’ve heard bits and pieces of their stuff on Nuggets and various Mojo compilations. It only took me 15 or so years to finally get around to hearing them properly!

Anyway, their guitarist, Dick Taylor, was a founding member of The Rolling Stones with Jagger, Richards, and Brian Jones, a bit of trivia I can’t believe I didn’t know until now, but he didn’t want to be relegated to bass. If there’s anything I understand, it’s that, because I get stuck playing bass in all of my fucking bands. My musical life has been quite a lesson in humility. Midnight to Six Man is an early semi-hit, and one the great mod anthems.