Reminds me of home
ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK continues with a special FRIDAY QUESTION...
Is there a song that reminds you of your home town?
Diane H. -- Probably "Small Town" by Mellancamp, because it doesn't get much smaller than Mallard, Iowa, and I usually feel affection for the time I spent there, which is the feeling represented in the song.
Annika H. -- "Cleopatra (Comin' at Ya)." It reminds me of Dubuque because I go to dance and that is my recital song.
Mike D. -- The hippie-era "Dubuque Blues" by The Association or "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey and The Duke)" by Terry Cashman, because they both mention the Key City.
Kerstin H. -- Loretta Lynn's "Portland Oregon."
Erik H. -- Rodger Collins' 1970 soul classic "Foxy Girls in Oakland" always makes me -- and probably everybody else who hears it -- think of Oakland. Collins never hit it big, except in the Bay Area. He eventually converted to Islam and ran an appliance repair store. With this song, at least, he created an enduring anthem about Oakland and some fine females: "All of the guys in Frisco, don't do nothing all day," Collins sang, "but think about the girls in Oakland."
I was driving home from work tonight in the rain, listening to Tower of Power.
These guys -- all 15 of them or so it seems -- had to be Oakland's finest band.
"What is Hip" is a fabulous song. It came out in 1973 and only reached No. 39 on the R&B charts (and a why-bother-noting-it No. 91 on the pop charts). Were record buyers crazy?
This song is a bonafide FUNK CLASSIC if I have ever heard one (and I have heard about five or so).
That horn section could do just about anything. Lenny Williams was a great singer. Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka were top-drawer song writers.
During their 1973-74 peak, everything about Tower of Power was brilliant.
With all due respect to the Pointer Sisters, ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK hereby selects Tower of Power as OAKLAND'S FINEST.
Now, go and FUNKIFIZE!!!
Who is the coolest person born in Oakland?
I am home with a sick kid today.
Annika was up half the night vomiting. She took my place in our bed and relegated me to her bed, where the cats spent the night trying to sit on my face.
Now I am sipping coffee in a bid to remain awake, listening to the Small Faces ("Hey Girl" is a killer tune) and spending this day of ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK trying to determine who was the COOLEST PERSON BORN IN OAKLAND.
Besides myself, of course.
Reagan-era U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese was born in Oakland. Nope. Not him.
Recently waived NBA player Antonio Davis was born in Oakland. He was suspended for five games earlier this season for climbing into the stands after his wife got into a confrontation with a fan in Chicago. Hmm... We'll check back on what happens next before proclaiming him the COOLEST.
Former Oakland Athletics batboy and alleged rapper M.C. Hammer was born in Oakland. He might be the UNCOOLEST person born in Oakland.
Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day was born in Oakland. He's cool, yeah... but has he ever wielded a LIGHT SABRE?
I guess it is settled, then. The COOLEST PERSON BORN IN OAKLAND is... Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill?
Wait a second... that can't be right.
Let me look around and find some other people who were born in Oakland. There has got to be somebody else.
Nikki Sudden, R.I.P.
Swell Maps frontman Nikki Sudden died Sunday after a show the night before at New York's Knitting Factory. He was 49. Swell Maps were one of the most influential of Britain's do-it-yourself punk outfits. I have been listening to such songs as "Read About Seymour" this morning after hearing the sad news.
All about Oakland
In recognition of ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK, here's some things you might not know about my birthplace:
Oakland is home to at least 100 spoken languages.
Oakland was once known as "Detroit of the West" and by 1920 what was once a Chevrolet plant produced about 100 cars per day.
Oakland was reportedly the home of the nation's first phone booth.
Oakland welcomed 65,000 new, permanent residents following the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
Oakland led the West Coast in shipbuilding during World War II, boasting 35 percent of the total output.
Oakland and its shipbuilding drew black laborers from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere during World War II, and now Oakland and the East Bay is home to nearly 300,000 of the Bay Area's 575,000 African Americans.
Oakland's 550-acre port is among the top 20 ports in the world.
For more great facts about Oakland, check out the Oaklandish Web site, located here, and the Soul of America Web site, located here.
How to love Oakland, but not the A's
In recognition of ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK, here are four easy steps to NOT LIKING Oakland's professional baseball team, the OAKLAND ATHLETICS:
1. Grow up as a committed SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS fan. Having a rabid Giants fan for a grandmother certainly helps.
2. Begin following your beloved Giants during a fallow period -- say, the mid-1970s -- that happens to coincide with multiple World Series appearances by the team from across the Bay.
3. Attend a World Series game in which your beloved Giants fall to the host A's while insufferable, heckling Oakland fans surround you. This scenario happened to me on Oct. 15, 1989. Mike Moore scattered four hits over 7 innings pitched and Terry Steinback hit a three-run homer for the home team. What made it even worse? A loud-mouthed Dodger fan was sitting right behind me in the bleachers. I couldn't wait to boo the Dodgers the next season!
And two days later a massive earthquake collapsed the Cypress Structure, folded part of the Bay Bridge and caused a terrible fire in San Francisco's Marina District.
4. Really, those preceding three reasons are MORE THAN ENOUGH to dislike the A's. Grrrrr.... !!!
The Oak Grove by the Sweathouse
A person can move thousands of miles but one place remains the same -- the place they were born.
This year marks my 40th birthday, so I am taking time out this week to celebrate my birthplace, "the oak grove by the sweathouse."
Oakland, Calif. was originally called Ensinal de Temescals -- "the oak grove by the sweathouse" -- as the area featured numerous temescals, the sweathouses the Native American inhabitants used in their ritual purification rites.
Temescal Park, located near the junction of highways 24 and 13, serves as a reminder of Oakland's origins.
I was born in Oakland on May 3, 1966.
This week, I will celebrate my birthplace during ROUTE 1's OAKLAND WEEK.
Join in the fun! Read a Jack London book! Quote Gertrude Stein ("there's no there there")! Listen to Tower of Power! Create your own Black Panther Party!
Go wild... it's OAKLAND WEEK!
So long, Buck
Buck Owens probably did more for California country music than any one. He placed Bakersfield on the music map, along with performers such as Merle Haggard, Wynne Stewart and Tommy Collins.
I was so sad to hear that Buck died age 76.
I will listen to the Buckaroos the remainder of the day.
FRIDAY -- HIC! -- QUESTION
The Route 1 staff gave up alcohol for Lent. With Easter in sight, the FRIDAY QUESTION seeks the perfect song to accompany the reintroduction of booze...
Ken B. -- "One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer "
Rick T. -- "Think I'll Just Sit Here And Drink" by Merle Haggard! Just listen to the words and you'll see why!
Dave B. -- My on worst enemy - Lit
Lisa Y. -- It's gotta be "Margaritaville." Or I suppose that song with the chorus "I woke up this mornin' and I got myself a be-er." I fondly remember belting that one out at a "sing a long" at a great blues bar in Chicago
Diane H. -- "Beer for Breakfast" by The Replacements. The opening line says it all: "All I wanna do is drink beer for breakfast." I mean, who doesn't agree with that? The best song about the day AFTER you get drunk is "Sunday Mornin Comin Down," but that's a whole different category.
Madelin F. -- If I'm sitting in a bar, and I'm ordering something I haven't had in 40 days and 40 nights, I'm thinking "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, because everybody always joins in and all night long you're stuck on "la-da-da--diddy-dahhhh." Also, any sort of polka gets folks riled up like when they play "In Heaven, Ther Ain't No Beer" at the Hawkeye games. Or, how 'bout anything Mellancamp, like "Jack and Diane," "Little Pink Houses," or "Small Town" because he really should only be listened to while holding a beer. Try it. You'll agree. Any Mellancamp song, beer in hand, and just let it flow. Yes, let it flow.
Ellen B. -- Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville"
Erik H. -- "Reach for the knob miss the whole damn door." The Jimmy Liggins' R&B song "Drunk" perfectly sums up what could happen if I leap back into alcoholic consumption with too much fervor.
They don't look like rock stars
It's Four Jacks and a Jill!
Four Jacks and a Jill
Somehow, today's sunshine made me scroll down to Four Jacks and a Jill on the iPod today.
Led by Glenys Lynne and Clive Harding, Four Jacks and a Jill were arguably South Africa's top band in the 1960s. I've got their 1968 masterpiece 45 "Master Jack" on the iPod.
It reached No. 8 in the United States and topped the charts in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was home in South Africa, however, where the band made their mark. They were the first local group to earn a gold record for their 1967 song "Timothy."
Of course, being Apartheid-era South Africa, the Four Jacks and a Jill story is not all good news. The band were barred from playing a Cape Town gig by the government. Although the government allowed American R&B artist Percy Sledge to perform to whites, it disallowed Four Jacks and a Jill to perform before black audiences.
Luv this stuff
I am sipping coffee, listening to West Coast Revival's smokin' cover version of "Feelin' Alright" and thinking about how much I love the Luv N' Haight record label.
Based in California, Luv N' Haight reissue rare soul and funk tracks from the 1960s and 1970s.
Label officials actually track down the artists involved, so that proper royalty payments can occur.
Often, the recording artists made one or two singles before quitting the music business altogether for something a little more stable. The phone calls from Luv N' Haight come as a complete surprise: The artists can't believe anyone REMEMBERS their minute contribution to soul music history, let alone that anyone wants to REISSUE this stuff.
It's great stuff. The brilliant "California Soul" compilation includes Sweet Stuff's "Freaky (to You)" cover version, Mike James Kirkland's eight-minute "Hang on in There," Cool Benny's "Wobble Cha" and loads more.
Some songs were only popular in certain cities. Other songs were only popular in certain NEIGHBORHOODS. Now that's rare!
It's all great, though, unlike some "rare" songs that should have stayed rare because they are not all that good.
Check out the Luv N' Haight catalog, located at this Web site here.
Been Caught Stealing
We live in an unoriginal age of recycled music, with a preponderance of cover versions, "songs" that amount to nothing more than original gems cannibalized by lazy producers and a music industry apparently unable to appreciate the irony of hounding "stealing" file sharers.
But enough of my soap box.
The great, newcomer music blog 2 Minutes of Bliss 2, located here, recently posted the 1972 soul instrumental "Sliced Tomatoes" by The Just Brothers.
Apart from being a catchy track, it serves to underline my point.
The composition -- featuring a twangy surf-rock guitar part -- was used liberally when Fatboy Slim created his "Rockafeller Skank." Now, I love Fatboy Slim (all the way back to the Housemartins days), and he does add other sounds to the mix to create a gumbo effect.
Others, however, are not so careful with the vintage music they have recycled. The end result is a dearth of talent... and declining music sales, perhaps?
Happy Anniversary from Route 1
Route 1 celebrates a year of blogging this week and readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
What song would you want playing at a party?
Diane H. -- I think I'd choose "Hot, Hot, Hot" as a good party anthem. Cheesy? Sure. But who can resist singing along to the "oh-a-oh-aaa-oh-a-oh-I" chorus and leading the conga line around the room when it kicks in?
Ellen B. -- Black Eyed Peas - My Humps...
Jill H. -- We are Family! Oh yeah, it's a good one to get folks swaying' to the music and happy!
Dave B. -- "Brass Monkey" or the whole Licensed to Ill album by the Beastie Boys
Tom J. -- "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince
Kerstin H. -- "We are Family" by Sister Sledge
Mike D. -- "Love Shack" by The B52s, because of its goofiness. OK now, everybody sing along... "If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says 15 miles to the Lo-o-o-ove Shack!"
Rick T. -- "Runaround Sue." Everybody loves to sing to that one.
Inger H. -- I made a mix recently for a friend's party and could not imagine not including Matt Pond PA's "Halloween" off of Several Arrows Later
Erik H. -- "Festival 68 (Run Come Celebrate)" by the Techniques. Beatiful voices. A bouncy tune. "Run,
Run Come Have Some Fun, Let us Celebrate." Thanks for a year of Route 1 support!
The Chords... featuring cousins
Bands with cousins sometimes work out. The Beach Boys with Mike Love and the Wilson brothers come to mind. At least, until Love and Brian Wilson began hating each other.
The Chords were one of the most promising bands when they hit the UK Mod Revival scene in 1979. Indeed, they tried to distance themselves from the scene... they did not want to be pigeonholed.
Formed by cousins by Billy Hassett and Martin Mason, The Chords produced at least four great singles: "Something's Missing," "Maybe Tomorrow," "The British Way of Life" and "In My Street."
They probably sounded too much like The Jam for their own good, and by November 1980 Martin and the others booted cousin Billy out of the band.
Although The Chords split for good in September 1981 (barring occasional reunions... without Billy), I have always kept their songs close at hand.
On a rainy/snowy day like today, I will be blaring The Chords and waiting for spring.
Mod Revival Morning with LTS
One of my favorite musical styles has always been the Mod Revival. In 1979, fresh off the heels of punk and with the film version of The Who's "Quadrophenia" looming large, bands hopped on their scooters, pulled on their parkas, strapped on their Rickenbackers and began rocking with a hint of R&B and ska.
Sure it was derivative of 1960s bands such as Small Faces, Creation and of course the Who. But it was fun rock-n-roll, too, with bands such as Merton Parkas, The Chords, Squire and (at least early on) The Jam cranking out catchy, sing-a-long tunes.
This morning I am listening to my "Bank Holiday" playlist on the iPod as I prepare for work.
The playlist includes a pair of songs by Long Tall Shorty. Sometimes known as "LTS" on the scene, Long Tall Shorty fit the bill as a classic Mod Revival band. Sharp tunes... Sharp clothes... They were "the face."
Keith Mono (vocals), Stewart England (guitar), Tony Perfect (guitar), Jimmy Grant (bass) and Mark Reynolds (drums) even named themselves after a Kinks song. How great is that?
Eh! Eh! Ehhhh!!!
I have been watching the first season of "Little Britain" on DVD this week and laughing my butt off.
The sketch comedy show starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas is hysterically brilliant, particularly later in the series.
Why later in the series?
That's when you get to know the recurring characters well enough to anticipate their antics (better than the characters playing opposite them).
I love Anne. She's the patient at Steven Spielberg Psychiatric Hospital in Little Bentcock who continually terrorizes the perpetually accommodating Dr. Lawrence. Until her cellular phone rings, at which point she answers quite calmly and normally in a man's voice.
"Eh! Eh! Ehhhh!"
"Little Britain" is renowned for its catch phrases. I am afraid I will be saying Anne's "Eh! Eh! Ehhhh!" catch phrase continually now, and only a scant number of people will know what I am on about.
Don't know what a slide rule is for
I have been listening to Sam Cooke today and marveling at the greatness of his songwriting.
Sure he had a great voice, but what really sets Cooke apart for me as perhaps the greatest of the R&B stars were his compositional abilities.
Take "Cupid," for example:
"Now, I don't mean to bother you, but I'm in distress
There's danger of me losin' all of my happiness
For I love a girl that doesn't know I exist
And this you can fix, so
Cupid, draw back your bow
And let your arrow go."
"Wonderful World" is another well-written song:
"Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took."
I listened to Sam Cooke in between assignments today and simply contemplated his compositions. Even without opening his mouth, Cooke created an R&B legacy few will ever match.
FRIDAY QUESTION freak out
Everyone freaks out once in a while.
This week, Route 1's FRIDAY QUESTION seeks an answer to:
What is a good song to hear when you are freaking out?
Ellen B. -- Alanis Morissette. Her songs will bring you down a notch or two.
Kerstin H. -- I always listen to country when I am freaking out. It takes my mind off stuff when I am singing.
Dave B. -- Black Sabbath's "Paranoid"
Annika H. -- Rascal Flatts' "Skin (Sarabeth)."
Scout S. -- "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch."
Erik H. -- "Horiddumsexywuzzapuppergan!!!" Dean Carter's 1967 garage-rock version of "Jailhouse Rock" has been described as a "slab of genuine cuckoo bed-wetting lunacy" performed by a screaming man on the verge of a "crying mental breakdown." I love listening to it when I am freaking out. Just knowing there is some individual in the world freaking out infinitely more than I am seems to soothe me.
Cgecking out blogs, sitting at the drsk
You can brown hamburger, listen to Philly soul (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, I salute you!) and check out fantastic blogs online all at the same time!
At least I hope you can... I am attempting to do that now.
It's not so easy, though, because catfood-breath Lorelei keeps hopping on the computer drsk, batting my fingers while I try to type.
She made me type "drsk" instead of "desk."
Anyhow. I found the most wonderful blog -- well, the second-most wonderful blog, after this one... OK... the third-most wonderful blog, after Kerstin's blog, located here.
Plan59 Pastelogram, located here, is a blog devoted to vintage advertisements. It includes some unintentionally hilarious images of meat, cars, trains and wholly unappetizing TV dinners. Cgeck it out.
The cat just made me type "Cgeck" instead of "Check."
Get off this desk!
What love-in? Nobody told me about a love-in!
I'm listening to the Chocolate Watchband after spending the night attempting (with eventual, hard-earned success) to reconnect our computer after placing it on our new roll-top desk.
Reconnecting the computer should have been rather straight-forward, but things become complicated when you introduce sassy Mediacom customer service representatives ("We DON'T support Firefox, but you MAY use it if you WISH") and wireless routers into the equation.
It was one of those nights of computer hell when you end up spelling your name not once but twice to some poor fellow in India who spends all day dealing with cretins like me, who apparently can't tell an internet port from an ethernet port -- even though the ethernet port was clearly marked "e-net."
So, the Chocolate Watchband songs "Let's Talk About Girls" (later covered by the Undertones), "Are You Gonna be There (at the Love-In)" and "No Way Out" have been providing the soundtrack as I freak out tonight.
That's what I have been telling the kittens this morning.
Heating and cooling guys have been banging away in the basement, installing the air-conditioning system to accompany the new furnace they installed yesterday.
Kittens Lorelei and Mika can't figure out what is happening -- except that something very LOUD sounds like it is trying to erupt out of the floor.
I tried to soothe them by playing "Everything's Alright," a great, bluesy slice of British rock from The Mojos.
Vocalist Stu James and guitarist Nicky Crouch led the band, which reached No. 9 in the UK with "Everything's Alright." On my chronological, early British rock iPod playlist it sits rather incongruously between Billy J. Kramer's "Little Children" and Gerry and the Pacemaker's "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying."
Oh well. Not every mix needs to flow smoothly, right?
Anyhow... the song must have worked, because both cats are now sound asleep and the banging continues.
See, everything is alright!
The man who put "wet" in "sweat"
I listened to a lot of James Brown as I ran various errands today.
I had the day off, but we worked some around the house. We cleaned out a garage and I made a run to the local Goodwill store to make some donations.
The "Godfather of Soul" provided the soundtrack to my day.
I have always felt a special affinity for JB.
He was born on May 3, 1933... I was born on May 3, 1966... uncanny, isn't it?
Plus, his classic "I Got You (I Feel Good)" has long been an official theme song for my favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants.
Today I grooved along to "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Cold Sweat" and "Night Train" while keeping myself busy. It was great.
Sidewalk shoveling psychobilly
I don't know why I bothered shoveling the sidewalk this morning. The snow showed no signs of letting up, so by the time I had completed the front sidewalk and the back sidewalk, snow had completely covered the front sidewalk again.
I had fun, listening to the "Blow Your Top" EP by Tav Falco's Panther Burns.
The punk-rockabilly hybrid known as "psychobilly" produced a trio of top bands -- The Cramps, Reverend Horton Heat and Tav Falco's Panther Burns.
I think what I love most about these bands is the joy they obviously had in reinterpreting the earliest rock-n-roll for a modern audience.
Tav Falco also gains points in my book for coming from the original home of rock-n-roll, Memphis, Tenn.
I had so much fun listening to Tav Falco, I didn't mind that my shoveling meant nothing in the face of a relentless snowfall.
Please don't enter the penalty area...
...if a penalty kick is about to be taken.
That's the portion of the SOCCER REFEREE TEST that I screwed up. I passed the test (85 out of 100) and earned my certification, but I realize I need to review the laws to better understand the appropriate restarts in cases of penalty-kick infringements.
Pictured above: Mika can barely contain her excitement when she learns I have passed the USSF basic referee exam. Note the patch in the foreground.
Learning to ref with soul
What's better than working eight hours, then sitting in a classroom for four more hours?
Well, I suppose it you are learning more about something you love, you might be able to answer: Spending eight hours the following day in that same classroom.
I am not quite able to answer that way, because I am tired and a bit cranky.
I am taking a 12-hour soccer referee course provided by USSF instructors. Broken into one night and one day session, the course delves deep into the rules of my beloved association football.
Driving to and from the course, I have been listening to some soul music I purchased the past couple of days from iTunes. My vintage punk and reggae collection was probably on a par with all but the most obsessive collectors. I am hoping to bring my soul and early R&B collection as close as possible to that level.
So, I have been purchasing some SOUL ESSENTIALS to plug the gaps.
I have purchased Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" and "Got to Get You Off My Mind," the Delfonics' "La La (Means I Love You)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" and The Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "I'm Stone in Love With You."
You see the pattern? Great, timeless stuff that should be a part of everybody's collection.
It's the type of music you can hum to yourself during hour No. 9 of a soccer referee course, as you prepare for that 100-question test.
The Cartoon hit parade
This week Route 1 seeks an aswer to the following FRIDAY QUESTION...
What's your favorite song by a cartoon character?
Jill H. -- does School House Rock count? I'm just a bill, I'm only a bill and I am here on Capitol Hill...
Dave B. -- The theme from Hong Kong Phooey.
Rick T. -- For me it has to be Jimmy the Cricket "When you Wish Upon A Star." Hands down!
Kerstin H. -- Winnie the Pooh
Ellen B. -- I really never got into Cartoons...
Mike D. -- I always thought "Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In" by Pebbles Flintstone and Bam Bam Rubble was kind of catchy.
Erik H. -- As a kid I liked "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies, but the song that still gets lodged in my head occasionally is the theme to the Josie and the Pussycats television show. "Josie and the Pussycats/"Long tails and and ears for hats." Classic stuff. "See ya all in Persia/Or maybe France/We could be India/Or perchance/Be with us in Bangkok/Make no difference/Everywhere the actions at/We're involved with this or that."
Flipping like a pancake, popping like a cork
Whoah. I have been listening to "The Banana Splits" album this morning.
Drooper, Fleagle, Bingo and Snork seemed like constant companions when I was a kid. I watched "The Banana Splits" every chance I could get. It was like "The Monkees," only with big dopey animals in place of the dopey pop stars. I loved it!
I also loved the music, which I stumbled upon online the other day.
Most people have heard the theme song, "The Tra La La Song."
"One banana, two banana, three banana, four/Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more."
That's just great -- one of the catchiest TV theme songs ever.
It's some of the other songs on the album that have taken me by surprise. I had forgotten the psychedelic bubblegum pop of The Banana Splits. Songs such as "I Enjoy Being a Boy" and "Pretty Painted Carousel" were wonderful.
Do you remember your Banana Splits?
Drooper the lion played rhythm guitar... Fleagle the dog played lead guitar (and he ROCKED)... Snorky the elephant played keyboards (was he the musical mastermind?)... and Bingo the monkey pounded the drums.