Friday, November 30, 2007

I know I am supposed to like _____, but I just don't

Welcome back to another illuminating and exciting edition of the ROUTE 1 exclusive FRIDAY QUESTION!
This week, ROUTE 1 readers stir the pot by answering the following question:
"What song or artist *SHOULD* you like, but for some reason you just don't?"
Rick Tittle -- The group Rascal Flatts, especially the lead singer.
Laura C. -- P.J. Harvey. I *respect* her... and I *want* to like her, but I can only listen to three songs before her voice starts to grate on me. Also, Belle & Sebastian... for almost diametrically opposite reasons. They have a couple songs I find really lovely, but ultimately they are just a bit too soft and fey for me.
Jill H. -- Mika.
Brian C. -- As a Beatles fan, I SHOULD like the Paul McCartney CD released through Starbucks, "Memory Almost Full." But I don't. A song or two is OK, but not enough for me to buy it. Sorry, Sir Paul.
Dave B. -- I should like Peter Gabriel more than I do. He has some great songs, but because of that stupid song "Sledgehammer," I cannot give him the love I give to even lesser singers or groups.
Jim S. -- I suppose "Stairway to Heaven," by Led Zeppelin. Seems everybody else does. I guess I've heard it too often and I believe it's over-rated.
Ellen B. -- Carrie Underwood. But I am not a country music fan!
Mary N.-P. -- OK. I'm going to answer a bit off the mark and name a genre instead of an artist/song. For me, it's anything "jazz" -- it has never resonated with me (too much all-over-the-place improvising for my taste and no primal beat).
Mike M. -- Don't tell the Dubuque Phlockers Parrot Head Club (find them here), but my suspicion of Jimmy Buffett's sleaziness was confirmed when he was shown on "60 Minutes" playing at a private birthday party for the wife of Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski. Some of the $2 million party was paid for with company funds, and Kozlowski was later charged with grand larceny and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Erik H. -- Everybody seems to venerate them as the archetypal American roots rock band, and even my late jazz-obsessed dad owned a copy of "Cosmo's Factory." Still, I have never properly warmed to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
I like "Lodi," and "Bad Moon Rising," if pressed. However, the rest of the songs seem to sound alike to me. When I hear Ike and Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary," I yell "right on!" When I hear the CCR original, I muttered "them again?"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oi! Angus! Wake me up, mate!

So much for all the things I wanted to do last night.
Like eat dinner... Like hang out with the family... Like listen to the Blazers on the radio (not that it would have helped, Indiana beat Portland, 95-89)...
None of those things happened, because shortly after I returned home from work, I crawled into bed for just a moment's rest and I have just now woke up.
That's nearly 12 hours of slumber.
I am still a bit groggy, so I have dialed up the ol' AC/DC on iTunes to help stir me into full wakefulness.

I really wanted to read last night, too.
I am re-reading (for the third time, I think) Seb Hunter's hilarious "Hell Bent for Leather," the British author's memoir of a heavy metal adolescence.
Hunter details the life of a metalhead, providing a primer on basic heavy metal concepts (such as the drum solo and the pointy headstock for an electric guitar) while chronicling his less-than-stellar career as a lead guitarist for the hardest-rocking (and most minimally talented?) band in Winchester, Hampshire.
Even if you don't like heavy metal -- and few do, probably -- Hunter's tongue-in-cheek approach and healthy doses of irony make "Hell Bent for Leather" a great read.
Hunter recalls his introduction to metal at age 10, "in an underground common room at a boarding school in deepest Wiltshire." He writes:
"Some wise child peels off from the fray and clunks down AC/DC's "Let's Get it Up," and that's it for me. That was the light switch -- the world suddenly became three dimensional and my ears popped open."
I would have loved to have read more of the book last night. I just couldn't keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dirty old Serge... and French rioting

I'm reading about the rioting in FRANCE this morning, so I might as well enjoy some SERGE GAINSBOURG.
This morning I cued up a video on YouTube of FRANCE GALL and Serge singing a duet version of "Les Sucettes." (Just type "France Gall" and "Serge Gainsbourg" in the YouTube search box.)
Apparently, Gall was mortified when she learned this seemingly innocent song about lollipops was actually packed with sexual innuendos.
What did she expect? Hadn't anybody warned her that Serge was a randy old devil?
I thought everybody in France knew that!
There is something breezily fun and carefree about listening to Gainsbourg, particularly if you don't have to worry about translating the naughty meanings.
The opposite of "breezily fun" has been occurring in the Val-d'Oise department in the suburbs of Paris. Last night saw the third consecutive night of violence between youths and police. It all began Sunday night, when two teenagers on a motorbike died in a collision with a police patrol vehicle. .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Get Gram into the Hall of Fame!

Here's a chance to do the right thing!
GRAM PARSONS is the subject of an online petition, located here, to sway the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME to induct the alternative country pioneer.
Biographer Jason Gross chronicled some of Parsons' achievements:
* "Sin City," as recorded by Parsons' band the Flying Burrito Brothers, was
included in the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music in 1981.
* "Love Hurts," from a live album of the Fallen Angels' Long Island radio concert, was nominated for a Grammy in 1983.
* The Franklin Mint Society included the International Submarine Band's performance of "I Still Miss Someone" in a compilation album in 1984.
* The Country Music Foundation in Nashville has selected two International Submarine Band tracks, "Luxury Liner" and "Blue Eyes," for inclusion in
The Greatest Country Music Recordings of All Time, part of its official archive collection.
* The foundation's Country Music Hall of Fame, accepted from Parsons collaborator Emmylou Harris a Martin guitar that Parsons had used on tour.
Doesn't Parsons deserve to be in the Hall of Fame himself?
Sign the petition if you agree!

Monday, November 26, 2007

They looked sort of English, but...

As soon as Doug Sahm -- Texan through and through -- opened his mouth to sing, you knew the SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET was waaay more Lone Star than Union Jack.
I listened to the Sir Douglas Quintet while driving around today.
Most people might remember "She's About a Mover," the band's 1965 garage-rock classic featuring the great organ work of Augie Meyers.
Others probably recall the beautiful "Mendocino," which the band released after they relocated to San Francisco.
There are actually loads of great songs by the Sir Douglas Quintet, and I might listen to them some more tomorrow, just so I can experience more of the band's magic.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

There I was this morning, chopping onions, listening to Rod Stewart and feeling sorry for myself

Let's put it this way:
The last time MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS had been shutout, neither of yesterday's two emergency quarterbacks had been born.
UCLA's 16-0 win over the Ducks raised a number of questions, including: Will there be any Oregon players remaining when the team plays Oregon State in the CIVIL WAR?
The team lost second-string QB Brady Leaf to a first-quarter foot injury last night. Neither freshman quarterback -- Cody Kempt nor Justin Roper -- could move the ball. It didn't help that injuries left the Ducks with three healthy wide receivers and only a third-string running back.
All of this ran through my head this morning, as I chopped onions for a big pot of chili.
I thought about ENGLAND, too. A 3-2 loss to Croatia meant England miss out on EURO 2008 -- the first major finals they will have missed since the 1994 World Cup finals.
My favorite sports left me down in the dumps this morning, so I dialed in some vintage ROD STEWART on the iPod.
My favorite Stewart songs are the hard-rocking numbers he performed with The Faces. Otherwise, I love "Mandolin Wind" and "Maggie May" and the other songs he released early in his solo career. Once he got around to singing "You're in My Heart" and "Hot Legs," well, that was enough of that for me.
So, this morning I listened to Stewart and chopped onions, browned hamburger and Italian sausage and crafted a big pot of chili while trying not to think about MY BELOVED DUCKS.
Well, I did allow myself to think about the men's basketball team. Maarty Leunen scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds last night as the Ducks beat visiting San Francisco, 110-79. So it's not all bad in Eugene.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday with Scorpions

Or should I say: Samstag mit Scorpions?
Despite taking three years of high school German, I had always tried my best to avoid the SCORPIONS.
I always found the album covers to be RIDICULOUSLY MISOGYNISTIC, for one thing. Have you seen the cover of "Lovedrive?" A man appears to have his hand stuck in bubble gum that was affixed to some woman's breast. Have you seen the cover of "Animal Magnetism?" Well, there's this girl and a dog kneeling in front of some guy and...
Well, surely you see my point. This band routinely put girls in cages for their videos, and that always struck me as being more than a bit distasteful. Crazy Germans.
Notice how I mentioned I always *TRIED* to avoid the Scorpions? Well, I never could, completely, because THEIR SONGS WERE ALWAYS SO CATCHY!
Then, just when I was almost able to hear "Rock You Like a Hurricane" or "No One Like You" without involuntarily singing along, the band came up with "Wind of Change," and the ballad about political changes in Russia became linked instead with the fall of the BERLIN WALL.
"When the reunification happened, it became a very special song for Germans," guitarist RUDOLF SCHENKER explains in this month's "Guitar World" magazine. Schenker and fellow guitarist MATTHIAS JABS actually come across as a pair of humble, down-to-earth guys in the interview, which spans the band's lengthy (and continuing) career.
The pair discuss at length their experiences, many made while sporting a GIBSON EXPLORER (Jabs) or GIBSON FLYING V (Schenker) -- both pictured above (Jabs is on the left).
I have been reading the magazine and listening to the Scorpions throughout the day.
I still laugh at some of the rather stilted lyrics and I still cringe at the thought of the covers (akin to Spinal Tap's "Smell the Glove," perhaps?).
However, I also still sing along with their ÜBER-CATCHY TUNES.

Friday, November 23, 2007

"It's time to break out the Jesus and Mary Chain!"

I placed my tongue between my teeth, so I wouldn't grind them into powdered enamel.
The voice on the radio sounded like a high-pitched vacuum cleaner.
Apparently, the voice was attempting to sing "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
That was the scene this morning, driving home from Thanksgiving in the Des Moines area.
Jill was listening to an all-Christmas-music radio station when the cheesy, sound-effects-laden
"All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" began blaring from the speakers.
This "song" was beyond ghastly. It featured a lispy child -- or worse, an adult attempting to sound like a lispy child -- warbling its way through
"All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
If I had never heard music before, and that had been the first "song" I heard, I would fill my ears with cement.
Jill acknowledged the wretchedness of that particular tune and asked if I wanted to leap out of the moving truck.
Well, yes.
However, I did owe the newspaper another eight hours of my time (and two stories to write), so instead of fleeing a moving vehicle at 70 mph, I decided that when I got in the other car to drive to work, I would ABSOLUTELY BLARE the album "PSYCHOCANDY" by the JESUS AND MARY CHAIN.
Now, some will say that the feedback-drenched "Psychocandy" would not be much of an improvement over the queasy version of
"All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
Those who say that are so wrong.
"Psychocandy" is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between both the NOISIEST SQUALL you have ever heard and the CATCHIEST MUSIC you have ever heard.
It helps clear the memories of nails-on-the-chalkboard songs such as the lispy, dreadful
"All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," as well.
That makes it a sure-fire classic in my book

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

There's something very "PUNK" about these guys

I am taking a brief lunch break on what amounts to a VERY BUSY day.
I have to write three stories for the newspaper before we can leave for a THANKSGIVING trip to Des Moines.
It is about to start snowing any moment, so I am trying to hurry along.
The Who is helping.
I am listening to the "Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy" compilation as I drive around today. The adrenaline rush of The Who's first great singles has helped propel me along.
The Damned, Buzzcocks, the Sex Pistols and other purveyors of vintage UK punk all seemed to credit The Who, and listening to these early classics by Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon, I can hear why.
The Who were jagged and angry and shot through with energy -- the same traits the punks would trade on when they made their big splash.
Now, if only some of that energy could help me get all my stuff done today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"A perfect 3 a.m. record," three hours later

It was one of those nights when nobody slept particularly well.
One kid coughed so much she tried sleeping downstairs on the couch. The other kid -- the covers thieving one -- crawled into our bed after an overnight round of nightmares.
The end result was a tossing and turning experience that prompted me to get up far earlier than usual.
By 6 a.m., I was perusing the GUARDIAN Web site. The British newspaper is about halfway through compiling a list of 1000 "must-hear" albums.
Under "M" the editors listed an album I have not heard in years: Mazzy Star's 1993 release "So Tonight That I Might See."
Here is what the Guardian said about it:
"Mazzy Star's opiated fusion of blues, folk and country was best realized on this, the second of their three albums. It's a perfect 3 a.m. record: The melodies here are drowsier then on their debut, while Hope Sandoval's voice is entrancing. The album even provided the band with an alternative hit, courtesy of 'Fade Into You.'"
Since I was the only one awake -- bar the cats, of course -- I decided to give "So Tonight That I Might See" a spin, to remind myself what all the fuss was about.
I should have said: "to remind myself what all the FUZZ was about." Guitarist David Roback uses all manner of fuzzy melodies on "So Tonight That I Might See." The album sometimes sounds like a slow-motion SONIC YOUTH playing through a heavy veil of gauze.
I am old enough (I am afraid) to remember Roback with RAIN PARADE, one of the great "Paisley Underground" bands from Los Angeles back in the 1980s. He is one of America's great, underrated music-makers.
I probably should have dug through my CD collection for "So Tonight That I Might See" a lot earlier. As it happened, I have various sleep problems to thank for allowing me to rediscover this gem.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Making the best of having no "Control"

We live in one of those towns that only seems to get the mainstream films. If it made a big splash at an indie festival, in all likelihood we'll never see it.
As a result, "Fred Claus" and "The Bee Movie" play on multiple screens while a film like Anton Corbijn's "Control" only arrives when the public library or Borders Books orders it on DVD.
That's a particular shame, missing out on "Control," because I have loved JOY DIVISION since I emerged from a young adolescent cocoon and began to favor alternative music.
Corbijn photographed the band extensively, and has now directed a critically admired film about the life and suicide death of lead singer/lyricist IAN CURTIS.
Although the film is keeping its distance from Dubuque, I have been caught up in a little JOY DIVISION fever myself.
I have been re-reading (for the 10th time? 20th?) Mark Johnson's "An Ideal for Living," a 1984 history of the band that I fear is now sadly out of print.
While Johnson painstakingly chronicles gigs and recording sessions, he is unable to dip into the psyche of the band members, which is where seeing "Control" would have definitely helped. Oh well. I will wait for the DVD.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who says you can't HEAD BANG on a Sunday?

Well, everybody who has come in contact with me today, actually.
I cranked up the SAXON as I drove the girls to their religious education class this morning (is there a punchline in there somewhere?) and Kerstin and Annika both cast wary glances my way.
What is he on about *THIS* morning?
I am just test-driving a 27-song iTunes playlist devoted to "The Big Teasers from Barnsley" this morning.
"Test-driving" is the operative term, as about 75 percent of Saxon's songs seem to be about MOTORCYCLES and TRAINS.
So just what is a jazz- reggae- soul- punk-loving guy like me doing, listening to Saxon?
I can't help it.
There's a certain charm about the band, who at times seem like the living embodiment of Spinal Tap. Other times, they seem to make perfect sense -- particularly in the anti-Thatcher anthems "Stand Up and be Counted" and "Never Surrender."
Lead singer Biff Byford has said in interviews how much he detested Margaret Thatcher's policies during the bleak days of the 80s -- when mining strikes and grinding poverty gripped the band's South Yorkshire home base.
Byford and the band melded their outbursts to surprisingly catchy, METAL MELODIES, resulting in a fairly large clutch of memorable songs.
So, what's not to like about a band that allies itself to punk sentiments and sings about jetliners instead of groupies?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sorry Scotland -- I tried so hard to help

Poor Scotland!
I tried my hardest to give Scotland a boost before their big match with Italy today.
A win at rainy Hampden Park would have sent the Scots into the EURO 2008 finals, so before I went to work I tried to incorporate as many Scottish things as possible into my morning routine. I ate ORANGE MARMALADE on toast, listened to the COCTEAU TWINS and read about DANNY WILSON (pictured).
For years after first hearing the classic 1988 single "Mary's Prayer," I assumed "Danny Wilson" was a singer. I thought there was another famous bloke named "Danny Wilson," besides the not-very-successful manager of the team I adore, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY.
Alas, I eventually learnt I was so wrong.
"Danny Wilson" is a band, not a bloke!
Dundee residents Gary Clark and his brother Kit joined Ged Grimes to form the band in the 1980s. The trio named themselves after a 1952 film, "Meet Danny Wilson." They had originally called themselves "Spencer Tracy," but ran into some legal obstacles with that name.
No matter the name, their effort "Mary's Prayer" remains one of the most beautiful songs of the 1980s.
Too bad my efforts couldn't help Scotland.
The Scots gave up a controversial, last-minute goal to Christian Panucci and lost the Azzurri, 2-1.
Alan Hutton of Rangers was bundled over deep in the Scottish half, but the referee astoundingly gave the free kick to Italy. Shame on you, ref.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Question about a song that... ohhh why did Dennis Dixon have to hurt his knee again?

Stinging tears over the cruel twist of fate for MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS won't stand in the way of this week's FRIDAY QUESTION -- "Sniffff! Waaaaah! No fair! Dennis Dixon, come back Dennis, come back!" -- Well, the tears won't stand in the way too much.
Where was I? Oh yeah.
This week, ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite song from 2007, so far?"
Mike D. -- My boys and I enjoyed singing along to "Home" by Daughtry during our summer commutes. Of course, that's after it was seared into our brains from weekly viewings of American Idol. But I also thought Pink's "U + Ur Hand" was a clever and sassy song. Suggestive lyrics aside, the song simply rocked!
Rick T. -- "Just Give It Away" by George Strait. Great country song!
Kerstin H. -- "Wait for You" by Elliott Yamin.
Scout S. -- "For Science Fiction" by Maritime.
Mary N.-P. -- Omigod. I just realized I haven't even listened to a 2007 song yet.
Inger H. -- "Sun in an Empty Room" by Weakerthans.
With choruses like this --
"Take this moment to decide (sun in an empty room)
If we meant it, if we tried (sun in an empty room).
Felt around for far too much
(sun in an empty room)
Things that accidentally touch
(sun in an empty room)"
How could you choose anything else?

Ellen B. -- "Rock Star" by Nickelback. "Cause we all just wanna be big rock stars and live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars. The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap. We'll all stay skinny, cause we just won't eat. And we'll hang out in the coolest bars in the VIP with the movie stars."
Erik H. -- His detractors claim he is too overblown and too reliant on his influences. Perhaps. Regardless of how much he copies Freddie Mercury, Mika made a stunning January 2007 single with "Grace Kelly." The first time I heard it, I thought:
"This is outrageously good."
I still think that.
The girls and I find ourselves singing it out of the blue -- "why don't you like me? why don't you like me? why don't you like me?" -- always a sure sign of a great song.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Let's hear it for the Honkers!

Lakeview High School (Ore.) recently beat Chiloquin, 48-6, to win the school's first league football title in 30 years.
Lakeview beat Knappa in the first round of Oregon's Class 2A playoffs and faces Oakridge in the second round this coming Saturday.
I covered the team, called the Honkers after the prevalence of geese in the area, for about five-and-a-half years, about a decade ago.
Lakeview played hard in those days, but always struggled as the smallest school in their Class 3A conference.
"Getting moved down to 2A two years ago has made a big difference for us," Principal Bob Nash said in an e-mail I received yesterday.
Nash was "Coach Nash" of the football team when I covered the school. The current head coach is Lane Stratton.
Nash said Lakeview finished state runners-up in baseball two years ago and the school has a girl who has won the state cross-country title the past two years.
"Not only is school spirit up, but the whole community is much more focused on the school," Nash said. "It has been very nice."
I knew some of the kids on the current football team. I say "kids," because they were 5, 6 and 7 years old at the time I knew them. Cole Damuth is playing high school football? How is that possible? In my mind, he's just a little kid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Following Barack Obama with Underworld

I covered a Dubuque appearance by BARACK OBAMA this morning. That was the glamorous highlight of my day. I spent the remainder of my working day waiting fruitlessly for people to call me back for a health story. Now, I have to finish the story tomorrow.
Wait -- It gets worse. I came home and had to clean the bathroom because my wife Jill is hosting a PAMPERED CHEF party tomorrow night. I already cleaned the bathroom this week!
Oh well. The second glamorous highlight of my day -- ironically -- occurred while cleaning the bathroom.
I was listening to my new "92 since 95" (I added two more songs) playlist of contemporary British pop music while scrubbing clean the toilet.
Moloko's "Fun for Me" ended and the marvelous "BORN SLIPPY" by UNDERWORLD (pictured) began.
It is one of the most glamorous songs I know, and it made cleaning the bathroom at least bearable.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Drool Britannia

The last time I made a RIDICULOUSLY LONG playlist for my iPod was way back in... October... 2007.
OK. So, it was only last month. I made a 73-song Led Zeppelin playlist that clocks in at nearly six-and-a-half hours. Wow.
Have no fear: I have a new ABSOLUTELY SPRAWLING playlist for November.
Rhino Records will release a 78-song box set devoted to UK indie, shoegazing and Brit-pop bands later this month. They call it "The Brit Box."
Suitably inspired, I decided to craft a similar aural document for Kerstin and Annika: A compilation of rock and pop from the British Isles (Ireland included) released during their lifetimes.
It's up to 90 songs (only one song per artist), and so far I am calling it "90 since 95."
Kerstin was born in 1995, so I started then, with "Wake Up Boo" by The Boo Radleys (March 1995, No. 9 on the UK singles chart).
From that point, the playlist features an A (Arctic Monkeys) to Z (The Zutons) of British popular music during the past 12 years.
All but 15 songs came from CDs in our collection. I purchased the rest with an iTunes card.
During the course of the 90 tunes, I mixed straight-ahead rock (Ocean Colour Scene) with catchy pop (B*Witched) and R&B (Ms. Dynamite) with electronica (Mylo), all in chronological order. The playlist concludes with "Let's Dance to Joy Division" by The Wombats, which was released last month.
Most of the songs hit the top 40, but a few didn't chart so high but landed on the list because they are representative of styles or a spirit of adventure ("A Minha Menina" by The Bees).
The playlist offers more than six hours of music, and so far I have only listened to segments.
Actually, by the time I finish listening, I will probably move on to my next PLAYLIST OPUS.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Scratching and dreaming till night turns into day -- It's a surefire method to waste your life away"

Hmm... Drinking a big cup of vegetable and rice soup and listening to MOTHER LOVE BONE.
I am drinking the soup because I am hungry. I was listening to Mother Love Bone in anticipation of watching Cameron Crowe's 1992 film "Singles" on DVD later tonight. Crowe famously reworked the original script for "Singles" in the immediate wake of the death of Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone's one-of-a-kind, flamboyant lead singer.
The Seattle band remain one of the greatest "what if" propositions in rock.
Fueled by Wood's electrifying vocals, the band created a vibrant glam/punk hybrid that would sound at home in the world's largest arenas. Wood sounded like a "Frankenstein"-type merger of Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan.
Sadly, Wood never had the opportunity to play the world's largest arenas -- he died after a heroin overdose on the eve of the band's debut album.
Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament eventually joined Eddie Vedder to form Pearl Jam.
We know what happened to Pearl Jam. We'll never know what might have happened to Mother Love Bone.
"Like my world, I'm on Fire" -- Andrew Wood, in "Gentle Groove."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Have you ever Google Image Searched for "Gay Dad?"

You end up seeing a lot of photos of two guys with kids before you eventually get to the band.
That's one of the things I learned today, as I crafted a 35-song playlist of British pop and rock singles from the past dozen years. I made it for the girls, so they could enjoy such gems as "Girl From Mars" by Ash, "It Ended on an Oily Stage" by British Sea Power, "Pissing in the Wind" by Badly Drawn Boy and -- yes -- the gorgeous "Oh Jim" by the aforementioned and pictured Gay Dad.
Here are some other things I learned today:
* Ohio State are unlikely to hold onto the top spot in the college football polls. Not after visiting Illinois upset the Buckeyes, 28-21. Fans of MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS are smiling everywhere. Like me!
* Glenn Whelan and Akpo Sodje rule! They both scored twice as SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY beat Southampton, 5-0, to improve to 16th place in the Championship -- just one place behind Sheffield United. Ha! Take that, Blades!
* Bryce Taylor is GOOD. He has 17 points early in the second half and MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS (men's basketball edition) are currently rolling over Pepperdine, 71-28. I was going to write that "MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS are absolutely smoking Pepperdine," but then I remembered the Malibu fires and decided these poor (in Malibu?) people have suffered enough.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Guitar Hero with the Gretsch White Falcon

I remember the first time I heard William Henry (Billy) Duffy.
It was 23 years ago on a San Francisco alternative music radio station, and the song was "Spiritwalker" by The Cult.
I remember thinking Duffy's guitar playing was quite good.
The next time I really listened to Duffy, it was later that year and the song was The Cult's "Resurrection Joe."
I remember thinking Duffy's guitar playing was very good indeed.
The next time I really listened to Duffy, it was 1985 and I was hearing the opening strains of "She Sells Sanctuary."
I have never been the same.
I remember thinking Duffy's guitar playing was the best of my generation -- on a par with his boyhood mate Johnny Marr of The Smiths.
I am listening to an iPod playlist of singles by The Cult on my day off and the songs remind me of the greatness of Duffy.
Duffy has explained in an interview on the Roland amplifier Web site about the origin of the "She Sells Sanctuary" sound, and it provides a link between two of Britain's greatest guitarists:
"We were recording "She Sells Sanctuary" in a studio in London called Olympic, where Led Zeppelin used to record. I found a violin bow, and I started to play the guitar with the bow like Jimmy Page," Duffy said. "I did it to amuse (Cult lead singer Ian) Astbury, who was in the control room, and in order to make it sound weirder, I just hit every (effects) pedal I had on the pedal board. Then, once I stopped banging the strings and doing all that, I played the middle section of the song, which was kind of a pick thing with all the BOSS pedals on, and that (distinctive "She Sells Sanctuary") sound just leaped out."
The producer and the band decided the "Eastern"-sounding mystical guitar part should open the song. The single went to No. 15 in the United Kingdom, and a GUITAR HERO was born.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Getting back on track with "The Beatles of Punk"

“One minute I was a toilet cleaner, the next minute I’m in a band -- and for some reason birds find someone with a guitar slung around their neck more attractive than toilet cleaners.” -- Captain Sensible of The Damned.
Today I was going to write about spending the past three days (and nights) in Peoria, Ill., covering a labor relations hearing that gave new depth of meaning to the term "tedium," but the possibility of blinding, complementary weeping made me reconsider.
I am going to write about listening to THE DAMNED today instead.
My head is still not right after sitting through 26-1/2 hours of hearings, so today I am shaking out the cobwebs by blasting songs by the band Jeff Nelson of Minor Threat called "The Beatles of Punk."
The Damned were the first UK punk band to release a single ("New Rose"), the first to release an album (the brilliant "Damned Damned Damned") and the first to tour the United States.
I was only 11 when all that happened, but I do have in my possession the STIFF RECORDS 45 of the band's second single, "Neat Neat Neat." It is probably my most cherished record in my collection. The label says "play regularly" and I always do try to regularly play songs by The Damned.
Dave Vanian (David Lett), Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns), Rat Scabies (Chris Miller) and Brian James (Brian Robertson) injected a massive dose of fun and chaos into what had been a moribund music scene, and they influenced THOUSANDS of subsequent bands in the process.
Today, they added yet another accomplishment to their list of achievements: They became the first band to make me forget the horrors of a National Labor Relations Board hearing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Despite all my rage I am still just a reporter covering a bridal fashion show

I was doing OK, covering the bridal fashion show for the newspaper, until they started playing the tape of Rod Stewart attempting to croon his way through 1940s pop standards.
Sorry Rod. I bristled.
I will always remember Rod for stuff like "Mandolin Wind" and "Gasoline Alley" and all of the excellent stuff with THE FACES. I cannot bear to hear Rod sing "It Had to be You."
Surrounded by anxiety driven brides to be, and now straining against the horrifically bland Rod Stewart songs, I began to PANIC.
I was sweating. I felt dizzy. I...
... grabbed my iPod and immediately listened to some SMASHING PUMPKINS songs.
It has always made me laugh, how some of the holier-than-thou INDIE ROCKERS would dis Billy Corgan and his band. Someone once called Smashing Pumpkins the "grunge Monkees" and PAVEMENT (a band I adore) famously insulted them in "Range Life."
All the haters missed the point, methinks.
SMASHING PUMPKINS were never intended to be anything other than a hard rock band -- albeit one re-imagined for the 1990s. One listen to "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" should convince anyone that Corgan drew inspiration more from Led Zeppelin than the Sex Pistols, The Cure or The Fall.
All that indie hate was misplaced, methinks.
Anyhow, I didn't care this afternoon. After hearing a few Smashing Pumpkins songs, I put away the iPod and could live through the remainder of the Bridal Fashion show.
Without the iPod or those Smashing Pumpkins songs?
It would have been a very different, very tragic story, methinks.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Well, that was fun

I only chewed three fingernails during tonight's victory by MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS.
Oregon beat Arizona State, 35-23, at Autzen Stadium on ESPN.
I usually endure rather than enjoy Duck games, mostly because of the unreasonable emotional investment I have made in the team. My late dad loved the Ducks, and I fell in love during our five-and-a-half years living in Lakeview, Ore. For better or for worse, they are my college team of choice.
Tonight, an early Oregon lead meant my worries only surface when it appeared starting quarterback Dennis Dixon had suffered a knee injury.
However, he was walking around and even jumping around after the injury, so I don't think he was too badly hurt.
Dixon definitely hurt the Sun Devils, though. He completed 13-of-22 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 57 yards.
Tailback Jonathan Stewart rushed for 99 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown and Oregon's defense looked great.
The defense sacked ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter nine times and picked off one of his passes in the end zone.
MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS face Arizona and UCLA on the road before welcoming that school from Corvallis for the annual CIVIL WAR contest at Autzen.
After that, who knows?
A Jan. 1 (or later?) bowl game sure would be fun.

Friday, November 02, 2007

"What?!" "I said: How was the gig?" "I can't hear you, I have been to a VERY LOUD gig!"

This week, ROUTE 1 readers remove the protective earplugs to answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What was the loudest concert you have attended?"
Jim S. -- Van Halen, about 30 years ago. I never realized how much those guys screamed until we walked out of that concert at the Coliseum in Madison.
Brian C. -- I am not a frequent concert-goer, but the loudest I experienced was Paul McCartney, October 2005, Omaha.
Lisa Y. -- Metallica. Several times. Good stuff, back in the day.
Scout S. -- I used to go see Magnapop at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga., and they were earbleedingly loud. And also awesome.
Mike D. -- There's a reason Motley Crue has a song titled "Louder than Hell." They demonstrated it during a 1980s appearance at the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids. Even more so than the music, the blasts of pyrotechnics were deafening.

Rick T. -- Country Music Festival (a.k.a. Fan Fair) in Nashville, Tenn.
Mike M. -- Does the person who attended the loudest concert get a prize? I saw Metallica with The Cult at the Civic Center in Savannah, Ga., on Feb. 27, 1989. The concert hall was so small and the music so loud that I was literally blown away.
Dave B. -- Depeche Mode. 1988. When you have your ear to the two-story tall speaker system, it tends to get very loud.
Erik H. -- The child of divorced parents, I was a "little" in the "Big Brothers Big Sisters" program while growing up in Concord, Calif. On May 29, 1978, my "big brother" brought me along to a concert at the Concord Pavilion. I was 12 years old.
The gig posters probably read "JOURNEY" in big letters and "Ronnie Montrose" in very small letters, and about 98 percent of the crowd was in attendance just to see the headliners. Not my "big." He was one of those guitar-magazine-reading guitar obsessives. They're the type of people who routinely speak knowledgeably about "high gain" and "pre-amp distortion voicing" and "gated reverb." My "big" was there to see Montrose -- a player who throughout his career has been lavishly praised and reverentially admired as a "guitarist's guitarist" by those who play the instrument themselves.
The volume at the concert sure seemed ear-splitting to me, but as the ringing in my ears began to subside, my own appreciation of Montrose began to grow. Thanks to my "big brother" (who drifted out of my life shortly thereafter) and my temporary bout of deafness, I now consider Montrose to be the greatest guitar player I have heard in person, and one of the greatest on record, too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

That person reading a blog post about a "relentlessly hilarious" and greatly missed television show? That's you, that is.

That guy laughing so hard at clips of "The Mary Whitehouse Experience" that he thought he had injured his spleen? That's me, that is.
"The Mary Whitehouse Experience" was a British sketch comedy show that appeared both on radio and TV in the late '80s/early '90s. It starred David Baddiel, Rob Newman, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis.
It has been described as "relentlessly hilarious" on more than one occasion.
One segment, called "History Today," purported to be a discussion between two esteemed history professors. Their discussions always descended into name calling of the lowest order, much like a pair of troublesome schoolboys. Their insults often ended with "that's you, that is," which became a celebrated catchphrase from the show.
Take a peek at it here.
Another recurring segment involved the unfortunate Ray, a man afflicted with a disorder that makes everything he says sound sarcastic.
The show made fun of American ignorance of "so-cher," seen here.
The show also -- famously -- poked fun at ROBERT SMITH of THE CURE, often portraying him singing nursery rhymes or children's songs in the decidedly downbeat style of "Pornography"-era Cure. The Cure front man shared in the laughs -- he made a surprise appearance on the show's final episode.
Hunt around on YouTube for the clip of "Robert Smith" singing "Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes."
You'll thank me. Your spleen might not.