Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Goodbye Mr. Franks

It's a sad day.
HERMAN FRANKS passed away yesterday, age 95.
Growing up, it seems I only heard him called "Mr. Franks." It was only a little later into adolescence that I learned his first name.
Franks managed the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS to four straight second-place finishes in the 1960s.
Now, if Bruce Bochy were to accomplish that feat, everybody would be cheering.
Back then, the second-place finishes were met with mounting frustration.
Of course, when WILLIE MAYS and WILLIE McCOVEY are leading your team...
I was a mere babe when Franks managed my favorite team. He later managed the Cubs, but I always considered him a Giant. I was not alone.
"This guy was a Giant," longtime Giant Joey Amalfitano was quoted as saying in the CHRONICLE today. "Some guys are Dodgers. Other guys are Cubs, like (Ernie) Banks. This guy was a Giant."

Monday, March 30, 2009


It was probably another rainy day in Vancouver when the Payola$ recorded "Eyes of a Stranger," and snow could have been falling when The Flirts put "Jukebox (Don't Put Another Dime)" on tape.
I'll never know and I don't really care: These songs are on an album that always makes me think of cloudless blue skies and warm weather.
The "VALLEY GIRL" soundtrack is blaring from the car stereo speakers today, and it's like, TOTALLY AWESOME.
Any album that kicks off with The Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" is fine in my book. This album follows that classic with Josie Cotton's delightfully non-PC "Johnny, Are You Queer" and the aforementioned "Eyes of a Stranger" before launching into the great Sparks' song "Angst in My Pants."
The Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way" is on there. So is Felony's jerky little number "The Fanatic."
There's more Josie and more Plimsouls, too. It's NEW WAVE when it was new.
Did I mention "I Melt With You" by Modern English?
It's a great "sunny day" record, which makes it perfect for today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"There's 70 billion people of Earth. Where are they hiding?"

I have been listening to a lot of CABARET VOLTAIRE recently, so I decided to watch the source of one of the pioneering SHEFFIELD band's most recognizable samples:
"THERE'S 70 BILLION PEOPLE OF EARTH -- WHERE ARE THEY HIDING" features prominently throughout the single "YASHAR" and comes from "DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND," an episode of "THE OUTER LIMITS" from Oct. 17, 1964.
Robert Culp plays
Trent, a man with no memory of his life and a left hand replaced by a computer shaped like a glass hand.
Three fingers are missing. Once these are found and reattached, the computer can resolve the mysteries surrounding Trent -- including why a group of dark-eyed aliens called the Kyben seek to destroy him.

The science fiction author HARLAN ELLISON provided the intriguing story.
The wonderful BRADBURY BUILDING provides the atmospheric setting.
Built in 1893 and located at 304 South Broadway (3rd and Broadway) in downtown Los Angeles, the building also famously served as the locale for "Blade Runner," as well as other productions.
Try clicking here for part 1 of "Demon With a Glass Hand."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Thompson Twins are making me dance again

I am listening to THE THOMPSON TWINS, feeling a bit nostalgic, and dancing in my chair, trying not to wake up anybody else in the house.
I just read a GUARDIAN piece on ALANNAH CURRIE, one of the trio's two singers, this morning online (read it yourself here).
The Kiwi is now an artist-upholsterer, who moved back from New Zealand to the U.K. after falling in love with artist JIMMY CAUTY -- formerly one half of dance music/anarchists THE KLF.
Hmm... Small world.
I wasn't sure about how I felt about The Thompson Twins during the band's heyday -- they were a bit too mainstream for me and TOM BAILEY had hair that was a bit too big for his own good (pictured).
I'm singing along this morning, though, so perhaps I was a bit too harsh on the band back in the Eighties.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How come everybody answers the FRIDAY QUESTION when it's about pizza?

The ROUTE 1 staff can never agree on PIZZA toppings, so we end up ordering a Frankenstein's monster version: a quarter taco, a quarter pepperoni, a quarter some gross thing that has some sort of mayonnaise and bacon on it and "a quarter with everything on it, so the girls will leave it alone and you can have the leftovers for your lunch."
Pizza eating is such an individualistic pursuit (apparently), we have dedicated this week's FRIDAY QUESTION to it:
"What is your favorite pizza topping or style of pizza?"
BRIAN C. -- Canadian bacon, mushroom and, if the wife doesn't mind, sauerkraut.

STACEY B. -- My favorite pizza topping is pepperoni, but my all-time favorite pizza is chicken Alfredo. It's very yummy!
LAURA C. -- Thin-crust Neapolitan with arugula and prosciutto....heaven!
KERI M. -- We had a great one a couple of months ago. Feta, portobello mushroom and hot peppers. So good.
RICK T. -- Cheese, Sausage & Mushroom!!!
KERSTIN H. -- Sausage and pepperoni. A classic.
JIM S. -- I'm a meat-lovers pizza man, but I have to mention a most interesting – and surprisingly tasty - pizza we would get while I worked for the Gillette ( Wyo. ) News-Record. The toppings were pineapple and shrimp. A little local pizza place specialized in it. I cringed when I first heard about it, but as we'd eat back in the composing room almost 30 years ago, it really was good. Wonder if they still have it?
ELLEN B. -- Taco pizza from Happy Joe’s
MIKE D. -- Canadian bacon from Shot Tower Inn and taco from Happy Joe's.
BEKAH P. -- I don't know if this counts, but butter. I love butter on the crust.
MARY N.-P. -- A gyro pizza is the all-time best - sauerkraut or anchovies are my favorite toppings (and not always available).
INGER H. -- "The Little Star" at Little Star pizza is a form of pizza perfection. Fresh, bright spinach, sharp feta and sweet plum tomatoes make this deep dish pizza a force to be reckoned with. I always eat too much of it. It's hard not to!
MIKE M. -- As long as it's on someone else's pizza, my favorite topping is a fried egg. I personally do not partake in such tomfoolery, though.
LISA Y. -- Happy Joe's Taco -- an Iowa favorite! Of course then there's Ben's Other from Falbo's, or the chicken, bacon & artichoke from Papa Murphy's. And I love breakfast pizza from Casey's!
ERIK H. -- I really enjoy the pizza from Little Star Pizza in San Francisco . Away from San Francisco , I generally prefer Canadian bacon and pineapple on a thin crust and with a tangy tomato sauce. I also love homemade deep-dish pizzas with as many toppings as we can cram onto them (except for mushrooms).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Singing along to Japan

Lead vocalist DAVID SYLVIAN sounds a little too much like ROXY MUSIC’S BRYAN FERRY for his own good some times, but the influence JAPAN – the band, not the country – had on me became apparent the other day when I found myself singing along (loudly) to “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” while driving from home to work.
During my high school years, Japan was one of the bands that separated the musical hipsters from the wannabes -- the band's sound was an acquired taste.
Although the band hit the British Top 40 nine times from 1981 to 1983, they never really made much of an impression in the States.
They only toured once, and even then they only made four stops – two on the East Coast and two in the West.
"Japan was never successful in America,” bassist MICK KARN said in 1996. “We went there in 1978. It was at a time when punk was at its height, and we weren't accepted at all. David really built up a phobia about ever going there again. So we never made it back -- a shame.”
The shame is that too few people around here know Japan songs such as “Ghosts,” “The Art of Parties” and “Quiet Life.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Farewell, funky drummer

You've heard URIEL JONES, the funky drummer who passed away yesterday at age 74.
You just don't realize you've heard him.
Established as one of the primary session musicians at MOTOWN, Jones played on "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (both by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell in 1967 and the 1970 cover by Diana Ross), "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Gaye, "Cloud Nine" by the Temptations, "I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder and many more.
Jones is pictured above, with the late bassist James Jamerson.
The 2002 film "STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN" finally shed some light on the "hidden stars" of the Motown sound, and Jones was prominently featured.
I'll listen some Motown today, in honor of the fallen funky drummer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Arigato Ichiro! Now I'm ready for baseball

ICHIRO hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th inning, and JAPAN beat reigning Olympic champion SOUTH KOREA, 5-3, to win its second straight WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC title at Dodger Stadium.
I watched it live last night on ESPN.
Japan reminded me of my lifelong team the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS for most of the game -- they survived on strong pitching while stranding a ridiculous number of runners (14?!) on base.
HISASHI IWAKUMA of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (pictured) struck out six, allowing four hits, a pair of walks and two runs in 7 2-3 innings. He looked like he could pitch for any Major League team.
Japan took a 3-1 lead with single runs in the seventh and eighth, only for South Korea to tie the game at 3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
My favorite Japanese player, pitcher YU DARVISH, blew the save: The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' ace allowed Lee Bum-ho’s run-scoring single.
Yu got the win, though, thanks to Ichiro.
It was a thrilling start to the baseball season.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gilpin & Co. introduced me to "En Zed" music

Along with Split Enz, MI-SEX provided my introduction to the music of NEW ZEALAND.
I first heard the songs "Computer Games," "Graffiti Crimes," "People" and "Where do They Go" on the pioneering alternative radio stations in San Francisco of the early 1980s.
Even from those days, I associated the music of New Zealand with cloudy days (while I always associated the music of their antipodean near-neighbors with sunny days).
It's understandable, isn't it? AOTEAROA can be translated as "The Land of the Long White Cloud."
Led by vocalist Steve Gilpin, Mi-Sex consistently charted in Australia and their homeland, while becoming cult favorites in America (particularly on the West Coast).
Murray Burns (keyboards) and Kevin Stanton (guitar/vocals) also helped define the modern sound of Mi-Sex.
The Mi-Sex story ends sadly. The band disbanded in March 1984 and Gilpin remained in Australia. He was seriously injured in a car accident in November 1991 and lapsed into a coma. He died in January 1992.
I am marking today's cloudy skies by listening to Mi-Sex and remembering when I first heard these songs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

B-52s before the rest of the clan wakes up

Spring cleaning must have taken its toll: Everybody else remains sleeping this morning, even the pets.
I am sitting here listening to the B-52's, marveling at the songs and their ability to make we wag my head.
It's really difficult for me to comprehend that late 70s/early 80s scene in ATHENS, GA.
I think I understand the *how* about the scene -- the 40 WATT CLUB and other venues gave the bands an opportunity to grow undisturbed from outside trends.
That helped PYLON, R.E.M., the B-52's and others develop in their own idiosyncratic ways.
I still don't understand the *why* about the scene. Why Athens? What is it about the students at the University of Georgia?
Ah well. Perhaps some things are best unexplained.
I'll just keep listening and enjoying... and waiting for everybody else to wake up!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring cleaning with the good doctor

My legs are sore.
I have been hauling unwanted items out of our basement since 8:30 a.m., dragging bags of flood-damaged stuff, broken bed frames and all manner of other undesirables to a rented DUMPSTER outside my house.
My wife calls it "SPRING CLEANING."
I haven't yet decided on what I am calling it.
It's not all bad, though. We have made much more room down in our basement, and I have been enjoying listening to the marvelous compilation, "25 YEARS OF DR. FEELGOOD."
Formed in Canvey Island, Essex, DR. FEELGOOD have been rockin' since the early 1970s.
I prefer the original lineup:
guitarist WILKO JOHNSON, bassist JOHN B. SPARKS, drummer THE BIG FIGURE (a.k.a. John Martin) and the brilliant vocalist, the late LEE BRILLEAUX.
Although they routinely charted in the U.K., Dr. Feelgood never made much of a name for themselves in the U.S.
I can't really understand why. They sound like a top-echelon band to me. In fact, they sound like they could hold their own with the absolute best.
Well, that's enough from me today.
I think I hear my name being called. I think I need to start filling the dumpster again.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Worth waiting for... Friday Question

ROUTE 1 editorial assistant KERSTIN is counting down the days (hours? minutes?) until the release of "TWILIGHT" on DVD/iTunes.
Which leads to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Has there been any movie/album/TV show that you greatly anticipated arriving?"
STACEY B. -- When I was a teenager, my cousin and I couldn't wait to see the extremely different movies "Titanic" and "The Waterboy." We couldn't get enough of Leonardo DiCaprio, and talked about the movie non-stop for weeks. We were equally excited to see "The Waterboy," but when we walked up to the booth to buy tickets at the old Kennedy Mall Theater we were turned away. The theater actually sold out of tickets! I guess it was a sign...
SASKIA M. -- It's been a while... I think I'm going to have to say: the first Harry Potter movie.
BEKAH P. -- Lame as it might be, I always count down to the Harry Potter flicks.
KERI M. -- I think the new melrose Place will be interesting to see.GI Joe looks cool, so does Transformers 2. I can hardly wait to hear Mr. Groban's new stuff.
LISA Y. -- Back in the day: "Star Wars!"
ERIK H. -- After the luxurious magnificence of "Lexicon of Love," I greatly anticipated the arrival of ABC's next album, "Beauty Stab" in 1983. My sister had the 12-inch version of the first single (or was that mine? I think ownership of that one came into a brief period of dispute), "That was Then But This is Now." With its emphasis on guitars, it was a dramatic departure from the stylish pop of "Poison Arrow" and the other tunes on "Lexicon." By the time "Beauty Stab" arrived, I was rather disappointed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kiwi or not Kiwi, that is the question

Kiwi or not Kiwi, that is the question posed to CROWDED HOUSE, a band playing on my iPod as I prepare to wrap up a story about the first day of spring.
I am one of those people (maybe I'm the only one) who feels compelled to geographically categorize bands.
That quirk faces a definite challenge when it comes to Crowded House.
Should the band be considered to have been from AUSTRALIA or NEW ZEALAND.
Here are both sides of the issue, and my own verdict:
Neil Finn, the vocalist/guitarist, singer/songwriter and acknowledged figurehead of the band, hails from Te Awamutu, New Zealand, and his previous band, SPLIT ENZ, was a decidedly Kiwi combination. Other musicians from New Zealand associated with the band included Neil’s brother, Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner. Additionally, several Crowded House songs reference New Zealand, including "Kare Kare" (Karekare Beach) and "Mean to Me" (Te Awamutu).
Australian members of the band included Paul Hester, Nick Seymour, Peter Jones and Craig Hooper. Finn and Hester decided to form a new band during the Split Enz farewell tour Enz with a Bang. Seymour approached Finn during the after party for the Melbourne show of the tour to ask if he could try out for the new band. Finn and Hester announced the formation of the band on an Australian television show. Australian fans bestowed a popular nickname on the band, “The Crowdies.” The eponymous debut album, "Crowded House," topped the Australian charts (and No. 12 on the US charts in 1987). The band has won 11 Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (ARIA Awards).
VERDICT: I will say Kiwi. The character of the band centers around Neil Finn, and he is definitely associated with AOTEAROA. Besides, if you asked Kiwis who had to go to Australia to make a living, I'd wager very few would say they're from Oz.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A good story for reader and reader's daughter

You know a story is good when someone who isn't even reading it asks how it is turning out.
"DEATH IN THE YOSHIWARA" is the only CORNELL WOOLRICH story set in a land that has always fascinated me -- JAPAN.
The story first appeared in the Jan. 29, 1938 issue of ARGOSY (pictured).
An American sailor (and wannabe detective) is enjoying a night of saki in Tokyo's (in)famous Yoshiwara district when a blonde with a blood-splattered dress stumbles into his room, desperately seeking a sanctuary because authorities suspect her of a murder she insists she didn't commit.
I'm enjoying this story, and so is my 10-year-old daughter ANNIKA.
She keeps asking for plot updates as I make my way through this story filled with action and plot twists.
I find it amusing that the Argosy editors chose the Western yarn "Golden Acres" by Luke Short as the cover story for the Jan. 29, 1938 issue. Even an author the stature of Edgar Rice Burroughs found himself relegated to the back pages.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why didn't you listen to Polish music on Casimir Pulaski Day?

I couldn't listen to any Polish music on Casimir Pulaski Day because I don't have any.
Today is ST. PATRICK'S DAY and I am spoiled for choice when it comes to Irish music.
Thin Lizzy? U2? The Frank & Walters?
No, today I am listening to THE BOOMTOWN RATS.
Led by BOB GELDOF, all six members were originally from DÚN LAOGHAIRE, IRELAND.
The name "Boomtown Rats" comes from the name of a gang in Woody Guthrie's autobiography, "Bound for Glory."
The Boomtown Rats moved to London in October 1976 in search of a record deal and eventually scored a dozen Top-40 hits in the U.K., including a pair of chart-toppers: "Rat Trap" in 1978 and the magnificent "I Don't Like Mondays" in 1979. Right now, I am listening to "MARY OF THE 4TH FORM," a 1977 single that reached No. 15, You can watch a video of the song by clicking here.
I hope you all have a HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Memories within the pages

I have been looking at an old tour program, remembering a U2 concert my sister INGER and I attended on Dec. 15, 1984 at the SAN FRANCISCO CIVIC CENTER -- during the "UNFORGETTABLE FIRE" tour.
It was the first of two U2 gigs I attended (I saw the band a couple years later at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City).
After the San Francisco gig, we waited outside the stage door with a few other fans.
The band eventually emerged -- a couple of the tipsy ones were heading for a downtown club for additional drinks -- and BONO autographed our programs while my sister kissed the iconic lead singer on the cheek.
I found the night's set list online:
1. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock

2. I Will Follow

3. Seconds

4. MLK

5. The Unforgettable Fire

6. Wire

7. Sunday Bloody Sunday

8. The Cry

9. The Electric Co./Send in The Clowns

10. A Sort of Homecoming

11. Bad

12. October

13. New Year's Day

14. Pride (In The Name of Love)


15. Party Girl

16. Gloria

17. 40
It has been fun, remembering that night while thumbing through the tour program's pages.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I think I'll call it: SCRITTI POLITTI CHILI

Chopping onions and green peppers, browning three types of meat, stirring it all together -- and all the while, "SONGS TO REMEMBER" by SCRITTI POLITTI is cascading from the speakers into the kitchen.
Preparation for this year's TELEGRAPH HERALD NEWSROOM CHILI COOKOFF featured a slight twist today, as I enjoyed Scritti Politti's debut album while I worked.
Dub-influenced, avant-garde songs such as "Skank Bloc Bologna" gave way to lover's rock style ballads such as "The Sweetest Girl" by the time GREEN GARTSIDE and Co. recorded their debut.

"Songs To Remember" became Rough Trade record's most successful chart album, reaching the top spot in the UK independent chart and peaking at No. 12 in the UK national charts.
It's beautiful music, not sounding quite as "produced" as the sumptuous pop of "CUPID & PSYCHE '85" -- the album I played when I brought my SCRITTI POLITTI CHILI to boil.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Playlist tribute to the film I sooooo want to see

The thumping ARTERY song "Into the Garden" is filling the house with music as I type this entry.
It's the first song on a "MADE IN SHEFFIELD" iTunes playlist I am toying with this morning, before I head to work.
Once voted "fourth best record of 1981" by listeners of the iconic John Peel radio show, "Into the Garden" offers an excellent introduction to the Sheffield music scene of the late 70s and early 80s.
"The track weaves disparate, mystical lyricism with a tribal, thudding bass line and slow, daunting beats," wrote the SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH in a story published last month.
documents the rise of the influential post-punk movement in the English steel-making city.
My playlist includes many of the bands featured in the film, including Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, The Com-Sat Angels, The Human League (before they split into the more pop-oriented bands Heaven 17 and The Human League), punk band 2.3 and Vice Versa -- the electronic band that evolved into ABC.
"A fascinating history of the Sheffield scene... The most important musical city in Europe... Conclusive proof that there was always more to Sheffield than Joe Cocker," David Buckley wrote in his four-star review in MOJO.
I have yet to find the documentary anywhere near here, so I have to settle for the playlist for now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An anniversary and a return to the first question

ROUTE 1 celebrates its FOURTH ANNIVERSARY today -- just in time for the FRIDAY QUESTION!
To celebrate this landmark of random musings, ROUTE 1 repeats the INAUGURAL FRIDAY QUESTION from 2005:
"It's an age-old question for music fans, but one which remains valid for its ability to get to the heart of a record collection: What one disc would you bring with you to a desert island?"
If you answered before, we'll see if your answer has changed in four years. If you have arrived in the ROUTE 1 realm within the past four years, we will gain valuable insight into your record collection.
(To find the inaugural answers, click on "March 2005" on the archives list to the right, then scroll down.)

DAVE B. -- "The Wall" by Pink Floyd.
MARY N.P. -- Happy (and prosperous) 4th birthday Route 1!!
I'll bet I answered the same 4 years ago -- "Legend" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. What can I say? To my decidedly lily-white, middle-class, non-Jamaican ears, it is hands down the best music ever.
JIM S. -- "Rumors," by Fleetwood Mac. It has the requisite personal memories attached to the songs. It also has some slow and some fast tunes. I could vary the tempo depending on my mood each day I was alone on that desert island.
RICK T, -- I'd take a disc of Ernest Tubb!
BRIAN C. -- "With the Beatles" (in the States, "Meet the Beatles.") Beatles originals, including perhaps my favorite "All My Loving," plus several covers, including, "Please Mister Postman," "Roll Over Beehoven," "Til There Was You" (written by an Iowan), "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" and "Money." After 44 years, I'm still not tired of it.
SASKIA M. -- Andrea Bocelli's album "Romanza."
BEKAH P. -- "Rubber Soul," by the Beatles. First and foremost, I would want it because it truly is my favorite album of all times. Second, I think one of its songs would be especially appropriate. "In My Life."
KERI M. -- The sweet mix of songs that remind me of my sweetheart on the CD that is in my car.
MIKE D, -- OK, I'm pushing it, but how about the Time/Life CD collection of hits from the 1970s?
ERIK H. -- The album I take on the desert island probably depends upon the day I am stranded. If I land on the island today, the disc I take with me is the soundtrack to "The Harder They Come," featuring the songs of Jimmy Cliff and others. It would be perfect for an island!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can anyone stop them?

It's a family "in joke" that I have never liked MANCHESTER UNITED.
That's why the girls pretend to swear undying allegiance to SIR ALEX FERGUSON'S side.
They must be giddy after yesterday.
United stayed on course for an unprecedented QUINTUPLE by beating INTERNAZIONALE, 2-0, at Old Trafford to reach the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE quarter-finals.
What's the "quintuple?"
Manchester United have already defeated LDU Quito, 1–0, in the WORLD CLUB CUP FINAL and beat Tottenham Hotspur 4–1 on penalties, after the CARLING CUP (LEAGUE CUP) FINAL ended as a goalless draw in normal time. The Red Devils remain seven points clear in the PREMIER LEAGUE and the club recently advanced to the semi-finals of the FA CUP.
Injuries and upsets can still occur, of course, but with a deep squad and such stars as Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tezez, Ryan Giggs (pictured), Dimitar Berbatov, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin Van Der Sar and -- oh yeah -- some bloke called Cristiano Ronaldo, I just can't envision ManU falling at any of the upcoming hurdles.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make that 3 skins and 1 suedehead

"THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE 4 SKINS" was one of the first punk albums I purchased at the store that fueled my love of music back in my high school years -- the TOWER RECORDS at CHRISTOWN MALL in PHOENIX, ARIZ.
The 4-Skins are a working class OI! punk rock band from London's East End.
They formed in 1979, disbanded in 1984, and returned with an altered line-up in 2007
Back in 1982, I didn't know much about anything, let alone SKINHEADS.
I knew I detested the racism that gripped some of the skins, and I knew the 4 Skins distanced themselves from those views.
The music on this album was classic Oi! -- hard-driving punk in a rather simplistic (some might call it "mindless") style.
I did not know the difference between skinheads and SUEDEHEADS, but I could tell that 4 Skins bassist
HOXTON TOM McCOURT sported longer hair than the rest of the band. (Although sharing many similarities to 1960s skinheads, suedeheads grew their hair longer and dressed in a more formal manner. They shared the skinheads' interest in reggae, soul music and ska, but focused on the slower and more soulful tunes.) McCourt eventually became a leading figure in the British mod revival.
I listened to "The Good, The Bad & The 4 Skins" while walking on the treadmill this morning.
Hearing such songs as "Sorry," "Evil," "Plastic Gangsters," and "A.C.A.B. (All Coppers Are Bastards)" reminded me of my high school years, and how my love of music has evolved since those days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of."

"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
I adore well-written films.
Yesterday, I watched one of the best -- "THE BIG LEBOWSKI" by JOEL & ETHAN COEN.

"Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not 'Mr. Lebowski.' You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
After "The Dude" Lebowski is mistaken for the millionaire Lebowski, two gangsters pee on his rug as they threaten him to pay a debt he knows nothing about. So begins a tale that includes apparent kidnapping, hapless German nihilists (including the fantastic PETER STORMARE of Volkswagen's "V-Dub" commercial fame), ubiquitous White Russians and plenty of hot bowling action.
"The Big Lebowski" made me want to down a WHITE RUSSIAN in tribute. Too bad I gave up alcohol for Lent.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The "exotic" song from 30 years ago today

"The Indians send signals from the rocks above the pass/The cowboys take positions in the bushes and the grass."
I first heard "COOL FOR CATS" by SQUEEZE on "THE QUAKE," the legendary SAN FRANCISCO alternative station, KQAK.
The song sounded so exotic, because of singer Chris Difford's (for then) relatively rare "SARF LONDON" accent. (Hearing something other than a posh English accent was novel in those days before the Internet and 200 television stations.)

"The squaw is with the corporal she is tied against the tree/She doesn't mind the language it's the beating she don't need."
The cover of the single (pictured) seemed exotic, too. I first saw it in an Australian book, "THE NEW MUSIC" -- a guide to music outside the American mainstream that I read until the pages fell out. (I still have the book, too, but that is not really surprising.)
"She lets loose all the horses
when the corporal is asleep/And he wakes to find the fire's dead and arrows in his hats and Davy Crockett rides around and says it's cool for cats It's cool for cats -- Cool for cats."
It seems like I first heard "Cool for Cats" just yesterday, when Squeeze actually released the single 30 YEARS AGO TODAY.
Happy Birthday, "Cool for Cats."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Turn up "Drunken Butterfly" -- It's SONIC YOUTH SUNDAY

"I love you, I love you, I love you, what's your name?"
It's been RAINING so hard the dog doesn't want to go outside to relieve herself.
Dang dog.
It's OK... just close your eyes (after you clean up the mess) and listen to more SONIC YOUTH.
"Whisper the kisses in yr ear, I'll tell you what I fear."
Guitarist/vocalist THURSTON MOORE once described the band's sound as "crashing mashing intensified dense rhythms juxtaposed with filmic mood pieces, evoking an atmosphere that could only be described as expressive f***ed-up modernism, and so forth."
I love that.
I also love the songs featuring bassist/vocalist KIM GORDON (pictured), because she specialized in what has been called "politically abrasive songs masqueraded as pop."
"Crazy fr you, pleasure is mine. I love you, I love you, I love you, what's your name?"
Perfect stuff for a rainy, dreary day with nothing particular to do. Besides cleaning up after the dog.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I did eat the Mars Bar and it was delicious!

Leon Best looks like he has the upper hand in the photo, doesn't he? Particularly with Alex on the ground, eh?
Don't believe it.
Visiting CHELSEA beat Championship side COVENTRY CITY, 2-0, in an FA CUP quarterfinal match I watched this morning. Alex scored the second goal. Didier Drogba opened the scoring for the Premier League side.
The Sky Blues understandably looked out of their league against the visitors.
Besides the FA Cup, I have been enjoying another English institution -- MADNESS.
No, not the mental condition -- the band!
Check out the video (here) for their 1984 single, "MICHAEL CAINE." I have the 12-inch version on vinyl and have loved it for 25 years now.
"Michael Caine" was written by Cathal Smyth and Daniel Woodgate, featured Smyth (CHAS SMASH) on lead vocals (instead of usual lead singer Suggs).
This catchy song, about an informer (a "grass") during the troubles in Northern Ireland, spent eight weeks in the British charts, peaking at No. 11.
The FA Cup on TV and Madness on the iPod on a rainy day. I might have to grab my British MARS BAR out of the freezer to make this UK-like day complete!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Maybe Route 1 should direct the next "Twilight" sequel?

"Walk the Line" star Joaquin Phoenix has grown a busy beard and announced he will forsake movies for music. Hmm... It might work, but if it doesn't, his decision could provide an answer to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION from ROUTE 1:
"What was the worst career choice in movies or music?"
BEKAH P. -- Britney Spears decision to get into music/movies. I mean, come on! When did
talent become optional?
MARY N.P. -- OK I've got two (similar at that): Leonard Nimoy singing (anything), but especially, "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins," and William Shatner singing (anything) but especially "It was a very good year." They shoulda just let us remember them from Star Trek with a smile...
STEVE M. -- Can I use Michael Jordan switching to baseball? But it does not satisfy your stringent requirements - hhmmmmmm... Maybe the Beatles forcing themselves to record the "Get Back" sessions in cold Twickenham studios after the tense sessions of the "White Album" a few months before. It was the major catalyst of the breakup after John Lennon's new-found world view he found with Yoko Ono.
LAURA C. -- David Caruso walking away form "NYPD Blue" for a career on the Big Screen.
KERI M. -- I think Britney leaving K fed. For some odd reason I think he really loved her. I have a migraine and so that is as far into music as I can think right now.
SASKIA M. -- I love Captain Kirk/William Shatner, but... the interpretation of the Beatles' track "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" on his "spoken word" album "The Transformed Man" is just WRONG on so many levels.
STACEY B. -- It was such an incredibly bad career choice for singer Mariah Carey to actually star in the movie flop "Glitter." I've seen a lot of bad movies, but that movie has got to be the worst one hands down.
ERIK H. -- Can you call it a "bad career move" when the act subsequently tops the charts and sells loads more records than before? I think you can, if the move toward commercialization robs the act of the creativity and uniqueness that won you over when you first heard them. After developing their own, quirky version of European dance during the band's first five years, the members of Simple Minds decided to channel their "inner U2" with the albums "Once Upon A Time" and "Street Fighting Years." The albums sold by the boatload and garnered critical praise from the music press, but hardcore fans of the band sensed a sell-out and began to seek more alternative fare. By 1991's "Real Life," even some of the fans of the newly commercial Simple Minds began to fade away.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rory Gilmore is all grown up

The latest GLAMOUR MAGAZINE celebrates female fashion icons of the past with photographs of some current celebrities.
You can find the photographs here.
Hayden Panettiere portrays Amelia Earhart, Paula Patton is Billie Holiday, Emma Roberts is Audrey Hepburn, Camilla Belle is Mary Tyler Moore, Alicia Keys is First Lady Michelle Obama and Lindsay Lohan seems to be fulfilling a prophecy as she channels Madonna.
There are a few other fashion icons portrayed, but my favorite photograph features ALEXIS BLEDEL as Rosie the Riveter (pictured).
I feel like I have watched Bledel grow up.
Here's why: My 13-year-old daughter KERSTIN has all seven seasons of "GILMORE GIRLS" on DVD. I haven't seen every episode of the witty show myself, but I have seen enough to see Bledel's character RORY GILMORE grow from awkward teenhood to occasionally awkward young adulthood.
Throw in "SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS," and it seems like Bledel is always on our television.
She looks "all grown up" as Rosie the Riveter, and it seems Bledel has grown up right in front of me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Many seconds of pleasure

I have been listening to what amounts to a "good-time rock 'n' roll super group" during the past couple days.
ROCKPILE recorded four albums, but contractual obligations meant only 1980's "SECONDS OF PLEASURE" was credited to Rockpile. The other albums were billed as solo efforts by the two principals of the rockabilly/power-pop quartet -- DAVE EDMUNDS and NICK LOWE.
Pictured above, the band members included:
BILLY BREMNER -- A Scottish guitarist who sang lead on "Heart" and "You Ain't Nothing But Fine" from "Seconds of Pleasure." His subsequent musical career found him in Los Angeles, Nashville and Sweden.
NICK LOWE -- Please forgive this bassist/vocalist/songwriter/producer for unleashing "I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock 'N' Roll" on the world. His other songs, such as "Cruel to be Kind" and "What's so Funny ('Bout Peace, Love and Understanding)" should outweigh the presence of the ubiquitous wedding-reception staple. Besides, Lowe's production work helped usher in "modern rock," as he helmed albums by The Damned, The Specials and Elvis Costello's first five albums.
TERRY WILLIAMS -- This Welsh drummer has played with Dire Straits, B.B. King and Bob Dylan during a lengthy career. He now runs a blues club in Swansea.
DAVE EDMUNDS -- Another pivotal figure in British rock, this Welsh singer/guitarist has charted with "I Hear You Knockin,'" "Crawling From the Wreckage," "Queen of Hearts" and others. He has also produced a number of artists.
I have "Seconds of Pleasure" on LP, having purchased it during high school. I recently acquired it digitally from iTunes, and listening to it provides pleasure that lasts many seconds indeed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A nostalgic Celebration today

Forgive me for waxing nostalgic today.
I used a recent iTunes card to create a playlist that mirrors one of my favorite LPs.
Arista Records released "CELEBRATION" by SIMPLE MINDS in 1982.
The compilation boasted tracks from the Glasgow band's first three albums -- 1979's "Life in a Day" and "Reel to Real Cacophony" and 1980's "Empires and Dance."
Songs such as "Changeling," "Chelsea Girl" and "I Travel" influenced me greatly during my high school years, and I eventually purchased all three of Simple Minds' first three albums.
Simple Minds' early career interests me much more than the band's later success.
The band sold many more records after its commercial breakthrough, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," but the music is far less adventurous than the post-punk dance-oriented tracks on "Celebration."
"Celebration" remained out of print for an extended period of time in the United States, so I never purchased the compilation on CD.
I am doubly pleased, then, to have found it again in the digital age.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The first (can't call it "annual") WORLDSOCCERapalooza

One of the first things you learn in THE WONDERFUL AND APPARENTLY TERMINALLY ILL WORLD OF PRINT JOURNALISM is that you can't call anything the "FIRST ANNUAL." "Annual" means something occurs every year, and if an event has only happened once, it hasn't really happened every year, has it?
That's why I can't attach the word "annual" to my big event today -- the first WORLDSOCCERapalooza.
WORLDSOCCERapalooza? What's that?
It's as ludicrous an event as the stupid name implies.
After working yesterday, I decided that I would spend *all day* today reading the latest issue of British-based WORLD SOCCER magazine.
When I complete this issue, I will then open up a tote that contains EVERY WORLD SOCCER ISSUE SINCE MY SUBSCRIPTION BEGAN IN 1995 and I will read some of those, too.
OK, I admit it: The tote also contains about a half dozen World Soccer magazines that I purchased *before* my subscription kicked in -- I actually have World Soccer magazines from 20 years ago.
My wife thinks a tote full of old soccer magazines is such a ridiculous idea that she makes me lug it around whenever we move: She doesn't want anybody else straining their back over something so impossibly unnecessary, I guess.
I try to form an analogy with her tote of clothing scraps for the quilt she never makes, but my argument always seems torpedoed in the end.
Anyway, I can't wait for today. It's going to be so much fun reading old soccer magazines.
Then, next year around this time, the print journalism conventions will finally allow me to call it "THE SECOND ANNUAL WORLDSOCCERapalooza."
I can't wait!