Thursday, April 30, 2009

"You wanted the best, you've got the best. The hottest band in the world, the Urinals!"

The dude at the Arby's drive-through yesterday looked like he was intrigued by the PUNK ROCK wailing from my opened car window.
Sadly, I didn't have time to explain.
Very few people heard THE URINALS during their late 1970s hey day -- the DEMENTED EARLY DAYS OF L.A. PUNK.
The trio released three 7-inch records (including a pair of EPs) and moved on to different things.
I only heard their brilliant instrumental, "Surfin' With the Shah," a few years later on a San Francisco alternative station.
John Talley-Jones, Kevin Barrett and Kjehl Johanson came out of the UCLA dorms with the idea of stripping down the already stripped sound of the Sex Pistols and the other pioneering U.K. punk bands. The result? One-or-two-chord rockers clocking in at 2 minutes (mostly) and sounding like Black Flag mixed with Wire and the Desperate Bicycles. Kind of.
The "NEGATIVE CAPABILITY... CHECK IT OUT!" CD collects The Urinals' three 7-inch recordings, compilation tracks and a bunch of live cuts -- including a version of the band's best-remembered song, "Ack Ack Ack Ack" (later covered to more renown by the Minutemen).
Listening to the poorly recorded but exhilarating songs reminds me of listening to blues recordings from the 1930s: They sound like barely coherent dispatches from some shadowy, far-off world.
Dave Lang reviewed The Urinals' collection in PERFECT SOUND FOREVER:
"This is the best collection of rock songs I've heard in the last twelve months, and whether one likes to party like a punker or not, it gets my vote as some of the most inspirational sounds you've never heard in your life."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Remember Ernie Barnes

Not many professional football players move on to a career as an artist with iconic paintings, which is why I am pausing today to remember ERNIE BARNES.
Barnes died Monday night, age 70.
He played in the old AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE for the Titans, Chargers and Broncos.
Barnes turned to art after football. Among his notable works was "THE SUGAR SHACK," featured on the cover of the Marvin Gaye album "I Want You" and in the credits of the 1970s sitcom "Good Times."
Football and art? That's quite a pair of accomplishments.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The "other" Toad the Wet Sprocket

What are the odds there would be two bands called "TOAD THE WET SPROCKET?" I wondered that last night, listening to the NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL compilation "METAL FOR MUTHAS, VOL. 1."
A band called Toad the Wet Sprocket contributes the song, "Blues in A." No surprise, it's a bluesy tune that sounds completely out of place amid the stainless-steel riffs on the rest of the album.
Even more confusingly, this Toad the Wet Sprocket is not the Santa Barbara, Calif., band that hit the charts with "All I Want" in the 1990s.
This Toad the Wet Sprocket came from Bedfordshire and included Mike Mustofa (vocals), Mark "Curly" Rideaut (guitar), Pete Austin (bass), Martin "Witik" Wightwick (drums) and occasionally Pip Domino (piano).
Not very well known at the time, the UK version of Toad the Wet Sprocket disbanded in 1982 and lapsed into further obscurity: It is difficult finding much information about them online.
Oh, and the odds on two bands called "Toad the Wet Sprocket" might be slightly higher than I thought: The name comes from a MONTY PYTHON sketch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

They did have a song called "Lightning to the Nations"

Maybe the lightning reminds me of onstage pyrotechnics writ large. I am not entirely sure why, but I always crave some NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL (NWOBHM) during fierce thunderstorms.
Thus, while some Dubuque County residents were taking refuge in their basements, I was driving home from seeing a film, DIAMOND HEAD absolutely blaring from the car stereo speakers.
Formed by a quartet of teenagers -- Sean Harris (vocals), Brian Tatler (guitar), Colin Kimberly (bass) and Duncan Scott (drums) -- Diamond Head emerged from Stourbridge, in the English Black Country, in the late 1970s.
"Sure, there's a lethal riffing power and a crashing cataclysmic roar (etc.) to Diamond Head, but it's tempered with thought and class, lifting them on to that precarious hard rock/ heavy metal borderline," rock writer Paul Suter once wrote. "Brian Tatler's the resident guitar hero, loud and proud and bristling with electric power."
I listened to Tatler work his magic on his WHITE GIBSON FLYING V while driving last night, the skies overhead growing increasingly dark, as the music grew increasingly loud.
I was ready for a storm

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Torres Strait Islander's song comforts the sleepless

Wouldn't you know it? On the first morning I could have slept in for six days, I woke up around 3 a.m., and couldn't fall back to sleep.
I usually don't suffer from insomnia, so I am not sure what made me wake up.
If I can't sleep, I thought, I might as well listen to some good music.
The first song I dialed up was "MY ISLAND HOME" by CHRISTINE ANU.
Born in Cairns, Anu is a TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER, one of the indigenous peoples of AUSTRALIA.
The Torres Strait Islands are a group of at least 274 small islands which lie in Torres Strait, the waterway separating far northern continental Australia 's Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea. Most of the islands are considered part of Queensland.
American sports fans might be familiar with a Torres Strait Islander who starred on the college basketball courts this past season. PATTY MILLS starred for St. Mary's College in California.

"This Island Home" was originally written by Neil Murray and recorded by his Warumpi Band.
Anu served as a backing singer for Neil Murray and The Rainmakers in 1992.

"I was quite happy as a backing singer but Neil would always say, 'C'mon, you're the only chick in the band, we've gotta get your face out front. Surely you can sing a couple of songs to give me a break,'" Anu said. "I started singing one line of 'My Island Home,' then a verse, then it ended up becoming the song that I sang."
"My Island Home" is a beautiful song that expresses the longing of a city dweller for the tropical comforts of their upbringing. It's a song that resonates with
Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike.
It even resonated with a wide awake American who wished he could have been sleeping.
You can check out a YouTube clip of Anu singing "My Island Home" at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by clicking here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Groovin' to Daddy Cool on ANZAC Day

It's a tiny item in our newspapers: "On this date.... In 1915, during World War I, Allied soldiers invaded the Gallipoli Peninsula in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war." Across the world, it's known as ANZAC DAY.
AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND celebrate ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day like a combination of our Memorial Day and Veterans Day (with a pinch of the Fourth of July) tossed in for good measure.
I am marking ANZAC Day by eating VEGEMITE on toast for breakfast and listening to classic 1970s rockers DADDY COOL.
Formed at MELBOURNE in 1970, Daddy Cool featured Ross Wilson (lead vocals and guitar), Ross Hannaford (guitar and vocals), Wayne Duncan (bass and vocals) and Gary Young (drums and vocals) and specialized in 1950s doo-wop-style songs and Wilson's originals.
One such original, "EAGLE ROCK," topped the Australian singles chart for 10 weeks in the summer of 1971.
I am grooving to the Daddy Cool compilation "That's Cool."
On a rainy day in Dubuque, I can't think of a better way of recognizing Anzac Day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Question, Beverage edition

ROUTE 1 staff ask you to please drink responsibly, particularly when considering the following:
1. FRIDAY QUESTION: "What is your favorite cocktail?"
2. Beer enthusiasts: You may answer with your favorite beer.
3. Non-drinkers: You may answer with your favorite non-alcoholic beverage.
4. Don't drink much of anything except water? You may answer "water."
BEKAH P. -- I am loving martinis right now. Pretty much any martini with a fruit or
chocolate flavor -- I am there!
MIKE M. -- I enjoy browsing Target's liquor aisle, then consulting my Idiot's Guide to Wine to see what a bad selection I've made. Does anyone know if it's possible to find a decent bottle of Bordeaux Cabernet in Dubuque for less than $25? Cheers!
JOHN S. -- Cap'n & Coke
SASKIA M. -- My all-time favorite: Harvey Wallbanger!!!
ELLEN B. -- Busch Light or Bud Light.
MIKE D. -- Back in the wild, rock band days of my youth, I was quite the drinker ... of Mountain Dew, that is. Then I met my future wife, and she changed my wicked ways. Now I drink water almost exclusively. It's healthier, and I haven't had a kidney stone since then.
KERI M. -- Favorite Drink: Blue Monday. 2 oz vodka, 1/4 oz triple sec, 1/4 oz blue Curacao, 3/4 oz. Sprite, 1/4 oz. lemon juice.
MARY N.-P. -- While I used to ingest decent amounts of Jose Cuervo Gold (for years
actually), I don't any more. Now I like a good quality dark rum and OJ or 7-up. So smoooooth!
AMY G. -- Mojitos -- the real deal with crushed mint. Had a great one at 111 Main in
RICK T. -- Pepsi Cola!!!!!
BRIAN C. -- Current favorite beer: 312. It's brewed in Chicago, home of the 312 Area Code. Second favorite beer: Whatever I'm holding in my hand at the time.
STEVE M. -- Homemade margarita: 2 oz tequila, 3 oz pure lime juice, 2 oz triple sec. They are strong. Reduce tequila, or increase triple sec to taste. Shake in skaker with ice, and some melted ice to dilute the mixture is part of the drink.
LISA Y. -- The classic margarita, with chips and salsa, of course!
BRIAN M. -- I'm mostly a beer person (favoring Guinness (dark) and Sierra Nevada (lighter)), but I'm curious enough to try a Rusty Nail. I've never tried Drambuie, and I found out just yesterday it's from Scotland.
ERIK H. -- Ah yes! The Rusty Nail. Drambuie + Scotch = Rusty Nail. I prefer Chivas Regal as my Scotch (my pocketbook disagrees). Hail Scotland!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Amazing World of Erik's Workstation, Part 14

Today's tour takes us to the spot just to the left of the computer.
(From left to right)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Well, it was at least a revelation to me

I had one of those revelations today. Not an important one; rather, I finally made a connection that should have been clear from the beginning.
I have been listening to one of the L.A. punk scene's absolutely classic albums: "A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE" by THE FLESH EATERS.
The Flesh Eaters were a veritable punk "super group."
On this 1981 release, singer CHRIS D. (he went by an initial for his last name) was aided by guitarist Dave Alvin and drummer Bill Bateman of THE BLASTERS, drummer D.J. Bonebrake and bassist John Doe of X, and sax player Steve Berlin (future member of LOS LOBOS and producer of numerous acts, including Los Super Seven and R.E.M.).

I knew all that before.
What I had not realized until today is that the Chris D. who snarls his way through this punk album is the CHRIS DESJARDINS who has since become one of the preeminent JAPANESE FILM SCHOLARS in the United States.
At lunch, I checked the dedication page of Desjardins' "OUTLAW MASTERS OF JAPANESE FILM. Desjardins thanks his parents for "not turning their back on me during my hell-raising period."
I always thought that dedication seemed a bit strange, appearing as it did in a history of Japanese cinema.
Now, it all makes sense.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pop's most thoroughly fluorescent green single?

On this day of reinvention -- "Honey, I shrank the newspaper" -- I have been listening to KRAFTWERK, the German band writer Simon Witter called "pop's most ruthlessly modern group."
ROUTE 1 apprentice ANNIKA and I listened to "COMPUTER WORLD," the band's 1981 release, as I drove her to and from dance class last night.
"It so thoroughly anticipated the electronic dance music that followed," Witter wrote, "that of all of Kraftwerk's albums, it sounds the most dated."
The "Computer World" single, "POCKET CALCULATOR," seemed almost too futuristic when I purchased a 7-inch of it (pictured) from the TOWER RECORDS at Christown Mall in PHOENIX back in my high school days.
The store clerk actually argued with me:
"Are you *sure* you want this?"
Then, with its clear plastic sleeve and fluorescent green vinyl, the single seemed like an artifact from the future.
Now, of course, we see it as a rather quaint relic of the past.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enjoying Crocodiles' "Tears"

I don't blame THE CROCODILES for releasing a song and album called "TEARS," even if that does seem like a cliché.
"Tears" is a great song and the album is one of those "lost" New Wave gems, particularly if you live in America.
I am listening to the 1980 NEW ZEALAND classic this morning, as I prepare for a busy day at work (new format for the newspaper) and the home front (taking daughter Kerstin for a cortisone treatment for a bulging disc).
Members of The Crocodiles included guitarists Fane Flaws and Tony Backhouse, keyboardist Peter Dasent, bassist Tina Mathews, veteran drummer Bruno Lawrence and soon-to-be-a-star vocalist JENNY MORRIS.
The group released "Tears" to wide, Antipodean acclaim. Both the title track and the album reached No. 17 on the Kiwi national charts.
The group were named Top Group and Most Promising Group in awards shows, and "Tears" was named New Zealand's Song of The Year.
It was over too quickly, though, and by July 1981 Morris relocated to Australia. She sang back-up vocals for various bands, including the Models and INXS before moving on to a successful solo career.
There is a YouTube clip of "Tears." Click here to enjoy it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coming in at No. 4 in your dystopian hit parade

I have a difficult time watching "A CLOCKWORK ORANGE," Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel, I think because it seems like a dystopian nightmare that could too easily come true.
However, I do enjoy the scene featuring Malcolm McDowell's Alex character visiting the music shop of the future.
I thought about that scene this morning, while I listened to some HEAVEN 17 songs. The Sheffield band took their name from one of the group's in the Clockwork Orange music shop Top 10.
The Top 10 list from the film (and novel, I think), is as follows:
1. "Mass in G" by Goggly Gogol
2. "Really Play" by Johnny Zhivago
3. "Sweaty Club" by The Humpers
4. "Inside" by The Heaven Seventeen
5. "Dogs and Cats" by Bread Brothers
6. "Switch Me On" by The Sharks
7. "Downy" by The Blow Goes
8. "Jelly Roll" by The Legend
9. "Black Christmas" by Cyclops
10. "Art Noveau" by Comic Strips.
See? It's a dystopian future that seems so easily attainable. That Top 10 doesn't seem all that far fetched.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My annotated APRA Top 10

The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA, the Down Under version of ASCAP or BMI) celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2001 by releasing a list of the Top 10 songs in the history of AUSTRALIA, based on a survey of 100 music personalities. Jill and I listened to a CD compilation of the tunes en route to a party last night in an adjoining county.
Here are the Top 10 songs, with the introductions to each song I said to Jill in the car:
This song became a worldwide hit in 1966 and provided Australia with its answer to The Beatles. One of The Easybeats, George Young, was the older brother of Malcolm and Angus out of AC/DC.

This song was one of the iconic hits of the early 1970s. Everybody in Australia would know this song.
This is the only band on here that I have seen in concert. They were awesome.
(No real commentary, I just sang along to the line about the Vegemite sandwich, remembering that I had eaten Vegemite on toast earlier in the week.)
This song is by the "father" of Australian country music. And it is hilarious. It came out in the 1950s and was the biggest-selling Australian single up to that time.
This song is sort of the Australian version of "Louie Louie" -- a garage-rock hit that became an endearing classic.
If you are from New Zealand, you don't think this song belongs on an "Australian" list. People from Aotearoa are quite conscious about Aussies claiming Kiwis as their own.
This song is the most popular Australian song to deal with the Vietnam War. A lot of Americans don't even realize Australia fought in the Vietnam War.
A song by every teenage boy's favorite band. I wonder how many even realize AC/DC are Aussies?
10. "QUASIMODO'S DREAM" by The Reels.
This was one of the classic hits from the 80s, but it never really made it over here. I sometimes wonder if the vast distances keep a lot of Australian music from reaching our shores -- it would just be so expensive to tour.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Take me out to the FRIDAY QUESTION

Why the long faces over here?
The GIANTS have lost their first six road games for the first time since moving west with the Dodgers after the 1957 season. The last time ROUTE 1's official favorite lost cause/baseball team dropped their first six on the road was in 1947 -- the year Jackie Robinson made his big league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Are we shocked? Are we bitter? Are we panicking?
Yes, yes and yes!
Thankfully, we are also enjoying the answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite baseball movie?"
RICK T. -- "For The Love of The Game!"
BEKAH P. -- "A League of Their Own." I must have watched that 10,000 times growing up. Everything about that movie is classic, classic, classic. And of course, the best line in baseball history... "There's no crying in baseball!"
MARY N.-P. -- Since I'm not a sports junkie (actually I'm very sports-challenged as folks in the newsroom know), about the only baseball movie I've ever seen is "The Field of Dreams" so it must be my favorite...
MIKE D. -- "Field of Dreams." You can't beat a movie about playing catch with your dad.
JOHN S. -- "The Sandlot."
KERI M. -- "A League of Their Own."
JIM S. -- Of course, "Field of Dreams" ranks near the top for me -- even if it DIDN'T take place nearby. I'd also throw in "The Rookie," "The Sandlot," "Hardball," "League of Their Own" and "Pride of the Yankees." There are just so many good ones!
LISA Y. -- Of course, it is "Field of Dreams!"
ERIK H. -- Akira Kurosawa's 1949 crime drama "Nora Inu (Stray Dog)" probably doesn't make many "best baseball film" lists, but one of the most enthralling elements in this classic movie is an extended scene featuring a stakeout at a Yomiuri Giants versus Nankai Hawks baseball game. Viewers see Japan's legendary "God of Batting," Tetsuharu Kawakami, in action.The American Giants sure could use someone like Kawakami today!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Feelin' groovy with Ted Templeman and Harpers Bizarre

I'm sitting here sippin' coffee and FEELIN' GROOVY. I'm also thinking that sometimes all a band needs to reach greatness is ONE MUSICAL GENIUS. Take HARPERS BIZARRE, the band from SANTA CRUZ, CALIF., I am enjoying as I type this post.
Their take on Simon & Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" is arguably the definitive version of the 1960s classic.
Similarly, their cover of Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood" explored new territory for psychedelic pop.
Were they a great band? I think so. Their musicianship certainly places them in the upper tier of their peers.
So what about this supposed musical genius?
The fact that TED TEMPLEMAN sang, played drums and guitar for Harpers Bizarre should have tipped off a few people about his talents.
He later became one of the most influential record producers of the 1970s and 80s, helming recordings by the Doobie Brothers, Montrose, Little Feat and Carly Simon, among others.
Oh yeah... Templeman also convinced Warner Bros. to sign an unknown Southern California group called VAN HALEN, and Templeman produced the band's first six albums.
In retrospect, I have no qualms calling Templeman a musical genius, and listening to Harpers Bizarre this morning while feelin' groovy, I have no problems calling them great, either.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hillsborough: 20 Years Later

We're about to celebrate JILL'S BIRTHDAY, but I am also recalling this date 20 years ago, and the horror that altered my favorite sport.
April 15 marks the 20th anniversary of the HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER, a deadly crush of football fans at Hillsborough, home stadium for my favorite club, Sheffield Wednesday.
The crush claimed the lives of 96 people -- all of them fans of LIVERPOOL. The Merseysiders were due to face NOTTINGHAM FOREST in an FA Cup semifinal. Hillsborough served as the neutral site for the match.
South Yorkshire Police, the authorities overseeing the event, opened a large exit gate which forced too many Liverpool fans into the standing-room, Leppings Lane end of the stadium, leaving fans inside trapped between people entering the stadium and metal fences separating the stands from the field.
The investigation into the disaster, the TAYLOR REPORT, ultimately resulted into the conversion of most British football stadiums into all-seated facilities.
Today, thousands will pay their respects to the innocent lives lost in the name of that progress.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I just love this band's name!

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy... The Chocolate Watch Band... 13th Floor Elevators...
Blame the acid, I suppose, but the mid-to-late 1960s were a GOLDEN AGE OF GOOFY AND GREAT BAND NAMES.
One of my favorite names belonged to a group of
amateur musicians from New Jersey whose song, "The Reality of (Air) Fried Borsk" (no drugs involved there, eh?), is included on the great compilation, "PEBBLES, VOL. 3: THE ACID GALLERY."
THE DRIVING STUPID is simply an awesome name for a band!
The members were lead guitarist Kelley Rodgers, bassist and vocalist Dwight Harris, Richard Ehrenberg on rhythm guitar and vocals and Jeff Hildt on drums, some guitar, and vocals.
According to the band's Wikipedia entry,
Ehrenberg's son, Philip Ehrenberg, attends Atlanta's Paideia School and plans to make a documentary of the group. I hope the film explains how the band derived their name. I just love the name "The Driving Stupid."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Considering Van Halen's revolution

Angus Young once shared his distaste for modern metal guitar styles. The AC/DC guitarist complained practitioners such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai were performing nothing more than "guitar exercises."
London-based guitar tutor and session player Martin Goulding suggests a true revolutionary paved the way for Satriani, Vai and the others who ushered in a more technically proficient style of playing:
"With the wheels already set rolling by players such as Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker, it was Dutchman EDDIE VAN HALEN who would revolutionize the way modern electric guitar is played. Right from the arrival of his band's debut album in 1978, it was clear he was an innovator who would influence a generation of guitar players."
The book details Van Halen's history through the guitars he played, refashioned and endorsed, from KRAMER (pictured), MUSIC MAN and PEAVEY.
I listened to some VAN HALEN on the treadmill this morning. I couldn't imagine the namesake guitarist playing any other style but his fluid approach that Goulding described as featuring "improvisation over the entire neck."
Sorry Angus, asking Eddie Van Halen to play in a more "conventional" style would be akin to requesting John Coltrane to stick to the sheet music.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Psychedelic Easter Sunday with the Neighb'rhood Childr'n

We ate our traditional HAM DINNER last night, and I blame the digestion of all of the carbohydrates overnight for a spate of WEIRD DREAMS -- including one involving a gang of STORE MANNEQUINS involved in store burglaries.
That trippy dream inspired me, and I am now listening to equally trippy music during a
I am currently listening to the NEIGHB'RHOOD CHILDR'N, contemporaries of the Jefferson Airplane on SAN FRANCISCO'S psychedelic scene, but more importantly, arguably the biggest thing to come out of PHOENIX, ORE.
Phoenix and its twin, Talent, are a pair of blink-and-you'll-miss-them small towns between ASHLAND and MEDFORD (my dad's hometown) in southern Oregon.
Rick Bolz, George Gleim, Dyan Hoffman, John Morrison and Gary Campbell started a surf music band called The Navarros in 1967 in Phoenix. After releasing a single on a local label, the band moved to S.F., changed their name to Neighb'rhood Childr'n and started producing wacked-out gems such as "Chocolate Angel" (lots of Dyan's moaning in that one) and "Patterns" (which seems to marry hot electric guitar licks with a roller-skating rink organ).
Ron Raschdorf and W.A. Farrens joined the group and the Neighb'rhood Childr'n recorded a self-titled album in 1968 and opened for The Who and the Grass Roots, among others.
I have heard that problems on tour led to the band's dissolution. It's a shame. The Neighb'rhood Childr'n provide a great soundtrack for a post-dream morning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The gulf between what I said and what actually happened is... wide

Shows you how much I know.
Didier Drogba scored his second goal of the game, CHELSEA took a 4-0 lead at home against BOLTON WANDERERS, and I said to anyone who would listen:
"The gulf in quality is so vast, Bolton don't even look like keeping possession, much less scoring in this match."
Good thing only the cats and the puppy were listening to me (My wife Jill only pretended to listen while reading the newspaper). Bolton didn't listen to me, which is just as well. My assessment was well wide of the mark!
The visitors scored three times in eight minutes and came agonizingly close to securing a draw in one of the most exciting televised PREMIER LEAGUE matches I have seen in ages.
Chelsea's eventual 4-3 victory keeps them in the title hunt, as both MANCHESTER UNITED and LIVERPOOL also won.
This year's Premiership title race is so much more entertaining than in year's past, when one team (either Man. Utd. or Chelsea) seem to dominate from the start.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Question takes on another big issue

Hello boys and girls!
Today, ROUTE 1 readers tackle another controversial subject by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Should active euthanasia, the practice of ending a life using lethal substances or forces, be introduced into American nursing -- "
Whoah! Wrong question! Sorry about that.How the heck did that happen? Oh, here we go...
"What is the dumbest song title?"
KERSTIN H. -- "Weather With You" by Crowded House. You can't take the weather wherever you go!
BEKAH P. -- "Slave 4 You."
LAURA C. -- "Baby I'm-a Want You" by Bread.
SASKIA M. -- I would have to say: "The Rigga-Ding-Dong-Song" by Passion Fruit (big hit in Europe around 2000 in the Eurodance/bubblegum dance genre).
RICK TITTLE -- "Yellow Submarine."
JOHN S. -- "1+1+1=3" by Prince.
KERI M. -- "If You Seek Amy."
ERIK H. -- "Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang" by the New Zealand band Monte Video and the Cassettes was a Kiwi hit single circa 1982-83. (You can see a YouTube clip of it here.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

They're just a "rock" band, I guess

I'm one of those people who is REAL PARTICULAR when it comes to identifying the "GENRE" information in iTunes.
That's the background for a recent dilemma.
I was loading "THE PRETENDERS' GREATEST HITS" on my iPod.
I reached the drop-down box for genre and stopped -- I was momentarily stumped.
What do I call CHRISSIE HYNDE and company?
Fronted by an expatriate American but otherwise containing Brits, THE PRETENDERS formed during the end of the U.K. punk explosion.
Their music, though, doesn't really jive with my notion of "punk rock."
The songs from the debut album, including "Kid" and "Brass in Pocket," don't really fit the "New Wave" category, either.
I finally just stuck with the basics.
On my iPod, at least, The Pretenders are a rock band.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"Electric Blue" in my head and a chill in my feet

IVA DAVIES reportedly named his SYDNEY band ICEHOUSE because of his cold apartment.
The girls put away my slippers last night, so this morning, I can relate to Davies' experiences. My feet are FREEZING!
I also have the 1987 Icehouse hit "Electric Blue" hopelessly stuck in my head.
That's probably because I listened to an Icehouse compilation right before falling asleep last night.
"Electric Blue" (No. 7 in America and No. 1 Down Under) and "Crazy" (No. 14 U.S., No. 4 Australia) were the band's only Top-40 hits in the states, but Icehouse did well enough at home to gain entry to the ARIA HALL OF FAME in 2006.
"With various incarnations, Icehouse delivered an incredible body of work for over 20 years," states the ARIA press release on the induction. "With an uncompromising approach to music production they created songs that ranged from pure pop escapism to edgy, lavish synthesised pieces."
Originally known as Flowers, Icehouse produced eight Top10 Aussie albums and 20 Top-40 Aussie singles.
They were also effective at landing catchy songs in the heads of people with cold feet and no idea what happened to their slippers.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Opening Day is not just another day

Since I was a kid, those words have meant so much.
The "glass half full" side of me thinks of baseball's opening day as a sign that warmth and sun are about to usher out clouds and cold. That warm evenings will be filled with the voices of an announcer describing balls, strikes and other action over the radio.
The "glass half empty" side of me thinks of baseball's opening day as the beginning of an ordeal that can include June Swoons, loads of runners left on base and that awful World Series of 2002.
Hey, what can I say? I am a lifelong fan of the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS. I equate baseball with a certain amount of disappointment -- it's in my blood.
This afternoon, the Giants open the 2009 season against the MILWAUKEE BREWERS (my wife Jill's favorite team).
This morning, we are listening to the MURPH & MAC morning show on KNBR 680 online. KNBR has been the flagship radio station for the Giants for more than 30 years.
While the announcers have mentioned NORTH CAROLINA'S NCAA VICTORY of last night, most of the focus remains on the ballpark.
That's the way it should be on Opening Day.

Monday, April 06, 2009

A two-disc "Slice of Heaven"

When the spring sun streams through the budding trees, I want to listen to music from AUSTRALIA. That music just says "sun" to me.
When spring storms cast the skies in folds of dripping grey and people bundle up despite what the calendar says, I want to listen to music from AOTEAROA.
Yesterday definitely fell into that NEW ZEALAND-style, latter category.
I worked, and my family was stranded by snow at my sister-in-law's house, 208 miles away.
To brighten my dark mood, I listened to a great, two-disc compilation of NEW ZEALAND music -- "25 YEARS OF KIWI ROCK."
Here are some of just a few of the artists that highlight the compilation:
Ray Columbus & The Invaders – Pop group who scored a No. 1 hit in New Zealand and Australia with “She’s a Mod” in 1964.
Shane – England-born Trevor “Shane” Hales sang on the NZBC-TV show “C’Mon” in the 1960s. His song, “ Saint Paul ,” was based on rumors of Paul McCartney’s death.
Dragon – Auckland band who relocated to Sydney in 1975. ARIA Hall of Fame inductees with 15 Top-40 hits in Australia .
Jon Stevens – Singer with some solo success before he fronted Sydney band Noiseworks. He sang for INXS following the death of Michael Hutchence.
Coconut Rough – Band formed when singer Andrew Snoid left the Swingers. “ Sierra Leone ” reached the New Zealand Top 5 in 1983.
Netherworld Dancing Toys – Dunedin band whose single “For Today” reached No. 3 on the New Zealand charts in 1985 and entered popular culture when it was used in an advertisement for New Zealand Post.
Dave Dobbyn – Leader of Th’Dudes and DD Smash whose signature solo song “Slice of Heaven” featured in Australian television advertisements encouraging travel to New Zealand .
Fan Club – Band fronted by Malaysian singer Wan Aishah binti Wan Ariffin when she was studying in New Zealand during the late 1980s.
It's all great stuff, with some Split Enz songs thrown into the mix as well.
It couldn't compensate for a missing family and an A.W.O.L. sun, but it was fun listening.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"You mark that frame an 8, and you're entering a world of pain."

"Am I the only one around here who gives a sh*t about the rules?"
It's a question posed by Walter Shobchak (John Goodman) during one of the many hilarious scenes in the COEN BROTHERS' bowling epic "THE BIG LEBOWSKI."
One of my favorite films, I watched it again last night on DVD.
Is bowling a matter of life and death? It seems to be more important than that during the scene in which Shobchak calls into question an alleged rule violation by competitor Smokey (played by singer/songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore) while film protagonist The Dude (Jeff Bridges) tries to mediate.
The Dude: Walter, ya know, it's Smokey, so his toe slipped over the line a little, big deal. It's just a game, man.
Walter: Dude, this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?
Smokey: Yeah, but I wasn't over. Gimme the marker Dude, I'm marking it 8.
Walter: (pulls out a gun) Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
The Dude: Walter...
Walter: You mark that frame an 8, and you're entering a world of pain.
Smokey: I'm not...
Walter: A world of pain.
Smokey: Dude, he's your partner...
Walter: (shouting) Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a sh*t about the rules? Mark it zero!
The Dude: They're calling the cops, put the piece away.
Walter: Mark it zero! (points the gun in Smokey's face)
The Dude: Walter...
Walter: (shouting) You think I'm f***ing around here? Mark it zero!
Smokey: All right, it's f***ing zero. Are you happy, you crazy f*ck?
Walter: ...It's a league game, Smokey.
Goodman is consistently hilarious throughout this consistently hilarious film. The *liberal* use of the F-word might deter some people from enjoying this film. That's too bad. It is well worth repeated viewings.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A quiet house, apart from the Hunters & Collectors

The rest of my family is a couple hundred miles away (I work tomorrow, so I couldn't accompany them on this trip), so the pets and I are listening to music in an otherwise empty house.
I used an iTUNES card to purchase "NATURAL SELECTION," a greatest-hits compilation of one of my favorite bands, the Australians HUNTERS & COLLECTORS.
Led by singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Seymour, Hunters & Collectors are a MELBOURNE band that have also featured John Archer on bass guitar, Doug Falconer on drums and percussion, Jack Howard on trumpet and keyboards, Jeremy Smith on French horn, guitars and keyboards, and Michael Waters on trombone and keyboards.
You've got to like bands that acknowledged their art designer a member, as Hunters & Collectors have done with Robert Miles.
I first heard Hunters & Collectors on SAN FRANCISCO alternative radio stations back in the 80s. Their singles "Back on the Breadline" and "When the River Runs Dry" both reached the Top 10 of the U.S. Modern Rock charts.
The band scored a number of hits Down Under (chart placing in parentheses):
"World of Stone" (50)
"Talking to a Stranger" (59)
"Say Goodbye" (24)
"Throw Your Arms Around Me" (49)
"Everything's on Fire" (78)
"Inside a Fireball" (41)
"Do You See What I See?" (33)
"Back on the Breadline" (41) (No. 6 on the U,S. Modern Rock chart)
"When the River Runs Dry" (23) (No. 5 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart)
"Blind Eye" (42)
"The Way You Live" (75)
"Throw Your Arms Around Me" (34)
"Where Do You Go?" (33)
"Head Above Water" (64)
"We the People" (70)
"True Tears of Joy" (14)
"Holy Grail" (20)
"Imaginary Girl" (82)
"Easy" (38)
The AUSTRALASIAN PERFORMING RIGHTS ASSOCIATION (APRA) named "Throw Your Arms Around Me" as one of the 30 greatest Australian songs back in 2001. As I listen to these songs today, I consider them among the top songs here, too.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Movies and their music

Would "The Graduate" mean the same to us without the inclusion of the song, "Mrs. Robinson?"
How about "The Lion King" without "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
Songs are often indelibly linked to films, a phenomenon ROUTE 1 readers note this week by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite movie soundtrack?"
LAURA C. -- "Hedwig!!!" Followed closely by "West Side Story."
BEKAH P. -- Right now, I have to say I am LOVIN' the "Slumdog Millionaire" soundtrack. Of course, I listened to the "Titanic" soundtrack about 10 million times in high school. And I loved the "Rudy" soundtrack as well.
RICK T, -- Anything Elvis sings for his movies.
BRIAN M. -- "Singles." Just-OK movie, but great soundtrack, even if it's a time capsule of the early 1990s. Non-LP songs by Soundgarden and "Ten"-era Pearl Jam, the eight minutes of "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" by Mother Love Bone, and the mesmerizing Chris Cornell, on voice and about four guitars.
KERSTIN H. -- "Twilight" and "West Side Story."
ELLEN B. -- "Grease."
MARY N.-P. -- Oh God, this makes me sound old and boring, but it's the swooping,
spendiforuous melodies of "Lawrence of Arabia" -- also one of my favorite movies...
KERI M. -- The movie that is my life.
STACEY B. -- My favorite movie soundtrack is "Romeo + Juliet." I haven't listened to it in a long time, but it was great background music while doing homework.
ROSEANNE H. -- "Cats" and "Evita."
BRIAN C. -- For music composed specifically for a production, "A Hard Day’s Night" by The Beatles. Lennon and McCartney were still composing during filming and production of the movie. As a result, the so-called "title track" did not accompany the opening credits (it was "Can’t Buy Me Love."). For previously recorded music compiled for a movie, the soundtrack of "Forrest Gump."
MIKE M. -- My favorite movie soundtrack is from Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show" (1971). The movie is set in West Texas, where my family is from, and the soundtrack is mostly old Hank Williams songs playing on truck radios, record players, and jukeboxes, the same songs my dad used to sing around our house when I was a kid.
LISA Y. -- "Sleepless in Seattle." My oldest son listened to it every night at bed time for about a year. Good stuff!
ERIK H. -- There are so many from the 1980s that appeal to me, including the marvelous soundtrack to "Valley Girl." The John Hughes films always had great soundtracks as well. The soundtrack to the 2001 film "Donnie Darko" seems like an homage to those classic soundtracks of 20 years earlier, including such gems as "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS and "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No defense and "The Voice of the Kings"

GARY GEROULD has called more than 1,800 games for the SACRAMENTO KINGS, but I can't imagine the 24-year veteran play-by-play man has regularly told listeners about a game like last night's.
I listened on the Kings' Radio Network online as the host GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS edged the Kings in overtime, 143-141.
Early in the game, Gerould told listeners about a lack of defense. He was right!
Monta Ellis scored a career-high 42 points for the Warriors. Kevin Martin of the Kings (pictured) topped his own career-best scoring total with 50.
The lack of defense made for an interesting listening experience, especially with the classy Gerould at the mic.
Gerould has been "The Voice of the Kings" since the team's 1985 arrival in Sacramento.
The radio network includes affiliates throughout California's Central Valley -- the area of my mom's roots -- with stations in Auburn (KAHI-950 AM), Red Bluff (KBLF-1490 AM), Fresno (KCBL-1340 AM), Marysville (KMYC-1410 AM), Grass Valley (KNCO- 830 AM), Redding (KNRO-1670 AM), and Merced (KTIQ-1660 AM). Sacramento's KHTK (1140 AM) is the flagship.
Occasionally, there's also a rather homesick outpost in Dubuque, Iowa, too.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Love is a Mix Tape" on Pavement

A friend gave me "LOVE IS A MIX TAPE" and halfway through, I can attest that Rob Sheffield's bittersweet memoir of love and loss is a mighty fine book.
Rolling Stone writer Sheffield shares the story of his late wife Reneé by relating the mix tapes the couple shared and other ways music impacted their lives.
In a memorable passage I read at lunch, Sheffield describes the moment in 1991 when PAVEMENT became the couple's new favorite band. "The night of the show, the floor was abuzz with anticipation. None of us in the crowd knew what Pavement looked like, or even who was in the band. They put out mysterious seven-inch singles without any band info or photos, just credits for instruments like 'guitar slig,' 'pseud-piano gritt-gitt,' 'keybored,' 'chime scheme' and 'last crash simbiosis.' We assumed that they were manly and jaded, that they would stare at the floor and make abstract boy noise." Pavement's actual appearance came as a shock: "They were a bunch of foxy dudes, and they were into it. As soon as they hit the stage, you could hear all the girls in the crowd ovulate in unison. There were five or six of them up there, some banging on guitars, some just clapping their hands or singing along. They did not stare at the floor." Sheffield eventually obtained "a third-generation dub" of the Pavement album, "Slanted and Enchanted." "Reneé and I decided this was our favorite tape of all time. The guitars were all boyish ache and shiver. The vocals were funny bad poetry sung through a Burger World drive-through mike. The melodies were full of surfer-boy serenity, dreaming through a haze of tape hiss and mysterious amp noise. This was the greatest band ever, obviously." I am beginning to love "Love is a Mix Tape," almost as much as I love Pavement.