Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Farewell to Big Artie

I saw the first tweet while I sat in my car in a parking lot, waiting for the end of ANNIKA'S dance class tonight.
ARHTUR BEETSON had died, age 66.
"Big Artie" holds a special place in AUSTRALIA'S sports history. The rugby league legend -- whose glory years came with the BALMAIN TIGERS and the EASTERN SUBURBS ROOSTERS, was the first INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN to captain the country in any sport.
Beetson played and coached in more than 400 first-grade games, played 29 Tests for the Kangaroos and represented QUEENSLAND in three STATE OF ORIGIN matches.
He has also been universally cited as a great man -- an athletic star who always made time for the younger players, even those whose time in the "big time" would prove short.
Tweets began to spill forth from some of the Down Under news sources I follow as I refreshed my phone.
Beetson's death has shocked and saddened many. Me included.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Golden State's allure has faded

When I was a kid, it seemed like everybody wanted to move where I lived, CALIFORNIA.
How times change.
I worked on a story at the newspaper today about migration figures from the U.S. CENSUS BUREAU.
Instead of acting like a resident-magnet, the once-golden state now finds itself topping the list of states experiencing "domestic outmigration" -- meaning residents moving to other states.
California lost 573,988 residents to other states while gaining 444,794 residents from other states, for a net loss of 129,239 -- slightly more people than live in Visalia. Births meant the population still grew, but the migration numbers show the allure of California has certainly faded.
California was the state of origin for four of the top-10 out-of-state migrations in 2010, losing residents to TEXAS, ARIZONA, WASHINGTON and NEVADA.
I joked among my coworkers: Perhaps I'll wait a few years, and move back to California. It might need some re-populating by then, with less traffic congestion to deal with, too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

5 Things to Know About the Grey Cup

Here are five things to know about last night's GREY CUP, the title game of the CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE.
1. This year's contest was the 99th edition of the game and was held in VANCOUVER, B.C. We watched it on television when I got home from work.
2. The host B.C. LIONS defeated the WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS, 34-23.
3. The Lions became the first team in CFL history to win the title after beginning the season 0-5.
4. Lions quarterback TRAVIS LULAY passed for 320 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is a MONTANA STATE grad.
5. Fans did not riot following the game, in contrast to the scenes in Vancouver after the CANUCKS lost the Stanley Cup this spring.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gary Speed's death looms large today

It was difficult watching SWANSEA and ASTON VILLA play their PREMIER LEAGUE match today, and not because it ended goalless. Under the circumstances, a dearth of scoring was probably expected.
The match kicked off about an hour-and-a-half following the confirmation of the overnight death of GARY SPEED, the WALES national manager and a former top-flight player.
Speed, who died age 42 in what was reportedly a suicide, won 85 caps for Wales and played his club football for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United.
The Welsh crowd in Swansea sang Speed's name and burst into a minute's applause when called upon to observe a minute's silence before kickoff.
Watching the match, it seemed the players' minds were elsewhere. My mind was, too, as I kept checking TWITTER for the tributes that continue to pour forth for a footballer genuinely held in the highest regard.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Groove that is "simply scary," deeply infectious

Pitch black at 7 a.m.?
I blame it on the RAIN and the lateness of the year.
The darkness means everybody else is still sleeping -- including all three pets.
I'm sitting here by myself, earbuds in place, nodding my head to the funky sounds of RICHARD "GROOVE" HOLMES, a jazz organist who more than earned his sobriquet.
New Jersey-born Holmes began his musical career as a bassist, which probably explains the beats he continually conjured from the foot pedal of his HAMMOND B-3 organ (beats that have been heavily sampled in the hip-hop era). Music writer Steve Lodder described Holmes as "fluent with his feet," with a pedal action that set him apart from others wringing soulful sounds out of the Hammond B-3.
Lodder praises Holmes for his hands' abilities on the organ, too:
"The speed and articulation are simply scary."
Scary and remarkably funky.
Richard "Groove" Holmes never fails to get my head nodding along to the music. On an otherwise quiet morning like today, I'm even shaking my shoulders to Holmes' brilliant beat.

Heck, there's nobody watching: Even the pets are asleep in the gloom.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving seasoned with Vince

JILL'S broken foot is keeping us home this THANKSGIVING, but that hasn't stopped us from enjoying the holiday.
This morning, we put DEPECHE MODE on the stereo, and all worked together to get the TURKEY into the oven, boil the potatoes, prepare the stuffing, place the green-bean casserole into the crock pot and perform all the other necessary tasks to set the big meal in motion.
I danced around the kitchen as the music played.
Now, as the smell of the cooking turkey fills the house, I have moved on to THE ASSEMBLY and ERASURE -- keeping the emphasis squarely on the electronic musical genius of VINCE CLARKE (don't worry, I'll fit YAZOO into the mix somehow).
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and hope your day is similarly filled with good memories.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still charmed by "Speak & Spell"

This morning I supplemented my breakfast with a DEPECHE MODE documentary.
"DO WE REALLY HAVE TO GIVE UP OUR DAY JOBS" is a look at the band's 1980-81 origins, their signing to Mute Records, the recording of their debut album "SPEAK & SPELL" and the departure of founding member VINCE CLARKE following their first United Kingdom tour.
It was illuminating and made me nostalgic enough to listen to "Speak & Spell" while driving around town.
I had forgotten how much I love that album.
PITCHFORK reviewed its reissue recently and rightly asserted that "Speak & Spell" "can you charm you giddy."
"New Life," "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead," "Puppets," "Just Can't Get Enough" and the other songs bounce right out of the car speakers and into your head.
Depeche Mode eventually became slightly more serious, with much darker lyrical subject matter, but they never sounded so enthusiastically fresh.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amidst all of the violence, the death of the West

I watched SAM PECKINPAH'S 1969 epic "THE WILD BUNCH" on DVD tonight.
In the past, I have watched the film for the spectacle -- appreciating Peckinpah's trail-blazing use of multi-angle camera shots, quick-cut editing and slow-motion action. All of his techniques would enter film's mainstream, to the point where we take them for granted now.
Tonight, I watched it for evidence of the movie's theme of the dying West.
Set circa 1912-13, the film explores the dying breed of the lawless and the law -- a era that closed with the encroaching civilization of the modern world. This enveloping modernism changed the West irrevocably.
Freddie Sykes (Edmond O'Brien) echoes the theme in his immortal line to Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) at film's end:
"It ain't like it used to be, but it'll do."
Gang leader Pike Bishop (William Holden) knows the truth, too, when he says:
"We've got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast."
Peckinpah's use of violence blinded many contemporary cinemagoers to the film's true messages: That friendship is a man's most important bond and the modern world's encroachment of the gunslinger was the most one-sided fight of all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rather have minor accidents than be in a dysfunctional band

When DON FELDER joined the EAGLES during the recording of "ON THE BORDER," he witnessed the creative and personal fissures opening between DON HENLEY and GLENN FRY, saw the marginalization of his Florida high school buddy BERNIE LEADON, felt RANDY MEISNER was growing apart from the rest, and Felder felt convinced he had agreed to participate in a music-making endeavor that was on the verge of breaking up.
Although the Eagles' first phase of operations continued another five years, Felder's conclusion was actually correct -- the band was breaking up, they were just doing so in slow motion.
Yesterday was a rather awful day. Our newest driver, KERSTIN, was involved in a minor fender-bending that caused more trauma for her than actual damage to the vehicles and my father-in-law's recovery from surgery continued, albeit in a slow, taxing fashion.
With MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS playing the latest fall guys in college football's ranking follies, last night I decided to plunge back into MARC ELIOT'S "TO THE LIMIT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE EAGLES" while listening to what many critics consider the Eagles' creative peak, the 1976 landmark album "HOTEL CALIFORNIA."
Eliot's description of the world tour accompanying the album sharpens the focus on the widening fault lines of the band's slow-motion breakup.
"To many veterans of the Eagles' road crew, the extent of the band's self-indulgence seemed worse than ever. Moreover, the competitive friction between Henley and Frey not only hadn't let up, it became more intense on the road, where the two were constantly in each others faces, their conflicts over the band's leadership fueled by ever-increasing amounts of cocaine. Things became worse when each developed factions of support within the crew and nobody from one faction was allowed to communicate directly with anyone from the other. Each now occupied his own section of the band's jet, with only his friends allowed there."
I actually began to feel better, as I read more details of the dysfunctional band.
Sure, they had (and probably still have) millions in the bank and beautiful California coastal homes.
Here's what I have, though: The empowering ability to hug my daughter after a minor accident help her stop crying in a parking lot.
I'd take that any day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Refilling my Spinal Tap prescription

Laughter really is the best medicine (sorry doctors) and it worked like a charm for me last night, the culmination of a stressful, lengthy week.
"THIS IS SPINAL TAP" is one of the most effective prescriptions, as I continue to work this analogy. It never fails to elicit -- not just chuckles -- real, deep LAUGHTER, the coming-from-the-diaphragm stuff that can't help but unleash the endorphins.
This laughter is triggered by lines such as:
"It's part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy that I'm doing in D... minor, which I always find is really the saddest of all keys, really, I don't know why. It makes people weep instantly to play."
As well as:
"What day did the lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day?"
These moments of hilarity occur with remarkable consistency throughout the film.
"The Boston gig has been cancelled...I wouldn't worry about it, though. It's not a big college town."
They spark laughing fits that seem to flush the stress of the day completely out of my system.
Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith at one point says:

"Certainly in the topsy, turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is quite often...useful."
I feel somewhat the same way about "This is Spinal Tap." In this hectic world of ours, it's just a great movie to have around.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just like Guardian Music, but with a smaller audience

Music writers at THE GUARDIAN newspaper recently compiled their lists of favorite albums, then invited readers to do the same.
Never ones to shirk from appropriating a good idea, we here at ROUTE 1 have done the same with this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite album?"
RICK T. -- "Full Circle" by Rick Tittle.
MARY N.-P. -- "Legend" by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
BRIAN M. -- SO hard to nail it down to just ONE favorite album, so I'll cheat and say, "Exit..Stage Left," Rush's live album from 1981. Critics don't seem to like this one of the band's four (I think there are five now) live albums, but it has what I think are great performances of some of my favorite late-70s/early-80s Rush material. A highlight is the "Broon's Bane/Trees/Xanadu" triptych.
JOHN S. -- "Thriller!"
SASKIA M. -- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John.
BEKAH P. -- Easily, hands down, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." There's nothing that can beat that. Nothing.
KERI M. -- "So It's Come To This" by the Irish Plantation Orchestra.
KERSTIN H. -- "The Best of Culture Club."
STEVE M. -- Beatles' "Revolver." Best rock album of all time, no? Free's "Fire and Water" is an under the radar great album, but we are talking different leagues here.
ERIK H. -- Ever since I was in high school, the ska and rocksteady tunes on the compilation, "More Intensified: Original Ska 1963-67" has provided me the musical equivalent of comfort food. Basically reggae before its commercial globalization, the album includes tracks by The Skatalites, Stranger Cole, the Ethiopians, Desmond Dekker and The Maytals, among others.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eliot: Music insanity followed film craziness

The wind-chill reading dipped to 9 degrees this morning. That's just too cold for me.
I'm trying to warm myself up by reading MARC ELIOT'S fiery tell-all, "TO THE LIMIT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE EAGLES."
There haven't been many scandalous revelations thus far in the tale. GLENN FREY, DON HENLEY, RANDY MEISNER and BERNIE LEADON have come from various backgrounds (none in CALIFORNIA) to form the band that would define the West Coast sound of the 1970s.
I am intrigued how DAVID GEFFEN rose to power -- it was Geffen who launched the Eagles' career, having determined that the old guard of the music industry was growing increasingly out of touch with music's vanguard.
Eliot likens Geffen's creation of Asylum Records to the quest for creative freedom taken by silent film stars Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith when they broke away from the movie establishment to found United Artists.
"It was considered by everyone in Hollywood to be the height of insanity, a case of the inmates running the asylum," Eliot writes of the film stars' decision. "Now, it was rock and roll's rubber room that was about to run amok, as Geffen swung the door to his version of creative freedom wide open."
As I delve deeper into Eliot's book, I am sure to discover the musical madness that awaits.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I never let Lush Life languish

One of my favorite albums is such an anomaly it sat unreleased for 13 years.
"LUSH LIFE" by LOU DONALDSON represents as near to a 180-degree by its participants as seems possible, and is all the more beautiful because of it.
By 1967, alto saxophonist Donaldson was at the vanguard of a movement he helped create -- a funky soul-jazz concoction that helped bring jazz renewed commercial success against the rising tide of rock and R&B.
For this album, he gathered an all-star cast who were heading in another direction. Trumpeter FREDDIE HUBBARD, tenor saxophonist WAYNE SHORTER, pianist MCCOY TYNER and bassist RON CARTER were composing and performing lengthy, complex pieces that stretched the boundaries of jazz.
That direction is what makes "Lush Life" both so remarkable, and remarkably beautiful.
Donaldson led his team of fantastic musicians on an exercise exploring sweet ballads, standards like "Stardust," "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "The Good Life."
Their renditions were based upon the arrangements of DUKE PEARSON, and sounded nothing like the normal jazz output of 1967.
Author Will Friedwald describes the effect the approach had on the ubiquitous tune, "Stardust," as "a well-orchestrated chamber-style accompaniment (that) sounds bigger than it actually is."
"Lush Life" was so far out of its time that it languished in the vaults for years. It's such a good record, I never let it languish for long -- I'm going to play it today, in fact.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rubberbandits keep me in stitches

Wildly subversive and shockingly funny, if THE RUBBERBANDITS were more effectively exported by IRELAND'S government, I am sure the Republic's debt problems would vanish in a flash.
BLINDBOY BOAT CLUB (Dave Chambers) and MR. CHROME (Bob McGlynn) formed the comedy duo The Rubberbandits in their native Limerick in the early 2000s.
They met with mounting success and eventually landed a spot on the RTÉ TWO comedy show "REPUBLIC OF TELLY," where their music videos and clips satirized youth life in Ireland -- episodes of living leprechaun-hunting tourists fail to see.
The duo released their latest single, "BLACK MAN," on Friday, Nov. 11.
The accompanying video (see it here) is a dance number in which the lads lament that they have varied representation in their gang -- including "both types of Indian" -- but lack a black man to help legitimize the crew.
It provided me with much-needed laughter yesterday, a day I accompanied my father-in-law to CEDAR RAPIDS for a pre-operation procedure. In fact, the video left me in stitches.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Big 5: As Philly as the cheesesteak

PHILADELPHIA is already home to the iconic CHEESESTEAK SANDWICH. It's also home to one of the most storied, multi-school rivalries in COLLEGE BASKETBALL.
LA SALLE, PENN, SAINT JOSEPH'S, TEMPLE and VILLANOVA comprise the BIG 5, a set of schools who have been playing against each other as an organized, traditional rivalry since 1954.
The five schools met to determine the city's best basketball team, while the proceeds helped the University of Pennsylvania maintain its PALESTRA facilities. In his book, "PALESTRA PANDEMONIUM: A HISTORY OF THE BIG FIVE," sportswriter Robert S. Lyons described part of what makes the rivalry so special:
"Frequently these Big 5 battles, waged between institutions located within a radius of only 17 miles, were renewals of some of the intense rivalries that characterized many of the local Catholic and Public League high school games. Maybe it would be a couple of ex-high school teammates from South Philly facing each other in the Temple-La Salle game or kids from West Philly and the Northeast teaming up to beat their former CYO buddies in the Penn-St. Joe’s game. During the summer they would go at it again in pickup games at the Palestra, on the playgrounds, or down at the South Jersey shore."
Big 5 play opens tonight, with Temple traveling to The Palestra to take on Penn.
Here is the schedule of this year's remaining games:
Tue. Nov. 15: La Salle at Villanova (The Pavilion), 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 3: Penn at Villanova (The Pavilion), 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 10: Villanova at Temple (Liacouras Center), 5 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 17: Villanova at Saint Joseph's (Hagan Arena), 8 p.m.
Tue. Jan. 10: La Salle at Penn (The Palestra), 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 21: Saint Joseph's at Penn (The Palestra), 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 4: La Salle vs. Saint Joseph's (The Palestra), 2 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 22: Temple at La Salle (Tom Gola Arena), 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 25: Temple at Saint Joseph's (Hagan Arena), 7 p.m

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Listen in the dark for full, bluesy effect

It's a good thing overcast skies and the hint of RAIN have combined to make it dark as I sit here.
The record I am enjoying should only be heard when it's dark.
"BLUE HOUR," a 1960 collaboration between tenor saxophonist STANLEY TURRENTINE and THE 3 SOUNDS boasts a type of laid-back cool that works the best when the lights are low.
The secret to this musical concoction might be GENE HARRIS, the piano-playing third of the aforementioned trio, the 3 Sounds.
Harris was revered for his beautiful touch on his instrument, and the 3 Sounds' popularity among jazz fans of the late 1950s and early 1960s was such that the trio released nine albums for BLUE NOTE RECORDS during the period.
The chemistry Harris shared with the other two members of the trio, bassist ANDY SIMPKINS and drummer BILL DOWDY, is also easily recognized and appreciated when you hear them.
"To appreciate our jazz, an audience must listen," Harris said in a contemporary newspaper interview. "We talk different languages. Listen long enough, you'll catch the beat and the melody."
I would add that if you listen in darkness, you'll also catch a bluesy vibe, a memorable feeling.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Jesus and Mary Chain kind of day

After a long week spent at work or in doctor's offices, the last thing I wanted was a busy SATURDAY morning of errands and chores.
I had no choice, however, so I worked fairly steadily from 8 a.m. to noon.
I decided the beautiful noise -- or is it noisy beauty? -- of "PSYCHOCANDY" by THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN would be the appropriate musical accompaniment.
Since its release during my college days, "Psychocandy" remains a brilliant album I can always revisit. No matter how many times I listen, "Psychocandy" always seems both fresh and dangerous -- just like true rock 'n' roll should sound.
MOJO MAGAZINE once described the album as "like no other debut LP. Describing themselves as 'eighties beatniks with an image that is shoddy but stylish,' the Mary Chain made an exhilarating, intoxicating Wall of Sound. Beneath that chaotic Velvet Underground-style white noise hid dark but beautifully crafted melodies worthy of Phil Spector."
The critics always shower "Psychocandy" with five-star reviews. I accord it my own version of a top ranking: I always keep it close at hand for days like today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Route 1 a day keeps the doctor away. Except for this one time

ROUTE 1 staff have been dealing with some medical issues lately, which leads us to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What are your most vivid memories about doctors or hospitals?"
BEKAH P. -- Well, it doesn't help that I've been in doctor's offices constantly this past month for medical issues... so those are the most vivid. BUT, beyond that, I would definitely say getting stitches as a elementary school student. My brother was chasing me, I tripped and split my lip open. I don't remember getting the stitches, but I do remember vomiting all over my mom's carpet because I was so grossed out by all the blood. Great day for my mom, I'm sure.
ROSEANNE H. -- When I caught polio at 10 years of age. It was all quite dramatic.
KERI M. -- Working in the psych ward. Because I do.
RICK T. -- When I was a kid I got pneumonia and I was put into the hospital. They put a tent like cover over half the bed covering both sides and top and had a steamer pumping Vicks and meds into the tent. I felt like I was camping.
MARY N.-P. -- It's the only time I was ever the patient in a hospital (have accompanied many family members!). The birth of my only child, daughter Morgan, in 1979. The emergency C-section was bad enough, but then she had only 3 of the required 10 vital signs for newborns and a hole in her heart and a twist in her intestine. Luckily I was out for all the worst stuff and because we were in the best post-natal hospital in Denver, she turned out just fine and still is a lovely, talented, funny young lady. In those days, they kept you in-house for much longer, so we were there for about a week - she in intensive care and me in a post-op, then post-birth room. But it was all worth it...
BRIAN M. -- Visiting my father when he got his finger caught in a motor and cut tendons when I was in 6th grade. He spent and entire weekend in the hospital for that. And when I was 13, I took a baseball off the hard dirt right off my right eye, which left me with the biggest black eye a solid month into my eighth grade year, and I had x-rays.
MIKE D. -- Other than when I was born, my only stay in a hospital was for a 1988 kidney stone attack. I remember being left on a gurney in a hallway, writhing in pain for at least an hour, yelling out for someone to give me some pain meds. All was better the next morning, when my brothers and some friends came to visit.
ERIK H. -- Although I endured more ear operations as a child than I can accurately count, my most memorable visits to doctors and hospitals occurred when my wife Jill was initially diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Those visits were the most vivid because we were frightened, and heading into uncharted territory.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Once upon a time... an album left me cold

I bought all the albums, wore the buttons, read the books and even saw the gig.
I was the biggest SIMPLE MINDS fan I knew in high school.
Then "ONCE UPON A TIME" came out.
Oh, I bought it. I just didn't really like it.
The Simple Minds of "SONS AND FASCINATION," "EMPIRES AND DANCE" and the like were my band -- obviously European, forward-looking, definitely alternative.
SPIN MAGAZINE'S contemporary review by Armond White summed it up for me:
"Grandeur is the hobgoblin of Simple Minds. The band has great skill and panache, but on 'Once Upon a Time,' singer-lyricist Jim 'Look Ma, I'm Flying' Kerr pushes it to empty extravagance."
Put, er, simply, Simple Minds were straining too hard to be "big," too hard to be a Glasgow U2.
White blamed the shift on the band's American breakthrough single: "The radio-ready, movie single 'Don't You'... may have been the worst thing to happen to Simple Minds. Now, every cut is neat and punchy pomp in the name of Bono. Who can trust Simple Minds' innocence after this vapid, big-beat production?"
Four years elapsed by the time the next album, "STREET FIGHTING YEARS," and by that time I had moved on, and was exploring reggae, rhythm & blues and even some jazz.
I listened to "Once Upon a Time" in the car today, and I can report it has grown on me a little. Of course, it might just be nostalgia that has shed a more forgiving light on the album.
I still don't rate it with the earlier efforts.
As funny as it might seem, it sounds too "American" for me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Music for a long week -- and it's only Tuesday

It's been a long week and it's only Tuesday.
Yesterday, I accompanied my father-in-law for a surgical consultation -- he has artery bypass surgery in his leg next week.
This morning, I took JILL to work -- her first day back in the office since she broke her right foot last week. It was a struggle for her to reach the front door of her building. I hope the day goes easier for her. We meet with an orthopaedic surgeon Thursday morning to determine the next course of action in her treatment. I hope she heals soon.
I work a later shift tonight -- I am helping to cover a local election -- so I am sipping coffee and listening to a pianist whose career was cut painfully short by drugs and poor health.
SONNY CLARK was a Pittsburgh-area native who relocated to the BAY AREA in the 1950s.
He eventually moved back east, to New York City, where he recorded as both a sideman and leader for iconic BLUE NOTE RECORDS before succumbing to a heart attack -- probably exacerbated by the ravages of drug abuse -- at the age of 31.
Clark played with Grant Green, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and more jazz luminaries.
Today, I am listening to the Uptown Records release "SONNY CLARK, OAKLAND 1955."
It chronicles Clark's trio performances of the mid-50s, before he moved back east. Bassist Jerry Good and drummer Al Randall joined Clark for this recording, made at the MOCAMBO CLUB in my birthplace, OAKLAND, CALIF.
Critic Michael G. Nastos describes Clark's sound here as "freewheeling," and it is enjoyable hearing the trio cook up a great groove.
It helps me, too, during a long week that has only reached the Tuesday mark.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The greatest H of the "H Final"

I have a SICK DAY today, as I must accompany my father-in-law to CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA for a surgical consultation for an upcoming operation.
JILL cannot attend because of her broken foot -- which she injured a week ago today.
I am reading some historical accounts of WOLVERHAMPTOM WANDERERS while I wait, including the 1908 F.A. CUP FINAL, known today as "THE H FINAL," because all of the goalscorers had last names beginning with the letter "H."
The greatest "H" of the bunch was probably the REV.KENNETH HUNT, an Oxford Blue and amateur international who scored Wolves' first goal in the final, which the Second-Division Wolves won, 3-1, against the more highly fancied NEWCASTLE UNITED.
"Newcastle had 90 percent of the play, but our 10 percent, plus our dash and directness, was enough for victory," Hunt said.
George Hedley and Billy Harrison also scored for Wolves. Jim Howie scored for Newcastle.
Hunt went on to represent ENGLAND at the 1908 and 1920 Olympics. He became the headmaster of Highgate School in London following his playing career.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dead man walking? Well, the 'keeper was good

A condemned men on death row was traditionally called "DEAD MAN WALKING," thus was the seemingly inevitable sense of his impending demise.
WIGAN seemed like a "dead team standing around" during their 3-1 loss at WOLVES today -- the Latics' eighth successive league defeat keeping the club rooted at the bottom of the PREMIER LEAGUE.
I like Wigan manager ROBERTO MARTINEZ. I admire the slick-passing playing style he promotes. I marvel at the world-class saves performed by goalkeeper ALI AL HABSI. I just don't see Wigan surviving in top-flight football this season.
I watched today's match on television, wincing at the glaring misses, misplaced passes and clumsy fouls on display from a pair of clubs in the bottom third of the league.
Wolves deserved to win because they were productive where Wigan were profligate.
Wigan looked -- apart from Al Habsi -- like 10 dead men walking. Or largely standing around, in this instance.

Friday, November 04, 2011

High school tunes

Fall often makes us nostalgic, so this week ROUTE 1 readers take a look back by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there a song that always makes you think of high school and why?"
MARY N.-P. -- Any songs from "The Fugs" a crazy hippie anarchist group from NYC (some say the first underground band) who sang - :Slum Goddess, Nothing, Boobs a Lot, I couldn't get high, Carpe Diem, etc. My girlfriend and I would hide out in her bedroom at night and listen to them quietly so no one could hear us (or their words!). Quite a change from our days spent in the classrooms of Mount St. Gertrude Academy, a Catholic all-girls, prep school in Boulder, Colo.
JIM S. -- Ah, yes, probably a hundred (likewise for college, my first job, when my first son was born, etc.) Anyway, for high school, here is a sampling:
Freshman year - "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," by Paul McCartney & Wings. (All the girls sang along to it on the freshmen bus ride to an out of town varsity football game.)
Sophomore year - "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," by Stevie Wonder. (It was popular when I got my driver's license.)
Junior year - "The Most Beautiful Girl," by Charlie Rich. (I had a crush on a sophomore girl but never had the courage to ask her out.)
Senior year - "Philadelphia Freedom," by Elton John. (We were eager to graduate and this was popular during the spring high school baseball season.)
RICK T. -- The song "See You In September" was a hit in my high school years. Loved that song, I think by "The Happenings". If you had a crush on a girl at school, you always had to wait until September to see her again.
KERI M. -- No rain by Blind Melon. It was constantly played at our high school.
BRIAN M. -- These days it's usually something from the era that isn't played on radio much these days, like "Say It Isn't So" by Hall and Oates, or "Goin' Down" by Greg Guidry or "Overkill" by Men at Work... songs that are kind of trapped in amber of the period from 1980 to 1984.
JOHN S. -- People are People by Depeche Mode. It was the theme for Hempstead's Spring Wind 1990.
ROSEANNE H. -- All the Fats Domino Blueberry Hill.
SASKIA M. -- Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody - every single recess we would sing along with our "cassette players" over and over and over again... I also recall similar situations as portrayed in Wayne's World, with school mates in the car singing along and headbanging to the song.
MIKE D. -- Songs from AC/DC's "Back in Black" and REO Speedwagon's "Hi Infidelity" albums. Also, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, Pat Benatar, The Cars, The Knack, ... and even Steve Martin ("King Tut"). Aaahh, the late '70s/early '80s!
ERIK H. -- When I hear Billy Squier's "Lonely is the Night" and close my eyes, my mind conjures images of palm trees, the canal and the massive auditorium -- I am transported back to Central High School, Phoenix, Ariz. It never fails.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Music that triggers a rare (these days) smile

It's been a rough several days, with a death and an injury in the family.
JILL'S prognosis for her broken foot seems daunting: At least a month with no weight bearing on the foot. My role changes, as I run nearly all of the errands now.
As usual, music is helping to salve.
It's a fascinating record, enjoyable and enlightening: We hear Dylan beginning the transition from acoustic folk singer to something more, a poet-artist armed with seemingly baffling lyrics. He'd turn electric within the next two years.
Having listened to MILES DAVIS all last week, it makes a certain sense that I would turn this week to an artist similarly noted for an almost constant reinvention.
I guess I'm drawn to their creativity.
One of the album's highlights, for me, is Dylan's rendition of "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)."
Last night, the song made me smile. Not much else has triggered a smile the past several days.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Goodbye to a great man

Today I mark the passing yesterday of HUGH SMITH of Williams, Calif.
He was my great uncle and the description fit in more ways than one.
Hugh Smith was a great man, probably the nicest man I have ever known.
He grew up during hard times on the family ranch in the foothills of northern CALIFORNIA.
Later, he survived the ferocious fighting of the BATTLE OF THE BULGE, although that World War 2 conflict in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany left deep psychological scars.
I grew up admiring Hugh Smith, for both his actions and for the principles that drove those actions.
That's all I have to say today. Goodbye, Uncle Hugh. I love you.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A perfect sound for today

VINCE CLARKE and ALISON MOYET created something so special.
I pulled out the YAZOO CDs today because this week's forecast features a hint of WINTER, and we all needed a synth-pop lift after my wife JILL broke her foot.
Clarke's computerized bleeps and blips should never have worked with Moyet's bluesy voice, but the combination actually produced a timeless music that even transcends the 1980s production values.
I heard the extended version of "NOBODY'S DIARY" en route home from work. It's such a powerful song, with a catchy tune and lyrics that stand above the usual fare of the time -- or our time, to be honest.
It's a song I needed to hear today -- as winter begins to creep into the picture, and the implications of Jill's injury begin to become clearer.