Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tom Tomorrow - Hell In A Handbasket

I am going to try and see Tom Tomorrow the cartoonist of This Modern World tonight on his west coast tour promoting his new anthology of cartoons called Hell In A Handbasket. It's the hot ticket in town for all the hip boys and girls. If you are not familiar with his work you are missing some very funny and politically astute observations of the Bush/Neo-Con bunch as the extremely subtle cover suggests. Is that Hannity and Coulter with bat wings flapping in the window behind those very nice men with horns? The one on the right seems especially cheery and nice.

Update: I did manage to go see Tom when he appeared in Berkeley on his recent west coast tour. There was a good size turnout as far as I could tell, they had to keep adding chairs for people to sit on and eventually many had to just stand in the back, so I have to assume he was happy about that. He was very, very tired as he told me when I chatted with him as he signed my book. He mentioned his friend John who was in the audience was a rock n roller and was more used to this kind of thing than he was and I said "you mean the lead singer from Cake?" and he said yes that's the one. I have no idea how I knew that is who the guy was. I had seen him sitting close to me but the only time I ever saw Cake was in 1994 at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco and I had no idea who they were when I saw them at the time. It was a random thing. I have never owned any Cake records either.

Weird that I would recognize him.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Isaac Hayes - Joy

With Isaac Hayes being in the news so much lately involving the South Park/Scientology dispute I thought I would post my favorite track by him. Joy is from his late 60's/early 70's creative peak as an artist. Like many of his songs from the period it is an epic tune that clocks in at over 15 minutes with a fantastic groove, lots of strings and a good dose of sexual innuendo that builds to a great climax (no pun intended). Shaft is a fantastic song and a classic for good reason but Joy is it as far as I am concerned. Be aware that this is the original full length version and most collections contain only the single edit of the song. Unfortunately.

Buy it here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shiva Burlesque - Shiva Burlesque

"A powerful and graceful band that was too post-punk to be folk-rock and too folk-rock to be post-punk..."

The quote above is from the Allmusic site and I think it is a very good introduction to Shiva Burlesque and their debut album. They were mentioned in my post from January as one of the best concerts I ever attended, so you could say I like them quite a bit. This album was picked by Melody Maker and Rolling Stone as one of their year end best of releases for 1988. Unfortunately critical raves don't sell records or pay the bills.

An emotional, dramatic and sometimes extreme rollercoaster of a record it has been a favorite of mine since first hearing it in 1988. Consisiting of singer Jeffrey Clark (whose vocals might remind you of Jim Morrison), James Brenner on bass, Joey Peters on drums and Grant Lee Phillips on guitar the latter two would go on to form Grant Lee Buffalo when Shiva Burlesque broke up in the early 90's.

Like The Doors, Love and X they were an L.A. band that had great, literate, dare I say it poetic lyrics and music that explored the dark underbelly of that town and life in general while never losing sight of the spiritual fabric of existence. Or something like that.

Here is the dark and explosive song The Black Ship which should make most Nick Cave fans happy in theme and performance, plus the much more subtle, dreamy and psychedelic tune Water Lilies.

An undiscovered 80's gem.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

They have just reissued/remastered the Cheap Trick record Dream Police, which I have been waiting for, so I am in the mood for some power pop magic from the boys. There is no better place to get it than from the Heaven Tonight record.

Auf Wiedersehen is a rockin', nasty tune about suicide with enough attitude to match any punk band. The title track Heaven Tonight is a kind of droning, slightly psychedelic orchestral tune about a subject that should be easy to identify. Robin Zander does a fantastic job of singing on both songs in two very different vocal styles. Oh, and the band kicks ass too.

A must have classic record.

Buy it here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Miles Davis - Great Expectations

Apparently Don Cheadle's name keeps coming up as a possiblity to play Miles Davis in a biopic. This, I think, would be an excellent idea. Hopefully they would decide to do the same thing that was done recently with the Ray Charles and Johnny Cash films where they decide to pick an interesting period of his life to portray him instead of trying to cram his whole life story into a 2 1/2 hour film. Which is very hard to do and I think a big mistake as well. Perhaps the late 50's through the early 70's period would be a very interesting time in his career to put on film.

Here is the track Great Expectations which features what sounds like a tamboura, lots of percussion, funky, biting guitar from John McLauglin and of course Miles blowing his trumpet over the top from the amazing Bitches Brew box set. I know people call it jazz-rock or fusion but I don't think those terms do the music any justice at all. What do you think?

Buy it here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Black Sabbath & Faith No More - War Pigs

It may seem obvious and a cliche to post this song on the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion but they don't call them cliches for nothing. Here are some of the well known names of the architects behind this PNAC fantasy that has brought so much death and destruction to Iraq. Remember those heady days of WMD and those not so subtle hints of Iraq/Al Qaeda connections? Revisionist history is an amazing thing.


Here is Black Sabbath with the original War Pigs and Faith No More with their cover of War Pigs.

This song is the perfect description for these guys as far as I am concerned.

Buy it here or here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Neil Young - Like An Inca

I just got back from vacation last night and it is strange to come back to the "real" world after a few days of not being in the loop. I had been thinking of putting Like An Inca up for a couple of weeks and for some reason now seems like the right time. Maybe it has something to do with these lyrics:

Said the condor to the preying mantis
We're gonna lose this place just like we lost Atlantis
Brother we got to go sooner than you know
The Gypsy told my fortune, the Gypsy told my fortune,
The Gypsy told my fortune, she said that nothin' showed.

Who put the bomb on the sacred altar?
Why should we die if it comes our way?
Why should we care about a little button
Being pushed by someone we don't even know?

The track is off of Neil's 1982 "electronic" album called Trans which utilized a vocoder on his vocals as well as synthesizers and electric drums. I like the album quite a bit with it's weird mix of crunchy guitars and the previously mentioned strange instrumentation as far as Neil is concerned.

Like An Inca is not an electronic song, although there is a little synthesizer used as flavoring on it, but this apocalyptic tune is more like one of his long, classic epics like Cortez The Killer or Cowgirl In The Sand. I think it is brilliant and would be well known if it hadn't been the last cut at the end of Trans which many people never heard.

Buy it here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mott The Hoople

I just read that they are finally re-releasing a couple of the classic Mott The Hoople cd's remastered with extra tracks. All The Young Dudes and Mott are two examples of why the 70's didn't suck as bad for music as some would have you believe. For some reason they aren't releasing Hoople in the U.S. as a remaster. It goes without saying that they are both on my personal wish list.

Part of the glam movement of the early 70's along with T-Rex and David Bowie who basically saved their careers with the hit single All The Young Dudes which he wrote. Apparently he offered them Suffragette City which they didn't want and they chose Dudes instead. Good move.
Generally a hard rocking group with the focal points being Mick Ralphs on guitar (who eventually left and formed Bad Company) and Ian Hunter on vocals they never seem to be mentioned in same breath as other classic 70's groups.

Now you can find out for yourself why that needs to be rectified while you listen to the 50's influenced All The Way From Memphis and Roll Away The Stone.

Buy them here and here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Persephone's Bees - City Of Love

Fun, psychedelic video. What do you think?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ryuichi Sakamoto & Iggy Pop - Risky

I have always loved Risky and it should have been a hit, in my humble opinion. Maybe someone should do a cover. Iggy does a great job of being the crooner on this track, I don't know if he was trying to do his version of Sinatra or just listening to some of his buddy David Bowie for inspiration, but it works. Built on a simple drum pattern with atmospheric keyboards and a little guitar this is a great late night ballad. Don't these guys look like the romantic type to you?

Born in a corporate dungeon
Where people are cheated of life
I knew I could never stay home
As you lie in the dark
With your pink dress on
You look risky lovely risky lovely
Child of the whispering skies
Risky that's your name.......

I saw a 12" vinyl version of this used a couple of months ago and now I wish I had bought it.

Buy it here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Driver - 1978

The Driver starring Ryan O'neal, Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani is a great little noirish cult film that many people probably haven't seen and it was just recently released on dvd. It had probably been twenty years since I had seen it so I watched it last week and really enjoyed it again.

Written & directed by Walter Hill who had a great run of intelligent action movies including The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort and his biggest hit 48 Hours. The tagline for this film is: To break the driver, the cop was willing to break the law which kind of sums up this film very well as it flips the good guy/bad guy roles, the cop as played by Bruce Dern, is actually quite the egotistical asshole and jerk, while Ryan O'neal is a freelance getaway driver for people who perform robberies and apparently he has never been caught. I read somewhere that the lead was originally writen for Steve McQueen and if you are familiar with his work you can see that he would have been perfect, the role doesn't have much dialogue which McQueen wasn't fond of, except that I think he would have been too old for the part at the time the film was actually made. O'neal does a good job as the very hard to read driver while Bruce Dern has the flashier role as the cop and is always good at playing "creepy" parts.

All the characters don't have names in the film and are listed in the credits as driver, cop, the connection and so on which adds an interesting element. Like many of the good films from the glorious film decade of the 70's they assume that people watching this are intelligent and don't want or need everything to be spelled out for them. It is a tight 90 minutes with no time wasted and naturally it has some very good stunt driving sequences. Highly recommended if you liked films like Thief with James Caan, which I haven't seen for a long, long time, To Live & Die In L.A. or the French Connection.

Has anyone seen the new movie Running Scared with Paul Walker? It got a good review in the paper I read and in the advertisements I saw they quoted Quentin Tarantino (I don't think he is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel) as saying this is like an old Walter Hill film so I am curious about it.

What are some of your favorite noir or crime films?

Here are some of mine that come to mind.

The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
The Killing
The French Connection
The Getaway
L.A. Confidential

Buy it here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The The - Armageddon Days (Are Here Again)

The brilliant song Armageddon Days (Are Here Again) by Matt Johnson, or The The if you prefer, is so perfect for what is going on in the world right now that I won't say a thing about it, except that Mind Bomb is my favorite album of his. The track is also on his 45 RPM Singles collection which comes with 12" mixes of some of his tracks on a bonus disc as well.

This is what I mean by what is going on in the world now. This is a very, very scary time and could lead to a horrible middle east disaster.

Buy it here.
Or here.