Saturday, August 28, 2010
I'm in love.
Back on solid ground.
Away from those guys that swim around me and make things miserable.
Summer is almost over.
Be sure to listen to as much Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros as you can.
Life is that damn good.
Monday, March 15, 2010
When Jokers Attack - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
I don't know what I would've come up with if I took all the best parts of Their Satanic Majesties Request, started a band, and had the balls to do my own fucking thing with it. I don't know how The Brian Jonestown Massacre became so fantastic. I don't know how a band as inconsistent as them could constantly punch out nugget after golden stone. But they did and they do. If I had wings I would want to fly to this song, if I wanted to play the drums I would learn this one first, and if I could go-go dance in a cage well, I'd do that too.
A brilliant, lush, ominous, and freeing track, When Jokers Attack jumps out the speakers and washes over me. It rolls like quick waves with a simple and electrifying drum sound that punctuates one of the best guitar lines ever written. The song is threaded throughout with such studio genius and tone. Lyrically it pierces the heart of romantic love while swirling like 30 freaked out dervishes. Try that in Turkey! Guitar parts weave in and around the percussion with the same breadth The Chesterfield Kings borrowed from The Chocolate Watchband. If you don't believe me listen to No Way Out by either of them. But there's Rain Parade in there too and as much Bryan MacLean, Love, moxie to ensure that in their time, or another time, Jac Holzman and Bruce Botnick, the producers of Forever Changes, would have given TBJM a fighting chance on Elektra.
I am so damn thankful for it.
(this girl is dreadfully cute)
ap - 2010
Saturday, September 26, 2009
“Hey kids, plug into the faithless
Maybe they're blinded
But Bennie makes them ageless
We shall survive, let us take ourselves along
Where we fight our parents out in the streets
To find who's right and who's wrong...”
That's from the Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic “Bennie and the Jets.”
It's been going thru my mind the past few days when thinking about my friend -and godfather of the Springfield, MO, rock n roll scene- Benny Mahan.
Benny has been laid up in the CCU after a triple (possibly quadruple) by-pass surgery on Monday. He hasn't awakened yet but is holding on and making whatever progress is available to the comatose. I just read on BookSpaceFacePlace that he was semi off the ventilator. But yesterday I read he had died. Instant news is like Tang. Instant, but not really orange juice.
On the surface, the song “Bennie and the Jets” is a period piece.
It seems to be Sir Elton and Bernie Taupin's acknowledgment of a new era: This was the just-shy-of punk era, after glam had reared his/her head and proto-punk bands like The Stooges and The MC5 had already fizzled. But they had left their burn on a generation waiting to play it loud.
The Velvet Underground had subverted a small but fanatic following. Lou Reed, under Bowie's wings had broken the Top 40.
Power pop had been invented by The Raspberries, Badfinger and the VENERABLE, quintessential power pop band, Big Star.
And Bowie had changed the world (drawing on many of the above bands as inspiration) by being Ziggy Stardust. It's heresy, I know, but I liked “Hunky Dory” (just prior to “Ziggy”) and “Alladin Sane” (just after) much more than “Ziggy.”
It was the Ziggy record that tore the roof off the sucker though. A day the world changed.
That's the vibe that Elton and Bernie were feeling with “Bennie and the Jets.”
And it can translate to any era.
Imagine seeing Louis Armstrong for the first time. Or Robert Johnson. Or Charlie Parker, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk or John Coltrane.
Or Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.
Or Little Richard. Or Gene Vincent. Or Buddy Holly.
Or The Quarrymen/Silver Beetles in Hamburg. Or Dylan. Or Buffalo Springfield.
Or Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix is the absolute for me. I wrote a song for a woman I loved (and still do) called “You're My Jimi Hendrix.” Anything I experience that I consider beyond compare is a “Jimi Hendrix.”
IT'S ABOUT SEA CHANGES & PARADIGM SHIFTS.
“Oh Candy and Ronnie have you seen them yet? Oh!, but they're so spaced out.
B B B B B B B Bennie and the Jets.”
IT'S ABOUT FINDING SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU UNDERSTAND YOU AREN'T ALONE.
It can happen on grand (if you live in London, New York, LA or the like) or a small (like the rest of us) scale. But the revelation is primordial. A thunderbolt. And nothing will ever be the same.
Some people never have this moment. They go on to live boring, although self satisfied, lives. And god bless 'em.
Some see a glimpse but don't respond. They become “normal.”
Others get it, very intensely and then lose it. They will never quite forget it.
Others get it and never lose it. They remain obsessed with the mojo. Some manage to find real lives and good paying jobs. Some die.
Some get trapped in limbo waiting for their vision of fruition.
Some run with the vibe and end up never ending up.
For better or worse, I am one of the latter.
Rock n roll -like Homer Simpson says of alcohol- has been both the solution to, and cause of, all of my life's problems.
I never would have survived high school without Jimmy, Dale, David, Dave, Ray, Larry, Terry and Tom. But maybe I would have gone to college and been somewhat employable at 56.
There's no time machine so I try not to dwell on that shit.
Oh but they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh Bennie she's really keen
She's got electric boots, a mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine
Benny Mahan changed the Springfield music scene in the early 1960s with his rock n roll band The Ravens. I never saw them but my cousin played guitar with them and they were legendary. They caused more bands to be formed in Springfield, MO than anyone will ever be able to count. Benny changed the world. Lew Taylor and his band The Seven Days did so as well.
The Esquires changed my world. I saw them late in my eighth-grade year. They, and The Jaguars, were the cool bands of the time. Later they combined members and became The Lavender Hill Mob, a band that inspired yet another generation of young people to start bands. I saw The Electric Prunes at SMS my freshman year in high school (with Jimmy, David and Dale...”Bubble”) and “The Mob” opened. They were wearing matching yellow robe type things and did Vanilla Fudge's version of “You Keep Me Hangin' On.” It was so fucking intense. And we KNEW we could have a band. And we did. We got gigs in our freshman year and by the time we were sophomores we were playing every weekend. And we got good.
Other bands above us were The Dimensions, who later became Pure Sunshine. Their lead singer, Charlie McCall (RIP) was one of the coolest guys around. And they were a great band. General Scott's Limousine had a multi-colored hearse they traveled in and were on par with The Lavender Hill Mob. Marty Barin was their lead singer and was hippie cool, when hippie cool was kicking in.
On Valentine's Day 1970 Bubble opened for The Turtles at The Shrine Mosque and it was the BIG TIME for us. We had seen The Box Tops (with Alex Chilton) a few months before and The Turtles were Top Ten legends. AND WE OPENED FOR THEM.
Things changed shortly after, I got booted from Bubble and joined Papa John which became Five Star Cadillac Band. Pure Sunshine disbanded and Charlie started Irving with some of the Mob guys. Smitty and his band Zap came along and were doing Uriah Heep and Deep Purple while Five Star was doing Stones and Allman Brothers.
The flux fluxed.
When Granny's Bathwater came on the scene it was too much to believe. Horns, rock n roll, soul, R&B and FUNK. And Benny was singing with them on and off.
I moved to California but came back in short order and started Baby LeRoy Band. Stevie and Terry and Tom had The Queen City Punks (pre-punk rock and I made up the name), Jimmy had been through Hangdog with Billy Pool and he and Dale and David reunited to form Fools Face.
Looking back on it all, it seems like things were changing monthly, but at the time it seemed like a natural progression.
We listened to everything from Bowie and T Rex and Alice Cooper to the Stones and Allman Brothers and Yes and Jethro Tull and Nazz (who had changed Bubble's lives earlier) and Iggy and The MC5 and Waylon Jennings and other outlaws.
It was all a melting pot.
Everyday was important. Every few weeks there was a paradigm shift.
And we all were amazed and amused.
And Benny was always there. Always doing something no one else was doing. In these days bands would play 4 hours a night, 6 nights a week for months at a time.
The first 5 Star gig was in Tulsa. We had been rehearsing for about three weeks and we had to play SIX SETS A NIGHT. In Birmingham we did SEVEN, except on Friday and Saturday when we did EIGHT. And, the owner stiffed us on our pay.
There's much more to this story for the next segment which begins in 1976.
The fuel for these memories is the sad plight of Benny Mahan. The world of rock n roll, as seen through the eyes of Springfield, MO, would be drastically different without him.
God speed, my friend.
Hey kids, shake it loose together
The spotlight's hitting something
That's been known to change the weather
We'll kill the fatted calf tonight
So stick around
You're gonna hear electric music
Solid walls of sound
Benny and the Jets, indeed. The circumstances may be different but the changes are the same. Wonder, joy, confusion, knowledge, pathways, LIFE.
wunderle - 9/2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Jessie and Jason drummed and guitarted the hell out of themselves after wrecking the car, dealing with all the drama and shit, and with very few drinks. Andy smirked and sang the hell out of every song. He tore his guitar up. His tone was amazing. The best I had ever heard him sound. And Jason Loftin on the bass played one of the most amazing sets I had ever, ever seen. It was like Bruce Thomas, Entwistle, John Paul Jones, and Tim Tobias were inside of his head kicking and screaming to get out. He had such command over his instrument. Aggressive, confident, and aloof.
The Conniptions were on the Lindberg's stage with such power that I stood there grinning because I felt so fucking lucky to be in the room. Their songs are a mix of Big Star bravado, Television mastery, and Stooges blitzkrieg. And to top it off, I hadn't heard a live Guided By Voices song in seven years and they plowed through "Game of Pricks" and "Motor Away." I felt like a legionnaire again being sent off to battle. Like I felt at every GBV show. As if this day was my last and what the war held for me was up to Pollard.
It's too bad that they had to breakup.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
As for Squire Paul, he was majestic. Gracious. Happy. Giving. Honest. Usually words I have not used to describe McCartney in the last pair o' decades but I guess the historiography can change with just about anything can't it? Great big set list. Homages to John and George. Marina was dancing up out of her seat and seeing Marina dance is not something one sees outside of a draped bedroom, late at night, and after a glass or two of the red.
So, The Queen City Roller's hiatus is done. You are now free to move about the cabin.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I didn't get to have the shock and awe that was Beatlemania. I wasn't even born yet. But I got the next best thing stuck in Atlanta traffic while on summer vacation in 1977; Cheap motherfuckin' Trick!
A FM station decided on the hottest of days, in the most polluted city I've ever been in, to play In Color in it's 32 minute entirety. From the opening notes of "Hello There," through the head bopping catchy ride that is "I Want You to Want Me," and well into the brilliance and sheer perfection of "Southern Girls," I just kept nudging myself closer to the dash of the Volare trying to get all the sound in my ear hole that I could. I was simultaneously bummed and over the damn moon when the album ended but to my shock the DJ put Cheap Trick on! I had never heard any of this! None. "Elo Kiddies"?! "He's a Whore"?! And to think that a DJ would take it upon his all powerful and amphetamine fueled head to spin whatever in the hell he wanted... that's just insane.
So that was it. I was already the head of the KISS Army in my junior high but I was mixing my enthusiasm for Ace Frehley (which my mother would soon destroy) with my increasingly more grown up/adolescent mania for Zander and Nielsen.
In the summer of 1978, free from the emotional dishwater of Oklahoma and relaxed in the record store nirvana of Missouri, I was free to do whatever my Rock n' Roll heart desired. That was to see Cheap Trick. And I did many, many times over. Since they were a regional act they played support to any fucking band that came through town. It was like being in Liverpool after all only with a lot of beards and hot pants. I wore my black Cheap Trick shirt with its repeated and brilliant logo everywhere. I wore my 1978 tour baseball sleeve T to every school function, teen blowout, and to work at the record shop. Heaven Tonight was a masterpiece. It was on that tour that my friend and mentor, Cathy Stevens (who turned me on to Tom Petty and Reggae over one stony week at the store in the fall of 1978), not only took me to a show with a front row seat but managed to get me back stage to meet the band. Her designs were to make-out with Robin Zander but with me in tow she had to do something other than say that I was in fact NOT her kid. She stuck me in front of Rick Nielsen and went to do her business. Rick talked to me about playing the guitar and he gave me a handful of picks with his comic face stamped on each one. He gave me something like 50 of them, I ended up taking the picks to school and scored a date with a cheerleader just because of one Rick's little presents. You were awesome until I had chicken pox, Connie Grogan.
1979 saw the release of Dream Police, another tour, three more shows for me to see, and my favorite Cheap Trick track, "Way of the World." That school year ended with the annual talent show. At one end of the Parkview High School Gym, some upper-class longhairs took ten painful minutes to grind out "Freebird." It was laced with bandannas and a huge confederate flag motif. I was reminded of the 1977 talent show in Oklahoma when some cool 8th graders smoked "More Than a Feeling" and how that was a way better song than this piece of shit. When they were done the lights turned on over the stage that I was in front of and Greg Frazier's band kicked into "Surrender." I was with my people. My crowd. My friends. United in a high school gym singing how our mamas were alright and our daddies were alright but they just seemed a little weird.
We're all alright! We're all alright!
ap - 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Video Concert Hall. No other thing, save maybe “URGH! A Music War,” and the rise of the video arcade, had more of an affect on my delicious formative years. Dad may have owned a record shop but VCH is where I first got turned on to so many of the records that ended up in my collection.
It came on at weird times of the day. Late at night, after Midnight Special, it would pop up. In the middle of the afternoon I could switch over to USA Network and hear “Carouselambra” by Led Zeppelin, VCH's theme song, and be fixed in the seat. I could see something on Video Concert Hall and run upstairs with a list to make sure that I had the records I wanted on order the next day. Spider (go Anton Fig, go!), The Sports, PhD, The Shoes, The Buggles, Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass, Devo, Gary Numan, Iggy Pop, Bowie’s Scary Monsters, The Cramps, and most importantly Tom Petty, The Motors, The Pretenders, Squeeze, Split Enz, and The Police.
Where else would I have discovered Split Enz in 1978 if it weren’t for VCH? It’s not like I would have heard them on the radio in The Queen City. “I Got You” was a monster song. “One Step Ahead” was even better. Seeing “Tattooed Love Boys” by The Pretenders was sick. The Police? Forget about it. Those videos just had me hooked. And whenever I saw Squeeze pushing the piano down the street in the video for “Another Nail in My Heart” I couldn’t wait to go put the record on and play it all day. Some songs just stuck with me. In particular I think “Love and Loneliness” by The Motors was my first introduction to a really BIG pop song. Even to this day, whenever I play Tenement Steps, from which that song comes, I feel this huge, wonderful sea change in my well being. I fucking love that song. Even some one offs, like Nazareth’s “Holiday,” and Tim Curry’s “I Do the Rock,” still thrill me like they did in the late 70s and I really think that “We Can Get Together” by Icehouse is one of the best pop songs there is.
Video Concert Hall passed on in 1981 and gave rise to Night Flight and my temporary crush on Lisa Robinson which was then replaced by my undying love for Martha Quinn. Night Flight turned me onto Urgh!, Fantastic Planet, and New Wave Theater, and kept me in that swirling see of analog video – you know how all those videos seemed to look before MTV. Video Concert Hall was the key, the surrogate parent, which solidified the music geek in me and made me want to be James Honeyman Scott.
ap - 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
During times of less activity there were always a few bands carrying on around here. Don't forget that the New York Dolls opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the old Walnut Bowl many years ago. I bet that was an interesting show. And the Ramones played here in 1978 (remember you guys?). Talking Heads were in Joplin around this time too. Social Distortion many times. PIL, etc.. Springfield had an all girl punk band way back in 75, The Debs (that's the same time The Runaways were in L.A.) The Debs were great. Fools Face was much rougher in those days almost bringing CedarShake (is that what it was called?) down to the ground a coupla times. Rudy and the Razors, Symptoms, Resonance, Man About Town, The Limit, The Royal Nonesuch and others were all beating their drums at the same time everything else all over the world was happening.
Here are a few more bands that should be mentioned that carried on along here through the course of our times: The Fabulous Flaming Balls, Monsterbox, Johnny Quest, Walking Octopus, the Jim-Bobs, Jesus Lee Jones, Remnants, Luvhandles, Cheerleaders, Redundants, Results, Thee Fine lines (who you can hear on Little Steven's Underground Garage on occassion), Rabbi Sputnick, any band with Lou Whitney and D. Clinton Thompson, Wunderle's bands of any ilk.
You could go on and on to the bands that inhabit the rock needs around here to this day, you know who they are. Don't forget our own Annette Weatherman was in London taking pictures of the Buzzcocks, Pistols, etc. and getting chummy with the Clash and Adam and the Ants (don't laugh if you don't know how punk the early Ants were). IT's all here baby. Forgive me for not remembering all the old bands and mentioning all the new bands that are here and who gave a nod to real punk rock, the kind that was inclusive, original, varied, non-misogynistic, and non-racist. That's why, even though a few of those bands were good, the hardcore scene left me cold and it quickly became an excuse for knuckleheads to get in fights. That's why a lot of the cool bands around during the same time didn't want much to do with that scene. It always struck me as kind of weak that a bunch of nazi skinheads would make a racket here, where there are hardly any African-Americans or Jewish Americans to blame. So it turned into the racist bands/fans versus the rest. Recipe for lameness in my view. For me, the hardcore (?) scene that was here in Springfield was a blip on a much bigger and fruitful map of local rockers/punk rockers - whatever you want to call it.
ss - 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I think of Bill, like I do, when I’m prowling through my music collection. Bill was regarded as this fine blues player, which he was, and his wake was full of blues and rock music as if these genres defined him. They did not.
The Bill I knew, the Bill Brown I loved, was the funniest guy I had ever met. He was an older brother, a statesman, a historian, a wizard, a true star. Bill gave me the uncanny ability to be all The Beatles at once. His McCartney became my McCartney. He redefined humor on a daily basis. He gave me his green Ibanez tube screamer. He always had a new record he loved and couldn’t wait to share it. But why do I think that songs like “Little Wing” didn’t define him? Because Bill Brown loved a perfect pop song. He worshipped the Beatles. He thought Difford and Tillbrook and the entire Squeeze catalog was a must. Bill would not shut up about XTC and when Apple Venus / Wasp Star came out he insisted that I go for a drive to listen to them both. Bill loved the songwriting of Neil Finn and played Crowded House incessantly. Elvis Costello and the Attractions and no Attractions, it didn’t matter, Bill made damn sure that Costello was tattooed on my brain. He couldn’t get enough of Cheap Trick, Badfinger, Raspberries, Rundgren, and on and on and on. When I moved to San Francisco, Bill gave me an envelope full of rare baseball cards in case I should ever fall on hard times. Or if I just wanted to read stats out of lack of anything else to do in The City.
His kids play music now. Drums and guitar. They’re good kids.
ap - 2009