Tag Archives: Bon Jovi

Vous etes tres belle. Some 80’s stuff.


Yeah, I know–the movie was shit. Still, damn!

This was the last age of the infinite possibility of one great virtuoso dragging the rest of the world into his mind, into his vision, without compromise, without contrivances, with nothing but drive, ambition and limitless talent. And we followed, didn’t we? I always thought Prince could make a hit record whenever he chose to, but I’m starting to think that that was MY standard, not his. To live through that time was a great gift for me.

Here’s another list of music stuff.

1. From Wikipedia:

In January 1969, former Yardbirds members Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty organised a new group devoted to experimentation between rock, Folk, and classical forms. This quintet — Relf on guitar & vocals, McCarty on drums, plus bassist Louis Cennamo, pianist John Hawken, and Relf’s sister Jane Relf as an additional vocalist — released a pair of albums on Elektra (US) and Island (UK-ILPS 9112), the first one, titled simply “Renaissance”, being produced by fellow ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith[1].

The band had begun performing in May 1969, before recording had begun for the debut LP, mostly in the UK, but with occasional forays abroad, including festivals in Belgium (Amougies, October 1969) and France (Operation 666 at the Olympia in January 1970, and Le Bourget in March 1970, both in Paris). In February 1970, they embarked on a North American tour, but this month-long trek proved a mitigated success, as because of their Yardbirds credentials they found themselves paired with bands like The Kinks and their new classically oriented direction didn’t always go down well with audiences.

Beginning in the late spring of 1970, as touring began to grind on them, the original band gradually dissolved. Relf and McCarty decided to quit performing, and Cennamo joined Colosseum. Hawken organised a new line-up to fulfill contractual obligations and complete the band’s second album, Illusion, which was left unfinished.

If you ever get a chance, PLEASE don’t hesitate to pick up that first album. It’s beautiful, well-performed (especially the bass guitar) and almost indefinable.  When the band was reinvented to include the great Annie Haslam, they had found a more versatile, pleasant chanteuse, but the original band was every bit as accomplished as an acoustic ensemble. “Island” is simply wonderful.

2. Boz Burrell went from temporary singer with The Who to temporary singer/bassist for King Crimson to permanent bass player for Bad Company, for whom he never sang lead.

3. It makes sense that Michael Jackson was one of the first great artists of the video age, but I don’t think his records stand the test of time any more than, say, those of Blondie. If you listen to those first three solo albums, they’re pretty tame, mostly due to Quincy Jones’ exacting production. The beats are effective but somewhat muted in comparison to the later hits that the Jacksons were enjoying at the time. I detest Teddy Riley’s sound even more. The New Jack bullshit and the whomping snare reduce Jackson’s ever-so-clean arrangements to a kind of dance-music parody. “Dangerous” is almost unlistenable, save for one gigantic slab of utter genius.  I’m sorry you have to sit through the video. Forward to 3:30.

4. My buddy Michael makes a good point when he reminds us that Lady Gaga shouldn’t be compared so much to Madonna as to Dale Bozzio. Who? The ex-Playboy Playmate and lead singer for the band Missing Persons. She dressed outrageously, in what one could call “angular chic”. She had a whining, nasal voice, and she was fucking the drummer. Hmm. Have to check that last one out. Still, go Google yourself the band and see what I mean. Madonna didn’t reinvent herself to become famous, though. She reinvented herself to STAY famous.  Gaga is the fake. And until she comes up with something as timeless and heartbreaking as this..

..she’ll be relegated to an Abdul-esque footnote.

And one for myself on a Saturday night. The American master with a band that nobody is able to touch STILL. Singing with an authority and passion that his words deserve. Simple, human, wonderful.

5. One of my favorite bands of the 70’s, ELO, lost one of their early members, cellist Mike Edwards, to a fatal car accident. He was killed when a bale of hay landed on his car. Here’s an article about it, but the picture, of course, is of Jeff Lynne and violinist Mik Kaminski, not Edwards.  Edwards used to solo by playing the cello with a giant grapefruit. You’ll never see that sort of thing these days.  His last word was “HAY!!!!”

6. If you want to feel totally alone and bewildered this week, go find an album by the Glitter Band, the band that backed Gary Glitter in his heyday. The two entities apparently functioned as contemporaries in 70’s UK music, and both were utterly terrible. Soulless. Or, failing that, do what I did a few weeks ago and listen non-stop to three of Ringo Starr’s late 70’s albums, “Ringo The 4th”, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and “Bad Boy”. Talk about uncomfortable. Here was a the most famous drummer in the world recording lifeless pop dirges, trying everything, flailing away with different styles, until he finally gave up the ghost and began openly cashing in on the past  with the horrendous “Time Takes Time” and its tacky paeans to his own life.  One thing I’ll say for his late 70’s output—at least he was fucked up most of the time.

7. However, if you seek transcendence of a sweet pop flavor, get thee to the nearest copy of this: I'm so horny. This album will make you smile. It’s Roger Nichols, who wrote so many songs that you are already familiar with that it’ll make you twitch like a bag of bees. His vocal ensemble sings some covers of the day, but it’s all so well done, so clean and beautifully arranged. It makes me smile whenever I hear it. I’m so glad I discovered it. You will love it too if you’re open to music that tries to do nothing more than make you smile. Here’s their version of a Bacharach-David song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. Or this tune, “Love Song Love Song“. God damn I love it!!

8. The Rolling Stone Record Guide was like a bible to me and others when we were in our formative years, and I know some of us based our future purchases on the sage advice offered within. However, if you look carefully at the reviews for a band like, say, Gentle Giant, whose discography is riddled with no-star releases (the worst possible), pay attention to the initials of the reviewer. Often, as in most of the prog reviews, the people doing the judging often come from rogue punk or metal publications and were sort of freelancing at the time. There’s no way an album like “The Power and The Glory” is as bad as the soundtrack to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.  Watch out. Even today, established online rags like Pitchfork, along side less esteemed windbags like our own Independent (of what?) seem to offer up bewildering, useless cascades of keywords and snarky phrases to address music they simply don’t understand, and also praise music that is simply mediocre.

9. On my favorites list is one of the best music blogs I have seen. It’s RedTelephone66. And damn if I know where they dig up stuff. But they feature stuff like David Wallinski’s first band, and two (!) bands from the soft psych era named “Collage”.  Here’s the one I have.  It’s on my MP3 player. I’ll let you in on a little secret. When the song “She’s Just Laughing At Me” comes on,  I pretend I’m in a video that someday my partner Mark Duncan and I will make to tell the song’s sad tale. I do love it so.  It was written by the Addrisi Brothers, who also wrote “Never My Love” for The Association, another group that just wasn’t satisfied cranking out tasty pop hits, striving for relevance. Can’t people just have a good time?

10. I was making out with this chick in North Buffalo named Chris. She was sassy molassie!! She and her mom rolled joints and made apple pie while I sat and watched. Her mother left to get some condomes or something for her new boyfriend, and Chris and I started the dance of the tongues, when this came on her TV, no lie:

One time I was with my very nordic-looking girlfriend on the East Side, and we were gettin’ hot and heavy, while her TV was on MTV, and, no lie, this came on to give me a laughing fit. YOU try dry-humping to this.

That’s all for now!!!!

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Hey! Who took the gabbagoo?

The guys who wrote “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” also wrote “Shine On Harvest Moon”.

“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police, “Beth” by Kiss, “We Got The Beat” by The Go-Gos. “Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest. All these songs have what in common?

Another sensitive female chord progression song is Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”, possibly the worst song ever to hit the top 10. A mawkish, thick-headed attempt to relive past glory days by writing basically the same feel-good shit. Yeah, just write some stupid lyrics, throw in some distorted pentatonic noodling, and keep playing it over and over, in different forms. Do an acoustic version! Do it as a waltz! Play it as a Slavic Folk song. Keep it in the public’s face until it becomes a sort of classic-by-association.

Any band that plays an acoustic set but cannot reinvent their accompaniment to facilitate this vastly different discipline is merely wanking to make more money. Nothing more.

Yesterday was the busiest day ever for this blog, and I thank you. I’m still finding my feet, but I do so love writing. Almost as much as I do singing.

The older I get, the more I am convinced that Led Zeppelin were just a group of cynical music thieves. Well-documented are the various complete and utterly fraudulent bastardizations of their betters, but I revisit it now and again to remind me.

I was thinking about the latest incident wherein I was disciplined or admonished by a manager. It was back in March, I think, and it was for singing in my cubicle. And I thought about how choppy a resume I’ve sort of slapped together, and all the stuff that isn’t on it because it’s either too old or not what I want to do any more. I suppose…ahem…you’ve all seen this?

I was a telemarketer for the Buffalo Philharmonic. This was back in 1987 or so. Our job was to solicit credit card donations over the phone. Later, we were asked to call former “subscribers” to the season and ask them to renew. Hot, relevant acts like The Lettermen, John Dankworth and Doc Severinsen were an easy sell. In the middle of our big oak table, strewn with ash trays and coke cans, a wicker basket held about 100 or so blue computer-printed donor cards with information on people who had donated/subscribed in the past season. We (the young, hip co-workers, some of whom I still speak with today) would grab a random sampling and go to town. Not me. I would grab more than my share of cards. Then I would find the women. The ones with “Miss” were the best. Then I would work the Neal Magic©.

“Hi, this is George Smith. I’m calling for the BPO, and I have this script in front of me, but I’ll spare you that if you would like to donate this year like you did last…” or something witty and urbane like that. Thus did I turn my $5.50/hr. base salary into about $6.75/hr via commissions. I actually kept a log of how well I did from week to week. Not just that, though! I actually met 13 women outside the office for dates thanks to my everyman jive. None of them were consummated (and more than one were humiliating) but it was a sport to me. One lady crocheted her own sweater. One wanted to go out dancing at the Playboy Club near the airport, a 40-year -old in stone washed jeans and high heels. One claimed she was a lesbian as soon as we met face to face. One shared her deepest sexual secrets with me over the phone, which was nice. But we had to go and spoil it all by meeting face to face. Who could live up to that?

My manager started to notice that I was eschewing all the male donors in favor of the fairer sex. I was gently admonished and sent back to my seat. It didn’t bother me too much, because I knew that I was starting a new job the next week at a large computer software/hardware distributor in Buffalo, NY. A bus ride from my apartment. Sales. I knew nothing about any of it, but it was exciting, and the money was much much better. But, like most of the things I had done to that point, I exerted the least possible effort, coasting on my gawd-given intellect instead of trying to improve myself.  Sometimes I would go days without showering, wearing the same dirty shirt days in a row. A small heap of ties in the middle of my bedroom to choose from. When I was doing well, it was fantastic. Sadly, eventually, the truth caught up to me. I knew next to nothing about software compatibility (back then it was a big deal) and when a customer would call with a yes or no question about what would work with what, I would just say “yes”. If need be, I would pretend to be on the line with customer service for a few moments, and inevitably come back on the line with an affirmative answer.  One day a savvy customer accepted my answer, called our tech support people HIMSELF, got the REAL answer, and then called my manager to express his disappointment.

This was the job where the owner of the company flew all 100 or so of us to Nashville, TN for some sales conference weekend. It was my first flight, and I have never known such terror. Not because of the bumpy flight, but because it was the first time I had experienced such claustrophobia in my life. Mercifully, we connected in Detroit, so the longest part of the flight was only 1.5 hours.It was a beautiful hotel, but I was in no shape to enjoy myself. You could say something snapped. For some reason, I brought my sad excuse for a boom-box to the hotel, perhaps so I could play my latest 4-track recordings to myself to help me sleep. However, there was a party down the hall, being hosted by a new guy whose name I won’t say here. He was one of those good-time fellas who always seemed to attract a party wherever he went. I wanted to be that. Why wasn’t I that? He wanted to borrow my tape player for his party, so he could enjoy the Grateful Dead while drinking and flirting. So I let him have it. Even though his presence made me sick. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with him. Maybe he was just someone who exemplified everything I was not.

Everyone liked him.

So I’m in my room, trying to get to sleep. But the thought wouldn’t let me go—Why wasn’t I invited? Why does HE have my boom box? Why is he so popular? Am I ever going to see that thing again? Is he, are they…laughing at me? Am I some kind of sucker? Is the tinny warbling of Jerry Garcia’s aimless jamming going to ruin my speakers?

They’re all laughing at me behind my back.

So I did the only thing I could do. I marched into the party, politely handed party boy his 75-minute version of Dark Star or whatever, and yanked that thing out of the wall socket. While the chorus of “Awww…” and “Jeesh..what a…” serenaded my twitching countenance, I ran out of the room, and quietly enjoyed my latest soon-to-be-forgotten 4-track incompetence, serenely satisfied that no one would forget me now.

That act changed people’s opinions about me for years to come, I discovered later. Where I was once just some dude who might have let his love affair with his own musk linger on a bit too long, I was now “that asshole”.

I worked for Harlequin Books in Depew, NY as a temp. It wasn’t as romantic as it sounds (haw haw). Our job was to collect all the mail correspondence, try to decipher what Gertrude Albrecht, age 87, was begging us to no longer send her because she didn’t ask for it and her arthritis kept her from opening our boxes, and click some computer buttons to ensure that we no longer send her that thing.  About 100 times an hour. Over and over. Our manager was Nicole. She was from France. I asked her what “Zoot Allures” meant, but she didn’t know, assuring me that no French person would ever say that. These piles of postcards and letters were called “batches” (every office has these little proprietary terms. I know so many that I sometimes dream in their terms) and when you were done, you would “batch back”, or, as non-sexy French woman Nicole would say, “botch bock”. As ever, one of the first things I learned how to do was a spot-on impression of my boss. I shared it with my co-workers in the break room and they loved it! Once they asked me to do it in front of Nicole herself. I did. She was like John McCain in front of a Wii. Mystified.

I would try to be very funny and open one day, and when I began resenting people’s reaction to that, dead serious. In a small break room, it’s pretty easy to affect other people’s moods with your own, especially when you run to two extremes and nothing in between, like I did. There was one devastating beauty working there, and when she asked me to go bowling, I thought “Boy oh boy!” But she had a boyfriend. Turns out the Harlequin Batchers were a bowling team and they needed a fourth. Cue Mr Hostility. I didn’t speak another word to this poor girl for the entire three months left on my contract. However, it’s still a handy conversation starter to be able to say “I worked at Harlequin Books” and be telling the truth. The stuff about me authoring an entire (rejected) series of books based on lovers who had Down Syndrome, books like “Strong Like Hulk” and “We’re All Winners” were falsehoods, and trying to describe the book cover illustrations becomes burdensome after a while.

I tell people I was a dancer just to see their reactions. You might not find that funny, but it is disarming, and that’s what I thought I was doing. But if people don’t know if you’re kidding or not, pretty soon they just assume you’re kidding. Who has the energy for that?

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