Monday, August 29, 2016

RIP Gene Wilder

"Willy Wonka died?"  That was my first reaction when I heard that Gene Wilder had passed away at age 83.  It was also the first thing I thought of when Christopher Reeve died:  "Superman is dead?".  Both those roles were made iconic by Wilder and Reeve.  Since then nobody else (not Johnny Depp or the various other Superman actors) have come close.

On my short list of favorite films ever are Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factor and Young Frankenstein.  I was 7 (Wonka) and 10 (Frankenstein) and living in Germany when those came out.  But they've stayed with me throughout my life.  Both are on TV constantly and I always make time for them.  We never lose track of our fondest childhood memories.

Gene Wilder is an under appreciated genius.  He never got the late in life adulation he deserved.  There's no star for him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  There were no lifetime achievement awards from SAG, Oscars or the Golden Globes.  Maybe he turned them all down.  He had that type of personality.  But as often happens, death has brought out a very loving appreciation.

The best Gene Wilder films (among others I love are Stir Crazy, Silver Streak, Blazing Saddles, Producers and the overlooked 1975 Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother) will continue to be shown for decades.  And I'm glad new generations continue to discover his genius.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Playlist for 8/26

Sara Watkins - Young In All The Wrong Ways
Freddy Powers - Country Jazz Singer
NAF - s/t
DJ Shadow - Mountain Will Fall
Avalanches - Wildflower
Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
Chaka Khan - Naughty
Chaka Khan - What Cha' Gonna Do For Me
Chaka Khan - s/t
Frank Ocean - Endless/Blonde

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Playlist for 8/21

Kris Kristofferson - Border Lord
Kris Kristofferson - Spooky's Last Sideshow
Kris Kristofferson - Who's To Bless and Who's To Blame
Kris Kristofferson - Easter Island
Kris Kristofferson - To The Bone
Case/Lang/Veirs - s/t
Barbra Streisand - Stoney End
Barbra Streisand - Encore
Lene Lovich - Stateless
Eggs Over Easy - Good 'N' Cheap
Milk 'N' Cookies - s/t

Friday, August 19, 2016

ICYMI: 9 Genres & The Rock Hall

Below are 9 links to posts I wrote about what R&B, Blues, Country, Non-Performers, Hip Hop, New Wave, Indie, Alternative, Women, Music critics and other genres could be inductees of the Rock Hall.

All have been updated for the 2017 induction.

With 2017 prediction season in full bloom, there's bound to be a name or two on those lists that might pique your interest.

I'm open to any suggestions of names that I might have missed.

Various Rock Genres & The Rock Hall

R&B Artists and the Rock Hall

Blues Artists and the Rock Hall

Country Artists and the Rock Hall

Non-Performers & The Rock Hall

Music Critics and the Rock Hall

Hip Hop and the Rock Hall

Women and the Rock Hall

New Wave/Alternative/Indie and the Rock Hall

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Best Elvis Presley Books

Instead of my usual pick of an Elvis recording to commemorate the anniversary of his death, I'll recommend some books.

Both biographies by Peter Guralnick, Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love are superb.  Especially the former, which is one for every music fan's library.
Guralnick's fine 2015 Sam Phillips bio, The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll, has plenty of stuff on Elvis & Sun records.

From there pick up Greil Marcus' Mystery Train (1975), which has a chapter called Elvis: Presliad. There's also a discography that will have you hunting down many Elvis titles you didn't know existed.  Now in its 6th printing, the whole book is essential.
Marcus also has another good Presley book called Dead Elvis (1991) that shows how popular the King became after his death.  More popular dead than alive?

Ernst Jorgensen has been responsible for many of the best Elvis reissues of the last 30 years.  His A Life In Music: Complete Recording Sessions (1998).  Yep, every recording session.  Jorgensen needs to release the updated version of this in book form.
He teamed up with Guralnick for 1999's Elvis Day By Day (1999) an interesting, kind of fun, read on what the King was doing throughout his life.

For '68 comeback Elvis, I enjoyed Gilliam Gaar's 2010, Return of the King: Elvis Presley's Great Comeback.

Dave Marsh's Elvis (1982) was one of the first books I read on Elvis.  Not really a biography as a picture book that tells Elvis' story from birth until he died.  Great pictures.

I also like Alanna Nash's 2005 Elvis and the Memphis Mafia, in which 3 Mafia members look back on their Elvis years.  It's overlong, though at 800 pages, but it's never boring.
Nash's other Elvis book Baby Let's Play House:  Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him (2010) is another long book at 700 pages, but another easy read.
Neither of her books are essential, but if you're looking to expand your knowledge of all things Elvis, then they are worth a read.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Playlist for 8/15

Frankie Ballard - El Rio
Charles Kelley - Driver
Julie Ruin - Hit Reset
Sun Rock 'N' Roll Vol. 1 (1997 Charly Records) - Various
Blake Mills - Heigh Ho
Elvis Presley - Way Down In The Jungle Room
Orion-Man Who Would Be King  (Documentary 2015 on Jimmy Ellis)
Aaron Neville - Apache
Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer
Steven Tyler - We're All Somebody
Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Music Years Of My Life 1977

This is what I knew about Elvis Presley when I was 13 years old in 1977:

1.  He made a lot of movies.  And they were shown often during the afternoon movie of the week.  Sometimes they would show five in one week.
2.  My Dad had a bunch of his 70's studio albums, plus Elvis' Golden Records  (1958)
3.. Elvis wore lots of jump suits.
4.  Elvis imitators were on TV before 1977.  I saw one on a show months before he died.  
5.  I knew most of his hits, but not much else.  And his Sun Records era was still new to my ears.

The Summer of '77 wasn't a bad time on the charts for Elvis.  He was now charting better on the Country Top 100 then on the Billboard Pop 100.  "Moody Blue" went #1 Country earlier in the year.  And in August, "Way Down" was #1.  But on the Pop charts he couldn't get out of the Top 30.  
That year I got my first job.  Cleaning fireplaces at the Hotel my Mom worked at.  It was mostly weekends and weeks off from school, and it was small change, but I used the extra money to buy albums or movie tickets.
August 16, 1977, happened to be a movie day.  Star Wars was all the rage that summer.  Released in late May, I had already seen it but wanted to experience it again.  As luck would have it, there was a theater in the area of my mom's hotel. 
Getting into the car to go home that afternoon, I did what I normally do and put the radio on.  The Top 40 channel was playing an Elvis song.  Odd, he never got played on it before.  The other station was doing the same.  Something wasn't right.  I kept changing channels and finally landed on a news station.  Elvis Presley was dead.  A jolt.  My mom couldn't believe it.  It couldn't be true.  
The 1977 Elvis wasn't like the ones we remembered.  He was overweight.  That's not the Elvis I knew.  There was a book published in July called Elvis What Happened?  The rag mags had all the gory details.  This is pre-Internet before we knew everything about someones life. 

That day set off my fascination and love for Elvis Presley.  It continues through this day.  He's my #1 artist.  I've been to Graceland three times and each stop is a reminder of all he gave us and what might have been.  It's both a sad and exhilarating tour stop.

One other life changing moment occurred that Summer.  My first trip to Tower Records.  A road trip with friends resulted in a pit stop at a restaurant in a shopping mall.  And what just happened to be across the street?  I even remember the album I bought.  Go For Your Guns by the Isley Brothers which was Top 10 on the album charts.  
I didn't make many more trips until I got my license 5 years later, but that Tower Records would turn out to be the closest one.  Ninety minutes and 45 miles away from home.  Some things you never forgot.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Playlist for 8/10

Joe Simon - Drowning In The Sea Of Love
Joe Tex - Happy Soul
Joe Tex - Buying A Book
Joe Tex - Live and Lively
Joe Tex - Soul Country
Joe Tex - Bumps and Bruises
Tyrone Davis - Turn Back The Hands Of Time
Otis Blackwell - These Are My Songs
Millie Jackson - Feelin' Bitchy
Millie Jackson - Live and Uncensored/Live and Outrageous

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Top 20 Devo Songs (Poll)

Latest Poll I voted in:  Top 20 Devo songs.
Devo came along just as Punk was waning and New Wave was beginning. With their stage show and futuristic look and sounds they placed themselves just outside the mainstream.

1.  Whip It
2.  Beautiful World
3.  Mongoloid
4.  Through Being Cool
5.  Girl U Want
6.  Jocko Homo
7.  Big Mess
8.  Time Out For Fun
9.  Freedom Of Choice
10. Satisfaction
11. Working In The Coal Mine
12. Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize
13. That's Good
14. Love Without Anger
15. Be Stiff
16. Peek-A-Boo
17. S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)
18. Gates of Steel
19. Disco Dancer
20. Fresh

Top 5 Albums
1.  Greatest Hits  (1990 Warner Bros.)
2.  Q: Are We Not Men?  A: We Are Devo!
3.  Freedom Of Choice
4.  Greatest Misses
5.  Duty Now For The Future

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Playlist for 8/4

Sonics - Boom
Barbarians - Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl
Standells - Dirty Water
Count Five - Psychotic Reaction
Music Machine - Turn On The Music Machine
Question Mark & The Mysterians - 96 Tears
Remains - Don't Look Back
Blue Magoos - Psychedelic Lollipop
Leaves - Hey Joe

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