Hey folks, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I actually cooked the turkey this year, and it came out great. It was a "Tuscan" turkey - very international, don't you think? I'm not even sure that they eat turkey in Italy, but if they do, they make sure to put a garlic/butter/lemon/11 herbs and spices combination under the skin. Man, is it ever good! Here are some pictures:
And speaking of turkeys, the Hokies won the ACC's Coastal Division this weekend with a 52-10 stomping of hated in-state rival, UVa. A damn successful year for first year coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies sit at 9-3 and have an ACC Championship Game matchup with Clemson set for this weekend. Clemson is damn good, and no one expects the Hokies to win. But they play the games for a reason, so time will tell. In the meantime, we will enjoy this season, and start getting excited about next year.
Songs About Bill
I like my name, William, but I've been called Bill for decades. Which is lucky because there are simply some great songs about Bill out there. And many of them pay homage to Bill because, well, they should. Hahaha, I thought it might be fun for the man behind the BillyRocksPhilly blog to celebrate his own name, and link up with a couple of great songs that I hope you will enjoy.
First up, it's the Fifth Dimension with Wedding Bell Blues. Did you forget the lyrics? Here is a sample:
Bill I love you so
I always will
I look at you and see
the passion eyes of May
Oh but am I ever gonna see
my wedding day?
Oh I was on your side Bill
when you were losin'
I'd never scheme or lie Bill
There's been no foolin'
but kisses and love won't carry me
till you marry me Bill
Hey, if you were named Bill and someone wrote that song, it would be an all-time favorite for you, too, right? So check out this campy video and groove to the song.
Next up, it's the Marvelettes with Don't Mess With Bill. I'm going to let you listen to the lyrics on this one to be sure that you get the message. Don't. Mess. With. Bill.
Moving right along, we get the Crystals and their classic hit Da Doo Ron Ron. Now, my name isn't Ron, but check out a sample of the lyrics and you'll know why this one is a Bill classic.
I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
Somebody told me that his name was Bill
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
Yeah, my heart stood still
Yes, his name was Bill
And when he walked me home
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
Can you dig that? Here's the video and it's a classic:
Is there more? Oh, hell's yes! Do you remember the song Billy Don't Be A Hero? Well, if not, you're in luck because I'm going to give you the introduction. Here are some choice lyrics:
Billy, don't be a hero, don't be a fool with your life
Billy, don't be a hero, come back and make me your wife
And as Billy started to go she said keep your pretty head low
Billy, don't be a hero, come back to me
This song was done a couple of times, and here is the Paper Lace version. Yes, it is amazingly cheesy, and yeah, I was a bit concerned that the drummer was going to sing the lyrics above, but issue was averted as you can see below:
OK, one more, and it's waaaay off the beaten track. The indie band Camper Van Beethoven did a song called Where The Hell Is Bill. The lyrics are weird, but kind of appropriate, too, if you know me personally. Here they are:
Where, where the Hell is Bill?
Well, maybe he went to get a sideways haircut
Maybe he went to get a striped shirt
Maybe he went to get some plastic shoes
Maybe he went to get some funny sunglasses
Well, maybe he went to get an Air Force parka
Maybe he went to get a Vespa scooter
Maybe he went to get a British flag
Maybe he went to go Mod Ska dancing
Well, maybe he went to get a mohawk
And maybe he went to get some gnarly thrash boots
Maybe he went to go ride his skateboard
Maybe he went to see the Circle Jerks
And without further ado, here is the youtube link:
And with that, my friends, I'm going to sign off. Cool, right? You have a good one, and I hope you enjoyed my little narcissist rock 'n roll shindig.
I know that I already jumped the gun and flashed Mr. Christmas Suit at you guys. But it's hard to find Thanksgiving songs. It's arguably the greatest of all holidays - a good meal, a four day weekend, no intense pre-holiday gift hoarding - and it's too bad that there are not more turkey day songs. But I found one from harDCore band Bad Brains called "Give Thanks and Praise" which should get you through a few minutes. Check it out.
And right after Thanksgiving, why, it's Black Friday! And Steely Dan has a song that bears that name even though it is really about the infamous stock market crash. So here we go on that one - check out Mr. Housing Bubble.
And with that, my friends, I'm going to wish you all the best Thanksgiving ever. Remember, the pilgrims started this whole rock thing at Plymouth Rock. Oh, and if you partake in Black Friday, remember that just the day before you were so thankful for what you already had, haha. On Turkey day, help out with the food prep, cleaning up, or whatever, but do your share - you want to limit the stress of the day to the waistline of your pants, right?
Rock on - lots more good stuff in the hopper here and it's coming your way very soon.
A Couple of Tidbits
Hey team, here are a few things to keep you going.
First, in my A, B, Cs, I think I forgot Graham Parker and I know I forgot Frank Zappa.
Graham is great, a long-time BRP favorite. Squeezing Out Sparks is an amazing album, but the catalog is rich and deep. I've seen GP many times, and he is best with the Rumour. Check him out, you won't regret it.
And if you don't know Frank Zappa, well, that would be amazing. Zappa was a one-of-a-kind guy, and was waaaay before his time. His music sounds contemporary today - what the heck did it sound like 40 years ago? Regardless, he was a big "oops" for me, and I apologize.
Second, I went to the OC, and happened upon a cover band called One Night Stand. They played an interesting mix of songs from Thorogood to ZZ Top to the Eagles. Here they are, all set up on the Boardwalk.
Third, I haven't given you a Hokie update in a bit. They had a great comeback win on the road at Notre Dame this weekend, 34-31. But the previous week, they suffered a home loss to a not-very-good Georgia Tech team. They sit at 8-3, and if they beat their in-state rival UVa this weekend, will win the ACC Coastal Division and play for the ACC Championship against Clemson. All in all, a good first season for new coach Justin Fuente.
And finally, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is time to get ready for the season of all seasons. Yes, the Christmas season! If you have been shopping anytime since Halloween, you'll understand that the season is already here. And BRP has found yet another wonderful American to get us in the mood. Without further ado, I give you the Christmas Suit:
Shoot, I can't get the picture to rotate. I tried about 10 different ways. Oh well, you get the gist, right? Sayonara you rock 'n rollers!
Finally ... X, Y and Z. And A Bonus!
Welcome back to BillyRocksPhilly, your rock ‘n roll joke. I’ve been messing around, seeing a lot of music, traveling, working my little tail off, watching football, working out, etc. But one thing that I haven’t done is finish the Rock ‘N Roll Alphabet. I’m so close, too, with only X, Y and Z to complete the series. But these are hard ones – there’s a reason why you get 8 points in Scrabble for using the X and 10 points for using the Z, and it’s because there just aren’t that many words that start with X and Z. Well, it’s the same with bands. That being said, there are some great ones out there, and I would be negligent not to mention them.
As always, a solo performer is listed by the first letter of their last name. So James Brown can be found in the B listing. But Jethro Tull is found in J because they aren’t a solo act. Got it? Of course you do – you wouldn’t be reading BRP if you weren’t smart as hell. And with that brownnosing out of the way, here we go.
X is for XTC. As I just said, there aren’t many bands that begin with X, but XTC would be listed highly regardless of what they called themselves. They are a remarkable band. Here’s the story: Andy Partridge quits playing the lead of Keith in the television show The Partridge Family and goes on to form XTC. They create solid new wave studio albums like Drums and Wires, Black Sea, Mummer and White Music and singles before they find their groove and put out a trio of albums that are among the best of the best: English Settlement, Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons. Those three albums alone are worthy of rock ‘n roll homage, but let’s not forget great songs from other albums, like Statue of Liberty, Making Plans for Nigel, Life Begins at the Hop, Generals and Majors, and on and on. One big awful thing: Partridge has stage fright, probably caused by having to hang out so much with Danny Bonaduce, and they do not tour. So I’ve never seen them live, and am stuck with watching re-runs of The Partridge Family to get my fix. Nonetheless, check out those three albums – sophisticated, great complex tunes, catchy, and simply among the best that rock has to offer. They also have an alternative psychedelic band called the Dukes of Stratosphere that are also worth a listen. And tell me if you can find the song Take This Town for downloading because I love it and only have it on album.
Honorable Mentions: X – Out of the LA punk scene along with Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, X was America’s answer to the Pistols, Clash and Jam. Terrific punk songs and even some country influences, but not that great live. Exene Cervanka has one of rock’s most memorable voices – some hate it, btw – and Billy Zoom was an amazing guitarist.
Newbies Worth Checking Out: I got nothin’ for ya.
Y is for Neil Young. Neil is the real deal. How he ended up with CSN is beyond me, but he wrote some excellent heartache songs, some rockers that ripped, and everything in between. He has turned out to be an inspiration for tons of young musicians on the rise. And Neil did all this with a thin, reedy voice that couldn’t carry a room. I saw him a few times, but the best was a show at the old Capital Centre in DC. While the band was getting set up, a guy with a hat comes out with a broom and appears to be sweeping. He puts the broom down, picks up a guitar, and steps up to the mic. “Hello, I’m Neil Young,” and it was! Neil then ripped into a fantastic set. Neil remains an iconoclast and is still putting out music. Some of it is even pretty good.
Honorable Mentions: Yardbirds – some great tunes from these oldsters. I think they had a famous guitarist or three? Young Fresh Fellows – I saw these guys about 4 times. Their live show was always a blast, and the drummer had a cymbal that swung way out over the stage and the other guys had to dodge it. Rock ‘n Roll Pest Control and When The Girls Get Here are garage classics. Young the Giant – a pretty good act that deserves better acclaim. Yonder Mountain String Band – modern bluegrass for your ass. Yo La Tango – These guys are hugely deserving. I don’t like all of what they put out, and they are prolific, but man, when they are on, they roll. Damn fine band.
Newbies Worth Checking Out: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – not exactly new, but my boy Jonathan likes them. And I needed something to put here.
Disrespect: Yes – No. Picture this: Rick Wakeman in a cape playing ripped off Brahms tunes in the round surrounded by mountains of keyboards. The only good thing about Yes is that they inspired punk rockers to seize back rock ‘n roll from whatever the hell you call what Yes did. Yanni – How did this guy ever become known to me? His music sucks, he is a purveyor of New Age pap, and he’s ugly.
Z is for ZZ Top. Let’s just say that there aren’t many acts that start with the letter Z. But ZZ Top is a good act, has been around for a long time, and as I found out recently in Baltimore, they can still sell out a pretty large venue. You know the songs, particularly La Grange. And no, don’t call these guys rabbi, they are just dudes with really long beards from Texas.
Honorable Mentions: Warren Zevon – I always liked the late WZ. He hung out with a lot of 70s California popsters, but had an edge about him that was distinguishing. I think it was called “alcoholism.” Zombies – They had some great tunes back in the day.
Newbies Worth Checking Out: Again, I’m coming up dry on this one.
Disrespect: Nothing. Can you believe it?
And now, a special bonus: bands that start with numbers! I’m not going the “Arabic Numerals are for ________” this time. Instead, just “respect,” “newbies” and “disrespect.” Here we go:
Respect: 311 – I like these guys. They rock hard, have a distinctive sound, and I find myself listening to them every few months. 3 Doors Down – I like two things about this band: they are from the South and the song Kryptonite. 20/20 – I saw them live many moons ago. Love the song Nuclear Boy. In fact, the whole “Look Out!” album is good. 999 – Good early British punk by a band that’s pretty much forgotten in the US. 4 Out of 5 Doctors – One hit wonders with the song Waiting for the Change, but it’s a great one hit. 5th Dimension – Wedding Bell Blues is one of the all-time great “Bill” songs, and if you’re reading BillyRocksPhilly, you know that fact is important to me.
Newbies: The 1975 – Good background music while you’re doing something else.
Disrespect: 5 Seconds of Summer – About 4 seconds longer than I wish this band were played on radio. 10,000 Maniacs – great band name, but I never liked Natalie Merchant. Almost broke my arm moving too fast trying to change radio stations whenever they came on. 10cc – Remember these talentless slackers from your high school days? Bummer that I reminded you, right? 24-7 Spyz – I don’t care much for Living Colour, and these guys were the poor man’s Living Colour. Uh oh.
And that’s it! I’m done, but I’m sure I messed up somewhere. So let me know, give me hell, praise me, but just don’t ignore me. Tell your friends about the amazing A, B, C’s on BRP! I’ll be back with something else soon enough. Thanks for reading.
I was back at Union Transfer on Monday to see The Naked and Famous. TNAF is a New Zealand indie band that plays fully clothed and who aren’t really all that famous. They played about 1.5 hours, and did a decent job. Heavy on lights and electronica, they really aren’t the typical band that I would go see. But a buddy wanted to go, and if you don’t go with your friends to see their bands, why would they go with you to see yours?
I would imagine that everyone is familiar with the song Young Blood. It’s catchy and was all over the place a few years ago. Here’s the Youtube video – gotta love the skateboarding shots.
But other TNAF songs are also part of your mainstream existence even if you don’t recognize the band. Listen to All of This, Grow Old or Punching in a Dream and see if you don’t know this group.
The female lead singer, Alisa Xayalith, has a soaring and beautiful voice. She also plays the keyboards. They positioned her right up in front on the stage, and whenever she was playing the keys, I kept thinking of that kiddie cartoon Josie and the Pussycats. It just seemed apropos and funny to me. Nonetheless, she can really carry the tune.
Lead guitar is done by Thom Powers. He’s a pretty boy, decent on the six strings, and has a solid voice. I didn’t take to him, and I’m not sure why. Younger and better looking, perhaps? Nah, that can't be it.
The others in TNAF were all pushed to the background and played electronics, bass and drums. I’m not interested enough to even look up their names. But there are plenty of others who are interested – the crowd of young people were really into the band, and there were a lot of guys singing every word that Alisa was belting out. It was … sweet.
I think I won the AARP award for being the oldest person in the crowd, but this wasn’t a teenie-bopper show. Think a lot of college students and young millenials and that captures it. And for a Monday night, there was a good crowd at UT. All in all, it was fun, better than sitting on my brains at home, and hey, I got to go see live rock in a good venue. That's always a good day!
Below are some pictures - I was pretty close on the floor as I always fight for my loyal readers to bring them the best in rock 'n roll blogging. On the picture front, I’ve been trying to edit them to make them better, but sometimes the lighting and effects just make the pictures difficult to work with. And Apple, for all its innovation during the Steve Jobs years, has crappy cameras on their iPhones. I’m still envious of the Samsung crowd (well, maybe not the Galaxy 7 just yet, but you know what I mean). With them sour Apples out of the way, here are the photos:
I hope all is well in your world. And, yes, I really mean that! I don’t have any tickets purchased for other shows yet, but I have a bunch of them out there that I’m interested in seeing. Do the same, ok? Find a good band, go rock out, and have fun, fun, fun. I am, among other things, a doctor of jurisprudence, so: Doctor’s Orders! And I have some other non-reviews upcoming to entertain you. That’s a tall order because BRP readers are the most discerning and discriminating of all audiences. Check back soon for more, and in the meantime, hey ho, let’s go!
A Couple of Tunes, Just For YOU!
Hey teammates, want to hear some more wonderful songs? If so, why are you checking here, haha? Bad jokes are the thing at BRP, but this band, Tacocat, has a funny song about Dana Katherine Scully. You know, the fictional character from the X Files. It's fun and campy. In other words, it's perfect for BillyRocksPhilly. Here's the link:
One more, and then I have to go see The Naked and The Famous at UT tonight. This is from a Pittsburgh band called the Gotobeds. This particular track is called Affection. It's not their best song, but it's a fun video that I thought you might like. More on the Gotobeds another day. For now, ciao.
There is injustice in the world, of that there is no doubt. It is evident everywhere we look, including rock ‘n roll. Bands come and go, some of them gaining huge success, others working in near obscurity, and the talent gap isn’t always evident between the two. And then there are bands that simply inspire us. Despite the fact that they have critical acclaim, put out tremendous albums, become purveyors of amazing live shows, and gain a small but devoted following, they never break through to larger fame and fortune. Think Big Star or Graham Parker. It’s a pity. And yet, they keep plugging away and doing what they do simply because they love it. They know they are masters of their craft. They continue to toil away, happily blowing away their devoted fan base and keeping the hope alive. They aren’t chasing money. They are pursuing their dreams.
Philadelphia is an unlikely (and, perhaps unworthy) city to harbor two amazing rock bands that are simply live music powerhouses. And it’s even more unusual that these two bands play the same day, on the same bill, at the same venue. I’ve already told you about the best live rock band going right now, Low Cut Connie. They are AMAZING. But there is another band from Philly that has been churning out great albums and putting on mind-blowing live performances for almost two decades. That band is Marah. And both of these bands performed on Saturday at the Yards Brewery’s Brawlerfest. What a great day that was!
I’ve been a Marah fan since the Kids In Philly album came out in 2002. That album is a great homage to the gritty working class city of Philadelphia where two brothers, Serge and Dave Bielanko, grew up and eventually formed Marah. Since then, Marah has put out a number of great rock ‘n roll albums. There is no other way to describe these guys except as rock ‘n rollers. They play loud, with energetic abandon and good humor. Their music is ripping. They are drinking beer and smoking cigarettes on stage as they move about with abandon. In the crowd, your heart is pounding. Your head is banging. You are smiling and singing along. And all around you, the other devotees are also feeding on the raucous, brash music that the boys are playing. It’s all that is great about pure rock ‘n roll. The best description I have seen of their live shows is the following:
"Their performances are raucous, ramshackle, soulful, and utterly committed to the magical notion that rock is a vehicle for a higher power." - Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph
It doesn’t get much better than that. And Marah delivered on a glorious late Saturday afternoon with the skyline of Philly hovering behind the stage in the near distance.
So Philly turned out in droves to see its great rockers, Low Cut Connie and Marah, right? No. I mean HELL NO. There was a bigger line to get pictures taken with UFC lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez, then there were people around the stage for either band. It was ridiculous. I used to think that Philly was a great music town, but lately, I’m having second thoughts. Superb local bands putting out some of the best current music can’t sell out shows. And the city ignores these bands that live here and write songs of deference and tribute to their town. WTF?
Let’s chalk it up to ignorance, ok? And let’s vow to right this wrong.
Here are some pictures of Marah giving it their all on Saturday. One picture is of Serge down in the crowd walking around and singing with his mic chord being lifted over heads by members of the audience. It’s a crappy image, but a cool reality. And the dude with the bagpipes was badass; he also played the Irish whistle during one song. He only accompanied the band for a couple of tunes, but it was fun and different.
So be cool, buy some LCC or Marah albums, and come back to me and say, you know, Bill, you were right, these guys are great. And the next time I ping some of you and say, hey, let’s go check out LCC or Marah at this or that local venue, join me. We’ll go worship at the church of rock ‘n roll and come out refreshed, reenergized, and believing in the higher power of this amazing form of American music. Rock on and thanks for reading.
It’s time yet again to shine some sunlight on some excellent bands that I have discovered. I know that I haven’t done this for a while, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some deserving acts out there. So with a big BRP shout out, here are some artists that you should know, and a youtube track for each of them so that you can check them out, too. Let’s start with:
I love Americana music. When I say that, I’m thinking bluegrass, country, blues and the mixed up versions of each that a lot of artists play. Do you like the banjo? Hey, I’m from Virginia, and find that music fun and great. I also have some Irish blood in me, and we all know that American roots music has some traces back to that wet and green island. Anyway, I think that my man in Maine, Jeff, turned me on to Alison Brown, who is a banjo maestro. I play Alison’s music when I’m in a mood to hear stuff that isn’t played much on indie and alternative stations, or when I’m feeling nostalgic for the Old Dominion, the Blue Ridge, and Blacksburg. Alison is wonderful, and I think you’ll like her music, too. Here’s a little biopic with some great playing and some interview material, too.
The New Pornographers
Great name, huh? Ugh, it’s so bad it almost makes you not want to even give them a try. But that would be stupid because this Canadian band has a unique and accessible sound with wonderful songs that will earworm their way into your head (but in a good way). NP has been around for quite a while, and has significant following and collection of recorded music. But they don’t have a huge amount of commercial success – you might hear them on XPN, but not many other places. That’s too bad because they are really good, and they have a great live show, too, which I caught in 2015 at UT. And they have Neko Case – she has a great voice, unique with a really wide range. Here’s a great track called Mass Romantic. Enjoy!
Want to rock a little harder? I know the feeling. How about a duo that mixes classic rock influences with punk? Japandroids have been around for a while, and have achieved a fair amount of critical success. Spin magazine named them band of the year in 2012. Still, they are not exactly a household name. I like a lot of their music, and I absolutely love the song “Evil’s Sway.” I love it so much that it has added to my tinnitus. I can’t help it: I love loud music when I’m driving and that song just has to be played at volume. You are forewarned. Here’s a link to the tune:
American Sound Limited
New? No, ancient. But this song, called Aunt Marie, is just so cool that I couldn’t help but turn you on to it. I don’t know why all of us don’t know this song as it clearly should have been a massive hit. The oddities of the music industry always amaze me. Regardless, enjoy the cut, it’s fantastic.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
What a name for a band! How can you not give it a listen? Its indie pop/rock that’s been around for a while, but the band really seems to be coming into its own with its latest LP called The High Country. Here is the official music video to the track “Step Brother City,” and its pure pop heaven:
Is that good for now? A lot of different sounding bands in there, and you ought to be able to find something to latch onto. If not, I’ll try harder next time, and I promise that next time is coming soon. Look soon for a review of Philly’s own Marah, a tremendous band that has tragically not a massive success in this country. I saw them in Philly last Saturday and they rocked. And of course, I still have X, Y and Z to do for my rock ‘n roll countdown. I was chastised for not including the Stone Roses in the S category, but that was undeserved. I think that their first album is great but their second album is the bollocks. I stopped listening then. So I didn’t include them. Mistake? Maybe I should revisit? Nah, I was right.
Until next time, my friends.
When I was recently posting about the Mexican Revolution art show now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I had a musical link that I thought would be perfect. It's a great song by Mariachi El Bronx called Revolution Girl. It was spot on: obviously thematic with its "revolution" theme (even thought it's a different kind of revolution that the song is about) and uses the traditional Mexican musical art form of mariachi. So it had it all. And then I forgot to link it or discuss it at all. Sorry, guys, but sometimes I'm just a dope.
Anyway, I love mariachi. It's romantic (and I'm a huge romantic), it has a great musical vibe, and the musicians dress up in very cool outfits. I don't find it cheesy at all; rather, I find it unique folk music that is authentic and expressive. It's chido! And this particular track is sung in English, and is a great catchy song. So grab a Pacifico and enjoy the youtube link below to the song - it's sort of low-fi, sorry.
I promise to do better next time if you promise to continue to spread the good word about BRP, and to join me when I venture out on the town to rock out. Adios, babies.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.