Hey! Yeah, you! Get over here.
Remember a bit ago I posted about bands that I wished I had seen but hadn’t had the good fortune to do so? I did volume 1 of that post a while ago, and it was, well let’s face it: it was brilliant. Now, after months of you sitting on the edge of your seat for the next installment (I admit, that must have been uncomfortable and I apologize) I’m finally back with volume 2. And it’s killer.
As a reminder, here are the rules for this post: (a) Any band/artist is allowed, including ones that are dead or who have said they will never tour again. BRP is nothing if not Lazarus-like in this regard. (b) I’m sticking to the rock genre. If you want to say “what about Mozart? What about Sinatra?” you can do so, but I’m not listing them because they aren’t rockers. (c) If they are obvious and are not listed, I probably saw them. You can still comment on my selections and my dumb ass picks, but recognize that I’m old and have been to hundreds of shows, so just by living a lengthy life, I’ve seen a lot of bands. Choose your comments, wisely, young grasshopper. (d) I’ll give a reason why I want/don’t want to see each artist, and you can bitch all you want about my reason. But back it up, baby, because I’ll go right back at ya! (e) I’m a bad boy, a sometime rule follower, and rules are made to be broken, so I might violate my own rules and do whatever I want. So maybe I’ll put Robert Johnson or Earl Scruggs in there anyway just because I want to. You’ll just have to come back and see if I did so. (f) I’ll only do ten artists at a time.
Ready? Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. No, strike that. This post is going to be GREAT! Put in the mouthguard, snap the chinstrap to the helmet, and pretend that you’re coming out of the dark tunnel onto the field of a packed Rose Bowl, ok? That’s much better. Here goes:
Elvis Presley. I was just going to say “Elvis,” but quickly remembered that another Elvis has had a four decade career at this point (and I’ve seen Costello a bunch of times). I never got to see the King. I would have gone to any show: black-leather-hip-swaying-early-days to white-jump-suit-belly-busting-end-of-the-road-days. I hate to use the word “icon” too much because most people simply don’t qualify, but Elvis is an ICON. The list of hits is longer than the time it took to get an internet connection using dial-up. And his hits were hugely influential. But Elvis also had style and performance chops down pat. Col. Tom Parker may have been an exploitative Beelzebub, but he always made sure that Elvis had top-flight backup musicians. Yeah, it would have been great to see the King.
XTC. Sure, it’s a big leap from seeing Elvis, perhaps the most famous figure in rock history, to XTC, an, ahem, more obscure new wave band out of England. But it’s my list, and I really like XTC. And I never got to see them play live. Andy Partridge had his valium thrown down a toilet by some woman in LA, lost his shit for a long time, and subsequently developed a massive and unshakeable case of stage fright. Most of their touring prior to that seminal event took place in Britain. They were just getting ready to launch a huge tour of the US to support English Settlement when the wheels came off. And thus, I never got the opportunity to see them play live. Now, the flipside of this is that they hunkered down in the studio and created music that they have admitted they would not be able to be faithfully reproduce live. And that music is my favorite XTC music. But wouldn’t it have been nice for Andy to have developed stage fright AFTER the big US tour, and then go make all that great music in the studio? Life just isn’t fair.
The Smiths. One of my college buddies with sophisticated musical tastes (that means he liked the same music as me) hated the Smiths. And that’s understandable. Despite some fantastic pop-laden guitar-driven new wave rock, there was Morrissey singing some of the most silly and depressing songs ever. And he did it in a kind of whiny voice. “Heaven knows I’m miserable now?” Seriously? But still. Johnny Marr had a way with the guitar that was just bonkers, and some of those songs were great and have stood the test of time. I’ve seen Marr live, and he plays a fair number of Smiths songs. He’s really good, but he ain’t Morrissey. I had tickets to see Morrissey, but his prissy and temperamental ass didn’t show up. The combination of Morrissey and Marr must have been mesmerizing and I missed it. Ouch! I just kicked myself. Well, that just goes to show you that you need to take advantage of opportunities that exist because moments in time will not last.
David Bowie. I’m going to admit that I was always a bit behind David Bowie. When I finally got into, say, Ziggy Stardust, he had moved on to the Thin White Duke or something. That kind of killed my enthusiasm when he toured – I wanted to see the Ziggy tour, dammit! I’m not one of those people who think that Bowie was so head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries that no matter what he put out, it was bought, put on my turntable and listened to until the grooves popped and hissed. No sir. I like Bowie, but I don’t love Bowie, sort of like my relationship with the Doors. Still, his shows must have been theatrical and musical powerhouses. I shoulda gone. I didn’t. He’s dead. No more opportunities. BRP = Idiot!
Iggy. Unlike Elvis, I don’t have to throw in the last name. If James Brown is the Godfather of Soul, Iggy is the Godfather of Punk. Most punk bands trace the lineage of that branch of the rock tree back to Detroit, Michigan. Iggy and the Stooges were punk before the term existed. And watch some video of this guy in his prime! Oh my, that was groundbreaking stuff. The music cranked, Iggy was possessed and crazy, and the crowd loved it. He now lives in Miami (smart dude, particularly if you’re from Detroit), and there is no way he could reproduce his youthful craziness even if he wanted to do so. I missed it. Thankfully, there are recordings and video, and those fire me up. But if I get fired up by that, what must those shows have been like? Whoo boy!
KC and the Sunshine Band. Heresy! Disco? Yup, he says quietly. If you know me, you know I’m a punk rocker at heart with plenty of power pop thrown in for good measure. But hey, I was also born with pretty good dance chops for a suburban white dude – pfffftt, yeah right. If there was ever music that made you want to groove and do the bump, it was KC. I dare you to get into a car, put on their greatest hits, and avoid not looking like a fool as you bop and swing to the tunes. Yes, the lyrics are silly, even stupid and vapid. So what? The songs make me want to dance and they’re super catchy. Now, one thing about KC is that they still perform live. And I’m hoping to take this off the list of bands I wished I had seen. I’m just hoping that their live performances are a huge dance-a-thon like I’ve envisioned. If so, I’ll be in hog heaven.
The Byrds. Jangly guitar with great harmonies. Songs that make you want to take flight. Even some country riffs thrown in for good measure. The Byrds are a band that most people don’t discuss when they’re talking about great bands from the 60s. That’s because most people are fools. The Byrds were HUGE and their musical output was fabulous. Bands like, oh, the Beatles, were influenced by them. And they left behind a deep catalog of great tunes that would have guaranteed a good time.
The Velvet Underground. Did you say influential? No, that was me. The VU took rock into a whole new place of experimentation. I’m not going to say that I think Lou Reed was a great lyricist – he wasn’t – but he had a great voice, created a sound that was mesmerizing, and, hey, I just finished saying that I want to see KC and the Sunshine Band whose lyrics are simply stupid. VU is one of those bands that could only come out of New York, sort of like the next band on this list, but they were listened to all over the country and helped to make rock more interesting and wide-ranging than 2 minutes, 30 seconds of “yeah, yeah, yeah.” I don’t know what they would have been like to see live, but for sure it would have been interesting.
The New York Dolls. Johnny Thunders! Sylvain Sylvain! David Johansen! If you put on the Dolls first album, it’s hard to believe that it didn’t come out last year. It still sounds contemporary, and man, is it in your face. It rocks with great songs like Personality Crisis and Trash. Plus, the Dolls went for outrageous, dressing up in drag for their performances. The crowd they attracted had to have been diverse and eclectic, and the music would have generated some outrageousness. Sigh. I missed it. I’ve seen Syl and David Jo, but you know, that’s not the same. But it’s better than nothing, right? Right.
KISS. So this is a weird one. It’s still possible to see Kiss. In fact, I think they’re touring this summer. And if given the opportunity, I would go. But I wanted to see them back in the day, when they were just getting going, playing hard rock like Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night, Detroit Rock City and Christine. All that make-up and theatrical production. To see it before anyone else really did the same thing or imitated it or borrowed from it. Yeah, that would have been a good time.
What do you think? Not bad for volume 2. But wait, don’t walk away just yet. In order to spice this one up a bit, I’m going to drop a few more bands – but these are ones that I’m glad that I never saw. Yes, despite my love of live music, there are those bands that exist and for which I would rather sit on the couch eating ice cream while watching Househunters on HGTV. Unfortunately, I have had to sit through some crappy shows before, so the list is not as long as I would like it to be. Nonetheless, here are a few bands that I’m glad that I never saw:
Pink Floyd. Bombastic music played by men with massive egos to the masses. It’s more like a rally for Big Brother in 1984 than any rock show that I want to see. Played in stadiums with stupid and trite songs and staging that required a caravan of 18 wheelers so large that it makes the Spanish Armada seem small in comparison. People in far flung places like Buenos Aires flock to see PF because, well, they were a “big time” band that had enough money to ship all that crap to Argentina to fleece that isolated populace. I never liked PF, never thought they were one of the best bands ever, and I can happily say that I’ve turned down numerous opportunities to see them.
Billy Joel. Nope, not ever gonna go to Citizens Bank Park and sing along to Big Shot. BJ is an overrated, goofy looking hack from New York, but he missed being influenced by bands like the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls and the like. I’m not a fan, and it makes my stomach groan when I go to the WFC and they have a banner up there saying how many sold out shows he has played in Philly. I get it for Springsteen, a true giant in US rock history, but Joel? Get me a barf bag, Piano Man just got piped in to the Muzak channel.
The Grateful Dead. I actually kind of like some Dead albums. I like alt-country, and they have some good songs that would fall into that bucket now. But I think songs that go on for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes of jamming are BORING, I never really went in for the hippie stuff, and I don’t really like many of the people that wax nostalgic for following around the band from town to town without taking a shower for days. I’ve seen Phish, and the crowd was made up of somewhat sad loners and losers looking for a community that they could call home if they all did drugs together, and it struck me as sad and pathetic. That’s exactly how I feel about Dead Heads. Sorry, there it is, deal with it.
My plane is about to land and I need to call it quits, but I’ve got at least one more post on this subject in me. I’ll get to it and you’ll be happy I did. Or maybe you’ll think “BRP is stupid, opinionated and just plain wrong – Billy Joel is AMAZING.” Haha, good for you. My dad used to always say that a fool and his money are soon parted, and people who pay big money to see Billy Joel are real-life examples of this cliché.
With that, my good friends, I’ll leave you for now. But I’ll be back. In fact, quite soon. You’ll need to check back often to see what other outrageous things are going on here, if for no other reason than to feel superior to me in your knowledge that Billy Joel is a GOD. But guess what? GOD spelled backwards is DOG. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Have a good day, think happy thoughts, get up off the couch and live your life, and remember that DOG is watching over you.
It's Mother's Day and I want to wish a big happy one to all the moms who are reading this. Yes, both of you! Hahaha, I hope there are more than that, but regardless, you have the toughest and most rewarding job on the planet. Congratulations to you for a job well done. Please remember that, whenever things get tough with the kids, that it could have been much, much worse.
You could have been my mom!
Now there are a ton of songs with the word "mother" or "mama" in them. And there are some big time performers with songs like Mama Told Me Not to Come, Your Mama Don't Dance and Mother and Child Reunion. But I'm not going to put any Three Dog Night, Loggins and Messina or Paul Simon on this list. Why? I don't know, I just don't feel like listening to them or watching the videos. I'm going with some other tracks that I hope you'll enjoy. And maybe I can get you to comment on my idiocy or my brilliance for leaving these songs off the list. Thoughts? Bring 'em!
Here's a couple of tracks to help celebrate our mom's. They deserve it. First up, the greatest rock band of all time, the Beatles with Your Mother Should Know. I don't quite get this song. My mother ALWAYS seemed to know. Well, about some things anyway. It's always a good post when you start with the Beatles, and so this qualifies as a good post, right? Right!
You already know that Bruce Springsteen has big daddy issues, but he is also a mama's boy. Most of us are, by the way, well, if you're a boy. He wrote a sweet song about his mom that was an outtake from the Tunnel of Love album. That song, The Wish, has some really heartfelt lyrics, like the following: "And if it's a funny old world, mama, where a little boy's wishes come true, well I got a few in my pocket and a special one just for you." Awwww, isn't that nice?
Taylor Swift is a big mama's girl. And with her song The Best Day she pays tribute to dear old mom. I always liked the way Taylor poured her heart out with touching songs that were very personal in nature. This one is a great example. And those home movies are lovely and make me remember my own kids when they were little. I miss those days, but I'm so glad that I had them.
Jeez, that was a tear jerker. How about appreciating mom's struggles? How about some wicked guitar? How about Lucifer's own band putting out a song to mom that is a bit different than Bruce's and Taylor's moving songs. Here are the Rolling Stones with Mother's Little Helper.
That helped me. I always prefer the darker side of life in my songs. The American Stones, also known as Aerosmith, had a song called Mama Kin that I used to play at full volume. I did that in the car, in my house, and wherever I otherwise found myself. I"m not sure that it has anything to do with motherhood other than the fact that it has the word Mama in its title, but it sure does rock. And without further ado:
Metallica and mothers are two words not generally linked in the same sentence. I did celebrate mother's day one time by going to a Metallica concert, but that's a different story. James Hetfield lost his mom when he was a teenager, and he wrote a very un-Metallica like song called Mama Said that is a tribute to her. In fact, it's a country song. What the hey?
As you know, I'm a big Thin Lizzy fan. Phil Lynott's mother was named Philomena, and this eponymous track has some big time loving words for Phil's mom. Here's a sample:
And if you see my mother
Tell her I’m keeping fine
Will you tell her that I love her
And I’ll try and write sometime
Phil's mom found him unconscious due to his heroin dependency. He never regained consciousness. He was only 36. Damn, that's hard for mom.
That was heavy. It's time to lighten this up and give Mom some loving. Fountains of Wayne did just that with a song about someone else's mother. Stacy's Mom is a pop masterpiece. And it's a weird end to my Mother's Day tribute. But it rocks, it's about loving a mom, and hey, it's just so rock 'n' roll to go where you shouldn't go! That suits me just fine.
Happy Mother's Day! See you soon.
Howdy do, folks. I was in Philly all week and used the opportunity to catch up on some shows. Monday night it was Steve Earle at the Ardmore Music Hall. Steve has been around for ages, but I've never seen him live. It was nice that he decided to come on out to the Main Line and bring The Dukes with him. I love it when musicians make it easy for me!
(Hey, before I get to more on Steve-O, I wanted to remind everyone in the Philly area that Wayne's FREE music festival is coming up the first full weekend in June. The Wailers are playing, but even better, Marah! I love Marah, the home-town kids made good, and they always put on a great show - loose, great tunes, fine musicianship, and lots of kitsch (like a bagpiper or go-go girls). It's always fun.)
(Can I do one more diversion? Thanks, that's awfully kind of you. I just read that the venerable Trocadero is closing down. This old theater in Philly's Chinatown is a good venue, and I've seen some great shows there. But it's run down and having a hard time competing with all the new venues in town. Maybe someone will pony up the dough and do a makeover ala the Met. That would be nice. If you're reading this and have about $40 million to spare, do us all a favor, ok? Much appreciated.)
Back to Steve Earle. Steve is from San Antonio, and has been a player in the music industry since about 1982. Known for his combination of rock, country and roots, he is probably best labeled as alt-country or outlaw country. Whatever, right? He has some great albums out, and some killer tracks that I always wanted to see live. The Kid was psyched.
I went to the show with my buddy Deane-O, who I hadn't hung out with in ages. He wanted to go to Tired Hands for the pre-game, and I went along because that's the kind of guy I am. I did the burger for safety, and then we strolled across the street to AMH. About 2/3 through the show, that burger caught up with me, and for the first time in ages, I felt seriously nauseous. It was so bad that I eventually had to leave the venue for a breather, and that was just about the time the show was coming close to ending. Thus, I missed a couple of tunes.
But not to worry, as I did get most of the show in, and I got some great pictures. Steve-O isn't one to move about the stage very much, but he did play a number of different guitars (including the world's tiniest one) and his band also mixed and matched their instruments. Earle does do a fair amount of talking during his shows, and Monday was no exception. He talked a lot about Guy Clark, his musical mentor, and most of the show was devoted to either Clark songs that Earle covered, or vice-versa.
Earle has lead an interesting life, with heavy drug use, seven marriages (seriously, is that the triumph of hope over experience or what?), and outspoken political positions on matters like the death penalty. He has 16 albums out, and has played with a bunch of other big-name musicians. He has a lot to say, and a deep catalog from which to choose. The songs that I wanted to hear most, like Guitar Town, Copperhead Road and Galway Girl, were all played and done well. But the show was a bit too heavy on the Guy Clark covers for my tastes.
The Dukes are a competent backup band, and the pedal steel and accordian are always favorites of BRP. I have to say that the lead guitarist looks like Dana Carvey playing Garth in the Wayne's World movies, especially when he is singing, but I didn't get a great picture of that. I did get one of Earle where he resembles Santa. We'll have to be satisfied with that, I guess. See below.
There were some problems with the equipment, making the stand-up bass unplayable during one song, and resulting in Earle bitching at his roadie during another. So be it. It sounded good in the Hall, and the crowd was digging it. Being the Main Line, it was a well-heeled and respectful audience, and frankly I was surprised to see the amount of alcohol being consumed on a Monday night. I guess there were some retirees there, and what do they care? Tuesday is just another day off for them.
The best news is that I didn't spew (but if I had, it was good to know that Garth was there with that little paper cup), and I got home at a reasonable hour. Tonight, however, I'm venturing down to Underground Arts to see the Meat Puppets, and it's likely to be a wee bit later when I finally get to bed. That's ok because tomorrow is Saturday, the best day of the week. I hope you have a great weekend, and enjoy the gray spring weather - can someone tell me when Philly was moved to Seattle? Enjoy some rock and party down. Ciao.
Ever been to Texas? I haven't been for weeks now. Texans love Texas as you can see from this lazy river pool at a hotel in Houston. Yes, that it is the outline of the great state of Texas enshrined in concrete and filled with water and chlorine.
I used to really admire Texas - I thought of it as a can-do place where the populace was into picking themselves up by their bootstraps. Self reliance at its finest, and people not looking for a handout. Recently, I have found that that is not true for a chunk of the population. I hate it when that happens.
The other thing I liked about Texas was how quirky it was. That definitely remains true. I was driving from Ft. Worth to San Angelo in West Texas recently. I needed to get a drink, and stopped at a roadside gas station with a convenience store inside. I walked in, took a look around, and then went immediately back to the car to grab my camera. Why? Take a look.
What convenience store has an entire section devoted to crosses of the type shown above? And who buys them? That cross is fascinating. Why put guns on a cross? I have no idea except that something like that will sell in Texas. Don't believe me? Check this one out:
You should see how nice that baby looks in my house. It was difficult to figure out which one to buy given the massive selection. Remember, this is a typical convenience store, with very limited shelf space. And this section was right up front, the area of the store with the most marketing impact.
I have nothing against religion or Christianity. But I don't recall ever seeing a store like this in Pennsylvania. One of the great things about it was that it was run by a couple of Middle Eastern guys - I'm not lying. The one I talked to was named George. Haha, sure, that's his real name, but hey, it was on his name tag. Oh, and if you turned around in that aisle with all the crosses and looked at the other side, there was a good display of gun statuary, including this lovely piece, which is also on display in the finest museums in Europe:
I need someone else to explain how these things can co-exist. I'm usually pretty glib, but I just don't have enough words in my vocabulary to properly describe that scene properly. Before I finally exited this store, I came across some bumper stickers and other items with slogans on them that I thought you might find interesting.
I missed the one that said "we don't use 911, we use .357" But I did score a good Diet Coke and also picked up some deodorant that I had forgotten back in Philly. That store truly had it all.
It's an interesting world down there in Texas, that's for sure. I will say that we had a beautiful drive for a few hours. It's green, rolling, with cattle and lots of open space, lush grassland, and wildflowers galore. And lots and lots of pickup trucks, almost all of which have been decorated with after-market accessories.
Oh, and bar-b-que. I love brisket and man, was this ever a good meal all washed down with an IBC root beer. YUM!
Texas isn't the only unique place south of the Mason-Dixon line. Florida also has some cool stuff. And good BBQ, like Tom Jenkins in Davie and Fat Boyz in Deerfield Beach. And nothing tops this souped-up electric wheelchair:
I'll bet that baby flies on I-95.
And how about this sign? Can you read it? If not, I'll blow it up below, but first check out the curb in front of the car, the grass, the curb on the other side, and the tree.
Here's the blowup of that sign:
Haha, they don't put that sign up UNLESS someone actually DID drive through that median, right? The nice thing about the blowup of that sign is that the reason for driving through the median is also self-evident: Kentucky Fried Chicken! Yes, it will make you take all kinds of chances in order to get your hands on those 11 herbs and spices that make that chicken so darn tasty. Then again, if you've ever been to Florida, you know that the BEST fried chicken actually comes from Publix Super Markets. Oh man, is that stuff spicy and tasty! No b.s. here. Try it and tell me I'm wrong. I"m hooked.
That's it for this little photo montage. God, guns, and food, how can you go wrong? What a country we live in! I truly love the U.S.
I'll be back soon with so much more it will make your head explode like that dude in the movie Scanners. Later gators.
Quick, go get a barf bag. Good you're back - are you ready? OK, now breathe deeply a few times, close your eyes, and get centered. This punker/power popper is about to give you the Big Reveal on his latest concert. Here we go.
I know, right? What the hell? Did you fill the barf bag?
How did BRP end up at Cher? It's a bit of a story. I send out a quarterly email to my concert buddies with a list of shows that I'm thinking about attending. As a sort-of joke, one of the last ones included Cher. I said that, while I knew she had been dead for the last 5 years, I was still interested in going if anyone else was. Of course, my friends have taste, and no one bit. Until the week of the show. Then, I got a call from a friend who couldn't attend himself, but who had some tickets that he would give to me gratis. I took him up on it, and voila! I went to see Cher.
I could say a lot about Cher, her history, and the what not, but I won't - her history is long and well documented elsewhere. I do admire her as she is 73 years old and still out working and shilling for the bucks. And she sold out the WFC, which is a big arena and not easy for anyone to sell out these days. She did a pretty long monologue during part of the show, and told of harder times where she needed the money. It included a significant diss of David Letterman ("I always thought he was a bit of an asshole"), and was revealing in other ways. Cher is what she is, and I appreciated her honesty and feistiness.
Cher still looks like, well, Cher. She admits to having a bunch of surgeries to keep herself looking that way. The show had a bunch of costume changes and huge, elaborate sets, and it couldn't have been easy for her to run through that performance at her age. The show is more like a Broadway performance than it is a concert. Cher is a singer and an actress (an Academy Award winning actress), and her show does a combination of the two. She is using all of her talents, for sure.
Let's get with the show a bit more. Cher came out in some pseudo-Roman costume with a ton of dancers and background singers. Later, she rode in on an animatronic elephant, with a ton of dancers and background singers. There was a Buddhist-inspired theme for a song or two, complete with a ton of dancers and background singers. Trapeze/acrobatic background performers on another song.
And then she did some Chelvis stuff (an Elvis cover of Heartbreak Hotel) and a Memphis inspired tune. Oh, and there were the three ABBA covers in the middle of the show (ABBA? Ugh, yes, it included Waterloo). And there was a tribute to the Sonny and Cher days with I Got You Babe and The Beat Goes On. That was a little creepy because she sang the duets with a video of Sonny - think Natalie Cole doing the duet with her late father, Nat King Cole and you get the drift. And she finished with her big hits, If I Could Turn Back Time and Believe. Here is the setlist:
There was a lot of staging, a six piece band (and the lead guitarist came out at one point and did a big solo which I thought sucked), and many many singers, dancers, etc. If you think Broadway musical, you sort have an idea. It was definitely a show, not a concert per se. Oh, and Cher does not dance. This is not like seeing Tina Turner or someone like her. Cher didn't move around that much, and when she did, she basically walked to one side of the stage to sing and bask in the adulation.
The fans were fun. There was a couple dressed like Sonny and Cher circa the 60s, and there were a lot of middle aged women and men who were really into it. It was an entertaining evening. It's not exactly the show I would normally go and see, but anyone who has been at it as long as Cher and can still pack the place to its rafters and entertain you for 2 hours is doing something right.
However, I do have a quibble. Maybe it's political correctness, but for whatever reason, Cher did not play two big hit songs from my youth: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and Halfbreed. How could she neglect them? Those songs are hilarious, and I was singing them loudly going into the show. I was bummed that she bowed at the alter of political correctness and left them on the scrap heap.
I wouldn't have the story of the Cher complete with telling you about the opener. Nile Rodgers and Chic. This guy wrote some HUGE songs: Le Freak, We Are Family, Everybody Dance, Upside Down, Get Lucky, Let's Dance and Good Times. He and Chic were pretty entertaining and it was a great start to the night. I won't say that I like all of these songs, but I will say that I knew them all, and yes, I even danced to a couple of them. He told a story of getting cancer, deciding to fight it like the devil and be super productive in the meantime, and then beating the cancer and going on with his life. Inspirational? Yup. Bigtime respect for Nile.
Onward and upward. I'll be back with a review of the Steve Earle show at AMH and yet another live review. Yes, I haven't forgotten about my photo montage of Texas (and I even have a couple of Floriduh pictures to throw in, too). And more! C'mon back when you get bored with your day-to-day because it's always fun and playful here at BRP. See you soon, rockers.
I'm sorry, I haven't posted in weeks, and that's just not right. My life has been nutty - I was in Texas and Florida, and The Man has continued to mess with me. Excuses? You bet. But good ones.
I have some great stuff to post, and will do so this week, I promise. I do the BIG REVEAL of the major concert that I attended, and I also saw Steve Earle at Ardmore Music Hall. Another show is coming up on Friday, too. And I have yet another screed about bands that I wished I had had the good fortune to see live, but didn't. It's killer, trust me. Of course, I couldn't go to Texas without coming back with some unique stuff from the Lone Star State, and I'll pop that up, too. Check back soon and let BRP blow your mind!
In the meantime, here's a couple of choice songs to keep the wolves at bay. Let's start with Foster the People. I know that they are mega-popular, and you hear their music all over creation. But they are one of those mega-popular bands that actually deserve such acclaim. Here's Ride or Die, a fantastic tune played with The Knocks:
Can we completely switch gears and give a guy some props that are long overdue on BRP? Thanks, let's do it. Dave Edmunds is a HUMONGOUS talent, and some of his songs are just so choice. You know some of them, like I Hear You Knocking, but how about this rocker? Get Out of Denver, indeed!
How about some funk? I love funk! This song, a popular one back in the day, sets a high bar for other bands to try and capture the flag. Tell Me Something Good is a plea for something that we can all understand, right? Rufus and Chaka Khan just BROUGHT IT with this tune!
One more and then I've got to scoot. Johnny Cash was a true outlaw country star with mass appeal. I like a ton of Cash songs. I was listening to him while driving through West Texas and it just fit the terrain. This is one of my favorites, Man in Black. Read the comments below the YouTube video - they are spot on.
With that, the kid is off to do other things, but just for a bit. You hang tight, and I'll be back with a ton of great stuff. Hey, one last comment. You know how some sayings just seem to get traction all at once and suddenly you hear them everywhere? Right now, I keep hearing "he punches above his weight." It's ubiquitous. I like the saying, but when it starts popping up out of the mouths of complete corporate tools, it quickly loses its appeal for me. Consider it banished from BRP ... at least for now. Check you later, rockers!
Can you believe that it's Easter already? We survived the winter! I went looking for some Easter songs to jam through the weekend, but it's not like rock bands are writing a lot of Easter tunes. We're going to have to s-t-r-e-t-c-h things a bit, but you're jiggy with that, right? I know you are - I can feel the vibes through the keyboard.
Let's start with the Jefferson Airplane. Huh? They aren't Christian rock, right? Nope, but they did do a great song called White Rabbit and that works for me. Here you go, rockers:
As regular readers know, the first live concert that I saw was Loggins and Messina. Number two was a week later: the Doobie Brothers. How does a band named after a spliff end up writing a song called Jesus Is Just All Right? Don't answer that. Anyway, it was a hit for the band, and here it is in all its glory. By the way, it was way cooler with tons of dry ice "smoke" swirling around their feet.
No spiritual rock set list would be complete without a track called Spirit in the Sky. Norman Greenbaum, as Christian a name as you will ever find, did this terrific song. Fuzzed out guitar! Hand claps! Trippy vibe! I've danced to it and I hope you will, too.
I love Chicago. I love New Orleans. Apparently, Jesus does, too, at least according to ZZ Top. Jesus Just Left Chicago has a great blues beat. And the lyrics are funny - turning Muddy Waters to wine in Mississippi, hahaha. Love it.
I almost forgot my Jewish friends. I really couldn't find a good Passover rock songs, but I did find this parody of Uptown Funk that is pretty clever and funky. I was raised Catholic so I don't get all of the cultural references, but I do get the Man, oh Manishevitz wine joke.
I'm not a very good Christian. Nor am I very good at any other religion for that matter. In fact, the most appropriate Easter song for BRP is probably the anti-redemption anthem by AC/DC: Highway to Hell. I love this live version - look at that audience! If you've never seen these guys, I'm so sorry for you, but if you have, you know the lit up devil horns thing. If AC/DC is not the perfect rock band, I don't know who is.
Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Road to Hell!
The Ardmore Music Hall is on a tear! Upcoming acts include Steve Earle, the Jayhawks, and Jimmie Vaughan. But last night, it was Nick Lowe's turn to grace the small stage in Ardmore. And can I tell you, it was one great show.
Nick Lowe is 70 years old. He has played with the Brinsley Schwarz band (Brinsley was later lead guitarist with The Rumour), Rockpile, and has had a lengthy solo career. Lowe and fellow Rockpile bandmate Dave Edmunds made a ton of great music together. His output is prodigious given the length of his career, but he's also had a huge impact on rock in general through his production activities with artists like the Damned, the Pretenders, John Hiatt, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Wreckless Eric, Johnny Cash (Lowe was married to Cash's daughter, Carlene Carter, for a while), and the Mavericks. He was one of the original artists on the famous Stiff Label, which featured one of the best taglines in the history of rock 'n' roll - google it.
I've seen Lowe a few times previously, including with Dave Edmunds. I saw him solo at the defunct Border's Books in Rosemont. I brought my son, who was probably about 10 at the time, and Lowe singled him out after the show and had a nice chat with him. I liked Nick before that, of course, but after that encounter, well, he will always be thought of fondly in my house [unlike former Celtics great, Bill Russell, who I met as a kid and who refused to give me an autograph even though he and I were the only ones around - jerk!].
I needed the outlet because work has been almost unbearable lately. It was good to get out of the house and do something that I love to do, and it helped. What really helped was the show itself. Wow!
Nick brought along Los Straitjackets as his backup band. If you've never seen LS, they are a surf-rock band who play in Mexican wrestling masks. Viva Los Straitjackets! Primarily playing instrumentals, they are fun to see live. Lowe came out and performed with LS, then took a breather while LS played about 4 songs by themselves, and then Nick came back and finished the show with them. Well, almost the rest of the show. Nick did perform one final acoustic encore song, Elvis Costello's Alison, which was beautiful and touching. A fantastic way to end the show.
When you've been around as long as Nick Lowe, you've written a lot of songs and you've got a lot to choose from come showtime. Nick came out and performed So It Goes and immediately got the crowd into it. Between songs, he said that they would be performing some old songs, some new ones (he cleverly said, yeah, he's been in an audience before and knows that nothing sucks the life out of a show more than the words "and now we'll play something from the new album," but he said that his new stuff pretty much sounded like his old music, and that made everyone laugh), and some deep cuts for those that were way into it. He did just that, and the new song that he played, Tokyo Bay, was a fantastic rockabilly number that was instantly likeable. The crowd loved it.
I need to tell you about this crowd. We got there about 7:45 for an 8 pm show. There was a forgettable singer-songwriter opening, so Nick wasn't going to come on stage until 8:45 to 9. But the place was already packed! I looked around and thought, hey, most of these people are about 10 years older than me. And that reminded me of something my brother told me years ago when he lived in Florida: you can't out-early the old. Proof positive at AMH this past week!
Back to the show. Lowe gave great renditions of Cruel to be Kind, I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll) - which is a huge favorite in my house - Half a Boy and Half a Man, and (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding. And Los Straitjackets did a fantastic instrumental version of I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, and Lowe came out at the end and dropped in the final lyrics. He even played some old Rockpile songs.
One of the great things about AMH is that it's about 10 minutes from my house. I got free parking, but it was a challenge because all of those geezers showed up after the early bird special dinner. I was home so quickly that it was almost hard to believe I had been out to a show - until the next morning, of course. It was a super satisfactory night during a super grind of a week, and it helped me to get through. Yup, I'm a big believer in the power of live music.
Next up, well, I think I've got something that will BLOW YOUR MIND. I'll find out tomorrow if I scored the tickets or not, but you'll be shocked! shocked! once I tell you who it is. For now, just think about what ridiculous show is coming to Philly and see if it ultimately matches up with reality. I'll be back soon and I hope you will be, too.
Welcome back to insanity! I'm glad that you keep coming around even when I'm slow and sorry. I'm trying to get back on a roll.
I haven't seen much live music lately. About the only thing I've seen is the interior of jets going back and forth to H-Town, and my shabby little office. The Man has been relentless. But I did get away from his greedy clutches to go and see one of my very favorite bands, Teenage Fanclub. They played Union Transfer, a great venue if there ever was one, and we got there early and had a great space on the elevated rail to catch an unobstructed view of the show.
If you've never heard of Teenage Fanclub, and you judge them simply by their name, you'll be disappointed. Yes, it's a terrible band name, right up there with the New Pornographers, but both bands are great. There are very few things in this world that are perfectly named. One is the Chevy Suburban. Yeah, GM could have tried to tell us that this massive four wheel drive vehicle was built to do the environs around Moab, Utah, but that would have been a lie. It was designed to haul families around the suburbs with a teeny tiny little woman steering it from ballgames to dance practices to the mall. The Suburban was perfectly named.
Other car companies have done well with names, too, like the Nissan Armada, which was huge and took up 2 lanes of I-95 all on its own. Others, like the Ford Expedition, are purely aspirational. It makes it sound like you might go to the moon or something when you're really going to the Regal to see some tepid Hollywood schlockbuster. And others are just stupidly named with numbers, so that you have to know the brand and all of its offerings in order to go "oh, that's a hot (or not) car." Come on, give us something, like Malibu (young things in bathing suits heading to the beach, yeah that works), that makes us visualize a good time. Not the damn 3 series. Hey, don't bad things come in threes? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Wow, that got off all wrong. Where the heck was I? Right, Teenage Fanclub, a poorly named band. If you dig in to this band's music, you'll find a Beatle-esque "alternative" band from Scotland that has put out some of the best pop-rock songs of the last 25 years. Think Beatles, the Byrds, Big Star and other quality rock bands and you'll get the drift. They have 3 songwriters, all of whom are great, and their live shows usually highlight each one's output as they bounce from song to song on stage.
TF has put out a bunch of albums, but my favorites are Bandwagonesque (Spin Magazine's 1991 Album of the Year), Thirteen, Grand Prix and Howdy. Four great albums, every one of them a keeper. TF came out and went right into one of my favorite songs, About You. I happily sang along to the consternation of those around me who actually paid to hear TF sing those songs. Oops, sorry.
How good is that song? I love it. And you wouldn't think that the guys singing it look like grandfathers, would you? Another one of those "book by its cover" things. Great music is great music. Kurt Cobain called them "the best band in the world," and whether he was right or not, they are worthy of acclaim.
Unfortunately, Gerard Love announced that he was done with the global touring and left the band in 2018. I had seen TF in DC before and all of the "big 3" were there, but this time it was just Norman Blake (who is funny as hell) and Raymond McGinley carrying the load. It was still a great show.
Now, when I say that, it's not like a Low Cut Connie show. It's not showmanship. It's a tight, well rehearsed band going through a deep catalog of great songs. No big light shows, jumping around the stage, or Iggy like moves. Sigh. But a good band with great material still makes for a fun night out. And this one was fun.
Another of my favorite Teenage Fanclub songs is Verisimillitude. They played it. It was great.
How smart are those lyrics? And the song is super-catchy, too. That's when you know you're dealing with genius. Sure, they don't look like rock stars anymore - no Struts here, thank you - but so what? I don't look like anything other than a douche bag, and yet.... wait, bad comparison. Anyway, TF has some terrific rock songs that I just love.
The band covered the gamut, playing songs from throughout their lengthy career. They haven't toured the US very much, and I was glad that they filled the gaps. A couple of years ago, I kept seeing that they were playing in Scotland, but not many places outside of the British Isles. I started hinting that I had always wanted to see Scotland - Helen immediately said "who do you want to see over there?" And then TF announced a US tour, and I got the itch scratched without having to go to Glasgow. It was nice of them to save me all that money. It was also nice of them to come back to Philly so that I could drag along a healthy sized crew to enjoy the show.
The band finished with two great songs from Bandwagonesque: The Concept and What You Do To Me. It was a great way to finish, and pushed us out of the club into a nice night with a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction. They look a little different in the videos below, but their voices and musicianship remain fully in tact.
Why aren't these guys huge? Who knows? I'm just glad that they exist and persist. And I'm glad that I got to see them in my favorite Philly club one more time. And with that ...
I'm outta here … but just for now. I'll be raging back shortly with a lot of other drivel that you won't want to miss. But it's 70 degrees outside and it's time for me to get rid of that pasty-white winter complexion - I'm freaking myself out with that opaque look, knowhatImean? You do whatever you want to do, but promise me one thing: you'll be back.
Love you BRP readers.
Yo, Philly locals, how great is this weather? Please don't tell me that you love winter. The last few days are the type of weather that just make you want to fire up the grill and have a meal al fresco (which I did yesterday, yum), and maybe head to a fantastic nature preserve like Mt. Cuba (yeah, I that yesterday, too). Follow that up with a couple of Final Four hoops game, and you've got yourself a pretty good day. Check!
Mt. Cuba has a big emphasis on local and native plants, and shouldn't we be thinking the same with music? Philly is busting at the seams with great local bands. Here's another one that is simply FANTASTIC! You ready? Cayetana. These 3 local ladies simply rock. So think locally when picking out what to listen to, ok? Here are a couple of face melting tracks from Cayetana that I think you'll dig:
Yup, that first one is a New Order cover, very good that you caught that. These ladies rock, right? I thought you would like me more if I shared these local discoveries with you. And even if you don't like me at all, you gotta appreciate the great sounds coming from these women. I mean, they're a helluva lot better than the Red Army Choir, right?
Haha, who the hell wants to listen to the Stalin Album? And what songs are on it? "Sweet Gulag?" "I Need to Purge?" "Five Year Plan?" "I Met My Girl (Through the KGB)?" Seriously.
But Eastern Europe recognizes the great stuff in the West that we ignore so that we can self-flagellate over our latest nonsensical political outrage. Here's some pictures from Budapest that make you think, yes, the message did get out and, yes, it's pretty damn good in the West.
Uh huh, now THAT's what I'm talking about. How many cool things come out of the US that the world gloms on to? Great cars, style, music. It's all here. And even when they don't get it all right, they do recognize that you can combine classic American cultural musical references with the world's best breed of dogs.
I love that song - when it comes on in the car, the volume goes up and the windows go down - no matter the season! That's the kind of stuff that just oozes out of the US. Can you imagine guys like this jamming? I think they sang a song about sheep.
How did I get here? I was at Mt. Cuba and Cayetana and ended up in Croatia. Hey, it's a weird world out there, but one that you ought to get out and see. However, if like me, you don't have the time to go do that just this second, stay local and party hard on the Philly music scene. The world will catch up one of these days and say, damn, I wished I lived in Philly so that I could see all those great bands. Guess what? You do live in Philly and this is your jawn. Use it. Or, in the words of a great bumper sticker:
We all hear those voices. Some of us are smart enough to listen and reap the spoils. Live your life. Love those that you love. Do crazy stuff and tell the tales far and wide. Write that damn book. Sing that song. Stick it to The Man. Go For It!
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.