Friday, May 25, 2018

The Pleasure Might Be All Mine

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Elvis Costello was asked for a guilty pleasure. He replied, "Where is the pleasure if you're guilty over it?" (Or something close to that.)

I have always said I had no musical guilty pleasures. If I were to drop dead in the street, and my iPod was still playing, I would not feel the need to explain any of the songs on it, if you know, a miracle occurred and I came back to life.

That said, here is a trio of songs that absolutely kill me for the right reasons, and knowing my audience, might just plain ol' kill you. BUT...I have no regrets. This is pop music at its finest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


When the mood is just right, I think Ry Cooder's version of "Maria Elena" is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard. This morning, the mood is right.

And while I have you, have you heard Ry's new one, "The Prodigal Son?" What do you think?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Real Bowie Fans Preferred: Unlikely Hits, Part One (A Possible Series)

I really don't like or get "Fashion." It's bothered me since I first heard it in 1979.

Now, the title of this post is "Real Bowie Fans Preferred" because, I am sure I am not the only one who doesn't like "Fashion." But I am not looking for the casual Bowie fan who is ready to proclaim his distaste for everything since "Ziggy Stardust," or the obligatory cheap shot from a Bowie hater. I am looking for the Bowie fan who has stuck around through "Never Let Me Down" and "Dancing In The Streets" and who, like me, can find the good in Tin Machine. If you are that person, tell me what you think of "Fashion?"

I don't like the production, or the lyrics---it lost me on the very first line, "there's a brand new dance." Even Bowie's phrasing is odder than usual--"Shouting on the-UH UH dance floor." Then, the clincher is that awful chant at the end-- "Ooh ah, do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do, fa-fa-fa-fa-Fashion, la-la-la-la-ooh."

How the hell was this a hit and fan favorite? I find it all so cringe-making.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Songs Of The Week, 2018: 5/12-5/18

Two Magpies-The Fireman
Secret Love-The Balham Alligators
Romance In Durango- Bob Dylan
Think Back- Galactic w/ Chali 2na
Tennessee Jed- Levon Helm
Nothing Rhymed- Gilbert O'Sullivan
Touched By The Sun- Carly Simon


Two Magpies- The Fireman
Gave "Electric Arguments" a spin. Some of the more ambient stuff at the end slows things down a bit, but the first half is some truly terrific McCartney. Love the vibe of "Two Magpies."

Secret Love-The Balham Alligators
With a Nick Lowe E.P. on the horizon, I thought about this Cajun gem from his longtime keyboardist Geraint Watkins.

Romance In Durango- Bob Dylan
Was part of yet another discussion about Dylan's best work and I mentioned how "Desire" does not get enough credit. Love this track.

Think Back- Galactic w/Chali 2Na
When Galactic released their album "From The Corner To The Block," I wasn't too thrilled with the idea that there would be some hip hop elements to it. I just wanted some good ol' New Orleans funk and R&B. I was surprised by how well the whole record worked, especially this track with Chali 2na from the Jurassic 5. I just love the quality and phrasing of Chali's voice.

Tennessee Jed- Levon Helm
This is how you take an oft-covered tune and make it something special. Talking about Levon Helm and his underappreciated skills behind the drum kit, this is a classic Helm pocket.

Nothing Rhymed-Gilbert O'Sullivan
Hadn't heard this in a while and so I played it. A beauty.

Touched By The Sun- Carly Simon
Same here. Can't recall the last time I heard this tune, so I played it. Not sure what made me think of it. Stunningly powerful.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Weekend Mix/Greetings From The Crack Palace

Or BBJ drops a big one.
The week in demos has been the best possible introduction. Thanks, Sal.

2017 was a rough year for me. One reason being the band I'd played with for 18 years fell apart and burst into flames.
When I brought all my gear home from our rented studio, it had nowhere to go except the living/dining room.
"Use it or lose it" I thought about all the real estate it took up, and began recording what became this album.
I'm not going into what else made it a difficult year, all I can say is making this music is what kept me from having a nervous breakdown. No exaggeration.
It's my personal blues.

I have vivid memories of mowing the lawn when I was 13, in 1970, while daydreaming of someday having a recording studio and creating music by playing all the instruments like my hero Paul McCartney. The only problem being I didn't know how to play anything except school band trumpet. It's taken me 48 years to get here.

My plan was to make an ambient record, but it went where it wanted to. All I could do was hang on for dear life and ride it out. A few tracks come close.

At various times I play: Electric and acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars, "Loog" guitar, octave mandolin, bass, fretless bass, Vietnamese moon lute (Dan Nguyet), autoharp, bass pedals, Hammond organ, mellotron, piano, toy piano, glockenspiel, strings, modular synthesizers, rhythm machines, Drums, Gongs, bongos, conga, hand claps, sleighbells, misc percussion, trumpet, mellophone, sound effects, loops, samples, and a church pipe organ.

It's all instrumental. It's probably better that I didn't put anything into words or it would have been rather dark.
I think of these as sound paintings.
Here's the first "single":

And here's another possibility:

I had a band in North Carolina in the late '80's named The Crack. We rehearsed at my house, which we dubbed The Crack Palace. All my home studios have been called that ever since.
It was during my Crack years I became known as Baby Jesus.
I liked to introduce the band from stage:
"Over here on bass, we have Thumbs, on cello, Killer, On vocals we have Cousin Daisy, and Golden Throat, behind me on drums is, The Black Stallion, and I'm Baby Jesus".
When I moved to Jersey City, and formed what would become Foglizard, "Buzz" was added because I usually had one.

I finished "CLOSE INC" last week and knew this chapter was complete.
2018 is a vast improvement so far.

Greetings From The Crack Palace


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Demos and Alternates Week, Part Four: Cheap Trick & Todd Rundgren

With the Todd Rundgren and Utopia reunion tour in full swing, I started listening to records I hadn't played in some time, including 1984's "Oblivion," which felt like a major disappointment at the time, coming after their 1982 self-titled, pop gem, "Utopia." 34 years later, it all played a lot better than I remembered it, especially the hit, "Crybaby." But back then, there was something about "Crybaby" that felt very familiar.

In August of 1983, Cheap Trick released their pop gem, "Next Position, Please," produced by Todd Rundgren. On it was a Rundgren original, "Heaven's Falling," which to my ears is actually "Crybaby." Different lyrics, different melody, but yet these songs feel the same. The structure, the way both Zander and Todd begin the first verse in a low register, the way they both cry out the chorus, the backing vocals. It all feels like the same song.

I don't know which was written first, and I guess it doesn't matter. But I have always been fascinated by the two. Both songs are favorites of mine, like getting two great songs out of one great idea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Demos and Alternates Week, Part Three: John Bonham & The Purdie Shuffle

Lost, quite literally, in the shuffle of all that's going on in Led Zeppelin's "Fool In The Rain," is the absolute beauty of John Bonham's drumming. The rhythm is the Purdie Shuffle, so named because legendary drummer Bernard Purdie, created the beat with those damn ghost notes on the snare and funky as all hell hi-hat and bass drum hits. Hard to believe that Purdie was the very first drummer to employ this exact rhythm, but that research is best saved for another post. Right now, I am focused on the power of Bonham's attack and just how deep his pocket is. I could listen to this for days on end, and I have.