Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Redemption Song

Today in Music History:

In 1969, Elvis Presley kicked off a four week run at the Las Vegas International Hotel, (his first live show since 1961). He reportedly netted $1.5m for the shows. On the menu an Elvis special, polk salad with corn muffins & Honey.

Joe Strummer BiographyDoes anybody read books anymore? I don't read as much as I used to mainly because of time constraints and my old fart eyesight. I've worn glasses all my life and they're thick as coke bottles and now I find the print to be too small. I do manage to read though and right now I'm halfway into, Redemption Song The Ballad of Joe Strummer, The Definitive Biography. It is a fascinating look into one of the greatest poets of our generation if you will. From the time I discovered the Clash in 1979 to the present day, Joe has been a defining force in my life. When Joe passed away it was a devastating day for me as well as countless others.

Most of us know the basic history of The Clash, one of the most important groups of our times. Yet this book has opened up a whole new facet to the man and the myth, Joe Strummer. The author, Chris Salewicz, starts the book on how he heard the news about Joe's passing and how hard it hit him, which immediately brought back memories of my feelings of that day. Chris Salewicz knew Joe as a close friend since 1977. With the full approval of his relatives, companions and fellow musicians, he has written the definitive account of the most fascinating of all British rock 'n' roll idols, a man who really did change the way the world thought.

Joe was a man of mystery, willfully reinventing himself to take part in the 1977's radical punk movement. The reality - which included a secret family past, enormous worldwide success, bleak years in the wilderness and a triumphant return to stardom - contained all the elements of Shakespearian tragedy. But through enormous personal struggle and resolve, Joe Strummer turned his life into an uplifting, epic story.

Right now in the book I'm towards the end of 1977 with The Clash gaining momentum on the heels of their debut album, which wasn't released in the US until 1979. His pre Clash days have been well documented here and I was mesmerized reading the parts about his time with the 101'ers, his band prior to joining the Clash. The whole punk movement is well chronicled with a well known cast of characters. I have often said that as the world was getting it's first look at punk via the Sex Pistols and parents being scared shitless by them, it was really the Clash that should have had the parents running scared.

Joe Strummer was a man I much admired and this biography is one that should be read by anyone who has had a passing listen of the Clash. If you don't mind opening a pdf file, one can go here to read the first chapter of the book, I think you may find yourself wanting more. So I would like to showcase some of Joe's lesser known stuff. I guess I mean non Clash stuff that some may be unfamiliar with. Joe we hardly knew ye.

Letsgetabitrockin' by the 101'ers
Lonely Mother's Son by the 101'ers (later became Jail Guitar Doors for the Clash)
Buy It

Minstrel Boy by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Buy It

Redemption Song by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Coma Girl by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros(one of his best songs ever)
Buy It

Funny Toon

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grace and the Nocturnals Revisited

Today in Music History:

In 2003, Ozzy Osbournes long-standing tour manager, Bobby Thompson, was found dead in his Detroit hotel room. Thompson had been battling throat cancer.

Grace Potter and the NocturnalsAlmost exactly a year ago homercat wrote about one of the most exciting new bands he'd heard about in recent memory. Of course I'm speaking of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. When I first heard their album Nothing but the Water, I got a case of the chillbumps. It was that good. I urged my readers to get the disc and go see them live if possible and at year end wrap up I ranked the album #2 of the year's best releases. That voice slays me, and I have never heard a Hammond B3 sound so damn sexy. If you didn't take the cat's advice and snatch up the album, then you are truly missing something. Already their live performances are reaching legendary status. Unfortunately they haven't come anywhere close to the island and I am itching to see them live. Recently a friend sent me this email.
Saw Grace Potter in a small club a week ago. Dude, outstanding. One of the best live shows I've seen in a decade or more. The guitar player spent half the night trying to fix his amp or something, and it still was amazing. (thanks to S)

Grace PotterNow onto the fresh stuff. Some of you may or may not know that even though GPTN have spent the better part of the last year on tour, they have recorded a new album and it's set to be released this August 7. This is Somewhere is the name of the album and the title is a nod to the Neil Young and Crazy Horse album, Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. Homercat has had the ultimate opportunity to hear an advance copy of the disc and was not disappointed in the least. On the very first listen of the album I was immediately struck by how much the band has matured between this and their last disc. Then somewhere during my listening I downloaded the press kit for the new album and upon reading it I found that my initial reactions were confirmed by what I was reading. I started to think that sometimes I might actually know what I'm talking about. Dare I go into a track by track analysis?

I dare not, because let's face it I'm not that good a writer. What I do know is music and whether it's good or crap, and this is some great stuff. So I'll touch on some of the tracks and encourage all who read this to run out and buy a copy come release day, because like it's predecessor, This is Somewhere is another 5 star effort. The first track Ah Mary is the album's first single that has been included in the press kit. The track is a first for Grace as it is a politically charged tune. GPTN tackle a couple of issues on this album, for example track 4, Ain't No Time addresses New Orleans troubles and the Hammond Makes it's full blown appearance on this song. Awesome tune that rivals the excellence of Nothing but the Water. Personally I would have chosen this track as the lead off single. It showcases everything that is great about GPTN. The album is a perfect mix of rockers and ballads and Track 5 is another great rocker called Mr. Columbus which is a very catchy tune. Actually it was hard for me to pick out my favorite tune, but the one that had it's biggest impact on me was the last track on the album, Big White Gate. A stunning song about a dying 84 year old grandmother with a powerful wall of sound that gave me the aforementioned chillbumps which alone is worth the price of the album.

On this their third album you get the sense of a band poised on the verge of greatness. As the band matures you get this feeling that they are getting ready to explode. As good as this and the previous album is, you can just feel that Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have yet to tap into their potential. Grace's soulful voice and that durned Hammond just won't get out of my head. The album manifests incredible growth in the writing and singing of 24-year-old phenomenon Grace Potter, who has clearly found her true voice in both respects, as well as the instrumental prowess of the band: Potter on the Hammond B3, guitarist Scott Tournet, bassist Bryan Dondero and drummer Matt Burr.

The future looks pretty good for these guys, and homercat says don't miss out. For those who may have missed out the last time I wrote about these guys, I'll toss up a track from the last album. Also while I would like to showcase my favorite song from the new album, I'll go along with the GPTN press release and showcase Ah Mary. One thing I must make clear, if they come to your town to play, do not miss it. Also I would like to make my plea be heard, Please come to Victoria, BC and play at one of our many great clubs.

Nothing But the Water from the album Nothing but the Water
Buy It

Ah Mary from the upcoming release, This is Somewhere
Buy It

Let me know what you think, eh.

Funny Toon

Friday, July 20, 2007

Working Graveyards

Today in Music History:

1963, Jan and Dean started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Surf City', written by Beach Boy Brian Wilson, with the Beach Boys on backing vocals.

To be more precise, things I have learned since I started working the graveyard shift. It's a whole different deal from midnight to 8 am, and I've picked up some knowledge I'd like to share. Oh yeah there be music in them thar links.

1. Whoever invented the sleep mask is a saint. I used to think they were stupid but without my sleep mask with the little sheep on it I would be terribly sleep deprived. Thank you sleep mask guy.

2. Those bastard buses that go by every 3 minutes are the loudest fucking things I've ever heard during daylight hours while wearing my sleep mask. Enter the earplugs.

3. The hookers get desperate around 2 am. I've actually seen them jump out in the street in front of cars trying to flag down a potential customer. I have only seen this, not personally flagged down, Honest.

4. Butt pickers prowl the streets around 4 am. Not the kind that have undies wedged up their ass. The ones that scour the parking lots and sidewalks pre dawn, looking for half finished cigarettes so they can recycle them by emptying any remaining tobacco and rolling their own new ones.

5. Ditto the garbage can and or dumpster divers looking for that ever elusive can or bottle that may be returned for a nickel. Most times the butt picker and garbage can guy are the same person. Sometimes they are separate entities.

6. There are an above average number of skateboarders out doing their thing at 3 am. Some of them like to wear white capes and masks. I have actually seen this at 3 AM once. This freaks me out.

7. This could be tied in with number 6 but it seems like there is no such thing as a curfew for kids any more. When I was a teen, my ass had to be home by a certain time or I was going to get a serious ass whoopin. It's not unusual to see groups of kids out wandering the streets in the wee hours.

8. No matter how hard you try you will never get enough sleep. Especially since your wife will invariably call just as you're drifting off after counting sheep for two hours.... and she just wants to ask you if you're going to take a nap.

9. Cats think that you're getting up at 1 am just for the express purpose of feeding them. Phurbee stands by her food bowl as I'm getting ready and looks at me like "Get over here and feed me fool."

10. When I find out who is shitting in the alley beside the beer and wine store I'm going to kick your ass, I'm fucking tired of cleaning it up. On second thought I'm going to force feed it to you.

It's exciting living life on the edge. Now wasn't that fun! Before the weekend starts I've got one more treat for everyone. I'm making it my mission to make sure that the word of Mojo gets spread. otis Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper wound up cutting ties in late 1989; Nixon wanted to form a full backing band, while Roper left the touring life to pursue a solo career that resulted in two albums for Triple X. For his first solo album, Nixon assembled an all-star cowpunk band featuring Country Dick Montana (Beat Farmers), John Doe (X), Eric Ambel (Del Lords), and Bill Davis (Dash Rip Rock). The result, Otis, was released in 1990 and caused a stir with the notorious "Don Henley Must Die," a rip on the Eagles frontman turned solo artist. (Two years later, the initially offended Henley shocked Nixon by climbing on-stage in Austin, TX, to perform the song with him; Nixon subsequently called off his fatwa.)For fans of good old in-your-face iconoclastic rock that doesn't take itself too seriously, this will fill the bill.
Mojo Nixon-Otis 1990
192 vbr

1. Destroy All Lawyers
2. I Wanna Race Bigfoot Trucks
3. Ain't High Falutin'
4. Shane's Dentist
5. Rabies Baby
6. Put A Sex Mo-Sheen In The White House
7. Star Spangled Mojo (Trad.) Arr. by Mojo Nixon
8. You Can Dress 'Em Up (But You Can't Take 'Em Out)
9. Don Henley Must Die
10. Perry Mason Of Love
11. Took Out The Trash And Never Came Back
12. Gonna Be A New World

All songs written by Mojo Nixon and published by Muffin Stuffin' Music/Administered by La Rana Music [BMI] except as indicated

Funny Toon

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ode to a MetalHead

Last week homercat stated that he was back from his mini vacation and I had plans to write a couple posts and obviously that idea got derailed. Soon after I had written my review of the Nazareth concert, I received word that a friend of ours had been found dead along the shoreline of the island. It was not immediately evident what had happened, although the police had ruled out foul play. Al was not a close friend, but a good friend nevertheless. So it came as a real shock to us, especially since the last time we had spent any time together was at the Nazareth concert. In fact the last time I talked to him was towards the end of the concert around last call, as I was working my way back with our last two brews I ran into him and we chatted it up and I razzed him about how much he was sweating and he says that's why I need a drink of your beer. So we shared a beer and I said talk to ya later and that was the last time I saw him.

He was the consummate headbanger with hard metal being his music of choice. His favorite band was Iron Maiden. He had introduced me to many hardcore metal bands that I had never heard of before. They were so hardcore that for the most part they were unlistenable to me.

We all have had death touch us in some way. It is something we live with and we all have to go through. In this case it has been different for me. Towards the end of last week they finally determined that our friend had committed suicide. It isn't important how they know that for sure. I have never known anyone who actually chose to end his life and thus here at the homercat household we have been haunted by it. The last time we saw him you would never have thought that he was having problems. Many thoughts go round and round in your head. How does one decide to simply walk into the ocean and end it all at a young 38 years of age, is there anything I could have said or done the last time I saw him that would have changed his decision and how could we have missed the signs? He had many, many friends that cared for him and you just wonder why? So we deal with it the best we can and life goes on for the rest of us. For my friend,a couple of his favorite bands. I hope he found what he was looking for and is at peace.

Different World by Iron Maiden

Never Walk Alone...A Call to Arms by Megadeth

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

That's what I Call Rock n Roll

Today in Music History:

1965, The Rolling Stones started a four week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction', the groups first US No.1. Some US stations cut out the last verse believing it referred to women's 'time of the month'.

During homercat's mini vacation he had the pleasure of attending a kick ass concert last Thursday night. Curiously it was held at the curling club, a venue I had never been to and was unsure what it would be like. The headliners were Nazareth with the Headpins opening the bill. One might immediately assume that attendees were in the over forty, greying mullet and ponytail types. To be sure there were many concert T shirt, beer soaked beer guts in the crowd. Yours truly included. Yet there were many under 30's there also. Wanting a chance to see bona fide legends perform. Admittedly Naz is down to only two original members. Original drummer Darrell Sweet passed away back in 98. Although the new drummer is bassist Pete Agnew's son, keeping it in the family so to speak. The place was standing room only.

The Headpins opened with an hour plus blistering set, which left no doubt in anyone's mind that Darby Mills may just be the sexiest headbangin' female on the planet. No doubt in my mind. Even the gals in attendance were of the same mind set, Darby was a goddess. The price we paid for tickets was incredibly cheap and would have been just fine to see the Headpins. I was lucky enough inch my way to the front of the stage and proceeded to get my head blown away.

In between sets we headed for the mile long beer line which actually moved quite quickly considering the crowd. Having got our two beers a piece, we headed for the standing room only outdoor smoking cage. The logistics of lighting a smoke was a nightmare but mission accomplished and once again pushed our way to the front of the stage. As the strains of a bagpipe solo played, Nazareth took the stage and proceeded to rock harder than any group I have ever seen. You would think that with the way Dan McCafferty sings, his voice would be nearly wrecked after all these years. Not the case, in fact it was more powerful and better sounding than ever. I saw these guys 25 years ago in their heyday with all the original members and that show paled in comparison to what I witnessed Thursday night. The hits were there of course but so too were a host of lesser known material from their first four albums, which was an absolute treat to hear. They weren't afraid to show their age, and the original members, Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew, were either content to hold their ground on stage or stroll around like they were playing in their living rooms. Such is the confidence of rock elder statesmen. "This one's about 100 years old," joked Dan McCafferty, before screeching through Razamanaz. Having attended a score of rock concerts in Victoria, this was the most animated I have seen the crowd get. Folks on the island are notoriously laid back.

Nazareth is spending this summer touring Canada. See tour dates here. I would suggest snapping up a ticket and going to see a show if you can. Ours were $25 a piece. You would be hard pressed to see a better show this year. This is a Homercat guarantee. For you folks in Calgary, they are playing in your fine city tonight.

Even though I recently did a post about these guys. Today we're going to revisit a couple Headpins tunes and a couple of the older classics that Naz performed.

Turn it Loud by The Headpins
Buy It

Turn on Your Receiver by Nazareth
Buy It

Expect No Mercy by Nazareth
Buy It

Alcatraz by Nazareth
Buy It

Telegram by Nazareth
Buy It

Funny Toon