Amy Winehouse`s ‘Back To Black’ Is At the Top of My Playlist!

July 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

I`m one of those millions of people who purchased Amy Winehouse`s Back to Black on itunes on Saturday. This is the day she died, but the album came out nearly 5 years ago. In fact, this is the first time I`ve ever even heard her music. Amy was so maligned in the press all the time, that I just assumed her music was no good. Boy, was I wrong! *(Nice piece in The Rolling Stone!)

Back to Black is a masterpiece, an instant classic, that will be just as listenable twenty years from now as it is today. It sounds like it was recorded in the 1960s, on Stax Records or something like that. It seems as if the producer, Mark Ronson, was shooting for this type of response. And now I find out that Amy wrote all her own songs. This just makes me respect her all the more.

Her tragic death on Saturday, while widely predicted, is no less shocking. I`m left with a bunch of great songs to listen to, which have barely just been heard. I`m left feeling stupid, embarrassed – feel like I`ve been betrayed by the media, who really only escalated her untimely death. Amy messed up because she thought she knew the media expected her to mess up. It`s a vicious circle, where the vulnerability of a talented artist is undermined by the media wolves who love to see an artist suffer.

Will Rupert Murdoch`s News Empire Come Tumbling Down?

July 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

The News of the World scandal sends ripples through every outlet of news in Britain, the U.S., Australia – really everywhere. I have been reading every news story (I can find) on the scandal this morning, in order to better understand what has (really) happened. Rupert Murdoch has done lots of damage to all of us who have a thirst for fair and balanced news. You know, the truth! One fears more censorship in the future.

The Daily Mail has been on top of this story, so please go to my link and read carefully what they are reporting. Furthermore, there are frequent updates. I don`t believe that Rupert Murdoch will survive this one. I was absolutely floored when he was able to take over The Wall Street Journal in 2007. I haven`t read The Journal since then. You must read Carl Bernstein`s piece in Newsweek, Murdoch`s Watergate? Old boy stills has the touch!

How Does The Doors` Debut Record Translate To Us Today?

June 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

Why do The Doors still speak to us today? Why do their songs ring true to us today? The first record, The Doors, was released on January 4, 1967. The recording took place the previous August (8/24-8/31/1966) at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, Ca. Paul Rothchild was the producer and Bruce Botnick was the engineer. The label was Electra and a four-track machine was employed to record 11 well-rehearsed songs.

Apparently, The Doors had worked out all the kinks on these 11, when playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. I can only imagine the excitement of these early sets at this Sunset Boulevard legend of a club! I picked up this debut record on itunes the other day, after recalling the scene in Apocalypse Now that features The End. By the way, for just $8 you can get an in tact version of the record, the way it was originally released, just a bit slower.

Well, I`ve failed to answer my initial question. I`m thinking on it still. I like this piece in Slant Magazine, which was written (by Sal Cinquemonti) for the 40th anniversary release of The Doors in 2007. Sal touches on what I would consider to be a vital reason for the durability of both the band and their songs. One thing is for sure, it`s a damn tight band.

Sal mentions the tension, the undercurrent of surging thought (which may be a result of changes going on in the 1960s), bubbling up to the surface, even on the debut! But why do so many film students ultimately end up in Rock? That`s the real question, Horatio.

Is ‘The Soft Parade’ The Doors Worse Album?

June 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

The Soft Parade was released in June of 1969. I picked it up on itunes yesterday. I never owned it back in the day. I`m rebuilding my Doors collection from the ground up, and only need the first one (with Light My Fire) and Waiting For the Sun to complete my collection. I will link for you an original review of The Soft Parade, that appeared in The Rolling Stone, written by Alec Dubro and having a publication date of 8/23/1969.

Soft Parade is The Doors Black Sheep record, and gets the most scathing reviews from the critics, if not the fans. I wonder if we`re still in the same place, in terms of assessing it`s significance (or lack of it) in either The Doors career or even the very history of Rock `N` Roll? One thing I`ll have to note, The Doors invested a lot of time and effort in the record. They spent 11 months recording it (from July 1968-May 1969) at Electra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, CA.

Brass and strings was a no no in rock at that time. But it was okay for Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago Transit Authority (I may be setting a little discussion here about whether brass and strings has a place in rock.) SP sounds good to me today. I love Touch Me, penned by Robby Krieger, the guitar player. I`m not having issues with Soft Parade, for now. Shaman`s Blues, interesting. Runnin` Blue, very inventive! Let`s give it a fresh look, what say you?

The Grand Wazoo – “And Who Were Those Poots In the Back Seat of Calvin`s Car?”

June 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

A few impressions here. One, you can get Frank Zappa classic titles at Waterloo Records here in Austin for just $6.99. These CD issues are on Rykodisc, and it looks like they were issued in 1995. Surprising these old prints are still around!I am happy to get hold of these Zappa records, since they`re not available on itunes. I have Absolutely Free, We`re Only In It For the Money, and The Grand Wazoo. I`m giving The Grand Wazoo a writhing once over this morning.

Was just checkin` out the horrible assault on Frank in London (December of 1971), where some lunatic pushed him off the stage, and Frank sustained some serious injuries and was laid up for some time. It was during this period of convalescence that The Grand Wazoo was put together. It came out in December of 1972, and was a surprise to Zappa fans in the (Freak) community. It was like a classical symphony of Stravinsky or something?

Never realized what a big part Zappa played in this Rock/Jazz fusion thing we often hear so much about. While that`s certainly true, I`m hearing some classical in there too. Lots of horns, vibes, percussion and guitars all battling it out for space. Be sure to read the linernotes carefully, where Frank explains this huge epic musical battle between Cletus` bunch and Mediocrates of Pedestrian. The battle is nicely depicted on the cover, an illustration by Cal Schenkel.

I`m linking for you the Wikipedia entry for Frank Zappa. I only hope Frank will not get too mad about this mishap.

Episode 10 of The Killing Takes Us Into the World of Belko Royce!

June 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

I forgot to record Episode 10 of The Killing last week, but I caught a break and found out it`s streaming on AMC`s web site for The Killing. I started watching Episode 11 when I found out about a streaming 10. Naturally enough, you shouldn`t watch one part without watching the previous one, so switched off to 10. Just watched Rosie footage – her gettin` in a cab and a light is turned off in the Larsen household.

I`m sure glad I got to see Episode 10. Much of it revolves around Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III), Stan`s partner in Larsen`s Moving Company. Belko has an interesting montage of pix on his bedroom ceiling. Sarah and Stephen need to track down an Adella girl in conjunction with some of Rosie`s last movements on the night she died. By the way, make that Stela, not Stella.

Classic Albums: Frank Zappa – Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation

May 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

You can`t find any of Frank Zappa`s classic albums on itunes. Some kind of contract agreements must be up? I don`t know…I will have to research this. However, you can find (on itunes) a documentary produced by Eagle Rock Entertainment and released on DVD on May 1, 2007. It`s title is: Classic Albums: Frank Zappa – Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation. These were Frank`s most popular records and were released in 1973 and 1974.

I believe I saw Frank Zappa at the Armadillo World Headquarters for this period of Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation. I`m going to have to look that up too. Just saw some footage of Frank doing Montana, and I could swear it`s at the Armadillo. All that`s been documented but I`ll need to do some digging to verify. Good to see Ruth Underwood again after many years.

I remember all the songs still, but it`s been many years. Excerpts of Cosmik Debris and St. Alfonzo`s Pancake Breakfast stand out (at this moment). The first part of the documentary covers his early career, including Freak Out. One scene has the riots in America, cities burning against Trouble Every Day playing in the background. There`s the Varese influence, Stravinsky, Johnny Guitar, doo-wap…writing dots on paper! How was Frank able to do all of this music writing? “Oh I went to the library.”

Innovator of Business Cable News, Mark Haines (1948-2011), Has Passed

May 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

I was very saddened by the passing of CNBC cable pioneer of business news, Mark Haines (1946-2011). Mark was the original anchor for Squawk Box on CNBC, which premiered sometime in 1995. I watched it religiously everyday of the week, since I was interested (and heavily invested) in stock market news. Mark Haines died suddenly Tuesday night, but the cause of his death hasn`t been reported yet.

If you can find any of the early footage of Squawk Box, I would recommend you watching that. This was the prime-time glory days of the Dot Com Bubble. You know how the story goes: Cisco Systems, Dell, Intel, Mickysoft and QUALCOM. Mark brought a level of probing (Mark was an attorney) business news, as well as entertainment value. Mark really invented business cable!

After Haines kept those Lava Lamps constantly bubbling on the set of CNBC, I went out and picked up a few Lava Lamps myself, thinking it would improve my luck on stock market calls. I need not leave out the incredible chemistry between The Brain (David Faber), The Kahuna (Joe Kernan) and Mr. Haines during those early days. Mark Haines was a classy and classic journalist. Just check out his coverage of Nine-Eleven.

Elton John`s ‘Tumbleweed Connection’ Is A Classic Most Have Forgotten By Now

May 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

Tumbleweed Connection is Elton John`s 3rd album. This is my favorite one; not that I`ve heard all 30 of his albums, because I haven`t. I must say, though, I`m most fond of his early period. On Sunday I picked up an Elton John`s Greatest Hits CD at Cheapos for just $6. It has Your Song, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Rocket Man (I can connect better with this song than any others of Elton.)

This morning I picked up Tumbleweed Connection on itunes after abandoning the idea of getting the new Lady Gaga, Born This Way, which is officially released today. I`ll let it ferment a little, to make sure it turns out to be a vintage grape. The 3rd album of Elton John was much more pressing for me. It was released on October 30, 1970 and it seems to provide a special bridge to my past.

It`s concept album with songs about the American West. This is the only time Bernie Taupin and Elton John would ever undergo such a bold and abstract project such as Tumbleweed Connection. And if the songs were not that great, we could forget about it. But they arn`t. It`s a good idea to listen to the record continuously. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It`s been more than 20 years since I`ve heard Tumbleweed Connection, and it still holds up (in my opinion).

Episode 9 (Undertow) of AMC`s The Killing Has A Shocking Ending!

May 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

I know I keep saying it, but Episode 9 (Undertow) of The Killing tops them all, for surprises and drama. And then I just found this feature on their web page, that video commentary by the key actors, explaining the psychology behind the actions of the characters. It`s nice to play a portion of the program tape, then clip in this commentary for clarification.

The investigation of Rosie Larsen`s murder take some dramatic turns in Episode 9. As a clue, it seems as if the focus on Bennet Ahmed as the major suspect is misplaced. I will say also, in her grief at her daughter`s death, Mitch prods her husband (Stan Larsen) to exact justice. Just noticed the dark lighting and brooding industrial soundtrack (which adds a great amount of atmosphere) in the last scene…

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