Records Collecting Dust

This looks very interesting. How many indie rock stars can you name???

Modern Recording Techniques Explained

Modern-Recording

Song for the Rough Week Ahead…Roscoe Holcomb

Actually a twofer….

Book Review: Makeup To Breakup by Peter Criss with Larry Sloman

Peter-Criss-Makeup-to-Breakup-BookWhat can I say about the band KISS? Let me see…I loved them with a passion that verged on worship when I was 13 to 15…they were the first band I ever saw in concert (in 1977…How is that for age?)…they were pure rock and roll marketed as product. Yeah they might have started out as a rock band, but with each album and tour they ventured more and more into just a promotion for the next line of merchandise items. But hey, when I was 15 I didn’t know or care about all that…KISS was just cool. They were everything I wanted in a rock band…a spectacle with loud guitars, fire and blood. I liked Ace the best. He just seemed cool and detached from reality. I wanted rock and roll hair like Ace. I practiced Ace moves with a cardboard cut out in the shape of a Les Paul. Gene was cool too with those boots and general monster vibe. Paul…well, I wasn’t too sure about that guy. Something a little funny about that guy. Then there was Peter, the drummer…and best singer of the bunch. My best friend at the time was a drummer and he loved Peter, so I liked Peter too. Although in reality I didn’t much care about the drummer…after all what did he do, levitate? Meh…

Which brings me to Makeup to Breakup – My Life In and Out of Kiss the autobiography by Peter Criss. I was happy to get a chance to read his book. After all, I had read Gene’s book and I had read Ace’s book. Both of those books ultimately failed in the sense that both books left the reader feeling that like so much is being held back…the dirt is never spilled. Peter is throwing shovels full of the dirt in his book. He is pissed-off enough at all the other members of the band (even his best friend Ace) that he really slings the mud around. Drugs, sex, money, egos…man what a wild ride. He has some truly funny stories from the road. Talks about the betrayal he felt from everyone associated with the brand…oops, I mean band. He dishes out the plenty of dirt on his fellow band members…Gene’s ego, greed and general lack of hygiene (how’s that menstrual blood tasting?), Ace’s alcohol and drug consumption (which may have lead to Ace helping a groupie give Peter a little oral sex under the sheets…I said MAY have), Paul’s ego and willingness to be Gene’s henchman…and, well…there is just something a little funny about that guy.

paul stanley

Peter does a lot of complaining (and bragging about his penis size) in his book…blaming everyone for his problems. He at times will own a certain problem as something of his own making only to shift the blame a couple of pages later. He is bitter…bitter at ex-wives, ex-band mates, ex-labels and lawyers. His chapters on the reunion/farewell tours are especially frustrating. He writes leading up to reunion about a downward spiral of artistic failures and financial ruin that lands him on the brink of suicide. Then he endlessly complains of the money Gene and Paul are making compared to the measly $25,000 per show he is making. Then he finds out Ace is making more per show than him and Peter really hits the fan. He feels betrayed by Ace, a person that is closer than a brother to him. But in the end he just comes across as a person that can’t take the blame for some of the extremely bad choices he made that lead up to him to being a ‘hired hand’ in the band he helped form. Not to say Gene and Paul are not at fault for being money grabbers, but you signed the contracts and you knew how it was to be. Own it Catman.

If you were a fan of the band at anytime Makeup To Breakup is a good read. Full of dirt and funny stories…just like we like our celebrity tell-all’s. No matter how blurred the line of celebrity gets…

I guess around the time I was 17 KISS just weren’t cool to me anymore. I barely put up with the disco of Dynasty and the bubblegum pop of Unmasked, but by the time Music from the Elder came out I had moved on. Punk rock was knocking on my door. I do think every teenager needs a band like KISS…to introduce them to young adulthood and to give them music that will piss-off their parents. My stepson turns 14 this year and I am wondering what his musical tastes shall be…that will be an interesting blog post.

Sangre Rated – 4 out of 5 stars

Review – m b v by My Bloody Valentine

mybloodyvalentineI admit it. I was late to the game. Back in the early 90’s I had friends telling me that I must check out My Blood Valentine, but I lumped them in with all the ‘shoe-gazer’ bands from England that I could not stomach. Bands like Luna, Galaxie 500, Love and Rockets, Lush….oh, the horror. I didn’t get it at all. So when people told me to check out Loveless by MVB I flat out refused. Then over the years that damn album would pop up on a lot of people’s best of lists. Still I refused to even give it a chance. And then musicians I respect called it anything from the “best album of the 90’s” (Trey Anistasio) to “it set a new standard for pop” (Brian Eno). Crap…so about 10 years after it was released I went out and bought a used CD of Loveless to see what all the brouhaha was about. It is still one of my favorite albums of all time. The sound of the hushed vocals and the deluge of guitar sounds on the songs are truly unlike anything I had heard at the time. It is a masterpiece, no doubt.

That was the last My Bloody Valentine album released until Saturday night. Twenty-two years after the release of Loveless comes m v b.

If I were to believe the initial twitter buzz this was also a great album. I don’t think it is great, but it is pretty damn good. On headphones this thing comes alive. And it is unmistakably My Bloody Valentine…any of these songs would not be out of place as outtakes from the Loveless sessions. While some may question the lack of growth of new sounds I feel that the band still sounds vibrant. The song writing is a tinge more mature. It is pop, less the total assault of the earlier albums (but with pop underlinings). This album breaks no new ground and ultimately will not have the huge impact of Loveless, but none the less it is a worthy follow-up…even 22 years later.

4 out of 5 Stars

Song for the Rough Week Ahead…Fidlar – Cheap Beer

Very cool young band out of the LA area that just released an hell of a debut album. Oh, and Fidlar is surfer/skater slang for the motto “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk”.

Robert Johnson – The Photos

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Robert Johnson 2

The-Third-Robert-Johnson-Photo1

Robert Johnson…a myth, a legend, a controversy…42 recordings…three known photographs…member of the 27 club…

Song for the Rough Week Ahead…Bob Mould-The Descent

Song for the Rough Week Ahead…

Neil Young and the elusive Ragged Glory vinyl

Neil-Young-Ragged-Glory-159441-991If you read this blog and my inane dribbles it is no secret that I am a Neil Young and vinyl fan. If you combine those two obsessions you can understand my search for an album that has eluded me for some time, the Ragged Glory album by Neil and Crazy Horse.

Ragged Glory was the first Neil Young album I bought on CD, never owned the vinyl. Vinyl records were old hat. Big heavy dinosaurs of the time before compact discs. They were space wasting, easy to scratch, always noisy no matter how much care you gave them, I viewed them as relics from an old age. CDs were small (hence the word ‘compact’), no ‘pops and clicks’, easy to take on a trip and you could ‘program’ out songs you didn’t want to hear…a monster was born.

I sold or gave away my record collection, something I still feel shame and deep regret about…I drank the grape Kool-Aid.

After many years of having all the music I wanted, getting any song or album with a couple of clicks of the mouse, I noticed a change in the way I viewed music. Music was this ‘thing’ that I stored on my computer…this thing that was easy to get…and if I didn’t like the sound of it within 40 seconds I ‘clicked’ on something else. It took very little effort to listen to music and music just became background noise to fill up my silence. Then, almost by accident,  I rekindled my love affair with the old fashion vinyl record.

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I had forgotten the joy of the hunt. Going into a record store and just digging. Looking for something to listen to. I started hitting up local record stores and going to yard sales. You know what happened? I started meeting a new group of like minded people, I got to know my local store owners and I made a couple of new friends. They gave me some suggestions on what they thought I might like. I discovered more music that appealed to me.

I rediscovered listening to music. Really listening to music…reading the liner notes, studying the album artwork, following along with the lyric sheet, listening to an album in one sitting and in the order the artist intended.

And folks it just sounds better.

That was one I always scoffed at…but even with my old ears I can tell the difference. Vinyl has a fuller, richer and more vivid range. Which brings me back to our topic.

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The album Ragged Glory is one of my favorite Neil Young and Crazy Horse albums. It is always in rotation on my iPod. Great songs, great guitars, great sound…I would turn to this album and turn it up when I needed a pick-me-up or if I was already in a good mood this would just enhance the exhilaration. There is just something special about that set of songs to me.

It was released in September of 1990. It was a time that they just didn’t make that many vinyl records, everything was compact discs and vinyl was being phased out. So when I started building up my Neil Young vinyl collection it was hard for me to track down…at a reasonable price. I had record guys looking for me. I got told stories of having seen a copy at the local Goodwill or that so-and-so has two copies just ask him to sell you one. Even on-line they were never in my price range.

Until two weeks ago. It showed up on eBay…an auction…starting bid of one dollar. I watched it all week long. After a couple of days it went up to sixteen dollars and just sat there. I watched and waited. I waited until ten seconds left on the auction and I bid twenty-six dollars and one cent. I got the record for twenty-two bucks.

My mailman brought it to me yesterday and it is a glorious thing. Buying records, especially used, on-line can be a little iffy, but the record is in great condition with very little surface noise. I played it this afternoon and even though they crammed so much music on this single disc (64 minutes) the sound is so warm, it was as if the Horse was playing in my bedroom.

I can now cross it off my list….now to find Mirror Ball.

mirror ball

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