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PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019

PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019
So even though Tarantino’s latest failed to put Paul Revere or his Raiders back up at the Toppermost of the Poppermost, and American Funnyman Neil Hamburger’s long-too-awaited Still Dwelling seems to have passed totally under the fryer, the Pig Player this past year was kept busy as always spinning, alphabetically as always…   

 

 

 

ALEX CHILTON
From Memphis To New Orleans
(Bar/None Records)

“Alex Chilton created a unique body of work when he emerged from a self-imposed exile in the 1980s” says the handy sticker on the shrinkwrap, and this stellar assortment more than ably covers each of the man’s bases, musical and otherwise. From the vengefully autobiographical “Lost My Job” to the Zappa-sharp “Guantanamerika” to, yes, the covers (a fine Brian Wilson-fashion “Let Me Get Close To You” plus a “Little GTO” that would impress Ronny and his Daytonas) there is something here for every ear …as was, more often than not, Alex’s wont in life. Personally, the real revelation to me was the anything but celibate “No Sex” guitar work, the “Dalai Lama” meets Alley Oop – hearing is believing – almost – and, most comi-tragically, how with just a twee bit of a tart-up “Thing For You” could’ve been one of Hall & Oates’ most ginormous-ever chart-toppers …sparing our hero from months of pushing brooms, washing dishes and trimming trees had only, alas, song met singers. “A solid collection for the super fan as well as the new listener,” to quote that sticker again? I’d recommend everyone steering this collection From Memphis To New Orleans to your player of choice asap.       

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
Sol Nova
(Hookah Records)

After a performance last August by the one, the still only Alan Clayson at the Half Moon in Putney (I myself caught a Neil Innes show there a few years ago …but I digress) a gentleman claiming to own a record company expressed interest in immortalizing the man’s quite legendary “Sol Nova” upon ten inches of 21st Century vinyl. “While I was civil enough to him,” Alan reports, “I’m sufficiently battle-hardened by the business to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out he wasn’t talking crap. And, he wasn’t! He seemed to be someone with more money than sense – and I like people like that.” Or, as the official Hookah Press Release perfectly states, “On rare occasion a bright object will appear without warning in the night sky. This might be a sol nova; a star that, via a side-action of radio activity, has mutated suddenly into a celestial behemoth, swallowing and destroying all the planets in its orbit. And their inhabitants. Alan Clayson and The Argonauts have expressed this horror via a single of space-rock persuasion. Please try not to faint.”

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Between The Lines: The Complete Jordan/Wilson Songbook ’71-81
(Grown Up Wrong! Records)

Jordan/Wilson as in Cyril and Chris, that is. And while that musical team may for some inexplicable reason still not find themselves uttered in the same circles as Jagger/Richard(s) and, dare I say it, Lennon/McCartney, this above-superb compendium of shoulda-been-Big-BIG-hits from their Golden Decade sets records completely straight in a wholly, well, Groovie way. From the smartly Small Faces “Let Me Rock” clear through the too-bad-the-Ramones-never-got-a-stab-at “So Much In Love,” it’s plain this material, while planted in the past (eg: “Teenage Confidential” is the best song Gene Clark never wrote, while “Yes I Am” encapsulates the entire Aftermath LP in two and a half minutes flat) adroitly set the stage for the power popping paisleys of the Eighties and Nineties to come. Honestly, I still remember how absolutely floored I was when the magnificently Merseybeating “Yes It’s True” and especially “You Tore Me Down” first appeared upon my Pig Player 43-or-so years ago: I put my own band together within a week. P.S.: Also not to be missed in any way whatsoever is Grown Up Wrong’s I’ll Have A… Bucket of Brains collection of all the Groovies’ original, mainly Rockfield recordings from A.D. 1972. All together then, that’ll make four – count ’em! – versions of “Shake Some Action.”

JOHN & YOKO
Above Us Only Sky
(Eagle Vision)

Just when you thought there was categorically nothing left to see, let alone hear, about John Lennon comes this unexpectedly revealing study of J & Y circa 1971. Ostensibly a fly-on-the-studio-wall charting of the Imagine album sessions – quite possibly the most (over?) documented five days in recorded music history – Above Us Only Sky veers into all sorts of fascinating directions; most intriguingly into the backstories of both Yoko and John… which explains not only why the two got together, but why they stayed together. These 113 minutes also illuminate, as never before, the sly yet festering radicalism which lurks, not just lyrically, beneath much of the “sugar coating” which John later described, in perhaps attempting to excuse, the finished product’s orchestral gloss. Speaking of which, of particular note throughout is the ubiquitous, perpetually sunglassed Phil Spector: “a very heavy presence” in the understated words of Sounds photographer Kieron “Spud” Murphy. On much the other hand however is the vintage ’69 Bonus footage of John, Yoko, and Apple publicist Derek Taylor (!) busking “Oh Yoko!” in a Bahamian hotel room. Who knew Mrs. Lennon could be so skilled at harmony singing?!!      

LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS
“Black Velvet Dress” / “Alex”
(Big Stir Records)

For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob. “I heard you were giving a funeral today” may indeed be the first words voiced here, but what follows instead is a deceptively cheery deep breeze through all the brightest and the best of a circa-’78 playlist from your most trusted music geek’s audio closet. Nostalgic? No. The word would be “timeless.” N.B.: stay tuned for the coda too. Meanwhile, “Alex” sports the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, the Springfield or even Who at their most subtle and nuanced …and the concluding 30 seconds are just about the most gorgeous I’ve spent all year. Oh! and Hunt down then repeatedly hear these Librarians’ “And Then She’s Gone” b/w “Until There Was You” as well. And let’s all hope their long-promised full-length album isn’t much longer overdue.   

 

KIMBERLEY REW AND LEE CAVE-BERRY
Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day
(KL Recording)

And on the subject of pop done right, connoisseurs of the jangle genre, while already well acquainted with Mr. Rew’s renowned past will be as tickled as I at the breadth, bravado, and downright panache he and Lee pack into this singularly unassuming little disc. Donning their Blue Caps straight out of the gate on “Flat Cat,” rollicking towards The Great Lost Buckingham Nicks gem “Jess,” the two can make one incredible string band (“Angel On Earth”) one moment, then with “Sad Case” ricochet with precisely the kind of Northern beat ballad last heard on your fave rave Hollies B-side. Lee’s “Backing Singer Blues” places her 20 feet from stardom, certainly, but in a less bitter, more sweet way while “All The Colours” and maybe even the T.Rex-y “Sister Cow” demonstrate a most fruitful future awaits K & L if ever they should decide to explore the wide wild world of children’s entertainment. No, really! These songs are exhilaratingly all-ages, you bet, but with a keen eye and ear towards the canny sophistication which comes with musicians and songwriters who’ve been around. All the way around. And don’t it feel good?    

“THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS”
(ABKCO Films)

As the onslaught of over-boxed (not to mention all too frequently over-hyped and -priced) 50th Anniversary Christmastime Commemorative Issues roll onward and outward, how refreshing to hear – and see! – a package that more than deserves its place not only in socio-musical history, but right up there on your nearest collectors’ shelf too. This exquisitely restored and bountifully expanded edition of the Rolling Stones’ sorta-ill-fated 1968 all-star-and-then-some television spectacular is worth treasuring today if only to savor fresh commentary tracks from Mick and Keith, Marianne and Yoko, and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg …not to mention a bonus trio of additional Taj Mahal performances and even a Dirty Mac rehearsal of the latest Beatle B-side “Revolution.” Nevertheless, when all is said and sung, it remains The Who and their still-incendiary-after-all-these-years “A Quick One While He’s Away” that continues to steal the show; “for a brief moment it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll would inherit the Earth,” as no less an authority as official Circus chronicler David Dalton reminds us.    

 

SEX CLARK FIVE
The Orange Album
(Records to Russia)

It’s getting harder each and every decade to “miss” our beloved SC5, as they inch ever so closer to genuine mainstream underground acclaim and success: Now, in a mere 40 (!) minutes, are 23 (!!) good 2019 reasons why. Including “The Orange Album Song” (clocking in at 0:44), “Feel Too Hard” (adept vocal counterpointing), “Leni Riefenstahl,” “Jeanne d’Arc” and “Merchant of Venice” (acute melodic name-dropping; the latter complete with transcription sampling), “Those Days Are Gone” (psych!), “Cosmic Brain” (power!), “Home at Last” (pop!!), “Danielle” (I love the Honeycombs too), “Girl” (beats the Beatles’), “Hold On” (beats the Hermits’!), “Another Glad Life” (should’ve ended up in that Queen movie), “Dark Age Saint” (should’ve ended up on Disc 4 of the Kinks’ new Arthur box) …and I have still left a full ten other tracks thoroughly unaccounted for! Yes, James Butler and Rick Storey have produced yet another album which, remarkably, remains unfailingly loyal to their very own style of sound; as unmistakable today as it was in, unbelievably, 1985. If you missed them then, don’t miss them now.

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Radio Silence
(Rocket Racket Records)

Our noble Squire may have taken ’018 off, but he’s back …in all of his “recorded in the basement on analog gear” splendor. And you know what? This whole project seems, and surely sounds, positively soused from start to finish. But, in the kind of way that might make even the 1972 Raymond Douglas Davies green with ARLD. Tracks titled “Fever Eyes,” “Whiskey Closet” and “Tequila And Gin” provide clues, of course; not to mention the “Last call, Harry Nilsson!” aroma ’round “Too Much Of A Good Thing.” Elsewhere though, there’s the “8th Wonder Of The World” (yep, it’s the eighth number of the program) which should immediately be sent David Lynch’s way, the severely alt. country – even Hank Hardwood might appreciate – “Shadow,” and the Bradley brothers’ brass-propelled clean outta Nola and into the swamp “House Of Ghosts.” Add a shot of Speedy Keen on the title track accompanied by the most, um, mischievously tuned pianos this side of Quadrophenia and the Radio Silence becomes truly deafening.    


JOHNNY THUNDERS    
Madrid Memory
(Cleopatra Records)

Had I been anywhere in Spain on the evening of June 14, 1984, I would have made damn sure I was right there cheering on everyone’s favorite Doll as he and veteran partner-in-grime S. Sylvain hurled themselves through this typically shambled set of classics, soon-to-be-classics, and Grade A clunkers to boot. Introduced with simulated lightning and, yes, thunder, then the dulcet tones of “Pipeline,” a JT resplendent in his finest Dr. as opposed to Sgt. Pepper matador finery kicks off with an expertly ragged one-two “Personality Crisis”/”Too Much Junkie Business” slap before settling into the slipstream of things, Madrid-style. That means a shot of “Tequila” mixed with the “Just Another Girl” guitar solo, Sylvain ravaging his portable 88’s for a Booker T. by way of Terry Adams “Green Onions” I kid you not and, ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Nolan beating beautifully during “Don’t Mess With Cupid” especially. Break the merriment with an interview segment featuring, and I quote, Composer and Painter Carlos Berlanga, Music Producer, Manager and Starmaker Miguel Angel Arenas and three-quarters of the Zoquillos Punk Rock Band, follow with a four-song acoustic encore featuring a flamenco “Eve of Destruction” (!)… all memories you can put more than your arms around. Then, for even more fun, Don’t Forget to check in to Room 37 on your way out.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Featured Review Features

Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2016

Bob Dylan duly dumped about another thirty-seven (at last count) albums in our laps last year, while on much the other hand the vast majority of my aural Good Times! during oh-16 came courtesy of Micky, Peter, Michael and Davy. Nevertheless, there still remained room on the trusty Pig Player for the following splendid, purely alphabetically-listed items as well …which you should all be playing too if you aren’t already:

 

8x83 8X8 Inflorescence  (8X8 Records)
Once again virtually producing their sonic bridge between Queens, NY and Kiev, UKR, Lane Steinberg and Alexander Khodchenko return with forty three minutes which never fail to fully mystify as much as melodize. To begin, “Stop The Madman” takes its fanciful funereal march clear off our collective cliff, then “My Summertime High” trips Todd Rundgren straight over Colin Moulding before signing off with a most significant SMiLE indeed. But… is it Sunshine Pop?? Soon however, unlike on their previous offering, Alex and Lane start stretching out magnificent, purely instrumental passages: “Aftermath” sports a dense Mellotronic concluding quarter while “The Essence” tags on nearly two whole minutes which would sound completely at home beneath the very next Tom Cruise green-screen action caper; in fact two songs, “Head, Heart, & Tail” and “Between The Double Curtain” are almost totally instrumental. Yet wherever and whenever words do enter into it, the utterly Blonde on John “Bubbles” in particular, the lyrics weave a near Sir Ray Davies level of storytelling detail (“No More Second Chance”). Which reminds me: Lane Steinberg’s vocals – I single out “Some Surreal Idea” above all – are perhaps the best he has ever done. Which is saying quite a bit over a career which already spans decades. And counting.

Mike BadgerMIKE BADGER and the Shady Trio Honky Tonk Angels On Motorbikes (Generator)
Delightfully direct from the J. Strummer School of roots ‘n’ roll, Mike Badger’s northern UK ancestry (The Onset and, yes, The La’s to cite only two) plays as sure and smooth as his hollow body Gretsch upon this disarming little disc. “Miss Jones,” for starters, slyly sways in a Nesmith National Band way, while “27 Miles to Memphis” should without doubt be railroaded in Dave Edmunds’ direction asap. And while we’re at it, John Fogerty sure could use a tune or two just like “Mean And Nasty Devil” right about now. Elsewhere, “Adios Amigo” wouldn’t sound a single inch out of place on your favorite Rank and File album while “John Got Shot” fires 21st Century skiffle, I kid you not, complete with crackling Crickets-y guitar breaks here and then there. But it’s whenever his expertly Shady Trio channel those Tennessee Three – on “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” and “Maybe” mainly – that Mike’s way with a word and a chord shine brightest; and “The County’s First Psychedelic Cowboy” spins tall tales which could make Shel Silverstein roll over …while telling Mick Farren the news. P.S.: Mike’s exemplary The Rhythm & The Tide should be considered Required Reading as well, one and all.

Pet SoundsBeach Boys, Pet Sounds  (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
The Little Album That Could celebrated its 50th (!) Anniversary in 2016, and naturally Brian Wilson + Band fearlessly toured this whole world (“one last time”?) performing it to rapt audiences young, old, and definitely in between. To help with said commemoration on film, the venerable Classic Albums series gathers together the usual interview subjects (various Beach Boys, past and present, living and otherwise), some fascinating, seldom-heard-from figures (veteran Capitol Rec.s exec Karl Engemann), plus several downright dubious speakers (British teen singing starlet Helen Shapiro who, well, opened for the Boys back in ’67) to relate the oft-told yet still somehow captivating saga of one of our favorite-ever thirty-six minutes of vinyl. We get to view many an original Pet Sounds session reel box – one with Jan Berry’s phone number still visible – and hear snippets of raw recording chatter (thrill to M. Love Not War attempting “I Know There’s An Answer” Jimmy Durante-style), while engineer Bruce Botnick, listening to a playback of “Good Vibrations,” demonstrates how to correctly identify – within mere notes! – each studio used to record each suite section. Most interesting as well to hear Tony Asher recall how a brief hallway meeting between he and B. Wilson lead to his being asked, out of the proverbial blue, to write most of Pet Sounds’ lyrics, while Hal “Drummer Man” Blaine deciphers how the “Sloop John B” percussion was arranged to depict in sound the tiny ship’s increasingly choppy ocean voyage. “It’s all visual!” as Hal exclaims, and you’ll soon see too this is without doubt one Classic Album that more than deserves vivid A/V treatment.

MillersTalesBIG BOY PETE Miller’s Tales (•22 Records)
As the man/the legend himself has admitted, “This is what happens when you give Big Boy Pete a movie camera for Christmas.” And what happens all over this 90-minute (again, as BBP sez) “album of EyeTunes” is precisely the sort of seat-o-the-pants decorum-be-gawddamned DIY-ness which has infused Peter Miller’s career ever since he built his first Warblerama guitar in late-50’s Britain before going on to create some of the farthest-out sounds this side of Syd Barrett in Joe Meek’s parlor. And now, for the first time he’s bringing his all to the small – even laptop screen on this DVD: Be it chicken-pickin’ his way up and down the local record emporium’s vinyl aisles (“Once Upon a Tune”), sliding the kind of solos which would make even Zoot Horn Rollo recant (“Upside Down”), or plopping Sinatra in the middle of the nearest Nirvana video (“Baby I Got Screwed by You”). The accompaniment’s always top top notch of course (e.g.: Just when one thought there couldn’t be any more wah-wah Wonderwall Music comes “No Limeys Left in London”), but the visuals also wholly live up to their tasks (“The Flicker” imagines Casino directed by D. Lynch as opposed to M. Scorsese, while “My Loyal Shadow” displays genuine Bernard Shakey sensibilities, if you’d catch my drift). So! Call me Crazy Boy, but I for one hope we all live long enough to hear – and see – the Big Boy’s “Winnie” blanket-broadcast every 24th of January ’cross the length and breadth of that once United Kingdom in honour of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.

chilton ALEX CHILTON Ocean Club ’77 (Norton Records)
They say cool things come to those who wait, and I had to wait about a year til this gem safely arrived here at the ol’ sty. Then again, we all had to wait 38 times as long as that to finally have those now sounds of Alex, Chris Stamey, and Lloyd Fonoroff blow their Live in New York proto-punk directly cross our paths. Kinda hot off his Singer Not The Song EP, Alex and those sometimes-called Cossacks, taking a night or two off from demo’ing up a storm for Elektra Records (who, I suppose not surprisingly, never bit) hit the Ocean stage with the following words: “Can I have a Coke and, uh, Canadian Whiskey on the rocks?” How else to follow that up than with a blast into “September Gurls” (how very odd though to hear Alex introduce this number to near silence; the Chilton revival/renaissance still, we must recall, a few years off) followed by a detour home to Chuck B’s “Memphis” as only a Box Top can, “In The Street” – yes, that 70’s theme – and then “Back Of A Car” (“There’s a screw loose in this speaker!” it sounds like Stamey saying by way of, um, introduction). Add a nice Seeds nugget, a “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” in – wait for it – Beach Boys Love You (!) fashion, a too-wily-for-words “Walk Don’t Run” and a de rigueur “Letter” (no, not “Please Mister Postman” as Alex teases) and we honestly have a fifty-minute trip back to a simpler time when Big Star albums could only be found in Woolworths’ 99-cent bin and “power pop” was strictly a phrase uttered in crinkly old Pete Townshend interviews.

FeltonSIMON FELTON Return to Easton Square (Pink Hedgehog Records)
One of my favorite singing songwriting types from the far-flung Isle of Portland – that’s in Dorset, England btw – takes good time off from his Garfields Birthday band to bring us a dozen, and I quote the Press insert, “essentially demos. The intention would be to one day record them ‘properly’ in a studio, but the reality is that this is as good as they’re ever likely to sound.” But! With material as finely tuned as Simon’s, there’s nothing whatsoever amiss in keeping said recordings raw, ripe and ready. “Will You Be There” for example rests with a low rumbling cello pulse; a most effectively spacious arrangement which features often throughout this collection. “Alibi” employs a perfectly playful rhyming scheme, lyrically speaking, while “Good Morning Britain” really makes me wonder how often Simon stays home to watch Gavin & Stacey reruns. Everything herein’s sung with a soft C. Blunstone approach; which reminds me: “I Would (If I Wanted To)” should be sent the Zombies’ way without delay! And, so far as my ears are concerned, “Goodbye (Again)” represents just about the absolute best two-and-a-half minutes they’ve had all year. “Demos”? Well, these ones prove, yet again, that less can honestly amount to more. MUCH more.

Fleshtones THE FLESHTONES …The Band Drinks for Free (Yep Roc Records)
Joyously celebrating, as their sticker sez, “40 Years Of Rocking Harder Than Anyone In The World,” those ever-touchy-feely Fleshtones defiantly continue to put the Rage in the back of Garage …and then some. To wit, this latest and very possibly greatest release of theirs turns the guitars up and screws the snare taut for the kind of witful wallop we’ve long come to expect from these masters. More specifically, “Love Like A Man,” not to mention “Rick Wakeman’s Cape” (Title of the Year, btw) deftly add the Sir to the Douglas, “Suburban Roulette” should be considered for immediate cover on the very next Teenage Head platter, and “Respect Our Love” sounds as if those Dead Boys actually aren’t. I personally cherish that little Ox outro, bass-ically Who speaking that is, on “Living Today,” and Bonus Points aplenty for shutting completely down Usher/Christian’s golden vintage “Gasser” to boot. Then, signing strategically off “Before I Go” with said fuzz’n’Farfisa-crusted capper and this is, without debate, one band who can live up to its album title. Any time. On me.

JanisJANIS JOPLIN Janis: Little Girl Blue (MVD Entertainment Group) The mark of good filmmaking, especially of the docu genre, is the ability to capture and hold the viewer’s undivided attention even if the subject matter is unfamiliar or of little if any interest. I’ll admit to falling into the latter category insofar as Janis Joplin is concerned, for while I have always admired her talents and drive, I never really appreciated the range and depth of both until Little Girl Blue laid it plainly to see …and hear. Not only is the wealth of historical footage, both performance and otherwise well chosen, but so is the inevitable swell of talking heads – notably her Holding Company, her younger sister Laura, and intriguingly her “former boyfriend” David Niehaus – and thankfully all the young, Century 21 celebrity testimonials are saved til the end credits, lest they divide and distract from Those Who Were Actually There And Know (John Lennon’s final words on the subject, from a 1971 Dick Cavett Show, remain most chillingly profound). BEWARE, however, the “Big Brother Acapella” on the Special Features menu …you’ve been warned. All from our heroes at MVD, who have also just brought us magnificent audio compilations from John Coltrane (!) and John Lee Hooker (!!), not to mention – speaking of fine documentaries and even finer record stores – All Things Must Pass.

 

Legal Matters THE LEGAL MATTERS CONRAD (Omnivore Recordings)
Meanwhile, from the fine folk over at Omnivore who, on the most recent Record Store Day alone brought us lotsa Bangles, Beach Boys and Big Star present (to kinda quote the sticker right there on the CD cover) the highly anticipated second hook-filled and harmony-drenched release from Michigan’s Keith Klingensmith, Chris Richards and Andy Reed. And while absolutely no time whatsoever is wasted as “Anything” lulls ‘n’ floats most gently in on a lush Badfinger-by-way-of-Crowded House bed of ooooh’s, ahhhh’s and six strings, these Legal Matters, baby, are never content to toil merely within the boundaries of any musical pigeonhole: there’s “More Birds Less Bees” which goes one further plus deeper into vintage – guess who? – Bachman/Cummings territory while the sweet chilling “Pull My String” adds a slight scoop of Townshend, but with the ’tude toned properly down. May I add “The Cool Kid” should henceforth be piped through the PA at the conclusion of each and every International Pop Overthrow festival clear round the globe? Andy’s Reed Recording Company right there in Bay City, MI checks that all sounds shimmer, yet pack punch when need be, ensuring and reassuring any out there who may often fret over who killed all the rock and roll stars – yes, the ones that used to make us wanna learn our guitars in the first place.

MonkeesOh ! and Did I mention… THE MONKEES Good Times! (Rhino Entertainment)

 

 

 

 

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Gary Pig Gold

Categories
Features

Thoughts by The Millions, About The Late Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton - Photo by Jim Newberry

As a preface to the little article/remembrance below, know that I seem to be all over the place because my mind still is jumbled concerning Alex Chilton’s death. I could certainly talk all day about how much his music meant to me and how much I am shocked by his passing. Below are just some thoughts running through my head these last few days, nothing more but nothing less……

It’s been a rough few days, that I can tell you with all the certainty I am able to muster. I had always promised myself as a music journalist never to let my own personal fandom interfere with the job, to let it affect me. I made it a personal vendetta never to let my giddyness show when I met someone I looked up to and idolized, whether it be Colin Blunstone, B.B. King, the guys from Sloan or anyone I had written about or reviewed/interviewed and then had the pleasure to actually meet face to face. I had made myself a promise I would never turn into a quivering wreck when one of my heroes passed. Since they were human, I had decided they had a right to eternal peace just as everyone else did and I would neither hold it against them, bemoan the fact they died before their time (whatever that means), or spend days, weeks or months “getting over” it as if I actually knew them or had a personal connection to them in some selfishly imaginary way. We tend to think of our heroes as our friends because their work affects us in untold ways. People die all the time and I felt it was needless to get worked up about it and to just let their music or their art I enjoyed so much allow them to live on as if they would always be there, which, in theory, they would.

But I never counted on this.

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions Rock History

CD Review: Big Star – #1 Record/Radio City (Stax/Concord Records)

In memory of the legendary Alex Chilton who passed away this week we are republishing Scott Homewood’s Big Star double review that originally ran on July 14, 2009. If you are not familiar with Big Star and the work of Alex Chilton I urge you to become familiar with it now. It’s better late than never. ed

big-starWhat can be written about this bedeviled band that hasn’t been already? Besides maybe Badfinger, Big Star is the most romanticized rock and roll failure ever to release an album. Yet to call them failures doesn’t do the band justice as not only has the band released three of the most controversial and influential albums in rock and roll history but a version of them still performs today and has released an album of new material as recently as last year. That only two of original members still perform under the Big Star name (Singer/songwriter/legend Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens are augmented onstage by two of the semi-defunct alt-pop band The Posies, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow) makes no difference as the replacements found for the departed members mesh perfectly with the surviving members of the band and in retrospect were the perfect choices to revive the band when Chilton got the idea to jumpstart Big Star in the early ’90’s.

Categories
Features

Musical Overdose: Ken Stringfellow Talks About His Numerous Projects, Sounds and Onstage Personas

KSKen Stringfellow is best know for his work with The Posies, but is also a key player in the re-formed Big Star, as well as a respected solo artist. Over the years he has also been a part of many other influential bands such as R.E.M., The Minus 5, and The Orange Humble Band, to name a few.  Currently living in Paris and working on his newest project, The Disciplines, Stringfellow granted The Rock and Roll Report a rare interview.

Q: I know you’ve lived in France for about 5 years now, do you feel like a native at this point?

KS: No, I don’t feel like a native. You have to be one – especially in France. I don’t have an absolutely perfect command of the language by any means. French culture is very particular. When you are in France, even if you speak the language very well, people always can tell. There’s always a “Hmm, you’re not from around here” kind of thing. I enjoy living here and I’ve gotten used to the fact that I’m kind of always a fish out of water in one way, but I have a great life here. It’s not a bad situation to be in.