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PIGSHIT: The Monkees Present…

It may have taken me over forty years, but on June 16, 2011 I finally got to see one of my all-time favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands, The Monkees in concert.

Sure, at the highly tender age of eight-and-a-half I was undoubtedly, along with at least 73 million others, the ideal candidate to contract a terminal case of Beatlemania when Paul, George, Ringo and “Sorry girls, He’s Married” Britishly invaded The Ed Sullivan Show all those years ago. Instantly, I will admit, all aspirations of becoming an archaeologist and/or Formula One racer forever vanished beneath a monophonic haze of swirling seven-inch Capitol 45’s upon my parents’ hitherto genteel hi-fi console …that is, when I wasn’t Lennon’ing around the basement strumming one of dad’s old tennis racquets attached via kite string to an upturned cardboard washing machine Vox – I mean box.

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PIGSHIT: High Tide and Fazed Cookies

The jury – to say nothing of the legal teams – appear to still be out on precisely how much of a bigger bang the Rolling Stones are planning next year to mark their fiftieth (!) year together as a band. Will they in fact, even for a concert or two, be able to regain the best bass player they ever had? Can even long-lost Mick Taylor again be convinced to try to fill Brian’s musical shoes for maybe a solo or two?? Anything to prevent, or at least delay, the next Jagger so-low album, I can already hear all of you thinking out there! 

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PIGSHIT: Polycarbonate Beatles for sale!!!

While the very concept of the “Tribute” album has over the years become quite a scary one, the Beatle Tribute can strike downright terror into the hearts of any who still value their sensibilities, let alone that hitherto-durable 214-song catalog. Yes, as far back as William Shatner’s 1968 stab at “Lucy In The Sky,” John, Paul, George and even Ringo have had their melodic legacies sliced, diced, half-baked, botched and certainly butchered by those both well-meaning and, well, just plain mean. Truth to tell, these days I find it increasingly hard to sit through that Bee Gee/Frampton Sgt. Pepper movie even with tongue deep in-cheek.

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PIGSHIT: 10 reasons why The Rolling Stones WERE the world’s greatest rock and roll band

As what remains of the literary world eagerly celebrates the arrival this month of none other than Keith Richards’ long-awaited autobio “Life,” I thought I’d just keep this particular ball, well, rolling with…..

TEN REASONS WHY THE ROLLING STONES WERE THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND

1. BRIAN JONES’ HAIR

Not only the longest and the blondest, but the most distinctive coif to come out of the (first) British Invasion – hence his invariably being positioned as the focal point of the band’s publicity photos, not to mention album covers. “Personally, I always make a point of cleansing my hair after every meal,” a young Brian would defiantly inform the press when asked if the band, as their promo boasted, bathed only during months with an “R” in them.

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PIGSHIT by Gary Pig Gold: I Heard It Standing There

On the occasion of Sir Paul McCartney’s 68th (!) birthday, let me take you back, as the song still goes…

It is the frigid winter of 1963/64. Extra cold, in fact, in the Toronto suburbs for an eight year old who has a long holiday, all set to spend: “With The Beatles.”

My best pal Paul Davis’ house is conveniently located just one block over. His mother is a piano teacher, and so music – yes, even rock ‘n’ roll music – is allowed, if sometimes in the case of “the louder stuff” only tolerated, on the family hi-fi system. So it was then that, until the following year when I was offered the choice of one 45-RPM record of my very own in lieu of fifty cents’ allowance each week, I had to visit the Davis place in order to fully avail myself of his older sister’s record collection.

And what a collection it was! Remarkably hip in retrospect especially because alongside all the usual ’63-vintage pin-up pop (as in Elvis on down), the elder Davis sister had a slew of beautifully battered seven-inch singles I was allowed to run hog – or should I say “Pig” wild with, whenever over there, ostensibly visiting Paul.

That is how, right after that initial Kennedy assassination, I came across my very first Beatle disc: an authentic orange-and-yellow-swirling Capitol Records of Canada pressing of “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

So, onto the Davis console stereo it immediately went.

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PIGSHIT: The British Are Coming … Again

“No more Beatles! No more Stones! We just want the The Viletones!” went the cry of true teen angst ‘round my Toronto neighborhood circa the Summer of Hate in 1977. And, memories of my favorite punk-rock combo from a misspent youth notwithstanding, I do find myself feeling very much the same these thirty-three-and-a-third revolutions later, as big Beatles box sets and Rolling Stones re-issues continue to dominate our collective, sonic rear-view.

Of course, I can still thrill to a remastered (mono!) “She Loves You” as much as the next boomer, and glimpsing out-takes of Hendrix backstage with Keith inside that Get Yer Ya-Ya’s anniversary bundle will always raise a grin or two. But surely, surely, there must have been something going on during those scant weeks between 1963 and 1969 when Lennon, McCartney, Jagger and/or Richards compositions weren’t sitting atop the world’s hit parades.

Surely!

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The Shadows know and, thanks to Gary Pig Gold, now you can too

For those still old enough to peg the launch of British rock to the evening of February 9, 1964, when four young Liverpudlians appeared, as if from nowhere, on the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show, think of this: last year a different U.K. band celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a series of sold-out concerts at London’s mammoth O2 Arena. At the height of their success, this band placed an astounding twenty-eight hits atop the British charts, have released over one hundred albums worldwide and their lead singer was knighted by the Queen before Elton John, Tom Jones, Mick Jagger or even Paul McCartney. That singer’s name? Cliff Richard. His band? The Shadows.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s grand new release, Cliff And The Shadows: The Final Reunion DVD, documents the band’s landmark 2009 O2 Arena performances and constitutes the perfect two-hour primer of and for pre-Beatles British rock. Accordingly, barely a minute into the proceedings and legendary Shadows guitarist Hank B. Marvin claims Cliff’s 1959 chart-topper “Living Doll” as, and I shall quote,”The first real British rock and roll record.” That classic is duly performed herein, along with forty-one! other songs and it’s all in just under 137 minutes. Every song comes fast and furious, short and sweet, and at a near assembly-line pace. All the excitement is captured in sight and especially in sound, which is clean, bright and sharp from the very beginning until the final encore.

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Brian Ray on Playing with Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Etta James and His Upcoming Album

redbone1Brian Ray calls himself a “Reluctant Rock God and Guitarist” on his MySpace, but what’s perhaps even more impressive is that he’s scored one of the best gigs around: since 2002 he has been Paul McCartney’s bass player and yes, that’s The Beatles‘ Sir Paul McCartney. However, Brian Ray’s extensive career is not to be undermined. He’s accomplished many great musical feats and in the past has played with greats such as Bobby Pickett, Etta James and Smokey Robinson and, more recently, played on Chris Cornell’s solo album. He’s even released his own solo record, Mondo Magneto, and has a second in the works. Brian recently agreed to honor The Rock and Roll Report with an exclusive interview.

Q:  You just finished a tour with Paul McCartney, how was it?

A: BR: Yes, we finished a recent big stadium tour in the US [11 dates] and it was a fabulous time, including the new Citifield Stadium [home of the NY Mets] and the outdoor concert on the rooftop marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theatre [home of David Letterman’s Show].