Monday, September 29, 2014

Leader of the pack - forming the super supergroup

(Yes, this is an instance in which you will find a story here that is not being reported by any other reputable publication. Hint, hint.)

The four gentlemen were sitting in a conference room at a hotel near O'Hare Airport, staring at a conference phone. A voice was speaking from the phone.

"Good evening, gentlemen," said the voice. "I'd like to thank you for coming here, although I'm certain that the $100 million paid to each of you had something to do with it."

("They got $100 million too?" mumbled one of the four.)

"As you have probably guessed, you have been asked to join together in a joint musical endeavor. Because of your high standings in the music industry, my supervisor believes that your joint endeavor will provide immense riches - I mean immense musical creativity - ah, who am I kidding? Immense riches." The voice laughed. "I need the four of you to decide upon a spokesman for the group, and then we can proceed."

There was the briefest of silences, and then the mumbler spoke up.

"The choice of a spokesman for the group is obviously a no-brainer," he stated. "With all deference to you old guys, I am the 21st century genius in this bunch. I have revolutionized all forms of entertainment, and my wife Kim isn't too shabby either. So, Charlie or whoever you are on the phone, Kanye will be the group spokesman."

An even briefer silence took place before the next person spoke. "Kanye, your work is so derivative," he said. "It's one thing to get a random video together, but you need to create a philosophy behind the video - one that is informed by current events. Now you may have spent your days watching your wife's sex tape, but I was there at Kent State, and my experience resulted in a philosophy that not only informed my band's successful audio output, but also its successful video output. Our video for 'Beautiful World' was the most revolutionary-"

Gerald Casale was interrupted in mid-sentence by the third man. "Revolutionary?" he exclaimed. "I invented video! Without my pioneering work in video, all of your flowerpot stuff would be nothing! And as for success, you guys were one hit wonders. I've had success on my own, I've had success with a band, I've had success with Linda Ronstadt, and I have more Liquid Paper than the rest of you combined!"

"Shut up, hat boy!" said the fourth man.

"You're a fine one to talk, surfer boy," replied the third man.

"Now you shut up, Nesmith. And you too, Casale. And especially you, West. All of you are wonderful in the studio with Auto Tune and everything else, but you haven't been performing live for fifty years like I have. Why? Because you're too scared. This supergroup is going to have to go out on tour at some point, and you won't be able to hack it. And as for the inventiveness that you all brag about, you haven't invented anything! I, Mike Love, invented surf music. I, Mike Love, invented car music. I, Mike Love, invented introspective music. I, Mike Love, invented Brian Wilson. And I, Mike Love, have continued to revolutionize music to this very day. In fact, Charlie, you don't need these other three! I, Mike Love, can be your supergroup! Who needs that Wilson dude? Who needs Al Jardine? Who needs what's-his-name who writes songs for Manilow?"

"Shut up, Mike!" yelled the voice on the speakerphone. "My boss says that all four of you will be in this group, and all four of you will be in this group! And if you know what's good for you, you won't quit. Just saying." He paused. "We'll table this discussion of group leader for a later time. Right now, I'd like to introduce you to your new manager and producer." There was a pause. "Gentlemen, meet Malcolm McLaren."

The room was quiet.

"I thought he was dead," said Gerald Casale.

A new voice emerged on the speaker. "But there are buffalo gals in HELL! And as for innovation, you pretenders..."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Music-related phrases that you never saw, and will never see

When reading the music press, there are certain phrases that do not shock you; "Heavy Metal Star Arrested for Drugs" is one example. But there are certain statements that you will NEVER see in the music press. Here are a few examples:

"Madness spent the last three months in Hollywood recording their new album."
(If there is any band that represents the word "English," it's the band Madness. Perhaps they'd spent two nights on the Sunset Strip, but after that it would be "time for tea" and they'd scurry back across the pond.)

"Kanye West is refraining from promoting his recent acoustic album."
(Unlikely on at least two levels. Even if Kanye were to grab an acoustic guitar and sing without Auto-Tune, it is very unlikely that he could keep his mouth shut about the endeavor.)

"Oasis has reunited with both Gallagher brothers, but will not release a new record and will perform all concerts at free venues."
(I'm not ruling out a future reunion of Oasis, but if they do reunite, they will reunite for the same reason that the Sex Pistols reunited - money.)

"Pat Boone is promoting his album of heavy metal covers."
(Oh wait - Boone DID do that.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rodger Manning, you probably think this post is about you #apmp

At the recent Bid & Proposal Con for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, Dr. Rodger Manning of Bid Write gave a presentation on bid losses. Specifically, he told us of an analysis that he had conducted on the reasons for various bid losses at a particular company, Desire. Because we were benefiting from the knowledge gained from these losses (Manning's opening quote: "When you lose, don't lose the lesson"), Dr. Manning entitled his presentation "Reasons to Be Cheerful."

Some of you can already see where this is going, and why I'd write about this presentation in my music blog.

After briefly discussing some general reasons why proposals win, Dr. Manning began discussing eight of Desire's bid losses, and the specific reasons (according to the customers) why Desire lost each bid. The eight bid losses were identified by the following titles:

"Don't Stand So Close To Me"
"When Will I See You Again?"
"Return to Sender"
"We Used to Be Friends"
"Things Are Seldom What They Seem"
"Totally Wired"
"Another Brick in the Wall"
"Someday (I Will Understand)"

Frankly, the whole idea of basing a technical presentation on song titles is pretty silly. Who would do something like that?

P.S. Sadly, because has changed its rules, I can no longer play my own biometric/public safety-related playlist that I created for the Oracle OpenWorld Unconference in 2008. But maybe I can re-create some of this in Spotify.

1 The Police – Wrapped Around Your Finger 5:14
2 Billy Idol – Eyes Without a Face 4:09
3 Junior Murvin – Police and Thieves 3:58
4 Bob Marley & The Wailers – I Shot The Sheriff 7:14
5 Eminem – My Name Is 4:29
6 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Welfare Mothers 3:49
7 spamtron – voter registration phone call 3:57
8 The Who – Who Are You 5:07
9 ABBA – Knowing Me, Knowing You 4:03
10 Arcadia – Election Day Loved track 4:29
11 Harry Chapin – Taxi 6:41
12 Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal 5:35
13 Randy Newman – Little Criminals 3:02
14 Bruce Springsteen – State Trooper 3:11
15 Stevie Wonder – Living For The City 3:39
16 The Human League – I Am the Law 4:08
17 Goo Goo Dolls – Iris 4:50
18 blink-182 – What's My Age Again? 2:29
19 Audioslave – Be Yourself 4:39
20 Bad Religion – I Love My Computer 3:03
21 Eminem – Lose Yourself Loved track 4:24
22 Finger Eleven – Paralyzer 3:27
23 Journey – Be Good to Yourself 3:51
24 Metallica – Am I Evil? 5:41
25 Nickelback – Savin' Me 3:38
26 Optimus Rhyme – Obey the Moderator 2:57
27 Evanescence – Bring Me to Life 3:58
28 Phil Collins – Don't Lose My Number 4:47
29 Survivor – Eye of the Tiger 6:12
30 Hall & Oates – Private Eyes 3:26
31 Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes 3:39
32 Royal Trux – Lunch Money 2:41
33 Patsy Cline – Fingerprints 2:46
34 Leonard Cohen – Fingerprints 2:55
35 The Beatles – I Want to Hold Your Hand 2:37
36 Talking Heads – Puzzlin' Evidence 5:24
37 Supertramp – Crime Of The Century 5:34
38 Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal 3:29
39 Ricky Nelson – Travelin' Man 2:20
40 Madonna – Borderline 5:21
41 Elton John – Border Song 3:22
42 Al Stewart – On the Border 3:23
43 Devo – Secret Agent Man 3:36
44 Owls – For Nate's Brother Whose Name I Never Knew Or Can't Remember 2:57
45 TRUSTcompany – Retina 3:13
46 Janis Joplin – Trust Me 3:15
47 The Shadows – F.B.I. 2:21
48 The Police – Every Breath You Take 4:14
49 The Doors – Touch Me 3:12
50 The Who – See Me, Feel Me 3:23
51 Øystein Sevåg – The Old Man 6:01
52 Frankie Valli – You're Just Too Good To Be True
53 They Might Be Giants – Fingertips 5:26
54 Filter – Take a Picture 6:02
55 Soundgarden – Face Pollution 2:23
56 Fiona Apple – Criminal 5:44
57 Ministry – Thieves 5:32
58 Thompson Twins – Lay Your Hands On Me 4:21
59 Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes 5:28
60 The Guess Who – These Eyes 4:11
61 Daft Punk – Face to Face 3:18
62 Jane's Addiction – Been Caught Stealing 6:06
63 Seal – Touch 5:19
64 Elvis Costello & The Imposters – No Hiding Place 4:00
65 Alan Jackson – Listen To Your Senses 3:09
66 UB40 – Tell Me Is It True 3:25
67 Sly & The Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) 4:36
68 Failure – Stuck On You

P.P.S. In addition to obviously having a love of music, Manning is a former rocket scientist - so if he says something isn't rocket science, believe him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Carly Simon school of Röyksopp song interpretation

One of Röyksopp's more recent songs is a collaboration with Susanne Sundfør entitled "Running to the Sea." A powerful sounding song (check the video), but when you examine the lyrics, it's almost as if it were written by someone who speaks English as a second language.

Obviously, I'm being hypercritical - music lyrics normally don't make sense even if they're written in the artist's native tongue - but the lyrics for this song bounce around between oceans and rivers in a maddening sort of way.

So I wondered what others thought of the song lyrics, and I ran across this analysis:

Song Meaning:
This song is about oil and the industry which runs inside our vains even though we know it might be one of the main reasons of the destructions of the earth and the human race.

snowreon January 25, 2013

snowre, you probably think this song is about you.

(And again, I'm probably being hypercritical. snowre may be Norwegian.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

If everyone sang their songs

Everyone who was anybody, including all of the Kardashians, were present at Wembley Stadium (not Wembley Arena, but Wembley Stadium) when the concert began.

Morris Albert appeared first, singing "Feelings."

Local heroes The Buggles then sang "Video Killed the Radio Star."

The Americans were represented by Lee Greenwood, who sang "God Bless The U.S.A."

After that, C.W. McCall sang "Convoy."

Right Said Fred followed this up with "I'm Too Sexy."

Meanwhile, the Beatles, reunited via a Google-funded bodily resurrection project, were having an argument over which song they were going to perform.

"Yesterday," Paul McCartney was stating.

"Nonsense," replied John. "It has to be 'Revolution.' The time is right."

"If I may remind you," asserted George, "'Something' was a number one hit."

Ringo sat in a corner, dourly playing cards with a resurrected Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, saying nothing - but whistling "Act Naturally" as he dealt.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Is he funny, John Cleese?

So anyways, I spent part of my Sunday afternoon listening to Human League songs on Spotify, and took the opportunity to listen to portions of Octopus for the first time. As I scanned the song titles, I immediately saw the song that Spotify labeled "John Cleese; Is He Funny?" (I have also seen it labeled as "John Cleese: Is He Funny?" and "John Cleese - Is He Funny?" I notice these things.) Seeing that this song was solely written by Philip Oakey, I was intrigued to see what Oakey would say on the subject of Cleese's funniness.

But, as more dedicated Human League fans already knew, Oakey had NOTHING to say about Cleese's funniness, because the song "John Cleese [insert punctuation here] Is He Funny?" is an instrumental. With no words whatsoever.

Or are there? Squidy:

Anyway, in 1997 League lead Phil Oakey had his hair cut as part of the rebranding of his band for the Nineties. As the long left-sided lashes of Phil hit the barbershop floor a previously thought lost notebook was discovered perched on Oakey's left ear. "Coo, I wondered where that got to! I spent ages looking for that," said Phil Oakey, acknowledging his left ear. "Now what's this notebook all about then?". It turns out the notebook contained rough lyrics and notes for the album that was to become Octopus, written between 1990 and 1994. Then titled 'Squidy' (whooo, spooky, eh listeners!), the most interesting pages included original lyrics for 'One Man In My Heart' which was originally called 'One Man In My Hat' and was about top Belgian apple-faced sky-faller Rene Magritte, and a proposed remix of 'Love Action' with additional mewing noises.

The previously unreleased lyrics for the John Cleese Funny song can be found here. And the released (instrumental) version of the song is at the end of this playlist of Human League songs.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The opening act wasn't KISSed off

Opening act. Not a good place to be..usually. The focus is on the headliner, and the opening act sometimes doesn't get soundchecks, or even an acknowledgement that they exist.

But it was slightly different for Black Sheep when they opened for Kiss. Lou Gramm, who later became famous with Foreigner, recounted Black Sheep's experience:

We ... had two albums out on Capitol and were opening for Kiss on a huge world tour. At one show we played in Boston, we received a standing ovation. Kiss’ management and crew were very good to us. Even though we were the opening act and knew we shouldn’t go back out, their tour manager told us to go answer our encore!

And of course, Gene Simmons' part in Van Halen's career is the stuff of legend.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Was Chris Farley present at the birth of ambient music?

If I had to take one Brian Eno album to a desert island, I would probably choose Before and After Science. This album, released in the days when records and cassettes had two sides, is clearly divided into two distinct parts. Side one clearly echoes some of Eno's previous solo releases; "King's Lead Hat" could easily fit on Here Comes the Warm Jets. Side two echoes other solo releases by Eno, such as Discreet Music and the quieter parts of Another Green World. Take, for example, the meditative song "By This River."

If I had to take a Chris Farley comedy routine to a desert island, I'd take his starry-eyed fan interview of Paul McCartney. But if I didn't choose that, I'd probably choose his first appearance as Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker. Foley, as portrayed by Farley, is anything but meditative. Loud, angry, yelling at the people he is supposed to be motivating, and portraying anything but a positive attitude (unlike the real Matt Foley, who has dealt with adversity in a positive way), the Matt Foley character is probably most famous for telling his subjects/victims that he himself lives in a van down by the river.

I think you know where this is going.

Yes, dailybeating created a brilliant mashup.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Devo's Bob Casale is dead

A friend of mine alerted me to this news. For the moment, I won't discuss the undercurrent of the dueling announcements that follow in this post.

Oddly enough, I had been reading about the late Alan Myers recently. Now comes word that another member of Devo, Bob Casale, has passed away. Publicly identified as the engineer for the band, this Bob (or, for that matter, the other Bob) wasn't as well known as the other members of Devo, but he was clearly an integral part of the band.

Mark Mothersbaugh offered these comments:

We are shocked and saddened by Bob Casale’s passing. He not only was integral in DEVO’s sound, he worked over twenty years at Mutato, collaborating with me on sixty or seventy films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games. Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson’s films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly. “

-Mark Mothersbaugh

Bob's brother, Gerald Casale, obviously had some thoughts of his own:

Very sad news to report today.

Bob Casale of Devo. Born: July 14th, 1952 . Deceased: February 17th, 2014

As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning. He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

Gerald Casale, Devo founder.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

She had to leave...Los Angeles!

Exene Cervenka, formerly of the band X, is forever connected with Los Angeles. But she's leaving California and moving to Austin, Texas. From Rolling Stone (h/t Trevor Carpenter):

Cervenka, who just turned 58, is having an estate sale this weekend. She's in good health, but she wants to move to Austin, Texas, and doesn't want to lug along all her stuff. So she's putting thousands of items up for sale....

Trevor and I took particular note of one of the reasons that she's leaving. Yes, she likes Austin, and she likes Jerry Brown, but she says that the California that she's leaving is not the one that originally attracted her.

[W]hen I moved to California in 1976...[i]t was barefoot hippie girls, Hell's Angels on the Sunset Strip, East L.A. lowriders, the ocean and nature. It was this fabulous incredible place about freedom. Now when I think about California, I think of a liberal oppressive police state and regulations and taxes and fees. I'd rather go someplace and have my own little place out on the edge of town. I'm a country girl at heart. It makes me happy when I see people in Texas open-carrying. It makes me feel safe. I'm not even a gun owner, but I'd like to see a gun rack in every pickup truck, like my boyfriend had when I was fifteen years old in Florida. An armed society is a polite society.

Be sure to read the rest of the article. Her thoughts on material possessions are refreshing. For example, she is selling a picture of John Doe, her former bandmate. She could have kept it..."[b]ut I know this guy, so I don't need a picture of him."

P.S. Here's a song, since this is like a music blog and all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

In England, it's not just rap music that's being played too loudly

As I write this, a Florida jury is deliberating to determine whether Michael Dunn is guilty of murder in the death of Jordan Davis, who was apparently playing really loud rap music.

But there's a case in West Yorkshire in which a verdict has already been reached.

Thankfully, murder is not the issue here. However, 18 year old Thomas Alcock has had his entire record collection seized by a court after his neighbors complained that the noise from Alcock's home was so loud that "it was vibrating the handrails to the stairwell."

So whose music was Alcock blasting? A rapper? A metal maniac?

No, Alcock was blasting...Adele.

I guess she'll be banned now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your all-American sports often feature British songs

It's funny when you think about it.

You can find basketball and ice hockey in Britain, but they're nowhere near the major sports that they are in the United States.

So why do we Americans listen to so many British songs at our basketball and ice hockey games?

Think about it. Queen's "We Will Rock You." Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part Two." Blur's "Song 2." Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."

You can hear these and other songs here.

This just demonstrates the huge musical shift that occurred in the early 1960s. In 1959, no one could predict that American sports fans would start listening to British songs during games.

Of course, this changed a few short years later...and not because of Acker Bilk.

Monday, February 10, 2014

#wwfd - online wisdom from Kevin Federline

It appears that Kevin Federline's official site is no longer available, but a fan site still exists that includes this game - What Would Federline Do?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Farewell ceremony?

From a phishing expedition:

Because it's from spammers, the wording is awkward. I especially loved their use of the phrase "farewell ceremony" to describe a funeral. However, I'm sure that for some of my secular friends, the term may be appropriate.

Perhaps the Devo Corporate Anthem could be played at such a farewell ceremony.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sinister fingerings - left-handed musical instruments

Activist terrorist left-handers sometimes blow up bombs (and not always the right way) because of a world that demeans them and relegates them to second-class status. But if the left-handers happen to be musicians, there is hope for them, even in this right-handed world in which we live.

Now when you think of left-handed musical instruments, the first one that comes to mind is the left-handed sewer flute. And when you think of the left-handed sewer flute, two names come to mind - Bob Block and Peter Nothnagle.

Bob and his friend Peter Nothnagle had been unimpressed with the quality, and especially the tuning, of the imitation renaissance flutes on the market at that time, and decided to try making their own, using plastic plumber's tubing in different widths, and corks donated by their wine-drinking friends. Bob and Peter spent a lot of time experimenting with width and length, sizes and shapes of the holes, and the feathering of the edges of the holes in order to make each and every flute play reliably on pitch. The sold entire consorts of soprano, alto, tenor and bass flutes for several years under the name "Aardvark Fluteworks." (He once received a catalog in the mail addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Aardvark Flutewo.")

OK, perhaps you think of two other names when discussing the left-handed sewer flute - some Schickele and some Bach - but did either of those people have a frog collection?

A very popular instrument for left-handers is the guitar, since it is relatively easy to convert a right-handed guitar to a left handed one. Among the people who are known for playing left-handed guitar are Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, and Kurt Cobain.

After all, it's much easier to convert a guitar for left-handed use than, say, a piano. If you look at the very shape of a grand piano, it's obvious that the longer bass strings can only go on the left side. In addition, the arrangement of the white and black keys on the keyboard can't really work in a left-handed fashion. (If you switched the order, then C#, which is a black key on the keyboard, would have to be played on a white key, the one that was formerly assigned to B.)

So if you want a left-handed piano, you'd have to build the entire thing from scratch - and who is going to do that?


The instrument was built by Poletti and Tuinman Fortepiano Makers of Holland, one of the finest firms in the world. It is a mirror-image piano based on an instrument built by Conrad Graf in Vienna around 1826.

This piano was built for the benefit of Christopher Seed, who to my knowledge has never played a left-handed sewer flute.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Your property will be branded to sell

A few years ago, I shared a post about real estate agent Marilyn Wilson Rutherford, a Southern Californian who is the mother of two thirds of Wilson Phillips, the former wife of one of the Beach Boys, and a former performer herself (with the girl group The Honeys).

But Rutherford is not the only musician turned real estate agent. If you need an agent in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, perhaps you may want to use this guy:

Sim A. Wilson III is First Vice President for CBRE in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2009, Sim transitioned from Miami office to Eastern Tennessee assuming responsibility as principal broker for CBRE’s newly formed Tennessee office serving Chattanooga, Cleveland and Knoxville. Sim provides property acquisition, disposition and leasing services for CBRE Corporate Services and Institutional Clients both locally and regionally. Sim has been providing sophisticated real estate solutions for more than 22 years and has been with CBRE since 1994.

For more of Mr. Wilson's accomplishments in Tennessee and Florida, see the page.

Unfortunately, the page (unlike Rutherford's) does not discuss Mr. Wilson's previous musical accomplishments in California. Presumably this is because of the real estate market in Tennessee. While it's fine for Rutherford to speak of her musical background for her Southern California clientele, it's uncertain if Mr. Wilson's clients would necessarily be interested in his career as lead singer for a noted punk band - even if said band was a Christian punk band.

And Wilson is not the only Undercover Californian to head east. If you go to James Madison University in Virginia, you can take classes from Joseph Taylor. Incidentally, if you have not checked in with Taylor since the 1980s, his spiritual journey (documented in his blog) has been varied.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I went to Nashville to make my mark, but the mall cop shut me down

You know that someone is going to write a song about this.

Members of a glee club who have performed at Carnegie Hall and toured Europe were shut down when they broke into a spontaneous song for a lunchtime crowd at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville.

About 60 members of the men's glee club from Miami University in Ohio had just finished lunch at the mall during a break between performances Friday in Nashville when a security guard rolled up on a Segway.

It turns out that if you want to sing at Opry Mills, it has to be pre-arranged. None of this spontaneous stuff.

More here.

What rhymes with "Segway"?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Squatting and its effect on English music

Until recently, I had never heard of Fiona Russell Powell. I had, however, heard of Eden, briefly a member of the band ABC.

ABC was a band from Sheffield, England, that enjoyed success in both England and the United States during the 1980s. ABC was just one of many bands that emerged from Sheffield during that period; I mentioned some of them here in a post about the original singer of "The Crying Game" - a song made popular by one Boy George.

Back to Eden (if you can ever go back). Eden's real name is Fiona Russell Powell, and as a young teenager she had joined a band called Vice Versa. She quit the band before a gig, and was replaced by one Martin Fry. The band changed its name to ABC, and the rest is history.

In subsequent years Fiona would become a noted music journalist, rejoin the band ABC for one album, adopt the stage name "Eden," be dismissed from the band, and eventually go through rehab.

However, after quitting Vice Versa and before launching her journalism career, Fiona left Sheffield and moved to London. It wasn't an easy move.

By the time I arrived in London in 1980, I was already a seasoned teen runaway having left home in Sheffield and been removed from public school at the age of 15 and a half as a punishment for "refusing to conform". I was 17 and had no job, no money and knew only one person who also had no money, lived in a hostel and knew no-one. Through luck and serendipity, I ended up sleeping on the lounge floor at Glenn Gregory's basement flat in Ladbroke Grove.

If you don't recognize the name, Glenn Gregory would eventually become the lead singer of Heaven 17. However, after Glenn's girlfriend threw Fiona out, Fiona moved to a new place on Carburton Street. Since people were squatting at the Carburton Street place, things were somewhat precarious, but it was better than living on the street.

Initially Fiona shared a room with someone else, but eventually a new room opened up.

George had literally just moved out of his room into (poet and playwright) Jonathan and Pam Gem's flat, which was nearby in Goodge Street, so I moved out of Brian's room and took over George's. I also stopped going out with Brian. The walls in George's room were covered in pictures of Kirk Brandon and he had tons of a Theatre of Hate EP that he practically used as wallpaper! Also, he had the photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue, along with a large glass sweet jar that George had used to keep his cotton wool make-up remover balls in and so did I. There was a cute little doll made out of fruit that I also kept. I've still got it somewhere.

George was George O'Dowd, later known worldwide as Boy George. One of George's friends, a man named Marilyn who initially was as famous as George was, remained in the house, and Fiona experienced something with Marilyn that would change her life for many years to come.

Anyway, one evening, Marilyn was doing my make-up, using products from Charles Fox, the theatrical costumiers, which was what all the drag queens used in those days. In fact, Marilyn really taught me how to put on make-up and he was an absolute artist. Anyway, he wanted to pluck my eyebrows and I said no, it would hurt too much. He kept insisting and I kept refusing. Then suddenly he said, "'Ere, 'ave some of this", and shoved some brown powder under my nose. I knew what it was but asked "Is that what I think it is?". "'Course it is, now take it before I change my mind. I don't usually give it away."

For more about Carburton Street and other squatting locations, see Time Out, Fitzrovia News, and The Blitz Kids.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cliff Richard's part in the British Invasion?

Considering its relative size, the hold of the British music industry on the American market is remarkable. For example, I spent much of New Year's Eve listening to White Town.

When considering why a guy in California would be listening to a band like White Town, you have to go back to the Beatles, who dominated the U.S. music charts beginning in early 1964. Their arrival in New York has become a historical moment.

But it was not the first time that a Beatle visited the United States.

In September 1963, the Beatles were the talk of the United Kingdom, and had miraculously become even more popular than Cliff Richard, seemingly within a few short months. After intense activity, the band took a break, and guitarist George Harrison and his brother Peter went to visit their sister Louise - who happened to be living in the United States.

The long-haired guy with the funny accent was very busy during his time in the United States - he bought a guitar, he visited a radio station, and he appeared at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, backed by the Four Vests and billed as the Elvis of England. Among the songs they performed was "Roll Over Beethoven." (Apparently "Don't Bother Me" was not performed.)

But at some point during his stay in the States, George Harrison went to a drive-in movie - and was in for a shock.

George went back to England with horror stories of how CLIFF RICHARD, the biggest star in the U.K., was reduced to the second half of a double-feature here in the States at the local drive-in with his U.K. smash film SUMMER HOLIDAY....

George's conclusion? Despite the warm reception at the VFW hall, it was clearly apparent that the Beatles' music would never break in the United States. After all, if Cliff Richard had failed, what hope did the Beatles have for making a dent in this huge country?

As it turns out, George was wrong - within a few months, Beatlemania would strike the U.S.

But all was not lost for Cliff Richard in America either. Although he has never had a #1 U.S. hit like the Beatles, his song "Devil Woman" did reach #6 on the charts - in 1976.

Monday, December 30, 2013

What will be Pandora's next move?

You may recall my June 25 post in which I quoted extensively from a Pink Floyd statement (well, a 75% Pink Floyd statement) regarding Pandora Music - including an allegation that Pandora supported "an 85% artist pay cut."

Pink Floyd's statement had an effect:

This criticism was a tipping point in a long battle over artist royalties, said Ted Kalo, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. "That thing caught fire like nothing ever has on royalty issues," Kalo said of Pink Floyd's criticism. "This was a massive artist backlash."

Perhaps Pink Floyd's decision to place its music on Pandora competitor Spotify also had an effect. For whatever reason, Pandora has backed off on its support of the so-called "Internet Radio Fairness Act."

But there are still questions of fairness.

When an artist's song is played on a terrestrial radio station, the writer or composer of that song (not necessarily the performer) is typically compensated through performance-rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. The same is true if the song is played on satellite radio or Internet radio. However, terrestrial radio — that is, AM and FM — stations are exempt from paying performance royalties (i.e., royalties to the performer of the song), whereas satellite and Internet radio stations are not. And Internet radio stations pay higher rates than satellite and cable stations. The United States is one of the few industrialized countries that does not require terrestrial radio stations to pay performance royalties.

So while songwriters get a ton of money from terrestrial radio stations (which still dominate the music market), performers don't. This may please Randy Newman, but it wouldn't please Linda Ronstadt.

Among the ideas floating around is the proposal that terrestrial radio stations pay their "fair share" of performance royalties. Radio stations argue that performers benefit from the huge promotional capability of radio. Of course, Pandora tried that same argument, but failed.

With Pandora moving away from IRFA, some of the streaming service's most vocal opponents hope the company will unite with them around the issue of eliminating the AM/FM radio performance royalty exemption. For Pandora, it could mean a more level playing field, and for artists and labels, it could be a new source of royalty revenue....

Pandora did not respond to the question of whether it will lobby for terrestrial radio to pay performance royalties.

To be continued.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How the Grinny stole Guitar Godhood - why I dislike Eddie Van Halen

I finally figured out why I dislike Eddie Van Halen - which, if you read this blog regularly, is no big secret.

For years, I've told myself that Van Halen's guitar playing isn't all that musical.

But I just figured out the REAL reason for my distaste.

It's that danged goofy grin that he has when he's playing. And he still had it, even in 2012:

[T]he black-and-white video for "Tattoo" steals a few moves from the classic Van Halen playbook, with Roth shimmying and shaking (while donning goggles, waving checkerboard flags and frequently changing his wardrobe) and Eddie Van Halen grinning while unleashing a flurry of his patented guitar licks.

And when you have that big goofy grin on your face, you can't (IMHO) be taken seriously as a rock god.

Don't believe that a big goofy grin can change one's estimation of a musician? Let's take a look at some alternate history.

It's Madison Square Garden, and Led Zeppelin is playing their anthem, "Stairway to Heaven." As is normal, the song has been building up. One John has been setting the atmospheric tone, the other John has been building up the percussion to a level of ferocity, Robert is now screaming, and Jimmy is playing an outstanding guitar solo - with a big goofy grin on his face.

Kinda takes the magic away, doesn't it?