Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Community, cancer, and a very long tongue

In my mrontemp blog, I shared a couple of posts that mentioned Parrot Heads of the Triad, and the charity work that is performed by this organization of Jimmy Buffett fans.

One of the groups supported by Parrot Heads of the Triad is Relay for Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.

But it turns out that parrot heads aren't the only music fans who support this charity, as this article from the Dawson (Georgia) News & Advertiser indicates:

Tommie Smith, left, and Cole Pearson pose for a picture with Gene Simmons at Relay for Life. J. Pearson (Gene Simmons) dressed up as the rocker from KISS as part of his team's '70s theme. (Photo/A.J. Puckett)

To see Puckett's photo, click here. You can see J. Pearson in all his glory, including his tongue.

And other KISS-related groups have participated in similar fundraisers (here's an example). Their slogan? "KISS Cancer Goodbye."

And sometimes the fans provide musical entertainment.

OK, they mimed it, but "Paul" certainly gave his all toward the end of the performance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yes - a Mike Smrek music video!

On Wednesday, my Empoprise-BI business blog included a post about high school teacher and former basketball player Mike Smrek. It turns out that I'm not the only person who has written about Smrek. In addition to Steve Greenberg of Sporting News, Mr. Smrek has been covered by Peter Kim in The No-Look Pass.

(Coincidentally, on Thursday Dan Patrick stated on-air that he was the master of the "look pass." But I digress.)

Kim's piece goes into detail about Smrek's career, including a positive assessment of Smrek from Karl Malone. Kim also notes that Smrek was the first Canadian to earn an NBA championship ring.

And Kim also lauds Smrek's performance in a video. After the Super Bowl Shuffle (which I wrote about in 2009), it seems that every 1980s team had to put a video together. The Lakers chose to record a "just say no to drugs" message which not only included Smrek, but also some other people that you may have heard of, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, and Pat Riley.

The video is here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

(empo-tymshft) "Hocus Pocus" not by Focus

One of my favorite songs growing up was "Hocus Pocus" by Focus. It came out at roughly the same time as "Frankenstein," resulting in a double whammy of rock instrumental classics. I just checked to see if I had ever blogged about "Hocus Pocus" before, and it turns out that I did - way back in November 2003 when I first started the Ontario Empoblog.

There are several different edits of "Hocus Pocus," but all of them feature episodes of a guitar-driven chorus, alternating with excerpts of - well, whatever. Yodeling, scat singing, it's all there in its Nederlander glory.

Whenever you have a great song like this, the question always arises - is the song itself a good song, or is it only good because of the particular arrangement? Many songs work well no matter who sings them or how they are sung - "With a Little Help for My Friends" is a good example.

So what would happen if "Hocus Pocus" were arranged differently?

On Wednesday evening my niece was begging me to listen to the Cleverlys on YouTube, to hear their bluegrass take on Beyonce. (My niece, being unfamiliar with bluegrass, referred to the Cleverlys as a folk band.) But once I discovered that the Cleverlys had performed a bluegrass version of "Hocus Pocus," I had to hear that.

Well, yodeling certainly fits well with acoustic music - just ask Slim Whitman. And the scat singing works well in this arrangement also.

I wonder how many of the people listening to that Cleverlys performance were familiar with the original arrangement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(empo-tymshft) (empo-utoobd) Peaches, Herb, Simon, Nick, the Taylors, and Justin?

I heard Duran Duran's songs when they first came out, but some people weren't around at the time. When THEPRANKCALLERS94 posted "Union of the Snake" to YouTube, commenter HazelEyedEpiphany offered the following observations:

omfg! i remembe the first time i heard this was on the radio a few years before all this justin bieber crap, and i never knew the name of the song! :( yesterday my friend was telling me about her mom's favorite band when she was a tween, i looked them up and...REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!!

It should be noted that the final phrase is a quote from a 1970s song that predates Duran Duran, but has obviously entered our musical consciousness.

Speaking of Herb (real name Herb Feemster, stage name Herb Fame), he became a court security officer in 1986 and hasn't looked back. Well, not much.

"I come here to work," he says during an interview in an empty courtroom. "I really enjoy coming to the court every day. I enjoy the people here; I smile and laugh with them every day. And I enjoy standing in the court and listening to these trials."


Some entertainers hire bodyguards; Feemster is more or less working as one, as his duties include judicial personnel protection. He carries a Glock and two extra magazines on his belt, and if you want to make a No. 1-with-a-bullet joke, well, by all means.

I think I'll pass on making that joke. And I won't make that joke with Peaches, either - Francine Barker passed away in 2005.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Common names

For the record, David Mason, the trumpet soloist who appeared on "Penny Lane" - and who recently died - is NOT the same person as Dave Mason, former member of Traffic and solo artist who also performed with some ex-Beatles.

Oh, and if you want to refer to Mick Jones the English guitarist, you need to specify whether you're talking about the one from the Clash, or the one from Foreigner.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Presumably you can buy nine inch nails at the Home Depot

On Saturday I was at the Home Depot in north Fontana, California, and I happened to look up at the ceiling. There, in big letters, was the word "REZNOR."

Specifically, I was presumably looking at the Reznor Unit Heater:

Suspended from the ceiling of a Factory, Box Store or Warehouse, unit heaters provide an excellent solution for Doorway Heating, Freeze Protection, Space Heating, and summer time air circulation.

Low First Cost
Easy to Install & Maintain
Excellent Redundancy

Let's go back to the nineteenth century, when a man named George Reznor was being awfully inventive.

George Reznor, manufacturer, inventor & Civil War veteran of Mercer [Pennsylvania] ... was born November 9, 1835 in Lancaster County. His parents, John and Mary Reznor in 1842 settled on a farm at Leech's Corners, this county.

After attending the county school of his neighborhood, Mr. Reznor took service with the Cleveland Engineering Co....

Mr. Reznor later ... entered the drug firm of Reznor and Williams and later that of Reznor and Garber. Mr. Reznor perfected a machine for the manufacturing of illuminating and fuel gas from gasoline and later a gas stove. For the making of the later device, the Reznor Manufacturing Company was organized. Its plant is said to be one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Or at least it was in 1915, when George Reznor died. The company was subsequently managed by his descendants - George Foster Reznor, George Watson Reznor, David Reznor Webster - before the family sold the business.

In November of 1961 Reznor Manufacturing Company became a subsidiary of Bell & Gossett Company of Morton Grove, Illinois. In 1962 it became a division of that company. In September of 1963, Bell & Gossett became a subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Today Reznor is owned by Thomas Betts, Incorporated.

Now you may have noticed that I posted this in my Empoprise-MU music blog, not my Empoprise-BI business blog. This raises the obvious question. And the answer is yes:

Is Trent Reznor, the lead singer for the band Nine Inch Nails, associated with Reznor HVAC Equipment?

Trent Reznor is a direct descendant of George Reznor, who founded the Reznor Company in 1888. The Reznor Family sold the business in the 1960's. Reznor heaters are still manufactured in Mercer, Pennsylvania - Trent's home town.

Now did the name of Trent's band possibly bubble up subliminally from the family's industrial background? I guess it's possible. Here's what Trent has said about the band name:

I don't know if you've ever tried to think of band names, but usually you think you have a great one and you look at it the next day and it's stupid. I had about 200 of those. Nine Inch Nails lasted the two week test, looked great in print, and could be abbreviated easily. It really doesn't have any literal meaning. It seemed kind of frightening. [In his best he-man voice] Tough and manly! It's a curse trying to come up with band names.

Of course, if you're familiar with the av1611.org website, you know that there are other accounts:

DC Talk's video "Jesus Freak" is one of the most popular Christian video's ever recorded.

But, how "Christian" is it?

"Jesus Freak" was directed by an Englishman named Simon Maxwell. And who is Simon Maxwell? Simon Maxwell is video director for the satanic and blasphemous Nine Inch Nails!

DC Talk openly admits to watching one of Nine Inch Nails videos, and liked Maxwell's style. "We had seen some of Simon's work with Nine Inch Nails", says DC Talk vocalist Toby McKeehan. "HIS STYLE APPEALED TO US." (Billboard, November 11, 1995)

Have you seen the "ultra-blasphemous" video "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails? It shows a monkey crucified on a cross!

And those who are familiar with contemporary Christian music can probably deduce that the av1611.org folks think that it's as bad as Nine Inch Nails and former Trent discovery Marilyn Manson. Read this for av1611.org's views on Michael W. Smith and Steve Taylor. (Here's one of my previous posts on Taylor, and here's another one.)

Now of course Trent Reznor isn't the only musician connected to the business world. Bette Nesmith Graham's son received an inheritance in 1980 that not only ensured that he could keep well-stocked with knit caps, but also that if the son ever made a mistake on a typewriter, he could afford to buy something to correct it. For example, perhaps the song might leave the G off of the word Cruising.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not for the Bruins - I revisit O.P.M.

On Sunday night, Mike Nayyar shared the fact that he was listening to Elton John's "Levon." This reminded me of my previous comments in this blog about "Levon" and other early Elton John songs, and the influence of Paul Buckmaster. Now Buckmaster was not the only creator of O.P.M. - over-produced music. In the post, I made a passing reference to another tune.

Now "Tusk" was pretty much a one-off - there's no marching band on "Albatross"...

"Tusk," of course, is the title track from Fleetwood Mac's Tusk album. The title song famously featured the University of Southern California marching band, which was recorded in a nearly-empty Dodger Stadium, decades before Frank McCourt owned the place.

Now you can find several third-party sources that discuss how the song was conceived, and how the video was conceived, but I thought it best to go to the original source - the band's website. After all, the page promised to provide commentary on the songs. Unfortunately, the commentary on "Tusk" was written by third parties. Here's a sample:

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There are a number of similar types of comments for everything from jewelry to sports jerseys.

And you thought the RECORDING was a cacophony...

P.S. The video's embedding is disabled by request, but you can see it here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Keynes and Hayek rapping about the last century

Jim Ulvog is a friend, a fellow worshipper, and a blogger. I've referenced him at various times in my Empoprise-BI business blog, but have never done so in my Empoprise-MU music blog.

Until now.

Ulvog's recent post Rappin’ economists, round 2. Yes, rapping. Yes, round 2 links to an EconStories post entitled "Fight of the Century."

In one corner, you find John Maynard Keynes.

In the other corner, you find F. A. Hayek.

Their weapons? Rhymes. Here's one of the initial volleys from Keynes.

Are you kidding? my cure works perfectly fine…
have a look, the great recession ended back in ’09.
I deserve credit. Things would have been worse
All the estimates prove it—I’ll quote chapter and verse

Here's one of Hayek's responses, concerning World War II.

Wow. One data point and you’re jumping for joy
the Last time I checked, wars only destroy
There was no multiplier, consumption just shrank
As we used scarce resources for every new tank

Pretty perverse to call that prosperity
Rationed meat, Rationed butter… a life of austerity
When that war spending ended your friends cried disaster
yet the economy thrived and grew faster

But this isn't the only economic music on YouTube. Here's a love song to Hayek.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We we so excited and it ain't even Friday

The person who shared this video with me noted that it included a lot of rap references. I missed most of those, but I did get one of the references. (See the title of this post.)

Iman Crosson as Barack Obama presenting the Osama death message that was ORIGINALLY planned.

And no, I don't know who Antoine Dodson is. But I know who Charlie Sheen is. And Donald Trump. As the Huffington Post notes, the video "works in almost every meme from the last month." And even after Sheen and Trump and Dodson have been forgotten, it's still a catchy tune.

I Am Not Trendy, the May 7 edition

On April 28, I heard the Florence + the Machine Song "Dog Days Are Over" for the first time. The song was released several years ago, but I finally got around to hearing it last month. I liked it so much that I posted a video of the song in the Empoprise-MU page on Facebook. Here's the video that I posted:

I heard the song again today.

At the Lowe's in Upland, California.

It was followed by Naked Eyes' "Always Something There to Remind Me."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dave Berry Slept Here (where "here" is Sheffield)

There is a "Crying Game" website, based in the UK, that talks about the rich musical history of Sheffield.


Yes. This is obviously not a Boy George website, but a site dedicated to Dave Berry, the original singer for "The Crying Game." Here's what Berry's web site says about Sheffield:

Sheffield has long since proved to be a fertile breeding ground for musical talent- from the Human Leaque, ABC and Def Leppard in the 80s to Pulp and Moloko in the 90s and more recently the Arctic Monkeys and Richard Hawley. But back in the 60s, the city of steel only reared two genuine stars; Joe Cocker, and the enigmatic Dave Berry.

I lingered on the website, and it suddenly started playing "This Strange Effect." Normally I hate website that play music without allowing the viewer to control it...but it's a good song.

And here's Dave singing "The Crying Game.".

By the way, Boy George isn't the only artist who has covered a Dave Berry song. Listen to Hooverphonic.

P.S. For an explanation of the title, read the first sentence of this post.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Osama, peace, and that song yet again

If you've been reading my music posts over the last several years, it's probably no surprise to you that a particular song has stuck in my head since the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death. If you haven't read my old posts, let me refer you to one of them - a February 2005 post entitled Cowboy in Pakistan:

Estephania points to BigBrainBoy, whose friend James saw the following text on CNN:

Hunt for bin Laden
Experts agree: Al Qaeda
leader is dead or alive

In an effort to satisfy my regenerated earworm, I found this performance of the song in question.

First, I have to say that the introduction to the song is outstanding.

Second, I have to say that the venue also sounds interesting. It was recorded at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989, and Wikipedia has a lot to say about it:

The Moscow Music Peace Festival was a one-time gathering of high-profile hard rock acts for a performance in Moscow, Soviet Union on 12 and 13 August 1989 to promote world peace and establish international cooperation in fighting the drug war in Russia. It was part of an era of momentous change in the Soviet Union, in which capitalism was on the march and communism was collapsing. In 1991, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

The concert exposed the Soviet Union to western culture and specifically rock music. The concert was also a pinnacle moment in glam metal and the peak in hard rock music's popularity.

Oh, and...

The concert was put together by the Make a Difference Foundation, rock producer Doc McGhee, Stas Namin and other major players in the Soviet Union and the United States. McGhee agreed to bring his artists to Moscow after becoming involved in a drug scandal himself and wishing to avoid a jail sentence.

Mötley Crüe have been on record stating they were upset with McGhee at this point in time. McGhee let Bon Jovi close the show, and use pyro, something Mötley Crüe was told they could not do. Bon Jovi fired McGhee after this show, as did Mötley Crüe.

Oh, and...

Don't Blame Me: The Tales of Ozzy Osbourne states that after the event, Osbourne was given multiple bottles of Russian vodka. Ozzy drank all of them and became "beyond drunk". It was then that Osbourne attempted to kill his manager–wife Sharon Osbourne.

For some more context on my discussions about Bon Jovi, turn the page to this earlier Empoprise-MU post.