Just prior to the morning hour at which most liquor stores open, Don Byron and I are sitting outdoors at a sidewalk cafe on a steamy Park Avenue South (Technology Gulch)when a scene breaks out on the sidewalk.
Byron (head turns and he murmurs): "Oh my god."
A stringyhaired, smelly, obviously intoxicated woman staggers after a younger, taller man who's also worse for wear, and hollers in a drunken growl: "I got my own phone now. Yes it is. It works you used it."
Byron (laughing): "It's the metropolitan wino scene. You know what I mean? You know the scene in Firenze, now here it is in New York. It has all the elements: the dirty clothes, the ruddy skin, the formaldehyde lips."
Last night in a torrential rain storm, I trucked northward along the Hudson to Tarrytown, NY. A half hour's ride across the Tappan Zee bridge and we were in Piermont, NY at a club called the Turning Point.
So there I am, sitting eating my lunch, watching the news on TV, waiting like the slavering dog that I am for more Mel goes Mad, when none other than Alice Cooper a.k.a. Vince Furnier, he of the large pearly whites and the exquisitely died hair, comes on CNN and begins batting his bright eyes and cheerfully expounding on his new youth center in Phoenix.
One of the many musical sawhorses that I often put the spurs tobeing a pain the bass just comes with the territory I’m afraid7#151;is the whole bit about why labels who are all hurtin’ right now don’t spend more time digging in their vaults and hauling out treasure in the form of unreleased studio material and especially live shows. Well, the emerging empire that is Concord Records (proud owners of the catalogs of Telarc, Fantasy and now, Rounder Records), a label whose judgment I have questioned in the recent past (Stax Does the Beatles, WTF?), released a killer record earlier this summer that’s been finding its way back to my Musical Fidelity CD player as of late, Otis Redding, Live on Sunset Strip collects performances that didn’t make it onto the two previous albums, In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and Good To Me: Live at the Whiskey A Go Go Vol. 2, that came from a three night stand at the Whiskey in L.A. over Easter weekend 1966. While the set list of the three full sets on these two CDs contains some repetitions, it’s great to hear
The story is familiar. The British Invasion caused a deadly tsunami in the American music scene. Established stars, from Elvis to John Lee Hooker to Tony Bennett, saw their careers swept away in a matter of months in 1964. Few groups were impacted quite like the Beach Boys, whose resident genius, Brian Wilson, went into an emotional tailspin trying to compete with the Beatles . . .
Still on the road in Memphis. At the center of any music trip to Memphis is the odd but very telling juxtaposition of Graceland and the relatively new Stax museum. Elvis was always very up front about where his influences came fromblack blues and R&B, along with gospel music, both white and black, and Tin Pan Alley’ most of which is honored in the Stax museum. And for the record let me say that I will never understand how Memphis, THE big city for all the delta blues pioneers, not to mention the town’s subsequent musical history, B.B. King, Elvis, Alex Chilton, Ardent Studios, etc. took their eye off the ball and lost the Rock Hall (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) to the mistake by the lake. Such a pity. It would have given this town a triple threat of music tourism. Whoever was Mayor then, not to mention the city council, the local state legislators and oh yes, the fine guntotin’, God Afearin’ folks of the Tennessee delegation to Congress ought to be beaten.
Here's a weird one. I was recently going through CDs that sit on my shelves, in my collection so to speak, and for kicks I decided to check how much a random handful were worth on Amazon. Perhaps it's my naivet, but to my very great surprise, many were out of print. So let me get this straight, a business that needs catalog pieces right now as much as ever is allowing a significant portion of their holdings go out of print? Wow! I was at a party recently where I overheard this: "So do the big labels want to go out of business or is there another plan?"
"Cavalcade of merciless repetition," is how Jimmy Page described touring in the Sunday Times last week. I still say they're gonna tour but give them credit: they're being coy about being dragged into accepting all that cash.