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Archive for April, 2014

“Heatwave”

Posted by purplemary54 on April 30, 2014

It’s really frickin’ hot here in SoCal right now, and it’s probably gonna stay hot for at least another day.  Between the heat, the smell of smoke coming off a fire in the Rancho Cucamonga area, and some problems with my TV service, I’m feeling really unsettled and irritated.  It might just be a lack of sleep (I spent 3-5 AM on the phone with my provider), but I’m not fit company for man nor beast right now.

Luckily, Martha and the Vandellas seem much happier.  Enjoy.

 

Posted in Music, Pop, R&B/Soul | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

As Seen on TV: Craig Ferguson

Posted by purplemary54 on April 29, 2014

A couple of days ago, I posted about going to a comedy club with the family for a birthday celebration.  I used a clip of the very funny Craig Ferguson to illustrate my hopes and dreams for a wonderful, laugh filled night.  (Sadly, those hopes and dreams were dashed because the headliner was rude to the audience and not all that funny.  The opening guy was okay.)  Imagine my surprise and sadness when it came out yesterday that Craig has decided to leave The Late Late Show when his contract expires in December.

Now anyone who’s been with me from the beginning knows I’m a fan of TV theme songs.  When Psych finished its run a couple of weeks ago, I mourned the end of one of the few really great themes left on TV.  We are now faced with losing what might actually be the last great TV theme song.

When he took over the show in 2005, Ferguson co-wrote and recorded a new theme.  It helped that he had a background as a musician (he played drums for any number of Punk/Rock bands in Scotland and England).  This is one of those bouncy, catchy numbers that used to precede virtually everything.  It’s also kind of sly and sarcastic, which I really appreciate.

I’m not really worried about what Ferguson will do with himself.  He’s just signed on to host a syndicated game show, and he’s got his own production company to keep him busy, in addition to still doing stand-up gigs on a regular basis.  Not to mention the multi-million dollar bonus he got for not being chosen to succeed David Letterman  (it’s called a “Prince of Wales” clause).  And now that his old bandmate Peter Capaldi will be playing the Doctor, might there be a future guest shot on a certain iconic British sci-fi show?  No, Craig will be fine.  I just hate losing the theme.

Posted in As Seen on TV, Music, Soundtracks | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

DJ E-Z Rock

Posted by purplemary54 on April 28, 2014

I just saw the news that one of the men behind the iconic Rap/Hip Hop “It Takes Two” has passed away.  DJ E-Z Rock was only 46, and the cause of death has not yet been revealed.

DJ E-Z Rock was known to his family and friends as Rodney Bryce.  His collaboration with Rob Base led to a classic song from the 80s, one that’s been almost ubiquitous ever since.  This is actually one of those songs I’ve heard about a million times without ever knowing anything about the artists behind it.  My research didn’t turn up much info besides this hit.  Bryce was born in Harlem, NYC, which was one of the hothouses from which Rap and Hip Hop bloomed.

Although Bryce’s commercial success is limited, the part he played in making “It Takes Two” ensured him a place in music history.  Rap was just beginning its cultural ascent, and this song not only helped bring the genre more widespread popularity, it influenced many of the rappers and DJs to follow.

Posted in Music, Obituaries, Rap | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”

Posted by purplemary54 on April 28, 2014

I’ve posted this song before, but it just seemed like the perfect accompaniment for today’s news.  (I certainly wasn’t going to use this musical travesty.)

It seems that last night Paul Simon and wife Edie Brickell were both arrested in a “domestic disturbance.”  To me, that sounds like they got into a screaming fight, probably complete with slammed doors and thrown objects, that was frightening enough to cause someone to call the cops.  When the cops arrived, they were both probably so enraged with each other that they turned it on the cops.  And that earned them both a night in the pokey for disorderly conduct.

Do I think anyone was hitting anyone else?  Probably not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t some slapping or shoving.  Would that constitute abuse?  Probably not.  Is their marriage doomed now?  Who knows?  It may have been doomed for years now, and we just didn’t know about it.  Chances are, we wouldn’t have heard about it at all except for the fact that they’re both well-known musicians.  I suspect they’re both feeling kind of stupid right now.

Posted in Music, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Got Live if You Want It: Comedy Club Tonight

Posted by purplemary54 on April 26, 2014

We’ve got a family gathering planned tonight–dinner and a comedy club.  We’re celebrating my mom’s and my sister-in-law’s birthdays.  That’s why I’m posting even though I don’t really have a song.  But this was released on an album.  I think.

I can only hope at least one of the comics tonight is half as funny as Craig.  Otherwise, I’m going over the two drink minimum.

Posted in Got Live If You Want It | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Late Freak Out: Skinny Puppy

Posted by purplemary54 on April 25, 2014

I’ve been trying to catch up on Pop Culture Happy Hour podcasts the last few weeks, with mixed results.  I was almost completely up to date last year when Dad started getting sick, and I fell way behind again.  As of right now, I’m up to the end of January and Oscar nominations (it is kind of fun listening to all the predictions they got wrong).  But it also means that the blog sometimes slips onto the back burner as I’m giggling along with four of my favorite NPR employees (you knew I was a nerd, right?).

But I thought I’d throw this one out here for you late-nighters, even though it might turn you into an insomniac.

I don’t know much about this style of music.  Except that it kind of terrifies me.  Nine Inch Nails actually comes from this sort of Industrial/Electronica/Metal school of music.  But Trent Reznor has, in becoming the public face of this style, softened it somewhat for more mainstream consumption.  NIN is frequently pretty dark shit, but it’s also tuneful and melodic and really very artful.  Skinny Puppy makes even the earliest NIN music seem like cheerful Pop made by teddy bears.

I’ve sort of deliberately not learned much about Skinny Puppy (here’s their Wikipedia page if you want to know the basic facts).  I first heard them back in the late 80s.  I don’t remember the name of the album, but I listened to about one and a half tracks, and then I had to listen to something else.  Or watch cartoons.  Or maybe the news, which was happier than Skinny Puppy by a long shot.  I haven’t even watched the entire clip I chose to post.  It’s after 10 PM as I’m writing this, and I’d like to be able to sleep sometime tonight.  (To be fair, I’m sure the members of the band are perfectly nice human beings, and that they have legitimate reasons for their artistic and musical choices.  I just don’t care to know right now.)  It’s a little bit like watching a scary movie after a certain time; at some point, you make a conscious choice to watch the sun come up because the shadows are just a little bit too dark.

But all my heebie-jeebies aside, Skinny Puppy is really good at what they do.  And it may well be that scaring listeners silly is an intentional goal.  If it is, bravo, fellas.  You succeeded with me.

Posted in Freaky Friday, Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday to my Mom!

Posted by purplemary54 on April 24, 2014

Today is my lovely mother’s birthday.  I’ve got nothing to say about it but “Yay!”  So here’s one of her favorite songs.  She used to play the soundtrack to Songwriter in the car constantly, and this song was on a loop for her.  (Of course, back then, you had to rewind the cassette to go back to the beginning of a song.)  But I defy anyone not to love it.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to fool around with Kris Kristofferson?

Posted in Country, Music, Soundtracks | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“Dream Baby”

Posted by purplemary54 on April 23, 2014

Today would’ve been Roy Orbison’s 78th birthday.  He was one of the original greats of Rock & Roll, recording on the Sun label alongside the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, and he influenced just as many other Rockers as those superstars did.  But Orbison hasn’t gotten the same recognition showier contemporaries have.  He’s not as charismatic or good-looking, to be sure, but there’s something fascinating about him.

He wore black and dark glasses when performing most of the time.  (According to Wikipedia, the sunglasses came about because he left his regular glasses on a plane, and found that he preferred them.)  It gave him an air of mystery, a certain gravitas.  The image came in handy, since his stage presence was, frankly, a little stiff.  He didn’t dance around or chatter with the crowd.  He didn’t clown for attention; he didn’t need to.  He had that voice.

He was by turns wispy and melancholy, sexy and enticing, broken and desperate.  Roy Orbison’s voice was one of the greatest instruments nature ever devised.  That voice is what made it impossible to ignore him.  Bruce Springsteen once said that he was trying to sing like Orbison on Born to Run.  When Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne convinced Orbison to join up with the Traveling Wilburys in the 80s, they were dumbfounded that that magical voice would be singing with them.  (They talked to him backstage after a concert, and were practically giddy when he said yes.)

Working with those legends (and some guy named Bob Dylan) in the Wilburys was a huge shot in the arm for Orbison’s career, but the revival had begun a couple of years earlier in 1986 when David Lynch used “In Dreams” in his surreal classic Blue Velvet.  The next year, he recorded an unbelievable new version of his hit “Crying” for the soundtrack of Hiding Out, which became a slow-burning torch duet with k.d. lang.  There was also a televised concert film, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night. That’s where the clip of “Dream Baby,” probably my favorite Orbison tune, comes from.  (It’s one of those perfect little songs–not a single extraneous or misplaced note.) He’d been honored earlier with his induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  1988 saw him recording with the Wilburys, as well as a new solo album (with a song penned by Bono and The Edge, “She’s a Mystery to Me”).

In December of 1988, I was sitting in a doughnut shop, enjoying an iced devil’s food doughnut before I went out to the bus stop to catch the number 93, when word came over the radio that Roy Orbison had died.  I don’t remember tasting the rest of that doughnut.

 

Posted in Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kevin Sharp

Posted by purplemary54 on April 22, 2014

It’s Earth Day.  (Hey, Earth!  I’d ask how you were feeling, but I’m afraid of the answer.)  Do something today that reduces your carbon footprint.  No, seriously, get up off your overprivileged, Western Hemisphere ass and do something.  But that’s not what today’s post is about.

Over the weekend, news came out that Country singer Kevin Sharp died at the age of 43 due to complications from his battles with cancer.  Sharp wasn’t exactly a household name these days.  He was best known for his 1996 cover of Tony Rich’s song “Nobody Knows.”  His music career went on after that, but he did better work as a motivational speaker for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I don’t know exactly what that job entailed, but I’m sure his work for that organization helped sick kids feel a little bit better.  That’s an excellent way to spend your days.

If you’ve got the time or money, you can help, too.

Posted in Country, Music, Obituaries | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Loose Ends”

Posted by purplemary54 on April 21, 2014

Quickie tonight.  Jeopardy! is on in a few minutes.

Much of this weekend was taken up with putting my CD collection back in order (and purging a few discs that I just don’t want anymore).  I had the contractors put up the shelves in the office closet so that it’s no longer a closet.  It’s now . . . the CD Nerd Cave!

I’m not an audiophile in any sense.  I have some vinyl, and a few cassettes left over from my teenage years.  There’s no storage issues with my digital copies.  But since I had the house re-done, I haven’t had access to my CDs (except for the few on top of the piles).  Now, I have shelves to put them on, along with my pretty big collection of box sets.  I’m so happy I could just spit.  (Okay, not really.  But I did go in the cave after everything was up and smile.  A lot.  And I touched all of them again.)

One thing that did surprise me was that I only have enough individual discs to cover just under two-thirds of the shelves.  Which leaves me a little more than a third to fill up.  (And I’ve still got a gift card to Fingerprints to use up.)  I also had the fun of listening to some of the discs I hadn’t pulled out in years (if ever) to see if I still wanted them in my collection.  About twenty got purged, but I kept more than I thought I would.

A pleasant surprise was the one and only album by Bash & Pop, one of Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson’s post-Mats projects.  I’d only listened to it once after I bought it, and then I was pretty disappointed that it wasn’t a Replacements album.  I gave it a listen fully expecting to put it in the purge pile, but it turned out to be a fun, tuneful disc.  Stinson isn’t the wordsmith Paul Westerberg is, but he’s got a good feel for hooks.  I especially liked this track.  It’s loose and relaxed, and I’m not sorry I paid money for this album at all.

 

Posted in Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »