Lunch Break: Liz Phair, “Mesmerizing”

When Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville was released in 1993 I could not get enough of it. Much like the recently favorited Hans Candor’s  Sweat, Jizz, Piss & Blood, which was so evocative of the early Stones, so was Phair’s disc whose title simply screams response to Exile on Mainstreet.

Phair’s label, Matador, pushed a second disc (Whip Smart) out quickly to cash in on the success of Guyville, but it wasn’t till album three, WhiteChocolateSpaceEgg that Phair cemented herself in my brain as a serious artist, rocker, songwriter, and performer.

Unfortunately, for me Phair peaked with that third,  album, and has never come close to equaling the power or beauty of that pair of records.

But, the other day, while trolling through my discs, looking for something to listen to as I drove to meet my pal Eric for Sunday golf, Phair and Exile jumped out, and on it went, and it still sounded pretty good.

This tune, Mesmerizing, clearly shows just how much Liz garnered from Jagger and Keef et al.

Haile Wreckommended: Must-See Flickee

More the music of you guys than me (Lawr especially), just saw this tonight and it was quite excellent. Not quite It Might Get Loud (more my music than yours), still quite excellent nonetheless.

My guess is you guys probably know the gist – this bunch of unheralded primo musicians made the entire 60’s more like The Monkees than anyone wanted to admit at the time. Please do see it. You will like it:

Song of the Week – Speak No Evil, Wayne Shorter


When I started writing the SotW many years ago, my goal was to share some songs that I love with a few like-minded friends. I wanted to select songs that my readers might not be familiar with (thus the tag line – Ignored Obscured Restored) and describe them in such a way that might cause you to enjoy them as much as I do.

Sometimes it goes the other way too. Over the years many of you have commented back to me and suggested songs that I should listen to (or listen to again, in a different light). That is very rewarding.

Today’s SotW was inspired by an article that I read in Mojo (255, February 2015) where producer/musician Don Was described one of his favorite albums, jazz sax great Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil. He describes the title song with such passion that I had to download a copy and check it out.

Was starts by describing Elvin Jones “wild, unabashed drumming” and Herbie Hancock “playing these amazing chords” on the keys. But he hooked me with these words:

Then on top of Elvin and Herbie – who are like ying and yang – you’ve got Wayne, whose soloing sounds like he’s riding two horses. What struck me about his saxophone was that it was conversational. I pictured him walking down the street boxing and you can hear a few left jabs and then a flurry of punches and a strong right. Sometimes you can hear him drop back and dodge a punch and it’s like he’s talking the whole time and what he was saying to me was: ‘Don’t let this adversity get you down. Be courageous and confident’.

Wow, that boxing analogy to describe a solo performance is exciting and wonderful!

Thanks, Don, for turning me onto this great tune by describing it so vividly and passionately.

Enjoy… until next week.

The Runaways, “Cherry Bomb”

I had a work study job at the NYU film school, and I spent hours in the audio transfer room, turning vinyl and tape songs into 16mm film magnetic versions that could be used when cutting film.

NYU was famous for this sort of audio/visual presentation, which was the heart of the freshman and sophomore curriculum, because Martin Scorcese, Amy Heckerling, Martin Brest, and Oliver Stone, among others, built films off this music/film integration after attending NYU.

My favorite song I heard in audio transfer was the Runaways’ Cherry Bomb. This live version is the best I’ve seen.

Deep Purple, “Smoke On The Water”

I clicked through to some bait on the web promising to tell me the Eight greatest rock albums of all time. No. 1 was Born To Run, Abbey Road was No. something or other. The most interesting choice until the last one was the album by the Clash: Combat Rock, which the inept compiler called the band’s third album. But No. 8, as you might have guessed was Machine Head by Deep Purple, which is not an obvious choice. Except for a mention of riffage, it doesn’t look like we’ve dipped our toes into this at all, here at rock remnants, so it’s about time.

In any case, here is the low-hanging one. It’s one of the rare classic rock songs that still bleeds, at least just a little. Thanks to the riff, sure, but it all hangs together very nicely.

Afternoon Snack: Louis Armstrong, “Cheesecake”

We got the invite to our annual Passover gathering from host/friends Mark and Debbi Berenberg the other day.

Passover has become, over the years, a wondrous event: easily our favorite holiday.

My celebrating of Pesach with Mark and Debbi, and Richard and Barbara Kweller, along with David and Lynn Shussett, began in 1978, when the seven of us (plus my girlfriend at the time) gathered at the Berenberg house, eating a killer meal which featured great brisket from Debbi, and Matzoh Ball Soup (best on the planet) from Barbara.

We were young then, and it was the bay area in the 70’s, so we smoked four joints instead of drinking the traditional four glasses of wine (symbolizing the pleasures god bestows upon us). We had no Haggadah, the book that tells the story of the Exodus, so it was up to me to relate that Charlton Heston is found by Anne Baxter in the bullrushes and comes to live with Yul Brynner, and so on.

At the time, Lynne was pregnant, so that meant the first of the next generation from this core was on its way. In fact, we had a baby naming contest which I won easily with the name “Tennis” (couple it with Shussett).

Jesse was the actual moniker said child received, though she is known as “Tennis” by the originals who were there, but now, there are children and grandchildren and the table includes roughly 46, and that includes Jesse, her husband Mike, their oldest, Lucas, and their baby, Liv (this year will be Liv’s first with us) .

The dinner, which does include a traditional Seder, and goes through the story of the Exodus, is presided over by Mark, and he keeps things mostly in control, but with so many personalities, of so many ages, and so many margaritas (Mark has a special blend, which I refer to as “Markaritas”) and bottles of wine, it is a challenge.

Add in that wonderful brisket and Matzoh Ball Soup (it really is the best on the planet) and rosemary chicken and salads: enough food to feed a small battalion.

Of course there is desert, and at this point in our somewhat comfortable lives, we are all pretty serious foodies.

A few years back, I made up a sort of hybrid cheesecake that I bring as a desert item. The crust is those great Nabisco chocolate wafers, pulverized, and the body of the cake is half cream cheese and half mascarpone, and then I drizzle chocolate/hazelnut over the top.

Whenever it is time to prepare for the making this cake, I immediately think of Satchmo, also known as Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong’s influence over jazz might not be so well known to the masses, but let’s just say that starting with his real professional debut with King Oliver and the Red Onion Jazz Babies, in New Orleans, to his iconic hits like Hello Dolly and Wonderful World recorded late during his career, Satchmo ranks among the greats and most influential to modern music.

His live recordings with Ella Fitzgerald are a regular on my CD rotation, and I say this, with everyone knowing, I am a total rocker at heart. It is just that shit is so good (there is also something wonderful in hearing Armstrong, Yo La Tengo, The Clash,  Jason Isabell, and the Guess Who shuffling).

I do love this song, which is stupid, simple, and simply wonderful. It is like my desert: have two slices!