Afternoon Snack: Fleetwood Mac, “Showbiz Blues

Dust is some nasty shit. Swear.

I did a lot of cooking this morning. I don’t really have any family in this country, so fortunately, my late wife, Cathy’s, family decided to hang onto me.

the mac

I say this because Cathy’s mom, Edie, turns 80 on Monday (go girl!), and later today we have a celebration planned.

Where the dust comes in is that Thursday morning, as part of the spate of rain we have been jonesing for in Northern California for the past six months, it got cold where Cathy’s brother, Eric, and his wife Jill (these would be Lindsay’s folks) live, and Jill slipped on some black ice. The results were a broken wrist and fractures to her cheek (hopefully she won’t need surgery there), meaning a nasty fall.

This meant a couple of things: first, Jill is on a soup diet for a spell, and second, Jill always makes birthday cakes (except for her birthday, when I do it) and well, no way that was going to happen.

So, I took it upon myself this morning to both bake Edie her cake (blueberry-buttermilk bundt with glaze), and also make some soft stuff Jill could eat (creamed spinach, honey-pepper-cheese grits, and tomato basil soup). If you don’t get this yet, I really love to cook, so I had a good time doing this.

But, inspired both by Peter’s posting of I’m in Love With My Car, and Tom’s Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White, I decided to fire up the turntable while cooking for a few hours, and listen to some stuff I had not heard for a while. Plus, I like vinyl.

I started with A Night at the Opera, per Peter, and it was so fun. Death on Two Legs is wonderful, as is Sweet Lady (“you call me sweet, like I’m some kind of cheese,” what a line), and then I went to the first side of Jesus Christ, Superstar (sorry, guilty pleasure, but the band is killer, and well, it is sentimental for Diane and me), t0 Their Satanic Majesty’s Request (who hoo, In Another Land, and Citadel), then Boston’s first (sorry, another guilty pleasure, but a fun guitar album), Idlewild South, and finally to Then Play On.

When I first bought it, Then Play On was my favorite album, and it was followed by Kiln House.  I cannot remember which, but I believe one of those made my 50 essentials.

Then Play On is really Peter Green’s album, and a beautiful one it is. So vast and varied, and well, it has the iconic Oh Well, but that is not even my favorite cut on the album. In fact, I don’t know what is.

But, where the dust comes in is I have not played a few of these albums in a while, maybe 20 years, and I cleaned them before playing, but they had so damn much dust, it took playing the sides or songs a few times before I could get a real listen.

But, it was worth it. This recording is really just the studio one from the album, but it has two-plus minutes of stoned out banter and mistakes before the song gets underway (which was the song on the album after Show Biz, and I tried to find a pairing because the two work so well together), but it is pretty good fun.

We will get to more of the Mac, one of the most interesting bands of all time, another time.

For now, dig Peter A, whom if you listen, Santana got his sound from.

My radio and me in 1972-73

photo IS-1bsg6ix8j644d

Just traveled to California and drove up and down Laurel Canyon and thought not only about Joni Mitchell, who has been such a source of controversy here, mostly backstage, but my love of music very generally and where it began.

In 1972, my mother moved us (parents were divorced) to the Mojave Desert — Yucca Valley, CA.  Geologically and geographically different from Laurel Canyon, yet sharing that same artsy vibe (only the poor artists live in the desert).

The people we hung with, the new friends and relatives, aunts and uncles I hardly knew, were mostly listening to that Canyon music — Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon, Todd Rundgren, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Seals and Crofts and, of course, some non-California acts like the Rolling Stones. images-1(I especially remember the hours I spent staring at Goats Head Soup’s cover and how horrified I was of the image of that soup where, now, what’s truly horrifying about that album is how it marked the beginning of the end of the greatest Rock and Roll Band in the world.)

At gatherings, the adults provided the soundtrack. But back home, in my room, lying on my waterbed, the radio was the only free form of entertainment I had. The scoops of ice cream cost $.05 cents at Thrifty’s and I think the occasional drive-in was $5 per car. I was before and am again now a TV junkie. But I never even saw a TV at any adult’s house. Not only was it looked down upon, but there was no reception in the high desert. Yet I still stubbornly spent many hours the first few weeks, maybe even few months, trying to get some signal from the black and white set I badgered my mother into bringing west. Alas, there were only faint ghosts of images, and only at night — nothing remotely watchable or even listenable. (Yes, I would have given anything to even LISTEN to TV.) So all that was left for me was my transistor radio — this model, I swear. images-2

Only the Hits station came in. I can’t say if that period was particularly good for music — that would be like asking the starving man to rate the hamburger you just gave him. But 1972’s top sure seemed good to me. 

I loved “American Pie,” it was the first time I really noticed dramatic changes in sound within one song. And it was the first song where I really paid attention to the lyrics. “Brand New Key” by Melanie was inescapable. I didn’t like it then or now. But another kitschy song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was pure childhood delight for me. I loved “Alone Again (Naturally),” oblivious to how sad it was. My love of soul music was forged here: “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex was most popular but I preferred Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “I’ll Take You There,” “Backstabbers,” “Oh Girl”…. I heard them all so many times that I may as well have owned the records (which nine year olds don’t buy even if they could afford to, which I couldn’t).

“Rocket Man” by Elton John sounded different from everything else, yet was so catchy and was the first time I heard one of those great Elton choruses that I grew to love so much. 45t_rocket_man_rotten_peaches_belgiqueWhile I really liked more iconic, Rock Remnants-certified rockers like “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by the Hollies, “Go All the Way” by the Raspberries and “Bang a Gong” by T-Rex, I had ample room in my juvenile musical palate for Cat Stevens’s “Morning Has Broken,” too. That was the first time I really noticed how beautiful a piano could sound. I could hardly afford to hate much when hating required me to turn off the radio and thus my only connection to the outside world. I looked for things I liked in everything I heard and if I really hated something, like Melanie, I had to tolerate it anyway and give it every chance to change my mind (as some songs did — like “Hocus Pocus” by Focus — learned to love the guitar riffs, still hated the yodeling.)

1973’s top 100 gave me “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul, which seemed so grown up and off limits, but man, did I love it on those lonely desert nights while trying not too hard to go to sleep. But I also loved polar opposite songs like “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter (Hocus Pocus without the yodeling!) and “Little Willy” by Sweet, which may as well have been The Archies to my ear. It was pure kid music, barely less silly than “The Monster Mash,” another 1973 hit. And about monsters! “Will It Go Round in Circles” by Billy Preston was a pleasure for me every time, as was “Superstition,” “Stuck in the Middle with You,” “Live and Let Die,” “Daniel,” “Superfly,” “Love Train,” “That Lady” and the also-so-grown-up “Wildflower” by Skylark. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” seemed like it was written just for nine-year-old boys and how could it be that this song inspired Freddie Mercury of all people? Music is such a wonderful chemistry experiment, a fact that comes into sharp relief when you can do nothing else but immerse yourself in it for two, long formative years.

The 20 Greatest Albums Of All-Time According To Me, Described In 20 Words Or Less

By Steve Moyer

I’ve decided that the best testament I can give to my existence is to review my entire music collection (including these), because I have been absolutely intimate with the good stuff, not like some music critic dude who listens once and writes. I will do this little by little. So here’s the teaser. Obviously, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the albums that are “supposed to be” in everyone’s top 20 (not that I don’t like some of those, they’re just not in my top 20). Oh well. These are what I’m taking to the desert island.

If you’re interested in checking this stuff out, PLEASE don’t download, or worse yet, youtube one song and then pass judgment. Buy the whole thing, preferably a bricks and mortar version. Listen to it at least five times, in its entirety. Look at the pictures. Read the liner notes. That’s how albums are meant to be enjoyed. Enough is enough.

I reserve the right to change this list any time for any reason.

2151NH5G8DL__AA160_1) Supershit 666 – Self-Titled (2002) – Not a bad second to be found. Best ever six songs in a row. Perfect. Expensive. Worth every penny.
2) Apocalypse Dudes – Turbonegro (1999) – If all the songs on “Raw Power” were as good as “Search and Destroy” and “Gimme Danger.”
3) Supershitty To The Max – Hellacopters (1997) – “Hell, hell’s exactly what they raised.”
4) Ass Cobra – Turbonegro (1997) – I thought I had outgrown hardcore until I heard this a few years ago. Late to the party.
5) Masters Of Reality – Self-Titled (1988) – They’d be Guns And Roses if Chris Goss wasn’t fat and ugly. Salvages ‘80s music all by itself.
images6) Hydromatics – Parts Unknown (2003) – Soul meets kick ass. Expensive. Worth every penny.
7) Queens Of The Stone Age – R (2000) – Makes you feel like you’ve done something bad. Really bad.
8) Cream Of The Crap Volume I – Hellacopters (2002) – Primo mostly Dregen-era Hellacopters. Extraordinary cover material.
9) Cream Of The Crap Volume II – Hellacopters (2004) – Primo mostly later Hellacopters. Extraordinary cover material.
cover_5930587200710) Second Thoughts – Split Enz (1976) – Very weird and mostly mellow. Nothing like their later stuff. Never heard an album like it before or since.
11) High Voltage/Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap/Let There Be Rock/Powerage (1976-1978 – impossible to sort them out) – Bon Scott AC/DC. Boogie woogie rock ‘n’ roll at its best. “Highway To Hell” omitted on purpose.
12) Mott The Hoople – The Hoople (1974) – Critics always favor the Mick Ralphs stuff, but this is the best and most rocking.
images-113) Slade – Sladest (1973) – I teethed on the American version of this album, which doesn’t really exist anymore. More boogie woogie rock ‘n’ roll.
14) Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties (1974) – Made me feel like I was doing bad things when I was 14. Really bad. Still really good.
15) The Specials – More Specials (1980) – Grooves heavily beginning to end. Appreciated more now than when released. Never heard an album like it before or since.
16) Angry Samoans – Back From Samoa (1982) – Very offensive, catchy, next-to-perfect SoCal hardcore album. The 80’s weren’t so bad if you went looking, I guess.
Angry Samoans - Back From Samoa17) David Bowie – Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1971-1972) – Sorry, can’t sort these out either. There were other pioneer oddball rockers, but never better than this.
18) Devo – Are We Not Men? (1978) – A bunch of geniuses far ahead of their time. Often wrongly dismissed as a joke.
19) Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976) – Really heavy in a Black Sabbath kind of way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
20) Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (1976) – Includes two very overplayed songs, but it’s not their fault. Lizzy’s other albums are uneven, but this is excellent throughout.