Monthly Archives: June 2010

Essential Reading: “We Never Learn” ‘90s Punk

 

Following up on that marathon interview with New
Bomb Turks frontman Eric Davidson, we now present the official review of
Davidson’s recent book
We Never Learn.

 

By Rev.
Keith A. Gordon

 

(Dateline: the
Future
)
Gather ’round, young ‘uns, ’cause Grandpa has a story to tell ya snot-nosed little
miscreants! Take those earbuds outta those pincushion lobes for a minute, sit
back in your officially-licensed MisfitsTM beanbag chairs, and listen to what
the doddering old fool has to say….

 

Now, I
know that you kids these days don’t have any proper musical culture of your own
to speak of, just that dreadful, droning muzak that Sony Universal Music downloads
to your sound implants at $20 a pop…which is probably why y’all have become obsessive
nostalgists genuflecting at the mention of St. Cobain’s name and eagerly buying
all that “collectible” grunge crapola on the Sony Universal eBay
auction website. Lemme fill you drooling cretins in on a dirty lil’ secret,
through…there was more to rock music in the 1990s than Nirvana, Sir Edward and
Pearl Jam, and those Soundgarden fellows (yeah, years before they were android
superstars, they were real flesh-n-blood musicians).

 

Bubbling
under the mainstream during the decade of the ’90s was an entire shadow scene
of honest-to-dog rock ‘n’ roll bands that had nothing at all to do with
Seattle, Athens, or Austin. Bands like the New Bomb Turks, the Supersuckers,
the Lazy Cowgirls, the Dwarves and others were too reckless, too raucous, too
filled with the spirit of St. Iggy to appeal to the hype-jaded ears of the flannel-clad,
unwashed masses. While Ruling Stooge magazine and other middlin’ mainstream music rags featured St. Cobain and his
evil transvestite bride on the cover, and a generation of dim-bulb
record-buyers fell for the hype, some of us oldsters were groovin’ to madcap
tunes like “Born Toulouse-Lautrec.”

 

Little
Suzie Q, pull down that book with the orange spine from the shelf…yeah, We Never Learn by author Eric Davidson,
and published by Backbeat Books. Yes, I know that only canines and old geezers
like the Reverend still keep these wood-fiber antiques around anymore, but We Never Learn is an important tome, ya
know! Davidson, ya see, was a rocker, and a member of one of the underground
scene’s best bands, the New Bomb Turks. From his rare viewpoint at the
forefront of what we rockcrit types called “garage-punk,” and Davidson
terms the “gunk punk undergut,” the book documents the musical achievements
and failures of the era, roughly 1988 to 2001, in brilliant (and, often sordid)
detail.

 

We Never Learn works ’cause Davidson was there, riding
the ramshackle rollercoaster that was underground rock during the 1990s, and
the words here are written in his blood, sweat, and tears, and more than a
little spilt beer. Wearing his most erudite rock-writer hat, Davidson
interviewed dozens of musical fellow travelers from like-minded guitar-wielding
gangs, folks like Eddie Spaghetti from the Supersuckers, Mick Collins from the
Gories, Blag Dahlia from the Dwarves, and too many more to tell you bloody
test-tube babies about in one short sitting. He also talked to deal-makers and
scene-breakers like Crypt Records’ Tim Warren and Long John of the Sympathy For
The Record Industry record labels, as well as show promoters and zinesters and
other satellites that orbited the gunk punk planet.

 

While you
black leather-brained perpetual teens may deem your senile ol’ grandpa a relic
from another age, back in the day the one true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll continued
to thrive decades after its “sell by” date. Davidson’s We Never Learn chronicles the
wild-n-wooly era of a fragmented and marginally-popular music scene that was
never going to challenge Nevermind for chart hegemony, much less make even more than a slight imprint on an
increasingly corporate-dominated decade of music that would come to a crashing
close with clowns like the Backstreet Boys and Britney topping the charts.

 

Still, for
a short while, cold-blooded rock ‘n’ roll dinosaurs stomped across America,
Europe, and even Asia with a disdain for the popular music of the day, and a
penchant for the absurdly reckless and self-destructive sort of behavior that
killed off the reptilian age in the first place (meteors my tired old ass!). It
was bands like the aforementioned that breathed new life and fire into a
moribund musical scene that, thanks to their efforts, managed to keep rock
music inspired well into the 21st century or, at least…ahem…until
President-for-Life Palin outlawed music.

 

Davidson
does a fine job of collecting these dodgy stories from the scene’s participants,
and weaves them into an informative narrative that accurately sketches a
portrait of the grime and grit that personified the “gunk punk
undergut.” That Davidson downplays his own band’s experiences in favor of
those stories from other bands is admirable, but it is his firsthand knowledge
of the scene and its players, and his own stories that help shape the book into
more than a mere personal memoir.

 

So, the
lesson that Grandpa is trying to teach you too-young pinheads is this: instead
of pining for a long gone and tired ’90s music scene that was over-hyped and
under-criticized, take a damn nanosecond to check out We Never Learn and bring a little white light to your cerebellums.
You’ll discover a lost world of great rock ‘n’ roll that, if you give it a chance,
will have all of you strutting down the cyber-hallways of your virtual high
school like streetwalkin’ cheetahs with hearts fulla napalm!

 

Cryogenically-preserved Ed. note: We have picked
up a transmission from BLURT magazine circa 2010 in which author Davidson was
interviewed about his book. Go here to read part one of a two-part feature, and
then go here to view a photo gallery.

 

 

 

LOOK AT LIFE / COCO HAMES

 

Sanctified and
girli-fied.

 

By Coco
Hames

 

See, I was just
thinking about being female again, and I was thinking about the imagery
associated with my sphere in this world, specifically the sphere of the musical
world.  Tags would include, but are not limited to: garage, punk,
rockabilly, trash, desert, surf rock, ’50s and ’60s pop icons and art,
etc.  There are skulls, there are tattoos, there are greasers, and there
are girls.  And these girls are undeniably attractive.  The natural
female form is celebrated and presented with great care, and the end result is
oftentimes a very girli-fied version of the woman.  You know what I mean,
little dresses, pigtails, little school girl skirts and oxfords, etc.  And
I am thinking to myself, how CUTE these girls are, and then I think about WHY
they are cute.  And the cuteness, that’s a noun, that’s the undeniable
part.  It’s fucking cute, it’s a fact.  But what I am really thinking
about is why it is ATTRACTIVE.  And previously — while not against
self-expression in any form of any other person — I was thinking to myself, I
am NOT dressing like that.  Because all I could think was, who am I trying
to appeal to?  Some GUY with a school girl fetish?  FUCK that. 
But consider, I took a photograph a few years ago dressed up in this type of
style.

 

Side note: I never actually wore that dress, I bought it on eBay for a ’60s
party and it didn’t have a back, that photo shoot was the only time I ever wore
it.  No wait – I wore it once, to that New Year’s party at the Echo where
Poni slipped in someone’s puke and I caught her by the FACE, that was
amazing.  But anyway, I’m not trying to get around the fact that I wore
babydoll dresses, it happened.  And I was thinking the other day, WHY did
I wear them?  I am generally uncomfortable in BEING of the second sex
(which isn’t entirely true, I’m just getting used to it is all), and I don’t
typically dress to impress anyone, let alone anyone who like their girls
pigeon-toed and dumb-eyed, so what was I trying to achieve?  I was trying
to look cute, I guess.  Because I was cute, I was young and cute and
that’s what was happening.  And I LOVED ’60s music, so that was my
representational homage, too: my visage, my countenance, paying visual tribute
to the swingin’ ’60s.  That was the definition of that look for me. 
But the impact of the photo carried different meaning than what I was trying to
convey, which has always annoyed me.  But I was up against common public
associations of imagery, and it’s hard to change that.  Easy to achieve,
hard to change: the ontology of the photographic image. 

Currently what has developed in MY mind as MY perception of this look is one
that excuses, in MY mind see, and allows for this look in MY world of
understanding.  Previously, I had considered this aesthetic as pandering
to a male fetishized demand, which of course I personally CANNOT allow. 
And I didn’t understand how these tough, smart, punk women would subjugate any
portion of their being to ANYONE.  So I knew that MUST not be what’s
behind the “look” for them.  Knowing I sound psychotic ranting
about these things, I was kind of always too shy to ask my friends, “Hey,
can you give me an in-depth reasoning behind why you dress the way you
do?”  I only have a few friends, and I regularly scare people away,
so I kept said girl friends and I thought about it, about what I was seeing:
the youthfulness, the representation of girlhood, e.g. the pig tails, the
school girl skirts.  But then the tattoos, the piercings, the breasts (which
you do not have when you are a little girl) and the tough, real, adult
attitude, mannerisms, etc.  The juxtaposition of the celebration of
girlhood (which is different from femaleness) with BEING adult, from a female
perspective, that’s what I was interested in.  And I think I’ve figured it
out.

Now for some, I do believe the “little girl” thing is a fetish and is
an issue, but that was THE issue I was afraid of when I initially started
thinking about this.  But (wo)man is reasonable in that (s)he can
make a reason for anything, and I reasoned that since these women
are not women who would make themselves subservient in any way (words I’m
thinking of are “shrink”, “small”, “stultify”)
that THEY must have control of the definition of the code of their dress. 
Anthropologically, these things matter, you see.  And what I understood
THEIR perspective to be is that, for many girls, the girlhood-advent-of-puberty
time is, like, the CRAZIEST exciting time of your life.  You recognize
yourself as a sexual being, you learn what that power means, there is a new (as
in, not ever there before) responsibility and definition of self, I mean, it’s
crazy.  And I’ll bet a lot of girls, subconsciously or otherwise (we
already defined and decided upon “cute”, you see) want to remember
and celebrate that time.  And so, for them, their “girly” look
is powerful.  And it is attractive because not only do a lot of women
respond positively to that imagery and its inherent representation, MEN do,
too.  Because when those little girls were discovering their power, uh,
dudes were discovering it too.  In themselves, and outside themselves, in
that opposite sex.  There has to be a moment for a lot of men where Suzie
goes from having stupid cooties to having mystical powers.  And then
therefore, I like to understand the MEN who find this “look”
attractive are responding to the subconscious memory of THAT sensory impulse,
which is practical and reasonable, and understandable.

And that is why I like rockabilly girls and celebrate their look.  Go on
with your punk selves, my sistas, it works, and I love it, AND now I know why.

Do you SEE why I hate shopping?  Do you SEE why I hate photo shoots and
videos?  Everything MEANS something, and I’m always trying to figure out
WHAT. 

 

 

***

 

Blurt “co-co-editor”
and advice columnist Coco Hames fronts The
Ettes, which include Jem on bass, Poni on drums and Johnny on guitar. Their
Greg Cartwright-produced album
Do You Want Power arrived in stores last fall, their music was featured in the Drew
Barrymore-directed film
Whip It. They’re
currently working on their fourth full-length and additionally have a new
collaboration with Cartwright called The Parting Gifts, whose debut record is
due this fall. You can read all about that as well as details of their recent
tour with the Dead Weather in our exclusive interview with Hames. For music,
tour dates and details, check out the band at its MySpace page and the official
website.

 

 

Report: Yo La Tengo, More @ L-Coast Live

 

With Yo La Tengo, Big Jay McNeely, Orange
Peels and the Mumlers – plus, almost, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy – held in
downtown San Jose
on June 25.

 

By Jud Cost

 

It was pretty
much a reversal of fortune for this year’s Left Coast Live festival in downtown
San Jose.
Especially when compared to last year’s dismal maiden effort that had all the joie de vivre of an alien autopsy. At
least, this year’s Saturday night headliner, Yo La Tengo, was not saddled with
an unworkable 6:00 p.m. starting time, as was Booker T., the 2009 main event.
They’ve closed off an even longer chunk of South 1st Street this year, but the 9:15
time for Yo La Tengo means more hustle and flow on the boulevard and a markedly
more party-like vibe for the 2010 gathering. But you still can’t book a hundred
mostly unknown acts into every tiny joint in town with four walls and a
restroom, wave a magic wand and get instant South By Southwest. And yet,
progress is progress.

 

The Orange
Peels, certainly the Bay Area’s best pop band since the late-70s heyday of the
Rubinoos, were slotted to play what looked like the storage room of a small
Latino art gallery called MACLA. The sound here was brittle enough to shatter
glass, and at the same time booming to the point that all nuance from the OPs’
trademark harmonies and lush melodies was totally lost. It was quite simply the
worst room acoustics I’ve ever heard in 40 years attending rock gigs.

 

Orange Peels
frontman Allen Clapp heartily agreed as he mopped his brow after the set.
“It felt like I was inside a garbage can out there,” he sighed. It
was a shame that Clapp’s intelligent lyrics and the brilliant lead breaks of
new guitarist (and former band drummer) John Moremen were all but inaudible,
trapped in quicksand by the oatmeal-and-tapioca ambience of a room that should
never have been used for live music.

 

With an audience
of only 15 or so who wandered in (and out) before Yo La Tengo  finished its set in the street outside, it
almost felt like the Orange Peels were playing to an empty room. “It’s
really quiet in here. It feels like the come-down lounge,” said Clapp
after one Peels tune that was distorted by the acoustics to the point of
sounding like something by garage-psych heroes the 13th Floor Elevators.

 

The main stage
PA, on the other hand, sounded terrific. San Jose
band the Mumlers opened for Yo La Tengo in fine style at 8:00 p.m. with their South Bay
take on the “freak folk” sound of 
Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Vetiver. The Mumlers have an oddball
lineup that combines tenor sax, trumpet and two kinds of tuba with the angular
lead vocals and occasional fuzzed-out electric guitar of Will Sprott. “I
was gonna do some stage-diving tonight, but it’s a really long way down to the
ground,” mumbled Sprott amiably as he eyeballed the eight-foot drop to the
asphalt below, before breaking into “99 Years Ago,” a bluesy remake
of old chestnut “St. James Infirmary.”

 

“Being a
band from San Jose
has its good nights and its not so good nights,” said Sprott afterwards as
he peddled CDs from the merch table. “The real problem is there just
aren’t enough places to play here.” He also noted that nearby downtown
university San Jose
State is mostly a
commuter college, leaving a relatively small pool of resident students with any
interest in the indie-rock night life.

 

Yo La Tengo
bassist James McNew, lugging an armload of band t-shirts to sell before the
gig, vaguely recalled playing San Jose’s Cactus Club back in the ’80s, the
empty shell of which stares at us from right across the street. The billions of
dollars spent in high-rise, luxury hotels and towering glass and concrete
office buildings since the phoenix-like rise of Silicon
Valley have gone unnoticed. And from this three-block vantage
point, nothing’s really changed in 25 years. Except the five once-thriving rock
clubs have all gone belly-up.

 

Yo La Tengo took
the stage to a warm welcome from a crowd of about 350 with usual lead
guitarist/singer Ira Kaplan playing bass, Georgia Hubley on drums and McNew
splattering the crowd with a lumbering, dangerous guitar sound that would seem
more at home on a Melvins record. Of course, that’s one of the best elements of
Yo La Tengo, now 26 years old and weaned on old Velvet Underground albums. You
may think you know what they’re going to play, but there are always plenty of
surprises, both live and on their 12 full-length albums.

 

I haven’t seen
the New Jersey trio, who cut their teeth at
Maxwell’s in Hoboken, since 1992 when My Bloody
Valentine and Buffalo Tom opened for them at the Warfield in San Francisco. But things haven’t changed too
much since then. “Georgia and I are going to sing a duet. Duet, that’s a
technical term,” laughed Kaplan as the band played something mellow off
their most recent longplayer, Popular
Songs
.

 

The evening took
a decidedly weird turn as I hoofed it over to Milano, a dingy nitery with zero
curb appeal, tucked away over on 2nd
Street. As I was thoroughly frisked for weapons at
the door (none found), a car parked around the corner blared out what sounded
like Vietnamese hip hop. Once inside, I instantly felt I’d been transported to
a slightly more polished version of One-Eyed Jack’s, the scary roadhouse from
David Lynch’s TV masterpiece, Twin Peaks, where high school girls were shanghaied to
work as prostitutes.

 

Or maybe it was
the reincarnation of legendary Santa
Clara, Calif. honky
tonk Napredak Hall without the sawdust on the floor. Located somewhere off
Lawrence Station Road, Napredak was the joint high on the tour itinerary of
every ’50s/’60s country & western star, from Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell,
Roy Acuff, Webb Pierce and Faron Young to George Jones, Buck Owens, Merle
Haggard and Johnny Cash. Whatever the vibe, oldtime hipsters, dressed to the
nines, are dancing the bop tonight with their dolled-up ladies to hardcore doo wop
and early ’50s R&B.

 

After a
half-hour teaser set by his backup combo, there he was right in front of me,
Big Jay McNeely, walking around the dance floor hunched-up and blowing the
honkingest tenor sax, ever, into a wireless mic attached to the bell of his
horn. Now 83, this guy has been around so long, he was playing tenor when John
Coltrane was still in the Navy. McNeely’s been making records since the late
’40s and frequently played live dressed up in colorful threads, blowing a horn
illuminated by fluorescent paint while lying flat on his back. He’s billed now
as “the godfather of rock ‘n’ roll saxophone.”

 

McNeely’s
curtailed the onstage gymnastics these days, but his buzzsaw tone, learned from
records by famed tenorman Illinois Jacquet, can still hypnotize the crowd much
like another famous dude in a loud suit, the Pied Piper. McNeely sits with the
audience a spell while still playing his horn, then sings “I Can’t Stop
Loving You” in a barrelhouse baritone.

 

How to top what
I’ve just seen? The only possibility is a nightcap with storied local crazyman,
the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, scheduled for a post-midnight set at First
Street Billiards. “You’re just in time,” mutters the guy at the door
when I inquire whether “the Ledge” and his notorious bugle and
cowbell have made an appearance yet. The last time I saw the man who once cut
“Paralyzed” back in the ’70s, somebody tossed a full bottle of water
onto my wife’s head from a balcony seat.

 

I sidle into the
pool hall just in time to hear an unknown trio of old geezers, dressed in
spike-topped World War I German army helmets, singing the Who’s “My
Generation”… in German. Since I don’t have a helmet of my own I make the
snap decision to call it a night, before I wind up in the ER, myself. It’s been
a helluva trek through the underbelly of San Jose, a center-cut sliced from the
pumping heart of Left Coast Live, a rock festival that may be going somewhere
in spite of itself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Right Then & All Right Now: Free

 

With the
recently released
Free Forever double-DVD,
the British rock and roll Wild Bunch is offered up for reappraisal for both the
older and younger generation. All hail the late, great guitarist Paul Kossoff.

 

By Rick Allen

 

Free’s Paul Kossoff was a wonder of a guitarist. A
demon when it came to tone and vibrato, Kossoff would have changed the way the
whole book was written had he lived another decade or two beyond his 25th birthday. With “The Voice” Paul Rodgers on vocals and a rhythm section-Andy
Fraser on bass and Simon Kirke on drums- to rival Jones and Bonham, out of all
the great late-’60s/early-‘70s British blues-rock acts, Free channeled the true
blues spirit like no other – as evidenced on the recently-issued 2-DVD Free Forever (Eagle Rock Entertainment; www.eaglerockent.com).

 

But internal strife, substance abuse and a bad
break or two meant that they couldn’t sustain the momentum generated by their
hit “All Right Now” (still a classic rock radio staple) and they became one of
the great “what if” stories in rock and roll.  Perhaps Free’s greatest asset after Rodgers’
voice and Kossoff’s guitar is the natural enthusiasm and controlled abandon with
which they made music. They seemed like four guys who would have been just as
happy playing in a pub for fifty people as for tens of thousands as they did at
their famous Isle of Wight show, one of their
highest moments some video of which is included in this set.  Except for Fraser, who could be a bit of a
dandy (and in recent years came out of
the closet, not that that factoid is necessarily relevant, but still…  – Fact Checking Ed.)
they looked like
they were four guys who got up, put on whatever was clean, and went to work. In
the interview section of the DVD we find they did just that, usually performing
in the same clothes they wore driving to the gig.

 

This set collects pretty much all of the available
footage of the band so there is a little padding, including four versions of
“All Right Now” and three of “Mr. Big.” Several other songs come around twice
but each take has something to recommend it (though the silent concert footage
that takes up a good part of one disc is definitely a fans only feature). The
live audio of their Isle of Wight show is less
so, and might as well have been released separately as a CD, since only part of
the concert was captured on film. There are two edits of that footage and the
rest of the audio is played over candid snapshots, publicity photos and shots
of ticket stubs and other memorabilia. It’s great to listen to but for viewing,
once around will probably do.

 

A touching encapsulation of Kossoff’s downward
spiral featuring childhood photos is handled the same way. To see Kossoff as a
chubby, smiling but sad-eyed little kid is to recognize some of the reasons
behind the drug and alcohol abuse that led to his early death. Overweight kids
don’t always grow out of the sense of isolation and insecurity, the scars that
come with being that way. Even as a fairly normal weight adult, with his pink
skin and red beard Kossoff looks like an overgrown gnome, softer and less
sexually lethal than the criminally thin Fraser and Rodgers.

 

That said, when Kossoff plays, there’s a look of
anguished ecstasy on his face, his mouth forming words but his guitar doing the
speaking, screaming, wailing.

 

It’s magnificent to see and hear, and it does much
to illustrate the greatness of the band. Watching Free it’s hard not to feel
that they made rock and roll music the way it was meant to sound, taking its
blues roots and developing them along natural lines.

 

Among the extras are interviews with the surviving
members of the band and two rather odd videos from Fraser’s post-free solo
career in which he comes across somewhat like a pumped-up, bare-chested hipper
version of Peter Allen (…ahem… see above.
– Archival Ed.)
not quite what you would expect from a founding member of a
band as down to earth as Free but, you know, chacun a son gout and all that.

 

The package might have had a better flow if it had
been edited down to a single disc, but better too much than too little. (You got that right, sir. Free was one of the
greats, and I saw ‘em in concert myself.  – Fanboy Ed.)
With Free Forever we have a welcome retrospective of a rock and roll
Wild Bunch that held out as long as they could against the slick plastic disco/haircut
band/drum machine horrors that were already beginning to infect popular music. It
was all right then and it’s all right now.

 

 

 

All Right Then & All Right Now: Free

 

With the
recently released
Free Forever double-DVD,
the British rock and roll Wild Bunch is offered up for reappraisal for both the
older and younger generation. All hail the late, great guitarist Paul Kossoff.

 

By Rick Allen

 

Free’s Paul Kossoff was a wonder of a guitarist. A
demon when it came to tone and vibrato, Kossoff would have changed the way the
whole book was written had he lived another decade or two beyond his 25th birthday. With “The Voice” Paul Rodgers on vocals and a rhythm section-Andy
Fraser on bass and Simon Kirke on drums- to rival Jones and Bonham, out of all
the great late-’60s/early-‘70s British blues-rock acts, Free channeled the true
blues spirit like no other – as evidenced on the recently-issued 2-DVD Free Forever (Eagle Rock Entertainment; www.eaglerockent.com).

 

But internal strife, substance abuse and a bad
break or two meant that they couldn’t sustain the momentum generated by their
hit “All Right Now” (still a classic rock radio staple) and they became one of
the great “what if” stories in rock and roll.  Perhaps Free’s greatest asset after Rodgers’
voice and Kossoff’s guitar is the natural enthusiasm and controlled abandon with
which they made music. They seemed like four guys who would have been just as
happy playing in a pub for fifty people as for tens of thousands as they did at
their famous Isle of Wight show, one of their
highest moments some video of which is included in this set.  Except for Fraser, who could be a bit of a
dandy (and in recent years came out of
the closet, not that that factoid is necessarily relevant, but still…  – Fact Checking Ed.)
they looked like
they were four guys who got up, put on whatever was clean, and went to work. In
the interview section of the DVD we find they did just that, usually performing
in the same clothes they wore driving to the gig.

 

This set collects pretty much all of the available
footage of the band so there is a little padding, including four versions of
“All Right Now” and three of “Mr. Big.” Several other songs come around twice
but each take has something to recommend it (though the silent concert footage
that takes up a good part of one disc is definitely a fans only feature). The
live audio of their Isle of Wight show is less
so, and might as well have been released separately as a CD, since only part of
the concert was captured on film. There are two edits of that footage and the
rest of the audio is played over candid snapshots, publicity photos and shots
of ticket stubs and other memorabilia. It’s great to listen to but for viewing,
once around will probably do.

 

A touching encapsulation of Kossoff’s downward
spiral featuring childhood photos is handled the same way. To see Kossoff as a
chubby, smiling but sad-eyed little kid is to recognize some of the reasons
behind the drug and alcohol abuse that led to his early death. Overweight kids
don’t always grow out of the sense of isolation and insecurity, the scars that
come with being that way. Even as a fairly normal weight adult, with his pink
skin and red beard Kossoff looks like an overgrown gnome, softer and less
sexually lethal than the criminally thin Fraser and Rodgers.

 

That said, when Kossoff plays, there’s a look of
anguished ecstasy on his face, his mouth forming words but his guitar doing the
speaking, screaming, wailing.

 

It’s magnificent to see and hear, and it does much
to illustrate the greatness of the band. Watching Free it’s hard not to feel
that they made rock and roll music the way it was meant to sound, taking its
blues roots and developing them along natural lines.

 

Among the extras are interviews with the surviving
members of the band and two rather odd videos from Fraser’s post-free solo
career in which he comes across somewhat like a pumped-up, bare-chested hipper
version of Peter Allen (…ahem… see above.
– Archival Ed.)
not quite what you would expect from a founding member of a
band as down to earth as Free but, you know, chacun a son gout and all that.

 

The package might have had a better flow if it had
been edited down to a single disc, but better too much than too little. (You got that right, sir. Free was one of the
greats, and I saw ‘em in concert myself.  – Fanboy Ed.)
With Free Forever we have a welcome retrospective of a rock and roll
Wild Bunch that held out as long as they could against the slick plastic disco/haircut
band/drum machine horrors that were already beginning to infect popular music. It
was all right then and it’s all right now.

 

 

 

One Lousy Lay: “Every Rose” Book

 

Are you looking for a
man, or looking for the patience to wade through 320 pages of stupidity? Or
both? Good luck!

 

By A.D. Amorosi

 

Not being too terribly adverse to dating columns (especially
on a site so smartly cranky as Nerve.com) I didn’t think a humorous book with a
rockist theme from “Miss Information” would be bad.

 

That said, if Every
Rose Has Its Thorn: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Field Guide to Guys
(Tarcher/Penguin),
written by Erin Bradley and illustrated by Heather Bradley, were a romantic interlude,
it’d be one lousy lay.

 

Having zip to do with awesome Bret Michaels’ tawdriest
ballad, ERHIT, is a gals-eye-view at
lovesick relationships through the lens (chapter headings) of the pop
continuum. At first, it’s a harmless read where you get to code the people in
your life and find their rock-punk-hop correlative. If you meet an older man
who loves shopping for the finer     
things and hates showing up alone to tony office functions (as opposed
to theater events) you’ve met a “Mr. Big Stuff” (think Mark McGrath – really?!)
in Bradley’s estimation –  as opposed to
a decider, a “Father Figure” (who’d be, in Bradley’s eyes, a Bruce or, yup, an
Ozzy).

 

From that standpoint, you’ll find a slew of occasionally
clever, even insightful, quizzes and true life renditions of love’s slipperiest
slopes and how to find them.

 

Most of the time, though, you don’t find enough to fun or
fact or relatable escapades to warrant reading even the shortest paragraphs.

 

s he a “Boy with a Thorn in his Side” ( a cuddling mope), a
“Mr. Roboto” (icy nerd) or a “Johnny B. Goode” (political on social networks)?
Are you a woman who is more apt to love a sex god (I guess) Mötley Crüe manqué,
or are you laid back enough to get with a Beastie Boy?

 

And do you have the time or patience to go through all this
stupidity? That’ll truly let you in on what kind of person you’re dating –
something for another book entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

Kinks Peter Quaife 1943-2010 R.I.P.

 

Bassist’s powerhouse
low end helped create the original Kinks sound.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Peter Quaife, a cofounding member and original bassist of
the Kinks, passed away on Wednesday, June 23, reportedly due to kidney failure.
He’d been diagnosed with renal disease in 1998 and had been on dialysis
treatment. The musician (above, left) was 66.

 

Quaife had left the Kinks in ’69 after a five year run that
he himself admitted had its highs and lows – plenty of them lows. However, as
the BBC reports
, he was still immensely proud of “his work on the band’s
landmark Village Green Preservation
Society
album. ‘Making that album was the high point of my career,’ he told
Jukebox magazine in 2006. ‘For me it
represents the only real album made by the Kinks… in which we all contributed
something.'”

 

After his departure from the group he attempted to continue
his musical career but eventually opted to go into graphic design and in recent
years had been living in Denmark.
Over the years there had been many recurring rumors about a full Kinks reunion,
but the only time he performed again specifically with the Davies brothers was
during the encores of a Kinks concert in ’81 in Canada. The Kinks were inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and he also took part in the big
induction ceremony jam.

 

 

 

Justin Earle Gets the Harlem River Blues

 

Steve Earle’s kid’s
third full-length is followup to last year’s acclaimed Midnight At the Movies. Features
guests Jason Isbelly, Bryn Davies and Paul Niehaus.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Woody Guthrie once said, “Any fool can make something
complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” On Harlem River Blues,
due Sept. 14 from Bloodshot, Justin
Townes Earle takes that lesson to heart, making a statement without
making a wall of sound.

 

Compared to the much-lauded Midnight at the Movies, Harlem
River Blues
is more mature and increasingly nuanced, while still embracing
the raw voice and clean sound of previous standout tracks like “Mama’s Eyes.”
Featuring guest appearances from Jason Isbell, Bryn Davies and Calexico’s Paul
Niehaus, it’s rockin’ and reelin’ at times, sweet and slow at others – and it’s
great. Like good fried chicken, a well-cut suit and a hand made guitar, there’s
heaven to be found in the beautifully crafted simpler things.

 

Sporting some of those well-cut suits, Justin Townes Earle
spent 2009 pounding the proverbial pavement, touring constantly and wowing
audiences worldwide. That hard working earnestness has paid off, to say the
least. Justin won the Best New and
Emerging Artist at the 2009 Americana Music Awards. Midnight at the
Movies
was named one of the best records of last year by Amazon, got four stars in Rolling Stone and found
a sweet spot in the blackened hearts of fans and critics alike. GQ magazine named him one of the 25 best
dressed men in the world in 2010. He also appeared on HBO’s Treme with his dad,
troubadour Steve Earle, on whose Grammy
Award winning Townes record Justin also guests.

 

As versed in Mance Lipscomb as he is in M. Ward and
sporting Marc Jacobs suspenders, Justin Townes Earle is a man beyond eras. With
Harlem River Blues, a record that’s perfect for late Indian summer
nights on either the front porch or fire escape, Justin’s found yet another way
to be a timeless original.

 

 

 

 

Blue Rags’ Woody Wood w/Solo Rec

 

Strong contender for “busiest and most prolific
musician in NC,” indeed.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

 

If you’re from the Asheville, NC, area you
already know the name Aaron “Woody” Wood – he literally pops
up every other week in some incarnation or another, from his roots/power trio
(Hollywood Red) and Led Zep covers combo (Custard Pie) to assorted solo outings
and even the occasional reunion gig with the mighty Blue Rags, who were signed
to Sub Pop back in the ‘90s and were hugely influential on the Tarheel music
scene. (Their fans were thrilled when they decided to get back together a few
years ago, and the old chemistry apparently remained, so Blue Rags spotting has
become a bit of a local pastime.) And the guy has a musical background that is
as diverse as it can get.

 

 

His earliest memories are of making the rounds in the bluegrass
circuit with his father A.L. Wood, often sitting on stage with Bill Monroe and
the Stanley Brothers. He’s dabbled in every genre from folk to rock to blues. He’s
had the opportunity to share the stage with R.L. Burnside to Leon Russel. to
Sara Evans to Carlos Santana as well as a slew of New Orleans finest.

 

 

He’s currently embarking on a new venture, funding a solo project on
his own, having recently polished off a 5-song EP at Asheville’s
Echo Mountain studios by tapping the
grassroots potential of fan-funding via Kickstarter.com. His plans are to now
make a complete full-length via Kickstarter
, with the usual array of donation
tiers ranging from downloads and specially created merch to having him record a
special cover song just for you and having him perform at a private party for
you.

 

 

(A special tier will be offered for local fans, that will get you a
copy of the full album as well as an invite to a house show/pool party
featuring Aaron Wood, Jason Krekel and a few more musicians THIS WEEKEND on the
4th of July. Food, drink, pool, yard games and 40 ft slip and slide will be
provided. Space is limited for this tier so sign up early. Go to
Kickstarter.com for details.)

 

 

The gifted guitarist and songwriter really is a regional treasure,
so check him out – he’s got the Blurt seal of approval. There are several spots
on the web you can hear his tunes and find out more – the first link below
features those five recently recorded songs, in fact.

 

 

http://www.aaronwoodmusic.com/

 

 

http://www.woodywoodmusic.com/

 

 

http://www.myspace.com/woodywood33

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.E.M.’s Buck Records w/Decemberists

 

Series of photos
unveiled yesterday show Buck in studio with Meloy & Co., playing guitar,
mandolin and other gear.

 

 

By Fred Mills

 

 

Esteemed ‘80s college rock site (term used loosely) Slicing
Up Eyeballs is reporting on the newly unveiled “photographic evidence” of
R.E.M.’s Peter Buck sitting in with The Decemberists earlier this month. Apparently
a new Tucker Martine-produced album from Colin Meloy & Co. is slated for a
Feb. 2011 release on Capitol, and the Martine connection (he worked not long
ago with R.E.M. on demos) plus Buck’s NW proximity made the collaboration a
no-brainer.

 

A series of photos (including the one above, which depicts
Buck, Chris Funk and Meloy) taken by Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., Minus 5, Young
Fresh Fellows, etc.) appeared yesterday at the R.E.M. website and were
subsequently picked up by Slicking Up Eyeballs. They were taken during a
recording session in a barn near Portland.