One and done. In 1990 British pop group The La’s released their wonderful self titled post-punk debut. Jangly acoustic guitar and Lee Mavers’ melodies with hook driven harmonies maked it a classic 60’s style psychedelic album revamped for a new generation. Their sound would be emulated throughout the rest of the decade by other weighty bands like Oasis and Blur, but sadly, The La’s turned out to be this group’s only release. Nevertheless the record’s broad vision and earnest appeal making it unique, a stand-alone that is truly one of a kind! There she goes…Enjoy.
Rock ‘n Roll music has always been a voice of self-consciousness and defiance. In the past it has called out abuse and questioned tyranny especially in the late 1960s and early 70s. It has rallied youth and provided a platform for generations to speak out against injustice, corruption and intolerance. Now especially is the time for underground American rock to reawaken. Who will be the new voice in these troubled times?
R.E.M’s Fables of the Reconstruction was one of the rural soundscapes of my youth in the 1980’s.
Set the wayback machine to December 26, 1986. The place? “A place called space”, Chicago Illinois. Nope, there are no tweets, no Snapchat or Facebook, no Internet (Al Gore hasn’t invented it yet), not even email, hey there’s not even Grunge. You want to know what’s going on? What bands are playing where and when? You pick up a Reader or an IE (Illinois Entertainer) and/or on Thursday night at 10 o’clock you tune into WXRT’s the Big Beat hosted by a young (or somewhat younger) Johnny Mars, the man who at the time, for a time, had a finger on the pulse of alternative music scene in Chicago.
This year I thought I would dust off and serve up this treat, from the ghost of Christmas past. Pulled from old cassette tapes of the show, I would pop one of these into my Sony Walkman (make sure it’s rewound) strap it to the belt, and head out the door to catch the (L) red line into town. Yes, what’s old is indeed new again. See how many you can name, but don’t worry if you can’t guess them all. Mars will fill you in with names, titles and some enjoyable banter along the way. I always loved the show’s opening theme, with the commercials and the club listings, it’s like an audio time capsule from 30 years ago. Enjoy the tape and Happy Holidays from your friends at soundtrax.mobi
Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, reggae, folk, country mashup–Camper Van Beethoven’s self titled 3rd album has a fun, eclectic feel rolled up into 16: 2-3 minute bites. Very danceable, just don’t forget to put on your gnarly thrash boots.
No matter what your medium, whether its paint or clay, cooking, music or just words on paper the creative process is a messy one. Getting the idea from the brain to the canvas, if that’s your instrument, is primal, chaotic and often very sloppy. Creativity springs from passion. It is life, all natural, and just like in nature, nothing is clean and tidy. Those of us in the business know the undertaking can also bee frustrating, as you struggle either with a creative partner, a client or just yourself.
The creative process is both intimate and revealing. A painter friend of mine once said, “An artist who takes the risk and puts a piece of art out there, that’s good art”. He was speaking to the point of putting yourself out for others to see hear and criticize. It is a risk, that can be very scary and very rewarding. I guess that is why I enjoy the process. I like the experience of starting from nothing, developing an idea and taking it from concept through to the final product.
When you listen to a Guided By Voices album, especially their earlier ones, you sometimes wonder at what point in the creative process did Robert Pollard say, “OK, we are done with this, lets put it out.” Bee Thousand is the band’s 1994 release, a raw roughly cut plater of 20 songs that were most likely set free very early along the creative chain, but are in no way any less brilliant than later more produced GBV albums. In fact this record would probably not be as great if it had been rubbed up more.
From the starting line to the finish line, Bee Thousand is a workbook made up of mini 1 to 2 minute oysters.
“Sitting out on your house, watching hardcore UFO’s, drawing pictures, playing solos to them . . .
In-between you will bee serenaded and intoxicated by a multitude of unseasoned little pearls, smothered in hugs. It’s a magical spellbinding trip through a creative exercise guaranteed to charm and entertain.
…Rusty and divided steel, the race is yet to come.”
Take the time, forget the mess and let your mind run.
Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
Tractor Rape Chain
The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
Smothered in Hugs
Yours to Keep
Gold Star for Robot Boy
A Big Fan of the Pigpen
Queen of Cans and Jars
Her Psychology Today
Kicker of Elves
Demons Are Real
I Am a Scientist
You’re Not an Airplane
So I’m riding in the car with my daughter and Tom’s Diner comes on the radio. She says, “oh my god, they totally ripped off Centuries by Fall Out Boy.” I looked at her and asked, “what’s that?” She answered, “It’s the song and these guys totally ripped it off.” I said, “Huh…I think you’ve got it wrong, this is Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega, this song came out in the 1980’s.” She then proceeded to roll her eyes and say, “Sure Dad, Tom’s Diner, right.”
It’s funny how kids these days think the world began when they were born, and that nothing existed before that. I had to show her the vinyl when we got home. She then went on YouTube and gave me a listen to Centuries by Fall Out Boy. Seems they took the repeated line in Tom’s Diner and sang it throughout the song (We think they may have lifted some Maroon 5 or Adele in there as well). I’m not sure how the Vega chorus managed to find it’s way into the song. Maybe one of the group’s players use to be rocked to sleep by it as a child. There is no doubt about where it came from though. Not that it’s worth a law suit or anything. It’s not like Fall Out Boy is Led Zeppelin.
For today’s Runner, enjoy Suzanne Vega from her self titled 1985 debut. Good Stuff…and if you want to compare Centuries by Fall Out Boy to Tom’s Diner, here you go.