Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey....Good Day

Nothing else to say here. One of the greats in the broadcasting business has died. The king is dead. Being able to do something you love until you're ninety only gives me hope for the future. He met his wife "Angel" who just passed in St. Louis when he worked here in the forties. He could make you hang...on...every...word. Unbelievable talent. He was the one who had talent on loan from God, not Rush.
R.I.P. Paul, thank you for your service to better my industry and here's hoping you know....the rest of the story.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Norm Van Lier 1947-2009

Norm Van Lier was an outstanding football, basketball and baseball player in high school. He was on a high school basketball team that won 56 straight games in a row and two championships going through both his junior and senior years undefeated. When he played for St. Francis University, I read an interview with him that stuck with me to this day. "I primarily play defense, and to me, that means that if keep my player from catching the ball and scoring, I have done my job. If my player scores an average of 16 points a game and he only gets 3 on me, that means I've scored 13 points that you will never see in the box score. I not only don't want my guy to score, I'll work my hardest to make sure he doesn't touch the ball." THAT was like a bolt of inspiration and I never forgot that quote, as you can see. In the pros, he teamed up with Jerry Sloan (who also had similiar thoughts about defense) to create the nastiest, hardest working backcourt ever for the Chicago Bulls. At 6' 1", his height was also an inspiration to me and probably formed my game (whatever it was) more than anyone ever, outside of Pete Maravich. When I moved to the Quad Cities in 1971, cable TV had just arrived and we got WGN out of Chicago which showed the Bulls a lot and I became even more of a fan than before. His name "Stormin Norman" came from his tenacity on the defensive side. He was also named defensive player of the year three times during his career.

Norm was also a DJ on "The Loop" FM in Chicago and constantly talked about his love for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and his favorite band ever Chicago. From 1992 to 2002, he was the television pre and post game analyst for the Bulls. During that time, they won numerous championships. He died on Thursday after being found unresponsive in his Chicago apartment. He was 61. Also that day, the Bulls lost longtime play by play announcer Johnny "Red" Kerr who died of prostate cancer. Norm was the epitome of cool and hard work. He left his legacy on this young basketball player at an early age. He and "Pistol Pete" were my favorite players growing up and now they are both gone.

Saturday Morning Stuff

Tis a chilly, cloudy and cold Saturday morning in St. Louis as the predicted snowstorm has yet to appear (so, what else is new)?
Tonight, I am donating my time by being the M.C. and host for a trivia night at the Walker Scottish Rite Children's Medical Clinic. I would do just about anything for the kids there and the executive director, who's been a family friend for the last fifteen years. Hey, it's just a Saturday Night, huh?
Next weekend is spent in Kansas City, honoring the boys in Shooting Star who will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame along with Melissa Etheridge and Kansas. The party starts next Friday night with a dinner at a steakhouse in KC, KS, then the following night a concert at the Lawrence Opera House. This will be really big and I get to reprise my role from 25 years ago by bringing them onstage once again. There are rumours that Gary West (original writer/singer/guitar and piano player) will make his first appearance with the band in about 20 years. I'll make sure and take lots of pictures. Here's the original band featuring the late, great Bill Guffey on keys. Miss ya, Bill.

I am weeding through my CD collection and putting many of them up for sale on Ebay. At one time, I had 4,400 of them and that's just not right. I am not going to live forever and I don't want to sadlle the family with the burden of what to do with my shit when I am gone. Plus, maybe with the extra scratch, I can go somewhere in March before my job starts on April first. If you are interested, my username on Ebay is "phineasphreak". It's a reference to the old Fabulous Furry Freak Brother that I beared a resemblance to in the past. In this batch, the real goodie is a promo disc I got in 1989 featuring Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughn that is about as rare as can be. We'll see how much it goes for. There is also a japanese import Ambrosia disc up for grabs, too. The criteria: if it hasn't been listened to in 20 years, it's gone out of the collection. Keep checking back for some interesting things put online.
"Deadwood" is becoming a mish mosh of stuff. I saw an interview with David Milch that said he basically "made it up as he went along". No shit. With a little more planning, this series would be great, but right now, I am losing interest. The actor who played the killer of Wild Bill Hickok (who was then killed) has been brought back, only this time with a beard and he plays a...get ready..killer. I am on season two, episode 7 and I am going to give it two more episodes and then if it doesn't get any better, cut it loose. Bummer.
This Monday night, I'll be doing something I haven't done since high school. I will be the color guy for the Wentzville boys basketball team on the radio. So, if you are so inclined, turn on 99.9 KFAV (Or listen online) to see how I do. I appreciate Jay Murray asking me to help out and while I am not getting paid for it, who knows where it may lead. I just remember how much fun it was and that's all that counts right now.

"Over Rated"

George Thorogood
Don't Get It. Never Have. His stuff all sounds the same and I think I'd rather put a bullet in my brain than hear "Bad To The Bone" again. When he fisrt exploded on the scene in 1979, I really thought he'd be a flash in the pan and be done soon. He didn't write much of his own material and while his "50 states in 50 days" tour was admirable, I thought .."what was the point?" He was one of my most cantankerious interviews (my attitude may have had something to do with it), but he did get off the best line while finishing it up. He was obviously tired and I put him into a corner with a statement about now not being able to understand how four chords produced five albums. He looked at me, winked and said "that's six albums, but who's counting. "One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer" is atrocious, the rest of his catalog less so, but he gets points for working hard. He is still out there, so what the heck do I know?

Something New This Way Comes....

Coming soon, an announcement of something new, exciting, challenging, scary, refreshing, unbelievable, unfathomable, and just downright cool. It's the story of a boy who gets to go home again. As Led Zeppelin would say .."it's Celebration Day". Margaritas for everyone. Stay tuned to this channel for more details.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Academy Snub

Was waiting for the Academy Awards "In Memorium" set to come on and after 10pm, it finally happened. Where was Don LaFontaine? He probably did more for the Oscars and movies than half the people shown. "In a world far away..." he's probably a bit steamed. I know I was. Was George Carlin in the movies? I think he was ("Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", "The Aristocrats"). No mention of him, either. Overall, I thought this show was not very good. Too much crap, not enough substance. I haven't seen "Slumdog Millionaire" yet. It had better be good to win that many awards.

Here's Don doing his thing...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Call Me A Sissy, Then...

For all those crazy guys who go 'noodling' for catfish and & stick their arms down the fish's throat!! This would be 'all the catfish you can eat.' Each year, a few people were drowning or disappearing mysteriously in Huadu's Furong Reservoir (China). It was not until recently, when the son of a government official went swimming, in the reservoir and was drowned, that the secret was revealed. It is a 3 meter long man-eating catfish whose head alone is 1 metre wide! After cutting up the catfish, people were surprised to find the remains of another man inside! Swimming in the reservoir is now forbidden because it is feared another similar man-eating catfish is still lurking in the waters.

I used to "noodle" when I was a kid. But, I'll be a sissy and use a pole from now on.

Thanks, Deb

The Brilliance of Bruce

Around the first of December, word got to me that Bruce was releasing a new collection of recordings, roughly a year and a half after his wonderful "Magic" release (which, on first listen, I dismissed). It seemed to be too soon for him. He hasn't released LPs in this close proximity for years and I wondered if the old boy still had it in him. There were three videos that came out before the CD, "My Lucky Day","Life Itself" and the title track which piqued my interest and gave us a glimpse as to what this was about. "Working On A Dream" may be the best collection of songs since "Born In The USA" 25 years ago. He's back to his working class roots and although "The Rising" was fine, it seemed he was trying too hard to make a statement. His favorite subjects on this release are love, loss and work. These are things he knows well.

The disc opens with the weakest track "Outlaw Pete" although it has grown on me a bit. Rarely does a CD start with an 8 minute tune about a killer and on first listen, really put me off. But, like his best stuff, you have to get to know the song.
"My Lucky Day" is typical, lyrical Bruce. " the dark of this exile, I felt the grace of your smile, honey you're my lucky day...". The big man nails it in the middle and this is a great Bruce song. Video here
"Working On A Dream" is the one he sang at the Superbowl and this would feel comfortable on "Tunnel of Love". It an ode to the workingman and the woman he loves. Can't get much more basic than that. Instead of the whistle in the middle eight, I would have preferred to hear Clarence more than what's there. Video here
"Queen of the Supermarket" would fit on "Born To Run". He even drops an f-bonb on this one. He's in love with someone who is unobserved and plain, an observation he's been so keen on for years..."though a company cap covers her hair, nothing can hide the beauty waiting there."
"What Love Can Do" maybe the most pedestrain on the disc, but still a fine song written from the heart, with a great harmonica and violin middle eight and delivered with passion and soul.
"This Life"...probably my favorite on the disc and the one where he sounds like Roy Orbison. This would have been a hit in the mid 60's with key changes at the most oppoortune times. Wonderful music and word song "...this life, this life and then the next, with you I have been blessed, my universe at rest." Wow!
"Good Eye" is Bruce, his harmonica, and his imitation of John Fogerty. He pulls it off well, some rhythm and blues for a long, cold winter
"Tomorrow Never Knows" is Bruce getting a little bit country, again, he pulls it off with great songwriting chops with a shuffle beat and a fiddle ..."where the time goes, tomorrow never knows". He needs to do some work with Alison Krauss or someone of that ilk. Nashville Bruce.
"Life Itself" This is the darkest, deepest track on the CD and another one of my faves, the video is outstanding ..."why do the things we treasure most, slip away in time?".

"Kingdom of Days" is his love song to Patti. ..."and I count my blessings that you're mine for always, we laugh beneath the covers and count the wrinkles and the grays"..

"Surprise, Surprise" is a birthday song to someone and one I played last week. "May the rising sun caress and bless your soul for all time". Thanks, Bruce you, too.
"The Last Carnival" is tough to listen to. It's his tribute to Danny Federici, who died last year. It was Danny that asked Bruce to join HIS band. Emotional and very moving. It also features Danny's son on accordion. "Moonrise...the light that was in your eyes has gone away."

"The Wrestler" reminds me of Dylan. It fits the movie so well, just like "The Streets of Phildelphia" did. This is the coda to the disc .."have you ever seen a one armed man punching at nothing but the breeze, then you've seen me."

My only complaint is there isn't enough Clarence on the disc, but, from what I hear, he's not well. I will put this among the top five he has ever done. At this point in his career, it's hard to call it a masterpiece, but as close to one as someone of his age can get. It's an incredible disc from, in my opinion, the only songwriter in my lifetime that can approach what the Beatles did. He's that good.

The Top 25 Most Influential LPs

Over at the Pole Hill sanitarium (Dr. Sardonicus' website) he posed a question I thought would be very difficult to answer. His question is....what would be the 25 most influential LPs of your life (his list has the top 15 but, there is no way on God's green earth that I could narrow it down that far)? Now, I take that as being not necessarily the Top 25 of your life but the top 25 most influential LPs that helped form your musical background more or less. This is hard. I would probably rule out anything that I listened to after the age of 22 or so, because, by then, my listening preferences were pretty much well formed, that leaves a few of my favorites out...
So, here they are...In alphabetical order....

Allman Bros Band-Eat a Peach
Beatles-Abbey Road
Jeff Beck-Blow by Blow
Blue Oyster Cult-debut
Chicago II
Creedence Clearwater Revival-Cosmo's Factory
Crosby, Stills Nash and Young-Deja Vu
Derek and the Dominoes-Layla and Other Love Songs
Doobie Brothers-Captain and Me
Jonathan Edwards-Have A Good Time For Me
Marvin Gaye-What's Going On
Jimi Hendrix-Smash Hits
Elton John-Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
King Crimson-In The Court of the Crimson King
Love Sculpture-Blues Helping
Dave Mason-It's Like You Never Left
Led Zeppelin-Houses of the Holy
Mahavishnu Orchestra-Birds of Fire
Moody Blues-Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
Potliquor-Levee Blues
Queen I
Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run
Steely Dan-Aja
Robin Trower-Bridge of Sighs
Wishbone Ash-Argus

...and there are about 10 that tied for honorable mention. This was really hard to discard some old, great faves like Sly, Humble Pie, Deep Purple, Amazing Blondel, Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Raitt, John Prine, Cat Stevens, Al Stewart, Shooting Star, Neil Young, The Stones, Jethro Tull, Iggy and the Stooges, ELP, Dan Fogelberg, etc.
And, if you'll notice, most of them were released in that 1970-73 range where I was influenced so much by music. Sometimes, these groups were my best friends, I spent hours with them.

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