Starchild and I

What do Paul Stanley and I have in common?  Chest hair?  Makeup?  Goofy stage banter?  Nope.  Not much, really, except for one formative event: at age 5, we were both pole-axed by Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto (Piano Concerto #5).  Here’s PS waxing eloquent on the subject:

I was absolutely god smacked. To know that music could have that kind of power, although I was so young, the music had such heroic qualities to it and mammoth chords. To this day it’s some of the heaviest and most glorious melodies ever. So that really was my introduction to the gravitas that music could have and how emotive it could be. So at the core of music for me is Beethoven.

As for me, it was the first piece of music I fell in love with when Col. Renfield brought home a copy and put it on the ol’ console.  The Beatles came a year or so later.

If you’re interested, there are many good recordings and a handful of great ones.  But to my ears, Rudolf Serkin owned this work.  Here he is with Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic competing with him for attention.  The winners are we, the listeners.

Bill, Post Cowsills

Sickeningly talented dude. Bill Cowsill was in Blue Northern from 1977 until they broke up in 1982.

Cowsill moved from Calgary to Vancouver as of 1977, and became a fan of the local band Blue Northern. He began sitting in with the band on a regular basis, and not long after he became a member. In 1979, the group released Blue, a four-song, 12″ EP. Two of the songs were written by Cowsill, who also produced the record. The band’s self-titled album was released on Polydor Records in early 1981, and was co-produced by Cowsill. The band broke up in 1982, notwithstanding continuing public interest, as well as Juno Award and Canadian Country Music Award nominations.

The Blue Shadows was his band from 1992 to 1996.

In 1992, Cowsill became the co-lead singer, with Jeffrey Hatcher, of The Blue Shadows. Cowsill and Hatcher became known for their Everly Brothers-like harmonies. Cowsill regarded his association with The Blue Shadows as his most positive experience as a musician, to that point in his career. In 1993, The Blue Shadows were signed to Sony and released their debut album, On The Floor of Heaven receiving positive reviews. The group found itself at the forefront of a Canadian Alt.country movement. In 2005, Cowsill stated that he considered the title track to the album to be the best song he had ever written.

I’m down the rabbit hole …

More Old Stuff

Paul Revere and The Raiders wore Minutemen uniforms, acted silly (a requirement following A Hard Day’s Night and Help), had a teen idol in singer Mark Lindsey, and perhaps suffered overexposure as the house band on the weekly pop music TV show, Happening ’68.  Earlier they were regulars on Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is, so they were all over television for a couple of years.  All that made them easy to dismiss later as tastes changed and bands were expected to dress more like hippies and act more seriously, or at least like they were on harder drugs.  That’s too bad.  They were a great band, and the proof is in the grooves. There’s the Stonesy song posted above.  Just Like Me ,  Steppin’ Out, and Hungry are among the best 60’s garage-rock songs.  Good Thing gets more sophisticated with the Beach Boys vocal bit in the bridge, but the blistering instrumental track takes no prisoners.  They earned their chops grinding it out in the Pacific Northwest club and teen-dance circuit, and you can hear it in Good Thing (no doubt some Raiders songs employed the Wrecking Crew, but this one sounds too unhinged to be the WC).  Kicks features an unforgettable twelve-string riff, and its chorus is a textbook on how to write and produce a simple, effective hook.  There’s nothing extraneous in that chorus, it just pounds in the hook.  It also pulls the amazing stunt of being a cool anti-drug song.  Does another even exist?

The Raiders ended up sort of like Max Baer post Beverly Hillbillies: once Jethro, always Jethro.  They did manage one hit with a new beards-and-blue-jeans look, but it wasn’t any good (it’s called Indian Reservation, if you really must). Just how the ball bounces.  This decade’s stars, next decade’s has-beens.

Don’t Make A Grown Man Cry

This video always makes me think of my childhood best friend’s little brother, who did a flawless Mick Jagger based entirely on the first 30 seconds.

Moreover, I will go to my grave insisting Tattoo You is a great album.

Bull Island Soda Pop Festival

If you enjoy failed-rock-festival porn, check this out.  Apparently things got so dark that even the reigning Dark Lords of rawk and Satan’s representatives on earth, Black Sabbath, felt compelled to cancel.

This Is Outstanding

If you haven’t seen it. I mean even if you have, it’s still outstanding.

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten–until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach and more.

Summer of Soul premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It will stream on Hulu in conjunction with Disney’s new BIPOC Creator Initiative; Searchlight Pictures will release it theatrically.

Edison What?

This stupid, irresistibly catchy song by a band with a very uncatchy name is a perfect example of the kind of vacuous, boneheaded bubblegum pop that dominated AM radio in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  It’s a song I never would have admitted  liking back then.  The band looks about as interesting as their name, so the video required plenty of gyrating dancing girls to maintain any visual interest.  At first I thought that explained the singer’s goofy grin.  Clearly he was expecting a cut from casting couch proceeds.  But closer inspection reveals that the dancing girls were spliced in from elsewhere.  Oh well, I guess one-hit wonders only cash in so far.

Here are the Replacements assassinating it: