Don’t Watch After Eating

I hate the songs of Jimmy Webb.  He won a jillion Grammy’s, and he’s regularly named as a great songwriter by people who really should know better (Bruce Springteen and some others).  At his best, his songs are merely annoying, melodically vapid, and oozing with gooey sentimentality (his songs for Glen Campbell: Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get To Phoenix).  At his worst, they are also pretentious (McArthur Park) and stupid beyond all description (Up, Up and Away, McArthur Park again).  I once played Richard Harris’s original hit version of McArthur Park to my older son, who was certain I was playing him a comedy record.  If you’re so inclined, above you can watch him perform what could be the worst song ever written with such bone-headed earnestness that you may find yourself wanting Anton Chigurh to walk up and do his captive bolt stunner thing on him.  I didn’t even make it to the infamous “cake out in the rain” part (surely the dumbest metaphor ever devised).  In a way it’s funny, but mostly not.  My question to you bastards: am I incorrect?  If any of you are Jimmy Webb fans, can you clue me in as to what’s good about him?  Did he write some hidden gems I’ve never heard?  Because based on his biggest hits, I don’t get his reputation as one of the greats at all.

I’m In

What’s not to love?

High Score is a documentary series about the golden age of video games, when legends – from Pac-Man to Doom – were brought to life. Through ingenuity and sheer force of will, computer pioneers and visionary artists from around the globe spawned the iconic worlds of Space Invaders, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog, MADDEN NFL, and beyond. Without rules or roadmaps, players and innovators alike pushed the limits of money to be made, rivals to be crushed, and hearts to be won. This is the story of the brains behind the pixels and how their unmatched innovation built a multi-billion dollar industry – almost by accident. High Score premieres on Netflix on August 19, 2020.

Goofy TV Gigs

I completely missed this one when it aired.  I don’t remember hearing about it at all.  A little sad, by ’79 the Ramones should have been too big for the Sha Na Na show.

But I did happen to be watching the tube in ’68 when psychedelic proto-punks The Seeds (as The Warts) mimed their biggest hit, the classic pushy-girlfriend-fuck-off song, “Pushin’ to Hard” on a now-forgotten sitcom called The Mothers-in-Law.  I bought the album soon after.  Oddly enough, that album had been released two years earlier, and they’d released another since, but they were still pushin’ this song on TV.  The second verse and guitar break were edited out.

Whole Lotta Borrowing

Speaking of The Small Faces, here’s their take on Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love.”  You’ll note that Robert Plant, who used to run errands for The Small Faces, later put this to use in “Whole Lotta Love.”  Some music nerds give themselves wedgies over all this, but you’ve gotta concede that Jimmy Page improved it by adding one of the all-time greatest rock riffs.  Fun Fact: when JP was forming what would become Led Zeppelin, Steve Marriott was high on his list of singers until The Small Faces’ manager threatened to break his hands.

By the way, below is the single version of “Whole Lotta Love” which cut out the free-form middle section of bongos, theremin, and Robert Plant gearing up for a sneeze that never comes.  Atlantic did originally put out the whole song as a single, but radio stations would create their own versions without the middle part.  Atlantic responded by re-releasing its own edited single over the objections of the band.  So if you didn’t own the lp and listened to AM radio, this is what you usually heard:

Dracula And The Shitty Piece Of Cardboard

If Target can put up Halloween costumes and decorations the first week of September, I can talk about Dracula. I never noticed this before …

Extreme Nerdy Horror Trivia! In the classic 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, why is there a piece of cardboard on a lamp? An error, or was it actually something intentional?

And best YouTube quote …

Why is there so much Dracula in my cardboard movie?

Replacements At A Turning Point

Here’s a great 32-year-old article from SPIN’s archives, from around the time that I was getting into them. (Yes, I was late to the party and had to work my way back through the Twin/Tone albums.) The band had just parted ways with manager Pete Jesperson, fired lead guitarist Bob Stinson, and released one of their best albums, Pleased To Meet Me. Recorded right here in Memphis!

“When we started,” [Westerberg] says, pausing to sip from a midmorning Schmidt, “we definitely had a fear of success. We had a fear of everything. We were all very paranoid, and I think that goes hand in hand with the excessive drinking thing. We’d get drunk because we were basically scared shitless, and that snowballed into image. Now we’re a little more assured of what we’re doing. We’re not positive which way we’re going, but we think we know what mistakes lie ahead, and we’re trying to sidestep ‘em.”

Full article here.