Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking back on 2010

As we come to the end of this God Forsaken year it's time for me to think back and seen what the hell we did.

This year may have been one of the best years of CD bargain hunting that I have encountered. Four things stood out.

1. The closing of the FYE store in Coral Ridge and prices slashed 50 to 60 percent off enabled me to return there three times this year ending in February.

2. Real Records 50 percent off used CDs in August turned out to be a bonanza since Craig put out a lotta of his out of print inventory and I managed to find Dee Dee King's Standing In The Spotlight for four bucks as well as Leon Russell's Stop All That Jazz.

3. Hastings Music big Sony Music Sale during our Arizona Farewell trip.

But perhaps the last and best find was the October dollar cd sale at Pawn America in Madison which I ended up buying over 35 CDs in a two day binge. Of course finding a mint cd of Led Zeppelin 4 is always great, especially when I beat some dude that had 2 big shopping bags of stuff that he was picking up left and right. So convinced that I could find more that the next month I return to Mad City I did....and found nothing. But Frugal Muse more than made that up by having John Hartford's Aero Plain for 2 bucks. Which is selling for 50 bucks on Amazon.

The life of a bargain hunter is always hit and miss. And there were times that I'd go to either Waterloo or Ames/Des Moines and that turned out to be a wasted road trip. So I went to the places that still had CDs for sale, which was in Dubuque or Madison or Davenport. I made two big road trips: to Ann Arbor with my trusty GF driving the way to Encore Recordings and the other was the Arizona Farewell To The Music Stores Trip. The Michigan trip was the first time I have been up there in 35 years. And basically was a trip to meet her family and get acquainted with them. However she did humor the old dude by taking me to a couple FYEs and Encore but outside of that I didn't bother her with going to any in Detroit. But also knowing that there's nothing in Hale outside of a noisy air conditioner that put me to sleep. But also going outdoors and getting eaten up by those damn mosquitoes. I'm sure it won't be another 35 years going back up there, the GF won't allow that.

The Arizona Farewell Trip was planned on the same day as Michigan trip but with cheap airfares at that time, I thought it would be nice to return to the desert one more time. But it was bittersweet since everytime I went into a Zia's I would be bombarded with sales associates asking if I was all right or needing music help. Four times at the Thunderbird Zia's of pesky help and high used cd prices convinced me that I have doing the right thing by never going back there again. At least the folks at Hastings left me to my own devices. But I think the highlight was finally hooking up with Dennis Lancaster on the Sunday night I got there and we walked downtown Tempe and hung at the bar and drinking those iced smooties and getting a bellyache afterward. But it was fun talking about the old days and wondering where the hell they went and hearing Dennis moaning of the fact that the cute chick sitting next to him wasn't even born when I was living down there in 86.

It wasn't all cd bargain hunts in Arizona. I drove down Arizona 66, stopped at Crookton Pass and watched a couple trains go by and then it was off to Seligman to say hi to the kind folks at Angel's Gift And Barber Shoppe just before closing time. Didn't see Angel there, but got to talk to his daughter for a few. She's always been sweet and kind to me in the 20 years of stopping there while passing through. And off to Kingman to spend a night and the afternoon counting trains going through town and having supper at Cracker Barrel and having chicken and dumplings platter. And down the road to Bullhead City, Needles, through Lake Havasu City and Parker to Tucson to meet up with Barbara for a couple hours. And for the first time, only went through one monsoon storm between Tucson and Casa Grande, every day was sunny and clear. Sky blue skies. The way I want to remember Arizona.

This year has been the story of more places closing up shop. Marco's Pizza, my favorite place for the pizza buffet closed when I was up in Michigan and never reopened. FYE in Coral Ridge closed. Best Buy continues to shrink their CD inventory. The help continues to annoy me. The Plattville Record Store closed up so for the most part. But I did go to Madison four times and struck it big the last two. But on a picture taking trip on State Street encountered some old homeless hag worried that I was going to steal her cigarettes, didn't think much about it till the old hag told her buddies to "watch out for that guy". To which it was certain and the reason why I couldn't never live in Madison on a regular basis; if I stay there more than two days, the morons would come out and piss me off to the point that the trip wasn't fun. So, I went back up there a month later, on a Football Saturday and found out that it was best time to go there. Hardly anybody to bother me at the music stores.

I don't wasted any trips to Davenport or Dubuque or Madison, in Davenport I went there to stop at Big Lots and pick up some reduced prices on food. We used to have Big Lots in town, till they closed them up except the ones at Davenport or Hannibal or where my GF lives at.

The weather here was like the year before, snowy winters, and hot and humid summers with monsoon storms at night. No big floods here but Lake Delhi had 10 inches of rain one night and the dam failed and the Lake emptied down river to Monticello. The Wapsi flooded from rains up north but The Cedar in town didn't flood. And the fall was beautiful, got up to 80 degrees when I was in Madison that October day.

For sports it was pure disappointment. The Chicago Cubs tripped from the word go and Lou Pinella retired but they save their best baseball in September after he left. The San Diego Chargers couldn't beat The Oakland Raiders and stayed home for the playoffs. But the Iowa Hawkeyes, my beloved team had no defense and had it wasn't for a Micah Hyde pick six against Missouri in the Insight Bowl, this season would have been a disaster.

So we come to the end of the year and the only constant from last year is that my GF is spending another Christmas and New Year's with me. And the wondering of where I'll be at for next year and my plans are. I'm done with the Arizona trips, done with the Zia's and the pushy record clerks knowing nothing of what I like. I promised I would retire from this when I turn 50 but we all know that won't happen. As long there's a Half Priced Bookstore within driving distance and in town, I'll still be a fixture there, just like Jimmy Kibler and the old dude with the glasses. I'm sure there'll be a Madison trip or a Dubuque trip when the snow melts or when the car is working or as long as I have my job.

I'm sure there will be new stores a coming or favorite hangouts or eateries closing up just like this year and the year before and so on. I'm sure I will return next year with more observations and top ten mania that is the basis for this blogsite. It's a hard habit to break. If I don't there's a backlog of archives worth discovering. Thanks to all who follow, who supported and made comments of noteworthiness.

Till the next time.

Top Ten Of The Week-Don't Touch My 45's

For our final top ten of the year. I am going back to some of my favorite and recent discoveries on 45's found at different music stores and Goodwill.

This year might be over and for the most part the new music that the critics tout and rave I really don't have a need for. But yours truly is still busy looking for the obscure and out of print music that you don't hear on the radio. Some of this stuff is even beyond me. Guess that makes me a music fanatic eh?

1. Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night-Kenny Dino 1961 Robert Plant had a hit with this cover in 1990 but I have actually never heard the original version of this song till I found a scratchy 45 of this song yesterday at Goodwill. On Musicor, I'm sure the nah nah nah nah chorus gets a bit tired for the bored but not myself. Only other version I know of this is The Turtles revamping it in 1965. Dino's only big hit (#24 highest chart position in 61), he died from a heart attack last year.

2. Sink The Bismarck-Homer & Jethro 1960 The original song parody dudes, they recorded tons for RCA and this version of the Johnny Horton classic song had my GF cracking up big time. I'm sure she finds my methods of top ten songs for consideration quite interesting. The B side to their parody of He'll Have To Go.

3. Honky Tonk Women Love Red Neck Men-Jerry Jaye 1976 Best known for his rockabilly version of My Girl Josephine, one of the greatest singles to come out of Hi Records, Jaye was mostly country and western when he returned to Hi/London after a brief stay at Mega and a single for Columbia. This did reach the bottom tiers of the top 100 country chart but don't think I ever heard it on the radio. Another 45 found at Goodwill yesterday.

4. Woman Goin Crazy On Caroline Street-Jimmy Buffett 1976 Co-written with Steve Goodman but didn't chart. This was before Margaritaville. From Havana Daydreamin.

5. Mule Skinner Blues-Rusty Draper 1960 Can't say if this predated The Fendermen's but this is another 45 of note found yesterday. A side was his version of Please Help Me I'm Falling.

6. Miles Of Rope-The 100's 2008 Getting back to some choice cuts from the cd player. Haven't done much playing things since the GF is down here keeping me occupied on other things. The 100's hailed from Iowa and on their 2nd album move to Mount Vernon Iowa to record a polished followup to their first album. They remind me of a less enthused Bottlerockets.

7. Common Ground-Rhythm Corps 1988 They had a minor hit and managed to do it in the waning days of MTV playing music videos. The album didn't have anything that rocked like the titled track and after their second LP, Pasha/CBS took them to hit the road.

8. Greenback Dollar, Watch & Chain-Ray Harris 1956 His best known song, recorded for Sun Records but out of all the compilations that I have had, I found this on a Rounder Cutout found at my second home, Half Priced Books. Harris would later figure into the formation of Hi Records and produced Jaye's My Girl Josephine.

9. I Just Want To Touch You-Utopia 1980 From their Beatle tribute album Deface The Music and yes this was a minor hit. Or it could have been their tribute to The Rutles. I'm guessing the former.

10. Clear As The Driven Snow-The Doobie Brothers 1973 Finally, I got word that Beaker Street, the Sunday night show is being dropped by the classic rock radio station The Point. I hope Clyde Clifford can find another radio station down there, that can give up a couple hours of the same tired classic rock boreshit in favor of some forgotten choice album that Clifford likes. This song is dedicated to Clifford and Beaker Street and thanks so much for playing my requests from time to time. Cheers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

No Christmas Spirit Here

Another white Christmas is bestow upon us and it's has been snowing for 24 straight hours. This GD Pineapple Express storm came, flooded California and parts of Nevada and Arizona and supposed to peter out but during the day we kept getting wave after wave after wave of snow squalls all night and most of the day. The two to three inches ended up being a fucking foot of the white slippery and slick shit and somehow tomorrow I must get to the airport on slick roads and a sick car to get my other half.

I have never been more out of the Christmas spirit than this year. We have had 4 major storms, dumping more than 3 inches of snow ever since the start of this month. Being in packaging most of the month didn't help morale, nor did a break line breaking on my car either. It's still not been repaired after three weeks. It didn't help when my dad broke his hip at his workplace either. The purple car needs new brake pads and the the windshield wipers don't work either. The first two weekends I had made plans to go shopping for gifts but we had two winter snowstorms that prohibited me to driving to Dubuque and then we ended up getting a Alberta Clipper that dumped another 5 inches of snow and then got to below zero. I gave up and decide to give everybody a card and money. Can't argue with cash. Can't get out of the driveway since the car is stuck and will not go anywhere tonight.

The house is in a mess, cleaned a bit of it before dealing with the GD snow shoveling. I know my other half don't care but I need to clear a path just so she don't trip over things. It didn't help last week when I ended up getting the first of many wintertime flu and colds here.

So anyway, while TBS plays A Christmas Story 24 hours right now and It's a Wonderful Life is on NBC, I'm celebrating it with 24 hours of Fear's Fuck Christmas, that little 53 second song that Lee Ving tacked on as a final cut on their Fear-The Record CD.

Hope y'all have a better Christmas than me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top Ten Of The Week-The Best Is Yet To Come

Or will it?

Robert Christgau has once again revived his consumer guide at this site.

Copy and paste to see it. Although I don't share his enthusiasm of Kanye West or the Sleigh Bells or whatever he gives a A too I still make it a habit to see what he gives his seal of approval. Habits are hard to break. When I think I'm going to retire my blog, I return the next week. Call it the Brett Favre Syndrome.

Starting next year, I think I'm going to leave the new bands and the new hip sounds to the new hip young crowd who tends to enjoy those tunes better than me. Just can't get into the Arcade Fire, I didn't care much for The National and whatever Pitchfork calls great. It's not like the old days when the bands made albums that last for the ages and not for the moment. But next year I'll still look out and buy certain albums. Motorhead, NY Dolls, Townedgers come to mind. Unless they're in digipacks. Then I'll pass.

The Top Ten Of The Week.

1. Not Fragile-Bachman Turner Overdrive 1974 I suppose my cut off point for music will be the 50's through the 00's of this decade with the majority coming from my growing up years. That would be from 65-93 I guess with bits and pieces from before and after. The classic rock era so to speak. I always enjoyed BTO more than the average person out there but really I don't need to hear You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet or Taking Care Of Business anymore so we leave that to the classic rock or oldies stations for that. The title track gets some airplay on Sirius rock station from time to time and I think I heard it on my Arizona getaway last summer. Fred Turner, one of my favorite all time singer shouters.

2. The Right Time-Natural Gas 1976 A big shout out to It's About Music and Dean Sciarra for remastering and redoing this 1976 album that Renaissance Records fucked up when they reissued it on CD last year. Poorly recorded and the cover art was beyond belief so Sciarra redid it in August of this year. Why should people care about it? Cuz it's about the music fool. Natural Gas was minor all star rock band with Joey Molland (Badfinger), Mark Clarke (Billy Squrier), Peter Wood (co wrote Year Of The Cat with Al Stewart) and Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie) and recorded one album for Private Stock to which I found the vinyl album for 50 cents at Woolworth's or K Mart in the late 70s. I liked it better than the last couple Badfinger albums (except Wish You Were Here which was pretty damn good). Natural Gas didn't last, Molland rejoined with Tom Evans in Badfinger, Shirley played with Sammy Hagar and reformed Humble Pie.

3. Miss Disarray-The Gin Blossoms 2010 Pity the bands making new music. Anybody played the new Eric Clapton lately? Me neither and I actually forgot all about this album till FOX News announced that the Gin Blossoms will be performing New Years Eve on that channel, one of those would be this new hit single. On a related note: Eastside Records in Tempe will be closing their doors New Years Eve down there. I didn't stop in there all that much although I did pop in for a few this summer. Never could find much in there although in 1990, I did buy about 6 blues CDs and Tesla's Greatest Hits in one setting. In fact, one of those blues CDs that I bought, I actually traded in a year ago down there. How bizarre is that?

4. Ice Cream For Crow-Captain Beefheart 1982 I think I included more Beefheart selections the last couple months than anytime the last 20. Not that I don't listen much to the dear departed captain but he died last week and so I'm paying tribute to the man. Half Priced Books had a copy of the EMI import Liberty/Virgin years cheap so I picked it up. The Liberty years were his Mercury albums that are considered his nadir, while the Virgin albums start with Bad Chain Puller with Doc At The Radar Station and Ice Cream For Crow which came out via Epic when they were distributing Virgin Records product. The Virgin albums are in the weird great department with Trout Mask & Lick My Decals Off Baby. Basically not for the faint of heart or Auto tuner fanatics. Inspirational line: Don't shake my hand, give me a claw! Captain couldn't top that one so he retired soon after.

5. No More Mr. Nice Guys-Sparks 1972 More off the wall stuff but coming from a band featuring two brothers, one that had a Charlie Chaplin mustache and played keyboards and looked bored while his other brother was the charismatic lead singer. The B Side to this was Wonder Girl and that song got played a lot around here. Had a record collecting ex GF that had the original album of this when Sparks was known as Halfnelson. I remember this song being played on American Bandstand and remembered Russ Mael going around chasing the guitar player with an axe. Trivia: Earle and Jim Mankey, the guitar and bass player of this band would go on to produce such notables as 20/20 and Possum Dixon and few others. The Mael Brothers would record for many labels (Island, Atlantic, RCA, Curb etc etc).

6. Seriously Gone-Dan Baird 1992 The main singer songwriter of the Georgia Satellites would go on to make a couple albums for Rick Rubin and Def American Recordings in the boogie style of The Satellites and would score a FM hit with the goofy I Love You Period (do you love me question mark-written by Terry Anderson of Battleship Chains fame). Fun fact: the band used on this recording Mario Magellam and Keith Christopher played in a late version of The Brains, which actually would become The Georgia Satellites.

7. The House I Live In-Sonny Rollins 1956 Yes I don't play fair by the rules. I do listen to jazz from time to time and this week was one of them. Rollins has been around for over 50 plus years and he was part of the Max Roach Plus Four jazz band and took over for Clifford Brown. This was the bonus track on the Rollins Plays For Bird that Concord Records reissued in 2008 and original recording engineer Rudy Van Gilder redid for today's CD collector. Improves a lot over the first generation cd that Fantasy/OJCs did in the 1990s. However, Universal who oversees the Concord Label has thrown a lot of jazz remastered reissues in the cut out bins of late, including the RVG series and the Orrin Keepnews Riverside Remasters. Be on the lookout and buy accordingly.

8. Painted Ladies-Ian Thomas 1973 A shout out to Clyde Clifford and Beaker Street for playing this one hit wonder from the Canadian singer songwriter. Thomas is the older brother of SCTV's Dave Thomas and appeared with Dave on the early version of Red Green Show.

9. Working On It-Chris Rea 1988 The ultimate cult artist, Rea has been around forever and best known for Fool If You Think It's Over and he recorded for many labels (United Artists, Columbia, Motown (!), Geffen, ATCO/East West). This did get some FM airplay in the late 80s and it did revive his career. New Light Through Old Windows I think was a compilation of his best known UK stuff but when ATCO reissued this I think they remixed or Rea redid the songs over. They sound a lot different then the Geffen versions.

10. Is It My Body-Alice Cooper 1971 Finally Alice get his place in the Rock n Roll Hall of fame with Tom Waits, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Brother Leon Russell and Neil Diamond. The original AC band got signed to Frank Zappa's Straight Records and made two bizarre meddling albums before Love It To Death gave them good reviews and a top ten single (Eighteen). This was the B side to the hit single. While some people enjoy the original albums of the original lineup, I still prefer the first Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits, to which we got all the big early 70s hits and selected album cuts that give reason why Alice Cooper should be in the hall of fame. I think we can also forgive him for working with Desmond Child too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Observations From The Forefront-Christmas

I really haven't been much in a blogging mood lately. Some family issues, work issues and the typical crap we call December in Iowa, snow, cold and more snow cold and being sick didn't help things at all. Just not in a Christmas mood although I have been listening to a lot of Christmas music of late but not the overplayed stuff you hear on the radio. For some odd reason i did went out and buy REO Speedwagon-Not So Merry Christmas (Legacy/CMG) and if you like your songs Croninized, which means a lotta "alright" or Whoo and the melodrama that Kevin Cronin brings to this stuff. I did give up on REO in the 80's but their last album Find Your Way Home actually rocked a lot harder and so being the compulsive obsessive that I am bought the Christmas album. My favorite song wasn't none of the Cronin led stuff but rather Bruce Hall's country take on Blue Christmas. The odd thing is that REO has their most stable lineup, with only one person leaving but Cronin, Neal Doughery, Bruce Hall with Dave Amato and Bryan Hitt have been together for 20 years. Christmas albums are hit and miss, and I suspect Not So Merry Christmas would be a miss for me, however Kevin Cronin ends the record with a nice original I Still Believe In Santa Claus, which is on the reissue of NSMC and not the 2009 CD. So seek carefully.

Some interesting cutouts found were Christmas Greetings from Studio One (Heartbeat 2002) a hodgepodge collection of new and old reggae tunes. This is the followup to 1992's Studio One A Reggae Christmas, the original was better, the new tunes rely too much on casino keyboards and disco drums but when they go back to original ska songs from Toots & The Maytals and a White Christmas from Bob Marley & The Wailers you get the true Jamaica spirit and sound, even though I'm sure Jamaica never had a White Christmas like we do up here. Dan Fogelberg's 1999 The First Christmas Morning (Chicago/Morning Sky) sounds nice in the car on the way home from work and while I think people tend to rake him over the coals for his mellow music, Fogelberg has really sounded better with age. Or maybe I'm tired of what KDAT sticks down our throat.

I think the best Christmas albums for me remain The Ventures Christmas Album (Razor & Tie) or Christmas Party with Eddie G (Columbia 1990), a collection of obscure and different types of christmas music. When somebody puts together forgotten yuletide songs from the likes of Foghat, Fabulous Thunderbirds, NRBQ, Louis Prima, George and Tammy and my fave Cool Yule by Tony Rodelle Lawson. And there's comedy bits from Billy West (Futurerama, Ren & Stempy) as well. Thankfully I found a cheap copy at Amazon before it went out of print and cheap copies now cost about 20 bucks. Yuletunes (Black Vinyl 1990) is a collection of alt rock christmas songs that I found for 2 bucks that Crowded Closet in Iowa City and features power pop bands such as Shoes, Material Issue, Matthew Sweet and Madison's very own Spooner (Butch Vig who produce some band called Nirvana) doing their own christmas comps. I kinda hoped I could find Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper on CD but maybe we'll get that next year if we find it.

Other note worthy albums was Dave Allen & The Arrows Fuzz For The Holidays (Wicked Cool 2007), somewhat more in tune with Dave Hoey and loud guitar rather than the cool swing of The Ventures and tends to wear out its welcome very quick. Ben Keith-Seven Gates (Reprise 1994) is a all star record with the likes of Neil Young and Johnny Cash dueting on Little Drummer Boy. Keith who passed away earlier this year adds a nice slide steel to Silver Bells, Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Away In A Manger although my favorite of that album is Rusty Kershaw's out of tune vocal on Christmas Time's A Coming. Neil Young reissued this in 2008 on his own Vapor Label and retitled it Christmas At The Ranch.

So the forecast is supposed to be more snow Monday and Tuesday and we'll probably screwed out of seeing the lunar eclipse on the Full Moon in the process. I haven't done much christmas shopping this month, been sick most of last week and being stuck in Packaging most of the month has really zapped my energy in doing anything. I was really hoping this month we actually would break tradition and have a dry and warm December so that when my GF finally got down here we can go site seeing. She'll be here on Christmas day. It's supposed to snow again on Thursday and Friday. I figure she'll be occupying most of my time so won't be doing much blogging when she's here.

So that's the news right now. The Best Of 2010 blog has gotten over 100 views this month, the first blog that actually did top the century mark and much thanks go out to those who read it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Ten Of The Week-Snow & Cold

The two words used a lot around this area. Yeah it's been snowing and it's been cold and now I'm catching a cold.

I hate this time of year.

The Top Ten Of The Week:

1. When I Look In Your Eyes-The Romantics 1980 About thirty years ago they had a modest hit with What I Like About You, didn't hear it much on the radio but today, it's played at arenas and keeping the royalties rolling in. Or so it is said. This was the followup single to their big hit and the reason I bought their album in the first place. The airplay was less and it if broke the top 100 it didn't go past 90. Such a shame though. Great song.

2. Continental Highway-Fresh Air 1973 One of those bands that got signed to a major and made one album to which I have a promo copy of this. I think I got it for free or my mom did. The other two was Murray Head's Nigel Lived, a strange concept album from the dude who played Judas on Jesus Christ Superstar and the other which will be reviled later in this list. I'm sure none of you out there know who Fresh Air was, but they were a country rock band that was a bit more laid back than Poco and they took their name from the Quicksliver Messenger Service hit of Fresh Air. Columbia released this album and this could have been a sizable FM hit had the brains at CBS Inc promoted it. BTW, the other freebie we got was Robey, Falk & Bod-Kentucky Gambler which came out on Epic and reissued via It's About Music. Personal to the It's About Music folk, Fresh Air sounds like music right up your alley.

3. Evidence-John Cale 1984 Lou Reed got more press and more followers but John Cale sometimes could come up with a winning and rocking album. I tend to believe his eccentric state of mind can come up with winning albums (Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence) but also erratic ones as well (Music For A New Society, Caribbean Sunset). I also believe he did his best stuff for Island too but this comes from his second go around with Island/ZE which his albums were freaking hard to find and everytime I inquired to the dumb clerk at Record Bar or Camelot about if they had John Cale Comes Alive, I ended up with blank stares. I eventually came across this, in the cutouts at the old BJ Records in Iowa City (RIP). For you Cale fans, SPV issued a 2 CD set of Cale performances at Rockpalast around 1983 and 1984 and this version is the ever more ragged. And eccentric. And Erratic.

4. Mrs. Rita-Gin Blossoms 1992 One of a few top ten hits from our boys from Tempe AZ. Did ya know that there is a tarot reader named Mrs. Rita down there off University not far from ASU and a couple doors down from the Zia Records Store? Long ago and far away that used to be my hanging out grounds when I lived there back in the late 80s? I moved away to get away from the snow back then, so why the hell am I back up here in snow and cold land?

5. Dead Souls-Joy Division 1980 I'm not the biggest fan but I do listen to some of their more harder rocking stuff. Someone take these dreams away...they point me to another day......

6. Kings Of The Party-Brownsville Station 1973 Your generation has Nickleback and your Hinder, we had Foghat and these party guys from Detroit. In fact, I knew a neighbor that had Cub Koda as a relative and I got an autographed copy of of Yeah in the process. Cub was a super knowledgeable rock and roll and he did reviews and a column for Goldmine back in the 90s. Alas he passed away a few years ago. Got to see Brownsville open up for Blue Oyster Cult in 1979 at then the new Five Seasons Center in C.R. Great times, great fun, first concert I ever went to. From album School Punks and poorly recorded by one Doug Morris who would become label head of Atlantic, later Universal and soon to be head of Columbia Records.

7. I Belong To You-Jessie Frederick 1973 One of my favorite 45s of long ago and far away (AM Radio mid 70s) but couldn't find it till I seen a promo at Rock N Bach in the early 80s. This did some airplay and charted on the KCRG Super 30 but I'm sure it was much lower on the Billboards. Frederick recorded one album for Bearsville/Reprise and as far as I know this was only a single only. Sounded a bit like Dave Edmunds. Produced by Nick Jameson later of Foghat fame. Anybody remember this song now? Yes? No? ???

8. Two People In A Room-Wire 1979 From 154, the third and final Wire of the first era. Art punk rockers going for a more bigger drum sound. When I first got this album I dismissed it as total crap but then again it grew on me with each listen and nowadays when I want to hear Wire, I usually put on 154 to scare the neighbors away.

9. City Pride-Robey, Falk & Bod 1973 They recorded a one off for Epic and there's a country rock influence of Poco, CSN, Buffalo Springfield and even Redwing (who recorded a few albums for Fantasy). Kind of like Fresh Air but with a harder edge. My Aunt Cindy would end up taking this record when she moved out but she returned it a few later the album was warped and so I had to wait about 20 years to find another copy in the dollar bins at Mad City Music Exchange. And then It's About Music put it out on CD.

10. Tarkio Road-Brewer & Shipley 1971 Found the 45 in a bunch of old Juke Box Records that the old Town Square Book Shop used to sell up in downtown Marion in fifth grade. Most of the records actually came from the jukebox down the road at Ole's Ham & Egger or at the old Marion Laundromat that I used to go bike riding and when nobody was inside would play the jukebox for a spell. Back in those days, you could do that but sometime around 1975 thereabouts, a bunch of fucking drunks came in and broke the jukebox to pieces. Ole's was a 24 hour grease pit that served the Amtrak crowd back when we had rail service in Marion but after the passenger train station closed up, Ole's cut back on their hours. Used to go down there and play the pinball and they had the juke turned up full blast. Sometime around the late 70s they had a major fire that closed the book store down and eventually Ole's, did reopen but would close sometime in the late 80s. Here's to you Ole's, I ate there and lived to tell about it.

Ole's Ham and Egger (Spring 1988) Marion IA with Poster Edges

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Storm Number 2

For the second time in as many weekends we got socked by a potent storm system which brought rain the first day changing over to high winds and blowing snow which pretty much shut the northwestern part of the state down Saturday and Sunday. And then the cold came with this.

One good thing about it was we didn't get much snow out here. I'm guessing we got about 2 inches total. But the winds were a constant 35 MPH yesterday. This could have been worse. Had we got more freezing rain like we did about four years ago, we would have power outages that would lasted more than a couple days.

I guess our friends up in Madison got 10 inches of the white crap rather than the 14 inches predicted. Dubuque got about 5 more inches of snow. Doesn't look like I'll be doing any bargain hunting up there now till springtime.

So this monday we are 5 above and the sun's out. But looks like we in another snow pattern for the next two fucking weeks. So much for a mild winter, that got thrown out the window, just like the last 4 years of December and the cold and snow. And wishing I could have found a decent paying job in Arizona and not having to deal if the car is going to start or not.

Welcome to winter, and it's not even a week before the start of winter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ten Years Ago-St Louis Mingles Party 2000

I love to tell the story on how me and my GF met. Oh yeah you have heard it all before but each and every one of us has a different variation on it. Unfortunately memory may have erased a certain part or two but what does matter is the aftermath.

When I first got myself a computer, I usually went over to my best friends house to play on his or check out the forbidden sites. Basically my intention on the net wasn't to find a woman but rather to continue to seek out music that I couldn't get in town, back when we had at least 5 or 6 cd stores to go to but we actually signed up for two dating sites that I really didn't care that much about. One was American Singles to which at that time, was free and much more happening place to chat with the opposite sex and the other was Mingles to which I actually signed up before A.S. Let me say one thing about this, if it wasn't for the internet chances are that I'd probably be singled and still not seen anybody since breaking up with Clarice. That would have been 1998.

I actually dated a couple of folks from American Singles but after the last breakup American Singles decided to make it a pay site so I took my cheap butt over to Mingles and for the majority of the weekends I'd hang there and bullshit and chat a while. At that time Mingles had parties going on in certain areas and there was talk that there was a get together going on in St Louis in the middle of December. Not that I really wanted to go, it's too cold and too snowy but at that point we didn't have any snow on the ground and I kinda struck up conversation with somebody there and she talked me into going down there for the weekend. If I got too bored with things, I would then head out and go see what the local Wherehouse Music had for cheap stuff and maybe a few other places. And they just opened up the Chain Of Rocks Bridge after years of being dormant so I wanted to go walk across the bridge.

The original woman that I was hooking up to meet disappointed me right off the bat. Turns out that she was actually seeing somebody else who she eventually marry (and divorced a few years later). And throughout the party and the times everybody was together, I got to see a couple more meet and get married two days later (and divorced a month later and setting off a war of words via Mingles which was entertaining to read) and mostly seeing guys and girls getting drunk and having to get them back to the motel room so they don't take a wrong turn and drown in the Mississippi River not too far from where we stayed at. And there was that strange Dinner Party to which we paid about 20 bucks for a bowl of grits.

Nevertheless we all went back to the motel, whereas the party animals returned to their barhopping and boozing and some of them one nighters where I just sat and chatted with Nicole and her mom for most of that night. At that point we weren't together, she had a boyfriend and I was starting up something with some other woman. On the last night we chatted and then she and her mom returned up to Michigan where I made the five hour trip back home before the first major winter storm arrived and kept everything in white till March.

Funny how things changed. The next year saw me up in Seattle/Spokane trying to keep my relationship alive but after the infamous October week broke up with her. But me and Nicole kept in touch between more bad relationships and failures. Though platonic, she decided that last year we should make a go of it and we returned to our own little Mingles get together last September.

And still remain together. Everything has a start. And it does 10 years ago during a singles party.

It does make a good love story.

As for the other woman, well last I checked she was still on Mingles touting how much she lost a 100 pounds. But still can't keep a man.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top Ten Of The Week-100 & 90 Or More Music Whiplash From Your Host

Happy Birthday to Louis Prima who would have been 100 on Tuesday but today we celebrate Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday and glad to see he's still alive.

In the meantime, this is what's playing on the player.

1. Take Five (1973 Version)-Dave Brubeck 1973 (I just said the date dammit) Ya know I have heard countless versions of this with the classic lineup and others but perhaps the definite version comes from the band with Gerry Mulligan helping out Paul Desmond along with Jack Six and Alan Dawson who outshines Joe Morello if you can believe that. From the We Are All Together For The First Time, which sounds great on the gold disc put out by MFSL a few years ago.

2. Funky But Chic-David Johansen 1978 Mama says I look fruity, but in jeans I feel rotten sings he. Hell he even out Stones Mick Jagger with that line. Timeless.

3. Samson & Delilah-The Grateful Dead 1981 I'm sure they did better versions of this but I'm more familiar with version from Dead Set. Bobby Darin does a killer version of this too.

4. Dirty Bird-Brant Bjork 2010 You classic rockers out there don't know him but he played in the 1990's desert metal band Kyuss and they made 4 spotty to classic albums for Dali/Elektra (seek out Blues For The Red Sun or the S/T aka Sky Valley album for the best stoner metal) but he played drums. On his solo albums he switched to guitar and vocals and the results are not that much different than Kyuss although Brant forgos the oddball stuff that Josh Homme has been known to do in Queens Of The Stone Age. I guess the dude at Half Priced Books didn't think this was going to sell, he stuck it in the dollar bins to which the keen eye of R.S. found and bought.

5. Boogie-John Hartford 1971 Hartford was known as the guy behind Gentle On My Mind and did a bunch of albums for RCA before moving over to Warner Brothers and drove right down Bluegrass Lane although he had a pun-chant for the oddball. Actually I heard this on the FM underground station around 1973 and never knew who did it till I bought this album on a whim. Reissued via Rounder Records late 90s then deleted and sells for 50 bucks via Amazon. Found another used copy for 2 bucks at Frugal Muse when I did a mad dash to Madison a few weeks ago. Bargain hunters know what to find and where to find it. Some call it skill, I call it luck.

6. Diddy Wah Diddy-Captain Beefheart 1966 I actually got my GF to actually listen to CB's Lick My Decals Off Baby and she said she listened to it. I don't believe she listened to all of it but I'll believe her this time out. Anyway, this did garner some airplay and it was actually produced by one David A Gates who would go on to a music career of his own, the main singer songwriter of Bread. There's a lotta fuzz bass on this song and even a harpsichord just to let you know that the good Captain didn't sell out to make a hit but you can actually listen to it. I thought about challenging the GF to listen to the whole album of Trout Mask Replica but heck even I can't listen to all four sides.

7. Hello Dolly-Louis Armstrong 1964 I'm sure to the newbies out there who like song titles and top ten listings that even they cannot believe of the shifts of music tastes that I throw up here every week. It's probably to the point that I'm considered to be eccentric, erratic, a music lover or just a plain freak. Probably all of the above. Even I can't comprehend of the variety of styles of music we have here. But just going what I have been hearing of late. Armstrong rewrote jazz music of the 20s and 30s but by the time the 60s rolled around he was doing mainly pop or MOR music. Yep, AM radio did play this along The Beatles and Stones and Elvis and Bobby Rydell back then. Came out on Kapp Records. (as a youngster, I had a 45 of Louis' on Mercury and thought it was Hello Dolly but upon a second look, it was actually Mame).

8. When I Was A Cowboy (Western Plains) Alvin Youngblood Hart 1996 I used to listen to a lot of blues in the 80s and 90s but not as much as I used to or should. AYH isn't old bluesman but a relative youngster who incorporates plenty of delta blues (Leadbelly, Joe Louis Hill comes to mind), Chicago Blues and even ragtime aka Blind Blake so this dude sure knows his influences and can play them very well. This came out on the Okeh/550 Epic label back in 1996, back when Sony Music thought that they could make some money on the new blues field. Another 2 dollar find at HP Books.

9. Shut Up And Drive-Widespread Panic 2010 Jam bands are as the closest thing to rock and roll as it used to be on AOR rock years ago. And they have been around for over 20 plus years and were the major signing on the second wave of Capricorn artists in the 90s. Then once Capricorn closed up shop and Phil Walden passed on, WP moved over to Sanctuary Records before that label closed up shop and now find themselves on the ATO label. Good to see John Keane producing them again and they got Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Phil Lesh & Friends) playing guitar too. John Bell's singing remains an acquired taste but I must be a fan since I got 10 of their albums. The new one's pretty good and yes ATO even sneaked in a 2 cd live set that I have yet to hear. And may not.

10. Rock And Roll Contract-Badfinger 1981 Something from the last album they would ever do, Say No More. I guess this goes way back to 1975 for the aborted Head First album that Warner Brothers declined to released. However 6 years later, Tom Evans and Joey Molland along with the lesser knowns (although YES Tony Kaye played piano) went to Florida and recorded this on Radio Records with Jack Richardson (who produced the Guess Who and Alice Cooper back in he 70s). Nevertheless, Evans' frustration of the WB years and being ripped off came into being with the countless NO YOU CAN'T as the major theme of song. This was the B side to the failed single I Got You. It also didn't helped much that Badfinger was on another shitty label with Radio Records famous for those Stars On 45 Medley, playing Beatles songs to a disco track but even those hits would fail to keep Radio Records going and Say No More went to the bargain bins. Eventually, some big fan with enough money managed to reissue it via Real Records (no relation to the Iowa City Record Store) for about a week in 2000. You can get the MP3 copy via Amazon if need be. Fun Fact: Many copies of Say No More were so warped and so badly put together that they would skip in every place possible, KRNA tried playing the record one night and it was so warped that they couldn't play it. Fun Fact 2: Badfinger lipsynched their top 85 hit Hold On on the old Solid Gold TV show that WGN used to broadcast in 1981. The B side to that song Passin Time managed to get some airplay on KUNI, which meant that they got themselves a unwarped copy.....or perhaps the 45 itself.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top ten of the week-December

We have crossed over into the final month of this wonderful year. Be prepared for the march of the snow and icestorms and below zero temperatures that await us in this icebox we call Iowa. I know our friends out in Wisconsin and Washington state have beaten us and yes we are late in arrival of the snowy shit but once December has rolled around I'm sure we will get and surpass you in total of the winter weather crap that puts an hour on driving home in it. But in the meantime, no shortage of tunes in the box that warm us up and gives us faith and hope that there's is better music then the overplayed stuff on the radio.

Signs we're getting older: Dick Clark, the world's oldest teenager turned 81 last weekend. That's 18 backwards mind you.

And the big news, you can get The Beatles on I Tunes. Of course I'd rather have them on physical format but you do what's right.

1. Hold On/Surf City Crack The Sky 1975 If your local classic rock or if your even more luckier to have one, AOR radio and they play you Crack The Sky email me where that station is at and I'll listen to it online. Question is was they a prog rock band or a pop rock band? Most of my albums from them came from the budget bins from forgotten record stores (BJ's, Krackers, K Mart) and there was a nice little compilation that came out on CD about ten years ago that's now OOP and hard to find. These two tracks would be a live staple to which they used The William Tell Overture or The Lone Ranger Theme in the jam part of Surf City. Live Sky is one of the amazing live albums that would have been fun to seen live.

2. Some Fun-The Raindogs 1991 Album rock radio didn't completely die out in the 1990s but as Clear Channel and Cumulus brought every underground radio up and down from the up yours Telecommunications Act of 1996, the day the music really died up and coming bands that had chance to play on the album rock stations did for about a day or two. Such is the case of this band that made two decent albums for Atco and can be found for a buck or two in the cheap bins at the junk shop. We don't have record stores anymore, so it's second hand or junk shops. The Raindogs had a violin player who passed away about five years ago and they got Don Gehman to produce this and they had cameo appearances from Harry Dean Stanton on this track and Iggy Pop on another and it didn't sell. I simply brought it from the title alone Border Drive In Theater and having an old drive in screen for cover picture. The record still sounds pretty good today.

3. How's Your Bird/The World's Greatest Sinner-Baby Ray & The Ferns 1963 Baby Ray is Ray Collins, later of The Mothers Of Invention fame and this was one of the earliest singles coming from the mind of Frank Zappa. If you catch the Steve Allen program that showed Zappa teaching Allen how to play bicycle you would hear Frank putting in a plug for these songs. Frank passed away in 93 but Collins recently just turned 72 and still doing fine from what I hear.

4. Shelling Rain-Alejandro Escovedo 2010 As I was compiling the best of 2010, I was once again listening to the CDs bought and yes his album made the list, Street Songs Of Love it's called and I thought it was better than his last two albums but both of them were very good indeed. This time out, he pretty much told the cello player to take a vacation and most of this album is hard rocking guitar fun. Too bad it didn't sell all that great unlike the new Kanye West debuting at number 1 on the outdated Billboard site. Perhaps Alejandro should have used autotuner then? Naw, let's keep it real.

5. Pictures-Len Price 3-2010 I know you don't know them folks but these guys revoke memories of the mid 60s of high energy British rock like a hungry early Who or wacked out Kinks and a more wilder version of The Creation but on this track they add a bit more Green Day Dookie era and it still sounds like 1965 all over again. From Little Steven's Wicked Cool Records.

6. In America-Charlie Daniels Band 1980 Dedicated to Eddie Montgomery whose battling prostate cancer and his faithless wife who served him divorce papers in the process. Stand by your man honey. Amazingly back in the 80s where you can still hear interesting songs on top forty, this did get airplay on Z102.9 used to be Q103 back when they were good. In the early days of having cable tv, we had a public access channel that would give us news and the stock market report and I recall hearing this song in the background as the Dow Jones wisked away. Guess you could call it our music video so to speak.

7. Little By Little-Robert Plant 1985 From Shaken & Stirred probably the worst piece of crap album Plant ever put out. He said it was an experimental album. It was and it tried many people's patience. This was the hit off that album. Plant would get much better after this crapfest of an album.

8. Spanish Eyes-Al Martino 1966 Of course radio wouldn't play this today, certainly not top forty, no auto tuner in this. But this is what I remember from AM radio of the 60s, Al could fit in along with Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, The Kingsmen and Iron Butterfly in one setting. Amazing how we have all this music and radio is so limited in what they play. And today's format radio sucks. Certainly Al Martino is my guilty pleasure, didn't like it all that much when i was young but do now. That must mean I'm turning 50 very soon. Heard this on KAHM FM online, the radio station from Prescott that plays the mellow side of things.

9. Back Again-The Townedgers 2002 My GF says that I don't play them enough. She has a point. Another band that you won't hear or get mentioned anywhere but here. That's what I do, I sing the praises of forgotten bands. Somebody's got to.

10. Twilight Zone-Golden Earring 1983 They have been around for 4 decades but the only songs you ever hear from them are Radar Love (1974) and this one which was their highest charting hit and still gets many plays on the classic rock stations. And of course had a bit of help from the old MTV which played this video a lot around 1983. Back when MTV was watchable. Back when cable was more watchable and had about 6 hours less commercials than today. Money well wasted on today's "programming". Didn't think the IPad commercial was programming myself.

A final farewell to Leslie Neilsen who passed away from Phenomena complications. He was 84 and of course best known as the straight faced doctor on Airplane! and Frank Derbin on The Naked Gun series. He could do serious acting and he can do slapstick comedy. He will be missed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Best Records of 2010

Thought I would get this out of the way.

As we approach another end of the year, the best of lists will be coming out little by little next month and of course I'm sure we will get to see the usual suspects or critic's favorites. I'm sure The Arcade Fire or The National will get to be on some of the more authoritative critics out there or the hip youngsters who dig the new Kanye West or think that Katy Perry's latest was her best. And good for them but as I get older and more selective, I really see no need to review rap artists since they are not my type of "music" to listen to. Bad poetry to beat box or processed tunes and, God forbid Autotuner, most of the music on the radio is a mockery of what used to be. At this point of life I don't need to conform to the next big thing out there. I think I have heard enough to know what I like.

Let's face it, new music isn't what it used to be. There's too much music out there and it's hard to forge a bond with the new unlike the old days of no internet and the thing to do was go over to my friend's house and play the new KISS or even better go to Jeff's house and invade his brother's LP collection and jam out to Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones. Unfortunate for today's youth that the major labels focus only on the flavor of the week, and sadly the music is forgotten a week later. But this year, even the old established acts have found that their new album is released, all that work and effort to find out that the highest chart position is the week after it's released and then it goes south and off the charts. Soundscan doesn't do shit for anybody anymore. Used to be an album had to work its way to the top of the chart but not anymore.

New albums just doesn't have the staying power and besides, the radio conglomerate out there don't support the new music. Look at the classic rock stations, their playlist is outdated and even if Eric Clapton or the Doobie Brothers put a new record out, they would not play it. Nor would top 40. And they both did and both albums charted high and then fell off the charts. Funny how Eric Clapton's latest is here today, and gone the next month without much airplay. Can't complete against I Shot The Sheriff or Black Water. So the music lover is caught in the damnation we all call FM radio and who decides what should be the hit singles gets played to death for months and months on end. Such is the case of Train's dreaded Hey Soul Sister, a song so GD hideous and catchy that KDAT has granted it endless playing, just like they did with Mr. Mister's Broken Wings, or Sheryl Crow's All I Want To Do. So the majority of folks have to scramble to the internet for 30 second song snippets and decide if it's worth buying the album, or just paying 1.99 or 99 cents or whatever the fuck ITunes or Amazon charges. The wave of the future, the download that you can't hold in your hand or read liner notes.

I'm not sure how many albums I have bought and reviewed this year, I didn't bother to keep count. What I liked I held on, what I thought was tolerable or worse sucked got sold at the pawnshop for pennies. The biggest headache was the GD digital pack with the packaging looking like one of those awful Sure-paks that was the rage of the 70s vinyl albums. Some albums I didn't buy due to them being digipaks, I ended up buying the vinyl instead. Some I waited till I found them used and even in the Arizona trip did buy some cds that I wouldn't have bought full price. Crowded House was one of them and I didn't like it much. To the majors, music is no longer meaningful, they're looking for hits and for the best indication of that, try any of the That's What I Call Music Series and suffer. It shouldn't have to be that big news of the year is The Beatles now on Itunes, just like last year when the big news was the Beatles remastered albums on CD. There's no new Beatles or Led Zeppelin or Metallica on the horizon, just whining rappers full of autotuner on processed beats or American Idol rejects over-singing Desmond Child written cliche garbage. But that's the younger generation problem. I'm sure something will come out of the internet and there will be next made star. The best music of the past wasn't always done right and full of bad computer voice overs. The beauty of the music of the past was a missed beat or a flubbed guitar number. Or trying to figure out how Neil Peart played that drum part on La Villa Strangelo Or hearing the chaos that was The Who's My Generation from Live At Leeds. This is why the youth of today go into their dad's collection, because the new music they cannot relate to.

Anyway, the ten best albums of this year are in no running order but in the way that I remember them. Whether or not it means anything, this top ten is based of the bands that I was familiar with. And I'm sure one or two will make the grade of the other best of lists that will appear, mine will be the alternative to what they're putting out. I thought about putting out a turds of the year but all that implies that I just didn't get into the hype of those other so called bands.

So here it is, in rough form. The best of 2010.

1. Jason & The Scorchers-Halcyon Times (self released) In order to get this album you had to order directly to the band themselves and they would send you a copy. Basically Warner and Jason cuts out the middle man and the major labels to deliver what might be their hardest rocking album since Lost & Found a good 25 plus years ago. Dan Baird helps co writes and Perry Baggs, retired from drumming but still lends a hand in the harmony vocals. There wasn't nothing wrong with the Mammoth recordings of the 90s but Halcyon Times goes more in the cow punk past and gets the dirty job done right. I don't think this will make any of the big shot critics and the big shot music magazines out there but that's all right. This is music of I remembered Jason & company and I'm sure it will hold up 30 years from now like Lost & Found still holds up 27 years after the fact. And when you buy directly from the band, your money goes to the band and not EMI nor Universal. Support your favorite band or else.

2. Delta Moon-Hell Bound Train (Red Parlor) Tom Gray amazes me. 30 years ago he was playing new wave keyboards for The Brains and scoring a hit with Money Changes Everything (a even bigger hit for Cyndi Lauper) and in the demise of that band, reinvents himself by switching over to National Steel Guitar and sorting though the old delta blues of such folk as Mississippi Fred McDowell. This is their fifth album and all of them showcase some of that old Southern Delta Blues that nobody plays much anymore. The second straight album Tom Gray has gone without a female counterpoint and he does just fine. The interplay between Gray and Mark Johnson as dueling slide guitars is a rarity in these troubled days and times and the title track proves that you don't need auto tuner or fake computer beats to make excellent music. And the delta blues rock has been that way for over 50 years and then some. Delta Moon continues to keep that tradition alive.

3. Peter Wolf-Midnight Souvenirs (Verve) His Reprise, Mercury and Artmenis albums were good but I thought were a bit overrated. Certainly I missed Wolf's spontaneity and his showmanship when he was fronting the J.Geils Band but his solo stuff were hit and miss. This time out Wolf finally gets it right, with a right combination of rock and blues and R and B. And of course he has guest appearances and I think I perfer Shelby Lynne over Neko Case in the bizarre Green Fields Of Summer and of course Wolf shows his jive side on Overnight Lows. He does outrock The Black Crowes on I Don't Wanna Know and even the Merle Haggard cameo on the final It's Too Late For Me showcase nice Americana. He may have tried too hard on Sleepless or Long Line but on Midnight Souvenirs, he finally gets it right.

4. Los Lobos-Tin Can Trust (Shout! Factory) If anything Los Lobos has been delivering the goods for the past 25 years although the last time I really got involved with them was 1990's The Neighborhood. Cesar Rosas, who always been the harder rocker of this group contributes a couple of Mexican number which are nice but the pairing of Susan Tedeschi on Burn It Down rocks and their version of the Grateful Dead's West LA Fadeaway is a keeper to the point that Public Radio here has been keeping it in rotation. And On Main Street gives you a feeling of walking on down their side of Los Angeles. They had been coasting a bit on their Disney years but Tin Can Trust returns them a more conventional rocking way of sorts.

5. Devo-Something For Everybody (WB) Or Oh No It's Devo part two and I mean that in a good way. Oh No was the spudboys last decent record and Shout was a turd and their Enigma albums were just that. This time out the humor is back and although it's not Are We Not Men? it does make you want to get up and dance. I do get a chuckle out of Don't Shoot Me (I'm A Man) with the line "don't taze me bro".

6. Alejandro Escovedo-Street Songs Of Love (Fantasy) The former Rank & File and True Believer has been carving out a very good solo career. This actually rocks harder than Real Animal, Tony Visconti produces again and AE gets musical help from Bruce Springsteen and Ian Hunter. And of course Chuck Prophet who helps out co writing like he did on Real Animal. I'm in love with love he sings and I tend to believe him. I also tend to think more of him in the Ian Hunter vein rather than the Boss but that's just me.

7. Tom Jones-Praise & Blame (Island/Lost Highway/Seconds Out) Perhaps the surprise of the year. No longer the big sex symbol of the late 60's early 70's, Tom Jones has gone more toward the sound that T Bone Burnett got out of Robert Plant a couple years ago but went instead with Ethan Johns who's the MVP on this album. Jones sings the religious and songs of redemption and covering the old gospel blues along the lines of Blind Willie Johnson and Pops Staples, and covers a lesser known Bob Dylan number. Johns strips the music down to bare wires and bare bones, with guitar, bass and drums and on occasion backing vocals that don't oversing, which was why the Elton/Leon album didn't appeal to me. Nevertheless Tom Jone may have made his most definite statement and best album of his career. And that's saying a lot.

8. Paul Collins-The King Of Power Pop (Alive) Once upon a time children, Paul Collins was part of a punk band called The Nerves which featured Peter Case (Plimsouls) and Jack Lee, and once they disbanded formed The Beat (no realtion to The English Beat) and made two damn good albums for Columbia before disappearing and becoming a solo artist. This is the first album that Collins has done in the style of The Beat and for over a half hour we get the followup to The Kids Are The Same. Nothing fancy here, three chords, sing along chorus and move on to the next song. The voice is rougher but the fun is there, you just gotta hear it in the song.

9. Eli "Paperboy" Reed-Come And Get It! (Capitol) Perhaps the last gasp of EMI, I was surprised to hear of this dude who had a genuine love of the Stax/Volt sounds and Bobby Blue Bland. I basically gave up on the American Idol wannabes that had no clue on what soul really was. And this was one of the mercy buys, you know you find in the bargain bins and just want to listen to for a laugh and then leave it in the donation pile at Goodwill but this kid is the real deal. Sure he sounds white but he does know a hook when he sings it, on Name Calling, a song once you hear you'll never get out of your head. On Explosion, the final track, Reed reminds me of Roy Head when he announces there's going to be a explosion baby and you'd better believe it. I'm sure he had James Brown in mind but either way, I'm sure nobody in American Idol would attempt such a song like this.

10. Len Price 3-Pictures (Wicked Cool) Brit Punks who still idolize The Kinks and The Who 1965 and not afraid to show it although there's a bit of update in their tunes with a bit of Green Day in the title track. Of course they're also not afraid to add a bit of Small Faces or The Creation too on certain tracks (Guess which ones). I'm sure this will be the last we'll ever hear of The Len Price 3, Wicked Cool Records is no longer associated with Best Buy or FYE for that matter and if we do hear from them it will be strictly import only. But The Len Price 3 does something that none of the bands hogging up the radio will ever do, and that is speak to us via three chords and an English punk whomp that is lacking in the US. Three chords and rock and roll, it spoke to me back then and still speaks to me nowadays if done right. And Pictures is rock goodness.

The runner ups of note.

11. Peter Frampton-Thank You Mister Churchill (A & M/New Door)
12. Widespread Panic-Dirty Side Down (ATO)
13. Robert Randolph & The Family Band-We Walk This Road (WB)
14. Neil Young-Le Noise (Reprise)
15. Asia-Omega (Frontiers)
16. Doobie Brothers-World Gone Crazy (HOR)
17. Belle & Sebastian Write About Love (Matador)
18. Robert Plant-Band Of Joy (Rounder)
19. Bachman & Turner (RBE-Fontana)
20. Gin Blossoms-No Chocolate Cake (429/Savoy)

Reissues of note:

Bob Dylan-The Wittmark Demos 1962-1964 (Columbia)
Long time ago, he was a starving artist trying to get his foot in the door. But even back then, the rough drafts were a lot better than most out there on the radio. Bob Dylan as personal as he gets.

Bob Dylan-The Best Of The Mono Recordings (Columbia)

There are those who perfer the stereo recordings but I remember them better when they were played on the radio and in mono.

The Jayhawks aka The Bunkhouse album (Lost Highway)

1986 long out of print album got the reissue treatment and shows a more Bakersfield side to Gary Louris and Mark Olson. Bakersfield via Minneapolis.

The Blasters reissues via Wounded Bird.

Took the damn major label to finally reissue these but these L.A punks owe more to Eddie Cochran, Elvis and they did to The Gits or Fear or whatever Slash was putting out at that time. However, Non Fiction and Hard Line proved that Dave Alvin replaced John Fogerty as the best damn songwriter of that time.

The Apple Remasters (EMI/Apple)

And finally, the big news wasn't The Beatles finally releasing their music through ITunes but rather EMI's decision of reissuing the Apple albums that The Beatles didn't make. The prize remains James Taylor's S/T and of course Badfinger and for the first time we finally get a US release of their final Apple LP Ass. Which wasn't as good as No Dice or Straight Up. I certainly don't think that it's worth replacing a jewel case version for the new Digipaks but that's up the buyer out there. A good overview would be the Come And Get It Best Of Apple Records which introduce for the first time Chris Hodge's 1972 hit We're On Our Way and Ronnie Spector's Try Some Buy Some and of course Trash's Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight. For the adventurous and rich folk, there's the 17 disc Best Of Apple Records but it's not complete and the biggest complaint is that the packaging is shotty, just like the single disc Apple reissues. For something that's going to cost 250 dollars, the consumer deserves much better.

So ends our 2010 retrospective, review and best of. I think we have done the best we can given the situation that was presented. If not, you're free to do you own best of 2010.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unfinished Biz-It's About Music-Too many cds, Big Ten

As a music lover of the past (Basically 60s-70s) I came across a fairly new website that celebrates the lesser knowns. Or remember those bands whose album you saw in the 50 cent clearance bins at K Mart years ago or you got those promos for free at Pigeons in Cedar Rapids? Sure you don't, your memory doesn't go back that far. It's called It's About Music and these dudes have albums on CD that I would never think of seeing the day? Robey, Falk & Bod? Kentucky Gambler that album with a killer version of City Life? Sign me up bro! Natural Gas? That super group with Joey Molland, Mark Clarke, Peter Wood and Jerry Shirley? Speaking my language. Anyway this is the website that you have to copy and paste. Also, check out the vinyl listening station to which you can hear the first Sutherland Brothers & Quiver album Slipstream and a few others. Good music from the past dedicated to the complete audiophile. That's me...and you too.  (after trying the link, it has been suspended but not taken down yet)

I spent most of yesterday trying to make room on my shelves for more cds that i have laying in stacks in front of me and had to use the cold room for the less played. I'm thinking that I'll be making a donation to the Salvation Army for some of them. Yesterday when I went to The Salvation Army I have kinda hoping that somebody didn't pick up the Alpha Band LP that I donated last week but it was long gone along with all of the other cds and LPs that I donated. Kinda surprised somebody picked up the Dionne Farris and Saigon Kick that quickly. I guess it all goes to show that despite what Bob Lefsetz tells you, there are people still buying cds and LPs. Not everybody is getting on that IPOD or IPAD wagon, although I'm sure it will be a matter of time before I invest in one of those and start transferring some of my favorite albums to it.

At this point, I have to decide if I'm going to continue to buy new music as well as seek the stuff that I overlooked. Most new albums I only played once or twice and then filed away. Sorry to say nothing stands out, can't get into the autotuned fools or whiner rock that KRNA or Rock 108 plays. And when I buy it's mostly in those Goddam digipaks that never stack right or you scratch the hell out when you take them out of the flimsy packaging. Bruce Springsteen or the idiots at Apple Corp might think its cute but they are not. Either make it vinyl size or make a standard jewel case.

This year which was supposed to be a final year and not expecting to find much, has been one of the busiest and most interesting of CD and album finds. Beyond my dreams and going up to Pawn America last month for the dollar cd special really put the finds over 500 for the year. And then finding some MFSL gold discs for two bucks at Stuff Etc was even more better. Not that I cared much for the Heart album of 1986 but at least when I traded it in, got enough back for gas money. The lure of the hunt continues to call me whenever it happens but my compulsive obsession just about qualifies me for the next Hoarders show next year.

So I'll guess I'll be going through the stuff in the cold room and then go donate some more and try to free up more space. But we all know I'll fill it all back up before we know it.

Good to see my chat buddy from The Roost Starman pop in here making a comment. You know I do miss chatting up the tunes with y'all but I have to admit that I got bored with the friday night chats and trying to talk tunes when nobody wanted to. It's not like it was 10 years ago when we would stay up till morning light and having a good time. Even with my girlfriend coming in for support nobody would say a whole lot and we weren't getting much new music talkers in there, unless they were young folks looking to get laid and talk about Nickle back. Joe was the only other person that would keep things going but I think even he got tired of it all. I don't know if and when we'll do it again. Just seems like a waste of time if we do.

Facebook has gotten me in touch with a few of my forgotten friends of the past. Last week I started chatting with Cindy Mast, who used to be Cindy Lemere. I remember her way back in 69 when we first moved to Cedar Rapids and she was going to Monroe. Then we caught up a few years later when they moved to Marion and was part of either fifth or sixth grade. I worked with her in the dishwashing area at the old Applegate's Landing place 32 years ago. Last time I seen her was at her wedding way back in 1983. But somehow she came across my profile and we talked a bit about the past but not a whole lot. That's the power of Facebook. You never know who your going to meet from the past in the present.

So much for the disappointment of The Iowa Hawkeyes this season. What started out to be a promising year turned out to be a joke and losing not only the Heartland Trophy to Wisconsin but today losing Floyd Of Rosedale to a 2-9 Minnesota squad that outplayed the Hawkeyes in every way possible. I have never witnessed a team that did a complete meltdown in November and went 1-3, and should have been 0-4. The defense sucked, no linebackers and playing a Cover 2 setup and no blitzing that everybody figured it out and promptly kicked the Hawk's ass every damn game. Even Indiana outplayed them. Couldn't beat the damn Northwestern Wildcats and the much hated Ohio State Buckeyes. And then watching Minnesota give Floyd of Rosedale a new home. Most of the teams in the Big Ten I like and will root for if they're not playing Iowa. Wisconsin Badgers are 2nd and everybody else to a lesser extent expect the hated Buckeyes and Wildcats. If last season was memorable, this season was forgettible, a defense overrated and a coach that is sadly out of it, Norm Parker needs to retire. I think the weekend that I went up on the Madison Bargain Hunts were the week that Wisconsin beat Ohio State and then the Hawkeyes. I can't blame the prospect for decommitting to Iowa and going to Madison, I would too. So, I'll will be rooting for the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, that's where my heart is at. And yes, I totally enjoyed Wisconsin whopping Northwestern all over Camp Randall 70-23. At least somebody knows how to beat Northwestern, unlike K.F. the overpaid Iowa coach.

As for the Hawkeyes, going to Arizona isn't so bad. That is if you go to a bowl game or at least show up for it and surprise surprise play defense.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unfinished Biz-Hawkwind

TAD brought up an interesting point on Hawkwind that I thought I'd share a bit with y'all.

Long time ago, Hawkwind was one of many bands on United Artists that you would see in the cutout bins back in the mid 70s and I basically knew nothing of them till I found a copy of Hall Of The Mountain Grill at Goodwill in the old Marion Shopping Center and thought I check it out. Very interesting cover. Side 1 had Psychedelic Warriors which was a UK hit but in edited form. Likewise You'd Better Believe It but nevertheless I never heard any of their music on the radio here. Perhaps Beaker Street played some of the music (and they still do today).

Moving out to Arizona, I finally started finding Hawkwind albums in the used bins and one of the interesting ones was their 1972 live Space Ritual which mirrors the live side of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma but I don't think Pink Floyd would incorporate audio generators and freaky poetry from Bob Calvert. But then again critics didn't care much for Dave Brock playing the same chords over and over for 8 minutes or hearing Nik Turner blasting away with free jazz sax playing. Not for the faint of heart but perhaps something to listen to while smoking a J and having strobe lights blasting away.

The first album was produced with Dick Taylor (formerly of the Rolling Stones) and the only true song off that record was Hurry On Sundown. Everything else seemed to be free form weirdness that wouldn't sound out of place on ESP Disk. The second album In Search Of Space showed more of a space rock direction although the 15 and half minute You Shouldn't Do That would try many a people's patience. I love it as well as their signature tune Master Of The Universe to which Nik Turner did the lead vocal.

When Lemmy joined up, Hawkwind was it's most psychedelic and most freaky. Another long number Brainstorm clocked 11 and half minutes and the amazing Del Dittmer and Dik Mik's bizarre keyboards and generator sounds would go from one song into another. Border-lining on pompousness Time We Left This World Today was a call and response from Dave Brock as the guys would shout the counterpoint. And went on for close to 9 minutes before closing on Lemmy's ominous The Watcher. With Space Ritual Live, you either got it or you didn't. You had to be there in person to really experience the madness and magic that was Hawkwind.

After Hall Of The Mountain Grill, the next album was released through Atco in the US (U.A overseas) was the prog rock sounding Warriors On The Edge Of Time. Adding a second drummer to Simon King (Alan Powell) the record benefit-ted from some poetry from Micheal Moorcock, somewhat space rock, and prog rock it also had some punk rock in the hi energy of Kings Of Speed and (on the CD version) a bonus track of Motorhead, the last song that Lemmy Kilmeister recorded and sang before getting booted out of the band for drug procession and holding up the 1976 tour.

Astounding Sounds Amazing Music, Bob Calvert returns, band goes for a more prog rock sounds and is half good. However Quark Strangeness & Charm was much better as Brock and company returned to a more three chord rock sound and getting rid of Alan Powell leaving Simon King as the only drummer. In the US, this was released on Sire Records at the time of the punk rock revolution and another album I found in the cheap bins. In 1979, Hawkwind moved on to Bronze Records and scored a UK hit with Shot Down In The Night. With Levitation, Simon King left the band for good, replaced by Ginger Baker. Baker stayed on long enough to make the live This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic and it may have been the best live album that Brock came up with.

But this is where I concluded my listening to Hawkwind, The Xenon Codex (1988) was a half assed effort, poorly recorded for Enigma/GWR by Guy Bridemead (who also screwed up Motorhead's No Sleep At All in that same year) and although I have heard good things about Space Bandits and Electric Teepee (Both on Roadrunner long ago and now out of print). I haven't really thought highly enough of them to really review it. Their new album Blood Of The Earth is out and seems to be nod in the right direction, again what I heard I can't quite recommend.

Hawkwind's glory period was the 70's up to Levitation. EMI reissued all of the United Artists albums and added bonus tracks to boot, best of which is Doremi Fasol Latido which includes Urban Guerrilla a song that was banned by the BBC in 1973. And I still recommend In Search Of Space and Hall Of The Mountain Grill as well. The best overview of Hawkwind seems to be the 3 CD EMI Import Epoch: Eclipse 30 year Anthems which does include Motorhead and Quirk Strangeness And Charm. Life after Lemmy, Quirk Strangeness & Charm plus The Hawklords 25 Years On were their last shining classic moments.

Hawkwind has so many albums and so many compilations that's it hard to review them all. The albums on Bronze were reissued through Castle/Sanctuary (or were) and Virgin did reissued the late 70s albums (they were on Charisma as 1979's 25 Years On and perhaps PXR5. In the mid 1990's I did find The Hawklords Live and This Is Hawkwind-Do Not Panic in the bargain bins and found that Hawklords live was a better live album that Live 79. While it is true that finding the original Hawkwind albums on UA and Sire are rare, you can still find the CDs at varying prices at Amazon. Robert Calvert passed away years ago, Lemmy is still working it with Motorhead and who knows whatever happened to the rest, Dave Brock continues to be the sole remaining original member still playing and sometimes still recording new music.

Update: Nik Turner's latest album might be the closest thing to how Hawkwind sounded back in the early 70s and though it's pricy on vinyl, the CD format of Space Gypsy is worth getting in any formats. On September 19th 2014 Turner will be in the neighborhood at RIBCO in Rock Island.  A big falling out between Turner and Dave Brock over the use of the Hawkwind name unnerved Dave so much that he pulled the plug on a 2013 US tour and this year visa problems curtailed another tour attempt.  Hawkwind has been putting out new albums but none of them really capture that spaced out feeling of vibes, echo, generators and free form sax like Turner's backing band, whose done better Hawkwind sounds than the actual band themselves. The last Hawkwind album Spacehawks was rehashing various songs of the past and yet another version of Sonic Attack, to which one wonders if Brock is becoming prog rock's version of Foreigner.  In the meantime Cleopatra reissued Warrior On The Edge Of Time (remixed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame but lately has been busy remixing classic albums from King Crimson, Yes and Jethro Tull) which a long time ago appeared briefly on Atco.  Their most prog rock sounding it's also the last to feature Lemmy before being booted out of the band and going on to his own stellar career with Motorhead.  I don't see the need to spend 50 bucks on a import 2 CD and DVD box set of Warriors, it's perhaps my least favorite of the Lemmy years but since I still have it here, I will take a listen to it. 

In the end, Hawkwind's classic period begins with Space Ritual and ends with 25 Years On (known as Hawklords)  Ginger Baker's appearance on Levitation is worth hearing as well as This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic but once the old geezer wanted to take over the band, they showed him the door.  Brock continues to do Hawkwind tours in the UK more often, but the only long standing member other than he is Tim Blake on keyboards.  He's been coasting on overdrive for years but perhaps the success of Space Gypsy might light a fire under Brock's ass and he might make that one last victory lap album. Otherwise, he's content to remake Sonic Attack or Silver Machine. . 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top Ten Of The Week-Hot Dog Hosannas

Some news of note:

Eastside Records in Tempe are closing their doors after this year. They were about a block away from Zia's on University and although I didn't frequent them as much as Zia's they do stand out for having a good selection of blues cds that I bought a few years ago. Yet another record store closing down.

A long time ago, I bought a punk album from a band of 9 year olds called Old Skull in the 2.88 section at the old Camelot Records store in Westdale. The record was called Get Outta School and they did made the MTV news around 1988. Basically it was a bunch of 9 year olds making noise and calling it music, hell i did that once too. Anyway, Jean Paul Toulon who did the "vocals" was found dead earlier this month at the age of 30. Cause is unknown but it sounded like a drug overdose. His dad Vern died at the age of 46 in 2001. Get Outta School is one of those albums that you have to listen to once, just to hear it. Nevertheless, that album did garner some airplay on the college stations in the late 80's. RIP Jean Paul.

Vinyl King has expressed an interest of doing a top ten guest appearance. Whenever ya want bro, just send one our way and we put it out, just like we do in Multiply dot com. But in the meantime, this is what's happening on the Top Ten of The Week.

1. Courage-The Tragically Hip 1993 I don't necessarily buy the fact that good music died around The Joshua Tree but rather when Lee Abrams took his fact finding lists of songs that people wanted to hear and never bothered to update it after 1985. I still believe there's plenty of good music that isn't played on the radio anymore. Certainly Napster didn't kill music, it enhanced it before the major labels and the RIAA fucked around and shut them down and sued everybody. The Tragically Hip are one of the biggest bands out of Canada that never broke big in the US, at times they sounded like a Canadian REM but their albums were spotty at best. Last album I reviewed from them, Phantom Container was so bad, I listened halfway and then donated it to Goodwill soon afterward. For me, their best album was Fully, Completely which had this top 30 album cut, which turned out to be their last for the US MCA. But they have recorded for Atlantic, Sire, Universal again, Zoe and a few others. Pick and choose at your own risk.

2. Lick My Decals Off Baby-Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band 1970 The good doctor has been too weird for local tastes and Trout Mask Replica is even more out there than Lick My Decals Off Baby which is more accessible but I'm sure my GF ain't going to listen to this. I'm sure the first words out of her mouth would be "what the fuck is this?" Had to album once, then traded it in for the CD and then sold the CD off and then spent many a time trying to get another copy back. It has been reissued on vinyl from Rhino Records on 180 gram vinyl. And still sounds unlike anything you heard before.

3. Donna Everywhere-Too Much Joy 1992 Always loved these punk pop pranksters and they made three wild and crazy albums for Giant/Warners before being dropped. Part of the fun was reading their liner notes. This did get played a couple times via KRNA or KRUI but outside of that......

4. Lonely Street-Andy Williams 1959 If you pick and choose some of his stuff, he did managed to make some bluesy and gloomy songs of note. The English Beat covered his Can't Get Used To Losing You so he can't be all that bad right? Probably after Buddy Holly, the only other artist that overdubbed his vocals. In my folks house, I was more familiar with the Johnny Tollotson version but next to Can't Get Used To Losing You, this is my 2nd favorite Andy Williams song.

5. Enjoy-The Descendants 1985 Dedicated to the Princess of Farts who pretty explains this song. In fact I wonder if this chick is related to me in some capability. Of course she has her own web site Back to the song itself, Milo sings the praises of butt toast and days of wearing the same socks and not changing them. Ickies.

6. Gardenia-Kyuss 1994 Desert metal rock from a band that idolizes Black Sabbath and prog rock in a way. Or is it called stoner rock? Anyway, this band made four albums for Dali/Elektra before calling it a day and Josh Homme went on to form Queens Of The Stone Age. However, lead vocalist John Garcia and form QOTSA castoff Nick Oliveri and drummer Brent Bjork have gotten back together again. From the Welcome To Sky Valley or S/T album which was the biggest selling album in their history. Or their best known.

7. Common Man-The Blasters 1985 Dedicated to the Republican party. Bullshit politicans who try to pass themselves off as common as you and me, but they have better health insurance benefits than you and me.

8. Turn Into Earth-The Yardbirds 1966 From Roger The Engineer LP. Yep they had Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page but they did their best work with Jeff Beck. A very moody piece from that album.

9. Human Cannonball-Webb Wilder 1989 His best known hit which did get some airplay on the rock stations at that time.

10. Kings Of Speed-Hawkwind 1975 From Warrior On The Edge Of Time, the last album to feature Lemmy would move on to form Motorhead. This album was them trying to be prog rock but they did like three chord rock and roll straight on too. Album came out on Atco and is hard to find so your better off trying to find the CD, which has the original version of Motorhead with Lemmy singing lead. Later versions of that song has Dave Brock singing instead.

Happy Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble Gobble!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Madison Part 4

Funny how I decided that the last bargain hunt would make a return back to the Badger state and back to my favorite hangout. Out of all the trips to the Mad City, this one was the easiest. And this happened on a weekend too. My guess is that when the UW football team went to Ann Arbor, that the majority of people went up there. Thus, walking on the lakefront of Lake Monona was practically deserted. However I did run into my share of bargain hunters at the music store, a few of them at Mad City Music Exchange and asking the guy about other places to buy forty fives. Usually owners of record stores do not like to mention other stores, especially in these days and times. But I have to admit that this time out, I may have seen to most hunters of 45s out and about this time around. I'm sure the dude would eventually find out that Half Priced Books do have a decent selection of 45s and I did find three of them at the east side store.

Other fun facts of Mad City Part 4.

Last time I stopped at Pawn America Pawn Shop I ended up finding about 32 CDs of note for a dollar apiece. Guess how many CDs I found up there this time out. None! Zero! Nada! Hard to believe eh? First of all they did not have the dollar sale and second of all the cd section was picked apart. Kinda disappointed but I did managed to find other CDs for two bucks at Frugal Muse Books. It was funny to see the clerk raved about me finding Dead Letter Office from REM for two bucks but only bought it since they had 10 percent off in the store as they celebrated 18 years of being in business. The REM Cd was a bit more scratched than I like but what the dude failed to notice that he had John Hartford's Aero Plain in the 2 dollar section and that one sells for over 50 bucks at Amazon. Score one for the bargain hunter. Also he had a Jules Shear Best Of, that I got for 2 buck and sold that one to cover for the gas money getting up to Mad City. Score two for the bargain hunter. And there were a couple more found, a Webb Wilder Hybrid Vigor CD, More Aero Plain Outtakes from John Hartford and so on. Would have bought a few more but they were a bit more scratched up.

Even though the traffic in Madison wasn't as busy as it was last time I was there, I seen three accidents on the streets including a big pile up on the Interstate 90-94 going to Pawn America. But on this trip while I did stop at the HP Books, Mad City Music Exchange and Strictly Discs I didn't stop at the Pre Played stores simply due to time restrictions and plus that I didn't come up with a lot when I did stop there last trip. This time I didn't do State Street so I didn't get to meet the old hag that brought last trip down and put me in a sour mood. Unfortunately my body didn't cooperate at all and thank God the toilets at Monona Terrance were open. The porta pottys put away for the winter I had to search for an open toilet and if Monona Terrance wasn't there, I would have get a new change of clothing. Had to use the loo twice! Could have used the ones at Wah Kee Noodle House but declined since last time I was there, nobody bothered to wait on me and the time before that the food I got sucked. Hard to believe I gave kudos to that place a few years ago.

Another bad decision was to go to the Laredo for Mexican just before I went back home. I remembered that place for them putting potatoes in their burritos. 2nd time around the peppers were uneven, one was easy to cut and chew, the other one put up a fight to the death and had to use a knife to cut that one. Perhaps I should have gone to Pedro's or some other place. I think the people that came in after me, the guy got sick after a while and left.

Last time the weather was quite warm, this time it was chilly and the breeze blew off the lake so it was a kinda windy chill but I think I liked it better that way. Losing an hour of daylight didn't enable me to really do a full walk but then again, I really wasn't much in a walking mood after a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge times 2.

Finally stopped at Dollar Tree before heading home and chatting up with a female cashier ready to close the store and she was talking about working 2 jobs to pay the bills and give her son a good Christmas. I think she was in her 30's and we talked a bit about Thanksgiving and our plans and pretty much said that I'll be spending it with my folks and taking it easy since all the fools will be out on Black Friday. I guess she really didn't have much to do either, spending it with her child. Being nice I mentioned that being a single mom is a full time job 24-7 and it's much harder than the life that a bargain hunter who comes and goes and works at a job that pays the bills and makes me do the things that I do. I can't say that this was my destiny, nor planned to done this so long in life. Sure back when I was younger say about 15, 20 ago I thought about having a family and having a loving wife but when the time was right back then, I simply picked the wrong one every time out. Or they just said no. After a while I just gave up and lived my life the way I have been before Nicole came into this life.

Despite meeting the Old Hag on State Street, the majority of folks that I have met in Madison have been quite nice an polite and managed to strike up a conversation for a spell. Which is hard to do, I keep to myself and even if they do talk to me, I usually keep it short. I'm sure the clerk at Dollar Tree would have like to gotten to know me better but in the time there, it was closing time, it was time for me to head home and when she asked me if I was leaving the state, I thought about saying actually I did since I'm not from Madison. But I did wish her the best of luck in life and have a good Thanksgiving. And then, got into the car and drove back home.

It's hard to find anybody in life that can put up with the antics of a bargain hunter, who changes like the wind and still remains independent and defiant. My GF does a fine job of putting up with my moods and accepts me who I am even more than I do at times. I doubt if anybody else could put up with me. I can barely put up with myself at times.

But the loner in me still exists and still begs for solitude and basically I couldn't be a step dad, I didn't do a good job of that when I was with Clarice and her boys. With Nicole, its she and I and this woman has a strength of an angel to deal with me but she'll tell you otherwise I'm not that bad. With step kids it's hard to win them over but in Nicole's case her daughter seemed to like me a lot as well as her mom and relatives I've known. BTW her daughter is of the four legged kind. I don't think a lot of myself and of being the guy of anybody's dream simply of the history and my bitter breakups with some of those I've been with. But then again my GF has always been a good judge of character, that's why she picked me.

So in a nutshell going to Madison for the fourth time this year turned out to be the easiest and less annoying since I picked the right time to go. Here's hoping the next time will be just as easy and here also hoping that the next time I get back up there, my guts won't give me fits either.

Thanks Strictly Discs, Half Priced Books East and West, Mad City Music Exchange and Pawn America for the bargains...