'77 TOLD THE TRUTH's Journal|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in
'77 TOLD THE TRUTH's LiveJournal:
|Thursday, September 13th, 2007|
band THE WEEPING
new wave of punk - repulse !!!
dirty grunge punk rock - repulsive sounds!
most - out of tune !!!!)))
|Monday, April 23rd, 2007|
Everything Is an Afterthought
I recently sold my first book. In conjunction, I've established another LiveJournal to report on the project's progress, occasionally provide links about, and writings by, its subject, Paul Nelson
(famous for his Rolling Stone
reviews of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, and his cover story about Warren Zevon's battle with alcoholism), and share snippets of information or parts of interviews that may or may not be covered further in the final product.
The new journal shares the book's working title, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson
. Just follow the link.
Anybody interested in learning more about this brilliant critic, whose own life proved just as mysterious and fascinating as the artists' about whom he wrote, is welcome to join. As well, tracking the process of how a book goes from sale to publication should prove interesting. I'm rather curious about that part myself...
|Sunday, April 15th, 2007|
Nirvana No More
I'd intended to post this one week ago today, on the thirteenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, but was vacationing and high-speed Internet-deprived in Florida. I wrote this piece for
The Event, a now defunct Salt Lake City, Utah, alternative newspaper, where it was published on May 16, 1994. ( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, August 4th, 2006|
Gone Again by Patti Smith
Ten years ago, in June of 1996 when Gone Again
was first released, I had just received word from a friend, the terrific short story writer Alison Baker, of the untimely death of a mutual acquaintance. It had been the second such letter in about as many months. "Sorry to send bad news again," she'd closed. "As we age, you know, this sort of news becomes prevalent. One will come to dread the personal letter." I'd hoped she was wrong then and I today remain hopeful of the same. I love receiving letters --
even if it means suffering the occasional bad news. I've yet to reach the age where each morning I scan the obituaries, like a vulture scouting out carrion, looking for familiar names among the grainy black-and-white faces that have gone the way of all flesh. Instead, I prefer to mark my time on this earth by the friends I've made, the movies I've seen, the books I've read, and, perhaps most of all, the songs I've heard.
The best rock & roll has always been a kind of musical letter-writing --
"song-mail," if you will. Given rock's roots and the social significance it has garnered through the decades, this is not an inappropriate view of the music that has documented my generation and perhaps yours. Always meant to do more than merely fill the space between our ears, rock combines words and music and provides a vehicle by which the artist can report in and say, "This is where I am at this point in my life. This is what I think. This is what I want." Or, like Rutger Hauer's replicant Roy Batty at the end of Blade Runner
, making sure his memories aren't lost like tears in the rain: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion..."
It had been eight years since Patti Smith last graced us with a letter from home. Before that, Dream of Life
, the album she recorded with her husband, ex-MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, was the first time we'd heard from her since she dropped out of the rock & roll limelight in 1979. She'd moved to Detroit, married the other Smith the following year, and, by all accounts, had happily become a Midwestern mother of two. And, for the rest of the world at least, stopped making music.
Happiness is brief.
It will not stay.
God batters at its sails.
Patti Smith's Gone Again is a musical letter of the sort that seldom gets released in the musical marketplace, mainly because it concerns itself with the aforementioned "bad news." Death inhabits the album, raises its impressive lizard-like head throughout, but is held at bay by Smith and her stalwart band of rock & roll argonauts. This may be Smith's show, but it's Death's dance, it's Death (this time, at least) making her sing. To wit:
- March, 1989: Robert Mapplethorpe, for whom Smith had been lover and muse, dies a very public AIDS-induced death.
- June, 1990: Original Patti Smith Group keyboardist Richard Sohl dies of a heart attack on Long Island. He was 37.
- April, 1994: Fred and Patti Smith weep at the news that Kurt Cobain has committed suicide. Old enough to be the Nirvana leader's parents, they adored his music.
- November, 1994: Smith's husband Fred dies of a heart attack.
- December, 1994: A month later, Smith's beloved brother Todd, in whose face Sid Vicious once smashed a glass, dies of a heart attack.
All things considered, how could Gone Again be about anything but death? Current Mood: jazzed
The fine album reunites Smith not only with her two bandmates of old, guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, but also features Television guitar virtuoso Tom Verlaine, ex-Velvet Underground founding member John Cale (who'd produced Smith's debut album Horses in 1975) on organ, Tony Shanahan on bass, and Smith's sister Kimberly (immortalized in song on that debut album) on mandolin.
The tone of Gone Again tends more toward the stately than the raucous, though the latter certainly finds its moments. There is a transcendent, mantra-like quality to some of the songs; the overall effect meditative. But within the music's self-imposed aural constraints a shitstorm brews, blowing in a full-force gale capable of taking out everything in its wake, as in the wash of droning electric guitar that becomes a tidal wave in the Cobain tribute, "About a Boy."
The title cut is Native American in its rhythms, with Smith coming on like the "crazy and sleepy Comanche" she declared herself to be so many years before in "Babelogue." "Dead to the World" is a folksy, whimsical, Dylan-influenced death dream, proving that she isn't blind to the humor inherent in the subject matter she's grappling with. And, in a nod to Dylan himself, with whom she toured when she returned to the stage in December of 1995, she delivers a ballsy rendition of his angry anthem, "Wicked Messenger."
But best of all there is "Summer Cannibals," the album's first single. With Daugherty's sinew-snapping drumsticks and Kaye's guitar lines shooting like spears around her, Smith erases any notion that eight years have passed since we last heard from her. Like a little girl reciting a jaunty, macabre nursery rhyme, she sings:
and I laid upon the table
another piece of meat
and I opened up my veins to them
and said, "come on, eat"
The anger. The joy. The sense of humor, funny and transcendent. Everything about the song, from her oh-so-perfect pronunciation to her guttural, Linda Blair-way of saying eat, makes it one of her best songs ever.
And if, at the time, the album as a whole struck us as something less than we'd hoped for -- too subdued or contemplative in spots -- perhaps we should have questioned whether it was our own expectations that were out of whack. In Smith's absence, the value of her musical legacy, especially in light of the overdue artistic and commercial vindication of punk rock, had increased many-fold.
Let's face it: If Jesus Christ had come down off the cross, JD Salinger had written another book, and Hillary Clinton had come clean about something going on back then called "Whitewater" -- it still wouldn't have been enough. We Americans, like Smith's own "Summer Cannibals," are insatiable in our wants.
|Friday, July 28th, 2006|
Playing with Dolls
Current Mood: famished
In the early Seventies, the New York Dolls were the reigning rock & roll band in New York City, the darlings of David Bowie and the avant-garde intelligentsia, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith rolled into one, and America's principal purveyors of such newfound concepts as deliberate musical primitivism and the punk rock of futuristic, haute-couture street children. A cult band, they were passionately loved or hated, and more than a few critics (myself included) saw in them this country's best chance to develop a home-grown Rolling Stones. The Dolls were talented, and, more importantly, they had poisonality! Both of their albums made the charts, but a series of stormy misunderstandings among their record company, their management and themselves eventually extinguished the green light of hope, and the group disbanded... Like all good romantics, they had destroyed everything they touched.
-- Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone, May 18, 1978
The argument could be made that we have the Mormon Church to thank for One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the first studio album in 32 years by the New York Dolls. It may not be a particularly good argument, but all the components are there for a not even half-baked conspiracy theory:
As depicted in Greg Whiteley's fine documentary New York Doll, original Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane, who, following an an act of self-defenestration, had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was working in the church's Family History Center Library when he discovered that an almost 30-year dream, something he had prayed for again and again, was about to come true: the remaining Dolls (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) wanted to reunite. Not only are his Mormon coworkers and bishop supportive of their friend, whose life of drinking and drugs had gone out the window with him, they help fund the retrieval of his guitar from a local pawnshop so that he can start practicing for the reunion gig. Had they not and had Kane not rejoined the band, and had New York Doll never been made, you could argue that there would not have been the press and acclaim and subsequent momentum to get the Dolls back into the studio, back on the radio, back on TV, and back in the stores.
If New York Doll isn't the best piece of pro-LDS propaganda the Mormon Church has ever had at its behest, it's at least some damn funny and insightful off-the-cuff filmmaking. (Has ever a movie come into being so accidentally?) The movie's wacky elements and plot twists -- a faded, jealous rock star, his bitter wife, a quart of peppermint schnapps, a handy piece of cat furniture, an open kitchen window, and an unexpected demise -- tell a tale of decadence and redemption worthy of Raymond Chandler.
But in the midst of all this craziness there beats a heart, and it's a sweet one. Such as when Kane, "the only living statue in rock & roll" and, in Johansen's words, "the miracle of God's creation," leads the group in prayer before they take the stage for the first time in almost 30 years. Or earlier, back at the library, when Kane explains the responsibilities of being a rock & roll bassist to the two little old ladies with whom he works. Or when he confesses to his Mormon bishop his apprehensions about getting back together with Johansen (who, when he finally arrives in the studio, looks like a haggard Allison Janney).
Which brings us to the Dolls' third album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, which arrived in stores on Tuesday and which, like Bettie Page adorned in leather, is hard and soft at the same time. Lots of ricocheting guitar lines and anthemic pounding housed within four Phil Spectorish walls of sound; middle-aged men acting tough, vamping and posturing while sounding melodic as all hell. A reminder of how rock & roll ought to be. How it used to be.
Combining clever wordplay ("Evolution is so obsolete/Stomp your hands and clap your feet," from the pro-simian/anti-creationist single, "Dance Like a Monkey") and wordy cleverness ("Ain't gonna anthropomorphize ya/Or perversely polymorphousize ya"), Johansen, whose vocalizing and songwriting have both aged magnificently, proves that, despite his Buster Poindexter detour, he remains one of rock's savviest practitioners. He leads the Dolls through a variety of subjects and styles while spewing his trash poetry lyrics ("All light shines in darkness/Where else could it shine?") with his heart on his sleeve and his tongue firmly in cheek -- often at the same time:
Yeah, I've been to the doctor
He said there ain't much he could do
"You've got the human condition
Boy, I feel sorry for you"
Funny is one thing, smart is another; but funny and smart at the same time, that's tough. Ask Woody Allen.
Listening to the new album, I couldn't help but think of critic Paul Nelson, whose words opened this piece and who, back in the early Seventies, was the A&R guy who put his job with Mercury Records on the line when he signed the Dolls to their first record deal ("I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job, and I did"). What would Nelson, whose body was found alone in his New York apartment earlier this month, have made of the Dolls' new effort and return to the spotlight? And would he have seen anything of himself in the song "I Ain't Got Nothing"?
This is not how the end should have come
Who could imagine this when I was young?
Where is everybody?
It's not the way I wanted it to be
With One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dolls pick up right where they left off over 30 years ago, as if no time at all has passed. Which begs the question (especially with all the dancing like a monkey going on): shouldn't there have been some kind of evolution musically? If the Dolls remain just as smart and funny as before, and rock just as hard -- if just plain surviving isn't enough -- what have they gained?
We all should be so lucky.
|Thursday, June 15th, 2006|
This morning I posted a review of this album by Jonathan Richman over at my blog Mere Words
. I welcome your comments. Enjoy.
|Saturday, June 3rd, 2006|
Is this totally dead or what? Current Mood: bored
|Monday, November 14th, 2005|
Hey guys, i finally got my hands on the reissue of Nekromantix 1994 release, 'Brought Back To Life'. I had been trying to find this album for years, so glad they decided to reissue it! It's even better than I had expected! I'm loving the album, has anyone else picked it up yet, what did you think?
|Wednesday, July 27th, 2005|
Great news - though I may be late!
When I went to Warped Tour a few week ago, I went over to the Dropkick Murphy's tent and they were telling me about the new GIVE 'EM THE BOOT DVD from Hellcat that is going to be released next week. I've been waiting for something on the Hellcat bands and it's finally here. Joe Strummer and Iggy Pop are on it...plus every Hellcat band to date. By far this will be one of the best music DVD release all year!