"But... I mean... jazz..."

Sonic Gloo

(with periodic conceptual continuity)

recent music reviews

Here are links to some of my recent music reviews on Sound+Vision and HomeTechTell.com

Mad Monster Party on Blu-ray

Portland's Helio Sequence with a brand new quad release, Jerry and Merl reissues, Jeff Lynne returns, and more   

Radiohead Remixes Reviewed

Peter Gabriel, Instant Live, Remastered Beach Boys, and Grand Ukulele  

Genesis Reissues: Seek Out the SACDs!

Working through the high-resolution charms of Workingman's Dead, and looking forward to the archival reissue of Never Mind the Bollocks 

Guided By Smotroff: A Pollard Primer

On the lookout for classic reissues from Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Jethro Tull 

Sixties Redux with the Monkees, the Velvets — and the Beatles

Bob Dylan, David Byrne, Ian Hunter, Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, and More 

Record Swaps–Great Vinyl Bargain Hunting Every Month 

John Cale and Danger Mouse, Revisting REM in High Def 

Kinks BBC retrospective, Steve Vai, Jerry Garcia , Fleetwood Mac fans pay tribute 

Mike Keneally and Andy Partridge team up, Redd Kross and Antibalas return, and Nektar invites you into the studio 

Confessions of a Disco Dancer : Remembering The Party

RTPMS7When I was in high school, I was "that guy" who wore the "Disco Sucks" t-shirt proudly. As a fan of all things rock and jazz and protest and non conformism, I thought Disco represented the end of the world. It was in early in college that one of my musical heroes said something simple, funny and profound that change my perspective and made me burn my Disco Sucks T-shirt.  

It was Frank Zappa -- who was having a bit of hit record, ironically with a disco parody called "Dancin' Fool" -- who was quoted in an interview talking about the role of Disco in our society.
The quote went like this (from the http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Disco )

"Disco music makes it possible to have disco entertainment centers. Disco entertainment centers make it possible for mellow, laid-back, boring kinds of people to meet each other and reproduce. People who think of themselves as young moderns, upwardly mobile, go for the fusion or disco – that slick, cleaned-up, precise, mechanical kind of music. And they tend to dislike everything else because it doesn't have its hair combed. Three-chord fuzztone music is not exactly the kind of thing that you'd expect a young executive to be interested in. He wants something that sounds like it might be really good to listen to riding around in a Maserati. So ultimately, that cheapens the music and whatever the musicians have done. ... But like I said, it's a good thing that all that music is there for all those people. Because without it, their lifestyle would lack something."

The first part of the quote was prime Zappa, scathing commentary and sarcasm for days some of which I appreciate but don't fully agree with in retrospect. Yet it was the the latter part of the quote that made me realize that, yes, in fact, disco was making many people happy and who the hell was I to judge anyone???  

Now, I didn't suddenly drop everything and don a white disco suit and start doing cocaine and all that stuff the REALLY HIP kids were doing. No, I followed my own trajectory and eventually did get to appreciate disco (via the Talking Heads/Eno/Bowie/King Crimson connections) first getting into funk -- still kicking myself that I didn't go with friends in high school to see P-Funk at Madison Square Garden -- and eventually even owning some (gasp!) dance records!   I have the first Bee Gees disco album in my collection -- Main Course -- as its a great record. Though I admit that I have NEVER yet seen Saturday Night Fever.  I do not own the album. I don't even have Thriller in my collection. (gasp!) I DO however own numerous Bohannan albums (which is where Talking Heads' drummer nicked a lot of his grooves). But I digress... 

* * * * *
RTP: taken with my 1st gen iPhoneLast year, a friend I was dating for a while, got me onto the dance floor for the first time since New Years Eve 1986! I had been to some decent sized dance clubs before I was out of course. But nothing prepared me for that New Years when I found myself in London at The Hippodrome -- actually it was technically December 30th, 1985, an all Gay New Years celebration -- alongside some 3,000 other dancin' fools like myself, all having a jolly grand time!

For reasons numerous, I never quite got into the dance scene even though I did like a lot of the newer dance music of the time. I still believed rock and roll was king and eventually led my own band and put out several albums, all basically in the indie rock realm. I had even gone to some of the dance events hosted by a famous indie rock star who had started DJing, but they left me kinda flat... more on that later...

So when David dragged me into the infamous Castro-area Gay dance club "Badlands," it was with more than a bit of trepidation:  

Here I was overweight, twice the age of most in the club and not entirely sure if my old moves from back in the day would translate to the newer tunes.

The cool thing is everyone there was really supportive and I soon found my groove.

I even had a couple hot young alterna-chicks nuzzling up to me, bumping butts and such at one point on the floor, which was surreal but oddly welcoming. Dave is a big guy -- and a great dancer -- too so the two of us on this tight little dance floor packed mostly with 24-inch waists was probably quite an image! LOL

Dave got me out on that dance floor a few more times that year.  

But I would never have gone on my own.

* * * * *

Until last Sunday,that is, I went to a big disco event called "Remember the Party," organized by a couple of friends of mine, where they recreate the vibe of vintage San Francisco dance events of 20-30 years ago -- which as I've indicated I missed the first time 'round.

I'd promised Richard and Chris FOR YEARS that I would come to their events, but something always came up usually me being out of town or the crap of life stomping all over my buzz.

This time I was determined.... THIS TIME....I had blocked out the time, bought my ticket in advance and dragged my sorry little disco-free carcass over there to see what it was all about.

Even if I never got on the dance floor it was worth it to see the smiles on Chris and Richard's faces when I walked through the doors of the club. They immediately counseled me on what to do, what to expect and to remind me to just have a great time. Not always easy for me, believe it or not, especially as a single man these days.. but I won't go down the the spiral into all that stuff.

Instead, I focused on the music and the people. The first thing that got me was the sense of joy and abandon that people were enjoying at this event.  What was it that was going on here that I, frankly, hadn't seen quite as much at other more modern dance events?  

As I mentioned earlier, I'd HAD gone a couple times to some dance parties (which shall remain nameless) here in SF but the crowd seemed fairly downer both times I went. Maybe it was because I wasn't doing any drugs (I don't do them).  

Or maybe it was something else that was making me feel this way .... 

RTPMS2Within the first half hour at Remember The Party, I had a revelation: there was something very different going on in the music -- it had a lot of musical feel to it.  

Old school disco, in comparison to much of the extremely mechanical loop and sequence based dance music of the now, was actually some pretty musical stuff and not that all that terrible after all.

There were sassy horn sections, vocal harmonies, badass bass lines, smokin' grooves and even some killer lyrics delivered.

For the most part in terms of mainstream appeal, those sounds have mostly been replaced with more electronic driven beats, from hip hop and rap to ambient and dubstep.

Even the early sequenced dance tracks -- like Giorgio Moroder's groundbreaking Donna Summer hit "I Feel Love" -- had more feel to them -- perhaps because they were done with old analog synthesizers which had flaws and a less perfect pulse. I don't know.   Maybe simply the songwriting was better....

Sure there are pockets of cool around today -- with DJs spinning old "Northern Soul" 45s and the like -- and moments of retro pop bliss like Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (not a dance track per se but it could have been a soul hit in 1971).   Thank God for artists like Sharon Jones and the rediscovery, reinvention and ascension of Bettye Lavette!

Yet...  old school disco and newer variants march onward... 



So, there I was. Initially a wallflower as I'm want to do in situations like this, but eventually finding my groove and courage to approach someone to dance with.

That it was someone I'd oft admired and never knew he was a dancing bear (if you will) was a pleasant surprise. And you know what? I had fun! And as you can see by the pics it was quite a party.

So yeah, I Remembered The Party I never really participated in in the first place.

* * * * *


Many years ago, I'd been referred to a friend of a friend to go through this fellow's record collection and help him figure out what he had there. As a thank you, he said I should go through the some 10-15,000 LPs and pick out a stack that I'd like. I got some cool things I'd always wanted and a handful things i never would have bothered buying but was curious about (15 Ike and Tina Turner albums!).

One thing I got was a record I'd never heard or even seen in the stores. It was clearly a regional California release from "back in the day." But the cover was so priceless and simultaneously funny and offensive (depending on your perspective) I had to have it. In fact, I have it framed on display proudly when you first walk into my office/studio -- few even notice it.

Frankly, I've never played it. Perhaps now, with my newfound perspective, I will finally give it a spin.

                                                                    Front Cover ---- >

backcoverdiscoAnd while I do that I will indeed, "Remember The Party."

                                                                   Inside gatefold  ---->

Thanks again Chris and Richard for inviting and encouraging me.

And to Charlie for being a great dance mate. :-)


Above:  Richard (left) and Chris (right) at Remember The Party with some friends.

Below are a bunch of great photos that i did not take but which were posted on FaceBook.  
Great images in much higher resolution than mine.  

A Look Back On Gay Themes in Rock & Roll: If They Would Only Understand
think green
 On this, National Coming Out Day, a FaceBook friend posted asking for recommendations of songs to post in support.  

That got me thinking that it might be a good time to revisit some of my personal favorites of rock and roll which have (gasp!) Gay themes.  

I don't get into any of the dance music tunes here, of which there are no doubt many and great anthems important to the Gay community.  That is is not what I'm focused on. Here I look at some of the songs that shaped me early on in my life  some of which may not be immediately apparent to the listener. Those who were listening closely, like me, heard the message loud and clear.  Listen for yourself (live links to the songs posted on YouTube provided) and decide for yourself. 

Here is the list (in no particular order, just as they came to mind)

Take A Walk On The Wild Side, Lou Reed -- Perhaps obvious in retrospect, at the time it was sort of stunning because it was being played on mainstream AM radio sans censorship. Perhaps the chorus hook was so strong that no one bothered to listen to the documentary like lyrics, such as the tales of the hitchhiker from Florida who plucked his eyebrows and shaved his legs -- suddenly he was a she. Or the tale of Candy Darlin who "never lost her head even when she was giving head." Brilliant.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p_cXfdz8Hw

Out of the Wardrobe, The Kinks - From their fine "Misfits" album, there was no mistaking what this was about and it was a revelation to hear at the time given some of the other songs Ray Davies has written hinting at and dancing around the subject, sometimes quite magically.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwVw6x7lzGY

See My Friends, The Kinks - from 1965, some consider this the first gay themed rock song, it is also the first rock song to use Indian tonalities, a full year before The Beatles did. "See my friends, playing 'cross the river. She is gone and now there's no one there except my friends playing across the river." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HueiKoc1jmU

Lola, The Kinks - Like Lou's Wild Side, few people really listened to what the song was about. Not so much about being gay but simply acceptance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixqbc7X2NQY

Glad To Be Gay, Tom Robinson Band
- This came out of nowhere in 1978 and from a powerful album produced by Todd Rundgren. Years later I had the good fortune with my band to open up for Tom when he played a solo set here in San Francisco. I talked with him at one point and thanked him for not only being great but for writing this amazing song.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHG2LJGfEdw

You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, The Beatles - Some say this was John Lennon writing about their manager, Brian Epstein who was painfully closeted.  Decide for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz7IjXu0DfQ  

I'm Not Like Everybody Else, The Kinks - not necessarily about being gay but about being proud of who you are, about knowing you are different and wanting to live one's life individually. This was my personal theme song in 7th grade or so when I discovered it on the B-side to Sunny Afternoon, a single from 1966 (which I got at a garage sale for 10 cents! some moments we never forget....)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGd4kQBW8DM

Boys Keep Swinging, David Bowie - By 1979, things were changing fast and Bowie was in many ways leading the pack; this shocked quite a few then and is still pretty stunning. That it features a solo by one of my favorite guitarists ever, Adrian Belew, is a huge bonus   http://youtu.be/6SoiXlp0HAU


Reel Around The Fountain, The Smiths - the first time I heard this it sounded like it was a porn tale set to a lovely melody... that it never really says anything specific adds to its brilliance. The Smiths have more directly Gay oriented songs but this one remains a favorite. What an opening line. "Its time the tale was told of how you took a child and made him old."   

John, I'm Only Dancing, David Bowie - Another B-side that stunned me the first time I heard it on Bowie's ChangesOne hits collection. With its lines...  
"John, I'm only dancing...
she turns me on,
but don't get me wrong,
but I'm only dancing"

...there was no doubt what this one was about. 

Real Men, Joe Jackson - A powerful song from one of Joe's best albums which captures the essence of NY . "Now and then we wonder who the real men are." 

All The Young Dudes, Mott The Hoople - I almost left this off but it really does count because it became the anthem for the glam movement and has its moments that certainly paint quite the picture of an alternate part of society hidden right before our eyes. "Now Lucy looking sweet 'cause he dresses like a queen, But he can kick like a mule, its a real mean team, but we can love, oh yes we can love"   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKvNtAVZyOc

All The Nasties, Elton John - Again, I'm not sure if this is specifically a Gay themed song, but when I first heard this in 1971 at the end of the Madman Across The Water album (my Dad gave me the album for Chanukah!), it resonated strongly even at that young age. As I grew older and more frustrated, lines like "Oh if then and only then they would understand" resonated to the core.

Elton introduces this live version from the time as a song about "criticism" which begs the question: criticism of what?  decide for yourself (lyrics below)

Here is the studio version which is super powerful and amazing to hear in surround sound, by the way!

All The Nasties 
By Elton John

If it came to pass that they should ask
What could I tell them
Would they criticize behind my back
Maybe I should let them
Oh if only then and only then
They would understand
They'd turn a full-blooded city boy
Into a full-blooded city man

If they could face it
I could take it in their eyes
Oh I know I'd make it
Their tiny minds
And sacred cows just fake it

Oh if only then and only then
They would understand
They'd turn a full-blooded city boy
Into a full-blooded city man

But I know the way they want me
In the way they publicize
If they could turn their focus off
To the image in their eyes
Maybe it would help them, help them understand
Maybe it would help them, help them understand
Maybe it would help them, help them understand
That a full-blooded city boy
Is now a full-blooded city man

Oh my soul
Oh my soul
Oh my soul...

Ray Rocks My Birthday:
"But... I mean... jazz..."
How great to see one of my fave songwriter/musicians pull out the stops after all these years at The Fillmore Auditorium and ON my birthday! This is the poster they gave out after show which I may well frame (how many concerts posters have your birthday listed, after all?). It was a great show with many peaks. My fave parts came at the end however with an encore played quazi unplugged including "Misfits," "Full Moon" and "Low Budget." (I have never seen him do the Full Moon live before so that was a treat. Best part however came after that: house lights up and walk out music on, I instinctively stayed in place and talked with my friend John Ashfield about the show. Neither of us moved yet many in the crowd were leaving. Many didnt budge. And sure enough, the lights went back off after a few minutes and the band came back out to leave us with a fairly scorching rendition of "Lola." Its been so long since I have seen a band do that sort of false ending for the hardcore fans who stick around. A very rawk thing to do. Thank you Ray for all the years of inspiration.
Ray Davies at The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 07/19/12

Beauty In Distortion: Some Thoughts on Reading, Writing and Survival
think green

(note:  this is a long post which I doubled space to make it easier for some friends to read. open your browser completely if the layout looks odd and it should set up to double spacing)

Tonight I finished a book which a friend gave me more than a year ago.  I am pleased that I was able

to finish it.  Which one? I'll get to that in a bit as it does relate.   But first some background

that some of you know, and others perhaps gleaned from earlier posts. Or  perhaps not fully.  But in

short:  it goes back to 1996 when I met a man named Jack who changed my life.  We spent nearly 10

years together, very much joined at the hip and embracing every inch of life in ways that I only

dreamed.  It felt like we were together 20 years.  In 2005 he passed away suddenly (surgery

complications), pulling the rug of our life out from under me and beginning an arc of terrible times that

lasted another 5 years or so including the passing of between 8 and 10  (I lost count, honestly) 

friends and a couple more-than-acquaintances. Plus my Mother, my favorite Aunt and my dog, Tibet,

all died (cancer).    Tibet, in fact, passed 5 years to the day Jack's crisis began (passing less than a

week later).  
Many things spiritual happened to me in those years (topic for another post TBD), so I

could only 
take Tibet's leaving as a sort of cosmic bookend (if you will) to Jack's departure

 *   *   *

I basically write for a living as a marketing communications & PR person and music writer (I'm

also a songwriter, musician, producer too, tho' that sadly isn't paying the bills for me, yet I persevere

because it makes me and other people happy).   By the end of a day, often times, the last thing I

want to do is READ more text.    But I really LIKE reading and have pushed myself over the years to

dive into writings of particular interest : music  (surprise!), science fiction, fantasy and surrealism.  

(Call me an escapist ; I'll take it!).  

After Jack died however, and in the midst of that dark arc, I found it  next to impossible -- really -- to

concentrate on books.   I even found it hard to watch a movie on my own (I've never really liked that

actually).  So for literary entertainment, I have read mostly magazines, blogs and music related

things that took me away somewhere. 

Now, back to that book I mentioned at the start of this:  a

year or so ago my longtime friend Brian (since college) in  

Southern  California gave me a book he thought I'd like

after I'd told him about a movie I'd seen that I 

("Stardust," starring among others, Robert DiNero).  The 

book he gave me was by the  same author 
who wrote

"Stardust, " Neil Gaiman.   It is called "Neverwhere."  After

Brian gave me  the book, there 
was still a lot of crap going

on in my life despite my making 
new friends,

writing new
music and pouring myself into my 

career and trying to be positive in the face of dark bullshit

(including a friend seemingly scamming me of a lot of $$,

which hurt a lot as I was led to believe I was helping him out of difficult times).

"Neverwhere" sat  unread alongside several other books friends had given me.   

In the last few months, I initiated some major changes in

my life which have 
proven very positive to me (and I'm

hoping equally positive, albeit 
challenging, to some other

people whom those changes  
directly impacted).   Along

the way, I met a new friend in Southern California, who I

am very 
interested in relationships-wise.  Its long

distance, i know, and we have no misconceptions

about that

But our meeting was very positive and the connection remarkably strong - strong in a 
way I haven't

felt since Jack, frankly.  

The night after first meeting him, I had a dream (which I posted about on my FaceBook) as it was

significant :  the first dream I'd had since Jack passed that had Jack in it.   It was exciting and very

emotional and I -- as have many of my friends who responded to my FaceBook post -- take it as an

indicator of healing, and possibly (if one believes in such things) a communique from Jack that I am

indeed on the right track again.   I do believe that in many ways (but again, that is a discussion for

another post sometime)

A new burst of creativity has ensued, and I've started writing new songs (including one for him!),  And

a week or so ago, I cracked open the "Neverwhere" book which I have thoroughly loved.  In fact, I

just finished it tonight.  The story had a lot of meaning to me -- perhaps I am inferring too much as its

but a book of fantasy, but I digress.... 

Here's my take on the book without spoiling the story:   at the end of the to-hell-and-back story, the

main  character sees his life in an new light and pursues a different path than his original trajectory.  

I feel like that in many ways.  And my new friend, who has survived his own hellish period since his

partner passed away a few years back, is also finding new clarity (I think) in our growing friendship.

He is a very lucky man who has survived terrible health issues (bypass surgery & a stroke that left

him partially blind but he is otherwise fine and "all there," if you will pardon the expression).  He

is an inspiration, pushing onward and upward with a Joie De Vivre that is infectious and powerful.  

As part of his therapy, he is working on reading in hopes that it will help repair some of the synapses

that were damaged causing his sight issues.

So -- coming full circle -- for different reasons, we are both learning to read again as we rebuild our

lives on a new trajectory, somewhat like the character in Gaiman's book.  We have been to hell and

back.  We are rebuilding.  We are reinventing ourselves, growing stronger each day.  And we are

finding new happiness.

I wanted to share this for my friends who know all the players in my universe and what we have been

through.  This is for those friends of mine who have been putting back pieces of their lives -- you

know who you are.  I recognize that MANY other people are going through a lot of crap in their

lives every day.  So maybe, just maybe, someone will get something out of reading this.   Its kind of

an affirmation of a realization that began a couple years after Jack died resulting in my song "Dove"

and its message that "I'm Ok."  If you haven't seen / heard it, you can click here to see the video I

made for the song which itself was the product a grand cast of friends who understood my vision.  

Edgar Winter wrote a song on one of his early (and in my opinion, best) albums called "Dying To 

Live."  Its a heavy but beautiful song that ends on a very uplifting, almost Gospel, note.

The final lines turn around to end the song on a note of optimism (see below video)

"So I'll keep fighting to live till there's no reason to fight

 And I'll keep trying to see until the end is in sight

You know I'm trying to give so c'mon give me a try

You know I'm dying to live until I'm ready …
'til I'm ready …..

'til I'm ready …..

'til I'm ready to die"


Peace to you all.  

New Reviews: McCartney, Radiohead, GBV, Nektar, Move, Beatles, Squeeze, Billy Joel
"But... I mean... jazz..."
Some newer reviews that have posted, in case you are interested:

The new Paul McCartney RAM Deluxe edition box set including detail on the high resolution downloads that come with it...

Radiohead's Live From The Basement Blu-ray and DVD set...
Nektar live from LA last year on DVD!

The new Guided By Voices album is pretty great!

The restored Yellow Submarine on Blu-ray is even better than in the theater! 

Squeeze at the Fillmore on LP!

The Move at the Fillmore 1969 on CD!

And finally a tale of how a friend of mine more or less kick started Billy Joel's career

Road Metronome
"But... I mean... jazz..."
I've long had a theory that rock music "sounds" good to us while driving at speeds 55+ due to a subconscious time-keeping that the lines of the highway make while passing by. The faster you go the better the sync. This fan made video of a great Kinks song does this. The video may in fact be sped up to match the tempo of the song but that underscores my point all the more.

trippy duck
I'm really loving the new Guided By Voices album. My review posted yesterday here

A feel good single for Summer?  I think so!

Last Weekend's 10,000 Record Garage Sale
Record collecting is alive and well. My report from last weekend's event is posted on HomeTechTell now --->

Final Record Store Day roundups
Here are links to my last two Record Store Day reports.  Thanks again rckdjbear for the Flaming Lips and K'Naan singles from Record Store Day in Las Vegas (as well as the super cool Red Crayolas single!).  

Part 6 includes Captain Beefheart, The Byrds, Gene Clark, Paul Revere & The Raiders, K'naan and The Mynah Birds (Neil Young with Rick James!), 

Part 5 is all about the good old Grateful Dead and the 180-gram release of Dark Star from 5/4/72


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