al

Thanks, Dad!

 Posted by
Nov 212020
 
My dad (left), about age 23 with a 12-year-old Bobby Rydell. Dad had taken Bobby to see Johnny Ray. The photo appeared in an A&E Biography of Bobby.

My Dad died last night. He was a month shy of 90, lived a good life, his passing was neither unexpected nor drawn-out nor painful. I’m not writing this to look for condolences or sympathy but because one of Dad’s greatest gifts to me was a love of music and where better to acknowledge that and celebrate it than Rock Town Hall.

Not that Dad was much of a rock & roll fan. He did have broad tastes though and music was always playing at our house. Roger Miller to Tom Jobim to Chet Baker to Frank Sinatra, I heard a lot and loved it all and still do.

For a first-generation Italian-American in South Philly, Sinatra was of course number one for my father (and my mother). That was passed on to me. I like to say that I’ve loved Sinatra for 66 years even though I’m only 65 years old since I know I heard plenty of Frank in utero.

Dad saw so much live music back in the day and had so many stories to tell me. Chatting with Ella Fitzgerald before a show and buying her a drink at the bar of the club. Being the only person at another gig with Rosemary Clooney, telling her she didn’t have to do the show just for him (although she did). Hanging with Bobby Darin at a bar in Philly when Keely Smith called looking for him (and Darin telling the bartender – my uncle – to tell her he wasn’t there and if she ever called, he was never there, although his language was more colorful). “Managing” Bobby Rydell early on in his career (which mostly consisted of him collecting money at the Jersey shore while Bobby performed on the beach and taking him up to New York to audition for Red Skeleton).

Me and Bobby with the photo above. He was very happy to have a copy again.

The list of people he saw multiple times in little jazz clubs in Philly and NYC is staggering – Miles, Monk, Chet Baker, Ahmad Jamal, Anita O’Day, Astrud Gilberto, and countless others. And Dad wasn’t shy and the times were such that it was okay to talk to all these people, buy them a drink. One story he loved to tell was about chatting with Chet Baker before a show and asking him to play the song “Trickleydidlier” which was Dad’s favorite. Chet had no idea what the song was and apologized to Dad, saying “I don’t know these songs; they put the charts in front of me in the studio and I play.”

And, of course, seeing Sinatra at a restaurant after one of Frank’s shows and striking up a conversation with him.

Dad was a baker, a cake decorator. (Back before Cake Boss and any of that stuff, one of Dad’s creations was featured in the Philadelphia Bulletin in 1964, when he iced a cake and made it look like a Beatles mop-top.) He had one job working at a bakery in Wayne. He went to a lot of shows at the Main Point, seeing James Taylor, Janis Ian, even Bruce, and others long before anyone knew who they were.

Thanks, Dad; this is for you.

Share

All-Star Jam

 Posted by
Oct 222020
 

Is it time for an All-Star Jam?

This video could be one of those “list all the things wrong with this video” and it surely would break the record for thread with the most posts. And it would also determine which Townsman has the most fortitude to make it through 54 minutes of this; I had to bail after about 4 minutes. For a band known for vocals and harmonies, none of them can carry a tune here and harmonies are non-existent.

Hard to understand why Mike Love‘s look never caught on.

Please fellow denizens of Rock Town Hall, what are you listening to that can wipe this memory from my mind?

Share
Oct 152020
 

Who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of New Wave?

Wow, there’s a broad category, huh?

And I’m not going to try to define it or narrow it down; that’s up to Rock Town Hall.

Whatever the definition, I say Talking Heads has to be there. Three-piece, four-piece, expanded funk version, it doesn’t matter. The fact that they were so good in all those incarnations is one of the reasons they belong on the Mount. I’ll leave it to the other better musical explicators on the list to explain just how good, just how innovative, and just how timeless (40+ years later we now know that) they are.

Frantz/Weymouth-type complaints aside, what criticisms can you level against them, unless you want to hold then to account for the pale white-boy funk imitators that followed in their wake?

Who else shares the Mount with them?

Share
Oct 022020
 

Did anyone ever?

I became a diehard fan of the Kinks in the late ‘60s, around the time of Arthur. I loved that album, played it constantly, loved every song, everything about it. I went back from there and continued forward with them for quite a while, long past the time I should have bailed. They were the headliners at my first rock & roll concert, in Philly in 1971, with local Philly band Good God opening and Edgar Winter’s White Trash second billed. That was the first of my disappointments with The Kinks. Was there ever a more disappointing live band?

I still love Arthur but have to ask myself, how could I ever have liked “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”? My only defense it that I was 13 years old and in love with the album and like the early days of love you may be a little blinded.

Here’s the worst of two worlds: “She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina” live. Yes, that’s right, they released it twice –

I’m sure I could look back on a lot of albums from my first decade or so of buying records and there will likely be a lot of Princess Marinas but that one in particular sticks out in my mind.

I think of a song like “Honey Pie” from The White Album. I loved it then, probably for similar reasons to “Princess Marina,” but despite recognizing intellectually that it is a way minor song in the Beatles canon, I still love it. It’s part of the Beatles, part of my DNA, and intellect be damned, I still love it

But “Princess Marina”, sorry, no.

Does anyone else feel like confessing up to a similar lack in taste, an album you loved then, still love, but has this glaring “What was the matter with me” song in it?

Share
Sep 182020
 

Theme Time Radio was a SiriusXM show that Bob Dylan had for 100 episodes, from May 2006 through April 2009. Themes ranged all over the place – mothers to weather to baseball and a whole lot more. Another episode coming later this month was recently announced with the theme of Whiskey. (We will see if Dylan, the reluctant marketer, mentions his line of Heaven’s Door whiskeys.)

I don’t know if it’s too late to influence the song selections but who better than Rock Town Hall to help in the endeavor. I don’t know what restrictions Bob will put on the theme but let’s stick to hard liquor, no beer or wine served here, and it has to be in the title.

Here’s Robbie Fulks doing “White Lightning”

Share
Sep 082020
 

No need to shoehorn Motown acts into some Rushmore; here they get their very own.

Here are my ground rules but feel free to go ahead and make your own.

This is Motown, not soul more generally, not Stax/Volt, not Philly International. If you are on the Motown Rushmore then your bones had to be made at Motown.

We all know that Berry Gordy, the Funk Brothers, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and a bunch of other behind the scenes people had as much to do with Motown’s success as any act did. Maybe they will get their own Rushmore one of these days but for now, for this Rushmore, these are the acts (individuals or groups) whose names were on the discs.

I’ll offer up the act I think is the Beatles of Motown, the undisputed act that has to be carved on the Mount – Marvin Gaye. Singer, songwriter, sweet soul-pop love songs, the duets, and the pièce de résistance of “What’s Goin’ On.” A song so magnificent we have to present it twice

With James Jamerson:

Who shares the Mount with Marvin?

Share
Sep 012020
 

Following up on the Mount Rushmore of Rock & Roll: British Invasion, which American bands held the line against the invaders, trying to champion the rock & roll that those British groups had co-opted from the United States?

I will propose that the Beatles equivalent for this Mount Rushmore is The Beach Boys. Yes, I know they had an album’s worth of hits before the Fabs ever met Ed Sullivan, but I think that makes them even more deserving. They were at the top of the heap, they took the challengers’ best punch, lost the championship, but came back stronger than ever.

Here’s a Beach Boys deep cut that is one of my BB favorites:

I don’ think there is a counterpart to the Rolling Stones, but I think there are more worthy contenders for the remaining spots than there were for the British Invasion mount.

Who would you put up there? Anyone disagree with me about the Wilsons & family?

Share

Lost Password?

 
twitter facebook youtube