Mar 082021

Ok, I may be in a minority here, never having heard, or heard of, the late, great John Russell before today. I just read his obituary in The Guardian, and thought he sounded like a bit of a character.

Like, who couldn’t love a guy who built his own record deck out of wood and an old radio so he could listen to The Rock Machine Turns You On and We’re Only in it for the Money?

The comments on the article also piqued my interest.

I don’t know what it’s like over there, but here, apart from axe murderers and TV personalities who disappeared after being caught doing something dreadful, everyone speaks well of the deceased and raises either a real or rhetorical glass to speed them on their way. I’ve even done it myself, on occasion. It helps pass the time during lockdown.

I was interested, therefore, to find them ranging from “what the…” to “what the actual…” and “interesting, but not for me”

Then I spotted the link to the video.

I watched the first two and a half minutes, which, at the length of a Freddie and the Dreamers or Buzzcocks single always feels like the right length of time to formulate an opinion. Nine minutes, in my opinion, is a little on the long side, but I’m probably out of practice.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the Hall, I would love to hear what you think of this, and possibly learn what I’m missing.


Live Joy

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May 132020

I’ve been revisiting this 1966 performance by Little Richard the last 2 days. It’s got some great crowd shots, especially starting at 45 seconds in, while the camera focuses steadily and uncomfortably on a young man who looks like he’s tearing up in stunned joy at the proceedings. One minute in, he unleashes with a reaction before the camera cuts back to the stage and what has elicited this response. This is the joy that no digital performance of the future will elicit.

May 042020

I just learned that a longtime Philadelphia music scene legend, Tom Sheehy, who actually was known around town as “The Colonel” (as in Elvis Presley’s Colonel), has passed. I didn’t know The Colonel well, but he was a fixture at almost any national or local show of note from the start of my club-going days, in the early 1980s, through whenever it was in the last 5 or 10 years, when I first noticed I didn’t see his gaunt face and gray, thinning shag-pompadour in the crowd. His standing as a local scene legend far preceded the time I first got to know him. I’m sure Townsman geo, who goes back further and played in one of Kenn Kweder‘s lineups, which The Colonel managed and/or did publicity for, can fill us in on details.

I was never sure exactly what The Colonel did, how he paid his bills, how he was tied to all local music-related media (ie, clubs, radio stations, record stores), etc, but as I mentioned him being at “almost any…show of note,” he seemed to help define what constituted “of note.” When we’d see him in the crowd at one of my band’s shows, for instance, my bandmates and I would note his presence and get a little jolt of pride at the “scene blessing” we’d been given. Who knew why this felt good? Tom seemed like a nice enough guy, in the few, brief words we exchanged, but why the hell did we care that he was in the crowd?

Mar 122016

One of the all-time great prog rockers and keyboard players has just passed into the infinite. Keith Emerson died the other day at the age of 71 at his Santa Monica home. Police are investigating as to whether his death was a suicide. Emerson was an absolute master of the keyboard, encompassing rock, classical, and jazz in his playing. Not only that, he was a pioneer of the use of synthesizers in rock. He was also the prime mover behind the Nice as well as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which was one of the very biggest prog groups of the 1970s. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of ELP – I find them to be often bombastic and sometimes overbearing – but there is no denying that Emerson’s keyboard skills were almost untouchable.


Jan 212016

I suspect you agree I’m a kinder, gentler, wiser Mr. Moderator. It’s not only apathy that’s kept me from saying anything about the sudden, premature death of founding Eagles member Glenn Frey. It’s also maturity. And increasing fear of The Reaper.

I hadn’t planned on posting any snarky thoughts Frey’s death, and I still won’t, but some Guardian piece lambasting people for mocking Glenn Frey’s death while celebrating David Bowie’s, which a friend posted on his Facebook feed has me feeling like, I don’t know, the meaner, harsher, more ignorant Mr. Moderator of old.

The holier-than-thou tone of the Guardian’s subtitle was enough to make my blood boil:



Who’s this Guardian writer to call younger, nastier, less-afraid-of-dying himself me a hypocrite? Call Younger Me and my ilk rude, immature, disrespectful…sure, but where does it say anyone needs to pretend that Bowie and Frey’s life works need to be considered on the same playing field? Can’t we be respectful while staying true to our own tastes and feelings? I tried, in my reply to my friend’s Facebook post. For the record, after being up there in his thread for nearly 12 hours, I have yet to receive a single Like. I’m not sitting by a large window, looking out at the rain, as a single teardrop rolls down my cheek, but I am a bugged enough to share my thoughts on the death and life of Glenn Frey. I hope my words help as you process this passing:

Jan 112016

Just read that David Bowie died. Just this Saturday I was watching the Ziggy Stardust concert film and marveling at how fiercely his fans connected with him. I have spent years poking at the fact that, although I acknowledge his music is great and I love much of it, that I still couldn’t embrace Bowie. On New Year’s Eve this came up with old friends. I was reminded of the fan club insert that came with my copy of ChangesOne, one of the 3 greatest greatest hits albums in rock His fashion/mime thing never appealed to me and explained every gross misstep I would spot in a mostly excellent catalog. I used to wish he could just play music and stop making proto-Zoolander faces. What I’ve learned in just the last few years is that his entire Bowie thing wasn’t for my benefit – and that was OK. I finally realized how beautiful his thing was for the people he served. Beyond his excellent catalog, I’m glad to have him as a guide for people near and dear to me, and even as a guide for my own alien self.


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