Jan 192016

Two shows about music in the late 70’s are coming to television this year. Both show have the blueprint of something I would look forward to watching. Yet, something about the promos for these shows smells a little off. Is it just me?

If you were paying attention to the commercials during this NFL post season, you most likely saw ads for the upcoming HBO series Vinyl. If you haven’t, see the clip below. The story of Vinyl is set in New York in the late 70’s at the dawn of punk, rap and the rise of disco. The show comes with the backing of heavyweights Martin Scorsese, Terrence Winter and Mick Jagger as executive producers. Scorsese and Winter had previous success with the prohibition era crime drama Boardwalk Empire, another east coast show set during a volatile period in American culture. I liked that show a hell of a lot and the producers proved a lot of critics wrong with the casting of Steve Buscemi in the lead role. This time around the cast of Vinyl is led by Bobby Cannavale. He’s always been a cilantro kind of guy when I see him in the movies. Also troubling, are the promo clips. It all looks like something we’ve seen before. Guy has a vision, guy discovers something, gets rich , gets the girl, does a lot of blow, lives life to excess and presumably falls back to earth. This time around though, it’s all set to the soundtrack of the New York Dolls, CBGB’s and Studio 54.

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Jun 122014

Philadelphia-born Jamaaladeen Tacuma just celebrated his birthday this week, on June 10. Happy birthday, Jamaaladeen!

I got turned onto Tacuma through his work with Ornette Coleman. The first part of the following clip, from a VH1 show he hosted, in which he and a friend manage to play an amazing jam on 2 of the most hideous instruments imaginable, is entertainment enough. Then there’s a segment during which he simply talks music. On a well-heeled, basic cable TV station. Jazz music. Weird music, even by jazz standards. Remember when cable TV offered those of us who really love music the chance to appreciate music?

There was that show with David Sanborn and his helmet of graying jazz hair—Night Music, I think it was called. Even MTV’s late-night new music show, 120 Minutes, felt like it was programmed for true music lovers. Do we get anything like that now? I haven’t seen it in a year, but that heavy metal talk show is the closest thing I can think of. That and the actually live performances shown on Austin City Limits. Do the music stations feature late-night shows that appeal to a younger generation that truly admires the artistry behind The National or whatever testosterone-free band might bore me to death? Hell, I bet I could get sucked into a nerdy show examining the artistry of The National—not celebrity crap like what it felt like to meet Jason Schwartzman at the VH1 Movies Awards show, or something like that.

Jul 172013


Late last night I finished reading the Richard Hell autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, which the machinery family gifted me for my 50th birthday. I loved it. Thank you, machinerys!

Considering I once suggested that Hell was a member of the multi-untalented ranks, led by showbiz’s supreme multi-untalent, Ben Vereen, I was leery about cracking open this gift. I did, however, cut my teenage punk rock teeth on “Blank Generation,” never failing to edge up in my seat in anticipation of the song’s short, twisted guitar solos that endeared me to the Voidoids’ unlikely bald, bearded, professorial guitarist Robert Quine. The entire Blank Generation album, in fact, was special and energetic, if a bit clumsy compared to Television’s Marquee Moon, led by Hell’s original partner-in-crime, Tom Verlaine.

Ah, hell, I’m a control freak! I’ve always been Verlaine guy deep down. I figured I’d learn some stuff about him, Quine, Friend of the Hall Richard Lloyd, and other mythical figures from my teenage years, a group of punks just a generation or so older than me who were laying down their legacy 90 miles up the turnpike.

The first thing I noticed, as I read Hell’s tales of his childhood is that the guy could write. It’s rare to find an artist autobiography that not only has a voice, not only has the voice of the artist, but has something more, something not always evident in the artist’s work. I knew Hell had intellectual pursuits and was a poet and writer and all that jazz, but based on the Hell I grew up “knowing” through his music and original persona, I had no idea he could be so thoughtful and succinct. What did I know? This book was heading up to be an exercise in exposing my own ignorance and prejudices. When it comes to this form of exercise, I’m Charles Atlas.

Rather than try to pose as a book reviewer and come off even more idiotic than usual, I’ll simply list my 10 reasons for loving Richard Hell’s I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. I highly recommend you picking up this book—well, most of you.

SPOILER ALERT: My 10 reasons will give away some key autobiographical details that are rolled out in the course of the book. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know in advance that Hell, for instance—oh, never mind!

Continue reading »

Jun 242013

Television sitcoms in the 1960s had a grand tradition of episodes in which the main characters, usually pretty mainstream types, even if they included witches, genies, ghouls, or futuristic space travelers, were dropped into the groovy times of ’60s B-movies. As a kid, I was in heaven when one of those episodes appeared. I felt dropped into a happening scene right along with the characters. Until a friend posted it on Facebook this morning, I’d forgotten about this episode of Max Smart and one of my all-time TV crushes, Agent 99, getting real groovy.

Did television sitcoms in the post-groovy mid-1970s and beyond continue some form of this tradition? Suzi Quatro appearing on Happy Days was pretty cool, but that required some anachronistic reverse grooviness. WKRP in Cincinnati must have featured actual rock musicians inspiring Bailey to cut loose the way we knew she could. Pretty please?

I know The Doobie Brothers dropped in on the cast of some ’70s sitcom, but I don’t remember instances of of Meathead and Gloria getting down with The Dictators. I don’t recall the episode of Welcome Back, Kotter in which Vinny Barbarino and the Sweat Hogs totally rocked out to Brownsville Station. Where’s the episode of Good Times in which J.J., Thelma, and Willona get down to Curtis Mayfield‘s surprise appearance at the Cabrini-Green block party, with Michael joining the band on cowbell? Did I miss these episodes?

I shudder to think of the “groovy” TV episodes I missed in the 1980s, but please fill me in.

When you think “TV gone groovy,” what’s the first episode that comes to mind? Which “straight” character most benefited from getting groovy? Which character had no business getting groovy?

To take it to the next level, what groovy TV episode should have been written? I’m hopeful that the likes of alexmagic will deliver the would-be goods!


RIP Andy Johns

 Posted by
Apr 082013


He was a Great Man who engineered Exile on Main Street, The Greatest Record Ever Made.


On coming to America, from an interview on uaudio.com:

I came over here in 1970, because I was working with Jimmy Miller and he was an American who had a production company out here. The studios were a little behind the times, though. When I was mixing “Stairway to Heaven” over at Sunset Sound and I wanted to pan something, I said, “You don’t have pan pots on the channels.” They responded, “We have a pan pot. Bring on the pan pot!” They bring out this guy on a gurney, you know? A big box with a huge knob, a pan pot man. Christ, the Americans sent someone to the moon, but they only had one pan pot. It was like having one meatball. You can have all the bread you want, but only with one meatball.

Nov 122011

Stap me vitals, folks, what a Who-tastic week. I’m feeling all ready to swing a mike stand around my head and shout “WWWWAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” even if you’re not. And what’s more, I think I’ve got an old one in the shed.

I thought that this clip ties this week’s ‘Oo discussions and LadyMissK’s venture into the world of obscure British music telly together quite neatly, clearly demonstrating why many (Britons mainly) argue that British telly is the best in the world, or at least unlike that found in most other countries.

Oh yes, it’s Roger Daltrey and Kenney Jones on Tiswas!

For the uninitiated, Tiswas was a live British children’s TV programme which ran for 8 years from the end of the ’70s and most of the ’80s on Saturday mornings, for about 3 hours a week. In common with most classic British telly almost all of the original tapes have been wiped, but this home-taped clip captures the essence of the show pretty well.

The first bit is a regular spot parodying a very long-running and rather staid kids programme, a nature programme of the time which featured the naturalist David Bellamy and the long-running agricultural radio soap opera The Archers. That’s followed about 3 minutes in by a live bit and an interview, and a sing-song at the end.

Can any Townsperson think of anything you’d rather do on a Saturday morning than stay in and watch this? And do you have anything in your shed which you would like to swing around your head to unleash the Power and the Glory?

Nov 222010

Have you seen any worthwhile rock on the tube of late? I’m really looking forward to the Lennon thing on PBS tonight, so much so that I’ll probably forget to watch it and/or DVR it. Feel free to send me a note reminding me of it later tonight, OK?

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to see The Boss last week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, right? I thought He was pleasantly charming, from His appearance as His younger self in a duet with Fallon as Neil Young through His time chatting with Fallon and then playing with The Roots, Little Steven, and Roy Bittan. His version of “Because the Night” made me appreciate, as always, His generosity in giving that song to Patti Smith, who made it something special.

This weekend Florence + The Machine appeared on Saturday Night Live. She/they were incredibly annoying, like Annie Lennox done by the tone-deaf Cher.  Not that I ever expect to, but I don’t get it. At least Lennox could carry a tune. The band’s use of a plus sign rather than an ampersand makes me wonder if there’s ever been a good band that used a plus sign.

Other than that I caught a Jimi Hendrix doc on Ovation centered around his Monterrey performance that never fails to amaze me, an interesting history of Da Blooz on the same cable network, and some episodes of the always-entertaining That Metal Show. What a genius format for presenting a genre of music that otherwise doesn’t interest me in the least!

Surely I’ve missed something else worthwhile. Do tell.


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