Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lost Book Gem: "Around The World In Eighty Days" - Jules Verne (1873)

"I am
the backwards traveller.
Ancient wool unraveller."

-- Wings --

Phileas Fogg, the phlegmatic "nothing worries me" guy, must travel around the world and only has eighty days to do it.  A feat believed nigh on impossible...or his entire fortune is burnt toast. 

And all because of a spur of the moment wager he strikes up with a swell bunch of snooty fellas down at the Gentleman's Reform Club.  Talk about your no-nonsense itinerary!

Jules Verne
 French novelist
 1828 - 1905

Fogg, along with his new servant, Passepartout, (I pronounce it 'Pass-the-potatoes" for fun) encounter one frustrating obstacle after another.  Bad guys, bad drugs, bad weather, bad fish, and a bad tribe named Sioux.

Along with all that, Fogg squeezes in time to rescue a young lady in harms way.  Actually his servant's the hero, but Fogg has all the dough, so he gets to bake the cinnamon rolls...(if you get my drift.)  And putting the spoiled cherry on top, some misinformed dick keeps slowing him down trying to arrest him.

Just to set the record straight, there's NO hot-air balloon within a hundred miles of Jules Verne's adventure...regardless what many book-covers show.

Not Verne's best, but still a good adventure.
There's danger. There's humor.  There's eighty days.

"Backwards Traveler" - Wings / London Town (1978)

Hey, did you know that I'm
Always going back in time
Rhyming slang, auld lang syne my dears
Through the years
I am the backwards traveller
Ancient wool unraveller
Sailing songs, wailing on the moon
And we were sailing song, wailing on the moon
Wailing on the moon.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lost Album Gem: "Vagabonds of the Western World" - Thin Lizzy (1973)

"The madman climbed
The steeple spire.
"Go higher" said the crowd
From down below."
Thin Lizzy

St. Patrick’s Day, I opted to review an album from a band of Irish descent. So after filling my plate with corn beef and cabbage and refilling my tall glass with green beer, I put in the CD "Vagabonds of the Western World", an offering by Thin Lizzy released in 1973.

At this time Thin Lizzy was just a three piece band led by the legendary Phil Lynott, an underrated bass player and singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland and was backed by Eric Bell/guitar and Brian Downey/percussion.  Lizzy had a much more soulful psycha-blues-rock burn going on...on this one...with plenty of meat on the bone.

The band kicks off this overlooked treat with a message of environmental neglect in the powerful "Mama Nature Said," a driving song that rocks without being preachy. It is interesting that forty years later the message is still a topic of discussion.

"Mama Nature Said"

Phil Lynott adds some delicious bass work while doing his best Zappa impersonation..."The madman climbed the steeple spire and let a crystal ball tear fall on the crowd from down below," in the awesome and epic "The Hero and the Madman." And just listen to Eric Bell’s choice guitar line that plays the song out. He unfortunately left the band shortly after "Vagabonds" for health reasons, but his thumbprint is all over this album.

On the forgotten classic title track, Lynott recalls the mythological tale of the fatherless child who is blessed in the art of love but cursed to always walk alone. This could have been their breakout song with a little push from their record company, but was unjustly ignored.

"Vagabonds of the Western World"

"I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble/ I’ll take no lip cause no one’s tougher than me" mugs Lynott in his firmly tongue in cheek signature jam "The Rocker," a 5 minute exercise in machismo that was always a crowd favorite in concert.

"The Rocker"

But as anyone who is familiar with Thin Lizzy knows, Phil Lynott has never been shy in showing his romantic side. "And far away hills look greener still / But soon they’ll all slip away," is from the beautiful "A Song For While I’m Away", clearly written while traveling with his band.

"She carries a secret / the child she carries in her womb / she feels something sacred." from the achingly beautiful "Little Girl In Bloom," a gentle song about a young girl excited but nervous about telling her father she’s going to have a baby.

"Little Girl In Bloom"

The CD issue includes four bonus tracks including the Irish drinking song "Whiskey In the Jar" which was remade successfully by Metallica. Thin Lizzy’s version, to my ears, is the better of the two. The other bonus tracks are average, at best, with "Randolph’s Tango" being the strongest of the bunch.

"The Hero and the Madman"

The Hero, rode a white horse
Across the desert
To where his woman was
He'd been riding
For four days
When he saw the tower
Where she was locked
In the moonlight, he left his old steed
Near the drawbridge, that he crossed
And by way of a rope ladder
He tippie-toed to where, his woman was.

If I recall, you're the actor who followed the stars
Searching for the lost city of Mars
Hoping time, could heal the scars
Knowing Fate held no bars
Those that knew ya
Always said you'd go far
Are you the one, I think you are?
Oh are you the hero?
Oh are you the madman?
Oh are you the hero
Oh are you the madman

The madman, climbed the steeple spire
"Go higher, go higher!", said the crowd from down below
"But the world's on fire!", said the madman from the steeple
"You're a liar, you're a liar!" said the crowd from down below
So the madman climbed the steeple spire
And let a crystal ball tear fall
On the crowd down down below
If I recall, you're the actor who took to the stage
Set the world ablaze, with your anger and your rage
And with every new leaf, you turned and wrote a new page
Cleverly concealing, your real age
Those that knew ya
Were always quite amazed
Are you the one, that can take this praise?
Oh, are you the hero?
Oh, are you the madman?
Oh, are you the hero
Oh, are you the madman

"You're the only one that can save us", cried the wizard
"Or all is lost."
[Furious solo and end]

Sadly, Phil Lynott died January 4, 1986 from a merciless drug overdose.
The Hero and the Madman, indeed. 

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Something's Burning...and I got nuttin'!

Something's Burning...
and I got nuttin'!

1.  Just 3 days after "Sgt Pepper..." dropped, Jimi Hendrix learned it and opened his show with this little ditty.
"SPLHCB" - Jimi Hendrix Experience December 22, 1967

2.  Can you name the Neil Young Songs off these albums released before 1980?
My score was 30/95.  (I crapped out. Just couldn't think!)

3.  I think Pink Floyd's..."Animals" a tremendously underrated album and one of my "go-to" records when I want to hit the lights and unwind.  At Neptune Pink Floyd...they share a few early outtakes from "Animals".  It's exciting hearing the small changes that would be made as each song evolved.
Checkout... Neptune Pink Floyd

4.  I've read one of'em.  Own another that's on my "to-read" list.  And the other two sound worthy of a few late nights.
4 Books To Scare The Life Out Of You

5.  Stevie Wright was an Australian rocker with a bit of the "Bon Scott" goin' on.  Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs damaged him...and almost killed him.  Wright was also lead singer for the Easybeats (60s') and Flash In The Pan (80's).

"Black-Eyed Bruiser" - Stevie Wright/Black-Eyed Bruiser (1975)

"The Stevie Wright Story...So Much To Say"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lost Stream Gem: "Valley Of The Dolls" (1967)

"Breakdown nearly every day.
Shoulda known
ya couldn't get away."

--> Cheap Trick <--

"Valley Of The Dolls" is a guilty pleasure. A favorite mistake that rewards in spite of itself.

It's a groan-fest frothing with over-the-top acting and show-biz cliches. But I absolutely dug it! Partly because of the look and vibe...but mostly because the actors are so freaking sincere.

Without spoilers, 3 young girls (one very very not so talented) get schooled in the shag-nasty ways of show-business circa late 60's New York City.

Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate, Patty Duke

Barbara Parkins, I suppose, is the Dorothy on this yellow-brick road. Patty..."a hotdog makes her lose control"...Duke is still a cutie. And Sharon Tate (who we all know from...well, you know) was considered a star on the rise.

I've never been a huge fan of singer, Dionne Warwick, but she was the perfect choice singing the theme. Patty Duke displays her chops on a couple of tunes, as well. All the songs are courtesy of multi-award winning musical genius...Andre Previn.

And when the lights come up and the popcorn is all gone...we're left with the heavy-handed reminder..."there's no place like home."

"On Top Of The World" - Cheap Trick (1978)

You're on top of the world.
On top of the world
and you can't get any higher.
You're on top of the world.
You're on top of the world tonight.

It wasn't easy. It was hard as hell
You didn't get luck in a wishin' well
Never worked so hard, had so much pain
Wouldn't change for anything.
Learned love from a movie screen
He was tough, she was wild at fifteen
Hated school and had no dreams
Wasn't going very far.
Then he got religion and she got a god
It's on her back and it's in his job
And it costs lots of money, honey- oh, no.

Breakdown nearly every day
Shoulda known ya couldn't get away
Got lucky with the girl next door
She was lonely and didn't care
She was young, she was dark, she was fair
Wrapped herself around you with her stare
You'd explode if she would touch you there
Touch you there. Touch you there.
Then he got religion and she got a god
It's on her back and it's in his job
And it costs lots of money, honey- oh, no.
Tonight, tonight. Tonight tonight.
You're on top of the world
On top of the world
and you can't get any higher.
You're on top of the world.
You're on top of the world tonight
(Can you hear me, can you see me)

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lost Book Gem: "Twenty Years After" - Alexandre Dumas (1845)

"Brothers fight or fall
It's man for man
and one for all."
~ Thin Lizzy ~

In the earlier classic, "The Three Musketeers"...the swashbuckling Fab Four (D'Artagnan, Porthos, Athos, & Aramis) were reveling in the thralls of Musketeer-mania.

But now, "Twenty Years After" finds our beloved swordsmen thrusting their poniards in conflicting directions. 
They're still like brothers, sure...but they're also different men with different interests, personal and political.  

It's a confusing time in France.  Tense civil unrest has the country divided and the guys are smack dab in the middle.  

Someone from their past is bent on inflicting some vicious sword-spanking revenge.  And a slimy adviser to the throne is manipulating their Queen like a pawn on a Parcheesi board.
All of which finds the Musketeers with their butts against the bowl.

At nearly 800 pages, Alexandre Dumas weaves a suspenseful tale of 
adventure with plenty of action making "Twenty Years After" worth ever page...and almost shares equal footing with its better known prequel.

"Fight Or Fall"  -  Thin Lizzy / Jailbreak (1976)

Brothers here I stand
Spread my wings and take command
The sky he justly planned
The boy become a man

After all this time
I tell myself that I'm
Not just wasting time
Oh you know I'm not that way inclined

Brothers if you hear
Raise your flags and make it clear
There is more to fear
If we wait for another year

After all this time
I tell-a tell-a myself that I'm
Just passing through time

After all this time
I tell myself that I'm
Not just wasting time
Oh you know I'm not that way inclined

Brothers fight or fall
It's man for man and one for all
No more can we crawl
Brothers, brothers hear the call

After all this time
I tell myself that I'm
Not just wasting time
Oh you know I'm not that way inclined

Brother brother
Brother brother
Brother fight or fall
It's man for man and one for all
Brother brother
Brother brother
What you want?

We gotta fight for one another!

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lost Gem: "Hot Summer Day" - It's A Beautiful Day (1969)

"And they told me that I looked a fool And I said I'd let that go."~ It's A Beautiful Day ~
A band often forgotten when discussing the San Francisco hippie headspin...It's A Beautiful Day made some wonderful moments of frock trippage.

However, IABD had a slightly more prog vibe going on. 

David Laflamme's unique electric violin and harmonica play and singing partner, Patti Santos' vocal harmonies created a haunting experience that blended smoothly like a Jefferson Airplane/Moody Blues milkshake.

Life-partner Linda Laflamme's lava lamp organ riffs are magical and mysterious giving arrangements a smart, edgier ride. 

Listening to classic rock radio, one would think "White Bird" was all It's A Beautiful Day ever did.   It wasn't.  
Explore, my babies, explore.

Lost Gem:-->  "Hot Summer Day"...A dreamy coffee shop mind-hang.  Gorgeous harmonica and violin nicely weave around smoldering vocals.  
Has a cool Marty Balin/Grace Slick dynamic happening...(except they don't hate each others guts). 
Sounds good.  Tastes great!  Repeat!

Have you heard this gem?

Hot summer day carry me alongOh, hot summer day please carry me alongHot summer day carry me alongTo its end where I begin
Long summer dream sliding round my mind
Those long summer dreams are leaving me behindHot summer day carry me alongTo its end where I begin
Circling like a river over brightly colored stones
Breaking up my soul and taking part of me homeLeaving the other half to tumble all aloneLove, love, where did you go?
Hot summer day carry me alongTo its end where I beginThose long summer dreamsStill spinning round my mindAnd they end where they begin
And I want to grab that river
And stop the love that's dyingBecause I know that somewhereDeep inside my soul you're still lyingWaiting to awaken and shake that river's flowLove, love, where did you go?
They told me that the sun turned greenI said I didn't knowAnd they told me that the moon turned blueAnd I said it didn't showAnd they told me that I looked a foolAnd I said I'd let that goBut when they told me that our love was deadI had to turn and go
Oh love, love, love, love
Love, where did you go?
Hot summer day carry me alongTo its end where I beginLong summer dreams sliding round my mindAnd they end where they begin
Circling like a river over brightly colored stones
Breaking up my soul and taking part of me homeLeaving the other half to tumble all aloneLove, love, where did you go?
Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Friday, October 11, 2013

Horse Head -- Beatle Covers You Can Count Me Out...(IN!)

I'm going to skip the obvious, 
Beatle cover choices
and include 9 other favorite covers. 

"She's A Woman"
Jeff Beck
Blow By Blow (1975)

...One of my fav Beck instrumentals...has a kinda kraut-funk vibe-atude with outstanding phrasing utilizing the talk-box to amazing effect.

"I Am The Walrus"
Oingo Boingo
Farewell (1996)

Crazy energy with the band completely onboard. Here's another clue for your fanny. The walrus is Danny.

"Tell Me Why"
April Wine
Power Play  (1982)

Gentle mellowed-down stamp that was risky and shouldn't have worked so well...and I enjoy it as much as the original.

"What Goes On"
Sufjan Stevens
This Bird Has Flown  (2005)

Took my least favorite Beatle song...and turned it into something beautiful and quite inspired.

"Within You Without You"
Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation  (deluxe 2007)

No sitar, this one.  Sonic Youth melds Harrison's worldly thoughts with buzz-bang feedback that transcends.

Elliot Smith
American beauty ST  (1999)

Beautiful and sad with Smith's weary resignation of stating the obvious and unobtainable...hurts.

"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"
The Breeders
Pod (1990)

A standout curve with a more ominous presence and haunting undertones. 

"I Will"
Alison Krauss
Now That I Found You (1995)

Stolen from the White Album and turned into gently falling snowflakes.  Angels could not sound as sweet.

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
William Shatner
The Transformer Man (1968)

Maybe because Shatner wasn't aware how camp and silly this was...makes me like it all the more.

Your Turn.
Casey Chambers

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pandora The Explora - VOL. 2

Doing the Pandora shuffle.
Check 5...and see what the fates allow.

"Breaking All The House Rules"
Bandolier (1975)

A shame Budgie never broke.  

This has good green riffage with heavy foot on the accelerator.  Starts the night with a shot.

"Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall"
Paul Simon
The Paul Simon Songbook (1965)

This was recorded in England apart from Garfunkel.  Maybe he was considering not to return. Nice gentle song that I've already forgotten.  Still, Paul was always a solo act...even as a duo.  Press play for affirmation.

"Bouncing Around The Room"
Lawn Boy (1990)

Phish serves up worm jam for the mind that allows you to float downstream. This one's a signature.  The studio version is great.  But LIVE is the way to go.

"Stone Free"
Captain Beyond
Live in Texas October 6, 1973

A really good Hendrix cover...but the sound is a little muddled.  Still it should make you want to explore more from the Captain.  

"Fat Bottomed Girls"
Jazz  (1978)

Love the sentiment, the song...not so much.  It has the great opening choir chant.  And I love Roger Taylor's
drum-bustin'.  The rest...meh...leaves me a bit chafed. 

Your Turn.

Casey Chambers

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lost Gem: "Funky Pretty" - Beach Boys (1973)

"if you're cosmic'ly conscious...
you'll see."
~ Beach Boys ~

The Beach Boys were kinda funny, weren't they?  Not funny ha-ha...but "shake-your-head" funny.

They created some of the most exhilarating music of the '60s...and then "Sgt. Pepper" comes along and before you could say "Mr. Kite"...the Beach Boys were an oldies act.

I exaggerate, but not much.  My point is they were still making really good music...just nobody was hearing it.  Go back and listen.  They never were the Beach Boys...really.  They were simply boys the world wouldn't let grow up.

Lost Gem:-->  "Funky Pretty"...the final track on "Holland" (1973) filled with unusual lead vocal changes all over the place and has a groove that is simultaneously infectious and gritty. It takes a hard-left from their familiar sound but with a road-map arrangement that is still trademark Brian.
Brian would sadly leave planet earth for a lengthy hiatus soon after.

Have you heard this gem?

A Pisces lady loves romance (She loves romance)
Her movements tell you at a glance (She loves to dance)
Why they say Pisces rules the dance (She's got the glance)

She values flowers more than gold (She flows like gold)
Thinks of her men as knights of old (She's never bold)
She's very spiritual I'm told (She has never told)

But where's my spark in the dark?
Glow glow glow c'mon glow
The funky pretty flame in my heart
Me and my Pisces lady are apart

Her calender is not like ours (She rules the hours)
The hieroglyphs mark changing hours (She rules the stars)
Her guiding light is from the stars (She's got the powers)
A book of verse a jug of wine (She's soft like wine)
She'll always tell what's on your mind (She's much like time)
By just your birthday place and time (She's very fine)

'Cause it's a silent night in the sea
And if you're cosmic'ly conscious you'll see
Why she's a princess incarnate to me
Daughter of Neptune the ruler of the sea

The queen in Copenhagee (Funky pretty)
The dream of Amsterdamee (Pretty funky)
The cream of gay Parisee (Funky pretty)
The theme of U Say Asee (Pretty funky)
The scene in Great Britainyee (Funky pretty)
The meaning in Los Angees (Pretty funky)
The heat in Tokyosee (Funky pretty)
The treat in Manhattohsee (Pretty funky)
Yeah yeah funky pretty

She said "Don't worry it's alright
I'm coming back when the aspects are right"
And now I look in the paper each day
Wonderin' what my horoscope will say

Funky (oooo funky)
I still remember funky pretty (ooooo)
Why she left: my Pisces lady. Tell me why
(Why can't you tell me why)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers