Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost Gem: "Sin's A Good Man's Brother" - Grand Funk (1970)

"Sin's a good man's brother,
but is that right?"
--> Grand Funk <--

The thunderous power-trio Grand Funk (Railroad) released "Closer To Home" (1970)...with the flagship 10 minute title track that closes out the album...and forever cemented their lofty spot upon the heavy metal rock and roll shelf.

With Mark Farner's crank vocals and guitar spank, Mel Schacher's ear-bleeding bass runs and Don Brewer's thunder sticks...GFR were pulling down the elusive 11+ on the amplifier knob.

And though mostly panned by critics, GFR could flat out bring the noise. Crunching riffs and bass made for some tasty must-own vinyl for stone-rockers. 
And in this instance, the remastered version is stunningly worth grabbing!

Lost Gem:--> "Sin's A Good Man's Brother" a worthy opening track that gently tiptoes onto your front porch and then starts kicking the door in. Rarely receives radio play, but is an absolute leviathan for your lost gem playlist.

Have you heard this gem?

Ain't seen a night, things work out right, go by.
Things on my mind, and I just don't have the time, and it don't seem right.
Ain't seen a day, that I don't hear people say, they know they're gonna' die.
This may seem a little bit crazy, but I don't think you should be so lazy.
If you think you've heard this before, well, stick around I'm gonna' tell you more.

One just like the other, sin's a good man's brother, but is that right?
You tell me that I don't, then I say I won't, but then I might.
You said this is the way it's supposed to be,
but it just don't seem right to me, and that's outta' sight.
Some folks need an education, don't give up, or we'll loose the nation.
You say we need a revolution? It seems to be the only solution.

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Horse Head Five...with Michael Carmody

"These days...
it seems like indie artists are a dime a dozen. The word has lost its meaning."
--> Michael Carmody <--

The College Crowd Digs passionate about drawing attention to the under-appreciated or forgotten "lost gems" in media. Revisiting music, books and movies that might have been missed and are deserving of fresh ears, eyes and minds.

And now a new feature that will allow others a platform to share their likes and opinions...The Horse Head Five.

First up...Michael Carmody
  • Michael Carmody, along with partner/co-owner Angela Mallory,
    runs the must-visit Donut Whole. (A widely known hangout for good coffee, hard to find
    beverages, live music, comedy, and a delicious Dali-esque donut selection.)
  • Host of an internet radio show..."Background Noise".
  • Creator of Wichita Vortex...a fascinating "then and now" pictorial of Wichita, KS.
  • Provides guitar and vocals in the Power-Frock band...The Sluggos ...who will play us out a little later.
HORSE HEAD: Tell me about an older album/CD you think has been totally underrated? ...A song?

Michael Carmody: I was/am a big fan of the stable of artists at Shimmy-Disc Records back in the '80s-'90s. The greatest Shimmy-Disc act was Dogbowl (Stephen Tunney). He started out as a founding member of King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), the band that went on to infamy with their song "Detachable Penis".

But it's Dogbowl's solo stuff that I adore, most specifically the album "Flan" (1992) which is made up of songs illustrating scenes from his amazing novel of the same name.
"Flan" (book and album) the story of a man named Flan who wakes up one morning to discover that his city has been engulfed in flames, most likely as a by-product of a nuclear attack. (The first line in both book and album: "Flan awoke to the terrible realization that his room was on fire.")

He wraps his giant talking pet fish Ginger Kang Kang around his neck and wanders off across the charred landscape in his striped nightshirt and toupee, encountering horrible mutant creatures, cannibals and all manner of unholy carnage along the way.
Dogbowl's band in this era (circa 1991) was made up of electric guitar, drums, bass, lap steel, clarinet and organ, and the arrangements on the tunes that make up the "Flan" album are wonderful. The record could have been made at any time from about 1966 to the present day. And the whole affair is drowned in trademark Kramer reverb. I have listened to "Flan" one hundred bajillion times.

When I started publishing SEEN Magazine in 1997, I interviewed Dogbowl by phone in Paris (he is married to a French woman and divides his time between Paris and NYC) and we became friends.

We met on my honeymoon in New York in 2000, and he was kind enough to write a blurb for my self-published collection of political essays circa 2004. Just last year his follow-up novel, "100 Percent Lunar Boy" was published and featured as a B & N "Discover Great New Writers" selection.
I also happen to love his debut solo album "Tit! An Opera" (1989) more than life itself...especially the tune "Growing Up in a Wheelchair"...which was my introduction into the world of Dogbowl.

"On the Monkeybars" - Dogbowl

HORSE HEAD: Recommend me a really good novel.

MICHAEL CARMODY: Well, I've accidentally recommended the great novel "Flan" by Stephen Tunney in my answer to your first question. These days I rarely read any fiction at all, but I did just finish a great first novel by a guy named David Wong (not his real name), who writes for
His book is called "John Dies At The End" and it is kind of a horror/sci-fi/black comedy thing...hard to categorize, but gripping, funny, terrifying and impossible to predict throughout. It's being made into a film now, with Paul Giamatti of all people.

What's an older movie you enjoyed that others might enjoy revisiting?

MICHAEL CARMODY: I just got a Blu-Ray player specifically so I could buy the "complete" restored "Metropolis" in the best possible form. This Fritz Lang film, made in 1926, is probably my overall favorite movie of all time.
"Metropolis" the granddaddy of all sci-fi flicks and just unbelievably epic in every sense of the word. If you've seen one of the many horribly butchered, truncated versions -- or Giorgio Moroder's colorized rock & roll adulteration -- you have only seen half the film, and what you've seen does NOT do the story proper justice.
I would also recommend "The Harder They Come" (1972)...the first film made by native Jamaicans and starring reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. This film has the best soundtrack ever, hands down.
And then there's the completely underground "Fame Whore" (1997) director Jon Moritsugu. I own the DVD and have watched it probably literally 30 times. It's a litmus test movie. Show it to your friends and see what they think.

Who's a good indie artist (any genre) that deserves more attention?

MICHAEL CARMODY: These days it seems like "indie" artists are a dime a dozen...the word has lost its meaning. I'd say I'd have to go back to the Shimmy-Disc catalog once again and pull out Bongwater. The band was comprised primarily of label head/producer/musical genius Kramer and actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson. They made a total of four albums, three of which are essential listening.

The two middle records, "The Power of Pussy" (1991) and "Too Much Sleep" (1989) are unstoppable powerhouses, combining Kramer's genre-mutating musical savvy with the free-associating dreamscapes of Ann Magnuson.

Choice tracks: "The Power of Pussy," "Folk Song," "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," "Too Much Sleep," "Psychedelic Sewing Room," "Obscene and Pornographic Art" and "What If?". I adore this band!

If you stream, what's the last thing you watched?
Last night on Netflix streaming I watched..."Marwencol" (2010) amazing documentary about a man who was brain damaged in a brutal beating outside a bar, then went on to create an entire fictional town in his backyard using doll figures and homemade props...all as a form of mental & physical therapy. I will not soon forget it. Highly recommended.

Now as promised...The Sluggos

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lost Gem: "Keep On Tryin'" - Poco (1975)

"I never heard you shout.
The flow of energy
was so fine."

--> Poco <--

For over 40 years, Poco has been kool-harbingers of the laid-back LA country rock sound.

Founded in 1970, this band has seen a who's-who of talented musicians pass through the door. Country rock icons like Jim Messina.....Randy Meisner.....Richie Furay and Timothy B. Schmit have all at one time or another been members of Poco.

In 1978, Poco's commercial success peaked with..."Legend"...which went sailing into the Billboard charts on the strength of the Rusty Young penned single..."Crazy Love".

But it is Poco's lesser-known offering... "Head Over Heels" (1975) ...that has aged the most gracefully. And it has recently been welcomed into my "must-own" stash.

Lost Gem:--> "Keep On Tryin'" a gorgeous acoustic gem written by pre-Eagle member Timothy B. Schmit...surrounded by "nail it-to-the-wall" harmony from Rusty Young, Paul Cotton and George Grantham. Very good stuff, indeed!

Have you heard this gem?

I've been thinkin' 'bout
All the times you told me
You're so full of doubt
You just can't let it be
But I know
If you keep on comin' back for more
Then I'll keep on tryin'
I'll keep on tryin'

And I've been drinkin' now
Just a little too much
And I don't know how
I can get in touch with you
Now there's only one thing for me to do
That's to keep on tryin' to get home to you

And I feel so satisfied when
I can see you smile I
I want to confide in
All that is true
So I'll keep on tryin'
I'm through with lyin'
Just like the sun above
I'll come shinin' through
Oh, yes I'll keep on tryin'
I'm tired of cryin'
I got to find a way
To get on home to you

I've been thinkin' 'bout
All the times you held me
I never heard you shout
The flow of energy was so fine
Now I think I'll lay it on the line
And keep on tryin'
To get home to you

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lost Book Gem: "Wiseguy" - Nicholas Pileggi (1985)

"We're the kings of the party, cause we're the baddest people alive."
--> Brownsville Station <--

To be a member of the Mafia...a "wiseguy" to be a member of an incredibly exclusive club. To borrow a famous George Carlin line, "it's a big club...and you ain't in it!"

Such was the life for Henry Hill.  From a young kid being a gopher for Paul Vario (a high ranking made-member of a crime family) until reaching the level of a bonafide mobster...Hill had been dipping his hands in a variety of criminal pie.

Living fast and having fun.  And then it all came crashing down.

Though most have seen the Scorsese film..."Goodfellas"...there are still plenty of intimate details within the pages of this book that will fascinate and surprise.  The day-to-day living conditions alone...for many wiseguys doing time behind bars...were nothing short of amazing.

Brownsville Station - "Kings of the Party"/ School Punks (1974)

(All right now, get your ears lowered down to the speakers
So you can understand what I'm talking about...
...So we're gonna dedicate this song to everybody listening
Because the ones that get into it
Are definitely the KINGS OF THE PARTY!!!)

Every Friday night there's a concert in their town
You know they all get together and they're ready to party down
An ol' Brownsville Station really digs'em, 'cause they get it on.
You see the chicks they all go crazy, oh when the band begins to play
And the guys make so much noise, they scare all the cops away
But together we start to change the show into a rock 'n' roll holiday.

We're the kings of the party, we're the baddest people alive
We're the kings of the party, aw come on, and slip me five
Now we're the kings of the party, 'cause we're the baddest people alive.

Ten thousand eyes watching while we leave the floor
Ten thousand tongues screaming more and more
And there were fifteen hundred still waiting outside the door.

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lost Gem: "State Trooper" - Bruce Springsteen (1982)

"The only thing that I got's
been botherin' me
my whole life."

--> Bruce Springsteen <--

That uncomfortable feeling you get when you've been driving a while ...and you glance into the rear-view mirror and see a cop behind you.

You feel guilty...and try to retrace every maneuver you've made for the last 16 miles. Just like that.

This is simply Springsteen, guitar...and miles and miles of loneliness. Powerful loneliness. Lo-fi, stripped-down, late-night highway music. passengers.

Lost Gem:--> "State Trooper"...utilizes a claustraphobic echoey reverb that is both haunting and effective. And made even more ominous by two relentless underbelly notes. Together it creates a cheap film noir vibe...listening to private thoughts of a desperate man losing control of his life. Wonderfully unsettling.

Have you heard this gem?

New jersey turnpike, ridin on a wet night
'neath the refinery's glow
Out where the great black rivers flow.
License, registration: I ain't got none
But I got a clear conscience 'bout the things that I done.
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me.
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me.

Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife.
The only thing that I gots been bothrin' me my whole life.
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me.
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me.

In the wee, wee hours your mind get hazy.
Radio relay towers lead me to my baby.
The radios jammed up with talk show stations.
Its just talk, talk, talk, talk, till you lose your patience.
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me.

Hey, somebody out there, listen to my last prayer.
Hi ho silver-o, deliver me from nowhere.

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lost Stream Gem: "The Deadly Trackers" (1973)

"Man comes home,chase the crowds in the rain.
That's a vigilante man."
--> Nazareth <--

I enjoy the occasional Western from time to time...but rarely am I surprised by the methodology the movie chooses to take from point A to point B.

"The Deadly Trackers" is a wonderfully weird and extremely violent journey of vengeance. Sure, the vengeance theme is familiar enough...but the cast of characters thrown into the mix are a tripper's dream.

Richard Harris

Richard Harris is the pacifist Texas sheriff who quickly gets over that...when his family are killed in a bank robbery gone bad. Then he becomes a one-track-minded terminator.

The antagonists in this film are Rod Taylor, the snake-nasty leader of a snake-nasty gang that include...
  • one mentally-challenged muscle head.
  • one flashy-glam black cat gambler.
  • one angry hoss with a heavy chunk of train-rail grafted to his arm from the elbow down...(I'm not kidding)...and played by the always entertaining Neville Brand.
Neville Brand

Even the opening sequence...a storyline shot of stills with the film an unusual quirky vibe.

Whether by accident or is this strangeness that makes for a surprisingly gritty film.

"Vigilane Man"  -  Nazareth / Razamanaz (1973)

Have you seen that vigilante man
Have you seen that vigilante man
Have you seen that vigilante man
I've been hearin' his name all over this land.

Lonely nights down in the engine house
Sleepin' just as still as a mouse
Man comes home, chase the crowds in the rain
That's a vigilante man.

Vigilante man.
Vigilante man.

Well I ramble around from town to town
Ramble 'round from town to town
And they hunted us a while like a wild herd of cattle
That's a vigilante man.

Tell me why does that vigilante man
Tell me why does that vigilante man
Carry that sawed off shotgun in his hand
Would he shoot his brother and sister down.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lost RADIO Gem: "Star" - Stealers Wheel (1974)

"So they've made you a star
Now your head's in a cloud."
--> Stealers Wheel <--

Lost "Radio" Gem:...a single that may have charted, but deserved better.

Stealers Wheel were a talented Scottish singer/songwriting duo of Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan...along with a swinging door of various backing musicians that never hung around long enough to get any bang on their shang-a-langs.

(Egos. Stubbornness. Poor management. All figured into the bands destruction. You can look it up.) But this is about the music.

Admittedly...Stealers Wheel...will forever be remembered for their one-hit wonder...a Dylanesque top-ten mega-hit..."Stuck In The Middle With You" (1973) off their debut album.

Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan

But it's their follow-up album..."Fergusie Park" (1974) that appears to have aged the best. The classic folk-rock sound is solid with tight vocals blending nicely. Well-written songs (especially from Egan) are Rafferty shows glimmers of his successful solo sound yet to come. more album...and Stealers Wheel (as we know it) were done.

"Fergy..." may not be a must-own album...but it's pleasant enough and certainly filled with more good'uns than bad'uns.

Today, Joe Egan is living in Scotland and running a publishing company. Sadly, Gerry Rafferty passed away in 2011 from health problems.

Lost Radio Gem:--> "Star" (#25 chart) a great Joe Egan penned song about the music business...and Rafferty never sounded better. Add this song to your late-night driving mix. Timeless!

Have you heard this gem?

So they've made you a star
Now your head's in a cloud.
And you're walkin' down the street
With your feet off the ground.
They read in the press all about your success
They believe every word they've been told.
After all you've been through tell me what will you do
When you find yourself out in the cold.
Ah, tell me. Ah, tell me.

When you appear on the stage
There's a standing ovation
You really live out your performance
You're the biggest sensation
You breeze through the door and when you take the floor
You expect to have it all to yourself.
After all you've been through tell me what will you do
When you find yourself back on the shelf.
Ah, tell me. Ah, tell me.

Good stuff!  

Casey Chambers