CCOB Reporting In…

These are the liner notes from ” Emotion and Commotion,” the latest release from Jeff Beck; written by Steve Lipson, who produced Jeff for the first time.

Sitting 6 feet away from Jeff Beck, while he casually plays something that no one else could get close to has been an extraordinary experience. Jeff’s ability to play the simplest of melodies and make it sound great is unsurpassed. He makes the instrument sing like a voice, and with total apparent ease. His nonchalance about his equipment makes his abilities shine all the more, yet his concern with his music being as good as possible is always foremost in his mind.

As I finished the album, I said to Harvey that he was the only artist I’d be happy to start making another album with immediately. For as long as I can remember, Jeff has been my guitar hero, the guitarist that neither I nor anyone else could ever compare with. It’s been a major pleasure and priviledge to play a small part in the career of the defining guitarist of our times, the self-deprecating, brilliant Jeff Beck.”

Somewhat of a cheap post for me, just copying the liner notes out like that. There are a few spots on this record where you can kind of tell that the producers didn’t quite know how to get it just so, but there’s a lot where they did. The programmed keyboards are a little artificial here and there, but not too badly. But there’s also real orchestration on here, three great singers, and most of all, JBeck’s capacity for playing five perfect notes where anyone else would have stuck fifty in there. Like the last verse phrase in ” Somewhere Over The Rainbow”- six perfectly bent notes, all from the same single stroke, ala Roy Buchanan. If you listen very carefully late at night, you can hear the sound of Stratocaster players all over the world sobbing gently into their shirtsleeves.

All but one.

You really, really ought to get this music somewhere, somehow. And if you’re very adventurous, dig up some Roy Buchanan, too.

If you do, don’t be scared of the pants. He was completely serious. It was the seventies, for God‘s sake. Roy was the first guy that the Stones asked to join after Brian Jones‘ demise. Can you picture Roy in his snappy orange golf pants, and Jagger in a pink Speedo? Jeez Louise…

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Is It Me?…Yeah, I Know…It’s Me…

Whilst waiting for Dexter to roll around last night, I absorbed a good forty or fifty seconds of the American Music Awards.

So now I will impart to you, my adoring public, an entirely and completely unbiased review of the experience. Writing this out will take much longer than fifty seconds, but we must sometimes sacrifice for the common good and promote the general welfare.

This program opened with an R+B singer known as Rihanna. I know nothing of these things. To me, R+B has elements of both a) rythym, and b) blues. The only way that this girl could get those elements would be if they hit her in the forehead,  having been duct-taped to a Predator drone on behalf of a grateful nation.  I realize that constitutes a very expensive fix, but come on, oh please, are you serious, Mother of God, Jesus, Joseph and Mary, on what planet is this called R+B?

Now I might just be another cranky, cranky old bastard ( CCOB), sitting in a dark room muttering at the TV, wearing a Confederate uniform jacket and no pants. What?? Not typical? Only one? No one else? Ok fine, I’ll put the pants on, then…

What??? Just as weird, pants or not? I’ll have you know that I don’t even shoot at the TV anymore…( that’s only because there aren’t any CRTs left around…jeez, I miss that ozony poof noise they used to make) Don’t mention the TV thing, you say? And I might want to contact a lawyer? Sirens? I don’t hear no stinking sirens…

Well, that was fun. But now back to the task at hand. My new lawyer says I should sue for the fifty seconds back, at least. Three minutes, if you count the opening credits. My time is valuable. I’m an important guy. Hell, the time I spend just fixing TVs…

Rihanna had one saving grace. She’s awfully cute, and she was sporting a hairdo reminiscent of a fondly remembered ex, circa 1980-90 something. Pretty damned adorable. So there I was, all warm and fuzzy…pretty good so far.

And she started to sing. Some sort of ballad, just vocal, marginal backup; dry signal, no special effects. Still pretty good so far; I was thinking that that was a fairly courageous thing to do in this day and age.

Until I realized that her pitch was off; and her diction was terrible.  Like she never saw a voice coach in her life. This girl would have been in the back row of any choir in the world. No, she’d be off the riser altogether. JS Bach would just point towards the door and wait until she was gone. Beethoven would have tossed her off the second-story balcony.

By the second verse, the effects mercifully kicked in, and she was saved by the Digitech chip. A little reverb, chorus, pitch correction, flange, slapback echo, phase, maybe a small kitchen appliance, and no one’s the wiser. Dancers appeared, lights flashed everywhere, and it turned into a typical extravaganza. By then, it could have been Frank Sinatra’s niece from Jersey singing the “Ave Maria”, albeit with a digital drum track.

But for those precious fifty seconds… Rihanna showed her true colors. God help us all. God bless us every one.

I want those fifty seconds back. And still almost an hour to go ’til Dexter.

 And there it is, kids. The CCOB Report on the AMA awards, for Monday 11/22/10. Or at least for the first fifty seconds.

Hey, are you going to do anything with that old RCA console TV in your garage? Well, are you, punk?

 

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm  Comments (11)  
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Omaha Who?…

On the first Sunday after Veteran’s day each year, the remnants of the 21st Mississippi Co. H/ Sixth Battalion ANV gather for a brief graveside dedication. At one time, this was very well-attended and  even garnished a bit of local press, but nowadays it’s just a handful of die-hards.

The subject is one Pvt. Samuel Postlethwaite, the only confirmed Confederate vet buried in this part of the world. ( There is one other, in Grey, Maine; but remains nameless.) Sam is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Coventry, RI. He served with the 19th Mississippi, and was grievously wounded at Malvern Hill. He met and ultimately married a field hospital nurse from Coventry. He was originally from Louisiana.

The grave site was lost for very many years; but now has a proper marker, as many other Civil-war era vets now have at Greenwood. An interesting story in its own right.

 Sam lies within a stone’s throw of many Union vets, including a Medal Of Honor recipient; remarkable irony there. And equally surprising, the owners of the original Postlethwaite plantation in Louisiana have made similar accomodations for a recently- discovered trooper of the 3rd RI Cavalry; they have marked his grave under the very tree that he died in the shelter of, in what is essentially their front yard.

This year’s dedication was lightly attended, but I did make the aquaintance of one Frank Fernandes, a RI-based writer who has a novel being considered for inclusion in many high-school curriculums. It’s titled ” Sound on the Goose”, and is a ” what if ” fiction regarding the experiences of two Confederate infantymen at Gettysburg. Nothing too unusual there; but his two are Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It ties in nicely with junior-senior level literature, and might provide a bit of  depth to their woefully inadequate CW– era history presentations.

He also works with a school program designed to prep students for PSATs. He claims that all of his students are behind, but that math and history are the two worst areas. He says that they are concerned with only one thing; appearance. It does not matter what you do or do not say, think, or know; it only matters how you are dressed.

He said that the other day, one of his 11-th grade charges approached him with a question because he’s a ” history guy”. He admitted to being a bit flattered for the recognition, and happily asked the young man what his question was.

It seems that he had received a new video game called ” Omaha Beach” recently, and he wanted to know why the Germans were the bad guys….

Kinks in Kontrast…

We have come a very, very long way. Right?

Right!!

In Praise of the A Chord…

All that chatter about the Beatles on the Wakefield Doctrine blog got me to thinking.

As a kid, I was absolutely enamored of the Beatles, as was the rest of the universe. As soon as they did the Ed Sullivan thing, I started hammering my dad for a guitar. He gave in after a few weeks, and he got me a Stella Harmony student guitar at a pawn shop for $15. I dragged that thing around on a rope for years; meaning that I played the hell out of it. It absolutely reeked of Lemon Pledge, because I polished it every twelve minutes, on the average.

My parents very quickly decided that the whole Beatles/ Stones thing was inherently evil, and we were only allowed to have Beach Boys and Ventures records ( because they were American, and therefore not so bad).

But ultimately, the Evil British won out. The Beatles were mostly good and just a little bad; the Stones were dark and moody and dangerous. And then, one day… the Kinks.

This was the gamechanger. I had gotten hold of an album called ” the Kinks Greatest Hits” which had a cover photo of Dave Davies playing a Gibson Flying V. I didn’t know him at all, didn’t know guitars at all by brand name or type; but if ever there was a phallic symbol released on the Unsuspectingly Innocent Irish Catholic Youth Of America ( UIICYOA), that was it. Not that I knew what phallic symbols were.

What I did know was that I had to learn how he made that noise.

Up until then, guitars were pretty clean and friendly sounding ( Beach Boys, Ventures). The Beatles got a little bit of bite with ” Day Tripper‘ , etc; then the Stones had that ” Satisfaction” riff, using a fuzzbox. Things seemed to be evolving quickly…

And then…suddenly…the Power Chord arrived. The Kinks’ guitars had an aggressive, nasty, snarling bite of a tone. Never heard anything like it before, because it didn’t exist. Song riffs based on full-barred chords. They weren’t pretty at all. They were meant to be that way. Rebellion…attitude…volume…

All the pretty stuff was swept away in an instant. Forget surf guitar, and jangly British pop. This was awesome.

I wore out my copy of ” the Kinks Greatest Hits”.  By then, I had moved up to a $59 Kay Vanguard, and I incessantly played Kinks songs as loud as I could. Parents, siblings, neighbors, dogs everywhere hated me. The UIICYOA banned me.

Actually, not all the Kinks material was such. Ray Davies was, and is, a phenomenal songwriter. Not just love songs; he wrote about everything. Ascerbic, sarcastic, funny… truly great stuff.

At any rate, the Power Chord was introduced to the world. And ever since, anyone who plays well enough to play a first-position “A” chord can ( and should) plug themselves into the biggest, loudest amp they can find and just get out there and bash some out. Just to feel that rush of barely controlled chaos under your fingers. Think Pete Townsend…the Sex Pistols…the Clash…Green Day…AC/DC….and the Kinks. For quite some time, Van Halen made a great living re-doing Kinks songs, and in those days, Eddie was using about 6 100-watt Marshall heads into dozens of 2-12 JBL cabinets. Now that was one gigantic freaking “A” chord.

And a practical application, to boot- point your cabs across your lawn, and blow all your maple leaves next door, instantly! Damn, it might even work on snow!

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm  Comments (1)  

It’s Kind Of Dark In Here…

All right. I admit it.

I am not the brightest bulb in the shed.

I’m ok with that, though. In its own way, it’s kind of fun. I never know exactly what I might forget or miss, but there is always a theme to what I forget or miss. For instance, I might start off a new post with a really nifty idea, only to watch it change into something entirely removed from the original notion. I’m not always in control of that, but I usually enjoy the ride.

I will go to a supermarket to get a thing, extrapolate that into additional related things, and then later, be standing at home wondering where the thing is; and have to go back to get the thing. This is quite an annoyance, but as long as there is an underlying theme to it, I can live with it. 

But should I find myself in the supermarket parking lot, not only without the thing , but also without a car, or money, or ID of any sort…and hopefully, be fully dressed… Now that would be embarassing. Although, if I were able to get there in that condition, then it stands to reason that I likely wouldn’t be too concerned with the social ramifications. And why should I? I’m OK with the Confederate officer’s jacket, I just forgot the pants, is all. If I were completely naked, well, now that would be crazy. I would expect people to point and say ” nice piping on the jacket, dude, where can I get one of those”, and politely mention the pants thing. And I would give them the name of a good sutler (winchestersutler.com/), and head home to change into normal clothes, pants included.

Before I forget to mention; the supermarket thing has happened a number of times. The ” pants ” thing is fictional. I fabricate that scenario only because I was once told that if I ever really lost it, I would be found sitting mumbling at a computer screen, wearing a uniform jacket and no pants.

See how that happens? Things just…drift a bit.

I meant to go from the bulb/shed metaphor directly into mentioning that I was one of the three people in all of western civilization who was totally and completely surprised at the end of The Sixth Sense. I did not see that coming. I also remember watching the first Pirates of the Carribean and then spent weeks trying to figure out why Depp‘s character seemed so familiar. When I heard him admit to using Keith Richards as a model, the bulb lit up. Total surprise; didn’t see that coming either.

I think my next post will consist of a Letterman-esque list; Top Ten Things That Roger Didn’t See Coming.

I’m all in favor of  Depp; he creates characters that are so far out of the box that they can’t be compared to anything else, and then does a singularly great job at developing them. Also true of Keith Richards; he writes songs with Maria Callas in mind, knowing of course that they’re meant for Jagger. A diva is always a diva.

I should send each of those guys a Confederate officer’s uniform, and watch what happens. And maybe a hoop skirt and parasol for Jagger/Callas.

Well, must run…got to go to the store. What to wear??

Published in: on November 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Comments (4)