Thursday, December 19, 2013

Show #111 November 16, 2013

Oh Kyle, Oh Kyle, Oh Kyle....

Kyle- Loose Lips Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 
What Went Wrong- The Smithereens 2011 
Shakin' Street- Soul Asylum No Fun Intended - Single 
Great Big Kiss- Johnny Thunders So Alone 
See You Anymore- The Daughters Varulven Records E.P 
Real- Bowling for Soup Lunch. Drunk. Love 
Backroom Boys- Jo Broadbery and The Standouts Jo Broadbery and The Standouts 
Mystery- The Effection Soundtrack To A Moment 
^Echo Beach- Martha and The Muffins Metro Music 
Finish- Mega City Four There Goes My Happy Marriage 
Nice Girl- The Trouble Boys Taint Records Single 
Gates of the West- The Clash Sound System extras 
Wrapped Up In A Dream- The Boyfriends Lost Treasures
Kingdom Of Love- The Soft Boys 1976-1981 
*I Wanna Make You!- PRETTYBOYS Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 
*It's A Miracle- The Names Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 
*Holiday- The Nines Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 
*Total Insanity- The Kind Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 
Naming Names- Senator Flux Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet and Watch 
Now You Know- The Real Kids Better Be Good 
You Don't Go Away- Vibeke The World Famous Hat Trick 
Hopeful Kids- Phil Angotti Life and Rhymes 
Sentimental Role- Greenberry Woods Rapple Dapple 
Old Rat- Raxola Raxola 
>The Daily Planet- Love Forever Changes 
If I- The Spys If I/I Spy 7" 
True- Popsicle Laquer 
I Must Be Crazy- The Sweat No More Running 
Stop- Velvet Crush In The Presence Of Greatness 
The Girl That I Let Go- The Go Instant Reaction 
Please Please Girl- The Flamin' Groovies Groovies Greatest Grooves 
In My Arms Again- Shoes Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 

^Power Pop Prototype:  #5 Canadian Singles Chart 10/1/80

*SacroSet:  Numero Group Compilation Buttons: From Champaign To Chicago

>Power Pop Prototype:  1967

One of the cool things about being a parent is sharing things that mean a lot to you with your kids.  Sometimes things don't always go as planned, however, and there are "unintended consequences."  Jaime will never let me forget the night I "shared" Edward Scissorhands with four year old Nica and seven year old Jack.  She was out that night, so we didn't discuss the film ahead to time but to me Edward Scissorhands is a modern classic fairytale, so no problem.  It's funny how many books, films, TV shows, etc. I've loved over the years are outsider stories- it really shows where I'm coming from doesn't it?  Anyway, I thought Edward Scissorhands would be another great way to impress upon Jack and Nica that bullying is wrong and that inside- where it counts- outsiders are just like the rest of us.  Unfortunately I had completely forgotten about all the violence in the third act of the film.  My kids are getting anxious when Edward accidentally slashes Kim (Winona Ryder) in the backyard and they get really quiet when he does the same to her little brother after saving him from being hit by a car (come on!  Poor Edward's hands are scissors, give him a break!)

About this time I start to get a sick feeling in the pit of my
AMH is a total dick in this movie!
stomach because I can't re- member what's coming next, though I'm starting to realize it isn't good.  We watch Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) beat the hell out of Edward with a shovel then turn on Kim after she tries to intervene.  When Edward stabs Jim in the chest both my kids scream.  Jaime then walks in and the dam bursts- both kids bust out in full on sobs and run to her for comfort.  I immediately stop the film but Jaime is PISSED!  "You showed them WHAT!"  She and I argue whether or not to finish the film- I'm worried Jack and Nica will be scarred for life if they don't see the ending.  Jaime is just shooting daggers at me with her eyes as she tries to soothe our bawling children.  Not my best moment as a father, I'll admit.  We did end up watching the end of the film, which explains where "snow" comes from (Edward making ice sculptures), but the kids still talk about how I traumatized them with Edward Scissorhands

I was not trusted with family movie night decisions for at least a year and since then I have a much better track record.  Jack was a huge fan of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Spider Man and Lord of The Rings films.  Along with your standard kid fare, (Wizard of Oz, E.T., Disney, Pixar, Potter, etc.) both Jack and Nica loved Peewee's Big Adventure, The Nightmare Before Christmas (more Burton films), Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (NOT the Burton version), The Phantom Tollbooth, Zathura, Spirited Away, The Princess Bride, The Sandlot, The Goonies, Monster House, Adventures In Babysitting, Holes and others.  As they got older I showed them Big, Forrest Gump, Stand By Me, Meatballs, A.I., Rocky, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Field of Dreams, School of Rock, My Bodyguard, Mean Girls, Persepolis and Juno, though I'm sorry to say This Is Spinal Tap failed to elicit much more than a smile from either kid (I try not to see this as a character flaw on their part, but it is difficult.)

These days it's rare that all four Loves see the same film- in fact the only one I remember this year is The Spectacular Now.  I'm more likely to go to different movies with Jaime (Before Midnight, Blue Jasmine, Nebraska) than I do with Jack (The Place Beyond The Pines, Fruitvale Station) or Nica (Catching Fire, Gravity).  I did get Jack and Nica into a theater to see Mud- a film I wholeheartedly recommend. Matthew McConaughey is on fire this year! 

After the Edward Scissorhands debacle, I put a lot more thought into choosing titles for what have now become our increasingly rare family movie nights.  With Nica entering high school this fall I finally decided to share a film that meant a lot to me when it came out:  John Hughes' The Breakfast Club.  I was in college at the time and when my friend Howard convinced a bunch of us to go see the movie I had no idea what to expect.  I hadn't seen Hughes' prior
L.D.D. - Asian Man's Burden Since 1984
film Sixteen Candles, which is probably a good thing; Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall are fantastic but Long Duk Dong?  Just writing the name makes me cringe.  Anyway, Howard got about ten of us to go to The Breakfast Club that night leaving from his Charlesgate dorm room to take the T down to Government Center and walk to the Sack Charles Cinema on Cambridge Street.  I was more along for the ride than anything else which is one of the reasons I was so blindsided by the film.

I think every high school student has an understanding of the social hierarchy within their school.  You start with jocks, druggies, brains, nerds- the typical divisions.  Then there are some variations:  my high school had "Yachties" (Izod shirt/khaki pants with a whale belt wearing rich kids who had boats) and Jaime talks about "Zarks" at her school  (a druggie/motorhead hybrid).  Interestingly, when I think about these cliques it's mostly along male lines- girls would stay within a group or, if they were pretty enough, do whatever the hell they wanted (at least that's the way it seemed to me).  

The thing is, no one talked about any of these rigid social structures in school, even teachers and administrators seemed to pretend they didn't exist.  That's why The Breakfast Club was such a revelation- it felt like John Hughes, in a very respectful way, put our innermost
The Confession Scene
thoughts up on the screen.  I was in college and supposed to be above all this high school bull***t, or at least have put it all behind me, yet I was very moved by the film.  The confession scene where they share their deepest secrets (Claire is a virgin, Brian has contemplated suicide, Andrew hates his father, Allison is a compulsive liar, and John comes from an abusive household) still takes my breath away.  The idea that in one day these five people could put away their preconceived notions of each other and share the most intimate details of their lives blew my mind.  My college friends all seemed similarly impressed- it was very cool that I didn't have to hide my thoughts about the film from them.

The Straight Edge in me (I was new to the phil- osophy) wished they hadn't all smoked weed before the confession scene, but that's a minor quibble compared to what I came to view as Hughes' horrific third act sell out/betrayal which dawned on me seeing the film a second time.  Let me explain.  From the very first scene, my favorite character in
the film has always been Ally Sheedy's Allison.  (Is that some kind of pop culture Rorschach test?   Seems like it should be.) 
The shaggy brunette hair, the Chuck Taylors, the green snorkel coat; this is the kind of girl I would have dated in high school (some might say I have- multiple times). To me, Allison is the American high school version of one of the sexiest women in rock and roll history:
Chrissie Hynde

In other words, there nothing "wrong" with Allison- she is perfect just the way she is.  Then why in the name of all that is holy does Hughes do a "makeover" on her in the last ten minutes of the film!!  Are we supposed to believe that the cool rock and roll girl from the first part of the movie was wearing a "pretty" pink camisole under all that black the whole time!?!  To make matters worse, Hughes then pairs Allison off with Emilio Estevez' Andrew, sending the message "see girls, all you have to do
Booooooooo!  Booooooooo!
is change everything about yourself and you can get a jock to like you!"  All of this REALLY hit home when I was watching the film with family, especially my 14 year old daughter Nica.  (We had a family discussion about it afterward.)  Seriously, John Hughes what were you thinking?  I get Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson's characters hooking up- there was sexual tension there from the beginning.  Andrew and Allison have a nice moment with "what do [your parents] do to you?  they ignore me" but he only sparks after her "makeover!"  And what about Anthony Michael Hall's Brian?  The poor guy writes this awesome essay and goes home alone, probably to spank the monkey- again.  I would have preferred Brian and Allison getting together, he is very kind to her in the confession scene.  Or better yet, no one hooks up and they all leave as five improved individuals.  But no, whether he meant it or not, Hughes tells us that ultimately, the jock gets the "pretty girl-" as long as she is willing to completely change her appearance. 

I guess that's the mark of a great film; it shows you something you've always thought about but never seen before, while getting you laughing, crying and pissed off in the process.  For me that pretty much sums up The Breakfast Club.

Show #111 links have already been taken down, but I'll re-post if they become available.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Show #110 LOU REED TRIBUTE November 2, 2013

R.I.P. Mr. Lou Reed....

Sweet Jane- The Jim Carroll Band I Write Your Name
I'm So Free- Lou Reed Transformer 
Velvet Underground- Jonathan Richman I, Jonathan 
We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together- The Velvet Underground Live MCMXCIII 
There She Goes Again- R.E.M. Dead Letter Office
Kill Your Sons- Tommy Keene Songs From The Film
Femme Fatale- Big Star Big Star's 3rd: Sister Lovers
Head Held High- Subway Sect What's The Matter Boy?
^I Love You, Suzanne- Lou Reed New Sensations
White Light White Heat- The Professionals 1-2-3
The Black Angel's Death Song- Beck Record Club Velvet Underground and Nico
After Hours- Rilo Kiley The Execution Of All Things EP
What Goes On- The Feelies Only Life 
Who Loves The Sun- Teenage Fanclub Bonus B Sides 
*Jesus- Glen Campbell Meet Glen Campbell 
*Sally Can't Dance- The Andrea True Connection White Witch 
*New Age- Rachel Sweet Protect The Innocent
Rock And Roll- The Runaways The Runaways
There is No Time- Lou Reed New York
Venus in Furs- Monster Magnet Monolithic, Baby!
I'm Waitng for the Man- The Celibate Rifles Platters du Jour
Run Run Run- The Riats Run Run Run
Sunday Morning- The Queers Acidbeaters
>Why Don't You Smile Now- The All Night Workers Why Don't You Smile Now
I'll Be Your Mirror- Rainy Day Rainy Day
Vicious- Blitz Voice Of A Generation
Slip Away (A Warning)- Lou Reed and John Cale Songs For Drella 
Perfect Day (Acoustic Demo)- Lou Reed Transformer

^Power Pop Peak:  #78 UK Singles Chart 4/15/84

*SacroSet:  Unlikely Lou Reed Covers

>Power Pop Prototype:  1965 (First Lou Reed/John Cale composition!)

Rock and roll has produced some amazingly prickly characters over the years.  Depending on your taste in music, that statement may bring to mind Bob Dylan or Johnny Rotten or Axl Rose, yet for my money Lou Reed beats them all when it comes to sheer orneriness.  Every time Reed gained some commercial success he would intentionally derail his career.  Following 1972's Transformer, which included his sole Top 40 hit "Walk On The Wild Side," Reed released Berlin, an incredibly dark concept album about domestic abuse, drug addiction, prostitution and suicide.  I really like the record and it makes me smile thinking about what mainstream rock listeners looking for more Transformer style hits thought of a Berlin song like "The Kids" with its refrain "they're taking her children away" as a baby cries in the background. 

Reed followed his all-time best selling record, 1974's brilliant live album Rock and Roll Animal, with a double LP of electronic noise called Metal Machine Music that many critics consider the biggest "f*ck you" to critics and fans in music history.  I love Lou Reed but MMM is in every way "unlistenable."  On the few occasions I've tried, one of two things happen.  Either my brain relegates the "music" to the background, like some nightmarish galactic traffic snarl, or, if the noise can't be compartmentalized, my brain shuts down and I go to sleep.  I suppose a third option would be to go batsh*t insane, which I can also imagine happening.  I wonder if the CIA has ever considered using Metal Machine Music to break down suspects for interrogation.  Forget Cannibal Corpse, I bet MMM would have broken al-Qaeda years ago.

My friend Frank's brother Hans gave me a cassette copy of Rock and Roll Animal in the mid 80's and I listened to it over and over in my mom's Chevy Chevette.  The Dick Wagner/Steve Hunter dual guitar assault on that record is awesome, especially on "Sweet Jane."  When my family got a VCR, A Night With Lou Reed was one of the first VHS tapes I rented.  It features the great Robert Quine on lead guitar but all in all is a fairly tepid affair- I don't know if I made it all the way through the concert.  

I'm sorry to say it was MUCH worse the first and only time I saw Lou Reed live on July 25, 1986 at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass.  Debbie, the girl I was dating at the time, got us free tickets from her dad who was General Manager of Channel 4, the TV sponsor of all the Great Woods concerts.  Even for free, it was rough going.  Lou seemed to be trying for some kind of white boy funk deal with a parachute pants wearing, mullet sporting backing band that included, dare I say, it a full time saxophone player.  WTF?  The bass player's
The Godfather vs. The Demon
philosophy seemed to be "why play 4 notes when there's room for 125?"  Plus, I kid you not, on a few songs the keyboard player rocked out on a keytar.  A KEYTAR!  (Even James Brown can't make that godforsaken monstrosity look cool!)  Needless to say, that Lou Reed show was pretty bleak- the low point for me was his "rap" entitled "The Original Wrapper-" I cringed so hard I think I pulled a muscle.  I didn't listen to Reed again until the brilliant Songs For Drella came out in 1990.  Reuniting with Velvet Underground band mate John Cale, this tribute to Andy Warhol (who had died in 1987) marked Reed's welcome return to the simple, sparse and dissonant music that made me love him in the first place.
Songs For Drella, 1990

A lot of Lou Reed's prickliness was put into perspective when I read Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain's Please Kill Me, the
single greatest book ever written about punk rock.  In 1956 at the age of 16, Reed was given electroconvulsive therapy to cure his bisexuality.  In the book he says:
"They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again."
There are several other revelations about Lou Reed in Please Kill Me (some of his sexual proclivities are especially nasty) yet nothing is as troubling as his teenage shock therapy, which forever changed my perceptions of him and his music.

March 1975
Reed's battles with rock critic Lester Bangs are legendary, my favorite appeared in Creem magazine in 1975 (though I didn't read it until 1988 in the Bangs anthology Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.)  The article is called "Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves, or How I Slugged It Out with Lou Reed and Stayed Awake."  Reed and Bangs fight each other for the "Biggest Douchebag" title and it seems ,like they are having a great time.  No doubt both had huge egos and while Bangs loved taking the piss out of rock stars (most notably Led Zeppelin) he is one of the few people who seemed to "get" Lou Reed, even giving Metal Machine Music a positive review.  Bangs concludes the article with:

"Lou Reed is my own hero principally because he stands for all the most f*cked up things that I could ever possibly conceive of. Which probably only shows the limits of my imagination."
Lou Reed has inspired countless musicians over the years and as his legend grows will no doubt continue to do so.  What's more, he seemed to do everything on his own terms.  Whether you loved or hated what he was doing at any given time, Reed was one of the few musicians you could never completely write off because there was always a chance that his next album might just be his best in the last ten years, or twenty years or ever.

Streaming/download links for the Lou Reed tribute are below (if they "stick" just pause and un-pause)
Hour 1
Hour 2