Hall Of Fame for Faces and Small Faces

Well, it’s about fucking time.

The tragedy is that two people who really needed to be there last night missed it. I love both The Small Faces and The Faces and would have given anything to be at their induction, but the stars just didn’t align. As for Rod Stewart, well…hopefully he really had the flu. I’d hate to think his unwillingness to share the spotlight with his former mates had extended beyond reunion tours and all the way to the podium.

Especially because there were two other people who sadly couldn’t be there, because they’ve left this mortal coil. Small Faces founders Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane are no longer with us, but their music and influence lives on, hopefully more so after this induction brings attention to their incredible body of work. I know for a fact that Ian McLagan pays tribute to both every night, at every show, and I am sure he did so again last night from the stage.

Ron Wood and Mac remember the Small Faces

Typical of the lack of respect both bands received in their prime, they had to share an induction rather than be considered individually. That’s a bit daft considering the impact both bands had in their time, and how different they were musically despite sharing three members.

The Small Faces were the mod movement, running off a string of pop and psychedelic singles that set the tone for the late 60s. Steve Marriott’s dynamic voice and presence was ethereal, and he and Lane wrote great songs. They never toured the States – their crook of a manager couldn’t skim if they did – but in England they slot alongside The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who.

The Small Faces:Tin Soldier

The Faces, on the other hand, were brash and boozy rockers that turned arenas into parties where the audience was not only entertained but often dragged back to the hotels for a nightcap. Each packed about as much wallop into a few short years as anyone ever has, and when you realize that half of the output of The Faces between 1971 and 1975 wound up under Rod Stewart’s name alone, you realize what a gross oversight this has been.

The Faces: “I’m Losing You”

But those that really matter – the fans, the bands they influenced – had both bands in their own personal Hall decades ago.

Of course, going any further would just stir up old feelings and make me mock the Hall for ignoring so many other artists; odds are that Lady Gaga will get in before Deep Purple or Cheap Trick. At least they did the right thing and moved the ceremony back to Cleveland.

So I will take the high road instead and simply revel in their greatness, like I always have and always will. Pint in hand, of course.

Happy boys...happy.

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New Kinks Movie!

AP (LONDON) – After months of terse negotiations, former Oasis members and famous battling brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher have signed on to portray Ray and Dave Davies, respectively, in the upcoming film The Great Lost Kinks Movie. Initially slated for the project, the pair’s long history of bizarre behavior led producers to look elsewhere in the hope of finding other real-life brothers who could convincingly portray the love-hate relationship between the Kinks siblings.

A source close to the project stated that Chris and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes had the right attitude but the wrong look, while two of The Isley Brothers were deemed “too old” and “not pasty enough”. Michael Caine showed up at the audition offering to play both parts, stunning the casting director with an official OBE document that requires him to “be cast in every film production scheduled during his lifetime”.

Other suggestions (The Righteous Brothers, The Krays) were dismissed because the subjects were either dead or not really brothers (or both), and long-shot hopefuls Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko disappointed producers by refusing to fight one another.

With the state of their old band in doubt, and new projects Beady Eye and High Flying Birds no more than third tier bands, the Gallaghers were wooed back to the project and signed on. “I think we’ll be bloody perfect“, offered Noel, “because like Dave, I have suffered second banana status in my own band thanks to an arse of a front-man“. And while Noel is not certain that brother Liam will capture the panache and depth of tortured genius Ray, “there’s a long line of people who would love to shoot that cunt in the leg“.

Filming starts next week in Muswell Hill.

Why stop at the leg?

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Noir of the Week

I love, love, love film noir.

I’ve probably gobbled up every book about it, have perused every film guide including it, and over the years have devoured novels from Cain to Ellroy. I’m thrilled that so many from the classics to the borderline “B” movies have appeared on DVDs here and abroad, many with commentaries almost as enjoyable as the films themselves.

The only thing that could make the experience better would be seeing the films with a crowd and then participating in a discussion over a cup of joe (or more likely a belt of bourbon)…but to shamelessly borrow from one such classic title…I Watch Alone.

So I always appreciate finding a site where these great movies are reviewed with passion, and for those of you who feel the same, I offer you Noir Of The Week.

The site has been around for years, so for some of you this might be old news, and I’m certain I stumbled across it before at one time or another myself when researching a film before purchase. But if I didn’t tout this site before now, shame on me. Great writing.

For those who would prefer to scour an alphabetical list of entries, click here.

“What’s the matter? You look like you’ve been on a hayride with Dracula.”

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On The Artist…and artists

I squirrelled out of the house last night to see The Artist in a theatre. Unusual move for me; besides the limitations of my schedule, I just find it frustrating to hit the multiplex anymore. Sure, I miss the camaraderie of enjoying a film in a crowd and sharing the experience – horror and comedy benefit greatly, of course – but the tradeoff of rude talkers, thin walls and the cattle-like process that it has become is just not worth it. I have a large screen TV, a great sound system, and frankly I’d rather watch what I want on my schedule knowing that clean bathrooms and superior food and beverage are just a pause button away.

But I digress.

Back in the day Cia and I would make a point to see all of the nominated films prior to the Oscar telecast so that we could make an informed wager on who might take home the gold. As we reminisced about that while enduring twenty-plus minutes of trivia and advertisements on the multiplex screen, we laughed remembering how often the votes went the other way, and more often that not, how performances that moved us failed to even draw a nomination. I could write a long list from this year, of course, but I’ll save that for the recap tomorrow. It’s Oscar time.

Don’t forget to Tweetroast!

I felt that I had to see The Artist; it looked to be an incredible story and paid homage to an era I have much respect for. And Jean Dujardin seems to be as charming in person as his George Valentin character…at least as charming as George was when things were going well. I was totally swept away – the leads were incredible; the supporting characters as over the top as they would have been if they were in the film within a film (a wise choice by the director) and the score was exquisite. Not only did I wind up streaming the soundtrack when I got home, but I looked up some old Gene Krupa footage on You Tube and then dug out the biopic where Sal Mineo gave his masterful performance of the swinging drummer. Now that’s a tangent.

I guess what I felt during the artist was a smorgasboard of emotions – it was funny, romantic, dramatic and moving. When it was over I wished there was another reel; not because it was unfinished, but because I did not want those characters to leave me. And as I spent the better part of this morning spinning some music by old favorites like Ian Hunter, Herman Brood and The Kinks, I realized that I was feeling the same core emotion – the connection – that artists can bring to your soul if you’re open to it.

And tangents be damned, it made me realize that immersing myself in music and film and comedy isn’t a hobby, but it’s part of who I am, and I need to make more time to indulge myself. I saw my friend Ray Paul performing some Beatle covers earlier in the week and when the opening line of Norwegian Wood rolled off his lips, I immediately thought “that’s one of the best lines anyone ever wrote”. Synapses are firing. They might not all be Grade-A, but I need to get into fighting shape again.

So I find myself typing as the red carpet bullshit is droning in my ear. It’s time to throw out some predictions – and yes, I’m really pulling for The Artist – but I’ll circle back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Brit Awards (classy and funny), The Independent Spirit Awards (under-attended and surprisingly tame) and of course the Academy Awards. Let’s see how I do:

Best Picture: The Artist

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Supporting Actor:  Christopher Plummer, Beginnings

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Director: Michael Hazanivicius, The Artist

Best Screenplay: Margin Call (Chandor)

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants (Payne/Faxon/Rash)

Best Score: The Artist

Best Documentary: Undefeated

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Taking My Life Back

Bless me father,  for I have sinned, it has been over three months since my last legitimate blog post…

You don’t have any idea how many times I started to write this post in my head over the past couple of months, only to be sidetracked by schedule, or exhaustion, or – sadly - the lack of confidence and willpower. Running this blogzine had been, for the better part of three years, a daily joy. But much like many of my favorite things, it fell off the pile as the necessity to work 75-80 hour weeks took its toll. Missed that fall softball season. Favorite TV shows were DVR’d and hastily burned to DVD to make room for other unwatched programs. Albums piled up…think about that, I wasn’t prioritizing music. There were mornings when I didn’t want to slap that comedy CD in the car because I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy it.

That is just fucking wrong.

But let me first put things in proper perspective. Nothing is really wrong outside the fact that my life became monopolized by my responsibilities at work. I’m healthy, I’m financially stable, I have friends and family and a blessed life compared to so many who have real problems. I do not pretend for a moment that my worst day in the past six months was anything more than me feeling pressure, exhaustion and frustration with something which I could have terminated at any second with two simple words: “I quit“.

It’s hard to overcome an addiction because you are so deep into it that you lose the objective perspective. You no longer see the whole, you only see the next move. Not to compare my experience to an addiction – even the word workaholic infers complicit behavior – but it takes an intervention to slap reality in your face long enough for you to distance yourself and see objectively again. And in my case the intervention came in two parts – an intimate musical performance and a dose of birthday guilt.

Christine Ohlman, a/k/a The Beehive Queen, is an amazing woman. A musicologist par excellence, she runs rings around me when it comes to the deep web of musical history, ane even a brief chat with her is an educational experience. But I recently saw her perform in a small bar in Rochester, a converted house called Abilene’s which was packed like a sardine can. No stage, the band sequestered in what would have been a living room, amps likely on “3″ to keep the plaster from falling upon us like raindrops. I was so close I could have adjusted the monitors, and I watched her slowly weave her way through a set of gems – each one accompanied by an anecdote – and I was awash in soulful, penetrating beauty. I was energized by rock, heartbroken by blues, and warmed by the infectious nature of a true artist channeling her soul. I knew at that moment that I had to take my life back, that every precious day that I continue to put aside the things I truly love was another day wasted.

I also have a holiday-time birthday, which combined with seasonal affectation disorder…well, let’s just say it makes for an interesting experience. For the past several years, I have spent the better part of my birthday watching concerts, comedy shows and music documentaries, and this year was no exception. This time, the introspection of the day was combined with a rebirth of passion, as if the artists on the large screen were saying “hey dumbass…maybe if you made time for this every day you wouldn’t be so miserable?” With the new year a week away, it looked like I finally had a resolution with teeth to slot next to the old standards “lose a few pounds” and “work out more”. And when my older daughter caught me off-guard by telling me she had been checking my page weekly only to be disappointed, that sealed the deal.

It’s not like I was in a coma. I did listen to a lot of music and made my list in time for the Village Voice Pazz&Jop deadline; I do have my Best of 2011 drafts for comedy albums and DVDs in their final whittling stages, and I did jot down some drafts that will show up soon as reviews and editorials. But I missed some events I normally relish, like the recent award nominations. And tragedies – I should have posted the day Patrice O’Neal died; he played a club in town not long before and the news broke my heart. But I’ll add those thoughts when reviewing his posthumous CD, and you’ll see his brilliant DVD (Elephant In The Room) on that year-end list.

A real doctor doesn’t promise you anything; they merely give you good advice. So I won’t promise you a daily dose - not an unbroken string, anyway -  but I’ll do the best I can to be here as often as possible. I even have a plan.

As for the recommendations, those will continue to be well-intentioned but optional. I’ve got my hands full taking my own life back, thanks.

Happy New Year, everyone. I missed you, too.

It's a new dawn, and a beautiful new road lies before me. Hope to see you often along the way...

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Ironically, it was Office Hours…

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Ehh-mmys

The good news was that tonight’s Emmy broadcast ended on time, roughly three minutes past the hour. The bad news is it seemed like the show took twice as long.

No, I’m not bitter that my guesses were as awful as usual; in fact I was delighted that a couple of my “should win” nominees actually did. And I thought Jane Lynch did about as good of a job as she could given the circumstances – aside from a weak jab at a superior talent (Ricky Gervais) she looked like she was having some fun up there. But as these shows often are, there was more pomp than circumstance.

All the winners are listed on the official site.

My take on the event…

  • Opening bit was very clever but waaaaay too long considering there were only a couple of truly clever sight gags.
  • Thinking’s a pain in the ass“. Yes, I watch television – this is likely a mantra.
  • Betty White is the reason we start the show at 5pm“. Great line.
  • Was I the only one watching the The Emmytones thinking there would be a wardrobe malfunction by Kate Flannery?
  • Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon should go on the road together. And either would make a great Emmy host.
  • I did like the staging and the hi-tech graphics; first-rate technology.
  • I wish the guy commenting on the winners was louder because he was often hilarious.
  • Was Julianna Margulies wearing a rocks glass for a top?
  • Ty Burrell can’t not be funny.
  • Ricky Gervais was the funniest guy in the room and he wasn’t even in it.
  • Best camera aside – Steve Levitan’s wife. Twice.
  • Maybe he was pimping his upcoming Comedy Central Roast, or maybe it was supposed to be satire and his delivery sucked…but WTF was up with Charlie Sheen’s “apology”? I don’t know what they had over him, but that was the worst confession of guilt and remorse since…well, I’m going to have to think about that.
  • If after that speech Jon Cryer won Best Actor I think Vegas would have shut down the betting. He didn’t. They didn’t.
  • Why did I have to wade through Reality TV to get to Variety TV? That’s like offering me vanilla ice cream but insisting I mix in two tablespoons of shit before eating it.
  • Guy Fucking Pearce. Awesome actor.
  • Either Amy Poehler’s stage-jump was truly spontaneous or Edie Falco is an even better actress than I thought – her moment of hesitation looked genuine. And if it was…well, that explains why Amy Poehler should have won.
  • There are a lot of talented people writing comedy for Conan, Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert and others. Why doesn’t Emmy hire some of them to write the presenter banter?
  • Lonely Island does not work as well live as on video but “Freak Bill Macy” was worth it.
  • The Daily Show is an unstoppable force and I feel bad for anyone nominated against it. And damned if I’d be as humble as the host after an unparalleled record of success.
  • Nice to see Friday Night Lights finally get some love, albeit too late.
  • Kate Winslet is a great actress but I had hoped I had seen the last of her over-the-top insincere “I’m not worthy” acceptance speeches. Apparently not.
  • Line of the night – Martin Scorcese seeing the “hurry up” light and offering to “talk a little faster“.
  • No one followed up with the Two And A Half Men jokes when Peter Dinklage won? Where is Gervais when you need him…
  • Since when does Drew Barrymore get to “pass the torch” for Charlie’s Angels? Like anyone thinks that movie has a tenth of the legacy that the TV show did.
  • In Memorium always gets me, although this new trend of live vocalists is unnerving. Focus on the departed.
  • Mad Men is four-for-four and Modern Family is two-for-two. So much for change.
  • Margo Martindale gave the best performance of the year by anyone and I was fully prepared to see her get screwed over. Maybe the glass is half full after all?

"We're all winners!" (Um...not really.)

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