Tag Archives: Beatles

Blast From The Past: Jason Falkner

Another blind shelf grab found me enjoying the music of one of the under-known pop masters, Jason Falkner. I’ve got his solo work, his Beatles lullabies, the Jellyfish canon…can’t get enough of the guy’s talent. But damned if one out of twenty people I know even recognizes his name. Here’s a look back from the turn of the century and TransAction Magazine

TransAction Magazine

Can You Still Feel?

The knock on ex-Gray, ex-Jellyfish Falkner is that (besides apparently not being able to stay in a band) for all his melodic chops he is incapable of writing a song that’s simple enough to be easily memorable – in other words, the Big Hit Single. So what is he supposed to do, dumb down?

Besides playing and singing and writing and arranging everything, he also took the time to craft a boatload of great music that will nudge you at first listen, yet worm its way deeper with repeated listenings. “Eloquence“, which he had been performing live for a while, is reminiscent of John Lennon and could be radio fodder with a more spry arrangement.  Ditto “Holiday“, where Falkner gets the chance to show off his vocal acrobatics. “Author Unknown” (ironically the title of his previous record) has a great repetitive chorus and the double-time tempo at the end is a great touch.

If a band like Radiohead can conquer the planet with their adventurous, textured sounds and pensive wordplay, why not Falkner?

Listen to clips and buy at Amazon

Video: Author Unknown

Jason Falkner website

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I Buried John

Thanks a lot, Paul.

You would think that the backlash from your efforts to change the songwriting credits to “McCartney/Lennon” would have been a clue. But no, you still can’t deal with the fact that although you are likely the most financially successful songwriter of all time, you will never have the social or intellectual credibility of John Lennon. And this won’t help: 

Paul McCartney has spoken once again about the end of the Beatles, this time revealing that it was John Lennon who brought an end to the group.”

Leave it to lame Access Hollywood to ask such cutting edge questions forty years after the fact. But Sir Paul, you should have just shrugged your shoulders, say “asked and answered a million times, uh-huh uh-huh yeah“. And is there even a reason to even sit down with them in the first place?

Let it be, Paul.

Flip Your Wig here.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten For Mac

Ooh La La

I saw Ian McLagan perform last night, and as always, it was magical.

Mac performed in a beautiful little theatre in Cazenovia, NY, to an appreciative throng of fans old and new. Pretty hard not to be converted by this genuine article, who shares stories and jokes in-between renditions of songs from his solo albums and those of two of the best bands in history, The Small Faces and The Faces. On this evening he focused more on solo material, especially his latest release Never Say Never and a couple of songs from his upcoming record. Accompanying Mac was Jon Notarthomas, who weaved on and off the set adding bass lines and harmony vocals; Jon is the bass player in The Bump Band and Mac’s trusted partner on his solo gigs.

Ian McLagan is a very talented songwriter and performer, an astute writer and an accomplished painter. But his greatest quality might be his friendship. Every night Mac makes music, he tells the audience about the late great Ronnie Lane and performs one or more of Lane’s songs. Ronnie Lane might be underappreciated, but as long as Mac walks the earth, he and his music will not be forgotten. (Slim Chance is now carrying the torch again as well).

Fame changes a lot of people, but it’s obvious that Mac’s love for his friend is genuine and pure. When I leave this mortal coil, I would be blessed to have someone speak for my legacy only half as well. Of course, Mac did more than speak – Spiritual Boy is a real gem.

Opening the show were Gary Frenay and Arty Lenin, longtime pop legends from their work in The Flashcubes and Screen Test. Their work as a duo – at one time under the moniker of The Neverly Brothers – is airtight and a songwriter’s showcase. Lenin excels on any style of guitar playing, but as Gary usually plays bass, I forgot how good a guitar player he is as well. Seeing them on a stage in a first-rate theatre with an excellent sound man was a reminder of how lucky I have been to see them so many times. 

Gary, Arty and Jon are all from the Syracuse area and have known each other for decades, and seeing Jon sing lead with them on a cover of “This Boy” was a real treat. And in the interest of editorial fairness, I’ve known them all for years and we’re friends…but that does not diminish the reality of how good they are.

So for this boy, Thursday night was an honor. I saw many old friends I hadn’t seen in years and listened to a couple of hours of great music by favorite performers. Mac is off shortly to play with a reunited Faces, then more overseas solo gigs and the release of another book. If you haven’t seen Ian McLagan, there’s a hole in your life.

So for this week’s TGIF, may I present Ten For Mac!

(01) – “Glad And Sorry

(02) – “Never Say Never

(03) – “Get Yourself Together

(04) – “Little Girl

(05) – “Kuschty Rye

(06) – “Debris

(07) – “All Or Nothing

(08) – “You’re So Rude

(09) – “Little Troublemaker

(10) – “Cindy Incidentally

macspages

official website

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The Rock And Roll 500

The windowless white van rumbled eastward on Route 90, soon to take a dogleg right and hook up with its brother highway, The Mass Pike. A six-hour trek that normally would clog at one end or another, but on the two interior days of a four-day holiday, traffic was pretty much non-existent. Most people were already where they wanted to be. I was just going back and forth, as usual.

When I was her age, I moved a few times, and always with the help of friends. Someone always had a truck. Everyone would focus on the beer and pizza at the end of the run, and were it not for my abnormal amount of vinyl albums, we could probably have been in and done in a couple of hours. But I forgot what it’s like to live in a major city where public transportation is the norm, where not only do you not have a car, but no one you know does, either. And besides, isn’t this what Dads do?

The rental van was reasonably priced but came with its limitations. No power locks, so each of the five doors had to be constantly checked. No power windows, either – do they really still make hand cranks? And much to my horror, just a radio. No CD player, not even a cassette, and certainly no input for a digital device to be plugged in. Nope, the front end of the trip would be a hollow metal can bouncing down the road (what, you expected soundproofing?) and me alone with my thoughts, unless I could find something decent on the radio. I had given up trying to do that years ago.

But it’s Memorial Day Weekend, so rock stations across the country are broadcasting their own version of the Rock And Roll 500, a countdown of the five hundred greatest rock songs ever made. And although I constantly have to hit the scanner, as signals fade and ebb between markets or on each side of a mountain pass, sooner or later it’s there. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Cream, U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Cars, The Who, The Police, The Ramones…song after song that I know like the back of my hand, whether I like them or not. It’s a bit 60s and 70s heavy, but rightfully so, because that’s when the apex took place.

I remember selling my Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin albums in a used record store, not so much because I needed the money but because radio had played “Free Bird” and “Stairway To Heaven” so often that I couldn’t bear to hear either band again. This egregious life choice was eventually recanted, of course, even though those two particular songs have long worn out their welcome. But the punk ethic of the time was to burn the past, and somehow I got caught up in the moment. I mean, really – I have never disliked the first four Led Zeppelin albums, they are incredible…but there they went across the counter.

It was a mistake I would not repeat; the day my senses came back to me and I repurchased them was also the day I realized that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. I like what I like, period. I don’t owe you an apology for that just because you disagree.

I thought of that a lot during the six-hour drive as I beat rhythms on the dashboard and heard my voice echo through the empty metal canister (reverb!), singing along as a large part of my childhood was played out for me one track at  a time. I remembered the boxes of 45s that I meticulously catalogued, the first albums I listened to over headphones, juggling prog and pop and glam and blues in college. Even the glee with which Roger and I would pore through the new punk singles arriving at Record Theatre – usually one scooped up by him and one by me, leaving none to be placed in the racks for sale. There was always an insatiable taste for great songs, and there was always the bedrock of what had come before.

I thought of the music I wasn’t hearing on the trip; were there really no J. Geils Band songs, even on the Boston station? And Tom Petty, who quietly went from ignored to elder statesman just by never stopping – would I hear “American Girl“? I already knew that The Dictators, Billy Bremner, Dwight Twilley, John Hiatt, and other lifelong favorites would probably not be heard from, but how was I not hearing a Kinks song?

Heading westward was a different story; the stations seemed less numerous and the song selections started to get downright odd. Even Eli turned to me at one point with her face scrunched up as a Candlebox song came in at number 168. I was incredulous. “The entire Kinks catalogue is better than that song“, I told her, and as “Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic” followed at #167 I imagined Sting sighing, relieved that when the great books were tabulated, someone gave the nod to his fine effort to move ahead – just ahead – of the mighty Candlebox.

Eli and I talked about many things on the way back, and the conversation turned to Lady Gaga. I don’t really care for him/her in the same way that I was never a Madonna fan – I’m much more centered on the music than the spectacle. Eli grew up listening to her own music but also getting the aural second-hand smoke of mine. My rule was and is that the driver picks the music, not the passengers. “I don’t think it’s great music per se“, she said, “but when I feel like dancing in a club it’s really fun and gets everyone going. It’s great for what it is, and I like it for that.” No guilt, just pleasure. A chip off the old block.

The sun had long set and we still had a couple of hours to go when “Going To Califormia” came on the radio, and I let it wash over me. I wasn’t going anywhere but home, but I must have channeled a dozen road trip memories in my mind. Had Eli turned to her left she would wonder why I had a shit-eating grin on my face after the long day, but someday she’ll do that herself. If there’s a better song to hear when you’re in a pensive mood on a long car trip, I can’t think of one right now.

And to think I once sold that album for a dollar. What fools these mortals be.

Led Zeppelin: “Going To California

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Beatlesque Again

What can I say? He’s done it again.

As a followup to the prior Meet The Beatlesque, my pal Angelo at Power Pop Criminals has unleashed a new two-CD mixtape of Beatley tunes called Beatlesque Again. These are not Beatle covers, but rather a collection of songs that capture the essence and spirit of the Fab Four.

The list of artists should entice any fan of the genre, from more recognizable names like Robyn Hitchcock and Julian Lennon to successful indie pop stars like Ben Kweller, The Nines and Splitsville. Those yet to discover the wonders of Magic Christian, Kenny Howes, The Singles, The Greenberry Woods and The Redwalls will be bowled over.

There’s great music being made all the time, you just have to go find it. Angelo is one of your chief warriors in this effort, so click here and be thrilled by this fifty-five track collection.

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4-4

April 4th is a pretty amazing day, all things considered. On any given day I could list a myriad of familiar names; people who were born on this day or who left this mortal coil before the stroke of midnight. Today is no exception, from births (Muddy Waters, David Cross, Robert Downey Jr., Maya Angelou, Berry Oakley) to deaths (Johnny Stompanato, Red Sovine, Edgar Buchanan, Dr. King and William Henry Harrison, the first President to die in office ).

But consider these true game-changing events.

  • NATO was created  in 1949
  • The Beatles ruled the charts, with #1 #2 #3 –#4 –#5 in 1964
  • Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968
  • The World Trade Center was dedicated in 1973
  • Microsoft was founded in 1975
  • Space Shuttle Challenger made its maiden voyage in 1983

So…what did you do today?

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Blast From The Past: Badfinger

So I got a little nostalgic this week. Sue me!

It happens whenever you start moving and refiling albums and you slow to a crawl because you read the liner notes, slap an old favorite onto the player, get lost in the moment. So forgive the back to back memory posts.

I remember thinking – like many did – that Badfinger was another Beatle prank. Surely “Come And Get It” was Paul, probably playing all the parts, trying to balance the scales because he wasn’t really dead. But no, Badfinger was a real band, and a great one. and tragic beyond words.

The BBC disc that came out years later really gave a nice glimpse into what was and what might have been, and were the rock graveyard not littered with so many casualties, maybe the current generation would look back and realize how much was lost. But Badfinger is likely just a footnote in the current scene; even older fans have had their pain numbed enough to cast them aside.

Not me. Here’s a review from that archive disc from 2000

Culled from two concerts at pivotal points in their career, BBC is remarkable in that the obvious hit singles are nowhere to be found. Instead, listeners will be surprised at just how talented Pete Ham and Joey Molland were as guitar players. Both shows were recorded at the Paris Theatre in London, with seven tracks from each included (along with “Come And Get It” from a 1970 show on Top Of The Pops as a bonus track).

The first half of the disc features two shimmering acoustic numbers in “We’re For The Dark” and “Sweet Tuesday Morning,” which are counterbalanced against two Dave Mason covers(!). Badfinger as…jam band? You bet. “Only You Know And I Know” and “Feelin’ Alright” get a serious thrashing, the latter track a nine minute indulgence of funk, soul and harmonic pop. Kicking off the set with a rocking rendition of “Better Days,” and arguably at the height of their popularity, the band is confident and tight.

The second show, recorded fourteen months later (October 1973) finds the band in their post-Apple, pre-Warner Brothers era. Although continuing to feature strong harmonies and solid musicianship, Badfinger dabbled in harder, more guitar oriented rock and roll. Look no further than the two versions of “Suitcase” – in 1972 it chugged along, but the 1973 version is far more powerful. “Constitution” boasts some blistering axe work complete with wah-wah workout, and this live version of “I Can’t Take It” might be the most intense track the band ever recorded.

At the time, new songs like “Matted Spam” showed a taste of things to come…or so we thought. Tragically, Pete Ham took his life only a year and a half later, and eight years later, Tom Evans followed. Those not familiar with the band would be well advised to pick up “Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger“; author Dan Matovina also wrote the liner notes for this release. Later this year, VH-1 will also recall their tale with an episode of “Behind The Music.”

Fuel 2000 has plans to mine the vaults and release or reissue many classic titles from the BBC vaults. In tandem with the King Biscuit releases, a new generation can finally savor what the elders among us enjoyed (and took for granted) as a weekly staple of our rock and roll lives.

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