Monday, February 28, 2011

Catching the Cataloguers

Have you ever gone to your mailbox (I'm talking literal, not email) to find it stuffed with everything but what you were looking for?
And it seems that catalogs make up most of the stuffing!
The problem is: For the most part, chances are that you've never even heard of the companies that send them out!

But, out of curiosity, you thumb through them anyway just to find they're totally useless -- as your mind brings up two questions: Why am I always getting these junk-reads? How to I stop them from sending them?

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Good News Week

It was one of my all-time favourite songs ...

Back in '65, a group of RAF servicemen based at Whittlesea, Peterborough (Mike Tinsley, John Stewart, Les Dash, Ray Honeyball and civilian Alan Laud) released a jumpy tune called Good News Week.
The song, written by Jonathan King, was one that equaled, if not surpassed, the anti-war songs that were beginning to appear on American music charts.

Whilst the original version was banned in the UK (eventually to be released with new lyrics in the third verse), here in the states it was all over the radio.
(In fact, it was so "cool" that a lanky young pre-Relic decided to cover it once with his new band at a gig at Charlotte (NC)'s Spider Web).

Over the past few weeks, their lead singer, Mike Tinsley, has become a good friend of mine. Today, he's one of the best solo artistes that the UK has produced -- and, yardbirds, the songs that he pens are just as amazing as his crystal-clear voice.
His stage presence is such that, if you catch even one of his performances, you feel not only the electricity but, more so, that he's singing just for you!
It's not gonna be long before we hear his current music on airwaves around the US, both on the FM dials of terrestrial stations but on internet radio as well!

But let's get back to GNW for a mo: The song had a bit of irony to it -- but, even more so, special significance, considering what Mike and his mates went through just three years prior.
Remember the Cuban missile crisis of October, 1962? It was, without doubt, the closest that we've ever come to a nuclear holocaust (ie, World War III!)
And HH was ready to stand in the thick of it all! Remember when I said he and the crew were in the RAF? Okay ... read this part of his bio here ... and tell me if you see a relation betwixt band and song (PS Check his whole site out. This is a singer/songwriter that you'll wanna be a fan of!).

Now ... let's put on a couple of vids, okay? The first is of Mike today, doing his hit, My Survival. Once you've heard him, trust me -- you're gonna want more of this superstar:

Earlier, I mentioned the original GOOD NEWS WEEK. This is the version that made The Relic a lifelong fan of Hedgehoppers Anonymous (PS: Thanks to rockmeister Chuck McConvey for the link. I owe ya one, Shackman ...)

Okay ... that's it for now See ya on the flip side with more in 24 ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Naughty? Naaaah ....

Y’know, it’s a cryin’ shame when ignorance stands in the way of a good, danceable record and some serious airplay.

For example, when The Five DuTones recorded their hit, Shake A Tail Feather, some Bible belt radio dropped them from their playlists because they didn’t think “Bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather” was nicety-nice … and thought the lyric hook was a slang word for a certain … er, female anatomical part!

But, if ya listen closely, you’ll find that particular word is actually a build-up into the word “WaaaaaaTU-SI!”, a popular dance craze at the time in which the female dancer, er, “bends over and … shakes her tail (feather)!”

And these same cats ripped the first big hit of soul artist Brenton Wood (the Oogum-Boogum song) because, again, they said the last lyrics into fade were slanging that anatomical part (geez … do these cats obsess or what?).

WRONGGGGGG! Look … courtesy the Relic, here are the actual words that Brenton ends the song with:

“I just says, Who got the boo, says, Who got the boo, says. Who got the boo, now, Castin’ your spell on me. Now I says, Oo ga ka boo, says, Oo ga ka boo, says, Oo ga ka boo, now, Castin’ your spell on me.”

Remember — the dude’s under a spell, and, if ya read the last line, you’ll see she’s “castin’ (her) spell on (him)”. He’s repeating her spell, so the listener can know what she’s doing! That’s all …

Of course, the most famous of the alleged “red label” songs is the late Richard Berry’s hit as first recorded by the Kingsmen: Louie Louie. For years, many have thought it had some sexual meaning behind it.

Hey … the truth is, it’s a song about a guy at sea! No more, no less. He’s wantin’ to get back with his girl, who’s waiting for him. Simple — no muss, no fuss, no bother (PS Didja know there's no comma between the two "Louie"s? That's one thing that ticked Berry off about the tune ...).

Today, we’ve got sexy, we've got nasty ... we've even got, er, other words woven into the fabric of rock. From P!nk's new single to C-Lo Green's "F--k You" (which, in itself, is a shame, 'cause C-Lo has a great act!), there's stuff blaring from stereo speakers that'd make these other songs look like children's songs. And radio is happily eating it up!

Yet, terrestrial "oldies" stations still seem to shy away from the songs I listed a moment ago. One airmeister told me that "listeners from that era had a different set of morals and standards. If we air those songs, we're more likely to get negative feedback than from fans who tune in today's music."

Oh. Glad he cleared that up.

He also said that, with the FMs leaning more to "classic" rock, they're preferring more of the album "heavyweights" (LZ, Cream, Rolling Stones (post-1969), Stevie Wonder, etc.) over the lighter, bouncier hits of the Fifties to mid-Sixties (in one air-head's words, "We now play classic -- not 'jurassic'!").

Sure, I disagree with their reasoning - and, apparently, so do other former mike-siders, because some of them have revived their old AM stations to accommodate the reviving fanbase that's clamouring for all oldies -- all the time (hey, FM -- have ya checked yer Arbitrons® lately?).

But, at least now the lyrics of the songs-in-question are given their props (hey … check ‘em yourselves, okay? Google all ya want!). And, if this "AM" revival catches on, chances are we'll finally be able to hear them and most of our faves back on the radio dial before we know it ...

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turning The Tide

'Tis true, campers: Throughout the civilised world today, the tide is finally turning in the favour of peace and (wait ... something's wrong with that pic: the detergent's name, in reverse, is ... well, it spells "EDIT" -- and that's like the "F" word for writers! Now I'm worried ...).

Obviously, if the recent news is any indication, there are a lot of changes going on around the world - and all due to one thing: People are starting to use their brains instead of letting political bigwigs call every shot. They're staging revolutions in Libya (does this sound like an early Dylan song or what?) and in other countries throughout the Mideast.
Whether their voices will be heeded now is still up in the air; but there's something that each country's government has to recognise: The chimes of freedom have been struck, and the sound that reverberates from those chimes will get louder and louder until they shake up the governmental ears, and the people gain their independence!

We've seen it happen in this country, haven't we? And, last year, in London, we saw students, en masse, take on the mighty Parliament over tuition increases.
The Sixties were full of popular protests that actually brought change -- and a new slogan:
"The People, United, Will NEVER Be Defeated!"

Today, the tide is turning in the Mideast ... and the ripple effect has really just begun. If we don't see immediately-positive results, we know that the seeds are being sown ...
and, as it was in "our" day, the fruit that will eventually come from that "sowing" will be magnificent.


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The Valli of The Four Seasons

One of my favorite groups has always been the versatile Four Seasons. Whether it was the original lineup with Valli, Gaudio et al (and, one day, I'm gonna find out who "al" really is) or the the lineup we've seen on those repeated PBS specials, these guys have ALWAYS been at the top of their game.
Their sound was sort of a Jersey doo-wop, though they could play with it a bit and come up with soul, operetta, rock, pop, and even country sounds! In fact, they did a little experimental ditty -- the Dylan tune, "Don't Think Twice (It's All Right)" -- as the comically sweet "The Wonder Who?" Still, Frankie's falsetto was unmistakable.
Having seemingly peaked during the Sixties (their last noticeable hit of the era, I believe, being "Electric Stories"), it seemed the psychedelic, antiwar Seventies all but shelved them ... UNTIL they hit the disco stage with "December '63 (Oh, What A Night!)" A new backup, with Frankie coming in at the hooks and bridge.

The group has been lauded in TV commercials, movies, copycat groups and even in today's "hip-hop" world . If anyone deserved the accolade outside the Beatles (and, IMHO, Lloyd Thaxton), it's the Seasons.
They successfully bridged the gap between pop and rock, influenced acts like Lou Christie, the Happenings, Beach Boys ... even inspired Billy Joel's arrangement and recording of Uptown Girl (which many still believe is the Seasons!).

And who didn't play "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" at least once when they were in love? Or try the outtasite falsetto in "Sherry"? Or rock to the primal opening bars of "C'mon Marianne?"

So their accolades are well-deserved; their place in rock music history is definitely secure. Their music will be alive and fresh years from now ... fab melodies, great arrangements, dynamite lyrics (often for the "underdog" or the guy who didn't have much money) ... a truly American original.


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Saturday, February 19, 2011

When It Hits the Fan ...

Mousers, your Cuzzin Relic awoke this morning to find all his files missing/kaput/86ed/whatever. But I remember Uncle Lloyd telling me that you look at something like this as a "challenge", and you can rise to it and, who knows? Maybe build it stronger than even before! I have more about this at the RRR site.
That being said, let's keep rockin', okay? We start with a reprint that I promised some Cliquers in Schendec ... Shenected ... New York City (close enough, right?) awhile back:

While running the Rock Revolution series, a couple of readers have emailed (not commented) two questions that I thought I'd answered a coupla clicks ago:
What REALLY made the '60s acts so popular? Why can't today's acts get the same momentum?
Well, let's get specific elements on your screen:
  • They were ENTHUSIASTIC ... and it showed on and offstage. No dark, brooding images here -- their attitudes were the best PR they could have! And, since enthusiasm is contagious, the teen public caught it!
  • They used GOOD HOOKS in their songs -- meaning, they repeated lyrics, choruses, etc. Repetition helps anyone remember. Repetition helps anyone remember.
  • They were strong on rhythm, not lead -- and that included drums as well. No one tried to drown out the other with fancy fills. Remember ... it all came from rhythm and blues!!
  • Often, they used a lot of the LOWER-STRING, "DUANE EDDY" STYLE in their rhythm -- It gave the song's backing more body. It's the same technique used for the brooding depth of "hip-hop" trax.
  • The vocals included HARMONY -- Although, on some songs, the vocals were solo efforts, the big ones added backing vocals for strength and extra bounce.
  • They knew to OPEN WITH ATTACK! They knew the start of a hit had to be "exclamation point," not elliptical. It showed the ultimate reason ...

This is what you'll find in every Beatles, Searchers, Stones and other major Invasion group. And, today, many new bands, from The Fore to OK GO! are using the same techniques successfully.


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Friday, February 18, 2011

Music is WHAT??

Well, apparently, it's official: Rock music is an aphrodisiac ...

According to new research by extra-marital dating site (geez … they'll have anything on this internet!) sex and rock'n'roll really do go hand in hand.

Basically, it says that rock fans are more likely to … er, "step out" on their partners (somehow, I'm faintly hearing the strains of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Steppin' Out .. although the warnings on The Beatles' Run For Your Life don't seem too far behind …).

A poll of their 310,000 strong membership showed that 37% of their male and female members called rock their favorite genre of music.
In comparison, 20% of them dig Pop and R&B, 19% favor dance music (how could you if Lawrence Welk is running through yer mind? You'd be asleep before ya even tried …) and 17% are fans of blues and jazz.

And (get this!) three percent said their favorite was either Christian or Gospel music!

"This shouldn't come as a surprise, really." says site representative Sarah Hartley. "Rock music has been associated with sex since the 50s. Lots of prominent rock stars - Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry - oozed sex appeal.
Many of our members in in their late 30s/early 40s, so would have grown up listening to pioneering bands like Aerosmith, Blondie, AC/DC and Fleetwood Mac. This may explain why so many of them are rock music fans."

Suuuuuuuure … blame it on the music, why dontcha? Anyone ever hear of that little word hormones? Hey … get some married dudes with money in a dimly-lit bar late at night, half-crocked, with some very well-built young women who are equally drunk, and it wouldn't matter if they were listening to cats passing gas — someone's gonna end up … er, wellll ... you know the answer ...


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The Unpublished Relic Interview

A little over a week ago, I was contacted by a web "fanzine" with a request for an interview. Given my blessing (the guy sneezed whilst asking. Don't blame me ...), I was sent the following questions to answer. Since then, though, the magazine ... er, "folded", so, rather than have 'em go to waste, I decided to include 'em here:

We all know you're really Chuck Hinson. How and when did you come up with the "Rock Relic" gimmick?

Well, I'm in the rock music business, so that settles that part of the name. As far as "Relic" goes: Have you ever seen me? 'Nuff said, then ...

Kidding aside, a few years ago I was asked (by another company) to write a classic rock blog for them, and -- considering that "classics" mean "legendary and venerable", and a relic serves to remind us of those -- I came up with the name.

You include music news, how-to's in the industry, and lately you've been running a series on rock-and-roll history. Where do you get your information for all these?

I make it up. Actually, everything I post is true (except for my squirrelly friend, Chulo. The real one's a Pepsi® freak ...). I've seven regular sources and sixty others that I check regularly, and also have input from some mates of mine who helped make that history. Sorry, but I don't divulge my sources. I value my life ...

You've also published interviews. Who has been your favorite interview to date?

To date? Geez ... I haven't asked any of them out! Besides, I prefer women (ummmm, where were we? OH, yeah ...) Whilst I've had the pleasure of having greats like The Fore, Nathan Persad and the great UK songwriter Ron Ryan on the screen, my favourite interview was with my friend and mentor, Lloyd Thaxton.

I wish everyone could've known him, really. He was a mix of everything that's good in life and music. And, for all those who only knew him from The Lloyd Thaxton Show, let me say that he was every bit as lively, creative and caring in "real life" as he was on-screen. A true joy to know ... and he's missed to this day (sadly, "Uncle LL" left us back in 2008).

How did you and Mr. Thaxton meet (side question: he wasn't really your uncle, was he)?

LL was everybody's favourite uncle. I mean, real uncles (daddy's brothers, etc.) would take you to heart, really listen to you, bring smiles to your face, make you feel like you and your opinions counted. You could also count on their sage advice when it was needed.
That, my friend, was Lloyd Eugene Thaxton to a tee.
We met via email, when I was trying to find Beau Charles (of the Sixties band, The Knickerbockers) for permission to re-record their song, The Coming Generation. Though he'd had the band on his show a few times, and I knew it was a long shot. But, true to the man's character, he wrote back and, since we both had almost identical interests, we built a strong friendship that lasted until his untimely passing a few years later.

Surely you don't make a living just writing blogs. Are you involved with any other work in the field of rock-n-roll than just blogging?

Who's Shirley? Perhaps you should ask her that question (provided she's a blogger somewhere).
Actually, I'm contracted by a couple of agencies to write scripts for them, and also publicise some of the best "unsung" singing acts in the business like Mike Lane, Mike Tinsley, Frank Lee Sprague and the legendary singer/songwriter Ron Ryan. Throw in a few public appearances as the Relic, a monthly radio gig (which will resume in March), and you've got it.

There's MORE of this interview coming up in the next couple of posts, so stay tuned ...


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Monday, February 14, 2011

And The Award Goes To ...

Yeah, I watched it.

But, unlike others who gawked Gaga going gonzo in her incredible, non-edible egg or were fevered Bieber believers, I couldn't help noticing some of the little things that occurred during the show (little? Again with Beiber?? Or was that Jaden Smith? BTW, those kids did a dynamite rap number together):

Dylan with an uncommonly-raspy voice and, more uncommonly, having fun with his music;
Marc Anthony and J-Lo (who seemed to channel Sonny and Cher during their spot);
Christina Aguilera actually stumbling after the Aretha tribute (PS the Queen of Soul -- who did a taped cameo at the end of the set -- has said she doesn't have pancreatic cancer, as had been reported);
and the "misfit moment" when the powers-that-be had supernerd Seth Rogen introduce Eminem.
(By the way, is there anyone who can do Aretha more justice than Jennifer Hudson?? Didn't think so ...)

But, whilst that was going on, there were other musical awards given out around the continent:

Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, Lee Hazelwood, Goose Creek Symphony, Dick Van Dyke
(and it's hard to believe that he's 85 now!) and Tanya Tucker were among the eleven artists inducted into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame Sunday (February 13) in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Dennis Coffey of "Scorpio" fame was inducted Saturday (February 12) into the Canada South Blues Society's blues museum in Windsor, Ontario. Dennis has also played with the late Del Shannon and in the Motown rhythm section-- most notably on "Cloud Nine."

Finally, Jack Scott and Robbie Robertson of the Band will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on April 2. In addition, Skylark's song, "Wildflower" and the Motherlode song "When I Die" will be among the songs honored.

So there are awards still being handed out, even now.
But there's one I'd like to see most of all:


I know ... he'd have to be in the non-music category. Sure, he might not have been in a band or had hit albums, but trust me ... the man ROCKED!!!

Whatcha think? Then let's get together and, en masse (or en email, or en person, or en Facebook), press Jann Wenner and the HOF committee so hard it'll make Tahrir Square look like a cakewalk!!

He deserves it ...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It Was A Day To Remember ...

You know, on some days it's better just to have stayed in bed ...

On Friday, after my daytime runs here in Happy Valley (and dealing with both a slight bronchial infection and a bum knee), I made my way down one of our scenic streets ... just to be turned back by the bevy of police cars and foot patrols! Apparently, they were looking for someone around the intersecting blocks ... and, judging by their looks, I don't think it was for Girl Scout Cookies™!

So, since I wasn't driving, I took one of our sleek, kinda-new city buses (well, I didn't "take" it, actually. We had a driver ...) back to the Mouse House when everyone on-board saw a house suddenly flame up! I mean, there was just a little smoke about two blocks from the structure -- but, by the time we were in front of it, the place just fired up like a furnace! Smoke billowed out like mad, and was so thick you could've cut it with the proverbial knife (always the best to carry ... doesn't hurt anyone ...).
Yep ... fire trucks, ambulances, police cruisers, unmarked units -- the street was covered with them all within just minutes of the blaze!
Fortunately, no one was home during the fire ... but, sadly, one of their family pets didn't make it out of the inferno.

By the time I got off the bus (about three blocks from the House), a guy came out of the pizza place nearby and yelled "You better get home quick. Somebody robbed the bank up the street and he's still out here somewhere!"
Ahhhh, just what I wanted to hear ... an upbeat greeting from a neighbour at the end of a lonnnng day ... (PS As of this writing, he still hasn't been caught!)

On the way down the alley (looking over my back and checking the sides of nearby houses [I learned to do that during my police training in the Army]), I couldn't help chuckling a bit.
I remembered what Uncle Lloyd told me in one of our many emails: "Live life to the fullest, because if you don't it will catch up with you anyway. And it beats dying."
And, Mousers, today I got a bellyful of it ...

Stay tuned ...


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hello, I'm ... WHO?

When I first saw this pic, it struck me as strange. I mean, how can the brave-Klingon-whose-name-sounds-like-a-dog-bark actually allow himself to be bitten by this monstrous fish? In fact, he looks almost embarrassed by it (and so does Worf, come to think about it ....).

Actually, this obviously-photoshopped pic (the fish is waaaay too huge) brings up a question: How many of us portray ourselves as something we're not? (okay, two questions: How long does it take to cook that sucker [yes, the fish ...]?).
Yesterday, I was introduced to a couple of high-schoolers who were starting up a new rock band. They looked sincere when they asked, "Who should we BE like? We all like The Beatles, but we also like (ZZ) Top."

That's the number one question I get from almost all rockstar wannabes -- and the answer has always been: "Don't be like ANYBODY!! What'll help your act go over -- and give you longevity -- is to BE YOURSELF!"

Who better to prove my point than two of the most popular rock bands in history? The Beatles had a tremendous first-half of their career. Four moptop lads with matching suits and a fab sound, they made a huge impact on the genre. But John, Paul, George and their drummer wanted to be more than every teen's fantasy -- they wanted to express themselves. Starting with Revolver, they finally branched out and began making music that catapulted them into legends.

The Monkees were created for a television series of the same name (Matlock). Though their show -- and the screen personalities of Mike, Micky, Davy and Peter -- created much the same teen mania as The Beatles, the guys wanted to show they were more than Kirshner's musical cardboard cut-outs; they wanted to be themselves and take more control of music -- tracks that they performed, and not a prepaid "band" like Candy Store Prophets.
In their case, a well-thrown punch by Mike Nesmith (which only connected with the wall beside Kirshner) drove the point home -- and with Aquarius, Pisces, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd. the formerly Prefab Four began letting the fans know what they were really all about.

When the Beatles first hit the Ed Sullivan Show 47-years-and-a-day-ago, a lot of "cookie-cutter" acts popped up -- those who copied the Fab Four's music, styles and moves to a tee. But, offstage, they just didn't cut it; their personalities were almost completely opposite their onstage personas. Many of these were actually good bands out there, but nobody saw their own individual personalities. In other words, they weren't being themselves.
And they were quickly forgotten about ...

The same thing's happening today; bands that may have a great sound get onstage and, POOF! -- they change into cheap imitations of another act's onstage presence. You'll find this in everyday life, too -- people who, inside, are themselves, will go outside and put on a totally different face. They do it in the hope that no one will know the real "them", or they want to impress people.

And, as the bands who try too hard to emulate others, they'll find their popularity short-lived ... for that matter, lived "short". People want to meet the real "you". When you show that part of you, you're more apt to make friends and associates that'll last you a lifetime!

So let's take out that word "WHO" from the title and include your name. You'll find those who accept the real you are gonna be around for a lonnng time to come ...


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Supper Bowl Sunday

I'm tellin' ya ... those Zumba classes get weirder everyday, don't they?

Actually, that's a picture of two guys in funny costumes playing something called "football". The objective, as I understand it, is for the guy with the "36" on his costume to try and get the football out from "84"s arm and run under an "H"-shaped pole, throw the ball down -- apparently on his foot because, then he jumps around like he's in pain ...

The Packers' win at SuperBowl XDVLDCXX+/- was no big surprise, though I heard a couple of friends (Steelers' fans, God forgive 'em, or bless 'em, depending on your location) remark that the Green Team had a few cheesy plays at the start of the game (which, judging by its length, must've been sometime yesterday ...). Geez ... why shouldn't they? Hey's Green Bay, alright? Like, in Wisconsin??
And what's that state known for?? CHEESE!! So they're entitled ...

But, alas, watching the Big Game wasn't in the cards for me Sunday night (actually, it was in the TV set ...). Whilst the Steelers were melting by the twelfth quarter, I was busy getting the Super Seven their suppers: Pate du fois Friskies, Alpo du Jour, Purina under glass and a peanut-butter sandwich.
I swear, the last one was for me until its luscious scent appeared on the SPN (starving-pet-noses) radar. It's amazing how a pet can be so lively and slobbery whilst you're trying to watch a TV program, but open the refrigerator and he'll give you a look that'll make you wanna give him all your food, the fridge and donate your house to the ASPCA.

When I finally returned to the TV, the pets' bellies were full, the Packers had won and gone home, and I'd found an affinity for rutabagas, which pets do not like ...


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