Friday, July 29, 2011

It Could've Been Tragic ...

I'm pre-empting the regular posts to bring this special report and commentary. It will be published across the Relic's network of blogs today. So stay tuned ... the story follows this picture:

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, 28 Jul), Ashland witnessed a senseless act of violence that also could have been horribly tragic.

At about 4:30 PM EST, an explosion occurred in the parking garage at 12th Street and Bath Avenue, billowing smoke from the garage and rocking the Skytower Center across the street.
As workers from the Center began entering the garage at shift's end, they noticed a woman who was shocked, blackened and blistered. As one worker reported, "her hair looked like it was fried ..."

The woman's car -- a convertible -- was blown up as she was attempting to start it. For hours after the incident, Ashland police cordoned off the area and quarantined all other cars in the garage. None were allowed to leave.


This afternoon, I learned that the cause of the explosion was a pipe bomb, rigged by -- well, all I was told is that it was a "domestic case."
Whilst no one's going into detail yet, I think we all know what those words mean: Most likely, an ex-husband/boyfriend/lover or whatever decided to get revenge for the lady leaving him or whatever.

Look ... "domestic violence" has gotten way out of hand -- due, in part, to spouses (mostly men, but there are occasionally women who cause it!) who don't have the courage to control their anger but believe they can control others. It's not helped any, quite frankly, by the perp believing that his partner is his "property" (now, how stupid is that?? But there are those from every segment of society who believe it.)
Another part of the problem, though, are the courts who, sometimes, tie the hands of those who try to protect themselves -- and let the perps go with a virtual slap-on-the-wrist. Believe me, if you let them go, they WILL do it again and again! Because abuse -- especially violent abuse -- is "power" to them!

Sadly, lawyers will plead for these perps, calling them "poor, misunderstood and with a bad childhood"; psychiatrists and counselors say their outbursts are caused by a new psychobabble called "intermittent explosive disorder"; court dockets and jails are too full ... so they let the offenders off with little (if any) punishment.
But the victim will probably be hurt even worse (if not killed!) due to the courts' refusal to stand up for them!

Two points to make here: If I were a betting man, I'd bet the farm that the perp who did this has been in trouble for DV before (see the last paragraph, starting with "court dockets and jails are too full ...). Fortunately, the victim had only (relatively) minor injuries. Remember: it was a convertible. Had it been a hard-top, chances are she would have been killed or severely injured (see the last paragraph, starting with the bold-typed "But the victim will ...")

We desperately need to change the laws to protect the abused! The abusers, if found guilty in a court of law, should be given the harshest sentences allowed for the crimes they commit (in this case, attempted murder!).
There should be a domestic violence registry just as there is a sex offender registry ... and the perps on it should be treated with the same, pariah-like scorn as those who molest our children!

For those who have abusive spouses, the word is simple: When you finally leave this person, DON'T LOOK BACK ... DON'T GO BACK! Abusers are cyclic creatures ... they won't change ...

Let's hope this woman heals perfectly ... and builds a new life without worrying about the numbskull that caused this horrible and senseless crime! And let's hope the courts get enough intestinal fortitude to assure he's no longer seen by society for a long, long time to come ...

More coming up shortly ...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Awwww, Nevermind ...

It was like a scene from Abbott and Costello:
I was talkin' to a friend of mine a couple of days ago about the big reissue of Nirvana's most famous album. He's about the same age as me (old), but knows a lot about the newer bands like The Cars and Hanson.
Here's how it went:

"Have you heard about the big reissue of Nirvana's album?"
"No, NIRVANA. The 'Who' were more than a decade before."
"What album, then?"
"Well if you ain't gonna TELL me, why'd you bring it UP?"
"Bring WHAT up?"
"You said something about a Nirvana album ..."
"Yeah. 'Nevermind' ..."
"Y'SEEEE?? First you say YEAH, then you won't TELL me! Geez ..."

And on it went. (Ahhh, what a way to get filler for this post ... real life! Gotta love it ... Anyway:)

There is gonna be a reissue of the (ALBUM TITLE:) "Nevermind" album by the famed Washingtonianan band (the good Washington. The state ... not the "other" one). But there's more to this redux than meets the ear ... or eye:

First, it'll be a special 20th Anniversary edition, and is scheduled for release in late September (so is my cuzzin Bubba, but that's a different story ...).
Annnd it'll be reissued in various formats. The one that'll really appeal to die-hard Cobain fans will be the super-deluxe edition. Get this, "Teen Spirit" Smellers (know the song, know the moniker, folks): It'll have four (yep, FOUR!) CDs dotdotdot and one DVD disc!

It'll include: the original (but remastered) album and all the singles' "B-sides" -- and the demos recorded at Smart Studios and boombox recordings of rehearsals. In addition (WHAT?? There's more??) there are producer Butch Vig’s own mixes of the tracks (the final version was mixed by Andy Wallace).

Now, the DVD I mentioned will feature the entire 1991 Halloween show at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. It also has the four videos shot for songs from the album -- vids that more-or-less "introduced" Kurt, Krist and Dave to the world .
And dig this: the box set will also have a 90-page book with rare and previously unseen photos and documents and even other visuals from this era!
But you're gonna have to move fast if you want this supreme deluxe solid gold edition: Y'see, there are only gonna be 40,000 copies of it available worldwide!
But even if you don't get that one, you'll still have a bit of luck, because the album will also be released in a two-CD deluxe format and a four-LP 180g edition.

Yup ... I said those long-lost initials, "LP" . For a special edition of Nevermind. Huh? No, I am telling you! Y'see, it's the name of the album, and it's ...

Awww ... stay tuned ,,,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 27 Club (Revised)

This is a repeat write-up that I've simulcast here as well as on ROck, Rhythm and Rimshots. It's fitting, as we lost another popular act to that now-legendary "Curse of 27".

It's one of the most mysterious topics of the classic-rock era: All of the legends you see on your left died at the age of 27. Besides Jimi, Jim, Pearl, Kurt, Brian and, now, Amy Winehouse, there've been others who've followed suit -- many by their own hand -- and at the same age.

Think it's just relegated to an unfortunate few?? Well, after Amy's tragic passing, I did like so many others and dug into this a little deeper.
Ya ready? Since 1908, no less than 48 musical entertainers have lost their lives at the age of 27. And I haven't stopped counting!! There are more who were probably not on the "A" list, but were rockin', nonetheless ... and the pain of their loss is no less important to those who loved them ...

But the question is: WHY?!? What's so significant about the "Curse of 27"? Why does it happen at that age?
Here's an answer from a terrific young lady named Nadja O'Dwyer -- one that makes a lot of sense (remember: this was just after the news broke about Winehouse):

Many mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, don't manifest themselves until young people are around 20-25. So if there is a tendency towards them, coupled with excessive drug and/or alcohol use, maybe the combination becomes lethal for many in the mid-twenties if not controlled. I just read where she was diagnosed a few years back as manic/depressive, but refused treatment. How ironic, considering all the illegal drugs she poured into herself that she wouldn't take the one drug that might help her.

(Man, that's what I love about this job; you get the coolest and smartest people readin' this site! WOW!!)

But what Nadja said is true ... and, yes, the curse can be broken! We'll discuss that in the next edition. But, for now, let's just say R.I.P. Amy Winehouse ... and pray that there will never be another taken at that age ...

Stay tuned ...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Has Rock Gone MAD??

Awwww, who couldn't love that adorable little face on your left? Kinda cross between Alfalfa and George Bush, isn't he??

But Mr. Alfred E. Neuman (who looked a lot like me when I wuz young except for the freckles) headed up the (and teeth ... and hair ... and eyes ... ) great MAD Magazine™ -- and, along with parodies and spoofs, it had some of the craziest recordings you ever hoid!

Yeah! They were flimsy, paper-thin records they stuck in the pages of special issues (remember, anyone?). My favorite was one whose backing track was a rip-off of a guitar instrumental called The Stinger, but ... was ... interrupted ... at times by ... loud BURPS! (and the EPA didn't say a word about their contributions to global warming! Hmph!) It was really (hold on ... here it comes:) a GAS! (hey ... I warned ya!)

More than that, though, came outta those inserts! In a '68 ish, you could find fake record labels that you could stick on 45s to fool yer friends: I AM A ROACH by "Slimy & Garfink" (on a realistic-looking Capitol Records label) and STRANGLERS IN THE NIGHT by "Frank Sinister" (same, but with Reprise Records!). Tres cool ...

Whilst the "records" were cool, the entire magazine was considered "rock music set to cartoons." It was funny, somewhat irreverant at times ... but it wuz clean! And the vibes it sent out were positive ...

Something else that the Kurtzman/Gaines team included was continuity. We could feel a connection with those two sneaky little secret-agents in Spy vs. Spy -- their shenanigans in one issue seemed to connect in a story-line fashion with those in the next. And Al Jaffee's brilliant back-cover "fold-in" (remember those? You folded the back cover in two and would find a secret "message"? Sort of like a former generations "secret-decoder"?) was nothing short of brilliant!

Ahhh, but, today, there's little continuity in comic magazines (if there are any; even comic books are called "graphic novels" now!) or rock music. They all jerk us around from one tempo to the next and back to the first; their content (music or print) doesn't hold the attention that it used to. "Creativity" seems to be a thing of the past.

That's actually Reason #101 why the music-buying public is finding more favour with the "oldies" or "classic rock" genre than ever before! We need continuity in our lives and music once again -- Lord knows, we've got more than enough of the discordant choppiness on Capitol Hill!

It's time to bring the clean fun, creativity and continuity back to American media once again. Whether it's in music, print, television or radio, the change can only affect us in a very positive way ...

Stay tuned ...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sensible Insanity? (Pt. 3)

We're continuing our exploration into the zaniness of America's premier Sixties rock group, Paul Revere and The Raiders! This story is from the pages of the legendary Tiger Beat!® magazine ... circa April, 1966.
Now, if ya missed the first part of the post, get yer 20-lashes-with-a-wet-noodle quickly, then click here. And here's the second part.

All set now? Then let's move on to Part 3 of Insanity Makes Sense:

ENTER THE MAHARAJAH: "One day we dressed Mark as a sultan in a silk suite and a bright purple turband with a broach we bought at a dime store but which looked like $5 million. The rest of us dressed in trench coasts like Secret Service men and bodyguards.
We pulled up in front of a restaurant where everyone could see us. The guys jumped out, checked the streets very suspicious-like and opened the door for the maharajah. It was a put-on like the cheapest Hollywood movie but the people in the restaurant were really taken in. Nobody cracked a smile.

Mark, the maharajah, and Drake jabbered to each other in some jargon that sounded real but was pure gibberish. The rest of us sat with our hands in our trench coast pockets as if holding concealed pistols, our eyes searching the premises for would-be assassins."

They ordered their steaks and, after a lonnnnnng wait, finally received them. BUT ...

The rest of us received our steaks but we wouldn't touch them, explaining we didn't dare eat until the maharajah had started ... When the rajah's steak arrived, Drake had to taste it to make sure it wasn't poisoned. The waitress was watching all this with her eyes and mouth wide open.

When Rajah Mark finished, he took his plate which still had a lot of chow on it, and turned it upside down. Potatoes, peas and the half-finished steak were all strewn over the table and floor.
Everybody in the place ... stood up to see what happened. The waitress screamed, "What's wrong? What's wrong?"

So we explained that it's the custom of our country to turn the plate upside down when a meal is finished whether there's still food on it or not. It was hideous! -- but nobody smiled."


Whilst the band was well-known for its zany hijinks, their music was equally important, and made a lasting impact on this genre we call "rock-and-roll". But when you put the two together, you have an unbeatable combination that was destined to put them in the top spot, both in Arbitron and Billboard charts -- and in the hearts of fans around the world.
We'll talk more about that in our next post, where we conclude our look inside the wonderfully-wacky world of Paul Revere and The Raiders.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sensible Insanity? (Pt. 2)

I was gonna run the band's "Maharajah" story in Pt. 2, but let's save it until tomorrow. Reason? The following prank that the Raiders pulled was just too hilarious to pass up:
(Oh, yeah ... for you who just joined us, here's Part One of the story, straight from the April, 1966 issue of Tiger Beat® Magazine. Paul Revere, himself, is narrating):


Smitty (Mike Smith) and I would enter a restaurant separately as if we didn't know each other, and take separate tables.
Drake and Phil Volk would then come in leading Mark, obviously blind, wearing thick black glasses and a white-tipped cane. They'd smash him into a door which made a big crash. Everyone would turn around, see the accident and say, 'Aw, the poor man ...'
The three would sit down, order food and eat heartily, while poor Mark was making a complete mess, dropping food and spilling drinks all over the table.
One time Smitty and I brought blind Mark into a restaurant. Mark ordered spaghetti. He'd bring the fork to his mouth -- and there was nothing on it. When we were all finished, Mark was still trying to eat his spaghetti which he couldn't get into his mouth. When we got up from the table, Mark complained that he was still hungry. We shouted, 'Why do you always order things you can't eat, you jerk?'

Well, everybody in the restaurant stopped eating to watch us, unable to believe their ears. As we got louder and ruder, Phil and Drake who pretended they didn't know us, called to the crowd, "DID YOU HEAR THAT?? LET'S TEACH THOSE TERRIBLE PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT A BLIND PERSON!"

When we were ready to leave, Mark pushed his hand into the spaghetti and plaintively asked, 'Am I through? Am I through?'
'Okay, pal,' I snarled at him, 'If you can't learn to order food you can grab with your hands we don't want to eat with you any more.' We paid the bill and started out.

'Wait for me, fellows. Please wait for me,' Mark wailed piteously, staggering after us, bumping into tables, knocking over glasses.
"Aw, we're stuck with the slob," Smitty and I moaned. 'Let's toss a coin to see who goes back and gets him.' I lost, so I wnt back and grabbed his arm impatiently and obviously irritated. Leading him out, I let him crash into the door with his face and feet. Me and Smitty bawled him out.
The other diners, led by Phil and Drake, were now yelling and calling us dirty names for our cruelty to the sightless, helpless and hapless man. We could hear the noise clear out in the street.

It's really amazing how you can put on the public as long as you play it straight and don't crack up."


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Summertime Blues??

Okay ... who, in this magic land of the USofA, isn't half-melted by this ginormendous heat wave we've had??
Everywhere I turn, I'm hearing people complain about the heat ('s funny ... they're the same ones who, just six months ago, were complaining about the cold! Geez ... make up yer minds already! lol). But, as long as there are power grids and central cooling, air conditioners and ice cubes, we're gonna be alright, right??

I've gotta admit that it's a bit harder for us bald(ing) guys. Y'see, at least you furry folks have somethin' that'll absorb the sweat. All of us with only memories of hair have it harder, because that stuff comes straight down our foreheads and skis down our snoots -- leaving us with half-baked heads!

A few years ago, a local, big-name family restaurant realised their summer patrons were worn out by the heat -- and that meant smaller orders or just Coke or tea and nothing else.
So how to put the customer at ease so he'd order more, thus building the store's daily receipts? Simple:

They put winter music over their speaker system! Sure enough, people started feeling cooler (ahhh, the power of a brain! Or so I'm told ...), thus becoming friendlier and more at ease, which meant more (and bigger) orders!

Now, Uncle LL was one of ... no, he was the coolest teen host on television. Despite the lighting, the small nearly closet-sized studio (his words), all the equipment (from cameras to amps) and so many people on the set, he still made every home viewer feel relaxed and refreshed -- even on those sweat-stained days of summer!
Amongst the acts he'd had on the show were his musical counterparts, Paul Revere and The Raiders. Again, despite temps that could be so hot they could fricassee birds whilst in flight, Paul, Mark, Phil, Fang and Smitty made everything cooler and more enjoyable with their perfect blend of music and often-improvised humour.

Someone once asked "Why does it seem hotter now than it did back in the old days? Was Al Gore right after all, when he said our weather pattern's lost its rhythm?" Well, I never learned about Al Gore rhythm, so I can't figure that one out; but, y'know, it wasn't so much that we were meteorologically cooler (and I'm still tryin' where "logically" fits into that weatherwise word);
we just had cooler times, acts ... and a teen-show host who kept it that way each weekday! Of course, when you feel more comfortable in your actions, you start reflecting that "coolness" physically! (so says Mr. Peabody, Mr. Wizard, Ben Casey and Dr. Pepper -- and some real doctors, as well!)

They really knew how to beat these Summertime Blues -- and it's a shame that, in today's rock world, very few know how (or even care) to learn from those who made our lives so "cool" back then!


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


A fab reprint from a 45-year-old copy of Uncle Lloyd's Tiger Beat® magazine:
Amongst the bands of the 1960s, Paul Revere and the Raiders undoubtedly cornered the market on perfect stage presence. A mix of fab music, groovy vocals, great looks and zany humour, they quickly became the most sought-after act in America.
In the April, 1966 edition of Tiger Beat® Magazine, Paul shared a bit about the band -- and a look into their looniness. Here's Pt. 1 of the article, Insanity Makes Sense:

"Insanity is our kick. Kids enjoy watching the Raiders make like refugees from the nut farm. We enjoy it too and it helps us say sane in this high-pressure music game. Older teen-agers are rather withdrawn and fear to appear ridiculous but they'll do things in a crowd or with their own gang they'd ever do alone. Same with us. If one of us had to walk out on the stage alone he'd probably freeze up like a frostie but we can do anything nutty in a group. As soon as we put on our idiot suits we know we look ridiculous and we act the part.

The one thing I had in mind from the beginning was that Paul Revere and the Raiders should not be a stand-still music group. We want to pleasure the eye as well as the ear. Some groups just stand on the stage and try to come on cool. The girls in the audience may like them but the boys instinctively don't. When we are more crazy than cool, the guys dig us and the gals think we're 'cute,' so we're in like Flynn with both sexes.

Where The Action Is gives us free reign to happen with the kookiest kicks we can think of. One day we row to the middle of a lake and start a fracas that capsizes the boat and dumps us in the drink; next day we climb trees in a park, swing from limb to limb to limb, screechng and scratching like monkeys. The scenes are set in scripts but 90 per cent of the acton is strictly ad lib."

Okay, we're gonna skip ahead a little to some of the outrageous pranks these guys did. You can read one on your right (a pic I took of the actual page. Click the pic to get a larger look at it!). Here's Paul describing another:

"In the old days before we were signed for the Dick Clark TV'er, we used to tour the Pacific Northwest in a big black hearse. We'd arrive n a town with our lights on during daylight, driving very slowly, passing through red lights, parking without putting a coin in the parking meters -- and we never got a traffic ticket for anything.

Once, we filled the hearse with bright balloons. As we rolled down the streets of the little town we released hundreds of them until the downtwon streets were filled with balloons. The townspeople ddn't know how to take it, they didn't laugh or say a word but the weirdest things would happen. Little old ladies would run out in the street to catch ne of the balloons.
Sometimes we had a sign on the hearse reading, 'LIVE MUSIC' and a pair of shoes with the toes pointed outward glued to the back window.
One cold winter's day in Pendleton, Oregon, we stopped in front of a hotel and carried Mark Linday out of the hearse. He was still as a board. We propped him up against a telephone pole, tied him so he wouldn't fall down, then we drove away. When we came back later to retrieve the 'corpse', the street was crowded with open-mouthed gapers who couldn't believe their eyes. We just threw him back ito the hearse like a sack of oats and took off. People are still talking about that episode in Pendleton."

Now, this is only Part 1!! But stay tuned; we've a couple more to go, then I'll wrap it up with some obviouservations on their music via today's. So see ya in less than 24 ...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

And, Lo, The Thax-Man Cometh ..

Awright ... in case you've been under a rock (ummmm ... small "r", thank you!), ya know I'm talkin' about the Troubador of Teendom, Roller of the Rock (large "R" here!), Captain of Cool, the legendary ... Chubby Checker.

(and the readers go "WHAAAA ...?!?")

C'mon ... ya know I'm kiddin'! There was only one dude who fit the bill, and that was our late and sorely-missed Chief Mouser, LLoyd Thaxton! Now, though we've covered a lot about Uncle LL over the past coupla years, there's somethin' I've been thinkin' about (yeah, I've been known to do that every once-in-awhile):

Y'know, when LLoyd came outta the sound booth to put together his show, he actually put a face on the fabness of rock. Before that, we pretty much dug the 4/4s and danced -- but the feel of it all was still locked inside: For the most part, our folks still didn't approve of it and, quite frankly, we didn't know how to let the electricity flow to our outer core! He showed us that we could have fun when we let the music into our everyday lives ... and we could do it cleanly!

But was he satisfied with doin' just that??

NooooOOOOOooo! He hadta go on, post-LTS, and give the nets some of that same pump-up-the-endorphin feel. From some amazing -- and occasionally wacky -- pieces on the Today Show to his work on Talk Back!, he brought LIFE into living rooms all across America (not the magazine, though it was alright; I'm talkin' about the real thing!). In fact, he was also offered the chance to sit in for Johnny on The Tonight Show!

Then The Man decided to co-author a book called STUFF HAPPENS (and then you fix it) with John Alston. It's a dynamic write with 9 Reality Rules that'll help anyone with "issues" get back on track. But, of course, it's the Thaxman that cometh up with the ability to relate in an upbeat, live-wire fashion that makes the reader wanna read it againandagainand(getthepicture?).

In other words, what Lloyd was to Rock, he was to television, to the ones who read his book, and with fans, friends and family.

He was what our Generation needed, and the legend lives on, both in print and vid, to show us there's LIFE out there, and all we gotta do is LIVE it with the positive, no-holds-barred confidence we had back then! I'm proud to say that he's the one who influenced the Relic's tagline (or "signature" or whatever), because he loved it!

Him and ten little "finger people" who inspired a whole generation ....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Found Whilst Looking Up Other Things ...

Awww, come on ... climb off that chair and sit down, willya? After all, it's just a picture!! Geez ...

Actually, the photo is of a very special trapdoor spider. Y'see, an East Carolina University biologist discovered the new species back in 2007 and gave it a scientific name. Here it is (you figure it out who it's named for): Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi.
Right: The famed head spitter of the ancient Rednecki tribe, Myrmek Iaphilus!
(Ummm ... you ain't buyin' that, are ya? OOOOookaayyYYYY:)
Actually, its named after folkrocker Neil Young. (Huh? No, I don't know why. Maybe he's a fan or something! That's why he's in the upper-right corner of the pic to your left ...)

STICKIN' WITH THE SNOT: Okay ... I know those words might sound a little gross (heh-heh. FINALLY ... you pay attention!!), but ... awww, lemme 'splain:

Y'see, a few times over the past years, I've sat in as drummer for a local band ... and, as anyone who's ever thumped the skins can tell ya, those sticks can fly outta yer hands every once-in-awhile! But a friend of mine told me about some stuff you can use to keep 'em from doin' that.
"It's called Gorilla Snot," he said. Heck ... I didn't even know those overgrown monkeys picked their noses, much less that anyone would actually package that stuff! But it's actually a sort of mild glue that keeps 'em from slipping!
So, I tried it ... and it worked great (until I went to the bathroom during a break! Ever try to unzip with a stick stuck to yer hands? It ain't pretty ...). Personally, I think I'll stick with the guitar now (I can play that, bass, harmonica, drums and ping-pong in case yer wonderin' ...)

A FEW QUICK WORDS: dog cat library computer television
SERIOUSLY ... A FEW QUICK 'NUTHER WORDS: As I mentioned in an earlier post, Uncle LL and I were talking about a (in his words) "hand-held new Spaper" (sounds kinda self-marketing, dontcha think?) called Solid Gold Rock! Since I'd already published a couple of local monthly newspapers successfully, we talked about doin' one that was geared to the classic rock/oldies/baby-boomer scene -- and making it a national one at that!
But, alas (not the one who had the restaurant. That's Alice ...), with the recent drop in "hand-held" newspaper readership nationwide -- and, of course, Lloyd's passing (and he left us wayyyy too soon) -- the idea folded (get it? Newspaper? Folding? Ahhh, nevermind ...) .
But I'm thinkin' of resurrecting the idea -- a rock/boomer new Spaper on the web! It'd include articles, ideas, thoughts and more from you guys, as well as links to fab sites, songs and more.
Natch, it'd all be dedicated to Uncle Lloyd ...
Whatcha think, Mousers?? Let me know ... meanwhile, more's on its way in less than 24, so ...

Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pleading the Fifth

Alright ... did everybody have a Happy July 4th? Ready to get back to work, right??

Naaah ... me, neither. But (sigh!) the show must go on ...

Hey -- didja see the big celebration at the Capitol last night (I think the PBS stations carried it)?? While the celebs, music and fireworks were all awesome, the show really didn't pack all three at the same time until they wheeled out that baby grand -- with a familiar face poised to pound the ivories:

Little Richard himself! Yes, that Little Richard ... 78-year-old Little Richard!!

He tore into two of his super-hits like he was 30 once again! Long Tall Sally and Good Golly, Miss Molly had Penniman's trademarks: screaming vocals, fantastic falsettos, and rockin' piano!
The crowd of maxi-thousands were on their feet, dancing, swinging, swaying and clapping through his set -- one that was accented by the best rockin' saxophone this side of Ace Cannon (only one guy could've done it better -- the late Clarence Clemons!).

Over on NBC, viewers could take in Macy's July 4th Celebration in New York City (and, in my opinion, their fireworks display was the most colourful and majestic of any of 'em). To yer Cuzzin Relic, whilst it's always fab to see the beautiful Beyonce perform, the top vocals-of-the-night were rendered by Jennifer Hudson! Her rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the end of the show (which spotlighted the best of the aforementioned fireworks) proved that she's a permanent part of soul music's royalty!

Ahhh, but, today, we plead the Fifth (July 5th, that is ..). As we drive or walk to work, we undoubtedly run across the remnants of fireworks-now-past; we speak softly so as not to rattle the cages of those still hungover; we see people whose midriffs prove the effectiveness of holiday cookouts.
But, above all, we have the appreciation that, despite all that's going on in Washington -- despite all the tornadoes, floods, fires and more -- we've survived to show, if but for this one day, that America's still alive and kickin' ... and that neither hell nor high water will take us away from those freedoms we hold so dearly.


One of the necessities of any business person or student is a sturdy, dependable laptop computer! Their portability is essential if they're to keep tabs on their studies, clients or whatever.
But, for many of us, they've become so expensive that we're stuck with the old PC towers and plug-ins -- hardly what we need when we're on the road or at school, right?
Fortunately, there's one place where you can get great buys on refurbished laptops -- computers that are every bit as good as brand-new. In fact, by clicking the link you just saw, you'll find these laptops are actually floor models that have been checked, double-checked and are made available at a lower cost for you!
And, my friends, that "computes" in so many ways: in performance, in quality -- and, most of all, in savings!
So why not click that link now, browse through their selections, then pick the one that'll suit your needs? The best in processing power, right at your fingertips, and at prices you can afford! Do it now!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Born On The ---- Of July (fill in the blanks)

Before we begin, let me give a special shout-out to my old schoolmate, J.R. Hildreth, who turns 100 today (actually about 40 years less than that, but I just wanted to see if he's readin' this ...). Whenever I think of the 4th of July, I automatically think of this dude, who always epitomised the American spirit to me ..

Independence Day, 2011. Whilst it's a day when most of us knock off work for twenty-four hours and just enjoy the sounds, sights and tastes of local festivals, it's also a day to reminisce -- to remember just why we're enjoying this particular day to begin with.

It wasn't easy getting that Declaration together some 235 years ago. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston and Thomas Jefferson got together in committee to get it written (with Jefferson doing the writing, and the rest editing and approving). They had no word-processing software (mainly, because there weren't any computers), so it all had to be done by hand,
in a stuffy room (remember, no electric fans, air-conditioners or central air!),
no soft drinks or iced tea,
clothes made largely out of heavy cotton or wool -- and, remember, it was in the heat of summer!
And the candles or lanterns they had to use as they worked into the night just made the inside temps worse ...

Oh ... did I mention we were already at war, with the British on our turf, searching for these "rebels"? (PS Britain: It's alright. All is forgiven ... lol) If they were found, they'd be hanged for treason! So, whilst alllll this was going on, they had to "look over their shoulders", as it were ... and worry about their families!

What you see on your right is an early draft of the Declaration of Independence. They wanted to be sure that everything was covered properly -- and that there was no doubt whatsoever as to the purpose and meaning of the document!
Already, Virginia and North Carolina had drafted and ratified their own freedom documents (NC's came on May 20, 1775!). Whilst they were working on the national one, each member of the team were undoubtedly a bit queasy inside -- knowing that if this thing got in the wrong hands, they were done for!

When they were done, they took it back to what's now called Independence Hall in Philadephia, Pennsylvania where, on July 2nd, the Second Continental Congress voted for our freedom from England (actually, it would've been earlier, but South Carolina was the holdout).
The document was ratified two days later -- but signed on August 2nd.

FAST-FORWARD TO TODAY: Here we are, readying for a day full of celebrations. Our air conditioners (or central air) are keeping us comfy inside; you're reading this on a computer where you can type out documents with ease; you can get into your cars or vehicles and travel anywhere safely, and "deck out" in running shorts, sandles and tees if you wish ...

and all because some guys got together over 200 years ago, sweating and straining -- and concerned for their very lives -- to write, in what we call "primitive" conditions these days, the words that changed our very existence in this country:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Stay tuned ....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Odds and Ends and Evens

Alright ... by now ya know the Relic's HQ'd in the foothills of Appalachians, right? And ya know I've toldja about my li'l band of mouse-samplin' whiskerlickers underfoot, right? ) Okay, then: to yer left, meet the real "Hillbilly Cat"!

Hey ... have ya ever wondered where that old moniker came from? Y'see, for years, jazz pianists would use it
to describe their fellow musicians -- and, eventually, it began to be the slang for every cool dude on the block!

According to an old ivory-tickler from Nawlins that I had a chance to meet a few years back, the expression actually came about by way of the old tomcat, who'd be on the prowl for a purty thang out in the alley. Natch, the feline always played it cool and easy to get 'er interested.
Well, as music began to have a bit of sexual undertone, the word "cool cat" became synonymous with an easy-going musician. As pop (and, a bit later, rock) began to climb the charts, the name was applied to musicians in their acts as well. (Of course, there are other explanations, but Mr. Potter was certain about his ... 'sides, it makes sense, right?)

Now, awhile back, I toldja about a Sixties British band that, while not makin' the journey to the US as part of the Invasion, still had a strong following at home. When I said that they were very close to the Everly Brothers in their harmony, the RockMail started showin' a few fangs (ie, mail from rabid EB fans who thought I was just makin' it up)! No one could sound like Don and Phil, they said... and I agree! I said they were close!!. Anyway, since the Relic doesn't "make anything up", here's proof; A pic of the Del Renas in performance! They did excellent covers of EB tunes like Sigh, Cry, Almost Die and When Will I Be Loved? (So there, nay-sayers!!)

Also mentioned in an earlier post about Jimi Hendrix's draft of Purple Haze. I said he'd originally planned to call it Jesus Saves ... and, almost automatically, readers wanted proof!

Sooooo, without further adieux, here's a shot of Jimi's original draft (although, quite frankly -- and considering we were having a squabble of some kind in 'Nam at the time--, I don't think the words "Jimi Hendrix" and "draft" should be used in the same sentence. Yes, he was in the Army in '61, but only to avoid goin' to prison for riding in a stolen car. He was discharged a year later, btw).


When an Australian group called The Easybeats started makin' wild, guitar-based rock (with an Eastern influence) in the mid-Sixties, not many teens gave notice. Sure, Friday On My Mind was fun (though the "B" side, Made My Bed [Now I Gotta Lie In It] was totally fab, in both writing and performance!), it just didn't turn a lotta kids on; instead, it was relegated to compilation LPs. Still, rockers Harry Vanda and George Young built an amazingly-talented band!! (Btw, The Easybeats' drummer, "Snowy" Fleet, was originally with the Liverpool group, The Mojos, in their heyday)

About a dozen years later, the new generation dug the romantic Love Is In The Air by John Paul Young -- and, a decade later, an even newer generation was goin' wild over a hard-rock band called AC/DC and its stompin' guitarist, Angus Young.
Three generations ... different sounds ... but all related to each other (Angus and George were brothers, and John Paul was a cousin.) !
And now there's word of a new batch of Youngs gettin' together to work the rock circuit for the coming generation!
Natch, there are other acts that can boast the same thing (like Nat "King"/Natalie Cole, Paul and James McCartney, Ringo and Zak Starkey and others), but the most prolific and visible proof of it could be found in those five lads from Australia!

Remember our Rock history lessons, when I talked about early BritBand guitarists having to play on strings that were so fitfully set (so hard to play that sometimes their fingers would bleed)?
One of the 'Pool's top bands was Faron's Flamingos. Check out the bass guitar that Faron (Bill) Ruffley played, and you'll see what I'm talkin' about.

Incidentally, of the group (btw, one of the most histrionic of the Brit bands, with Faron doing jumps & knee-dives and drummer Trevor Morais doing back-flips off his drumstool), original lead Nicky Crouch went on to perform with The Mojos along with "Snowy" of The Easybeats!(ahhh ... again it all comes together!)

BUT WHERE'S ZELDA?? Hey ... stateside boomers: Remember Dobie Gillis? He and his beatnik partner, Maynard G. Krebs (the late Bob Denver, played by "Willy" Gilligan), ruled the airwaves in the late Fifties.
Well (hold onto your Geritol® bottles, folks!) Dobie (Dwayne Hickman) turned (gulp!) 77 in May!! Yep ... he was playin' the crewcut teen at 25!
By the way (and, yes, I've been asked): The "G." in "Maynard G. Krebs" stood for ... Walter (his aunt's name)! No, I am not making that up, either!

Rock Twists For Seven-Eleven

Ahhhh, July! A month heralded by fireworks, loud noises, shouts and ... oh. Wait a minute. That's my next door neighbours arguin' again. Lemme put this window down 'til I'm finished here ...
But ... er, July is something like that, only on a friendlier scale ...

It's also the month that brought some very odd twists to the rock music scene:

For example: Remember that four-man band from England called (let me think now ...) The Beatles? (am I right? The old memory sometimes slips ...) Yeah, they cut a coupla records or somethin' ...
Actually, John, Paul, George and Ringo had burst upon the international scene (officially) in February, 1964 and, as we know, changed the rock music world forever! Their records sold like mad, their personal appearances were always packed with screaming fans ...

Except in Rome, Italy where, on 1 July of 1965, they played two gigs that hardly anyone attended! True-to-form, though, the lads played as if the shows were packed! They took it as a learning (though humbling) experience -- something that proved, beyond all doubt, that these guys were truly professional!

TWO YEARS LATER, the first of July saw the charts topped by a six-man band from California known as The Association, and their hit song, Windy (okay, all together now, "Ev-'ry-one knows it's Win-dyyyyyyyyyy". Probably one of the most recognised choruses in music history ...).

But didja know that, despite all the fellas who sang that to their girlfriends (especially if her name was "Wendy"), the song was actually ... about a man?? Yup ... written by Ruthann Friedman when she started to fantasize about what kind of a guy she would like to be with!

THE FIRST OF JULY ALSO heralded a "new" band, who, in 1970, had just changed its name and soon became the creative glam-masters of rock, adding power to their vocally-layered, double-lead rock anthems. Until the last week of June of that year, they were known simply as Smile.
Less than a week later, they re-emerged on the scene ... as QUEEN ...

A YEAR LATER, the top spot on the Billboard™ charts went to Paul Revere and The Raiders for their song, Indian Reservation. It was the band's only #1 hit, but ...
it wasn't actually PR&R that had the hit! Actually, the song was recorded by their front man, Mark Lindsay, and session musicians! It was released as a Raiders hit because, since the tune was released by Columbia Records, where the band (including Mark) was under contract, they were obligated to release it only as "their" hit.

HERE IN 2011, July is showing an amazing resurgence in the popularity of another Raider! Though he left the band back in 1967, Phil Volk, known best by his horde of fans as "Fang" (yes, the guy with the word "FANG" taped to the back of his bass guitar then!), is still rockin' the house down -- and perking up a lot of ears and interest with his new, rockin' version of Bob Dylan's The Times, They Are A-Changin'.
The new arrangement of this classic was designed by "Fang" to bridge the generations, and let the young people of today understand that they can make a difference in this world, with the same impact as "our" generation did!
You can check out his website -- and order his rousing rendition of "Times" -- here.

With all that in mind, I've gotta get to my next assignment ... but there'll be more comin' up tomorrow, so stay tuned ...