music friday: my first sleater-kinney concert

Twenty-two years ago today, I saw Sleater-Kinney for the first time. It was at the Great American Music Hall, which held 600. Their most recent album was Dig Me Out, which was released more than a year earlier. (The Hot Rock, which was recorded a month before this concert, was released in February of '99. They played 5 songs from that album at the concert.)

They opened that night with "Heart Factory", thus becoming the first song I ever saw them play live. Here they are a few months before I saw them:

Here is some more S-K 1998 live:

Janet (sigh) Weiss with pigtails! The first 15 times I saw the band, Janet was the drummer. Alas, she was gone for last year's shows.

How long ago was 1998? Well, a month later we saw Dylan, Van Morrison and Lucinda Williams ... Dylan was 57, Morrison 52, and Lucinda a mere 45 (she is 5 months older than I am). It was the year of "The Rockafeller Skank" and Run Lola Run. France won the World Cup. And I wouldn't start this blog for four more years.

Here is the setlist for that first show: Heart Factory / Dig Me Out / Memorize Yr Lines / Call the Doctor / Banned from the End of the World / Turn It On / By the Time You're 25 / Joey Ramone / One More Hour / End of You / God is a Number / Little Babies / Get Up / Words & Guitar. Encores: Good Things / Be Yr Mama / Little Mouth

And here they are, the last time I saw them with Janet, New Year's Eve 2016/7:

music friday: concert highlights

One for each letter, except for I, X, and Z. Artists I've seen over the years, with the actual year I saw them when I remember.

GG Allin (1989). The setlist that night: Outlaw Scumfuc / Dope Money / Die When You Die / Abuse Myself I Want to Die / Caroline & Sue / Jesus & Mother's Cunt / Makin' Love to the Microphone Stand / Dogshit
The Bobs (1983?) Acapella group that specialized in covers like "Helter Skelter" and "Psycho Killer".
The Cramps (1979) Like a lot of these acts, I saw them when they opened for someone else. In this case, the headliners were The Clash.
Lee Dorsey (1980) Different concert, but Dorsey, too, opened for The Clash.
English Beat (1982) Believe it or not, another different concert, another group opening for The Clash.
Flipper (1980) They opened for Public Image, Ltd.
Peter Green (1968) Slight alphabet cheat, since I saw him with the band he created, Fleetwood Mac. In honor of his passing.
Pee-wee Herman (198?) This was The Pee-wee Herman Show, which ended up on HBO when he played L.A.

That's the immortal Phil Hartman as Captain Carl, while the singing duo was known as Rick and Ruby in the Bay Area. I met "Rick" at a wedding in L.A. around the time of this show.
Etta James (1990) Clarence Clemons opened this show.
B.B. King (1971) One of the concerts I attended when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana.
Los Lobos (1984) Would you believe me if I told you they opened for The Clash?
Paul McCartney and Wings (1976) The closest I ever came to a Beatles concert.
The Nuns (1978) Opened the notorious "Last Sex Pistols Show".
Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark (1982? 1984?) Got free tix from KALX. Not a big fan of synth pop in general, and my feelings weren't made any better when OMD had to stop the concert at one point to fix their computers.
Public Image, Ltd. (1980) My second time seeing John Lydon.
Quasi (2004) They opened for Sleater-Kinney, which was convenient since the two bands shared the same drummer.
The Tom Robinson Band (1978?) Saw them in a tiny club in Davis, got to meet them backstage.
Sun Ra (1979?) A friend took me. Not sure who the headliner was ... the other act was Cecil Taylor. I preferred Sun Ra.
Ike and Tina Turner (1971). They opened the aforementioned B.B. King show. How's that for a double-bill?
U2 (1982) They opened for The J. Geils Band. They were great, although I was on mescaline and so can't be trusted. This marked the last time U2 opened for anyone.
Joe Venuti (1975?) Jazz violinist. For several years, we caught shows at the Concord Jazz Festival because we got free tix.
Barrence Whitfield (1980s?) Can't remember where I heard of him, but the word was, he put on a dynamite show. The word was right.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse (1978) Whenever I want to revisit this concert, I watch the movie Rust Never Sleeps, which was recorded at this show.

music friday: led zeppelin, 1977

The search bar on TypePad isn't very reliable, but as far as I can tell, I have never written an entire post about the time I saw Led Zeppelin. [Ed. note: I did, back in 2007.] It was 43 years ago today, at a Day on the Green. It was my second of the summer ... a few weeks earlier, I'd seen Peter Frampton/Lynyrd Skynyrd/Santana/The Outlaws. Although no one knew it at the time, July 24, 1977 was the last time Led Zeppelin played in the U.S., as Robert Plant's son died a few days later.

For this show we paid $11.50.

Judas Priest was the opening act. They got their name from the Dylan song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest", so it was perhaps appropriate that they performed "Diamonds and Rust", a Joan Baez song about Dylan. I seem to remember singer Rob Halford rode a motorcycle onto the stage, but the memory is faint. Here is a 2001 video:

Next up was Derringer, the new band of Rick Derringer, who had a solid career by that point, as a member of The McCoys in the 60s, and playing with Johnny Winter in the early 70s. His big hit was "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo", played here with the Edgar Winter Band:

Then came a long wait (estimates vary, 2 hours sounds about right). We were given a series of excuses ... what we didn't know is that goons from the Led Zep teams had beaten the crap out of one of Bill Graham's people. Graham threatened to sue, Zep threatened to leave without playing the show. Eventually they hit the stage. Different opinions about the quality of the show have emerged over the years. For those of us seeing them for the first and only time, it was great. For others, Jimmy Page's heroin addiction didn't help things. They played a lot of my favorites, in particular "Since I've Been Loving You" and "Kashmir". Here's the set list:

The Song Remains the Same / The Rover (intro) > Sick Again / Nobody's Fault But Mine / Over the Hills and Far Away / Since I've Been Loving You / No Quarter / Ten Years Gone / The Battle of Evermore / Going to California / Mystery Train / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp / White Summer > Black Mountain Side / Kashmir / Trampled Under Foot / Guitar Solo > Achilles Last Stand / Stairway to Heaven / Whole Lotta Love(intro) > Rock and Roll

And here is the audio for the entire concert:


music friday: phil dellio, you should've heard just what i seen

This book is one where the subtitle tells you a lot: "Pop Music at the Movies and on TV". Phil covers a lot of ground, from the first three chapters on Mad Men to the last chapter on Donovan (yes, that Donovan), inspired by the appearance of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" in Zodiac, a movie he loves. Phil Dellio is the right person for this book, because he has lived the movies and the television and the music for a long time, and he worked as a teacher so he knows how to get our attention and then sneak a little learning in with the enjoyment.

Funny thing is, as much as I love Phil's writing, he starts off with something that I've always disliked. He's trying to decide how Mad Men will end, which a lot of us were, to be sure, myself included. But then Scott Woods emails Phil with an idea, and "as soon as I read it, I realized [it] may even be more important to me than what happens to Don: what song does Mad Men go out on?" I once had an essay published about the show House, where I complained that the series was not top notch because it always fell back on what at our house we called "The Song", something to emphasize what we had seen, something I inevitably found unnecessary and even insulting (what, we don't get it without help?). It's no coincidence that my all-time favorite show, The Wire, relied almost exclusively on diegetic music with the exception of an end-of-season montage.

But, as I knew would be the case, none of this matters when reading the book. Because Phil has things to say about the music and the films or series, and those things are interesting, and the ways he connects the music to those films and series is enlightening, regularly showing me a new way to think about the music, the visuals, or both. Sometimes the connections are startling, like when he finds that Diana Vreeland reminds him of Pauline Kael. Vreeland is a good example for another reason ... I have no interest in her, didn't know the movie he was talking about, but have been thinking obsessively about the Vreeland/Kael comparison since I read it.

Which is one way of saying that it doesn't always matter if you aren't familiar with a particular text, because Phil will get you thinking about it anyway. I knew most of the music, and especially with songs that have been overplayed over the years, it's a pleasure just to read someone putting those songs into a different context. The chapter about Donovan is one of my favorites, because I was a fan back in the 60s, and have long felt that he was underrated due to his spacey-hippie image. Phil jumps on this, calling it a "misguided caricature" that hippie music "was all sunshine and light", followed by a discussion of Donovan. The obvious starting point for me is "Season of the Witch", one of the truly frightening songs of that era. But Phil talks about "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman" and "Hurdy Gurdy Man". "Season of the Witch" only sneaks in when Phil quotes Greil Marcus, who shares my feelings about that song. What this does is send me back to other Donovan songs ... I'm still certain "Season of the Witch" is his masterpiece, but now I'm listening to Donovan's entire catalog with a different ear, all thanks to Phil Dellio and Zodiac.

To top it off, Phil and Scott Woods are building a "clipography" on YouTube. You can find it here. It's just two long-time, opinionated friends talking about music and movies. It's quite casual, and you might not want to binge-watch all the videos at once. But it's fun to watch. Here's their talk about Almost Famous:

And here, for the zillionth time, I post the clip they refer to:

I realize I've never written about Almost Famous. Not sure why ... I certainly think about it a lot. My feelings intellectually about the movie are in line with what Phil says about Greil Marcus in their Clipography: Cameron Crowe, god love him, was an example of what went wrong at Rolling Stone. And the way Crowe works Lester Bangs into the story ... well, I suspect Philip Seymour Hoffman got him right, and for all I know, Bangs and Crowe were good buddies, but Lester Bangs was not about the Rolling Stone of the post-Crowe era. I love Almost Famous because I love Hoffman as Lester ... I am irritated by Almost Famous because of what it does to the Lester I admire.

Meanwhile, if I did a book like Phil's, then sure, 'Tiny Dancer" would have to be there. I'd have to watch movies for a specific reason if I was going to create a long list, though ... what would I include? Mick Jagger as Turner singing Robert Johnson in Performance? Virtually the entire movie Mean Streets? Fred and Ginger dancing cheek to cheek in Top Hat? My brain hurts just trying to come up with examples, which shows just what a remarkable feat Phil Dellio has pulled off in his book.

music friday: fillmore west 1968

On July 9-11, 1968, the Fillmore West had a "Blues Bash". Opening was Freddie King. King had a big hit with "Hide Away" in 1960. He was influential on many guitarists, including Eric Clapton, who recorded "Hide Away" early in his career with John Mayall. King is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here he is in 1972:

Buddy Guy was and is even more influential than King, and he is still with us and still playing live shows (King died at an early age). He, too, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and while playing at the White House in 2012, he convinced President Obama to sing a bit of "Sweet Home Chicago". Here he is from a 1969 movie, Supershow, playing with Jack Bruce and Buddy Miles:

Headlining was The Electric Flag, which was formed by Mike Bloomfield (who died at an early age), who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The band, which combined rock and blues and soul, with a horn section, also featuring the aforementioned Buddy Miles. Here is the first song from their first-ever concert, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967:

And here is the song of theirs that I love the most ... it always takes me back to 1968:

music friday: haim

Haim is a band of three sisters from the San Fernando Valley. They started in a cover band, Rockinhaim, that featured their parents. The sisters, from oldest to youngest: Este (she's the bass player, she's 6 feet tall, has Type 1 Diabetes, and has a degree in Ethnomusicology), Danielle (she's the lead guitarist, she's usually the lead singer, she drums on some of their songs, and I think she's also the main songwriter ... she has worked as guitarist and drummer with Julian Casablancas and Vampire Weekend), and Alana (guitar, keyboards, vocals). All of them are multi-instrumentalists.

I first noticed them when I watched several of their live performances of the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac cover, "Oh Well":

"Want You Back" is not only insanely catchy, but it has this video ... for some reason, Haim has a lot of videos where they are walking, often around L.A.:

This video inspired several tributes, of which this one might be the best:

They've been on SNL twice:

Their new album, Women in Music Pt. III, is their most critically acclaimed to date, receiving an 88/100 from Metacritic. This video is co-directed by Danielle and Paul Thomas Anderson, who has worked on a few videos for them:

Did I mention they all play the drums? (Fine guitar solo, too.)

music friday: the chambers brothers

On June 19, 1968, The Chambers Brothers were in the middle of a three-night stand headlining the Fillmore. Their hit, "Time Has Come Today", was utilized to great effect in the trailer for Spike Lee's new movie, Da 5 Bloods:

Here, they perform it live in 1986:

There were other great songs on the Time album, especially this one:

The Chambers Brothers also inspired one of my favorite covers, by The Ramones. This one also has an odd bit of trivia: it has three drummers. (Marky was listed on the album credits, but he was replaced for this song by Billy Rogers, while Richie Ramone is the drummer on the video.)

music friday: jackie wilson

Jackie Wilson was such a dynamic performer that I knew he was a dynamic performer and I never saw him live (hey, I was 4 years old when he had his first hit). Wikipedia says "Wilson's powerful, electrifying live performances rarely failed to bring audiences to a state of frenzy. His live performances consisted of knee-drops, splits, spins, back-flips, one-footed across-the-floor slides, removing his tie and jacket and throwing them off the stage, basic boxing steps like advance and retreat shuffling, and one of his favorite routines, getting some of the less attractive women in the audience to come up to the stage and kiss him. Wilson often said "if I get the ugliest girl in the audience to come up and kiss me, they'll all think they can have me and keep coming back and buying my records."

Jackie Wilson was such a dynamic performer that he even made lip-syncing exciting:

Shindig! was a mid-60s TV series full of great performances by top acts (and they often appeared to be performing live). Jackie Wilson and Shindig! were a match made in heaven, and he made several appearances on the show, such as this one to close out an episode:

Shindig! was known for its house band, many of whom became the famous Wrecking Crew. They had James Burton and Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell and Billy Preston and Glen Campbell. The Righteous Brothers were regular visitors, and The Blossoms (with Darlene Love) were always singing in the background.

Jackie Wilson was such a dynamic performer that he could ... well, you get the idea:

Here is an all-star band singing "Higher and Higher" in 2009. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, John Fogarty, Sam Moore, Billy Joel, and even Darlene Love, making her second appearance in today's videos:

throwback thursday: streaming in 2004

On this date in 2004, I wrote a longish post about "my vision for how music should be in the 21st century." Spotify was 4 years away, and it wouldn't come to the U.S. for 7 years. Some references are a bit outdated, so here's a help guide:

Rhapsody: the first on-demand streaming subscription service. They eventually bought Napster, which is the name they use now.

Musicmatch: an audio player that expanded into on-demand streaming. A few months after the original post, they were bought by Yahoo ... by 2008 they were out of business.

Rio Karma: my beloved portable MP3 player. It had a huge-for-its-time hard drive, played most formats, and was ugly as sin. The future was in streaming, so eventually the use of MP3 players faded, and most people now use their phones for music, anyway. The Karma's hard drive was crap, and the product didn't last long.

KPIG: a radio station near Monterey Bay that is still around.

Here is that 2004 post:

We're one step closer to my vision for how music should be in the 21st century.

My vision (and I'm far from the first or only person to imagine this) is simple: complete access to every song ever recorded. The problems are numerous, but none of them are killers.

First, the artists have to get paid. There should be a system for individuals that is similar to what music radio stations have. I don't work for such a station, so I'm guessing, but I assume radio stations pay flat fees to broadcast music over their airwaves. What is needed is a way to allow individuals to act like a radio station, paying a flat fee to get total access to all tunes.

Second, you have to get the tunes, which is kinda obvious, I guess. This is where Rhapsody came in ... they had access to hundreds of thousands of tunes, and for a monthly fee, you could stream them on your computer. The problem here is that hundreds of thousands is far less than my desired "every song ever recorded," with The Beatles being the most obvious holdout (although rumors are this is about to change). Musicmatch, who have finally entered the "on demand" market via the new beta of their popular Musicmatch program, do not seem to have as large a catalog as Rhapsody at the moment, which is a problem. But Musicmatch has something Rhapsody does not: Musicmatch plays audio files. This means I can now create playlists that are a combination of songs I don't own but are available via the Musicmatch streaming catalog, and songs that I do own and have ripped to my hard drive. So now I can include artists like the Beatles in my playlists, and Musicmatch will mix my MP3s in with the streaming stuff. We're closer than ever to Every Song Ever Recorded.

Third, and this is the biggest problem at the moment, you need to be able to access your music at all times, wherever you are. The popularity of devices like the iPod or my own Rio Karma, essentially gigantic hard drives designed to play music files in a portable fashion, shows how important that portability factor is. Online streaming services are not portable in this way. I can create playlists and stream them on the computer, I can send the computer audio into my home stereo and get excellent sound, but once I leave my house, I lose access to the streaming material.

I don't see any reason why this last problem can't be solved, especially with the emergence of wireless net access. So the time is coming when you will indeed be able to listen to every song ever recorded, whenever and wherever you want it.

Meanwhile, Rhapsody's got a problem, at least in my household. Right now, their catalog is bigger than Musicmatch's, but I use Musicmatch for a lot of other stuff, and Musicmatch lets me blend my MP3s into the playlists. Since both Rhapsody and Musicmatch are fee services, I don't intend to keep them both running. And I suspect the ability to mix MP3s into the playlists will make Musicmatch my choice, once I get past free trial periods.

Meantime, here's a quickie playlist I created for Musicmatch ... these are Songs They've Been Playing on KPIG [edited in 2020 to provide a Spotify playlist ... this is where the future ended up]: