Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tegan & Sara - Sainthood

Following the pop tart approach initiated on The Con, Tegan & Sara’s latest (Sainthood) continues the tradition of New Wave gloss thanks to another go-round with Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla behind the studio glass.

What is surprising is how Sainthood tastes like there’s nearly twice the sugar as The Con. Despite the heavy-handed album title and visually stunning cover art, the two have completely severed all traces of their folkie past and are gunning for a more mainstream audience.

And what band does Tegan and Sara most resemble as they work their way into sweet realms of pop?

Missing Persons, circa Rhyme & Reason.

Tegan & Sara don’t sound like they’ve lifted a finger during the arrangement process, lending Sainthood to the hands of Chris Walla who uses the same “no Earth tones” mantra in his sonic pallet as Michael Mann used in Miami Vice.

Through gated drums, Greg Hawkes’ Shake It Up era synthesizers, and Postal Service envy, Walla turns Sainthood into his own KROQ airshift. Through magic, he manages to turn Sara and Tegan Quin into Dale and Terry Bozzio.

It’s a bit too much to take at first, watching the sisters dismantle their mystique and deliver an album of such simple proportions. There’s nothing hidden in Sainthood, it is a pop record as written by a pair of artist who we’ve come to expect more of than just a “pop record.”

As it goes, Sainthood has become a commuting favorite, particularly from my 21/2 year-old daughter who now thinks the world of “Teegy and Sara.” And with each repeated play I find myself closer to the sister’s pop narcotic.

“The Cure” is perfection, an energetic blast that could find reception on radio airwaves during the Reagan and Obama administration.

“My motor-mouth runs over you” sings Sara on “Alligator,” but the pair have delivered a less cerebral offering in favor of an album of unabashed youthfulness.

“I know it turns you off when I get to talkin’ like a teen” coos Sara on “On Directing” and on first listen, Sainthood was a complete turn off for mostly that reason. I liked them better when Tegan and Sara at least acted their age.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Open Letter To Live Nation Entertainment

What follows is a letter that I sent this past week to the corporate headquarters of Live Nation Entertainment, the newly merged company of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. It stems from an incident last weekend when my cousin and I attempted to get tickets for an Iron Maiden show in Chicago this summer.
Needless to say, in trying to get tickets we were dismayed at what took place.
It angered me enough to write a letter, directly to one of the company's corporate executives, in this case, Mr. Nathan Hubbard, the CEO of ticketing within the company.
Was I naive in this incident? Perhaps somewhat; I will confess that most of my major arena ticket purchases have been after the fact. By the time I've been aware of the show, enough time has passed that's it's always been possible that all of the best available seats have already been picked clean. Because of this, I've had to scrounge through EBay and the like for the tickets I wanted.
I'm old. I think I've afforded the right to buy decent seats.
For Iron Maiden, my cousin and I learned what most of you probably already knew: the deck is stacked firmly against fans before the tickets even go on sale. You'll read about the event below, but let me say this in my defense: I purchased tickets for AC/DC next month in a non-Live Nation venue and through a non Ticketmaster outlet and scored a pair of really good seats through the legitimate channels.
Shouldn't it be the same playing field all the way around?
It isn't, and it pissed me off. Enough to write a letter.
I emailed the Department of Justice a few months ago, asking that they rule against the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. It may have stalled the merger somewhat, and increased the dialogue of consumer concerns, but it obviously didn't have the impact that many of us desired. I may forward the letter to Mr. Hubbard to the D.O.J. just for shits and giggles, an feeble attempt to show them how these fuckers run ramshot over you and me.
Do I expect resolution with this? Nope. I needed to vent and I vent better with words. To spell out my complaint is therapeutic and these sorts of letter writing things are something I do occasionally if pushed. I've got another one going to Toyota, but that's irrelevant here.
Secretly, all I'd like back is an acknowledgement. A brief note saying that Live Nation got my letter and that they're sorry for my inconvenience. But I am sincere in the claim that this kind of thievery will ultimately dismantle their house of cards as consumers get to a point where they say "Enough!" and stop going to shows altogether.
Did I do just that with the Iron Maiden show? Fuck no! It's fucking Maiden dude! My cousin and I dug deep and shelled out way too much money for a pair of really good seats.
Here's the letter.

Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.
Attn: Nathan Hubbard
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Dear Mr. Hubbard:

I want to relay an experience that I recently had when attempting to purchase tickets for the Iron Maiden show at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre scheduled for July 18 of this year. Before explaining the details of my experience, allow me to briefly share a little bit about myself and my family.

For the past several years, my cousin and I schedule times where we can visit each other and go to a concert together. It gives us an opportunity to catch up, share family stories, and bond with a mutual affection toward music. Music played a vital role in our lives growing up and it continues to provide us with enormous joy through building new memories.

Tickets for the Iron Maiden show went on sale to the general public at 10:00am on April, 20th. Prior to this, my cousin acquired pre-sale passwords to get tickets through both the Live Nation website and the Iron Maiden fan club website. Through both pre-sale outlets, the tickets offered were for second tier seats in the venue leaving a large selection of seats in the venue’s first tier that provided a much better view of the stage. The Iron Maiden website did offer standing room only seating in the “pit” section as part of their selection, but such tickets would not necessarily provide the same level of visibility as a reserved seating ticket.

Based on this, we determined that our best option would be to wait until tickets went on sale to the general public. From our perspective, the faster that we ordered tickets after they went on sale, the better opportunity that we would have for good seats in the preferred first section of the venue.

This was not the case.

Within the first minute and after multiple attempts from several computers working to try to reserve the best seats possible, we discovered that the seats offered mirrored the same seats that were offered in the pre-sale. This suggests that all of the first section seats were sold within the first 60 seconds of the public offering or that the seats were sold prior to general offering entirely.
While the first scenario seemed unlikely, the second one seemed to be morally troubling.

Unfortunately, we discovered that the second scenario did take place after we immediately logged into EBay. It did not take us long to locate several sellers that offered the exact sections we were hoping to obtain through legitimate means. I don’t need to tell you that these sellers were offering the tickets at an inflated cost and that several sellers also had tickets for Iron Maiden shows at various venues from across the country.

At the risk of sounding naïve, how does such a system seem fair? My cousin and I followed the rules and attempted to purchase tickets directly from the band, venue, and ticket outlet only to be afforded a selection of poor seating options. Meanwhile, a broker with no ties to the band or community is awarded blocks of seating to make a profit, while providing none of the aforementioned distribution points anything more.

What this business practice ultimately does is to ensure that long-time fans like my cousin and I are left without an affordable way to support the band. If we do decide to purchase inflated tickets through an off-site broker, we’re left with no additional funds to purchase merchandising or any offerings that the venue provides to concert-goers. Further, it prevents us from spending money on additional concerts throughout the year, thereby decreasing the potential of Live Nation additional revenue.

I hope all of this is being considered as Live Nation Entertainment are bypassing real fans of music in return for higher percentages of sold tickets and greater resentment towards your company.

Yours in music,

Todd Totale

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quiet Riot-Live At Memorial Auditorium, Burlington Iowa, 1983

Southeast Iowa wasn’t a bad place to grow up in the first half of the 1980’s. We made our own fun most of the time, were fortunate enough to live next to Missouri where fireworks were legal, and every once in a while a band would travel through and play in a 2,000 seat auditorium.
In 1983, that band was Quiet Riot. It was strange having a band that popular come through the area, but if I remember correctly, they were just a few months shy of having Metal Health hit number one.
Nonetheless, the auditorium’s limited seating made this a fairly hot ticket and the closest we could get to see the band was in the upper corner of the balcony. Not that there’s a bad seat in a 2,300 auditorium-there’s just a few that happen to be better.
The band had chosen Axe as openers, a better-than-average bar band that also happened to have a minor hit album with Offering from the year prior and who were supporting their most recent Nemesis album.
Axe played rock music, and they played it well. They were ugly looking. They didn’t have a lot of flash. But they were used to having to prove themselves every single night as the band seemed to be stuck on a never-ending road of supporting act set lists. Forty-five minutes a night with an occasional headlining gig at a nightclub.
Their set was tight and memorable. I remember thinking that their performance was much better than their album and I even toyed with the idea of getting one of their t-shirts, primarily because it said “Yo’ Mama Tour 1983” on the back. This was obviously some kind of inside joke, but it was hilarious to me.
I passed on it, thinking that maybe I’d pick up one of the headliner’s shirts when the show was over.
Quiet Riot has but one speed: irritating. And the entire 90 minute set proved to be one big rush of irritant, to the point where afterwards you actually hated the band.
Kevin DuBrow pranced around the stage in an endless parade of “Make some fucking noise!” “Come on!” “Let me see your hands” and eardrum breaking screams. He was thin, old, losing his hair, and running to both stage left and stage right in these ridiculous red tights. He accessorized his ensemble with a bunch of shit from the sales rack at JoAnn Fabric.
The drummer-Frankie Banali-sped everything up for some reason and played a stupid drum solo where at the end all the lights went out except for a lone spotlight on him. Suddenly, he looked up from the kit and he was wearing that retarded mask as seen on the cover of Metal Health.
Bassist Rudy Sarzo did that dumb thing where he played the bass over the top instead of fretting it from below. He also licked the bass neck like it was a penis.
Guitarist Carlos Carvazo played with such ear-piercing monotony, you wanted to punch him in the face. They gave the douche at least ten minutes for a solo that went nowhere, so bad that the crowd even began to grow quiet after he tried a bit of “call and response” playing for the millionth time.
But the biggest douchebag by far was DuBrow, who did every single move that you’ve seen on video already that you wonder if the guy could improvise even if he wanted to. There was the “I’m acting like I’m playing Carlos’ guitar” move. There was the “Let me spin my black and white mic stand” move. There was the “Let me act like the black and white mic stand is my penis” move.
And so on. And so on.
From that moment on, whenever Quiet Riot appeared on TV, the channel got changed. But the most telling moment was during the next summer when they had some Quiet Riot special on MTV while supporting their dismal Condition Critical album.
The one where Rolling Stone had the good sense of reviewing it with two words: “Condition terminal.”
One would think that it was just Rolling Stone being a bit of a buttplug against anything remotely metal-and it may very well could have been-but they were surprisingly spot on with that review. It featured the stupid lead single “Party All Night,” and you could actually win a chance to have Quiet Riot throw you a party at your house.
Seventeen people entered this dumb contest and a rubberneck from Kentucky won the honors.

I’m sure there were a few people that enjoyed the show, but from my vantage point, a bunch of people got Quiet Riot fatigue around the halfway point.
I got so bored that I began paying more attention to the crowd. I noticed a dude that I used to play football with in a vacant lot when I was younger standing in the aisle that led to the balcony seats. He was watching the show standing up with a stoner friend, and neither one seemed to be having much fun. This was before security guards ruined everything by telling people to “move along” or “put out that joint” and it was clear that my old acquaintance was up to no good.
His friend motioned that he wanted to leave and he began to go towards the stairway. Before he followed him, he ran up to an unsuspecting audience member in the back row of the seats in front of the doorway and took the Quiet Riot shirt that was slung over his back. He bolted before the guy had a chance to figure out what had happened, and by the time the dude weaseled his way out of his seat to investigate, the guy was long gone with a free shirt.
That’s really the best way to summarize the show: a performance so entirely mundane that the real excitement came when some dude snagged another dude’s concert tee. I left the venue with $15 more than expected (t-shirts were a lot less expensive back then-especially when you didn’t buy one), a 36 hour case of tinnitus, and a strange appreciation for the band Axe.
What I didn’t leave with was any future desire to feel the noise in any shape or form.
Fast forward to a little over ten years later when Quiet Riot called our radio station with an offer to do an interview. You read that right: our station didn’t contact anyone. The band actually picked up the phone, called us, and asked if they could stop by to do an interview.
Since the station ran spots promoting the gig, we thought it would be rude to decline the band performing at one of our paying client’s establishments.
Then the problem became “Who wanted to interview Quiet Riot?” The answer was the overnight dj who would have normally been sleeping at that time, but who generously got dressed and came back to the studio to record a quick interview with the band that would air about an hour prior to their performance at a bar on the outskirts of town (I’m not making that up, either).
Only Carlos and the band’s new bassist Kenny Hillery came by. DuBrow-they said-was in the tour bus sleeping. Carvazo tried desperately to hit on the receptionist and did not take off his sunglasses the entire time, even when we went into the dark bowels of the station’s production studios.
The overnight guy peppered the interview with Spinal Tap references, to the point where I was rolling with laughter in another studio as I eavesdropped on the interview. Carvazo was oblivious, but the bass player eventually caught on. He politely laughed it off, not taking offense even though any band with half a brain would have seen that the overnight dude was really taking a piss on his two subjects.
Finally, the interview was over and we attempted to lead them towards the front door. The two band members stopped into my office and gawked at the promo posters that covered my walls and eyeballed all of the promo items I had out for on-air giveaways.
“Oh man! Is that the new Cure album?” asked the bass player.
“Kenny likes all that alternative shit.” Advised Carlos.
“Yeah” I replied.
“Man, I love the Cure” the bassist continued, surprisingly showing that he was pretty well versed about Robert Smith’s band, stating that he had a big appreciation for Cure bassist Simon Gallup.
“You can have a copy if you want.” I told him, handing him a cassette of Wish.
And with that, the floodgates opened. Pretty soon, both men were digging through all of my items, looking for freebies until I literally had to put myself in between them and my promo shit.
Carlos offered to autograph something, which was a bit awkward because we had no Quiet Riot albums for him to sign. I suddenly scrounged up the cassette copy of Metal Health that the Program Director went out and bought just so that we had some Quiet Riot music to play for the commercial that we did for the nightclub. He opened up the blank sleeve of the cassette and signed his name.
None of us made it to the show that night. For me, I had seen my share of Quiet Riot and could have actually used a refund for the first show from ten years prior. I heard it was good, if not a bit embarrassing as the club only held about 100-150 people at the most.
About a decade after that, I learned that the replacement bassist that we had fun with actually killed himself.
I felt bad that I didn’t give him more free shit.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On The Drums, Mr. Bun E Carlos

Quick question:
Can you imagine Cheap Trick without Bun E Carlos?
Of course you can’t. He is an intricate part of the band, not only in terms of the way be plays, but he is ingrained into the vision of the band.
Bun E Carlos is like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld where he appears in court as a favor for Newman, voicing his (fake) dreams of wanting to be a banker. Carlos never ended up as a banker. He never blurted out “Yo Yo Ma!” under oath. And he never changed out of his banker clothes before walking on stage with the rest of Cheap Trick.
So how did an announcement that Bun E Carlos would not be a touring member of Cheap Trick slip under the radar and only get a brief explanation on their official website?
That’s sacrilegious!
And suspicious. I saw him on the 101 playing the skins for a band featuring James Iha on guitar, one of the Hanson kids on guitar vocals, and some other dude who I later learned is part of Fountains of Wayne. The band is called Tinted Windows, and they obviously toured the country, eliminating the idea that Carlos simply didn’t want to tour any more.
Maybe he’s sick?
Well, their website suggests that everyone in the band is “healthy.”
Cheap Trick got away with replacing the dreamy Tom Petersson on bass with John Brandt back in the early 80’s. That was a little tricky, as Petersson not only had the looks; he had those wild-ass 8 and 12 string bass guitars that sounded weird.
Brandt may have been passable, but I’m still glad that I saw the band when Petersson was still with ‘em (he’s since rejoined).
But Bun E?
You almost have to end the band when he calls it a day. Or change the name.
On In Color, you saw the two lookers mounting their motorcycles on the cover. Flip it over, you saw the two nerdy guys mounting Vespa scooters.
You’re not going to get me to believe that some dude with a full set of hair and who’s under the age of 50 is the drummer of Cheap Trick.
No way.
Two strange things about Bun E Carlos:
The first is how he actually looks his age now. When I saw him back in ’81, he was thirty but he looked like he was fifty. Now that he’s approaching 60, he actually looks like he’s in his fifties.
Another thing: he used to smoke like a fiend. The show that I saw had him playing and smoking at the same time. To me, that was more impressive than his playing (more on that later). He had a pair of fans right by his kit which kept him cool and kept the smoke out of his eyes. On later tours, I heard that the fans were replaced with actual working air conditioners. No shit: even when the gig was outdoors, they ran extension cords to fuel the window units.
A drummer friend of mine used to lament how a man as unflashy as Bun E Carlos would warrant any press whatsoever. He didn’t understand that Cheap Trick didn’t need flash-it was already built into those hooks-and that Carlos keeps time like a motherfucker. Could you hear “Voices” or “I Want You To Want Me” or even that piece of shit “The Flame” drummed any other way than how Bun E Carlos played it?
With someone so vital an element to a band’s image, the news of this should have been bigger story than it seems to be.
In other news according to a recent Billboard article (one that mentions nothing about the Carlos news), Cheap Trick is contemplating doing Dream Police in its entirety in a live setting (yay!), is about ready to release that much booted Steve Albini recording of In Color (which is way better than the original version, IMO), and that Bun E. Carlos has the biggest cock in the band.
Ok, that last part was made up.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jim Marshall R.I.P.

That’s a framed picture of Johnny Cash giving the bird. It’s on the wall in the storage room of my basement, a casualty of the kids, the in-laws, and of married life in general. You see, I was outvoted on keeping the picture out in public. If you’re asking “How were you outvoted?” then you’re obviously single.
The picture is a famous one, shot by Jim Marshall back in 1969 at San Quentin. Mr. Marshall is one of a handful of rock photographers that you’d probably recognize by name, but there’s even a greater probability that you’ve recognized his work.
My framed picture is from the infamous advertisement that ran in Billboard magazine after Johnny Cash won a Grammy Award for “Best Country Artist.” Of course, Country Radio stopped playing Johnny Cash decades ago, and his record company took a little swipe at those K-Garth stations with the caption “Johnny Cash and American Recordings would like to acknowledge the Nashville music establishment and country radio for their support.”
It gave me a chuckle, but the picture was even more memorable.
It’s easy to understand why.
I actually looked for one of Marshall’s prints of the photo, but balked at the price. I chose the Billboard ad as my second choice, saved a bundle while keeping the impact.
It’s just one of Marshall’s iconic shots, and it’s a shame that his shutter stopped today at the age of 74.
Maybe it’s time to move it the picture to a more prominent spot for a while, or at least until my wife sees it in the mancave.
Maybe not.
After all, the boy is reading at a rapid rate nowadays, and he finally noticed a Kozik print of a Flaming Lips/Butthole Surfers show and told on me.
I’m pretty sure he knows the middle finger is in the same ballpark as the word “butthole.”
Sorry Jim, but your Cash shot’s gonna stay in that storage room just a few years longer.

Pavement - Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement

To call it a cash-in would be a bit of a disservice since 1.) nobody really buys cds anymore and 2.) those that still do are faced with diminishing floor space, so every cd that is on display seems to be a compilation out of necessity.
With that being said, I’m willing to bet that nearly everyone who is growing hard over this year’s Pavement reunion has every track on this “best of” compilation. The best of is in quotations because those very same fans are probably growling at the tracks that were left off Quarantine The Past.
For me, those songs would be “Starlings On The Slipstream, Silence Kid,” “Fame Throwa” and “Rattled By The Rush.”
What is included is a good representation of the band’s career from the low-fi years to the expanses of their late entry releases, all of which were handpicked by the band. Quarantine The Past is a fine, moderately priced cd that your girlfriend or uncool bro can pick up when they’re looking for a compendium of Pavement tracks to recognize on the reunion tour.
What the album doesn’t do is accurately tell the story of Pavement themselves, essentially an American rip-off of The Fall which happened to find more favor after they broke up than when they were a working unit. As they progressed, they turned into a decent rock band-more accessible than The Fall, that’s for sure-and they looked foxy enough to produce a nice contingent of female supporters, which was critical to their post-career adulation.
Because the record doesn’t fall into any chronological order, you miss the progression from lo-fi go-getters into Nigel Godrich produced demigods. On occasion, the track-by-track transitions can be startling because of this, and novices will find themselves cherry picking through the collection just like they bitched about when they had to pay for music.
A better suggestion would have been to separate the discs into two phases.
An even better suggestion would have been to never broken up at all, but then again, if they hadn’t we probably wouldn’t have seen the fervor that’s swirling around the reunion tour. Which would have made Quarantine The Past an obsolete idea, just like it probably is among the faithful already.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel

The worry for me is that the Pavement reunion will all but overshadow the new Spiral Stairs album, The Real Feel. Hopefully, the opposite will be true; all of the salvo might very well rekindle an interest in this, Spiral Stairs’ first proper solo album, and give it some much-deserved attention.
Call it the divorce album-an event that can be both a traumatic experience as well as an intensely creative one. I’m sure Scott Kannberg’s had his share of long nights conceiving this effort, but he should take solace in knowing that it’s produced such a rewarding record of both lyrical intimacy and musical therapy.
Where his more notorious Pavement lyricist may get the recognition for his written prose, give Stairs some credit for achieving some of the very same emotional level with the music he’s presenting here. It’s a strange blend of Aussie/Kiwi underground with an occasional foray into Crazy Horse territories. For all of the talk of how Stairs scored his marital disintegration with spins of Shoot Out The Lights and Rumors, there’s very little of those efforts within his own wall of guitars. If anything, there are hints of his former band within those chord progressions, pointing to how vital his contributions were to Pavement and how good of a player that he’s become since they disbanded.
The hints of his bruised heart are all over The Real Feel, but they’re not morose and they point to a healthy future. “What was wrong for you?” he asks repeatedly in “Wharf Hand Blues” before realizing “Might’ve been right for me.”
So how strange is it that-shortly after releasing the best album of his post-Pavement career and implementing a full steam ahead outlook-he’s now expected to regress a bit and revisit his past once again? I don’t know Kannberg’s feelings on the reunion, but there’s a big part of me that thinks Pavement ended on a high note and that they should leave it as such.
But now there’s something else that leads me think that a Pavement reunion is unnecessary. With The Real Feel, Spiral Stairs demonstrates that he can make incredibly vital music that stands up to Pavement’s finer moments. While no one will confuse it with the likes of Slanted & Enchanted or Brighten The Corners, listeners will be able to see a consistency at work (admittedly, not entirely present with Preston School of Industry’s output) and one that is deserving of re-launching the pseudonym.
To reunite the band may be a dream come true for some, but for my money, the re-emergence of Spiral Stairs with his first solo effort feels like the real thing.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mission Of Burma - The Sound The Speed The Light

A few years ago, one of the members of Mission of Burma hinted that the band realistically had a few years left before calling it a day. The idea was that the style of music they play is such a sonic assault that it will become physically impossible for the members to perform.
The Sound The Speed The Light is the third album into MoB’s resurrection and it sounds like they’re performing with an eye towards the end along with a clear memory of how simple things were when they were just young kids discovering novel ways to damage their hearing.
It’s a frolicking effort for sure, but not without its share of flaws. For one, the lyrics on many of the songs seem filled with middle age contempt. On the dark anthem “1, 2, 3 Partyy!,” Clint Conley sounds like another head-shaking Dad with a very strange sense of what constitutes decadence (“There’s many men that smoke/But few that chew”).
He’s a lot more effective when he deals with matters of his age instead of observational musings on the younger people he’s undoubtedly seen during the last six years with this re-charged line-up. The nostalgic “SS83” and the closer “Slow Faucet” are winners, as is “Feed,” which sounds like the kind of song Conley was pursuing with his pre-MoB reunion outfit, Consonant.
But The Sound The Speed The Light isn’t Conley’s album-it’s guitarist Roger Miller’s and drummer Peter Prescott’s. Both members execute with such passion that it’s hard to stay mad at this record for very long. Prescott lays out what can only be described as a never ending fill-even during the album’s quieter passages-while Miller plays with such fury that it actually sounds like he’s trying to get tinnitus again before they hang up the overalls for good.
It may pale somewhat to The Obliterati, but The Sound The Speed The Light serves as important document in MoB’s catalog. It’s the album that manages to blend cantankerous middle age realities with the youthful exuberance of a stale rehearsal space.
If anything, there are no hints that the band is putting on the breaks at this point; there are no anthemic swan songs or meticulous farewells.
Admittedly, that day is sooner than later, but there’s something to be said about a band like Mission of Burma who not only feels the need to deliver another album of raucous brutality but who still has the chops to actually pull it off.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quiet Riot - Metal Health

What people forget with Quiet Riot’s Metal Health album is that it is really the band’s third album. The band’s first two were only released in Japan and they featured a young Randy Rhoads on guitar, recorded before he was tapped as Ozzy’s lead guitarist.
Is there a reason why the band’s first two albums were overlooked in America?
You bet.
It’s because they sucked.
Quiet Riot was merely a mediocre band out of Southern California that pounded the circuit, honing their chops while they went nowhere. Their claim to fame was that their guitar player was awesome, and when provided with a chance to leave for greener pastures, he bolted.
This should have been it for the rest of the band, who were really a band only in name-Quiet Riot was vocalist Kevin DuBrow’s project-and five years after releasing Quiet Riot’s second album, he built a new band around the material he accumulated and viola: overnight success!
Metal Health may be the dumbest rock album ever to hit number one. At nearly every moment, DuBrow opens his big fucking mouth and utters something stupid, but he does it at such a consistent and overblown rate that you can’t help but think that he had little expectation that the album would make the impact that it eventually did.
By impact, I don’t mean that Metal Health was influential-hardly-it just means that the record ended up in nearly every teenager’s collection after the summer of 1983. The moment that Quiet Riot-scratch that, Kevin DuBrow-began taking himself way too seriously is the moment that their career took a quick slide into irrelevance.
Let’s be clear, there’s not a chance in hell that the band would have a lengthy career at the top of the charts, but in looking at the rise in hair metal after Metal Health’s success, you have to wonder if they could have had a couple of additional big ticket releases afterwards.
They didn’t, so the band was left with only one chart topper and a career of county fair and club dates to milk off of it.
Side one is positively flawless. It features the enviable title track that encouraged a nation of pimple-faced kids to “bang your head” and then encouraged them to seek out a little known hard-rock band from England called Slade with their cover of “Cum On Feel The Noize.”
The band covers themselves with II’s only decent moment “Slick Black Cadillac,” pretends to be all sensitive with “Don’t Want To Let You Go” and then begins to show a bit of musicianship with “Love’s A Bitch” before DuBrow before utters “Love’s got me by the ass again” and ruins the entire mood.
Side 2 is more of the same; DuBrow continually yaps at every available moment, aside from the 90 seconds or so that he gives guitarist Carlos Cavazo for the solo “Battle Axe.” It doesn’t matter much as Cavazo is a very one-dimensional player with a limited palate and a monochromatic barking tone.
There is one hint at a greater range with “Thunderbird,” a tribute to the deceased former member (Rhoads) who, ultimately, got the band a record deal after the tragedy of his passing spread across the music print landscape. Suddenly, DuBrow found himself with an offer-provided that he change his line-up’s name from “DuBrow” to the band name he had when Rhoads was performing with him.
Metal Health essentially gives DuBrow his closest brush with his Humble Pie worship, but he fails miserably at capturing that band’s soulful subtlety, thinking instead that his swagger can get away with such shit like “Wanna kiss your lips/Not the ones on your face.”
It’s embarrassing, for sure, but Metal Health’s fuck-all attitude makes it easy to understand why it became as successful as it did and a guilty pleasure that sounds better with each passing beer.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hall & Oates Reprise

I hate to break it to the kids, but I don’t share your enthusiasm for Hall and Oates. I suppose that nostalgia should make me a prime candidate for “Maneater” or “I Can’t Go For That” and I’ll confess that I wouldn’t necessarily change the radio dial if either one of those songs came on.
But I’m not ready to embrace them. It’s still too soon.
You see, Hall & Oates were all over the radio when I was growing up. All. Over. And their stupid videos were all over MTV too. I’m not here to debate their talent or their creativity-that’s apparent from the fact that this duo displaced The Everly Brothers as the top selling duo act in pop history and they’re still there today. What I’m suggesting is that I still remember vividly my distaste for them. Radio was a constant. A top 40 hit meant that you heard the song ad infinite. It was hard to get away from any song that managed to weasel into the top 20 and when it entered the top 10, you could recite the lyrics in your sleep, regardless of your opinion of it.
Today, there are number 1 hits that I don’t even recognize.
Do I feel the need to keep my feet on the ground and my head in the stars?
Not at all.
For the youngsters that weren’t around during Hall & Oates reign, their songs come across as slick little nuggets of Philly soul. In a world of autotune, ProTools, and digitized backing bands, they see the two (and their shit-hot band) as the real deal. I’m not about to dispute that, but I do take exception with a young act with half the talent and even less of the pipes to whip out some H20 for the sake of suggesting the songs they did were good.
It may work for a song or two, but a whole set?

An entire album?!

Darryl Hall and John Oates are still alive and, as far as I can tell, still on good terms. Why isn’t their management team putting the money from the newfound nostalgia supporters straight into their pockets? These guys should be all over hip shows that trend young, their catalog positioned in the re-mastered queue for ITunes, and their hits licensed to fill the back drop of commercials. It’s not that I want to see “Man-eater” used for Secret anti-perspirant; it just doesn’t make sense that some hipsters are providing young kids with half-a-loaf when Hall and Oates are clearly available for booking.
It’s time for you youngsters to get your own taste of Hall & Oates cue burn too.

U.S. House Representative Recognizes Alex Chilton

There's nothing cool about the passing of Alex Chilton and many fans are continuing to make sense of a legendary performer taken from us too soon.
If there can be one moment that provides some levity in Chilton's passing, it's that the U.S. House Representative from his former district took to the podium in Washington and announced Alex's accomplishments into the public record.
No politics.
No posturing.
Just a brief acknowledgement to one of Rock & Roll's most acclaimed performers.

I must confess to knowing very little about Congressman Steve Cohen before his eulogy on Chilton, but now that I do, I'm ready to declare him the hippest Congressman in the house.
The Democratic Congressman from Tennessee's 9th District did a quick interview with Craig Marks over at Billboard to discuss his ties with Chilton and demonstrate that his hipness didn't end there.

How did you meet Alex?
I met Alex the first time at his father’s funeral. Sidney Chilton was an early supporter of mine. He was a jazz musician himself, but his business was the lighting business. His crew of people helped shepherd me into the political scene years back. The last time I saw Alex, ironically enough, was at Thomas Boggs’ funeral. Thomas was the drummer for the Box Tops and one of my dear friends. He was beloved in Memphis.

You seem to have some real musical chops.
Well, I’m from Memphis. We know music. You know, Warren Zevon and I were best friends.

Yes. In fact, I gave one of the eulogies at Warren’s funeral in L.A. I bring this up because one time Warren and I were driving up to Memphis from New Orleans, doing the Highway 61 trip, and we listened to Alex ‘cause he was one of my favorites. It was interesting because they were so much alike: Iconoclastic, rebellious, more loved among the aficionados and musicians. I didn’t put together until recently how R.E.M. really loved both Warren and Alex.

Do you have a favorite Alex song?
I guess my favorite is “Free Again.” Because, unfortunately, it relates to my social life. I've been single all my life. I can just relate to “Free Again.”

Interview originally appeared in

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alex Chilton R.I.P.

My sophomore year in college was the first year I discovered Alex Chilton. It was the The Replacements album Pleased To Meet Me and the tune was, of course, “Alex Chilton.”
From there it was just a short hop next door to a friend who happened to be recording Like Flies On Sherbert from another friend who endlessly provided us with all of the vinyl answers to our obscure rock questions.
And from there, it was just down the street to the radio station where we were playing Chilton’s High Priest.
Ironically, it wasn’t until a few years later that I was curious enough to learn more about Westerberg’s line “I never travel far without a little Big Star.” (Side note: I was at a party on a visit to my hometown during college break when a couple drunk high school chicks came in and properly took over the stereo. They had to play this awesome new song they just discovered and we were treated to a drunken karaoke version of “Alex Chilton.” I felt hope for the younger generations, even though technically they were only a few years younger than me.)
I started with the wrong Big Star album-Third/Sister Lovers-but loved it anyway. As a matter of fact, I was so used to the disjointed melodies of that third record that when I did end up moving to #1 Record and Radio City, it took several spins to get used to the perfect power-pop of those first two Big Star records.
And finally, I actually met Alex Chilton. My girlfriend and I were working at a radio station that sponsored a summer music festival. We were required to go on stage and introduce the bands. That year, I drew Molly Hatchet. My girlfriend drew the Rock & Roll Nostalgia show, featuring four acts. I remember that one of them was Question Mark-the image of his the tighty-whiteys protruding from his gold lame suit is permanently burnt in my mind forever.
Another performer was Alex Chilton.
He played all the Box Top hits; nothing from his solo albums and nothing from Big Star. The backing band played for all of the artists on the bill.
We waited back stage for him. And when he did make it to the dressing room, he didn't stay long. I asked him four incredibly stupid questions:
1.) How come you didn’t play any Big Star songs tonight?
Because nobody came here to hear me play Big Star songs!
2.) You could have played something from Like Flies On Sherbert! (not really a question, but a lame attempt to prove how hip I was to Chilton)
polite chuckle
3.) You ever keep in touch with Westerberg?
(Again, another attempt to appear hip. Notice how I didn’t use a first name?)
No. I don’t really talk to him much.
4.) How did it feel to have someone like Paul Westerberg write a song about you, man?
It was nice…It was an honor.
It wasn’t an interview, mind you, but then again it wasn’t a very good way to engage a legendary performer like Alex Chilton either. Just at that moment, his roadie/soundman/partner/whatever came in and they spoke in some form of code. My original thought was that they scored some pot or something-but in looking back, I think that he was merely acknowledging that he had gotten the cash for the gig and it was safe to get the fuck out of our little town.
I wish I would have spoken more respectfully to him, but I was young. And there’s no guarantee that he would have engaged with me in the way that I wanted him to. There are reports that Alex wasn’t the nicest guy in the world and there are even more reports that Alex had some challenges with the drink.
So it is with a bit of irony that he passed on Saint Patrick’s Day, a day known for drinking. Ironic, perhaps, but a shame none the less. Because the world should indeed never travel far without a little Big Star.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bob Forrest Rock Counselor

I wouldn’t go and say that I’m a fan of all forms of reality television, but I do love a good trainwreck-specifically the fallen stars of entertainers that are picking themselves up off of the ground or walking perilously close to checking out permanently.
This whole thing about Corey Haim? Saw it coming thanks to an episode of The Two Coreys.
Racist rants by Dog the Bounty Hunter? Only someone clouded by his ridiculous jailhouse spirituality wouldn’t have guessed that he’s had issues with people of color for a long time.
Danny Bonaduce dishing out agro bullying tactics? Absolutely. What’s the next step for someone who suffers from intense self-esteem issues resulting from stardom achieved through fake bass guitar playing?
I’m sure I should be embarrassed by all of this worthless trivia, but I’m not. What I am embarrassed about is watching Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew for the past few seasons and not once recognizing who the guy in the hat was.
For those of you who don’t watch the show, Dr. Drew Pensky has a few counselors with him who bring a sense of real-world addiction to his current patients. One of them is a guy who always wears an hold hat and second-hand suits. His face is pocked-marked and he dishes out some typical “Been there. Done that.” Speeches to get the patient’s attention and to let them know he’s been as low as they are. His encouragement isn’t fake, he seems to be a very credible resource for the doctor, and many of the “celebrities” that they’re working with take his comments seriously.
He’s addressed as “Bob” in the show, and I don’t really hang around long enough to watch the credits to see who he is or what his back-story is. Truth be told, there are a bunch of people being treated that I have no idea who they are, even though they’re listed as “celebrities.”
In someone’s world, maybe.
In mine, not so much.
I tend to want to champion those that I’m familiar with, while showing ambivalence for the rest of the cast. There are a few where I question their label as celebrity (Heidi Fleiss being one) and a few that I actually question their talent (the dude that sings that “Butterfly” song)-but I genuinely hope that people can get their shit together.
I don’t quite get the forum in which they try to do it (a TV show? Really?!) but maybe it’s some weird Hollywood thing that they think we’ll lead them to additional roles, gigs, or notoriety.
The guy with the hat intrigued me, but not to the point where I Googled him or anything.
Literally, two hours ago, I discovered who he is.
Thelonius Monster did a great song about 20 years ago called “So What If I Did” that came to mind today. They also did a great song called “Sammy Hagar Weekend” which wasn’t too nice to the Red Rocker. They also did a fantastic cover of Tracy Chapman’s “For My Lover,” which is saying something because I can’t stand Tracy Chapman. Let’s be honest, Thelonius Monster did a number of great songs, but they never reached the popularity that they probably should have. In addition to possessing one of the greatest rock band names ever, they also possessed one of rock’s most notorious drug-addled frontman.
That “Bob” in Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew turned out to be none other than Bob Forrest, the lead singer for Thelonious Monster.
Twenty years and lots of drugs evidently made enough of a change in his appearance to make him unrecognizable to me. Of course, now that I know who he is-I’m seeing all sorts of resemblance. And now that I know why Thelonious Monster aren’t around any longer (aside from the occasional reunion gig), I’m glad to know Bob has found a career making a difference in people, just like I’m sure his music did a few decades ago.
Of course, it still can make a difference, which is why I’m forced to embed a Thelonious Monster video with an interview featuring Forrest who seems very comfortable with death.

Bob recent is taking his newfound counseling role and has opened up his own treatment program. Maybe he can give Shifty Shellshock a kick in the ass for me after they get him cleaned up for being such a whiney douchebag.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Deal Disturbs Douchebags At Apple

It pains me to admit this but I haven’t bought a cd in quite a while. I received some great discs for Christmas because my awesome mother-in-law looked at my Amazon wish list and pretty much dismantled it. She did that a few years ago too, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the version of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was actually the Australian version-so I got the remastered US version (which actually was nice because my existing copy was the crappy-sounding domestic).
Anyway, I don’t buy cds that much any longer because my expensive NAD player is on the fritz and I just seem to immediately burn the disc to ITunes anyway. For some of you, additional cds are a matter of space and to that I would suggest “Buy a home a designate a room for your indulgences.”
I have one; it’s the one with a bunch of my daughter’s toys littering the floor.
I love the convenience of ITunes, and to be fair, I love the same characteristics of Amazon. Strangely, I still use Amazon for physical purchases (sorry Insound and Newbury) because as soon as I get above $25, that shit gets shipped free and without sales tax.
On occasion, I get those dreaded sale emails that usually get the automatic “shift/delete” treatment, unless it’s address from one of those aforementioned retails who know I’m a softy for anything music related.
Lately, Amazon has been sending me emails about their Daily Deals which amount to big discounts on MP3s, but only for a specific time. Admittedly, I completely forget to check my email sometimes (even with the Blackberry notifies-I really go to town with the “delete prior” function on those).
But Amazon is worthy of a look and they’ve got enough data on me that they can swing for the bleachers and get a home run every now and then. Since I didn’t buy Chutes Too Narrow from them, I forgive them for suggesting it to me. But it was the price that had me doing a spit-take and clicking on their link for more titles.
The Daily Deal for that Shins release was a mere $5 for an MP3 copy of the album. I immediately found enough material that made the $5 price point attractive and Amazon has remained a fond retailer in my eyes even more than when they dangled this drool-worthy price point. Hell, I’ve got a wrong-sized furnace filter in the next room that’s at least three titles at that price.
Apparently, ITunes must know that $5 a title is a good deal too as they’re using their 70% market share to muscle against Amazon. As cool as Steve Jobs thinks that he is and as much attention as he gets when he farts, you would think there’d be enough hippie idealism left in his well-compensated skull to not worry about such things as Amazon Daily Deals. But the reality is much different as Apple has been making threats to the labels that allow their titles to be offered for little more than a steal, advising them that they will not be featured in any ITunes promotional offerings.
So if you’re keeping score-when labels bitch and moan about the $0.99 price point, Apple caves, but when music fans get a chance to download an entire album for $5 at a competing retailer-never mind its one that will ever make a real dent in Apple’s market share, they get all roided up and pissy.
I thought Jobs was all passionate about music ‘n shit, but it’s obvious that he’s worried about things like “power” and “respect” even on items that won’t add dime one to his bottom line or take away from it either.
Meanwhile, my fucking Extras episode that I bought from ITunes stopped playing after a few views (I can hear the audio just fine, but get nothing but color static on the display), and I can’t find anyone at Apple to help fix it.
Their advice? Buy the episode again.
No thanks, maybe I’ll order the complete season from Amazon instead.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

OK Go Get

This has been big news lately, but I haven’t spoken about it because I’m not really a fan of OK Go’s music. I guess you could call me a fan of their videos which is why the story is interesting and why it now suddenly is worthy of a post.
You may remember a few years ago, the band OK Go did a neat little video where they walked on treadmills and the choreography was so awesome that everyone went “Awesome!” and showed everybody else.
I was one of them; I think I showed my wife the video and she went “That’s awesome!”
I couldn’t tell you what the name of the song was and don’t bother telling me either. It’s irrelevant to this post.
The point is that enough people went “Awesome!” because it was indeed awesome and they had the ability to share the video with everyone else. The video was seen by everyone on the planet, but only 200,000 of them went from “Awesome!” to actually whipping out their wallets to buy the album that the treadmill video song was on.
That’s saying something, but the way that anyone who was interested in OK Go should look at it is this way: If we make a cool video that enough people see and like, we can realistically sell about 250,000 copies of the record.
EMI records took notice of this and said “We can sell that 500,000 copies of that record because we’re the same label The Beatles are on.” And the band, naturally said “OK. Go do it.”
The trouble was that the label gave the band some money to make another video where people went “That’s awesome!” and they evidently delivered that. I say that with hesitation because I haven’t seen the video.
And that’s where the story gets convoluted.
You see, because EMI funded the video, they told the band “You can let everyone see it. They have to watch it where we want them too.” And you can pretty much guess that where they wanted you to see it at was a location that promoted sales for the band and other label projects.
The problem with that request is that a video is essentially an advertisement. If I’m making a video to draw attention to my product, I’d like as many people as possible to be able to see it. It translates into more sales potential for my album, right?
EMI didn’t see it that way. They took the idea of “We paid for it, so therefore, it’s ours and we can dictation where it should be seen.”
Fair enough, but that’s not the way OK Go got people to see their first video is it. And the sales gained from everyone who saw that first video was the reason why EMI even got interested in the band.
EMI’s prohibiting embedding of the band’s first video translated into a sales tally of 20,000 copies. Surely way below the label’s expectation, and way below the total of the debut album. The band urged the label to let the video go “viral” by allowing people to embed it on their websites, blogs, etc. but the label refused. Their approach was similar to the kid in the sandbox that got mad at the way you played with his Hot Wheels cars and then picked them all up and went home.
The band just announced that they’re leaving EMI and they’re taking their record with them. After all, they could sell 10 times the number of albums that EMI managed to on their own, so why deal with them?
What surprising is how EMI, which is supposedly manned by intelligent people, wasn’t able to see the cost benefit in having an awesome video viewed by as many people as possible. It’s the equivalent of Gillette developing an ad for the new ten blade razor but then telling you to go to the company’s website to view the ad.
Rather than admit defeat and take off the embedding restrictions, the label let the band off. I guess I don’t see the cost benefit in that, unless the label saw something within the band that indicated that they would have to fund a long term goal to get the band to a point of being able to actually make them money, and as we know now, record labels don’t like to wait for very long for a return on their investment.
Which brings me back to my first point of not being able to actually remember the song, words, or melody for that treadmill video. Are OK Go a band with very little potential for hit singles or are they the benefactor of having creative promotional videos to fuel interest for seemingly mediocre songs. Perhaps you could make the argument that EMI took note of that possibility, but in looking at the timeline events for their former-roster act OK Go, that’s probably not the case.
OK Go should be thankful that they were able to get up and leave.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mark Linkous R.I.P.

If you’ve never heard Sparklehorse’s It’s A Wonderful Life, go out and get it right now. Same thing for Good Morning Spider. Both are said to have some kind of inspiration from Sparklehorse leader Mark Linkous’s near death experience from 1996, but Linkous’ stated it wasn’t true. He admitted that much of the Spider material was written before he took a near lethal mix of anti-depressants, valium, and heroin while washing the whole thing down with some booze. He went unnoticed for over twelve hours before someone checked on him. They discovered him and his heart stopped while they lifted him up. His legs were pinned beneath him for so long that some of the muscles died.
In short, misery was a big part of Linkous’ music and-evidently-his life. I could have sworn that he’d found new reasons to live and create after the brilliance of those aforementioned albums was realized after the world nearly lost him. It now seems that this was a wrong assessment as Linkous took his own life this weekend and left us with a brief catalog of some pretty epic material.

I could only find a fan video of my favorite Sparklehorse song ever, "Apple Bed." I think that's PJ Harvey singing backing vocals, but I'm too lazy to go and get my copy now. Inspiration verse "You can be my friend/You can be my dog/You can be my light/You can be my fog." And then the pleading "Doctor please" comes in, like he's reconsidered life and wants to live.
Apparently, that wasn't so.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Goodbye Picador. Hello Gabe's?

Here we go again-one of Iowa’s most historic venues is closing, only to re-open again in a few days under a different name (maybe) and under new ownership. Gabe’s Oasis was a loveable shithole that-if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time-you’ll remember when Gabe’s closed its doors, it got bought by new owners, it got “remodeled”, and then it re-opened as The Picador.
It may have still been thought of Gabe’s, but there was no denying that for a while The Picador managed to use their bargaining power (the owner has another venue in Kansas) to bring some decent bands through the area.
Like many other venues, The Picador fell on tough times competing with the attention deficit youth and a poor economy. The first step the owners took was to dismiss Doug Roberson-a man who was/is one of the most consistently familiar faces both on an off stage. Doug was responsible for booking a ton of great shows before The Picador took over, but when the new owners took over the booking chores for national act, Doug was left to pick up the slack of booking local acts-which in his defense, is only good as the talent he can pick from.
The owner’s felt that they weren’t getting what they were paying for and they felled the declining attendance squarely on Doug shoulders. After unceremoniously letting Doug go, there was an even more noticeable decline in The Picador’s calendar. Curiously, the venue that Roberson ended up booking shows for, found their attendance increasing because of the draw of their acts.
I still don’t believe that a venue in our area can’t support itself-that it really comes down to the way the venue is managed and in the approach the venue takes with live music. The Picador started to change into an attic of metallic gutturals, where everyone knew everyone else while little was done to attract new faces.
In short, the venue lost more than a familiar face when Roberson left, it lost its identity. It turned into a clique, one with a shitty attitude at that. It shouldn’t be that difficult to break away from a conversation to get me a drink should it? But it was, it seemed. And the drag of it all was that I drove down from Cedar Rapids to be shunned and I’ve been known to be a nice tipper, even when nursing a soda.
It appeared that once Roberson was canned, a funk loomed over the club (not the Parliament kind) and nobody seemed to give a shit. From the guy at the door to the guy behind the bar, your presence was a nuisance and no one seemed to get that each paying customer was essentially an opportunity to turn the ship around.
Whether or not the new owners can actually do that is yet to be seen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

OCD Chronicles: The Beat-"Save It For Later"

You have to understand that music is a constant companion in our home. Sometimes it’s played in solitude through the earbuds of an Ipod. Sometimes that Ipod is patched through car speakers or through a docking station in the kitchen.
Sometimes it’s merely a song sung from memory and sometimes that memory becomes clouded with a juvenile urge to add inappropriate lyrics.
The kids tend to like these versions, often more than the original.
And there are those songs in which they’ve never heard the original and I can’t wait until they do. There’s some deviant feeling inside of me that wants to witness the lightbulb go off as they recognize the song they’re hearing was completely dismantled by their father and rebuilt with new meaning.
That song currently is “Save It For Later” by the English Beat.
I Just Can’t Stop It, the first album by the English Beat, was always on my radar growing up. It wasn’t until college when I first heard it. I was drawn to the album’s artwork-it’s New Wave pink looked fetching, but I never invested the money to actually buy it. I’d been burned in the past by buying an album based on artwork alone and it wasn’t a good feeling.
A few years later, the English Beat shortened their name to The Beat and they released Special Beat Service. A co-worker at the local pool had a copy on cassette and it became synonymous with the summer. “Save It For Later” was an obvious hit, and it also received some airplay on the video channel.
More recently, my daughter has successfully completed potty training-albeit with a few missteps-but for the most part, she’s done a splendid job.
She has yet to actually poop her pants, but her success rate has a lot to do with the fact that the moment she feels like she has to poop, she announces it and can spend quite a long time “making stuff brown.”
She also confuses going poop with going pee, but since we’ve incorporated the color coding system into her bathroom habits, she’s starting to catch on.
What does all of this talk about bowel movements have to do with the English Beat?
Well, on some occasions, our daughter is so obsessed about not having an accident that we actually have to convince her that she has enough willpower that she can wait the five minutes or so until we get home. Understand that we’re not jeapordizing her bladder or anything; there have been times in which she’s gone to the bathroom and then announced “I have to go to the bathroom!” a mere ten-minutes later.
When we tell her to “Hold it. We’re almost home!” she resorts to more dramatic tactics.
“Daddy, I have to go poop!”
You see, “making brown” is a more urgent situation and she’s smart enough to know that when she says the word “poop” that Mommy and Daddy move a bit quicker.
We’ve gotten smart to this, and one day I implemented a diversionary tactic to counter hers.
I began singing the English Beat’s “Save It For Later,” but with different lyrics.

“Save it for later
We know you’ve got to poop”

She thought that was pretty funny.

The boy thought that it was pretty funny too.

It worked, but it came at a price. The boy remembered the song and began singing it randomly. It caused me to laugh, which he took notice of and then proceeded to sing it at the most inappropriate times.
Then his mother caught wind and tried in vain to put a stop to it.
But you can’t stop it-it’s lyrical GOLD I tell you!
Say it with me, and feel free to add your own twist (and crawl) to it. Our more recent version puts a sense of ownership to it:

“Save it for later
You know you’ve got to poop”

The song-regardless of whether it’s the great original version or our family’s toilet version-is a lot better than any of the turds that General Public gave us after the English Beat split up.