Saturday, August 31, 2013

Elvis Presley - Having Fun With Elvis On Stage


A true music geek immerses themselves in the topic. Check their books the next time you’re over at their place. Is there an inordinate amount of biographies about musicians? Are there volumes of old All Music Guide books or Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock collections? Are there stacks of old Mojo mags or fanzines in the corner? Is their dvd collection filled with concerts or documentaries about bands?

If so, you have yourself a fanatic on your hands, and they can probably name a few records that have triggered an internal curiosity, even though their research has probably warned them to tread lightly.

For me, the list runs the gamut of curios and oddball releases. They are titles that I have read about, while the knowledge gained about them has presented the titles with equal parts hesitation and curiosity.

I’m still curious about the Jobriath albums, I look for the Electric Prunes Mass In F Minor whenever I’m in a used record store, and I ocassionally paruse for copies of the long out-of-print Wild Man Fischer An Evening With on ebay for no particular reason.

Elvis Presley’s Having Fun With Elvis On Stage was another record that I kept an eye out for. Its infamy created from an old Rolling Stone history book, I believe, a testament to how far the King had faltered during the 70’s-or at least how far Colonel Tom Parker could drag his client through the mud, tarnishing E’s crown in the process.

The story goes how Parker was looking for new items to peddle to fans at the merchandise table at Elvis shows. Knowing that RCA records had a legal grip on controlling anything music related, Colonel Parker noted that nothing in Elvis’ contract with the label prevented him from releasing a spoken word album.

Parker quickly formed a record company (Box Car Records) and went to work collecting bits of Presley’s stage banter into a compilation. There is not a note of music to be found on Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, and the “having fun” claim is because most of the record’s running time is devoted to Elvis joking around with the audience.

Trouble is, it’s not funny at all. The “humor” comes after Elvis is interrupted by someone in the audience screams “Elvis!” and he replies “What?” He usually does it in a funny voice, so if that’s your idea of “having fun,” then here’s 35 minutes of good times for you.

There’s sections of Elvis struggling to find a note, sections devoted to Elvis handing out scarves to audience members, sections of him joking with members of the band-essentially it’s an album with no real purpose other than to line the wallet of one Colonel Tom Parker.

It’s not even “good” in an ironic way. There’s nothing here that you’d be able to use for a mix tape or playlist, particularly since the record isn’t even indexed. It’s broken down into two parts-side one and side two-and none of it provides any historical significance or context.     
        

Having Fun With Elvis On Stage is worth $1 at some garage sale at the most, provided that you immediately sell it to some Elvis collector for double the amount. Judging by the complete lack of morals in which this record was cobbled together, it’s what The King and The Colonel would have wanted.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Dodos - Carrier


Death is a motherfucker.

I’m frightened of it, and the repercussions of death make me consider everything from how my family will adapt to what music I’m going to miss on when I’m gone. The solace, I suppose, is knowing that death will bring a point where I’m not longer tormented by such things.

 Who knows, maybe in the afterlife I’ll be a drop D tuning or a bass drum kick.

More tragic than my own self-loathing are those who pass at an early age, particularly those who have lived a selfless life, or contributed something to the well-being of others. I’ll use a musician as an example of this, but to leave it as just another guitarist who passed too soon.

Chris Reimer was more than just a typical musician when he passed away from an undetected heart ailment in early 2012. He was initiated as the touring guitarist for the San Francisco band The Dodos and was about to join them for the recording sessions of their new record as a full-fledged member until he didn’t wake up from his sleep on February 21, 2012. Prior to his final work with the Dodos, he was also a member of the band Women among others.But what was really telling about his life is how he spent at least 2 years devoted to being with his grandmother who was battling ALS before she passed.

There are not that many twenty-somethings that have the build for that.

This part of the Reimer’s tragedy is what spoke to me the most. The fact that he devoted what is normally the most selfish period of a young man’s life to be with someone else reaching the end of their's.

It’s actions like this that speak large about a man’s character.

Reimer was 26 when he died, and his passing and all of this is nothing more than the bits and pieces of this story that I’ve culled through to provide an introduction to a record review. Can you imagine what it must be like for his family, friends, and the band(s) he’s performed with? The ones who had a chance to see this generosity and warm spirit firsthand?

For The Dodos, the best legacy for Reimer would be in the songs they’ve created for their latest, Carrier.

This, the San Francisco duo’s 5th release shows Meric Long and Logan Kroeber continuing on with the more electric route that they probably would have undertaken with Reimer by their side. It’s a fulfilling direction, one that’s made more poignant by the tragedy that is hinted at in many songs, while the passion for living is found throughout every arrangement.

Carrier has the obligatory musings on death, but it is also a celebration of life, specifically the healing power that music possesses in announcing and overcoming the end of an existence.

To get there, Long explores new sounds with his electric guitar, transforming his syncopated picking into a battle with Kroeber’s already kinetic timekeeping. “I plan to see this through until you grieve” Long declares on “Stranger”, before changing the line on the final verse to “I plan to see this through until it’s done,” an almost challenging reversal in outlook, defying life’s unexpected grief from derailing the original intent of these talented young men.

Long doesn’t hide behind coy distractions or muddled messages in his words; he’s brave enough to detail the loss and the guilt that sometimes comes with it. “If I took your place would it hurt?” he asks on “Death” before admitting that he and Kroeber were “better off with you near.”

The irony is how Carrier sounds like Chris Reimer was right there with him, helping him work through the grief during the recording sessions and helping the rest of us realize how wonderful it is to be alive to get to hear the end result.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Pink Floyd - Ummagumma





For at least one night in my life, Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma was the greatest album in recorded history.

Before you get excited, you have to understand that my own enthusiasm was obtained through extracurricular activities. As soon as those “activities” ended, so did my unconditional love towards Ummagumma.

After all, how are you going to really love a song with a title like “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict?”

To be quite honest, even under the influence, the studio portion of Ummagumma was quickly determined to be irritating, which meant that we kept having to rewind the cassette to get back to the good stuff that evening: the live portion of the double album.

And believe me, rewinding a cassette while battling hallucinogens is a task that seemingly takes forever, particularly when your mind is contemplating the origin and root compounds of the word “rewind.”
Those live tracks are the only reason why Floydians should even seek out Ummagumma. I say this knowing that my words will ultimately reach a digital vacuum, as no amount of critical warning will make a Pink Floyd fan turn away from any portion of their catalog.

I’ve been there, and I get it.

For the rest of you sane readers, let me say that the magnetic tape from the Spring on 1969 captured Pink Floyd on fire. The live material was taken from a relatively small venue (Mothers) which closed up a few years after the fact, but not before the Floyd put the upstairs venue on the map for all time.
The small space doesn’t prevent Floyd from seeking otherworldly sounds, and there’s a great deal of nice experimentation going on, particularly for a band still trying to find their place without former leader, Syd Barrett.
If Ummagumma were released as a single, live offering, then the record would be a firm 4-star release. Instead, it’s saddled with the concept of having each member contribute a piece to the record’s studio sides. And for anyone who’s listened to any one of the Floyd’s solo records, you already know that Pink Floyd are an awesome sum that is greater than their individual parts.

You get Rick Wright fiddling with a bit of treated piano, which I remember thinking at the time, “I could do that, but I won’t, because it’s annoying.”

 Roger Waters enlists his (then) wife to fart around on her flute while he begins making the same kind of “organic” sounds he explored around the same time with Ron Geesin.  It just made me nervous, particularly the part where it sounds like Waters is saying “Come!”

There’s Nick Mason laying down a seven minute long drum solo. This is the same dude that had trouble just keeping time at various points in the band’s career, so I’m not sure a drum solo is warranted.
Finally, there’s David Gilmour, who could have provided some intriguing moments, but instead later admitted that he just threw a bunch of shit together on tape and called it good.


There will be no points in your life that you will ever say “I think I’d like to hear the studio side of Ummagumma today.” Conversely, there will be moments when nothing but the live disc will do-sober or otherwise. This, along with the fantastic packaging that holds this bi-polar oddity, will be the only reasons worth owning Ummagumma, while for me it provides a bit of personal cautionary tale that sometimes, the best way to truly appreciate a record is when you’re as clean as a whistle.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Don Cavalli - Temperamental





Almost immediately, you’ll be overtaken by an overwhelming vibe the moment you spin Don Cavalli’s second long-player, Temperamental for the first time. The French songwriter has largely disappeared from the musical landscape for the past half-decade, fermenting his knowledge and love of 60’s soul and psychedelia to the point where it has come out in an arresting blend of retro gumbo that has the ability to change your current state of mind.

That “vibe” I speak of is infectious, and Cavalli’s laid-back performance is a nearly perfect. Temperamental’s primary appeal is how it subtly it can get under your skin, breaking your concentration only when you’re faced with other people asking you, “Who is this?”

From Temperamental, I can only assume that Don Cavalli is what you would expect if Johnny Rivers took a ton of acid, drove a pink Cadillac to the Mississippi delta and became immersed in its history. The end result is a weird blend of those two worlds under the glow of a lysergic moon. And while that tape hiss is also a product of the record’s economy, it’s also the necessary mist that’s needed to date this record, even when it comes with a digital download option (more on that later).

If you enjoyed Mac Rebennack’s return to his “Night Tripper” persona for Locked Down, then you will find this next door neighbor nearly as rewarding. Temperamental adheres to a religious regiment of period instruments; you can hear the warmth of those tube amps and feel the magnetic tape stretch of the Mellotron when it clearly would have been easier to bring up a digital image for either one. All of this combines to form a record that smells like a musty garage sale discovery while sounding so good that you’d want to share it with the rest of us tomorrow.

Temperamental is a record inspired by passion, that much is obvious, but what makes it so special is how Cavalli attempts to channel the same passion that inspired him into the carefully tailored gems that fill its short 35-minutes. Speaking of, this is a record that’s perfectly suited for its vinyl version, so make the additional investment if you’re able.


If all of this makes Don Cavalli occasionally seem like he’s a man that wasn’t made for these times, Temperamental effectively demonstrates that we’re certainly very lucky to have him around right now.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tegan and Sara Join Taylor Swift Onstage At The Staples Center

Ten bucks says that Jack Nicholson was watching without any pants in some darkened suite upstairs.

But this is kind of cute.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Cancel Upcoming Tour Dates

Old man look at my life. I can only see in sepia tones.
Poncho Sampedro needs some additional time to let his hand injury heal properly, according to an announcement from Neil Young & Crazy Horse released this week.

These old farts have been touring all the way since last year when Psychedelic Pill was released. And when I say "old farts" I mean it. Particularly since Poncho is the youngest member and that fucker's almost 65!

After the announcement, there's video footage of a song from the tour recorded prior to Poncho's owie.


Press:

"Neil Young & Crazy Horse regretfully announce that in addition to canceling the remaining dates on their European tour, they must also cancel their upcoming U.S. tour dates due to a hand injury sustained by guitarist Poncho Sampredo, whose doctor has indicated that Sampredo's hand requires additional time to heal properly.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes to our fans or the Festivals where we were scheduled to appear," the band has said in a statement. "As you must be, we too are disappointed at this unfortunate turn of events."

The tour dates that have been canceled are as follows:

8/31 Dundas, ON Greenbelt Harvest Picnic 
9/02 Port Chester, NY Capitol Theatre 
9/04 Ottawa, ON Ottawa Folk Festival 
9/07 Arrington, VA Interlocken Music Festival


Black Sabbath - Born Again





Born Again was Black Sabbath’s third (or forth) attempt at rejuvenating the Black Sabbath moniker with a new lead vocalist, this time featuring former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian.

The pairing sounds great on paper, but Born Again is proof that lightning does not strike twice-even when the men in the clouds are responsible for two of the most important hard rock bands in history.

Born Again begins with “Trashed,” another one of Gillian’s “shit that happened while we were recording the album” lyrics (see the much, much better “Smoke On The Water”). Tony Iommi shows signs of Side One/Track One fatigue (typically, his shinning moment) by lifting an almost identical riff to “Neon Nights,” the first song of Dio's tenure.

“Trashed” details an incident where Gillian arrived to the Manor Studios drunk, took Bill Ward’s car and crashed it on a closed go cart track on the grounds. Before you start laughing that he wrecked the thing on a fucking go cart track, add to your visuals the sight of said car exploding into flames as Gillian walked from the wreckage.

The close encounter with death didn’t seem to impact Gillian, who uses the lessons he learned from the incident to "thank Mr. Miracle" (this is a Black Sabbath album, after all, no thanking the Lord) and getting back to some additional inebriation.

The prose was captured on a napkin, including this intriguing couplet:

"Went back to the bar and hit the bottle again but there was no tequila
And started on the whiskey just to steady our brains ‘cuz there was no tequila.”

Evidently, Gillian was too drunk to realize that he ended one line with the exact same one he just finished.

“Trashed,” by the way, is the best song on Born Again.

When you’re faced with a brush with death, the next thing you do is follow up the song with a song about Stonehenge.

Much has been said about the pointless instrumental track “Stonehenge” and how it inspired the infamous Stonehenge stage set in Spinal Tap, but nobody seems to point out how the other instrumental track “The Dark” features a guest appearance by Chewbacca.

“Disturbing The Priest” addresses an incident where Sabbath received a bunch of complaints by a neighborhood priest while practicing at their rehearsal space. It features Gillian endlessly cackling and wailing "disturbing the prieeeeestyeaaaahhhh" repeatedly while Iommi struggles to find a riff to work with. It’s as if everyone had a good laugh coming up with the song title, but nobody thought about finishing the tune.

That’s a good representation of Born Again, a record devoid of any memorable tunes, riffs, or lyrics. It is an embarrassment to everyone involved and it suggests that all parties involved must immediately forfeit their rights from ever using the name Black Sabbath or Deep Purple again. It is the work of grown men acting like monkeys with Born Again a metaphoric turd being thrown at anyone who bought a ticket to this ammonia scented zoo.

The album artwork has correctly been singled out as one of the worst covers in the history recorded music, but the reality is that it is nothing compared to the horrorshow found on the music inside.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Black Sabbath - Never Say Die!





Things had gotten so bad for Black Sabbath during Technical Ecstasy that the members of the band had decided to replace Ozzy with the singer of Savoy Brown.

Black Sabbath’s management (Sharon’s dad) suddenly realized “Who the fuck is Savoy Brown?” and, in an effort to save their famous client, pleaded to the band to call up Ozzy and reconcile.

While the band agreed, Osbourne proved to be just as unreliable as before, telling the band that he would resume his role in Black Sabbath while having nothing to do with any of the material they may have began with his replacement vocalist.

He also advised them that he had no material of his own to provide them.

The end result is the ironically titled Never Say Die! A hodgepodge collection of spliced together song bits, questionable new musical directions and a general malaise that seemed to take hold of every member that showed up to record the proceedings.

Generally dismissed by Sabbath fans, I revisited the album as the 2013 reunion tour’s imagery utilized much of the same visual concepts of this record, while completely avoiding any of Never Say Die’s material on stage.

Is it different than any other Sabbath record? Definitely. Was this difference a result of the band’s ambivalence towards their management’s demands to shit out another record? Absolutely.

But unlistenable? Hardly.

Never Say Die! Features a very compelling display of the band throwing ideas against the wall…any idea…just so they could get to the 40 minute mark and call it a day.

Further, the band found themselves booked in a Canadian studio in the dead of winter (cheaper rates) with a dead drum room and dead ambitions.

It eerily resembles the same decision that fictional group Spinal Tap undertook when lead guitarist Nigel Tuffnel left due to “creative differences.” Like the Tap’s foray into a new direction (“Jazz Trilogy”), Sabbath hired Don Airey to tinkle some ivories, let Iommi fart around with a few jazz chords and even did the unthinkable by tapping Wil Malone to help out with arranging a brass section for “Breakout.”

The new direction and panic makes for a record that is unlike anything else in the band’s catalog, to the point that drummer Bill Ward admits “All the songs are history now” on Never Say Die’s closing track, “Swinging The Chain.”

You read correctly, Bill Ward ends the proceedings with another track that Ozzy refused to sing.

It actually begins with a rollicking  title track that ranks as good as anything else in the band’s material, and there’s at least two other tracks that will satisfy most fans of Sabbath’s early material.

It’s the controversial mellow cuts like “Air Dance” and the other keyboard-laden titles like “Johnny Blade” that remain divisive among loyal headbangers-and these tracks do require an open mind.

For a record that sounds so tempestuous on paper and so schizophrenic on the playback head, Never Say Die! can be a fascinating glimpse into what Sabbath could have sounded like had they followed some of the new directions they tentatively touched upon.

This isn’t to suggest these would have been good directions, just different.

It has aged remarkably well and is, at least, on par with another dinosaur act that experienced a similar creative dry-sell: Led Zeppelin and their final offering In Through The Out Door.

Bill Ward seemed to foreshadow how the record would be received during his vocal take, declaring “We’re sorry that it ended that way” during “Swinging The Chain.” They may have not liked the end result-and the record’s follow-up with new vocalist Ronnie James Dio is unquestionably the best Sabbath album since the locomotive roll of the band’s first four releases.


But despite its obvious flaws and drama-filled back story, Never Say Die! is an overlooked example of how good Black Sabbath could be, even when they were on life support.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Black Sabbath - 13


It’s better than Technical Ecstasy and just as good as Never Say Die!, which begs the point, “Why?”

Indeed, why run the risk of ruining a perfectly fine legacy, particularly when those with a critical ear already know Black Sabbath only managed a pair of required records and a pair of really good ones that probably deserve space in your collection because of their nuanced differences.

Let’s face it, Sabbath was not a very consistent band and the power of their catalog is due to some pretty massive songs, not albums. So to wait over three decades to finally release a collection of new material with Ozzy is a pretty silly idea to begin with, especially when everyone only wants to hear your old stuff anyway.

What’s even stranger is how the band is using the Never Say Die! artwork, almost subliminally suggesting that the reunion tour is somehow just a logical extension of that final tour from ’78.

It almost defeats the purpose by suggesting that 13 is nothing more than a tour souvenir, made even more apparent since Ozzy’s wife/manager couldn’t do the right thing by settling with Bill Ward on what could have been an ideal situation to bring the legacy of Black Sabbath full circle.

The record does not suffer from Bill’s absence, at least musically. Studio drummer Brad Wilk goes nowhere near any rhythms that would have challenged Ward’s role as thronesmith. He provides a fairly pedestrian form of timekeeping, leaving guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler the role of packing everything down with cement.

Butler also handles 13’s songwriting duties, making Ozzy’s entire role here as nothing more than showing up. Butler takes a hint from Dio’s playbook and pens a collection that’s only half as scary as what he and Iommi conjure up with their instruments.

“End Of The Beginning” is pretty massive, with a Beatlesque bridge that’s to die for (get it?) while lead-off single contains just enough clich├ęs to make it annoying enough to enjoy.

There’s also enough blatant thievery of older Sabbath tracks to make you think you’ve mistakenly put on one of those aforementioned classics, while one of 13’s apparent issues is with its length. With only 8 songs and a total time of 53 minutes, 13 is still two songs too many, a late entry in the running time girth that plagued the compact disc.

It’s also plagued with Rick Rubin’s notorious penchant for brickwalling. The music is so compressed that any of his original claim to bring Sabbath back to their blues rock roots is a sham, just like Rubin’s pointless notion to end 13 with thunder and rain.

Sound effects don’t make a classic Sabbath record, but then again, was anyone even thinking that 13 would qualify as a classic Sabbath record? Of course not. Given all the drama with Bill and Tony’s health scare, I would think that most people were expecting an embarrassing display of Born Again proportions.

13 is not an embarrassing record. It is a heavy metal offering from a pair of elder statesmen and a frontman who has spent more time tarnishing his legacy than adding to it. From that perspective, it’s a record that helps Ozzy more than anyone, as Geezer and Tony were working wonders with Ronnie James Dio during the last years of his life.

They carried a lot of the same intent over to their new/old vocalist and give it as good as a shot as they can at this point in their careers.

So in that regard, 13 is another flawed yet worthy addition to their Ozzy-era catalog, just like it was at the band’s last end of the beginning.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Black Sabbath - Live In Tinley Park Illinois

Black Sabbath

Live at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL

August 16, 2013

It’s fitting that the images chosen for Black Sabbath’s 2013 reunion tour are the same ones used for the band’s last studio album with Ozzy Osbourne as the iconic frontman. The album was the disastrous Never Say Die!, and the musical content of that mistake from ’78 is wisely absent from the set list the band is working from now. (edited to reflect that I just re-listened to Never Say Die! and....kind of like it :)

The cover art is from the minds at the legendary art design group, Hipgnosis, and the title, of course, continues to apply to these elderly Englishmen, one of whom is conspicuously absent from the proceedings.

More on that later, but if the core creative trio from this Birmingham quartet are in place, then you have a reunion tour that doesn’t necessarily need to have an asterisk by the logo, particularly when it already has a © by it already, thanks to Ozzy’s wife.

If Sharon Osbourne’s tactics at presenting drummer Bill Ward with an offer that the 65 year-old percussionist could not live with are an indication of her strong negotiating skills, then consider who she has given the illustrious opening slot for this potentially final tour of these metal titans:
Andrew WK.

He doesn’t perform. He plays metal songs. Presumably from a turntable and providing no real historical relevance to the event or any remixes for the audience that had gathered. He does not he display any actual talents as a DJ. He just stands there, plays a song, and says “Get ready for the greatest heavy metal band in history” when his set time has expired.

Then, they remove his dj pedestal and play music for another 15 minutes until Sabbath finally comes on stage.

What. Is. The. Point.

The point is, Sharon Osbourne doesn’t have the passion of music inside of her, so she cannot squeeze the pocketbook open a little bit more to allow Bill Ward a spot behind the drum throne or to splurge for a legitimate opening band, preferably one with obvious ties to Sabbath’s influence.
I happen to think Soundgarden would be ideal for this gig.

Instead, she taps Andrew WK to go out, play a few records-like we wouldn’t have been doing already in the parking lot, if it weren’t for First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre’s security staff, who spend every moment before showtime herding up the stragglers trying to cop a buzz before getting reamed for $12 beers inside the venue.

If you’re keeping track, that price is up $3 from last summer.

This isn’t all about revenue. This is the potential to deliver to the most loyal fans in music a show that would resonate for generations. Instead, we get a fellow fan-essentially a lucky bastard with a fleeting recording career-with the enviable gig of getting to on stage and play records before a Black Sabbath show. There is no interaction between Andrew WK and the crowd. There is only music leading up to more pre-recorded music and a huge taste of disappointment to anyone who understands how epic this show could have been.

Leave it to the three Black Sabbath members who were present  to try and valiantly destroy the earthen mound off of First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre’s facilities. Perhaps the band wanted to give the large crowd a chance to remember nothing more than the destructive sludge of Sabbath’s might, which would suggest that the evening’s proceedings may have been the last opportunity Chicago would have to see this closet-thing-to-the-original-line-up-as-you’re going to see.

Ozzy has hinted that he’d like to do it all over again, this time with Bill coming, but that silly Prince of Darkness should know better than to speak without Sharon’s approval.

“Hello?” asked a familiar voice from the behind speakers and black curtain, hinting that the show was about to start. Ozzy blurted out a few more “Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” gags. Suddenly, red lights began flashing and air sirens announced the arrival of “War Pigs,” as massive as any anti-war song Bob Dylan penned, with half as many verses.

For the next two hours, Black Sabbath delivered a set that was as heavy as anything walking the planet at the moment, and as uplifting as any arena show should be. The band pulled three tracks from their latest 13, which is down from the 4 songs they began the tour with and still probably 1 song too many. If it were me, I would leave the opener “End Of The Beginning” on the merits of its title and subject matter, and “God Is Dead” since it seemed to keep the fan’s interest.

You always begin to consider what songs they would have left on the list if it wasn’t taken up by a new track, and I don’t quite understand why “Sweet Leaf” was excluded, particularly since the band included a “Sweet Leaf” t-shirt at the merch table ($45).

It’s obvious that Ozzy no longer has the ability to hit the notes necessary to make tracks like “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” a contender for consideration, but what they did include was an impressive mixture of deep album tracks for fans (“Into The Void,” “Under The Sun/Everything Comes And Goes,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep”) and selections that confirm the band’s undeniable catalog of Metal 101 (“Black Sabbath,” “Iron Man,” “Fairies Wear Boots”).

It says, "Repeat chorus two times."
It’s also obvious that Ozzy has been reduced to a caricature of his former self, mindlessly yelling things like “Make some fucking noise, you fuckers!” and “I can’t fucking hear you!” over and over, at least with twice the frequency that he’s done in year’s past.

He also continues to do battle with his monitors, occasionally giving stern looks off stage when trouble arises while seeming to be oblivious to his own issues of being able to hit the correct notes during “Dirty Women.” Never mind the fact that he also requires the use of a teleprompter to recall the same lyrics he’s been singing for four decades now.

Touring drummer Tommy Clufetos is no Bill Ward, but then again, I’m confident that Ward could not match the power of Clufetos’ performance on Friday night. This isn’t to suggest that Clufetos is a better drummer than Ward (especially when Bill was in his prime), but he is definitely a drummer who recognizes that he only needs to give Iommi exclamation points and not layer his fills over an already perfect riff.

I did not see the band this man hit his kit with anything less than a shoulder-high down stroke for the entire set. With every crack of his drums he played like he was personally nailing shut Bill Ward’s doors and windows so he wouldn’t be able to come back to the band, even he wanted to. His solo stuck out like an obvious relief moment for the rest of the band, as they quickly exited the stage after a quick “Rat Salad” to freshen up, hydrate, and probably in the case of Osbourne, receive oxygen.

Raise your fist and yell!...Oops, wrong tour.
It was an impressive solo, if not about 8 minutes too long. The band may have needed that extra few minutes, but the drum solo rule of “No more than 10 minutes in length if you’re not named Neil Peart or performing for a drum clinic” needed to be followed, even if Clufetos performed at a level higher than most rock drummers could achieve.

Leave it to bassist Geezer Butler and the Grandfather of all metal riffs, Tony Iommi, to deliver enough girth to the proceedings to qualify the tour as a must-see event.  Iommi looks great, and more importantly, played with impeccable precision. Smiles came often from his side of the stage, and the band has clearly given him free reign to embellish on his solos, pushing the length of each song to an average of six or seven minutes in length. There are no complaints about this either as nearly everyone in attendance found themselves nodding their heads in unison with Iommi’s massive rhythms.

Smile! We've gone 36 months without suing each other!
Butler, the man responsible for much of the words scrolling across Osbourne’s monitors, also contributed to an endless array of finger-plucking that safely secured the band’s low end. Geezer has all but admitted that the real “geezer” is the fact that he may not be able to play like this for much longer, while his work on Friday evening suggests that he continues to deliver a relentless growl. He is an underappreciated bassist that only seems to be recognized as an other-worldly player because of his encroaching age. The reality is that Geezer has been a master for quite some time now, it’s just taken a few decades for that fact to sink in among the uninitiated.

With everything that could go with this tour and for as much unnecessary drama the backstory provides, Black Sabbath appears to be providing a legitimate glimpse into why this band is so vital to our musical landscape. Except for the temp-status skinsman Clufetos (kudos to him for attempting to channel the “caveman” era Bill Ward look), the median age for these veterans is sixty-five fucking years old. There is no way a band that old can still sound this heavy.

They were so good that Ozzy could have come out on stage and nodded off to a Xanax and Merlo-induced coma and this still would have been a wonder of awesomeness.


The fact that Ozzy delivered a show with merely a modicum of professionalism means that Black Sabbath’s performance at the F.D.I.C. insured venue on Friday night was a required rite-of-passage for anyone claiming loyalty to rock and roll music.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Washed Out - Paracosm




Right now, probably even as I write this, someone is probably listening to Washed Out’s second full-length Paracosm and making a lifetime of memories with the record’s gentle dreamscapes serving as the soundtrack.

“They could do worse” would be the old, cynical response, but the truth is that the kids today have the enviable position of having a record like Paracosm spinning in the background of falling in love, discovering one another through late night stories, or even spending a glorious weekend together among friends, dangerously selfish in their youth.

Of course, this is a very romantic notion of what I think kids should be doing with their time, and I’d be more than just a tad bit disappointed if these types of things don't still happen with youth. If music still has the ability to touch, soften, and impact their lives the way it has for me, then Paracosm can become a record of tremendous potential for anyone with a big heart and the smarts to nurture that fickle organ.

Paracosm is filled with romantic notions just as much as it’s filled with youthful optimism. It’s fitting that it’s being released at the end of summer, because memories suddenly become bathed in soft-focus reflection the moment you start looking for a long-sleeve option.  Paracosm is as warm as a collegiate sweatshirt and its comfort may have you investing a good deal of time within its infectious intricacies.

Maybe it’s the weird dichotomy of recently attending a funeral and experiencing the event’s social healing properties that makes lines like “Meet up with the old crowd…It all feels right” resonate as much it would with a younger listener, prepping for the last big bash of the summer. Paracosm is a record with universal appeal and it’s as hypnotic and alluring as any record you’ll hear this year.

Producer Ben Allen is responsible for much of this album’s success, but it’s also very clear that Washed Out’s Earnest Greene is out to make his musical ambition more than just a whim he created in the bedroom of his parent’s house, an outlet to remain productive while looking for work.

Paracosm makes it seem like Greene finally realizes that Washed Out is his job now, and he’s done remarkable work doing the heavy-lifting of making our last few weeks of summer sound great.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Descendents Coffee Time Watches

Watches are all the rage these days, judging by the number of dudes I see at work sportin' expensive timepieces, only to use their smart phones when they need to tell time.

If only they had Descendents watches then they might be somewhat cool.

"Descendents watches?!" you scream.

"I want one!"

Of course you do, you little consumer.

Besides. Milo's still paying off his student loans.

Press:

The Coffee Time watch features a glossy white Milo coffee pot on a matte black dial with subtle index markings pad-printed on the crystal giving this minimal design some serious pop!

Each Coffee Time watch comes with packaging signed by Descendents artist, Chris Shary, and one lucky box also contains an original Chris Shary drawing hidden inside. Water resistant up to 10 meters / 30 feet, but not recommended. Please keep your watch out of hot tubs and saunas.

Specs: 
* Wrist Size: Med-Large. 8.5 Inches Max.
* Crystal: Plastic, Flat.
* Movement: 3 Hand Japanese Quartz.
* Buckle: Plastic, Matte Black.
* Dial: 34.8mm, Multicolor.
* Loop: Plastic, Matte Black.
* Case: 43mm, Plastic, Matte Black.
* Straps: 22mm Wide, Matte Black

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going Underground: Paul McCartney, The Beatles and the UK Counterculture

You can keep your San Francisco.

For my time machine, London circa 1966/67 sounds like it could have been ground zero for the counterculture, and a recent documentary examines this possibility.

Going Underground: Paul McCartney, The Beatles and the UK Counterculture takes a detailed look at Swinging London and the impact that Britain's radicals had on shaking the island country out of its Victorian slumber.

Press:


In the mid-1960s the often rigid and colourless British way of life was irrevocably transformed by the emergence of a cultural underground movement. Led by a loose collective of young radicals, they introduced new social, sexual and aesthetic perspectives. Operating out of the heart of London, their various activities, from 'The International Times' - a bi-weekly journal that no hipster could be seen without - to the psychedelic nightclub UFO, promoted alternative lifestyles and values, and sparked a social revolution.

This film not only traces the history of this underground scene, but also explores its impact on the pre-eminent British group of the era, The Beatles. Although they were well established by the time the movement emerged, Paul McCartney in particular, was closely linked with several of its key players, and through his exposure to cutting edge concepts brought ideas directly from the avant-garde into the mainstream.

Featuring many new interviews with key players from the time including; IT editor and long term friend of Paul McCartney, Barry Miles; founder of IT and UFO club organiser, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins; founder of UFO and Pink Floyd producer , Joe Boyd; Soft Machine drummer, Robert Wyatt; drummer from experimental improvisational collective AMM, Eddie Prevost; proprietor of Indica, the counter-cultural gallery, John Dunbar; Underground scenester, vocalist with The Deviants and IT journalist, Mick Farren; plus author of 'Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961 - 1971', Jonathon Greene; Beatles expert, Chris Ingham and Mojo jounalist Mark Paytress. Also includesrare archive footage, photographs from private collections and music from The Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Soft Machine, AMM and others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Plasmatics Founder Issues Exclusive T-Shirts

It was a real coinkydink when I'm perusing the internets for Plasmatics t-shirts for the Special Lady Friend and then I get this press release in my inbox.

I must admit that I thought it was kind of strange that the Plasmatics and Wendy O Williams don't have much of a presence online when it comes to merchandise. You would think that a band with more hype than history would turn their brief output into a merchandising Mecca.

But no. Most of the Plasmatics stuff online seems to be unauthorized and patchy.

Founding member Rod Swenson attempts to address this with some new t-shirt designs.

Press:

We're stoked to offer these eight new Plasmatics / Wendy O. Williams T-Shirts from Rod Swenson (Plasmatics founder). These shirts were designed by Marco Palumbo of No Front Teeth Records. They are "Made in the USA" unisex short sleeve T-shirts, which are 100% cotton (4.4 oz/sq yd). 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Atomic Bride - Electric Order




Atomic Bride is a nickel-bag from Seattle, WA with enough of surf-rock and Nuggets records in their collective turntables to turn a grey NW sky into a kaleidoscope of lime green clouds and dayglo sunshine. Their latest is a brief catch-up extended player called Electric Order, the follow up to the band's 2012 full-length Dead Air.

Packed with equal amounts of attitude and aptitude, Electric Order ads a bit of 21st Century discontent to their spastic arrangements. Think Gun Club with ADHD in a coed Econoline and you’ll have at least the slightest notion of what just transpired immediately after the thing peters out after 4 songs.

The call/response blast between vocalists Chris Cool and Astra keeps the delivery snappy, while the rest of Atomic Bride's musical intuition is tight and impressive. I’d bet a $5 cover charge that this quintet’s real home is on stage, as Electric Order seems awfully hard to contain on magnetic tape.

Which is a minor issue as the production values of this mini certainly doesn’t do much justice to the band’s perceived strength. The rhythms are tepid even when they’re obviously killing it, and the band’s penchant for surf guitars and retro-minded approach needs a bit more danger and feedback to achieve the sonic meltdown that Atomic Bride are clearly capable of. Clearly, one of the things that is missed in all of this garage rock drama is letting the needles get buried on the v.u. meter every now and then.


The good news is that Electric Order is compelling enough to warrant further examination while they work on getting Atomic Bride through their honeymoon phase in the studio.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mark E. Smith: Renegade

By the time you’re done with the first paragraph from Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith you know he’s an asshole.

As if there were any doubt beforehand, I suppose. Smith’s role as the lone member of The Fall for the past 35 years should be indicative enough of his problematic character. “Problematic” I suppose if you were one of the legions of Fall members to pass through its line-up during that time.

Smith has a penchant for speaking his mind, having a few drinks and getting physical with fellow bandmates if the situation requires. The first paragraph details an incident from a few years back when the band line-up had just gotten underway for a tour of the U.S. in support of their album Fall Heads Roll.

A prophetic title if there ever was one, for a week into the tour the entire band (except his wife, Elena) and the road manager, all abruptly quit after a gig in Arizona. Actually, the road manager quit before the gig, taking the transportation with him, leaving the three unhappy band members to pass on this important bit of information to their tempestuous leader.

It all culminated on stage that night, when the three received the support of the opening band who pelted the lead singer with fruit in solidarity towards Fall guitarist Ben Pritchard, who had earlier been the recipient of Mark throwing half-eaten banana pieces at him.

I know. It’s complicated. But the shit of it is that M.E.S. had another band in place, in a foreign country, mind you-put together to finish the tour and not miss a date.

What’s more, the same band cobbled together an entire record together, Reformation Post TLC, and Mark cites it as a record he’s proud of. While the fact that it got made at all is impressive, the reality is that Reformation would hardly qualify as a noteworthy entry in their vast catalog, now past 30 studio efforts.

In fact, many of the acknowledged Fall classics are either dismissed entirely or given brief mention. The bulk of Renegade is devoted to Smith’s opinion, mostly about other people, put also regarding sports, cities, musicians, writers, politics, drinking, drugs, facial hair, pretty much any topic that’s been related to The Fall in one manner or another.

And he doesn’t worry about how it makes him look, raking such sacred cows like John Lennon and Joe Strummer over the barbeque. Kind words are saved for few, and apologies are even rarer.

Kind words are offered to Jerry Lee Lewis. M.E.S. tells a story of bandmate Alan Wise who quit the Fall to work with The Killer and Chuck Berry, thinking that it would be an easier gig than working for Smith. Wise found out that neither legend communicated in the slightest with the backing band. Smith later attends one of the gig, enthusiastically cheering Lewis on, mostly for his performance, but part of me also believes a little bit of the enthusiasm was for Jerry’s poor treatment of Wise.

Smith also gives praise for simple, hometown characters like his grandfather (hated King Kong so much that he completely swore off films), a local Mancunian who bought him a few drinks when he was broke, the guy he collaborated with on I Am Curious, Orange, and his current wife, Elena Poulou.

Speaking of, Smith is surprisingly mild-mannered concerning the topic of ex-wife Brix Smith, who evidently has stopped using his last name since Mark brought it up in the book.

Far from just entirely a book about Mark’s opinion of others, Renegade does follow his decent into drink, including the rationalization of his obvious reliance of alcohol. It’s hard to tell if his vices have any real detriment to his quality, as the past 10 years have been more productive and better received than the decade before it.

The bottle certainly isn’t doing anything positive to his health, and it’s certainly created some unecessary drama away from his talent. He explains a spat with a former bandmate that got him thrown in jail in N.Y.C. as a drunken misunderstanding. Mark thought certain band members were using narcotics, so he got loaded, beat on their hotel door and subsequently got arrested for threatening a female band member during the confrontation.

He details his fear while residing in the tombs, surrounded by real criminals and from the honest fear of sharing a holding cell with a bunch of big black men and sociopaths at Rikers. Instead of considering how his actions were probably not the most effective way of dealing with the situation, he instead proceeds to blame the woman who put him there for failing to appreciate that getting thrown in the clink in America is a much more serious prospect here than over in England.

At the same time, Renegade makes it sound as if Smith has this rock and roll thing figured out pretty well. He just needs to determine out the limits of his vices and conceal them better. He views touring as a way in which he can pour on the excess, as it were, because someone else is picking up the tab.

So how is that different than anything that, say, Keith Richards has been doing? There really isn’t much difference, except that Smith’s line of work pays much, much less than probably even the session players receive on a Stones tour. With that in mind, Smith doesn’t have the luxury of being able to afford expensive lawyers when things go south, or eat the cost of a recording studio when the band up and walks out.

“Lads with no guts. I can’t stand them”

Renegade makes it very clear that Smith has enough guts to keep doing this, moving forward in each moment, even when adversity is right in front of him. Even when he feels that all of that adversity is because of someone else’s incompetency, at least, according to Mark’s reasoning.


While the title of “renegade” is still debatable after reading through this fun tirade of Smith’s side of things, it is unquestionable that the title of “living legend” aptly applies.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tegan & Sara Join Macklemore and Ryan Lewis On Stage

While we tend not to float too much in the pop waters around here, choosing instead to be all hard with the rock vibe and swear words, I still have an ear for what my children are listening to.

And with that in mind, I don't have a problem with Macklemore.

More so now than before.

The Canadian twins joined Mackemore and Ryan Lewis on stage at the Some Festival Up In Canada Festival for a version of "Same Love." There's an obvious link between them and Macklemore's words, and a pretty clear indication that he's doing this song from the heart.

It's important. You should probably watch it. More importantly, you should probably take a look at what your words in the comment section of You Tube or whatever social media you play in really mean to others. I get the sense from most of them that the people who write them wouldn't have the nerve to talk to the other person like that face to face. It's a matter of being held accountable, I suppose, but I also believe that so many people live in a world where an electronic device is so often in front of them that they use it like a shield. It's an invisible one, and unfortunately, that's only discovered when someone in real life verbalizes the pain that someone else's words have caused them. Then all of a sudden, you realize that there isn't really a shield that blocks you from being immune to what you really are: a callous bully that lacks vital empathy skills required for becoming a better person.

"We become so numb to what we're sayin'"

Live and let live, man. At the end of the day, the only thing that is significant is finding a way where we can respect our creator and each other by living in a manner where our world is made as beautiful as it can be during the short amount of time we inhabit it.

Anyway. The gals contribution is less revelatory than a signal that the song's message is a far-reaching one.



Press:

Tegan and Sara joined Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on stage this weekend at Osheaga festival in Montreal to perform the equal rights anthem "Same Love".

As openly out musicians, Tegan and Sara have long been outspoken public advocates on all LGBT issues, including marriage equality. The collaboration proved as transcendent as the message itself, representing the first time these artists have appeared together on stage. 

 "Closer," Tegan and Sara's hit single off their seventh studio album, Heartthrob, made its debut on the Top 40 radio chart over the weekend thanks to big support from major radio stations like Z100/New York, WIOQ/Philly, KMVQ/SF, KMVA/Phoenix, KBFF/Portland and SiriusXM Hits 1 among others. A milestone for Tegan and Sara, who have never had a song chart at pop radio before.

Tegan and Sara played Lollapalooza to a record crowd last night and will be playing the remainder of the Fun. "Most Nights" Tour in North America. For a full list of upcoming shows, see the list below. More dates coming soon.

Confirmed Tegan and Sara Tour Dates:
08/21 Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Denver, CO*
08/22 Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Denver, CO*
08/23 GREAT SALT AIR - Salt Lake City, UT*
08/27 Lake Tahoe Harvey's Outdoor Arena - Stateline, NV*
08/28 Idaho Botanical Garden - Boise, ID*
08/29 Edgefield - Portland, OR*
08/30 Britt Pavilion - Jacksonville, OR
08/31 Ambleside Park - West Vancouver, Canada*
09/01 Bumbershoot - Seattle, WA
09/03 The Greek Theater - Los Angeles, CA*
09/04 The Greek Theater - Los Angeles, CA*
09/06 Greek Theatre - Berkeley, CA*
09/07 Santa Barbara Bowl - Santa Barbara, CA*
09/08 Greek Theatre - Berkeley, CA*
09/10 Comerica Theatre - Phoenix, AZ*
09/12 Gexa Energy Pavilion - Dallas, TX*
09/13 Stubb's Waller Creel Amphitheatre - Austin, TX
09/14 Sunset Station - San Antonio, TX
09/15 House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
09/16 Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre - Tuscaloosa, AL*
09/18 Mizner Park Amphitheatre - Boca Raton, FL*
09/19 UCF Arena - Orlando, FL*
09/21 Music Midtown - Atlanta, GA
09/22 The Woods at Fontanel - Nashville, TN*
09/24 Family Circle Cup Stadium - Charleston, SC*
09/25 Red Hat Amphitheatre - Raleigh, NC*
09/26 nTelos Wirless Pavilion - Charlottesville, VA*
09/27 Starland Ballroom - Sayreville, NJ
09/28 Webster Bank Arena - Bridgeport, CT*
*"Most Nights" Tour with Fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sly & Robbie Present: Stepper Takes The Taxi





As much as I return to reggae music, I have to acknowledge that it is a genre where my own knowledge of it ended several decades ago. I couldn’t tell you who the current leaders in the genre are, outside of Snoop Dogg’s request to now be known as Snoop Lion.

Of course, this probably explains why I no longer follow the genre.

But when the iconic “Riddim Twins” are featured prominently on a new release, there’s a good chance that their shared history will come through in the recording.

Sly & RobbiePresent: Stepper Takes The Taxi is a collaboration featuring saxophonist Guillaume “Stepper” Briard, the long-time Taxi Gang member and lifelong devotee to the Jamaican artform. It is an instrumental album where Guillaume was given access to Sly & Robbie’s catalog of unfinished work, as well as new sessions.

It harkens to reggae’s classic period while sounding stunningly fresh as the collaborators have created a debut record for Guillaume that is incredibly timeless. For anyone who hasn’t strayed too far from the genre’s bountiful origins or may be too timid to explore reggae’s new urban direction, Stepper Takes The Taxi is a perfect cab ride back to the time when our island neighbor had the world’s ear.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Devo Bobbleheads Perfect For Spuds Of Any Age

It's a new rock bobblehead, this time for the mighty Devo. The press release is found below.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning the death of Devo drummer Alan Myers over the summer. He played on the first seven Devo releases and left after his role became greatly diminished after Mark Mothersbaugh began using more programming instead of an actual drummer. This despite the fact that Myers was incredibly reliable when it came down to keeping time.

Admittedly, I never really thought that much about Devo's choice in drummers, particularly since Myers was used more as a timekeeper than as a finesse or power percussionist.

That all changed one night when me and a pair of chuckleheads sat down and watched a live video of Devo during the Freedom Of Choice tour. One of the first things we noticed was how much Myers looked like a rat. The second thing we noticed was how friggin' good he was behind the kit.

A new facet to the band emerged: a taught rock and roll band that could be just as aggressive as any punk band (see their early cuts compilation Hardcore for further evidence) while delivering a show that far exceeded most of the arena rock bands that littered America's venues during the same time period.

In the video, goes beyond his normal duties as the "human metronome." He is a flurry of activity, providing the band with extra muscle while hiding his abilities on the majority of Devo's studio output.

There are exceptions of course: the looping and clever patterns he created for Devo's cover of "Satisfaction," the dynamic drumming for "Shrivel Up," and this early video of "Gut Feeling" where Myers is a madman.

Come to think of it, I began to lose interest in Devo right around the same time that his work was pushed farther and farther into the mix.

An incredibly underrated drummer that was a vital part to Devo's most influential moments.



Press:

Use your Freedom Of Choice by pre-ordering this Officially Licensed DEVO Energy Dome Throbblehead figure... DEVO in effigy!

Made by Aggronautix. Features figure dressed in DEVO's Freedom Of Choice tour outfit circa 1980 sporting the band's patented red Energy Dome. It wiggles and jiggles on the head of this 7" tall, polyresin figure, accurately sculpted right down to the 1980's Keytar. Limited to just 2000 numbered units.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Singles 45's & Under: PowerSource - Dear Mr. Jesus

College is a great place to foster and develop one’s cynicism. In light of tragedy and things beyond one’s control, cynicism serves an important purpose. If offsets the realities of this cruel world by preparing us to tackle another day. If we linger too long on everything that is wrong with this planet, we find ways to hasten our exit from it, either consciously or subconsciously.

I never understood child abuse growing up, but then again, what is there to understand about it anyway? It’s a topic that grows exponentially horrid when you have children, and as a person who believes that we as a species should be better than killing another person in the name of justice, I falter a bit on the position whenever I hear stories about child abuse.

In 1987, a New York attorney was arrested after beating his step-daughter  to death. She collapsed after a blow to the head, and as she lay in the bathroom of the family’s Bronx apartment, slipping in and out of consciousness from her injuries, her step-father left her alone without medical attention, occasionally leaving the home to freebase cocaine.

He lived with a woman for several years, and she was also to blame for allowing the abuse to continue in the couple’s home. When she returned home from her job as an editor of children’s books for Random House one evening, she found the child close to death. The girl had been suffering for over 10 hours. It was at this time that she finally convinced her abusive partner that they needed to contact the authorities. The girl later died from her injuries.

The case gained national prominence, but I remember it for another reason.

During the trial, a radio station discovered a song recorded by PowerSource, a contemporary Christian musical group led by Richard Klender. The group recorded a song called “Dear Mr. Jesus,” a schmaltzy ballad about child abuse with stunningly bad 80’s production values. The song’s notoriety was secured when Klender asked 6 year-old Sharon Batts to perform lead vocals on his new song.

PowerSource released their first and only album Shelter From The Storm in 1986. “Dear Mr. Jesus” was nestled in the Bedford, Texas’s full length and probably would have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the aforementioned child abuse case in New York City. When some clever disc jockey found it and began playing it during the trial, listeners called in by the thousands to request it. From there, it began to spread across the country, where it finally entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #61 in January 1988.
I remember it being played repeatedly in the Midwest during the 1987 holiday season. My cynicism took note of the song’s content and the manner in which Mr. Klender chose to address the topic by enlisting a 6 year-old girl to sing it.

Take a look/listen to this incredible piece of 80’s righteousness and marvel at how Klender seemed to foreshadow later events about a girl “beaten black and blue.” The girl narrator is troubled by the news and decides to take her concerns directly to Jesus, or “Mr. Jesus” as it were.

Taking a clue from George Jones’ classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Klender saves a money shot for the end of the song, when the little girl asks Mr. Jesus to look into this topic of child abuse, and to keep a family secret to himself.

“Please don’t tell my Daddy, that my Mommy hits me too.”



While my cynicism certainly took notice of this forgotten gem, it was the song’s curious decision to highlight the topic from the perspective of a 6 year-old girl that stuck with me for almost three decades. I recently found the song online and have been thoroughly enjoying it in the most ironic of ways for the past week.

In fact, I have been subjecting the children to this piece of fine art, causing my daughter to sing the refrain of “Please, don’t let them hurt your children” over and over, while my son has decided to stick with the “my Mommy hits me too” line, particularly when his own mom tells him to come in for the evening.

I also have the song on vinyl, a promotional single that I acquired from a radio station. When I found it, I used it for a few cassette mixes, utilizing some production tricks in the process. On the flip side, Klender conducted an interview with the young Sharon, asking her complicated questions about abuse and her supposed advocacy concerning the topic. Of course, her responses were exactly what you would expect from a 6 year-old girl who had been heavily coached beforehand. There are lots of one-line answers as well as the expected “child abuse is bad” message. It is exploitation at its most blatant, but it is exactly what you’d expect from a song that was created from such obvious heart-tugging that it can potentially cause cardiac arrest.

For my mix tapes, I would let Klender’s introductions and interview “questions” spin at the normal 45 r.p.m. speed. Then, whenever Sharon would pause to respond, I would change the speed to 33 r.p.m., causing her voice to resonate with a creepy, lower pitched voice. To hear Sharon’s innocent responses under the guise of a middle-age man’s voice was positively stunning. I wish I would have kept a copy for myself.

Child abuse is certainly no laughing matter. I understand this completely as a parent. But while my own opinion of this topic can certainly elicit unchecked rage from within, there’s something inherently wrong about exploiting a child to address a subject as morally repulsive to begin with.

Jesus, thought I’d take this right to you…