A collection of posts from my original weblog...or the inscrutable rantings of a madman...could be both...

Saturday, September 21, 2002

That time is upon me once again...It's the 2nd Anniversary of 21st Century Schizoid Man. That's right..it's been two revolutions around the Sun since my man C-Dog suggested I start up a prog-rock Blogger site. He helped me with the initial set-up and away I went. My recollections on starting "Schizoid Man" were covered in last year's Anniversary post, which you can check out in the archives. On to this year's post....
"What's happened in the past year?" Well, besides world events (W.T.C., "The War On Terrah", floods, starvation in Africa..to name a few) that have combined to heighten the "worst-case scenario" thoughts of many...a number of musical notables have passed away. George Harrison, lead guitarist and singer for the most famous pop/rock combo of all time (that's The Beatles, kids), passed away in November 2001 at age 58. Though it wasn't as devastating as the murder of John Lennon in Dec. 1980, it made my world a bit less colorful knowing that "The Dreamweaver" and "The Avatar" have now both gone to The Great Gig In The Sky. John Entwistle, bassist extraordinaire for another colossal English pop/rock band, The Who, died unexpectedly in June 2002, supposedly as the result of drug overdose. It was a sad end to a brilliant career as an essential ingredient of the best rhythm section in rock-and-roll, period, never mind British rock. "The Ox" died in his hotel room just one night before The Who's summer reunion tour was to begin in Las Vegas...and the tour rumbled on without him..such is big bucks music tours these days..with a refrain of "This is how [deceased band member's name] would want it." Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone, both co-founders of seminal New York punk band The Ramones, passed away within months of each other..Joey of cancer and Dee Dee of a heroin overdose. Those guys jump-started the new rock-and-roll scene in New York in the early 70s and paved the way for countless groups while providing an electrifying antidote to those who couldn't groove on prog and who despised the singer-songwriter/corporate rock swill poured on them through the radio airwaves. Joey rocked right up until the end, and his first ever solo record was released shortly after his untimely death...but it seemed more of a celebration of punk exuberance than a corporate cash-in, which is the way it should be. Dee Dee laid low in California, and it's tough to say what drove him to attempt to cloud over his life with heroin. Whatever it was, I hope he's resting peacefully now. John Philips, also known as "Papa" John Philips, of the California hippie "flower-power" folk-rock group The Mamas And The Papas, passed away in the past year. He had a history of alcohol and drug abuse and it seems to have finally done him in. His last recording released was a CD of a drug-addled 1977 session with members of The Rolling Stones, who were equally out-of-it for the sessions--I haven't heard it, but the description makes it seem none too flattering for both parties involved. Still, the man wrote or co-wrote some great, if not extremely catchy, tunes, especially California Dreamin' and the 1967 Scott MacKenzie hit San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) *and* he helped organize the first-ever international rock festival, the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967, where Jimi Hendrix (among others) made his American debut. And Warren Zevon announced just last week that he is terminally ill. Zevon's been a Bay Area fixture for years..and had a *huge* radio hit in 1978 with Werewolves Of London. Zevon has a wry sense of humor, much like Randy Newman's early albums, and those spiky observations would form his lyrics. In a bit of weird irony, one of Zevon's recent records was titled Life'll Kill Ya and his latest is titled My Ride's Here..hmmm..
On a somewhat lighter note...Arthur Lee, founder of legendary 60s psychedelic folk-rock group Love, has been paroled from his prison sentence for good behavior. Lee was jailed for drugs and weapons charges a few years ago--*very* sad circumstances for a music figure of his stature. If you want an inkling of this man's brilliance, get yourself a copy of the re-mastered/re-issued Forever Changes, first released in 1967..and check out A House Is Not A Motel or The Red Telephone..or even band-mate Bryan MacLean's Alone Again Or..or...hell, listen to the entire record front-to-back and *try* telling me that it isn't one of the top-ten albums of the 60s! Lee is out touring again, and there's even a reference to him on Kimya Dawson's (of The Moldy Peaches, the N.Y.C. lo-fi hipster-folk duo) site..so maybe Love's albums will reach the hands of a new generation of hipsters..they should, as they are timeless, well, at least "Forever Changes" is. I haven't seen Arthur Lee play live..and I do apologize to my readers for not including more show reviews. The sad fact is that I haven't *been* to a show since Radiohead/The Beta Band/Kid Koala at Suffolk Downs, near Boston..in August 2001. There honestly hasn't been a local show that really got me psyched up to attend..though I nearly caught the Tool/Tomahawk show at the now-defunct New Haven Coliseum this past August. The non-stadium size bands I'd like to catch inevitably play in Boston or N.Y.C. and skip Conn. altogether..and they're not to blame, because the fact is that these type of bands just *don't* have an audience here. C-Dog and I caught The Flaming Lips at the Webster Theater in Hartford in April 2000, and the place was half-empty. I went to the Gorky's Zygotic Mynci website and pleaded with them to play Conn., but to no avail..they headed for Boston and New York instead. I also missed Super Furry Animals (who are playing in Northampton, Mass. tomorrow night..D'Oh!), Orbital, who did a *very* short tour last fall--I think the closest they got was Washington D.C., Elbow, who also didn't even get *near* New England on their debut U.S. tour, King Crimson, who played at The Palace Theater in New Haven (I had to work that night--so it wasn't a question of proximity) and Blackalicious/Jurassic 5 at Toad's Place in New Haven (couldn't score tickets for that one). Oh wait..I *did* see the Go-Gos reunion show at the Mohegan Sun casino in March (I think)--it was one of those "I-don't-have-anything-better-to-do" nights and a friend was going, so I went along..mainly to people-watch. The girls can still rock out (when they need to), but there also seemed to be a lack of energy there--'specially with the newer tunes they wrote for the "Return To The Valley Of The Go-Gos" album. The crowd only really embraced them when they played "the big hits"..you know, Vacation, Our Lips Are Sealed..those early 80s radio staples. And, of course, everyone wanted to see how well Belinda Carlisle's looks were holding up. From where *I* was, outside of the "Wolf's Den", where the hardcore fans got to sit..the rewards of showing up at 7 a.m., she looked about the same as she always has..which means she's aged well..and can still hit *most* of the notes she needs to..she struggled a couple of times and a couple of the tunes were played in a lower pitch so she could adjust, but overall she's retained her pipes. I don't know enough of their tunes to be able to pick out the more obscure ones, but my friend informed me that they delved deep into their venerable song-book, so I guess I saw a non-typical Go-Gos show..who woulda thunk it?
I've still been visiting E-Bay over the past year, which is part of the reason I cut back on travelling to and attending shows. I purchased a copy of Vernon Joynson's Tapestry Of Delights tome, which I've praised on this site as being the "bible of English beat/mod/psych and prog". "Tapestry.." introduced me to many obscure Brit psych and prog bands I wasn't even aware of..so I began attempting to track down discs by those bands (many are now out-of-print) on E-Bay. I also became aware of limited-edition Japanese mini-L.P. CDs through E-Bay. These are discs that are housed in cardboard miniaturized replica L.P. sleeves..and the attention to detail on these things is amazing! They are only sold in Japan...and you can only get them here through hip import record stores. I don't have one of those 'round here, so I'd (once again) have to head to Boston or New York to score them. There are *tons* of titles available..mostly Anglo psych/prog/heavy rock bands (Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zep, Yes, King Crimson, etc.), but also some jazz artists are available: Miles Davis, Weather Report, John Coltrane..and more jazz artists' stuff are being released in mini-LP format all the time. Some of the titles that quite a few collectors' want go for *big* bucks on E-Bay--I've seen the McDonald & Giles (members of King Crimson's original line-up who released a duo album in 1971) mini-LP go for $500.00 and copies of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" go for almost $200.00. Sheesh...hook a brutha up?
As far as "Schizoid Man" itself..I've got a bit better with the HTML, so I've added 'bolds' and 'italics' and some links to sites, both in my posts and in the side-bar..where I have links to bands I like, friends' sites that merit being included (especially M.A.D.'s "Cheek", The Fish Who..'s "Temple Files"--coming along nicely after it's debut earlier this year, Bone Daddy's "The Boneyard", Neilalien's Doctor Strange site--which *still* boasts great site-design, C-Dog and The Fish.. collaborating on "Sports Takes"..and of course, "Triptych Cryptic", the *center* for me and my crew) The others in the "Fellow Freeks" bit are sites I've become aware of through T.C., like Aris Vision, run by a cool dude from the U.K. who provides funny content and links and stories from his experiences in Merrie Olde England...Tunde, who's site is on hiatus at the moment, providing sharp observations from the U.K. as well...Chapel Perilous, run by an interesting chap who goes by Sylvain, posts all sorts of links and articles about specualitive phenomena (UFOs, quantum theory, ancient civs) along with various games he finds. he definitely thinks on my wavelength..and he's got a separate site for his political opinions (The Chapel Furnace), which concur with what I'm thinking most of the time. If you're a fan of Robert Anton Wilson's (whose site he links to) or enjoy unusual content, then visit the Chapel. I've also been visiting Why Oh Why quite a bit, a site run by a distinct group of personalities, much like T.C. They always have something going on, and the comments boxes end up like comedy routines from mescaline-eating Plutoninans...a *great* site. This Modern World, by Tom Tomorrow..can always be counted on for smart left-leaning commentary..you can link to it from T.C. Fark has been cracking me up for a little while now--especially the "Photoshop" contests..makes me wish I had Photoshop on my work computer.
For you readers (all three of you >8-p)..well, I hope I've kept things "on point" enough for you to enjoy visiting. You can expect more of the same in the next year..and possibly my "album-cover" background will return (I already mentioned the template change in an earlier post, so no need to mention it here). I'm also wondering where S.T.G. and Joeneckbone are--haven't heard from you guys in a while..drop a line when you get the time, my bruthas! Also..on a sad note..I'd like to say R.I.P. to Bean, one of GeminiGirl's beloved cats, who passed away unexpectedly last night :( O.K., musos...that's all for the 2nd Anniversary post--I'll be back atcha soon...and maybe that guest column! Increase the Peace!