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

Saturday, February 22, 2003

I'm sure you've heard by now--the big news around here is the tragic fire that claimed 90 lives and caused injuries for 150 more at a nightclub in West Warwick, R.I. just two days ago. The 80s hair-metal band Great White were playing a show there on their latest reunion tour and brought along their pyrotechnic sparkler kit for y'know..revelling in the "glory days" or something. During the first song of the first set--the sparklers ignited a part of the ceiling..this led to the drapes at the side of the stage catching--and soon the *entire* club was ablaze. Jack Russell, the lead singer of Great White, attempted to douse some of the flames with his bottle of water, to no avail. People rushed the exits and several were trampled and were suffocated by the thick smoke that filled the club. I heard that if you weren't out within 30 seconds, you didn't have much hope of surviving--that may be an exaggeration, but hand-held video shot by a documentary film-maker (he was making a documentary on, of *all* things, club crowd-safety procedures) shows the happenings in a ghastly "up-close" nature. The club was constructed almost entirely of wood, and consequently it was virtually destroyed by the fire. Fire officials in Rhode Island are stating that the club possibly contained more people than is allowed by fire code. Now a war of words is breaking out between the band and their management on one side--and the club owners on the other. The club is claiming they never gave Great White permission to use their pyrotechnics on the premises, while the band is claiming that they checked with the owners and were given the go-ahead. And of course, the lawyers on both sides are gearing up for a big court battle--and more than likely sniffing for cash, too. I'm not sure if the band or the club will be sued by the families of the deceased--maybe in some sort of class-action suit. It's a tragedy all around--for the concert-goers who attended, not thinking about anything except to go see a band, scope out men or women in the crowd and enjoy a night out...and for the club owners, who will more than likely not get to purchase another club for some time. Now, I never really liked Great White--I thought their big "hit", Once Bitten, Twice Shy, was one of the worst songs to come from the wasteland of mainstream rock radio in the late 80s/early 90s--which, if you remember, was a particularly bad drought for decent radio in general. I feel a tiny bit of regret for them--because this will effectively end whatever "career" they had left--though it was mainly living off of their past glory..and yes, a lot of bands I like are doing the same--especially a lot of the 60s and 70s bands--I just happen to *like* their music. Great White are not The Who, who managed to overcome the unfortunate trampling of some of their fans at a concert in Cincinnatti in 1979...nor are they The Rolling Stones, who moved on past the horrible events at the Altamont Speedway in California in December 1969, in which a man was stabbed to death at the hands of the Hell's Angels after a scuffle in the crowd. Great White just doesn't have those other bands' creativity and longevity--though, to be fair, if either The Stones or The Who had only one recognizable "hit" at those points in their careers--those events might have finished them, too--well, The Who were effectively done in '79 anyway, after the loss of Keith Moon. Great White may have also lost a member in this tragedy--as guitarist Ty Longley is still missing--he was pronounced missing the night of the fire--and chances are looking very slim that he will be found alive. Great White were scheduled to play a show at The Webster Theater in Hartford, CT. tomorrow night--that show has been subsequently cancelled and the Webster's management are quick to point out that they have never allowed pyrotechnics inside the club. That's the saavy "P.R. move" at the moment--and now all clubs are likely to do the same...which really isn't a bad idea--do you really need all that "flash" in a 200-capacity club? The worst aspect of this tragedy is that it comes about a week after the trampling deaths of 21 at a club in Chicago. It seems bouncers shot heavy-grade pepper spray into the air to quell a fight that had broken out. People on the second floor rushed the back exits--which were chained shut to prevent patrons form sneaking in through the back and avoid paying cover charge--the problem is that chaining exits shut violates fire code and causes events like the one last week. It turns out, too, that the second floor wasn't supposed to be in use due to code violations--seems the owners were looking at more revenue from cover charges and drink sales than for the ultimate safety of their patrons. Sad sad sad.
On a somewhat lighter note, the annual East Hartford Record Show is taking place tomorrow (the 23rd) at a P&W building on Clement Street. I will be there--and I will actually be *selling* this time--as well as buying. I am helping out a couple of friends who are letting me use part of their space to sell off my vast collection of cassettes i acquired over the years. Mostly classic rock stuff--but hey, you never know when you'll want to throw E.L.P.'s "Trilogy" or Jethro Tull's "Heavy Horses" into the deck while driving to work. If you're in the area--and have $5 to spare..come down and give a holla..I'll hook you up with Ten Years After or maybe you're looking for some Byrds stuff. And to my crew who've made me mix tapes over the years--no, I'm not selling those--just store-bought ones! I'll let you know what I bought at the show..and any other goodies I've got in the past couple of weeks next time. Muso-geek Out!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Alright musos--back again..first off, thanks to my man C-Dog and whomever else helped to get rid of the annoying tyranny of the dreaded "banner ad" that used to be at the top of the page..a hearty "Schizoid Man" cheer to you!! Hurrah! A correction from my last post--The Coral's debut EP is called Skeleton Key..not just "Skeleton". I *did* get a copy of the full-length Coral record (thanks to you again, Flaming Pixie)..and it's in similar style to the EP..more Day-Glo pirate lyrics and 60s musical overtones..they expand their sound vocabulary a bit on the record, with some early Pink Floyd moments thrown into the garage-psych mix.
I also have a copy of Martin Grech's debut record, Open Heart Zoo. Grech is a British singer/musician..and a mere 19, but he shows a lot of promise. Musically, he's a bit all-over-the-place--some near metal guitar moments will be followed by a quiet tune with a falsetto vocal. Those who don't fancy a bit of Radiohead will probably want to avoid "Open Heart Zoo", however, as Thom Yorke & Co. seem to be Grech's biggest influence at the moment--in fact, Grech could win any "Radiohead Karaoke" contest for miles around. He even does pretty well assimilating Radiohead's recent electronic forays into his own sound. It's not necessarily slavish, but Grech's got Thom Yorke's vocal style down. Still, he's got talent and if he can ease into more of an individual sound, I would think he's got some good tunes to release in the future.
Out of curiousity, I picked up the new record by Anglo-Swedish (!) outfit, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. The album title is Behind The Music--and despite the unwieldy band name and goofy record title (I don't know if it's taking a swipe at that "Spinal Tap"-in-real-life rockumentary show on VH-1..or if they had no clue about the show and really wanted to call the album that)--it's very good. I can't recall who they've got in the production booth, but the mix has a very "full" sound..but clean enough to be able to distinguish individual instruments. They sound a bit like The Beta Band, but maybe a bit less daring than those wacky Scotsmen--more "straight-ahead" rock than pastoral weirdos who got lucky enough to make an album. The Soundtrack use plenty of up-front, driving rhythms--and make the best of their production and the fact that most of the members are multi-instrumentalists. Their only weak point are the (sometimes) cliched lyrics--things like "Don't throw your pearls at swine"..they even have a song titled "Mind The Gap". They're lucky they've got an Englishman in the ranks, otherwise that would be one *big* non-sequitir..a bunch of Swedes name-checking London's Underground railway. The album cover uses the ol' "life-masks-of-the-band" standby..it would be cool, if Roy Harper hadn't already done the same in 1973..and a bunch of others, I'm sure. For new music from a band I've heard mentioned in a few hipster journals, though, I've gotta say--I'm suitably impressed. I wonder what these guys sound like live..if The Beta Band can do it.....anyway, check this one out if you get the chance...it's gotta be a lot better than most of the slop that's finding it's way into record stores at the moment.
So, yeah, the new Massive Attack record came out today...I'm stifling a *yawn* as we speak...the last holdouts of the Bristol, England 'trip-hop' scene from the 90s..are limping along with just two members left..after Tricky went solo in '95, and gradually brought his early promise to a halt with increasingly lame albums. Another member, 3-D left just last year as they were still recording the new album--apparently because they were heading in more of a "rock" direction (evidenced on "Mezzanine"--their 1998 record). Early buzz on this one was positive, but I don't know--I think it's just been too long between albums--and they've lost the momentum they had going with "Mezzanine". Couple that with all of the tension in the group and the "Bristol scene" virtually disappearing (Tricky's bad records, Portishead either splitting up or on hiatus--Beth Gibbons' solo record is very far-removed from that sound), and you've got a Massive Attack album that's dead-on-arrival. My prediction is that the die-hards will buy and keep them afloat for a little while--but this will probably be it for them..though they may play a few festivals in England this summer. Maybe Tricky will be persuaded to join them on-stage for their "Crosby, Stills & Nash" moment..Oy vey...