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Monday, October 23, 2006

now spinning

Grant Green's final studio album for Blue Note...Visions from 1972....
this session is normally slighted and trivialized because the repertoire on it is pretty schmaltzy adult contemporary-ish stuff.... the carpenters "we've only just begun"; chicago's "does anyone really know what time it is", and the jackson 5's "never can say goodbye"..that kind of stuff.. but to me grant green never played a truly bad date.. i just enjoy his style of guitar no matter what he's tackling .. and he's pretty sharp on this set... .i like the cover too.....he looks cool as cool .... this session has yet to be released on cd which is pretty amazing when you think of how every other session, including many that had been unreleased in his lifetime, have made it to cd.. anyways i picked this up at dc's newest and finest record store cellar records on 14th street next to saint ex.. i paid $8.99....unfortunately its got some surface noise and the cover is pretty beat up with large seam splits but what'chagonna do? i never been able to lay off that grant green... even on the schmaltz he sounds real funky to me...i take note this record belonged to a mrs. joan b williams who lived at 2700 9th st s.e. or so the sticker on the cover tells me.. she had good taste! my favorite track is probably cantaloupe woman which is funkier than the rest of the album.. i also take note that funky drummer idris muhammad is on this....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy 80th birthday Chuck Berry! you're THE man!

(reproduced from email i sent a few friends)

clink a glass for chuck berry!... he turns 80 this wednesday!!!!!!!...

obviously i love the man very much (with all his many many kinks foibles and pecadillos) and i think wednesday should be a national holiday..i really do....the ideal day would be preceded by chuck berry throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the cardinals mets championship series baseball game tuesday night in st louis..obviously there would be a 10 minute standing ovation.. then on his birthday wednesday during prime time a simulcast would broadcast from blueberry hill (bar chuck still plays once a month) in st. louis as the rolling stones, ac dc, bruce, bob and just about everyone else sang him happy birthday...chuck would take a few bows...the president of the United States would call and thank chuck for his invaluable contributions to the nation (he could apologize for some of the ridiculous shit that went down over the years but lets say a call is enough)... .chuck would say a few words (knowing chuck he'd probably spoil it all by saying "show me the money!" or proceed to rip angus young a new one for not playing his song correctly or punch out keith richards yet again but thats life)... then chuck would get the party started with a few guitar riffs.......preferably his first song would be maybellene which would then be justifiably proclaimed the first rock and roll song....his backing band would be bruce and the e street band reprising something they did in the early to mid 70s when they backed him in a show at cole field house just down the road in college park (bruce's telling of this event is the hands down highlight of the movie hail hail rock'n'roll and one of my favorites rock n roll stories.....see it if you havent)..

as things stand i'll give a few of my original chuck berry lps (chess black label) a spin, and top if off with some rolling stones and ac dc before heading over to the irish times to cheer on his hometown st louis cardinals against the new york mets. join me if you feel like or celebrate in your own special way...above all spread the word.. chuck's alive and lets celebrate him while he's here and not via some hollywood biopic when he's gone..

from all music guide:

Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him, there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones , Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others. There would be no standard "Chuck Berry guitar intro," the instrument's clarion call to get the joint rockin' in any setting. The clippety-clop rhythms of rockabilly would not have been mainstreamed into the now standard 4/4 rock & roll beat. There would be no obsessive wordplay by modern-day tunesmiths; in fact, the whole history (and artistic level) of rock & roll songwriting would have been much poorer without him. Like Brian Wilson said, he wrote "all of the great songs and came up with all the rock'n'roll beats." Those who do not claim him as a seminal influence or profess a liking for his music and showmanship show their ignorance of rock's development as well as his place as the music's first great creator. Elvis may have fueled rock & roll's imagery, but Chuck Berry was its heartbeat and original mindset.

By Bill McClellan
This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Oct. 9, 2006

We got a new statue last month. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark have now set up shop down by the Eads Bridge. It's a very nice statue, but when I look at it, I can't help but mutter, "Roll over Meriwether and tell William Clark the news."

Chuck Berry turns 80 next week. Where's his statue?

He is probably the most famous St. Louisan of all time. Oh sure, lots of people know Stan Musial, but his fame is pretty much limited to countries in which people play baseball. A friend of mine was in Croatia recently. People were drinking and dancing, and she did the duck walk. "Chuck Berry!" somebody said. Everybody nodded. Most of these people did not speak English. They probably knew nothing about baseball. I say this not to denigrate Stan Musial - I'm happy he has a statue and I wish it were a better likeness - but to point out that Berry's fame is international. Actually, it's intergalactic. In 1977, a recording of Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was placed aboard the Voyager space probe and fired out into the cosmos. Johnny B. Goode forever.

There is something else about Berry that merits a mention. He lives here. He raised his kids here, and they still live here.

"I could not imagine my parents or my sisters living anywhere else in the country," said Charles Berry Jr. "My father went to Sumner High School and knows the city like the back of his hand. He has roots here so well in the ground I don't think he could leave. He's seen most of North America, South America, Asia and Europe. They all have a great deal to offer, but there's nothing like St. Louis when you've grown up here."

Think of all the famous people who grew up here and then left, lured away by brighter lights or better weather. From Tennessee Williams to Yogi Berra to Dick Gephardt. Then there are the people who've made a mark here but have never wanted to live here. Tony LaRussa and Mark McGwire come to mind. But Chuck Berry, who could live anywhere, chose to stay here.

It isn't as if St. Louis has always embraced him, either. Quite the contrary. He was born in California in 1926 and came here as a young child. This was very much a southern city back then, especially in its racial attitudes. Berry sang in the Sunday school choir at Antioch Baptist Church, but he was not always a compliant young man. He was rebellious. He got in trouble. He went to prison.

His early musical career was also an upstream effort, very much against the current of the times. He was a crossover when crossing over was not allowed. In those days, he was never far from trouble, and if some of the trouble was rooted in the times, some of it was surely his own doing.

But he persevered. He hit it big when he was 30 with "Maybellene."

Eventually, he became an icon. For his 60th birthday, rock and roll stars such as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton came to St. Louis for a concert-movie called "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll."

But the most amazing thing about Berry is that he still plays a monthly gig at Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop. It has to be one of the coolest things in the country. Imagine going over to a friend's basement to hear the founding father of rock 'n' roll. It's a family affair, too. Berry's son and one of his daughters, Ingrid, are part of the band. While Ingrid is a full-time musician, Charles Berry Jr. is a computer guy who owns an IT consulting firm.

These shows at Blueberry Hill attract a wide audience. There were two BBC crews at last month's show. Also, Paul Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet and professor at Princeton. Mostly, though, it's just regular St. Louisans who come out because it's a good thing to do. Which is probably why hundreds of St. Louisans showed up at the riverfront when Lewis and Clark returned. It's always appropriate to salute people who have accomplished much.

Which is why when I look at the new statue, I think, "Roll over Meriwether, and tell William Clark the news."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"there's nothing else but me..."

playing this morning: jesus and the mary chain's 1985 debut psycho candy... what a great album! let me name the reasons... ok maybe not.. but this album is a classic that somehow remains a cult....the shoegazer movement really begins here, the pixies sound got a lot from this... this album embodies the best of music: melody, cool, experimental... what you get here are narcissistic songs about growing up combined with ramones/beachboys melodies refracted via velvet underground white noise all underpinned by that dark echo and the bunnymen vibe..... looking at the pictures of the reid brothers they in fact look like ian mcullough more than say robert smith.... bobby gillespie who would go on to more fame when he started up the primal scream after i guess deciding he would never be more than a second banana to the reid brothers' egos..well bobby plays the drums on this.... what to say bout the lp sonics? having i believe only heard this on cd til now - and i have not heard the recent rhino reissue (hard to believe this album was out of print domestically..we're talking the best album of 1985 and one of the touchstones of college rock)- i have to say the lp is dirtier , fuzzier yes grungier.... ultimately however i have to say a word about the songs.. there are some feedback showcases here but they are surrounded by some classic pop songs that the supremes or better yet ronnettes could have sung.. the feedback guitar wall has often been compared with the phil spector wall of sound and perhaps there is some truth to that.... the album's first track "just like honey" was featured to great effect by sofia coppola in "lost in translations" pivotal closing gave me goosebumps when i saw it.. not usually a big fan of using music to arouse emotion.. let the actors do the acting i say... but in this case coppola's use really hit a home run... anyways, this jesus and the mary chain album never gets old for me.. more like when i dig it out i'm always shocked as to how fresh and alive it sounds.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Meet Ginger Bernichon!

Our newest household member Ginger came to us a few months ago and has adjusted just fine to life in the household.. admittedly sparks did fly with her new brother ari but things are settling down.... Ginger loves to hang out in the bathroom and is known to give the ocassional friendly head-butt..she also insists on taking her strolls in the corridors of the apartment building...she's a 3-4 year old good looking shorthair (these cats are known for having strong personalities and ginger is no exception) which is not surprising given her pedigree (her brother who lives in southwest dc is a well known model in the area).. ginger seems to particularly enjoy hanging out on her boogiemat and the recently purchased scratchmat...but the clawing of the purple couch and taking down of the curtain must stop!

now playing: wes

Wes Montgomery's "The Incredible Jazz Guitar" on Riverside lp 12-320... not a huge fan of wes... i tend to prefer grant green....tend to? who am i kidding.. i much prefer grant green..its not even close..but i always wanted to give this record a listen and now that i found a really banged up lp for $1 i can.. the cover (pictured) was in pretty good shape.. but the record has its problems..still....its not an easy or cheap record to come by....

Congratulations to Muhammad Yunnus!

Finally a Nobel Peace Prize winner that is fully deserving of the honor! I am very excited about the win by Yunnus and the Grameen Bank microcredit institution he set up.. I hope this recognition of the power and effectiveness of microcredit as a poverty fighting tool will mean the World Bank devotes increasing resources to microcredit!