Thursday, June 19, 2008

Steely Dan Takes Over New York

The other night I saw Steely Dan, one of my favorite bands during the critical high school years, and captured a bit of video to share.

In the first clip, Steely Dan nears the end of an amazing show Tuesday night with their ode to radio, "FM," a massive hit from their "Aja" period. Walter Becker casually picks out the great guitar that is a foundation of their sound with a nicely extended version (like the instrumental that appears on the b side of the single and maybe the lp too, I'm foggy on that.). Everyone always talks about Larry Carlton and even Denny Diaz and Skunk Baxter, but Walter is the guy on guitar not just fresh rhymes. He also sang "Gaucho" quite adeptly at the Beacon.

They focused on Aja, Gaucho, and the two latest albums. Along w/"New Frontier" and the aforementioned FM, the show I saw was mostly the yuppie years of the band. But what a trip to remember stereo stores, magazines and the hifi music culture of the seventies. Discwasher, Sennheiser, Gerrard, BIC, Marantz, Kenwood, Sherwood, Pioneer, Teac, Akai, Macintosh, Bose, Polk Audio, JBL, Yamaha and finally Technics are a few big names from that time. I believe the popularity of high quality recordings, side-long songs, gatefold album covers and the ability to spend on the equipment, often made in America, reflects a lot of socio-economic influence on the art. Talk about white music for white teenagers with disposable incomes. This is what the Clash, Pistols and others rebelled against!

We didn't know the stereos were in "stand alone" stores just like the records. They are all gone now, relegated to a p&l'd "footprint" in bigger stores.

I bought Aja on sale at Korvette's for $3.66. I later worked for Johnny Barbis who often told the story of ABC being shut down when it was sold to MCA. Steely Dan actually got into a dispute w/MCA and their first album for MCA under the new arrangement, Gaucho, ended up w/a high list price of $7.99. They subsequently made no more albums for MCA or anyone else for 17 years or so!

"Kid Charlemagne," on video below, is one of their more beloved songs from the later period too. Its coke references and theme of lost popularity reminds me of W.

It contains the refrain, "Did you feel like Jesus? Did you realize, that you were a champion in their eyes?"

"Get along W., get along Kid Charlemagne!"

All praise is due to Walter Becker, Donald Fagen and their great band Steely Dan!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Willie Randolph is My Friend

Willie Randolph knows how to win a baseball game, and I don't feel he deserved to be fired. I also feel as though I helped him get the job, having called the Mets ticket office on that dismal day after the 2004 elections that re-seated W.

There was a story in the paper that said Willie was getting his second interview for the job as Mets manager, so I made a call to the Mets ticket office.

I told the person who answered, "I'm a Yankee fan, and if you hire Willie Randolph, I'll buy tickets. I just need something good to happen today." Of course, I was so proud that one of my favorite players, a constant on the New York sports scene for 30 years or so, would be the city's first black baseball manager.

Yesterday, I called and rescinded my support for the Mets due to Willie's dismissal and their crappy treatment of the man. SI called the Mets an "Amazing Disgrace" (title of a Posies album too btw).

I believe Willie Randolph put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed, thinking about Jackie and even Billy Martin, but ultimately didn't have the horses to compete. You can win with old guys, and maybe Reyes and Wagner's bad attitudes should have been disciplined better by Willie, but he just didn't have the players he needed to win.

And Jose Reyes is already testing Jerry Manuel with his on-field tantrum last night at being pulled out of the game to protect his health.

Willie Randolph would be a good manager with a good team, that's the bottom line. Why wasn't Lou Piniella able to win in Tampa? Why is Tampa winning now? A nucleus of good players, many of whom are pitchers.

Omar Minaya should look no further than the mirror to know who is at fault. I'm glad the announcers mentioned that the Mets passed on Vladimir Guerrero last night due to health concerns. Vlade is a warrior, Beltran is punching the clock in my opinion.

Willie Randolph will return with his hat looking perfect with a better logo on the front than the Mets/Giants' "NY."

Good Luck Willie!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Philly Soul Live in Atlantic City

The period 1972-75 represents some formative years for me musically, when I listened to WABC, WXLO, WKTU and WNBC -- Top 40 stations. The music of Gamble and Huff, Linda Creed and Thom Bell, John Whitehead and the label Philadelphia International Records dominated the landscape, with countless hits for artists such as The O'Jays, Delfonics, Stylistics, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes and The Spinners.

Check out how great the band re-creates MFSB:

Amazingly, John Vernile and Larry Magid staged a concert last Saturday at The Borgata in Atlantic featuring all of the above as well as the Intruders, Bunny Sigler, The Three Degrees, Jean Carne and Jerry Butler! They were backed by a band that included 9 strings, 10 horns, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, two keyboards and three backup singers.

Don't despair, the show was taped for a PBS broadcast later this year.

A great highlight of the show was a surprise appearance by Teddy Pendergrass (above), who spoke a bit and sang "Close the Door" followed by "Turn Out the Lights." Talk about a universal message! His voice sounded strong.

As with the Three Degrees, it was bittersweet seeing the old pictures. Teddy was a rock star/sex symbol when it really mattered. The Three Degrees sang "When Will I See You Again" sweetly.

It sounded so great! What a once in a lifetime experience. But thanks to 21st Century Technology, please see below for a bit of video.

All of this music surely falls into my genre Black Americana, especially if you consider that most every group was in uniforms, usually sequined. In the 70s, their big bowties and velvet suits were throwbacks to the 50s doo wop era that gave Rhythm and Blues its name. The next day we saw the mural by Pat's of Philadelphia Music featuring the Geator, who presided over the event and was also unbelievable w/his costume changes.

It was an incredible night!!!!

"Ain't No Stopping Us Now":

G.C. Cameron from The Spinners sang "I'll Be There"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hockey Night in Canada Song Sold to CTV

In an interesting case involving sports and music, the theme to Hockey Night in Canada, broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company for many years on Saturday nights, has been sold to its commercial rival, CTV, for use on its hockey broadcasts.

Apparently, talks broke down due to "a long history of animosity between the two parties." Songwriter Dolores Claman seems to have felt she was underpaid by CBC for many years and finally cut a deal elsewhere.

Claman and her representatives were apparently asking 2.5-3 million dollars, which CBC felt could not be justified as a government institution.

It seems like a lot of money but if someone changed the Yankees theme, it would freak me out.

and an old one too

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Non Comm 2008 Report

Last weekend, I attended the Philly Non-Commvention, a gathering of community radio music programmers and their accordant promotion people, and music artists. These are the radio people formerly known as "granola." WXPN, Philadelphia hosted the event and other attendees included folks from WFUV, New York; WJCU, Cleveland; KSUT, Ignacio; Maine Public Radio; WFHB, Bloomington; KTBG, Warrensburg; KUT, Austin; KDHX, St. Louis and many others I am spacing on. I was there promoting and gathering content for this blog of course.


The most astonishing show of this year's convention was The Hold Steady. Ingrid Michaelson was immediately impressive with her GIANT setlist and memorable hooks. Astrid Williamson, Dr. John, Jakob Dylan and Interscope's "interesting" Carney were among the other bands we checked out.

Below is a bit of vid I took Paddy Casey performing a morning showcase in the hotel. The nighttime music was at the fantastic World Cafe Live facility. Vibes to Bruce, Dan, Quyen, Roger and all at WXPN for putting on a great conference and 15 years of growth for the station in general.


The swag at the conference was unfortunately, lacking. As many public and community radio stations get larger items to use during fund drives, the convention package still only includes cds (in a promo knapsack). Reprise/WB Records sponsored a t shirt.

In the convention bag, there were cds from: Dr. John; A Taste of Triple A Sampler #42; "Sweet" by Pacifika; WTMD, Towson's Live CD; a Rykodisc sampler that promised to make the next 25 years "as storied as our first"; Peter Buffett's "Imaginary Kingdom" -- isn't he a new ager? I would love that stuff to come back. Kitaro was the first artist I promoted.

Back to the bag: FMQB Progressions Sampler #113; "Within" by Alyssa; Live Volume 2 from KTBG, which amazingly features Snoopy on the cover! WXPN Local Vol. 2; the Ike Reilly album; a great sampler from SonyBMG Legacy/Commercial Music Group ("This sampler goes to track 11"); the latest from Rachael Sage, Chandelier. She will break through at some point... Rachael Sage seems to have an endless ability to promote herself, which is a great talent to have these days.

Finally, Scarecrow Collection's "Radio Frequency Disaster" had a sticker affixed saying "#1 on Sirius Ch. 17" and "Nominated for a Jammy." They went for adds June 9.

Jefferson Pepper's American Evolution had a nice package I haven't opened yet that amazingly, had a quote from Cashbox on it! I thought they were out of biz!

Also on the old school tip, Jacqui Naylor is being promoted by Harvey Leeds, now indie and Michael Plen had a sampler from his Shangri-La Music included in the package. Full Disclosure: I'm old school and was there promoting Amie Miriello alongside Danny Buch.

Has anyone seen the t shirt w/the picture of a stegosaurus on it? The caption reads, "All My Friends Are Dead."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Springsteen's Summer Anthem "Thunder Road"

With the weather improving here in New York, here is some summertime flavor from Bruce Springsteen with "Thunder Road," one of the greatest rock anthems to summer ever. What makes it about summer? Maybe the one line about the graduation dress, technically, but the musical build of the song, as Bruce sings "roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair" sounds like the freedom, warmth and energy of a summer night.

This video is taken from a show just a few days after I saw Bruce Springsteen at New York's Matteus at the Palladium, presented by Ruffino and Vaughn, which was a Ron Delsener presentation of course. I think WNEW 102.7 was on the ticket stub too.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Usain Bolt Sets New World 100m Record in New York!

Jamaican Usain Bolt set new world record in the 100m of 9.72 seconds, last night in dramatic fashion before many countrymen at Icahn Stadium, New York City, on Randall's Island. He improved on fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell's previous record of 9.74, set in Athens (as I recall). Being a new record in the world's oldest sport (running from lava or saber-tooth tigers), it was reported on all over the world:

The New York Times reported on the scene.

The Jamaica Observer's Paul Reid reported and took one of the best pictures of Bolt breaking the tape (above).

Shanghai Sports TV ran video of the race and included a tour of Jamaica and "Lightning" Bolt's hometown (below).

Sports Illustrated and many others picked up the AP story but will no doubt have great photos in the next issue.

"I'm just happy with myself," Bolt told the BBC. The 100m is a new event for him?

Vibes as well for Harvey Korman, who provided many belly laughs over the course of a great career including the Carol Burnett Show and many Mel Brooks movies. Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles, Dr. Charles Montague in High Anxiety and so many more. Thanks to Harvey Korman!!!!