Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THUNDER RHOADS



Sure, Randy Rhoads was a kick-ass guitar player, and I rather like the stuff he did with Ozzy and Quiet Riot (get the latter's The Randy Rhoads Years -- a much-looser presentation than you'd expect). However, I do think Rhoads was "too studied" (a la Malmsteen, Vai, etc.) a musician, thereby rendering him not as "rock 'n' roll" as Slash, for example (or even C.C. Deville, for that matter).

One doubts that Mr. Rhoads knew of Johnny Thunders’ or the New York Dolls’ (forebears to G 'N' R and Poison in some degree) existence, cause his playing didn't speak their language on any level. Eddie Van Halen put forth stringed heroics few had ever matched before (or since), but he also didn't have that "rock 'n' roll babylon" feel of Mr. Thunders and the like.

Excess does impress, but so can brevity. Wrote one critic for a guitar magazine: "For about eight seconds, Johnny Thunders played the guitar better than anyone who has ever lived."

As if the closing moments of "Vietnamese Baby" didn't already convince me of that...

Modern Machines - THWAP! (New Disorder, 2003)

Was there ever a better music scene than Minneapolis in the 1980s? Unmoved by consciously punk fashion or hardcore dogma, Husker Du, The Replacements, and Soul Asylum played by their own loudfastrules. The trio's shut-up-and-play 'tude would yield no less than 20 great el pees and capture the fandom of folks like George "Norm" Wendt, Johnny "Jump Street" Depp, and Winona
"Five Fingers" Ryder.

This Milwaukee quartet's latest milks the unspoiled glasses of Everything Falls Apart, Let It Be, and While You Were Out for every delicious drop. "We're A Basement Band" ("We're falling down the stairs tonight/Scuff mark -- do I look alright?/Our ill-kept secret's out for all to know/I'll try not to fall out the window"), "My Side Of The River" ("You told me to live on the right side/You said, 'Be extra careful in the night time'/I said I wanted to see from the outside/Of the cage you put me in for a lifetime"), and "Alienation II" ("What do you do when you run out of words/And a million dictionaries couldn't help the way you feel?") counter the girly necklaces of once-great Twin/Tone pillagers (Goo Goo Dolls) with brass knuckles. The Machines and Gimantis from Massachusetts should tag-team and pelt Rzeznik with tomatoes. They'll make him wish he'd deV8ed from submitting songs to red-stained motion pictures.


Gimantis - s/t (self-released, 2002)

Eschewing the usual tough-guy 4th-and-goals that are common in bands from this part of the country, these lads kick more like Vikings from Minn-E-Apol-is than Patriots from Mass-A-Chew-Siss. Wearing the same cleats as The Replacements (not for nothing was the footie-ball movie named after Keanu Reeves' favorite turf-toes) and Soul Asylum (who sat and waited and hoped to find some offense that was good at using up time before booting game-winners), Gimantis also mesh their spikes into the grass a la the Goo Goo Dolls from Buff-Ah-Low (no wide-rights from Scott Norwood here, though). "My Favorite Lie," "The Knievel That Men Do" (which discusses broken ribs of those unafraid to tackle), and "No Good For You" (if that ain't a kicker's lament...) are the best bets when trying to decide the over/under. I'll take Gimantis by three, please.

THE NBA ON NBC


"Bite me! Bite me! YESSS! Don't stop! PLEASE? PLEASE, PATRICK? I'll be your Mike Tyson tranny slut! Be my Evander for just a minute, sweetie. C'mon, big boy! Gimme a taste! YESSS! YESSS! Oh, Evander, the belt is yours! Take me! Beat me like you did in Vegas, champ! Role reversal? YESSS! Iron Mike! Iron Mike! Dinner is served! Make me bleed! You're the champ! OUUUUUCH!!!

Foul committed by Ewing, that's his third. So Patrick Ewing, who spent three weeks on the physically-unable-to-perform list, has really boned up for the Knicks today. He has eight bites. The NBA on NBC is brought to you by Victoria's Secret, featuring their full line of lingerie for gentlemen and ladies -- 'Your secret's safe with Victoria.' And by Tucks Medicated Pads -- 'They're fun to use, even when you don't have hemorrhoids.'

Jordan, from downtown...A SPECTACULAR MOVE!!! Michael Jordan gets his own offensive rebound, peels off his Hanes underwear, puts mustard on his Ball Park frankfurter and lays it in. Speaking of offensive, I had a chance to visit with the NBA leader in ejaculations. Dennis Rodman was as nasty as only he could be in his frilly pink undies, sheer red hosiery, pretty purple lipstick, and shiny silver moonboots. He told me that his last game will be played in the nude, which will be brought to you LIVE!!! on NBC. C'mon, Denny boy! Retire already, so I can caress the dimples of your muscular, black ass. Remember the time when we rubbed Jergens all over ourselves and had hard, rough sex on an empty Madison Square Garden parquet? YESSS! YESSS! You absolutely adored the music of Pearl Jam, and we staged our very own Broadway production of 'Jeremy.' Your form-fitting, sequined self was cast in the lead role, and I was the recess lady. Clearly I remember picking on you, boy. You seemed a harmless little fuck. But I unleashed a lion, you smashed your teeth and bit both of my breasts. How could I forget? Rodman is hit with a surprise ejaculation, as the roars increase from the partisan Knick crowd. Timeout, Chicago Bulls. You are watching the NBA on NBC.

Let's join Dick Enberg from our NBC studios in New York. Dick? Dick? Suck my dick! Stop pretending that I don't exist, Dickie Poo! After all, it was you who introduced me to the comforts of women's undergarments during my days as an unpaid intern on 'Sports Challenge.' After work, we'd head over to the dungeons of west Hollywood to fulfill our TV-domineering fantasies. I'll always treasure what you whispered in my ear, as Pepe fitted my ankles in gold-plated braces and my dick (you called it Sally!) in an extremely restrictive clamp: 'As we quench the thirst of our masochistic sexual desires, we are left to contemplate if it was humanly possible to indulge in one last swallow of semen. For as mere mortals, we tend to gravitate toward that which is not moralistic, but what makes us feel fucking good. And as Sally sneaks through an all-too-familiar alley, we must remind ourselves that there are many more bungholes left for her to traverse. For five whips, who was the MVP of the 1970 NBA finals?' OOH MY!!!

This telecast is presented by authority of the NBA and is intended for the private use of our audience. Any rebroadcast or retransmission without the expressed written consent of the New York Knicks and the National Bitemark Association is prohibited. The Bulls have whipped the Knicks. This is Marv Albert saying, So long from New York. You've been watching the NBA on NBC. Stay tuned for 'Heidi' on most of these NBC stations."

The Go-Betweens - Before Hollywood (Rough Trade, 1983/Jet Set, 2002)


My cassette copy of the ' Tweens' 16 Lovers Lane from 1988 has long been unrolled, but I do remember two standouts from it: "Streets Of Your Town" (great hook and backing vox) and "Was There Anything I Could Do?" ("She went out with a paint box/ Paints the chapel blue/She went out with match sticks/Torched a car wash, too"). The same jangly M.O. colors this expanded reissue of their '83 full-length. If REM's back-to-back masterstrokes Murmur and Reckoning had brushed the new wave nervy twitches of The Church's debut (Of Skins And Heart) and The Cure's early sides, then the UGA art-schoolers' walk through the woods might've taken a different path. "Two Steps, Step Out" considerably ups the distance of The Proclaimers' later stroll with a catchy refrain ("I'd walk a hundred miles, a thousand miles, a million miles"). "Cattle And Cane" is an acoustic/electric folksy nugget that no doubt dented the charts of many a college campus. "By Chance" is worth taking due to its busy percussion. The eight songs comprising the bonus disc make for a fine album themselves, led by the pop-yet-not pounds "Hammer The Hammer" and "Man O'Sand To Girl O'Sea."

Buzzcocks - s/t (Merge, 2003)


Though the legendary 'Cocks have influenced both the well-known (The Go-Go's, Green Day) and semi-obscure (Mega City Four, The Briefs), Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle continue to pen nervy gems rivaling their classics from the '70s. It would be so easy for them to rest on past glories and play Holidays In The Sun-type festivals to drunkards getting off on "Orgasm Addict" for the billionth time. However, the tandem still has a lot more to say/sing.

Shelley pulls first on this eponymous release with "Jerk." The sweetly sardonic plea implores with Pete's unmistakable cry ("Forgive me/I beg you/You know I only love you/Wish I hadn't told you where to go"). Later, he turns from apologetic to contemplative on "Friends" ("I turn around and it all looks the same/I don't even know if I'll ever be loved again/The only thing I can rely on is change"). "Useless" bookends the disc with one of Shelley's angriest-ever statements ("Life's only temporary/And then you fucking die"). Diggle constructs what is perhaps the album's cornerstone. "Sick City Sometimes" snaps 9/11 allusions to get a portrait of the Taliban which lies within many ("Now the buildings take a fall/And he tries to kill us all/In the name of something zero in your mind"). Howard Devoto, who was the band's original vocalist (1977's Spiral Scratch EP is worth more than an itch) before forming the also-revered Magazine (Ministry covers "The Light Pours Out Of Me" on its latest wax), rejoins his mates on "Stars" (arguably the 'eaviest tune on the LP) and a reworked "Lester Sands" (hear the Time's Up collection for an earlier take).

It's amazing that Shelley and Diggle were once at a dilapidated shopping center on Newtown and Baker Road in Virginia Beach. Perhaps the only things more startling are their consistency and sustained relevance.

Grandma's Boy (20th Century Fox, 2006)



After a careless roommate blows months' worth of back rent on Filipina hookers, video game tester Alex (Allen Covert) is forced to find new living arrangements. He turns to his dope-dealing friend Dante (Peter Dante), but this conflicts with the arrival of a lion that will "protect the shit" and keep the taekwondo-practicing monkey at bay. Luckily, co-worker Jeff (Nick Swardson) offers Alex the use of an air mattress for the night, but an accident involving Jeff's mom and a sticky substance puts the vagabond out the door again. Shelter's answer comes in the form of Grandma Lilly (Doris Roberts), who shares her quaint home with two elderly ladies. Bea (Shirley Knight) dines on pills with syrup for breakfast and licks paintbrushes. In between wisecracks, Grace (Shirley Jones) is a perpetually horny GILF who has "given Charlie Chaplin a handjob" and "69'd Don Knotts." At first, Alex is handed a laundry list of household chores, but the gift of an illegal cable box satiates the women and gives him the opportunity to work on an upcoming title (Eternal Death Slayer 3) for Branasium. Overseeing the project is Samantha (Linda Cardellini), who name-drops Super Mario Brothers and has big mushroom eyes for Alex. This power-up makes a jealous Bowser out of J.P. (Joel David Moore) -- a Marilyn Manson-cum-Urkel prodigy who created the game currently demanding the company's attention. Not being invited to an impromptu party that showcases Samantha singing Salt 'N' Pepa, he spins 'n' sobs a story to Alex about "wanting people to like him." Tears and snot wiped away, J.P. extends help on a non-Branasium game Alex has been developing for years. Problems with EDS 3 and the Samantha situation lead J.P. to claim Alex's work as his own at the unveiling. Can Alex use the secret weapon to slay the dragon and get the girl?


Monday, March 22, 2010

EDNA VS. BLANCHE




A reader from Montana asked me, "If you had the choice, would you rather date the 1979 version of Mrs. Garrett or the 1989 edition of Blanche Devereaux, assuming you could go back in time and maintain your 2001 age?"

Whoa! That's like asking me to choose between Food Lion Mint and Rite-Aid Peppermint mouthwashes. I must confess a weakness for older women in house dresses and aprons who spend many a day baking fresh cookies and feather-dusting wooden furniture. The fact
that Mrs. G had a big bundle of red hair to go along with her outfit and cleaning toy certainly added to the attraction. Remember the date she had with a suitor in his late-twenties? Proof positive that Edna (sorry, ma'am!) was down for some May-December action.

Blanche? Heck, if you were male, she would give you the time and place! This woman just oozed sex in her every movement and word (If Blanche's Southern-speak didn't make you melt, you were water to begin with!). If looks were my sole concern, Blanche and I would share a boudoir more often. But since this golden girl had a habit of collecting men like Sebastian Bach seeks out Kiss memorabilia, I'll pull the Villanova-over-Georgetown upset and run into the waiting arms of Mrs. G.

You take the good or you take the bad. It's a fact of life.

The Dragstrip Syndicate - Volume (Beluga, 2001)

From the politically correct populated capital of Furginia that is Richmond comes this guitar-heavy outfit ready to clothe you in kick-out-the-jams-motherfucker threads. Em Cee 5ive-ish lead/rhythm interplay will have you testifying faster than Allen Iverson at a pre-trial hearing. El harmonica (shades of The Hellacopters' "Riot On The Rocks") and la soul de Thin Lizzy on the groovier tracks guarantee that the jury will not be hung. "Pull My Strings," "Southern Man" (not the bullwhip-crackin' Neil Young song which prompted an answer-back from Lynyrd Skynyrd) and "New Ride" are just three of the twelve jumpstarts that'll have any human-being lawnmower psyched out and furious when mowing his or her way through a jailbreak. Tonight, there's going to be trouble you're gonna find yourself in...

The Mexican Blackbirds - Ain't Got The Time EP (More Booze, Less Ice Music, 2002)

Since I'm beside myself on dull-as-a-carver's-knife Turkey Day '02, I'll start with the meat from this birdie's flip side. "Cursed" has a fowl mouth crammed with nihilistic stuffing ("Everybody hates us/We hate everybody"). "Blackout (With You)," per grabbed-by-the-neck gobble-gobbles from Jill Trueblood, is the chemical agent in poultry that makes you keel over during No Fun League's game two. Back to the front, "Ain't Got The Time" finds leftover slices from Chris' trashcan shaken with green-bean-casserole tambourine. "True Hollywood Story" exposes the intentions of dirty Butterballs ready to smash the (digestive) system.

Upholding the traditions of Northwest R'N'R pilgrims The Mono Men, Zeke, and The Valentine Killers, the 'Blackbirds shed similar feathers which stick together like Olympia spew.

THE GRATEFUL DEAD





My best pal jOhn A. and I decided to do something different, so we went bowling. This woman on the lane next to us was one of the area's top female pin smashers. She also looked like a man. Over on lane 23, some NASCAR worshipper with no shirt to disguise his beer gut was balancing the ball in one hand and a bottle of Busch in the other. Normally, I would have reported this man to the Suffolk, VA Border Patrol, but I was in a good mood. All of my games were over 50.

Before rolling our last ten-framer, the manager of Plaza Bowl came over to the ball retriever and asked me, "Are those bowling shoes you're wearing?" I answered, "Why, yes they are." Now, anyone who'd known me in 1992 could confirm that my three biggest hobbies were making homemade T-shirts, collecting BBW (Big Beautiful Women) magazines, and creating fake bowling shoes. The pair I was sporting this day were K-Swiss Classics colored with various shades of Crayola markers. To the untrained eye, the shoes looked as authentic as those one could rent for $150. However, Mr. Joe Bowler Manager Man wasn't convinced. "Are you sure those are bowling shoes?" he again inquired. "Yes, sir. I bought them while visiting The Bowling Capital Of America -- St. Louis," was my rapid-fire reply. Shaking his head, the manager debated, "No! The bowling capital is in Detroit." To which I countered, "Then why is the PBA Hall Of Fame in St. Louis?" Becoming red in the face, he went, "OK, genius! What is a 7-10 split?" Converting his lame-ass inquisitional spare, I re-racked the pins for this great possessor of bowling knowledge -- "What is a banana split?" With his Sunday ball, Joe Bowler aimed, "When the 1,2,3,4 and 7 pins are left in the rack." "Wrong! It's a dessert," I told him.

Not long after this episode, I read in my favorite section of The Virginian-Pilot that Mr. Joe Bowler had passed away in a Norfolk hospital. Pretending I'd been a teammate of his gained my entrance into the wake. After indulging in refreshment, I walked over to Joe Bowler's open casket and quietly asked him, "Are those bowling shoes you're wearing?"

YOU FILL UP MY SENSES


With a brand of music as wholesome as Belgian wheat, John Denver was one of the proponents of '70s mellow rock. His gentle manner and sensitive approach won over admirers such as Frank Sinatra, Jacques Cousteau, and "Gilligan's Island" star Bob Denver (no relation).

John parlayed his musical success by appearing in adverts for Grape Nuts cereal, acting opposite George Burns in "Oh God!", giving speeches on nature conservation, and making frequent guest spots on "The Muppet Show." Hell, he was on "TMS" so often, Jim Henson should've shoved a hand up Denver's ass and made him a permanent cast member.

If wholesome is one word to describe John Denver, then alcoholic is another. The Colorado State Patrol has arrested him several times for DUI offenses. His "Rocky Mountain High" was used in a Coors Light commercial. Try visiting Bubba's Beach Club in Va. Beach without the DJ playing "Thank God I'm A Country Boy." Last time I was there in '94, the owner double-checked my ID because he didn't think I was 21. Correct. I was 22.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eddie Money - The Essential Eddie Money (Sony, 2003)


Don't know how many greatest hits packages this makes for The Money Man, but here's the latest one. All of the toonz you'd wanna hear from a one-time NYPD fashion model are handcuffed on the runway. "Think I'm In Love" is a driving pop song worthy of comparison to Rick Springfield's finest moments. "Take Me Home Tonight" benefits from Ronnie Spector's guest vocal turn ("Be my little baby..."). "Baby Hold On" has a deep, repetitive hook that was, if I'm not mistaken, sampled by a now-forgotten rapper in the early '90s. "Two Tickets To Paradise" sounds refreshing, whether you're in the Bahamas or Birmingham. Rarer coins like "Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star"
(more Montrose, less McGuinn) and "Gimme Some Water" (searches low and high a la The Who's "Seeker") are in equally mint condition.

For well-crafted AOR, Money talks. The bullshit has gone for a walk.

JUST LIKE WATCHING THE DETECTIVES


While peering through the back pages of a then-recent (June '00) issue of Rolling Stone, a classified listing for one particular hard- to-find music service caught my shifty eye. "Send wanted lists," it read in part. Following that mandate, I began to construct a 50-count of missing pieces from my music-collection puzzle.

Among my sought-after adjoiners: Died Pretty's Lost (Jangly depressives from Down Under way. Ian Curtis fronting Tom Petty's Heartbreakers?), Kings Of The Sun's Full Frontal Attack (Their preceding album's lead track, "Serpentine," accidentally found its way onto a mixed tape I made as a 15-year-old. AC/DC meets John Cougar Mellencamp?), The Brandos' Honor Among Thieves (Another early teenage discovery. CCR as Civil War re-enactors?), and Bulletboys' Freakshow (Word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend. The new "old" Van Halen?).

After organizing my wanted items in a concise manner, I dropped the sealed text in the closest USPS box. That was on 6/10/00. The Record Detective was so eager to assist in my searches and promptly replied back on...3/20/01! Their letter began: "Thank you very much for your interest in our 'detective' work in tracking down those hard-to-find pieces of music! We can locate and purchase for you the following items, at the prices marked next to each. Prices include everything but the postage and handling costs, which are listed below..." Total amount due for the four discs I previously mentioned (including postage and S&H): $120.00.

What these slow-on-the-draw Sherlock Holmeses didn't know was, in the nine months it took them to open my case, I'd already solved the Mystery of the Missing Four. Those discs had been playing hide-and-seek in 20-stack pawn-shop piles, on computer-auction sites, and under alphabetized-CD dividers at out-of-the-way music shops. Double-lined expenditures by a take-it-upon-myself Kojak came to $35.94.

Who loves ya, baby?

The Riverboat Gamblers - Something To Crow About (Gearhead, 2003)


At a blackjack table seated next to The Candy Snatchers and Tight Bros From Way Back When, these Texans come strong with their cards. Seeing the 'Gamblers live at a dive where beers can be doused for two bucks a can (which includes a lil' something for the lady who pops the top) would be a sure bet for a fine time, Lucille. In between sets, the juke'll jam with the aces-high sounds of The Standells, Kiss, Angry Samoans, and The New Bomb Turks. After some sips, MC Larry May stops DJ-ing so that the 'Gamblers can start dealing. Flush with RNR, they turn 21 on every hand.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HEY HO, LENO!



Guesting on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" some time in 1992, the Ramones rolled through three songs (most bands only have time for one), two of them from their latest studio effort (Mondo Bizarro). First at-bat was the PMRC-listen-to-me address of "Censorshit" ("Oh Tippy, come on/Ain't you been getting it on?/Ask Ozzy, Zappa, or me/We'll show you what it's like to be free"). Without stepping out of the batter's box ("1,2,3,4"), Joey Ramone and co. gave the L.A.-based audience a souvenir ball, with an over-the-fence version of The Doors' "Take It As It Comes." Finally, in what was played off as a personal request from Jay, the band headed for the team doctor's office, shortly after pull-hitting "I Wanna Be Sedated."

Also on the program that evening were Steven Seagal (talking about his new movie, his Akido teachings in Japan, and Jean-Claude Van Damme's questionable claim as a Belgian kickboxing champion) and Al Franken (touting his book I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! and giving a first-rate impersonation of Pat Robertson [something along the lines of "Those do-gooder Christians..."]).

When it was Joey's turn to sit in the featured guest's chair, Franken treated Joey like a fellow celeb and nodded politely to him. Whereas Seagal shook his hand and gave him a condescending look (What a pony-tailed prick!). Martial artists: They have the best line of defense, but the worst taste in music. Ever seen Chuck Norris' record collection (Though his "Eyes of a Ranger" TV theme is pure camp)? Leno probably has, but he's not talking. At least not on that subject -- try timing his monologues.

Yoo-Hoo Double Fudge


One of the highlights from my childhood visits to New Jersey was looking forward to an abundance of Yoo-Hoo in the Armpit State. Living in southeastern Virginia in the early 1980s was difficult for a kid whose tank ran on said chocolate fuel. Groceries like the Be-Lo and Giant Open Air didn't stock the favored dessert-in-a-bottle on their shelves. Rather, they opted for the likeminded potion of Chocolate Brownie (or is it Brownie Chocolate?). An OK substitute, sure, but not nearly the same drink found in Yankee markets. Well, Yoo-Hoo got smart like Maxwell at some point (late '80s/early '90s, me thinks) and decided to stretch its tentacles in points south of En Jay and En Why. 'Bout damn time, 'cause I'd grown tired of my grandparents using the stuff as a bargaining chip for visiting them.

There's an old saying that goes, "You can't improve on perfection." Well, with this Double Fudge ball, Yoo-Hoo's rolled a game with many open frames. Whereas the choco blend in the original is smooth like a PBA pair of lanes, the strong grit rubs against my tongue like cracks in the floor at the long-closed Plaza Bowl in VB. Also, the Chocolate Drink's usual three-strike finish is countered by the Double Fudge duffer with a closing 7-10 split. Look, I enjoy fudge as much as the next league bowler. But like the Butterfinger Milk mistake of past ten-framers, Yoo-Hoo Double Fudge misses too many single-pin counts. Stick with the pro.

138 (my career average) on a 300-point scale.

Artful Dodger - Honor Among Thieves (Pendulum, 1976)


Opening titular cut advises, "You don't wanna fight 'em when the numbers ain't on your side." Glancing at the battle-ready poses from this quintet on the el pee's cover, I'd lay odds with the bookie on them to Knuke The Knack.

Sure, the usual suspects of power pop show their faces (Badfinger/Raspberries), but bloody noses and blackened eyes reveal a Brownsville Station-cum-Slade willingness to mix it up. Cub Koda musta slyly smiled at the menacing treatment of "Keep-A- Knockin'," while Noddy Holder woulda, uh, nodded towards the riff-a-rama cheekiness of "Hey Boys" (misheard lyrixxx: "She feels smooth as silk/Just like a bondage film/But she can put you in your place"). "Good Fun" and "Dandelion" ice the wounds with chilled balladry; the latter being a James Taylor-esque Brian Jones dedication sung by the rhythm guitarist.

Almost a steal from fye (Lynnhaven Mall, Va. Bch.) at the working-class price of $4.99.

The Unabomers/The Pimps/Evil Superman/James River Scratch @ Route 44, Va. Beach, VA (5/6/97)


Why the hell should it cost $4.00 to park your car? Having a good time is costly enough without some "Surfs up, bra!"-opportunist in a pink hat asking for the near equivalent of two beers. Screw that shit! I decide to become a fake guest at the Stargate Motel several blocks away. This Green Run High (circa '88)-looking pregnant whore in a Tommy Hilfiger tee asks, "Hey! Wanna party?" I answer, "Yeah, but not with you." As I walk away from the tacky sex merchant, she repeatedly screams, "YOU STUPID WHITE BOY!" at me. "Stupid white boy" coming from a dirty, pale-faced bitch who could easily double as the promiscuous daughter of a West Virginia coal miner? You go, girl!

I walk into 44 and notice a big-breasted female squirting lemon juice down her legs. That rocks! James River Scratch come out with a mid-tempo, nearly Oi!-ish sound that causes everyone to move about crazily. Haven't seen any releases by these guys yet, but I'm sure JRS will play again soon.

Evil Superman run through a solid 20-minute set of "old school" punk mixed with industrial. However, this cross-fertilization has nothing to do with ES (who are definitely grounded in the former). There is a DJ in the back room playing Ministry, Skinny Puppy, etc. simultaneously to Evil Superman's performance. Odds that the dancing girl clad in black is a witch named Felicity: 1-in-2.

Last-minute additions The Pimps rock out with a humorous drunk-punk style that serves them well on songs like "Butt Raped By Life" and "My Dad Smokes Crack." Memo to Pimps: Where's that guy in the pink jacket? He's a riot!

The Unabomers tear it up in an early '80s, in-your-face, hardcore kinda way. Everyone wants a piece of the mic during the final number (a take on the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop") that closes the festivities in fine form.

If you'd like to hear a mix of ska and Southern rock at 44, get the bartender up front to play Voodoo Glow Skulls and the one in back to put on Lynyrd Skynyrd. Adjust the volume on both stereos to 22. Sit at the table along the corridor that divides both rooms. Order a Busch and place a pork-pie hat on your head. Simmer to taste. Yee haw, rude boy!

Pylon - Chain (Sky, 1990)

Most REM fans are familiar with the band's take on "Crazy," the opening file from Dead Letter Office (a collection of B-sides and rarities). Citing Pylon as a major influence on their career (Bill Berry called them "America's Best Band" in '87, despite their prolonged inactivity), Stipe and company gave heaps of exposure to these OTHER quirky Athenites. Like theB-52's, Pylon's herky-jerky rhythms were danceable, but the beats moved with militant steps a la Gang Of Four. The Hits compilation, which collects "Crazy" and nineteen others, is the best document from their formative period.

Chain picks up where the party left off seven years earlier. "Catch" and "Sloganistic" breathe with Andy Gill-ed guitar, while "Look Alive," "There It Is," and "This/That" inhale the skewered pop air of The Feelies and Embarrassment. Vanessa's talk/sung vocals are still as impressive as those of her pal Kate. Your head will shake. Your arms will shake. Your legs will shake. Your feet will shake.

Found in the "B" slot at Volume CD Exchange in Chesapeake for 98 cents!

The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (Dirtnap, 2003)



The Boys were one of the more underrated UK punk bands. These Portland gents are perhaps the closest American equivalent yet unleashed. Melding emotions-on-your-sleeve lyricism with a raw 'n' P-O-W-E-Rful pop production, The Exploding Hearts palpitate through 28 minutes of blood-pumping TwistsNTurns. Further ignited by Bomp! Records-era blasts a la Plimsouls and Stiv Bators with sparks from Give 'Em Enough Rope and Singles Going Steady, Guitar Romantic carves its initials on the school wall in fiery red letters. Too bad all first times couldn't be as kind as EH's initial long player. Beat your heart out!

Friday, March 19, 2010

IS CREAM SODA BIG IN GERMANY?

Mitch starts seeing an attractive blonde woman in her 40s. She has a 15-year-old daughter, who becomes the object of Hobie's affection. Hobie sends signals to let the girl know he's interested, but she is unresponsive.

On the other hand, the girl really takes to Mitch. She starts hanging around his lifeguard station, baking him cookies, watching him eat, etc. Mitch notices this behavior and has a talk with his son. He tells Hobie that girls can be awkward in their teenage years and not to sell himself short. In an attempt to smooth things over, Mitch suggests that the four of them double-date. The girl thinks it's a great idea, because Mitch thought of it. She still continues to ignore Hobie.

They venture out to a country bar for an evening of line-dancing. Mitch and his lady friend enjoy doing the "Achy Breaky," but Hobie and his "date" stay at the table and sip unknown carbonated beverages. Mitch comes off the floor to check on the two's progress. The girl asks Mitch for a dance, but he wants her to dance with Hobie. She agrees, and Hobie tries his damnedest to imitate Billy Ray Cyrus. The girl is amused and calls him a "dork." Hobie runs to daddy and whines about the incident. Mitch consoles the boy and says, "Don't worry. Hey, how 'bout an A&W Cream Soda?"

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped (Geffen, 2006)

My maiden ride on the silver rocket began in 1988 or thereabouts. I was given a copy of Daydream Nation as an unwanted item from a friend's tape subscription to Columbia House. Don't know what he disliked, because the images of gritty life on the streets of NYC, noisy guitars, and seductive vocals (courtesy of Kim Gordon) fueled the jets for repeated listening. Thanks to the imaginative play list of 92.1 WOFM, more of the Youth's musical dutchie was passed. Whether it was DJ Al Mitchell spinnin' "Kool Thing" on the way to graduation ceremonies, Sara Trexler casting a "Shadow Of A Doubt," or a "Death Valley 69" lunch with Lydia, every wail of feedback and droning note hit hard. Strangely, I stopped paying attention to SY shortly after hearing "Bull In The Heather." As a result, my deaf ears missed the buzz of supposed classics like Washing Machine, Murray Street, and Sonic Nurse.

Not long ago, a rectifying aid came in the form of "Incinerate" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Piercing like a lost cut from EVOL or Sister, the song's pop charms meshed well with the per-usual intense strumming. The same can be said for the majority of Rather Ripped. "Reena" is an emotional wreck of a woman who's not easily tossed-off. "Turquoise Boy" and "The Neutral" lullaby with attitude. "Sleepin' Around" indicts bed-hoppers in a VU-cum-Ramones manner. "Rats" gnaws like Jim Morrison reciting gutter poetry. The conjunctional "Or" contains three questions put to every touring band. UK bonus tracks "Helen Lundeberg" (Max Ernst protégé?) and "Eyeliner" flash Mission Of Burma-like signals.

A striking pose, indeed.

GERMAN 101


1-THE SENIOR WOMEN'S BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT WILL START AT 2:00.
Der Wettstreit der alten Damen fang um Zwei Uhr an.

2-WHAT HAPPENED TO THE QUEENSRYCHE ARTICLES IN FLASH MAGAZINE?
Was passiert mit dem Gottverdamtes Queensryche Artikeln in Flash?

3-MY GOD, MAGNUM! YOU DRANK ALL OF THE MALT LIQUOR!
Gottinhimmel, Magnum! Du hast den Malzshnapps getrunken!

4-BRING BACK THE OLD TOWER MALL SIGN!
Bring mal den Tower Mall Schild Zuruck!

5-REGINALD DWIGHT HAS A PINK SURFBOARD.
Der Reginald Dwight hat eine dicke, rosa Wellenbret.

6-ALL MODERN COUNTRY MUSIC IS MADE BY THE SAME 4 OR 5 PEOPLE.
Alle diese moderne KKKountry Musik ist von vier oder funf gemacht.

7-DON'T MENTION PAUL WESTERBERG'S NAME EVER AGAIN.
Sag mal der name Paul Westerberg noch ein mehr Zeit, und ich werde an dich pissen.

8-I'LL BE 10 ON MY NEXT BIRTHDAY, BUT I'M VERY MATURE FOR MY AGE.
Ich werde am Geburtstag Zehn Jahre Alt, aber Ich bin sehr Matur.

9-PICK UP YOUR DRUG PARAPHERNALIA ON FRIDAY.
Bekommen Sie ihren Drog Zubehor am Freitag.

10-ROBERTA USES MY FACE AS A PIECE OF FURNITURE.
Roberta benutzt meinen Gesicht als einen Sofa.

11-GONNA RAISE HELL! GONNA RAISE HELL! GONNA RAISE HELL!
Bring mal Holle! Bring mal Holle! Bring mal Holle!

12-STEPHANIE ON "BAYWATCH" LOOKS BETTER WITH LONG HAIR.
Die Stephanie von "Baywatch" seht mit lange Hdare besser aus.

13-WITH GOLDEN SHOWERS, SOAP IS OPTIONAL.
Mit die goldnen Dusche, Zeife kann man nicht bringen.

14-I HAVE A STUPID KID AT DOUGLASS PARK ELEMENTARY.
Ich habe ein dummes Kind beim Douglass Park Elementarisch.

15-STICK YOUR HAND UP JOHN DENVER'S ASS, AND MAKE HIM A PERMANENT CAST MEMBER.
Dring deinen Hand auf der John Denver's Gesass ein, und mach ihn eine bestandige Rollenverteillung.

16-THAT'S NOT MAYONNAISE.
Das ist nicht Mayonnaise.

17-MY BOYFRIEND'S BLACK, AND YOU'RE GONNA BE IN TROUBLE.
Meinen Mann ist schwarz, und du bist in etwas Scheisse.

18-THE WAY TO A WOMAN'S HEART IS THROUGH HER VEINS, CAPILLARIES, AND ARTERIES.
Mann findet das Herz eine Madchen durch ihre Vene, Adern, und Arterien.

19-IS A CAT'S URINARY TRACT HEALTH IMPORTANT?
Ist der Uringesund meine Katze wichtig?

Preparation GBH



Instead of watching our Ewe Ess women Oh-Limp-Ick curlers take on the stoner-and-sweeper lasses from Norway like I'd planned for Oh-Two/Eighteen/Oh-Two, my gopher-the-gold spirited ass luged the not-so-winding track that is Interstate 64 and ice-braked at Chicho's Not To Be Confused With The More Often Than Not Mexican Restaurant Rock 'N' Roll Bar That Has Great Pizza in Vaaaa Beeeech.

Since I had sought Oh-Limp-Ick glory in only the single-man luge and not the two-dude double stack, my pre-anticipating-a-bronze-medal beer was of the root strain. The games of this Oh-Limpy-Add began with The Dirty Politicians from take-your-shirt-off-and-wave-it-around-like-a-helicopter North Carolina. With a singer who proposed bills at the podium by actually singing (NOT SCREAMING!!!), and a backing band who melodically assisted in those
soon-to-be mandates, DP, like Congressional members The Vigilantes from Massachusetts, Reducers SF from California, and The Beltones from Florida, got unanimous "Is" in their session.

Voting concluded, Tanka Ray took the floor of the house chambers. They and their constituents are from the City Slash State where Willie Wilson used to steal all those bases. Much like Charm City, Maryland's National Razor FDIC, TR addressed the senators with a street rock/punk/whateveryoucallit pitch in a Naked Raygun-esque tone (an extended quote from those Chicago, Illinois lawmen would be their final order of business). Before TR spoke so fondly of NR, MC Speakah Of Da House Lare May had rocked the mic and had rapped 'bout George Brett's Hemorrhoids. Insightful, but I thought it had been fellow 1980 World Series participant Mike Schmidt with the asshole complications. Next time around, TR, could y'all serve some "Wonder Beer" ("wish Roy Orbison could tell me what to do...") for us beachcombers who "Understand?".

Because I didn't get turned into a seal steak by a going-90-MPH 1983 Malibu Classic with Virginia license-plate number DEMAND ("Yes, sir!") on my luge return, I was able to put out the Oh-Limp-Ick torch at one thirty-seven in the AM. Later the same day, I was awarded a silver for my combined runs. In Canada, that makes me an Oh-Limp-Ick Champ-Eh-On. Pass me a Coors Light to match my golden glow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Berry Burst Cheerios

General Mills earns a 21-yum salute with this latest oat 'n' fruit mixture. There hasn't been an O's variety that I didn't find agreeable to the taste buds (including the jingoistic hokeyness of Team Cheerios -- go Ewe Ess Aye!), and Berry Burst continues the streak of simplistic goodness.

Supplanting Apple Cinnamon as my pick-to-pour, the lip-smacking twist-o'-tradition is spun two ways: Strawberry and Triple Berry. Both are as sweet as my red-headed niece Kelsey, but an irresistible combination of raspberries and blueberries with the former adds a tangy bite to the bowl.

Like all good cereals, Berry Burst can also be savored without the product of cow udders. Whenever I've lacked potato chips to complement my Mom's should-be-famous chicken salad sammiches, O's have substituted nicely as a crunchy side dish. Heck, I'm the kinda guy who likes them ON the sandwich. Weird? Perhaps, though I'm Huey Lewis and a glass of H2O compared to Ally Sheedy and her usual sugar-packeted bread pockets served daily at "The Breakfast Club." At a twist-tie luncheon last Sunday, the salad's blended rawness of celery and onions was counterbalanced by lavishing juices somehow emitted from dehydrated fruit. As expected, the wholesome neutrality of circular grains harmonized with Hellmann's-covered chicken. Give this piece of low-budget culinarity a chance. It sure beats Boca burgers with Beatle Paul.

O's, darling -- Berry Burst fields forever!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sign Offs - s/t (Disaster, 2002)

Does your cee dee changer currently house Turbonegro's Hot Cars And Spent Contraceptives, Motley Crue's Too Fast For Love, U.S. Bombs' The World and D Generation's No Lunch? If so, congratulate yourself for having fine taste and clear a slot for this rockin' five-piece from Clevo. Mixing the riff raff of heavy metal ("Devil On My Shoulder" etched its circle-and-star insignia on said skin for six minutes and twenty-one seconds, while "Quicksand" drowned a denim-jacketed hesher in a four-minute bloodbath of tainted O-positive guitar), the slurred snarl of punk ("Sickness" and "Real Side" were a couple of Rotten apples from the teacher in turn poisoned by the students), and the down-on-the-street slumber of glam ("She's In The Shower" panhandled long enough to turn bath water into booze), The Sign Offs offer eleven drink specials on their liquid menu. Happy hour's all day and night when these guys are tending bar. Headbangers, fuck-the-worlders, and street urchins are most welcome at the door. Eye Dees not required, because most people don't know who they are. How is some posted date-checkin' monkey on 'roids gonna have a clue?

The Candy Snatchers/Lee Harvey Keitel Band/Sea Monkeys @ Friar Tuck's, Norfolk, VA (8/16/97)


It's been a long time since this place has had a show worth seeing. Man, thought I turned into Robert Plant for a second there. Then I'd have to start reviewing shit from the VB Amphitheater. Yeah, naw, Yeah, naw, Yeah...HELP! Ah, I needed that sip of refreshing Natural Light. Maybe I'll be fine the rest of the way.

Manage to polish off the rest of my jug (you sure that's 64 ounces?) in time to catch the opening notes of the Sea Monkeys. At this point, Tuck's is only filled to 55% capacity. Of course, this is because of the "I'm-too-cool-to-see-any-opening-band-I've-never-heard-of-anyway-so-I'll-just-go-later" attitude. Late arrivals suck shit! Before I continue, I'd like to give an AC/DC, 21-gun salute for the thirty or so people who seem to be at every show I attend. Fire! We see yet another cool NYC-area band (whose van is in working order!) play Norfolk. Those who read Rocks Off #5 already know the Sea Monkeys' fondness for costumes ("Flintstones"-like caveman outfits, "Gilligan's Island" stowaway garb, etc.). On this Saturday night, they choose to don gold-and- glittery vests with Muslim headdresses -- Imagine if the shah of Iran moved to England and became part of the early-'70s glam-rock scene. Though all the visual presentation in the world doesn't mean anything if you can't rock. Well, I'm happy to report that the Sea Monkeys do indeed rock in a fun 'n' punk style a la Ramones/Dickies/Weirdos. Their comic approach allows for three-second covers, monkey squeals, glitter projectiles, monkey masks, spilled beer, and forward somersaults! All courtesy of singer Dave The Spazz. Can't say if they offer the same degree of thrills on record, but if we bribe the Sea Monkeys with a ton of burritos and bananas, maybe they'll come back in time to smear leftover turkey-and-stuffing on themselves. Eech!

Lee Harvey Keitel Band are second at the plate and connect with singles up the middle, foul balls in the stands, and an occasional check-swing. They may as well be called Pat Sajak Band, because discussions of "Wheel Of Fortune" break out like brush fires in Malibu during their at-bat. Sample trivia: 1)Who was Sajak's replacement host? and 2)Why did Sajak leave? LHKB remind some sailor from Belgium of Chairs Missing-era Wire, the portion of Fugazi that doesn't suck, and late-'70s XTC when they still had the gumption to play live. Kinda neat stuff if you're in the mood for it, but if I wore one, I'd tip my ball cap to LHKB for getting people to talk about game shows again.

NO! NO! An AOR double-shot of "Heartbreaker"/"Living Loving Maid?" Screw sips this time! I need to stick my mouth under the tap and let "the water" dispense for ten minutes. Thank goodness there are treatment options available.

You may have seen The Candy Snatchers on a talk show recently. Here's a recap: Matt smashed this guy over the head after being asked, "Do you play guitar?", Willy made the entire second row of 40-ish housewives faint by making them believe he was Huey Lewis, and Serge pounded some rock 'n' roll into a Phish Phace cameraman's skull. Just when I was ready to write off Oprah as a Maya Angelou-lackey... Though not as wild as those events, The Candy Snatchers still have a good time. From Larry singing, "I've got no time to waste..." and wondering how many shots $20 will buy, to the three guys that get thrown out for "moshing" (your Anthrax triple live albums are in the mail), this band proves their right to rock remains unchanged. Whether the venue is Tuck's, the Oprah studios, or the Be-Lo Market in the Fairwood Homes section of Portsmouth, you can
count on the Snatchers to tear it up.

Now, where the hell are those goddamn corn dogs?

WHAT'S HAPPENING!!

Remember when Rerun found all that money in the ceiling, and the maintenance man came back with his old gangster buddies? He told Rerun and friends, "I didn't come for the tools. I CAME FOR THE MONEY!!!"

Remember when Dee was introduced to The Doobie Brothers, and they asked her what groups she liked? Dee said, "The Jackson 4." "...Wait a minute, isn't that The Jackson 5?" a brother retorted. "Well, I'm not too crazy 'bout one of 'em," answered Dee.

Remember, also from the Doobie episode, when that bootlegger guy was going over recording details with Rerun? Raj shouted, "HOLD IT!!! I'LL PUT A CEASE TO THIS WHOLE OPERATION!!! I'M WITH THE PRESS!!!"

Bootlegger: "What paper you from?"
Raj: (mumbling) "Jef-fer-son Hi-gh Ga-zette..."
Bootlegger: "Come again?"
Raj: "Jefferson High Gazette."
Bootlegger: "Boy, you better sit down and pay attention."
Raj: "Yes, sir."

Remember when this guy was paid to come into Rob's Place and ask Shirley out? She was on to their game and told them, " I may not such and such, but I make a hell of a hamburger!"

Remember the one where Raj said, "Shut up, Dee, before I slap your tail!"? Then Momma told Raj, "That's not a nice thing to say to your sister." Dee went, "Yeah..." and added something sassy. Then Momma yelled, "SHUT UP, DEE, BEFORE I SLAP YOUR TAIL!!!"

Remember when the gang decided to give their teacher a birthday present? It was a big box of nothing (Raj's idea, cause he'd told Rerun and Dwayne that a gift is what you think of a person). Then at the party, the teacher had some glowing comments for her students, which in turn made the gang feel like heels. But they were spared, when she opened the box and pulled out a vase, cause Momma had alerted the teacher's husband before the party.

Remember when Rerun was conned into worshipping a head of lettuce? He'd given money to the "church," until Raj's momma stepped in and said something 'bout not foolin' with Mother Nature.

Remember Dwayne's fool-proof method for picking football winners? His whichever-team-had-the-cooler-helmets method worked for several weeks. Then Dwayne told Rerun's uncle that Tampa Bay would beat Oakland. The Raiders won 48-0.

Remember when Raj said, "Momma?" Momma: "Yes, son?" Raj: "I CAN'T BREATHE!!!"

Remember when Dwayne came in and said, "HEY HEY HEY!"?

Busy Kids - s/t (self-released, 2002)

Some muy caliente ingredients fill this six-layer burrito, hombre. "Fist Of Rock" and "Shocker" taste like The New Bomb Turks laced with more of a picante punch a la The Weaklings. "Mission To Mexico" is a border run in the opposite direction from los banditos de particular from Vaaa Beeech (who once shouted, "Hot hot hot - What do you know? I ain't drivin' down to Mexico" on their "Shortcut To Disaster"). "Dawn Of The Dead" has a lil' black magic from The Hookers rather than Senyour Carlos' bag o'tricks. "Dirty Dog" searches in vain for Erik Estrada's perro that's been kidnapped by GEICO. "Climate Of Fear" finds a Lewd amiga dancing around a sombrero whilst being eyeballed by her not-so-amused padre ("Phphphphobia/Phobia in the atmosphere"). The food is great, even if the Aqua no es Fina.

A MESSAGE FROM RAY PARKER, JR.

The beauty of Napster lies in the eye of the beholder.

Holier than thou rock stars, among whom I was one, adopt the attitude that they're better than you. Therefore, they wish to seek and destroy all methods that allow the consumer even a temporary escape from high music prices. Sad but true, the struggle within these millionaires' souls will continue until they are bleeding me and you dry. To these chart-toppers, nothing else matters except the almighty dollar.

On the other hand, many music fans choose to fight fire with fire. Their blackened eyes sore from $17.98 punches, PC-literates opt to acquire favorite titles through the never-ending frontiers of cyberspace. Per questionable legalities, such a hi-tech Robin Hood becomes the hero of the day to someone who wants the full Big Gulp, not just the shortest straw.

Growing up, my mama said to me repeatedly, "Always look at things from both sides." As the author of a mega-successful hit, I know first hand how today's rock stars can quickly become yesterday's disposable heroes. When you're on top, fame and fortune provide ample opportunity to go where the wild things are. To live is to die, however, and playtime seems immensely short when it becomes necessary to hit the lights on your career. Does it make a musician a bad seed for wanting to reap the most from their crop? Or does he or she surrender the fruits of their labor as a harvester of sorrow?

Flipping the coin, when a small block of wood will suffice, why purchase an entire 2X4? Downloading services are an effective cure when all you want is the "hit single" ("Ghostbusters," for example). Through an extensive battery of tests, many are pledging allegiance to operations like Napster. "Liberty and justice for all music lovers," they proclaim. Because of the unforgiven tactics toward consumers (courtesy of the RIAA), these people will keep drawing fuel from Napster's pumps as long as it's available to them.

Wherever I may roam, I'll probably always ask myself, "What if there could've been just one more 'Ghostbusters?'" But the memory remains. Until it sleeps, would you please download one of my three songs from Napster? Because the longer I can delay my fade to black, the better I'll be.

CHALLENGER EXPLOSION MEMORIES


January 28, 1986 was a day I'll never forget.

My brother and I woke up late, because we had watched one of the greatest Gary Coleman movies ever made ("The Kid From Left Field") the previous night. We ate our usual breakfast of donuts and potato chips while listening to a recently purchased Motley Crue tape. Leaving our house at 7:10 a.m., we ran into our "friend" Kevin -- who always had a bad joke and an even worse skateboarding story to tell us. Enduring 15-minute tales of transitions and Trashmore, we reached the front door of our beloved Churchland Junior High School.

This facility, which had doubled as a women's correctional center in the mid-70's, was governed under a tri-principalship. Mr. Glisson made a number of key decisions during his tenure, such as lowering the price of Mello Buttercup ice cream sandwiches and pulling the plug on students who sang Debby Boone songs in talent shows. Mr. Little was the enforcer of the trio. Anyone that said "Yeah!" to him was forced to do 50 push-ups on the lunchroom floor. Mr. Hartz was the free spirit of the bunch who added a dash of celebrity to CJHS. In addition to being a former linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, Hartz had become a leader in the pet supply industry with his 2-in-1 flea collar invention. His love for animals was evident on this day, as the students were treated to an SPCA-sponsored assembly during the final period.

After six hours of three Mello Buttercups, 200 push-ups, and two bites from Rocky Raccoon, it was time to go home. While walking down our usual path on Merrifields Drive, we noticed something very peculiar. It was a porn magazine on the hood of a car. My brother and I glared heavily at the facing pictorial. The spread showed a big-breasted blonde in pink stockings having her twat tongued by a prim, conservatively dressed brunette. Other pictures featured a saucy redhead with a densely furred bush posing beside her cat, a rather grandmotherly woman in a rocking chair demanding you to "Eat her peach pie!" and a 19-year-old pledge forced to lap the labia of six future sorority sisters. We wanted to take the magazine, but my brother and I saw the figure of a man in the house adjacent to the parked car. Taking no chances, we left the porno on the pervert's car and made our way quickly to the next street.

I'd learned a very important lesson that cold January afternoon -- one which has been taught over the years by the likes of McGruff (the crime dog) and Michael Landon: NEVER TAKE PORN MAGAZINES FROM THE CAR OF A STRANGER! From that day forward, I only took pornos belonging to people I knew: my friend's stepfather, my uncle's girlfriend, and the friendly cashier at Uni-Mart. The acquisition of porn magazines without fear of repercussion is something every adolescent should experience. So if that guy in Merrifields still puts porno mags on the hood of his car, don't take the bait. Take the High Society under your father's mattress instead.

Cobraspa - Members Only (Cherry Coated Records, 2002)

Acceptance of these densely layered offerings comes easily, right from the opening invitation to "take a chance and step out of the light" ("Have A Real"). Barbed-wire kisses tasting like psycho candy are met head-on, puckering with black lipstick on smooches such as "Wrecked My Car" (Caddy hearse stalled on its way to an '89 Love And Rockets gig), "At Our Rendevous" (halfway-to-crazy surf dementia at 4 AM), "Dumb & Fun" (Joy Division-cum-The Stooges, a la the former's "Interzone" and "Failures"), and "Highest Sun" (backing vocals which shine like the brightest Mazzy Star).

Automatic as happy rain from an April sky, Members Only awashes in a cleansing shower of feedback and fuzz. No jacket required.

Almost Always - s/t (self-released, 2002)

Onstage, these hams from Smithfield, VA smoke with the bratty enthusiasm of Metal Blade Records-era Goo Goos (especially recalling the Robby-sung songs) cured by an Alkaline Trio sodium shock. At the packing plant, a posi-punk spirit a la 7 Seconds/Big Drill Car glazes Lit-like histrionics, most flavorful on bites such as "Why" and "Bringing Me Down." The balance between old and new recipes assures Mmm-Mmms from everybody seated in their musical chairs. No second-guessing this holiday centerpiece...when AA's on your table, you'll just want seconds. Pick 'em to the bone!

Richard X. Heyman - Basic Glee (Turn-Up, 2002)

I was first made aware of Heyman's talent via a cutout of his 1991 superb disc (Hey Man!). With its 12-string Rickenbacker jangle, heard-'em-before vocals, and dashes of clever wordplay, I dubbed the collection Return To Rio, because of the uncanny similarities to Roger McGuinn's (with helping hands from Tom Petty and Elvis Costello) overlooked gem from '90 (Back From Rio).

I'm glad to hear that Heyman is, metaphorically speaking, still stuck in South America. Taking half of the twenty-eight songs recorded during the session (the extras can be found on Rightovers), he churns out more winning power pop from his Tabby Road Studio (a lover of felines and The Beatles, obviously), AKA the living room. Handling all instruments himself, save for scattered shots of bass from Nancy Leigh, his wife, Heyman rolls the up-tempo balls of yarn ("Everywhere She Goes," "Diminishing Her Return," and "What In The World" being three meows that stand out) and purrs with the slower-paced "When Evening Comes" and "Wishful Thinking."

Another fancy feast from this top cat!

White Light Motorcade/PG13 Badguy @ Hoopla's -- Northampton Blvd., Va. Beach, VA (6/10/03)

The just-below-R raters from parts Nawfuck and Vaaa Beeech were met with horror at their set's opening credits, as a young woman bloodied herself from shards of a bottled Bud. Thirteen minutes later, PG unleashed a black cat that had been tied up in a "Kidnapper Van." The feline meowed like Mike Watt (Minutemen) and Biscuit Turner (Big Boys) during its "bring the punk, bring the Caribbean" scratching. A shark attack at the pool table turned up "Wet" when Jaws bit into an old Ventures album and Fugazi's 13 Songs. Finally, Fishbone had forgotten their horns but didn't waste any time serving up breezy ska and drinks like Issac on "The Love Boat" to more than one "Barfly." Kudos, Badguy, for connecting disparate characters while directing your half of the double feature.

NYC's White Light Motorcade have the look of stars in the making. Their screen test did not disappoint. Borrowing the method acting from wannabe Brits like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Dandy Warhols, WLM stuck to the script throughout their sitcom-length performance. "My Way" utilized Gary Glitter/Joan Jett-esque "Oh yeahs!" that were fondling to the ear. "All Gone Again" swirled like a lost Oasis B-side. "It's
Happening" revealed the band's punkier side with crunchy guitars and screaming vocals. Aficionados of lost sirens Manic Street Preachers and The Jesus And Mary Chain would've enjoyed WLM's after-dinner theatre. jOhn A. (Siskel) and I (Ebert) gave it matching hitchhiker signals.

Superdrag - Last Call For Vitriol (The Arena Rock Recording Co, 2002)

More than just the group who had a minor hit with "Sucked Out" ("Kissing the bride/45 minutes a side") in '96, Superdrag haven't run outta cancer sticks on their latest puff.

Housed in a sharp-looking matchbox cover, Last Call For Vitriol is even more striking sonically. "Baby Goes To 11" is simplistic-yet-great power pop on par with top-shelf Material Issue. The crunchier-than-a-Nestle-candy-bar "The Staggering Genius" and "Stu" make you wonder why SD aren't opening for the Foo Fighters on their current tour. "So Insincere," with its slurred vocalization, plays like an advance track from an upcoming Fountains Of Wayne album. "Safe & Warm" has harmonizing a la The Jayhawks/Wilco if yer a "hipster," or The Eagles/CSN&Y if "huckster" better suits you. "Her Melancholy Tune" gently recalls some of Lennon/McCartney's quieter moments. "Drag Me Closer To You" employs an AC/DC-type rhythm to remind you that Superdrag are, first and foremost, a rock band.

Easily one of the five best el pee's of the double-smoke-ringed decade.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

VULGAR DISPLAY OF PIZZA



In the Tidewater, VA area, no other topped pie has come close to matching the lip-smacking flavor of the long-gone Pantera's Pizza.

During its early-to-mid-80's heyday, Pantera's was my family's preferred choice for a great meal and after-dinner video games. Whether the eatery was locally based or national remains unclear, but for patrons of the Churchland
and Indian River Road locations, Pantera's delivered the "What a hunk!" promised by the big-breasted blonde in its television adverts. A deep-dish creation formed by a beer-flavored crust and covered with monstrous helpings of cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and other selected toppings, this pizza should've been blessed by Pope John's ten fingers. Even my mother, who has never liked heavily meat-based Italian fare, enjoyed a slice or two with a knife and fork (She never leaves home without her manners or American Express!).

Very few of our restaurant visits were "events," but a night at Pantera's put everybody in a celebratory mood. When our faces weren't buried in thick 'n' dripping mozzarella, we dropped quarters into arcade classics like Moon Patrol (Mom's all-time favorite coin-op -- a reconfigured Missile Command?), Joust (collecting eggs while camel-jockeying), Q*Bert (#2 or 3 on my list -- I also caught the snout-nose's cartoon on Saturday morns), Jungle Hunt (like a grown-up version of the 2600's Pitfall), Congo Bongo (a 3-D Donkey Kong?), and the obligatory Ms. Pac-Man (not the one on ludes presently found in sub shops and the like).

After 2-3 years of making residency in P-Town more tolerable, Pantera's shut down due to speculated reasons of organized crime. I may never know the true story behind its closing, but Pantera's remains guilty of being the Grand Don in local pizza history. Even Phil Anselmo would say "Fuck yeah!" to that.

Gargoyles - Without End (SFTRI, 1992)

On a typical night at Route 44 'round '97, I was drinking Budweisers in the back room and listening to one of the bartender's (Larry May) famous mixed tapes. While kickin' out to jams by The Kids, F-Word, X, and The Germs, I was hit upside the noggin' with "California Stars" ("Can't wait another minute to get out of Frisco/'Cause we're not just a one-town band/Gonna hold my breath til' I'm back in L.A./And I'm doing everything I can"). It rawked with the raw power of The Stooges and punked like Adolescent brats in battalions!

Several years later, a pal of mine named Mike Frame mailed me this hard-to-find cee dee. He'd picked it up at Amoeba Records in San Fran for 33 cents while on tour. As I reacquainted myself with track #2, I remembered a conversation I'd had with my friend jOhn. He came to the conclusion that John Ritter had never left the state of California. Made perfect sense to me, for Ritter's laid-back 'tude and aw-shucks demeanor were SoCal personified.

Yesterday, I dug Without End from the archives of my dresser. "Michigan" ("Iggy's from there/Alice Cooper's from there...") reminded my TV eye of Ritter's last role as a sportswriter from the Wolverine state on "8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter." Dunno if Ritter and Pop were on friendly terms prior to the former's death trip, but the Ig and his disciples are shaking hands with appeal on most of these seventeen toonz. "Runnin' Down" grips with the firmness of non-LP trax "I Got A Right" and "Gimme Some Skin." The Kill City cova blisters 'n' callouses. "Fistful Of Sand" grains with more than a touch of the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer." "Out Into The World" nails like the Jeff Dahl Group's Scratch Up Some Action.

Living with little dolls Janet and Chrissy: musta been a fun house.

PSYCHALCOHOLOGICAL

It's 11:45 PM, and there's a six-pack of Rolling Rock with your name on it. After driving through the sweet Virginia breeze, you notice that the store clocks are past midnight. Your watch reads 11:50. The cashier tells you that beer sales ceased five minutes ago. Damn it!

Not wanting to spend $100 for a Budweiser, you shun the Quik-E-Mart and speed to another grocery store. The prices are extra low and so is your time. Brew in hand, you head to the register. Preparing to give the stubble-faced woman your dinero, she spits out, "May I see two ID's?" You're good for the driver's license, but your Social Security card has been AWOL since '91. The library, video, and bowling league cards don't cut it. "Well, don't you have a military ID?" the lady inquires. Unaware that one has to be in the Armed Services to have a beer or close haircut, you walk out of the store shouting, "This sucks" or some variation thereof.

Next door at the local watering hole, you order a small pitcher of Miller Lite. Coughing up $3.50 (tip included), you head over to the dartboard. This dude wants to know if you'd like to play cricket. You tell him that your wickets are at home. He doesn't get the joke. Playing for a pitcher, you hold your own throwing $1.00 darts against his $75.00 ones. Eventually, you lose and have to buy beer you can't drink. Listening to him babble about some wanker guitarist ("Go see the son-of-a-bitch"), you decline his invitation to a country go-go joint. Nursing the remainder of your pitcher, Mr. Bartender recites that god-awful cry: "LAST CALL FOR ALCOHOL!!!" Not in the mood to pick up any 56-year-old women, you head out the door.

Cruising down Kempsville Road and singing an acapella-punk version of a Whitney Houston song, you are pulled over by Smokey. He requests the usual (license and registration). Another two ID's.