Music Video of the Week: Al Stewart

"The Year of the Cat"
Al Stewart


I remember this one time, about 8 years ago, I was in Texas with some friends of mine. We were stoned all the time. One day we were slumped in our chairs with minds on auto-pilot. Something was needed to stimulate imagination, so I decided to play my cassette copy of Aphrodite's Child's "666". It didn't have the best sound quality, having been extracted from a less-than-pristine vinyl copy. Not only that, but the tape was old and didn't boast of the same fidelity (low as it was) as it may have 4 or 5 years before.

My first copy, though not the one I burned it from, had it's share of pings, as I had purchased it used. I have no memory of what venue I bought it from, be it flea market, used record store, swap meet, garage sale...But I do, very distinctly recall being uneasy of even owning the album. At the time I was quite the Bible thumper. There was something undeniably creepy and WRONG about a record that portended to describe the apocalypse using the artistic medium of Greek progressive rock music. Moreover, how sinister the album cover looks! A fire-tinted square splash red mixed with burnt orange with the large numbers "666" in white set against a black rectangle which takes up the center the square.

*insert ghostly wails and phantom whispers*

Six...Six...Six......Whoo, boy, didn't we know what those numbers were all about! You don't even want to THINK about that. Scary, scary stuff. Ultimate horror novel you got there at the end of the sacred scriptures! What kind of rock and roller is going to write a whole album about it? We dreaded receiving the mark of the beast. We came to believe, at one point, that universal bar codes on food products were the mark, that if you bought anything with a bar code you were damned and you're chances to come out unscathed after Judgement Day are mighty slim.

I probably thought there was something wrong with me for really enjoying the Aphrodite's Child record. I liked it a lot.

So, as I was saying, my buds and I were in a lethargic state of being so I threw some "666" on the stereo to see what it could do.

What it did was freak some sturdy people out. It sent Tony "The Gunner" Resipel into an epileptic fit that almost cost him his tongue. It inspired Richie "The Owl" Grant to give up drinking Mountain Dew...he was drinking it when the dope and the music crashed together, and I suppose he thought the Dew was responsible for the frighteningly intense hallucinations he was seeing (not all of which, it must be said, were bad...it's just that the bad ones outnumbered the good ones by a significant margin). The hallucinations took on a different aspect for Heath "The Knothead" Tucker. He insisted that he'd been taken up into the seventh heaven by God. The Cheribums that guarded the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were slain by the mighty sword of truth which he weilded in his left hand. In his right was an exact replica of the bong he'd just took a hit from before he stepped out of the "real world". He's pierced the angels, each one with an arrow sticking into their hearts and, in the vision, ran to climb the fabled tree. When the Philosophical Society pried him down (an event which was attended to by great stress and grief), he spoke to Heath's observing self: "Get away from these people, and especially the good looking one who played that blasphemous Aphrodite's Child tape. Find your way south, to El Paso. There you will be received by a hunchback in monk's attire. He will give you instructions and directions to an ornate, architecturally magnificent church building. You will, at that point, be introduced to another man, a monk in hunchback's attire. He will lead you into a dark grotto where a group of seven or height men will be joined in a circle, lit by 356 vanilla scented candles. Their heads are, to a man, bowed, totally covered by the itchy, starched fabric of the hoods on their tunics. Call out to them, o Knothead, and watch them jump. They will, each one of them, be a little mad at you for breaking the reverie of the ritualistic ceremony they were conducting. Nevertheless, the big one with the snaggle teeth and scrunched up nose will tell you your destiny". And so, in the incredible revelation Heath was encouraged to go into the ministry.

And this is exactly what he did when he left that day. He took a jet airplane, flew it to Miami, Florida, where he paid Benny Hinn a large sum of money to tell him the secret of healing folks. He decided he was a Man of God and served as a pupil under Hinn for several months. When that ordeal had ended he added the word "Apostle" to his name. It was as Apostle Heath "The Knothead" Tucker that he wound up in a federal penitentury for master minding the most devestating scam in history.

But he claimed to like it at the time. The "666" record, that is. He said it was as good as any Pink Floyd album in terms of musicality but also in how it juiced up the head when marijuana was also applied.

And so it is true. In fact, I'll take this double disc over just anything the Floyd has ever done. I know them's fightin' words, but I must be true to my sentiments. In the 4th track "The Four Horsemen", the colors of the horses are recited throughout, "The leading horse is white, the second horse is red, third one is a black, last one is a green". Didn't rhyme for shit. But they pull this one off like it was a power anthem. Very catchy melody here, so you should have no trouble matching color to horseman in the future.

The "conceptional" aspect here is much more structured than Floyd's (or really just about anybody else that's done a concept album). So what if it's much more about creating mood and atmosphere than telling a story. All of the spoken word proclomations will be recognizeable to anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the Revelation of John. Added one on top of the other and it's still hard, nay impossible, to make sense of any of it within any sort of contextual structures.

Oh, but where was I? Ah, yes. I remember. I had just wound up telling you how Heath Tucker had found religion after listening to "666". He wasn't the only one who had dreams and visions. Cal "Don't-Call-Me-Cal" Calvin decided, when he was eventually revived, that his destiny was as the franchise owner of a local International House of Pancakes. He must have been serious because he still works there even now. I saw him only yesterday. We spoke for a moment, but when I tried to bring up the subject of the day we listened to "666" he grew very quiet and you could sense a distinct annoyance in the way his facial muscles played with themselves. He spoke no more for several minutes before rising and going back into the kitchen. Back on the clock he began making some crepes. He loves this. He loves the smell, the taste, the way the dough feels between his fingers, how it sounds so much like an ass getting slapped when the palms were applied to the lump.

As for me, I emerged from this particular gathering with a new appreciation of Aphrodite's Child, though I still, to this day, have heard nothing else by them. The only part of "666" that I don't love uses the "Infinity" sign as a name. It's nothing more than a woman chanting "I am I was, I am to come" with varying degrees of exciteability. She really gets into it at times and there's no way anyone could miss the double entendre usage of the word "come". It's ridiculous, and at five minutes and fifteen seconds you'll be glad you pushed the "Next" button fifteen seconds into this strangely tedious production. I would suggest that you might as well just stop the CD at that point and call it a really good album, not even listening to the last 3 songs (one of which is almost 20 minutes long). But it's great stuff. As good as what came before. You can't miss that, so the SKIP button it is.

My stoner friends and I used to have these little preview sessions. We'd make sure we were really, really high and listen to an album that was critically acclaimed. Then we'd discuss our own opinions, comparing them to what the critics thought about the record. "666" was the only record we listened to that was not in the canon of acknowledged classic rock albums. I thought it should have been, that it was a shame that it kind of got thrown under the rug, for whatever reason.

We listened to Aerosmith's "Rocks" one night. "Don't-Call-Me-Cal" and I got into a big fight over which one of us had the correct interpretation of the lyrics to "Back in the Saddle". I had to repeatedly remind Cal that Steven Tyler was heterosexual.

Calvin chose "Hotel California" for the next get together. I threw a fit an a vain attempt to convince the majority of voters that the Eagles had no right to be in such quality company. I was ignored, though, as one might figure. Yet, it will never be forgotten by anyone who was there that they don't call him "Don't-Call-Him-Cal" for nothing. He was quite offended by my way of looking at things and decided it might be a good idea to turn the volume up on the stereo at about the time "Life in the Fast Lane" kicked in. Only when he spotted tears running down my cheeks did he show mercy, easing down on the volume. By that time the record was only a moment or two from it's closing chords. Needless to say, my view of "Hotel California" fell in firmly with the side that loathed the song

This is just one example of our Masonic Lodge-like reunions. We also raked over the coals "Exile on Main Street", "Pet Sounds", "Pink Moon", "Master of Reality", "Selling England by the Pound"...the list was not a short one. Our debate on the overall quality of "Tommy" versus "Quadrophenia" is legendary and came very close to being published in the hallowed pages of Trouser Press. But that did not happen, as the magazine ceased publication within 6 months of expressing interest in the transcriptions. I remember being so pissed off...I'd wanted to subscribe to Trouser Press for years. When I finally got around to it, late 1994 I think it was, they stopped coming out. Instead I was sent The Record magazine to fulfill the remainder of my subscription. Thanks for nothing. Record was pretty weak...not really all that bad, but when you compare it to Trouser Press it certainly pales.

Sorry, got off track. Was going to say that the transcriptions of our "Tommy" vs. "Quadrophenia" symposium are available to any interested book maker and are much more affordable than you might think would be the case. Quality stock, too.

Unfortunately there are no transcriptions to record the legendary Aphrodite's Child "666" date. It is likely, though, that if you'd ask any one of the people in my group what album I was playing, you'd likely get the answer, "I have no idea. I don't remember. I don't remember a lot of stuff. I don't even remember my dad's birthday. I have no memory of every single time I played the live Scorpions album while living with a grimy guitar player who liked it for some reason. I don't remember getting married. I don't remember gettin divorced. I don't remember getting re-married. I don't remember the times when the marriage vows were applied very thinly. I don't have no notion of what'n it may ha'n to be." I do, though. It is marked on my forehead, in the bar code that was on the CD package, tattooed on my skull, the indisputable MARK OF THE BEAST...that's right. It said "Aphrodite's Child".


I’m up way past my bedtime. My beddy-bye, lullaby. Actually I passed that point some time ago, but I felt led to make it public at the present because, seriously, you should really know this by now.

Not thirty minutes earlier I was deep into a bag of Starbursts. I’d progressed to the point where I was just stuffing my mouth with them, hardly chewing at all. I had trouble getting some of them unwrapped. At one point I found myself chewing a bit of a wrapper, with it’s smooth, waxy exterior, just malleable enough to where I’m not sure if it’s really a piece of paper or a stubborn Starburst.

Long story short, I was in the mood for Starbursts and so I fetched me some. I had no idea that my hunger for their fruity goodness was not to be sated easily. In fact, I woke up this morning with a belly full of half dissolved Starburst candies. It felt like there was a 5 pound weight in my belly.

My options were limited: Starbursts or Skittles.

Skittles, it cannot be denied, have a swell candy taste. They are just the right size for pouring a handful into your mouth, letting them swirl around in there for a while, let the saliva begin digestion’s hard work. They don’t have the same “hangover” effect that the Starbursts’ did, but on the negative side, after a few seconds of chewing, the candy breaks down into crunchy sugar. You can already feel the pain and hearing the sound of that dentist’s drill. There goes another layer of enamel. For what, I ask? For SKITTLES, that’s what.

The only time anyone should choose Skittles over Starburst is when they’re not up for peeling wrappers off of sticky, sweet, artificially flavored and colored processed fruit gum squares. It’s hard work to wrangle one of the “difficult ones”. Thirty seconds lost is thirty seconds that can never be regained. And what’s thirty seconds compared to years of wearing dentures?

The candy goo still filled my gut as I attempted to hoist myself from the bed. Unsuccessfully the first few times, but eventually getting’ the job done. I sat up in bed and listened to the steady but tired rhythm of my beating heart and the steady inhalation and exhalation of breath in my lungs. I felt a slight pain in my chest, a pinprick point just above my left nipple. Just sharp enough to make me wonder about the ol’ Ticker in me, debating on whether I should breakdown and go see a doctor. I was going to do that a month or two ago, but the spasms had subsided to the point where I thought maybe, just maybe, they had taken leave and gone into remission. No need to bother the doc. I don’t want to know what he has to say about it anyway, good or bad.

I opened my eyes, finally, and realized that I was standing naked by the side of an unfamiliar bed. I looked around, to try and get a handle on my surroundings. By the rays of the moon I saw it reflected on empty, shining beer bottles…wine bottles…booze bottles…all tossed into a pile at the foot of the king size bed. Black silk panties cover half full Budweiser cans. My “lucky red” underwear, lying suspiciously close to the Victoria’s Secret sale item, showing signs of wear and tear. I wasn’t sure if I could trust whatever luck they might could throw my way. Lucky enough when you look at in a certain way, I suppose.

To be continued…as I really must get to bed…it’s not safe for me to stay up all hours like I used to do. Sleep deprivation is a formidable foe.

And I know that I’ve used those words, “To be continued” countless times without ever returning with updates and/or new material. Sometimes I knew, even when I wrote the words at the end of the page, that I had no intention of a second installment.

It should be, “To be continued…MAYBE”.



Music Video of the Week: Ludwig Van Beethoven

<a href="http://www.joost.com/1760009/t/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Symphony-No-7">Ludwig van Beethoven –Symphony No.7</a>
Symphony #7
Ludwig Van Beethoven


Lips state rock song, GOP state hypocrites

As most folks around here know, the state legislature has passed an amendment that names the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize" the Official State Rock Song.

Tell me this...what the hell is an Official State Rock Song? Do other states have them? Maybe I'm wrong but I somehow doubt it. Looks to me like an obvious attempt to associate a hugely popular "alternative" band with a state that is trying desperately to gain an image as "a hip place to be".

Now don't get me wrong...I like the Flaming Lips enough. I think "The Soft Bulletin" is one of the very best albums I've ever heard. I'm proud to say I knew who they were years before anyone knew who they were (not that I'd heard them. though)...back when the state government would never have even imagined associating the band with the state FOR ANY REASON. Of course, now that they've been on the cover of practically every major music magazine and are world famous it's kind of amusing to see how quickly the big wigs have embraced them.

Not that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon...the Republicans were pissed off about the whole thing because one of the band members wore a shirt with a hammer and sickle to some important congregation...oooh, this pissed those GOPs off. "Are we really going to pass legislation that will promote communism? After all, that's apparently what these guys are all about, right? Just look at the dude's shirt!"

Ah, but they relented...somebody probably whispered in their ears that, despite their wardrobe choices, these rockers offered the state a hip credibility that was money in the bank. "Sometimes a shirt", one of them concedes, "is just a shirt".

And so the state has an "official rock song". One has to wonder, on what occasion should we break it out and sing it? Will it stick? After all, it's not nearly as catchy as "Oklahoma", our REAL state song. So it's not quite as hoaky, either, so what?

But here's the crazy thing, and it is, in my opinion, truly baffling. The GOPs were up in arms because one of the Lips wore a t-shirt that could logically be construed as promoting communism. But they backed down. Why? Why did they change their minds, as no one in the band was offering up any apologies? Did they think there was no hope in pursuing it any further?

Quitters! All they had to do, if they wanted to see this legislation fail, was go rent a copy of "The Fearless Freaks", a documentary about the Lips. The most disturbing scene in the film shows the drummer, an unrepentant heroin addict, fixing up a nice dose, sticking it in his arm and floating away to that nice place junkies like to visit as often as they can afford to.

They got all twisted at the prospect of a closet commie put on a pedastal. But what? It's okay if it's an out-of-the-closet heroin addict??? Don't you think they could have dragged out that information to use in furthering their cause?

Once again, I think the Lips are just fine. Over-rated, yes. But I have several of their CDs. They seem pretty cool (from what I can gather from the documentary)...I don't even care if any of them have issues with drugs or patriotism or anything of the sort. As ridiculous as the notion of a "state rock song" is, I'd just as soon it be them as anyone else.

What I don't like are politicians who want to stir shit, then back down when they wise up to the amount of money that would be lost if they stood firm. Maybe I haven't elucidated it clearly here, but if you check into it I think you will plainly see that this is exactly what happened in this case. One cannot help but wonder what their true motivation was in trying to derail this legislation that was passed because it was voted for by Oklahomans in an Internet poll. Or how weak that motivation must have been for them to abandon it when they had so much more fuel to add to the fire (the heroin scene).

Were they trying to protect the image of the state? Strike one.

Were they just wanting to give the Democrats some grief? Strike two.

Were they hoping to make themselves look like intelligent, reasonable adults with the best interests of Oklahoma first and foremost? Strike three.

Yer out.


First batch of Netflix reviews

Since I got my Netflix account a couple of weeks ago I have enjoyed writing little "miniature reviews" directly after viewing a film. So I figure I'll post a few here every now and then.

"Joy Division: Under Review"
I screwed up. I thought I was getting the Joy Division documentary that came out at the same time as "Control" (which, btw, I hated). I was wrong. Much to my disappointment this tedious hour and a half is little more than a handful of pompous critics presiding over what might as well have been "Joy Division 101". You can add up the total running time of every music performance clip and probably not exceed one dull minute. The REAL Joy Division documentary (the Grant Gee directed one) is in my queue right now and hopefully I won't make this same mistake twice.

This is the first film of Herzogs that Ive seen, though I have wanted to watch it for a long time (fascinated, as I was, that viewing it was the last thing Joy Divisions Ian Curtis did before hanging himself). It is a depressing movie, but it has its share of humorous moments (We cant stop the dancing chicken HA HA!). As with all great motion pictures, Stroszek makes you care for the characters and their plight. The scene in which the premature baby grasps the fingers of the doctor as he pulls him up was extraordinarily moving. The film takes its time and some might call it a slow mover. So it may be, but the pace allows the viewer a little more time to invest in a movie that pays off big time.

"You're Gonna Miss Me"
Fantastic documentary not so much about the burned out acid casualty madman rocker as it is the environment he lives in, the people who care for him and the effect he has on those people. Sure, Rokys the one with the diagnosis, but NOBODY here has got their s*** together. The music selection is very good and seeing this aspect of his personality certainly places it in a new light. If you haven't heard "I Think of Demons" you should surely WANT TO listen to it after seeing "You're Gonna Miss Me". And Ill bet you'll like it, even if it DOES creep you out a little.

For better or worse, "Irreversible" revolves around two scenes. Everything else gets overshadowed by them. The film plays out in reverse, so one can assume that it's important to know how these pivotal scenes came into play. It is not. The victims here did nothing to deserve their fate...the choices they made which brought them to their predicaments are arbitrary and play no role in the tragedy that follows. And so, as should be expected in a film that portends to play out backwards, it is anti-climactic. I knew what I was getting into when I watched it, so I wasn't as shocked by the "fire extinguisher scene" or the unspeakable rape scene as I might have been if I didn't already know what to expect. But they were still impossible to view without flinching. They were, without a doubt, the most horrific things I've ever seen on film. If that were the measure of success then there's no doubt "Irreversible" excels. But I'd hoped for more thought provoking context and it just wasn't there.

"GG Allin: Savage South"
I've only watched the first 30 minutes of this one so far...I may watch the rest later...maybe not. Half an hour is just about all it takes, though, to get the picture. This will please Allin fans immensely but "Hated in the Nation" is the best starting point for the curious. Be forewarned: it is a disquieting thing to see a man bereft of any shred of dignity, prodded like an animal and returning in kind. In it's own way GG Allin's concerts were as frightening as any horror movie, and even more so his tragic life.

"The Indian Runner"
What a tedious movie this is. Borders on boring. I only watched it because I knew it was based on the Springsteen song "Highway Patrolman". Great song. You'd think it would translate well to film. Not in this case. Sean Penn can be forgiven, as this is his first attempt to write and direct. Nevertheless, IMO, he fails on both counts. The whole "indian runner" theme was under-developed. A couple of scenes were outright dumb. Acting was sub paar on behalf of practically everyone involved. The only thing "The Indian Runner" has going for it is the bare bones of a story, thanks to Bruce Springsteen. Maybe some day it will be developed in a more professional and entertaining manner.

"Fela in Concert"
I've enjoyed everything Ive ever heard by Fela Kuti, though I will admit that its not very much. Reading the other reviews here I am surprised at the thought that this may not be one of his best shows. Because it is really very good. If there are better available then I really look forward to seeing/hearing them. Sound quality on DVD is poor throughout. Performance and the sheer enigmatic persona of Kuti make up for it. The soloists seem to have a bit of trouble getting into the groove but once they do its perfect. The horn section is TIGHT, and as far as Im concerned they are the highlight of the show.

I havent heard much from BJM and I really dont like the Dandy Warhols, but this film was great. Not even about music. Just these incredibly strong personalities. Dig was a surprise...I wasnt expecting it to be so good.

"Screaming Masterpiece"
Excellent documentary showcasing Icelandic popular music. Bjork and Sigur Ros are the heavy hitters here, but it's certainly not a film ABOUT them. Instead we are given a fairly broad overview of several other bands and artists who build an even stronger case for the originality of the awesome music coming from that part of the globe. Filmed before the seminal Sigur Ros film "Heima", it is striking how much the two films share in common. I enjoyed it immensely and will most likely buy a copy of my own.

By the way, if you have a Netflix account and would like to be my "Netflix friend", just click on the logo in the right sidebar of this page. "Be my Netflix friend"...almost sounds like a request you might find at Adult Friend Finder, no? Heh heh!


Carrie Prejean, the Miss America runner-up who stirred so much controversy in her opposition to gay marriage has had some revealing photos come to light that will likely cause her to lose the title of Miss California USA.

Which I'm sure everyone knows by this point...but something she said at her press conference today struck me as funny:

"There is something special about unions of husband and wife. Unless we bring men and women together, children will not have mothers and fathers."

Hoo boy.


New Bambo track

New Bambo Syndicate tune. Soon to be integrated into another massively long composition.


Riceboy Sleeps

I can't say I've been in the mood for dreamy, ambient soundscapes lately. More of a Fela Kuti mood right now. But the new album from Riceboy Sleeps is on the way and I'm sure I'll be in the mood for floating in the ether soon enough. So, that being the case, here are a couple of songs from that album that the band has released.