Thursday, September 4, 2008

Guilty Pleasure #2 or "You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest blog in the world..."


About 15 years ago, KISS was doing a decent job of taking the guilt out of the pleasure. They'd just released their best album in almost a decade. They reunited with the original line-up in its full grease-painted glory. They had a definite cache among the grunge bands so popular at the time. It almost got to the point where I didn't have to defend my membership in the KISS Army any more.

Well, they certainly took care of that... Two miserable studio albums, a never ending "good bye" tour in which various members of the original members didn't take part, being replaced by ringers in full make up, bad solo releases by Gene and Paul, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, the endless recycling of their earlier material in semi-annual compilations of widely varying quality, and, of course, the continued bizarre packaging of the KISS brand (y'all have your official KISS coffin yet?) all served to put the guilt back into being a KISS fan.

More than a few people have commented that KISS was always more of a concept or a brand-name than a rock band. I take issue with that. KISS started out as a rock band. One whose most distinguishing feature for many - the black and white stage dress - wasn't all that original in the time and place they were coming from. I sometime fantasize about what would have happened if Alive! had tanked back in 1975 and Casablanca had dropped the band. KISS would have been remembered as the missing link between the New York Dolls and the Dictators. They'd have been filed right in there with a bunch of other pre-punk New York bands that never put out more than a couple albums and were more famous posthumously than when they were when actually alive.

Don't believe me? Check out Mojo Magazine (I'll update with the exact issue) and check out the picture of Paul Stanley and Dave Johanssen hanging out at a party in c. 1972, both with white face paint on. There are two major differences between KISS and a number of their New York City contemporaries: They were much more successful and they stuck around much longer. But the similarities, at least at the start of their career, were more than the differences. They were just as girl-group and pop-obsessed as Blondie and the Ramones. In fact, I think the Ramones is a good point of reference. Both bands were simply starving to be super-stars. Both were criticized as musical hacks and gimic groups. The Ramones received the eventual critical praise, KISS had the multi-platinum albums.

A great look at KISS early in their career is the first volume of the KISSology DVD collection. You can see that they had their on-stage personas fully developed from a very early point of their career. The "easter egg" of the 1973 club show shows them going though all the same stage moves during "Deuce" that they would throughout their careers. The evolution that you see is in their off-stage attitude. You see them move from menacing zombie street-gang punks to weirdo kabuki super-heroes.

But the music... the music. KISS wanted to be the heavy metal Beatles. Very ambitious, but largely they pulled off the ambition.

Their eponymous first album (1974) is arguably their best studio album. It's full of songs they'd been playing together live for years. These are road tested, solid songs that still stand the test of time. "Deuce," "Strutter," "Gold Gin," "Firehouse," "Black Diamond." All songs that would feature prominantly in KISS's live shows for the remainder of their career. I think "Deuce" and "Black Diamon," in particular, are quite strong on this album, being better than the numerous live versions that would be released over the next few decades. The production is raw and garage-y. It's KISS's punkiest album. It's also one of their deepest. Beyond the well-known songs, you have "deep tracks" like "Let Me Know," "100,000 Years," and "Love Theme from KISS" that stand up against any of their later work. The guitar interplay between Paul and Ace is fantastic, and secret weapon, Peter, is in great voice, adding his gritty voice to "Nothin' to Lose" and "Black Diamond."

Hotter than Hell (1974) is also made up of songs that had been played together on the road for years. But these are "the bottom of the barrel." Largely all of the best songs on Hotter than Hell are found in better versions on other albums, Alive! in particular. However, such obscurities as Gene's bizarro old-man love ballad, "Goin' Blind" (excellently covered by the Melvins on Houdini) are worth checking out for all but the most casual fans.

I'll continue part II soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I hear "guilty pleasures" a lot when us music snobs are talking about the music we actually listen to, rather than the music we say we like to listen to. Like when you hear a guy talking about how cool he thinks the new Radiohead album is, when you just KNOW he's got a Justin Timberlake CD in his car stereo... Guilty Pleasure. He ain't man enough to cop to what he's really groovin' to.

Anyway, here's my top three guilty pleasures (although some readers would probably argue that I don't show much guilt in the first place in listening to low-quality music... be that as it may...) in order from least guilty to most guilty.

#3. Alice Cooper. I don't know if Alice qualifies anymore. He's become rock n' roll's slightly eccentric older uncle with some really great stories about the crap he pulled back in the 70's. This in comparison to Ozzy's bat-shit-crazy-who's-going-to-pay-for-Uncle-Larry's-stay-in-the-home-after-we-have-him-committed burden on the family. As Alice's utterly insane peak has receded from memory, leaving a middle aged father who likes to golf, it's become a lot easier to listen to his music when no one's beheading a dwarf or sacrificing live chickens on stage while slugging an entire fifth of rum during the instrumental fade out of "Eighteen."

What you end up with is a bizarre combination of vaudeville show tunes, hard, hard, hard garage rock, an incredibly perceptive and funny lyricist, and a singer with a fantastically warm, charismatic voice. Just take the Billion Dollar Babies album... and I won't even talk about the hits... the hidden masterpieces only...

"Raped and Freezin'" a fantastic garage rocker, flipping the rock star/groupie relationship around, turning the pursuer in the pursued, with our hero only escaping by running out the hotel room naked into the cold Mexican night. That the rock n' roll collapses on itself into a Mariachi band only serves to seal the deal.

"Unfinished Sweet" a tale of everyday terror: going to the dentist. Featuring the mouth harp. Of course. "De Sade is gonna dance on my molars tonight." "Take it to the doc 'cus he ought to know... He says my teeth are o.k., but my gums got to go." And then the electric drill solo guaranteed to make everyone in the room squirm, painful moaning, followed by a break into the Peter Gunn theme, guitar solo, a strange yanking sound, tension mounts, tooth pulled, back to the mouth harp. Genius.

"Generation Landslide" A great, great song. Maybe my favorite ever by anyone. What if babies were in charge? In this case, what if babies were really aliens and decided to take over the world? "They looked just like humans in Kresge's and Woolworth's, but decadent brains were at work to destroy." "Brats in batallion ruling the streets, said generation landslide closed the gap between them."

"Molotov milk bottles." "Bankers son's hours." How many fantastic throw away lines do you need in one song? And then the jaw-droppingly beautiful guitar solo. I'm not a shred-head. I like my guitar lyrical. And this is as lyrical as it gets. Glenn Buxton was a fantastic guitarist, and I have no idea why he never did anything of consequence (musically, I mean... I don't know the man, I'm sure he did something of consequence outside of music later on) after this album.

"I Love the Dead" Rock n' Roll's appeal in many respects has often been founded on making the forbidden seem appealing. I think a straight faced argument can be made that the fear of miscegenation (you know, black folks and white folks getting it on in bed or wherever else together) was what caused the orignal backlash against rock n' roll in the late 50's. The whole "jungle beat" complaint was racist code. Basically, what they were really saying was, "This music makes you wanna dance like an African, and if you want to dance like an African, sooner or later you're gonna want to dance with an African, and if you're dancin' with an African, sooner or later, you're actually gonna talk to that African, and go maybe share a chocolate milkshake, and before you know it, I've got me a bunch of mixed race grand kids running around, and how will I ever explain that to my buddies at the next Klan rally?"

So, with "I Love the Dead" Alice takes things one step beyond. Well, it's more than one step... "Hey Ma, if you don't like me running around with that black girl, get a load of this!"

This is a basic truth: THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BAD SONG ABOUT NECROPHILIA!!! Alice just happens to do it better than everybody else. (And by "everybody else," I mean Slayer, because I don't think anyone else has ever done a song about necrophilia.)

What's so mind-blowing about "I Love the Dead" is that it's not even Alice's best song about necrophilia. That's "Cold Ethyl" from Welcome to My Nightmare.

In all seriousness, though, no lesser person than Bob Dylan has said that Alice is one of America's most overlooked songwriters. And in Alice, you get all the great American contradictions: gauche but somehow classy, dumb in a really smart way, sexy, ugly, endlessly creative and talented, but using all that talent and creativity in ways that nobody would have thought of and certainly never approved of.

#2 next time...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reboot, AMG, and Enuff Z'nuff, part 3

Time to break out of my one post a month rut and get the second post of August in early.

I broke into my heavy metal digression last time because I felt the need to explain how shocked I was when the "Similar Artists" links of one of "my" bands included Enuff Z'nuff. (Which band it was, I no longer remember.)

You see, when I was talking about the split in the metal community in the 80's, I was hardly speaking as a passive observer from back in the day. Rather, I was a rabid, glam metal hatin' thrasher. And Enuff Z'nuff was the puffiest, glammiest, silliest looking pack of lipsticked poodles of the whole bunch. (The name, by the way, is derived from bassist/songwriter Chip Znuff's name.) Because of their image, they were a joke, even among the Poison and Warrant fans. And me... See, I didn't give Guns 'n Roses the slightest chance for years, simply because Axl had his hair all spiked up like a chick in the "Welcome to the Jungle" video. (A look he quickly dropped, by the way.) If I wasn't going to give the slimiest, grittiest, punkiest thing to spew out of L.A. since Fear a chance, I sure as Hell wasn't going to give that bunch of pop princesses a second thought.

(This is not entirely true... In the late 90's, a bar I frequented in Champaign, Illinois called Creamy's had an autographed picture of the band hanging on the wall. Creamy's didn't have live music very often, and when it did, it was local blues and folk artists. So I had no clue why there'd be an Enuff Z'nuff picture on the wall... It's not like they ever played there or anything. So I often wondered why the heck the picture was there. Other than that, I never gave them a second thought.)

But there was the link. And had never steered me wrong, right? So what was I supposed to do but click it? And what did I see?

First the biography by Ed Rivadavia that starts intriguingly enough...
If there is such a thing as false advertising in rock & roll, then Enuff Z'nuff is one of its textbook examples. Packaged in garish peace-glam attire by their record company, the group was wrongly lumped in with the disposable pop-metal bands of the late '80s (Poison, Warrant, etc.) rather than appreciated for the truly gifted power pop act that they were. By the time they finally managed to shed their deceptive camouflage, it was much too late to turn public opinion, or their fortunes, around.
I mean, if that's not going to suck a music junkie like me in, what is? "You mean there was an incredibly dorky, hideously silly glam band that was actually secretly a really cool rock band hiding under all the mascara and lip gloss? I gotta check this out! I gotta freak out my friends with this!" (When I talk to myself, I also imagine I have friends who care what music I listen to.)

Let me make this clear, I have absolutely nothing against dudes that dress up like chicks and then play loud rock n' roll. I certainly love the New York Dolls, early KISS (about which I'll be writing much more in the near future), Alice Cooper, David Bowie, T-Rex, etc., etc. It's just with all those poofters from the 80's there was all form and no substance. They wore their androgyny to be cute and cuddly, while in the 70' the Dolls and the rest were trying to be sleazy and dangerous. Warrant got all glammed up to fit in with everyone else. The Dolls did it to be completely different from everyone else.

So, suffice it to say, I had to dig deeper. On to the discography!

Their 1991 album, "Strength" got 4
½ stars. You mean there's a 4½ star power pop album that I not only don't have, but that I've never even heard of? The plot thickens.

O.K. I think it's time to go into another digression. This time, "Power Pop." What's that? O.K., it can probably best be described as music by bands who stopped listening to anything that came out after 1967. For them, pop music culminated with "Sgt. Pepper," "Younger than Yesterday," "The Who Sell Out," "Forever Changes," and the other masterpieces from the Summer of Love, and there wasn't much point in going beyond that. So, power pop probably started with the Move and the Nazz, a couple bands that were about two years behind the trends of the day, but still excellent. (Particularly the Move, who were to later transform themselves, oddly enough, into ELO.)

And then, in the 70's you had the Beatles and Who obsessed Cheap Trick (check out their self-titled 1977 debut for Cheap Trick at their most unhinged and 1978's "Heaven Tonight" for the more polished product), the Stones to Beatles transformation of the Flamin's Groovies (see the 1976 classic "Shake Some Action" for the Groovies at their most Beatle-rific - they sound like a Mersey-beat contemporary from 1964), the much tamer Beach Boys-esque melodies of the Raspberries (the 1991 Capitol Collectors Series compilation is still probably the best/easiest way to get a good listen, but the 2003 import "Overnight Sensation: The Very Best of..." does a better job of showing off the harder rocking side of the band), and the fantastic Kinks-y Big Star fronted by ex-Box top, Alex Chilton (see the CD compilation of their first two records, "#1 Record/Radio City") .

But, when I see 1991 and hear "power pop" in the same paragraph, I instantly think Teenage Fanclub, the Posies, the La's, the Jellyfish and like bands. There was a minor explosion of 60's inspired rockers overshadowed by the grunge explosion that was happening at the exact same time. (This "minor explosion" was a gigantic, seismic event in the U.K., with bands such as Pulp, Suede, Blur and Oasis changing the face of British rock, but while these bands certainly were heavily influenced by 60's bands like the Beatles, Who, and Kinks, they also looked a lot more forward than the much more "trad" power pop bands.) In fact, in many ways the two scenes were simply two sides of the same coin. Bands like Nirvana and the Screaming Trees certainly showed their fetishes for artists like Dylan and the Doors, even if it was filtered through intermediary bands like Cheap Trick and U2. The real difference was that the power pop bands of the 90's listened to "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and the Dukes of Stratosphere a lot more, and Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, the MC5, and the Stooges a lot less than their grunge contemporaries.

So here I am looking at the review for "Strength," again by Ed Rivadavia, and salivating over lines like this:
Arguably the greatest Abbey Road tribute and/or rip-off of the early '90s (depending on who you ask), Strength was sadly lost in the shuffle of the alternative rock revolution and through sheer record company incompetence, and Enuff Z'Nuff would sadly never recover.
So a few months later I'm walking through Best Buy and see the newly re-issued "Strength" lying on the shelf for a reasonable price. I got to buy it, right?

Of course I was a bit disappointed. How could I not be? I had built it up too much. But, it was also nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Enuff Z'nuff were not the corporate hair hacks that they appeared to be in the promo shots and videos. (Good Lord! Look at the back cover photo! They make Poison look like he-men!) They had quite a bit of talent and wrote some really good songs.

The album starts off with the utterly forgettable "Heaven or Hell," which sounds like someone at the label told the guys in the band that they needed a "rock anthem" to start the record out, so they mailed in the tritest effort they could. The second song on the album is much better. "Missing You" is a nice mid-tempo blues not too different from Cheap Trick's "Need Your Love" or, with Donnie Vie's raspier voice, maybe some David Coverdale era Deep Purple. Another highlight is "Holly Wood Ya" which sounds like it could have come straight off of a Posies or Jellyfish album, and has great vocal melodies, a nice catchy tune, and great lyrics. "Long Way to Go" is a fine Aerosmith-like rave up. "Mother's Eyes" and "Blue Island" are nice big-melodied sing-alongs. The best song on the album is "The Way Home/Coming Home" which starts off as a nice piano ballad and then accelerates into a ballsy rocker.

The rest of the album is sort of "meh." Too much of it sounds like standard corporate rock, with little production touches thrown in to sound Beatles-y. A little mellotron twirl here, some backwards masking there, a little string flourish over there. But the sound is much more obviously influenced by Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and in their quieter moments, Badfinger. Certainly not bad influences to have, but nothing that makes Enuff Z'nuff any different from dozens of other bands from the late 80's and early 90's who used those exact same influences to form the corporate crap I detested so much. Except that Enuff Z'nuff were better singers, better song-writers, and better musicians.

But, overall, this isn't really what I'd call power pop. Too often, the rhythm guitars crunch instead of ring, the instruments fall into a lock-step blues shuffle too often, Derek Frigo's lead guitar buzzes around in George Lynch-ian histrionics, and Donnie's vocals lapse into metal-y screeching instead of singing too much. Still, the tragedy here is that Enuff Z'nuff should have found an audience. If they had only been marketed more like, say, Tesla or Queensryche, two of the more mature-audience oriented commercial rock bands to have huge success at about the same time Enuff Z'nuff were wasting all that hair spray and rouge while their career was being flushed down the toilet.

Actually, there is one band I can think of that was extraordinarily like Enuff Z'nuff, that did eventually have great success of a sort... Mother Love Bone. The sounds of the two bands were actually quite similar. Very Aerosmith derived. MLB was more unhinged, EZ more poppy. But still... "The Way Home/Coming Home" and "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" are pretty similar. Of course, Mother Love Bone never actually found success other than posthumously. Andrew Wood died and the core of the band went on to have unbelievable success as Pearl Jam with a short stop in Temple of the Dog, first. (The sheer number of ways in which Mother Love Bone was a better band than Pearl Jam will have to wait for another blog.)

The sad details of the remainder of Enuff Z'nuff's career, I'll leave to Ed and his biography on allmusic. As for me, I'm glad I got that album. Heck, I'm listening to it right now. As to whether this story is a warning to listeners to not judge a book by its cover, or to bands to make sure their image meets the music they're pumping out, I'll let you decide.

I'll be back soon with Mojo, guilty pleasures, and KISS!!!

Reboot, AMG, and Enuff Z'nuff, part 2

I’ll start with a digression into heavy metal music.

When people of my generation (grew up in the 80’s) talk about “heavy metal” they are actually often talking about two different things. There’s “heavy metal” the musical form featuring bar chords, distorted guitars, unconventional vocals (yelling, growling, or screaming), and lyrics focusing on confrontational, controversial or taboo subject matters. Then there’s the “heavy metal” image, a mixture of the “leather man” from the Village People and a puffed-up, pink poodle wearing lipstick. Quite often bands which play the first definition of heavy metal did not conform to the image of the second definition of heavy metal, and vice versa.

People forget that one of the notable, “out there” and “cool” things about the thrash bands (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, etc.) of the mid- and late-eighties was that they dressed like “normal kids off the street.”

Back in the 80’s, after a couple heavy metal albums (Def Leppard’s “Pyromania,” Van Halen’s “1984,” and Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” in particular, all from 1983/84) rocketed up the charts, a number of bands incorporated the “look” of heavy metal, while playing a polished commercial pop/rock that had little to nothing to do with the music. Bon Jovi was the first and most successful of the “poseurs” as we called them back then. There soon developed a strange dichotomy within the “metal community”; or more properly, there soon developed two communities which deemed themselves “heavy metal.” The commercial, “mainstream” bands that throughout the decade into the 90’s would continue to exaggerate the look while polishing all the edge off of their sound. These bands had their big power ballad hits, and then faded from consciousness soon after. Then there was the thrash underground, that blossomed into all sorts of creative directions while taking a very “punk” attitude towards image, but was only ever able to make Metallica anything more than a cult phenomenon.

Older metal bands that pre-existed the split were forced to make a choice: go hair or go underground. Many chose to “go hair,” KISS, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, etc. They managed to stay popular or even regain popularity temporarily, but never put out any good music for the rest of their careers, and with the exception of Aerosmith were completely buried by the alt-rock explosion of the 90’s. Some tried to straddle the line and found their career heading off into oblivion until the alt-rock revolution allowed for a come back: Alice Cooper, Ozzy Ozbourne, Scorpions, Judas Priest. Then there were the few who stayed underground, while never losing their core fans, never really got all that popular: Motorhead, W.A.S.P. And one notable band tried going back and forth, managing to utterly destroy a promising career: Celtic Frost.

Only two bands seemed to be able to straddle the line while retaining credibility with the “thrashers” and popularity with the “glam crowd” – Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses. The first because of sheer talent, exuberance, and the fact that they were always somewhat outside the heavy metal crowd to begin with – the glam image wasn’t all that different from their original presentation. The second because they were a band, whether due to plan or accident, that seemed to be created for no other reason than to destroy the pre-conceived notions of genre that had so calcified the rock of the 80’s – they served their purpose like lighting and then just as quickly disappeared.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself…

Let’s time travel back in time to 1988. Turn on MTV eleven o’clock, Saturday night. Headbanger’s Ball, the purported late night “heavy metal” show. They’d show Poison’s “Nothing but a Good Time,” followed by Megadeth’s “In My Darkest Hour” (before the latter was banned due to supposedly pro-suicide lyrical content), and to our modern eyes and ears we’d have to wonder what in the heck these two songs were doing on the same specially targeted genre-specific show. You’d have to wonder why anyone would think that the fan of one would like the other. They didn’t even have the superficial image similarities that you would have seen five years earlier if you’d have compared, say, Mercyful Fate and Venom to Motley Crue and Ratt.

So what you ended up with is resentment. The “thrash” crowd didn’t like the “glam” crowd because, despite the great critical acclaim being heaped on the thrashers’ music of choice, the glammers appropriated the name of the thrashers’ music, claimed it as their own, saw it get tremendously popular, and then had the whole world think “that wimpy crap” was heavy metal while Slayer and Metallica didn’t even bother making videos because they knew MTV wouldn’t play them. The “glam” crowd didn’t like constantly being told how bad their music was by both the critics and the fans of “real” metal.

The rivalry extended to the bands, too. Sam Dunn’s “Heavy Metal – A Head Banger’s Journey” (2006) has a great interview with Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, talking about how much he resented Motley Crue and Ratt when they were still all playing the same clubs in Los Angeles, to the extent that Lars would hurl invectives to the guys in Motley Crue in the street and then run away. (Apparently, Nikki Sixx is a pretty big dude, and Lars isn’t.) The interview was spliced together with an interview with some of the guys from Ratt who were completely baffled by the sentiment… “We’re all metal, aren’t we?” Apparently not.

So what does all this have to do with Enuff Z'nuff and Looks like I’ll have to get back to that in part 3.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reboot, AMG, and Enuff Z'nuff, part 1

Well, let’s try that again.

After not updating for, what? two months, and sending out an email that failed to actually contain the link for the blog, I’m back on. This time I mean it. I’m going to be updating this regularly.

On to the topical…

If there is anything like a critical conventional wisdom in pop music, it’s to be found at Actually, it’s to be found all over the Internet, including in product blurbs at and in the itunes store, but it originates with allmusic.

Allmusic started by publishing hard copy Allmusic Guide books in the 90’s. You can still get these at most good bookstores. Their 3rd edition of the Allmusic Guide to Rock (2002) is getting to be a little out-dated, but is still probably the best single volume collection of music reviews on the market. (A nice resource for second opinions is Mojo Magazine’s “Mojo 1000” CD buying guide (2001), also starting to get a bit out of date. It offers a distinctly British point of view. More on Mojo, in a couple posts.) I also find the 2nd edition of the Allmusic Guide to Blues (2003) to be a vital reference, and one that won't go out of date as easily. There are also Guides to Country, Jazz, Classical music, etc., etc.

Since about the turn of the century, AMG seems to have devoted fewer resources to their publishing, and more to their web site development. is a web site with an encyclopedic database of artists and albums, with biographies, discographies, and reviews for an astounding array, covering rock, pop, blues, jazz, soundtracks, classical music, country, and pretty much everything else. If you want to know more about an artist, album, or song, this is the place to go. And as I mentioned before, many on-line music resources take their content directly from the content at allmusic. Heck, Cub Koda’s liner notes in the Link Wray album I recently got (Extra points for two Link Wray mentions in two blog entries? We’ll see how long I can continue the streak…) are simply an abridged version of his Link Wray biography on the website.

As such, the blogs, reviews, and ratings the contributors provide for the site are a pretty good indication of the critical zeitgeist with regard to an artist or album, and they have seldom steered me wrong. I have yet to pick up a 5-star album that wasn’t at the very least worth hearing, if not extraordinarily good. I tend to read Allmusic’s ratings as follows: 5 stars – Must buy regardless of genre – any music lover should have it in his/her collection; 4½ stars – If you like the genre, you’ll like the album; 4 stars – if you like the artist, you’ll like the album; 3 stars or less… there’s way too much better music in the world for you to bother with this one. But that’s just me.

One thing I’ll often do, when I’m bored and clicking around the ‘Net, is to start with an artist that I’m currently obsessing over, and start reviewing the “Similar Artists” links on I’ve come across a lot of great music that way that I may never have otherwise have picked up.

That’s what led me to Enuff Z’Nuff.

Next up: Part 2

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So, I started a blog...

I've always wanted to be a rock critic. Recently I was thinking about this and realized that you no longer need to be hired on at a magazine or newspaper to write about music. By virtue of this here Internet thing, you can get a blog and start typing.

So, anyway, I plan on trying to write some about rock and roll every day, and then give this site address out to a few friends. Hopefully, I'll be interesting enough for people to bother reading. Even if they aren't, I think I'll write anyway.

"Rock 'N Roll Astronaut? What's that about?" Well, I'm glad you asked. As many of you know, Bo Diddley recently passed away. In the (way too few) obituaries that came out shortly after his death, I saw him referred to as a "rock 'n roll pioneer." No way. Elvis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry were rock 'n roll pioneers. With coon skin caps and Bowie knives they forged their way, entirely Earthbound, through the 50's music landscape like Davey Crockett and Kit Carson.

Bo Diddley on the other hand wasn't even on the same planet as Elvis and the rest. He was so far out into outer space with what he was doing that calling him a pioneer just doesn't quite do it. He was a rock 'n roll astronaut and there were very few others like him. Johnny Burnette, Link Wray, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins are the only others that immediately come to mind as being so way out, so way ahead of their time that they simply didn't seem to inhabit the same planet as the rest of their contemporaries.

So, "Rock 'n Roll Astronaut," that's my tribute to Bo Diddley, a little tip of the hat to the man whose death was announced somewhere back on page 5 of the paper, when we should be going through a national week of mourning while his body lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda being visited by international (and interstellar) dignitaries. I'll write a more extensive entry on Bo some time in the near future.

Anyway, as a final introductory move, I'll put up the top 10 most played songs from the last time I updated by i-pod. I figure that'll be as good a heads up as any as to whether you want to keep reading RnR Astronaut in the future...

"Weakness" - Inspiral Carpets
"Tracy Hide" - Wondermints
"Help You Ann" - Lyres
"Sun Stoned" - Spirit Caravan
"I Only Want You" - Eagles of Death Metal
"Devil Nights" - Electric Six
"Pink Frost" - The Chills
"You're My Drug" - The Dukes of Stratosphere
"96 Tears" - ? and the Mysterians
"Final Solution" - Pere Ubu

Yeah, four of those ten are off the Children of Nuggets boxed set. I happened to get that (quite excellent) set within a couple months of getting my i-pod. So it was the first thing I put on there. Still, I think that list is a fairly representative indication of my listening tastes.

Next post: Enuff Z'Nuff, music reviews,, and power pop