Monthly Archives: August 2009

Death of the Rock Star

In Simon & Garfunkel’s classic song “Mrs. Robinson” the question was asked, “Where have you gone Joe Di Maggio? A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you.” This obviously, hearkens back to a bygone golden age of baseball where players stayed with one team & played the game the way it should be , in an unpretentious manner.

So in that same vein I ask where have all the rock stars gone? Oh sure Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen & Bono are still tripping the light fantastic, but who in this current crop of musicians would be considered rock stars? Jack White? Maybe but while a talented musician would you really consider him rock star material? Mick Jagger & David Bowie had stage presence. Gene Simmons spit blood with his ginormous tongue & Ozzy bit the head off a bat. Jack White plays the music & leaves the stage which, don’t get me wrong, is amazing. He let’s the music stand for itself, but it leads little to his rock God status. Gimmicks are usually to distract people from the quality of the music. When bands like Gwar, Aquabats or Slipknot dress up it’s to garner a little attention in something other than music.

We’ve already discussed Jack White’s candidacy so let’s go over some other candidates for Rock Star status:

  1. Dave Matthews – Shoot yourself in the face if you think this untalented hack is a rock star. There is no way any jam band with a God Damn fiddle player has any rock star’s in it.
  2. Billy Corgan – Maybe ten years ago. NEXT!
  3. Chris Martin – My mom suggested this one over the phone while talking about my article – ‘Nuff said.
  4. Dave Grohl – Maybe…coming from rock royalty like Nirvana does lend one certain status but at the same time have they really been a relevant band for the past 5 years? Not so much.
  5. Billie Joe – There it is. Quicker than figuring out how to get from Queen Latifah to Kevin Bacon we have the first legitimate rock star of the 00’s. He has the stage presence, the quality of music that is adored by many & the obligatory past drugs & alcohol abuses.

The fact remains, however, that this era of rock n’ roll is bereft of rock stars compared to the eras before. Kurt Cobain was a rock star in the highest sense before he proceeded to paint his walls with his brains. The splintering effect of rock has created a sense of anonymity when it comes to our musicians. Too many subgenres have diluted the pool, like too much ice in whiskey. Punk, Alternative, Brit Rock, Electronic, Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop, etc. It’s become the dark ages of the rock star, but there will be others that distinguish themselves as these subgenres fade into the obscurity from whence they came.

Vacation This Week

This week is so hectic with it being my birthday, court tomorrow & all day jobs on Thursday & Friday that I simply don’t have the time to be artistic or creative this week. Next week I’ll be back with a fresh new take on music.

Impromptu Interview with No Name From Live 105’s Morning Show

This was quite nearly an ambush interview on my part. I merely sent No Name a few questions through Facebook IM & he was kind enough to answer them. After that the interview took off. I appreciate his candor, patience & honesty. It’s rare that a morning show host takes the time to address people’s questions these days. In my haste to cast blame on people for Woody’s firing, though he probably deserved it as more evidence mounts, there may have been instances when new people were thrown under the bus. It was the mitigating circumstances that I focused on  (ie his wife’s pregnancy, a lagging economy, etc.), but lest I forget that radio is a business that demands results & perhaps his incessant trashing of management got to be too much. Here is the interview I did with NO Name in it’s entirety.

THE DE MELLO THEORY (TDMT)

How do you deal with all the negative side effects & misplaced aggression people gear towards you for being Woody’s replacement?

What restrictions have been placed on your show by Dave Numme since you took over?

Were you hired on a contingency basis, a trial if you will or is this a long term fixture on the morning airwaves in SF?

No Name

Huh? Is this 60 minutes? Jokin’…there aren’t really any neg. side effects or misplaced aggression…majority of people have been very positive… I’ve been doin’ radio in bay area since 93 – started at KSCU, to KOME, to Live 105, to KLLC (ALICE) and now back to Live 105..for me .its like coming home.couldn’t be happier – and havin’ fun every day!..this is a new show that is being built from ground up…

TDMT

What makes your show stand out compared to your former show at Alice or Woody’s Show?

Not 60 minutes but I am a blogger that routinely keeps up with the goings on in the SF radio world. I just find it ironic that after all the years of being maligned by Woody on the air that you take over for him. Kind of funny, but apropos.

No Name

Well then what are your thoughts? You’re the listener…I didn’t spend a lot of time listening to the old live 105 show – because i was doing the KLLC show. Well yeah shit is always funny in radio…I mean its like a no collar job…I know the old show bagged on me but thats what people do on radio/media.

TDMT

I was a writer for the woody show when they first started. I did a segment on music news before Ravey took it over. I like the new show, don’t love it, but I hated Woody’s show even when I worked there.

No Name

I don’t really think its a personal thing…yeah like i said didn’t spend a lot of time with the old show…this show is literally being built ground up.

TDMT

I beg to differ, though, as Woody routinely goes to his Twitter or did & tries to offer comparisons between his show & yours.

No Name

Not aware of that. I don’t really worry about comparisons, etc.

TDMT

It’s drastically different than the show before, which I suppose must be done as not to draw comparisons. I’m not trying to create some sort of new/old show host war, just wonder what led you back to 865 Battery? How did that meeting come about?

No Name

I think this is the most I’ve ever talked about this stuff to be honest. I’m a pretty forward thinker

TDMT

I’m glad you’re talking to me about it. I’m surprised no one has asked you these questions before.

No Name

Well like I said I’m not a big fan of talking about the past, cause well…it’s the past.

TDMT

I get it, but musn’t we at least speak of the past to learn from it?

No Name

I guess that’s true if you don’t have a present state that demands your attention…but we are gettin’ all hippie here – ha!  In a nut shell – they called me and said they wanted me to come back to Live 105 and i was like hell yeah – I love Live 105 – it’s always been my favorite station!

TDMT

There was a rumor circulating the internet that you were brought back as a cheap alternative being that you still had a contract w/ CBS, any truth to that rumor?

No Name

Well I guess paying one guy is cheaper than paying however many people were on his show! ha!

TDMT

True

No Name

My contract with KLLC and KITS (Live 105) were two separate deals…amazing that people are so into the details like that – interesting. What is your blog called?

TDMT

I noticed you were hosting a television show as well, a fright night, what’s that about?

THEDEMELLOTHEORY.WORDPRESS.COM

No Name

That’s a fucking party! You should come to a taping we just wrapped up season 2! Creepy KOFY movie time! It’s kind of like – Waynes World – meets Headbangers Ball – meets a drunk tank, with a B-movie thrown in.

TDMT

Sounds like a blast!

No Name

Yeah I’ll let u know when season 3 films – it’s good times!

TDMT

Would love to come see it…Last Questions: Were there internal conflicts that led to the termination of Greg Gory as far as you & he are concerned? You’ve said a couple times that the show is starting from the ground up…what direction do you see it going? Is there a sidekick in the future or is this strictly a one man show?

No Name

Yeah, no drama there – I’ve known Greg for like 15 years – when he first came up from 91x – DUDE! I wish I could give you some juicy drama for your blog – but as far as personal relationships…mine are all solid…I drank my own piss with Joe Rogan when he was on a few weeks ago – maybe you could rant on how I’m a piss drinker…ha!

TDMT

Drama isn’t anything I seek, my friend, just trying to tie up some loose ends that people inquire about.

I saw you drink piss on WWTDD.COM, classy

HA HA

No Name

Ha! Glad to help – as far as direction – I want to make this a very active show…we got a ton shit planned and I’m just fuckin excited to wake up in the middle of the night and go have some fun tomorrow am!

TDMT

Active as far as listener participation?

No Name

Street-Web-TV- dude if had a twelve pack I could go on about battle plans till my tongue fell off! Ha!

TDMT

Thanks again for the impromptu interview. Sorry to ambush you. I really appreciate your candor.

No Name

But all plans take time to execute so there ya go! a future to look fwd to!

TDMT

Awesome! I look forward to it

No Name

Hey thanks for your passion for radio! Have a good night

TDMT

You too man!

No Name

Will do!

Beach Boys – 1967 Pet Sound Demos

The Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds is one of the best albums ever recorded. It employs recording techniques that were experimental at the time. These demos are not in fact experimental at all, though. They are stripped down versions of Pet Sounds songs, a cover or two & “Surfer Girl” which reminds me of when I dated Megan Maffitt. I was 20 maybe 21, working at a lumber yard, she was a bleach blond little surfer girl.

We’d ride in my white van down to the beach, get stoned & watch the sunset over the horizon. She was constantly barefoot, tan & gorgeous. She was the quintessential “Surfer Girl” with a free love, hippie type outlook on life. Where as I had this rigid, what I thought of as realistic outlook. Trying to stay in control at all times instead of just trying to live life. Having fun, but on my terms. I was not the best boyfriend, I had yet to mature, yet to realize that things are give & take, instead of you give & I take.

We ended up breaking up after the summer & didn’t reconnect for another ten years or so. She married, had a kid & has responsibilities now, but somewhere in that motherly exterior, deep down that surfer girl from years ago still exists. Growing up comes with these responsibilities & in turn we lose a bit of that child that brought us such joy. Replaced by joys of a different kind as we live vicariously through the experiences our children, nieces or nephews experience on their quests through childhood.

We are not relegated to reliving memories of our youth as if time has passed us by, either though. Time is relative as we are only as old as we allow ourselves to feel. It is not beyond the realm of possibility to enjoy new challenges & more beautiful experiences as we grow into our so called twilight years. It took me forever to realize that that was possible.

It’s beautiful to walk through this city & see the dichotomous difference within a few miles. From Santa Monica to Venice the stereotypical “Surfer Girl” is all around, but venture a little farther towards Hollywood & Silverlake & that “Surfer Girl” is replaced by moronic wanna-be actresses with their heads in the clouds & backs on casting couches as they long to be on the next cover of US Weekly.

Do not ever consider the “Surfer Girl” an air-head. She is spiritually advanced & at once in touch with nature more so than most. She’ll shoot on-fire Tequila shots at the age of 12 in Mexico, but not let that deter her from her goals, whether those be Photography, Medicine or Motherhood. All extremely challenging occupations & worthy of admiration. For as the Beach Boys so succinctly put it:

Little surfer little one
Made my heart come all undone
Do you love me, do you surfer girl
Surfer girl my little surfer girl

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

California Girls – The Beach Boys

Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys

You’re So Good To Me – The Beach Boys

The Letter – The Beach Boys

Help Me Rhonda – The Beach Boys

Heroes & Villains – The Beach Boys

Their Hearts Were Full of Spring – The Beach Boys

Buy Me a Flute & a Gun That Shoots

Throughout these, my older years (I’ll be 33 on Monday), I have incurred a longing for the twang of country music. Let’s be realistic, though, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood & the like are far from the country music our fathers grew up with. No I’m talking Johnny Cash, Hank Williams & Willie Nelson style country. Something with a steel guitar & a little accent just get’s me going, love it. So how do I reconcile this with my love of rock music?

Should I have to? In a sense, I shouldn’t. They are not as diametrically different as one would think. It’s safe to say that the Alt-Country movement that is flourishing today is an offshoot of those country artists with an injection of Classic Rock infused into it.  The best is when an artist who isn’t typically country decides to “go country” for an album. Bob Dylan did it, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones & the Beatles even dabbled with a few songs.

That twang is the sound that many artists were raised on & for some reason country music has gotten away from it. It has developed a pop sound that has less to do with the quality of the music but more with the look of the artist as a fresh crop of blond hair/blue eyed young ingenues make their debut on the country circuit which no longer involves seedy dive bars with chicken wire. Here’s a few songs by artists that played the twang to devastatingly great effects.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere – The Byrds

Jackson – Johnny Cash & June Carter

Evangeline – The Band & Emmylou Harris

Act Naturally – The Beatles

Dead Flowers (Acoustic) – The Rolling Stones

Chin Up, Cheer Up – Ryan Adams

Grey While Gone – The Small Sounds

Roadworn & Weary – Supersuckers

Tennessee Stud – The Little Willies

One More Night – Bob Dylan

When I Dial My Baby’s Number I Get a Click Every Time

I started out today writing about Woodstock since it’s the 40th anniversary, but for some reason I kept getting distracted by 80’s/early 90’s Hip-Hop/R&B & I couldn’t focus on the post so I will do that one tomorrow. Also, if your curious about the top 250 albums of all-time & why I didn’t post it last week it’s because the math doesn’t work with ten albums a week for the rest of the year so I took a week off & they’ll be back up this week.

There’s something inherently beautiful about 80’s music. It isn’t especially profound or life altering, but it is insanely fun & catchy. 80’s R&B & Pop are some of my favorite kinds of music. Now, many of you who read this blog on a regular basis know I am raging a personal war against Pop music. Let me be clear about this, 80’s music is the one exception. It is the advent of today’s alternative. The Smith’s, New Order, even Cyndi Lauper all considered New Wave back then, Pop now.

However, 80’s/early 90’s  R&B/Hip-Hop is nothing like today’s, it has evolved or devolved so much that today it is in such a state of major disarray, minus a few artists ,that it has little intrinsic value whatsoever. I am no advocate of tampering one’s words down when there is the need for a four letter word, but there are other words in the lexicon that are equally suitable. If you listen to some of the 80’s songs there is the same message with a more intelligent spin.

Bell Biv Devoe with their poignant phrase,

“The low pro ho should be cut like an afro”

I know nothing of afro’s or anything close, but this is a brilliant phrase to advocate the subtle trimming of female areas. Hip Hop that makes you think. There are other artists who use their lyrics as a means of getting across the true meaning of their feelings. Take for instance the 1991 classic “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by The Geto Boys. Meant as a song to communicate the desolation of the urban Black Community which, in the 80’s, US officials failed to investigate or actually tolerated major cocaine trafficking in US cities by the Nicaraguan contra army.

He owns a black hat like I own
A black suit and a cane like my own
Some might say, “Take a chill, B”
But fuck that shit! There’s a nigga trying to kill me
I’m poppin’ in the clip when the wind blows
Every twenty seconds got me peepin out my window
Investigatin’ the joint for traps
Checkin’ my telephone for taps
I’m starin’ at the woman on the corner
It’s fucked up when your mind is playin’ tricks on ya

A stark contrast but also also two different worlds within the same community.

Mr. Telephone Man – New Edition

I’d Die Without You – P.M. Dawn

Poison – Bell Biv Devoe

Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me – Geto Boys

People Everyday – Arrested Development

The Humpty Dance – Digital Underground

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Hip-Hip Hooray – Naughty By Nature

Two Guns – Pick to Click

I haven’t done one of my picks to click in awhile. One of my former favorite Indie bands were Fielding, a Coldplayesque type band with more musical talent. They’ve since disbanded & the general malaise has been filled by old stand-bys with a few new bands rising above the fray to catch my attention.

Fret not, though, because Kevin, Aaron and Adam are former members of Fielding & Chris Fudurich was Fielding’s producer and is an accomplished Los Angeles based muliti-instrumentalist, producer and engineer. They are now members of Two Guns.

Unlike Fielding, there is no distinct comparison that comes to mind. They are their own entity. Which incredibly rare in this day & age when everyone sounds like everybody else. With shoegazing sounds that make you feel like your floating on a mushroom trip (definitely not speaking form experience) Two Guns go miles beyond where Fielding ever could. Kevin Poush is the lead singer now & makes the most of the opportunity with a voice suited for this style. The vocals are subdued, never overpowering, never trying to outdo the music & lyrics that are beautifully arranged to the melodies.

Two Guns are not merely a band that plays to make it. They play with the passion & love for the music that propels bands into that stratosphere. A lot of people could’ve packed in when the rising star that was Fielding was folded by songwriter Eric Balmer, but they didn’t nor did they rush into the next project & put out a sub par album. They took over a year to put out their next album as Two Guns & focused on making it the unsurpassable achievement that it is.Check out their Eponymous album on iTunes .

Kevin will be playing an acoustic thing at the Prospector on August 24 (My birthday).  Two Guns will be at Spaceland, October 18. There will be more between those two, possibly Aug 27 @ Silver Factory Studios in Downtown LA.

Cave In – Two Guns

Locomotives – Two Guns

Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar Join Forces For New Album

Just received this email so I’ll post it in it’s entirety to you my loyal reader.

JAY FARRAR AND BENJAMIN GIBBARD JOIN FORCES FOR NEW ALBUM INSPIRED BY JACK KEROUAC’S BIG SUR

ONE FAST MOVE OR I’M GONE: KEROUAC’S BIG SUR OUT OCT 20 ON F-STOP/ATLANTIC

One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, a new album featuring 12 original songs composed and performed by Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie–with lyrics based on the prose of Jack Kerouac’s landmark 1962 novel Big Sur–is set for an October 20 release on F-Stop/Atlantic Records along with a feature-length documentary of the same title in which both Gibbard and Farrar appear.

Gibbard and Farrar, having never previously met, discovered a mutual kinship in their passion for Kerouac’s work while recording several songs for the documentary, produced by Kerouac Films.

After the initial San Francisco recording session in July 2007, they decided to develop the project further to create an album using Kerouac’s own words from the book as the lyrics.

Big Sur, is an evocative account of a time in Jack’s life when he’d “come undone,” both emotionally and spiritually. He escapes to a cabin in Big Sur to confront his inner demons and find a modicum of peace by the sea.

Gibbard stayed in the original cabin Kerouac wrote about, to compose songs for his band’s 2008 Grammy-nominated album, Narrow Stairs. For many years, Jay Farrar’s songwriting has been inspired and influenced by Kerouac’s compositional style.

Jim Sampas, (Badlands, Kerouac–kicks joy darkness) is executive producer of the album. The documentary, One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, is directed by Curt Worden and produced by Gloria Bailen and Jim Sampas of Kerouac Films. The film features appearances by writers, poets, actors and musicians including, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Sam Shepard. The album and film will be released on October 20, the day before the 40th anniversary of Kerouac¹s death, as a stand alone CD, a CD/DVD package, a limited edition boxed set packaged with the novel, a 40-page book on the documentary and the CD/DVD. The album will additionally be released on vinyl.

Full track listing here:

1. California Zephyr
2. Low Life Kingdom
3. Willamine
4. All In One
5. Breathe Our Iodine
6. These Roads Don’t Move
7. Big Sur
8. One Fast Move Or I¹m Gone
9. Final Horrors
10. Sea Engines
11. The Void
12. San Francisco

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash Pt. 4

While Bob Dylan was recording his album, Nashville Skyline, country legend Johnny Cash stopped by to visit. A friend and label-mate of Dylan’s as well as an early supporter of his music, Cash had been recording next door with his own band. The two wound up recording a series of duets, covering Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” as well as Cash’s own “I Still Miss Someone.” None of these were deemed usable, but Cash returned the following day to record more duets.

The session on February 18 was devoted exclusively to duet covers with Cash. “One Too Many Mornings” and “I Still Miss Someone” were revisited, and rejected, yet again. “Matchbox”, “That’s All Right Mama”, “Mystery Train”, “Big River”, “I Walk the Line”, and “Guess Things Happen That Way”, all made famous by celebrated Sun recordings performed by Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Cash himself, were all attempted on February 18, but none of these were deemed usable. Covers of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #1″ and “#5″, Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (written by his wife, June Carter and Merle Kilgore), “You Are My Sunshine”, “Mountain Dew”, the traditional ballad “Careless Love”, the traditional hymn “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, “How High The Water”, and “Wanted Man” (a song written by Dylan specifically for Cash) were also attempted, and all were rejected. There was little enthusiasm for any of these tracks, but one duet of Dylan’s, “Girl From The North Country” (which originally appeared on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan), was ultimately sequenced as the album’s opener.

Here is the fourth &  final installment of the Dylan/Cash bootlegs. Next week we’ll start with a fresh set of boots. Let me know what you think in the comment section! of that collection. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here & part 3 is here.

Just a Closer Walk With Thee – Dylan/Cash

Living The Blues – Dylan/Cash

Country Pie – Dylan/Cash

I Walk The Line – Dylan/Cash

Girl From the North Country (Live) – Dylan/Cash

Sam Cooke is Yours He’ll Never Grow Old

So recently I received an email of the anonymous kind simply with Sam Cooke in the subject line. Already, I was intrigued. Sam Cooke is, in my opinion, the best singer of all time. Aretha Franklin can wail, don’t get me wrong, she’s amazing, but Sam Cooke is effortless in his eloquence. While Aretha was still running around, singing in her father’s church in Detroit, Sam Cooke was with the Soul Stirrers performing Gospel music at it’s finest. I digress, the email. So here’s what it said:

Enjoy your site immensely. No one in the world has these live recordings of Sam Cooke in Harlem late in his life, but me & now you. Do with it what you will.

Wow! I have these golden recordings now that are amazing, but how do I justify putting them up on the blog without some pomp & circumstance? I assure you at some point they will all be released, but there’s a good chance that many of you are wondering who Sam Cooke is…that’s understandable. While his music may be transcendent he has been dead for nearly 45 years now.

Sam Cooke was one of the first Gospel to R&B crossover singers, have his own label & be number 1 on the pop & R&B charts simultaneously. Not only that he was a student of music, there is an interview where 60’s DJ,  Magnificent Montague, asks Sam to hum 8 bars of what Soul represents & Sam hums the most beautiful melody that it nearly brings a man to tears knowing that this is the angelic voice of Soul music. When he wanted to, though, Sam could put some grit behind his voice. Often in his early Gospel days he would get into the song & in those moments you felt the passion he felt for the music.

His crowning achievement, as seems to happen to many artists, came posthumously. “A Change is Gonna Come” speaks of the struggle of African-Americans in the 60’s to actually be free. One of the most beautiful songs ever written, it has perfect orchestration. There is nothing overdone, but when the lyrics start to get heavier, it crescendos into this explosive climatic finish, much like Sam’s death itself. Sam Cooke represented everything that was good about music. His music can make you happy, sad, clap your hands, stomp your feet & if you listen long enough you’ll  realize that his is the voice that eclipses all others.

Soul music isn’t the same as it once was. There are no Sam Cooke’s on the horizons. Perhaps, there never will be. Maybe he’s one of those once in a lifetime artists that comes on bright like a shining star, flames out early & his everlasting legacy is one of true brilliance. There is no one around today that could even compare to Sam in any way. At least in the 60’s there was Otis Redding who was at least a contemporary without the smoothness of Sam. All one can do for comfort is refer back to the words of Magnificent Montague & remember , “Sam Cooke is yours. He’ll never grow old.”

UPDATE: So when the anonymous emailer said that no one in the world had these recordings what I think he meant was anyone who has purchased the 1985 album “Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963″. I should have done a little better research, but they are beautiful recordings nonetheless. My thanks to Sam Cooke’s great nephew Erik Greene for bringing this to my attention. Erik is author of, “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family’s Perspective”. Which I actually just got from the library yesterday, right after I wrote this post.

Chain Gang (Live) – Sam Cooke – From Anonymous Email

Having a Party (Live) – Sam Cooke – From Anonymous Email

Bring It On Home To Me (Live) – Sam Cooke – From Anonymous Email

It Won’t Be Very Long – Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers

Mean Old World – Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers

Blue Moon – Sam Cooke

If I Had a Hammer (Live) – Sam Cooke

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – Sam Cooke

Smoke Rings – Sam Cooke

Fool’s Paradise – Sam Cooke

Cupid – Sam Cooke

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

The Meaning of Soul – Sam Cooke w/ The Magnificent Montague