29 April, 2006

(Fiction pt 5) Taking Issue with Reissue part deux (finally)

(Note from Brooks - this was originally begun on 29APR2005. Man, a lot has changed since then... back to the story... for those visiting for the first time, older writing is at the bottom, I have edited the titles of the fiction pieces, so you can quickly see which go together. There are some lists here, some music writing, and some emo-bullshit personal stuff... no sense in deleting it now... enjoy)

"Ry, chill out, pal, it's just a record, right?"

"See, you can't even be my friend spouting shit like that. 'Just a record'. Man, you know that isn't how I view things."

"Right, I do know, but compared to world hunger, global warming, international terrorism, and the proliferation of reality television, your musical proclivities don't really stack up."

"God you're ignorant. OF COURSE my obsessive behavior doesn't 'stack up' to real political issues, but I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THEM. I'm no politician, I don't know DICK about the environment, but what I DO know is that I already own "The Hanging Garden" in four seperate forms NOT including singles, and that I am going to be forced to REPURCHASE the damn Pornography album again because of ONE goddamn track that I don't already own."

"Um. Wouldn't the term 'album' be inappropriate, considering that we are discussing compact discs?"


"Look, Ry, I'm nearly as bad as you are about this stuff, but I don't get VIOLENT about it. Take a breath, man, get a beer, this'll keep. Hell, I'll tell you what, I'll buy the damn things and burn 'em for you, so that you can have the tracks you want without having to lay out the cash."

"Oh, so YOU can own 'em and LORD it over me for the rest of my life? I don't THINK so, bro. Nice try."

Sometimes, as alike as we are, I question our bloodline. Ryan is the single most obsessive and paranoid person that I have ever known. You should have seen him when he did drugs. Stunning.

"Whatever, Ry, just trying to alleviate the mood, here."

Ryan's rant went on for what seemed like hours. He mentioned every single band that had released a reissue in the last two years, and that is no small list. There seemed to be one band, however, that really stuck in his craw.

"... and FUCKING Camper Van Beethoven, WHAT THE FUCK!"

"They are a good band, man... I bought those."

"Right,Bender, you bought them because all you had were the mixes I gave you because you never shop anywhere but Best Buy. I, on the other hand own these records in three different formats."

"But Ryan, who made you go out and buy the CVB boxed set? I mean, you are such a completist."

"Right, I am, but that set contained an otherwise unFUCKINGavailable GODDAMN live record in it."

"Okay, so you suck it up and buy the set Ry... it isn't somehow Dave Lowery's fault that you have this completism sickness."

"no, no it isn't, but let me tell you what IS Lowery's fault..."

I interrupt this tale of rabid anger complete with flecks of foam on Ryan's Jager burnt lips to interject that David Lowery is the frontman for both CVB and Cracker. Furthermore, he is a resident of this lovely southern town that we live in, Richmond, VA. While this isn't necessary knowledge, it is key given the events of the next ten minutes. Foreshadowing, a literary device... we now return you to our regularly scheduled rant.

"... what IS Lowery's fault is that as his most recent project Cracker fades into relative obscurity, he has reconvened his superior earlier band CVB."

"Dude, I love that last CVB record, and I quite like Johnny Hickman, too."

"Right... let me finish, willya B?"

"Carry on, Ranty."

"Okay... so Lowery reconvenes CVB because Hickman is SO clearly the talent in Cracker, that he needs to relive the glory years."


"But true... so he puts the old gang together for a series of shows..."

"Which we ALL attended, incidentally..."

"OF COURSE we did. We are freaks of nature. You, yourself hadn't been out of the house away from your DVR for 8 months, but I got you to come out for that show, though I am fairly certain that it never would have happened if you couldn't have WALKED there from your apartment. Joe is even more scarce, but was so befuddled by your once-a-year emergence that he felt compelled to come along. These other two share one brain which is inexplicably controlled by you, so they do whatever you do. Christine comes along to laugh at us."

"True, carry on..."

"Anyway, the relative success of these shows gives Lowery the notion that recording would be good... and, agreed, the result was worthwhile. That is not the point though. I have no problem with the reunion. Reunion albums are usually horrible, for example that awful Temptations reunion record. Other times, it works like the Television reunion in the 90's. Nonetheless, getting the band back together is an understandable notion"

"Your problem is with the reissues."

"Exactly, Slo. In order to skim a little more cash out of the diehard fan, Lowery and his cronies re release all of the albums in the Cigarettes and Carrot Juice collection, and they add a live album which is not available separately."

"Again, Ry... you can't fault the guy for trying to make some cash off of obsessive compulsive collectors like you."

"AND I DON'T! How many of things have I gone and bought without bitching?"

"Not a single one."

"Fuck you, Jay... this is different."

"Different how?"

"Well, Mikey... different because as he was dangling the 'Carrot Juice' on the line in front of my nose he was witholding one vital piece of information."

"What's that, Ry?"

"Here we go..."

"He neglected to let anyone know that withing SIX fucking MONTHS that he would be re-releasing EVERY SINGLE RECORD with remastered sound AND FUCKING BONUS TRACKS"

Ryan was now screaming to the point that our waitress was afraid to attend to our drinking needs.

"He neglected to KISS me before he FUCKED me in the ASS! Fucking Lowery, man... never in history has mediocrity demanded such a HIGH PRICE. And it PISSES me OFF"

"Why don't you tell him?"


"No, I mean he just walked in, why don't you tell him?"

I should mention that the next 3 minutes moved in John Woo-like slow motion. A bad moon was on the rise...


"Ryan sit down."


Ryan got up and carried his 6'2" 270 pound frame over to a table where Dave was sitting with another guy. Dave looked somewhat concerned. We were too, I've never witnessed an actual assassination.

"Hey. You Dave Lowery?"

"Um, yeah, man... you a fan?"

"Oh I'm a fan all right... could you sign something for me?"

"Sure buddy, what do you have?"


Ryan sent a left cross directly to Lowery's left eye dropping him like a sack of potatoes. He continued beating him naming Lowery's transgressions as he punched.

"... that's for that STUPID fucking Status Quo song... " POW "... that's for not putting Vampire Can Mating Oven in sequential order on the rarities disc... " THWACK.

We finally pulled him off but before we got him away, Ryan got off one last blow. As he kicked Lowery in the side Ryan said...

"... and THAT... THAT is for the SHITTY cover of a GREAT Flamin' Groovies song on the FUCKING Clueless soundtrack."

14 March, 2006

The Ridiculousness of Rock and Roll Recognition

Fucking Christ.

Can the music industry please stop with the inane nonsense that it puts itself and us through every year as it trots out a line of has beens to induct them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. At the beginning, in the idea stages, the idealists thought, "Think of it: The Rolling Stones, Beatles, and Herman's Hermits all in one place so that generations can appreciate where the music they listen to came from!" I'm fairly certain they weren't banking on the kids listening to Marilyn Manson and 50 Cent back then.

The first clue that things had gone awry showed itself in the location picked for this venerable institution. Cleveland. As in, "HELLO CLEVELAND", the mistake by the lake. It is humorous to see these music people decend upon Cleveland every year. They wouldn't dream of being there otherwise. The problem came when all of the initial nominees were inducted. The Stones, Beatles, Prince, and even the Clash are gone so now they actually have to think about it.

This years inductees included Blondie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols, Miles Davis(!), Black Sabbath, and the A and M of A&M Records, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss.

First, let me address Miles. I love Miles Davis, anyone who knows me knows this. It is clear that the RARHOF is stymied, though. They have no direction. When was Miles on the Billboard Rock and Roll charts? Sure he did a record with Prince, but it was never released. Is he getting the award for his fusion records? Outside of Bitches Brew they weren't all that great. Is he getting inducted as an influence? Then let someone like Prince induct him. As it was, he was inducted by Herbie Hancock, best known for "Rockit" which every 1984-85 High School dance team used for its routine. Understand, this is the least of my quibbles. A case can be made for Miles, but if he was to be inducted as a rock influence, it should have been years ago.

Ah, Blondie. I love Blondie. Who doesn't, right? Half of the original band, that's who. An onstage fight ensued when Debbie Harry, bloated cow that she is, refused to let Nigel Harrison, Frank Infante, and Gary Valentine (who wrote "X-Offender", and "I'm Always Touched By Your Presence, Dear" by the way) play with the Blondie cover band that backs up her, Jimmy Destry and Chris Stein these days. I mean, come on, Debbie... who the fuck cares? You're just gonna warble your way through "Heart of Glass", "Rapture", and "Call Me" anyway... why not throw the guys a bone? Nah... more important to stand by your principles... like not putting out shit product 20 years after you mattered, right?

Skynyrd belongs here, and if you don't agree, YOU'RE the racist. That said, the band should never be allowed to play again particularly if Kid Rock is involved. I have written volumes on the fairground band circuit elsewhere, so I'll leave it at that.

Sabbath also belongs here, but thanks for letting Lars Ulrich induct them. First off, the guy said "fuck" approximately seven thousand times in his speech. We know you're hardcore, Lars, money hasn't changed you... ask Napster. Now get some Kleenex and cry for me some more. Fuck Lars Ulrich. And fuck the Hall for making me look at him again. Ozzy came out and said some unintelligible stuff and Bill Ward (the DRUMMER, who lets the DRUMMER talk?) made a precient comment about metal being guaranteed a place in history. Uh huh, Bill... if Ozzfest doesn't kill it.

Sting inducted Alpert and Moss, which is pertinent because both Sting and Alpert made lots of records I never listen to.

Finally the Sex Pistols. Their grand statement, if you haven't heard, was to not appear and send a statement comparing the Hall to "urine in wine". Look, fellas, if rock is wine, it is largely Cisco, or Mad Dog, and cheap convenience store wine goes with urine like peanut butter goes with jelly. I guess the Pistols, too, have principles, but not principles so great that they won't reunite to play shows for cash every ten years or so. The best part is that the statement was read by Jann Wenner, who, I guess, had to find a way to get his ass up on stage somehow. Remember Jann, "Three stars means never having to say you're sorry."

Apparently the Stone no longer rolls, nor does it rock.

16 February, 2006

On the ending of an era in Salem, VA.

The Record Exchange in Salem closed its doors forever this week.

First, let's toss out the empirical facts and disclaimers. A number of people lost their jobs due to the consolidation of staffs. I was one of them. Frankly, I barely worked there, so it is no real loss to me... I can get my discount, and my friendships are intact. However, some people who depended upon the ludicrous pittance that Don Rosenberg pays them in order to eat also lost their jobs. That is a bad hit. So yes, there is some bitterness involved, and some of the tone of this blog will extend from that, but let us not pretend for one minute that I am totally biased. I know what happened and soon... so will you.

This is no vast conspiracy to rob the Roanoke area of independent music outlets. YOU are the reason for the failure of the Record Exchange. If YOU would pay two bucks more for your Nickelback CD instead of shopping at Best Buy and WalMart, this place and others like it would thrive. Everyone runs around throwing their hands up... WHAT WILL WE DO? IT IS JUST LIKE SAFE AS MILK. Yes. It is. You didn't shop there either. If you had, it would still be there. There has been a lot written, some by me, about bad business models and poor decision making. This is all true. More will be written about internet downloading and major label CD pricing. Also true. Nonetheless... at the end of the day, the Salem Record Exchange failed because it didn't have the numbers.

Now, a person with no real knowledge of business will say... "the prices were too high, and if they were lower, we'd shop there." Ever buy anything at FYE? EVER? Then shut the fuck up. Record Exchange's prices remain between mall prices and big box prices. New releases are priced significantly lower the first week of release. "But they never have what I want." Neither does Best Buy, unless you listen to the radio incessantly. You just meander around the stacks until you find SOMETHING to buy... of course they have more in store stock... LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE PLACE. Barring exclusives... there is nothing that Best Buy can get that Record Exchange can't get. If you are into more esoteric music, Record Exchange can get it faster and cheaper than Best Buy. Now, there are things Record Ex CAN'T get... this is what the internet and mail order is for.

Bottom line is this folks... if you don't shop, don't bitch when your only option becomes the mall or Best Buy. That day is coming soon. Very soon.

13 February, 2006

Sad Cobras, Secret Squirrel, and Sean Poff - Mojo Cafe 12Feb2006

First off, the Mojo Cafe is small. Really small. Entranceway to Willy Wonka's factory small. This is probably optimum for intimate coffee talk and quiet reflective time, but for a show featuring a local band that has become quite popular, it is simply claustrophobic. Still, the same could be said of the Green Dolphin at times, and here at the Mojo Cafe, there was no smoke or drunken patrons tripping over my feet. So space is what you make of it, I suppose. That said, this was one of the finest musical events that I have had the pleasure of seeing in recent memory.

As a review, this is going to be a bit of a trial. I am unfamiliar with most song titles, and so if you are looking for completism, I am afraid that I may come up short. First up was Sean Poff abetted by a young cellist, which augmented his acoustic story singing nicely. Poff plays a Will Oldhamesque brand of music which while well written and played sounds a bit too samey for me; and as I am sure that I would be told that I just don't understand, I will just state that it was pleasant, but for myself, unhummable and therefore unmemorable.

Next up was Secret Squirrel which is a band made up of Jaime Booker, and for this evening my pal Jay Wilson, who I believe currently plays in every band in Roanoke excepting maybe the Pop Rivets. I have been listening to Jamie's record incessantly lately, and her voice is not really something that is easily compared. I suppose it is informed, to my old ears, by equal parts Joni Mitchell and Polly Harvey. On one song she sounded a lot like Mary Margaret O'Hara, and this ia a good thing. Jay, is, well, Jay and sounds a lot like Jay. Sometimes he does Jay with a accent. We were treated to covers of Billy Bragg and Spiritualized and nicely appointed versions of Jay and Jamie's greatest hits. While the songs didn't go off without a hitch, due to lack of rehearsal time, the glitches actually added to the show as opposed to being distracting. Honestly, Jay and Jamie seemed to be having a great time, which is what it is all about, this rock and roll.

After the Secret Squirrel set screeched to a halt after giving us a scare, but not quite careening off the tracks, the Sad Cobras took the stage aiding in the final Secret Squirrel song before starting their own set. I adore these kids, I really do. The Cobras (along with Poff's Young Sinclairs, Wilson's Violent Spectator, and others) are part of a burgeoning Roanoke scene that is playing truly original music again, and it is a pleasure to watch. Daniel, Jonathan, and Paige control the Sad Cobra's set with mad scientist like precision, and their unstereotypable dance rock is mesmerizing. Some dope somewhere is going to make a B-52's comparison someday and he should be killed in the street for it. Wait... does that make me that guy? Let me redeem myself... when I say dance rock, I don't mean pop. I mean FUCKING Dance Rock. Think Pylon. Right. It is impossible to take your eyes off of the dancing Paige as she shivers and shakes her way through her vocals. The crowd is whipped into a frenzy as they are ordered as vertebrates to "shake their vertebrae". The Cobras then give the kids what they want with a stunning version of "1, 2, 3, heart, 4" which is clearly as big a hit as they intend it to be.

This is rock and roll too big for a Sunday night.

Way too big.