Archive for September, 2008

The Freedom of Music: Clapton’s God Period

September 28th, 2008
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.

Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Now that it’s available at a more reasonable paperback price, I picked up the Eric Clapton autobiography Clapton. I have never not liked Clapton, but I have never loved him either. I have a friend who thinks he’s the greatest guitar player ever, a position I think is absurd. However, he’s done some good things through the years.

Interesting reading is his early career, back in the Clapton is God days. The Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes. All bands that have good reputations, all bands that I am less familiar with than I should. Thing is, I own a number of the records: Cream Disraeli Gears, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes Layla and Other Love Songs. Seems like a good excuse to spend a few hours with some Clapton records.

The problem is none of this is all that good. Well, that’s not right, Derek and the Dominoes Layla and other Assorted Love Songs is strong. But even then, it’s not double album strong. Put side one on (I looked Away; Bell Bottom Blues; Keep On Growing; Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out) and your doing OK. Or even side four, with Hendrix’s Little Wing and Layla isn’t bad. So that’s OK. As for the rest…

Frankly everything else here sounds like what it really is, the out of tune musical meanderings of a perpetually stoned guy, and his buddies. In modern day term, these albums are jam sessions at the crack house. Long, meandering songs with no real direction, no real tuning. But perhaps I’m being unfair. Cream is an alright band and Disraeli Gears is a well reputed album. Granted Disraeli Gears has Strange Brew, Sunshine of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses on it, good songs all. The problem is the rest of the album, it’s just weak.

Then there’s the Blind Faith album. It’s virtually unlistenable outside of Can’t Find My Way Home. Long, poorly tuned, clearly drug infused jam ups with no coherent structure. If Clapton is God then frankly after listening to Blind Faith, intelligent design makes less and less sense. There’s simply no room for design in something this chaotic. And that’s the Clapton experience as I’ve always found it, either it’s really not very good and makes little sense, or it makes sense, is musically sound, and is really quite boring. Either way, I didn’t buy into the Clapton mystique before this little exercise, and I don’t buy into it now.

The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

Saturday Fluffernutter: George Goes to the Loo; Bond, James.. Oh Wait That’s Not in the Script; Never Mind Hamas, it Takes a Nuge to Do a Man’s Job.

September 27th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

Wham! Singer George Michael was arrested last weekend for – ahem – loitering around a mens washroom.

“I want to apologize to my fans for screwing up again…” he said in a statement that simply doesn’t apply to me.

“And to say sorry to everybody else, just for boring them.”

Oh, OK then.

Singer Clay Aikens announced this week, during his baby’s first photo shoot, that he is gay. This leads to a natural question: who?

Last time I reported that James Bond will not drink his classic Vodka Martini in the next Bond movie: Quantum of Solace. Now it is reported that Bond will not use his famous introductory line: Bond, James Bond.

I spend too much time wondering why the current owners of the Bond franchise bother making the movies at all seeing as they seem to like so little about them.

Review in Brief: Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (CD):


Led Zeppelin rumour of the week, courtesy of Ramble On: Last weekend it was reported that Led Zeppelin would issue an ultimatum to Robert Plant: We have a guy, and he can do your job, we are going on tour with or without you. Plant has apparently responded with the word Zeppelin fans have been waiting to hear: hey guys, where you goin? Wait for me…

Paul McCartney played in Israel this week amongst threats from the jihadi set that he would be given the Anne Boleyn treatment. Fortunately for the “cute” Beatle, he had the offer of bodyguard services from Ted Nugent. The Wand Dang Sweet Poontanger offered to guard McCartney with what may wel be the quote of the year:

Regardless that Paul and I have our obvious social, cultural, and culinary differences outside of music, I will not bend or waiver to voodoo religious whackjobs and neither should Paul.

And if guarding Paul didn’t work, he could start singing Wango-Tango and confuse the hell out of them.


Elizabeth May and the Auto Industry: I Can’t Even Get Elected to Parliament, but I Know How You Could Do Your Job Better.

September 26th, 2008

I’ve noted before that bad management is the auto industry is real. My out of the house life, like most people, is run by idiots: supreme, extreme idiots. I build cars for a living and yes, that does have a hemi in it.

That said, at least the people who run Chrysler have 1) experience in the industry & 2) a personal stake in the companies success. Unlike, say, Elizabeth May who if given the choice would tell Chrysler from Ottawa what cars they will build:

“Building things is not something Greens are against, it’s just a question of building the right things,” said the 54-year-old American-born May, who noted her party’s policy ideas are often overlooked. “The plants that are building the muscle cars and the trucks should be building small, energy efficient vehicles.”

Yea, yea, yea… and politicians who can’t even get a seat in Parliament should concentrate on getting a seat instead of touring the country FDR style and promoting a competing party. But politics is not my business and while I might offer suggestions to Elizabeth May, et al. I wouldn’t dare tell her how to do her job.

I’ll know it’s time to jump all over those buy-outs when activists/politicians are deciding what cars we should build.

Auto Industry, Elizabeth May

I am Your Father Ben

September 25th, 2008
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During our evening perambulation, Lady Hespeler last night suggested this election has been particularly negative. Although she tends towards the “if you can’t say anything nice,” school of politics, it is this time a sentiment with which I tend to agree. Not just negative, but completely lacking in humour, which is to me the greater sin. Finally, however, somebody has gone and done something funny: Darth Harper

h/t Gerry Nicholls

Election 2008, Funny.

Dear Uncle Fidel…

September 24th, 2008
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You wouldn’t believe the people we have running this country: nitwits all. We knew Pierre Trudeau and I can tell you, the current Prime Minister is no Pierre Trudeau. He is a big mean scary bully, and I think he has some sort of hidden agenda.

This guy “simply does not understand Canadians,” like you or I do. He has lived such a sheltered privileged life, well away from the unwashed masses: such an elitist snob. He clearly “does not trust Canadians in the choices they make” Whereas you and I, Fidel, both know what’s best for the average person.

Best to Raul, and Sacha if you see him.
Yours in solidarity, and etc.

Justin Trudeau

Godless Communists

The Freedom of Music: The Springsteen Time Machine

September 21st, 2008
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

If you gave a group of Bruce Springsteen fans a time machine and said, you have one use, and return it in six hours, that machine would undoubtedly be making a bee-line for 1978: the golden age of Bruce. 1978: The Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. 1978: The legendary period of Bruce Springsteen concerts that bootleg recording today confirm Springsteen’s band was as tight as any band in the business, and video shows the Springsteen showmanship at it’s absolute peak.
Whenever I hit the gym in the corner of our basement for a run on the treadmill, I throw a video in the DVD player that the treadmill faces. I often chose music videos for a couple of reasons: 1) if I only watch 40 minutes of the video I’m not walking away feeling like I missed something; 2) I can keep the video on through the whole work out – stretching & weights on top of running – as back ground music. This week, it’s been Springsteen circa 1978.

A couple of years ago I downloaded a video called “Pièce De Résistance: Capital Theater, 19th September 1978.” Here’s part of the blurb:

This release features what many consider a peak of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band [sic] incredible 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town tour; a three show stand in an intimate theater on home ground in New Jersey. This was the first of those shows and was broadcast live on the New York station W??W (it’s indecipherable), which is the excellent source recording for the main body of this release…

An amazing document of one of the highest moments on Springsteen career[sic], black and white professional multicamera footage…

Who “professional, multicamera black and white” films in 1978, I don’t know, but it’s a stunning watch. Springsteen is that good here, a 24 song set list with no weakness, an almost three hour show of raw emotional musical energy. That, however, is not enough. To have kind of show is one thing, to capture it is another trick altogether. This DVD manages to capture it, and it is spine tingling good.

Moment in history captures are often disappointing, making the watcher yawn with unfulfilled expectation. The great thing about this DVD is not just the sense of history, but the fulfilment of expectation. You watch it and think, oh man, if only I didn’t go to see Nirvana in 1991 when I had that time machine. But Nirvana it sadly was and I’m left with a black and white DVD, which thankfully is an entirely satisfactory replacement.

Springsteen is still Boss, The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

If You Can Grow it in Your Backyard, Why Would You Pay Tax on it?

September 17th, 2008
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Elizabeth May claims to have never smoked pot. Don’t know, don’t care, what’s obvious is she has never tried to grow it

Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May apologized on Wednesday for never having smoked marijuana, as she unveiled her election plank, which touts legalizing and taxing pot…

May told reporters at a campaign stop in Halifax, televised nationally. “I’ve never used marijuana. I apologize.”…

As well, the party would like to see “small, independent growers” thrive, and the government taxing the weed at the same rate as tobacco, generating an estimated one billion dollars Canadian (931 million US) annually.

I always laugh at this argument. George Carlin called it Toledo window box, implying that you can grow it on a window ledge. I have never grown the stuff myself, but I know of people who have grown it in a planter.

Personally, I grow herbs all summer, and do a few indoor winter herbs. If I was inclined to smoke pot, and it was legal, I would plant it. It’s effortless, and you won’t be paying government rates for it. And if you don’t want to grow it, why wouldn’t someone else grow it in their back yard and sell it to people tax-free?

There are some interesting and compelling arguments for legalizing pot, and the war on drugs has certainly been a massive failure. I’m all for re-thinking it, but the argument that it will be profitable for the government to legalize it just doesn’t wash, and anyone budgeting $1B on a marijuana tax better have a plan B.

Elizabeth May, Silly Politicians

Tories Crack Down on Tobacco Marketed to Kids

September 17th, 2008
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I saw this for the first time the other day, some teenage girl near the local high school smoking a small cigar, or cigarillo (oh, and spitting). Used to be us dads had to worry our daughters would bring home some tattooed, stogy chomping sailor, now we have to worry they’ll become one.

Anyway, I confess I think I agree with Kinsella on this one

Harper says Conservatives will ban “kiddy packs” of cigarillos and other tobacco products

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will take further action against tobacco products being marketed to children …

“As a parent, I was appalled to see tobacco being marketed in a way that is so enticing to children. Flavouring and packaging them like candy, gum or a fruit roll up,” said Prime Minister Harper. “This just isn’t right. This practice can’t continue. We will not tolerate it.”

“Kiddy packs” of cigarettes are already banned. Cigarillos are not subject to the existing rules because they are constructed differently than cigarettes.

No real complaints, but a caveat. Prime Minister Harper has been campaigning, and run his government, on the idea of the Federal government staying out of the Provinces jurisdiction. Does not regulating tobacco products more normally fall under the heading of Provincial responsibility?  
This is a motherhood policy, and gets no complaints from this libertarian, but it seems to run counter to the overall message of the campaign.

Election 2008, pimply minions of bureaucracy

Anybody from the Liberal campaign looking for help…

September 16th, 2008

… please don’t call.

While I fundamentally agree with Kinsella that if the Liberals want to start doing better then they need to stop talking about the green shift. But if you are campaigning on a fundamental change to tax policy, literally a completely new way to do business, how can you decide not to talk about that policy? The green shift is a huge change in Canadian governance, with massive implications to the everyday life of Canadians, and Kinsella wants to hush it up?

Who has the scary hidden agenda now?

Silly Liberals

Happy 60th Birthday…

September 16th, 2008
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Some times these are more obvious than others. The Roberts, Plant and De Niro; The Bonds, Daniel Craig, and Roger Moore: these are easy, and everybody knows who they are. But what about the guy who drummed in Rod Stewart’s old band? The guy who replaced Kieth Moon in the Who? What about when he has a birthday?

Kenny Jones did indeed drum alongside Rod Stewart and Rolling Stone Ron Wood in the Faces, where they performed some true rock and roll magic. When it came time for the Who to try it out without Kieth Moon, Kenny Jones stepped in. Some of the Kenny Jones era Who is among my favourites, You Better You Bet (below) among them. I believe the Who may not have survived the 80’s without a disciplined drummer who could keep the band tight at a time when bands were expected to produce a song, not a sound.

But who’s kidding who? At Home in Hespeler celebrates Kenny Jones 60th birthday because of Stay With Me (also below), everything else he accomplished in his career being icing on the birthday cake.

Birthday Wishes

The Freedom of Music

September 14th, 2008

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio

I changed the name of this feature for a reason. It has always been my little celebration of music, but with a title like This Week in My i-pod I always felt constrained by what I heard through ear buds. Ear buds, however, are not the only way to listen to music. There’s always, for example, the car. It has always been a great place for listening and many an artist has road tested a new album pre-release by going for a drive. How does it work in the car? It can be a defining test for a good rock and roll album.

There’s also concerts, and I attend a few – although at today’s prices not nearly as many as I would like. But concerts are valid area of listening and not unworthy of mention. It should be added that a lot of music gets heard while out in public or on TV, possibly even something worthy of mention.

Then there’s the record player. I’m one of those guys who believe a record on a turntable is the best way to listen to, and absorb music. But there are caveats: a good turntable, a large space and decent speakers are required. I have a lot of records and have always had a working turntable. But it’s always been in a small space. For a while my turntable was in the closet where I keep my records. My son and I used to sit on the floor, close the door and listen for ages. But I’m 45, sitting on the floot of a closet isn’t as easy as it used to be. Then I put it in my office, but it to is a small skinny space, completely devoid of any real comfort. Last winter I put a projector in the basement, painted a screen on the wall and hooked up a 5.1 surround sound system. This summer it occurred to me I had a free input, so a couple of clicks to, and I have proper turntable sound with couch seating. Perfect.

Once the turntable is hooked up, then what? I have a few thousand LPs, now I’m supposed to pick one over all others? It turns out I had one in mind. In July they re-released a couple of early Elton John albums: his first, Elton John and a later release, Tumbleweed Connection . They reminded me how good some of Elton John’s very early material is, why he stood out above the crowd from early on. And it put me to mind of an all time favourite album, John’s fourth studio album, Madman Across the Water.

One of the great things about LPs is sides. A side of a record was 17 – 25 minutes long, usually coming in around 20. Both sides combined rarely exceeded 45 minutes. If an artist could piece together 4 – 5 good songs, they had a good side, consequently a good record. By this standard, Madman Across the Water is an excellent album. Here’s side one:

Tiny Dance
Razor Face
Madman Across he Water

We can ignore Razor face, because it’s the unknown, average not bad not great song that almost every album has. But look at those other three.

Remember when I said turntable is the best way to listen to music? Tiny Dancer is an excellent example. All that orchestration on CD, or MP3, or FM Stereo (I have listened to all three many times) give a nice song. On LP, the song is so warm. The orchestration wraps around you like a blanket, it has depth and, here’s the real key, dynamics. Dynamics in music are the basic: louder softer. But they are so much more, and any good musician gets this. It’s a change in the energy. And Tiny Dancer, LP version, has that: energy that comes in, and goes out, that charges the song with motion, and feeling and warmth. It’s not just a pretty song, it’s a moving song.

The same can be said for the rest of the album, Levon being another good example. Madman Across the Water deserves mention as one of Elton John’s less known underrated songs. What a marvellous piece of music and writing, yet its an unknown in the Elton John canon simply because it gets overwhelmed by the music he was writing at the time.

It’s hard to discuss Elton John and album sides, without discussing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, side one. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was John’s double album, with three big hits, Bennie and the Jets, the title track, and Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting, as well as a later hit, Candle in the Wind. Here’s side one:

Funeral For a Friend
Love Lies Bleeding
Candle in the Wind
Bennie and the Jets

Top it off with side two sing one: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and you may have one the best starting five in any album. An amazing listen, and one of the few times it’s worth turning the album over for just one song. It’s hard to imagine that Elton John was ever a serious musical artist, but he truly was. Sides one of Madman Across the Water and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road prove it, and prove he’s worthy of fame, even if we he seems to be famous for much of the wrong reasons.

The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

He’s Not the Messiah…

September 13th, 2008
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…he’s a very naughty boy:

Jesus Christ was a community organizer,
Pontius Pilot a Governor.

The next time one of Senator Obama’s mouthpieces want to show how clever they are by spouting this purely inane piece of drivel, they should remember another lesson from the Roman Empire: Brutus and Mark Antony were Senators.

Or as Rev. Jeremiah Wright might say:

Et tu Barackus?

he's not the messiah...

Saturday Fluffernutter: Solace Music; Oasis Incident, Madonn…[yawn] a …zzzzzzzz.

September 13th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

It has been reported that the theme song for the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, will be a duet by Jack Black and Alicia Keys. The duet, reportedly titled Another Way to Die, is the first time a James Bond theme song has been a duet.

Meanwhile, Jim Bond will no longer drink Vodka martinis. The useless pimps who now control the Bond franchise have sold product placement to Coke, who have developed Coke Zero just for the occasion.

“Give me a Coke Zero, and for God’s sake don’t shake it.”

James Bond: Quantum of Solace is scheduled for release Nov. 14th. At Home in Hespeler is scheduled to see it the weekend of Nov. 14.

On Saturday – ahem- singer Madonna dedicated her song Like a Virgin to (yawn) the (streeetch) Pope (zzzzzzzz). I’m sorry, I can’t stay awake long enough to finish typing this boring old nonsense about an overrated, unappealing singer/sex symbol (and I use both in the loosest possible terms ever imagined by man or etymologist) courting controversy yet again. Really, why hasn’t Madonna just gone away yet? Somebody please wake me when she does.

Last Saturday Oasis singer/guitarist Noel Gallagher wash pushed and knocked down while performing at Toronto’s Virgin Music Festival. Gallagher suffered injuries and Oasis have had to cancel a couple of shows since, including the final Canadian show in London, Ontario, and an album release in New York.

The rich and inelegant are swarming Toronto during the ever swanky Toronto Film Festival. Bad news for Lady Hespeler, Jenifer Aniston is in town, and I have my laminated list at the ready. Bad news for me: Colin Firth is in town.



September 11th, 2008

From the fairness in journalism file, today’s Waterloo Region Record (when did it change from K-W Record?) has the following front page:

Note the headline: In… & Out?

Oh, one thinks, must be something about the Conservatives In and Out – ahem – financing scandal. But a closer look and it’s two completely unrelated stories in one, tied nicely by a misleading headline clearly designed to prompt the casual reader, and studious one for that matter, to think of the Liberal Party talking point.

Stephen Harper moved to snuff out two potential fires yesterday by abandoning his opposition to include the Green party’s Elizabeth May from the leaders debates and setting a firm deadline for pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

The Conservative leader’s astonishing about-face on May in the debate came a mere 30 minutes after NDP Leader Jack Layton broke their common front by reversing his own opposition to Greens in the debate.

That’s right, In & Out applies to Elizabeth May and the troops in Afghanistan respectively. But the story itself is no less biased as the lead paragraphs above show. It’s just bad journalism, no different than if I named this post, say AdScam, even though it has nothing to do with adscam. 

Perhaps in the future I will run a nice story on Shawnigan, and Watergate, and call it Shawanigate.

bad journalism

It’s Not Easy Being Green

September 10th, 2008

I just can’t help seeing the similarities when I look at a picture of Stephane Dion. Turns out they have the same taste in music as well:

Humour, it's not easy being green, Stephane Dion