Shot Of Rhythm

[ Friday, April 30, 2004 ]


Good news

Billy Joe Shaver, one of the greatest songwriters in country-music history, is playing at Madison's newest live-music venue, the High Noon Saloon, on May 17th, and - if that wasn't cool enough - our own Kenneth Burns is providing the opening set.

You better believe there ain't no other place I plan on being...

On the box: Rockpile, SECONDS OF PLEASURE. Got the reissue, and it still sounds like a breath of concentrated pop-rock energy.


Dove With Claws [3:24 PM]

[ Tuesday, April 27, 2004 ]



One year ago today, I began this blog.

About 8 years ago, I discovered an album that changed my life. Today, that album was re-released (although, thanks to me being stuck in Wausau, I couldn't find a copy of the reissue). When I first heard Rockpile's SECONDS OF PLEASURE, I was absolutely floored. A blend of classic pop-rock sounds with a smart - and occasionally snarky - punk-rock ethic, the album is filled with great songwriting (courtesy of group member, and my all-time favorite, Nick Lowe, as well as by a bunch of choice covered artists), great singing (from Nick, Dave Edmunds and Billy Bremner), and bash-it-out rock arrangements courtesy of the powerhouse foursome of Nick, Dave, Billy and drummer Terry Williams. As fun, raucous and infectious as any record I've ever heard, SECONDS OF PLEASURE launched me down a path towards infatuation with Lowe, Edmunds, and Bremner (and their sometime associate, the brilliant pianist Geraint Watkins), and the avenues out from that carried me back to rockabilly, Elvis Costello and early-1960s pop records. Although SECONDS OF PLEASURE was their only officially-released band album, the group backed up Lowe and Edmunds on a couple albums each, creating one of the great bodies of late-70s/early-80s roots-rock.

They were also, judging by the bootlegs I've collected over the years, a fierce live band whose fire couldn't really be captured on record. There are a few bonus live tracks on the reissue, which is another reason I can't wait to hear it. This is an album that is one of my very favorites, and I recommend it to everybody.

About 12 hours ago, I heard Loretta Lynn's new record, VAN LEAR ROSE. It's astounding, and definitely bound for the top shelf of this year's releases.

On the box right now: Blind Willie Johnson, COMPLETE. Quite possibly the greatest music ever made...


Dove With Claws [8:43 PM]

[ Sunday, April 25, 2004 ]


Freakin' and Geekin' Out

Now, although some may disagree, I don't usually geek out about television shows. In fact, over the past few years I've found myself only interested in a handful of programs, usually stuff that is either way smarter than the average pap (THE SOPRANOS, DAILY SHOW, THE OFFICE, CHAPPELLE) or a junk-food pleasure that I can't kick (OSBOURNES, PARDON THE INTERRUPTION, I'M WITH BUSEY). I find almost no pleasure in channel-surfing anymore, and I'm almost never satisfied with any of the scraps that such grazing returns. Appointment television is what I do now, and I don't even do much of that.

Which is why I was so happy to come upon the DVD of the short-lived 1999 show FREAKS AND GEEKS. I never watched this when it was on, even though all the culture-vulture reading that I do pointed me in its direction, and I was pretty happy that I finally got the chance to check it out. Now, "check it out" originally meant renting the first two discs from Four Star Video Heaven - the greatest video store on the planet - but it quickly turned into me blowing a sizable portion of my budget on the whole set. I'm in love. This is a piece of art that was simply too damn good for network television, smart and poignant in ways that only real life can be, and also incredibly funny. It's closest relative, in my spectrum at least, is THE WONDER YEARS (probably my favorite TV show ever). Like WONDER did, FREAKS AND GEEKS explores issues that no one else seems to be able to approach. God, I can't believe how great it is.

In other news, I turned 22 today, and last night a whole bunch of folks came and rang in another year of me driving the world crazy. It was too much fun. This week takes me to Green Bay, to see Mike Cepress' already-infamous senior exhibition, then back to my alma mater to talk about black history, and finally Friday night...the great Robbie Fulks returns to Madison to reclaim his throne. So, I'll try to catch up sometime this week.

On the box right now: Patty Griffin, IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. (The song "Standing" is one of the coolest things I've heard all year.)


Dove With Claws [8:26 PM]