Category Archives: Music

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

The Dramatics are an anomalous soul group for their time and place. They came out of Detroit but had to go to Memphis based Volt records to hit it big. The title track of this 1971 album put them over the top. It was written for the Dramatics by Tony Hester and, yeah, they do sound quite a bit like the Temptations; one reason they didn’t stick at Motown.

I don’t know about you but I’ve got my eye on this cover:

Here’s the gatefold. I skipped the back cover because it’s pedestrian as well as eyeless.

We have two versions of the smash hit title song for your enjoyment. The extended album version followed by the guys lip syncing to the single on Soul Train:

Sunday Morning Video: The Doors Live At The Hollywood Bowl

Doors week continues with this 1968 concert. The good news is that Jim Morrison neither exposes himself nor gets arrested.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Riders On The Storm

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

There will be no tin cup rattling today since we reached our goal Friday. I’d like to thank everyone who supported what we do here at First Draft. I suppose I should thank Al Capone for helping out but what does a dead wise guy care? Btw, I neglected to state that Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire is my favorite reel Capone.

The big story in New Orleans is the ongoing clusterfuck involving the Sewerage and Water Board. A year from tomorrow, there was major street flooding in Mid-City. I hate hearing about the August 5th flood since it’s my birthday but what can ya do? The people whose homes, businesses, and cars flooded hate it even more.

The latest mess involves billing. The lunkheads at SWB have computerized the way they bill customers. In theory, it’s a fine idea, but in practice they failed to adequately train the meter readers in the new system. The result has been crazy large bills that customers have refused to pay. The SWB vowed to crack down on what our new Mayor called “bad actors” by cutting off their water.  They backed down the other day when it became clear that some of the “bad actors” were poor people with $5,000 bills *and* that they could only disconnect 50 customers a day. TFC: This Fucking City. Stay tuned.

I selected this week’s theme song after it popped up in the last episode of Sharp Objects. That show seems to be a love/hate proposition for viewers. I’m on the love side for the music, atmospherics, and acting, especially the divine Amy Adams.

Riders On The Storm was written by the Doors for their last full-blown LP, L.A. Woman. Jim Morrison’s lyrics are moody and expressionistic even for him. We have two versions for your consideration: the original studio track and a live version by 21st Century Doors, a band featuring Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. I wish they hadn’t hired a Morrison lookalike as their singer: it’s creepy.

A quick story about Jim Morrison. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law went to high school with Morrison. She remembers him as a nice boy. I bet you’ve never heard that anywhere else.

It’s time to break on through to the other side and jump to the break.

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Annual Fundraiser: The Capone Shakedown

I had a lot of fun writing Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort. It occurred to me that I missed the chance to raise some money for First Draft. The last I heard from our publisher/Chancellor of the Exchequer, Athenae, we were 2/3 of the way to our goal of $1650. It’s time to go gangster on your asses:

Don’t worry, Gabby Hartnett won’t get it. The Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs catcher died on his birthday in 1972. Capone was long gone.

Hartnett got in trouble for signing an autograph for Capone’s kid at Wrigley Field. Then commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis called the Cubbie on the carpet and told him not to consort with gangsters. There are many versions of this story but my favorite is that Gabby said to the irascible commish, “You try saying no to Al Capone, Judge.”

That was a long-winded way to ask you to support our annual fundraiser. We’re the most benevolent shakedown artists you’ll ever encounter except for Della. She’s a badass.

The last word goes to the Grateful Dead. Let’s take a trip to Shakedown Street:

Let’s see, I gave you gangsters, baseball, cats, and the Dead. How can you not donate after that? Here’s the link again.

Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

The Kaiser of Chaos was a busy boy with an itchy twitter finger yesterday. The tweets dripped with flop sweat and palpable panic.  He “ordered” Jeff Beau to end the “rigged witch hunt” and praised Paul Manafort for his work for Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole. Those tweets arguably constitute witness tampering by tweet since Trumpy hands out pardons like Oprah doles out cars.

Ending the “rigged witch hunt” could bring the Manafort trial to a screeching halt, which would be a pity: I want the jury to hear more about Paulie’s lavish wardrobe. It’s also a pity that Judge Ellis has barred the use of the term oligarch. I believe in calling an oligarch an oligarch. Ole Garch sounds like a Swedish architect to me. I wonder if he had anything to do with the theft of the Swedish crown jewels? It could have been an angry Norwegian outraged over 91 years of Swedish domination of his homeland. If revenge is a dish best served cold, ain’t nothing colder than a Scandinavian winter or an angry and bitter Norwegian.

Enough of my weirdness, the weirdest of Trump’s recent tweets was this one:

Does this mean Manafort is a syphilitic murderer? He’s certainly a tax avoiding motherfucker like Scarface. Speaking of the gangster, the Insult Comedian misspelled his name: it’s Alphonse with a PH, not Alfonse with an F. That proves that Rudy Giuliani didn’t write this tweet: he’d spell a paisan’s name correctly. Remember when Rudy used to be anti-gangster? Now he’s a mob lawyer working for Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. Many of us become what we hate.

I think Josh Marshall nailed *why* Trump used this seemingly bizarre analogy:

To Trump, Capone was a winner. He was rich. Everybody gave him respect. But he was brought down on BS charges, mundane financial crimes. He was treated very unfairly, to use the President’s signature phrase. This isn’t hyperbole or a mere attack. Over a forty-plus year career, Trump was deep in business with some of the most notorious and violent mobsters of the late 20th century. Trump managed not to get in to trouble first because he had the right friends but just as much because he kept the relationships largely passive. He laundered their money. His main overt act was willful obliviousness. Trump Tower itself was a notorious haven for all sorts of organized crime figures, mostly from other countries. Mostly from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

There have been many fine movies and teevee series over the years featuring Alphonse with a PH. I should thank the president* for giving me the latest in a series of Life Imitates post titles. First, there was The Sopranos, then The Americans, and now The Untouchables. Cue an extended version of the theme music, which was written by the great Nelson Riddle:

Now that I think of it, Ennio Morricone’s theme music for Brian DePalma’s 1987 film is pretty darn swell as well:

Al Capone *was* a fascinating character, which is why he remains such a famous gangster 71 years after his death. It is disturbing however that POTUS* identifies with him, not Eliot Ness. One would think he’d like comparisons to the best-known screen Nesses, Robert Stack and Kevin Costner. Hell,Costner is even a Republican; at least he used to be until the advent of the Trump regime. Good on ya, Kevin.

Enough Elliot Nessery. It’s time to post a rogue’s gallery of actors who played Alphonse with a PH. We begin with a two-fer: Ben Gazzara from a decent 1975 bio-pic, Capone, and Robert DeNiro in the DePalma/Mamet take on The Untouchables.

Next up from left to right: Neville Brand in teevee’s The Untouchables, Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire, and chewing a cigar as well as the scenery, Rod Steiger in 1959’s Al Capone. Steiger was a walking slab of prosciutto in this role. He’d be in the hammy actor hall of fame if such a thing existed.

There’s bound to be a white-collar gangster movie about Paul Manafort at some point in time. I’ve already made a casting suggestion in the form of a Separated at Birth segment:

Chazz Palminteri has played more than a few wise guys in his career including Big Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family before he was whacked by John Gotti. The Trumps, of course, had ties to the Gambinos and Rudy is the one whose team brought them down. It’s a small fucking world, after all.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha

I used to have vivid, deeply weird dreams. I rarely have them any more but I had one the other night. It was neither a sweet dream nor a nightmare. All I can recall is a voice saying the name Xavier Cugat over and over again. Hence this week’s post.

Xavier Cugat was a Cuban bandleader and exponent of the rhumba and the cha cha cha. Apparently, he was also a bread hugger.

Below is a CD reissue cover without Cugat hugging a loaf of bread. They seem to have misplaced a cha as well.

Here’s the whole damn album. It makes me wanna hug a baguette with a beret:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?

A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer.  Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.

Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.

Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?

That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Led Zeppelin

I’ve never been much of a Led Zeppelin fan. Their music is pretty good but I’ve never cared for the vibe surrounding them. It’s rooted in my memories of their infamous 1973 gig at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. In a sign of bad taste, their fans booed the Tubes off the stage, and their crew and manager assaulted some of Bill Graham’s staff backstage; one of whom was the older brother of a friend of mine. Ugh.

I’ve had them on my mind because of the skillful use of their music in the HBO mini-series Sharp Objects. Besides, what’s not to love about the cover of their debut album?

Another reason I don’t care for Led Zeppelin was the heavy-handed way they dealt with this brilliant parody by the San Francisco band, Little Roger and the Goosebumps:

Here’s the album via the YouTube playlist format. It’s probably my favorite of their records for its lack of pretension and mystical mumbo jumbo.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

It’s been a long and difficult week for Americans who haven’t imbibed the MAGA Kool-Aid. I already wrote about it on Thursday and Monday so we’re going to keep this introduction snappy and mercifully brief. I wonder if the Insult Comedian would call that a double positive?

This week’s theme song is upbeat and positive in response to all the gloomy shit going on in the world. The Best Is Yet To Come was written for Tony Bennett in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and Chaka Khan. That’s right, Chaka Khan. She can sing anything, y’all.

This is the second time I’ve used The Best Is Yet To Come as a post title. The first was after President Obama’s re-election in 2012. It’s time for him to eschew the non-political Jimmy Carter post-presidential model, make like Harry Truman and hit the stump this fall. His party and country need him. Give ’em hell, Barack.

I’m not sure where the tree of life is right now, but I long to “pick me a plum.” I’ll figure out how to do so after the break.

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Friday Catblogging: The Krewe Of Cats Named For Perry Mason Characters

It’s time for another picture by ace catsitter Christy of Petit Pet Care fame. She thinks this shot reads album cover. She may be on to something.

If Della Street and Paul Drake start a rock band, they should cover the Tubes’ Crime Medley. It consists of the theme songs of Dragnet, Peter Gunn, Perry Mason, and The Untouchables.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Shel Silverstein

The late Shel Silverstein was best known as an author/illustrator of children’s books. He also had a lively side hustle as a singer-songwriter. He was one talented dude.

Here’s a selection of album covers, presented in chronological order. Oddly enough, only one features an illustration by Silverstein:

Here’s Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball in the YouTube playlist format:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dimming Of The Day

New Orleans Window by Lee Friedlander.

Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.

I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.

The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.

Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side,  let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Idiot

Sometimes the best album covers are the simplest. That’s the case with Iggy Pop’s first solo album, The Idiot. It’s also the album cover that answers the eternal question: does Iggy own any shirts?

The Idiot was co-produced by David Bowie who co-wrote 7 of the 8 songs with Mr. Pop. It’s one of the Bowie related albums from what is known as his Thin White Duke/Berlin period. West Berlin to be precise. The Idiot was released in 1977 when the wall was still a thing.

Here’s the China Girl/Baby single cover. It’s a more characteristic Iggy shot: shirtless and leaping about.

It’s lagniappe time: here’s a promo poster with a certain producer’s name on it.

The entire album is not available on the You Tube so here’s China Girl followed by a live version of Funtime with the producer on keyboards.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Hey Baby, It’s The Fourth Of July

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

It’s time for my 9th annual Fourth of July post. It seems like a good day to suggest that people take a mental health day away from political news. There’s so much going on that we all need to take a break to avoid burnout. In the intense days right after Katrina and the Federal Flood. I saw people lose their shit because they were so focused on dealing with the disaster. So, do whatever floats your boat today and put the news on hold. It will still be there tomorrow. You can’t resist, if you’re burned out.

I usually post Dave Alvin, the Dead, and Bruce Springsteen but Neil Young joined the Americana fray last year with a video celebrating the resistance.

Happy Birthday ‘Merica.

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week. It needed a mental health day too.

Sunday Morning Video: Old 97’s Live On The Radio

Old 97’s weekend continues with two appearances on KEXP in Seattle. The first in 2014, the second in 2017.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lonely Holiday

Rye Beach by William Glackens.

Summer in New Orleans is typically one long heat advisory but this week has been one of the hottest I can remember. It’s August hot. It’s so hot that new kitty Paul Drake isn’t trying to bolt out the front door whenever it opens. It’s so hot that the air smacks you in the face like a wet barber shop towel. I’m almost tempted to try frying eggs on the sidewalk but I don’t believe in wasting food. In short, it’s fucking hot.

I haven’t been as prolific as usual blogging-wise the last few weeks. I’ve made the mistake of taking the news too personally. It’s bad for both the psyche and satire. It’s been hard not to: the news has been so unrelentingly bleak of late. It makes it hard to be a glass half full person. It’s looking bone dry. That’s why I’m going to keep this post on the snappy side. In addition to my proverbial glass being bone dry, my funny bone is banged up. The good news is that it’s bruised, not broken. And writing Odds & Sods is always therapeutic.

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Old 97’s for their 1999 album, Fight Songs. That was when this Dallas based alt-country power pop combo came on my radar screen. Lonely Holiday is a very sad song, which is appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. Only a sad song will do.

Get ready to rock with the original studio track as well as a lively live version:

Now that Rhett Miller has serenaded us with a sad song, it’s time to jump to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Psycho Circus

This book is not about the Trump White House but if they’re in need of an “evening reader,” they could use the title.

This book title has given me a wee earworm. It’s got me singing “Psycho Circus, qu’est-ce que c’est.”

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Horses

Patti Smith has some interesting friends. One of whom was the late Robert Mapplethorpe whose photograph adorns the cover of Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses.

A close-up from the same photo shoot was on the cover of the Gloria single:

I like the wear and tear of that cover. I’m a bit torn and frayed myself.

Finally, here’s the whole damn album: