…does the guy who wrote that “You Had A Bad Day” song sit atop a pile of money (I’m picturing gold coins, priceless jewels, dubloons even) like Smaug the Dragon? Either that, or I’m betting he has his own automated Seinfeld-ish check printer in his house that spits out a check for a hundred bucks every ten minutes or so…
AVG now shows this site as a safe one with no active threats in a google search. Hopefully badstuff is squashed. Lemme know if you get any popups, malware, or other tomfoolery when visiting though.
So yeah, somewhere this page picked up some nasty malware. I haven’t the foggiest where it’s from (and if you have ideas, send me an email!); there was originally something that I’m pretty sure was related to a dead link I had on the links section. A buddy let his blog expire and a pretty intrusive domain squatter grabbed it.
At any rate, I’ve cleared out *all* the links on the template. I’ve also nuked about 95% of all the files I had hosted, so mp3 files from back when are probably dead links now. Stuff of recent vintage I deleted, ran the original through ESET Nod32, and then re-uploaded, just to be safe.
Hopefully this kills the intrusive spammy malware dead. If not, I’ll figure something else out.
Finally, hope everyone had a great holiday, whichever holiday you celebrate. Mine was pretty great, actually. I’m home now, and back to work on a top 10 records of 2008!
Listen Up Ebenezer!(Christmas Mix 2008) <——–click me to download
Track list: (c’mon, peeking before you listen through it once is like opening your presents on the 23rd!)
1. “Velvet Santa” Divide & Kreate (with The Velvet Underground & Jackson 5)
2. “Purple Snowflakes” Marvin Gaye
3. “Champagne Of Christmas” The Fleshtones
4. “Sleigh Ride” The Ronettes
5. “Winter Wonderland” Liz Phair
6. “Welcome Christmas” The Clumsy Lovers
7. “Winter On Victoria Street” The Clientele
8. “Back Door Santa” The Black Crowes
9. “Presents For Christmas” Solomon Burke
10. “(Another Rainy Day) December Blues” The Americans feat. The Dap Kings Horns
11. “It’s Christmastime Ebenezer” The Len Price 3
12. “Egg Nog” Luna
13. “A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss)” Glasvegas
14. “Christmas With The Snow” Marah Featuring Felicia Navidad
15. “Your Christmas Whiskey” The Minus 5
16. “Christmas Train” The Bellrays
17. “Home For The Holidays” The dB’s
18. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Fantasy” John Fahey
19. “Wintertime In Hollywood” The Lovetones
20. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Dean Martin w/ Martina McBride
21. “Man In The Santa Suit” The Fountains Of Wayne
22. “Blue Christmas” Chris Isaak
23. “Let It Snow” Los Straitjackets
24. “Soul Christmas” James Brown
25. “Waking On Christmas” The Smithereens
26. “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” The Young Fresh Fellows
27. “Christmas Time is Here” Ivy
28. “Fairytale Of New York” The Pogues
Happy Holidays Everyone! I’ll try to get around to getting individual tracks posted soon!
Mix is done, and mailed.
If I can work up the desire, I’ll post it here eventually. Right now though I’m just sick and tired of being called an asshole by people, so there’s that.
Addendum: Hell is other people. Thank God I’m off for the next two days.
So tonight I watched the George C. Scott 1984 version of “A Christmas Carol” with some fine folks to get me in the proper mood to finish off this albatross of a Christmas mix in time for the holidays. It worked, mostly. But at some point as Ebenezer bounded down the street to see his nephew Fred, an odd thought popped into my head:
Ebenezer Scrooge has been demolished and utterly screwed over by history.
Think about it: if I say that someone is a “scrooge”, you immediately think of a person who is grouchy, stingy, self-centered, and downright mean. Grinchy, even (and hey, that Grinch got hosed, too!) Yep, Scrooge has come to be synonymous with the cynics and haters at Christmas time…which is a total sham, if you’re Ebenezer Scrooge’s press agent.
Check out the end of Dickens’ immortal story:
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.“
So yeah, you’re Ebenezer Scrooge, and you’re rehabbed, baby. Your life has turned a 180, and people dig you and dig your scene and nobody is more generous and happy than you…and yet your name is in the thesaurus for “stingy” and “miserly”. Is that a raw deal or what? Apparently his ability to keep Christmas wasn’t always said of him at all, or if it was, it’s been forgotten.
I probably shouldn’t post under the influence of cold meds and lack of sleep.
Hey all, just a note that I’m putting the list on a hiatus of a couple of days. I really, really, REALLY need to finish up my Christmas Mix, and that’s not happening while I’m working on a top 20. So I’m changing focus for a bit. Listing will return in a day or so, mostly because the longer I think on it, the more excited I am about the top 2 artists on my list. That comment about things being weak compared to other years I made when I started? Yeah, throw that out the window once we get to the top 5 or 8 or so, and the top two are records that have, over the last week or two, really hit me like a ton of bricks. Haven’t seen much buzz about either, so I’m kinda stoked to pimp them out.
At any rate, if you were reading this over the summer, maybe you remember me doing a post on David Werner, who cut a couple of never-on-cd-or-digital albums back in the 1970′s that sound absolutely incredible when given a fair listen today. I was on vacation visiting family back in Missouri when Steve posted an excellent comment. I missed it then. Thankfully, an anonymous commenter just also commented on that post about David Werner, and I finally saw Steve’s comment as well. Both fellows wrote some really excellent things, and I’m going to post their comments in full right here. First up, Steve, who has been playing in bands and selling records for decades around St. Louis. Take it, Skitch:
Was very happy to read your post on Mr. Werner. Whizz Kid remains the best known of his three albums, probably because everyone who ever owned it during it’s day never paid more than a dollar or two tops for it. Whizz Kidd was one of the most golden of all cut-outs during The Golden Age Of Cut-Outs 1972-1980. EVERY greater cut-out bin across the country, whether it be a record store, a K-Mart, or your corner drug store, ALWAYS had plenty of copies of Whizz Kid.
But as great and classic a record as Whizz Kid is, David Werner’s true artistic triumph and masterpiece is his second album, Imagination Quota. I’ve always felt that IQ was the great post-Ziggy pre-Berlin trilogy record Bowie WISHED he could have made. After the failure of the much-hyped by RCA first album, Werner and incredible partner/guitarist Mark Doyle (who a crazy old rock critic friend of mine once described as “A baroque Jeff Beck…”)knew the success they were promised was not going to materialize, so they just went for it and made the record THEY wanted to make. And the results were so amazing. The lone audio offering from IQ on David’s myspace page is thankfully it’s crowning achievement: “Cold Shivers.” The best damn song he ever wrote. For me no other song has ever come close to capturing what it felt like to be a suburban teenager in 1975 locked in his room night after night, listening to records and reading CREEM and Melody Maker and Phonograph Record Magazine cover to cover. Yep, that was me, and you bet I felt every last one of the words of “Cold Shivers”–DEEPLY! Werner totally nailed what it felt like back then to be a fan of the more out of the mainstream rock of the day. I had always automatically assumed the song was Werner’s fan letter to Bowie, but when I met Werner in 1980 (more on that in a minute) he told me it was about Mick Jagger.
Imagination Quota easily stands shoulder to shoulder with every great recognized classic album from the ’70′s. Trust me whizz kids, it really is THAT GREAT. The only problem with the record is so very few people heard it then when it came out, and even fewer people have heard over the 30+ years since. Even by the more generous and sympathetic commercial and marketplace ’70′s standards, IQ died an astonsihing quick death. It was obvious RCA had given up on it even before they released it, so they pressed very few copies and gave it no support. So unlike the label hyped Whizz Kid, IQ was never really out there from the beginning, many Werner fans didn’t even know it was out, and unlike Whizz Kid as well, scant few copies made their way to the cut-out bins for post failure discovery by curious shoppers. A true rock tragedy. So needless to say, Imagination Quota forever remains at the top of my list of records I’d love to see on cd someday.
But hey, self-titled album #3 brought renewed hope for us Werner fans. At the height of the put-a-skinny-tie-on-it-and-call-it-nu-wave era, Werner was back with a big sounding hard rocking record (the heavy noise-gated sound of Bob Clearmountain and his Power Station studio, who after making his reputation on Springsteen’s The River album, was quickly becoming the hippest American record producer at the time) and a big label (Epic) giving it a big push. Oh Epic worked the album like hell, got it a lot of radio airplay, and even got Werner an appearance on American Bandstand. But in the end the record was just a little too heavy and hard rocking for the nu-wavers, and a little too pop for the hard rockers, so it never found a large audience. It was definitely different from his first two records, and he was clearly trying to make as commercial for the times a record as he could, which of course led to a lot of his original fans not liking it, but I loved it! I was working at Streetside Records at the time, and I went to great lengths trying to put the record into the purchasing arms of as many customers as I could—often succeeding.
And if you ever came to town/You’d probably never wanna come around
Well unlike those classic lyrics from “Cold Shivers,” David Werner DID come to town!!! Yep, he played the old Mississippi Nights here in St. Louis on his tour for the third record. On the afternoon of the show, the local Columbia rep brought him by the store to meet the retail folks, as was the practice back in that day. My boss, bless his heart, knew what a fanatic I was, so he let me leave the sales floor so I could hang with Werner. And then it was just me & Werner in my boss’ office, where for the next hour I turned into total nerd fanboy as David patiently answered every fanboy question I had stored up over the years for him. He was a sweetheart and a total class act.
And the show that night was fucking PHENOMENAL! He played every last song every fanatic in the crowd wanted to hear—including a version of “Cold Shivers” that had me in tears. And Doyle was fantastic too, every bit as great an onstage foil for Werner as Ronson was for Bowie. Such a shame that Doyle spent the rest of the ’80′s in Meatloaf’s touring band, he deserved better. The show that night not only exceeded any and all expectations, but dig the total icing on the cake: The drummer in Werner’s band that night was none other than His Majesty Thom Mooney from THE NAZZ!!! That’s right—Thom fucking Mooney! Yeah baby!
Then “Anonymous” chimes in today with:
Actually Werner was from Pittsburgh, he hated LA, thought it was “plasticland.” As Steve S. noted, IMAGINATION QUOTA remains a great lost LP of the 70s. Those of us “who knew” did what we could–when I worked in LA record stores we used to put that LP on the box all the time, got the manager to keep ordering it until the meagre supplies were gone from the rack-jobbers, etc. Maybe 100 more people found out about it that way. Definitely needs to be released on CD.
Have to disagree about the best stuff on the LP, though. Title track is much meatier, and gives Mark Doyle some room for an awesome closing solo; no such room on “Cold Shivers,” a good song but paint-by-numbers. Virtually everyone who we turned onto it in 76-77-78 thought the second side was the bomb–Talk, Starlight’s Gone, Aggravation, Body & Soul–incredibly versatile songwriting and arranging, four different styles flowing together seamlessly.
It’s worth the $20 or so on eBay. Just buy it, you’ll thank me later.
I’m pretty sure I still like Whizz Kid more than Imagination Quota, but yeah, that means I’ve listened to both. (And while I first kinda dismissed the title track from IQ for pretty obviously stealing the melody line from “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, now that I listen to it again, I think I hear what Anonymous was talking about; that said, “Cold Shivers” is still my favorite track on the second album.) Thanks to the efforts of PopCat at Vinyl Treasures, I’m thinking it’s early Christmas present time for ‘Narc readers. Just as he did with the first disc, PopCat did an absolutely incredible job ripping Imagination Quota from the vinyl. I think the source vinyl here was in a little worse shape than the source lp for his Whizz Kid rip, but hell, the occasional hiss and pop just adds to the charm here.
First off, a couple of sample tracks:
Enjoy! I’m gonna go try to find some more Christmas toonz.
Why?, the vehicle for Oakland free spirit Yoni Wolf is the kind of band that drives folks who need their music pigeonholed by genre to distraction. Is what they do rap or hiphop? They record for the avant-hop label Anticon, and Wolf is an inventive if vulgar rhymer…but especially now on Alopecia Why? is essentially a sort of indie rock band, with Wolf mostly singing with a his laconic, John Flansburg-ish nasal voice.
Alopecia definitely presents Why? as a rock band. These are songs that won’t be too unfamiliar to any indie rock fan…and Why? carries it off with deep beats and grooves that wend slyly through the proceedings. The result is a terrific mashup of genres that, while having been tried before, probably haven’t been blended this well since the first Basehead album almost 20 years ago. Things tend to wander around a bit, but Wolf is a wonderful ring master for what could become chaos but doesn’t. He’s right on top of things with his inventive if frequently crude (Wolf can make you squirm) lyrics and wordplay.
The danger for Why? (and frankly, for too many folks on the Anticon label) is getting too tied up in the intellectual/artistic statement part of what they do. What makes Alopecia special is that while it is a wholly-satisfying intellectual work of art, it also just sounds damned good.
14. Skipping Girl Vinegar, Sift The Noise.
If you describe an album as uplifting or ascribe to it the cardinal rock sin of happiness, it evokes a sort of effervescent giddiness, so I want to be careful in how I praise this wonderful, gloriously charming debut from Melbourne’s SGV. Is it a happy record? Well, yes. Sort of. See, it isn’t the “happiness without strings” happy of early Beach Boys. Rather there’s a certain lingering sadness and weariness lingering at the edges of Sift The Noise that seem to evidence that this record–which sounds effortless–probably took years and years and years and years to make. The “happiness” of it is more the happiness of a guy on a life-raft who’s weathered some terrible storms (which he’d rather not talk about, thanks) to finally find rescue.
And so with that in mind, I will state that the title track here is one of the most gloriously ebullient songs you’ll ever hear. SGV tends to veer towards more acoustic material on the rest of the disc, but even there lead singer/songwriter Mark Lang is able to carry things off. What helps immeasurably is his ability to channel a vocal sound not at all unlike a young Peter Case (see “River Road” especially; that song could be an outtake from Case’s first solo album). If the middle of Sift The Noise is quiet and acoustic and pastoral, they find a sweet blue-eyed soul groove again on “Sinking”, before finishing with two lovely songs, “Drove For Miles” and the meditative “The Passing”. SGV won’t change the world, but it might change yours, or at least your mood for a few hours. They’re the kind of band for whom it’s easy to root for, and one hopes the success they’ve found in Australia eventually becomes a worldwide thing.
13. Novillero, A Little Tradition
Let me get this out of the way first: Novillero’s Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives, which came out in 2005, was not only my favorite record of that year, it might be my favorite record of the 2000′s. It showed a raucous, gritty side along with an ability to carry off songs with surpassingly brilliant melodies and topical, on-target socio-political lyrics. Waiting three years for a followup probably had me placing unattainable expectations on A Little Tradition. So what do we have here? Well, we have a good disc, one that, if you’re just discovering Novillero, might sound like one of the year’s best. For me it was a bit disappointing, as the Memphis/Muscle Shoals soulful moves of the previous disc seem much more muted here. I could take up this capsule review by talking about what Tradition didn’t do for me, but that wouldn’t be the point here.
What it does have, then, are some of the best songs of the year. The one-two punch of “Life In Parentheses” and the title track are wonderful, especially the reggae syncopation of the latter. If things sag a little in the middle, “Plastic Flag” does yeoman work propping them back up. “Paco Rabanne” is a terrific instrumental, and the record closes strong with “The Printed Word (Sucks For Inflection)” and “Far From Too Far”, the latter song possessing one of the great piano hooks Rod Slaughter’s ever written. I’ll be very interested to see how Novillero carries forward. They recently saw their bassist and occasional singer and songwriter Grant Johnson left the group right after after the disc came out. Fellow Winnipegger Rej Ricard from the wonderful Telepathic Butterflies joined Novillero to tour, but I suppose it’s an open question on whether he’ll contribute actively to future recorded output. I’d like to see it, that’s for sure.