Sunday, June 15, 2014

Found bookmark

Found bookmark in a copy of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, No. 13: An Assorted Sampler of North American Comic Drawings, Strips, and Illustrated Stories, purchased via Abe Books, Spring 2014.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ann Arbor Ain't A Bad Place To Be

Get your Bon on this Monday, June 16, at 7:00pm at a book reading and listening party at Arbor Brewing Co in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As part of the very cool Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Erik Santos will read selections from my 33 1/3 book AC/DC's Highway to Hell; afterward, WCBN DJ ”Detective” Dan Michniewicz will spin a bunch of songs from the album. (Other 33 1/3 titles getting this treatment at the festival are Sean Nelson's Court and Spark and Mark Polizzotti's Highway 61 Revisited.) If you're in the Ann Arbor area, drop in. Your friends are gonna be there, too!

Enjoy these promo videos of Highway to Hell songs filmed on a Munich sound stage on August 28, 1979:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Going Too Far in 24 bars: The Records' "Teenarama"

A song tells a story in many ways. Consider the Record's great "Teenarama," written by Will Birch and John Wicks, a 1979 single that also appeared on the band's debut album Shades In Bed. A well-known song, it cuts me anew every time I hear it and I'd like to know why. Maybe it's the brilliant 24-bar passage halfway through the song that blends an impressionistic string of images with blissful music to produce an ill-fated mini epic. The tune's about an older guy who wants to be "with a juvenile for a week," and succeeds with a willing girl. I'm not here to defend the relationship: it's a blast for a while—just listen to those harmonies—but the predictable messiness ensues. Teenarama rhymes with melodrama; she gives him injection in the knees, but also loses his apartment keys. And then there's the bridge. From the lyric sheet:

Eight phrases, sixteen words, a novel's worth of drama. (The band sings the exclamation points, too.) The emotional terrain that those four lines travel: excitement, impatience, embarrassment, lust, public posing, private desperation, wrongdoing. Sound familiar?

But there are some feelings only music can translate, and what makes this part especially great is the hook-laden, 12-bar instrumental passage that follows these lines, nothing short of a pop score of the couple's troubles: excited, driving, treacherous, and blissful power pop, Huw Gower's aching guitar-leads soaring through the man's gusto and good intentions while disguising his remorse and better judgement. The final two bars of utterly gorgeous ahhh's lead into the chorus ("C-C-C-Cola is all you ever drink / the way you smile, the way you wink"), those ahhh's perfectly and humorously capturing how something so fucked up can feel—can be—so joyous, and yet inevitably must collapse. That old dilemma. Listen to the descending guitar leads crashing into reality. These 24 bars transcend the cliche "how can it be wrong when it feels so right" and you want to dance to and wince along with it at the same time. One of the great pop singles of the era, "Teenarama" is four minutes of hooks, harmonies, drama, and evocation. Play loud.

single, 1979
Shades In Bed, 1979

Monday, June 9, 2014

Because no one asked, here are my 10 favorite guitar solos

Mind you, these are my favorite solos, not what one might objectively determine "the best" solos. I'm not a fan of excessive virtuosity. And I reserve the right to amend this list tomorrow. Anyway, play loud.

Elvis Presley, "Good Rockin' Tonight," 1954
Guitarist: Scotty Moore

Rockin' Rebels, "Wild Weekend," 1962
Guitarist: Aldo Brozzetti

The Beatles, "I Saw Her Standing There," 1963
Guitarist: George Harrison

Chuck Berry, "No Particular Place To Go," 1964
Guitarist: ?

The Kinks, "'Till The End Of The Day," 1965
Guitarist: Dave Davies

Johnny Rivers, "Secret Agent Man," 1966
Guitarist: John Henry Ramistella [aka, Agent Rivers]

The Troggs, "I Want You," b-side, 1966
Guitarist: Chris Britton

The Rolling Stones, "Respectable," Some Girls, 1978
Guitarist: Keef [first solo]

The Beat, "Don't Wait Up For Me," The Beat, 1978
Guitarist: Larry Whitman

Switchblade, "She Makes Me Rock Too Much," 1981
Guitarist: Ratso

Nashville Pussy, "Come On Come On," Get Some!, 2005
Guitarist:  Ruyter Suys