David’s White Coat.

You might think that it should be The Clash, but it won’t.

Or possibly Judas Priest is the one band you think I’ll address today, but they’re not the winners either.

Surely you all know me well enough to know that it couldn’t possibly be Bobby Darin, as I do so loathe going with the over-the-top obvious in these matters.

And to those who know the inner me very well as well, perhaps you think The Bolshoi will be the band who rates my five, but even these lovely lads will be passed up for today.

And they will be likewise treated, as even more important than they, New Model Army has for many a year led my heart’s fray.

First formed in 1980, and still recording and touring till this day, these boys out of Yorkshire, England first captured me in 1988, with my unplanned purchase of their self-named EP tape (one of the many such bands that I came to love, after purchasing their album based SOLELY upon the artwork) – an EP tape that awoke my melodic and social senses with an immediate kick to the mental stones, partially due to their message of bleached lab coats gone mad…

David, my dearest friend and mentor during my stay in Jacksonville, North Carolina, at a little USMC air station called New River, chose this very song to last-dance to when he was leaving, discharge papers in-hand. And while that experience burned into my memory cells, it would prove to be a different N.M.A. song altogether that highlighted the “Tribe” that I had found for the first time ever, during those stormy days of my youngish life…

Appearing on their “Thunder & Consolation” album – a disc that would forever change the way I looked at people, “Vagabonds” was only bested by the following little ditty. A song of no consequence, unless of course, you listened to the lyrics…

Like many bands in my life, these boys and I parted ways at some point, though neither one of us will ever truly know why. And it wasn’t until we reconnected that these avowed witches were able to (once again) help to explain to me my avowed Christian beliefs, all while talking to me about “me…”

Once we reconnected, I went on a mad flourish (yes, complete with wrists a’ flailing, if you please) to catch up on all their efforts that I had missed out on while being absent. And as a result, your bonus track for today comes before track #5…

But alas, track #5 must ALWAYS come, and in the case of New Model Army, and in relation to a 44-year-old post-punk punk, the following provides strange consolation to an oldish man getting ready himself to be reborn…

Since 1988, they’ve spoken to me, consoled me and urged me on. I’m quite certain they never knew that they did so, but I’d like to thank them for the favor none the less. New Model Army – you should check them out.

•••

Jen, God bless ya for starting Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday, and God bless ya even more for providing us with the “favorite band” prompt for this week.

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What A Wonderful World, Pt. 2

No, IZ is not actually one of “the five” chosen for this week, but I love his take on these two songs, and thought it to be the perfect tie-in between last week’s post and this. Give it a listen. I’ll wait.

S’good, right?

So, week two in the 00’s (and to my knowledge, still no clear consensus as to how to pronounce that). The end of the decade found my musical knowledge reawakening somewhat, but this time not of my own accord. No, these new ear worms came from (3) primary sources, all of whom were nonexistent in my life previous to this decade.

1) My online tribe. Most of whom I have never actually met, many of whom I never will, a small number of whom I might, all of whom refuse to let me simply sit on my musical laurels, while the world continues to careen madly out of control, voice modulators be damned. It’s through good folks like these that I “discovered” a little known Hasidic Jew with a penchant for beat box…

They also introduced me to two upbeat kids with a small budget, big talent, and bigger dreams. DIY for the new century…

And speaking of kids…

2) The kids, AKA My Lovelies. Old enough now to form their own tastes, they’ve begun to fill my head – and my life –  with all sorts of new sounds. Sounds I would have never found on my own, or if I had, wouldn’t have appreciated nearly as much as I do. All because the very people I was blessed to have a part in creating, and am now responsible for raising, thought enough of me as to share their new-found treasure with. Treasure like Pink…

And treasure like these two newer players. Two who could very well, if they’re not careful, shortly turn the music (and video) world on its ever-living ear once again. A turn that, in my humble opinion, is much needed right about now. If you listen-watch to only one song in this post, make it this one…

3) The world-wide interwebs. Sorry, but these days I do rely on it much more than I do simply strolling the aisles of the record store. Partially because I’m lazy. Partially because I don’t have anything even close to the time required any more. And partially because – in Buffalo anyway – libraries even have more new music by lesser known artists, than the brick and mortar record stores do. It was online that I discovered that one of the few remaining members holding a piece of my youth is still recording. And as it turns out, doing a damned fine job of it as well…

So now we’re here. And tomorrow beckons. Will I be on-board? Most likely not. But that’s OK. I had my time, and my time was good. Tomorrow beckons as it always did, for the young people to stand up and have their voices heard. Voices that they are only now learning how to create. My prayer is that they will be more influenced by folks like The Clash and Public Enemy, Matisyahu and Macklemore, then they are by the Disney Machine.

They’ve the power to do either, and only time will tell.

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Another Tuesday, another Twisted Mix-Tape. This one rounding out our stroll through the decades. I’d like to thank Jen for pushing me into dredging up these musical memories, and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I.

Oh, and before we leave the decade, let’s take just a moment to celebrate the rebirth of Rick, through the 00 introduction of the “mash-up.” I knew you’d do it, Mr. Astley. I mean, after all, you DID say that you would never let me down, right?

Arms Aloft (Where To Now?)

You see, Sherman done moved on up.

sherman-hemsleyBut there’s no need to worry about that any longer.

And I think maybe Weezie had done so before him, but I can’t be certain. And that’s not the point at any rate, now is it? No, the point is that Sherman done kicked it in the 21st century, and when he left, he took a piece of my childhood with him. Now to be sure, it was a piece I gave freely, but still, a piece forever gone as a result of his departure.

Seeing as I had mentioned last time that I had pretty much “checked out” musically by the end of the 90’s, in lieu of immediately addressing new acts for the new century, I thought I would take a moment to breathe. Instead, devoting Part One to the those individuals who I entrusted a piece of my youth with, and who then took it with them as they rushed up unannounced to Saint Peter’s gate.

As far as a “mix” goes, this will most likely be shaky at best, but as far as a confession of unadulterated devotion and love goes, this is about as close as I’ll ever get, Again, musically speaking that is…

Joe. I still miss you. I never met you, but still I miss you. Honest to God! You really did help to make me the man (?) I am today, and you showed me that it’s not about “them,” or their actions – it’s about Me. It’s about Me, and what I do with that knowledge that counts…

Alan Meyers, you and the other Spud Boys taught me that it was OK to be “less” and still achieve more. You taught me that even plugs without sockets, still get theirs from time to time. Human Metronome, bang on my brother…

Adam. Dear peaceful Adam – I’ve been told all too often (most usually by a certain someone I used to know) that I was far “too white” to ever truly grasp the genius of rap. Thank you for opening that door to me, all while playing a mean-ass bass, to boot…

Back to post-punk in a second, but I do have to take a moment to say goodbye to Dave. God bless Dave.

Say what you will. Pontificate on any number of given topics, but you must admit, without Jazz, you have no rock and roll. Without jazz, you have no punk. Without jazz, you have no Two Tone. Without jazz, there is no black people playing with white people in harmony. There is no Jew playing with Christian. There is no musician simply looking at another while saying, “Let’s jam, man.” Without jazz, you don’t have modern music. And – in my humble opinion – without Mr. Brubeck, well man, you just don’t has jazz…

OK, so that was that, and this is this. I end Part One of the 00’s with Joey. Because of all the musical family members lost in the 21st century, his was to me the first. And as such, it hurt the worst. His death forever stole from me the idea I had long-held that there could somehow ever be pieces of my youth that would never die, nestled as they were gently in the arms of my Rock Gods.

A lot more would eventually die for me in the 21st century, and a lot more most likely will. But it was these musical nuggets of my past – my serenity while growing up, really – that have eventually proven the hardest to truly say good-bye to.

•••

mixtape-jenkehl1-300x300Jen’s Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday is Phat with a “P. H.” (I’m in the right decade for that, correct?) and I really wish you would play along to show me your musical memories. Next week we conclude the 00’s to date, and I’ll try to show that I at least have somewhat of a grip on the current goings on…

400

I hesitated only briefly over the “Publish” button before deftly clicking it, thus bringing another piece of my brain to life on the screen, for tens of tens of people to read and enjoy. I’ve done something similar about three times a week for a little over two years now. But this time was different. This time I was met with a jaunty little note that informed me that I had just published my 399th post. Now I’m not terribly good at math, but by my reckoning, that meant that my very next post was going to be the big 4-O-O.

As such, I decided to do something I promised you all I would do quite some time ago. Something I promised myself I would do as well. And here it is. The 100 Word Song originally written for “Car Jamming,” now fleshed out, and ready to become (hopefully), a real-life honest-to goshicles short story.

Ready?

Here goes:

bebe

He had realized early on that any signs of kindness on their part, would be merely accidental. Or worse yet, intentionally cruel, under the guise of feigned affection

Wondering why they were so hellbent on being constantly brutal and mean, he carefully dabbed a stubborn tear away, smudging a bit of smoky eyeliner in the process. Rifling the tissue to the desktop, he muttered “Dammit!” while inspecting the mishap.

It wasn’t enough that he was abused for being true to himself, he now looked like a weepy rank amateur to boot. He knew, or understood at least, why they did what they did. He could see it himself sometimes, when he looked into the mirror. He would hear his mother’s final words, as she had hung up the phone on him for the very last time, “girls don’t shave their faces, and boys DON’T wear make-up. Grow out of it, Gabe!”

He was a child, and her words had seared right through him, as intended. It had hurt. And she knew exactly how to do that. She’d been practicing it for years, in fact. Some would say that she was the first bully he had ever had to contend with. It had hurt, but it was a hurt he eventually used to make himself stronger. Or so he hoped. It was a hurt, but just the first of many. And if he could survive that from the woman who birthed him, then what in the hell sort of power could some punk-ass borderline-barbaric classmates have over him?

He felt his fist hit the desk, much more than he heard it. Another “dammit!,” escaped his lips as he realized that that was going to bruise for sure. Quietly laughing despite the pain, he found himself thanking the angels that at least he wasn’t a hand model. Cradling the throbbing hand gently in the other, he took an unexpected moment to look at his natural nails. Finding them gnarled and bitten, he saw a deeper truth to that idea, based on how chewed upon they were, and he quickly began applying his Lee press-ons to cover his insecurity.

“Gabe? Err… Gabriella?” His father called out, concerned over the audible furniture abuse taking place. “Are you OK, honey?” Gabe smiled again. His father was never certain as to which name to call him, having not quite figured out the nuances of the scene just yet. That, and he always felt the need to yell through the apartment as if it were some sort of multi-winged expansive mansion, instead of the compact yet comfortable two-bedroom flat that it actually was.

Never one for needing a lot of space anyway, Gabe allowed his dad this second tendency without complaint, as he knew it was only done to accommodate for his feelings of inadequacy over not being able to provide “properly” for his son.  Gabe truly didn’t mind, and understood the strain of a man who was told by his wife that of all he was, and after all those years, the only thing of worth was his wallet and every penny she could bleed from it. And she had bled both it and he dry, even though there wasn’t that much blood to give in the first. As he had done during their marriage, throughout it all he simply kept his mouth shut and soldiered on, in the hopes that he wouldn’t inadvertently say something that would one day prevent Gabe from having a somewhat normal relationship with her. Gabe was certain that his dad’s efforts, on this front at least, were to be in vain.

Instead of voicing all this however, all that Gabe shouted back was, “I’m OK dad, I just banged my knee on the vanity!”

“Oh, alright then.” His dad responded somewhat skeptically, “Let me know if you need any ice!”

His dad may have been weak-willed, but was too smart as well. Gabe knew he that couldn’t keep this on-campus bullying hidden forever. Couldn’t keep the “strong silent treatment” up for too much longer. But his dad had enough to worry about already as it was, and he didn’t want to add to that burden. Still, he couldn’t not be true to himself either.

Sighing, he looked in the mirror again, coming to firm grips with the fact that the “smudge-proof” style of eyeliner was only different from the other brands in that it cost a hell of a lot more. He’d never make that mistake again. And he realized he’d have to come to grips with those borderline-barbarian boys as well.

He knew one thing. Lauren Bacall wouldn’t have ever let them get her down. And Nana had always said that it was this iconic star that he resembled most, when he was dressed “that way.”  Maybe it was high-time that he started acting like her as well.

Delicately clicking his freshly painted plastic nails against the vanity, to the beat of his favorite Waterboys tune that happened to be playing softly in the background, he sang along as he looked into the mirror one more time, and he smiled.

The Final Scene

When first tasked with writing about the musical 90’s, I was a little depressed to realize that I could no longer speak of The Clash. And then I remembered, I began the 90’s in Okinawa. And in Okinawa was where I first heard this:

The Blue Hearts were termed by many as “the Japanese Clash,”and while they’ll have no further say in this post, I just couldn’t leave the 90’s – or Okinawa – without a shout out to them.

As we discovered last week, not all were part of the club kid scene of the decade. But there were others to choose from, and it could be safely said that there wasn’t one singular breathing person on the planet’s face – sans a certain Richard and Judy Stover – who did not at least dip a toe into a little known scene coming out of the Seattle…

Now did I just use the same band there twice? I believe I did. But in all honesty, I never felt as if the Mother Love Bone end of their existence received its proper due. So there.

Of course, if that scene didn’t tickle your musical funny bone (or if you simply preferred over-sized rain gear and floppy hats, to flannel and torn jeans), you only needed to look to Manchester, England to find a slightly more refined sound…

The “Madchester scene” as it came to be known, opened the door just enough to allow for yet another British invasion of sorts. An invasion that. also never really received its proper due…

Of course, telling people in the U.S. to kill their television is akin to going to India and asking for a cheeseburger. So while all this madness was being thrown at us from without, we were busy at work creating a bit of it from within as well. In addition to grunge, the indie scene kicked it up a notch in the 90’s, with the aid of some pixies and a chick named Jane…

“So t, did you actually get into all these scenes?” You bet your sweet parachute pant-wearing booty I did! And then some!  But as the 90’s drew to a close, I was back in the states, and I was busy making babies. Babies that would quickly eat up my time, my attention, my love, and – sure as hell – any budget I had previously had in place for new music. As such, I had just one last scene to attend to, before the decade drew to a close.

It was a scene that incorrectly gave the credit to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It was scene that would throw its creator, Fishbone, firmly under history’s bus one last time. It was a scene that would eventually die under No Doubt’s steadfast removal of any semblance to what made it fun in the first place. And it was a scene that would give birth to the SKAturday’s I still occasionally make my babies suffer through till today. It was a scene that followed two others like it, (Jamaican and Two Tone), and it was as a result called simply “3rd Wave…”

It would prove to be my final scene, but no worries. It was a good place to hang up my hat of music snobbery, especially when considering what the next decade would eventually bring – or more succinctly – take away from us.

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Another Tuesday over at Jen’s Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday, and yes, I did take full advantage of the “two for Tuesday” clause buried deep within the contract. So this week saw a total of (5) scenes, (2) songs per. Plus a helping of Blue Hearts to help make the whole thing go down real smooth-like. Next week we walk into the 00’s, so you’ll be able to see my knowledge of the topic drop to levels lower than the IQ of the average Kei$ha fan… See you then!