Friday, May 23, 2014

Spinal Tap on the Rocks

The song opens with shrieks delivered in a vocal register capable of recoiling the ball sacks of singers a quarter of his age. The boulder-sized riffs are pure Kiss-meets-Spinal Tap and the beats are of the thunderously bombastic variety – no one slams the lead boot shuffle better than Jason Bonham. And even if articulations of teen lust by way of a 62 year old coffin-dodger make you want to dry heave a little, the sleaze factor only gives the song more texture.

Introducing California Breed.

Led by the true Dorian Gray of Rock 'n' Roll (a mantle originally bestowed on Kim Fowley), Glenn Hughes, the band also features another seasoned veteran in the person of the aforementioned Bonham, and an adorable 23 year-old guitar nooby named Andrew Watt. Hughes's impressive rock CV includes high profile roles with both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath as well as a stint with guitarist Gary Moore. He's played professionally since the age of 15 (released singles at 17), and now at age 62 – after a 46 year career and a recent heart surgery – he's still shrieking and slapping with the stamina of a vampire and the physique of a marathon runner. While this latest joint may not blaze any trails or set the world aflame we have to give props to the man for his indefatigable, Viagra-fueled passion.

Praise to Hughes, a true zen master of persistence: we should all be so resilient.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, 1968

By 1968 Hard Rock had barely crawled itself out of the primordial bluesy ooze: Led Zeppelin I was a year away, Clapton was still string-wanking in Cream, Deep Purple was banging out covers, and Tommy's seeds had only just begun to swim around Pete Townsend's egghead. Two years before, after being voted #1 Lead Guitarist by the British magazine Beat Instrumental, Jeff Beck left The Yardbirds (and Jimmy Page) at their peak and went solo. After charting a couple singles he went on to form the classic Jeff Beck Group with Ron Wood and a baby-faced 23 year-old Rod Stewart. (As you'll note below, Stewart has been working the pineapple head haircut for at least 46 years.)

As would be seen over and over again, self-sabotage was the leitmotif of much of Beck's career. Following the release of the band's first album Truth, now considered a "seminal work of heavy metal," Beck flaked on a chance to play at Woodstock. (Stewart says Beck never bothered to inform the rest of the band they wouldn't be playing.) Through the bent filter of Beck's psychology at the time, he'd soon come to see the group as a wholly unoriginal endeavor and a waste of his time (he'd fire original drummer MIcky Waller before the second album and Ron Wood before a tour). By the time the band completed its second album, Beck-Ola, Beck's anorexic passion for the project would eventually lead him to fire everyone.

After, Beck would return with another line-up and record two more albums to generally good reviews. Fortunately, Beck's spiritual wiring did improve with age – he'd create more classic work (Blow by Blow), and continue on as the rare Rock and Roll elder still capable of buffing up the glittering nugget when he wants to.

Here's a choppily edited snippet from what I'd presume to be German television ca. '67-'68, revealing a perky Rod and a glum Jeff as they interact with their producer-of-note Mickie Most.

The music starts at 2:15:

The Truth band live in an amazing performance from '68 off an apparent bootleg. Another sad reminder of the greatness Beck squandered.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Solid Potato Salad" May Be a Veiled Sexual Reference

You see this? It's apparently been circulating for a while:

The Ross Sisters, active from 1942 to 1948, performing Solid Potato Salad from the 1944 MGM musical Broadway Rhythm. Their singing skills were considered middling but it's what they do at the 1:00 mark that is certifiable genius. 

If you never heard of them then you're in for a surprise.

After marrying in 1950, the three retired from performing. The last of them passed away in 2002 at the age of 75.