The Rolling Stones 2

After the death of Brian Jones the Stones moved in a slightly different direction as they adjusted to a new guitarist. Then when this hit the 80’s they seemed to get lost & their lps became more aimless – shall we say, uninspired attempts to remain relevant.

As either stand-alone or mp3 I have Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main Street (1972), French EPs, Goats Head Soup (1973), It’s Only R’n’R (1974), Black & Blue (1976) Some Girls (1978) Deluxe Edition, Emotional Rescue (1980), London Singles Collection (2002), Blue & Lonesome (2016).

Bleed & Fingers are well focused & have some of the best writing of their career. Richard’s guitar work is often amazing & I find myself going back to these lps with great pleasure. The set of French EP’s – as you might guess, were released in Europe & each had 3 songs on them – the mixes are different from the lps versions. They ended with the release of Exiles. The London Singles Collection – 3 cds that ends with Sympathy for the Devil. The singles were mixed for radio & the sonics are different & in some cases totally different from the lps versions (Honky Tony Women) – some were never on lp (We Love You/Dandelion) well worth having, whereas the French EP’s are for fanatics lol. Blue & Lonesome  (2016) is their last new release – they return to their roots with a fine set of blues. 

Rounding out the mp3 collection are The Troggs: Trogglodynamite (1967) best known for Wild Thing The Trigs never made it big in the USA but were relatively popular in Britain. Solid bar band stuff. The Rumour was Graham Parkers backup band for many years I did some recording with out him: Max (1977) is an excellent set that shows the band didn’t need him. 

The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile (1967) – more a cult favourite & the studio sessions that nearly destroyed the band. Sweet & sonically dense. Wolf Call! is a fun compilation of various rock-a-billy songs. Rock-a-billy being another of the prime influences on British rock. As are The Esquires: Very Best of  (2012) with funky songs like Get On Up, this is the sort of funky sound the Stones tried to achieve but failed. 

Secos & Molhados is an innovative Brazilian glam-rock band that defies real definition. YouTube videos are wild, the music is tight, rocky, experimental & fun. I have A Volta do Gato Preto (1988). Finally U2’s Songs of Innocence (2014). not one of my favourite bands but they were forcing this lp free on anyone, even those who didn’t want it I opted take it lol. Solid rock but unexceptional.


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Beach Boys and Girls

After writing about the Beach Boys last month I did a little iTunes looking & found early lps were very inexpensive. I only knew the songs as radio fodder, not in Lp context so I downloaded: Surfer Girl/ Summer Days (and Summer Nights)/ Smiley Smile/ Surf’s Up.

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I enjoyed them all but there is little variation in lyric or style. Elevated barber shop, do-whop for the most part. Surf’s Up adds some electronic to the mix. I loved Summer Days (and Summer Nights) with California Girls & Help Me, Rhonda – a must have cd for any Beach Boys fan. Novelty song fillers on others lost their appeal quickly, for me, as well.

The Boys were too all-American clean for me at the time, even bare-chested on the beach they didn’t have any sex appeal. Their sunny sound couldn’t pull be away from the Beatles or the Stones.

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To this mp3 collection I added a bunch of r’n’b girl groups, & some real do-whop: Johnny Otis Presents: variety of acts including The Safaris; Barbara & The Browns: soul group ‘Can’t Find No Happiness;’ The Esquires: funky male do-whop; Linda Hopkins: Mid-US regional hit maker: “Come Back Baby.”

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Bob McFadden: Songs Our Mummy Taught Us: novelty Halloween songs a la Bobby Pickett; The Andantes: sweet girl group harmonies; Betty Harris: r’n’b soul “I’m Evil Tonight;” and finally the very recent Bette Midler: ‘For The Girls’ in which she pay tribute to 60’s girl groups (buy it.) Actually buy any of these, you won’t be disappointed.


The Amazing Spark

The poster for the circus was in reds and blues that Cindy couldn’t get out of her dreams.

“Ladies and gentlemen I would like to introduce the Amazing Spark!”

Cindy would ride out in her sequinned suit, ride on tiptoe balanced on the back of a perfect white – no not white, to hard to keep clean – on a perfect midnight blue horse. Yes, blue, just like the blue on the poster.

“The Amazing Spark on her wonder horse Sacre Bleu.”

She would ride in circles so fast her costume would be a magenta blur. As she twirled on Sacre Bleu’s wide back he would slowly rise into the air. Yes – they could fly but not too high but just enough.

How the children would applaud. They would put down their sweet sticky pink vanilla candy – cotton candy flecked with spikes of red, cinnamon flavour. Yum. She would lean over and scoop up some of the delicious cotton candy and eat it – handfuls of it. It would stick all over her. Then her Magic Owls would appear. Their wings iridescent with green and silver. They would flutter around her and clean her off. The crowd would applaud even more. They would jump to their feet.

Sacre Bleu would rise on his hind legs with Cindy poised on the tip of his nose on one foot. Toe to damp nose. Her other leg would stretch out perfectly and Magic Owls would land on her leg and they would take their bow.

When she left the ring the Prince would waiting for her but she wouldn’t care. She had her own true love already.

Trudy – the Monkey Man’s daughter.

They would wrap their arms around each other and walk through the fair grounds carefree and laugh at the looks of the people they passed. For of course they would be jealous. Who wouldn’t be of such two perfect little girls. Well, not so little.

Cindy rolled the poster up and put it on the dining room table. She hoped her kids would like it for more than the five seconds it would shut them up. The circus of her life wasn’t as thrilling.

Five kids, two husbands later – later than what, she didn’t know, but better later than never. She still didn’t know which was right for her. The circus of escape of the life of reality.

Some days she didn’t know where she had gone wrong or even if she had but she sensed that this wasn’t what she wanted. Something she had never wanted and now she was stuck with it. Even on her tip toes she couldn’t dance over the fields of life around her. She didn’t want to escape she just wanted to get it right.

Try as she might right always eluded her. Men with good jobs who wanted to raise families weren’t so hard to find but once she had them she couldn’t find them anymore. Not around the house.

Sometimes she would find herself with her latest him. Snug and warm beside her till the alarm, till the first child woke, till …

She unrolled the circus poster again. Ahh Trudy where the Hell are you?


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Good Vibrations

California surf music was merely top-ten pop fodder in Cape Breton when I was in high-school. The Beach Boys weren’t taken seriously, unlike the Beatles or the Stones who were the ‘real’ thing. So it wasn’t until California Girls that they caught me & to this day the opening bars of this song can transport me. I never did become a big fan so all I have in my collection are hits & smatterings.

tracksnow which way to the beach

I’ve seen the Brian Wilson bio & the story of his musical life is heart breaking but, to me, doesn’t really add anything more than nostalgia for the Boys music. At one time I did have the 45 of Good Vibrations but parted with that box of now priceless wax before I moved to TO. The electronic work on Vibrations is still unmatched. So subtle many people still don’t know its there.

snowsteps steps to the beach

I have two hits collections: a stand alone: 20 Good Vibrations – that has most of the greats: Fun, Fun, Fun etc. Another cd is of lps transfers from Endless Summer, another hits compilation and Surf’s Up. Up has some stunning work on it Long Promised Roads is epic, as is Feel Flows. Recently I downloaded fresh copies of Smiley Smile & Surf’s Up.

snowcoup little ice coupe

Those early hits are infused with a sunny sense of joy and hope, maybe that’s why they never really sunk into me (or the guys I hung out with then) we were moody deep men, don’t you know. It seemed sort of intellectually weak to admit to enjoying the Beach Boys when you had John Mayall or Bob Dylan telling us the real truth.


Ink on Purpose

Greg couldn’t remember when pain became such a pleasure.

Was it when he was six and had fallen backwards off the porch. His head had hit the ground hard, blood oozed freely and his mother was so attentive, so loving. More than she was ever at any other time. Even his Dad showed more concern, though even then, Greg sensed the difference between concern and affection.

But knowing the when certainly wasn’t going to change the now, the moment, this opportunity to savour the sweet balance between pain and pleasure.

As Greg leaned on the padded chest rest at the tattoo parlour he grimaced with the first few pricks of the needle. After those first few he no longer felt the pain only the slow purpose of Zak who was turning Greg’s bare white back into a swirl of  multicoloured Celtic knots.


‘No more than expected.’

‘Too bad.’

‘Yeah, too bad.’

The process was careful, deliberate and slow. It would take two afternoon sessions of about three hours each for Zak to complete this work of art.

Greg had dreamed of this for many years and when he finally had the money for it he didn’t hesitate. He had considered something small first, to see how it felt, to see if he could bear the pin prick process but didn’t want to numb this initial rush in anyway.

As Zak patiently outlined the first links along his shoulders Greg closed his eyes. Once he had this done he would move on to the next step in his transformation. Piercings. Along one side of the tattoo salon was an array of various metal bolts, tiny arrows, rings and small bar-bells that he could have inserted. He just had to decide where.

He had started his tattoo journey with his back as it would be a safe spot. No one at work would see it unless he wanted them too. It would be his new secret identity, his new sense of purpose, one that would never leave him.

west California sans Girls (or Boys)

Racket @redrocketcoffee

Got over to Make A Racket at the Red Rocket. I’ve been aiming to check out this new reading series & had a great time. Host Sandra Cardinal offered up an eclectic mix of non-fiction, spoken word, music, drama & story telling. As it was the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord Sandra opened the show with a look her research into Laura’s life.

side by side
side by side

First feature Teri Degler read and discussed a section of her book Divine Feminine Fire. This section dealt with the ‘Transmutation of Desire.’ Like myself, she’s found it odd that so many people believe that spirituality is meant to transcended sexuality rather than a way to experience it on deeper creative level.

Next up was a quick set of great open stagers me, Vanessa McGowan (her dad never learned how to laugh), Adam Abbas (tackling limericks to good effect & actually cracked a smile), & Joshua newly moved here from Montreal (multi-generation pieces, one about newly born niece, the other partly about how is grandparents met).

a Cathy Petch étude
a Cathy Petch étude

After the break Cathy Petch hit the stage. I’ve seen & reviewed Cathy many times but she is always a compelling performer. From her Mike Tyson piece -where we sympathize with him then are dismayed by his inability to escape the violence of his life – to her fan crush on Chewbacca – to a recent death ‘On the way to your memorial I discarded pieces of the wall you hit instead of me,’ I was not disappointed.

trashy cuddle buddies
trashy cuddle buddies

Next up was Teneile Warren a Jamaican playwright/poet – a strong set with some solid poetry  about the ‘cold war of adolescence’ and a short story of her coming out – cultures may be different but the fear of coming out remains the same – fearful at first & then how much do you tell once the basic truth is out there. Dancing with guys while eyeing the other girls dancing with guys – sort of the reverse of my high-school experience of dancing with some girl while watching the guys dance.

The night wrapped with Sage Tyrtle a ‘true’ storyteller with a great tale of growing up in California with her Dad, who meets a woman at T.M. who looks like a wicked step-mother – a wry, touching & laugh-out-loud funny story about the face verses the behind the doors reality of getting caught up in the Beach Boys extended families. Makes the Kardashians look like Quakers.

A great show, on hiatus for the summer. Kudos to Red Rocket for making itself a go-to destination in the east end with regular nights of comedy, live music and spoken words.

my legs are cold

my legs are cold