Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 10:00 AM
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 8:31 AM
Poor Michael. I know you're supposed to "love thy neighbor," but does apply if he's subleasing? About five months ago his upstairs neighbor -- a quiet, middle-age Bavarian woman -- sublet her place to a seemingly polite 20something "professional" guy. Ever since, Michael has gone from having his apartment be a relaxing place to call home to a never-ending source of aggravation as Mr. Upstairs seems to stomp around the joint 24 hours a day. Michael has politely -- and repeatedly -- asked him to try to keep the noise down (no shoes, new rugs, whatever it takes) and the guy is always polite, but then it never gets any better. Cut to dinner last night when Mikey notices a new voice mail from the guy. It seems he had a little incident in the bathroom. How Michael didn't kill the guy is beyond me ...
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 7:11 AM
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 6:39 PM
"The Great Depression" (Paul Weller)
I think we must have all gone mad
Maybe right turned over
They promise us the earth
Instead we've got the great depression
Now you're free and easy with the base
You blame your brothers and sisters
And neurotics say sod the rest
It's the new dissension
Into the abyss
By pushing forwards
It's always down
It's a desperate war
You're trying to blow yourselves up
You don't care who you stand... with the help about
Hey hey - well that's not the way
No sense or reason in your fussing and fighting
And your violent obsession
Who's ever really left feeling fine
After the great depression?
No sense of purpose in the competition
Keeping up with the Joneses
You buy a house,
You buy a car
You buy a marriage and a bed of roses
Into the abyss
By pushing forwards
It's always down
It's a desperate war
You're trying to blow yourselves up
You don't care who you stand ... with the help about
Hey hey -- well that's not the way
(Top photo by Sam Robles)
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 4:56 PM
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 10:30 AM
The mainstream media is in a tizzy over the supposedly new "relaxed" style in the Obama White House. But as AmericaBlog points out, you can't always believe everything the GOP wants you to:
CNN noted that the Bush White House had a strict rule, no one was permitted in the Oval Office without a jacket. Well, a reader just sent me the following (picture below). The lies are subtle, but they're still meant to rewrite history, and make failed Republican politicians seem grander than they actually were.
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 8:39 AM
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 8:36 AM
Another shot of Richard's KILLER ASS is right HERE.
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The following year she released her eponymous debut album. Although it received a lot of publicity -- she was signed by Peter Asher, no less! -- the audience was largely unreceptive ("Blue Kiss" stalled at No. 77 and the album peaked at No. 127). While I was "mad" at her at the time for ruining the Go-Go's, I remember the album rather fondly because of outstanding songs like "Modern Romance," "Forever" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Unfortunately, the album also confirmed that Wiedlin -- as is nicely displayed on "Our Lips Are Sealed" -- is best served in small doses. The aptly named third song on the album, "Sometimes You Really Get on My Nerves," almost seems like an ominous bit of foreshadowing -- and I'd be lying if I didn't confess to renaming "Somebody's Going to Get Into This House" as "Somebody Put a Lid on This Mouse" by the time the album nears completion (you can only handle that helium voice for so long!).
We all know that Belinda was next out of the gate ("Mad About You," which was co-written by Jane's replacement, Paula Jean Brown, still ranks as one of my all-time favorite singles) and her once-huge-but-now-gay-pride-level solo career has been an entertaining -- if not formulaic -- one.
The year after Belinda shot to megastardom with "Heaven Is a Place on Earth," Jane released the glossier "Fur" and she too hit the Top 10 with her summery confection called "Rush Hour." The album had a number of great pop songs -- "Inside a Dream," "Give," "One Heart, One Way" and "Lover's Night" -- but despite the hit single, it didn't sell much better than its predecessor.
What was the biggest surprise of 1988, though, was that Gina Schock would be next to "go solo." As a drummer with few songwriting credits to her name, the butch from Baltimore seemed like the Go-Go Least Likely To, yet she managed to channel her inner Phil Collins and teamed up with bassist Vance DeGeneres (Ellen's brother!) to form House of Schock (Chrissy Shefts on guitar and Steven Fisher on drums rounded out the band).
Although the project proved to be short-lived, the album was produced by Richard Gottehrer (the genius behind Blondie's debut and the Go-Go's classic "Beauty and the Beat") and had a Holly and the Italians working-class charm to it. The single "Middle of Nowhere" should have been a HUGE hit (it was heard in the film "The Accused"!), "Just to Dream" ranks high on my fave post-Go-Go solo tracks of all time and "This Time" had Top 40 written all over it.
In 1989, Charlotte Caffey, who had been working closely on Belinda's solo project, finally emerged with the all-girl trio called The Graces. Charlotte had been the singer in the punky band The Eyes ("Don't Talk to Me" is a classic) and a solo artist (her demo of "Fading Fast" brings a vacantness to the song that only a heroin addict could imbue), and before joining the Go-Go's, so she seemed like a shoo-in for a solo career. Yet she chose a more Bangles-ish arrangement where she rotated lead vocals with new bandmates Meredith Brooks (later of "Bitch" fame) and Gia Ciambotti. (Chrissy Shefts of House of Schock would later replace Brooks when she went solo, although the Graces would never record again.)
The Graces' sole album is full of strong quasi-folk-inspired pop songs that should have been hits -- "Perfect View" is my favorite, and the brilliant "Lay Down Your Arms" and "Should I Let You In" were wisely covered by Belinda -- although I find I tend to favor Charlotte's vocals, which makes for a slightly more uneven experience than it should have been given how strong the songs were. ("Perfect View" = perfect song.)
In 1990, Jane's third solo album came out on the heels of her song "Tangled" being included on the HUGE "Pretty Woman" soundtrack. The album, also called "Tangled," is without question Jane's masterpiece. Unlike her previous efforts, her voice never becomes annoying, but serves as complete asset to avalanche of gems she'd written. From the romantic opener "Rain on Me" and the power pop of the title track, to the heartwrenching "Paper Heart,"the giddy charms of "99 Ways" (sort of the antithesis of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover") and the anthemic "Euphoria," the album is a true delight.
Throughout the early 1990s, Kathy Valentine -- a former Textone in her own right (ever hear the original "Vacation"?) -- played around the L.A. scene with various bands, most notably her blues-inspired BlueBonnets. I never made it to any of their gigs, but my friend Mark tells me that they were absolutely unbelievable, perhaps the best post-Go-Go show in town. But apparently the magic that was created on-stage could never be captured in the studio, so the group parted ways with the charismatic singer Pinky Villandry, citing the standard "creative differences." (Not sure if Mark ever saw replacement Shannon Moore, but that didn't last long.) What the remains of the BlueBonnets -- Kathy and singer/bassist Dominique Davalos -- became was the Delphines, which developed a loyal cult following in Europe and landed them a small recording deal. After various line-up changes -- including Gina Schock on drums -- and an EP, I finally heard them on their 1996 self-titled debut album and instantly fell in love.
With Gina on drums
Winning pop melodies with a bit of a garage feel to it, "I Want You the Way I Want You, Not the Way You Are," "I Am Not Your Loved One," "Thrill of It" and especially "Crazy" and "Down Underground" (which sounds like a discarded early Blondie gem) are unquestionably the best music produced by a former member of the Go-Go's.
The Delphines' continued strong with their 2001 followup, "Cosmic Speed" -- "Carboy," "Kopperhed," a more-than-successful cover of Ike & Tina Turner 's "I Idolized You" and the title track were highlights -- but then disbanded as Kathy moved back to her native Austin to begin married life.
While pregnant, she decided to pull a Prince -- writing, arranging, singing and playing lead guitar on an entire album, 2005's "Light Years." The solo debut featured some of her strongest songwriting to date, like the Breeders-adjacent "Getting By," the power-pop perfection of "Somewhere to Nowhere" and the alt-country rocker "How the West Was Undone." (Ironically, the album's biggest weakness for me was that her voice sounds a bit too similar to Debbie Harry, which could be slightly distracting at times.)
This wasn't Valentine's first foray into being center stage, however, although it's a position she's never seemed to relish. Her post-Go-Go's/pre-BlueBonnets work included some solo demos, an attempt at a band with Gina and Holly Beth Vincent (one of my all-time faves), plus the famed World's Cutest Killers (featuring Kelly Johnson, who had replaced Kathy in Girlschool way back when), who seemed destined for stardom but never secured a recording contract. (The only song of theirs that's on YouTube -- "Chinese Whispers" -- actually features Kelly on lead vocals, which foreshadowed Kathy's later bands with multiple people singing lead.)
In 2007, Dominique Davalos (who I think had moved to Austin) and Kathy decided to start playing together again, so relaunched the BlueBonnets -- with sometime Delphines drummer Kristy McInnis and local singer/songwriter Eve Monsees on guitar -- which picked up where the Delphines left off and then expanded on it, releasing two glam-garage-blues-rock albums to date, "Boom Boom Boom Boom" (2010) and "Play Loud" (2014). Although the prolific Valentine and Davalos are like the female equivalent of Difford and Tilbrook, both albums included a re-recorded Delphines tune or two, which can be forgiven seeing as their previous band was sorely overlooked by most. (Keep up to date with the BlueBonnets HERE.)
Which brings me to perhaps the most unexpected post-Go-Go's solo outing: Frosted, the "punk-pop" band Jane formed with three young guys (former members of Fizzy Bangers and Ex-Idols), that put out one kickass album in 1996, "Cold." (I'm told Kathy was the one who encouraged Jane to form a band as an outlet for all the songs she was writing.)
Although the album suffers from some of the same problems as Jane's solo works (that voice takes a toll), there really are some wonderful 1990s alt-rock songs here -- "Dis-integrated" and "Call Me Crazy" to name two -- which, if they'd been sung by Courtney Love back in the day, would have been Billboard Modern Rock chart-toppers instead of a cutout classic. (The band quickly broke up after the album's release.)
Much of this fell by the wayside when the gals reunited in 2001 for "God Bless the Go-Go's" (how was that for a reunion that didn't miss a beat?). In recent concerts, the "new" songs blend in seamlessly with their old catalogue, which may make it seem like they've remained stuck in an era that's gone by, when it fact it just illuminates how timeless their original music -- unlike some of the ensuing solo projects along the way -- was all along.