Friday, November 30, 2012

Live Ledge #90: New Finds

I certainly didn't intend for tonight's show to be so quiet. Generally speaking, Live Ledge is a noisy affair, full of feedback, screaming vocals, and incoherent lyrics. While there was still some of that tonight, this was for the most part the most laid-back, melodic Friday night show to date.
I probably should have figured that out when I was pulling tracks for the show. I knew that I had the banjo-led, acoustic cover of Johnny Thunders' "Born to Lose" in the set, and Jesse Malin's acoustic remake of The Pogues. And I just had to open with Camper Van Beethoven's "When I Win the Lottery" after my world travels were tragically taken away by faulty numbers on this week's lottery tickets.
When it's a new release show, though, you're stuck with the sounds of your most recent acquisitions. Tonight featured new music by Bad Brains, Guided By Voices, Cheater Slicks, and so many more, plus new blog finds of Chris Spedding, Jesse Hector, and quite a few others. Also, great weather created many walking excursions, so there are two sets that sample tracks from my "Walking Rock Alphabet" blog series.
It's a fun show, actually, despite the calmness of the selections, so pull it from iTunes or Stitcher, or...


1. Camper Van Beethoven, When I Win The Lottery
2. The Pogues, Streams Of Whiskey
3. Jesse Malin, If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God
4. Banjoey Ramone, Born to Lose
5. Natural Kicks, I'm Not Like Everybody Else
6. Adrian Edmunson & The Bad Shepherds, Rise
7. The Barreracudas, Girl
8. The Cavedogs, Tayter Country
9. The Rolling Stones, Road Runner
10. The Rolling Stones, Satisfaction (Live)
11. The Prisoners, Better in Black
12. The Prime Movers, Revenge
13. The Draghounds, Boiling Point
14. The Exploding Hearts, Modern Kicks
15. Flag With Hank, Don't Look My Way
16. Golden Smog, Red Headed Stepchild
17. The Murlocs, Psychotic Reaction
18. The Straight Arrows, Lies
19. Lime Spiders, Action Woman
20. Jesse Hector, Summertime Blues
21. The Mahones, Makes No Sense At All
22. The Evens, King of Kings
23. Bad Brains, Youth Of Today
24. Rites of Spring, End on End  
26. Archers of Loaf, Harnessed In Slums (Live)
27. King Tuff, Keep On Movin'
28. The Babies, Slow Walkin
29. Legendary Wings, Cartoon
30. Cheater Slicks, Hold on to Your Soul
31. Bang Bang Rock and Roll, Everybody Hates Me
32. Chris Spedding & The Vibrators, Pogo Dancing

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: G

Blind Faith. CSNY. Derek & the Dominos. Traveling Wilburys. All supposed supergroups. All definite failures. Why does the sum of so many great parts never come close to equaling the individual talents. Well, in the Wilburys case just point to producer Jeff Lynne. For the rest, it’s simple - ego. You’re asking pampered millionaires who ALWAYS get their way to share not only the spotlight but the decision making. 
It never works...except in one case. Golden Smog began as an excuse for Minneapolis musicians to get together at bars such as the Uptown and Lee’s Liquor Lounge. Their first gig was actually under the name of “The Take it to the Limit Band”, covering primarily Eagles tracks (groan).
While the lineup was flexible, by the time they decided to make a recording it included two members of The Jayhawks (Gary Louris, Marc Perlman), Soul Asylum’s Dan Murphy, Run Westy Run’s Kraig Johnson, and Chris Mars of The Replacements. This first EP, On Golden Smog, 
Three years later, the focus had shifted to originals, with Honeydogs drummer Noah Levy replacing Mars, and Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy also added to the lineup. Now this is my kind of supergroup, as I was a huge fan of every one of the original bands.
Their first full-length (and today’s walking choice), Down By the Old Mainstream, is EXACTLY what you’d expect when you combine The Jayhawks, Wilco, and the non-”Runaway Train” side of Soul Asylum. Well-crafted lyrics, played in a style that includes hints of folk, country-rock, and just a tad of Stones-y crunch.
Most importantly, there is no evidence of the ego problems that I referenced earlier. Everybody has roughly an equal amount of songs on this album, including Kraig Johnson, easily the least-known member of the band. The record also flows like this is a “real” group, not individual solo tracks that mirror the singer/writer of the tune.
Golden Smog went on to record three more albums over the years, but scheduling was a times an issue. The success of Wilco greatly reduced the availability of Tweedy; by 2006’s Another Fine Day he only had a cameo appearance. Noah Levy also dropped out early on, and was replaced by former Big Star drummer Jody Stephens. 
I’ve been lucky enough to see them on numerous occasions, including an impromptu min-set midway through a Wilco appearance at First Avenue. Of course, my favorite moment was seeing them front Paul Westerberg for a spirited rendition of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers” at the benefit for Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller in 2004. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: F

Today’s little walking story is a bit different than anything that has been written throughout both runs of the alphabet. For the first time, today’s band of choice is not only a local band, but a band whose entire lineup I would consider close friends. Yes, this will be a truly biased post.
Flag With Hank was a late 80’s/early 90’s roots-rock band led by former No Direction leader Rich Show. In fact, if memory serves correctly, No Direction gradually morphed into Flag WIth Hank. The mid-80’s were a blur of booze and chemicals so I could be completely off, but I seem to recall a latter period No Direction in-store appearance at the record store I managed that featured Flag With Hank members Lance Beier (drums) and Heath Henjum (bass). 
It can’t be stated enough how important this band was to what became a thriving local scene a few years later. They opened the doors and showed that people would show up to see a local band that plays original music...and it didn’t have to be a traditional music club.
But Rich Show had been through that already with No Direction. Not given any shot to play clubs like the Pomp Room, that band set up a legendary Monday night residency at the original Crow Bar. It’s also unlikely that Phil’s Pub would still be doing live music 25 years later if No Direction hadn’t convinced them to allow them to play all-ages shows in their original 18th and Minnesota location?
Flag With Hank had this same handicap. So they knocked on all the doors in town, and quite often were given an opportunity. Sometimes it didn’t work out, such as the West 12th Street casino that refused to allow them to charge a cover charge.
When it did work out, though, it not only was for Flag’s benefit but for a growing scene of new bands that began cropping up around town. The center piece of that so-called “alternative” scene was the Mad Hatter, and it was there that ALL of my musician friends played.
Unfortunately, I missed most of the Mad Hatter scene, as I had moved up to Aberdeen to run a record store. I did make it back for some great Flag With Hank shows at the ‘Hatter, though, but it wasn’t until the scene had moved to the Limelight, Jono’s, and, eventually the Pomp Room that I was once again immersed in local music (and writing about it).
During those years, Flag With Hank put out two releases, the cassette-only self-titled album and Weaselroni, today’s album of choice. Listening to the album for the first time in years, I’ve decided that calling them “roots rock” isn’t really accurate. Nor is “alternative” or whatever other genre title you try to give them.
Ok, roots rock may be the closest, but the blistering opening track, “Don’t Look My Way”, has more in common with The Replacements’ “Hold My Life” than The Blasters or Del-Lords. On the other hand, what so-called alternative band would cover Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight”. (By the way, the beautiful female fans that flocked to see FWH would seriously coo when Show would begin singing that tune.)
Yes, today’s walk was full of nostalgia, along with a sadness that the local music scene is basically dead these days (at least for music I enjoy). Flag With Hank morphed into Violet, and, along with a handful of other local bands (most notably Janitor Bob) the “normals” actually showed up by the hundreds (sometimes thousands). The Pomp Room finally dumped the terrible metal cover bands, and national acts listed our town as a destination. 
Now there’s maybe two, three shows a year I give a fuck about. Of course, leaving The Ledge studios is a rarity anyway, so why would anybody care who I want to see?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: E

I’m not going to waste your time with some cutesy little into tonight. It’s been one of those weeks that you just want to get over with and forget. I’m in no mood to deal with much of anything, so when I finally got home tonight I just bundled up and got on with it.
As John Lydon once sang, though, “anger is an energy”, and I proved it tonight. Not only did I get through an entire album, I almost made it through an entire discography! Don’t be too impressed, as the band in question only has two releases, and one of them was a posthumous album of outtakes and demos. 
What band am I talking about? The Exploding Hearts, who in my mind was well on their way to ruling the world before tragedy struck them in mid-2003. I may have used this phrase a few times before, but they’re pure Scott music. Take a handful of my favorite original British punk bands such as The Undertones and The Only Ones, and mix in some of the late 70’s power pop-ish punk of The Real Kids, Dead Boys, and The Nerves. Top all of this off with a fire-y guitar sound that clearly has the ghosts of Bob Stinson and Johnny Thunders raising whiskey toasts and grinning.
The Exploding Hearts were a Portland band whose debut album, Guitar Romantic, was initially released in early 2003 on a tiny record label, Screaming Apple Records. The initial vinyl run was only 1000 copies, but as the band began receiving rave reviews, Dirtnap Records, a subsidiary of Mordam Records, picked up the CD rights and released it on March 24, 2003.
Four months later, as the band was returning home from a gig in San Francisco, their tour van crashed near Eugene, OR. Three members of the band, bassist Matt Fitzgerald (was was driving and reportedly fell asleep), vocalist/guitarist Adam Cox, and drummer Jeremy Gage, all died as a result of the accident, leaving guitarist Terry Six as the lone survivor.
While all deaths are a shame, this one hits hard because of the band’s great potential. Guitar Romantic is an underrated rock ‘n’ roll classic. In a decade of Pro Tools, American Idol, and so many other sins against music, The Exploding Hearts were a reminder that rock ‘n’ roll can and should still exist; that a loud guitar mixed with a driving rhythm section is not a dying relic.
Surprisingly, the odds and ends posthumous collection, Shattered, is not the usual scraping of the bottom of the barrel that plague most of these releases. In fact, I initially didn’t notice we had moved on to their other album as I was wandering around the neighborhood. I guess it should all fit together, though, as a good percentage of this package consists of non-album singles tracks, along with a handful of demos of songs that probably would have ended up on a second album.
The bad news is that I may have overextended myself on this long walk, as my legs are fucking killing me right now!!! Ugh, another faildozer on a day...make it week of disappointments. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rural Ledge-ucation #79: Country Divas

First off, my apologies for the lateness in posting this show. Technical issues caused me to lack the ability to access the host of these shows, so I've been (not so) patiently waiting for the moment I could upload.
The time has finally come, and this may be one of the more enjoyable Sunday morning broadcasts I've put together to date. The inspiration came a few days ago when I heard this hilarious tune by Loretta Lynn on satellite radio:

"The girls in New York City they all march for women's lib
And Better Homes and Gardens shows the modern way to live
And the pill may change the world tomorrow but meanwhile today
Here in Topeka the flies are a buzzin'
The dog is a barkin' and the floor needs a scrubbin'
One needs a spankin' and one needs a huggin' Lord one's on the way
Oh gee I hope it ain't twins again"

How could I not air this tune? The search was now on to find other tunes with similar themes, and we now have a collection of lying, cheating, and drinking songs primarily sung by female country stars of the 50's and 60's. It's a lot of fun, and definitely worth the wait!
Don't wait a second - either stream it via Stitcher or The Ledge app, or...


1. Patsy Cline, I Fall To Pieces
2. Loretta Lynn, One's On The Way
3. Tammy Wynette, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
4. Julie Young, Villa of the Nude
5. Jeannie C. Riley, The Girl Most Likely
6. Johnny Cash And June Carter Cash, Jackson
7. Lefty Frizzell & June Stearns, If You've Got The Money (I've Got The Time)
8. Miss DeLois & the Music Men, Daddy Was a Preacher & Mamma Was a Go-Go Girl
9. Dottie West, Rock'n Roll Drummer In A Country Girl's Band
10. Leona Williams, Country Girl With Hot Pants On
11. June Stearns, The Future Ex-Mrs. Jones
12. Kitty Wells, Will Your Lawyer Talk To God
13. Bonnie Owens, Why Don't Daddy Live Here Anymore
14. Wanda Jackson, This Gun Don't Care
15. Davis Sisters, I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
16. Rose Maddox, The Bottom of the Glass
17. Wanda Allred, Skid Row Girl
18. Jean Shepard, Second Fiddle
19. Billie Jo Spears, Blanket On The Ground
20. Dolly Parton, Blue Yodel #8 (Mule Skinner Blues)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: D

After two cold, boring days, I just had to get my fat ass on the sidewalk. These last two days have been well under freezing temps, with godawful wind gusts. Today’s temps are only marginal higher (mid-30’s), but with absolutely no wind it wasn’t too much of a problem to just add another layer. Plus, I discovered that a winter knit cap holds in my ear plugs!
The “D” section actually offered a number of different possibilities, including a handful of long forgotten obscure bands. A request by my buddy Dave on Friday’s Live Ledge made me almost choose the Dashboard Saviors, but eventually I settled on The Draghounds and their 1992 debut album, Last Stop ‘til Ninth Street.
This Austin, MN-based four-piece played in this silly city a number of times in the mid-90’s, usually opening for the Gear Daddies, Austin’s big success story of that time. Yet I preferred The Draghounds. Nothing against Martin Zellar and his band, but the energetic, guitar-oriented attack of The Draghounds was more to my true musical love.
Last Stop ‘til Ninth Street’s first two tracks are the perfect examples. “Boiling Point” is everything I love in three minutes and twenty-one seconds. An early Clash-ish cacophony of guitars merging into a power pop melody. Imagine The Replacements covering The Plimsouls at 45 rpm. 
“Space 1999”, the followup, is similar yet different enough to stand proudly with and against the opener. This time the opening is pure Bob Stinson ‘mats, with a singalong chorus that makes you want to hit replay when it’s over. Together, these two tracks SHOULD have captured the same major labels that had earlier made it to the Spam capital to sign the Gear Daddies.
Instead, the band carried on for a couple more albums, and after the band broke up leader Mike Nikolai spent his life savings on an Amtrak train to that other Austin. The one in Texas, that is, where over the last fifteen years or so he has released a handful of projects with help from members of Son Volt, The Gourds and Damnations.
As I made my way around the neighborhood with this album blasting in my ears, I do have to acknowledge that as good as it is the album could have cut two or three tracks. And I’m not just saying that because a 48-minute album was too much on this cold day! No, I just don’t see the need for the fake blues of “Last Stop” and a couple other tunes in this mid-section of this album, although some of the last 1/3 of the album (“Mad Cap Mama”, “I Would Not Let You Fall”) are almost as fantastic as those monumental opening tunes. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Live Ledge #89: Black Friday Sucks!

Anybody who knows me has heard my anti-Black Friday rant by now. Thanks to KRRO, thousands of people who DON'T know me are aware of this bitchfest, as I go off on it every year. It just makes no sense. There is no sale great enough to make me get out of bed and deal with these idiotic cretins who clog up the aisles and camp out to save fifty bucks on a shitty non-label TV.
This year, though, I attempted to create a new a few laughs but little success. Instead of #BlackFriday, I propose #OccupyYourBedroom. Go ahead and set your alarm clocks for Black Friday time, but instead you all should use that time to roll over and spend some quality time with the one you love...or sort of like enough to live together. Have yourself a real Thanksgiving treat.
Tonight's show is all about tunes that are anti-Black Friday. Now most of these songs were not written or produced with this event in mind, but their anti-consumerism, anti-pop culture attitude is close enough to fit in my mind...and that's all that matters to me. :)
If you're giggling after reading these paragraphs, then go to iTunes and either subscribe to The Ledge or download The Ledge app. Or head to Stitcher and stream the show. Or if you have OCD and need to hear it right this very second...


1. Tom Waits, Step Right Up
2. The Monkees, Salesman
3. The Kinks, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
4. Meyerman, Judy's Out Of Fashion
5. Billy Bragg, The Busy Girl Buys Beauty
6. Alex Chilton, All I Really Want Is Money
7. Jonathan Richman, Rockin' Shopping Centre
8. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, Burn Down the Malls
9. Weezer, In The Mall
10. Guadalcanal Diary, Always Saturday
11. Guided By Voices, An Unmarketed Product
12. Archers Of Loaf, Fashion Bleeds
13. Dashboard Saviors, Pawnbroker
14. Devo, Freedom Of Choice
15. Gang Of Four, Damaged Goods
16. Killing Joke, Age Of Greed
17. The Mekons, Empire Of The Senseless
18. Juliana Hatfield, Sellout
19. Babes in Toyland, Busiest Shopping Day Of The Year
20. The Slits, Spend Spend Spend
21. X-Ray Specs, Warrior In Woolworths
22. The Jam, Shopping
23. The Jam, In The Crowd
24. The Clash, Lost in the Supermarket
25. The Saints, Know Your Product
26. Fugazi, Merchandise
27. Bad Religion, 21st Century (Digital Boy)
28. Dead Kennedys, Winnebago Warrior
29. The Testors, Greedy Fuckers
30. The Jim Jones Revue, Where Da Money Go?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: C

I may have stated that I was going to skip venturing out on Turkey Day, but I found myself waking up way too early this morning. Way too fucking early. I should have just gone in for a half day of work, as attempting to force some more sleep just didn’t work.
So I stumbled out of my bedroom and made myself a pot of coffee. Turning on the TV, I quickly figured out that the holiday tradition of nothing but pure shit had not changed. I don’t waste my time with lip-synching parades, so I moved on to the cable channels. 
Wait, did Showtime sell Homeland reruns to A&E? No, I guess not. It’s just Mandy Patinkin interrogating a Middle Eastern suspect on a rerun of Criminal Minds. I figured it out because instead of the experimental jazz that is usually the show’s soundtrack, instead it was the usual generic network TV “dramatic” keyboard garbage. At least that channel is showing a pre-2011 episode for a change, I guess.
With the coffee pot drained, I turned on the weather app on my iPhone and discovered that while it was currently in the high 40’s, a cold front was quickly coming in and the temps were about to go downhill. Ah, what the fuck. I may as well head outdoors.
Today’s group is the early 90‘s, Boston-based The Cavedogs, and their debut album, Joyrides for Shut-ins. An apt title for my reclusive lifestyle, I’d say. I discovered this band back in the days when I was still doing college radio shows. “Tayter Country”, the first track on the album, was quite possibly my most-played track of 1990. Powered by 
Mark Rivers’ Keith Moon/Clem Burke-ish powerfully exuberant drums, “Tayter Country” is one of the greatest Kinks/Cheap Trick-inspired power pop tracks I’ve ever heard.
While the rest of the record may not live up to the promise of this track, it is till full of the types of glistening guitars, pop hooks, and clever lyrics that forms the basis of the vast majority of my music empire.
Too bad the world never caught on to this great band, though, but like most tragic band stories it’s not their fault. They were signed to Enigma Records, who released this album not long before they imploded. Capitol Records, who had a joint venture with Enigma, picked them up but inner turmoil had set in during the recording of their second album, Soul Martini. After brief tours with Dramarama and The Replacements, Capitol dropped them and the band broke up.
As I made my way around the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if their label situation hadn’t been so dreary. What would have happened if Enigma had set them up on early tours that made sense instead of forcing them to open for other Enigma acts such as Mojo Nixon or The Dead Milkmen. While they’re fine artists, they had nothing musically in common.
These thoughts helped me ignore my dismal trot. While the temperature was indeed mild, a strong Northern breeze made me freeze my ass off...enough that I pulled up my hood and put on my gloves. On the other half, with the sun in my face and the wind on my back, I sweated like a pig. I was more than happy when that last track concluded a few hundred feet from my door.
By the way, if you have any interest in The Cavedogs, you can find rarities, b-sides and live tracks at their website, Tayter Country.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: B

I wasn’t going to make it out my door today. A long, shitty day coupled with the beginning of the holiday weekend, made me want to just lounge on my couch with a stiff whiskey-Coke, fantasizing about a lovely lady that sadly resides far, far away.
At the same time, though, there aren’t going to be many, if any, days like today, as it hit 70 degrees. That’s right, 70 fucking degrees in Sioux Falls, SD the day before Thanksgiving! There’s no excuse to not make some effort to take advantage of this warmth. Plus, maybe a brisk walk will ease the day’s frustrations.
I also had the perfect record for such an adventure. Nocturnal Missions is a 2011 album that deserves to be heard. Yes, it’s received plenty of airplay on my dumb podcasts, but it should reside in every rock ‘n’ roll fan’s library.
The problem in convincing the world of this band’s awesomeness is that they’re almost impossible to describe. The Amazon description says they are “somewhere between The Heartbreakers (Petty) and The Heartbreakers (Thunders)”, but I don’t hear much of the Petty side of that equation. Sure, there’s a lot of Thunders-ish glam-influenced guitars, but I don’t quite hear the decadence that marked anything involving Johnny Thunders.
One could also say they’re punk-inspired pop music, but they’re thankfully miles away from what we know now as pop-punk. It’s melodic but not as tedious as the Fall Out Boy crowd. Again, thank God.
So here is what I think is the best description. Take the Thunders version of The Heartbreakers and add a tiny sliver of The Ramones, a big helping of revved-up Plimsouls, a couple of dabs of the pop sensibilities of Tommy Keene and Dwight Twilley, and top it off with the sugary side of early Cheap Trick (and they even cover Cheap Trick’s “Come On, Come On”). In other words, it’s Scott Music For Scott People.
Still not sold? Just go to your favorite online music resource, whether it’s Spotify, Last.FM, Pandora, or those “other” places I won’t mention here, and cue up “Baby Baby Baby”, “Don’t Roll Your Eyes”, or my favorite, “Girl”. I almost guarantee that you’ll end up going back to obtain the rest of the album.
Fortunately for my day, but unfortunately for fans of the band, Nocturnal Missions is way too short. 29 minutes makes me just beg for more. Lots more. Hopefully, they’ll have another release soon. Please? Like next week. kthx

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: A

Yes, I’m back. After a day off to soak my pour sore feet and calves, I made it out once again today. I did a lot of soul searching to figure out how I would handle this second round of alphabetical walks, and I think I have the perfect solution. 
In some respects, what I decided isn’t much different than what I just finished. It is still going to be an alphabetical list, but instead of it being based on album title I am now using the band name for that daily pick.
But there’s one major change that I think I have to do to make this work. Sure, it would be really easy to keep picking my usual Replacements/Velvets/Huskers once again. Nope, this blog would be even more tedious than it already is if I was to do that.
Instead, I have decided to go deep. Very deep. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know many of you are sitting there shaking your heads. What I have been writing about is obscure to you. For the most part they weren’t household names, nor would they ever be featured on the American Music Awards (thank God).
In my circles, though, what you saw in the first round of the alphabet WERE the top of the heap. They were all acts that most of us would (and have) travelled hours to see, even if that trip meant we’d be sharing the floor space with only another couple dozen drones who made similar pilgrimages. 
I need to challenge myself not just physically but in the writing department, so i’m going to try to pick really obscure acts. Many of them will be artists whose albums I haven’t actually made it completely through before that day’s jaunt. I can even see some new releases being thrown into the pot. 
Today is a perfect example, and I probably should start off by stating how I discovered this artist. One of the great features of being a part of the Real Punk Radio Network is the behind the scenes sharing between all of us on air personalities. If I hear something on another show, or have discussed something in chat that seems intriguing, I can almost expect it to show up in my dropbox before the song is even over. People such as Drazzle, Jason Snyderman, Greg Lonesome, Tommer Unit, and others couldn’t be more open to sharing their treasures, and I’ve been turned on to so many great acts and albums over my two years doing shows.
My artist/album for the day is a perfect example. I believe it was during Snyderman’s Burrito Electrico Punk Rock Show that I first heard this strange cover of a Sex Pistols’ tune. Imagine “God Save the Queen” given a sort of Celtic twist, with mandolins and acoustic guitars driving the track.
I obviously needed to know what exactly I was hearing, and it turned out to be Adrian Edmondson and The Bad Shepherds. I’m sure 99.99% of you have never heard this group, but I bet you do know about Mr. Edmondson. Remember the great 80’s British sitcom The Young Ones? Edmondson played Vyvyan, the spiked orange haired “punk” whose denim jacket said “Very Metal” on the back.

Apparently, while on tour with a 2000’s version of The Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band, a drunken Edmondson stumbled into a music store and walked out with a mandolin. After learning a few chords, he started teaching himself some of his favorite old punk rock songs, and ended up recruiting musicians to form The Bad Shepherds.
In 2009, they released their first album, Yan Tyan Thethera Metheral, which is today’s most interesting walking soundtrack. Besides the Pistols’ tune mentioned earlier, the album features the band’s unique Celtic folk rewriting of classic songs by The Clash, Talking Heads, Kraftwerk, Squeeze, Pil, and many others. Often, they even blend multiple songs together, such as the fantastic molding of the words and melody of “Teenage Kicks” with the musical backing of “Whiskey In the Jar”.
This album was a perfect choice to kick off this round. It fit every button I wanted to push - it was obscure, I had yet to actually get through the whole album, and I had a giant smile on my face the entire walk around the neighborhood. I hope every letter works out this well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: Z

Here we are at the end of this silly walking/writing exercise. Or at least the first phase of it, as I need to motivate myself to carry on. Not just the physical exercise, either, as this project is as much to also engage the brain matter. I know I’m a shit writer, but I have seen a bit of improvement over the past few weeks.
I began contemplating this last post a few days ago. I had this desire to go out with a bang. Sort of my personal pop shot. I wanted this final post to cause beautiful women to roll around naked in glitter, and for guys to...well, I don’t give a fuck about dudes. I’ve never understood “bro” culture, and never will. 
Luckily, the letter “Z” was perfect for this big concluding post. It is one of those letters where I have few choices, but one of those was EXACTLY what I was looking for. A 71-minute album by one of my beloved bands that was an instant classic on its release.
Keep in mind the typical album lengths that I’ve utilized throughout these posts. A good percentage of my picks were in the 30’s, and few others went past the 45-minute mark. But I’ve taken advantage of beautiful weather this week with a couple choices that went past the fifty-minute mark.
Seventy-one minutes, though, is a big jump over the early 50’s, but as soon as I saw that Husker Du’s Zen Arcade on my list I knew it had this had to be my goal for the day. Initially, I hedged my bets a bit. Knowing that the album concluded with the fourteen-minute “Reoccurring Dreams”, a consolation prize of getting back to my house as this song commenced would still be my walking record.
So I made it out of my front door with the military-style kickoff of Grant Hart’s drums, which were quickly joined by Greg Norton’s bass and the slicing guitar buzz of Bob Mould. “Something I Learned Today” was that initial blast, and I was on my way in a semi-furious pace that never relented.
Seriously, I kept up this speed for the vast majority of the walk. I had initially figured that just by extending the lengthy square that I had previously utilized on one of my longer walks that I’d hit the curvy entrance of my block to that already-mentioned “Reoccurring Dreams”. Nope, I still had three other normal-length tunes at this point so I had to carry on another couple of blocks and then had to circle around MY long block for a second time.
In some respects, it’s fitting that this is the album that not only upped the length of my wandering but also my pace. Zen Arcade was recorded in two marathon sessions during short breaks in the band’s excruciating touring schedule. I’m not exaggerating on the marathons either, as each of these sessions found the band locking themselves in the studio for 24 straight hours. It probably helped, though, that Bob Mould claimed in his autobiography that he laced the studio’s coffee with a big dose of crystal meth!
Zen Arcade shows Husker Du at the peak of their powers, and the fact that it’s a double album with a running story is simply extraordinary. There were no double albums in hardcore, let alone concept albums. But after releasing a seven-inch, an EP, and one full-length album, they went for it.
So what’s the story? Well, it’s not as coherent as Tommy, but in some respects it’s very similar. As their wiki page says, the album “tells the story of a young boy who runs away from an unfulfilling home life, only to find the world outside is even worse”. Besides the ambitious attempt to create a somewhat coherent story, the album finds the band expanding on their sonic template. Many tracks rank as their most melodic to date, and their are plenty of interludes that incorporate psychedelia, folk, and that big hardcore no-no, piano.
Most importantly, this is THE album that captures Husker Du at their most united. There’s no glaring differences between Mould and Hart tunes; there’s no overdubbing of Norton’s bass lines. Almost every track is a first-take, but there’s few bum notes or missed cues. While subsequent albums come close to Zen Arcade’s heights, and both Mould and Hart perfected the ability to write pure pop songs, Zen Arcade remains the true classic of the band’s history.
With the final album of this round completed, it’s now time to once again ask the few who read this drivel to make some suggestions. Like I said, I want to keep on the walking/writing combination, but I’m unsure how to proceed. I’ve thought about repeating the alphabetical selection, but choosing band names instead of albums. I’ve contemplated various shuffle devices, but there’s something to be said about heading out with a set goal that’s created by my choice of the day.
What do you think? If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments, or shoot me an email.

Rural Ledge-ucation #78: Almost Thanksgiving

In four days, we have one of the few holidays I enjoy. Why do I like Thanksgiving? It's a slacker's paradise. Lots of food (and I haven't had mashed potatoes in months), football, and, most importantly, naps! There's few things better than a two-hour afternoon nap with a bulging belly full of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and other treats.
So why not celebrate this big day a little early? Besides odes to the actual day by the likes of Ray Davies and Graham Parker (what's with these Brits singing about OUR day?), there's plenty of songs about the items we'll find on our table. OK, I do realize that John Lennon wasn't really writing about "cold turkey", and I don't expect to find any of Mark E. Smith's "pumpkin soup" to be served. I just wanted to hear those songs.
There's also a few selections from my "Walking Rock Alphabet" project, which will end either today or tomorrow. By the way, now that I have walked the entire alphabet, does anybody have any ideas for a future walking/music/writing idea? Let me know. Please!
Grab this show at the usual spots and stream it for your family on Thursday..or you can..


1. Graham Parker, Almost Thanksgiving Day
2. Ray Davies, Thanksgiving Day
3. Drive-By Truckers, The Thanksgiving Filter
4. Hayes Carll, Wild as a Turkey
5. Cracker, Sweet Potato
6. Blake Babies, Boiled Potato
7. Hoodoo Gurus, Turkey Dinner
8. The Soft Boys, Cold Turkey
9. The Fall, Pumpkin Soup And Mashed Potatoes
10. Bo Diddley, Corn Bread
11. Noble Watts, Mashed Potatoes
12. Leadbelly, Somebody's Diggin' My Potatoes
13. David Bowie, Five Years
14. Elliott Smith, Waltz #2 (Xo)
15. Son Volt, Route
16. Wilco, Kamera
17. Jay Bennett & Edward Burch, My Darlin'

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: Y

While it is a warm day, I almost refrained from getting out on my walk. Gusty winds made the fifty degree temps feel much, much colder. My mid-afternoon, though, these winds had quieted down to a cool breeze so I made my way out the door.
Although there are a number of albums in the “Y” section of my library, this was one of those days where the choice was obvious. You may recall in previous posts that I spent a good portion of the 90’s following the alt-country/Americana/No Depression movement. By the dawn of the new century, though, this genre was starting to dry up. The great runs of Son Volt and Steve Earle albums had slowed down; Whiskeytown was dissolving due to whatever chaos and insanity was running in leader Ryan Adams’ brain. There were still some great bands and songwriters, but few of them seemed as fresh as what had come before.
One band who was successfully adapting to the changing landscape was Wilco. Originally considered the second-tier spinoff of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy’s band had by now eclipsed Jay Farrar’s Son Volt by moving away from the country-rock of their first two albums (A.M. and Being There). Their third album, Summerteeth, had more in common with the Beach Boys than The Byrds, so expectations for album number four were high.
The story of the resulting album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, has been well-documented in print and video, particularly in the I Am Trying to Break Your Heart documentary. Besides the personnel changes that saw the departures of drummer Ken Coomer and multi-instrumentalist/co-producer Jay Bennett, the resulting album was initially turned down by their record company, which delayed its release for almost a full year. 
When it was finally released in April, 2002, the album’s success showed that not only was their original record company was incorrect in their sales assessment, it also proved that pre-release leaking and downloading were not necessarily the reason for the music industry’s declining sales. Wilco had defied record company protocol by giving a blind eye to MP3 sharing and also by streaming it on their website months before it’s release. In fact, not only was the actual album available online, but hours of alternate versions, demos, and different mixes.
As for the actual album, it’s hard not to agree that it is the band’s masterpiece. Their use of “found” sounds, feedback, and other forms of audio noise and technology sort of makes them an “American Radiohead”, but at its heart Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a natural pop progression from Summerteeth. Outside of a few little touches, the orchestrated noise is really only present on a couple of songs (“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”, “Ashes of American Flags”, “Reservations”), leaving the rest of the album as “normal” acoustic-based pop songs. How is it possible that Warner Brothers thought songs such as “Kamera”, “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You” were noncommercial? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Live Ledge #88: The In Crowd

To say that I was impressed by the new Rolling Stones documentary, Crossfire Hurricane, would be a huge understatement. Generally, I'm wary of most of these movies that attempt to tell the stories of bands whose lives are already well-documented. Between earlier movies and bootlegs, it seemed like the vast majority of material is already out there.
Crossfire Hurricane does tell that same story, but with brand new interviews AND, most importantly, primarily previously unseen footage. Even when the movie is discussing events that have been the basis of earlier films, most notably the disastrous Altamont concert, director Brett Morgen has relied on mostly outtakes.
Sure, there are portions of the story that didn't fit in the two-hour broadcast, and the band's tale prematurely ends in 1981, but so much of it is squeezed in. It's also not sugarcoated. We do see the physical and mental deterioration of guitarist Brian Jones, who transforms from an almost co-front man role on a live take of "I Just Want to Make Love to You" to a clearly wasted hindrance in the studio whose guitar is generally unplugged. Keith's growing drug intake isn't glossed over. Hell, we even see Mick Jagger do a snort off a switchblade!
In this latest Live Ledge, I devote a good portion of the show to a discussion of the movie, and also play a handful of Stones tunes. I also talk about the devastation of Norton Records due to Hurricane Sandy, and express my anger at my fine friends rambling on and on about the dissolution of Hostess.
There's also the usual mix of new releases, blog finds, cover tunes, and other favorites. Some of these new tunes include recent releases by Guided By Voices, The Babies, King Tuff, and realpunkradio buddies Torpedohead.
Like I say with every show release,  you can subscribe to The Ledge in iTunes, stream it via Stitcher or on my Android/iPhone app called The Ledge, or...


1. Bryan Ferry, The 'In' Crowd
2. The Rolling Stones, Moonlight Mile
3. The Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man
4. The Rolling Stones, Route 66
5. The Rolling Stones, I Just Want To Make Love To You
6. The Babies, Moonlight Mile
7. Biters, Born to Cry
8. King Tuff, Losers Wall
9. Guided By Voices, White Flag
10. Torpedohead, Cadillac Beach
11. Carrie & the Dirty Pillows, Porcelain God
12. Danko Jones, I Believed In God
13. Cheater Slicks, Love Ordeal
14. Forgetters, I'm Not Immune
15. Jets to Brazil, You're Having the Time of My Life
16. Jawbreaker, I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both
17. Suzy & Los Quattro Sing With Tv Smith, What If?
18. Adverts, One Chord Wonders
19. The Headaches, Teenage Sex
20. Hasil Adkins, No More Hot Dogs
21. God's Favorite Band, 1st And 7th
22. Husker Du, Pink Turns To Blue
23. Soul Asylum, Sometime To Return
24. The Replacements, Customer
25. The Contras, S.O.S.
26. Paranoiacs, I Think I love You
27. The Fastbacks, What Ever Happened To...
28. The Undertones, Teenage Kicks
29. The Velvet Underground, Heroin
30. Nervebreakers, Hijack the Radio ('77 demo)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: X

I may have bitched about my lack of choices on earlier days, but today’s letter is by far the worst. Seriously. My 64 gig iPhone has exactly two albums that start with the letter “X”, while my 130,000 song iTunes library consists of only a couple more. Given that one of these albums is from a band already represented on this project, I only had one possibility.
Thankfully, my default option was an album that I love - XO by Elliott Smith. His first album for a major label, XO is sort of a departure but then again not really. Having a major label budget did allow for extra instrumentation (horns, vibraphone, chamberlin, etc.), some sonic experimentation (drum loops on “Independence Day”), and a lusher sound, but the heart of Smith’s songs are still his melancholy Lennon-esque double-tracked vocals and acoustic guitar.
I don’t really have a lot to say about today’s selection. If you like Elliott, you tend to like almost everything he ever released. A prolific writer, he always had a stockpile of songs whenever he recorded, so there’s no real lull throughout this album. Yes, there are some highlights - “Sweet Adeline”, “Waltz #2 (XO)”, and “Bottle Up and Explode!” are a few of them - but they’re only a half-step or so above the rest of the tracks.
XO isn’t my favorite Elliott Smith album, though. That award would go to the first album I ever heard from him - his third album, Either/Or. I had heard of his first band, Heatmiser, but to this day really don’t remember much of them. I may have even seen them at some point, but they were just another in a long line of post-grunge alt-rockers.
Either/Or, though, was something different. It was here that I was first hypnotized by his subtle yet emotionally heartbreaking lyrics. I had just acquired a CD burner around the time of this album’s release, and “Ballad of Big Nothing” made almost every mix disc I created the rest of 1997. A few of the tunes on this album were utilized in the acclaimed Good Will Hunting, along with the newer, Oscar-nominated “Miss Misery”.
The Oscar nomination and televised appearance should have catapulted Smith to superstardom, but drugs and other self-inflicted issues put a halt on his momentum. He followed XO with the excellent Figure 8, but the next couple of years found him working off and on on various tracks before he was found on October 21, 2003 with two stab wounds to his chest. It’s still unclear whether it was suicide or if his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, was involved.
Now that we're almost at the end of this process, though, I want to know what you people think I should do next. As I stated before, I can't jump right back into my couch potato life. I need to keep this going in some fashion, but it would make no sense to go back to A-Z of album choices. What do you guys think would work as both a physical motivator and a creative writing opportunity? Add some comments with suggestions. Please!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: W

Today marks an end of an era, sort of. After this letter, I won’t have much of a choice for the last trio of selections. While I had plenty to choose from today, though, there really was no deliberating needed. Instead of albums by the likes of Husker Du, Patti Smith, The Who, and White Stripes, there really was no doubt what would accompany me out on this calm, warm November afternoon.
Before I get to that, though, let me explain how I discovered this band. Let’s go back a couple of years ago when I was up in Minneapolis helping out with the filming of Color Me Obsessed. As I always do when I’m in my favorite city, I made a stop at Treehouse Records, one of my favorite record stores in the world. 
Sure, there are tons of stores with a bigger selection, or even more attuned to my personal taste. This store, though, is not only a Minneapolis institution, but a historic landmark for those who, obsessed with The Replacements.
It was here during the store’s days as Oar Folkjokeupus that Paul Westerberg famously handed employee Peter Jesperson a demo tape that led to not only him becoming their manager but the creation of their label, Twin Tone Records. Located right across the street from the landmark CC Club, Oar Folk was famous for being a hangout before and after a few drinks at the CC.
So on this fateful day, I was wandering around the store picking up odds and ends when I saw a magazine that featured The Kinks on the cover. Ok, I’ll take that, too, but it ultimately wasn’t the Kinks featured that inspired today’s selection. No, this magazine, Ugly Things, featured a twenty-page article on a band that I never heard of before this day.
The Nervebreakers were a late 70’s/early 80’s Dallas-based punk band whose story is full of fascinating tidbits. They opened for the infamous Dallas appearance of The Sex Pistols. A similar slot opening for The Clash led to that band stealing their “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” entrance music. They also spent time during this period working as Roky Erickson’s backup band, which led to a live album that’s been reissued seemingly dozens of times.
All of these tidbits, plus the lengthy yet entertaining recall of the band’s history, created a new fan thirty years after their initial breakup. I had to obtain any and all recordings I could possibly find, which includes a number of singles and one-off album their only full-length album, We Want Everything, which wasn’t released until 13 years after their breakup.
The fact that it took so long for this album’s release is a shame, as it proudly stands next to any punk or punk-psych record of that period. “My Girlfriend Is a Rock” and “Girls Girls Girls Gilrs Girls” should have been worldwide smashes, and there’s no drop in quality throughout the rest of the album, which also includes a country-punk cover of George Jones’ “The Race Is On”.
Since my discovery, the band has reunited for occasional shows, and earlier this year put out a new compilation of singles and other sessions Hijack the Radio. Leader T. Tex Edwards, besides being the greatest music tweeter in the world, has had a number of other projects over the years, the highlights of which have recently been compiled on Intexicated! But it now, along with everything else associated with the band!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: V

A surprisingly calm and mild day, coupled with a foul mood that needed an outlet of some sort, led to a long, long sunset stroll. The only issue was what to play on today’s jaunt. The choices for the letter “V” were pretty limited - the first Violent Femmes album, a couple of Morrissey albums, The Kinks’ classic Village Green. But I had already written about an older Kinks album, and I just wasn’t in the mood for the whiney voices of Gordon Gano or that silly former leader of The Smiths.
Instead, I found the perfect choice for the day - The Velvet Underground and Nico. Perfect for a couple of reasons, actually. One reason is the recent acquisition of the new six-disc 45th anniversary edition of the album that seemingly contains every note the band recorded during their first year of existence. There’s stereo and mono versions of the album, single mixes, outtakes, Nico’s debut solo album, rehearsals, and two live concerts. 
Sure, it’s a bit of overkill, but at the same time this is one of the most important albums ever released. You could even call it the first indie album, although it was released on a major label. To understand this point, you have to look back at how rock ‘n’ roll worked up to this point in time. There wasn’t much of a difference between artistry and commerce. Great releases generally sold in big numbers, although there obviously was also plenty of schlock that also grossed millions. If you put out something catchy and/or groundbreaking, chances are you found an audience.
Not so with the Velvet Underground. There’s a reason for the cliche that “all 10,000 people who bought the Velvets formed a band” (a line I rewrote about The Replacements for my short cameo in Color Me Obsessed, which comes out on DVD next Tuesday). Along with the cultural impact of Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention on the West Coast, from this moment on the paths between cash and acclaim didn’t always intersect.
There are plenty of reasons why The Velvet Underground and Nico didn’t ship in massive numbers, though. During the Summer of Love, an album singing the praises of heroin, transexuals, prostitution, and sadism isn’t going to resonate with the flower power crowd. I’d also hate to think of the kind of trip you’d have if you listened to this album on acid.
As time went on, though, and the hippie dream died, this is the album that predicted the future. The lyrics denote what really was going down on the mean streets of the big cities. “All You Need Is Love” is downright naive compared to the more realistic broken relationships all over this album, and “I’m Waiting For the Man” and “Heroin” transforms “White Rabbit” back to its Alice in Wonderland fairy tale origin.
Most importantly, this album is the Big Bang for 90% of the music I listen to today. The line that starts with the Velvets moves on to Bowie, Stooges, Mott, punk, post-punk, alternative, grunge, and beyond. There’s a reason why R.E.M. covered more Velvets tunes than The Byrds, the band that was generally credited as their primary influence.
Jump back to my reasons for actually exercising to this album (or my sedentary version of that activity), as it was actually an inspired choice. Songs such as “I’m Waiting for the Man”, “Run Run Run”, and “There She Goes Again” rock way more than you might expect, guaranteeing a crisp pace. In fact, everybody should do a little workout to the seven-minute “Heroin”. This aural recreation of a fix kicks off mildly, with just Lou Reed’s guitar and Maureen Tucker’s unique drums, gradually increasing as John Cale’s electric viola and Sterling Morrison’s guitar are added to the mix. The intensity increases as the drug takes effect, before climaxing in a crescendo of feedback and screeching viola. 
The choice was so perfect that I didn’t even realize that it is an extraordinarily long album by 1967 standards. While most albums of that time period barely passed the 30 minute mark, each side of this album exceeds 25 minutes...a point that I failed to notice before the nearly eight-minute final track, “European Son”, kicked in a few blocks away from home. How far did I walk today?

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: U

As I babbled on my last couple of posts, yesterday marked the day that the future prospects of this project dimmed almost as much as the late afternoon daylight. Instead of walking in temps above my age, I’m waking up to temps in the teens and highs in the 20’s. 
Yet here I am outdoors today. Part of this was simply due to my high caloric intake of whiskey-cokes, chips, and chili that I inhaled during a fun afternoon of football at my buddy Craig’s home. 
There’s another reason, though, that I pulled on a sweatshirt, winter coat, and gloves...and STILL froze my ass off! My choice in the “U” section was one of my easiest of this entire exercise program - The Undertones.
Why The Undertones? Well...besides the fact that their combo of first generation punk intensity, 70’s glam, and 60’s garage-rock basically created the pop-punk template that is still utilized 35 years later, Feargal Sharkey and his cohorts are easily the greatest thing to ever come out of Ireland.
Did you hear me, my friends. The GREATEST thing to ever come out of Ireland. Better than U2? Duh. Better than the Pogues? Ok, that’s a bit closer. You can keep your Van Morrison (as much as I like him) or your Cranberries (please, keep them away from me), but even if The Undertones never recorded anything other than one particular song they’d still top my list.
What song am I talking about??? “Teenage Kicks”, which in my eyes is one of the top five greatest songs ever recorded...


Please, my friends, if you want to make a chubby old man happy than you’ll find me a 45 of this song. I’ll love you. I’ll admire you. I’ll get on my knees and praise you. I’ll even reimburse you. I have a spot in my jukebox waiting for this track. Please, please, please, let me get what I want!
What’s surprising, though, is that I really don’t have a story about how I discovered the song, the band, or this album. There’s no defining moment that will bore you all. Hell, it’s also one of the few tracks that I didn’t discover around the time of its release. At some point I heard it, and every time afterwards I loved it more and more.
Look, rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be all about teen angst...even if I barely remember what that is. It’s supposed to be led by simple guitar chords played by a guitarist who lives on amphetamines. It’s supposed to have a sugary hook that refuses to leave your head. This song has it all. The lyrics are simple and direct, but say all that needs to be said:

Are teenage dreams so hard to beat
Everytime she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighbourhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good

I wanna hold her wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

I'm gonna call her on the telephone
Have her over cos i'm all alone
I need exitement oh i need it bad
And its the best, i've ever had

I wanna hold her wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

It’s 2:27 of heaven, but that’s not the only song on this album. “Family Entertainment”, “Girls Don’t Like It”, “Jimmy Jimmy”...the list goes on and on. Even the reminder of sunnier days that is “Here Comes the Summer” couldn’t detract me from the genius of this album. While I was freezing my ass off on this walk, I was so into the tunes that I went a few blocks longer than the length of the album!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rural Ledge-ucation #77: Even More New Finds!

I'm frustrated with technology today, so I'll keep this preview short. Today's show is a continuation of sorts from Friday night's Live Ledge (25k downloads in one day!). There's a couple of sets of the quieter new releases and reissues that I've recently acquired, and a set of some of my "Walking Rock Alphabet" favorites. Download it or stream it via the various online services, or ignore it if you must. Or...


1. Kelly Stoltz, Sunday Morning
2. Nico, These Days
3. Mike Doughty, Southern Girls
4. Kevin Seconds, Only Drug I've Ever Done
5. Grant-Lee Phillips, The Straighten Outer
6. Dan Stuart, What are you laughing about?
7. Peter Buck, So Long
8. The Quiet Ones, Find the River
9. Deer Tick, Bad Leroy Brown
10. Hank Williams, I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)
11. Neil Young With Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill (Alternate Mix)
12. Son Volt, Route
13. Uncle Tupelo, Whiskey Bottle
14. Camper Van Beethoven, Life Is Grand
15. Nick Lowe, They Called It Rock
16. The Rolling Stones, One More Shot

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: T

Tomorrow marks a turning point in this project, as the high temp will be less than half of what it was when I made it out this afternoon. Instead of today’s mid-50’s, it won’t get any higher than 28 or so tomorrow.
I honestly don’t know how I’m going to handle this, although I only have a handful of letters left to get through. I’m assuming there will be a few semi-nice days in the next couple of weeks, but it sucks that I had over a week taken away by my kidney stones.
Oh well, I have to come up with some sort of alternative program anyway, as I’m not just going to toss aside the progress I’ve made over the last month or so. I’ll have to obtain a treadmill or elliptical bike of some type...or maybe utilize that gym that is less than a mile away. 
Needless to say, I just had to get out on this cloudy day, so while I would have rather taken a nap I made it out just as the sun made a cameo appearance. Today’s album took little time to select, as Son Volt’s Trace is quite possibly the greatest Americana album ever released.
I already told part of the Son Volt story a week or so ago when my album of the day was Uncle Tupelo’s No Depression, but it should be noted once again that when that band broke up it was Jay Farrar’s subsequent band that was predicted to be the most successful.
Trace seemed to give further proof to that prediction. Farrar’s blending of Crazy Horse-ish guitars and traditional country instrumentation (pedal steel, etc.) were the next step passed where Uncle Tupelo’s final album, Anodyne, left off. Songwriting-wise, Farrar really WAS a step beyond his previous standards. In fact, he was a few steps beyond, as he had written few songs as strong as tracks like “Route”, “Tear Stained Eye”, or the semi-hit “Drown”.
The classic moment of the album, though, is the opening track. “Windfall” is the type of song ANY songwriter would love to create, which is probably why Steve Earle, no slouch at that craft, immediately began covering it in concert.
There’s a lot of late-night driving songs in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll, from Chuck Berry to the Beach Boys to Bruce Springsteen, and “Windfall” sits proudly in that group. While the lyrics point to a summer setting, it’s always seemed like a fall tune to me...which made it the perfect soundtrack to this cool, fall day.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Live Ledge #87: More New Finds

A fun, fun show tonight. The combination of themed shows and illness has created a backlog of new finds that have yet to be aired. Tonight is the night that I went through them, from previews of 2013 releases (Jello Biafra, Bad Religion, etc.) to new reissues (Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones) to cover songs of the Cars and Devo. There's also quite a few fantastic blog finds, selections from my walking posts...and my iPhone's interactive Siri app even co-hosts a segment and picked a song.
Don't waste any time. Grab this motha now from the usual sources that I list after every single show, or...


1. Gigolo Aunts, I Am The Cosmos
2. The Bent Backed Tulips, I Don't Know Why
3. Face to Face, Paint It Black
4. The Rolling Stones, Route 66
5. The Millions, You're All I've Got Tonight
6. PurrBox, Shake It Up
7. Four Year Beard, Got A Lot On My Head
8. The Graveyard School, Dangerous Type
9. The Velvet Underground, Run Run Run (Mono Version)
10. The Mallard, There She Goes Again
11. L'Assassins, Gonna Git That Man
12. Legendary Wings, I Think I'm Dumb
13. David Bowie, Moonage Daydream
14. Soul Asylum, Never Really Been
15. Supersuckers, My Victim
16. Devo, Mongoloid
17. Descendents, Uncontrollable Urge
18. Descendents, Bikeage (with Tim McIlrath from Rise Against)
19. The Lyres, Never Met A Girl Like You
20. The Lyres, She Pays The Rent (Bonus Track)
21. Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine, We Occupy
22. Bad Religion, Fuck You
23. Swingin' Utters, The Librarians Are Hiding Something
24. Fear, I Love Livin' In The City
25. Sex Pistols, Here We Go Again
26. Biters, Oh Yea(The Bitch Wants More)
27. The Heart Attacks, Gimme A Fix
28. Strutter Motherfuckers, Gimmie Some Coke
29. Crash Street Kids, Cigarettes And Starfuckers
30. The Newtown Neurotics, Hypocrite
31. The Stairs, Last Time Around

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: S

This project is becoming a bit of a race against time. The temps are dropping; the amount of daylight is disappearing (no thanks to daylight saving time). The blizzard that is currently hitting the Northeast could happen here on any day.
There is also the question of what to do once I get to the final letter. Obviously, heading back to the couch is not an option, but I’m also not going to be traipsing around town when the temp is hovering around zero. Plus, do I continue writing? How do I keep my mind interested in improving myself?
Today, I had no choice but to head outside. As the walk commenced, the temp was in the high 50’s, and with a cold front coming in this weekend I doubt that I’ll ever see that warmth again until next spring. 
Plus, I’m at one of the letters where there is a wealth of possibilities. Almost every artist I’ve ever loved has an album that starts with “S”. In fact, quite a few have more than one. What do I choose?
After staring at my library for a few minutes, my choice could be a surprise to many people. The Sacrilicious Sounds of The Supersuckers is the third studio album of the self-proclaimed “greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World”, an album that saw the core of Eddie Spaghetti, Dan Bolton, and Dancing Thunder joined by Didjits/Gaza Strippers guitarist Rick Sims.
If you’re not aware of The Supersuckers...well, why the fuck are you reading this? Except for their foray into country, Must’ve Been High, they’re an amphetamine-fed, metal-influenced, punk rock band whose amps are always set to the Spinal Tap cliche of eleven. They’re a white trash Stooges, singing about dope, guns, booze, and Ozzy.
They’ve also been in our fine city a few times over the years. I missed their latest foray a few months ago, but I was there when they had the unfortunate “opportunity” of opening an Arena appearance by Ministry. 
No, no, no. The Supersuckers have to be seen and heard in a rock club, with those thunderous riffs bouncing off the walls. The Ministry audience hated them, but when they returned a few months later to play the Pomp Room it was a different story. And then again a couple of years later. Days before each of those Sioux Falls appearances I was able to have lengthy interview sessions with Mr. Spaghetti, and I’m dying that I don’t have digital versions of those chats. 
Not only does this album live up to the “greatest r&r band” label, but it inspired me to walk the farthest I’ve made it to date. How this is possible I’m not sure, as the album is only 38 minutes long, but I made it at least six blocks farther. I guess when I giggled to myself how “Born With a Tail” was inspiring a “Staying Alive”-ish strut carried on through the whole session.
Or it could be another reason that I stepped up my pace and distance. Shortly before my work day ended came the sad news that an old friend/employee had passed away. Kim began working for the family a couple of years after my dad started our business. Two years older than me, she was a striking beauty who I absolutely idolized in my impressionable teen years
She became a drinking companion for quite a few years, and I don’t think anybody will be angry at me when I say she loved her beer. In fact, this love of the cocktail ultimately led her and her husband to purchase a bar in the 90’s. We had drifted apart over the years, but I always knew where to go if I wanted to talk to her. And I did more than a few times.
I won’t go into details, but what is sad about Kim’s death is that it could have been prevented. She will be greatly missed...even if she did love the Dallas Cowboys.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: R

It’s a beautiful day, but I had a new distraction that almost kept me from walking. I’m sure most of you know that I write for a Big Brother blog, and also cohost a podcast devoted to the show.
Over the last year or so, I’ve expanded my viewing to foreign versions of the show, and have actually interviewed a couple of contestants from the UK series. The past few months I have invested an hour of my day to Australia’s version of the show, which came back this summer after a four year hiatus.
If you’re even the slightest fan of the American version, you really need to head to YouTube and check this version out. Simply put, it’s hugely superior. Seriously, there is no comparison. What has happened to the American Big Brother is a disgrace, and if I was in charge I’d fire everybody associated with the show.
Today was the finale of the Australian show, and I had been able to watch bits and pieces throughout the day. There are a ton of differences between the US and Australia versions, and in every category the US trails. The casting, host, rules, house layout, and pace is so much more entertaining. Even the voice of Big Brother has a personality, and the main reason for the show’s success is that everybody involved has FUN. Yes, there are still little fights, cliques, and strategy, but unlike our version (and even the UK series) I guarantee after today there won’t be tedious ongoing social media fights between various cast members. They will all look back at their time on the show as a positive part of their life.
LIke I said, I was able to get through most of it in bits and pieces today, but I decided to get on my walk as I had seen the outcome. The little bit I have left can be picked up later tonight.
Yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have made the same decision, as the letter “Q” had so few choices. Not so today. “R” is a treasure trove of possibilities - Reckoning, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Rainy Day Music, Rattlesnakes, Raw Power, and Rocket to Russia are just a few of the available classics. I almost settled on RFTC by Rocket From the Crypt after the news that this great band is reuniting, but I settled on a different classic.
Today’s album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie. Why? Besides the fact that I love this album, I stumbled upon Paladia showing that album’s concert movie a few days ago.
The real star of that movie isn’t Bowie, though. It’s guitarist Mick Ronson, who was years, if not decades, ahead of his time. His playing has influenced punk, metal, glam, hair bands, and every genre in between. His use of feedback rivals Townshend; his stage antics added a new sort of drama that was a perfect counterpoint to Bowie’s groundbreaking look and staging.
Ziggy Stardust is considered a rock opera, but that’s really not true as there’s no real story here (or at least not until the last few songs). Bowie, though, is playing a character here and he’s singing as that fictional Ziggy Stardust. 
This is also one of those rare cases where my favorite album by an artist is their most successful. Yes, the “Berlin Trilogy” is probably Bowie’s most artistic albums, but Ziggy is the album that I can always listen to from beginning to end. The classics don’t let up. While the radio hits are at the end of the album (the title track, “Suffragette City”), it’s the first half of the album that are in my overall Bowie Top 10. “Five Years”, “Moonage Daydream”, and “Starman” would be enough to make this a legendary release, let alone side two’s “Lady Stardust” and “Hang On to Yourself”.
The movie version, which also incorporates other tunes from that era (and Bowie’s reclaiming of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes”), and covers of the Stones (“Let’s Spend the Night Together”) and the Velvet Underground (“White Light/White Heat”), transforms the album into a real concept album. This is mainly because the show became real life drama when Bowie introduces the final song, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” by saying “not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do”. Apparently, the band was not told of this decision, and the Ziggy persona was killed off and the band fired after this show.
WIth the walk and album completed, it’s now time to go back to Big Brother Australia. Who will win? Hopefully, it’s the lovely Layla. “Oats a la  Layla!”

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: Q

Another day that could have been easy to skip, but all of the reasons I could conjure up were actually why I NEEDED to get out today. It was a shitty day all around - professionally, personally, emotionally. What could go wrong certainly did, plus it was a day of self-serving assholes babbling about politics. I had to somehow burn off that negative energy.
Yet this was not an easy day to get outside. For one thing, while the temperature was pretty mild, it was also a day of strong, cold winds. Perfect, I guess, for a day full of blowhards. 
There was also the fact that I am now at the worst letter of the alphabet - “Q”. There’s not much to choose from, and my buddy Jason already used the obvious pick of The Queen is Dead by The Smiths. And, as he noted, there’s no way I’d be able to make a sizable dent in The Who’s double-disc rock opera Quadrophenia.
By default, today’s album is Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! It ended up being the perfect album, as my glimpse of that album reminded me of my introduction to the band. It was Saturday Night Live in 1978, and I had not even heard of the band. Here was this goofy band in yellow outfits with what looked like beehives on their head playing a “Devo-constructed” version of the Stones’ “Satisfaction”. What the fuck was this?
Time for a rant that has little to do with today’s selection. Saturday Night Live used to be a great outlet to discover new music, as the show seemed to book the bands that the cast enjoyed instead of what the record industry wanted to showcase. It was such a wide mix of artists. You’d have obscurities like Devo one week, and then the next would be a household name like the Stones. 
Now it’s just a mess, as the show’s idea of diversity is to have a lip-synching dance-pop twit one week followed by some godawful preppy-dressed fake alt-rock the next. Nobody should be forced to endure a “band” like Fun, who was last week’s guest on the disappointing Louis CK episode.
Back to Devo, and today’s walking music. I hadn’t listened to the full album in years, although various tracks have been on Ledge episodes. First off, I was shocked at how guitar-driven this album is. The stereotype of the band is synthesizers; close to post-punk three years before the term and movement was created.
Instead, this album actually rocks on most of the tracks, particularly “Uncontrollable Urge”, “Mongoloid”, and so many others. Yet, one still must be amazed at the courage of Mark Mothersbaugh and the rest of the band. Devo didn’t come from New York. Or Los Angeles. Or London. No, they were from Middle America - Akron, Ohio to be exact...and they formed long before the advent of punk and/or art rock. I can only imagine the situations they found themselves in throughout not only those early years but up to their first national and international tours.
What a career, though. Early fans included David Bowie and Iggy Pop. They collaborated with Neil Young on his obscure Human Highway movie (and isnpired Neil’s classic “My My, Hey Hey”). They were groundbreaking video stars in the early days of MTV, and leader Mark Mothersbaugh has been the go-to guy for not only feature film soundtracks but most of the early Nickelodeon cartoon programming such as Rugrats and Bearkman’s World.
Ok, enough of the history lesson. The walk was cold, but the mood has improved. Hopefully, I can now rebuild some bridges. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: P

Throughout this project, I’ve tried really hard to avoid the predictable album choices...particularly from one certain band. I skipped All Shook Down, Don’t Tell A Soul, Hootenanny, and Let It Be. Yes, I did select Paul Westerberg’s Folker, but not Tommy Stinson’s excellent Bash and Pop release.
Today, though, I said fuck it. I’m in a shitty mood, the early NFL lineup stinks, and other issues have been playing with my mental state. Oh yeah, and there’s currently a light drizzle. If I’m heading outside, then it’s going to be accompanied by one of my favorite albums of all time.
But I really didn’t HAVE to make the obvious pick, as the letter “P” has plenty to choose from. Since I’ve already walked to Cramps and Ramones album, Psychedelic Jungle and Pleasant Dreams were easy to vote against. Debut albums by The Jesus and Mary Chain (Psychocandy) and The Plimsouls (self-titled) were tempting, as was Whiskeytown’s Pneumonia. Hell, even Purple Rain would have been a great possibility.
Nope, today’s easy choice was Pleased to Meet Me, the fifth full-lengthy album by The Replacements (Stink was an EP). The end of a release trio that stands up proudly with anybody else’s three-in-a-row releases, it is also the album that saw the band say goodbye not only to guitarist Bob Stinson but to punk rock itself.
That’s not to say that PTTM is a mellow album, or that there is no crunchy rock ‘n’ roll. No, this isn’t a lush pop album. That problem didn’t come about until their next album, Don’t Tell a Soul. There’s no “Fuck School” on here, though. Nor is there a “Tommy’s Got His Tonsils Out”. 
You do, however, get the theme songs to both my show (“The Ledge”) and my fellow Real Punk Radio host Jerry (“Red Red Wine”), an ode to the downtown Minneapolis walkways (“Skyway”), and quite possibly Paul Westerberg’s greatest song ever, “Can’t Hardly Wait”. 
I could wax poetic about this album for paragraph after paragraph, but you can find that kind of coverage all over this blog...or throughout my Ledge podcasts. Let’s just say that despite ending up a bit drenched after I returned home I didn’t feel a drop. Time had flown by as I wandered around singing along to every track. I pity my poor neighbors if they overheard me. 

Rural Ledge-ucation #76: Election Day

It's stating the obvious to say that this Tuesday is an important day in our country. Election Day not only means that we'll be selecting our national, state, and local representatives, but the deluge of campaign adverts and mailers will FINALLY stop!
Today's show doesn't endorse any parties or candidates. It's a show about the various elements of Election Day - the process, Senators, President, and the day itself. There's folk, power pop, garage rock, alt-rock...but nothing from that awful Fun band that plagued my life on last night's Saturday Night Live.
As always, grab this show from iTunes or Stitcher, or...


1. The Replacements, Election Day
2. Ian Hunter And The Rant Band, When I'm President
3. Ry Cooder, The Wall Street Part Of Town
4. Billy Bragg & Wilco, Christ For President
5. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Senator
6. John Lennon, Gimme Some Truth
7. Neil Young, Lookin' For A Leader
8. Phil Ochs, That Was the President
9. Bob Dylan, It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
10. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Government Center
11. The Move, Vote For Me
12. Pathos, Election Day
13. Talking Heads, Don't Worry About The Government
14. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, The President
15. The Numbers, Mr President
16. Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, This Land Is Your Land

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Walking Rock Alphabet: O

To be completely honest, I did everything I could to put off doing my duty today. I made coffee runs. I worked on updating my iTunes library. I was so bored, though, that the only entertainment I could come up with was a walk around the neighborhood.
Today’s music choice was a no-brainer, partly due to the lack of choices. I’ve ignored one of my favorite 80’s bands, Camper Van Beethoven, in recent months, so playing Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart was an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the band.
Before we get to that album, though, I should take a few paragraphs to explain my long, strange trip with this band. I was introduced to them a year or so after I graduated from college. I was still doing shows on KAUR, though, and as a former music director I also helped fill up empty slots by enlisting my friends.
Working as a club DJ at Nite City, the house I shared with a couple of old high school friends became the decadent post-bar hangout that guaranteed none of us will ever be able to run for public office. It was on one of those marathon late-nights that my good buddy Don threw on Camper’s first album, Telephone Free Landslide Victory.
This was years before “Take The Skinheads Bowling” became a novelty pop hit, and I had never heard anything like this mish-mash of folk-punk, Syd Barrett-era psychedelia, country-ska, and Eastern European folk music. Black Flag’s “Wasted” was turned into a country tune. “Ambiguity Song” was pure 60’s garage-pop. “The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon” was everything Pink Floyd promised but never delivered.
Not used to my friends introducing ME to new music, I asked Don where he picked up this album. “In the garbage can at KAUR”, was his response. Ugh. I had been disappointed with the new regime at the station for months. Here was proof of how incompetent they were. 
I was hooked by this album, though, so it was natural that we all made it up to Minneapolis to see them at the 7th Street Entry. So did a good percentage of the area’s musicians, as the crowd was full of recognizable faces. I stood next to 2/3 of The Violent Femmes. Prince, who was playing next door at First Avenue, supposedly stepped in for a few minutes, but these tunes were too weird even for him!
It was quite the night. The band reportedly took acid just before they hit the stage, which was obvious about halfway through their performance. My buddy Don made out with the drummer’s girlfriend right behind the stage, and we drank their beer after the show.
A year or so later, the rest of the nation’s college stations caught on to the band’s magic, and the University of South Dakota actually booked them for their yearly big show. The day of that show, I received a phone call at the record store I was working and asked if we’d be interested in having them do an instore appearance. Did I? Well, duh.
The next day, the band’s van showed up at my store in the late afternoon. I had brought my video camera, so I filmed short interviews, along with footage of them wandering around the store. They played a half hour or so, culminating in violinist Jonathon Segel running around the record racks while doing his “Wasted” solo, finishing with his last note inches from my camera. What a great day.
Jump ahead almost two years, and we have today’s album, their first for a major label (Virgin Records). While it is nowhere near as lush as most major label releases at the time, the production on this album is definitely far removed from the low-budget work on their previous three albums. This album is also much more conventional than their earlier releases, or as conventional as a band can be that features a gypsy violin sound as one of their main instruments.
But while the weirdness has been tempered, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart stands proudly with the rest of their catalog. “Tania”, one of the final tracks on the album, is a wonderful fan letter to Patty “Tania” Hurst, the heiress who was kidnapped by the SLA and turned into a bank robber in the 70’s. “Eye of Fatima, Pt. 1” may be the band’s best garage-rocker, and the “Revolution #9” freak-out at the end of the conventional country-rocker “She Divines Water” shows the band was still experimenting. 
Mainstream success may have never happened to this band (except for singer David Lowery’s post-Camper group, Cracker), but they will always be a band that reminds me of the great times I had in the years right after college. This album actually inspired me to walk farther and longer than I have to date. Who would have guessed that a record that fueled an unhealthy lifestyle 25 years ago would now inspire me to better health?