Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Steely Dan's DONALD FAGAN Eminent Hipsters

Eminent Hipsters: Donald Fagan

Fagan keeps a diary of his life on the road with veteran performers, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs as The Dukes Of September 2012.

It only took me about 41 years to figure out why I was never a fan of the melodic, polite, truly boring sound of Steely Dan--A very disengaged, aloof, tired old Donald Fagan! AND I gotta' believe he's been disengaged, aloof, old and tired since before stardom struck in 1972. Well, that's a lie. I actually like two Steely Dan songs, My Old School and FM (No Static At All), from my favorite radio movie of the same name in 1978. Fagan probably grimaced when having to played THOSE songs back in the day?

His influences were totally Jazz growing up (bor-r-r-ring)* Brubeck, Henry Mancini and some Jazz DJ's in the night out of New York City in the 1960's.

OK, let's score him some points here, Mr. Fagan was influenced by the on-air artistry of radio hosts who provided a musical soundscape for dreams of a kid growing up wanting to be something. Points here** I remember when radio was this meaningful through the speakers, under the pillow from a transistor radio so my parents wouldn't come in and tell me to "go to sleep."

Note: A transistor radio is a little portable radio with on and off switch, a single dial wheel for favorite frequencies, a D-battery and single tiny speaker. A popular gadget for young people in the 1960's through early 1970's.

Anyway, Mr. Fagan describes Eminent Hipsters as the people who molded and shaped his artistic sensibilities and aspirations as a youth. Parents, family members, teachers, friends and show business entertainers all became Eminent hipsters' to help the young Fagan break the ball and chain of a boring, gray, uneventful  Northern New Jersey upbringing.

TV Babies: The term for paying customers born after 1960, wanting to hear the radio hits from a band! Imagine that? WHO are these people? WHY are they spending their hard earned money to see live, the hits they came to love over the radio?? HOW dare they! Let these guys play something meaningful. Let see some musical genius that never got airplay because the other song was better? Amazing how artists hate what works. I get it that it is boring to be on auto pilot and artists are born to "create" and stretch the muscles of artistic genius. I GET that BUT that's not what I am PAYING for. Play Reeling In The Years, dammnit!

Life on the road, 8-10 hours trips between cities and shows and 2-star motels to save the money to get through the tour is an absolute grind, a hell and I understand Fagan's daily description of flat tires, blown alternators and really smelly mattresses at the local no-tell motel. I GET that. Hopefully they left the light on as the commercial goes? BUT, I DON'T get the dis engagement from "people", hotel guests, kids by the pool or fans wanting a picture or autograph. THAT'S what it is all about. Play Reeling In The Years' feed off that "rush" of applause and thank your lucky stars you do this for a living.

I DO give Fagan credit for his honesty in showcasing his disdain for obstacles in the way of his art. Audience members screaming curse words and walking out at the beginning of a show for an unfamiliar opening number. Another show while Michael McDonald was launching into a Doobie Brothers "hit", Fagan casually walking over to the female backup singers, on stage with a hope the theater would catch fire and the TV Babies would go screaming and running for their lives. Fagan makes it a very colorful entertaining read with these assessments throughout. LOVED the candor of the disgruntled man. I marvel at all the entertainers that WANT to be him. to BE at his level.   

I do love going behind the scenes in diary form to see how these people tick. It's GREAT research for interviews, boundaries etc. The book is an easy read. I did it on one 5 hour cross-country flight. AND somewhere (34,000ft) down below I'm sure their was a broken down tour bus with a famous old guy asking himself, WHY am I here??"   

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paul McCartney-NEW

The FIRST collection of new songs by Sir Paul McCartney in 6 years is signed, sealed and in the can for retail delivery!  RELEASE DATE: Tuesday ROCKTOBER 15TH* (Now in stores)!


The lead track is QUEENIE EYE-Had it been released 45 years ago, (1968), it most certainly would have been an album track on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band album. The song is very Beatlesque with the unmistakable vocal tones of Sir Paul.  A

Cut #1 is a ROCKIN' up tempo track called SAVE US! My favorite selection with my guitar driven ear! B+

Track #6 NEW, the title track of this new collection of solo songs, is also 1960's Beatlesque with a Penny Lane flavor. B

Mysterious Track #13 How Much You Mean, from the new CD, showing only 12 cuts, brings out those familiar Let It Be piano keys. Sir Paul's legendary vocal tones reflect the man's sensitivity and vulnerability, every man's vulnerability verbalizing the words I LOVE YOU. Paul sings out a man who has experienced victory and crushing defeat in the romance department. The humanness of a music legend is clearly reflected here. Paul shows us the regular guy that he is in this thoughtful composition. B

Producers: Giles MARTIN, the son of legendary BEATLES producer George Martin, Mark Ronson an established mixer (who DJ'd Paul's recent wedding reception into the joyous wee hours a few months back). Ronson's resume boasts work with Amy Winehouse and other big time artists and Ethan Johns, the son of longtime Beatles and Wings collaborator Glyn Johns. Each producer was hired to work with McCartney compositions according to their own styles. Johns for example was best suited to guide Sir Paul with his acoustic songs.  
Overview: At age 71, Paul McCartney still maintains a vocal power and presence. He loves to write, record and play music. He has not faded. He continues to be a force in Rock N Roll. You are NEVER to old to Rock N Roll and Paul promises never to retire from the fun he is having.

Paul's closing line in his album credits: "We put a lot of energy and effort into making this album. Hard work? NO, not AT ALL. We don't work music, we play it!" Cheers to you, Love Paul"

We are thankful for his efforts!       A

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

METALLICA: Through The Never, REVIEW:

METALLICA: Through The Never IMAX 3-D

Starring: The BOYS! James, Robert, Kirk & Lars

Co-starring: B-Actor Dane DeHaan as the Roadie

NOT sure about the Earth Armageddon plot and WHY the band doesn't have backup equipment on any given night BUT I actually slept through most of that action anyway in the cushy-comfy reclining seats of the IMAX Theater at Tropicana! I did NOT mean to nod off with my nifty 3-D glasses. Only the opening chords of the unmistakable ENTER SANDMAN in Sensurround sound woke me from my slumber. It was like one of those unexplainable dreams where you are are at a Metallica show then you awaken to the "event" actually happening. The MUSIC was fantastic!  

METALLICA on stage and seemingly on top of my seat in IMAX 3-D was incredible!

This movie needs to be seen in IMAX 3-D.

I wish there was more of a backstage plot of drama and the inner workings of the tour vs. mass destruction playing out beyond the arena..A little far-fetched for my tastes. I DO LOVE action films BUT for "no reason" is dumb. Had a GOOD snooze BUT came alive for my favorite Metallica songs in concert!

Opening in Theaters: Nationwide this Friday RoCKtober 4th

Steve's Rating: 2 1/2 stars