Honey, I Love You, But I Love Attention More So Shut Your Piehole And Go Live With Gary Busey For Awhile So I Can Be On Television

January 3, 2012

I don’t do reality television. Watching nimrods behaving like nimrods is not entertainment for me.

(I work in corporate America)

But I couldn’t help but be drawn to a commercial for Celebrity Wife Swap. Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of Dee Snider, Flavor Flav and other past-expiration date notables, there was Gary Busey.

I shuddered a bit as I realized that, though I have no idea who might reign as America’s idol, star dancer, or top chief, the idea of some C-list celebrity handing over his wife to Gary Busey – in exchange for his – intrigues me.

There’s something about the deranged leer of the hyper-orthodontal Busey that commands my attention.

It could be because I have feared that I might discover Busey hiding in the house since I saw him hiding in a house in the movie Hider In The House.

(I wrote of it many moons ago)

Busey also is shown in tears in the commercial and I can’t help but wonder what could have reduced him to such a state. It might be good to know how to effectively neutralize him should, indeed, I find Gary Busey hiding in the house.

In the meantime, here are four songs devoted to crazy…

Flesh for Lulu – I Go Crazy
from Long Live The New Flesh (1987)

In the mid-’80s, I remember a buzz for fifteen minutes or so surrounding Flesh For Lulu, but it passed in about ten minutes.

I Go Crazy has a catchy little chorus, but it does sound tied to 1987 (especially with the goofy lyrical reference to Miami Vice). I also seem to recall the gothic rockers sounding both more gothic and more rocking than they do here.

However, the song did end up on the soundtrack to John Hughes’ underrated Some Kind Of Wonderful, so I suppose Flesh For Lulu did achieve some measure of immortality.

Nazareth – Crazy? (A Suitable Case for Treatment)
from Heavy Metal soundtrack (1981)

I’m familiar with little by Nazareth aside from Love Hurts and its accompanying album, Hair Of The Dog. My buddy Will had an older brother and the eight track seemed to be permanently lodged in his Trans Am’s player.

One of the few other songs I knew by the Scottish band was Crazy? which was on the soundtrack to Heavy Metal, which as a teenager, was a late-night cable favorite with me and my friends.

Heart – Crazy On You
from Greatest Hits (1998)

Though Heart might have had a commercial lull in the early ’80s, the band remained popular on radio stations in our area of the Midwest. Then, the band exploded in the mid-’80s, notched a string of massive hits and platinum-selling albums that not only revived their career but took it to new heights.

Personally, I dug a lot of their mid- to late ’80s hits, but I preferred their less-varnished ’70s stuff. The ubiquitousness of that later period made it easy to forget how much raw energy the band possessed and how utterly fierce they could be.

And Crazy On You – made transcendent by Ann Wilson’s piercing banshee wail – was as fierce as a band could hope to be.

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
from The Ozzman Cometh (1997)

I willingly confess I’ve always found Ozzy Osbourne to be goofy and not necessarily in a good way. I do not, have not, and – much to Paloma’s chagrin – probably will not ever have much affection for his work with Black Sabbath aside from a few songs

(as opposed to giving them credit as an influence for legions of bands, I blame them for a lot of very bad imitators)

But I have liked some of Ozzy’s solo stuff throughout the years and near the top of that list would have to be the thundering Crazy Train. And, as a recent television commercial has proven, the song is, at heart, simply a very heavy pop song.

Norman, Daryl, And A Brother Named Daryl

November 20, 2011

Though Kevin Costner has provided me with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to surviving apocalyptic scenarios involving water and lack of mail delivery in Waterworld and The Postman, respectively, he’s offered no cinematic advice for dealing with the undead.

Fortunately, Norman Reedus has become a fine role model to me for how best to navigate a zombie apocalypse through his portrayel of the crossbow-wielding, squirrel-gutting, walker-slaying, Southern redneck anti-hero Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead.

(and he’s Zen)

Norman Reedus is new to me. His lengthy list of credits contains nothing with which I am familiar, though apparently he’s pretty stellar in the vigilante flick The Boondock Saints.

This unfamiliarity with the actor makes it believable to me that Daryl truly is some mountain hillbilly, plucked from rural Georgia and put in some television show.

(if Daryl was a real person, he would summarily put an end to Chuck Norris, gut him, use his ears as a necklace, and, then, deadpan a line revealing someone quite self-aware)

But Norman Reedus is apparently a real person and, based on his Wikipedia bio, seems like a fairly interesting cat in his own right, having left home at twelve and lived in England, Spain, and Japan.

He also had a kid with Helena Christensen, who broke Chris Isaak to the mainstream with the video for Wicked Game.

If you’re hooking up with supermodels, you must have some kind of mojo.

Of course, the two apparently named their kid Mingus which, if true, is either genuinely cool or pretentitious, hipster silliness.

As for Norman, I don’t recall that name having much cachet during my lifetime, being neither plentiful nor iconic.

(I can’t think of knowing a Norman and – thanks to Three’s Company – the first one that comes to mind is Norman Fell)

I did know a Daryl as a kid, the brother of a good buddy and neighbor.

Daryl was six or seven years older and out of high school when Will and I were still in junior high. I think he worked in construction.

A tall, lanky kid, Daryl had sideburns and shoulder-length hair, and his usual attire would have gained him admittance to any biker bar (there being a few in the area).

He might not have been killing zombies – though he did hunt, on occasion, with a crossbow – but we considered him to be pretty badass.

And when Daryl screamed out of their driveway in his beat-up Camaro on Saturday night, gravel becoming tiny, lethal projectiles, he might well have ended up at some watering hole that would have been frequented by his Walking Dead namesake.

Here are four songs that might have been blaring from the eight-track player in his Camaro…

Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog
from Hair Of The Dog (1975)

One eight-track that I know resided in Daryl’s Camaro was Nazareth’s Hair Of The Dog. Every now and the, Daryl would give me and Will a ride somewhere and the language of the album’s ferocious title track made us feel like we were on the highway to hell with a true outlaw.

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
from Agents of Fortune (1976)

There will be no cowbell joke here. The mighty Blue Öyster Cult deserves more respect than that and, to quote The Smiths (to Paloma’s delight), that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone
from Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd (1973)

Like Blue Öyster Cult, Skynyrd has been reduced to many to one tired joke. And, classic rock radio has so burned me out on the Southern rock band to the point of disinterest.

Then, I hear something like the wistful Tuesday’s Gone and make a mental note that a personal reassesment of Skynyrd might be in order.

Alice Cooper – School’s Out
from School’s Out (1972)

My all-time greatest arch-enemy might have been a third-grade teacher who, on more days than not, I was at odds. She was an Alice Cooper fan, so I’m not sure if that was why I never bothered with the music or rather because during the ’80s – my musically formative years – he wasn’t on top of his game.

But I’ve gained a greater appreciation for Cooper’s catalog in recent years and, even as a third-grader in the late ’70s, had an appreciation for the sentiments of the stomping School’s Out.

Uriah Heep Forever

August 2, 2011

Working in one of the larger record stores I’d ever stepped into for much of the ’90s provided the opportunity to encounter a collection of characters that one might ordinarily have to do time to experience.

(an outcome that one co-worker narrowly avoided after being busted for manufacturing his own money)

Of these compatriots, The Drunken Frenchman was certainly one of the more memorable.

A good decade older than most of us, he had eased into the role of gruff, cantankerous elder so effortlessly that there was a yard no doubt lamenting his absence to chase neighborhood children from it.

The Frenchman quickly became a fixture in a group of a half dozen or so of us who would head straight from our shift to the cantina we had staked out as our own.

Throughout the successive rounds, The Frenchman would offer up bits of wisdom he’d accrued such as, if you’re good with your barkeep, you’re good, or, all a man needs is the love of a fine dog and an ingenue that understands him.

Questionable life lessons aside, The Frenchman likely knew as much about rock music, pre-1980, as anyone I have ever known, so there was usually a toast to commemorate the birthday of Hugh Grundy, original drummer for The Zombies, or the anniversary of the release of Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake.

During one of those countless evenings, the discussion turned to the fact that there were acts whose heydey in the States might have been twenty years passed – and brief – and, yet, were able to still pack venues in Europe and even notch the occasional hit.

(I believe Status Quo having a Top Ten single in the UK prompted the topic)

“Once you’re in over there, you’re in forever,” The Frenchman noted. “Uriah Heep still tours in Europe.”

I took him at his drunken word.

The only time I’d ever heard Uriah Heep on the radio had been somewhere in eastern Ohio, maybe West Virginia, rolling down an interstate as the family made the annual, summer trek to the ancestral homelands of western Pennsylvania.

It was 1982, late summer, and music had, during the past six months, become the shiny, new object in my life. The idea of not having the radio stations I knew for two weeks was distressing.

I sat in the backseat of the car, jockeying for space with my brother and listening to a transistor radio until the final station familiar to me dissolved into a drone of white noise.

I was in uncharted territory, but I quickly learned to hunt, surfing the band for a song that I recognized to materialize.

Then, we hit a stretch of dead air and few options and I had to settle on a station that was a bit harder than the Top 40 to which I usually listened.

(it helped that they played Journey’s Stone In Love)

And I know that the station played a song by Uriah Heep as their name – and that of their new album, Abominog – struck me as totally bizarre.

Some fifteen years later, not long after The Frenchman informed us of Uriah Heep’s fervent fanbase in Europe, I visited the UK for the first time. Emerging from The Tube, listening to Smashing Pumpkin’s Adore on my Walkman, I stopped.

Covering a section of the wall was a massive poster…touting tour dates for Uriah Heep.

Here are four songs from Billboard magazine’s album rock chart from twenty-nine years ago when some unfamiliar radio station gave me my one and only (as far as I know) dose of Uriah Heep…

Uriah Heep – That’s The Way That It Is
from Abominog

I got to thinking about Uriah Heep after reading a recent entry at 70s Music Mayhem on the debut of what would be the band’s lone Top 40 hit, Easy Livin’, in the US during late July, 1972.

(I don’t think that I’d ever heard the song before)

That’s Just The Way It Is apparently got enough airplay to give the band their biggest album in a decade and it’s not a bad song at all. It’s catchy, rumbles along quite nicely, and certainly wouldn’t have sounded out of place next to Journey and Foreigner at the time.

Nazareth – Love Leads To Madness
from 2XS

I’m familiar with little by Nazareth aside from Love Hurts and its accompanying album, Hair Of The Dog. My buddy Will had an older brother and the eight track seemed to be permanently lodged in his Trans Am’s player.

I dig Dan McCafferty’s gruff vocals which I’ve heard influenced Axl Rose and Love Leads To Madness is pretty cool. With what little I do know of Nazareth’s catalog and the fact that they’re Scottish, I’d be interested in hearing more.

The Sherbs – We Ride Tonight
from Defying Gravity

My buddy Beej would go to visit relatives out west most summers. He’d return after a couple weeks with tapes of exotic songs recorded from the radio and The Sherb’s We Ride Tonight might have been on one of those mixes.

I did hear the song here and there on WEBN or 96 Rock, but I never knew who it was or what it was called. It was one of those songs that was filed deep in my brain, making cameos throughout the years and causing me to wonder if I’d imagined it.

We Ride Tonight is a taut rocker with a mysterious vibe and a chorus reminiscent of the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen classic Because The Night.

Billy Squier – Emotions In Motion
from Emotions In Motion

Billy Squier was about as popular as any act in my junior high/high school during his Don’t Say No/Emotions In Motion period.

There were three cities that were on most tour stops and within a two-hour drive of my hometown; Squier was playing one of them every few months, opening for some major headliner.

(there were more Billy Squier concert shirts per capita in my high school than any high school in America)

But it was straight-ahead, groove-driven rock that sounded great on the radio (and both Don’t Say No and Emotions In Motion had four or five songs that got played heavily in our part of the midwest).