Fire In The Sausage Factory

January 13, 2010

I scanned the headlines the other evening and my orbs flitted right past the usual fare – health care, underpants bombers, the economy, Tiger – settling on an item that resonated.

Sausage Factory Burns In Lebanon

Sausage is a fantastic foodstuff, with trusty sidekick bacon, augmenting the goodness that is pancakes…it’s little wonder the headline caught my eye.

I wondered if the air smelled like the parking lot outside a sporting event. It had to.

Fire in the sausage factory…it made me think of band names like Panic At The Disco! and The Arcade Fire.

I could imagine coming across some album, on vinyl, by a band I’d never heard of called Fire In The Sausage Factory. Perhaps they’d be some ’70s punk band from the UK, spitting slogans with a sneer, that made one, two albums, maybe an EP, and a couple singles for a small label to little notice.

I don’t think I would be inclined to buy an album by a band called Fire In The Sausage Factory.

Names were extremely important to me as a kid purchasing music for the first time. I bought three Tangerine Dream cassettes out of cut-out bin simply because I liked the name.

(the music turned out to be a mixed bag to me)

In the three decades since, there have been numerous groups/singers whose name elicited enough interest from me to gamble meager funds on unknown music. But it was early on, when I knew far less and information about bands wasn’t simply a few keystrokes away, that the name of the band was oftentimes the determining factor as to whether or not the album was coming home.

Here are some songs by acts whose names helped earn them a shot at earning my teenaged allegiance…

Hanoi Rocks – Village Girl
from Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks

I’ve noted before that I never really went through a heavy metal phase. However, one of the few music magazines that our hometown drugstore carried was Circus which I would peruse at the rack until the old woman behind the counter would eye me disapprovingly.

It was in Circus that I likely read about the Finnish, glam-rock quintet Hanoi Rocks. Not only did I dig the name, but they were Finnish, and had an album titled Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks.

Actually, by the time I checked them out, the band was already on its fourth or fifth album. A lot of folks predicted that they were ready to break in the States. Instead, their drummer was killed in a car wreck and the band split up.

Bananarama – He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’
from Deep Sea Skiving

I didn’t buy Bananarama on name alone. I had heard a couple tracks on 97X when their debut finally arrived in the States. Then following autumn, Cruel Summer was everywhere.

But Deep Sea Skiving was fun. The three girls were cute as buttons. And it’s still the only Bananarama I need to own.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Dazzle
from Hyæna

Like Bananarama, Siouxsie & The Banshees was a personal discovery from listening to 97X when the station gave heavy airplay to their cover of The Beatles’ Dear Prudence in the fall of ’83. It must have been the following spring when I purchased a copy of Hyæna.

As for Dazzle – it was my favorite track on the album and, though I now own most of Siouxsie’s catalog, it remains one of my favorites.

Zebra – Who’s Behind The Door?
from Zebra

During the summer of ’83, several friends were twitterpated over Zebra. They were hardly alone as the trio quickly attracted fans (and detractors) for the heavy Zeppelin influence in their sound.

The comparisons to Zeppelin were irrelevent to me at the time. I knew Stairway To Heaven and not much more by the band (and, at such a young age, I had already been burned out on Stairway).

I did like the name, though – Zebra. It was concise and fun to say. Who’s Behind The Door? began to get some airplay on our local rock stations and I took the plunge, buying their eponymous debut.


The Polar Bears Are Not Having A Good Time

January 7, 2009

There’s an ASPCA commercial that’s run for quite some time that has been unofficially banned in our household. You’ve likely seen it – a series of heartbreaking footage of neglected dogs and cats as a Sarah McLachlan song plays. It is rather affective.

I’d rather not see it, but Paloma was positively inconsolable the first time we saw it (of course, I probably now have a reputation as the heartless bastard that has threatened to FedEx a kitten to Gary Busey, yes?).

So tonight, I look up from reading ESPN online, expecting to see The Family Guy and, instead, seeing footage of gaunt polar bears and undernourished polar bear cubs, struggling to cross the ice melting beneath their feet. It was a commercial for the World Wildlife Fund and it must have lasted two minutes – if not quite as potent as the ASPCA’s pitch, it certainly held a greater sense of dread.

I’ve already made a note to send them a donation (no doubt my twenty-five dollars or whatnot will get things back in order).

I immediately thought of a fellow who works in my office building, wondering if he had possibly seen the commercial. Occasionally, he will be outside smoking when I happen to also be enjoying tobacco. Invariably, he will announce some arcane fact about the weather.

“The past seventy-two hours have been the coldest seventy-two hours over those three calendar days since the dinosaurs roamed the earth,” he proclaims to all in his vicinity.

I’ve gotten the impression that he suspects the whole climate change thing to be bogus and he’s on a one-man mission to spread the word.

I get the vibe that he’d sign on to hunt polar bears from a helicopter with high-powered artillery.

I’m not a scientist and I’d wager that neither is this fellow smoker. But, it does seem as though the weather has been off kilter and there do seem to be an awful lot of, you know, actual scientists – people who devote all of their time to pondering such matters – who seem to be concerned.

All I know is that those were some miserable looking polar bears.

Here are some lions and tigers and bears…

Bob Marley – Iron Lion Zion
Mr. Whiteray has a lovely post on Mr. Marley which quite appealed to me as I’ve also been reading the late Timothy White’s bio on the music legend, Catch A Fire.

Bruce Cockburn – Wondering Where The Lions Are
I’ve always been a bit more partial to Bruce Cockburn’s more rock-oriented stuff, but there’s no denying some of his gentler material is wonderful, too.

Rosanne Cash – Dance With The Tiger
Rosanne’s father once came into the record store where I worked. Oddly enough, The Man In Black was wearing a bright, floral-patterned Hawaiian shirt. That said, Rosanne is certainly one of the more under appreciated female artists of the past twenty years.

Zebra – Bears
When Zebra released their debut in 1983, a lot of music fans embraced their Zeppelin-like sound. A lot of critics slagged them for their Zeppelin-like sound. Personally, I wore that first album out (on cassette, of course).