Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some Crappy Albums

It's not too often I give out reviews for the disastrous albums out there. Being open minded, I tend to like a lot of the stuff out there and even tolerate some (except for rap and disco, which I think are dredge of the earth) Every now and then I come across a shitty album in my collection that I wished I never heard. Here are a few...(in random order)

Diamanda Galas with John Paul Jones The Sporting Life-1994 Being a die hard Zeppelin fan, I find it hard not to pass up anything Zep related, this one however, is one of that I should have. Galas pitifully hisses, whines, chants, howls and screams like Yoko Ono in heat. Can not comprehend a word to what she is allegedly singing. What amazes me the most here is that John Paul Jones, whom has a good ear for talent, is even working with her.

Impellitteri Stand in Line-1988 On the back cover of the album was inscribed with the words of guitarist Chris Impellitteri, "I promise that my guitar solos will only get faster". Ok, I'll bite. Like a fish caught on a hook reeled into a frying pan-not good. Impellitteri's guitar playing is as fast as a Porsche stuck in the mud. Tires spinning, but going nowhere. Like Yngwie Malsteam, he's all technique with no soul nor emotion. Even with ex-Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet on hand for the vocals couldn't save this album.

Kingdom Come In Your Face-1989 Or should I say Kingdom Clone? The success of Whitesnake's 1987 self titled release brought out an avalanche of Zeppelin sound alike bands hoping for their 15 minutes of fame. We had Bonham, Great White and others, each trying to reduplicate the sound of Zeppelin, but just couldn't "get it right". It takes more than amps cranked up to 11 and a Plant sound alike to recreate the Zep sound. This one however, takes the cake. Nothing exciting nor memorable here, just a listless rehash of another Zep clone.

Emerson Lake & Palmer Love Beach-1978 A record that ELP released only because they owed it to their original label. Love Beach isn't simply bad, it's downright stale and pathetic. It's about creative as washing dishes. I bought this at a rummage sale for 50 cents, I'm still waiting for a refund....

Foreigner Agent Provocateur
-1984 With each album coming out from Foreigner, they seemed to grow lamer and lamer, trying cash in on the ballads. Yeah, "I Want to Know What Love Is" became a HUGE hit for the band, yet it bored me after awhile. The rockin' moments became fewer and further between. "That Was Yesterday" was the best track of the album, the rest is filler.

Just a few for now. More bashes to come soon as I dig through my collection. So what's your worst album?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

JTI Summer Gathering of 2011

For the third year in the row, the wonderful group of friends known as the JT Irregulars got together for our annual summer gathering. A great time was held by all...

A good turnout with great people. Seated under a canopy at a local restaurant by the waters of Root River, OrbsCorbs, kkdither, lizardmom, SER, Tender Heart Bear, froglover, fungi and his wife, newcomer jedwis and myself was there. Not to forget Hale-Bopp from Tuscon, Arizona and Why Not? and her family from all away from Sweden came to join the festivities.

What a great we had! Talked for hours and had a few drinks. Hale-Bopp entertained with his stories from his travels. OrbsCorbs provided his detailed exploits from city hall. Tender Heart shared her stories from her childhood in Chicago. fungi explained the ramifications of the concealed carry law that goes into effect on November 1st. Why Not? brought her two adorable little girls. Me? Being a quiet one enjoyed hearing all of these stories.

Honestly, this is how it really went :P

Irregular we may seem, I'm looking forward to our next get together. These guys are like family to me....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Night Videos

Experimentation is a part of rock and roll. The need to experiment, to create and the stretch the boundaries is essential. The overgrowing technology has certainly helped to the cause, without it rock and roll wouldn't be the same as it is today....

Inspired by the Beatles' 1965 release, Rubber Soul, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wanted to create the "greatest record ever". The result was Pet Sounds (1966), where Wilson's growing mastery of studio recording and his increasingly sophisticated songs and complex arrangements would reach a creative peak. Influenced by psychedelic drugs, Brian Wilson turned his attention inward and probe his deep-seated self-doubts and emotional longings. The album's meticulously layered harmonies and inventive instrumentation set a new standard for pop and rock music. Wilson was a pioneer of the 'studio as instrument' concept, exploiting novel combinations of sounds that sprang from the use of multiple electric instruments and voices in an ensemble and combining them with echo and reverberation. He often doubled bass, guitar and keyboard parts, blending them with reverberation and adding other unusual instruments. It remains one of the most evocative releases of the decade.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock and roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the one of greatest rock & roll groups of all time. This album is also rock's ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. Producer George Martin's innovative and lavish production included the orchestra usage and hired musicians ordered by the band. Genres such as music hall, jazz, rock and roll, western classical, and traditional Indian music are covered. Several then-new production effects feature extensively on the recordings. The use of multi-tracking , a new idea back then, is prevalent throughout the album...

Beginning with the sound of a heartbeat, Pink Floyd "Breathes" air into their 1973 release of the legendary The Dark Side of the Moon. Recorded in the famous Abbey Roads Studios between May 1972 and January 1973, the band were assigned staff engineer Alan Parsons (you know who he is) to oversee the recording of the Dark Side of the Moon. The recording sessions made use of some of the most advanced studio techniques of the time; the studio was capable of 16 track mixes, which offered a greater degree of flexibility than the eight- or four-track mixes they had previously used, although the band often used so many tracks that to make more space available second-generation copies were made. The sound effects on "Money" were created by splicing together Waters' recordings of clinking coins, tearing paper, a ringing cash register, and a clicking adding machine, which were used to create a 7-beats effects loop. An that's the tip of the iceberg...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Enough?

105 degrees outside said the auto dashboard as I drove off from work today. With the wind in my hair and Tom Petty blasting on on the radio, it felt so great to get away the sauna of the workshop I was in... Temperatures and humidity levels have risen to excessive heights in the last few days. Not that I minded the heat, it doesn't really bother me that much, it's the humidity... Working up a sweat feeding presses and fighting off dehydration by slamming Gatorade by the gallon can a bit of a chore. Being asthmatic doesn't help....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Night Videos

Until recently, I never really was a big fan of AC/DC. Quite seemingly, in the last couple of years I've finally accepted AC/DC's classic rock status and even embraced them a little bit. Since then, I've picked up a couple of CD's from them in hopes to compile a best of collection from them. One of them, their third release High Voltage, offers up a plate of primal sleaze. The opening track "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Wanna Rock n Roll)", really got me rockin'! I remembered hearing it for the first time in the Jack Black's movie School of Rock and became intrigued. Even more intriguing was the bagpipe solo on the tune. That's something you don't hear in rock and roll too often...

As I was digging through my collection looking for some lost classics that I haven't heard in awhile, I stumbled across Judas Priest's forth album, Stained Class. Released in 1978, before the days of the headbanging leather, Stained Class offers up streamlined, melodic metal reaching often new heights of power, speed, musicality, and malevolence. Never in your face like their more famous later day hits, Stained Class is focused with knife like precision. The songs pack an enormous visceral impact, jacked up to punk-level speed-leaving listeners with an all-out adrenaline rush.

Then there is the David Bowie led Tin Machine, a forgotten band from the '80's. Though Bowie is the lead singer, Tin Machine is a band with a band attitude. Their music is hard-edged guitar rock with an intelligence missing from much of the work of that genre at the time. Stunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels provides much in the way of ambient guitar solos. The album is a nice piece of artistry...

Monday, July 11, 2011


Somehow, I knew it would come to this...I just didn't want to believe it.

4:30 AM on a Saturday morning, I was woken up from a deep slumber by my dog barking at my back door. Who would be knocking at my back door at this such an hour? It was my ex-wife with my son. Christopher had been arrested-for raping a two year old. My heart just sank to a bottomless pit.

That was last year, February 20, 2010.

The story begins with a phone call after my son got home from school. His best friend, Christopher, wanted a sleepover at my place that night. These guys had numerous sleepovers ever since the wee days of their childhood. Like two peas in a pod, they seemed like a bond in brotherliness. Anyways, I agreed to pick up Christopher at our meet up place in Milwaukee. There, my son, "my daughter and "my granddaughter" met up with Christopher and his mother. Everyone was in good spirits. Nobody had a clue what darkness lurked around the corner.

At the time, I was going through issues of my own and I wasn't up for much company so it was decided that they would spend the night at my ex-wife's place. After all, the drama had died down over there and we all felt it was safe enough for the boys' sleepover. How wrong we were...

By accounts, this is what is told to me....

My son and Christopher were playing video games in my son's bedroom when Christopher needed a controller from his backpack from the other room where my "daughter" and my "granddaughter" slept. For some reason inexcusable, Christopher had slipped my "granddaughter" away from my "daughter" and began his assault. My "daughter" had woken up to find Christopher on top of her with both their pants down. As what a concerned mother would do. she fought off Christopher with a plastic sword and then chased him out of the apartment with a knife, having my then 12 year son witnessing all this.

Maybe I was in denial. I've known Christopher since the day he was born. His mother and I were close friends since high school. My ex-wife babysat him on a constant basis while his mother worked. He was like a "son" to me-a part of the family. On the other foot, after my divorce my ex-wife and my "daughter" were known drama queens, hanging around with the wrong people. Drugs. I had my suspicions about them two. Things didn't seem right. Could it be they were looking for attention or for money? As much as I wanted to believe what happened, I just wanted the truth.

It tore me apart. The family along with it. I was in the middle of the madness, pulled apart like a game of tug-o-war. My relationship with my "daughter" was severed. Later on, Christopher's mother and I stopped talking. The case got ugly, really ugly. Even though the case made the news, I keep quiet about it, save for a few people I can trust.

By November, the DNA results can back. Indeed Christopher's DNA was found on the little girl's underwear. Sounds like an open and shut case, think again! Not only Christopher's DNA was found, TWO OTHER DNA WAS FOUND! My mouth just dropped to the floor! For some ungodly reason unknown, the persecution decided NOT to pursue the other DNA. That totally outraged me!!!! Was it a lack of evidence? A cover up? An easy way out? I'll never know the answer to this. All I know that this was a load of crap...As I later learned, the other two DNA were on the underwear (perhaps from folding clothes) while Christopher's DNA was found inside of the little girl.

From November to February 2011, the case kept getting delayed time and time again due to the defense persistently trying to find doctors that will evaluate Christopher insane. The more and more delays came and went, the more I felt Christopher was guilty.

Around this time, my relations between my "daughter" and I began to improve. Big thanks to my girlfriend. Then again as the case was moving along, my "daughter" freed herself away from the clutches of my ex-wife's drama and settled into a place of her own with her daughter's father. My daughter seems to prosper and do much better now in the drama free lifestyle than she did with my ex.

The delays in the case soon took it's toll. The defense, hoping to dog down my "daughter" and the district attorney by prolonging the case with the endless search for doctors forever, failed. After an outburst in court from my "daughter" about the delays, the process was finally sped up. By April, Christopher plead guilty. The sentencing date was set for July 11. He could face up to 60 years.

Outside the courtroom was chaotic. Words were exchanged between families as we were coming to the terms of the truth. Some family members had to be escorted out the building. No one was permitted to speak of the case till after the sentencing. That includes me blogging about it. I didn't feel like sitting in jail for contempt of court.

The case changed all of us. My son wonders why to why Christopher did this hideous act. My son barely acknowledges Christopher's existence and clams up when anyone speaks to him about it. To this day, I not sure how traumatized he is over this. He refuses counseling. My" daughter" finally saw the err of some her ways of thinking and sought to make herself a better person.

The day finally came to where justice can finally be served. Tension filled the courtroom as the police filled the place with their presence. This could get ugly, I thought. After the reading transcripts from the previous court times, the defense (including me) made statements to the court. Some these statements were teary eyed and full of emotion. The defense tried to show leniency by promoting probation only, then they tried to explain to the court that my ex-wife lied about a statement she made. (Whether it was a surprise to me or not, it didn't matter, I felt it was irrelevant it this point).

The pre-sentence investigation and an Illinois forensic psychologist suggested that community treatment would be a better option for Christopher than prison.

In a surprise move, Christopher made a statement-begging for leniency and apologized the victim's families. That fell on deaf ears for Judge Torhorst. "I simply believe you are and will continue to be a serious risk, not a minimal risk but a serious risk," he said. Christopher was sentenced to ten years in prison plus 15 years of extended supervision.

As we were corralled out the courtroom by the police, I couldn't help to wonder if justice was really served. Christopher WAS a good kid, but he what he did. There is no changing that. He got what he deserved. Somehow I can't help the feeling that he can be helped. (If that is possible) Just one question remains is to WHY?

Links for further reading...

The Journal Times 7-11-2011

The Journal Times 4-23-210

The Journal Times 4-23-2010

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Look What I've Found!

My girlfriend's son is an obsessed KISS fan. The last time he came down to visit us, I ended up showing him my KISS albums that I have on vinyl. Still inside were all of the memorabilia of posters, stickers and such. Also inside was a receipt....

Three days after my 13th birthday, I bought two KISS albums for a total $12.44. Sounds cheap today considering that prices we pay today. I remember saving up birthday money and allowance just to buy records.....Kinda neat....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July !!!!

What ever you do, don't do anything stupid like this....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Learning Isn't Hard When you Got Your Library Card...

When money's tight, another good source of music is via the library. I made a few trips there recently to pick up CD's to burn. One trip a book sale where I picked up a dozen albums for a buck.

Here's a list of what I've picked up recently...

Aerosmith: O, Yeah! The Ultimate Hits
Asia: Live Around the World
the Babys: Anthology
Bon Jovi: The Circle
David Bowie: Station to Station
Chicago: V
Chicago: VII
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum
Al Di Meola; Scenario
Dixie Dregs: Freefall
Dixie Dregs: Night of Living Dregs
Dixie Dregs: Dregs of the Earth
Melissa Etheridge; The Awakening
Melissa Etheridge: Fearless Love
Peter Gabriel: (s/t)
Peter Gabriel: Security
Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour
Steve Hackett: Please Don't Touch!
Steve Hackett: Spectral Mornings
Steve Hackett: Defector
Heavy Metal (soundtrack)
Jethro Tull: A
Paul Kantner & the Jefferson Starship: Blows Against the Empire
King Crimson: Lizard
Marillion: Fugazi
Pet Methany Group: Offramp
North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando
Ozzy Osbourne: Scream
Elvis Presley: Elvis' Christmas Album
the Pretenders: Learning to Crawl
Soul Asylum: Black Gold
Bruce Springsteen: The Essential Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen: Devils & Dust
Bruce Springsteen: Live in Dublin
Bruce Springsteen: Magic
Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream
Billy Squier: Emotions in Motion
Steely Dan: Aja
Stephen Stills: (s/t)
Supertramp: Retrospectale
Pete Townsend: Empty Glass
Pete Townsend: Chinese Eyes
Neil Young: Unplugged
ZZ Top: Rancho Texicano

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Styx at Summerfest!

Styx gets a bad rap. They’re one of those punch-line bands that people claim to like ironically. This is both unfair and stupid. There’s a subset of great classic rock bands that are being kept out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for having the gall to be too popular. Along with Journey, Kiss, Rush, Boston and Chicago, it seems that success and longevity have worked against them. No matter, though, because an evening with Styx is what rock n’ roll is really all about.

At Summerfest tonight, it was no exception...Styx blasted off the night with one of their signature hits with Blue Collar Man (Long Nights), setting the tone for a wonderful evening of classic blasts from the past. Followed by the rousing "The Grand Illusion" the entire audience was standing on the aluminum bleacher benches of the M&I Classic Rock Stage like drunks on skateboards. Nevertheless, I did manage a few good shots of the band. Anyways, my attention was turned towards the band itself.

Styx, a band that's a shell of it's former self, relied on Lawrence Gowen to tackle the vocal and keyboard void left by original member Dennis DeYoung. Taking the calling of the 12 year veteran he is, Gowan, showcased the multi-talented force off he is on "Lady" and "I'm O.K." He has that unique ability to fuse constant energy with vocal brillance. Kinda made you forget about DeYoung....

James Young, the guitarist and the only original member left,
kicked in his two cents worth. Hovered the stage with his towering pose on "Lorelei" and "Miss America", his distinctive vocals and his fingerwork on his axe shined brilliantly!

All eyes were on Tommy Shaw as most of the Styx's popular material is from this talented guitarist/singer. Charged with charisma, Shaw bounced around from one side of stage to the other, with his long blond mane flowing. Recalling his days of joining Styx after the Equinox album, Shaw leads the band into a moving version of "Crystal Ball".

The real surprise of the night was the special appearance of original bassist, Chuck Panozzo. Sidelined at times due to health issues concerning his struggles with HIV, Panozzo received a warm welcome as strapped on the bass to jam with his bandmates on the Grand Illusion hits, "Fooling Yourself (An Angry Young Man)" and "Come Sail Away".

When I was shouting out the chorus to “Come Sail Away” at the top of my lungs, and considering the absurdity of the lyric “I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, they climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies,” I cracked a giant smile. At this point, I realized that the people who make fun of this band, or others like it, have no rock n’ roll soul, and their opinion doesn’t matter. It was a night for rock and roll anyways...

The setlist-

Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time on My Hands
Man in the Wilderness
I'm O.K.
Crystal Ball
Fooling Yourself (An Angry Young Man)
Castle Walls
Miss America
Come Sail Away

I Am the Walrus

Friday, July 1, 2011

Into the Darkness....

Power was restored four hours ago while I was sleeping...Around 8:30 last night, just as I was checking through my blogs, power went out at place. Strong winds up to 70 mph, blasted Racine's coastline from a storm over the lake. Basically, what we got was an outflow from the storm, a big downburst of wind. With nothing to do, we headed out to take pictures of the storm damage.

Waves off Lake Michigan at the lighthouse

Downed tree on Four Mile Road by the lighthouse

Downed tree near English and Green Streets

According to the Journal Times this morning, most of the outages were in the City of Racine, about 8,900 customers. About 2,000 Caledonia customers, 450 in Wind Point and 350 in Mount Pleasant were reportedly without power. A long night for public workers...