Drugs Can Assist The Creative Process, Providing You Stay On Them

Heroin is like a Mike Myers movie; no matter how many times it’s declared to be dead or how much bad press it gets, they keep making it and people keep showing up for a taste. Under closer inspection, smack seems to get bad ink because the only people that write about it are former users. Why are so many people cooking up when even USA Today can't find anything nice to say about heroin? Because getting high is supposed to open up the creative areas of your mind, but the hideous truth is that most "H" users use up all of their creativity just searching for new ways to score junk leaving the masses with nothing more than some empty notebooks and vomit. There are numerous songs about "horse", but for the most part a song about heroin is just like the song about a broken heart: It comes after the fact when your life is empty and your friends will have nothing to do with you. You went off the rails on heroin and bottomed out when you realized you couldn't make your own lunch. Fuck off prima donna. Clean up songs are for pussies who play the Half Time show at the Super Bowl.

In order to separate yourself from the average junkie when you write a song about drugs, don't tell me you took drugs and they fucked up your life; TELL ME WHY I SHOULD TAKE DRUGS! Share with me the secret about this forbidden bitch goddess that makes you want to come back again and again even though you have half a set of teeth and drink out of toilets. Spare me the inner freedom hippie bullshit. Convince me to shoot up by explaining that heroin is like cumming for 35 minutes without having to talk to anyone afterwards while staying nice and trim and do it with some loud guitar.

By being a deranged genius that saw life differently than most, then building poetic and musical world around that surreal vision, Jim Carroll was the Willie Wonka of heroin. 1980’s Catholic Boy was the golden ticket tour inside the candy factory using what every good con artist always has handy-language. Catholic Boy is grad school Punk Rock that is closer to French New Wave film than the maniacal slashings of NYC contemporaries like The Dead Boys, as it was packed with enough metaphors to keep even the most pretentious hipster busy through a whole pack of Clove cigarettes. The album is not solely about drug use; rather it shows us the landscape absorbed through the eyes of a junkie and hustler and broadcasts it in way to make you sympathetic to his self-induced pain. The album’s most well known song “People Who Died” is also its biggest flaw. The misleading punk angst kept many from digging deeper into one of the single finest music albums ever made. The band behind Carroll is the key as they act like a tail on a kite directing the lyrical poetry into a force of different velocities that enhance the heights of Carroll’s underbelly experience. "Wicked Gravity” is a poetry slam and slam dance combined. An attacking but at the same time slide stepping song about the weightlessness of addiction heavy enough to keep it grounded so it’s point stays at eye level. Just as junk will do, “Wicked Gravity” pulls you in and keeps you beautifully dog chained. Eventually everything comes back to earth because the longer you live out the heroin dream, the less of a myth it becomes. Jim Carroll succumbed to the gravity of existence, checking out on September 11, 2009.

Conversely Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy carved out their heroin shooting rock band niche by taking clich├ęs and brilliantly giving them a life of their own. Many people have written and performed songs about prison escapes but only Thin Lizzy had the balls to call it and actually make it sound like a “Jailbreak.” Ready to fuck or fight with a wink of his eye, Lynott was the motor behind the band as well as being its revered and inimitable front man who possessed the rare ability to craft the rock song of the working class with the lyrical insight of a broken hearted auteur. Under appreciation in the United States was partly brought on by their own doing-Lynott’s case of hepatitis (possibly caused by his use of heroin) forced Thin Lizzy to cancel what looked to be their career making 1976-’77 tour as the Jailbreak album was starting to take off.

1977’s Bad Reputation once again showed that Thin Lizzy could take formulaic subject matter and scare the fucking bogeyman with it. The title track to this record is simply one of the finest “I have it under control” records you will ever hear. The sonic menace of a back alley bruiser facing an intervention, Lynott snarls back at the chorus urging him to “turn yourself around” by filling you in that this not only the life he has chosen but he has worked hard to get to this low point, so he will sort it out his way. Recorded as a 3 piece, with the very underrated Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on guitar and drums respectively, “Bad Reputation” spotlights the bulletproof feeling of having the mind working just enough to rationalize marginal decisions. Perfectly encasing what having a bad reputation entails: a hard surface with rage, passion and technical skill that can be summoned and administered before anyone can hit the panic button, Thin Lizzy did the impossible-they gave heroin a cool makeover. Phil Lynott cemented his bad reputation when his body finally gave way to years of abuse in January 1986.

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Comings And Goings

We're now back from the rain delay...

In honor of my own comings and goings that have kept me from creating any new 4 Minutes Of Fame music blog postings for a while; I am going to re-enter blogging by acknowledging a departure and arrival of 2 underground heroes of the vinyl record world:

The news of Willy DeVille's recent death ironically may have gotten past as many people as his music did. While not a media darling, DeVille had released of number of critically acclaimed records starting with the quasi-eponymous band, Mink DeVille that he fronted when he first made the scene. Mink DeVille were able to carve out a sonic space by embracing romance at a time (1977) when it was far cooler to hate than it was to love. The songs of Mink
DeVille were more than stories; they were urban handbooks for hitting on girls up the street and pulling a knife on their boyfriends down the block. More Latin and crooner influence than nihilistic Bowery in the music, Mink DeVille and later on, Willy's solo work carried that elusive lover's edge that gave his pining lyrics the believability to convince your heart to do, what common sense refused to.

I offer as a headstone two selections to a fallen troubadour: "Venus Of Avenue D" beautifully captures the prowling streetlight shaded canvas of Mink Deville as a band and Willy Deville's romantic swagger without using 1st year theatre major over emoting. 1983's "Each Word's A Beat Of My Heart" is a lush paradoxical song from Willy's solo record Where Angels Fear To Tread that finds the right words to describe the feeling of not having the right words to say

Listen To “Venus Of Avenue D”:

Listen To “Every Word Is A Beat Of My Heart”:

Ace Frehley was a better lead guitarist drunk than most players are straight and his solo albums are clean urine samples compared to the tainted piss the other member of Kiss have put out. Starting with the Ace Frehley solo album and into the Frehley's Comet days, Ace has put out a string of records that may not walk a straight line, but always have a few choice tracks. "Rip It Out", "New York Groove", "Into The Night" and "Insane" are all solid singles that were either created or arranged by Ace (Russ Ballard was responsible for writing "New York Groove" and "Into the Night") and that stand on their own without needing lunch boxes or make up to command your attention.

On September 15th Ace Frehley's new solo album Anomaly hits the street with Anton Fig (from the Letterman show) on the drums backing some very strong guitar based songs. Check the new song "Outer Space" out and see for yourself. The truth is, Ace was the only guy in Kiss that really needed to wear the makeup, yet he has been the most successful member of the band without it.

Listen To “Outer Space” From The New Anomaly Album:

Check Out The New Commercial For Anomaly.

Hang Tight For More Posts Coming Soon And The Debut Of The 4 Minutes Of Fame PODCAST!
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Thanks Daddy-O.

I phoned my parents recently. I was hoping to get their voice mail, but my father tricked me by answering...  Not that I do not want to talk to my dad, we just travel dissimilar mental roads, so our conversations resemble 2 people that speak different languages that have run out of the few words that they know of the others tongue; saying "OK" over and over while nodding. The discussion my dad and I had on the phone is a microcosm of our divergent modes of operation. My father has a keen ability to draw you into something you are unprepared for and on this day it was a sermon on anti-diarrhea medication. He was recommending a particular brand when I asked him how he came to this ultimate decision. When he told me that my uncle had turned him on to this, a chill ran through me, for that meant that I was not the first person that he was having this uncomfortable conversation with. The blame for it continuing is mine, because I could not let it go and prodded him with more questions. "What does this man know about these products that the rest of us as citizens do not?" My father replied that my uncle did not have an anus. I was stunned yet thirsty for more, so I asked him to explain. I was informed that my uncle had has his anus surgically removed. My follow up was calm and sarcastic. "Did he get it done for cosmetic reasons?" There was a long silence broken by my dad's voice. "Let me get your mother on the phone."

Fathers and sons are different by design. The advantages going to the son for they are able to somewhat look into the future by analyzing their dads, think to them themselves "FUCK! That's not to happen to me..." then choose a proper course of action. I am actually named after my father, ironic for that might have been the only thing that I followed him into. Had my dad been a musician, things would have been different. My dad is actually a good guy, but Billy Gibbons, he is not. Those of you not fortunate enough to have rock star dads should be advised that being a legacy in the music business opens doors locked to everyone whose parents haven't mastered post-concert bathroom stall sex. Once through the door, the difference between being a second generation musician who gets signed to a record label and the first born taking over at the family bakery is having your own voice and style that distinguishes you from the music your father made. 

Chris Mancini never really had a choice. When your father is Henry Mancini, the most well known and accomplished composers of the 20th century, you are going to pick up some ability simply by having your clothes mix with his in the laundry. Not performing initially, Chris focused on the business side of the music industry in publishing and producing TV's "The Midnight Special." When he eventually recorded an album, the goal was to take what he learned from his father but have his own footprint. How?  First, the album title "No Strings" was a coy reference to his genealogy yet how he intended to be his own man by not featuring the orchestra as his father did. This is rock music and you only use an orchestra when you run out of ideas...Secondly, using a page from his father's playbook, Chris enlisted a studio full of crack musicians like Waddy Watchel, Carmine Appice and Rick Derringer to create a slick and polished record that positioned itself to be one of those "out-of-left-field" songs that were embraced by both rock radio and FM top 40. 1983, however, was a tricky time to put music out. New Wave, Rap, and about 12 other styles were emerging, making it easy for a straight-ahead rock album to get lost quickly. Plus with music videos on every channel by this time, radio was no help as stations scrambled to keep pace with MTV and it's clones. Playing in a 6 shoe deck did not stop Mancini from delivering a glossy number ready to be pumped out of an open window with "Gonna Find Me A Girl Tonight." Crisp and layered with the scanning eye and confidence of a shoplifter; knowing once he clears the door and hits the street, the game is his. All this was not enough to get Mancini any airplay, and chances are the first time you heard this on the radio was also the last.
Listen To "Gonna Find Me A Girl Tonight"      

The story goes the term "Rockabilly" came about when brothers Johnny and Dorsey Burnett of the Rock and Roll Trio, recorded a song about their sons (Johnny is one hit wonder Rocky Burnette's dad and Dorsey is Billy's father) called "Rockabilly Boogie." That is a lot of pressure on a kid who at the time was still working with safety scissors. When you have shoes that big to fill, you had better start early. Billy Burnette recorded his first single at age 7 and by the time he was out of high school he had a full album on the streets. By the time the third self titled Billy Burnette record came out (following the lead of Peter Gabriel's run of self titled albums), Rockabilly music had re-emerged with a tougher punk style that contradicted Burnette's Country influenced crooner melodies. The separation was a benefit that kept him from being lumped in with every rockabilly band that found a way to put "Cat" in their name. Burnette's grasp of Rockabilly style was genuine and traditional enough to be the guy that snuck off with your girl while you were at the rumble. "Don't Say No" has the magic of sounding like it is being sung to you from the street 2 stories down through an open window. The innocence of the vocals and rambling rhythm charm you as if it were your pants Burnette was trying to get in. This slick sales pitch for sex made it up to # 68 on the Billboard charts and rambled in to medium rotation on MTV.

Listen To "Don't Say No"      

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At The Helm

Deciding The Direction Of A Band Is Much Easier When It Is Your Band

School as a youth is designed to prepare you for adult life and how it truly does so is not always initially apparent. There are covert lessons, broadcast on a hidden frequency, that don't become clear until logic steps in later in life. School time spent learning about democracy is perhaps the pupil's greatest delayed eye opener. Teachers speak with great pride about how we live in a nation that gives a voice and vote to everyone and exercising this gift is important and imperative. This immediately seems odd to me since I was not given a choice to what we would be discussing in class and when it was discussed. If we truly lived in a democracy, my vote would have been for a forum on underage drinking, and how to increase it. I am confident that I would be able to lobby enough votes to ratify...

It is not until later in life we realize the problem with a democracy and giving everyone a voice is that no one ever shuts up. High school, national government or anywhere else in life, if you open up the floor, some axewound is going to fuck it up by wasting everyone's time about dog sweaters. Since it is illegal to stab people like this in the throat (so in addition to watching them die, you don't have to listen to them anymore), you eliminate shit like this by having one person in charge. What you are truly voting for, is not for what you believe should be policy, it is to appoint a person that will have the power to tell someone to cram it, and where the crammed item should go. Nowhere is this more necessary than in rock music. Bands need leaders to focus on the business of being a band and to avoid conversations about what colors smell like. Most successful bands have the one person who refused to listen the nonsense about finishing school, instead just tuning into the noise they heard inside their head. The noise became vision, the vision became something called "my band", and "my band" became a carnival ride that went through musicians like disposable lighters. In order to successfully navigate this road, your bandleader needs to have direction, and this direction often starts with the instrument the band catalyst plays. You should quickly realize that Ted Nugent's band would sound different than Scott Weiland's because Nugent plays guitar and Weiland shoots heroin.

Iva Davies is not just the leader and catalyst for the band Icehouse, he also may be the most successful oboe player on the planet. By Davies starting his musical education by learning the oboe in his youth, then parlaying this into a viable rock band, he became the dream example of every middle school music teacher. In hopes of getting people excited about woodwind instruments, a teacher might use this example to inspire; much in the same way singing waiters are reminded the Tony Curtis started his career in that shit job. The truth is that the quota for these rags-to-riches senerios is one and it has been filled-so press on with a different dream. The best an oboe player or singing waiter can hope for is to not get beat up every day on the way home.
The oboe did serve as part of the sonic template for Icehouse, a band with Davies as the centerpiece and only constant member. He used the atmospheric elements of the woodwind section to build layers and texture in his music. The band lived in the aural world between upbeat and melancholy, creating songs that mirrored both the open country and vibrant cities of Davies native Australia. Icehouse's 1983 EP "Fresco" was a 5 song display that attempted to raise the level of exposure in the U.S. "Street Cafe" was a spacious affair that paradoxically attempted to seek a personal connection. The song is a musical document of those ethereal moments, stamped in our minds, that took place somewhere real and tangible enough to cause us to return to the location time and again in order to relive and re-encounter what occurred. Fittingly, Street cafe appeared not only on "Fresco", but
The full album "Primitive Man" as well.

Listen to "Street Cafe"

The Golden Palominos
If you ever wondered why the drum machine never fully replaced the human drummer, you just need to remember that the drummer has weapons. Stationed behind the drum kit you will find a quiver of drumsticks, an arms length away to fire at anyone who dares to disagree. All it takes is 3 or 4 "OUCH! FUCK!" reactions before the drum machine vote get shelved. It also makes sense that a drummer led band would resist an electronic delivery in favor of a more traditional direction. Drummer Anton Fier formed his Golden Palominos to avoid the enchantment with technology, instead focusing on an intertwined emotional premise for each album that featured a rotating set of unique musical members. 1986's "Blast Of Silence" sauntered away from the stadium rock, new wave and hair metal records of the time that seemed to come with their own hair dryer, creating it own space, which eventually became alt-country and Americana music. The Peter Holsapple penned tune "Diamond" emerged as an anti-single drenched in back forty glamour featuring the painfully lush vocals of Syd Straw. "Diamond" moves along sadly, but briskly, carried by a simple depth brought about by a talented group (including T-Bone Burnett and Matthew Sweet) of players. The result is a timeless piece of haunting beauty and synergy.

Listen to "Diamond"

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Age Of Enlightenment.

Old Wise Men Say Youth Is Overrated.

Having the minimum drinking age at 21 is the single most counter-productive thing we do as a society. Teens and pre-teens are inundated with positive messages about the magic of alcohol, and from the moment they figure out the anti-drinking messages they get at school are bullshit, kids from all over the globe want to ride that whiskey pony. So what happens? They sneak, plan and wait for the epiphanic moment that they can crunk it up without the P.T.A. or mall security interfering. After waiting 7,8 or 9 years behind the velvet rope, the last guests at the party want to show they belong by chugging hooch at the rate that would make Andy Dick cry. By the time our young lions hit 25, they have left a trail of professional wreckage it would take a GPS to get out of.

This is easily repaired by allowing children of all ages to drink alcoholic bev
erages. A reckless drunk at 25 is in danger of losing jobs, friends, cars and some hard earned cash. A 14 year old rummy is really only in danger of repeating the 9th grade-giving them the physical superiority that you need for credibility and leadership. A 6-year-old lush? That's just flat out cute. Age will give you wisdom only if you are allowed the experience of fucking up the program. This is very true in the world of modern music, yet the paradox lies in the fact that contemporary music places a high premium on the youth of the performer. How do we expect an artist to sing about the virtues of love and politics without being old enough to have paid for an abortion?

Sammy Hagar kept his age a secret better than a Cuban baseball
player. Hagar hit the national scene as the lead singer of Montrose at 26, went solo at 29 and by the time he became the front man for Van Halen he was almost 40. Hagar used his time in the trenches to solidify himself as a "man of the people", adeptly writing and performing songs about rocking hard and reckless driving that lead to vigorous fist pumping during his live shows. "The Red Rocker" (as he billed himself) succeeds in this niche using his vibrant charisma paralleled with guitar and voice packed with power. Although his solo work was accepted by FM rock radio, Hagar did not achieve mainstream success until 1981's "Standing Hampton." Sammy Hagar became a star rocker and tequila bottler by not only grinding it out over time, but by also paying attention to what was happening around him musically. His songwriting ability not only assisted his being asked to be in Van Halen, he also was covered by the eerie combination of Rick Springfield and Bette Midler. Midler dipped into Sammy twice for songs, first on "The Rose" soundtrack and next for a cover of his song "Red." As an effort to brand himself, Hagar recorded "Red," a rolling rocker with a live feel, yet full of the warm tones favored by FM radio (in order to distance the medium from AM). Considered to be Sammy Hagar's first anthem, it never was officially released as a single, however, it remains a staple of his live show to this day.

Listen To "Red"

Buy Sammy Hagar Music

Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar

I can't think of anything more tiring than listening to "Prog Rock." 13 minute songs about things that black light posters are made into make me want to ask if there is a gas station between here and the end of this song. The Strawbs, whose beginnings were in the mid '60's, were a prominent band within the Prog Rock movement throughout the 1970's until Richard Hudson and John Ford grew tired of renaissance fair groupies and bolted the band for something less tedious. After some sorting out, Hudson and Ford established The Monks, a group that attempted to humorously mimic Punk Rock. These guys were much older and experienced than the bands they attempted to parody, so musicianship ironically concealed the comedy and the single "Nice Legs Shame About Her Face" hit the top 20 in the UK. With not everyone in on the joke, the veteran Monks were believed to be an actual Punk Rock outfit. "Drugs In My Pocket" borrowed from the Reggae influence of Punk, highlighting the libertine time after scoring, but before ingesting controlled substances. Swift, free and upbeat as that glorious moment, the song utilizes sound effects at both ends of the tune that assist in presenting effective audio theatre. The key to this song is the combination of the smooth rhythm section, angular guitar and a hard cockney accent of the narrator to create a story where the right person is holding the incorrect item on the wrong side of town.

Listen To "Drugs In My Pocket"

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