Archive for August, 2007

John Peel – Margrave of the Marshes

August 31st, 2007 No comments


John Peel – Margrave of the Marshes

It is obvious that disc-jockeys , as a class, are essentially parasitic. We are, with lamentably few exceptions, neither creative nor productive. We are, with lamentably few exceptions, neither creative nor productive. We have, however, manipulated the creations of others (records) to provide ourselves with reputations as arbiters of public taste. There is no more reason (nor no less) why I should be writing this column than you – however I am in this unmerited position and you’re not. I believe very much in radio as a medium of tragically unrealized possibilities and also in the music I play. Therefore accepting the falseness of my own precarious position I will do what I can, wherever I can, to publicise these good things I hear around me. These musicians have made you aware of, and appreciate of, their music, not J. Peel.

John Peel, Disc and Music Echo, 1969

Sometimes it can be awfully boring to read an auto/biography about an individual that I know too much about. Typically, these just offer a rehash of their lives or contain information that I know too well about already. Picking up a book about an interesting topic or person that I spent too little time or did not have the opportunity to listen to, well that is a different story.

Before the internet, before cable television, before our lives were consumed with the media, there were individuals such as John Peel who dedicated their lives to offering the public an opinion that was outside the norm.

John Peel did this on a medium that today that is all but dying and that medium is Radio. ‘Margrave of the Marshes’, is the story of Peel told from both Peel and his wife Sheila.

Peel left this world all too early, hit by a sudden heart attack while vacationing in Peru. These events never allowed for Peel to finish his autobiography for which his wife Sheila promptly completed.

As an American I never had the opportunity to be able to listen to Peel on any sort of basis. Every once in awhile I would find an album, a demo, bootleg or some other sort of recording by a band labeled “The Peel Sessions”, and for many a band, getting to play on Peel’s show was a way to arrive at notoriety.

When he died, Brits wept and bands played tribute in his honor. Only then, do we get a full impetus of what he left for fans across the globe.

You did not have to listen to John Peel to be influenced by him because Peel not only influenced listeners but he influenced bands.

Peel believed in the individual and the fan and did not believe in the corporate environment that tries to sell to the lowest common denominator. He challenged his fans as well as himself. He was a fan of music, setting up his office in his house with it full of CDs, LPs, Demo Tapes and whatnot.

What Peel was successful at doing was being passionate and humble at the same time. I got the feeling that Peel never thought he was the best father or even the best DJ.

John Peel was Great Britans answer for that cool guy down at the end of the hall who had the best record collection and would play a mix tape of his. We are not talking Bee Gees or Bay City Rollers but Captain Beefheart, T-Rex, Sex Pistols, and or introducing his audience to other genres such as Reggae and the like.

Realize that this was before the internet, before we were linked to every Tom, Dick and Harry’s blog, and on the limited medium of Radio, Peel offered his audience the full potential of it.

Typically, when I finish a book, I try to take something from it. For me, I look at this lowly blog which is probably read by like three people. I hardly have the audience of a John Peel but I also realize that if someone takes something from an article, an album or a book that I have read and also found it amazing or even atrocious then there is something positive that is going on.

Categories: Books, Music Tags:

Glenn Mercer – Wheels in Motion

August 16th, 2007 No comments

Glenn Mercer - Wheels in Motion

First a hearty thank you to Derek for bringing this to my attention. Glenn Mercer was a member of the famed Feelies, one of the most underrated and underappreciated bands in the US. His first solo effort should invigorate Feelies fans that loved albums like ‘The Good Earth’ and ‘Crazy Rhythms’.

I came late to the game with the Feelies, partly because for who knows how long their albums have been out of print, so for any new fans out there they are stuck with substandard copies of them on the internet.

Mercer was one of the main co-conspirator’s in The Feelies with Bill Million, and in this album we hear the influential jangly guitar rhythms matched with the solid percussion and Mercer’s stipean mumbles underneath the music. Mercer’s album also features pretty much every Feelie, minus Million on this recording helping out on the various tracks so in many respects it feels Feelieish.

‘Until It’s Clear’ sounds like decaffienated Nirvana meets Luna. As was the case with classic Feelies, Mercer allows the music to venture into your brain, the guitar chords and drums becoming mesmerizing. ‘Whatever Happened’ reminds me one of those classic Feelies songs like ‘Slipping (into something)’ with the catchy extra long guitar, drum intros.

In a way, bands like the Feelies, helped initiate the entire shoegaze era where you can hear bands like Luna interwoven in their music. But it’s that combination with that R.E.M.-like jangling which makes this album so desirable.

Some of the more impressive tracks include a salute to the great George Harrison with the medley ‘Within Without You/Love You Too’ a seven minute heroes welcome to the silent Beatle. As on the Feelies albums that commonly added a cover version or two on an album Mercer does not cheapen the music but offers up a Hobokian salute that sounds like Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo) is drooling in the background listening to it.

And lastly, one cannot forget the Velvet Underground cover of Sunday Morning which is available as a bonus track if you download it (iTunes). Mercer gives this little eclectic treat gives the track warmth.

Rock music critic Jim Derogatis ranked this album as the best album of the year and while I will not go that far just yet I will say that it will get multiple plays from this listener. To be honest with you, one of the sad facts is that many of the “Indie” music sites did not review this album which is just about where ‘The Feelies’ stand in their memorybanks which is really sad and pitiful indeed and I can understand where Derogatis is coming from by making that proclamation.

Categories: Music Tags:

The Sox Game Friday Night vs. Seattle

August 14th, 2007 No comments

This is the second year in a row that I have attended Elvis Night. I have gone to far fewer games than I planned this year and I have to say that based on my own personal life plus the fact the team is doing so poorly has attributed greatly to this issue.

Elvis Night is always fun and even better when the team wins. In this case, however, my brother who is looking more like a character from the movie Dazed and Confused and I were finding the fact that the fans were doing the Wave as a typical no-no in the Cell. Why or when did this hoky tradition start, I am not sure. I could see going to Wrigley and trying to start the wave just because it is Wrigley, I am thinking that some women while attempting it might bump their heads.

At any rate, Elvis night also didn’t feature any ‘Suspicious Minds’ which almost caused a protest from my brother. I did have my iPod and was able to feature that for him at the bar we went to after the game. It is funny btw, talking to people about Tumens aka, the Alcohol Abuse Center. I guess the place is refurnished and I have not been there in years but I still remember going with Drew, Andrew quite a few times and always found that between the Jukebox, the atmosphere as well as the flooded bathrooms always a plus in my book. It was never a problem sitting on an old keg either. It looked like they gathered their furniture by going around Bridgeport on a Sunday morning in the winter when all the residents would stick their old chairs out in the street to save their parking spots, and they would just pilfer them. You could not beat the prices either where nice quality beer could be bought at dirt cheap prices.

Categories: Life, Sports Tags:

Peter Bjorn and John – Writers Block

August 8th, 2007 No comments


This is an album that I just thought I received that I was late in receiving for the annual 2007 year review however, it must be added to the list of albums that I have been listening to of as of late. The first thing that I thought of when I heard ‘Object of My Affection’ was the classic band from suburban Chicago, ‘Helium Derby’, and now I know that the lead singer went to Sweden to start his own band.

Categories: Music Tags:

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

August 7th, 2007 No comments


As my sites typically have some crossover, I do want to mention one album that seems to be playing pretty nonstop on my Ipod as late. Spoons latest effort, ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’, is perfect for that Summer Weekend BBQ party, but more importantly it might be one of the best albums of the year. Songs such as ‘You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb’ pleasure the listener with a revamped 60’s sound, full of horns whereas ‘The Underdog’ sounds like something that I listened to on the radio in 1975 and Wilco stopped writing when Jay Bennett left the band.

The album sounds fresh enough to feel indie yet accessible enough to allow your neighbors into its delights. Typically it’s bands that can gain this crossover appeal which will gain some type of acclaim.

At any rate if there is any album I would check out before the heat dies down is this one.

Categories: Music Tags:

Can Mark Buerhle hit 300 Wins?

August 6th, 2007 No comments

After watching Tom Glavine get his 300th victory, I thought to myself what would it take for Mark Buerhle to do it.

So far in his full 6 seasons that he has played in the MLB, he has averaged 15.5 wins a year and currently he is only 28 years. Mark Buerhle is a finesse pitcher that does not put a lot of pressure on his arm which means if all holds up he should only get better with age. Based on his statistics this season, it seems as if his second half blunders last year were a far cry from his career stats.

If Buerhle continues on his current pace of 15.5 wins a year for the next 14 years including this season and lasts as long as Tom Glavine has lasted (age 41), Buerhle would win 217 games and if you add that total with the 97 wins at the beginning of the season he would total 314 wins. In fact, Buerhle will only have to average 14.5 wins for the next 14 years to get to the magic 300 number.

Tom Glavine, in the 19 full seasons that he has pitched in the majors, not counting this year averaged 15.15 wins a season. The benefits that Glavine had to his credit was that he was on a great Braves team for all those years and that will be a big factor in Buerhle winning 300.

Buerhle has had a couple tough losses this year on a substandard White Sox team. What Buerhle does have going for him is that he tends to work deep into games which typically aids pitchers in getting decisions.

It will help matters of course if Buerhle can have a couple huge seasons the next couple seasons. While it is doubtful that he can get 20 wins this year, he still is on pace to win about 15-16 games.

Categories: Sports Tags:

Boycott BP

August 2nd, 2007 No comments

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I like how the oil companies like to market these ideas and values to us as if they are Beyond Petroleum and seeking conscious alternatives whereby they are just as guilty as they always have been.  

The point to the corporation is to make money and not to improve and or help out society and for a company that made 6 Billion dollars last year, I do question the motives and thoughts behind this.  

Lake Michigan is such a beautiful natural resource for America we do not need any more excess pollutants than have already been added to the lake.

Categories: Life, Politics Tags: