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April 02, 2012

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 47

DEXTER ROMWEBER'S FREEDOM OF NIGHT

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Very late one evening in the very late 1980s, my pal Doug and I were dejectedly roaming the Canadian television airwaves when we suddenly chanced upon footage of these two guys playing music out on someone's porch.

Our collective jaws — to say nothing of the remote — immediately dropped.

It seems we'd stumbled upon a movie called Athens, GA: Inside/Out. The two guys playing the incredible music turned out to be Chris "Crow" Smith and, on guitar and vocals, Dexter Romweber. When a graphic across the screen reading Flat Duo Jets eventually appeared, both Doug and I realized, among several other things, that we had a New Favorite Band.

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March 07, 2012

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 46

THE SMALL MACHINE THAT COULD

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I recently had the pleasure of attending both a concert of Lindsey Buckingham's and even more enjoyably — and quite revealingly — an intimate lecture/performance by the man held in New York City's 92nd Street Y. Both settings, even the former, Buckingham was somehow able to transform into stark, revealing showcases for a single man and his muse.

Or, as he himself explains during Eagle Rock Entertainment's new Songs From the Small Machine: Live in L.A. DVD, "Before there was a band, before there was any commercial success, before there was songwriting, production, there was a young boy listening to his older brother's records and teaching himself to play guitar. I guess as I evolve and mature as an artist, one of the things that I come to appreciate is that you must look for what is essential. You must look for the center. And, for me, it becomes increasingly apparent that that center is, and has been, the guitar."

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January 25, 2012

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 45

BOXES FULL OF MONKEES

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If you were born anywhere between 1955 and 1960, and consequently were just a tad too young to teethe your ears upon Pet Sounds or Revolver, like me you tuned into your local NBC-TV affiliate on the evening of Sept. 12, 1966, sat transfixed for the next 30 minutes, and then told yourself, "Hey! So THAT'S what a rock 'n' roll band really lives, looks, sounds and acts like!" Eating communal Rice Krispies at the break of noon, practicing in front of the patio window every day instead of going to school or work, yet always making sure to keep too busy singing to put anybody (under the age of 25) down.

But even more importantly — and, as it turns out, much more slyly and cleverly — what Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith of The Monkees really did during their 58 half-hours on NBC was, for the very first time, bring the counter-culture boldly into the North American entertainment mainstream.

Really.

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December 30, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 44

TEN REASONS TO NOW REVISIT TWO NEWLY AVAILABLE JIMI HENDRIX GEMS

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While there never seems to have been any let-up whatsoever over the past four decades bringing out "new" Jimi Hendrix product, two 2011 releases of vintage live material prove the exception to the rule:

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December 02, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 43

IGGY, IN THE HANDS OF THE FANS

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As the opening credits of this grand new MVD Visual DVD state, "On September 3, 2010, Iggy and the Stooges performed Raw Power live in Monticello, New York. Six fans filmed the concert and interviewed Iggy and the Stooges after the show."

Really, then! A concept so crystalline in both its simplicity and beauty — much like Iggy Pop himself. But the result is mountains above and beyond the ultimate DIY epic for Generation YouTube: What we have here is a real-time and, of course, real LOUD (thanks in no small part to the work of audio recordist Max Bisgrove) down 'n' dirty antidote to all those precious Jonathan Demme-style concert films regularly being awarded art-house praises and prizes.

Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans is, in fact, with all apologies to The TAMI Show, the best on-screen rendering of rock 'n' roll I have ever seen.

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October 31, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 42

THEY CALLED IT ROCKPILE

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Just like most Beatlemaniacs in the summer of 1980, news that John Lennon was about to re-enter the recording studio after an unprecedented five-year AWOL filled me with eager, excited anticipation. I mean, there could be no doubt the Chief Beatle would have identified with, not to mention greatly appreciated, the leather-jacketed back-to-raw-basics approach the late 1970s punk-rockers had brought to an otherwise milquetoast music scene during his hiatus.

So, naturally, these new Lennon recordings would undoubtedly reflect said fire and fury, righting all that was wrong upon my AM and maybe even FM radio dial. Right?

Imagine, then, my utter disappointment when the resultant Double Fantasy – at least John's tracks – appeared coated with layer upon layer of innocuous goop that sounded far, far more Billy Joel than Joey Ramone.

I can understand that Lennon was being delicately eased back into the early 1980s marketplace with the least offensive, most mainstream audio sheen possible. But this was a man who had until then never once feared to recklessly puncture the sonic envelope, public opinion, not to mention the Billboard Hot 100, be damned. So why was he now making music with a buncha high-payed, perfectly pitched NYC studio cats as opposed to with, duh, a real band?

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September 30, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 41

DEEP-CATALOG PURPLE

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The year 1968, amongst so many other things, witnessed the formation of yet another custom record label, this one the brainchild of comedian Bill Cosby alongside his manager Roy Silver and christened with the ineffable Hebrew name of God — Tetragrammaton.

Not surprisingly then, one of its first signings (besides Mr. Cosby, of course) was Pat Boone and his strangely countrified Departure album. Simultaneously, on the far other side of the socio-musical spectrum, Tetragrammaton also somehow found itself the American distributor of none other than John Lennon and Yoko Ono's fully frontal Two Virgins album.

Nevertheless, despite the presence of one of the nation's biggest comedians, slickest 1950s teen idols and a naked Beatle to boot, Tetragrammaton is best remembered today as the label that launched the career of Hertfordshire, England's very own Nick Simper, Rod Evans, Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore — more or less better known to this very day as Deep Purple.

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September 01, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 40

OPENING NEIL YOUNG'S MUSIC BOX

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Sexy Intellectual's Here We Are in the Years: Neil Young's Music Box DVD does present quite the journey through the past.

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July 25, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 39

HERMAN'S HERMITS MADE MOVIES, TWO!!

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In the utterly go-go, trans-media flurry that was mid-'60s pop(ular culture), every television star worth their Nielsens was expected to not only chase spies and rope steers, but compete with those rock 'n' rollers of the moment upon the Top 40 to boot.

Conversely, the real rock stars of the day were fully expected to make their own stabs upon the silver screen as well — all the better an opportunity to cross-promote their latest singles, albums, custom lunchboxes and/or coast-to-coast public appearance tours.

Meanwhile, over on the circa-1965 AM radio dial, it's not often recalled that a young band of upstarts from Manchester, England, was actually outselling The Beatles all over the North American charts, and they just happened to not only record for a label that conveniently owned its own movie studio, but was also fronted by a picture-perfect poster boy who (a) reminded their producer of a young John F. Kennedy and (b) already possessed previous acting experience on British television.

The band was Herman's Hermits, the label/studio MGM, the mop-topped JFK in question the one and only Peter Blair Denis Bernard ("Herman") Noone — and the movies? Why, none other than those full-color, action-and-music-packed, guitar-beating romp 'n' rolling gems Hold On! and Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter.

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June 27, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 38

A FAB TRIBUTE UNLIKE ANY OTHER

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While the very concept of the “tribute” album has over the years become quite a scary one, a Beatles tribute can strike downright terror into the hearts of any who still value their sensibilities, let alone that hitherto-durable 214-song catalog.

Yes, as far back as William Shatner's 1968 stab at "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and even Ringo Starr have had their melodic legacies sliced, diced, half-baked, botched and certainly butchered by those both well-meaning and, well, just plain mean. Truth to tell, these days I find it increasingly hard to sit through that Bee Gees/Peter Frampton Sgt. Pepper's movie even with tongue deep in cheek.

But then there is London's own Jim Phelan, who, far from fearing Captain Kirk's "Lucy" upon first encountering her, took matters firmly into his own brave hands by launching not only an actual record label (Exotica) but an entire series of Fab Four compilations under the regal Exotic Beatles banner.

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May 23, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 37

BOB DYLAN REVEALED # 10 & 35

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A mere 28 seconds into Joel Gilbert's new Bob Dylan Revealed documentary, the subject matter himself warns us "There's many sides to the coin, y'know, and you have-ta really, uh, the longer you go on, the more sides you show that are, that are, that are there to be, uh, unraveled."

So in between sessions with Daniel Mark Epstein's 496-page The Ballad of Bob Dylan, and the actual man's Original Mono Recordings boxed set, I spent the month of Robert Allen Zimmerman's 70th (!) birthday pondering that …

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April 29, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 36

INSIDE THE MIND OF LARRY “WILD MAN” FISCHER

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He made his television debut 43 years ago in front of 18 million incredulous viewers, had his initial recordings produced by an equally perturbed Frank Zappa and even helped launch the foremost specialty music label by writing and performing its very first release, Go to Rhino Records. Yet Larry "Wild Man" Fischer continues to dwell, most unhappily and tragically, in a truly bizarro world where Al Yankovic instead has taken "weird" all the way to the bank.

All of the dialogue below is taken from Josh Rubin's stellar documentary on the original wild man, Derailroaded, which is newly available on DVD from MVD Visual. It is a film you must see now — and often.

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March 28, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 35

A CLEARER-THAN-EVER PORTRAIT OF A TRUE LEGEND

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Most every single time the 20th century's greatest singer/songwriters find themselves getting lionized or even litanized, it seems one towering figure is strangely, sorrowfully AWOL. Despite this man’s myriad accomplishments both on the stage, behind the scenes, in the control room or, of course, in front of the microphone, his name is all-too-rarely uttered alongside those of John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly or even Hank Williams.

Nevertheless, Jan. 22, 2011, would have been Sam Cooke's 80th birthday, and I spent it the only way I knew how: with lights low and relaxed beneath headphones filled with ABKCO Records' newly upgraded Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend —1951-1964 (recently made available for download in 88.2kHz/24bit audio).

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January 27, 2011

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 34

IN THE BEE GEES' TIME: A NEW DOCUMENTARY ON THAT BAND

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Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Bee Gees' career as fully professional, all-singing, all-playing musicians, songwriters and performers.

This Jan. 12 marked eight years since self-styled "man in the middle" Maurice Gibb’s tragic passing. And in 2011, remaining Gibbs Barry and Robin are actually threatening to continue recording, and perhaps even tour the globe, beneath the hitherto-mighty Bee Gees moniker.

I'm far happier to report that 2011 also sees the appearance of a grand new DVD retrospective on Barry, Robin, Maurice and even Andy Gibb titled In Our Own Time. And from its very opening ultra-decibel, fire ‘n’ flashpot-festooned montage of "You Should Be Dancing" footage spanning 1976 clear through 1996 — which then cleverly cuts far back to a '56-vintage Elvis Presley and his similarly dance-crazed "Blue Suede Shoes" — it's clear this is going to be one of those far-too-rare roc docs that actually has a wise and sharpened sense of socio-musical perspective. I mean, who was Tony Manero after all than simply Vince Everett in polyester white as opposed to jailhouse black?

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December 28, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 33

TEN REASONS WHY BRIAN WILSON: SONGWRITER 1962—1969 SHOULD BE THE LAST BEACH BOYS DOCUMENTARY YOU NEED EVER WATCH

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1. Veteran SoCal socio-musical historian Domenic Priore more than ably launches our story over a wealth of Eastman-colored freeway and beach footage, drawing, as only he can, that all-important connection from Gidget to Dick Dale all the way to teenage Wilson's Hawthorne, Calif., music room.

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December 20, 2010

GEORGE HENN'S BEST AND WORST OF 2010

TOP 10 ALBUMS

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1. GlossaryFeral Fire (Liberty and Lament)
Smart, catchy, blue-collar anthems about life's hard-won victories, set to glorious, ringing guitars that suggest Thin Lizzy as a Southern bar band.

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December 16, 2010

MIKE MADDEN'S 2010 IN REVIEW

There were plenty of musical highs and lows throughout 2010, and what better way to recap all that went down during the year than with some subjective awards.

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* Concert of the Year: My Morning Jacket's five-night stand at Terminal 5

The Louisville, Ky.-bred band played five October shows at this top-notch New York venue, each night playing one of its studio albums from start to finish. Sure, this concept has been done before by other acts, but it usually coincides with some sort of release or anniversary. In this case, it was just for the sheer enjoyment of their fans (and with proceeds going to charity).

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December 01, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 32

BORROWED TIME

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As we arrive at the 30th (!!!) anniversary of John Lennon’s death, I found myself reaching far back indeed within my archives to exhume one of my very first-ever articles on the subject. I believe its drift remains as relevant today as it was back in December 1985, scribbled in a fit of FM-powered pique from my childhood bedroom. Perhaps you still feel the same way, too.

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October 26, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 31

DON AND PHIL WALK RIGHT BACK

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Not even the most periphery listener of rock 'n' roll should need any explanation whatsoever at this point regarding how two young Kentucky-bred brothers placed a stamp upon the sounds of the '60s equaled only by Buddy Holly and his Crickets: One listen to nearly every John Lennon and Paul McCartney vocal duet from "Love Me Do" onward — not to mention those most blatant protégés by the name of Simon and Garfunkel — more than prove that particular sonic point.

Then there are albums such as Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (1959) and the ever-amazing Roots (from '68), which created the undeniable, if criminally under-acknowledged template for the folk- and/or country-rock of any Bob Dylan, Byrds or even Rank and File track you’d care to name-check. "We owe those guys everything," the man I like to call Bob is on record as admitting. "They started it all."

Plus, need I even mention a staggering string of globe and genre-spanning hit records which continue to reverberate within the DNA of popular music creators and listeners to this very day?

Absolutely not. But what I feel I do need to state here and now, however, is the incredibly long-awaited DVD release via Eagle Rock Entertainment of The Everly Brothers Reunion Concert: Live at The Royal Albert Hall, now here for all to watch, weep, and learn from.

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September 27, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 30

THROUGH THE PAST, SMARTLY

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For those who arrived at the party rather late — meaning the first new Rolling Stones record you ever bought had a big red tongue splayed across its label — the five years and 99 minutes contained within Chrome Dreams' fine new The Rolling Stones: The Mick Taylor Years DVD will serve as a more than welcome addition to all of your recently-acquired Exile on Main St. collectibles.

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August 20, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 29

A FILM ABOUT THE DOORS … FINALLY!

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Unlike the band's own series of understandably self-serving concert videos over the years or, on entirely the other hand, Oliver Stone's utterly cataclysmic 1991 biopic The Doors, Tom DiCillo's When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (freshly available on DVD and Blu-ray from Eagle Rock Entertainment) perhaps comes closest to finally presenting, as no less an authority as Ray Manzarek has long promised, "the true story of The Doors."

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July 21, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 28

OUT OF EXILE

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For an album that received such a lukewarm-at-best reception upon its initial release (even the almighty Rolling Stone magazine used the words "overdone blues cliché" whilst making snide comparisons to Tommy James), the lone double-studio album produced by The Rolling Stones has certainly enjoyed a critical reappraisal (and then some) over the ensuing 38 years.

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June 21, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 27

FRANK ZAPPA'S LIST

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Long before the Valley Girls, mud sharks, dental floss, yellow snow and, tragically, the cancer that claimed him in 1993, there was simply Francis Vincent "Frank" Zappa, a young kid with an above-eclectic record collection who escaped the confines of Lancaster, Calif., to arrive in Hollywood with his "rockin' teen combo," The Mothers of Invention, in 1965.

His career onstage and disc thereafter caused countless unsuspecting youngsters such as myself to immediately set aside their Monkees albums in order that we could join our newest mentor upon this most adventurous of all, as it turns out, musical paths.

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May 24, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 26

THE GREATEST ROCK MOVIE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN

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True, one could consider The T.A.M.I. Show: Collector's Edition, now finally available from the folks over at Shout! Factory, as "just" the single most frantically paced, ultra-high-decibel time capsule of an extraordinary era ever preserved on disc. Or even, as Quentin Tarantino most assuredly claims, "in the Top 3 of all rock movies."

I will go all that one further, however: The T.A.M.I. Show (as in Teenage Awards Music International) is absolutely essential viewing to anyone and everyone who consider themselves fans, followers, and/or students of popular music.

Period.

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April 25, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 25

THE BRITISH ARE COMING … AGAIN

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"No more Beatles! No more Stones! We just want the Viletones!" went the cry of true teen angst 'round my Toronto neighborhood circa the Summer of Hate, 1977. And, memories of my favorite punk-rock combo from a misspent youth notwithstanding, I do find myself feeling very much the same these thirty-three-and-a-third revolutions later as big Beatles boxed sets and Rolling Stones reissues continue to dominate our collective, sonic rear-view.

Well, finally, someone – namely those utterly fab folk over at Reelin' in the Years – has seen fit to shed light upon some of the other mop-tops whose sounds and styles filled our six-transistor radios and Sunday evening Ed Sullivan shows. Yes, the first four editions of what’s promised to be an entire British Invasion series of DVDs are here at last, spotlighting Dusty Springfield, Herman's Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Small Faces.

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March 29, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 24

KURT RUSSELL WAS 'ELVIS' … FIRST

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Nowadays, it seems anyone with easy access to Velcro sideburns and a karaoke machine is busy making a living (of a sort) out of playing Elvis Aaron Presley.

After all, Mojo Nixon was right: Elvis is everywhere.

But retrospective credit is definitely due director John Carpenter and dick clark productions for getting there fastest, and first: Even before the autopsy was cold, they were readying their own Elvis for his home screen resurrection during prime time in February 1979.

The vehicle? An ambitious, yet quite reverent (especially in view of subsequent bio-pics) made-for-TV motion picture starring Kurt Russell in that title role of a lifetime. And to watch this particular Elvis again today, newly available from the fine folk over at Shout! Factory, is to be reminded just how larger-than-life The King had already become as the ’70s ended and the deification was only about to begin.

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February 19, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 23

GPG's '90s TOP 19

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I'm still in a most list-ful mood, but this roundup certainly wasn't a very easy one to compile, I'll have everyone know. The pickins were extremely, uh, thin, to say the very least.

Nevertheless, here are my Top 19 from the 1990s:

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January 22, 2010

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 22

ELVIS AT 75 … AND BEYOND

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Why Elvis Presley?

I mean, why should anybody, anywhere, care anymore?

Well, first of all, if it hadn’t been for Elvis, we simply wouldn't be sitting here reading this right now. Really!

Think about it: If you like, write or think about, and/or make rock 'n' roll music, Elvis – indirectly or not – is the reason why.

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December 22, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 21

GPG'S ALBUMS OF THE DECADE

Strictly alphabetically speaking, that is, here's what I listened to much of Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 15, 2009:

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November 29, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 20

HARVEY KUBERNIK IN HIS CANYON OF DREAMS

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I certainly tend to agree that, in the infamous words of no less an authority on all things Laurel Canyon, Calif., as Frank Zappa, most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read.

True, in a market already too glutted with 40th anniversary re-servicings of everything from Woodstock to The Rolling Stones' Altamont misadventures, one would hardly be blamed in passing by yet another study of Los Angeles pop culture from its equally distant, if golden age.

Somehow though, veteran Southern California rock historian Harvey Kubernik's bountiful new Canyon of Dreams book is the joyous exception to the patchouli-drenched rule: It is both lush in layout and deep in detail, of not only the musicians, but the arrangers, club owners, publicists and even architecture behind an era roughly stretching from Art Laboe to Slash. Or, as the author himself tells me, "We needed a print ride from 1914 to 2009. I took the challenge."

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October 19, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 19

WHO PUT THE BOMP? WHY, GREG SHAW, OF COURSE!

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Personally speaking, I can solidly claim that the very first record ever released on Greg Shaw's Bomp! label, The Flamin' Groovies' 1974 seven-incher "You Tore Me Down," actually caused the sonic earth to move beneath me in ways matched only by, I kid you not, you-know-who on The Ed Sullivan Show, my first discovery of Elvis Presley's Sun sessions and my pal John’s bringing the first Ramones record home to our innocent little Canadian turntables via the Bowery, very very late one long-lost Friday ago.

Yes sir, that little Groovies record, and the joyous singles (and albums and magazines) Bomp! faithfully sent my way duly inspired yours quite truly start my own fanzine. Then my own band. Then even my own record label! You could say, then, that "You Tore Me Down" single-in-handedly spared me from a life of university study and squarely set me down the road to where I type today.

So, just who was this Greg Shaw fella then, you might well be asking?

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September 30, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 18

GPG MEETS THE BEATLES ... ONLY SOMEWHERE ELSE

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As those grand new big Beatles boxed sets continue to clog up sales charts worldwide, let me tell you all a little story.

Being 8 years old in the Toronto suburbs of 1963, I was at the perfect age – and in the perfect place – to, yes, meet the Beatles. Because by the time “those four youngsters from Liverpool” hit the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, my friends and I had already spent the past six months familiarizing ourselves with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s initial A-sides via Ontario's mighty CHUM-AM.

In other words then, the British beat had no reason to invade Canada. It was invited.

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August 17, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 17

EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR NARDWUAR (THE HUMAN SERVIETTE)

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Canadian singer/organist Nardwuar, whose latest Evaporators release A Wild Pear shares seven Mint Records inches with Andrew W.K., talks classic TV, the Farfisa organ and much more.

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July 27, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 16

THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE SIXTIES

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If veteran rabble-rousing, uber-networking, visionary "blacklisted" journalist Al Aronowitz’s lifetime of achievements should be remembered for but one solitary event, may I posit it be for what he managed to pull off in the immediate hours following The Beatles' concert in Queens, New York, one dreamy midsummer night in 1964.

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June 29, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 15

GARY PIG GOLD'S ALL-TIME TOP 10 CAR TUNES

My pal Domenic Priore was just visiting from the left coast, promoting his grand new book Pop Surf Culture: Music, Design, Film, and Fashion from the Bohemian Surf Boom (Santa Monica Press) -- and required reading, by the way.

Now with summer once again en route, we began discussing the flat-out importance of The Road in rock 'n' roll culture, and teenaged society in general, back during that golden age of both. That got me to virtually compiling a Dashboard Top 10, as it were, for Medleyville.

So then, with tops down and volumes all the way up …

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May 25, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 14

EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR ROB MORGAN

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As both publisher of the one-and-only POPLust Magazine (cross your favorite issue of Creem with Mad magazine circa 1962) and erstwhile member of the legendary Squirrels combo (currently in the midst of their ultra-gala 25th anniversary "Death with Dignity" tour), Rob Morgan gamely took some time out from mock-rockin' the Pacific Northwest to reveal the following.

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April 23, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 13

IT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO THIS SPRING

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Believe it or not, the very first real concert I was ever allowed to attend as a wee Canadian tyke was The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens in May 1969.

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March 27, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 12

A GENTLEMAN, A TRUE STAR: MEMORIES OF JOEY RAMONE

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Late one night in very late 1976, a singer acquaintance of mine burst into the (condemned, by the way) house I was then sharing with the local bar band, shouting "You will NEVER believe what I just saw in Toronto tonight! These four guys with Brian Jones haircuts wearing drainpipe Levi’s, singing all these really fast, short songs -- LOTS of ‘em, too! And the best part? NO GUITAR SOLOS!"

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February 23, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 11

EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR THE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT GIRL

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Proudly and loudly doing musical business as Black Flamingo, Flack Blamingo, RewBee, RewWalsh and/or just plain Rew, the jewel of New York City truly is the l-u-v child Ronnie Spector and Patti Smith should have had.

Chocked straight up with her very own grand brand of supremely potty-mouthed pop, and often powered by the ever-percussive spirit of Billy Ficca, Rew sweetly took the time to answer some questions in her own inimitable style (and spelling).

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January 28, 2009

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 10

TEN REASONS WHY BUDDY HOLLY STILL MATTERS

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Precisely 50 years since the music supposedly died (Feb. 3, 1959), here are 10 reasons why Buddy Holly remains essential:

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December 22, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 9

TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IN 2008

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Apartment, Sparkle Bicycle (Waikiki).
Tatsuya Namai, a young Japanese man recording under the nom-de-group Apartment, has herein tossed upon us one of the greatest homemade, one-man, semi-fi bedroom creations in D.I.Y. history. Not always pausing to make sure every single string is properly tuned, mind you, the songs beneath consistently sport a deceptively sophisticated aura of mid-period Raymond Douglas Davies vs. Daniel Johnston.

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November 26, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 8

JAN BERRY IN MEMORIAM

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"He knew how to produce records very well. He had a very strong spirit for recording music. He was a great producer."

When no less an authority on making records as Brian Wilson spoke those words, he was paying tribute not only to a dear friend and respected contemporary, but to a man whose contributions to the creation of American West Coast music is somehow seldom ever given their rightful place alongside the achievements of, say, Phil Spector or Wilson himself.

Wilson was speaking, as he often does, of Jan Berry, whom as half of Jan and Dean (with Dean Torrence) was churning out hits back when those Beach Boys were still learning to blend voices in their parents' Hawthorne, Calif., garage.

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October 17, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 7

BESIDES THOSE BEATLES

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For the past four decades and counting, there has sat a monolith of gigantic proportions behind, if not immovably atop, each and every group of musicians who dare call themselves a rock ‘n’ roll band. And despite fervent if well-meaning cries of "phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust," the ubiquitous aura of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, alongside most everything they ever said or sung, remains. Why, "Not liking The Beatles is like not liking the sun," Rolling Stone hath decreed.

Leave it to New Jersey's one and only Smithereens to cut and drag Beatlemania, phony and otherwise, straight back down to hard, solid earth.

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September 29, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 6

A FEW FOLK SONGS

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"There's a song about a bygone relationship fallen through the cracks of life. There's a tale for a vagabond lover on the run. A gospel-esque offering about someone's father -- a blue-collar every-man's hero. One decries a presidential administration and a blues is an open letter asking forgiveness. A couple have churchly overtones replete with an eminent chorus here, a 'hallelujah' exclamation there. These are new folk songs written for anyone willing to listen."

So states the press release heralding Folk Songs for the Curious Few, the latest home-conjured release from Michael Mazzarella.

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August 16, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 5

ROLLING OVER FIFTY

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Enjoying some much-deserved down time in recent weeks, I for some reason decided to devote several hot August nights to organizing all 1,239 of my Rolling Stones iTune files into handy, CD-ready 70-minute play lists. Arranged not chronologically by order of original release, but by dates actually recorded, you see.

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July 29, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 4

YOUR YOUNGSTER’S FIRST PUNK ROCK RECORD

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It’s happened only a handful of times in my life: I’ve innocently strolled into a record store, overheard something playing therein and become so instantly intrigued that I fly to the counter, ask what I’m hearing, purchase same immediately and rush said vinyl/cassette/compact disc straight home to a privileged, ever-lasting spot of honor in my collection.

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June 25, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 3

THAT LUCKY OLD BOY

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Dateline: Hollywood, Calif. Date: May 19, 2008. The news: Brian Wilson returns to Capitol Records/EMI, his original label home.

I have been writing about Wilson and his own undeniable brand of melodic magic for just about as long as I have been listening to his music. And during the past four-decades-plus, I have managed to somehow separate not only the good and the bad -- and I’m not just speaking musically -- but the hype from the hope as well (whenever that was possible, of course).

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May 21, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 2

HALF PAST LIVE: THIRTY YEARS SINCE I SAW MY FIRST SIMPLY SAUCER

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It really is difficult to recall just how, well, dire popular music had gotten in the dregs of those dreaded late '70s.

For example, no sooner had Peter Frampton come alive than those once mighty Bee Gees kept stubbornly somehow stayin' alive, thanks to a wicked strangle-grip atop global play and sales lists, which spanned the better part of an entire calendar year (I kid you not).

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April 21, 2008

THE GARY PIG GOLD REPORT, Vol. 1

We're Not There: Bob Dylan Live 1966 and the Death of Rock 'n' Roll

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As pretty pointedly displayed throughout Martin Scorsese's recent No Direction Home, the 1966-model Bob Dylan was an American idol at the indisputable peak of his powers as the (insert your own convenient pigeonhole here) Poet/Laureate of a Generation, Crown Prince of the (Thinking Man's) Hit Parade, or --my personal favorite -- Snot-Headed, Venom-Spewing Anti-Rock Star of All Time.

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March 24, 2008

GARY PIG GOLD'S RANT AND RAVE, No. 1

Yes, recently it was indeed that time of year again -- when what remains of the music industry gathered at New York's Waldorf-Astoria to eat, drink and act even more self-congratulatory than usual at the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

And while I must applaud the powers that may still be for inducting, at extremely long last, what remains of The Dave Clark Five and The Ventures, I couldn't help at the same time conducting a virtual poll of my own on that one dire musical question that more often than not goes unspoken:

Should Pat Boone be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

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September 22, 2006

SHAKIN' STREET No. 7

The Missing Link: Eddie Angel provides Wray of hope for the tribute album

By the end of the 20th century, the tribute album had its once good name beaten to death, or pretty close to it.

Heartfelt homage of one artist acknowledging a debt to or deftly tackling a worthy catalog of another (see: George Jones' My Favorites of Hank Williams, Buck Owens Sings Harlan Howard, countless Frank Sinatra tribute albums and many more) gave way to a deluge of alleged all-star compilations that (dis)honored superstars, cult figures and just about everyone in between.

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August 18, 2006

SOUNDING OFF, Vol. 8

Plane and Simple:
There's a need for certain CDs to have right-to-the-point titles, too

One thing's for sure about the movie Snakes on a Plane -- the title says it all. Yep, viewers can expect to see a film with actual slithery creatures on an aircraft.

Now if only musicians were as forthright and accurate when giving titles to their albums so listeners would really know what they're going to hear.

Here are two recent releases that deserve Snakes-style renaming:

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January 18, 2006

SOUNDING OFF, Vol. 7

Shaking Up the Airwaves:
Early on, David Lee Roth shows potential as a radio host

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There is no easy way to take over for a legitimate icon. Constant comparisons, skepticism and the public's reluctance for change ultimately are too much pressure for mere mortals to handle.

Now imagine that the icon in question is Howard Stern and the challenge is taking over his 6-10 a.m. national radio throne. Most successors would have borrowed liberally from Stern's "shock jock" formula, but following Stern's departure for Sirius Satellite Radio, David Lee Roth, the new sheriff in town (his words), is looking to change the face of terrestrial radio in the morning.

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November 23, 2005

REMEMBERING CHRIS WHITLEY

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Like an old-time blues troubadour, Chris Whitley was quite adept at doing his thing with just his voice, a National acoustic guitar and a stomp from his boot.

Whitley, who recently had been diagnosed with lung cancer, died Nov. 20. He was 45.

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November 18, 2005

SHAKIN' STREET No. 6

Honest-to-goodness one-man bands kicking up a storm

The big corporate record companies aren’t the only ones scaling back these days. A growing number of indie rock ’n’ rollers are streamlining their acts -- multitasking, if you will -- as the one-man band format becomes more prevalent each year.

New releases by two of the better of these acts, John Schooley and His One Man Band and BBQ, prove that doing it alone is not a bad idea.

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