Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer in Pain zine

( Kimmy Whispers is a genius or a madman...or a really big Bulls fan!

Well Poop minicomic by Jim Donaldson

( Scatological Satanism (Scatanism?) from the genius behind Danziggy!

The Best Comic Ever by Mark Rhomberg

( Accurate!

The Oubliette by Kenan Rubenstien

( These four beautifully printed, folded, designed, and drawn minicomics feature poignant vignettes telling melancholy-tinged tales of beautiful people experiencing sadly romantic relationships with life and each other. The ones about putting your stuff in storage and meeting girls were great, but I really like the nude beach comic the best. 'Cause of the boobs and wangs.

King Crow Comics #1

(by Scott Kroll) I love this funny minicomic, because I love rats, alien probes and skeleton dogs (although I wasn't aware of the latter until reading this).

Owls Make Lousy People comix by Carl Antonowicz

( This profoundly amusing collection of gag panels featuring information about owls who write novels, give advice, play banjo, watch Mr. T on TV, and bowl could be described as reveling in absurdist non-sequitors...if every word was not true!

Monkey Squad One #9, #10

( Two things I learned from these b&w teen superhero rock n roll minicomics: 1. zombies love emo. 2. The condition that causes green radioactive anti-heroes to engage in  monosyllabic, third person, sub-Yoda/Frankenstein speech patterns is called "Hulktarded."

The Canadian Romantic by the Canadian Romantic

( This inkily-illustrated guide to love, lust, Canada, and lovingly lusting for/in/by Canada may be the first print publication capable of transmitting chlamydia. It’s like Rogaine for a swinger’s moustache!

Don Dilego "Western & Atlantic"

(Velvet Elk) Way better than Don DeLillo's Vaughn Meader cover band he formed to promote Libra in '88. This singer-songwriter delivers the most Athens, GA-ish song about Chicago ever created.

Rosetta West "Underground Volume 1"

Should be called "Edward Slide Guitar-hands!" Damn, it's boogie-bluesy in here! With a chance of experimental haze!)

Money in the Banana Stand "Giant Steps II"

(Bird Law) Beautifully ugly Americana, featuring a singer who won a hoarse race.

My Dad Is A Dinosaur "Friendly Ghosts"

( Spookily good! Spare, bare, lo-fi haint-a-billy, with ecto-yodels! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brad Cole "down the line"

( Should be called Brad Soul, cuz these country-tinged tunes tug at your heart parts!

Milks & Rectangles

(MAPL) Milked from cows grazing on John Hughes movie soundtracks. Not sure how the rectangle angle fits in.

Allen Thompson Band "Salvation in the Ground"

(Palaver) They should be called the Beargles...not because they are bear-like Beatles, but because they are basically the Bearded Eagles!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Deep Purple DVD/CD collections/reissues

JON LORD:  REST, IN ROCK (Guest review by Gary Pig Gold((

"Just what the world needs:  Another record company."

And with those typically snide words, on the Seventh day of February, 1968, Bizarre Productions was duly incorporated, and two hundred shares of no par value common stock issued in the State of New York, thereby creating the first of several record companies Frank Zappa would oversee during his most colorful life and career.

At this very same point in time, 3500 miles and one ocean to the east, the world's biggest pop group launched their very own Apple Corps, whose singles and albums were manufactured and distributed in North America by that granddaddy of all (once-) indie labels, Capitol Records. Of course, as they usually were, Capitol's resident Beach Boys were already over a year ahead of the Fabs in creating their own personal Brother Records imprint, ostensibly conducting business right out of that iconic Capitol Tower on the corner of Hollywood and Vine (though, truth be told, most Brother board meetings were held in Brian Wilson's swimming pool or, if the vibes so dictated, under a tent in Brian's living room).

Stranger still, right there in the shadow of the Capitol Tower, 1968 saw the formation of yet another custom record label – this one the brainchild of comedian Bill Cosby alongside his manager Roy Silver, and most righteously 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, recorded-in-a-single-day, produced-by-Zal-Yanovsky-even Departure album. Simultaneously, on the far, far other side of the socio-musical spectrum, Tetragrammaton also somehow found itself the American distributor of none other than John and Yoko's fully-frontal Two Virgins album. Huh! How's THAT for diversity in establishing a talent roster for an up-and-coming new label, even by late-Sixties' standards?

Nevertheless, despite the presence of one of the nation's biggest comedians, slickest Fifties 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, Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord. More or less better known to this very day as, yes, Deep Purple.

Now, to say that in 1968 Messrs. Cosby and Silver had no real idea whatsoever how to handle their newly-signed band of proto-metalheads would be quite the understatement:  Rather than booking the lads into all the most hep rock halls of the day, the quintet's inaugural tour of the U.S. centered instead around appearances on television's Playboy After Dark (during which Ritchie Blackmore was seen giving Hugh Hefner a guitar lesson) and The Dating Game (wherein the late, extremely great Jon Lord came in third out of three contestants and didn’t get the girl. “I was pissed off I wasn't chosen; she was very beautiful," the Purple patriarch could still be heard complaining a quarter century later).

Despite all of the above and more, it is a testament then to the solid quality of Deep Purple's early music that they not only survived, but actually placed a trio of singles into the American charts during their two-year stint with Tetragrammaton. In the process, they also produced three more-than-accomplished albums which, to my ears at least, remain the best they have ever done.

Those albums, Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn, and the eponymous, Hieronymus Bosch-wrapped Deep Purple have now been made available again, complete with studio out-takes and BBC Radio bonus tracks, from the fine folk over at Eagle Rock Entertainment. Included therein, of course, are the band's initial Top Forty hits (wholly machine-headed takes on Joe South's "Hush" and even Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman"), a ten-minute-plus roll over Phil Spector's "River Deep, Mountain High" – somehow via "Also Sprach Zarathustra" – which I bet even Ike Turner would've approved of, plus two Beatles and even a Donovan cover. You see, like all vintage-Sixties bands, British in particular, Purple learned early the value of a carefully crafted tune …regardless of who wrote or even claimed the publishing royalties.

Of course this was the same band who, with a Seventies shift in personnel or two, went on to produce some of that decade's heaviest slabs of Marshall-powered r-a-w-k (e.g.: the utterly Ramone-tempo'd "Highway Star" not to mention that riff that launched countless pyromaniacs, "Smoke On The Water"). Evidence of such delightfully moronic brilliance can indeed be heard as early as Shades' Jimi-fried "Mandrake Root," and especially the first five-minutes-thirty of the Deep Purple album. Conversely though, this was a band which also indulged its tender moments as well – I'd like to see the Mk. 2012 Purple tackle any Donovan songs! – and even spent an inordinate amount of Book of Taliesyn concocting fits of druid bombast even Spinal Tap couldn't, or wouldn't touch. Jon Lord, speaking at the time to Woman's Own magazine, attempted to explain this, um, approach by making allusions to astral association. Hmmm.

It can perhaps be seen in retrospect that this very dichotomy between the fanciful and the Neanderthal doomed this early incarnation of the band; in fact, shortly after the release of Deep Purple in 1969 bassist Nick Simper, along with vocalist (and budding Lux Interior) Rod Evans were fired for flat-out refusing to head in heavier directions, man. At this same time Tetragrammaton itself went belly up, taking with it all Purple profits they could legally or otherwise lay their hands on. This freed Mr. Lord to indulge for the moment each and every Derek Smalls fantasy imaginable on stage at the Royal Albert Hall via his Concerto for Group and Orchestra, while Ritchie Blackmore set about retooling a leaner, meaner Deep Purple for the arena-rocking decade to come.

Most of you know the story from there. But for the moment, let me direct you instead back to the glory daze when our heroes were still hangin' with the Cos at Hef's mansion and wondering why Rosemary never took the Pill; in that halcyon period of The Flower Pot Men and Their Garden (one of Jon and Nick's pre-Purple combos, I kid you not) and other such musical madmen who were never afraid to say and play anything and everything that crossed what remained of their minds.

Accordingly these original three, thankfully re-issued albums can now be heard again, in all of their deepest, purplest glory.

But, when asked if he will still be grabbing a piece of the action, Bill Cosby's only reply was "….hush!"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scarcity of Tanks "Fear Is Not Conscience," "No Endowments," "Sensational Grade," "Vulgar Defender"

(Total Life Society Records) Progressive scramblecore that will get you angry at something, even if you're not sure at what. Poetic manifestos that never tank...thus the band name!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Elk "Daydreams"

( Better than Elk DeBarge!  Better than Lawrence wELK! Better than Elk Elk Cool J! You will dig this sweetly sinister jangle pop with poppy DNA, access to their parents' (grandparents?) 60s records, and more tambourine than Davy Jones' memorial service!

Friday, July 13, 2012

CJ & HEsy by Ben Frazee

( Frazee's graphical autopsy of the human body's hairy, drippy, fragile, fluid spewing, mortal, violated, twitchy, grotesque, infested, wrinkly, vulnerable, doomed form is...well it's something! It's a triumphant visual violation of all that's right and good!

Stephen David Austin "A Bakersfield Dozen"

( Austin isn't shy about his goals of reviving Buck Owens-era country music, and his stellar pedal-steel led band, storytelling songwriting, and distinctive slightly flat deep vocals deliver on his promise. The songs may be a bit straightforward (his tale of a bullied fat kid driven to violent retribution sounds more didactic than poetic, and his "Kansas Ain't in Kansas Anymore" is too evenhanded and sensible to have "Okie From Muskogee" resonance) but who says a working man needs to use fancy words? If everyone on country radio had Ausitn's goals and drive, I sure as hell would be listneing to country radio  a lot more. If there's one disappointment I had with the album it's that the last track about a bad dog, which features a guest voice barely chirping out the words "bad dog," turned out to be a duet with his infant grandson.I had hoped he had trained his dog to talk!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reset by Peter Bagge

(Dark Horse) Bagge is not only one of the funniest creators in comix, but also one of the most truthful. His impressive narratives have always been populated with complex, realistic characters whose anger and defeat in the face of life's inanities and mundanity have always seemed honest, real, and moving. Thus, why shouldn't he get some of this Avengers money like all the shittier comic book guys? That his new mini-series is basically a storyboard pitch for a high concept Adam Sandler movie is not a bad thing. The fact that this tale of a has-been comedian becoming (by way of semi-inept conspiracy) a guinea pig for a mysterious virtual reality/mind control program will likely be a movie with a cameo by Rob Schneider doesn't take away from this comic's greatness. As of this writing the four-issue series is only 3/4 of the way done, so next month's conclusion may render the story twice as good or a complete disappointment, but I'm betting on the former: once again, each single page of Bagge's rubber armed absurdist drawings tell more truth than all 52 DC comics relaunches put together. Now someone FedEx this series to Happy Madison Productions ASAP so Bagge can get his mortgage paid off!

Were-pups - Werewolf Comics for Kids

( Cute, non-violent, rocking, rolling, kid-friendly, kid-starring mini-comic, with a glow in the dark moon on the cover. I actually read this to a child, who after getting creeped-out that a stranger was reading a comic to him on the street, really liked it, especially Betsey Swardlick's vampires vs werewolves in a soccer match comic (which I hear will be the plot of Underworld VI). Ironically the kid bit me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Booty Green "Pray to Booty," Sonny & Pepper "Battle of the Sexes"

( This disc, featuring two raucous albums, is the best in the Old School Comedy Classics party records reissue series so far. Though far more obscure than the other artists in the series, both of these acts truly capture the energy, historical weight and wildness of a live 70s black comedy show, documenting jokes and routines that harken bark to 19th Century minstrel stages (especially in the case of S&P's back and forth banter) and exploring freedoms to unleash profanity that were still fresh in the Me decade. Green's jokes are loud, bold, and ridiculous, utilizing stereotypes so broad and bizarre even he doesn't know what to make of them (his attempt to sound Chinese is genuinely confounding). He also does an epic toast called "Last of the Great Fucking Machines" that's worth the price of the album. The comparatively clean Sonny and Pepper deliver a thrilling live performance, breaking into blues songs, preacher cadence, and more spousal insults than a month of Lockhorns. It really feels like you are in the audience, and the howls surrounding you seem sincere! Super highly recommended!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Local Comics #72

(Michael Goetz, 1340 Brandywine Dr Rockford IL 61108) Cheap Trick, Weasel Walter, Natasha Leggero and don;t forget Mike Goetz! Rockford always brings the fun! Funniest sorta-pun in this issue: one guy is reading Pippi Longstockings, and then another guy is reading Poopy Anklesocks! It's funny cause only girls read books!

Jimmy Lynch "Nigger Please"

( Jimmy Lynch credits himself as the first comedian to say "motherfucker" on wax, the climax of a near-album side gorilla fucking joke. That was from '68, and this reissue is from his mid-70s Laff album, a solid, weird record, but not as groundbreaking as his earlier LaVal albums, For one thing, although comics always did their popular jokes over and over, on his LaVal albums he never repeats a joke, but this one features a number of jokes from previously albums (though he leaves off his popular gorilla joke, though he does have a different bit here called "African Nigorilla"). But along those lines, the most amazing thing on this album occurs when he tells the old chestnut about a stutterer going into a bar and stuttering through a series of questions about drink prices, to be met with surprisingly expensive responses from a hunchbacked bartender. After the bartender tells him he doesn't discriminate against stutterers because he has a handicap (the hunchback), the punchline is "everything else is so high in here I thought that was your ass." What's fascinating here is Lynch tells that joke and KILLS the crowd (which makes sense, the stuttering is funny, the delivery of the punchline is spot on) even though he never mentions that the guy was a hunchback...Lynch left that out of the setup! So the joke only makes sense either because everyone knows it already or because they are just laughing because his delivery is so good or because they have Pavlovian responses to great joke telling even if it doesn't make sense. I love that moment because it shows that joke skills are more important than joke quality. I like that he repeatedly refers to his jokes as "lies." But the truth is, Lynch is one of my favorite recorded comics, really strong stuff! This particular album is also good because Lynch (on the original cover, reproduced inside the CD sleeve) gets to dress in both his ragged tramp and slick Mr. Motion clothes, and because he does impressions of Rchard Nixon, and Martin Luther King (no joke on the latter, just a poignant conclusion to his act, which he ends with a black power plea rather than a big joke). 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Skillet & Leroy featuring LaWanda Page "2 or 3 Times a Day," Big Dead Dick," Baby Seal "Not Guilty"

( For those of you only familiar with Leroy and Skillet from their cameos on Sanford and Son, get ready to forget Fred's bufoonish, passive pals, and introduce yourselves to two fast talking, filth-mouthed, crowd-pleasing, dirty joke masters who command the stage with their tales of rabbits, monkeys, sheep, midgets, sissies, pussies, and anything else these self-proclaimed Soul Clowns can work into a joke. And if you only know LaWanda Page from her Sanford and Son appearances, brace yourself...Aunt Esther is the Dalai Lama compared to party record LaWanda! The second reissue Cult Collectibles is releasing, "Big Dead Dick," is the better of the two because it also features as a bonus the unjustly obscure Baby Seal album, featuring some old time comedy pretending to be X-rated 70s stuff. He actually does the "Sweet Violets/Shaving Cream" song where the punchline is that he's not saying "shit" in the tune...pretty meaningless in the pottymouthed post-Dolemite era, but pretty entertaining nonetheless. Baby Seal is a good comic and it's a shame how unknown he is today but a joy that his work has finally met the 21st Century digital Tron-iverse.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Redd Foxx "I Ain't Lied Yet"

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Mantan Moreland "Elsie's Sportin' House"

( While record diggers will attest that the Laff label was so popular that few of their LPs are rare, and comedy buffs might argue that the zero-budget, shoddily assembled, semi-audibly recorded black comedy "party records" they released in the 70s were not the apex of the art form. BUT I LOVE THEM! And I'm so happy this series is bringing these back. I have two Mantan Moreland records on Laff, and while I love him in movies (especially in the black cast films he did, mostly low budget though he did the one big budget flick...his "flies" line in Cabin in the Sky always slays me...) these records leave me lukewarm. While he does perform the classic "Indefinite Talk' routine, which goes back at least to the 1920s, he generally seemed to be cowtowing to current tastes with trashy sex humor that may not have been his forte "That ain't my finger!"). That said, this is the first time I've heard this particular album, and while it is crazy foul mouthed and dirty, Moreland seems more confident and in command of this filth than he did on the other LPs. In fact, these albums, which were all released around, or just after, his '73 death, demonstrate some real boldness with outright profanity, which is impressive because these must have been recorded within a year or two of Rudy Ray Moore emancipating the "f" word. Mantan is the Man!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Duran Duran "A Diamond in the Mind - Live 2011"

( Simon Le Bon can still sing and can still muster the same attitude he could when he was the Paul McCartney of the 80s Brit Invasion. Although every second of this sounds great, I am not sure exactly why you would want a (third!) live album of Duran Duran hits (including some surprising inclusions..."A View to A Kill"..."Ordinary World"...a few good cuts from their 2010 album). However, this is a tremendous endorsement of Simon, John, Roger, and Nick as a contemporary concert act, and is an amazing advertisement for their current tour. I'm going!

Simply Red "Live at Monteux 2003" DVD

(Eagle Rock) Attendees of the Montreux, New Orleans or (to  a lesser degree) Newport jazz fests probably realize at some point during sets by Doug E. Fresh or the Skatalites or the Allman Brothers that "jazz" is a relative term. Which makes this performance by Mick Hucknell's Brit-eyed soul band so appealing. This is jazzy in a way that makes "smooth" a non dirty word. This act, known mainly in the US for a couple of mid-80s hits (including a remake of Harold Melvin/Teddy Pendergrass' "If You Don't Know Me By Now") had a lengthy career globally, and the sax-driven, cool vibe of the arrangements, and Hucknell's solid song craftsmanship mean that even if you haven't paid attention to them since the first Bush administration you will enjoy this set. That Hucknell is dressed for golf, is an extremely relaxed performer, and that the slick-assed Montreux cool colors/warm colors light show is in full effect makes this a rousingly mellow viewing experience, if such  a thing is possible. Also included is a sampling of the band's 2010 appearance, which was the farewell tour before Hucknell went solo, which seems semantic since he was the only original member. But considering his questionable fashion decisions of 2010 (near-flesh colored goatee, 19th century hanging watch chain, Led Zep cover band haircut), maybe he needed a fresh start.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Joe4 "Enola Gay"

(Whosbrain) I remember that there was a time when I used to get really bummed out when I'd see Steve Albini at a show. Not that I dislike Steve, he's an awesome, funny, and relatively well dressed fellow, it's just that it seemed in the early/mid 90s he only came out to see bands that he recorded and liked, and they all sounded a particular way, and I really didn't want to hear bands that sounded like that. Well, many years later I find that since I no longer hear that kinda abrasive, start/stop post-AmRep, ragey, seemingly cerebral, scrambly music all the time I'm actually far more able to stomach, and in Joe4's case, even kinda nostalgically enjoy it. The fact that this is an almost eerily perfect example of what I'm talking about amuses me and makes me give this 4 Joes out of 5!

Spider Bags "Shake My Head"

(Odessa) Ten pounds of spider in an 8 pound bag! This mushed-media mashup veers from Hozac-style garage rock to bar fight with the New York Dolls music to phreak pholk to something akin to Violent Femmes lo-fi demos to ghost music to funk-free James Brown cover song-land. Better than the new Spider-Man movie!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Lowbrow Reader Reader edited by Jay Ruttenberg

(Drag City) Since 2001 Jay Ruttenberg and his crew have been publishing a humor magazine about humor that somehow manages to be analytical, cerebral, and damn near academic without ever sacrificing its own funniness. This collection wrangles the best essays, comics, illustrations, diaries, and original comedy pieces from the journal’s first decade. Other than making sure they find the right balance between theoretical discourse and poop jokes, the magazine has few rules, as their agenda boils down to a commitment to publishing essays and articles on comedy that wouldn’t get printed elsewhere. These can be thoughtful reassessments of the well-known comics and comedies (did you recall that  Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison is “anarchic in a manner generally eschewed by modern Hollywood…as in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure  and the Marx brothers’ Paramount films, the adult world was depicted as a cartoonish joke where dreams go to die”). Or they can be celebrations of obscurities, such as a nostalgic championing of the long-running, but now-forgotten automotive-themed Mad magazine ripoff CARtoons, or the 1971 Alan Arkin/Jules Feifer black comedy Little Murders. They can also go the other way and argue for the tragic unfunniness of well-loved mirthmakers, as seen in sad encounters between female writers and Jackie Mason and Old Dirty Bastard (sadly, in separate incidents) and an elaborate argument against Chevy Chase having any comic merit whatsoever. Certainly there’s some patina of hipster-ism on this bucket of laughs, but quite frankly, it’s a relief to have these Brooklynites turn their ethically-sourced coffee-fueled critical attention towards Don Knotts and the sitcom Wings rather than indie rock.

Dead on TV "Fuck You I'm Famous"

( Highly enjoyable rock n roll ridiculousness about sin, sanity-challenging, drugs, and narcism. Basically an indictment of any rock n roll that isn't about all that stuff. Delightfully, they manage to be slickly shoddy or shoddily slick, created ragged punk that sounds like radio pop without fitting into any exact niche. Considering their local status I'd suggest Dead on TV's wailing guitarist Xmas Smits start a two piece band with noise/garage/art rock all-star Christmas Woods, and they do nothing but inspirational instrumental yuletide music aimed at all the people who commit suicide because of holiday depression. Sure, it's a demographic with a lot of annual turnover, and limited loyalty, but you can't go broke cashing in on people who hate their families their lives and Santa!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bare Mutants "Without You" b/w "Inside My Head"

(Hozac) This is what the Velvet Underground would sound like if instead of Andy Warhol's money backing them they had to rely on the tips money Andy Rozdilsky made wearing his clown suit to Comiskey Park. And if you think I'm putting them down you don't know how much I love slow, trashy, progressive, lo-fi garage psyche... or Andy the Clown!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Raconteurs “Live at Montreux” DVD

(Eagle Eye) The good news part one is that Jack White’s rock band is as pure a rock band as a rock band can be…not metal, or punk, or alternative, or garage, or electrohousenümetalpuppetcore…they just rock the hell out and play rock so you get rocked! Good news part two is that if you want to see that rockin’ documented, this is a well-shot, super-pro HD lotsa closeups, tasteful edits great lighting video. The bad news is that White’s own label and record store and productions are so aesthetically ambitious and weird and enchanting and seductive that just seeing a regular documentation of his work looking great and slick and normal seems weird. Then again, White, Brendon Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence playing on vintage gear with vintage haircuts and vintage attitude in a Euro-video production at times feels like an old clip from Musikladen!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Beach Boys, Chicago Theater, May 22

A cameraphone foto of someone taking a cameraphone foto of the Beach Boys
gathered around Brian's piano
For their 50th anniversary tour, which took place any way you count it during their 51st year, the Beach Boys put on a bizarrely awesome show. Awesome because the songs are so great, the energy was amazing, the crowd was excited, and 51 years deserves celebratin'. Bizarre because the balance between the PBS oldies special/state fair circuit showbiz shows Mike Love and Bruce Johnston and the active Beach Boys have been polishing for the last half of that half century jibes askewedly with the specialness of having Al Jardine, David Marks, and the worshipped-like-a-god Brian Wilson join them for an event. But Love's slick crowdpleasing was not unpleasant, just odd. At one point when he took out his iPhone I was confused and had to ask people what that meant (it as supposed to be the equivalent of holding up a lighter for an encore...though someone on stage holding up  a lighter for themself would be strange enough...and a performer having a phone in their pocket on stage seems equivalent to someone in KISS wearing a Timex over their space devil costume) Also, as the show wound down and they did "Good VIbrations" and "California Girls" it became apparent that Love would stand victorious..."Kokomo" would be the closer! (thankfully they did "Barbara Ann"  and "Fun Fun Fun" after "Kokomo".) As far as the surviving early 60s BBs being on stage, the secret weapon was David Marks, who was in the band very early and appears on the first few singles. Though there were probably two-dozen gifted musicians/singers, mostly incredibly young looking, on stage to fill out the sounds and the harmonies, Marks took almost every guitar solo, and skill-wise Marks can be described as the best guitar player in high school. Not to say that he was bad in any way, he was really great, but these were not slick Wrecking Crew solos, his style/skillset reminded you that Beach Boys was at its inception and its heart a talented teen band elevated by Wilson's wonderful sensibilities. Wilson seemed fully engaged and on board and the crowd went nuts whenever he sang lead (sounding like you'd expect him to sound, which is fine). His mic was always up and he sang harmonies...even on "Kokomo." That said, he plinked away at the piano all night and I don't recall ever actually hearing any piano, and certainly when he took centerstage with the others for an encore and was handed a bass (or guitar, it doesn't matter) that thing was not plugged in to anything. But he was into it, which is all that mattered. Al Jardine looked and sounded great, and he (as did everyone) took a spotlight song, doing a stellar job on "Cotton Fields." There was talk of a lot of interesting tracks using old Dennis tracks that didn;t end up on the new Beach Boys album, and I suspect we may see them on the upcoming jardine solo disc. Don't know if Bruce Johnston (the new kid, who joined in '65) always does "Disney Girls" at the state fai shows, but the knowledgeable crowd here sure appreciated it. Their new song "That's Why God Made the Radio" had the group singing their tightest harmonies (still excited abut recording the new material, I suppose) and sounded amazing. And at one point the jumbotron (definitely falling on the State Fair side of the mostly mixed Happy Days 50s imagery with surprisingly short and repetitive images of surfers or 80s California GIrls in bikinis) did a tasteful tribute to Carl and Dennis Wilson, including mixing some archival vocal tracks of the late Wilson siblings mixed with live music from the satge. And there were almost 50 songs performed, beach balls bounced around the crowd, and guys pushing 70 singing "When I Grow Up to Be A Man." Wouldn't it be nice if all shows were this great?
  (here's my pre-concert interview from Time Out)