Monday, November 22, 2021

George Harrison “All Things Must Pass”

(Capitol / UMe, 2021)


A little hysterical perspective here, if I may, as that once-Fabulous Four deign to Get Back to Disney: 

November of 1970: The very first thing I can recall about All Things Must Pass was it cost me (actually, truth be told, it cost my dear grandmother) a whopping $7.99 Canadian! ...and that was still after Sam the Record Man's gigantic in-store, pre-Xmas deep deep discount. And even though Capitol/Apple's enticing shrinkwrap sticker boasted “3 LP's For The Price Of 2 Including Full Color Poster” – the “free” LP being Side 5 and 6's Apple Jam ...and no, I doubt I played it more than once either – that big 23-by-35-inch image of George stayed stuck to the inside of my bedroom door clear through the arrival of his rhythm guitarist’s Imagine album's Tittenhurst piano-white poster, causing many over thirty in my household to repeatedly exclaim “Oh my, who is that scary looking old man??”

All domestic aesthetics aside, ATMP was in fact the first Box Set to proudly become part of my collection, and each Harrisong's pretty holier-than-me lyric reprinted upon its dust sleeves point quite directly towards the similarly vinyl boxed Jesus Christ Superstar due just a little later, if I may draw such a parallel. But when all was said and sung, strictly secularly speaking this great big George box remains every bit as weighty – literally, historically and socio-musically today as it did as ‘70 became '71 ...while the man's fellow ex-Fabs were still busy crooning about getting on yer feet and entering the streets, taking a morning bath and wetting hair, and not shouting or leaping about may I remind everyone.  


The deceptively Quiet Beatle did indeed have a LOT boxed up to get off his chest and onto tape after at least a half-decade of being, as he most revealingly explained to Dick Cavett at the time, “subtly sat upon” by Messrs. Lennon, McCartney and Martin. As a result the melodies were absolutely astounding, the chords beneath surprisingly serpentine, and as noted the lyrical sentiments were much more often than not perceptive, profound, and deeply penetrating to the extreme. All the better then to be sonically supported by Phil Spector's equally sweeping Wall of Sounds; wholly suitable productions which today remain even more unique and, yes, spectacular ...especially when A/B'd against those comparatively anemic mixes on the album's previously-re-issued 30th anniversary bonus material: Thank God, or Whomsoever, George resisted, as I quote his 2001 threat of, “remixing every track to liberate the songs from the big production that seemed appropriate at the time but now seems over the top.” Really, George? May I just say those gorgeous, big productions tower proudly over what could have been diluted via, for example, your pal Jeff Lynne ...perish the very thought.

Now it could be argued by some, myself included, that George never again approached the pomp or majesty of All Things Must Pass (perhaps he shouldn't have used up all his best material on his first post-Beatle release?) and along with – for entirely different rhymes and reasons of course – John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band it remains one of the special few long-players that can still stand loudly and proudly alongside... oh, say, Rubber SoulRevolver, or even Beatles VI. Yes, it was in 1970 the sound and sentiment of a man, and musician, demonstrating among many other things just how sweet life can be by setting oneself free. And it all still sounds every single bit as lustrous and liberating – not to mention unquestionably box-worthy – all the way up here in 2021. Let it continue to roll into the night.

And, as for his old bandmates? Can we just Let It Be now …PLEASE. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Paul Stanley's Soul Station "Now and Then"

( Overall, this record is fine. I imagine that one of the bummer things about being in KISS (or in many of the heritage acts with huge catalogues of long standing fan favorites) is that you are a musician and you don't get to make records; this is Stanley's first release in almost a decade, since KISS' last album, and this is just the 4th studio album Paul has been on this Century. That said, an album of mostly covers of prominent Philly Soul and Motown classics played by a band so slick and talented that it sounds incredibly close to the original recordings, and sung in a respectful, non-outrageous, competent falsetto is kinda karaoke-ish. Stanley's voice has proven itself over the last 50 years to be very distinct and it is mainly because of imperfections. There's a kind of flatness that seems regional to Long Island, over the top rock n roll phrasing that adds superfluous syllables, and especially as he has aged, an instinct to muscle towards notes even if they aren't pretty all the way through. You don't get a much of any of that here. There is no point where this seems like bad karaoke, it's fine, but more bad might make it bettter, and a bolder or more innovative or looser approach to the instrumentation could have been cool. There are some originals here, but nothing as exciting as Stanley's best songwriting in the past, I really can't remember anything specific, and I just listened to it. But again, this is fine, if your rock n roll job does not let you make records, you get in where you fit in, so I'm happy he made this, but I wish it was a little better or way worse so I would feel compelled to listen to it again.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Awesome Snakes "Venom"


(Stand Up Records, 2021) If you didn't known this band's name you would easily be able to guess, as the majority of the songs are about things being awesome or about being snakes (which, I suppose, is awesome). This reissue of an early 2000s Midwestern ridiculous riff rock relic proves that nothing is as timeless as lo fi, stripped down, absurdist snake songs sung by a dude who sounds like Fred Schneider trying to be intimidating and a lady who sounds like she could sell an apple to Adam and/or Eve. A vinyl reissue (of what I believe was originally a cassette duplicated on someone's mom's Radio Shack Realistic© brand duo-deck stereo) is a glorious way to celebrate surviving a pandemic. The question is, can you survive a vintage snake attack?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Creepers "A Night with..."


( I am not the biggest fan of the snotty, nasal punk school of singing, except for the Zero Boys, and this dude gets really Zero-ish on the epic (3 minutes, twice as long as some of the songs on this EP) "Dead Party," so I'm giving this a snot pass. Alternately, like every sane person, I am a huge fan of guitars pummeling out 1.5 chord repetitious nasty gutter rock songs. Thus, I must conclude: Creep on Creepers!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Majani's Barbeque Cauliflower

( This is not some cauliflower trying to be something else situation, this is just an A-list vegetable prepared so deliciously that it amazingly emerges as truly one of the best barbecue dishes on the South Side, which is a ridiculous, but accurate, thing to say.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Wallace the Brave by Will Henry


( This might be the best contemporary comic strip going. LiO may be better at gags, and the Cathy regeneration as a single-panel artisanal hand painted COVID-themed comic is nothing to cough at, but just look at this comic! It is not only funny, but the craftsmanship and design is devastatingly great --- only the late Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac compares. I mean, look at those germ hands! That is a masterpiece panel. Then he licked them! That is a punchline!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Hubie Halloween Tradition


(Netflix) Every year my family gathers around the TV and watches the Adam Sandler classic Hubie Halloween on Halloween morning, and this year was no exception. In fact, this year was the best one yet - -- the movie truly gets funnier with time!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Megan thee Stallion Chicken Sandwich (Popeye's)

(Popeye's) So, I know the chicken sandwich at Popeye's had people losing their fucking minds a few minutes back, and I cannot get that excited about it, but it is solid. As far as the "Hottie" sauce, I feel either the Popeye's I went to made a mistake or this is just not particularly hot at all. But is it "hottie?" Maybe, it is a kind of sweet, shiny, thick sauce, which are all on brand attributes for Megan, but it is more like a mild Szechuan sauce than a hot sauce or spicy bbq sauce, and considering the logo, a cartoon of Megan's famous tongue (though drawn in a way that I think misses the playfulness of her tongue sticking out-ness) on actual fire, I expected more. Still, Popeye's is better than KFC, so if you're on Stony looking for chicken, might as well give MTS some love.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Champaign ILL


(YouTubeTV, 2018-19)  In Sam Richardson's first scenes of on Veep he seemed like he was playing a two-dimensional, stock corny nerd character. However, almost immediately after that he/they proved to be amongst the funniest actors/characters I have ever seen on TV, generating IRL LsOL nearly every appearance. His earnest optimism/obliviousness to the horrors around him/ninja level comic timing was a marvel. Thus, I sought out Detroiters, his co-starring comedy series with Tim Robinson, and I for real enjoy that show more than Veep. It is a modest, honest, incredibly sincere comedy about loving your decaying rust belt city, loving the families and neighbors and classmates who make up your community when you stay at home, and loving the weird flavors of local businesses, characters, TV stations, etc. Richardson's skillset was perfect for this, and he and Robinson presented a real assed friendship. And it's funny. Though I became a devoted fan (had to buy a month worth of Comedy Central on Amazon to watch Detroiters...that was like $3.99!), I was not willing to get whatever YouTubeTV was to see his show Champaign ILL, but now it has reached other streaming services and it was worth the wait. Similar to Detroiters, if a few hours drive away, it takes a pair of interracial childhood best buddies awkwardly figuring out adulthood, but adds the twist that their third best friend became Tupac-famous after high school, and they became his entitled, living large entourage leaders, who a decade and a half later end up with nothing, living at home shellshocked by their change of fortune. Pally and Richardson are good together, but I think it would be fair to say that though Pally is always a funny, pleasant screen presence, he has a vibe of your addict friend who you can't really trust, which is a weird texture against Richardson's uber-affableness. Which leads to the twist: this10-episode series starts off wacky and jokey-decadent, then takes a sharp turn into exploring the horrors of devastating opioid addiction. Which makes this narrative very compelling, even if this doesn't showcase our stars at their funniest. That said, Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, Jay Pharoah, and especially Keith David are wonderful supporting castmates, and this has way more action and arc and twists and satisfying wrap ups than should be expected from a show that no one should have had any expectation anyone would watch. What is YouTubeTV? You go, Sam!

Adam Pally

Thursday, October 28, 2021

We've Got To Stop Talking About TMNT on CBB

(CBBWorld) Since they put all kindsa stuff up on their new subscription service I have actually not heard any new episodes of Comedy Bang Bang because I have been binging old parallel shows I missed, including the amazing mini-series Seth Morris Radio Project, and most significantly, this magnificent Sean Diston/Scott Aukerman two hander about ninja obsessive Sprague schooling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle virgin Scott on the history of turtles, watching and drinking in a different movie or cartoon or DTV release each week. The theme song is superb, the source material is absurd, and the chemistry is great. I have actually never watched any of these movies, and perhaps never will, but grew too understand and respect the IP, was always entertained, and learned a lot of lore. The best is when guests come in and either have true Turtles history themselves (Michael Ian Black should be heard and not spoiled) or are deep, deep fans (the Orphan Black-tress became almost aroused recalling her childhood connections with the characters and could remember every sound effect in certain scenes). So good! The follow up show has them watching iconic hit movies Scott has never seen and I am only interested if I care deeply about the movie, while this one was great even with no interest whatsoever in Donatello doing machines.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021



(Stores) I like wearing shirts, but it's also kind of freeing to take a shirt off. So I also like no shirts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Cookie Crisp

(General Mills) Kinda bad in certain ways (the crispness makes it seem kinda stale, for example), but definitely does taste pretty good in a bowl of milk. Cookies for breakfast indeed, respect for the cookie wolves, crooks, dogs, and cops who have kept this legacy alive.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Pom Wonderful

( Unless you are riddled with crippling oxidants or are a millionaire it is hard to justify the insane price of this somewhat tasty (but not 31 cents an ounce tasty) beverage.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Cool School (edited by Glenn O'Brien)


(Library of America, 2013) As the ringmaster of the greatest assemblage of freaks, geniuses, and superstars in public access television history, Glenn O'Brien knows cool, so having him assemble a collection of essays, excerpts, lyrics, jokes, and manifestos by the ultimate A-list of jazzbos, bats, comics, punks, painters, poets, and oddball outsiders was a slam dunk. I spent a year savoring this, reading Miles' impressions of Bird one day, Lenny Bruce's catalogue of drug use a week later, Henry Miller recollections of sabotaging a posh dinner party when the mood hit me, Joyce Johnson's bad boyfriend tales of Kerouac later on, and Del CLose's hipster dictionary when I got around to it. Sad to have finished this collection, as I feel way less cool without this on my nightstand.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Those Shaggs “Philosophy Of The World”




On the driz-laden afternoon of March 9, 1969, three guitar-and-drum beating sisters from tiny Fremont, NH entered an even tinier recording studio and emerged, just a few hours later, with a dozen original rock ‘n’ roll songs on some quarter-inch tape. These twelve songs were then pressed onto one thousand long-playing records, nine hundred of which immediately vanished forever off the face of the Earth. Within a year however, no less an authority than Frank Zappa declared this album, prophetically entitled Philosophy Of The World, to be “better than the Beatles,” and a decade after that the similarly inclined visionaries in NRBQ re-pressed Philosophy briefly on their very own Red Rooster label.  


Now then, if you’ve already grabbed either of these scarcer-than-rare items, then you’re undoubtedly already a complete convert …or at least a collector with mighty deep connections and/or pockets. But for those thousands upon untold thousands of unfortunates out there who have not yet come face-to-foot with The Shaggs, why, Now’s Your Chance! For Philosophy Of The World, with all of its original 1969 mix, sequence and even cover art lovingly intact, has been made available once again courtesy of the fine folk over at Light In The Attic.  


It is, believe you me, the greatest album you may never have heard.


From its opening title track (so lyrically brilliant that there’s a knee-deep moral lesson packed into each and every stanza!) through its garage-brand benediction (“We Have A Savior”) thirty-one ear-boggling minutes later, Philosophy is absolutely brimming with the sort of decorum-be-dumped bash ‘n’ popping that such supposed heirs-to-the-genre as Half Japanese and even them Replacements couldn’t ever come within a million notes of emulating. And how could they …or anyone else for that matter? For The Shaggs, as their daddy-slash-producer-slash-drill sergeant Austin Wiggin, Jr. wrote at the time, “are real, pure, and unaffected by outside influences. Their music is  different; it is theirs alone.” Indeed.  


Sure, a cursory half-listen suggests only a trio of inept-at-best gals trying to differentiate their fingers from their toes, musically speaking that is. Yet a closer examination reveals some fiercely detailed and all-the-way-downright ingenious compositional skills beneath all of the Neanderthal strum und drumming (for example, one should hear how flawlessly Dorothy Wiggin’s lead guitar ghosts her melody lines during most every song, in true Muddy-Waters-by-way-of-Peter-Tork fashion). Dorothy’s lyrics too run raging gamuts between nervous nursery rhyming (“My Pal Foot Foot”) on the one hand hand, to blazing teen-fiery pontificating on the other (“Who Are Parents” makes J. Lennon’s post-primal Plastic Ono natterings appear pretty darn Romper Room by comparison, while “Things I Wonder” and “Why Do I Feel?” actually reel towards near B. Wilson realms of agoraphobic self-analysis). And “Sweet Thing,” with its more than touching timelessness vis-a-vis that ol’ love-gone-wrong thang, makes one wonder if the Wiggin sisters didn’t have a battered copy of Another Side Of Bob Dylan hidden under their bedroom dresser all along.  


But this / that being the Swinging Sixties – and The Shaggs playing House Band at the prestigious Fremont Town Hall for roughly the entire Nixon Presidency – there’s lotsa slap-happy, good olden rock ‘n’ roll littering Philosophy Of The World as well:  “That Little Sports Car” (the only Shaggsong, by the way, to feature the mysterious fourth Shagg, Rachel, on bass) is wholly, happily, ham-fistedly frug-worthy …despite drummist Helen Wiggin’s never-less-than Beefheartian way with a tempo lurch. Plus “What Should I Do?” would not sound one bar out of place upon your favorite Lesley Gore or even, dare I say it, Shangri-La’s platter (dig Dorothy’s put-down of some Fremont stud-about-town: “He’s a two-face, he’s a disgrace, he never wins a race” …yeah, you go grrl!).


So, while it may be all too easy to file this album alongside your Wild Man Fischer or even Smoking Catapillar rekkids (personally, I place The Shaggs somewhere between Sun Ra and Dino, Desi & Billy), it simply cannot be denied that Philosophy Of The World is one of the greatest musical, uh, curiosities to ever be created by man or even beast. And I for one am glad that this true, off-blue cultural treasure is FINALLY getting the chance it’s so long deserved to make a lasting and loving imprint upon what remains of our socio-musical consciousness.  


So God Bless those Wiggins then, and Please grab at least two copies of their album immediately, won’t you?

Only Murders in the Building

(Hulu, 2021) When I saw the trailer for this, with its New York as the 4th character, pseudo dry, not quite funny vibe, I thought this was going to be bad. But Steve Martin was in The Jerk and plays banjo well and writes funny jokes and had that white suit, and Martin Short was Ed Grimley and Clifford, and I didn't not watch Wizards of Waverly Place, so you know, I was still going to give this a chance.  And it turned out to be very, very good. So to summarize. Thought it bad. It good. There were a lot of genuinely impressive things (the deaf character's perspective, Nathan Lane's emergence as a non-annoying, impressive actor, Short going from over the top caricature to genuine human), but bottom line is, show good, avoid spoilers, enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Willie Nelson "Spirit"

(Universal, 1996) Nelson established himself as one of the greatest songwriters in American history with a suite of songs with the perfect country/countrypolitan/pop balance of sincerity and emotion with of cleverness, wordplay, and fun gimmickry. He has been able to draw upon that skillset often, and has alternately carved out a niche as an interpreter of the Great American Songbook and the work of other songwriters. But to put out an album in the mid-90s of thirteen moving, low key, gimmick free, beautiful songs was truly a singular achievement, while also adding to the tens of thousands of brushstrokes on the masterpiece of his career. Certainly as a whole this is one of his best albums, and he likely has over a hundred albums, so that ain't small taters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

PigOut Pigless Pork RInds Nacho Cheese


( DEFINITELY better than Trader Joe's fake pork rinds, but I'm not sure why you have to add Nacho  Cheese flavor to pork flavor. For centuries pork has been enough, and that should apply even when the pork is made out of high-oleic expeller pressed sunflower oil, pea grits, and rice.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

 (General Mills) Of canonized cereals (not considering short-lived atrocities like Drumstick ice cream cereal) this is the worst one. The combination of the right angles and the borderline obscene amount of sugar and "cinnamon" coating these health hazards makes these seem not only jagged and gritty, but also equally awful in taste. And though their mascot can never surpass Apple Jacks ill conceived Rastafarian cinnamon stick Cinna Mon in the bad idea category, Cin-emoji is a godawful mistake that was greenlit by someone trying to get fired.

Super Boxers by Ron Wilson

(Marvel, 1983) This terrible graphic novel is one of the worst comics ever made. It's weird because Ron Wilson was so good drawing the Thing and giving life to those stories but so bad at this one. John Byrne is credited with scripting but I don't know what that means in this case, and it is not good whatever he did. Ecchh. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Beach Boys "All Summer Long"

(Capitol, 1964) I think the Beach Boys totally faked their wacky blooper/improv outtake tracks. I think they are scripted and those dudes were not even as mildly funny as they pretend to be here. But I also don't know shit, and could probably easily find a book where someone analyzed every second of every BB sesh and could give a definitive answer, and I won't find that book,  so I  don't know shit and I'm lazy. Awesome record, BTW.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

White Castle Onion Rings

(White Castle) The definitely err on the batter side of batter-to-onion ratio, and it is not iunusual for them to be fried a bit harder than perfection, but that just adds to the bite and crispness, and these are a generally solid side. They come in two sizes, and the larger one is called "Sack."

Friday, October 15, 2021

Marvel Monsterbus Vol. 1

(Marvel, 2017) This is a telephone book-sized behemoth about telephone factory sized behemoths. Jack Kirby drew monsters and spacemen and time travelers and huge bugs better than anyone so 800 pages of them is barely enough! I got a damaged copy for almost nothing but this would be worth $80 easy, but maybe not $150, so get it from an $80 place and not a $150 place.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Zappa "Zoot Allures"

(Warner Brothers 1976) I am not sure it is possible to appreciate the musicality and innovation and talent of Zappa if you don't think he is funny. I dig that people really appreciate the music, but his humor's unfunny, arrogant, unpleasant tone turns me off and I just can't get past it. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

( This is a wild, distinct, strong flavor, falling halfway between the sublime pickled jalepeno and the over the top cherry bbq on the Great Lakes awesome scale. Very accurate, so if you dig buffalo wings this will do the trick.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

( This is not my g to, but it is great. Parm and ranch seem like they would be  lot, and the distinct, authentic parmesan profile is strong and takes precedent, and trhese are great. Still, some of their more subtle flavors are stronger.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Great Lakes Michigan Cherry BBQ Potato Chips.

 (  The mark of a great snack company is that you even have serious respect for the ones you don't like. This one is too sweet, and just too much in the flavor department, but I'll be darned if that ain't a solid, real cherry flavor. Impressive. But get the Pickled Jalepeno instead. Regular BBQ is also solid.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Great Laskes Pickled Jalepeno Potato Chips

( This is the best one they make, not too hot, not too bland, and throwing in the pickled with the pepper...I would pick  a peck of these any day of the week!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Great Lakes Potato Chips


( These are just very, very good. I will Midwest pride all over these chips even if they ain't from Chicago. Just the right kettle-y crispness, never too much or too little seasoning on any flavor, and the original chip is just a god damn good fine potato chip. Not a greater chip than Lake Michigan is a great lake, but Erie and Ontario ain't got nothing on these.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Miles Davis s/t

 (UA, 1971) For genius jazzsters who took the LP format pretty seriously a comp/best of seems like a cheat, and a double cheat is reissue of two 50s Blue Note comps presented as a big double LP with a 70s looking cover. But this is just the coolest fucking music ever recorded and it's hard to gripe about anything listening to this.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Kibo Chickpea Chips

( Sure. These are fine. If tortillas are made of corn, tortilla chips made of beans isn't an aberration and these taste fine. Not sure how beans are a huge step up from corn, it's not like it's replacing pork rinds, and it's not like there's enough protein in tortilla chips to put you over the top, but sure. These are fine.

Rotary Connection "Dinner Music"

(Cadet, 1970) Obviously it is good that Minnie Ripperton made those solo records, and obviously we would have lost her no matter what path her career took, but if we can have multiple Spiderverse/What If?/Bill & Ted/Back to the Future alternate reality fantasies, I can wish I lived in a world where one of the best bands Chicago ever produced had the longest, most successful career of any group from this fine city, and Charles Stepney was using Grammys for paperweights to hold down his notes for his Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction speech while fanning himself with millions of dollars in cash.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Stevie Wonder presents Syreeta

(Motown, 1974) This is a really good record, but it is all over the place, with the rousing 70s-style anthemic "I'm Going Left" kicking it off, and other stuff sounding like Bacharach, or vaudeville reggae (?), or (fittingly) Motown. Most impressive is that none of this sounds like signature Stevie, though he wrote or co-wrote with Wright (Syreeta's last name, possibly suggesting a punny twist to the Left/Right lyrics of the opening track), produced everything and sings backup throughout. Everything showcases her clear, expressive, sexy, distinct voice. The album culminates in the majestic "Universal Sound of the World," which is closest to recognizable Stevie (in ambitious dreamer mode), but mostly this album showcases a woman with a marvelous voice that transcended, inspired, and gave flight to her then ex-husband's magical talents.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jimi Hendrix "Hendrix In The West"

(Reprise, 1972) In the Kicks issue of Ugly Things some genius troll superhero wrote an incredibly passionate defense of the cobbled together post-death Hendrix studio Frankenstein-parts albums, while going as far as to denigrate all the actual musicians in his living bands as hacks who needed to be replaced with studio musicians. That was clearly a powerful article because listening to this more"legit" cash in cash grab live collection I can't stop questioning the band's skills, and while a lot of this is amazing, especially "Voodoo Chile," featuring the reviled (by at least one person, and maybe only one person) Noel on bass, some (like the Sgt. Pepper fragment) seem kinda sub-par as far as making it onto an album like this. But hey, keep them coming! If they had holograms back then this LP woulda toured!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers


(Alligator, 1971) "Damn it's Bluesy in here" does not do this justice...GOD DAMN it's Bluesy in here!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

This dude on Amazon's LuLaRich

(Amazon, 2021) Lots of really great people in this documentary (in addition to the expectedly riveting Televangelist power couple-esque super villains). Many of the talking heads are extra good because they have been on camera triumphantly hawking hideous leggings on Facebook Live for years, learning how to sell like hell. But this dude, a non-on camera data entry/call center dude outraged by the company's chicanery, is the 2021 documentary MVP. Just watch it. And don't get seduced by a Pyramid scheme, please. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Eric Bibb "Dear America"


(Provogue, 2021) Dignified, sincere protest blues lamenting racism in the now, the 90s, the 50s...and all the other times. Somehow this seems pretty hopeful and lovely despite the empirical evidence it presents. Maybe because he knows as long as a veteran bluesman can execute a totally groovy-assed train song there is hope.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lays bad chip ideas 2021


(Frito-Lay, 2021) At first I (briefly) thought Cheetos, Funyons, and to a lesser extent, Doritos flavored potato chips were several dreams come true, but then I just got mad. Lays is supposed to be using advanced food science to make a chip that tries (and ultimately, yet nobly, fails) to suggest the flavor profiles, narrative, and spirit of complex regional entrees...maybe even simulating a whole meal Willy Wonka magic blueberry gum-style! This is just taking the dust from other chip-like snacks that they had lay-ing around and shaking it on their potato chips. What's next? A barbecue potato chip flavored salt and vinegar potato chip? A Pringles flavored Lay's chip? A potato chip bag flavored potato chip? La(y)me!*

*That is supposed to be "lame" merged with Lay's, not an incite to "lay me," which this potato chip company is certainly not welcome to do. Until they can create a convincing Jim Shoo chip.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Beach Boys “Feel Flows”

(CAPITOL / UMe, 2021)

Yes indeed, it goes without saying that B. Wilson and his familial band full of brothers, cousins and friends have enjoyed a career quite unlike any other across the cuckoo annals of show business. 

Scoring a local hit in 1961 straight off the mark with their very first little indie single, then soon after placing a sophomore release into no less than the hallowed Billboard Hot 100 – and all at a time when the majority of the guys still had to be home in time to attend class the next morning – The Beach Boys, it could be argued, really started their marathon run at the very tip-top, suicidally crash-dove towards oblivion a few short years later, and only then slowly but surely began their struggle back up the ladder of ever-lasting fame, fortune and, ultimately, all-American star-spangled glory.  

Which just all goes to show, I suppose, that blood surely runs thicker than any critic’s ink, what gets around (from town to town) comes around and that, most obviously, Brian Wilson near single-in-handedly created a body of work which can surely withstand the most brutal scourges of both time and fashion. 

That’s why it’s sometimes hard to fathom today that there was indeed a hole, roughly between 1966 and 1974, down which The Beach Boys truly hit rock ‘n’ roll bottom and were forced to really, really hustle their sunkist butts to keep everyone’s musical and financial heads above water. Bleak, sorrowful years when this once Beatle-caliber combo were reduced to hauling their act out on the road and into midwestern VFW halls alongside that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A pitiful period when their latest brave creations were routinely being scorned in favor of those from The Archies and even Grand Funk Railroad. 

This was, in fact, a most harrowing era when, as no less a numbers man as Bruce Johnston Himself continues to recall, America’s Band could scarcely draw two hundred paying patrons to a series of gala performances within the very heart of New York City.  

In a word then? Yikes!

Of course any other band with half its wits intact would’ve called it quits right about then – or at least ditched the “Surfin’ Safari” stagewear for starters. But the Beach Boys were more than just another pop group, weren’t they? They were FAMILY, first and foremost. And rather than remain one-upped by their musical neighbors so to speak, this musical household doggedly set about getting their affairs back in order, persisting along this rugged path for year after endless year …even when all around seemed hapless, hopeless, and far, far from harmonious. On any level.  

Actually finding themselves without a homeland recording contract at the dawn of the Seventies, and with their guiding musical light apparently more interested in laying (low) than writing, arranging, singing and/or producing, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love Not War and even that Bruce guy had no logical choice but to settle down to some good old-fashioned, decorum-be-damned hard hard work. 

So first of all, every Boy still woke and mobile began by bringing the audio mountain to Mohammed, constructing a working studio directly beneath Brian’s Bel Air bedroom (not that that helped motivate their big brother much in the long run; nice try, though). Then they boldly formed their own record company and, crazier still, set about writing and recording a wave of albums which form not only the mythical, mystical candy core of the Beach Boys’ vast sea of tunes, but in retrospect actually hold much more than their own against such bally-hoo’d, Nixon-vintage contemporaries as the Eagles, Doobies, and even that Buckingham/Nicks-model Big Mac.

Yes, these hallowed yet too-often ignored releases from the Beach Boys’ “lost years” on their very own Brother Records imprint are literally jelly-packed with dozens upon dozens of gems you probably haven’t been able to hear enough of in years. For example, the once mega-maligned So Tough album from ’72 now sounds like no less than Carl and his Passions tackling Big Pink by way of Paul Buckmaster! And then there’s 1977’s The Beach Boys Love You, which dared to croon about roller skating, shampoo, and our favorite solar system smack dab in the middle of that Pistol ‘n’ Ramone-fuelled Summer of Hate.  

Chronologically speaking then, the initial Brother albums Sunflower and Surf’s Up remain among the most universally cherished records on the planet, and both contain their fair share of Brian Wilson treasures for the ages – “This Whole World” and “Til I Die” most particularly – which rank easily amongst the very best Our Hero has yet to offer us all. Meaning: they’re some of the greatest musical works ever created by man or beast. 

The two junior Wilsons blossom forth on these albums as well (“Long Promised Road” and the new box’s namesake “Feel Flows” prove Carl learned his lessons well whilst attending all those Pet Sounds and SMiLE sessions; Dennis, conversely – as always – forged his own musical identity within Sunflower somewhere between the rock-cockin’ “Got To Know The Woman” and the sweetly rhapsodic “Forever,” John Stamos be forever damned). Meanwhile, that then-new 16-track technology the Boys toiled upon under Brian’s bed(room) allowed the band to layer on those heavenly, heavenly harmonies as never before. Or, in truth, since. “Cool, Cool Water,” to mention just one, contains chorale cascades which will continue to astound the ear today, a half-century, and countless attempts at recreation since they were first meticulously piled onto tape.  

Suffice to say, the music The Beach Boys made in the very early Seventies remains amongst their very, very best. No listener out there, discriminating or otherwise, should let these sounds slip on through unheard a single minute longer. 


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Goldfish Veggie Crackers


(Pepperidge Farm) I guess these are slightly carroty-er, but kinda the same. They still smile back, and these days I really need that, so thank you, fish.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Monsters "Monster Mash"

(General Mills Records) The cereal came out a few weeks earlier, with the song links dormant and teasing, so we were building this up in a little too much I fear, because I sure wanted this to be better and funner and funnier. The "Behind the Music"-style promo video was kinda koooky and had some good moments, but the voices seemed off (there must be Rich Little Youtube tutorials on Lorre, Karloff, Lugosi impressions...and if not, you know General Mills has the the Caliendo coaching cash!) and I just expect more from these Saturday Morning TV commercial legends. Even if the record was this meh and they had it be a cardboard cereal box cut out record I woulda been appreciative enough of the effort to give this four skulls. Then again, original "Monster Mash" is in many ways a more perfect record than anything the Beatles made, so there was no chance of living up to that legacy no matter how many late nights in the lab they worked on this. I am still glad they made this.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Frankenberry cereal

 (General Mills) Best monster cereal character design by far (the strawberry fingernails are magnificent) but at best a decent tasting fruity cereal. This is appropriate for a seasonal cereal but does not merit year round bowl time. That said, get excited about this every Fall!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Boo Berry cereal


(General Mills) Of the Big Three of Monster Cereals this is the most exciting in that it doesn't seem to be guaranteed the annual re-release his more corporeal living dead colleagues enjoy, thus is a rare-er treat, but it tastes the worst of all of them. Definitely not particularly blueberry flavored. And not even blue, more purple-ish. I suppose they never said "blueberry" anywhere. Also, I hear they got rid of the chemicals in Monster Cereals that turned kids' poop indeed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Count Chocula cereal


(General Mills) "Count Chocula" is the only Monster Cereal that tastes good enough to be a year-round table treat and Count Chocula the character has a funny enough design and a good enough personality that if he'd had his own cartoon it woulda made Groovy Goolies look like Drak Pack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Monster Mash cereal


(General Mills) As we enter the pre-Halloween spooky season it is tragic and depressing and impossible to ignore that we live in an age of true horror when the actual non-fake news of the brutality, stupidity, injustice, and hatred of our neighbors, countrymen, and government feels like a hopeless beacon of actual, inevitable doom. So we have never needed moments of dumb, absurd, genuine joy more than now. I only hope that others got as much excitement as I did out of the simple perfection of this whatever the grocery industry equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize is-worthy achievement. To celebrate a half-century of monster cereals General Mills put all the flavors and marshmallow shapes of their five monsters (including their appropriately maligned 80s entry Yummy Mummy) in one box and called it, sublimely, "Monster Mash." And did I mention that they are now an Archies-esque cartoon rock band? This doesn't even taste that good. Yet it is the cereal I needed now. And I love it. True thanks to whatever god or devil is responsible for making monsters in cereal form. And the band is even releasing a song! Thanks to this I now truly believe that the world could be worse!

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Wonder Years

(ABC, 2021) Pilots often try to throw a lot in to lay out the scenario/hook you in/show what they are about, and this episode did A LOT. But that might just be the pilot, I will decide later if I want to watch this show. But I will say, no doubt, when Dule Hill shows up at the baseball field in this suit it was nice. This still does not do justice to how slick this outfit looked on TV. As of now, this is not the funniest sitcom going, but fuck it, Best Dressed is worth points.