-February 1999-

Other Fein Messes


   Another Fein Mess Feb 99

Still on Aiches

Did a tv show with Danny Hutton recently, great fun. He said that when Three Dog Night guys signed to Brother Records as Redwood he envisioned an album deal, but when Mike Love told them it was only for singles they split. "We said, 'Singles? We're not a singles band! We want to do concept albums.' Can you imagine?" He appears on one Little Feat album as Daring Dan Hutton, he hung around with Zappa, and that he is immortalized as a cartoon character on a Flintstones episode doing "Roses & Rainbows," his Hanna-Barbera single. .

No Co-winky-dink

When the L.A.-based Sprague Bros. played New Orleans House Of Blues in the spring of 1997, they gave each of the Cherry-Poppin' Daddies a copy of their single, "Battle Of The Bands," a song about a fight at a concert. A few weeks later the CPDs recorded "Zoot Suit Riot," and the rest is history.
Someone in the band told the Sprague Bros. that their single inspired "Zoot Suit Riot." Next let's make "Battle of The Bands" a national hit, if only because my name is in the lyrics. It's available from Hillsdale Records, P.O. Box 641592, San Francisco, CA 94164.

Groan Old

I am semi-paralyzed by the current Swing, i.e. Jump, revival: I never dreamed it would happen.
Since 1976, when I discovered Roy Brown and Louis Jordan and suddenly 'got' Louis Prima, I have been shouting their names from rooftops, but now that I can't turn the radio without hearing "Jump Jive & Wail" I've wondered "Is this it? "
I think the rockabilly revival was better, but there's nothing wrong with this movement. Critics, those knuckleheads, treat it with contempt (signs of self-loathing?), and frankly I don't see it lasting too long, but it's fun and healthy. Let me go on record that I again applaude Brian Setzer's handling of a music that I felt previously was "mine."
But the lounge music thing makes me uncomfortable. I like the goofiness of reviving space-age motifs but the bachelor pad/cocktail time/swinger geshtalt sits unwell with me from seeing it the first time.
Let's talk about the Generation Gap. Kids today, far removed from the so-called Baby Boomers, embrace Rap music both musically and symbolically, the latter because it differentiates them from their predecessors: NOBODY over 40 likes it (even if you do, statistically you don't count). Liking rap is common to nearly every young person, yet it indivuates them.
Same as me in the late 1950s. I embraced rock & roll like it was written and sung precisely for me. Never mind that some of the singers were fat 30 year old black men, it spoke to me and my little soul. But grownups didn't like it, and it alienated me from their - the - world. After an indulged childhood I was suddenly standing alone (with 30 or 40 million other kids) fighting society.
Many years - decades - later I still cringe from how "real" show business people blasted my music. Jerry Lewis, whose antics I adored, clearly despised it, and, by extension, me. Steve Allen - how could you do this to me, Uncle Steve? I LOVE your tv show - read the lyrics to "Be Bop A Lula" with what he called humor but looked like contempt. (OK, maybe I'm oversensitive. I asked Allen about it and he said he mocked song lyrics long before rock & roll). Sid Caesar and his cronies did The Four Haircuts, pompadoured rock & roll idiots, on tv. Stan Freberg, whom I worshipped, came right out and said he hated my music. And of course Sinatra, Crosby, those old squares, attacked it whenever they could.
It was enough to give us a complex.
I clung to the music as it grew scarce 1959 - 1962. I looked for information but there was nowhere to turn but Top 40 radio and Hit Parader Magazine. The publication for 'cool' young men, Playboy, showed guys in sports cars smoking pipes and listening to jazz.
Cool? I thought/think not! Where were the weird black guys like Little Richard in electric green suits with their hair piled to the sky? Where was Elvis in bold sideburns and red-satin cowboy suit? I looked at the Clan, or the Rat Pack, and saw a bunch of overaged idiots groping showgirls. Then, finally, the youth culture erupted and vanquished those old Italian-suited jerks.
Now I see Dean Martin as a role model. And it's cool to like Esquivel. And Burt Bacharach. (Please! Don't sing!) And the Tijuana Brass. In fact, is there any anti-rock music that is not cherished now?
Alright, I hold a grudge. Someone's gotta. Like when the WB guy took a bunch of us to a Sinatra concert in 1982 or so, one guy, R. Meltzer, spoke for me when he said, in effect, "What are all doing watching THIS guy? This is the kind of music we were trying to kill."

And Then I Rote...

You know about singers hitting their best notes in the shower.
Writers have that too: a phrase comes, then disappears.
Or you use it in a letter. I lost one in a Letter To The Editor at the now-defunct L.A. Herald Examiner in 1984 or so. Music editor Mikal Gilmore reported that a panel, mostly comprised of rock writers, at the New Music Seminar in New York passed a motion that Michael Jackson "wasn't being black enough" for charging $30 (then a lot of dough) for his concerts: James Brown, the singer, cast the only abstaining vote.
Capping the story, Gilmore suggested that Jackson's having his nose straightened made him less black.
This was in a public newspaper, thousands of people reading it, but apparently I was the only one who thought it was entirely absurd, the vote, the conference, and the bunch of white guys telling Michael Jackson, and James Brown, what was black.
In my letter, which was never published, I wrote "If Gilmore had his nose flattened, and that isn't such a bad idea, would he be less white?"
That question remains.

A Question Settled

At table-talk with some musicians in Austin at SXSW in 1997 I made a far-reaching discovery that I want to share with you.
Discussing thrilling music we've heard and seen, we all agreed that the greatest moments we felt were unexpected: a new verse to a song, a rearrangement of a melody, a note sung new.
Suddenly I realized that I, a non-musician, enjoy music more than the people who make it.
If you're a performer and hit a thrilling and unexpected note and an audience roars back approval it's a good feeling. But you knew what you were going for, what that note would, approximately, be. You knew it would get a rise. The audience, who knew nothing, was blindsided and enjoyed it more than you did.
The thrill of producing that sound was nothing compared to what the listener felt when the music suddenly and sharply invaded his soul!
Listeners want a jolt. Was that Creedence concert a thrill when every song sounded exactly like the record? That ELO show with the pre-recorded backing tracks?
Doubtful -- only when things are upset and turned around do they become memorable.
For me, hearing Jerry Lee suddenly take off on a piano run (any song, 1957 - 1977) or Bob Dylan change the sound and tempo of a song ("I Don't Believe You," Denver, 1966), were moments that live in me
My thrill exceeds the performer's because they are joy providers, and we are joy receivers. And which would YOU rather be - a gift giver or a gift getter?
Extending this to its logical conclusion I realized that........sex is better for women.
Women receive sex, they don't "do" it. The man lays out the map, and the woman gets the ride. The man controls the action and the woman responds to it. The man does the work, and the woman delights to it.*
That's why, sometimes, they applaud.

Elvis Birthday Bash '99

The 13th Annual Elvis's Birthday Bash was a sell-out success once again at the House Of Blues. (Fifth year there.)
Onstage with Ronnie Mack's fine band were (in order of appearance) Harry Orlov, Paul Marshall, Mario, Ellie Mae, Tony Conn, Kings Order of El Mysah, Cadillac Angel, Rod & The Tonemasters, Josie Kreuzer, Larry Dean, Johnny Legend, Eddie Perez, Little Miss Tammy Smith, Cousin Lovers, Dragster Barbie, Mello Cads, Cisco, Randy Beckett's Rebel Train, Danny Blitz, Groovy Rednecks, Levi Dexter, Lee Rocker, Blazers, Barry Holdship, Sprague Bros, Ray Campi, Keith Allison, Johnny Rivers, Dwight Yoakam, Rip Masters, Rosie Flores, Russell Scott, Paladins, Andersons, Delphines, James Intveld, Neil Mooney, Pearl Harbour, 00 Spies, Cockeyed Ghost, Ronnie Mack, Hot Rod Lincoln, 3 Bad Jacks, Swingin' Devils.
Next year January 8th falls on a Saturday night, so you'd better get your tickets a week in advance.
Personal to Steve Hochman: Next time write about the show you saw, not the one in your head.

* Note to rock crits: these things occur during sex with women.
Sprague Bros. Single

Little Feat
Cherry-Poppin' Daddies
Louis Jordan
Prima & Smith
Sid Caesar
Herb Albert
New Music Seminar
Young Johnny Legend

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