-February 2003-

Other Fein Messes

You JUST missed:


1st Record - 1st Concert

The first records that I can remember owning (when I was about 3 years old) were of a couple of Disney movie songs, "What Made the Red Man Red" from Peter Pan and "A Whale of a Tale" from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (sung by Kirk Douglas !!) ; and my favorite, "Bimbo" sung by Jim Reeves (Gene Autry also did a version, but I prefered the Reeves' record). Of course my mother had purchased these for me as work was hard to come by at that age and all of my earnings had to go toward rent.

I was 8 years old when I first bought a record with my own money, Elvis' "Return To Sender". I didn't think "Return To Sender" was necessarily his most rockin' release, and I had no idea what the hell "special D" was, but that's what was currently on the hit parade and it would be years before I would be forced to abandon the current for the past, the "modern" for the "classic", the shit for the shine-ola, so I got my defanged Elvis 45 and wore it out.

I was 11 when I persuaded (begged) my father to get me a ticket for my first rock 'n' roll show, The Beatles at Olympia Stadium in Detroit. Tickets cost an astounding 6 (!!!!) dollars each, which, including my brother and sister came to $18 out of my old man's pocket and was a tidy sum in 1964. We were dropped off 3 blocks from Olympia and as we walked to the building I swear the ground shook from the screaming going on inside, and it would be 2 hours until The Beatles even got on stage !! I brought a pair of binoculars (good thing 'cause we were in the nose bleed section), and studied the stage as Sounds Incorporated did a set and then backed up Roy Head and others for what seemed an interminable time. One good thing, though, was that there was a speaker directly behind us and we could hear pretty good what was going on above the tremendous din of screaming. Then, with no fanfare or announcement of any kind there was a ball of confused activity at the right side of the stage and the place went berserk as 4 shimmering heads floated through a sea of pressed bodies towards the stage and just as suddenly exploded into the open area on stage, took time to get their gear and then for 28 minutes erased the line between Heaven and Earth and set my life's direction.


Another Fein Mess Feb 03

CDs Are "Killing the Record Industry"

I downloaded this, then lost the source. Sorry.


"Records were fragile. You had to keep them out of the sun and stored
on their sides. You had to care for them. When I was buying vinyl,
I wasn't just a consumer. I was a caregiver, an archivist, a curator. I had brushes and fluid to clean and protect my records, something I never do with my pristine, unbreakable discs. And they were lovely. Are there any pre-CD music lovers who were not seduced by a certain record's heft, its colors, its museum-quality artwork and its lovingly read and re-read essays and notes, plastered proudly across the jacket for the world to see (not tucked away and hidden like pornography in some little multi-folded booklet the size of a candy wrapper). And sometimes, if you were lucky, your record had a surprise: a bonus single, stickers, a poster or some other unexpected promotional tchotchke. Records were fun, dammit. Going to the store and buying them was an event.

"People had to be convinced to switch from records to CDs," Ric said.
"It was a paradigm shift. It was hard. But going from factory CDs
to home-burned copies takes no convincing at all. People don't care.
They would just as soon have the cheap throwaway copy to listen to."
The gulf between a record album and its homemade duplicate, the tape cassette, was wide; the gulf between a factory-made CD and the home-cooked replica (which often has a color facsimile of the original cover design) is almost non-existent and easily crossed."


Steve Roeser, in his occasional publication Note For Note LINK, notes that the second Who show in Los Angeles last August, at the Greek Theater, was not entirely sold out. The SECOND?

It was like a tale from Paul Krassner, the notorious hoaxter. Though I am not a Who follower, I thought I'd've heard about a second L.A. concert last summer, and in fact called Roeser to say "You kiddin'?" He says he was at the show. I dunno what to think.

Also, a correspondent from S.F. told me that when he saw the the Who show there, the singer and the guitarist seemed to have lost 50% of the turning radius of their heads, as they would only look straight into the crowd or stage left, NEVER to the right where their able but unfamiliar bass player stood. Their pain was that great. Said correspondent also said that "the show must go on" was not a tribute to the recently departed, but was based on news from their business manager that "You got a million-dollar advance and the money is invested."


I was insanely in love with Warren Zevon's first Asylum album when I went to work at the label in 1977. I eagerly anticipated his second, and the day the test-pressing arrived I rushed it to my girlfriend's house where we listened in stunned silence. The high points were amazing.

My proximity to him at the label did not produce any lifelong, or even temporary, friendship. We met, I did his bio, gbye. Two years later I spoke to him at the Troubadour bar. I was eager to buddy up, and asked if he'd ever heard Bobby Bland. He was not as eager to connoiter with me.

"No, I never heard Bobby Bland. I know what you are. You're one of those guys who knows everything. I only know what I like. I get one record and I play it over and over again." With that he returned to his drink. I don't begrudge him any of this, as he was in his universe, I in mine. At a performance I saw in the mid-1980s, he celebrated his new sobriety by doing cartwheels and pushups. This disturbed me, as I liked him drunk and despairing. In the early 90s I saw him at Hugo's restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. and asked him if he'd like to be on my tv show. He said, "Call my manager." And that ends my Zevon saga.


Jon Pareles wrote a long Zevon piece in the 1/26/03 N.Y. Times magazine. In it, he failed to mention Zevon's role as Lyme in Lyme & Cybelle, whose excellent song, "Follow Me," was a chart record in 1966. He lauded "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner" without noting that it was a Zevon self-parody. And he found Zevon's 1980's song "Mr. Bad Attitude" prescient in addressing "amoral" (1) greed in "Pre-Enron" (2) times.

(1) Not "good" greed, like Reagan touted?

(2) Pareles thinks the rest of the world discovered greed in 2001?

Elvis and Andy

A friend of a friend's second, and designated to be last, kid was a towering brat. He threw things and hit people and screeched like a textbook middle-child. Not appropriate for the second of two kids, but right in the pocket for a mid-kid. Then his mother unexpectedly got pregnant.

Nobody told Jason he was gonna be a middle child, but he knew. It was programmed into him. The fix was in, the Big Plan was there.

Evidence, Elvis Presley and Andy Kaufmann.

Elvis gave away cars and acted crazy, in an exorbitant, overly-grandiose way, the way you or I would if we had the means and knew we were going to die. He tossed caution and Cadillacs to the wind, and then expired, like it was on a timetable. Though he didn't know he was going to die, he acted out the script of one who did.

Andy wrestled women. He loved wrestling, but insulted its fans, beating his chest and proclaiming he was superior to them. He did things that were solely provocative, and he did them unflaggingly. He took things so far that there was no way to come back. He went out on a limb that he couldn't climb back from, and then he died.

He, too, didn't know he was going to die. But like Elvis, he was following a script he couldn't see.

HANKerin' For Knowledge

From Neal McCabe:

The first paragraph of this story is journalism at its worst - a venerable news organization reports a legend. Okay... but now tell me, Mr. AP, is the legend true? Or is it just a myth? (You check facts for a living, right?) We never find out!

Grand Ole Opry to Remember Hank Williams --
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/ NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Legend has it that when Hank Williams took the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time in 1949 he sang "Lovesick Blues'' and was called back for an unheard-of six encores.

Likewise, in the May 3, 2002, L.A. Times coverage of a schoolteacher's tryst with a 15-year-old student, Scott Gold and Tina Dirmann write that the pair were discovered at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas "where Elvis Presley reportedly played his first Vegas gig in 1956."

Number one, why insert a show biz angle in a CRIMINAL KIDNAPPING CASE? Because we're in L.A., and we're stupid? Just some of us.

But past that, it took two writers to conclude that Elvis "reportedly" played there? He did, April 23, 1956, but why couldn't these TWO people check it so they could report it factually? Hello, editors?

Fun Clock from Sharon


I'm So Square, Baby I Don't Care

Five years ago I went to a Rock Writer Awards ceremony, and intentional humor was provided by comedian Richard Jeni, who is very good at custom-tailoring jokes.

"A rock writers convention, eh?" he said. "Well, it's safe to say I'm the only person in the room who owns a Billy Joel album."'

Get $20


SNL Again

Sat night, Jan 18th, I saw the Donnas on SNL. I loved them. Maybe because of the surprise. Gals doing rock & roll, and doing it well, was not something I expected. Furthermore, I caught the critic-bruited Sleater-Kinney band on Conan O'Brien and liked them plenty too. Praps rock & roll has been hiding in ladies rooms.

My friend doesn't like the Donnas bec they're derivative. But who ain't? These days, seeing the Donnas is like seeing Jerry Lee at the Palomino in 1976 -- SOMETHING in a sea of nothing.

More From/To

A Newhouse News Service story about NRBQ by KEVIN O'HARE:

"They're loved by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards and Elvis Costello"

I know I'm picayunish, but what exactly are the likes of? The likes of Bruce Springsteen are Nils Lofgren, Arlyn Gale, and, on one song, Phil Lynott. The likes of Dylan are Donovan and Dick Campbell. Why can't people (not just Kevin, everyone) say "They're loved by many people, including...."?

"The band has hung out with everyone from Jimi Hendrix and Carl
Perkins to John Sebastian and Paul McCartney"

"Everyone" again. From the DUET of Jimi and Carl? - that'd be rare. But in what way are Jimi and Carl (and their implied range) distant from Sebastian and McCartney? It's just mindlessness, and it's rampant.


"Good Morning!" said Bilbo...to Gandalf

"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?" (3)

When I read this passage in the Hobbit, I thought I had written it. Oh, it's not exactly what's on my mind - inexact speaking -, but it's close.

Uptalk is one thing that unsettles me. Kids, and now others, say things like they are asking questions. "So I went to THE STORE? And this guy kept STARING AT ME?" With all the professional psychiatric training of a record collector, I see this as a way of not being responsible for what you say: if you ask something rather than say it, you can't be pinned down. It's as bad as people who add OK? to every sentence, making me think but not say "Why do you keep asking me if what you're saying is right?" I swoon when people add "like" to what they're saying: it's, like, they want something to fall back on if they're wrong. And the misuse of strong words like paranoid to disguise true fear. "I'm paranoid about that test" is ridiculous, and dsguises "I'm frightened about that test." Fear is serious stuff. Stuff you don't want exposed.

But what the "good morning" graph evoked was the agony of "Have a nice day." While once a dreaded cliche, it receded and returned, and I, for one, don't find it offensive. What I find offensive is its evasive variations, such as saying "Have a nice one," when "day" is too committal. Nice what? bowel movement? sex change? It's an evasion of personal responsibility. To wish you a good day is too intimate. And there's the forceful version, "You have a nice day now, you hear!" Worst is the dogmatic "You take care of yourself!" which makes me want to hit myself in the head with a hammer. Similarly, there's God bless. Not God bless YOU, for that is personal and meaningful. Soft-pedal, retreat. Don't get involved with someone else.

Say nothing, and say it nice.

(3) Later, Bilbo huffily dismisses Gandalf with "Good morning!", and Gandalf replies "What a lot of things you do use Good Morning for!"

Elvis Show 2003


The Elvis Show is the victim of good press. Our only L.A. review is from the L.A. Times, which reports it faithfully every year, I'm glad to say. (It isn't hep enough for the "alternate" media. And the tv stations have stopped covering it.) But that review, from a different reviewer every year, treats it like a pageant, an entertaining gathering of a mixed bag of zealots WHEN IT IS ACTUALLY THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. People wait all year for it. One guy told me it's the only reason he lives in L.A.! It's a fabulous, wonderful event, powered by love of music and devotion to Elvis. The acts are spectacular, the vibes are beatific, there's no better Elvis celebration IN THE WORLD.

We have cool, interesting, sincere acts. About 60% are carried over from year to year, with another 10-20% erratic returnees. The other, say, 25% are enthusiastic newcomers. Lately it's been lacking star power, which was never a consideration with me. The presence of a star diminishes the regulars. There has been grumbling when big-shots step in. This is a celebration of Elvis, sans ego.

This is the 17th or 18th year. I remember one bad year when we staged it at the Palomino. The first few acts set a deadly pace, and it got off-rhythm and never recovered. But other then that one, it has been an avalanche of joy - with, lately, the emphasis on the downhill motion.

Our shows in the 1980s at small clubs, primarily Club Lingerie, always sold out the 300 capacity, leaving people in line who never got in. So when the 1000-capacity House Of Blues opened, I jumped at the chance. We did a thousand, sometimes more, those first years of the 90s. But those days Dwight Yoakam came frequently, and his grapevine (we never advertised him in the ad) filled seats with people who didn't necessarily like Elvis, but liked Dwight.

The shrinkage came last year, coincident with 9/11; attendance was down to around 500. Another factor in the falloff, besides the economy, is that the club has been unpredictably taking away January 8th when more important acts want it, pushing our date back and disorienting our fans. I raised the door from $15 to $20 this year, but the club also raised its nut AND added a $4 "convenience" fee that "conveniently" wasn't counted in the total. We came out weak in the dough dept.

The money doesn't matter. I'm serious. The bands agree not to get paid, shell out for $15 parking and non-comped drinks, and pay for guests in excess of one per band for the camaraderie of the night and the unique, for some of them, opportunity to play on the famed HOB stage dressed in their one-night-a-year best, actually hearing themselves in the monitors, knowing they're being heard over an excellent sound system. It's the best venue in town.

Now let's get on with the show.

The Girls Have It

Some of the night's highlights were female, and I don't mean in their hair. Evie Sands punched out a forceful "Too Much." Newcomer Penta, late of Paris, France, did a wonderful "Anyway You Want Me,"accompanied by Freddy Koella, of Willy DeVille's band, on violin. Lisa Finnie, in Heidi braids, threw in a twist with her tuba and accordian oom-pah band doing "Wooden Heart." Famed backup singer (and "Lay down Sally" co-writer) Marcie Levy really belted "One Night" with Barry Goldberg playing piano, Rosie Flores, as always, did a sleek and heartfelt job on "Trying To Get To You" and "Always On My Mind," and Pearl Harbour did a brassy, belting "Baby I Don't Care" and "Hound Dog." Not to mention the Cadillac Angels, show-stoppers every year, with cute go-getter Micky Rae on slapping bass.

Most amazing was Glen Glenn. This 60-something shakes the rafters with a drive and genuineness carried over from the 1950s. Also carried over was Tommy Sands, who did two songs with Glen's band, backed up by three girl singers, one of whom is his daughter. Deke Dickerson, with Chris Sprague on drums, did a replicant "I Got A Woman" and "In the Ghetto." Levi Dexter brought a "ringer," drummer Bill Bateman, for this year's most-requested song, "A Little Less Conversation." Rip Masters switched from guitar ("Don't") to piano ("Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do") with equal mastery. Danny Blitz did a choreographed, lightning-speed "Jailhouse Rock" and "Suspicious Minds." James Intveld, the perennial favorite, did two songs to girls' screams, and then shared the stage, and the screams, with his father Fred (who sang Elvis songs to him in his crib) who sang "It's Now Or Never" with surprising - or not, considering his offspring - power. And midway through the show 81-year-old Ben Weisman took a bow for writing 57 Elvis songs.


I love seeing the amazement on the faces of first-time attendees. The show has the slickness of show-business in the best sense -- the clipped precision of the backup band (Harry Orlove, guitar, Skip Edwards, keyboards, Steve Duncan, drums, Paul Marshall, bass, and bandleader Marty Rifkin, keyboard) -- in the efficiency with which all 37 acts enter and exit. One act, though, exited too soon. The club errantly listed a 9:00 showtime rather than 8:00, so everything was pushed back an hour. When Lee Rocker learned he was going on at 12:40, he simply left the bldg. Love ya, Lee, but that's non-pro!

It's a joy, it's splendid, it's wonderful. Pure Elvis adoration without Elvis imitators, without fat-Elvis jokes. I am proud and honored to be sharing the night with all these fine people, and I know the audience feels the same.

It's as big a thrill for me as it is for them.

- 57 -

Art Fein

Other Fein Messes