Archive for December, 2011

critic's picks 204

Pop music seldom found itself at a more divisive crossroads than during the summer of 1978. On one side of the street was the bloated hurrah of disco, still raging in the aftermath of Saturday Night Fever the previous winter. Across the road was punk, which dismissed as archaic, boring and useless anything that stood it is spike-haired path.

How curious then that the most prevalent forces on rock radio that summer turned out to be Bruce Springsteen, who took to the road with the magnificent Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The Rolling Stones, which ruled airwaves with a succession of monster singles and what has proven to be the band’s last truly dangerous album, Some Girls.

A newly issued two-disc “deluxe edition” of the recording sounds great, but so did previous versions. That’s because Some Girls was cut with immediate and unprocessed intent. It remains one of the most live sounding albums in the Stones’ catalogue – quite a feat considering how stylistically diverse it was, running from mad hatter disco (Miss You) to country corn (Far Away Eyes) to vintage soul (the Temptations hit Just My Imagination). But the rockers fanned the flames. When the Whip Comes Down, Respectable, Lies, the unrepentant title tune and the punkish brawler Shattered made the Stones contenders again.

Such drive bled into a brief and blunt summer tour that played Rupp Arena that July. Finally a DVD document of the tour, Some Girls Live in Texas ’78, has surfaced in conjunction with the Some Girls (Deluxe Edition) release. Taken from a Fort Worth concert given within two weeks of the Rupp date, the Stones strip their sound and their stage show to lean essentials. They even open with a blazing, barroom-savvy take on Chuck Berry’s Let It Rock.

The filmed footage is intriguing but vintage. The close-ups of Jagger’s electric facial eruptions during Miss You and Shattered are priceless. But mostly, the visuals are blurry and dimly lit. The music, however, is an absolute riot. Keith Richards’ rhythmic drive consistently eggs Jagger on while the pokerfaced rhythm section of Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts provide an unassuming but potent drive. Let’s hope Live in Texas soon sees life as an audio CD. Until then, forget the visuals and just crank the DVD up.

Finally, Some Girls (Deluxe Edition) boasts a full disc of previously unreleased period tunes. None possess the efficient impact of the Some Girls originals. But the straightfaced charm of Hank Williams’ You Win Again, a kissing country cousin of Shattered called Do You Think I Really Care and a barrelhouse rocking love note to Claudine Longet, Claudine (with its hysterical chorus of “Claudine’s back in jail again”) definitely extend the party mood of the most combustible lost summer in the mighty Stones legacy.

In this era of Google swill, …

The Washington Post December 16, 2007 | Joe Heim Justin Rude; Dan Zak In this era of Google swill, why not get answers from a trusted source? Send your question to wiseguys@ washpost.com and await their words of wise-dom.

Dear Wise Guys:

If you could get one thing from your girlfriend on Christmas, without being too luxurious (I am on an hourly pay), what would it be?

— Felicia Joe: I’ll be happy with anything my girlfriend gets me as long as she first checks with my wife so they don’t buy me the same thing. Oh, relax. I’m kidding. I wouldn’t care if they bought me the same thing.

Justin: Here is the secret to buying gifts for guys: Make sure it has a simple interface and a powerful engine. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a chain saw, car, blender, beard trimmer, weed whip or milk frother: You want to get as few buttons as possible on the biggest motor you can. A few Christmases ago, I got a blender from my girlfriend. It had a huge pitcher, one button and two settings: on and off. It sounds like a robot bear and can blend a Matchbox car collection as easily as it makes a margarita. As for the girlfriend — I married her. site beard trimmer

Dan: Awww. (Barf.) Dear Wise Guys:

When I was a kid, my parents told me to use cold water when I ran the garbage disposal. Now that I have my own house, I am wondering if cold water is really necessary. What would happen if I used hot water? see here beard trimmer

— Lisa Dan: You’ve opened up Pandora’s box, Lisa. The majority of Internet sources recommend cold water. It cools the motor, they say, and hardens grease, which allows it to be shredded and swallowed. But for professional advice, we called the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing (take a breath) and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada here in Washington.

“Well, I can tell you that,” says the receptionist when we pose your question. “Hot.” She transfers us to the director of organization, Kirk Smith, who agrees. “Cold water makes the grease gel into the pipes, so it’ll plug the pipes faster,” he says. “If it’s hot, it’ll at least get it out of the house.” Internet: Cold. UAJAPPFIUSC: Hot. We needed a tiebreaker, so we called InSinkErator, the Wisconsin company started by the man who created the first garbage disposal.

“Well, I can tell you that,” says the receptionist when we pose your question. “Cold. Keeps the motor cool.” We had her switch us to customer service, just ’cause.

“Cold,” says Connie the service rep.

Why?

She laughs good-naturedly and affects a tone of sweet, weary resignation when she says, “I dunno.” Based on this quick telephonic exchange over 780 miles, we like Connie. We trust in her why-less absolutism. You, Lisa, should probably just trust your parents.

Joe Heim Justin Rude; Dan Zak

in performance: raul malo

raul malo.

“Your Christmas spirit is going to be tested right away,” said Raul Malo before a single note was sung or strummed last night before a sold out crowd at the Weisiger Theatre of Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts.

The singer made good on his dare by performing seven Yuletide standards (four of which opened the 90 minute concert) featured on his 2007 album Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites. But the spirit went far deeper than the smattering of a few familiar seasonal melodies. Boasting strong accents of Cuban and especially Tex Mex music within the Americana fabric of his songs, Malo’s sense of cheer couldn’t be contained by any singular holiday sentiment.

Take the show opening Marshmallow World, which was stripped of its overt Phil Spector-ish pop overtones to reveal sunny lyricism sustained by sleigh bells, accordion and, of course, the very honest (but nicely contained) jubilation of Malo’s rich tenor vocals. The songs conjured a winter wonderland, true, but one that favored Tijuana over the North Pole.

Fronting a resourceful five member band, Malo maintained the good-natured, roots-savvy mood long after the repertoire steered away from holiday music. The title tune to his 2009 Lucky One album chased away the dark imagery of its introductory verses with a melodic drive that culminated in the joyous Tex Mex accordion solos of Michael Guerra while San Antone enhanced the bordertown mood with a riotous backbeat from drummer John McTigue.

Malo nicely piloted the performance’s narrative and stylistic extremes. The former was emphasized by Sombras – sadly, the only tune offered from his fine 2010 album Sinners &  Saints. Sung in Spanish but introduced in English, the song outlined the saga of a man who strives to prove devotion to his lover by bleeding to death in front of her.

“Hey, we’ve done more for less,” Malo said to offset the song’s gruesome romanticism.

On decidedly less brutal fronts came the infectious rumba charge of Moonlight Kiss, the hushed Roy Orbison cool of O What a Thrill and the Cuban party drive (bolstered by buoyant trumpet blasts from Kullen Fuchs) of the encore finale Dance the Night Away. The latter two tunes came from Malo’s celebrated country career with The Mavericks.

But the evening’s most cleanly emotive moment was conveyed by another holiday staple. Performing I’ll Be Home for Christmas unaccompanied, Malo slowed the pace, let the verses glide by like snowflakes and whistled a wistful refrain that reflected the song’s inherent innocence – albeit one that was originally forged during World War II.

That one simple, understated tune gloriously ignited the holiday spirit Malo so openly embraced.

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