Posts Tagged ‘Run-DMSteve’

Time for some three-months-overdue housekeeping. Return with me now to the long-ago Year of Our Lord 2016, and thanks as always for sending me money*:

Goodbyes

Maurice White

David Bowie

Prince

Bands

The Alarm

Astounding songs on atrocious albums: The Zombies, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, The American Breed

Classical music showdown

The Cult

David + David, Wall of Voodoo, The Nails

David Bowie

Rick James

Every Motown single ever made

Birthday musings, including The Rolling Stones

The Trashcan Sinatras

Richard Wagner

Animals

Junior, my father-in-law’s last pet

Xena, part 1

Xena, part 2

All the rest

Email haters

More crap from Dad, part 1

More crap from Dad, part 2: Flashlight of the Month Club

More crap from Dad, part 3: The house it all came from

The white feather boa finds a new Bearer

My favorite holiday

Things I have lived long enough to see, part 1

Things I have lived long enough to see, part 2: Hillary Clinton explained

I have one job on this lousy ship

The unrelenting awfulness of Star Trek: Beyond

Checkers

My loyal readers

The election

Random Pick of the Day
The Secret Sisters, Put Your Needle Down (2014)

The sweet, tight harmonies of Laura and Lydia Rogers, the not-exactly-a-secret sisters, will immediately make you think of The Everly Brothers. Like Phil and Don, Laura and Lydia have a country background and cross-over appeal. The girls venture farther into honky-tonk; the boys go deeper into gospel. Are there any songs on Put Your Needle Down that could chart as high “Bye-Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” or “Cathy’s Clown”? Yes, there are several candidates – if this album had been released in 1960. The musical world is too fragmented today for the Rogers or the Everlys to dominate the pop charts.

The Sisters’ lyrics are far more literate than any pop star could’ve pulled off in the 1950s (or been allowed to pull off). I like this album, their second, a lot. Their first, Secret Sisters (2010), is too country for me.

Random Pan of the Day
Iggy Pop, Blah Blah Blah (1986)
On this album, Iggy sings like David Bowie and looks like Buster Keaton. Bowie co-wrote and co-produced; Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols plays guitar.

This is a very ’80s album, by which I mean there are deep sedimentary layers of synthesizers and drum machines. At several points it could slide into songs or at least moods by The Psychedelic Furs, Echo & The Bunnymen, and even Erasure.

“Real Wild Child” was on the radio a lot that year. It still holds up. “Winners and Losers,” for all the overproduction, is a serious rocker, though it goes on a long time for Iggy (6 minutes). “Hideaway” is also good, plus the guitar sounds like mid-’80s Springsteen.

This is an interesting combination of musicians that makes you wish the parts added up to something better.

* You do know you’re supposed to do that, don’t you? Everyone else does!

We have a new entry in the Stupid Band Name Sweepstakes: Alvvays. This Canadian group pronounces it “Always.” Why won’t they pronounce the vees? If they did, they’d sound like my maternal grandmother, Bella, who grew up in Austria, was a refugee in Italy after World War I, and arrived in New York City as a teenager. Bella lived to be 93, or possibly 94 – her older sister, Paulie, claimed that Bella was a year older, which made my grandma furious! She won that argument only when Paulie passed away.

Bella never lost her sense of fun. She engaged in titanic poker battles with her pals, Charlotte, Sylvia, and Bubbles, usually at a nickel per hand. We grandchildren raked in the winnings. One of her biggest scores came when Charlotte and Sylvia each had two pairs but Bella was holding “tree kveens.”

My first encounter with music criticism, and my lifelong disdain for the music of the masses, came courtesy of Bella. She was baby-sitting me on a Sunday night when we had a battle over Lawrence Welk (“Velk”) vs. Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Guess which side I was on. Disney had probably lined up another exciting adventure of Spin and Marty whereas Mr. Welk had certainly fired up his champagne bubble machine. Bella won – I was only 6 – and even in my bedroom with the door closed I was tortured by Lawrence Welk and his parade of antiseptically scrubbed young people singing “My Old Kentucky Home” and other hits of the 1840s.

Bella is gone but this blog rocks on – now rocking our fifth year! Thanks for reading along and not sending me to my room.

My most popular post
I wrote this one in 2012 and it’s still drawing visitors. I don’t even have that job anymore!

Bands
Chicago (Sins of the ’70s Week)

Deep Purple (Sins of the ’70s Week)

Fleetwood Mac (Sins of the ’70s Week)

Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green edition (Sins of the ’70s Week)

Grand Funk Railroad (Sins of the ’70s Week)

Jefferson Starship

Rare Earth

Sir Mix-a-Lot

The Supremes

The Prince Project
The Prince Project begins

First Prince album

The Prince Project falls and it can’t get up

Songs
“Tomorrow Never Knows”

Vacations
Spring break

Summer time, and the livin’ is easy

The great outdoors

Misc.
At home with Mom and Dad

Football, God help us

Gardening from A to Z

Halloween

I vanquish technology yet again

It’s the end of 2014!

Letter-writing

LinkedIn

Pencils

The reign of Cleo, Part I

The reign of Cleo, Part II

Time travel

Random Pick of the Day
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On (1971)
It begins with “What’s Going On” and ends with “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” two of the greatest songs of the 1970s. Excuse me, two of the greatest songs.

Random Pan of the Day
Dire Straits, On Every Street (1991)
“Calling Elvis” awakens old glories. Alas, the rest of the album sends them back to bed.

 

My people! The cash has been rolling in since I launched this blog on November 4, 2010. PolitiFact rates this assertion as Pants on Fire. I haven’t made a penny, but I have listened to Johnny Cash at San Quentin (what a record) and anyway blogging is fun and a relief from the cruel indifference of a world that has yet to form a cult around me. (I’ve also listened to Love by The Cult. Imagine if AC/DC got religion, but not one that anyone would recognize.)

I indexed the first year of Run-DMSteve in November of 2011. You can find it over there on the left in the Blogroll. (The Rolling Stones, Now! – A look back at the band as they moved from covering their American blues idols to writing their own songs. They’re barely a year away from incandescence.) The end of 2012 was kind of busy and I didn’t index the second year until January 2013. With that precedent in mind, I present the official authorized index to the third year!

Thanks as always for being there, reading this stuff or pretending to read this stuff and making appropriate or inappropriate comments. I couldn’t do it without you, Special D, WordPress, and the weekend of classes I took at the International House of Critics. (J. Geils Band, Full House vs. House of Pain, House of Pain. J. Geils wins!)

Bands
999

Bikini Machine

Kid Rock

Ray Parker, Jr.

The Pretenders

Paul Simon

Siouxsie & The Banshees

Talking Heads

2013 Clarion West Write-a-thon
Introducing the whole thing

It’s all about to happen

The Write-a-thon finally starts (Day 1)

The Write-a-thon finally ends, thank God (Day 41)

The summing up

Dogs
Teddy Ballgame

“Let Me Count the Ways” Week
I start reviewing every band with a number in its name

I run out of every band with a number in its name (or so I thought)

Misc.
A tale of two miracles

Baby Boomers Social Club

Ask Run-DMSteve asks Run-DMSteve

Round-up of albums released at Christmas 2013 but are not about Christmas in 2013 or any other year

Good Dog Happy Man

Random Pick of the Day
Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man (1999)
A guitar album of considerable skill, yet somehow with little to stick to your memory or disturb your concentration. For example, the title track – it’s pretty, and it floats away while you’re listening to it. I think that would make Good Dog, Happy Man a good listen when you’re out for a spin. Totally excellent cover art.

Greetings, honorable ones. The second-year anniversary of this blog was in November 2012. I would’ve posted my index then, but I was high. Today I rectify that error. I see you shiver in antici – Say it! – pation.

It is my humble hope that something I’ve written here has led you to a greater understanding of and appreciation for popular music. If not, too bad. I’m too busy listening to music that you can’t understand or appreciate to pay attention to you. Anyway, nevermind the bollocks, here’s the Index to Year 2, and thanks as always for not setting me on fire.

Bands

Bob Dylan

Donna Summer

Donovan again, God help us

Everclear (’90s Week)

Gram Parsons (’90s Week)

Right Said Fred (’90s Week)

Screaming Blue Messiahs and The Flintstones

Genres

19 songs for a new job

37 songs for a new job

Best Debut Albums of the 20th Century By Newcomers Who Aren’t Somebody Stupid Like Foreigner
(The Velvet Underground, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Clash, The B-52s, The Undertones, Pretenders, Run-D.M.C., The Smiths, Tracy Chapman, Moby)

Best Debut Albums of the 20th Century By Newcomers Who Didn’t Name Their Debut After Themselves and Who Aren’t Somebody Stupid Like Foreigner
(The Beatles, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Elvis Costello, The Cure, Gary Numan, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Dream Syndicate, Nine Inch Nails, Liz Phair, Beck, Veruca Salt)

Female/male duos
(Sonny & Cher, Ike & Tina Turner, Captain & Tennille, Eurythmics, Nu Shooz, Frou Frou, Goldfrapp, She & Him)

Hanukkah holiday hits

One-name male pop stars (Liberace, Donovan, Yanni, Sting, Beck, Eminem)

Opera

Songs that go on for, like, forever

Miscellaneous

Report from WordPress: 2011 in review

Report from WordPress: 2012 in review

Ask Run-DMSteve

Go ahead, ask him again

Dogs as music critics

Jack Palmer

Internet radio (’90s Week)

Intro to ’90s Week

My loyal readers

Ray Bradbury

Goodbye just now

Merriam-Webster defines ethnomusicology as “the study of music in a sociocultural context.” To pry into the social and cultural context of a musician’s life, students of ethnomusicology require a laboratory of specialized electronic equipment. This is why most ethnomusicologists are employees of the Department of Homeland Security. Notable ethnomusicologists to date include Charlemagne, Miley Cyrus, John Carter of Mars, the Dewey who invented decimals, the Dewey who beat Truman, the Dewey who beat the Spanish, Milli (but not, as is usually assumed, Vanilli), and Laurel Sercombe.

Here at Run-DMSteve we proudly support the sciences, however intrusive, which is why I am devoting today’s post to my sociocultural field notes on a peculiar tribe of male pop stars. Like me, they are known around the world by one name. Who are they and how did they get so mono? Let’s check the record.

Fear not, I burned all my notebooks (what good are notebooks?) after interviewing Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute.

Liberace
Real name: Wladziu Valentino Liberace
Country of origin: USA
Superpowers: Piano, costumes
Gemstone: All of them

Mr. Showmanship loved the simple things: a solid-gold candelabra, a fur-lined cape studded with diamonds, a piano built to look like a Cadillac. He gave Barbra Streisand an early boost, which is bad, but he also served as an inspiration to Elton John, which is worse. For decades you never knew when this smiling terror was going to pop up on TV and race across the keys like the Pony Express.

But if you pay attention to Liberace’s music rather than the cheap theatrics, you’ll find that the man could flat out play. He usually played inoffensive crap (“You Made Me Love You,” “Somewhere My Love,” “Born Free”), but when he turned to the classics, particularly Chopin, you got a glimpse of the little boy who was hailed as a piano prodigy.

While I’m not going to buy the Liberace boxed set (if such a thing existed, it would be too heavy to lift), I must conclude that Liberace was better than his reputation. He was certainly a lot more honest than his tuxedo-wearing, piano-playing contemporaries Ferrante & Teicher, who peddled a lite-beer version of classical music as if it were the real thing.

Verdict: When I was a kid, every grandmother I knew loved Liberace. That’s not a bad epitaph. Reluctant thumbs up.

Donovan
Real name: Donovan Philips Leitch
Country of origin: Scotland
Superpowers: Voice, beads, scarves, bells
Gemstone: A pyramid

If Donovan had been a one-hit wonder and if “Season of the Witch” had been his one hit, I would revere his name. The song is a pioneering, mind-blowing merger of folk, psychedelia, and the blues. If you’re looking for the place where metal began, “Season of the Witch” is an excellent candidate.

Unfortunately, Donovan was not a one-hit wonder. Amid the hippie bell-bottom antics and the odes to Atlantis and the girl he named for a shrub, we had to contend with “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” which was also the theme from a 1960s perfume commercial, and “Mellow Yellow,” which was a rip-off of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.”

However, I must admit that there are two reasons besides “Season of the Witch” to listen to Donovan:

1)      “Sunshine Superman” is somewhat funky. There are bongos in there somewhere. True, Donovan sings about women having “little minds,” but that fits right in with today’s War on Women.

2)      “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is one of the funniest songs ever recorded. It sounds like a parody of the entire Psychedelic Sixties. It’s closest musical kin is Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover” – you could easily trade vocals.

Verdict: Donovan couldn’t rock if he was strapped into a rocking chair that was sliding downhill on an avalanche of ball bearings, but “Donovan” is a great name. And then there’s “Season of the Witch.” Embarrassed thumbs up.

Yanni
Real name: Yiànnis Hrysomàllis
Country of origin: Greece
Superpowers: Classified
Gemstone: Moon rock

In 1988 I went to work at a newspaper where one of our senior writers was in lust with Yanni. Roger didn’t care about Yanni’s music. He didn’t even know if Yanni played an instrument. When a Yanni record came in for review, Roger threw away the LP and kept the album cover (like the Joe Morton character in The Brother From Another Planet). He was particularly taken with Chameleon Days, on the cover of which our prodigiously mustached hero, dressed in synthetic fibers, is hugging a white rock.

Then Yanni took up with Dynasty actress Linda Evans. Roger was disgusted. “I’m throwing him out of the nest,” he told me after he banished all images of Yanni from the office.

Verdict: I tried listening to Chameleon Days. The cover really is the best part. Thumbs down, if not broken.

Sting
Real name: Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner
Country of origin: England
Superpower: Unknown
Gemstone: Pb (atomic number 82)

In the late 1960s the Red Sox had a relief ace named Lee Stange. The press nicknamed him “The Stinger.” Once, during a rain delay, while the Red Sox radio announcers were stalling for time by reading their fan mail, they had to reassure an aggrieved lady that they were not calling her favorite pitcher “The Stinker.”

This brings us to Sting and his best-known album: …Nothing Like the Sun (1987). I’m listening to this thing from Sting as I type and it sounds like his old band, The Police, with a dash of Paul Simon, but with nowhere near the quality of either. All is calm on most of this record, as if the speakers only go to 4. The easy-listening hit for old people was “Be Still My Beating Heart.” The bright, bouncy hit for young people was “We’ll Be Together.” The song you fell asleep to was “They Dance Alone.” The thing from Sting that for me didn’t swing was his cover of “Little Wing.” The album I should’ve listened to was Simon’s Graceland (1986).

Verdict: If you’re going to call yourself Sting, you’d better sting something. Otherwise people might think they’re hearing the wrong word. Also, never pose nude in the desert. Even Morrissey never tried that. Two thumbs down.

Beck
Real name: As befits a titan, he has two: Bek David Campbell and Beck Hansen
Country of origin: USA
Superpower: Can remember every song he’s ever heard
Gemstone: Vinyl

I’ve written about Beck before. If I have any gods, two of them are Beck and John Updike. And what do you know – my favorite Updike character is Henry Bech. Is this a coincidence, or further proof that Oswald did not act alone? Neither – it simply proves that gods are not infallible. As a stage name, “Beck” is a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me. Besides confusing him with Updike’s monumentally lazy character, the name Beck makes me think of chickens, Glenn Beck, Jeff Beck, Jeff Beck’s album Beck-Ola, and bending it like Beck(ham).

Bek/Beck had the right idea – a solid Anglo-Saxon syllable that begins and ends with a strong consonant. It’s just the wrong syllable. One of his other names, “Hansen,” would’ve been an improvement, plus it might’ve stopped the three-brother teen menace that appeared later in the ’90s.

Verdict: Two thumbs up for his music, two down for his name.

Eminem
Real name: Marshall Bruce Mathers III
Country of origin: USA
Superpower: Surviving his childhood, teenhood, young adulthood, and his upcoming middle-agehood
Gemstone: Empty can of Red Bull

Eminem and I come from different historical eras. His first job was rapping. My first job was working 15 years on the Erie Canal. If I liked his music, he’d be in trouble. But I can appreciate him for his sneaky vocabulary, his ability to rap out a song while arguing with his back-up rappers about his raps, and the humor in his first full-length, The Slim Shady LP (1999).

My problem with Eminem is that I can’t take the Minnie Mouse quality of his voice. The man sounds as if he’s resting between tanks of helium, which is ironic for the star of the mega-gritty 8 Mile. There may be a rapper out there for me, but Eminem isn’t the guy. Nice name, though.

Verdict: The only thing I can think of that would be worse than an Eminem concert would be a Beach Boys concert. Two thumbs making gangsta gestures. Yo bring it on down.

Run-DMSteve
Real name: Steve
Country of origin: Massachusetts
Superpower: Can be wicked annoying
Gemstone: Bauxite

(All ethnomusicology research needs a control group. The control group for this study is Run-DMSteve. To guarantee our objectivity, I’m turning over this section to my dog, Storm Small.)

Steve has had a difficult time holding onto a nickname. I’m not counting the stuff his parents still call him.

When he worked at a restaurant in Harvard Square in the late ’70s, where he washed dishes and had a psychedelic experience at midnight in front of the griddle, they called him “Animal” and “Jaws” because he ate everything that wasn’t bacon. But he let his comrades down when they entered him in a muffin-eating contest and he couldn’t even break into double digits.

“Wolverine” stuck for about 2 minutes before Special D changed it to “Tangerine.”

Accused of Lurking dubbed him “Blue Pencil” for his skills as an editor who fights crime, but that name only works when Steve is actually employed.

In the late 1990s, Shawn, another co-worker, suggested “Run-DMSteve.” Though Shawn was employing a technique called “satire,” the nickname Run-DMSteve has turned out to be a winner in the electrifying world of blogging. Someone from Japan looked at this blog last week, and someone from Finland dropped by last month. Not bad for a guy who used to go to concerts in what he termed his “tough guy” sweater.

Verdict: Job or not, he keeps those kibbles coming. Four paws up!

There are more than 100 million blogs in the world, but there’s no one home at most of them. According to the numbers I’ve seen, most blogs are abandoned in the first month. If there is such as thing as the “average blog,” it has the life expectancy of a relationship that began in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist.

But Run-DMSteve is still standing, one year and 47 posts later! In my next post I’ll tell you how and why I launched this publishing juggernaut and what I’ve learned. I’ll also give you the lowdown on my Loyal Readers. Until then, here’s the first year in one handy place. I’ll eventually move it over to the Blogroll column.

Thanks always for reading. Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

Bands

ABBA (’70s Week)

AC/DC (’70s Week)

Aerosmith

A Flock of Seagulls (’80s Week)

America (’70s Week)

The B-52s

Bananarama (’80s Week)

The Baronics vs. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Pachelbel, and Vivaldi

The Beatles

Cat Power

Coldplay

Dire Straits and their MTV contemporaries

ELO

Gang of Four (’80s Week)

Godsmack, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Godfathers

The Grateful Dead and The Moody Blues

Hüsker Dü

Ke$ha and Bruno Mars

Kool & The Gang

Lady Gaga (my debut)

Pink Floyd

Queen (’70s Week)

Red Fang

The Rolling Stones

Santana

Screaming Trees

Simple Minds

Superheavy and Eels

Talking Heads

Tommy Tutone (’80s Week)

Translator (’80s Week)

Yes

 

Genres

Disco (’70s Week)

Dues songs

Grunge

Jazz

 

Miscellaneous

1st Annual Run-DMSteve Music and Sex Survey

Albums

Covers

Favorite songs of the ’70s (’70s Week)

Golden Oldies

Handel’s Messiah

Ladies of the ’80s (’80s Week)

My dogs explained by album titles

New Year’s Eve

Tough love for a Loyal Reader

Tribute to my father-in-law, Capt. Frederick K. Dezendorf