REPOST: Another popular Christmas post from the past, now with updated links and extra tracks!
From 1963 to 1969 the Beatles gave members of their official fan club a special gift at Christmas: a record unavailable elsewhere. As the years went by, the messages got more avant-garde, druggy and downright strange. The 1967 disc was titled “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” and extracts from a song of that name were scattered among short sketches. In 1995, Capitol Records issued an uninterrupted edit of the song as the B-side of “Free As A Bird.” Superimposed near the end are some spoken-word seasonal greetings, taped in 1966, followed by a John Lennon pastiche. We have also enclosed the Beatles’ Christmas messages from 1968 and 1969 – they were all compiled on an album and given as a final gift to fan club members in 1970. Today, the album is a rare collector’s item.
Instead of reinventing the wheel this Christmas, let’s recycle a past post or two. Today, the holidays in the Lone Star State!
Christmas in Texas is pretty much like Christmas in any other place – except most of the time it’s hot, everybody’s playin’ football, people are barbecuing and drinking beer, there’s a lot of country music and blues and rock, and the stuffing has jalapenos in it. Okay, it’s like no place else.
A lot of people are diggin’ Scott Weiland’s new Christmas album, The Most Wonderful Time of Year, while many others are just saying “WTF?” Weiland has put out a video of one song, “Winter Wonderland” where he sports a Hitler Youth haircut (really, that’s what it’s called) and generally acts kind of tranquilized for about two and a half minutes.
Seems almost impossible that it’s already the Christmas season … I could’a sworn July was last week or something. You know time flies when you’re having fun, or not. And so this is Christmas.
This season, we’re gonna do the usual things we do – post blogs with a ton of Christmas music, review the best and worst of 2011 and generally bitch about the state of the world in which we’re livin.’ That’s how we roll, and we certainly appreciate you taking a little time to come and visit while we do that.
As I write this the windows are open and all down my street the neighbors are installing their blinking Christmas lights, their oversized inflatable Santa lawn snow globes and elaborate wrappings around the trees. Most annoying, just across the street somebody has plinky holiday music playing from some contraption in their front yard. Greeeeeaaaaaaaat.
And I went to the grocery store to buy some milk and beer for the weekend, then I stood in line for a while behind people purchasing giant TVs and strange electronic consoles (at the grocery store!). Don’t get me wrong – we certainly participated in Black Friday but we didn’t pepper spray anyone (although my wife made me wish I had some handy). Later on comes the hassle of erecting a tree, and negotiating which visits we must make to family members who wouldn’t care drive out to see us at any time of the year.
But each year we all manage to dig out at least a little bit of the true meaning of Christmas. We all manage to spend a small amount of time with the people we love or care about, and we show a little shred of love by sharing some of ourselves at a truly magical time of year. Or I hope we do – like I hope you do as well. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! So let the season begin …
What better way to kick off the holiday season: the Rolling Stones offer a gift idea for the rocker in your life! The new video Some Girls: Live In Texas ’78 features Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Co. rockin’ through 17 Stones favorites on a hot July night in Fort Worth, Texas.
The video is available in conjunction with the newly released and remastered Some Girls, the 1978 album that featured such hits as “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden.” The tour supporting that album is where this video comes from – the performances are polished and professional but ferocious, even for the Stones.
Our buddy Ian McLagan, now a happy resident of Austin, supported the Stones on this tour – look quickly and you’ll catch a glimpse of him here and there.
You can get Some Girls: Live In Texas ’78 as a DVD (or Blu-Ray) alone or in a combo with an audio CD of the concert. It’s available at your favorite video/music store, or at Amazon.com.
This what your redneck neighbor's backyard will look like on Thanksgiving
Editor’s Note: In the interest of preserving the environment this holiday season, we are recycling some old blog posts. Don’t worry – most of the links work.
Are you gonna deep fry a turkey this Thanksgiving? Put the fire department on speed dial – especially if you’re gonna be hoisting a few. Actually I do have some experience with this, and I will attest that the first and most important step in deep frying a turkey is getting oneself properly hydrated with your favorite beer.
I can’t really remember when I first saw my crazy Louisiana relatives frying a turkey. It may have been in the 1980s some time; we went over to see our relatives in and around Cecilia and Catahoula, Louisiana (yes, near the Atchafalaya Swamp) and early one morning those insane bastards were out in the cold, drinking beer and plunging poor turkeys into boiling grease. Now my Louisiana relatives – who refer to themselves and each other as “coonass” – will stalk, shoot, clean and cook pretty much anything that walks, swims or flies. And they do this with a deadly efficiency, particularly when they’re drunk.
Anyhow, my old man decided to fry one himself one year. We got everything ready, turkey immersed in grease and we started our timing (about three minutes for every pound of turkey) and of course, our beer drinking. I dunno what the correct beer-to-frying-time ratio is, but our turkey turned out OK. And during Super Bowl XXVII in 1994 (Cowboys vs. Bills) we fried one on my back porch and put in too much oil. When the turkey went in, the oil came out and … my eyebrows and arm hair grew back but there’s still a big burn mark on my patio Astroturf.
Since then, I’m content to smoke turkeys on my Weber grill while spinnin’ the albumsAlice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrieand The Last Waltz by the Band (which was recorded on Thanksgiving Day, 1976). Which, I should add, is a tradition rich in patio time and a much extended beer-to-turkey-cooking ratio.
More wisdom from Louisiana: Stay away from the dreaded turducken! My Uncle Harold once said, “Never eat anything with ‘turd’ in the name.” Hell, that dude fried pork chops! Pecan pies must always have a little bourbon, your dressing must be cornbread and it never hurts to whip up a batch of pralines. And never, ever bet on the Lions!
Uh, guess you need to get goin’ to work on your own turkey. Thanks to you, our loyal readers, for supporting this blog. Since 2008 we have had more than 1.3 million readers, and we appreciate that. We’ll close the dump for Thanksgiving but will be back next week to start the Christmas watch. We’ll keep rockin’ as long as we can! Happy Thanksgiving.
Editor’s Note: From a blog post appearing originally in 2010. This is a classic! The album, not the blog post.
We have dusted off some of our own all-time favorite albums from our own collection, and today we want to share one that’s perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday – Alice’s Restaurant, from Arlo Guthrie.
The title song is of course an American classic – and a song played by many radio stations on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a true story about a 1965 Thanksgiving when Arlo, the son of legendary songwriter and folksinger Woody Guthrie, and his friends were arrested for littering. He eventually turned the tale into a story-song that ends with a timely protest sentiment, and … well, I’m sure you have heard it.
Guthrie debuted “Alice’s Restaurant” at the Newport Folk Festival, then he played it on NYC public radio station WBAI in the spring of 1967. The station was flooded with requests for replays of the song and played it more often than anything else – later, during their annual fundraiser, station personnel promised to play it if a certain amount of money was pledged and later, to NOT play it if a certain amount was pledged.
Anyhow, Guthrie himself tinkered with the format of the song and even occasionally performed a “sequel” – titled “The Alice’s Restaurant Multi-Colored Rainbow Roach Affair,” he played it a few times live on WBAI. Reprise Records officially released the LP Alice’s Restaurant in 1967 with the original “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” recorded live someplace. The song clocks in at over 18 minutes and takes up the entire Side One of the record. Even though hip FM stations played it, Reprise inexplicably released a shorter version on single. Titled “Alice’s Rock and Roll Restaurant” and produced by Van Dyke Parks, this one took a few verses from the song and placed it over a generic blues-rock beat and completely changed the feel and intent of the song.
Flip over the album and there are six songs that are if not more conventional, at least they fit the folk rock style of the era. “Chilling of the Evening” is a ballad with instrumentation more typically found on an album by any of the then-current pop singers of the day, like maybe Glen Campbell or Jim Nabors. “I’m Going Home” and “Highway In The Wind” are both songs with a Byrds-like feel, and “Ring Around A Rosie Rag” is a bit of hippie jug-band nonsense but good fun nevertheless. And of course, there’s the first chapter of “The Motorcycle Song,” which had its own sequels (including one on the 1968 followup LP Arlo).
Shortly after Guthrie appeared at Woodstock in 1969, he showed up in the Arthur Penn-directed movie Alice’s Restaurant. None of the performances on the original Alice’s Restaurant album were in the movie, but the film and the ensuing soundtrack featured a full-length studio version of the title song. In 1995, Guthrie re-recorded the entire Alice’s Restaurant album, complete with an updated (and even LONGER) version of the title song.
Guthrie only occasionally performs “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” live these days, but on Thanksgiving Day you can almost certainly find a radio station playing that original version.
So let’s enjoy some of the other incarnations of “Alice’s Restaurant” as well as a couple other tunes off the original album. Now Arlo has been nice enough to record many versions of his most famous song – we are thankful for that and don’t want to be greedy on Thanksgiving … so we’re going to stream most of ‘em. That way you can hear them all!
Listen: The original “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (1967)
Editor’s Note: In the interest of preserving the environment this holiday season, we are going to recycle and reuse some old blog posts. Oh, there may be a new one here and there but we want to reduce our footprint on the blogosphere (whatever that means). In other words, we’re just lazy. Don’t worry, we have made sure all our links are working for the most part. So let the holiday season begin!
With Thanksgiving coming up and all, we are sure you have a lot of things to do and to think about. Like: wouldn’t it be great if my turkey made the in-laws sick? So sick they couldn’t come back for Christmas? Or: Are the Houston Texans (substitute your team name here) going to win any more games? And: Is somebody gonna give me that Beach Boys box set for Christmas (so I don’t have to drop 100+ bucks on it)?
Ah, we know you have a lot on your mind. So don’t worry – you take care of the turkey, and we’ll supply the music. Come back in the next week or so, because we have more Thanksgiving treats in store!
Axl Rose with guitarist DJ Ashba, ostensibly Slash's replacement - is it really GNR?
Walking into Houston’s Toyota Center for the big Guns N’ Roses show last week, we overheard people asking each other incredulously: “Slash is NOT with them???” Well, no. The guitarist left in 1996, on not-so-friendly terms with lead singer Axl Rose. As did pretty much all of the other original band members. So who was playing that Friday night in Houston?
Was it Axl and a bunch of no-name scabs? Hardly – this version of Guns N’ Roses can certainly deliver the goods and is totally worthy of the name. But what happens when other popular rock groups hit the road with just one or two original members in tow? Is it still the same group we know and love?
Lynyrd Skynyrd's current guitar lineup includes (from left) Rickey Medlocke, Sparky Matjeka, original member Gary Rossington and bassist Robert Kearns.
Just a week before GNR, we saw Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top in Austin. Skynyrd has had more attrition than any other rock band in memory, after a plane crash that killed original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Other original members have also died or retired; the current Skynyrd lineup contains only one original member, guitarist Gary Rossington.
Skynyrd became stars in 1973 with their debut album, so the crash meant that the classic lineup was in the national limelight for only about four years. The new Skynyrd lineup has been together, with various members, since 1987. So is it Lynyrd Skynyrd? Probably it’s a really good tribute band – paying tribute to itself.
In some cases it’s clear cut: it can never be the Rolling Stones unless Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are involved, but if John Fogerty hired a new rhythm section and toured as Creedence, why not? If Van Halen tours with David Lee Roth, the only person who may dispute the authenticity would be Sammy Hagar, sitting in his living room. Classic ’70s bands Foreigner and Journey hired new lead singers and have both re-recorded their old hits – Walmart shoppers picking up the new CDs probably don’t know, or don’t care.
It gets stickier with bands with well-known, or even beloved, members playing behind the lead singer. Can Bruce Springsteen tour without Clarence Clemons and still call it the E Street Band? Heartbreaking as that may be, that’s probably what he will do. If Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston hit the road next year, can they still call themselves the Beach Boys? Probably. The Kinks? Only if Ray and Dave Davies are both on board.
What's Bruce Springsteen gonna do without Clarence Clemons?
Some years ago David Gilmour fronted a Pink Floyd lineup that included original members Rick Wright and Nick Mason, but not Roger Waters. It worked for millions, if not for Roger. The Who have been diminished by half, but Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend still sell a lot of tickets under the Who banner. If Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones can talk Robert Plant into a tour, Led Zeppelin will most certainly pack ‘em in.
And I suppose that’s what it all boils down to: will the audience accept a lineup that isn’t original? Ask Axl Rose, while he’s counting the gate receipts from the current Guns N’ Roses tour, and the answer is yes – in some cases.
- Denny Angelle
YouTube: Guns N’ Roses playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in Houston (the sound is horrible, but you can see it was a crowd favorite).
This one’s MUCH better – “Welcome To The Jungle” on 11/17 in New Jersey
This is what all the speculation was about … Black Sabbath, with original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, announced today they are recording a new album with mega-producer Rick Rubin at the helm. Then, in June or so of next year, they will begin a world tour. And to think I almost purchased Roger Waters tickets today. Awesome!
You can see a short video from today’s news conference here.