Links and Music

May 31st, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

I have done several guest blogs/posts of late, and rather than do an elaborate update today, I’m going to shoo you over to those…although for those of you who sit through the credits, there’s a discussion of a few new albums by old artists.

First up is a discussion of the differences between Nate Heller and Mike Hammer, and how Spillane/Hammer had an impact on BETTER DEAD.

Next up is a look at how the Heller books combine the hardboiled detective story and the historical novel, briefly looking at my influences. The main thing, however, is Nate Heller’s love life, particularly as it pertains to the real-life women like Amelia Earhart and Bettie Page. There’s also a book giveaway (three BETTER DEAD copies are up for grabs). You’ll need to scroll down a ways, to get to my piece.

On the reviewing front, my pal Bill Crider – a fine western writer who also writes mysteries – provides a very nice review of THE BIG SHOWDOWN. Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine is my favorite web site, with all kinds of reviews, nostalgic articles and images, funny news clips, and much more, showing off Bill’s wry sense of humor. He’s always adding stuff, and I check back several times every day.

In closing, let me offer a few musical recommendations from somebody clearly stuck in the ‘60s.

The Monkees have their 50th anniversary album out, GOOD TIMES, with a song written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer among many contemporary contributions. There’s even a newly finished song with a vocal by the late Davy Jones. And Mike Nesmith is back.

The great Ronnie Spector has released an album of covers of British Invasion tunes – ENGLISH HEART – and her singing is hypnotic. All the songs have a new, fresh twist to their arrangements. Perhaps the most distinctive voice in rock.

Last year one of my all-time favorite bands, Vanilla Fudge, released SPIRIT OF ‘67. I may have discussed the album here before, but it’s worth another mention: it’s probably the second-best Fudge album after their 1967 debut, and they specifically stuck to tunes from ‘67, as if this were their follow-up album (not the misguided misfire, THE BEAT GOES ON). Mark Stein’s passionate vocals are phenomenal, as is his keyboard playing. The arrangements are that wonderfully over-the-top, psuedo-symphonic approach that admittedly doesn’t work for everybody. These guys belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as the architects of heavy metal.

But then the Monkees aren’t in, either – and only the Beatles and the Stones have more dedicated followers.

Also not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: the Zombies. A travesty. Original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent did a strong, crowd-funded CD (you’re welcome), STILL GOT THAT HUNGER, released last October.

If anyone can explain to me why Rap and Country artists are ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not the Monkees, the Fudge and the Zombies, I will listen politely and roll my eyes later.

At least the Ronettes are in.


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6 Responses to “Links and Music”

  1. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    Perhaps a Hammer/Heller Venn Diagram would be in order. Further combinations could also prove instructive.

  2. Mike Doran says:

    The only Hall of Fame that I know anything about is the Baseball HOF – and when I found out exactly how their voting procedures worked … well, it became one of the reasons I stopped being a baseball fan.

    As to the Rock & Roll HOF, I’d need to know their rules & regs: who does the voting, how is eligibility determined, how are the campaigns managed, who’s feuding with whom at any given time, can you be kept out simply because people don’t like you, what role does offstage misbehavior play in the process … we could go on and on.

    I’m still hoping that you get at least a mention for an MWA Grand Master Edgar (Hey, everybody – get on this already, OK? …).

  3. Terry Beatty says:

    I’ll second the recommendation of the Ronnie Spector album. They took preorders for a signed edition of the vinyl LP — and I now have my copy on display in the nerd cave. Makes me happy every time I walk in there and see it.

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    I wish I’d known about that signed Ronnie LP, Terry! By the way, everybody, Terry is now the writer on REX MORGAN MD as well as the artist!

    Mike, I believe Jan Wenner is the guy who rules the Rock HOH. As for the Grand Master notion, from your lips to God’s ear….

  5. Mike Dennis says:

    Max–don’t worry over the Monkees and Vanilla Fudge not making the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. It’s a bullshit outfit, created solely to produce the annual induction TV show, and as a side benefit, snag a few tourists into their building to see Jimi Hendrix’s leather pants or whatever. Other than the expected greats — Elvis, Beatles, Stones, etc — the Hall is straining more and more each year to find someone worthy of induction. In recent years, they’ve stooped to one-hit wonders: Buffalo Springfield, Laura Nyro, and others. Who’s next? Norman Greenbaum? Ronny & the Daytonas?

    It’s all bullshit and not worth getting upset about.

  6. Charlie Koenigsaecker says:

    To me the most egregious omission in the Rock HOH would be Love, followed close behind by the Monkees and Zombies.
    The MC5 should be in also and I would not look askance at the Fudge.
    For those who regard the Monkees as a mere vocal group whose musical accomplishments were buoyed by the talents of others, would they have the same reservations regarding the Coasters or the Supremes or the Four Tops or any other group who neither wrote their own material or played on their own records? Plus the Monkees eventually did both write and play on a lot of fine recordings.