Posts Tagged ‘Music’

White Man’s Burdon

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

This past Saturday evening, Barb and I headed to Riverside, Iowa (future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk) to the casino resort there for a concert by Eric Burdon and the Animals.

The Riverside Casino and Golf Resort is a great venue that brings in major acts (within half an hour of our home!) and some of them, like this one (and the Happy Together Tour a while back), are top stars of the Baby Boomers’ youth. For example, they have Micky Dolenz and Paul Lindsay coming up on September 29. Crusin’ has appeared on the Riverside Casino’s smaller stage three times, and it’s always a thrill to get to entertain there.

The house for Burdon was packed and enthusiastic…also old. So is Burdon, at 73 a kind of wonderful train wreck, a grizzled, gifted survivor of the British Invasion. He’s a small but formidable man, and the only real Animal on stage – he’s surrounded by kids, relatively speaking, who mostly serve him well. Despite a cold that he apologized for, as it gave his voice even more gravel, he performed well, enthusiastically and long – an hour and a half, no break – giving the crowd most of his hits, the only really major omission being “It’s My Life.”

My only complaint is the current Animals line-up – the bass needs more definition, and the keyboards more balls. I wanted to rush the stage, yelling, “Let a man in!”, when the keyboard guy played piano all through “We Gotta Get Outa This Place.” His piano keyboard is a Nord, and a Nord is one of my two keyboards and a fine instrument…but right behind him was a Hammond B-3!

The Animals’ sound, in its first and most popular incarnation, was driven by organ – either Vox or Hammond, with Alan Price its famous keyboard player. Not bringing that Hammond into full, robust play was a blunder.

Okay, I realize I’m seeing that through my end of the telescope, and I don’t want to indicate the evening in Eric Burdon’s legendary presence wasn’t a wonderful thing, a real privilege. Burdon is the kind of dedicated singer who can bring brand-new passion to a song he’s sung literally hundreds and hundreds of times, every time.

Burdon is as much as anyone – and I include Mick Jagger – responsible for bringing the blues to white America (and the UK), exposing my generation to the joys and rewards of the African-American musical experience, sending us to Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, among many others. Is there a more unlikely smash hit single of the sixties than “House of the Rising Sun”?

Here’s a cool interview with Burdon done just before the Riverside appearance.

And now, because absolutely no one asked for it, here is my list of my 10 Most Influential Albums of the Sixties. These are the actual albums I listened to most, as opposed to my assembling something reflecting what I should be listing, i.e., black artists, female artists, and not just white boys (mostly British). But it was the British Invasion that sent me down a path that would have me still playing rock ‘n’ roll at 70 (thankfully not for a fulltime living).

1. Rubber Soul – the Beatles. 1965 (December). This list could be nothing but Beatles, as their albums and singles were what I listened to most. Rubber Soul is where the group blossoms into something even more special. I am in a minority, but I like least The White Album and everything that follows.

2. Along Comes the Association – The Association. 1966. Still, perhaps, their finest hour, with the possible exception of the follow-up, Renaissance. Includes “Enter the Young,” “Along Comes Mary,” “Cherish” and more. Barb and I saw them perform more often than other band of the era, the greatest vocal group that was also a fine rock band.

3. The Zombies – the Zombies. 1965. Their wonderful early material is here in this American release, including my two favorite singles of the ‘60s, “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No.” Colin Blunstone’s breathy, heart-felt singing melds with Rod Argent’s great, inspiring (to me) piano and organ – this is pure pop bliss.

4. Them Again – Them. 1966 (January). My favorite Van Morrison material almost all dates to his days fronting Them. This second album made not much of a splash in the USA, but it’s great, with “Could You, Would You,” “Call My Name” and “I Can Only Give You Everything” outstanding.

5. Animal Tracks – The Animals. 1965. Their third album (a U.S. mongrel), it features “We Gotta Get Outa This Place,” which was Muscatine High School’s senior class of ‘66 song. As a listener caught up in the pop of the Beatles, the jolt of r & b from Eric Burdon (and also Van Morrison with Them) was the start of an education.

6. It Ain’t Me Babe – the Turtles. Before “Happy Together,” the Turtles were a folk-rock band with an edge, the Byrds but not precious. This album has not only the title track but a pre-Sinatra, rocking “It Was a Very Good Year,” P.F. Sloan’s “Let Me Be,” and some nice Dylan covers. Opening for Flo and Eddie (twice) was a real career highlight for this weathered garage band rocker.

7. Midnight Ride – Paul Revere and the Raiders. 1967. This was the last album that the Raiders – a great bar band from the Pacific Northwest – actually played on, with the famous Wrecking Crew taking over after, so the group could tour and tour and tour. This was their Rubber Soul, with such great tracks as “Kicks,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “Louie Go Home” (a sequel to “Louie Louie,” their version have been hijacked by another local band).

8. Eighteen Yellow Roses – Bobby Darin. 1963. My obsession with Bobby Darin was not entirely blotted out by the British Invasion. This album has Darin’s hit title track and a bunch of covers, including “On Broadway” and “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.” Not a major album, but I listened to it a lot. Ditto his later (1968) Bobby Darin Born Walden Robert Cassotto, a singer-songwriter effort of personal folk rock and protest material in his Bob Darin phase. My band played “Long Line Rider.”

9. Younger Than Yesterday– The Byrds. 1967. Such an influential band. I recall playing “Turn, Turn, Turn” at a frat party in Iowa City around ‘68 and the frat brothers having us play it over and over and over. Guitarist Bruce Peters of the Daybreakers had a 12-string Rickenbacker to give it the real McGuinn flavor. That track isn’t on this album, which is the “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n Roll Star” LP, with such wonderful songs/performances as “Have You Seen Her Face” and “My Back Pages.” This was our late bass player Chuck Bunn’s favorite album.

10. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys. 1966. The great American answer to the question posed by the British Invasion: which of you stateside losers can compete with us? Well, these guys. It’s possibly the best, most beautiful rock album ever written, produced and performed.

Looking at this list – which is in no particular order – I realize how much of it centers around 1966, and just before and just after. Subjectively, it suggests that the music that appeared as I came of age – if 17 or 18 is coming of age – happened to be some of the best popular music ever…or was it just the stuff (objectively speaking) that was out when I was a junior and senior in high school?

Let me mention, too, that if this list continued further, the albums from my college years – everything from the frankly poppy Monkees to the likes of Vanilla Fudge, Cream and Deep Purple – would be on it.

So. Now that you’ve read it…aren’t you glad you didn’t ask?

* * *

Barb and I thoroughly enjoyed Deadpool 2. We had discovered the first DP (so speak) movie on home video, and found it a hoot, if dark. This one isn’t quite as dark, and is even more joke-laden than the previous. There are smart people I know (like Terry Beatty) who hated the first Deadpool and are unlikely to try the second (and probably shouldn’t). But I enjoy the way the Deadpool films send up the super-hero genre while celebrating it – that it points out and revels in the absurdities of the genre (particularly the movie version of superhero comics) and still manages to be a terrific superhero movie. Deadpool 2, for all its smart-ass nastiness, even has a good heart.

* * *

Here’s a fun, quirky review of Quarry’s Climax. I think the reviewer doesn’t quite get Quarry’s view of women (or humanity, actually), but he likes the book, which is what matters. Quarry has contempt for the entire human race, including himself, but he isn’t a dick about it.

And a nice Quarry write-up is here, in this look at post-Vietnam crime novels.

M.A.C.

Casino Capers

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

If you are in my part of the world, some Crusin’ gigs are coming up. We are landing some really great venues – Dec. 3 and 4th we’ll be at Jumer’s Casino, 777 Jumer Drive, Rock Island IL, from 8 to midnight both nights. On Sunday Dec. 12, we’ll be at Riverside Casino, just outside Riverside, Iowa (birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk), from 2 pm till 5.

This coming week, though, we will have a CD release party at the Button Factory in Muscatine, at their Upper Deck bar, from 8 till midnight. Night before Thanksgiving is a huge night for live entertainment in these parts, so I’m hopeful we’ll have a nice crowd.

The live CD, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HAPPENED – we’ll show you the cover next week – was designed for me to send (or drop off) to potential venues. The liner notes contain a detailed history of the band with historic pics. The 20 songs are a mix of originals (some previously only in demo form) and all sorts of things from the ‘60s, from Bobby Rydell to the Vanilla Fudge. Nate will be home soon and he and I will discuss how we are going to offer this to you. Because it’s not a for-retail CD, we can’t sell it; but we can give it away, and we’ll be coming up with some offers of out-of-print M.A.C. material that you can buy and receive the new CD as a bonus.

If you are involved with a mystery or comics con and are interested in considering booking us for your event (midwest only, unless you can provide air fare for four), you may request a copy of the promo CD. Just contact me at macphilms@hotmail.com. Same goes if you are a bar or nightclub anywhere in Iowa or Illinois.

The big news this week is the Top Suspense Group that I’m part of designed to give a handpicked group of writers a place to show off their e-book wares. You may have seen the press release, but here it is again:

Top Suspense Group

With more than 700,000 e books already on line, The Top Suspense Group plans to slash through the clutter and offer readers one site filled with exciting books in several genres at reasonable prices.

As creator and acclaimed author Dave Zeltserman explains, “Every member of our group has made his or her mark on genre fiction, whether it’s noir, crime, mystery, thriller, horror or Westerns, and in some cases, several of these genres.

“Authors include Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Ed Gorman, Vicki Hendricks, Harry Shannon and myself,” Zeltserman notes. Zeltserman has spoken before about the difficulty readers have in searching for sites that offer seasoned professionals making some of their finest material available at affordable prices. Not only will readers get the books, but many of the books will contain extra
material, such as the writer’s commentary on the book that has been purchased or the addition of a free short story.

“Readers will appreciate a reliable inexpensive site that continuously delivers some of the best in contemporary genre fiction,” said Top Suspense Group member and multi-award winning author, Max Allan Collins.

Check us out at:

www.topsuspense.com
www.topsuspensegroup.com

M.A.C.

Hammer Sounds

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Quarry's VoteThis is going to be a brief update this week, because Nate has a busy week in Japan.

This week’s cover from Perfect Crime’s reprint series of the first five Quarry novels is QUARRY’S VOTE. The original title of this one is PRIMARY TARGET, a title I like and actually prefer; but we needed to make the patterning of the titles consistent, and especially with the new Hard Case series entries, Quarry seems to have found his way into the titles.

I recently heard the final mix of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER Vol. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER, and could not be more pleased. Stacy Keach, Mike Cornelison and Tim Kazurinsky (among other talented thesps) (I don’t think I ever typed “thesps” before) did great work. The audio stuff – both Carl Amari’s radio-style dramas and the readings of the new Spillane/Collins novels by Stacy Keach – are attracting some attention and awards. Here’s a nice write-up on Mike Hammer as one of the classic tough guys available on audio. And here’s a link to a brief, fun interview with Stacy on the same subject.

We will very soon have the new CRUSIN’ CD available, probably right after Nate gets back from Japan. Because it’s a promotional item, I can’t sell it, but I am reserving around 50 of the 200 run to give away as free bonus items with the sale of another, related item. I’ll be more clear about that later….

M.A.C.

Better Late Than…

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

A terrific QUARRY’S EX review came in from Daniel Luft – very insightful and a real pleasure to read. Too bad the book didn’t come out last month as promised. On the other hand, and I can say no more, it looks like EX really will be out some time next year…possibly a year late, but…

Mystery File shared two Top 100 Lists by top-notch fan/critics, dating to 1993. I don’t remember this – maybe never saw it – but both lists have Nate Heller novels on ‘em. As you know, I despise such lists…unless I am included. In which case their validity is unquestionable.

I do wonder, when I see such lists, just how much tastes-of-the-moment are in play. In 1993, STOLEN AWAY was getting a lot of attention, rave reviews, a Shamus nod, etc. There hasn’t been a Heller since 2001, so I wonder how many lists today would fail to include one of those novels. We’ll see if BYE BYE, BABY gets Heller back on the radar.

Blood Money NEL EditionThere’s a very interesting look from a UK site about the first two Nolan novels and how they were published with very cool Dali-esque covers over there. If you’ve never seen these covers, it’s worth a trip (to the site, not the UK) (but I’m always up for a UK trip). I left a couple of comments that you may find of interest.

Barb and I listened to a rough cut of the new Mike Hammer audio novel (THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER) in the car on a Chicago getaway this weekend. Producer/director Carl Amari did a great job, with Stacy Keach just batting that ball out of the park as his signature character. But the rest of the cast is terrific, too – with Mike Cornelison as Pat Chambers (in my opinion, the best Chambers ever), Tim Kazurinsky as a Broadway producer, and all kinds of Chicago talent. This will be out next March. By the way, I play a role in ENCORE FOR MURDER – a small but significant one – and I got the best review possible from Barb: she didn’t realize it was me! This either shows that I did an incredible acting job, or that I don’t make much of an impression, even when you live with me for 40 years.

Also on the trip, we listened to the second pass on the new Crusin CD – CRUSIN’ LIVE – ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HAPPENED – and after just one tiny tweak, we’ll be ready to press the suckers. I’m doing about 100 copies for promo purposes, and a limited edition available here at the site – these will probably be given away “free” when you purchase another item (TBD). This is not a national release because it’s designed to show potential clients what the band sounds like, and includes covers of material that we can’t afford to license. We may be able to offer downloads of the original songs from the album (there are seven, including a blistering “Psychedelic Siren,” first live recording of that we’ve ever issued).

While in the Chicago area, I saw Nate’s book SUMMER, FIREWORKS & MY CORPSE in the science-fiction/fantasy section of Borders! He has arrived!

I would like to mention two of my favorite writers, briefly. First, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for the Facebook film THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a stunner – beautifully constructed and the dialogue crackles. Don’t miss this film.

Second, we lost Stephen Cannell last week. He did a lot of TV in recent years that I didn’t care about (starting around A-TEAM time), and I have never been able to get into his novels. But he remains one of my handful of favorite TV writers (Sorkin being another). He gave us ROCKFORD FILES, TENSPEED AND BROWNSHOE, THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO (Mike Cornelison had a recurring role!), and RICHIE BROCKELMAN, PRIVATE EYE. Most important to me, he and Roy Huggins (my other favorite TV writer) came up with CITY OF ANGELS. That’s my favorite private eye show of all time, and I owe Cannell, Huggins and actor Wayne Rogers a huge debt – Nate Heller is their bastard offspring. I never met Cannell, but not long ago I sent him a foreign movie poster of a film version of the three-part ANGELS pilot, “The November Plan,” asking that he signed it. He did, and I will treasure it.

M.A.C.