REVIEW: Glenn Greenwald’s excellent “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” (ISBN: 9781627790734) is not only about Edward Snowden and the NSA; it’s also about power. Who gets to watch you? Who gets to know your life’s decisions? Who gets to monitor your activities? And who is watching the watchers?
Author: John Scott G
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REVIEW: With an eye-catching title, Elijah Wald’s “How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music” (ISBN: 9780199756971) is an off-kilter look at the progression of music from ragtime to rock to rap, with lots of insights on swing, jazz, folk, and blues. Consistently interesting and fun to read, the book pays special attention to what the media and the American mindset have done to influence the music we hear today.
REVIEW: Peter Schuck’s “Why Government Fails So Often: And How it Can do Better” (ISBN: 9780691161624) takes 30 pages of brilliant observation and crams it into 412 pages of text. His combination of garrulousness and impenetrable language makes it a very long and extensive and extended and elongated and lengthy and protracted and time-consuming and boring read.
BOOK REVIEW: Peeling back the thick tapestries of privacy shielding the odious Koch brothers, Daniel Schulman’s “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty” (ISBN: 9781455518739) is consistently compelling and a good read. There’s a lot here: the Koch’s anti-American politics, their disgusting waste of personal wealth, their in-fighting and lawsuits, their dysfunctional family life, and their attitude of total warfare against people in the middle class.
BOOK REVIEW: Spies! Treachery! Deception! Camels! With an eye for detail and a love of intrigue, Scott Anderson plunks you down in the desert for ‘Lawrence in Arabia’ (ISBN-13: 978-0385532921). The author unleashes a rip-snortin’ tale that ultimately reveals a lot of the backstory on the muddle that is today’s Middle East.
ADSP Chapter 24: The blues will never die. Here’s one reason: Audiences have a visceral response to the music, even if it’s done merely adequately. And when it’s done well, the audience reaction can be amazing. Either way, when somebody is playin’ da blooze it means that guys will be drinking and girls will be dancing. In other words, a good time will be had by all.
ADSP Chapter 23: When hired guns go solo, the results can be “meh” or “yowza,” but studio great Carl Verheyen (“ver-HIGH-un”) consistently wows the crowds. Los Angeles is full of guitar aces for hire and one of the best has a name you can’t pronounce. You have heard quite a lot of the work of Carl Verheyen even though you may not be aware of it.
ADSP Chapter 21: Some guitarists play at lightning speed but it’s the tone, the style, and the aura of magic that define the true heroes of the electric guitar. Joe Satriani. You’ve heard his work or you’ve heard his name, and he’s either the greatest thing since sex or he’s simply a technical master who goes through his shtick very well but has no true worth. (I look forward to your letters.)
ADSP Chapter 22: Blues guitar virtuoso Buddy Guy succeeds on every level from soul to sizzle to showmanship. Sitting in his trailer before taking the stage for a festival performance, Buddy Guy is philosophical about his place in the pantheon of blues guitarists.
ADSP Chapter 2 — God of Guitar: A Visceral Reaction to Jeff Beck — There are 6,189 seats in the Gibson Amphitheater and guitar players are in 5,133 of them. Girlfriends of guitar players are in the rest. The occasion is a rare appearance by Jeff Beck, a somewhat reclusive Englishman whose stunning fret-board work has influenced pop, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, and jazz-rock fusion.
BOOK REVIEW: When you die, what happens? Lots of folks are attempting to make money by demonstrating they have the answer, but there’s this teeny-tiny thing called facts getting in their way. Mary Roach finds humor in every bone-chilling moment of her investigation.
ADSP Chapter 20: Life can be a bit of a crapshoot. For example, one never knows when a night on the town will bring you face-to-face with magnificent music. SONIA DADA — They played for 115 minutes and the crowd was panting for more. That just goes to show you what can happen when a great group sings terrific tunes. This delightful situation went beyond mere sonic pleasure and became almost cosmic because Sonia Dada has tapped into the primal force of life.
ARTICLE: There I was, working at an ad agency whose main office was located not too far from Amoeba Records and the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, not to mention a whole bunch of clubs, bars, nightspots, and everything else in that gaudy cesspool known as Tinsel Town. The ad shop was a medium-sized place with only a couple dozen employees but they had some very busy retail accounts like car dealerships and a national chain of pizza restaurants.
ARTICLE: “That’s a hit song!” The speaker was Wendie Colter, complimenting fellow artist Fran Lucci on one of her warm numbers. This was just before Colter delivered one of several potential hit songs of her own. And it was near the middle of a set featuring nicely textured work by Denise (lead singer from the indie band Jacar), as well as several crowd-rousing numbers from the supremely strong-voiced Mara.
ARTICLE: Okay, who’s making this incredible racket? Oh wait, it’s Rakit, a three-piece group that never saw a volume-boosting device it didn’t like. The music they create is dark, mysterious, pounding, tortuous, arduous, twisted, hazardous, risky, treacherous, freaky, and full of danger. In other words, it’s great fun.
ARTICLE: Taking a ride on a cosmic wave of positive energy is a joy that special performers offer. Here are some notable examples of artists who provide transcendence within the forms of popular music. Some musicians seem to provide their own light. Larisa Stow is someone whose on-stage persona contains a million watt beacon. While her vocals are quite lovely, the force of her talent can make you think hers is the prettiest voice in the world.
ARTICLE: Check the club schedules, call the shutterbug, throw on some jeans, grab the earplugs, gas up the car, hit the road, battle for a parking slot, and argue your way into the venue. Yup, ya gotta run that gauntlet to enable the music to wash over you and, hopefully, transport you to another part of the universe. Sometimes, it was all worth it.
Some of you will read the headline on this chapter and think the topic is the tooth-rotting tubes of goop called Otter Pops. But no. I write to you of something that was magical, splendid, and actually good for you. The Otterpops were a band that made a lot of marvelous music before their shelf […]
Hitting the clubs and hearing the sounds may be fun for you once in a while but I did it unselfishly three or four nights a week for years in order to bring you info on a few of the artists who were making noises that were cool, interesting, swinging, or fun. And even maybe […]
BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter 11 – Tom Chaffee by SIHH — SIHH stands for Self-Important Hollywood Hipster, a disreputable character who, as you are about to see, is as opinionated as I am. This is less a review than a peek into the problems of attending live music in an age […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter 10 – Hardsoft: Velvet Chain Beats You Up with a Kiss — Velvet Chain seduces you while battering you into submission. The hypnotic delivery of lead singer Erika Amato is the obvious starting point in analyzing how they accomplish this feat. But while she can deliver […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter NINE – In the Mood Music — If you are fortunate enough to be exposed to the music of Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams, one thing is certain: you will be moving your hips as they perform a wicked amalgamation of funk, salsa, soul, pop, […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter EIGHT – Powder Keg — A truly exciting band is one with the ability to make your hair stand up all over your body and make you forget you missed dinner when you rushed to their show right after work. It is a group you will […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter SEVEN – Unearthly Frequencies: Debby Holiday — Debby Holiday can use her voice with both precision and abandon in such a way that it reverberates inside your noggin. And even better, she touches your soul. Time sped up. The stars stood still. Inside Luna Park’s downstairs […]
BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka Chapter 6 – Hiding in Plain Sight: Rob Kendt, the Man Behind Millhouse
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter SIX – Hiding in Plain Sight: Rob Kendt, the Man Behind Millhouse — Songwriters can succeed in more than one style of music but artists tend to do better by sticking to one easily-identifiable sound. So what happens when a multi-genre songwriter is the leader of […]
REVIEW: Written from the heart, Elton John’s “Love is the Cure” will confound those expecting to read about his musical career but in discussing AIDS and the work of foundations seeking to eradicate the disease, John has created a valuable document. Perplexing. That’s the word to describe Love is the Cure, the short book or […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Chapter FIVE – Sin, Sex & Cigarettes: The Toledo Show — When you enter the dark fantasy that is The Toledo Show, you have only two choices: One, use all your will power to try resisting the delicious swirl of sin, sex and cigarettes that is unfolding before you; or Two: […]
The dozen essays in “Jazz/Not Jazz” all tend to pick, poke, and prod the meaning of the term and the elastic nature of the genre. Which is good, but the book is often academic in the extreme and often turns into a snooze-a-palooza. After trying for years to interest friends in jazz, it must be […]