Today’s Recommended Old Time Radio Show: the DRAGNET episode BIG GIRL!

“The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Oct 1949- You are a detective sergeant You’re assigned to robbery detail. 16 persons have been robbed and beaten senseless. The victims describe the assailant as a tall, beautiful woman. Your job… stop her.”
— from the DRAGNET episode BIG GIRL

Jack Webb is the force behind some of my favorite Old Time radio shows, among them PAT NOVAK and PETE KELLY’S BLUES, but DRAGNET was clearly his most successful show. A favorite of law enforcement officers, and with the full backing of law enforcement agencies throughout the US, it’s easy to see why its no-nonsense format compelled.

Six Decades later and the show still compels. Listen to BIG GIRL for yourself HERE!

Soliloquies of Survival


Now Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would —
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
And she said —
“Tell me are you a Christian child?”
And I said “Ma’am I am tonight”
—Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis lyrics

That ‘s a great song.

Odd, where are today’s great songs? In this age of AMERICAN IDOL and “insert reality/music show here” and media consolidation, we’ve embraced the gimmick, regurgitating endlessly the old, but the new… and I have heard the new, the truly new… doesn’t make it to the big stage.

The truly new and innovative and dangerous, the challenging, which is really what so much of great music is, anthems of rage, Soliloquies of survival are… ignored by a medium intent on keeping music… a tool, to sell you Sprite or that new car.

The songs of Dylan and Beetles reduced to selling pop drinks.

Culture and art reduced to nothing more than a sound byte for corporate pimps.

Be aware of that.

Keep seeking out the artists who aren’t being shoved in your face.

Do a search for music on my blog and you’ll come across a lot of recommendations.

Search out those… anthems of rage, and Soliloquies of survival.

Search out art… that matters.

Because we need it.

Devoid of it we become… like the ‘media’ we do consume, cowardly, sycophants, blowing ignorantly to the most venal breeze.

Artist and those who love art, tend to be people who actually care about something beyond the… trivial. They’re the only people I can stand to be around anymore, people with… courage. And with… individuality.

“So that even unbeknownst to me, off the top, BeBop was a movement and a spontaneous cultural crusade. To restore the music to its deepest and profoundest originality, the essence of what gave it important cultural meaning.

Diz, Monk, Bird, and the others were restoring improvisation as the critical factor of jazz creativity. They were restoring the blues, as its sensuous history and self-consciousness. They were reinserting the polyrhythms of Africa and freeing post-1940s jazz from the Tin Pan Alley prison.”
–Amiri Baraka on THE HIGH PRIEST OF BEBOP from DIGGING:THE AFRO-AMERICAN SOUL OF AMERICAN CLASSICAL MUSIC

On Libya, America, bombings, apathy, and… the rock cried out no hiding place!

“And I woke up this morning, and all I loved was gone”
— from Father of the Blues, Robert Johnson

Somewhere, my tax dollars are paying to drop bombs on people.

Mostly people of color.

To destabilize regions.

Libya, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Rwanda, The Congo; names upon names. Since 2000 it’s been like a bloody game of dominoes.

To kill indiscriminately men, women, children, flora and fauna.

For breathing room for the new Nazi Germany, the new Rome.

To drop fire out of the skies on people.

To destabilize regions.

These supposed civil wars are American money and American CIA, doing what we’ve been doing since World War II, keeping the reigns of power tight.

And I could almost understand it if these actions were for some national Allegiance. Toward some greater good.

But they are not.

We destroy other countries to allow corporations to make money, that’s inarguable fact, but let us look at the effect of that fact on the standard of living in America.

We are sliding down with that global economic policy, because the policy applied abroad in extreme forms, is also, as corporations get away with more and more, is being applied ever more heavily domestically.

I’m saying that the bombs that are falling in all those distant lands, in the name of Shell or Monsanto or Hanes, have real and drastic echoes here. The slave wages, and horrendous standard of living we allow companies to institute once we overthrow a country, translates directly into a slower, but no less certain process of instituting a landowner/serf nation here. The middle class has been eviscerated in the last few decades. America is heading toward the same template we’ve foisted on so many other nations, of the absolute rich, or the absolute poor, and very little in-between.

Do you really think America is fighting terrorism and tyranny? No my friends. America is being used by corporate oligarchies to fight for those things. Because like any good bully, we’d rather steal someone else’s lunch money, than worry about earning our own.

Somewhere my tax dollars are being used to destabilize nations that fought for civil liberties for people of color in this country, when, not so long ago, not so long ago at all, this government was setting dogs and hoses on people of color.

I know, and have stated for a long time that Obama is a puppet. Placed into this position to be the cover, for a ramping up of a policy of empire building, and nation toppling, not seen since the first crusades.

I know that.

But I still don’t understand how some people sleep at night.

To betray everything you are, everything countless people have fought and bled and died for…

for what? Money? Green paper that has only as much value as your master gives it? For status? For scraps from a table from people that, even though you sell whole nations out for them, will denigrate you past your dying day?

I don’t know how some people sleep at night.

With all that blood, crying out, crying out, to see past your CNN and FOX lies, past your PS3s and Netflix and Youtube and Google, past your Comcast and your AT&T, past all the tea-idiots, and reprobates, and demagogues, past all the tv drugs they feed you to stay numb…. I don’t know how, with all that reckoning that will assuredly come to you, some people sleep at night.

And they use my tax dollars to kill people of color.

To exterminate people.

I have a problem with that.

I have a real, real problem with that.

They are blowing up the idea of sanctuary and difference and choice and self rule, not just for some distant them, but for us. How many people are you going to let them kill, before you realize the liberties you are sacrificing are ultimately… your own

To ‘them’ the constant foolish them, who play their fathers’ stupid games, of divide and conquer, of Manifest Destiny, I just want to say this to you:

It is on the wind, your demise, and the demise of all your works. And the harder you try to stop it, the faster you’ll bring it on.

A reckoning is coming, in the name of all those places you’ve fed to the dogs, in order to squeeze more tribute and control out of your huddled masses, yearning to go unnoticed.

I saw the signs, coming from the east, taking root in the west.

Reckoning and Liberty.

True Liberty.

And your folly shall be its foothold.

“And the rock cried out… ‘No hiding place!'”

THE POINT OF NO RETURN or All I Ever Knew of God REVISITED

This is a post first published over two years ago.

It got a couple hits recently.

I read it, having not read it in over two years… and I thought it said things that still need saying.

And I think it manages… to still say them well.

I don’t recycle posts, as I’m long-winded enough, and insane enough that I always have topics for my rage or my reason. But this post seemed… especially timely to me, and worth the limelight… one more time.

Without further ado:

I’m not a fan of profanity, be it the n word, c word, b word, whatever. I don’t have a knee jerk reaction to profanity, I just think your language defines you and yours, and sometimes it traps… you and yours.

So that said, I’m not a huge fan of rap.

More precisely, I don’t like what it has become. I don’t like hip-hop. I don’t like this glamorization of ignorance, this pretense of hardness by too many men who own nothing.

Not even themselves.

You want to be a tough guy. You have a wife, you love her till the stars go dim, you have kids… you raise em right. You teach them to walk with their head held high.

You do this, you do these things, in this world… where you can be broken for walking out your door, if you can do these things in such a world.. that makes you a tough guy. How well or how badly the women in your life live, mothers, sisters, wives, friends, daughters… these things define a man.

Not simply screaming, not cursing,not defiling… but striving, sometimes crudely, sometimes failingly… toward something better for you and yours, in a world that is increasingly not about better.

Those definitions of “tough guy” and “man” are hard ones, and I have met very few, myself included, who rate them.

But sometimes the attempt is enough, the striving earnestly toward those ideals…the striving even though victory not promised, and defeat virtually assured. The attempt to succeed, even when every day you fail… has value.

Once upon a time, rap was filled with men, with tough guys who screamed… for the love. BDP, PUBLIC ENEMY, PARIS, ERIC B, TERMINATOR X, even NWA. And of course the fathers of Rap, men like THE LAST POETS and GIL HERON.

But that was when rap was coming from the streets, rather than the board offices of SONY and TIMEWARNER. Corporate mobs who promoted their Gangsta Rap to the exclusion of all else, who take every virtue and twist it till it’s a vice.

That is America defined.

It is that place, where all virtues are twisted until they are vices.

Blues and Rock, vilified colored music, until they could paint it white… and sell it… and call it Elvis. Rap, same thing. Vilified urban music, until they could paint it white… and sell it ….and call it Eminem.

They can replicate the noise, but somewhere the heart is lost.

They, commercial America- the sellers of standards, have a way of only glorifying the worst.

It really is, about co-opting and corrupting any positive movements… before they can grow.

Which is why more people know the name Eminem than Paris, know Rocky than Joe Frazier, know Arnold Swarzenegger than the man he executed… Stanley Tookie Williams; because America is that place where they sell the lie, when the truth is the wrong color.

So the best stuff in America, will never make the top 40 in America. They don’t play it on the radio, or show it on the TV, or teach it in the schools.

The best stuff in America, the worthy stuff, the positive stuff, you have to hunt for, but it’s worth the hunt.

So I hate Sony Rap, and Time Warner Rap, and Corporate America defined rap. But I love real rap, rap about waking you up, from pervasive nightmares. Conscious rap. Spoken Word. Hip Hop. Call it what you will. I love the people who are still making it, people who are out their… still screaming…”WAKE UP!”

A few that you won’t hear on the radio, but you really should do everything in your power to hunt up, are:

PARIS of course, anything by this soldier, this… prophet of rage. Who for three decades… has held the line. Has held the goddamn line. His DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is one of the great albums of all time.

The usual suspects of Public Enemy, BDP, mentioned above. Also Rage Against the Machine.

And one I want to introduce you to is IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE:REVOLUTIONARY VOL II. I picked it up because of Mumia Abu Jamal, his words on it.

I love courage in people, I love people who speak to you in these volatile times not of sneakers, or cars, or hos… but of volatile times. This CD all the songs are good, some better, some worse (again I can only deal with so much profanity), but there is one song… that is exceptional. And it is worth having the CD for this single song.

I know when I hear something great, and something true, because we live in a nation and a world, where both greatness and truth… are endangered commodities.

So when I hear them…

When I hear these disused concepts… combined… it’s a beautiful thing. I get chills. I listened to THE POINT OF NO RETURN the first song on this CD, the song in question, … and it gave me chills.

I love people who will rage, RAGE…not against you,but FOR YOU! Who will bleed their guts out, rip their flesh off, for the mildest hope… that they can save you, that they can… wake you up.

A lot of people talk about God, and those who talk about him the most, typically know him the least.

Bible thumpers give me a swift pain, I’ve never met one who didn’t lie himself to sleep.

All I’ve ever known of God, any real proof, comes from people who are always outnumbered and always outgunned. Comes from the voice of… sinners and saints. And whether it’s a 16 year old Palestinian girl eulogizing friends who blew themselves up, because their death was all they had left to fight with,… or a man on death row, for not sitting down…. still standing up, or young men on a mic who have watched their neighborhoods become occupied cities and decide to speak against it… whoever the voice comes from, when it’s both great and true… it brings me to my knees.

And those are moments when I believe in God.

That some people, can go on in a world such as this… and still care so deeply, about anything. Those are moments that spur you to want to make a difference, be a better man, make a better world.

Give you the desire to fight hard… one… more…. moment.

That for me, is all I know of God.

And those moments are rare things. And listening to this song was one of them.

I had thought there were no more prophets of rage.

I have never been so glad to be wrong.

Pick up the CD, listen to the song, and if it gives you chills. Share it with a friend, and make your world a better place.

Try.

Today’s Recommended Music: Quincy Jones THE SOUNDTRACK YEARS! 60s & 70s

When not… raging against the dying of the light, I enjoy the simple pleasures… like any other son of Africa.

One of those pleasures of late… is music, specifically instrumental soundtracks with a heavy funk/jazz vibe… and even more specifically, the early soundtracks of Quincy Jones.

QJ-MellowMadness
I mentioned the IN COLD BLOOD album a few posts back. Well since then I have managed to get my hands on that 1967 record (My criticisms of Ebay aside, it can at times come in handy for buyers. Particularly for items like IN COLD BLOOD which are not available on CD) and the kindest and most succinct way to summarize my reaction to that 40 year old album is… it blew my mind.

I mean the sample of the IN COLD BLOOD title track, that I had heard on a music podcast (that started this whole soundtrack obsession. Thank you Ratso for making me broke! Proof positive that letting people share music actually HELPS sales!) had prepped me for the album to be good, but I didn’t dare to hope the whole thing would be great.

And it is. The IN COLD BLOOD soundtrack is a remarkable achievement that sounds devastating, inventive, original and ahead of its time today, so I can’t quite put in perspective what it must have been like hearing this score for the first time in 1967.

I can’t imagine it, back then, not winning Quincy Jones a nomination (which it did), and more deservedly the Academy award.

It is a brief album, I forgot the tight and effective pacing of LPs in the days before CDs. The score comes in at well under 36 minutes total.

But what a half hour.

All I can say is… once the album was done, I immediately had to listen to it again, and again. That is the sign of a masterfully constructed album.

Now those praises heaped on this album, there are some downsides. While I have a very pristine album copy and the sound is great, this soundtrack is too important and too good not to get remastered and made available on CD; because while I respect and admire Mr. Jones’ staggering accomplishments and body of work to date, for me… these early instrumental soundtracks are (excuse my slide into 70s speak) where it’s at. 🙂

I mean I will not be surprised if my greatest audio discovery of 2009 turns out to be a 40+ year old record called IN COLD BLOOD. It is that brilliant.

However that raises other problems. Jazzed by the BLOOD score, I went looking for other early Quincy Jones scores. Let me tell you right now… a cheap past-time that is not.

QJ-HeatNight
And so far what I’m finding is the other scores while good, and in places brilliant can not hold a candle to IN COLD BLOOD. Now I say that having only tried DOLLARS and THE LOST MAN. A lot of people praise those two scores, but I was underwhelmed, particularly by DOLLARS. Your mileage may vary.

But as I said, I’m still waiting to receive THE PAWNBROKER, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THE SPLIT, and THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS soundtracks (CD when available, LP when not).

I’ve sampled online some of his THE SPLIT soundtrack and that one I think may be up there with IN COLD BLOOD, also i’m hearing good things about the THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS score. So I’ll offer my take on those scores when they come in.

In addition researching Quincy Jones’ early soundtrack work has also put on my radar some of his early jazz albums as well as soundtrack albums by other composers. What can I say… I’m a compulsive dude, I can latch onto a few passions to the exclusion of pretty much all else. I can go years without watching tv or reading comics, and then something will launch itself on my radar and suddenly I’m consuming years worth of DVDs and Comics in weeks.

Currently I’m in my music phase, with a side compulsion in books. And boy is my wallet not happy with me. 🙂

Anyhow to help you also get in on this soundtrack kick (hey why should I be the only one going broke) I’m going to direct you to a few nifty links:

So who is this Quincy Jones cat?

Well for those of you asking that question, or for those just seeking more info, SOUL WALKING has put together a pretty darn comprehensive page, on the living legend that is Quincy Jones. Check it out here!

Now that you know who the man is, I guess you want to hear a little bit of what he brings to the table.

Well it just so happens that DJ Spinnas has put together a pretty awesome tribute/mashup to the work of Quincy Jones. You can check it out here!

It’s exceptionally well put together, though if I had to fault it for anything it is a little too heavy into Quincy’s later vocal collaborations, which is really not my cup of tea. Just stick to the crazy instrumentals and I’m there. But my personal bias aside, it is brilliantly done… and definitely recommended!

Moving on, here are two places that review soundtracks and records, I generally think their reviews are whacked 🙂 (I’m joking– not!), but both are expansive sites and quite informative, so check it out for yourself:

BLAXPLOITATION

WARR

If you can’t find the CD/record you are looking for through the usual suspects, you may want to give the following sites a look. I have not done business with them yet, so can’t speak on that, but what I can say is the below sites are a joy to browse though and offer detailed info on the products, and include sound clips. They had me at hello. 🙂

The sites are:

MOVIE GROOVES

and

BUY SOUNDTRAX

and

DUSTY GROOVE (doesn’t offer sound-clips unfortunately, but their excellent reviews help make up for it)

Well that’s it folks, you’ve been turned onto IN COLD BLOOD and been given places to learn, hear, and ultimately purchase more. So without further ado kiddies go out there and… listen.

Till next time… be safe, be free. And if you can’t be both, choose the latter. 🙂 .


LAST MINUTE EDIT: Wanted to give some love to another Soundtrack Review site, perhaps “THE” Soundtrack Review Site, SCORE BABY! Just a stellar site from bottom to top, and if it doesn’t spur you to purchase copious amounts of soundtracks, than you have more willpower than I do. 🙂 Swing by here to take a look!.

And tell them HT sent you!

Catching Up #2: All I ask of Music, is that it Astonish me…

normal_la-vague

When it comes to music, I’m willing to try diverse genres. All I ask of music is that it… astonish me at its best, entertain me at its worst.

2008 I really had no musical discoveries. Unlike 2007 when quite a few artists came on my radar, among them Otis Redding, Immortal Technique, Solomon Burke, Mark Gross, and Terry Callier, as well as several local artists. (do a search to your right there, you’ll find the musical review posts I did on these guys).

2008 Found me in Cali, for the bulk of the year, and really pretty adrift as far as the musical scene was concerned. Being back on the east coast in 2009, one thing I hope to do is put more effort in going out and finding local and national acts to hear. As well as just doing the web surfing and CD buying to broaden my horizon about what is on the musical front for 2009.

Brief aside, there was one musical discovery of 2008, I brought back from the West. My supervisor at the time, Dylan, turned me on to this musician, Charlie Terrell. He let me listen to his cd: ON THE WINGS OF DIRTY ANGELS. Really good stuff. Particularly ‘Right Outside’ grabbed me from the first listen. Just a fantastic song, lyrically strong, and it stays with you. Reminiscent in a good way of Everlast at his most haunting.

I can listen to ‘Right Outside’ all day long. And for me, that is the definition of a masterpiece.

Go to his site here, sample the music, and when you see I wasn’t steering you wrong, buy a CD from him. Support the art. Support the artists.

Getting back to 2009, again I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time at Archive.org. An old site, to bring into a discussion of new music, but that site is really turning me on to musicians I would otherwise not have heard of. And i’m determined in 2009 to pick up what remains of their CDs.

Currently I’m on a hunt for a lot of colored music from the 1910s, 20s and 30s, the music that grew out of the latter days of Vaudeville (Vauldeville tracing its roots from the late 1800s) that would become widely known, as Folk, Blues, Jazz, County.

Vaudeville, contrary to the bigoted piece of crap that is the first sound film… THE JAZZ SINGER (if you want my rant on hollywood and racism, go back a few posts), was more than untalented white performers in black face, it was actually quite a haven for diverse groups, including colored musicians and artists. Names like Eubie Blake and Lucille Hegamin cut their teeth in the Vaudeville of a young, untamed America.

Often the colored acts were the most popular acts of the day.

However being successful and Black in the early days of the 20th century, is not much different than being successful and Black in the early days of the 21st century. There are wolves waiting to take it away from you.

The very success of people of color in Vaudeville, was responded to with the Minstrel show. Basically it boiled down to not-that-talented white performers, who decided to parody the colored singers they could not out perform. And black face/the minstrel show was born.

So Vaudeville went from what was a real talent revue show, to largely a lowest common denominator circus. With the added benefit of driving out of Vaudeville, the very musical acts that had marked its finest moments.

Luckily some of these acts, such as Lucille Hegamin, landed on their feet and found their way on to the club circuit. And some, a very few, found themselves at the dawn of this newly minted century, immortalized in wax. The age of the mass-produced record, had arrived.

I’m going to keep all the artists I’m discovering from the dawn of the 20th century, under wraps, as I’m still waiting on some of their CDs to arrive. They are getting scarce.

But there’s this fantastic line by the great Ishmael Reed that sums up this period of time, and the musicians who bestrode it like Gods and Demons. It’s from his novel MUMBO JUMBO.

‘1920. Charlie Parker, the houngan (a word derived from n’gana gana) for whom there was no master adept enough to award him the Asson, is born. 1920-1930. That one decade which doesn’t seem so much a part of American history as the hidden After-Hours of America struggling to jam. To get through.’

If you don’t read Ishmael Reed or Charles Johnson don’t speak to me of American literature. Because your frame of reference… is lacking.

Charles Johnson’s THE MIDDLE PASSAGE, comes to mind. I’ll stack it up against all contenders. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, etc. And the fact that that particular book isn’t required reading in schools, says a lot about why more colored kids are in prison than in school. The lies of the latter (‘the miseducation of the negro’ as it’s been termed) just prepares them for the former.

Yes, I do like tangents.

Okay back to music for 2009. Actually… not. We’re out of time for this installment, so catch me next time, with CATCHING UP #3. Till then, be safe.

p.s. This week’s picture is from the fantastic and scarce French art book CARLOS SCHWABE. An artist of the late 19th/early 20th century who worked in a baroque fantastic style. One of the lesser known, but most fascinating artists of the Fantastic.