Season's Gratings

On the day before holy International Western Commerce Day (Xmas), I awoke with undigested La Tolteca burrito bits glued to my face and hair whilst my head was aswim in Canadian whiskey murk courtesy of Marty, my jolly/drunken new neighbor from Canada. The previous day (December 23) was to have been the birthday of a once dear friend whose body just recently decided to call it quits--and the reason I was caked in my own pungent gak. Why must one, like my deceased pal, who defined the term "sweetheart," die, while others, like the abominable Emilio Estevez, or worse, Axl Rose, continue to eat, sleep and crap?

And today, January 5, more death ensued when the guy who once took to doing lines of blow, then slapping Cher around, and who altered my life forever with the AM staple "Needles and Pins"--the very one whose surname became His Name in U2--was killed by a tree dressed in white. (Maybe it's a serial-killer tree, a loner dedicated to its mother, with a kiddy-tree porn habit; maybe it's the same one which recently knocked off yet another Kennedy; perhaps, even, it was the leafy one on the grassy knoll that fired the mystery bullet that had Oh Jackie scrambling across a convertible's trunk for hubby Jack's hood-bouncing head goop.)

All death digressions aside, what's a New Year's Eve all about? Joy? Nah. Rebirth and hope? Nope. Happiness? Huh? Redemption? Repetition? Maybe.

And what of the resolution-list-making dorks of Amateur-Drinker Status whose fierce sense of social denial and satellite-dish dreaming breeds refusal to pull their fingers from their widening asses and acknowledge the slow sinkhole? Whose usual night's entertainment is a TV flickering celebrity vanity and faces of local newscast hams, and whose New Year's Eve Nite Out does nothing but cram bars with artificial mirth and streets with DUI cops-as-Texas Rangers leaving booze fear in their wake and us true drunks shakin' like whores in church.

Happy Suburban New Year! And I say, Blah!
Beyond my usual scribe of spiritual/economic hopelessness and pints of proletarian liver-pickler, I can see in this grand new year we are nothing if not another year older, deeper in debt--in fact, likely backpedaling--and having jack's shit to show for It All. And as I began yet another day of another inconsequential year with a healthier sense of the misanthropical being I am discovering myself to be, I say: Tra la la la la. I'll stay in bed like I usually do with the covers pulled up and over, listening to the Ramones: "Nothin' to do, nowhere to go."

Rick James
Urban Rapsody
(Mercury/Private 1)

Aside from the Artist Formerly Known As ?/Barry White/Snoop kypes, this set of unintentional self-parody sounds (and reads) like a Saturday Night Live skit: A Superfreaky funk-stah gets wronged, jailed, then paroled three years later and emerges 12-Steppin' clean with a woe-was-me vengeance and a new recording stuffed with self-glorified lyrics, absurd sense of romantic macho drama and spiteful liner notes. Yeah, and like . . . we're supposed to feel sorry for him?

On "So Soft So Wet," Centaur James prefaces his sexist squack with this tryst of jail-cell cocksure: "My woman had just sent me these very sexy pictures. I didn't want 2 jack off, so I decided to write my feelings out." Hee hee hee hee.

What follows is a Me-So-Hornyesque sample of moans and groans over bad, gener-O funkgroovesexangst with this chorus: "So soft so wet/So soft so wet/Baby funk me."

Oh, please!
Elemental pettiness makes for complex song and text, proven here when stretched to include a dissing of Teena Marie after she failed to make good on a promise to lend her vox on the recording of "Never Say You Love Me." In that song--set to a boring two-chord back 'n' fro bass and keyboard sway--James makes Ms. Marie a fictional lover who comes crawling back on her knees beggin' for Rick's luvvy-duvvy, to which he replies: "I never want to see your face/This is finally the end/And I never want to hear you say you love me again."

Yet perhaps even more stomach-churning are the booklet notes accompanying "Somebody's Watching You" in which Mister Freaky whimpers: "When I was in Fulsom the CO's tried to make my life hell. Especially the punk-ass bitches in my building where I was housed. . . . Shift after shift I'd have to deal with their silly bitch-ass attitudes. Always watching me, wanting to be the first to say 'I got Rick.' It became a slogan around prison. . . . This is dedicated to all you pigs." Uh, HELLO! Sir James, ol' buddy, ol' pal. Whaddya want, all of us to mourn for you? Ya want our sympathy? Uh, HELLO! You were in jail for holding a girl hostage in your house, then raping her and burning her with your stinkin' crack pipe! Jesus fucking Christ! HELLO! Wake up. That is an intolerable sin against mankind, and you're insanely lucky to be out and about gettin' record deals an' shit! And ya claim that'cha avoided the hiney roast-a-roony in jail? But did ya really? Did ya really avoid the old punk derriere-dive? Only the jailhouse "punk bitches" know fer sure. Yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk.

Air Supply
The Book of Love
(Giant Records)

The Book of Love's album cover depicts morbidly vegetated Air Supply founders Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, relaxed on a hillside in the middle of Utah (?), enjoying nature's beauty and mutual love of mankind and all things serene and gentle like they found The Secret. The insert booklet photos are rife with the same reverent, self-satisfied, turd-devouring grins and honed, homeopathic horseshit.

And even worse is the listen: "Let's Stay Together Tonight" is an airy, gramps-in-luv confessional in which strings are keyboards are guitars are flutes are whatever are . . . zzzzz, and it ticks in at a full seven-plus minutes, while "Once" is too "contrite" fer lyrics (and melody), so they left it word-free, guaranteeing yet another good night's rest.

But the best laughs come in the press-kit bio in which Graham and Russell are said to have seen a lot of new fans of late (pure hogwash: When was the last time they fuckin' toured?), "particularly young women who enjoy the great romantic classics and who love the band's spirit of inclusion and respect." Huh?

Uh-oh. Mothers, lock up yer daughters, 'cause it ain't Hanson ya gotta worry about; it's old men Air Supply, and they're comin' to yer town soon!

Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings
Struttin' Our Stuff
(Velvel Records)

Speaking of pedophiles and whatnot, how about the second guy who quit the mighty Stones and lived? Boy Howdy, I'll tell ya, them Stones guys are losin' their touch, leavin' survivors hangin' around and such. Too bad. If only Lord Jones and Lady Pallenberg were still screwin' and gettin' caught with drugs in Spain and makin' a mockery of cops and high-rankin' UK officials, then maybe rock 'n' roll would be, uh . . . somethin' . . . maybe real? Whaddya thinks?

Ain't ya sick-ta-death of buying into record-company mechanical marketing muck which insists they're hawking the Real Deal, but when ya lay out the $$$ and get it in yer room and let her spin, yer hopes of goose-bumped heaven are deflated by some crap-fisted shite merchant, a diametric opposite of what they had originally claimed?

On this recording, Bill Wyman sings a Creedence tune ("Green River") and covers such anomalies as "Tobacco Road," "Jitterbug Boogie," "Motorvatin' Mama" and others to an unforgivable new low ebb.

And, of course, geezers Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton (?) and Albert Lee play guitar on some, doing little to sweeten the character-free voice of old man bass. Oh, Brian Jones, will ya please come home? . . . Please?


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