"Now, when you say that pizza comes with free coke, how much are we talking about?"
In a recent article in the Washington Post by Geoff Edgers, Eagles founding member Don Henley states in no uncertain terms that the band he formed in 1973 with Glenn Frey is no more.

This time, though, it isn't about "irreconcilable differences" or money, it is about paying proper respect to the man whose band it had always been and how Glenn Frey's passing this past January confirmed that in no uncertain terms.

"I don't see how we could go out and play without the guy who started the band," says Henley. "It would just seem like greed or something,"

Dear Don,

First off, just let me say that I've admired you from afar for quite some time. Of course, it has more to do with your successful, albeit underrated solo output than anything you've done with Eagles. I mention this to show you that I have absolutely no horse in this race and that I will more than likely not be there should the Eagles ever find themselves performing in Chicago again. Granted, this has more to do with my unwillingness to pay $350 or more for one concert ticket.

The idea that you suspect that we the fans might see it as desperate or greedy is, quite frankly, absurd. That ship sailed long ago and we the fans rarely stop to consider such things. Need I remind you that bands half your band's age are now touring the country with only one original member, or LESS! For a time, both Foreigner and Molly Hatchet were touring, quite profitably, with precisely no original members.



Additionally, the last time I did catch Eagles in-concert (the publication paying me to review the show popped for the ticket), I must say that I have yet to see an audience since that was as enthralled by what they were witnessing that I often found myself glancing back at the stage to see what I was missing.

Quite frankly, it sounds like you're giving more credence to the voices of the band's detractors than to those whose smiling faces you've been staring at every time your band hits the stage.

Continuing with Eagles would bring a ton of happiness to those people and, I think, to anyone who knows how much those songs and this band meant to Glenn.

Now, if you, yourself, are done with the band because, hey, you've given the best years of your life to this crazy business and you deserve to decide whatever the hell you do or do not want to do for whatever reason works for you, then that's perfectly acceptable and I wish you much happiness.

But if you and the guys want to play, don't let the voices of the "way things were" influence you so much so that the voices of the "way things actually are" are never heard.

See, it used to be a kiss-of-death to license your song for use in a TV show or commercial, but, as you well know, we live in a time when licensing your songs is almost the only way to get your music heard by a mass audience these days.

Similarly, the desire to relive our younger days has opened up a huge cottage industry of tribute acts that are now putting on stadium-sized productions to fill the void left by a beloved bands that, for whatever reason, can't bring themselves to give the people what they want.

So, would we the fans rather have the Eagles, albeit one man short, or a bunch of hokey tribute acts mining that territory to the tune of millions of dollars?

Granted, it's not always about money, but if thousands upon thousands are willing to pay good money to see a tribute act so they can get off on those songs again, then why not give them the real deal?

You may not be quite ready to hear this yet. Mourning is such a personal thing, I know, but I think you'll get there sooner than you think and I look forward to seeing you gaze out at all those shiny happy faces and say "Dammit, that fucker from The Shit was right."

And when you do...would it kill you to play "Dirty Laundry" because that, my friend, is still my fucking jam?

Take it easy,

Darren "The Shit" Robbins

Next time you're in the car with a group of friends, co-workers, or, I dunno, hitchhikers, play the song "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club and see what happens.

Chances are all conversation will come to a halt, a disco ball you never knew was there will drop from the ceiling, and everyone will come as close to dancing in their seats as humanly possible while the wheels of the automobile in question begin to float three inches above the ground.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for anything in the Talking Heads' canon; not "Once In A Lifetime", not "Psycho Killer", not even "Life During Wartime".

Sure, the Talking Heads had enigmatic frontman David Byrne to inject his unique visual presence and authoritarian angst into the proceedings, but, without him, the band's rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth would soar to amazing musical heights with much the same backing musicians appearing on record and stage with Talking Heads.

It's enough to make even the casual listener ask "Why didn't they just keep going as Tom Tom Club?"

After all, Talking Heads had all but broken up by 1981 after completing their touring commitments for their fourth studio album Remain In Light. More accurately, David Byrne had become disillusioned by the commercial expectations heaped upon the band and, at the same time, was enamored by ambient and world music genres.

While Byrne went off to record the sound of glaciers melting (My Life In The Bush of Ghosts) with Brian Eno and Jerry Harrison issued the straight-to-the-cut-out-bins The Red And The Black, Chris and Tina used their modest cache to rent out a hall in the Bahamas and let their funky freak flags fly.

At the time, this writer was but an innocent teenager viewing the progress of many a New York City-based band hailed by critics as the best thing since sliced bread and, to my ears anyway, the Heads were a damn fine funk band whose potential was continually stymied by a contrarian frontman more interested exploring the angular than the hormonal.

This is pop music, after all.


So it was with a certain amount of sadness that I read some years later that the success of Tom Tom Club had actually helped David Byrne see value in continuing with Talking Heads. Either that or the stunningly dull thud made by his and Eno's record hitting the record store bins and staying there had forced him to admit that he needed Weymouth and Frantz a helluva lot more than they needed him.

After all, the success of "Genius of Love" and "Wordy Rappinghood" had shown this husband-and-wife rhythm section that they could more than tread water musically and opened the door to potentially making this side project a full-time gig. Ultimately, though, with such success comes raised expectations and the need to make someone the focal point of the band. Perhaps, more than anything else, the disdain Tina may have held for being that center-of-attention led Chris and her to return to the comfortable confines of Talking Heads after two brilliant TTC albums.



In a brilliant stroke of perfect timing, during the entire three-year period the Talking Heads were on hiatus, MTV was not only born but grew rapidly into the monster that revitalized the music industry. This new, exciting visual phenomenon enabled David Byrne to guide the band to platinum status via a series of popular MTV videos that led to the landmark Jonathan Demme film "Stop Making Sense".

Of course, with the well-documented tensions between Byrne and the rest of Talking Heads these days, Chris & Tina have had all the time in the world to make Tom Tom Club their full-time gig, releasing the gritty funk-rock tour de force Downtown Rockers in 2012 and touring globally as recently as 2013.

Whatever the next chapter in the story of Tom Tom Club may hold, you can bet your ass it will be funky and that this writer will be there to cover it.

The British got...
It's hard to imagine a time or place in which a big-time record label would go anywhere near a band billing themselves as "Little Bo Bitch", but leave it to EMI subsidiary Cobra Records to do just that in 1979, signing the band and releasing their self-titled debut effort a few short months later.

First off, it is worth mentioning that the Brits obviously don't have the same hang-ups about the word "bitch" that we Americans do. So you can imagine the band's surprise when the U.S. office flat-out refused to issue the album Stateside under the name "Little Bo Bitch".


Now, call us crazy, but if we were running a huge conglomerate used to crossing its "I"'s and crossing its "T"'s, wouldn't we make it known to everyone everywhere that such things get run past the main office before an offer is even extended just so nobody accidentally signs a band called Isis or anything?

(Side note: there have been a fuck-load of bands named Isis over the years, which is now a total bummer for anyone who has ever been in one of those bands because what do you say when someone asks you what your band was called? How does one send copies through the mail without a snoopy mailman seeing the name somehow and running to the authorities?)



Long story short, the members of Little Bo Bitch settle on the name The Lonely Boys for the release of the exact same album in America. Now, it's one thing to alter your name a bit for the U.S. market - Yazoo/Yaz, Chameleons/Chameleons UK, etc., but Little Bo Bitch/The Lonely Boys is, well, a bit of a stretch.

You'd think the band would just change their name entirely for the sake of convenience, but they don't.

So, the end result of this stunning faux pa was that one band was now promoting the same exact album in two different countries under two different band names.

Does it comes as a surprise to anyone that both versions flopped, the band's label lost its funding from EMI, and the band literally broke up the very same day this news was delivered to them?

Lost in all of this is the fact that, beyond the name, they made an album of hard-edged melodic pop that stood as much of a chance of finding a mass audience as the Fabulous Poodles, Our Daughter's Wedding or Human Switchboard.

For this lifetime lover of lost musical causes, discovering a band like this after thinking we had completely strip-mined that territory is cause for rejoice because it gives us leads on other forgotten acts. The producer of the band's sole album, for example, was Andy Arthurs who, for a time, had the hot hand in London, producing 999, The Chords and Advertising, among others.

The name that most likely rings least familiar, Advertising, put out one album called Jingles that featured a guest production by Kenny Laguna, who was in the UK at the time looking for talent he could take back with him to the States.  Knowing what we know now, he wound up bumping into Joan Jett and the rest, as they say, is herstory.

Those wishing to dig even deeper can find a treasure trove of obscure pop from former Advertising singer Tot Taylor in the form of seven solo album issued between 1981 and 1999. all stunningly obscure but well worth the listen.

I know, I know, the only thing more potentially boring than Thanksgiving itself is a Top 10 List of the best Thanksgiving movies ever. Are there even ten thanksgiving movies to choose from, you ask?

Sadly, yes.

In fact, dig deep enough and you will come to realize that there is quite an assortment of movies that concern themselves with this particular holiday. There are even some stone cold gems among them, but also some truly horrendous excuses for film making. In fact, one in particular involves two of my favorite actors, Bryan Cranston (perhaps you've heard of him?) and Judge Reinhold, who teamed up in National Lampoon's "Thanksgiving Family Reunion" to bring new meaning to the term "It's a paycheck."

Ten minutes into the film, I'm screaming at the TV screen "Bryan, you don't have to do this, man! Five years from now, you become a total bad-ass!"

Even more cringe-worthy is the fact that it was made for television.

Others that did not make the list:

"Jack & Jill" (Wait, Adam Sandler wasn't nominated for an Academy Award? Shocking!), "ThanksKilling" (turkey goes on a human killing spree), "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" (sigh...), or "Scent Of A Woman", which was widely praised, but, to my eyes, was actually the moment Pacino jumped the shark. Every film he's done since has all but proven this.

Interesting that Al Pacino starred in two movies on the above list. Can you name the other without vomiting in your mouth a little? Hint: Pacino woos Adam Sandler in drag. Shudder.

On that note, we present to you our list of the 10 best Turkey Day flicks OF ALL-TIME (in no particular order):



10. The Last Waltz (1978)


Anyone surprised to see this movie on such a list should be reminded that this is a music publication, after all. Allusions to grandeur aside, this movie makes the list because of the loving, warts-and-all documentation of The Band's farewell concert, which took place on Thanksgiving Day 1976. The above video isn't just a clip, it's the entire film (uploaded in Oct 2016 and with less than 200 views).



9. Rocky (1976)

Being that today is the 40th anniversary of Rocky's initial release, many probably forget seeing Rocky as kids over Thanksgiving holiday of 1976, but it was that holiday box-office rush that ultimately put Rocky over the top. The making of the movie, as we now know, was as much a glorious rags-to-riches story as the film itself.

Rocky is so much more than a boxing movie. What truly makes the whole endeavor special (and applicable to this list) is how Rocky and the love of his life Adrian are brought together by Thanksgiving.



8. You've Got Mail (1998)

As with "The Last Waltz", that isn't just a clip, dat's the whole film, folks. As for this 1998 box-office smash, we're getting dangerously close to being 20 years removed from the precise moment when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were each at maximum adorability. This Nora Ephron rom-com completes the Hanks-Ryan trilogy (which also includes "Joe Vs The Volcano" and "Sleepless In Seattle") on a high note.

Has the movie aged well? Perhaps the better question is: Has anybody aged well?



7. Addams Family Values (1993)

If. like me, you haven't revisited either of the Addams Family films starring Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, and Christina Ricci perhaps you'll have cause to do so over the holiday season. In this sequel to The Addams Family (1991), you will no doubt delight in the chemistry between Huston and Julia (who would pass away a year later), but also in the devilish sabotage of a Thanksgiving recreation performed by Wednesday Addams (Ricci).



6. The Morning After (1986)

Imagine you're an alcoholic actress who wakes up Thanksgiving Day with a hangover. Oh, and a dead guy. Hey, who said there can't also be room for thrillers come Thanksgiving time and what better than this taut thriller from Sidney Lumet starring Jeff Bridges and Jane Fonda? is an all-but-forgotten gem that hasn't lost a step in thirty years. In fact, watch this film and you'll come to realize just how far movie-making has fallen off in that amount of time. By the way, this is the first of two films on this list featuring the late Raul Julia.



5. Hannah & Her Sisters (1986)

How does one succinctly describe a movie that, in the span of 106 minutes manages to introduce almost as many characters who each reveal themselves as the complex walking contradictions that they are and to feature not one but two tense and densely-populated Thanksgiving celebrations.



4. Dutch (1991)

Much of whether this film resonates with you may revolve around whether you're an Ed O'Neill fan or not. Those who would consider an actor who has played both Al Bundy ("Married With Children") and TV husband to Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family") more lucky than good might just have a change of heart after viewing this underrated 1991 flick that sees. The film, much like its own plot, begins to wear you down until you just can't stop watching. Did I mention that the film was written by John Hughes?



3. Grump Old Men (1993)

Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon rightfully enjoyed quite a career resurgence after the box-office bonanza that was "Grump Old Men", however, it is Burgess Meredith who is the star of this show. Sure, it may not be "Citizen Kane", but it is as much a guilty pleasure as anything you see on the table at Thanksgiving. Plus, the bloopers at the end (most featuring Meredith) are worth the price of admission.



2. Nobody's Fool (1994)

Paul Newman imbues ne'er-do-well "Sully" Sullivan with the age-worn bitterness of a man who, quite frankly, just didn't plan on living this long in this big-screen adaptation of Richard Russo's book of the same name. Don't just marvel at the stunning accuracy of their depiction of "the middle of fucking nowhere", but of the many colorful characters found within.

To a man and woman, the casting is impeccable; from Bruce Willis as the philandering Carl Roebuck to Melanie Griffith as his hot, but neglected wife, to Philip Seymour Hoffman as the officer who crosses paths with "Sully" one too many times. Newman's ability to crawl inside such a character and Sully, of course, rents a room from aging Jessica Tandy (in her final film role)




1. Planes, Trains, Automobiles (1987)

Take two cinema stars in their own right and team them up in a movie built on the premise of everything that can go wrong going dreadfully wrong. What if there's no chemistry?

Thankfully, when working with total pros like Martin and the late John Candy, the chemistry is as palpable as the mental image of John Candy's hand between two pillows that aren't pillows at all.

With the right balance of action, humor and "the touchy-feelies", director John Hughes' script literally jumps off the screen, creating a movie that holds up to repeat viewings..

Part of being one of those people who still insists upon writing about music is keeping up with new releases. That used to be a lot of fun back when all you had to do was, you know, go to a record store on Tuesdays. Nowadays, Tuesdays are meaningless in the music business, as is PAYING FOR MUSIC, but, even so, Sting's new album did not escape my watchful eyes.

See, I'm always on the lookout for anything that seems the least bit suspicious and, lemme tell you, the sight of Sting standing in the middle of a New York street with luscious, heaping handfuls of brown hair and a $2500 John Varvatos leather jacket set off a few alarms.

The album, 57th and 9th, is the long overdue return to rock for an artist who last tried to lull us asleep with, first, an album of lute music, and then with his ambitious stab at Broadway via "The Last Ship", More power to him, of course. He's proven since Dream of The Blue Turtles and breaking up the Police at the height of their popularity that he is free to do whatever the bloody hell he wants, but less and less of that has spoken to me or the millions of others who still went along for the ride anyway.



The release of this album tells us that this sentiment has finally reached The Ivory Tower and that Lord Sumner of Rockingham has finally seen fit to record the proper follow-up to The Police's Synchronicity that his surviving fans had almost given up on ever hearing.

I say surviving fans because, let's face it, none of us are getting any younger, the least of which being Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, whose talents could have been used to wonderful results here because, dagnabbit, this material is right in their wheel-house.

Ah, but Sting obviously felt more comfortable using members of the "Milquetoast Militia" (Dominic Miller, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Lyle Workman in addition to Josh Freese, whose youthful exuberance is his main selling point, and the Last Bandoleros.



And, even though this is a rock project meant to return Sting to the relevance of his heyday, the ever-esoteric Police-man couldn't help sticking in some Turkish zither. Sigh.

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" borrows heavily from "Message In A Bottle" that I half expect to see Sting sue himself before all is said and done. As listenable as it may be, hearing it makes this longtime Police fan wish Andy & Stew could have been involved.

"50,000" slows down U2's "Out Of Control" before the bottom falls out, allowing Sting's lower vocal range to dabble in Tom Waits-ian introspection. And then, BOOM, Big chorus strangely reminiscent of "Synchronicity II".

By "Down, Down, Down", the jazz-lite inflections begin creeping in and the themes become drenched in vanilla-based cliches.



I mean, does a title like "One Fine Day" fill you with any confidence that the song contained therein won't be a sappy string of well-worn romantic cliches meant for the closing credits of a third-rate rom-com? And when it winds up living up to your most jaded rom-com soundtrack cliches, it's not a horrible tune, by any stretch. If anything, it's just a song arriving 20 years too late to serve much of any purpose to anyone.

And therein lies the crux of Sting's musical existence, which, near as this writer can tell, has been run with the savvy of a marketing campaign with very little actual heart behind it for far too long.

In other words, "Give the people what they want" has not been a part of Sting's vocabulary.

So to see Sting put his Police hat back on without the other two members seems disingenuous, as if he wants all the Pro's that come with doing so, but none of the Con's that create the very tension that creates the many Pro's in the first place.

Now, see, I'm rambling now because, quite frankly, I'm afraid to listen to the album any further. I've read the credits, I know there is  Turkish zither on the horizon, just waiting to jump out at me and try to sell me on the idea of a Sting Turkish zither album for Christmas 2017.

"Pretty Young Soldier" begins with an unconvincingly psychedelic (think Harrison, not Hendrix) guitar riff that soon gives way to one of my least favorite Sting characters, "The Storyteller".

 "Petrol Head" digs in a little deeper, letting fly with a rootsier guitar lick, but the whole thing sounds like Sting asking Dominic Miller to be Buddy Miller when the guy he wants would probably work for less and inject more than enough heart into the sessions for three albums.

By the time you reach "Heading South On The Great North Road" and "If You Can't Love me", you'll probably have that same sneaky feeling as I that this album is now heading into the proverbial "seventh inning stretch".

Don't worry, he's got a big surprise for the fans to close out the record: a slowed-down live version of "Next To You" with The Last Bandoleros, who, it just so happens, will be joining Sting on his tour to promote this album.

So there's that to look forward to, I guess.

As for how this new Sting effort stacks up against the rest of his solo discography, the fact that he top-loaded it with his first real attempts at rock music since the '80s makes it his best solo effort by default, as I have yet to ever reach back for one of Sting's old solo album, yet I drag out Police albums all the time.

Whether you'll be pulling out 57th and 9th beyond the first two or three spins is something that only time will tell.

Meet Nick.

Nick is bored.

He's been playing guitar in traditional rock bands for years and wants to change it up.

Good thing Guitar Center is running an absolutely knock-out deal on a device that may look like something that the Simon people dreamed up, and then promptly discarded, but packs a monster musical punch.

What could I possibly be talking about, you ask?

Now, I dunno if you've picked up on this, but sampling has become so commonplace that just about every song on the top of the pop charts these days is either built around a sample or composed of many different sampled loops and one-shots.

And yet your band is still going out there every night and giving the people exactly what they wanted...thirty years ago.



Enter the Casio XW-PD1.

To those looking to shake things up a bit, for a measly Benjamin, you can get your hands on one heckuva gateway drug into the world of sampling with the eye on potentially finding a way to incorporate such technology into your act.

Let's say you're not a keyboard player, yet you've hammered out a song with a kick-ass keyboard part. Thing is, you're too busy being a bad-ass showman the likes of which this city has never seen that playing a tricky keyboard part would kill the booty-shakin'.

Sample your tax bracket-changing keyboard part into the sampler and, with the touch of a pad, trigger it onstage with a single finger! Problem solved.

Dig a little deeper and you'll see the Casio XW-PD1's compositional skills, enabling you to tweak arrangements on-the-fly without the need to click a mouse.

Still not convinced?

Okay, perhaps its time to tell you about the 200 different on-board special f/x options (more than Kaoss pads or Roland SP samplers) that can be utilized onstage by any band or performer.

Of course, nobody lays it all out for you better than Nick Koenig, a.k.a., Hot Sugar, whose music has appeared in Comedy Central series "Broad City".





When Nelly Furtado burst upon the scene in 2000 with her effervescent debut effort Whoa Nelly, the pop world was still very much in the throes of boy band mania, with the likes of Will Smith, Britney Spears, and Jennifer Lopez dominating the pop charts.

Compared to such artists, Furtado was a breath of fresh air, mixing acoustic folk elements with rapid-fire vocals that mixed jazz, rap and, scat influences. As a songwriter, Nelly fused mature introspection with youthful exuberance to create a sound that had critics and pop fans gushing in equal measures, which is no small feat.

Furtado, Canadian by way of Portugal, fought past early comparisons to fellow Canuck Alanis Morissette to establish herself as the logical progression of the Lilith Fair aesthetic; brash, sexy, and, most of all, smart.



Best of all, her "I'm Like A Bird" was one of the 31 songs British-author Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity", "About A Boy") lavished heaps of colorful praise upon in his 2002 collection of musical essays "Songbook" ("31 Songs" in the UK).

Hornby, of course, is beloved for the complexity he brought to the characters in his second novel "High Fidelity" years before Jack Black and John Cusack would bring two of them to life. Even more beloved than his characters, however, is his love of great music, both popular and stunningly obscure.



So the fact that he would be so moved by Furtado's song to include it among others by Aimee Mann, Paul Westerberg, Teenage Fanclub, Ani DiFranco, Springsteen, Dylan, was, to my eyes, the ultimate compliment and a sign that a special talent had truly arrived.

The release of her second album, Folklore, came in 2003 after the sale of her label, Dreamworks Records, to Universal Music Group. The change of regimes was a rocky one and Furtado's album was lost in the shuffle.



In hindsight, her "sudden" change in musical direction on third album Loose was hinted at quite openly in "Powerless (Say What You Want)", a song built upon a sample from Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals". Even so, the Nelly Furtado who sang "Promiscuous" and "Maneater" seemed to have all but abandoned her artistic leanings to go full J. Lo.

You can't say it didn't pay off, though, as Loose would go on to sell 12,000,000 copies around the world.


A second track from The Ride that debuted during 2016 NY Fashion Week

Top that, Taylor Swift.

Of course, since that success jettisoned Furtado into the rare air of the pop elite, her complete and sudden absence from the U.S. market for SIX YEARS no doubt played a role in allowing artists like Swift and Gwen Stefani (herself, an inspiration for Furtado's change in direction for Loose) to fill the void Furtado would have otherwise dominated.

The follow-up, The Spirit Indestructible, suffered from a questionable reliance upon R&B producer Rodney Jerkins (Pussycat Dolls, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston) to co-write the album and stalled at #79.

So, some could argue that Furtado's upcoming album The Ride (due March 2017), may be the follow-up to Loose that many of her fans didn't know they were waiting for, but this writer will go one step further based on the above sneak-peek of "Pipe Dreams" and say that The Ride might actually be the proper follow-up to Whoa Nelly! that fans have been waiting for since 2002!
Previous PostOlder Posts Home