Tea for the Bloggerman

T5AotW: Week 17
November 30, 2008, 9:56 pm
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Week Seventeen: November 30th

1. This Year’s Model by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
An all around good album. I like my Elvis Costello. He did wonderfully in the Stephen Colbert Christmas special, being eaten by a bear and all. Must’ve been hard work. This album is good but it gets repetitive after a while. I had it playing in the background at work. Pump it up.

2. H.A.A.R.P. by Muse
I love Muse. They’re one of the finest live acts out there. But I’m a little disappointed with this CD. While I believe it does show off a bit of their concert magic there is far too much crowd noise! Usually with live albums they cut that out so you can actually hear the band. If you want to hear what it would be like to be 50 rows back at a loud Muse concert, this is a good album. Little better than a bootleg, I’d say. And the DVD is atrociously shot. All that said, Muse is bomb. Matt’s guitar solo on “Supermassive Black Hole” is top-notch.

3. Up for Air by Joe Lano
I asked my guitar teacher Joe if he would give me a copy of one of his albums as I was curious as to what they sounded like. He’s been around, having played with Lena Horne and others for many many years. He said sure and asked the class how to burn a CD on his Mac. The following week he came in with probably 50 copies of this CD. This is an excellent CD, top-notch jazz. I played this for my boss, a jazz aficionado, and he was very very impressed. I don’t think I’ve heard better jazz guitar. Makes the abuse I get in class a little less painful.

4. London Calling by The Clash
One of my favorites. Can’t go wrong with The Clash. At around its third listen it gets a little repetitive. I also listened to this in the background at work so I have put that theory into practice, but it is still wonderful.

5. Reality by David Bowie
Bowie’s latest (2003) studio album and a great one. Not as great as the previous year’s Heathen, but still a wonderful collection of songs. From the rocking “New Killer Star” to the slow “Bring Me the Disco King,” there are very few low-points (read: “The Loneliest Guy”). Personal favorites on this album are “Never Get Old,” which I have listened to hundreds of times since getting the CD, and “Pablo Picasso,” one of two covers on the CD. The chorus to “Pablo Picasso,” after you look up the lyrics to make out the words, becomes irresistible to sing along to. Now, I’ve listened to this album maybe five times through this week and it has not gotten old yet. I guess there is truth to the song “Never Get Old.”


T5AotW: Week 16
November 23, 2008, 11:14 pm
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Week Sixteen: November 23rd

1. Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny
I’ve been listing to a lot of Pat Metheny lately. I love his guitar work (and I want his Pikasso guitar!). This is a very fine album, very peaceful. Accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: to render the Missouri landscape into music. Put this CD on on a quiet night, sit out on the porch, and watch the stars for hours on end.

2. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
Listened to this album twice in a row on Friday. First track to last. I talked about this one before so I won’t bother. However, it should be noted that the demo versions of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Lady Stardust” on the special edition CD are EXCELLENT.

3. Mr. Wizard by R.L. Burnside
Mentioned R.L. in my previous entry. This is one of his classic albums, a collaboration with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. A large number of blues standards (“Rollin’ and Tumblin'”, “Over the Hill,” “You Gotta Move”) made down and dirty by R.L. and company. Highly recommended.

4. The Stranger by Billy Joel
One of my personal favorite albums. I listened to this maybe five times all the way through this week. Great songs. “Movin’ Out” especially. I listened to the 7th track, “She’s Always a Woman” a large number of times only because the bookstore’s stereo was on “repeat” and I didn’t even notice. That song has some brutal lyrics. “And she’ll promise you more than the Garden of Eden/Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleedin'” Ouch. Billy and Elton John are going on tour together next year and I’m hoping to go. If the price is right.

5. White, Hot, and Blue by Johnny Winter
I listened to this album a few times at home after hearing about the death of Pat Ramesy, Johnny Winter’s harmonica player. A highly-skilled and innovated player. He will be missed. His harp work really shines on the song “Last Night” on the second side. As a matter of fact, the entire second side is wonderful. The second side includes Johnny’s covers of Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With the Kid” and Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do.” Great stuff, and so far not available on CD. Bought this at a used record shop in town (you can see the $3.99 price sticker still on it; I couldn’t take it off without damaging the cover).

Michael’s Used Books in Las Vegas
November 18, 2008, 12:24 am
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Time for a shameless plug! This is the store I work at and in all honesty I would rather spend my time here than anywhere else in all of sleazy Las Vegas. It’s called Michael’s Books and Movies and it’s on the northeast corner of Tropicana and Pecos. I recently started a Myspace page and a Facebook page for the store to try to get the word out so if you get the chance add us as a Myspace friend and/or a Facebook fan and support independent bookstores. Special 10% off coupon sent to all new friends and fans while supplies last! Here’s a little run-down of the store stolen from the Myspace profile:


Michael’s Books is located on the northeast corner of Tropicana and Pecos in the Big Lots shopping center, right next door to the Bank of America. Chosen as one of the top five bookstores in Las Vegas by Citylife, Michael’s Books has been proudly serving the literary needs of Las Vegans for over a decade. Please drop in sometime and browse our inventory, or just stop by to chat with one of our friendly employees. We have all kinds of books including popular fiction, romance novels, mysteries, true crime, classic literature, biographies, and non-fiction history/philosophy/religion/wicca/self-help/parenting/art books. In addition to books we also have a wide variety of movies on both DVD and VHS. Classic movies, drama, action, horror, westerns, something for everyone! And we can’t forget our fabulous selection of CDs and LPs. Classic rock, classic jazz, new age, classical, country, oldies, soundtracks, and more!

We look forward to seeing you in our store!

Michael’s Used Books
3430 E. Tropicana Ave. Suite 9
in the Big Lots shopping center
Las Vegas, NV 89121
Open Monday through Saturday from 10am-6pm

Now time for some links:

Michael’s Books on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/michaelsusedbooks

Michael’s Books on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Las-Vegas-NV/Michaels-Used-Books/45726446022

Vegasbooks (Michael’s Books’ Amazon.com account): http://www.amazon.com/shops/vegasbooks

Michael’s Books’ location via Mapquest: http://www.mapquest.com/mq/5-tQDYw8QHAeuAXvY4iKaC

T5AotW: Week 15
November 17, 2008, 1:22 am
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Week Fifteen: November 16th

Blues, Muse, and Huun-Huur-Tu!

1. Anthology of Muddy Waters
I can’t say anything about Muddy. Muddy is Muddy. If you haven’t heard Muddy, you should. If you have, then you know.

2. Harlem Blues by Satan and Adam
Satan and Adam, arguably the greatest thing to happen to blues in this generation. Satan and Adam’s music is pure, unfiltered street music. It started on the street and the street is everywhere in their music. They sadly do not play much together anymore due to Mr. Satan’s illness, but Adam Gussow has been doing so much for the blues community. He runs the Dirty South Blues Harp channel on Youtube where he offers free harmonica lessons, as well as http://www.modernbluesharmonica.com with some very cheap and highly detailed lessons. Revolutionized the playing of harmonica players all over the world, including myself.

3. Absolution by Muse
In my opinion, Muse will one day be considered one of the finest rock bands of the era. Think the Jimi Hendrix Experience smashed into Pink Floyd then dunked into a pit of despair. Everything about them is wonderful: the searing guitar work, the ghostly vocals, the vicious drums, the haunting lyrics. The songs mainly deal with the frailty of the human condition and humanity’s inevitable destruction. We are in a barred spiral galaxy and are being slowly drawn into a supermassive black hole. Songs to listen to are: “Apocalypse Please,” “Time is Running Out,” “Knights of Cydonia,” and…”Supermassive Black Hole.”

4. Come on In by R.L. Burnside
I love R.L. Burnside. The blues don’t git no dirtier than his. But this is a weird album. Even for R.L. This is a remix album, turning some of R.L.’s songs from classic albums like “Mr. Wizard” and “A Ass Pocket of Whiskey” and…takes a hammer to them. The end result is catchy, yet unfulfilling. The only exceptions would be the remix of R.L.’s rendition of the standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin” (done as “Rollin’ Tumblin'”) and “It’s Bad You Know,” which is basically a verse of “Rollin’ Tumblin'” mixed in with some harmonica and a loop of R.L. saying “it’s bad you know.” The song is on the Sopranos soundtrack and is featured in a new commercial for the Sopranos DVD boxset. It’s bad, you know.

5. Tuvan Throat Singing
I’ve been exposed to Tuvan throat singing recently and fell in love with it. Huun-Huur-Tu and Ondar especially. I also recently saw the movie Genghis Blues where blind blues singer Paul Pena travels to Tuva to participate in a throat singing competition. A very heartwarming movie, everyone should see it. R.I.P. Paul. Huun-Huur-Tu made a cameo in the movie and they also made a cameo in Las Vegas today, playing a black away from my house. What a show.

T5AotW: Week Fourteen
November 9, 2008, 5:04 pm
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Week Fourteen: November 9th

Tom Waits week!

1. Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
Almost universally hailed at Tom Waits’ breakthrough experimental album, Swordfishtrombones is an album where Waits almost completely discards his old crooner ways and embraces the Captain Beefheart inside us all. Despite its widespread popularity among Tom Waits fans, I really didn’t care for it all too much until recently. Sure it had a number of great songs on it, but I didn’t really get a good feel for what was on it. Well I gave it another listen this week and listened to some of the live versions of those songs on the Big Time album and I have to say I’m impressed. The title track, “16 Shells,” “In the Neighborhood,” “Shore Leave,” “Soldier’s Things,” and many more are classic Waits and I did not realize it until just recently. Wowie zowie!

2. Mule Variations by Tom Waits
One of Tom Waits greatest albums, by far. This album is monumental. Gargantuan. Magnificent. “Eyeball Kid,” “Come on Up to the House,” “Get Behind the Mule.” Lyrically stunning, musically unsettling. Rivals Rain Dogs for Waits’ best album.

3. Small Change by Tom Waits
Early Waits at his best. His second album, I believe. I got this record in a used music store in Montreal when I went up to see Leonard Cohen. $10 I think. There are some really beautiful songs on this album: “Tom Traubert’s Blues,” “Invitation to the Blues,” “I Wish I Was in New Orleans.” Tom Waits sang “Invitation to the Blues” at the concert I went to in Phoenix. Really opened my eyes to the sheer beauty of some of his earlier work.

4. Real Gone by Tom Waits
Tom Waits’ latest studio album and frankly it’s not that great. There are some great songs on the album, but there is also a lot of filler. “Day After Tomorrow” is the song that convinced me of Tom Waits’ genius, and that’s on here, as well as “Make it Rain” and “Hoist That Rag.” The rest is a lot of heavy percussion and Tom Waits beatboxing which is great but there sure is a lot of it.

5. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards by Tom Waits
Tom Waits’ latest release is a compilation of obscure soundtrack songs, covers, and outtakes but it is absolutely wonderful. Tom covers everyone from Leadbelly to Jack Kerouac to The Ramones, and is able to put a twist on traditional gospel songs that no one else could. Charlie Musselwhite’s harmonica moans beautifully on this collection, as it does on Mule Variations. Three discs of prime Tom Waits. What more can you ask for?

T5AotW: Week Thirteen
November 2, 2008, 6:44 pm
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Week Thirteen: November 2nd

Last night I saw the Experience Hendrix tour at the Palms. Almost four hours of blazing guitar stunt-work. Absolutely astounding. Here is a breakdown of the highlights from the show:

1. Billy Cox, bassist for Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys
Billy Cox was there to help shape Hendrix’s sound and he was there last night, bass-ing it up next to contemporary guitar giants. He provided vocals to a number of songs and created a very nostalgic aura for the show.

2. Hubert Sumlin, guitarist for the Howlin’ Wolf Band
77 year old Hubert Sumlin, who underwent LUNG REMOVAL SURGERY in 2004, was there, playing along with the guys from Los Lobos and Buddy Guy. A true blues guitar legend. He walked out on stage with a very humble face but a sharp wardrobe. Full suit and tie with a beautiful hat. He looked like a million bucks. His guitar playing has suffered a lot recently, and whenever he was given a solo the audience had to lean forward to hear him, but his presence on stage was enough to lure me into a standing ovation.

3. Jonny Lang
Jonny Lang only played about three songs but he put his all into it. Jonny is known far and wide for his guitar mastery, and he shattered the limits of the instrument with a searing rendition of “Fire,” but he is also a passionate vocalist. There is no halfway with Jonny. Either go all the way or don’t bother walking out on stage. He and the young man below will go down in the history books.

4. Kenny Wayne Shephard
Kenny Wayne Shephard stole the show! His set was about halfway through the event and when he was through nearly everyone in attendance was standing and roaring. Even though the first song he played wasn’t too impressive, he soon exploded with an impossible rendition of Voodoo Chile and Voodoo Child (Slight Return). Unbelievable. I don’t know how anyone’s hands could be that fast. If there’s going to be an heir to Jimi Hendrix this generation, it will be KWS.

5. Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy, the second coming of Christ, was a personal highlight of the show. His set was at the end and rightly so for they saved the best for last. Buddy is hilarious. During his personal set he didn’t even bother to play Hendrix, he just did whatever the hell he wanted to! It wasn’t until the last two songs when others came out on stage to ring him in and end with “Red House” and “Hey Joe.” Had no one told him otherwise, he would’ve played all night. Buddy was also one of the few people at the show to do any guitar tricks! Eric Gales in the beginning played behind his head which was impressive, but Buddy played with the guitar on his shoulder and rubbed the strings on his stomach and did a number of entertaining stunts. He was having such a good time he lost his place in the song a couple of times. It was wonderful. I’m so glad I went.