Monday, April 18, 2005


Night Ranger - "Sister Christian"

Dad: Sounds like Elton John. This kind of strictly "Top Forty" radio fodder makes me want to change the channel.
Mom: One thing I can say in favor of this song, it was perfect for "motoring" down the highway. It's good traveling music and gives you a nice power boost. Plus there's a good message in the song; that there's lots to do before you go. It seemed like music I knew; like an old, comfortable shoe.

My friend Diana and I couldn't get over the lyric where they say "finding Mr. Right;" that sure is an ancient line!
Sis: This shows up on easy listening stations. Cloying and far too "eighties" for my tastes.

Buy "Night Ranger's Greatest Hits" from Amazon.
It's hard to argue that perennial punch line Night Ranger was ever more than a band in the right place at the right time. Between '83 and '85, Ranger's overblown "boy-gets-girl-on-foggy-street" videos were in HEAVY ROTATION on an MTV channel desperately hungry for grist. "Sister Christian" was the band's only US top five single (peaking at number five); the band never saw a top five album. Where Night Ranger excelled was in sales; the band has sold over eleven million albums worldwide over the course of their career. Perennial bridesmaids and tour horses, the Ranger was an opening act for groups as disparate as Santana, Judas Priest and the Doobie Brothers, before disbanding in 1988. The band reformed in the early 90's and released a new album as recently as 1997. They continue to tour and have gained eternal purchase in the hearts of drunken karaoke singers everywhere.
Visit the website of Brad Gillis, Night Ranger's original lead guitar (dig that animation on the top left corner of the site!!!) and read this extensive interview with Gillis.
In all fairness, Gillis comes off as a very nice guy.
Read this ecstatic '99 Night Ranger concert review from "Dawgeers".
" 'Sister Christian' is about (drummer) Kelly (Keagy's) sister (Christy) growing up in a small town in Oregon, and on the weekends they'd be cruising, or motoring -- you know [he sings it]: "Mo-tor-in'." So that's what it's about.
Apparently, the song was originally called "Sister Christy".
And now you know... the rest of the story.


Rufus Wainwright - "Little Sister (Live)"

Dad: Have mercy! The piano is awful!
If this is what rock and roll has been reduced to, thank goodness for old records.
Mom: This is embarrassing. It sounds like a bad college piano recital, itchy and twitchy. His voice is so dull and droning and doesn't have any fullness to it.

Is this a joke? You think that he's just goofing? "Jusssssss" for awhile? No, sir! Breathe! Stop! Punctate! Throw a blanket on it!
Sis: John, you turned me on to Rufus Wainwright; did I ever thank you for that? He’s one of the few ‘moderns’ that grabs me. His lyrics tend to dart off in unexpected, thoughtful and bizarre directions. I haven’t listened to too much of his work but from what I have heard, he’s got a quality that suggests he really puts his heart and soul into making music and puts his heart and soul. It’s not the sort of thing I usually go for, but I find it somehow moving.

I sure would like to see him live.

A fine point that none of my family noticed is that the opening piano line on "Little Sister" is a near mirror-image of the opening to "Sister Christian".
Eerie, no? Coincidence?

This live bootleg track is unavailable commercially; the studio version shows up on Wainwright's new album "Want Two", which I've yet to buy.
I can strongly recommend that you invest in a copy of Rufus' second album "Poses".
You can buy a used copy at Amazon for less than five bucks.
Visit Wainwright's official site.
Read this recent interview with Rufus.
Rufus' attempt to paint himself as some sort of martyr for the gay rockstar lifestyle has understandably put some distance between him and his fan-base; I find his "poor me" rants a bit silly. It's not like you ever heard Mick Jagger bitching about being cast into a "hetero hell".
Well, maybe that's a poor example.


Ray Miller and His Hotel Gibson Orchestra - "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"

Dad: "Sister Kate" was written by jazz pioneers Clarence Williams and Armand Piron. This version, recorded in Chicago in 1927, isn't bad.

Miller was a white drummer and dance band leader. I've seen his '78s but honestly never bothered to give them a listen.
Mom: Both thumbs up for this slice of pie that got my feet dancing and me humming. This type of music reminds me of that band, the Squirrel Nut Zippers? Remember them?

This even sounds like a shimmy. Shimmy, Shimmy Bop. (I ask Mom what her favorite instrument on the song is.) My feet. You're part of the song; it doesn't push you away. It's like a picnic or a bandstand or a community; it draws you in.
Sis: This represents something of a stylistic shift even in this varied compilation, but I can get to Hot Jazz too.

The track is swinging but I just got into the Olympics’ version of “Shimmy” and, to be honest, the Olympics’ rock n’ roll sound is just more to my taste.

Buy "The Ray Miller Orchestra: 1924-29", a 24 track disc that covers the Orchestra's glory years, from World's Records.
Listen to dozens of track from Ray Miller's Orchestra and read an excellent and comprehensive overview of the band and the members, courtesy of Red Hot Jazz.
Read this interview with "Carl Fenton" the nom-de-plume of the recording director for Brunswick, Miller's label throughout the twenties.


"Mom's Cancer" was nominated for an Eisner; go read it before they take it down.
Get Perpendicular!: Excellent Hitachi corporate viral/Schoolhouse-Rock rip with the additional benefit of explaining technology that will likely grant us MASSIVE portable music players in the near future.
Shynola's E-Pro video for Beck is as enjoyable and innovative as anything I've seen this year.
W. Earl Brown is my new hero; Dan Dority is one of the reasons I have cable now. I love that he used to be a bouncer; I feel like I went to high school with this guy.
Earl! C'mon over! We love you here! We'll hook you up with music!
The Biggest Summer Movie of the Year is About to Break Down the WALLS!!(WMV. file)
More info here.

So how's the fund raiser going?

ummmm... slowly?

For those of you that consider my begging to be a bit outside the lines and potentially inflammatory to the recording industry, may I point out that of the nine people who HAVE contributed, three are affiliated with music labels and one is a professional musician?

You can read more of my justifications over here. Again, if you can spare the change and if you feel that I'm doing good work over here, I'd be very grateful for your support.

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