NEW EMAIL from Readers:

 


OLD E-Mail

Hey Uncle Jim, its your nephew Kevin.  I went to see Weezer in concert on Friday and wanted to email you a review of it all. The night started with an opening band that I didn't really like called the start...my friend bought their CD and the people around us made fun of them so I don't think I was the only one not to like them. The next opening act was cold, who I do really like. They started playing their hit song "Bleed" when suddenly the lead singer said F*** you and walked off the stage. We later found out that someone in the floor seats threw something that hit him in the head. Finally around 9:30, Weezer came on. I thought they rocked! Everyone around us was really into it and everyone sang along. I love the energy they put into everything. The only downside was the lack of pyrotechnics but we realized later that they were inside an arena and that made it hard to use fire. The set was great and the whole show was a ton of fun! They walked off around 10:30 but came back on in about five minutes and did two songs, "Buddy Holly" and "Surf Wax America". I loved the whole show and they didn't disappoint in playing all my favorite songs of theirs. They played the new songs "Hash Pipe" and "Islands in the Sun" and their old hits "Buddy Holly", "Surf Wax America", "Undone the Sweater Song", and my favorite "In the Garage". Overall I give the show a 10 out of 10.

-Kevin

(Kevin, Thanks for the review.  I am currently listening to the new Weezer record, and can definitely say that Islands in the Sun is a song that easily outdoes all of the breezy, popular Sugar Ray and Third Eye Blind hits.  I always thought that Undone was a great song, although I never understood everyone's fascination with the Buddy Holly song.  And, what's with this Hash Pipe?  I am going to need to have a talk with your Dad.  

Anyway, it's better than seeing n*sync.)

 

B- ?!? (for Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger, in the grading examples on the Home Page.) Nirvana and Pearl Jam's greatest hits combined don't compare to this album. I have to agree 100% with the rest though. Where would U2's Joshua Tree stand? Any word on how the shows at the United Center went?

I know that Tool probably gets overlooked on your page. But, I'm curious as to your thoughts on their contribution to music today. With grunge all but gone, metal in a dismal state, and a poor offering from the hard alternative bands--Tool is remaining unique and fresh. I see them elevating from Marilyn Manson, Nirvana, and dare I say Ministry.  Not to mention that they sold out the Riv in about 5 minutes.

I think you and Steve should take the next step. Apply for a F.C.C. license and give this city a real radio station. Your library has to be double what most are playing currently.

Bryan (never Outshined)

(Bryan, I have to stand by the B-, but that could be a result of my lack of enthusiasm for metal-influenced music in general.  I love bands that bring the best of metal to indie, such as Nirvana did in updating the Pixies and Minutemen, or to dance music, the way Ministry did in updating New Order.  Soundgarden brought some great indie influences to metal music, but it is still too metal for my taste.  Also, Badmotorfinger could not sustain its strong start throughout the record.  However, it was real good to hear Rusty Cage and Outshined again.  Thanks for reminding me! 

As for Joshua Tree, I gave it an A.  The guitar intro on Where the Streets Have No Name is one of those signature riffs that always brings a thrill.  The songwriting is very consistent throughout the record and there are few bands that flat out play as well together.  Certainly, it is a classic record, and many will see it as the pinnacle of U2's career.  I know I am in the minority here, but I believe that the followup was even better. Rattle and Hum may have been a bit pretentious, but the combination of fierce live performances and studio collaborations with other musicians is terrific.  All I Want is You is a beautiful, heartbreaking finale to the record, and essentially a goodbye to that phase of U2's music.    See, you ask me about one record, and I can't help writing about another one!

We will get to the Tool record shortly. They certainly are one of the better and more legitimate of what little is left of the hard alternative bands. I've previously found them to be somewhat below the level of Ministry or Nine Inch Nails, but they at least aspire to that level of greatness, rather than being satisfied with their commercial success.

As for the FCC license, well, it would not take much to top the playlists of every commercial radio station I know of.  I'll get Steve to start the paperwork!  (You know he'll get right on it.)

Keep reading, and writing.

Thanks, Jim)

 Hey Steve,

The site is pretty cool, very diverse group of artists. Have to disagree with your friend's review of Dave Matthews though. I did tell you I didn't like the album but when he says, 

        "even great musicians (notably absent here)"

I had to write back. As a drummer, I must say that Carter Beauford is one of the best drummers around now. Other than that he was pretty on. Take care. Keep in touch.

Neil

(Jim replies - While I'm far from a Dave Matthews expert and I have high standards for drummers, I would agree that drumming is not a problem on that record. My comment there may have been the equivalent of "piling on.")

Just thought of a suggestion. Why not do a 'retro-review'. Rather than waiting for new, cutting-edge freebies to review, why not review some of your old favorites. You refer to a number of albums in your examples of your ratings, but no review to see why. I don't have most of the ones you refer to, so now I'm curious. Plus, I figured you have plenty of time on your hands, so it might give you something a little different to fill your time.

Or not.

John

(John, Another fine idea by way of Tinley Park!  Who says we don't listen to our readers?  See the review of Exile on Main Street on the New Retro Reviews page.   -jb-)

First off, I must admit I like the new format of your web site- you're getting good at this. Second, it just so happens that in the last month I purchased the new Radiohead, U2 and PJ Harvey cds- ironic. I am proud to say that I am in 99% agreement with the reviews (true, Radiohead's "Kid A" is not as good as "OK Computer" but should have rated an A-)..

Pete

(Pete, Welcome to Chicago; always good to have you weigh in.  At the time of the Radiohead review, I was torn between B+ and A-.  In the time since, I believe that the B+ was the right grade.  Splitting hairs a bit, yes, but the songs just are not up to the other fine qualities of the record.   -jb-)

Just read your first of the year offering. You're right, I have nothing else to do besides fret over Purdue's disappointment in the Rose Bowl. But, hey, at least it wasn't Northwestern! Anyway, I really liked Steve's review on the Waco Brothers (no pardon needed for the great opening line, Steve!).  I think I just might go out and buy me a new CD. But, being a Waco novice, I'll follow Steve's advice and start with Cowboy in Flames. Then again, maybe if I start with the lesser album, I can expect improvement with my second purchase?

John

P.S. Just can't resist those Sting zingers, can you Jim? I had to laugh.

(John,  Nothing like some more Big Ten disasters to kill off another year, huh?  Actually, the advice on starting with Cowboy in Flames was mine (I am the editor after all!) Steve told me that he thinks the new one may be more accessible for novices - I stick with my advice. -jb-)

Jim, 

Any thoughts on Rap? My son who is in eighth grade thinks he likes it. I have allowed him to buy some of the CDs (even though they may have parental advisory). I am trying to keep up with it and him, but boy I just don't get it! It all sounds the same (a bunch of noise and unrecognizable lyrics, except for the swear words). What the hell is a "slim shady" anyway? Usually each CD has about one catchy song on it and the rest of the songs suck. Can you recommend any decent ones?

Gene

(Gene, Rap is tough for me. I was a pretty big fan of eighties rap music, especially Public Enemy (very political and great production), Run DMC (fun), Beastie Boys, and NWA (the group that really started the heavy cussin'). But today, for the most part, I find rap very boring musically with lyrics that are only after shock value. There are artists, such as Common, who try to emphasize the positive from a lyrical perspective, but the music is still not my style.

But, of course, today's popular rappers, such as Eminem (Slim Shady) are not targeting you and me. They are after your son and other 13 -17 year old males. I hope they survive this, and go on to listen to really good music.  Although, I have to admit that Eminem's Stan is a pretty effective song, and he and Kid Rock are clever lyricists. -jb-)

 

Jim,

Most Influential Artists 

1. Chuck Berry 2. Elvis Presley 3. Little Richard 4. Bob Dylan 5. The Beatles 6. The Rolling Stones 7. The Who 8. Led Zeppelin 9. The Clash 10. Nirvana

2nd 10

11. Buddy Holly 12. The Beach Boys 13. Aretha Franklin 14. Stevie Wonder 15. Black Sabbath 16. The Allman Brothers 17. Bruce Springsteen 18. U2 19. Prince 20. Public Enemy

No question Chuck Berry. Elvis, you cannot deny his influence, maybe more from a popularity point of view than musically. Little Richard from a sound and style. Of course Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and The Rolling Stones belong. The Who, yes I am biased, but for good reason. They took a little power chord and a touch of feedback (in the mid '60s) and turned it into a sound that gave birth to punk, heavy metal, and grunge. Led Zeppelin inspired almost every band I did not like in the '70s and '80s, but they were an inspiration. The Clash over the Ramones or Sex Pistols, they raised the quality and power of punk. Nirvana, thank you, helped rid us of the bands Led Zeppelin inspired.

James Brown and The Velvet Underground were not included. I believe they were powerful and unique in their own way. But their sound was more their own and not so much a direct influence on others. This, of course, could be argued. But, I see a lot more of Little Richard's influence in Rock and Roll, even today, than James Brown's sound.

Steve

(Steve, We agree on 11 of 20, which is not bad for us.  Taking some of the directly comparable ones, I might give you Springsteen over Neil Young (how could I have forgotten the Boss?!?) and Elvis Presley over Johnny Cash (I was probably just being ornery).   However, not only is James Brown clearly a better and more substantive artist than Little Richard, his influence is certainly greater, if you include 1970s funk (e.g., Sly Stone) and 1990s rap in your definition of rock and roll - I do!  As the two consistently best "popular" bands of the 1990s, I believe that REM's catalog holds up better than U2's.  Patti Smith over Aretha Franklin is due to the larger legacy of artists inspired by Patti (Liz Phair, Hole, Throwing Muses, Beth Orton, etc.)   A similar argument supports Bob Marley over Stevie Wonder, although I might drop Bob Mould/Husker Du to accommodate Stevie Wonder.  Buddy Holly was on his way to writing Broadway musicals (he wanted to be a "serious" artist) by the time he died - some great songs, but I can't believe that he would have ever written another great rock song.  Velvet Underground versus Allman Brothers is a tough one.  I probably like the Allmans better than VU, but I like the bands inspired by Velvet Underground more than those inspired by the Allmans.  Anyway, that leaves us with the Ramones versus Led Zeppelin.  The Ramones were a better and more enjoyable band, and inspired better music than Zeppelin.)

Jim,

"Well, I rapped upon a house with the U.S. flag upon display. I said "could you help me out I got some friends down the way" The man says, "Get out of here I'll tear you limb from limb" I said, "you know they refused Jesus too" He said, "you're not him"

Bob Dylan's 115th Dream from the album Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

You might want to pick up a CD off the net "Middle Aged Guy With a Guitar", Josh Kadish a lawyer out in Portland OR, beezer@teleport.com

Tim Kimball

  (Tim, as is typical with Dylan lyrics, this was too long and convoluted to fit into the marquee on the home page.  Fine lyric, though.  I'll look for the other CD.)

Jim,

It may be a left-handed compliment to say, "If the right disc were as strong as the left disc, Fragile would be an absolutely great offering from Trent Reznor." But I have been waiting quite a while for this type of album from Nine Inch Nails. I'd accept the compliment.

The left disc, although it starts out slow, is truly inspired. "Wretched" is outstanding and what I have been waiting for from NIN since The Pretty Hate Machine. "We're In This Together" has a lovely sentiment and works well. "The Fragile" is great! You can hear the shackles on the mind as Reznor tries to save her from where he   "Starf*%#@!, Inc. is Carly Simon in need of an exorcism. "The Big Come Down" is excellent and better suited for the left disc. And "Underneath It All' basically ends the right disc in similar theme to the ending of the left.

I would not ordinarily give an "A" rating to a double-disc album that is a bit uneven and thin in songs for two discs. But The Fragile has more than enough good music for one and enough great music for one artistically inspiring disc.  Grade: A

Steve

(Steve, So I guessed you liked it, huh?  Be careful, Trent Reznor's head is likely an awfully scary place.  He's probably left-handed, like you - among many of my other favorite people!)

Jim,

In the '70s, I was growing up to the music of The Who and Gordon Lightfoot and many things in between. In the '90s, I am listening to Nine Inch Nails and Dave Alvin. And many things in between.   Dave Alvin's "Blackjack David" reminds me a little bit of the good ol' Lightfoot. Jim, you mentioned John Prine's name in the review - if you like him, you will like "Blackjack David." I was a little surprised to think you liked John Prine at all. All these years, Tom and I have enjoyed his music. Where were you?  Tom and I have also enjoyed the mellow sounds of Mr. Lightfoot. And despite the Prine-like "1968," many others, including: "Blackjack David," "Evening Blues," "Abilene," and to a lesser extent - "Tall Trees" are similar in style to the Canadian Troubadour. And on "Mary Brown," he almost is Gordon Lightfoot. This is a good thing. Add to that, "New Highway," "California Snow," and "Laurel Lynn" and you have a solid album. A-

Ironically James, although "From A Kitchen Table " may be a song strong on lyrics, it may be short on execution. I will give it more time. Often, the song that grabs you last is the one you hang on to the longest. We shall hear.

I haven't listened enough to the Nine Inch Nails new CD(s) to critique it, but I do like it. Although, the slow "fillers," especially on the second disc, don't do much for me. Chemical Brother's "Surrender," not bad. And the Clash have a live album of shows mostly from 1978 and 1982.  Actually, okay. They are pretty faithful to the recordings, but the musicianship is better than I expected. Some decent guitar work. I also bought Pete Townshend's live album (charity is a good thing) but I haven't listened to it yet.

                                    Steve

        (Steve, Let me know when you have a grade for the NIN record.  I just bought the Clash record, but have not listened yet.  The Who reunion concert at House of Blues got pretty mixed reviews.  I think the Stones have pretty much ruined things for old 60s bands still playing music.

        It is interesting that even when we agree on the value of a record like Blackjack David, we take very different routes to the same basic destination.  I believe that your review bears out my contention that John Prine fans will find much to like in the Alvin record.  As you correctly note, I am not a huge Prine fan.  Thanks to you and Tom, I like many of his songs very much, but I don't connect with his music as well as I did with Blackjack David.  As for Gordon Lightfoot, well, the only connection I hear there is the vocal similarity - and vocals have traditionally been Dave Alvin's Achilles heel.  While I have not heard a Gordon song in many years, my previous recollection is that I wasn't missing much.  Maybe I need to give him another chance, but I've not heard one of his songs that I would put above 25 Dave Alvin songs I could name (Blasters included))

Jim,

Experienced the Flaming Lips for the first time on HBO's Reverb last night.  I was impressed not only with the music, but the absolute conviction which with the group played it live. After the 'they're only humans, with wives and children' lyric from "Race for the Prize", singer Wayne Coyne unleashed all his righteous anger on the gong behind him throughout the instrumental piece of the song. Then he really put himself into "The Spark that Bled", followed by a few others. Hopefully, you can catch a repeat of the show yet this week. I would love to see them live, but for now, I'll have to get by on the CD, which I just ordered from CDnow.

Best Regards,

Frank Smetana

(Frank, believe it or not, I don't get HBO.  Too cheap to pay for the movie channels, but not too cheap to pay for the cable modem.  Go figure.  My brother, John and my friend Steve and I saw the Flaming Lips on the second stage of Lollapalooza about 5 or 6 years ago.  As you observed on the HBO show, they were an excellent live experience.  They were able to reproduce the creativity of their studio records.  I think you nailed the reason with your observation that they bring a great deal of convection to their music.  It comes through clearly.) 

 (From Rose of the Poster Children re: my review of their album)

Thanks Jim. But I wonder about the "plenty of commercial reasons to quit" line in the review. I wonder what the reasons were? We're probably one of the only bands that you've reviewed who actually makes a living off of our music and is able to support themselves on tour, without a major label backing us up.

Maybe we can't afford to pay the money to get ourselves played on the radio, but that hasn't seemed to hold us back, ever.

Anyway, thanks for the review - you have a neato page!

-rose

        (Rose, As I noted, I am not in the music business, so I may have tended to equate your lack of radio airplay with insufficient commercial success.  I am thrilled to hear that the band has been able to make a full-time living off your music; that means I will get to hear more of it!  Thanks for the nice note!)

Jim,

I cited Tom Petty regarding his "coherent" lyrics, not to praise Tom Petty, but because you originally referred to him in comparison to John Strohm.  Vestavia has a pop sensibility which requires lyrics the listener can relate to at one level (intelligent, complex, simple-minded) or another. Vestavia sounds okay, but not good enough to overlook the lack of lyrical coherency.

If you can give an A+ to a great sounding album, then what would you give a great sounding album with intelligent, inspirational, or insightful lyrics?  Great Rock and Roll can be fun and nonsensical such as the Flaming Lips or the B52s. However, I would not rate their best music with the greatest Rock and Roll of all time. And I would not rate John Strohm's music, which is not nearly as interesting or innovative, in the same category as the Flaming Lips or the B52s.

Now, on to another album.

                - Steve

P.S.  Did you see Channel 5 News after the ballgame the other night in talking about Wilt Chamberlain's death. Even in the highlights to show how good he was, they showed Bill Russell twice blocking his shots. Even in his death, Russell will haunt him.

(Steve, In the spirit of moving on, I will graciously grant you the last word on Vestavia.  I give plenty of A+ grades, and I can clearly distinguish between Exile on Main Street and Vestavia.  That's like asking Gene Siskel to distinguish between The Godfather, and the latest 4 star movie he reviewed.  Certainly, he could do so.  Well, maybe not anymore, but you get my point.

Sorry, you cannot bait me into a good Chamberlain/Russell argument.  I agree with you that Wilt will forever be haunted by Russell and the Celtics.  I do appreciate the stunning individual achievements that Wilt was able to accomplish in his career, without diminishing the stunning team success of Russell.   That is why Michael Jordan is clearly the best player ever, because he combined stunning individual achievement with sustained team success.

Congratulations on the new job.)

    

Hey Jim- What do you think of the new Gomez CD - Liquid Skin?  To me they sound like a contemporary Grateful Dead.  Let me know.
By the way, don't you think Spin should have included STP's Purple on the 90 list?
This is Casey now.  I don't know much about Gomez but I do know I like their one song "Revolutionary Kind".   We would be interested to hear what you have to say.
Bye -
Pete & Casey
P.S.  You and Matt held an auction of 45s?  I do believe I had a Jackson Five record that sold and I never saw the profits. (I invite the rest of the family to write in about their missing 45s.  Come on Mag, I know you had some missing Bobby Sherman records!)

(Wow, where do I start?  I have not heard of Gomez, and will seek it out.  I should warn you that I am not a Grateful Dead fan - maybe I should get my cousins Paul or Mark to do a review.  I'll try to be fair.

By "STP", I fear you mean Stone Temple Pilots.  Every musical breakthrough has its downside. My view is that STP was the extreme downside of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the grunge genre.  I thankfully only own one STP record, Core, and even the used record store would not give me any money for it.  Apparently, so many people were trying to sell it; well, you get the point.  I can't go with you on that one.

Now, on to my wonderful sister; I can't believe that you are insinuating that Matt and I withheld anything other than a standard fee for our services.  Further, the Jackson Five and Bobby Sherman were played so often in our house that I am sure the records were almost totally worn away by the time we sold them.  Any residual value from the sale has surely been compensated for through the valuable life experiences that Matt and I provided to you.  Okay, maybe we still owe you a couple bucks!

Love, Jim)

Sorry Jim.

Vestavia may sound like an "exotic" and weird place to live, but the album does not live up to the inspiration.

It does have a good sound with layers of guitars, and okay vocals. However, unlike Tom Petty, who will write coherent lyrics, John Strohm seems more interested in the sound than the meaning. I appreciate the songwriter who strives to come up with lyrics of intelligence, of insight, of inspiration. That does not mean I cannot enjoy the goofy inventiveness of, say, the Flaming Lips. John Strohm is not as interesting as the Flaming Lips. He is trying to be more "pop."

Vestavia has a definite "pop" sensibility. The melodies are familiar, though the guitar work is interesting. The album starts out sounding great -- the lyrics, ineffectual. "Drive-Thru" is the fourth and the only fully conceived song on the album. On "Ballad of Lobster Boy," I'm not sure if there is nothing wrong, it's only fair; or if there's something wrong, it's in the air. But it is good to know, "There's a little lobster boy in everyone." Or is it good to know?

On "Eva Braun," I'm sure we're are all hoping she, "Keep hanging on." Then comes the best sounding song on the album, "For Awhile." "Free for awhile, 'til your smile gets the better of me." It is a great hook, but Strohm lets the listener get away with a series of cliches that add up to nothing. Great psychedelic guitar work though.

After that, with the last four songs, Vestavia becomes a boring place to visit.

John Strohm's "Vestavia" -- C+

Steve

(Steve,
        Citing Tom Petty for his lyrics is like citing Shaquille O'Neal for his free-throw shooting.  Shaq is a great player and Tom Petty has made plenty of fine music, but free throw shooting and lyrics are not what come to mind when you mention their strengths.  As you and I have discussed, I do not think great lyrics are required for great rock music; they are an added bonus when they are surrounded by good music and musicianship.  I do not think the lyrics on Vestavia  detract at all from the overall success of the album.  I stand by my review and opinion that the vast majority of rock fans would enjoy this record.) 

    Jim,

Checked out the Chet-Bach results with a link from Chris. How do you like your cable modem? My 56k connection isn't cutting it.  Also enjoyed your reviews. I own quite a bit of the 'classics' you mentioned, but have not ventured into any 'new' music (still listening to XTC, Clash, Richard Thomson, Bob Mould, John Hiatt).

Maybe the kids and I will set up a web site up after we sign with MediaOne.

Cheers,

Frank Smetana

P.S. Still remember the 45's that you and Matt 'auctioned' from the attic?

(Frank,
        It is great to hear from you.  I had quite a bit of trouble in the first few weeks with the cable modem; they had a hard time getting it to work consistently.  However, it is now working well, and is especially fast downloading and uploading data.
        I sure like what you are still listening to (other than XTC, what are they doing in there?)  I am having fun doing the site.   By the way, I am sure those 45s are worth big money these days.  You saved them, didn't you?
)

Hi Jim, say...nice web site!
Before I start, I must warn you its 4:00a.m., I can't sleep, and your sister mentioned there was a comment on your site about Radiohead's OK Computer (which happens to be one of my favorite CD's of the 90's).  True the music and lyrics can be a little dark, or un-peppy, but does this make it any less of an album? 
As far as the latest from Flaming Lips, I beg to differ Jim.. I sampled some of the Soft Bulletin CD and though the music was interesting, the vocals sounded off key (my opinion of course and it is now 4:10 a.m.).  Some of my favorite tracks on OK Computer are Paranoid Android, Subterranean Homesick Alien, Karma Police, and No Surprises.  I think this is some of the most original music to come out in a long time, but definitely not for everyone (in fact my wife can't stand it).  Strong vocals by Thom Yorke, great bass lines, and bizarre techno sound effects help make it a CD I can listen to again and again.
Anyway, I like your web site and by the way great call on Liz Phair's (Guyville) CD, enjoyed it!
 
Your Colorado brother-in-law,   Pete

    (Hey, Pete, it is great to hear from you. I did not mean to unfairly impugn OK Computer. It is a fine record, I consider it an A-.  I would add Electioneering to your fine selection of tracks from that record. My comparison to Flaming Lips was intended to praise both artists for taking artistic risks and succeeding. Both records are difficult for the casual listener. The tones, although wildly different, are both highly effective at what they are trying to do. Regarding your comments about the vocals being off-key, Wayne Coyne can be an acquired taste. His vocals are not about technical perfection, but how well they communicate the atmosphere of the record. I think they accomplish that well.)

    Jim, 

Wow! Lot's of stuff here -- so, not only do you have time to listen to music, but you've got time to write about it too?! I certainly did not know you were a Ministry fan and I also learned a bit of Steve Dahl trivia (are you serious about his theremin "playing"?). But I figure most folks only e-mail you if they want to add their $.02. So here's mine!

Re: top 16 of the '90's, I'd drop those soundtracks (they're just glorified K-Tel compilations!) and I'd add Los Lobos "Colossal Head" and Mike Watt's "Ballhog or Tugboat". Watt is formerly of the Minutemen and Firehose and this album features tons of guest musicians (Eddie Vedder, Evan Dando, Beastie Boys, Frank Black, etc.) I've just bookmarked this site and I'll be checking back for you recommendations! By the way, are you a Tom Waits fan at all? I think I'm going to pick up his new one this week.

Take Care, Your cousin, Mark

(Good to hear from you Mark!  Mark is the drummer for a Milwaukee band, Porcine, so he is an excellent music reference.  Yes, Steve Dahl played the theremin for Brian Wilson on his recent comeback mini-tour.  I see your point on the soundtracks, but both Dead Man Walking and Natural Born Killers make my list because of their compilation of great music and how they truly convey a sense of the movie.  Los Lobos is a great band, but as for Colossal Head, I did not like that nearly as much as Kiko.  I am a huge Minutemen fan, but my favorite Mike Watt record is Contemplating the Engine Room; I think this is a  more cohesive record, getting rid of the showoff guest stars.  Tom Waits is one of those guys who I respect more than like.  He's good and all, but I rarely listen to him.  Keep the tips coming.)

    Uncle Jim, 

After reading your website, i was surprised at a few things. First of all, you never mentioned any GOOD groups. ( Backstreet Boys, NSync, Britney Spears, etc.) Also, "Astro Lounge," by Smash Mouth, got an undeserving B-. I think it deserves an A- or possibly a low A. Otherwise, your website was quite interesting and informative.

                                Allison

            (Thanks, Allison.  I may not be able to get to all of the "GOOD" groups you mentioned.)

    Jim,    

In regards to your "Assorted Musings", how does Lollapalooza compare to "Chicagofest" of the early 80's. If memory serves, and usually it doesn't, there were some pretty good bands scattered around Navy Pier cranking out some great blues and rock. (Special thanks to Jane Byrne for ruining that too.)

                                Matt

            (Matt, they compare very favorably!  Chicagofest had many bands on different stages for free.  It was a great way to hear music that I did not usually listen to - in my case, jazz, blues and country.  The main stage acts were usually quite lame - Chicago, Beach Boys (minus Brian Wilson, of course), that type of thing.  The side stages were where all of the action was.  Most were either local or lesser known bands.  Taste of Chicago replaced Chicagofest, and is a sorry substitute - too much food, too little music!  

 Lollapalooza was expensive, but at its best, it was a combination of good, though obscure bands, and bigger names in the alternative rock genre.  They made valiant attempts to include some of the better rap acts of the time, in an effort to broaden the appeal of this urban music form to white suburbanites.  The unfortunate consequence of that appears to be today's excess of lame, white rappers.)

      Jim,
I heard it through the grapevine Roger Ebert is looking to have your thumbs removed.

Speaking of movies. Summer of Sam. Saw it, had the same feeling about it you
had, but for a different reason. I thought John Leguizamo and Mira Sorvino were very good. I liked the portrayal of the Italians and the neighborhood. The one's dancing and homosexual dalliances kind of lost me. If he had used the Son of Sam as a fear factor in the news and conversation and skipped even bothering to show him, he could have devoted more time to the characters. Play up the heat factor better like in Do The Right Thing. This would have been better as a movie simply about sex, drugs, and rock n' roll in the '70s and how it affected this Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. As Sorvino asked Leguizamo about his sexcapades, "What does that have to do with Son of Sam." Spike Lee should have asked himself that question when making the movie.

Wait a minute, you're not doing movie reviews. Oh well...
    
                                                        Steve

            (Steve is alluding to a conversation that he and I had about Summer of Sam, the new Spike Lee movie.  I generally agree with Steve's comments, but let's not be too negative - this is a solid three star movie.  The standard set by Do the Right Thing is hard to live up to, but we should not hold that against Spike Lee.  This is a very good movie, especially from a sorry Knicks fan.)

    Jim, 

We love your web site, but we must disagree with your disparaging remarks about the Police. Not only did their singles define the early 80's, Every Breath You Take was the first song I danced with my wife-(Your Sister-in-Law!)  Also, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic is a great dance song, comparable to everything on Clash's London Calling.

We value your taste (considering I still have some of your old Yes LP's), but please lay off Sting and the boys!

                            Chris and Sue

           (Hey, no offense intended, but regarding the Police, I cannot yield. I WILL admit that Every Breath You Take and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic are two of their more tolerable songs, and I WILL admit that if I had to (and fortunately, I don't), I would listen to the Police over any of Sting's solo outings.  You should be careful of mentioning the Police in the same breath as the Clash, lest you be struck down by a higher power.

P.S.  You can keep the Yes LPs!)

Jim,

    I saw the Stones at the United Center earlier this year. The concert is best described as "staged." Mick sure swiveled around a lot, but it all felt rather contrived. Their focus on their "newer" music was a little disappointing for us old yuppies.

                            Doug

        (Doug, you mean they really are still together?!?  Did anybody pay money to see them, or were they, like, playing after a Hawks game?  Seriously, it pains me to bash Charlie Watts and Keith Richards, but if they are going to keep playing, stick with the best material - nothing after 1977, which is probably even stretching it a few years)