Sorry, We're Closed

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fine Dining in Chicago!

A great rundown of the restaurants of Lincoln Square, courtesy of Jim Garner, Leo Ford, Lauren Elkin, and others.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just One Song, Part 3

Hi, again, everyone. Happy New Government!

The theme for this edition of "Just One Song" is slightly different. My great friend Frank Kras suggested that each of us choose a song that we love that nobody else seems to have heard.

To start off, I'll post his song, which I'd never heard OF, much less heard. "Scottish Rite Temple Stomp" is by a band called Ninian Hawick. I'll let him provide the rest of the background on a later post. Here's the song, which is a real cracker!

I kicked around several ideas for my song that I love which nobody else seems to have heard. The one I chose is a bit of a cheat, because someone else I know has heard it.

The Things were a three-piece mid-1980s band from California who took their inspiration from sounds 20 years before. Their first waxing, Coloured Heaven, is stuffed full of gems, one of which--"All the Time"--is my choice.

I could have just as easily picked three or four other terrific tunes from this utterly forgotten album, which came out on the Voxx label in 1984 and has never been issued on CD. I've never even seen a copy of the record.

So how did I hear it? An old friend, Tony P., hipped me to it in the 1980s, taping the album for me on a Maxell II cassette. But since Tony and I have unfortunately lost touch, it almost counts as nobody having heard it. Thanks, Tony. Wish I knew where you are.

Please turn this up, as the file I uploaded is very weak.

Hope you enjoyed at least one of these songs, and hopefully both. What are your picks? If you can't post them in a comment, you could email them to me and I could post 'em for you.


Friday, January 16, 2009

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to Amy DeFalco, winner of the first Just One Song mix CD giveaway. I'll be shipping Amy, in the next few days, a special mix CD of hidden pop gems, soulful anthems, and utter hogwash.

Just for further edification, today's lucky (!) recipient was selected using real science. The name of every respondent for parts 1 and 2 was entered into a list; if you responded twice, you were listed twice, increasing your chance of winning. A random number generator was then utilized to choose the winner.

I'll be returning with a new Just One Song in the next few days, and hope that you'll check in again!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Sum of US

A local production of "The Sum of US," opens today at the Evanston Arts Depot, 500 Main Street (adjacent to the Main St. Metra).

Set near Melbourne, Australia in 1990, this somewhat twisted but funny and sweet modern-day family drama centers on a widower and his gay son and their various romantic and interpersonal entanglements.

David Stevens' play was adapted for film in 1994, with Russell Crowe starring. Here, the direction is by Robert D. Estrin.

My friend Ted Harris recorded the incidental music for the production; one piece is a new version of "Sweet Boy," a song written by Shannon Saunders, Ted, and myself and recorded, several times, by our various pop groups.

Here's a short video preview of what's going on here. I'm looking forward to catching this show. It runs Friday nights and Saturday nights at 7:30 and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 through February 7.
See you there.

Be Seeing You

A toast to the late Patrick McGoohan, one of the greatest actors of all. I think The Prisoner is among the best shows ever to air on American television.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just One Song, Part 2

Hey, folks. Well, Just One Song part 1 was fun, wasn't it?

Seems like the secret to this is to find artists who have done a lot of music, are known enough to evince opinions, but may not be as hard to pick just one song from. Of course, it really is impossible to choose just one song from a great artist, because our minds change so much that tomorrow's favorite may not be even in your mind today.

But it can be fun to do the exercise anyway!

So let's make it a semi-regular feature. Every two or three times I do this game, I'll put every respondent's name in a hat, pick out a name, and send the lucky one a custom mix CD. So here's part two...

If you could only have one song from each of the following acts, what song would it be?

*Simon & Garfunkel
*The Platters
*Paul Revere & the Raiders
*The Clash

Below, should you wish to peruse, are my selections...thanks for reading and checking in!


Simon & Garfunkel: Extremely tough choice; I often like their album tracks better than their singles. "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," from 1966, has everything I love about S&G in spades.

The Platters: "Only You," one of my mother's favorite songs.

Paul Revere & the Raiders: Surprisingly tough; so many A-1 singles. I'll go with "The Great Airplane Strike," one of the great guitar 45s of the 1960s.

The Clash: "Brand New Cadillac."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ron Asheton, R.I.P.

Ron Asheton, guitarist of the Stooges, passed away on New Year's Day at age 60.

Some people think the Stooges were about their singer, Iggy Pop. Perhaps they were. But looking back and listening back 40 years later, I think the Stooges were about Ron Asheton's fiery, unleashed, manic weed-and-speed guitar playing.

This cut, "1969"--the first track from their first album, The Stooges--makes my case better than anything else I could write. Turn up, if your speakers can handle it.

R.I.P., Mr. Asheton, or if you prefer, rest in a cacophonous haze of wah-wah, distortion, and feedback.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Just One Song, Part 1

What would you do if you had to choose just one song by some of your favorite acts? For some groups, it's easy. How many people are going to take anything by the Syndicate of Sound besides "Little Girl"? Can anyone rate a Dionne Farriss song higher than "I Know"? You get my point.

Well, let's have a game. I'll propose a few acts, and you can fill in your "only one song." I'll stay away from what I consider impossible ones, like The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Elvises Costello or Presley, The Beach Boys, XTC, or The Velvet Underground.

So what would your one song be from...

*Tommy James & the Shondells?


*The Hollies?

*Ray Charles?

I've got my choices, as difficult as they are, and I'll post 'em in a few days. Let me know yours!

On a complete tangent, I hope you enjoy this next song, a nutritious chunk of power-pop goodness from 1978 by a group called Fotomaker.

Before learning about this song, I'd always wondered what happened to the Young Rascals after they broke up in the early 1970s. Two of them--drummer Dino Dannelli and guitarist/bassist Gene Cornish--started Fotomaker, a New Jersey-based power-pop project with guitarist Wally Bryson, who'd been in Ohio's Raspberries, and two local musicians, Frank Vinci and Lex Marchesi.

None of their three albums bothered the charts, but this single, "Where Have You Been All My Life," reached #81 on the Billboard singles lists in spring 1978. It's a timeless power-pop creation, containing all the genre's signature elements: tons of guitars, both chiming and crunchy; a lovely melody; glossy harmonies; and an imaginative arrangement. Fotomaker then ice the cake with a somewhat overwrought string arrangement.

Unfortunately, the power-pop explosion was short-lived, and many great groups of the time were left clutching excellent singles and albums that wilted commercially in the wakes of the disco craze and the onrushing punk movement. At least we can now enjoy Fotomaker's music, from 30 years in the rearview mirror, without having to be too embarrassed by their awful name.