The 18 Interviews That I Did in 2013

Cheers to all of the nice folks who reminded me last year that there is no such thing as an uninteresting interview.

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1. STEPHANIE SCHOROW, author of Drinking Boston (DigBoston, 1/18/13)

You also had, and this was starting in the later part of the 1900s, the emergence of immigrants – Irish immigrants – coming to this area, and the bar becoming a social place, where they hung out and mingled with their own people. You also had German immigrants, who settled and started a whole beer industry centered around the Stony Brook corridor.”

blog_Schorow2. AMY RIGBY and WRECKLESS ERIC (The Somerville Times, 1/27/13)

“The 80s was the worst thing that happened to Western civilization. It was the worst decade that ever happened. It was the most appalling time. People turned into money-grubbing materialistic idiots.”

Amy&Eric_pic_3. BRIAN E. KING of Parks (The Somerville Times, 2/3/13)

“I didn’t hear The Beatles until the year 2000, when I started playing bass. I’d heard of them but I’d never heard any of their songs.”

Photo by Liz McBride

Photo by Liz McBride/lizmcbridephotography.com

4. PETER HOOK of Joy Division, New Order, and Peter Hook & The Light (DigBoston, 2/4/13)

“It took me years, actually, to admit to liking The Smiths. Until The Queen is Dead, I fucking hated them, for no other reason than that they were in competition with New Order … When I got to The Queen Is Dead, I heard that LP, I thought, ‘Ah shit, I can’t pretend I don’t like ‘em anymore!’ I had to give in.”

Dig_PeterHook5. THE GOOD AMERICAN, then-host of Zappa Thursdays (DigBoston, 2/5/13)

I had my own desk, and I had a boom box. The first album I played was Zappa’s Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar. I was lodged in between editorial and sales. They were trying to sell advertising and here I am blaring Frank Zappa.”

zappa thursdays6. BRIAN JOYCE, host of “Live & Local” in Chattanooga, TN (The Somerville Times, 2/13/13)

“For this part of the country, you can be considered a flaming liberal just by admitting, ‘Obama, I think, is American’.”

Brian_Joyce_27. JORDAN JEFFARES of Snowden (DigBoston, 2/18/13)

“I would argue that No One In Control has an anti-authoritarian thing about it, which is optimistic. Actually, that song is about a horrible crazy girlfriend.”

Dig_Snowden_6008. MICHAEL MURRAY of Tsoysli and Nowhere Lights (The Somerville Times, 3/16/13)

“We’re recording it at a studio in Winchester that we have access to where David Hasselhoff used to record.”

Mike_Murray_pic9. BOW THAYER of Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck (DigBoston, 4/24/13)

“The record is trying to say something. It is a kind of apocalyptic yet hopeful theme. It’s kind of a snapshot of our society’s self-inflicted wounds.”

Bow_Thayer_60010. SUSAN OSTRANDER, author of Citizenship and Governance in a Changing City: Somerville, MA (The Somerville Times, 5/18/13)

“People across the board appreciated the benefits of gentrification at the same time as they saw its dangers, and some of the newer more affluent residents were well aware that they were both contributing to some extent to the dangers and well as wanting to make more positive contributions to their chosen home city.”

Ostrander_Book11. SYD STRAW (The Somerville Times, 6/6/13)

“I feel lonesome for my own songs.”

Syd Straw12. ROD ARGENT of The Zombies (DigBoston, 7/5/13)

“Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters last year on a Scandinavian television show was asked, ‘What is the track that changed your life?’ And he thought about it and he chose ‘Care of Cell 44’ from Odessey and Oracle.”

Argent_Blunstone_60013. DICK LEHR, co-author of Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss (DigBoston, 8/19/13)

“He’s very self-disciplined in not being an excessive drinker and in being fit. He’s very food-conscious in a way that’s almost unthinkable in the underworld.”

Book 'Em_DickLehrBulger

14. SLAID CLEAVES (Marblehead Reporter, 9/3/13)

“In the early ‘90s, when I was looking for a place to start my career, Boston seemed to me to be totally overwhelmed by the loud and ironic and angst-y kind of college radio.”

Cleaves Picture15. STEVE BAGLIONI of The SpiritHouse Band (Beverly Citizen, 9/18/13)

“My goal is to play in front of 30,000 people, on a sunny day, with beach balls bouncing, and the sun shining, and people just having an amazing, amazing musical experience wherever we are that we’re playing.”

Baglioni_116. CONNIE MORELLA, former U.S. Congresswoman from Maryland (The Somerville Times, 10/17/13)

“I think the nice way to put it was to say ‘a moderate Republican,’ but I really tended to be more on the liberal side. Maybe that’s a part of Massachusetts in me!”

C_Morella 1980 417. CHRIS WILSON of The Flamin’ Groovies (The Somerville Times, 11/13/13)

“One of the most horrible things I’d ever seen was Johnny Ramone coming backstage after their set covered in spit. People had spit all over them, and he was in tears.”

Chris Wilson last on right

The Flamin’ Groovies (l to r): George Alexander, Victor Penalosa, Cyril Jordan, and Chris Wilson

18. JUDE MORAN of Adela & Jude (The Somerville Times, 12/22/13)

“We’ve felt that a wonderful way to celebrate these communities is to document our travels, and make a commitment to feeding ourselves on the food we get donated by farmers. In this way, we can showcase the vibrancy of local farms and markets.”

blog_A&J

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FLASHBACK: THE WHO SINGS MY GENERATION

The original idea for the FLASHBACK column was to post these reviews on the same day however many years after I originally put them on Amazon. Sometimes I am off by a few days, as I was with Exile In Guyville and am again with this one. This write-up of The Who Sings My Generation, one of my shorter reviews, first appeared on December 5, 2006.blog_MyGeneration

Forty-one years on, the debut record by The Who is still impressive. Classics like “My Generation” and “The Kids Are Alright” are certainly not to be second-guessed, and most of the other originals give the album plenty of muscle. “The Good’s Gone” and the humorous “A Legal Matter” highlight Pete Townshend’s superb riffing, and in the latter case, voice. “Much Too Much”, “It’s Not True”, and the psychedelia-flavored “Instant Party (Circles)” are fine mod tunes. Finally, the instrumental romp “The Ox” is the clearest indication of the mayhem that The Who were to create on stage, if not ever again on record. The bits of feedback on this track surely perked up the ears of guys like Jimi Hendrix, as well as Lou Reed and John Cale, perhaps just enough to make them realize the potential it could have in their own work. This song – along with “My Generation” – serves to rightly place Townshend and Co. among the forefathers of punk.

(Anyone who is going to read this has seen The Who’s performance on The Smothers Brothers, right?)

However, “La La La Lies” and “The Kids Are Alright” indicate that The Who might also be rightly credited as the originators of another genre: power pop. (Townshend said in a 1967 interview, “Power pop is what we play,” thereby allegedly coining the phrase. But he continued, saying, “What the Small Faces used to play and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of ‘Fun Fun Fun’ …”)

All of this genre’s elements are in place on these songs – azure vocal harmonies, echoey guitars, plump bass lines, and marching drums. It was this formula that would be adopted by the likes of The Flamin’ Groovies in the 1970s and Guided By Voices in the 90s, bands who were among the very best power poppers of their respective decades.

Also included on My Generation are two James Brown covers. Now, I have quite frankly always found The Who’s claims to be purveyors of “maximum R&B” to be disingenuous at the very least. These covers – “I Don’t Mind” and “Please Please Please” – sound a bit forced, as if they were trying to prove their R&B credentials (not that I doubt their love of the genre, nor the fact that it inspired their sound). That said, there are some good R&B-inspired moments here, such as the opening track “Out in the Street.”

At times, The Who Sings My Generation sounds a bit too rough around the edges for its own good. Granted, full-on Spector-esque production certainly wouldn’t have served the band’s energetic assault any more effectively. The Who’s second album, A Quick One, would prove to be a bit of a holding pattern, but it’s follow-up – The Who Sell Out – would be their triumphant great leap forward. Knowing how ambitious and refined their music would become, their debut sounds almost charming in its youthful recklessness. But whatever its shortcomings, their is no overlooking the fact that the single “My Generation” landed in the mid-60s London scene like a hand grenade, and proved that The Who wasn’t just another rock band. Their influence would expand exponentially over the decades, and as an opening statement, The Who Sings My Generation remains a powerful one.