There’s this site linked to my page called Dead or Alive, which is a pretty good source of…well, who’s dead and who’s alive. For instance, there’s a mention of the recent passing of Chris Schenkel, the sports announcer I feel I watched all my life.

But there’s no mention of the death of legendary bluesman Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, who seems to appear on practically every blues compilation I own, and who I’ve seen at a bluesfest in Albany in recent years. So, if you have a mind, write to Dead or Alive, and follow the instructions to have him included.

For that matter, ask them to add Vassar Clements, who I wrote about last month. These are core purveyors of American music and ought not be forgotten.
And on a TOTALLY unrelated note, new Gilmore Girls tonight! Amazon is trying to entice me to buy the 4th season on DVD, but we haven’t even gotten through Season 1, which I bought for Carol last year.

My Darth Tater contest selection

OK, I’ll admit it: when Lefty first suggested this contest, I figured, “OK, what the heck, I’ll look at some CD I’d previously put together and copy that.” But then I looked at the rules again (see Lefty’s page on August 3 for all of them)… The relevant ones for my purposes are these:

Create the Greatest 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s Music Compilation Ever Created. All tracks must be from one decade only. Bonus points for keeping away from tracks that always seem to make it on those decades collection (i.e. do we really need another 80s hits mix that has A-Ha’s “Take on Me” on it).

Ah, that last part made it a little trickier.

Inspired by Tosy, one of the other contestants in Lefty’s contest, I thought I’d share my (il)logic in picking the songs, especially now that Lefty has reviwed my picks (on September 12).

In the period between discovering Fred Hembeck’s webpage and starting my blog, I put together a series of CDs that I sent to him (and he to me). Some were chronological, some were thematic (love, dance). The trick was to NOT send cuts that he had sent me, and for the most part, I was successful.

For Lefty’s disc (which I may refer to as Tater disc), I wanted to concentrate on groups that most everyone had heard of who was familiar with the music of the era, but not necessarily the obvious tracks.

1. The Who “Tommy’s Holiday Camp”
I had put together a Mix with songs with Hello or Welcome in the title or prominent in the lyric. I decided to start Tater with a song that ends with the word “welcome”. Definitely NOT a hit, though off a hit album.

2. Cream “Doing That Scrapyard Thing”
In my 1969 Mix, I had a live version of “I’m So Glad” to end the disc. Well, I love that song, but it’s too long for the second slot on the Tater disc. So, I went to the same album, “Goodbye Cream”, which has only three studio cuts: Badge (a hit), What a Bringdown and my selection. This song has the same circusy feel as the previous cut. Of course, this cut features former Yardbird guitarist Eric Clapton.

3. Led Zeppelin “Communications Breakdown”
The first cut on my 1969 disc, featuring former Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page.

4. Donovan “Barabajagel”
The second cut on my 1969 disc, featuring former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck. Fred & I agree that these last two songs play GREAT together.

5. Traffic “Medicated Goo”
This is here to continue the Goo theme from the previous track, and because I love this song. Also from the 1969 disc.

6. Lovin’ Spoonful “Six O’Clock”
This song is in this slot because it’s the sixth cut. From the 1967-68 disc. I like the staccato feel.

7. QoS “Ain’t Nobody”
Well, we need some soul music. The song from my 67-68 disc was “Since You’ve Been Gone”, not “Respect”, but not exactly obscure either. Then I looked at the other possibilities and the NEXT selection capped it.

8. Three Dog Night “Nobody”
“Ain’t Nobody” followed by this song from the first Three Dog Night album. I LIKED the first 3DN album, just like I liked the first Chicago album, and the first Blood, Sweat and Tears album – no apologies. From the 69 disc, I think.

9. Stevie Wonder “You Met Your Match”
Given the fact that I LOVE Stevie, it’s surprising that he didn’t make any of my compilation discs until his 1970s output. A minor hit, so it fit the criteria.

10. Steppenwolf “Move Over”
Hembeck doesn’t like Steppenwolf except for the two hits, Lefty not at all. But, in addition to the guitar, check out the lyrics. From the 69 mix.

11. Monkees “Words”
I had a Monkees Greatest Hits vinyl LP, given to me by my old FantaCo buddy, Mitch Cohn. Then a few years ago, I got a GH CD from my friend Mark. The former did not have “Words”, and I frankly had forgotten about it until I heard it again on the latter. I fell back in love with the tune. From the 67-68 mix.

12. Chicago “I’m A Man”
As I said, I liked the Chicago Transit Authority. From the 69 mix.

13. Neil Young “The Loner”
I had “Cinnamon Girl” on a mix, but too much of a hit. (It only got to #55, but for Neil, that was pretty good.) 3DN did a cover of this song on their first LP, so I picked the original.

14. The Band “King Harvest”
I felt these two songs by Canadians (primarily) felt like they were in the same groove. The second Band LP was my favorite, and one of my all-time favorite albums.

15. The Rascals “It’s Wonderful”
When my sister Leslie and I played this at home, we used to jog around the living room. I found it infectious. (Lefty did not.) From 67-68 mix.

16. The Mamas & Papas “Free Advice”
I guess I liked this song because it’s quirky. Had forgotten about it until I started listening to the group in honor of John Phillips’ birthday recently.

17. The Supremes “Some Things You Never Get Used To”
This was another new addition. Love the early post-Florence Ballard stuff (Reflections, Love Child albums), before they declined into parody.

18. Frank Zappa “Peaches en Regalia”
I don’t always “get” Zappa, either, but I love this tune. From the 69 mix.

19. Reggie Milner “Habit-Forming Love”
I needed one “out there” selection. This is it. I was remined of it when I was playing BOTH of my Stax-Volt box sets of 9 discs each, averaging 70 minutes per disc, last month.

20. Vanilla Fudge “She’s Not There”
I prefer the Zombies’ version, too, but that wouldn’t have met the criteria. It was a moody intro to the next cut.

21. The Beatles “Inner Light”
I didn’t put any Beatles on the chronological discs (except “Cry for a Shadow” I think), since Fred the Beatleologist was going to be the recipient. But this Tater disc needed one, I thought. What song by the world-famous BEATLES is obscure? Well, there was “You Know Ny Name” (b-side to “Let It Be”), but I opted for the b-side to “Lady Madonna”. It went well, thematically, with the final song. And pairing former Capitol Records labelmates together at the end added to the concept.

22. Beach Boys “Transcendental Meditation”
I really like this song. It sounds uncharacteristically off-key (or maybe it’s just the harmonic structure), it rocks, and it’s short. From the 67-68 disc.

OK, so I bring the disc to work, so I can take it to the P.O. to mail to Lefty, and it SKIPPED from track 12 on. The deadline was approaching, and Tater disc had to go cross country, so I stayed up that night and laid it down again. No skips, and he got it in time.

One of these decades, Chris is going to tell us who won. He SAID he’d announce last Friday. He’s really dragging it out. Where’d he get the idea to do THAT? From his friend Ed and from ME! O.K., I’ll be (somewhat) patient.

Primary Day 2005

Today is Primary Day in New York state. In NYC, the polls are open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., but upstate, the polls are only open from noon until 9 p.m. I HATE that. I like to vote before I go to work so that the campaigns can check the list and see that I’ve already voted so that they DONT call me to get out to vote.

Of course, the 12-year incumbant mayor, Jerry “Well Tanned” Jennings is a lock for renomination by the Democratic Party (not to be confused with a democratic party). And the Democratic nomination is all one really needs to get elected in the city of Albany. Jennings’ opponent is Archie Goodbee, a black man who was all but invisible from the moment he declared until fairly recently, and is outmanaged, outfunded, and generally, out of luck.

An incumbant candidate always brings negatives, and I suspect Goodbee expected the support of the progressive wing of the Democratic party just because Archie is not Jerry. The progressives got black ADA David Soares to beat the incumbant district attorney, Paul Clyne last year, but Soares and his people did the groundwork that Goodbee did not, and the progressives pretty much opted out of that race altogether, or supported the mayor.

Cindy Sheehan’s Coming to Town

I’m very happy that Camp Casey has pricked the conscience of a lot of folks this summer. I’m happy that Cindy Sheehan will be in Albany on Wednesday, and I expect I’ll see her at some point.

And yet – I still get the feeling that it won’t matter. Colin Powell was interviewed on 20/20 last Friday, admitted that he was suckered into believing the WMD info, acknowledged that it was a stain on his career that will be with him the rest of his life. Yet, he still believes in “staying the course.”

Someone: please give me some encouraging words that will help me believe that this war will end sooner rather than later.

Thhe schedule, for those who might care:
10 a.m.- set up Camp Casey on the Capitol Park West
12 noon-rally in front of the Capitol
7 p.m.- forum in Chancellor’s Hall, State Education Bldg., Washington Avenue

This is Constitution week. Friday and Saturday are Constitution Days. I would have totally missed this except that my wife asked me to find material so that she can prepare a lesson plan dealing with the Bill of Rights on Friday.

I do think the irony is palpable that this President, who signed the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, has put his signature on a law plugging the Constitution.
Meanwhile, this conversation is taking place in the Letters to the Editor in the local newspapers, and other papers, I gather; the “logic” is this: the soldiers are in Iraq “protecting American freedom and our way of life” ; one of those freedoms is the right to dissent; but that we ought not to use that right because we’ll undermine the troops and provide succor to the enemy. I’m sure that the opposition to the American occupation, or the Iraqi liberation, depending on how you view these things, is sitting around waiting for Cindy Sheehan to plot her next vigil so that they can strike.

My JEOPARDY! desire

I believe the new season of the aforementioned game show’s new season starts today.

When Merv Griffin, inspired by his wife, came up with the concept of JEOPARDY! four decades ago, it was a stroke of genius. Three players who thought they knew a thing or two get to compete in a game where they give you the answer and you have to come up with the question. If you win five games, you go away, but you come back for the Tournament of Champions.

After a champion has retired, through the luck of the draw, there would be three new players; one of them would be able to go back to their hometown and say that he or she was a JEOPARDY! Champion.

What the rule change a couple seasons ago has meant has been the creation of scarcity. Under the old rules, Ken Jennings would have been gone after day five; under the new rules, and Ken’s 74th victory, about 15 people won’t even make it onto the show. The Tournament of Champions of 2004, in order to fill the fifteen slots allotted, needed to go to more four-time and even three-time champions.

This really isn’t about Ken Jennings, though I admit that I had tired of him in the same way some people root for anybody except the Yankees; it’s about the game. This is the designated hitter in baseball, the shot clock in basketball. And while those changes in other sports have produced MORE offense for SEVERAL, the new JEOPARDY! rule change has been beneficial for only a few, and as detrimental to the game as Astroturf is on the knees of a football running back.

I wish they would change the rule, if not to five appearances, then certainly 10. I want MORE JEOPARDY! champions, not fewer. But with the spike in ratings during Jennings’ run, I don’t anticipate any change. Sigh.

(Oh, yeah, for those joining me recently, I was on the show. I discussed it at length in this blog for 11 Saturdays starting May 28.)
I was flicking through the channels Saturday afternoon, and I saw Alex Trebek on one of those celebrity poker matches. Usually tight-fisted, according to the announcer, he won about $10K on a bluff (6 and 7 of hearts, I believe, with no pair). Tom the Dog can tell you more about celebrity poker in this column than I choose to know. And if you want to see the episode in question, I believe it’s airing again on Bravo this Thursday at 7 p.m., just before a new episode.