Monday, August 31, 2009

Spotlight: Album Reviews 02- Derek Trucks band

Derek Trucks-

has, in my opinion, two claims to fame. He's widely regarded as the only one to closely approximate the tone and style of Duane Almann. And his wife is Susan Tedeschi who, of course, is widely regarded as using Derek as a claim to fame.

But I gotta say, southern rock rarely does it for me. Derek really should be claiming relationship to Susan. Despite her lesser skills with the guitar, in the medium of the blues, it's all about what you do with it. And Susan, with a straightforward Fender Twin and Telecaster tone and a whiskey dark voice to make Bonnie Raitte jealous, does quite a bit.

I tried Derek out based on his claim and buzz in various guitar forums. And I have to say...

Yawn. Not enough there to play it again.

Spotlight: Album Reviews 01- J.Geils Band, Full House Live

Ah, the J. Geils band.

The great band that never quite made it to the top tier of classic rock fame.

But. But. But! Everyone knows Whammer Jammer from the opening Magic Dick harmonica lick. It came from this album, a frenetic over-energized collection of boys from Boston cranking out electric blues in what must have been a beer-soaked, smoke-filled, couple-thousand seat armory somewhere in the heartland.

Full House helps you feel the vibe from a band that was obviously better live than in the studio. If you're familiar with their classic hits- Love Stinks, NightTime, ComeBack, and Centerfold; you won't recognize a thing on this. But if you crank up your local classic rock station every time you hear Peter Wolf's spazzed monologue introduction to "Musta Got Lost," then Full House is an album for you to discover.

Mind you, "Musta Got Lost" is on a different live album. "Full House" is early in their career, but the mix and the energy are beyond compare. Go with it!

Spotlight: Album Reviews

I've always loved music. I have 500 or so record albums (yes, in a box in the basement. What of it?) I have 500+ cds. Hundreds of mixed tapes. If I had spare time and spare change in a spare town on a business trip, I'd find record shops and pick up a few missing pieces now and again.

Then, well, it all stopped. It was the perfect storm of other distractions -golf and kids and, come the mid nineties, the ability to copy cds on a computer. I still remember the 486 Mrs. Toadroller and I purchased after getting married. Whoo-hoo! It had a cd player in it. That day and age, it didn't yet have a burner, but at least I could play music while working on the computer with its dial-up modem and dual boot to OS/2 Warp 3.0. Have I mentioned I'm a geek?


Fast forward to 2003 or so and the world had gone mp3 crazy. I was still setting up and tweaking my mega stereo system in the "listening room" of our finished basement and buying audiophile amplifiers and speakers on eBay. But at the same time, I bought a Rio Karma 20gb mp3 player- the first serious challenger to the iPod (and the first to seriously die a sad death in the marketplace. Remember Rio?) with twice the battery life and ability to play wma, mp3, au, ogg-vorbis, flac, heck- it played formats no-one has heard from since. It came with a docking bay with a pulsing blue light, RCA line outs and-get this- a DHCP client so you could control it through IP. I mean, the little tyke was a music server, for crying out loud. Oh, and 2/3rds the price of the iPod.

How did this fail in the marketplace? I don't know. What a great little unit. I still have it plugged in downstairs and it limps along, playing background music on random. Still has a better search, scroll, insert-into now-playing capability than my Zune.

I spent a week in the office with a spare old laptop, ripping my cd collection into the appropriate wma formats, grabbing the artist and image content from cddb or whatever it was that the ripper (was it Media Monkey?) used, and built up my colection. One of the nifty features of the Karma was its ability to play music by any old tag, including the year of the recording.

So there I was, looking through the collection- 400 some-odd songs from '87, 450 from '88, etc. Clicking along- '91 had 200 or so - a real drop. '92, 93, 94 and on? Something like 100 songs combined.


This is a long way about explaining my pursuit of new music really waned for a long time. Sure, I'd hear something and enjoy it, but I really stopped paying attention. To this day I'm shocked to find out that something current I'm listing too, feeling I'm pretty hip with the kids out there, was recorded in '97. I mean, that's 12 years ago of this writing. Aerosmith's big comeback was in '85, people. Ragdoll was NEW Aerosmith, and now it' s coming up on its twenty-fifth anniversary! Scary.


The point of this post was to do some quick album reviews on music I've been listening to or trying out of late. So here goes- the Toadroller showing his eclectic and insightful musical tastes in brief reviews to the world that has passed him by. I think I'll do them as separate posts. Thanks for tuning in. Please stand by.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy has Passed

Initial reaction?


The first public benefit of this blessed event is that the skyway bridge from the parking garage to the terminal at Boston Logan airport has been rendered suddenly serene and respectfully quiet. Those of you who have travelled through Logan will recall Ted’s warm and cheery, if garbled (Teddy did slur his speech- sauced or not) welcome to “His home town,” encouraging you to see the sights including Haaa-vid.

I have admitted before that, while not a cynic, I am certainly an experienced idealist. This has, in a form of efficiency to make the Germans jealous, led to jaded opinions as a form of saving time and effort, and avoiding further letdowns from society. That said, I’ve not been able to refrain from muttering “Shut up, Teddy,” every time I’ve travelled that skyway in recent years. Helps vent the larger picture frustration at any and everything else I've heard from the man in the last couple of decards.

Today, however, the skyway held museum-like, library silence. Pure bliss. Until I sat down at the gate to await my flight. Guess what was on CNN blaring through the concourse? Hmm? Ted's funeral procession. Or was it Irish wake coverage? I certainly couldn't subject myself to the torture of looking at the screen to find out. Headphones on!

Ah well. At least he shut up. A month or two from now he’ll still be dead. Along with Michael Jackson and Joe Piscopoe. Or is he in Canada?

And the Skyway? I'm sure John Kerry's iPhone is ringing; he can't be too busy these days.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Not only is Liberty worth defending to the death, it's also worth all the little inconveniences (you know, saving, paying your own way, caring for your family, failing when you fail, picking yourself back up...) that come with being responsible for oneself.

Yes, you can!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doing my best...

This was on my coporate travel reservations site:
"Go Green • Consider Your Environment • Offset Your Emissions"

My office is painted green. After much consideration , I have to say that I like my environment. I don't know how much I can offset my emissions- I like to eat baked beans.

A disposable coffee cup recently implored that
"only if everyone does their part, every day, can we succeed!" after some mumbo jumbo about their environmental stance; implying that we can save the earth.

Well, it looks like I can doom the planet by simply taking a day off. I took two cups, becuase the coffee was so hot that you couldn't hold the cup without some kind of insulation. Ironic, eh?

Just doing my part.