Saturday, February 15, 2014

Some thoughts on "Desert Island Discs" and the offering of a higher standard

My wife and I were out carousing this afternoon, having left the children home we decided to go to a favorite family restaurant. I have found the wife to be a much different individual when The Coven is broken. When all three females convene she is someone else, no better or worse but different. But I use the word carousing very specifically, because there is a great degree more fun in her demeanor and a higher bounce in her step when she can be a participant and not the High Priestess.

At one point she asked me to give a good example of a perfect record. (Record she said. We are indeed old fogeys.) I immediately said "The Royal Scam". But then I told her that perfect albums, one with all great songs, were common and that the true measure of a band was to have three such albums in a row. Now that is sustained excellence in music making. Here are some I would venture qualify, and I will start with The Dan since I mentioned Royal Scam. (NOTE: The Beatles don't count because you can go for more than three albums easily.)

Steely Dan
The Royal Scam (1976)
Aja (1977)
Gaucho (1980)

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Led Zeppelin III (1970)
Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Rush (that's my band from back in the day, I could have started with A Farewell To Kings)
Hemispheres (1978)
Permanent Waves (1980)
Moving Pictures (1981)

The Grateful Dead  (look I could go a few ways, but some songs on each album keep me from the Wake..Mars Hotel...Blues for Allah...Terrapin..Shakedown streak, which was amazing. So I go with)
Aoxomoxoa (1969)
Workingman's Dead (1970)
American Beauty (1970)

Yes (I would maybe even start with Time and a Word, a great and overlooked album)
The Yes Album (1971)
Fragile (1971)
Close To The Egde (1972)

Neil Young
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
After the Gold Rush (1970)
Harvest (1972)

Billy Joel has two with The Stranger and 52nd street, but he didn't quite keep it going with Glass Houses and Turnstiles was very good but not yet great. Any thoughts on who else has three great albums. Do you think any of my choices are wrong? Do I have the right band but the wrong albums? I would love to hear from you, just leave a comment and let's see what everyone thinks!

PS WOW! I just realized that Ilike that period from 1969-1972 or so, huh?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Listening to Jerry and thinking about art

Sitting here listening to Dead Set and thinking about a new art acquisition.

I had not heard Dead Set in many moons. I remember once in the 1980s listening to Dead Set at dinner and my Dad came home a bit sauced.he explained that he had had his best day ever on the links and celebrated a bit. During dinner the record (yes, it was an lp record played on my father's Marantz stereo) eventually proceeded to Drums and Space. During Space my fairly lubricated Father proclaimed "I like this...what is it?" During Space.

I became a Deadhead (Dadhead?) around that time and eventually relegated Dead Set to the bottom of the pile, certainly below For The Faithful/Reckoning - which was the acoustic sets from the same shows the eelctric set Dead Det  was culled from. (Listening to Friend of the Devil now and this slow version has a lot going for it.It was the way they did the song when I became a fan and tour follower in the 80s and 90s. shuffled to Little Red Rooster now. Bobby at some of his best.) But not too long ago I had the electric version of Brokedown Palace in my head and wanted to hear it again. So I hopped on Itunes and have been listening to Dead Set every few days for a good month now. It is a nice snapshot of the band at the time and I enjoy the work they do on the album.

The new art acquisition is an Al Capp daily from 1940s. I was looking over the Sunday Heritage auction last week; among their offerings lately have been a steady stream of Capp dailies. I wouldn't mind a Frazetta era strip and would certainly love a sweet daily with Abner and Daisy Mae but those weren't my main criteria. I read an Al Capp biography not too long ago by Michael Schumacher and Dennis Kitchen and that has increased my respect for Capp as an artist. From all accounts Frank Frazetta was very impressed with Al Capp's artistic abilities and that is enough of an endorsement for me. Capp employed assistants from the earliest days of the strip and by the end wasn't doing much at all. He apparently ALWAYS did the hands and faces in the strip. I have some reservations about how true that is for the later strips but don't know why I believe that.

So Heritage has been auctioning 3-5 Abner strips or specialty pieces each auction, Sunday auctions and bigger ones as well. Other auction houses as well I guess but I have noticed Heritage with more I think. But there are no shortage of pieces available. I look them over and try to focus on how much I think Capp drew. the earliest pieces maybe have more Capp, but really who knows. Strips with more hands and faces have more Capp. Strips with L'il Abner or Daisy Mae almost certainly have more Capp. (Garcia playing beautifully on Candyman now.)

This last week's strips were fairly typical of those auctioned lately. A bunch of early ones from 1940 and then some from 1974 or so, near the end (which was 1977 I think.). I immediately dismiss any of the ones from the 60s or 70s. The 50s may have Frazetta, almost certainly are Frazetta from the middle of that decade's dailies, and are therefore more expensive than the others. But is it possible that Al Capp was a better cartoonist than Frank Frazetta? Frazetta was certainly the better artist and among the most versatile artists of the last century. Look, I am not going to get out my Glamourpuss for reference to get the correct term, but Capp is somewhere between Milton Caniff and Hal Foster and Walt Kelly. So until Alex Raymond, with Stan Drake and Al Williamson among others, come along these are the guys slinging the ink like no ones business. And with every week having strips by Capp (and Foster as well, but at multiples of the price for Capp pieces) I knew my time would come. Then on the third or fourth strip this last week I saw one and exclaimed out loud "I love it!". That startled me, but I recognized that I should go with that feeling and throw in a modest bid. Low three figures I figured would do it. Then I forgot about it, honestly.

Well,  I woke up Monday morning and was actually confused when I saw the email with my invoice. But this will have to be the end for now, as my eldest was promised the computer and the youngest was promised my presence for some Olympic viewing. But I will get back to you tomorrow or this weekend at the latest and show off the piece. I should probably pay for it now too.