Program Notes

You people are too damn good to me. I mean, I spend about 30 hours per day seeking out the creamo music and ways to turn you on to it, and what do you do? You call me and thank me, tell me you actually went out and bought the albums I recommended, and were glad you did. You go to shows and write reviews of them for my personal edification. You tip me off to hot acts. That's what I call payback. Thanks.

Well, if you can go to that much trouble, the least I can do is offer some more suggestions. Greg Brown's next album, Dream Cafe, due out pretty soon from Red House Records, proves once and for all that Brown is the closest thing to a God this universe has to offer. How's that for a review? I'll say more later.

You are, I presume and hope, plenty familiar with David Byrne's Talking Heads oeuvre. And if you're a regular and veteran reader of this newspaper, you know all about his Rei Momo endeavor and the rest of his Latin excursion. In Uh-Oh, the ol' Byrne-out - working with about 3000 side musicians - effectively combines the two approaches, adding a dose of funk as seasoning. The rec sounds like a Talking Heads album probably would at this point, and that's a mighty wonderful thing. Roiling beneath Byrne's teasing, funny, unpredictable surfaces are a bunch of Latino touches. I love evolution.

Speaking of evolution, Dead Milkmen have come up with Soul Rotation, which, though still replete with weird jokes and sharp barbs, is the Philly freak show's most musical album by far. They should give the Milkmen a Grammy if for no other reason than to hear Rodney Anonymous - now known as HP Hovercraft - and company deliver an acceptance speech (dedicated to Bert Convy's memory, no doubt). Let's put it this way: the Uptown Horns jam on this record. Seriously. Joe Bob says check it out.

You, too? Believing in my heart that U2 booked a too-small venue due to the downtrend in concert attendance, and feeling that was a rip-off of their loyal fans, I sought to defend the masses from this crass exploitation. Boy, was I wrong. "First of all," says Mike de Zayas, "you could order two tickets for any two shows anywhere on the tour from their fanzine, Propaganda, which I did. I saw them here and in Lakeland. Satisfied? Definitely. It was a special thing they did for the fans. I also bought back-up tickets for $125 apiece, which is cheap for the experience. If they had played an hour's worth of uninspired songs, there would've been a riot. But they were great." And according to a review of the show written by Scott C. Galas and mailed to me, U2 was on, all right. After describing the concert in great and positive detail, Galas concludes, "The glow being emitted from the worn-out fans was one of the best feelings I have seen in a while. If U2 does decide to come back around or not, I feel satisfied (for the time being)."

What band does drummer Ingo Pohlitz play for? Call and let me know.
First Nancy did, wait, that's not right. Or is it? Anyway, now "The Hood does Sinatra." Hood, recently rehomed from lost years in New Yawk City, resonates the up vibe no matter what field he mines - writing for such stellar rags as Reflex, Paper, and New Times; recording several slabs that elevated "dance" music to new intellectual heights; gunning down lightweights on the hot streets (he's a hood, remember). Now he's turned to martinis. Beginning last night (March 17, whoops, we're late again), Hoodman has taken over Tuesday nights at Barocco Beach, where, with help from co-conspirators Rebecca Alexander, Monte Stilson, and Valda Drabla, he'll turn the place into the Martini Club by singing smokey Sinatra tunes as you suck your olives. Admission is free. Dial in at 538-7700.

The tuff stuff: The Cactus Cantina has begun serving both early and late crowds on Saturday. The band of the night now plays at 9:00, and then it's the "Saturday Night Special" beginning at 2:00 a.m. and featuring an all-star classics jam session. Ragamuffin Soldier plays their last show before heading north for a while at Island Club this Saturday. The Island also boasts Grateful Dead night March 27 with Estimated Eyes. Guitar Masters Night at Uncle Sam's takes place April 3 with slide whiz Alex Gomez, fusion specialist Daryll Dobson, and acoustic master Peter Betan. (I know we're getting ahead of ourselves, but this is the last "Program Notes" before I head north with Best of Miami.)

We're not going to let the Little Village album off easy. Listen hard to the track "Don't Bug Me When I'm Working" and you'll discover the origins of the band's name and the meaning of that song's title: buried in the mix is a sample of Sonny Boy Williamson from his Bummer Road album on Chess. While recording a song, Williamson is interrupted by a white-bread producer or engineer, and the following exchange occurs:

White guy: "What's the name of this?"
Sonny Boy: "`A Little Village.' `A Little Village,' motherfucker. `A Little Village.'"

White: "There isn't a motherfucking thing in there about a village, you son of a bitch. Nothing in the song that got anything to do with a village."

Sonny: "Well, a small town!"
White: "I know what a village is."
Sonny: "Well all right, goddammit. You don't name a town, you name it after I get through with it, son of a bitch. Name it what you want to. You name it `Your Mammy' if you want to."

Getcher Bruce boots, getcher Bruce boots here. No I didn't tape it, but I'm certain you did - Springsteen's new and wholly unauthorized "video" was delivered to bootleggers via PBS this past Thursday during A Tribute to Harry Chapin. I was a major fan of Chapin's work, and apparently so were some big music stars who appeared on the show to sing the man's songs. B.S., unfortunately, did not do justice to the late singer-songwriter-guitarist. Instead, he chose to walk through one of those "Thunder Road" type speech-song-speech-song routines, bitching that Chapin always talked his ear off when the two got together many moons ago. Bruce must practice these speeches in front of a full-length mirror - a full-length funhouse mirror. Music is unity, end hunger, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's groovy that Big Harry aimed Bruce toward altruism, but next time find the damn runway dude, and try a little sincerity. Remember, Chapin used to perform some 200 concerts a year, half of them for charity. (He died after a car wreck in 1981.)

The highlight of the show, apart from the begging breaks for Channel 2's coffers (that's a joke, son) and the clips of Chapin performing live, came from Richie Havens, who melted the building with his brilliant, bluesy, acoustic treatment of "W.O.L.D." Havens didn't speak a word, but his singing and playing said it all. (Ironically, earlier that same day, during All My Children, the "fabric of our lives" cotton commercial featuring Havens's voice aired on ABC. I do tape AMC.)

Butthorn of the week: Judy Collins and the producers of A Tribute to Harry Chapin. Having Collins "sing" Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" was a sick idea.

The media circus: He's a kooky conservative, but he's also a wonderful wordsmith - most of the time. William Safire, writing in the New York Times Magazine, broached the etymological origin of "He shoots! He scores!" Safire stated, "That nonce acclamation is taken from a sportscaster's excited report of a successful shot in basketball, patterned after the baseball announcer Mel Allen's `How 'bout that!' after a home run, a generation or so ago." I don't think so, Billy. "He shoots! He scores!" was and is a phrase used to describe hockey action. Also, I hate the style rule that requires Safire to write "the announcer Mel Allen." Just "announcer Mel Allen" would be fine. (And while we're on the topic, the New Times basketball team concluded its season in the YMCA South District League with a second-round play-off loss. To the players Billy, Todd, Kirk, Flood, Eddie, Juan, Frank, Steve: get ready for next season, guys.)

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Greg Baker