The K.G.B.

Call this a spur of the moment, off the cuff, bit of musical blogging inspiration…and, hopefully, a bit of fun. A month or more ago, I came across this song on YouTube and it cracks me up every time I watch this performance of “Manchildby the Kyle Gass Band.

You might recognize the follicly-challenged frontman as one half of the comedy rock band Tenacious D with his counterpart Jack Black.

The lyrics are a big part of why I find this song so funny, but the delivery and commitment of Gass are also part of the equation. Pay attention to the 3:08 mark and you’ll see Mick Jagger has got nothing on the stage moves of Kyle Gass. The music in this song rocks and the lead guitarist plays a tasty solo as well.

Getting back to the lyrics, you have references to cow tipping, Lucky Charms, grilled cheese sandwiches, Slip n Slide, and, of course, lack of TV parental control. What’s not to like!

Viva, Kyle Gass Band!

Till next time keep your Mojo on the Horizon!


Silver Machine

When you hear the unique name (more specifically nickname) “Lemmy”, what pops into your head? A Rickenbacker bass…a big dude with a wart on his face…the band Motörhead? Maybe all of the above.

I never knew too much about the guy or Motörhead before watching the 2010 film biography called “Lemmy”, but I have some appreciation for him now. If nothing else, this film turned me on to the song “Silver Machine” by his pre-Motörhead band called Hawkwind. Hawkwind is usually described as space rock…whatever that means.

I liked this song the first time I heard it. Sure, there are spacey elements on the recording, but it’s basically a boogie woogie rock and roll song. That said, lyrically, it’s a unique piece of work. It’s not that I can’t remember the lyrics, they’re just different enough to keep it interesting.

If you think the song couldn’t get any freakier, you should hear the version recorded by William Shatner.

By the way, this isn’t my favorite track on Shatner’s “Seeking Major Tom” album, but it seemed relevant. Getting back to the Hawkwind version, Lemmy didn’t originally sing the lead vocal. That was handled by songwriter/Hawkwind bandmate Robert Calvert. Sylvia MacManus also shares a songwriting credit on “Silver Machine.”

Lemmy said he was kicked out of Hawkwind for “drug snobbery”… meaning his bandmates were doing certain drugs while he was doing others. What a way to go. Incidentally, the visual of “Silver Machine” is also forever tied to this six foot tall gal named “Stacia” who used to dance on stage with Hawkwind. I guess buying her a tambourine wasn’t really necessary.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Like a Rolling Spirit

I ran across a list of close to 200 different recording artists who have tackled the well-known Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone.” There are enough unique versions to do a week’s worth of blog entries on it, but the one that really grabbed my attention was the band Spirit.

How would you describe this version? The words which pop into my mind are “trippy” and “ethereal”. Talk about making a song your own! Wow. I wonder what Bob Dylan would think of it?

I’m no expert on the band Spirit, but here are a few things which pop to mind. They had a hit with the song “I Got a Line on You” and also recorded the eco-friendly tune “Nature’s Way” as well. Another important aspect of Spirit’s Dylan cover is the unique voice of Randy California.

His real name is Randy Wolfe. I didn’t know this until today, but the name “Randy California” was actually given to him by Jimi Hendrix when they played together in Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. (Hendrix was Jimmy James. Thanks, Wikipedia! )

I wonder what sort of effects were used on this particular recording? I thought I could hear a rotating Leslie speaker effect on the vocals, but I could be wrong. The studio version is from the “Spirit of ’76” album, which also includes some additional cover songs.

It’s interesting to think about the Hendrix-Randy California-Bob Dylan circles of influence. Hendrix was a big Dylan fan and even recorded his take on “Like a Rolling Stone” as well.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Stones Dream: A Tale of Two Ronnies

At the risk of starting my own personal blog overkill, I had a bizarre dream last night which is still fresh in my mind. The gist of the dream is this….Somehow or another The Rolling Stones ended up playing in Baldwin City, Kansas. This is the home of my college alma mater. It’s almost like the band knew someone on campus and were just hanging around jamming. I ended up in a jam or a practice with them. I honestly don’t know if I was playing an instrument. For the record, this was some kind of 70s lineup of the Stones, but I think Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood were both there along with Bill Wyman on bass. Mick Jagger and Keef were there as you might expect. I’m not sure about Charlie Watts, but someone was keeping the beat.

There are two specific songs which popped up in this dream, but neither of them are Stones originals. The first one is a fairly obscure Jimmy Reed tune called “Mr. Luck”.

I think I was trying to work up the nerve to ask Keith Richards if we could play it in the key of “F” instead of “G” for some reason.

As the dream continued, the Stones practice migrated from a practice hall on a hill and morphed into a gig in a meadow. At this point, the band opened with an odd choice: “What’s Your Name” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Maybe Mick Jagger was thinking small town Kansas residents only listen to Skynyrd? I don’t think Mick was really on his game with this song selection for the band, but that was the dream.

It’s strange how dreams mash up people, places, and things. Maybe the Stones can play next year’s Maple Leaf Festival? That’s the only logical conclusion I draw from this one.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Mayans, Jaguars, & Knives (Oh My!)

One film which has been on my “to blog” list for awhile is 2006’s “Apocalypto”, which was directed by Mel Gibson. This is not a film for everyone. Why, you may ask? It’s in subtitles. It has graphic violence. It’s over 2 hours long. Despite these three points, this film really sucks me in every time I see it. The film takes place in the jungle and involves a hunter named Jaguar Paw along with his family and fellow villagers. (I guess it’s around the year 1500 in Yucatan, Mexico, but that never really mattered to me.) They live peacefully enough until one day a rival tribe overtakes the village and carts off the villagers to become human sacrifices.

I would have guessed this movie was released in the 90’s, but that’s probably due to the large number of characters with piercings and tattoos. (Who would have guessed during 1502, those styles would come back again? ) Perhaps listening to James Horner’s “Tapir Hunt” is better than trying to describe the freaky, savage vibe to “Apocalypto.”

There are a few different themes explored throughout the film like family, fatherhood, faith, survival of the fittest, and even man’s place in the natural world. So what makes this such a great film?

A few things pop to my mind. First, there are some great villains. The main dudes behind the raid on the village are cold, vicious types. Along the same lines, their costumes are pretty amazing, too. The leader of the bad guys is decked out in some sort of big cat jaw headdress and carries his obligatory skull trophies on his person. He and his henchmen also carry stylish but deadly obsidian knives, spears, etc. A blowgun also makes an appearance. Quite a bit of jewelry, too.

One synopsis of this film described the main character taking “a hero’s journey”. That’s true, but it’s also a bit like throwing your anthropology textbook into a blender with “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s savage, it’s freaky, but it’s also entertaining.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!


Cable TV was a new thing in my neighborhood when I was around 12 or 13 years old. One thing I always remember about that time period was the little premium channel guides that would come in the mail. You’d have a listing of what film or what comedy special was on which of the premium stations like HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, or Cinemax. There were plenty of pictures and descriptions to promote the various things we all couldn’t wait to see. One of those I always remember was a show called “Thunderbirds” which featured some unique, militant-looking puppets. Naturally, that wasn’t on one of the premium channels we got. I guess it was kind of like my cable TV white whale in some way.

Recently (and many years later) I got to learn about “Thunderbirds” and several other programs via the documentary called “Filmed in Supermarionation.” It’s a great mix of interviews with not only director Gerry Anderson and various crew members, but also plenty of video clips and behind the scenes pics. There are some great stories.

The film goes into great detail about many of the shows which came before and after “Thunderbirds” like “Four Feather Falls” and “Supercar”. There are also some freaky ones like “Joe 90” and “Captain Scarlet” to name a couple. I think this film has a pretty wide appeal because of the great stories about how Supermarionation was created along with many of the creative and technical challenges encountered along the way. One thing I failed to mention is all of these shows originated in Great Britain so there may be some cultural differences along the way. (One time I watched a show with Paddington Bear where he kept searching for marmalade. I was like, “Dude, just open up the fridge.”) I can’t see a show called “Torchy” ever being big in America for example.

The biggest thing I got from the documentary was how dedicated the crew and Anderson seemed to be. They are presented as creative and inventive people who were determined to make some excellent shows for the rest of the world’s viewing pleasure. I suppose Gerry Anderson is to Supermarionation world what George Lucas is to Star Wars.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, Charlie Brown!

Another St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. What does that mean for you and yours…green beer…corned beef and cabbage…maybe you pull your Notre Dame or Boston Celtics jersey out from the back of the closet? As I look back on my previous holiday blog entries, I find myself asking this question: Why was there never “A Charlie Brown St. Patrick’s Day” TV special?

As someone of Irish heritage, I have to say I feel a bit slighted. To remedy this situation, I’m going to throw out a few ideas for a proposed TV special. Although I have a few ideas for the storyline, music is always a big part of these things…you know like The Whos in Whoville singing wahoo, etc. I propose Schroeder abandons his classical music taste in favor of playing Bing Crosby’s “Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder?” on his piano.

Maybe the song could be the big finish of the special with Linus wrapping his security blanket around a shillelagh. Instead of psychiatric advice, Lucy could sell shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey or Guinness for 5 cents. What else? Personally, I think a donnybrook would be appropriate. Maybe Peppermint Patty could brush back someone from home plate during a softball game and instigate a bench clearing brawl. Just a thought. How about a green and an orange colored Rockem Sockem Robot tournament?

Instead of a Great Pumpkin, they could await the arrival of Liam the Leprechaun. I’m not 100% sure how Snoopy and Woodstock would be involved. I suppose Joe Cool could wear some shamrock shaped shades. Maybe Snoopy’s doghouse would work as a St. Patrick’s Day Parade float? There’s no shortage of St. Pat’s Day parades during this time of year. I’ve never been, but the small town of St. Patrick, Missouri is a safe bet. The post office there offers a special St. Pat’s Day postmark if memory serves me correctly.

Well those are just a few ideas for network TV executives to consider. They’ll probably just have a reality show anyway.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Nice & Gentle, Kinky & Black

At the moment, I’m scratching my head because I can’t remember for the life of me where I heard this song for the first time. I watch a lot of TV and movies so it’s possible I heard “Act Nice and Gentle” there. In any event, I’m making it a priority to share this song because it really caught my ear. The version I heard first is by two man group The Black Keys.

Apparently, this song was originally recorded by The Kinks and was the flip side to “Waterloo Sunset.” Both versions feature some twangy, country guitar licks.

Once I found out this was a Kinks’ song, it made sense to me. “Oh yeah… I can hear Ray Davies saying or singing or writing those lines.” I can’t recall the word “civility” in any other songs I know.

The feel of this song reminds me of a couple of others you might know. The first one is “Looking Out My Back Door” by Credeence Clearwater Revival. Both songs have a stripped down feel with what I would call steady, nonchalant drums. What’s interesting about The Black Keys’ version is the guitarist is tuned down a full step, which is something John Fogerty did on more than one CCR track. I really like the line about false eyelashes…not sure if that’s technically the bridge of the song or just part of a verse. In any event, THAT part reminds me of a chord change in the Blondie song “Heart of Glass.”

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Stranded with Johnny Ramone

Johnny Ramone…when it comes to guitar players and their respective impact, you might think of him as Mr. Downstroke or Mr. Buzzsaw. Finesse and delicateness were not his thang during his tenure with The Ramones. He attacked the guitar with speed and ferocity. Yes, they were usually 3 chord songs, but I think you have to give Johnny (real name John Cummings) and the rest of the band their due, whether they were playing their originals or covers like “Surfin’ Bird.”

By the way, “Surfin’ Bird” was originally released by The Trashmen …it was a combo of “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)” and “The Bird’s the Word” by The Rivingtons. I’ll let you figure out the songwriting credits on these.

Getting back to Johnny, I was watching a sci-fi film called “Stranded” (2001) recently and thought one character looked familiar….then it came to me. Man, that looks like…could it be…it IS…Johnny Ramone!

I guess he seemed a little out of context without his trademark black leather jacket and 1965 Mosrite Ventures II electric guitar worn at his knees. His hair was a little different, too. I read a couple of Ramones biographies and, from what I read, Johnny was a big movie watcher. Apparently, he had a theater installed in his basement when he eventually retired from touring and recording with The Ramones.

I didn’t watch the entire film, but Vincent Gallo is in it as well. I’m planning to blog about Gallo’s film “Buffalo ’66” in the future. By the way, Ramone’s previously mentioned guitar sold at auction for almost one million dollars.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Revisiting Highway 61

Ironically, I think I was working in news radio when “Highway 61 Revisited – Revisited” was released in 2005, but I don’t remember reading or hearing anything about it. What a deal. (In case you missed it, the original “Highway 61 Revisited” was released by Bob Dylan in 1965 and contained “Like a Rolling Stone” along with several other great tracks.)

Recently, I found a really interesting cover of the title track by Dave Alvin on the various artists Revisited-Revisited release. Try saying that 10 times quickly…maybe even in an Elmer Fudd voice if you like.

Alvin’s take on this Dylan tune is pretty unique. It’s basically a spoken word thing with a trippy musical accompaniment, but I have to say I like it — it’s poetic. I don’t usually pay much attention to “official videos”, but this one is a sort of black and white open road montage. It works for me.

Dylan’s original release is pretty off the wall as well.

Lyrically, this is a good example of why people like Dylan’s writing. You’ve got references to the bible, the welfare department, bleachers in the sun. Again, it’s not only poetic as a whole, but how do you describe the music…funny, raucous, bluesy, funky, unique? I would agree with all of those. The comedic siren whistle is a nice touch.

There are at least 40 other cover versions of this song so I….reserve the right to revisit the already Revisited? Elmer Fudd, out.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!