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August 18, 2007

They picked the wrong Ohioan to host The Price Is Right

Yesterday I randomly caught bits and pieces of Dan Patrick's last radio show as an ESPN employee.  'Twas nothing really profound or earth shattering, but it's still kind of strange to think that he won't appear on ESPN at any time for the foreseeable future.  After all, I'm a long-time admirer of Dan's, partly because it seems like I've been watching him on TV for forever, but mostly because we essentially had the same major at the University of Dayton.

I got my degree about 20 years after Dan, but I remember numerous classes in good ol' St. Joe's hall in which the professor would point to a seat in the classroom and say something like, "Dan Patrick took this class when he was here, and he sat at that desk."  In a world where national sports journalism seems to be dominated by Northwestern and Syracuse grads, it was always nice to know that one of our own had "made it."  UD remains a school where the engineering, business, and education schools got all the hype, so it's also kind of ironic that UD's most famous faces were (and remain) communication grads.  (John Gruden, anybody?)

So, as we continue to recover from a third-straight UD basketball season without a post-season appearance, we Flyers can look back fondly on Dan Patrick's ESPN career and hope that soon he'll do something else that will give me a good reason for continuing to tell people that he and I had the same major at UD.

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August 16, 2007

Proud to be from Summit County

I've long since resigned myself to the fact that people will think I'm some goofy 80's nostalgiac (how's that for inventing a word?) when I list Devo as one of the treasures originating from Summit County.  I know they've only heard "Whip It," and I know that a good number of the people who have actually sat down and given an honest listen to Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Duty Now For The Future know the subtle greatness of Devo.  After all, bands like Pussy Galore, Nirvana, and This Moment In Black History don't cover songs by subpar 80's one-hit wonders.

I'll also readily admit, though, that for every "Be Stiff," "Uncontrollable Urge," or "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA" there's a "Disco Dancer," "Post Post-Modern Man," or "That's What He Said" credited to the Devo name.  I'm not necessarily saying that the later songs are really horrible, just that Devo's later output was inconsistent, and a lot of it is best appreciated by the "super Devo-ted."

I write this because the new Devo song, "Watch Us Work It," is a pretty nice return to form for the band from Akron, Ohio.  I haven't seen the Dell commercial that the song is featured in (one of the benefits, I guess, from having cut down my television consumption), but in a world where bands like Wilco use commercials as a marketing device, I suppose this may be the best way for Devo to get the music to the proverbial people.  And isn't debuting a new song in an ad for laptops kinda just another way for Devo to actually make its artistic statement?  After all, this is the band that pioneered the music video.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at this excerpt from The Truth About Devolution, which (even on a minimum budget) sure beats the hell out of those ridiculous dream sequences from Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same, which was produced around the same time (1976):

Anyway, the song itself is typical mid-period Devo stuff.  Really, I think "Watch Us Work It" could easily fit on Freedom Of Choice, which I think is a good thing.  The guitar-synth sound is there, and the lyrics are straight out of the Devo playbook:

Hey, I thought I heard somebody say, "That dog ain't going home until he gets his bone."

Hey, they said that way he'd be ok, so when he's home alone he'd bark, "Ain't nothing wrong."

Now watch us work it.

Like I said, the dog/bone motiff comes right out of "Freedom of Choice," and the whole theme on the tragedy of the human situation in the Western world is all over everything Devo's done.  Thirty-some years later, it's a good thing that Devo is still singing lines like "How low can you go? / That's really up to you."

For better or for worse, "Watch Us Work It" isn't earth-shattering stuff.  It is, though, a good song with some substance to it.  It'll be interesting to see if the rumored new Devo album arrives any time soon.  Until then, "Watch Us Work It" is worth the 99 cent download on iTunes.

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August 14, 2007

New Lee Wadlinger EP available today

Don't say we never gave you anything for free.  Today Next Best Records has posted a new Lee Wadlinger EP for free download on the NBR site.  The record is called The ECB Years: 1996-1997.  It's a sampler-type compilation of songs Lee recorded during those two years, a period in which he was between bands and trying to find his way as a teenage Ohio musician (for those scoring at home, the way he found was the GBV lo-fi way).  If you've ever wondered what kind of stuff Lee recorded around the time he so famously (ha ha) opened for Elliot Smith (we're going to ride that story into the ground I guess, at least until he opens for Dylan), this is your big opportunity.

The material is a bit uneven, though I bear a particular affection for "SAM" (which is an obvious tribute to Swearing at Motorists) and "CB RNH" (which I suppose is a subtle tribute to Swearing at Motorists).  Either way, it's worth a listen or two.  After all, it is free.  MP3's, as well as a more formal description/liner note-type deal, are here.

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From the Rock Vault, Pavement edition

I was flipping through the fourth issue of ye olde Seven, the quarterly Scat Records publication that lasted for about three years or so beginning in 1989.  As you can probably guess from the title, Seven featured reviews of 7" records.  I'll readily admit that most of the records reviewed come from bands I've never heard of, and really the most entertaining thing about the 'zines these many years later is how the reviewers (mostly Robert Griffin and Tim Tobias) find new and exciting ways to rip on the majority of the platters.  Take, for instance, an excerpt from Tobias's review of a record by Stukas:

Robert, can I give a minus rating?  Robert, were you mad at me for something the day you gave me this?  I have a good idea.  Let's you and I rewrite history and pretend that you never received this record and that you never passed it along to me because I feel violated by this record.  And I wonder what I did to you to deserve this.

Or, how about Griffin's review of Dead Steelmill's "It's All Over" EP:

The songs as a whole suffer from typical post-'82 hardcore syndrome -- that is, the songs are collections of riffs, not songs.  The singer has an unpleasant voice that wouldn't compare favorably with any given poodle's yelping.  Great hand-painted sleeve, though.

Anyway, this particular issue, from Fall 1990, is notable for the inclusion of the Demolition Plot J-7 EP by some Drag City band called Pavement.  This, avid Treble Kicker fans will note, was their follow-up to their self-released debut, Slay Tracks.  Proving once again that he knows gold when he sees it, Griffin gave DPJ-7 a rare 4.5 rating.  The review, interestingly enough, was tucked between reviews of 7"'s by Traci Starr ("no goddamn rating") and Seaweed (which merited a 3.5).  Check it:


Pavement Demolition Plot J-7 review


There's also an ad for the record on the same page as the review:

Demolition Plot J-7 ad

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August 06, 2007

I confess. I'm a GBV Geek.

There's a nice mention of the Knights' "Paris Hilton & Captain Beefheart" record today on World of Wumme.  I really dig seeing someone who gets it, . . . well . . . , get it.  I'd quote my favorite pieces, but the whole thing's really worth reading, so do it.  Most GBV fans (especially those of us who have pulled a muscle or two trying to keep pace with Robert Pollard's recorded output) will appreciate the discussion of the decline of the "GBV Geek."

The WoW piece got me thinking about the GBV t-shirt mentioned in "Paris Hilton & Captain Beefheart" (as well as in the liner notes).  I'm happy to report that it's alive and well:


Rockin the Propeller t-shirt


Today's Knights of Infinite Resignation fun fact: A performance of GBV's "Hey Aardvark" was perhaps the musical highlight of the Knights' first public appearance (in Dayton, of all places).  It was a throw-in to fill time while lead guitarist T.J. Redds tried to figure out why his guitar sounded out of tune (The answer?  He was playing a guitar tuned down a half-step . . . did I mention that this also represented the first time 75% of the band had ever played music on stage before?).  The brilliance of the GBV cover was outdone only by the fog machine that the sound guy made the mistake of telling the band they could use if they wanted.  Perhaps predictably, the fog machine got the most praise in the review in UD's Flyer News.  Perhaps also predictably, I think that review was in volume 49, which is the last volume of the paper not to be included on the online archives, so we're deprived of those precious column inches.  Anyway, I'll stop rambling.

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