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Chris Stroffolino: April 23, 2006

Stuff I like

Remember the old episode of Benny Hill, were the word ‘Therapist’ is written on a swinging door, so when one of the door opens, it’s revealed to be ‘The Rapist,’ well likewise, you may write the word ‘Theme’ on this door, and when it opens it’s revealed to be
‘the me.’

  1. Dr. Frank Portman
    Dr. Frank was/is/ the lead singer of legendary Bay Area ‘dork rock’ band, The Mr. T. Experience. He has recently released his memoir, aptly titled, King Dork. At his booksigning party at Cato’s Ale House in Oakland, hosted by Beth Lisick, he read some brilliant, self-mocking excerpts from this new book which i’d call a must for anyone already a fan of his music, or interested in first person accounts of the Bay Area ‘indie’ music scene of the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as those not ashamed to let their dork flag fly.
  2. Ray Charles, Doin’ His Thing
    This relatively unknown album, released in 1969, after Charles cleaned himself up (and according to some, therefore, lost his intensity), incorperates many of the soul/rhythm and blues hooks that the younger generation (especially Memphis Soul and Muscle Shoals) who, no doubt, were influenced by Charles, with his own trademark flare. A great party album, and a return to form, showing that the old boy still had it in him. It spawned no hits, but is infinitely better than his previous albums’ concessions to the marketplace (such as their over-renverential covers of “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby”)
  3. Chuck Prophet
    I got to meet Chuck Prophet this week! At the event at Cato’s Ale House (see item #1 on this list), I overheard him talking about how people use words like ‘boss.’ ‘chief’ and ‘pal’ in often disparaging ways. Unfortunately, I found at too late about his performance at the Jeffrey Lee Pierce tribute the previous week, but for those of you who do not know Mr. Prophet, either his earlier work with Green On Red or his solo albums, he’s both an amazing lead guitarist as well as songwriter
  4. Magazine, “You Never Knew Me.”
    To many, Howard DeVoto is most known as the original lead singer of The Buzzcocks , yet Magazine wrote many songs that can go head to head with them. “You Never Know Me,” in some ways more reminiscent of early’70s Roxy Music than it is of The Buzzcocks, is a masterpiece of pop orchestration and raw emotion that should’ve, would’ve and still could be, a hit.
  5. The Buttless Chaps
    This Vancouver-based act, fronted by Dave Gowans has just released Where Night Meets Light on Mint records. While previous albums were more marked by an eclectic mix of 1980s synth pop and ‘alt country’ (or what could be called Canadiana), the current album is much more of a mood album in which their particular brand of lush ‘alt country’ side dominates, the way a night sky may dominate a rural British Columbian landscape. They’re finishing up a North American tour which brought them to San Francisco, where they played with Continuous Peasant.
  6. John Cale, Vintage Violence
    First released in 1970, Cale’s first solo album, especially for those who know his later albums, his work as a producer or as member of The Velvet Underground, comes as a pleasant surprise. Acknowledging as his primary debt, such late ‘60s pop bands as The Bee Gees (Mock I), and combining pedal steel guitar sounds (courtesy of The Garland Jeffreys Band ) with his piano-dominated tunes (like cleaned up versions of his organ leads on “Siser Ray”) and a voice that sounds more like Ringo Starr at his best, this album sounds at least as fresh today as it must have in 1970.
  7. True Margrit
    Margrit is a San Francisco-based piano playing singer/songwriter, whose voice, playing and songwriting remind me of much of what I love about Laura Nyro, even though she claims to have never heard of Ms. Nyro.
  8. Jolie Holland
    Jolie will be releasing a new album come May, but this past week took some time out to play some violin as well as lend some vocals for a new Continuous Peasant song. I just wanted to say thank you!
  9. Michael Musika
    Mr. Musika is an up and coming fascinating local musician. I met him through Jolie Holland’s scene, and his songwriting and performance style easily rivals that of more well-known ‘folk’ stylsits to emerge in the Bay Area in recent years (such as Sean Hayes or Vetiver). Rememebr, you heard it here, in The Bigtakeover, first!)
  10. Kimberly Chun
    As music editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Chun admirably calls it as she sees it, and is not afraid to pull punches. Most recently, I admired her barbed pen’s treatement of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (or is it Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah ? I still get those two bands confused!)