Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Can you identify them all?

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We all heard ’em while growing up. Old Wives’ Tales. Some are so embedded in the fabric of our lives they’re nearly impossible to remove.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at 15 of the most popular ones and I’ll promptly debunk them. I’ll start with an Old Wives’ Tale (OWT), followed by the truth. Sorry in advance old wives, but you are about to be debunked.

OWT

You can catch a cold by going outside in cold weather without a coat or with wet hair.

TRUTH

You catch a cold through exposure to bacteria or viruses, not by actually getting cold. It’s just that viruses survive better in colder temperatures.

OWT

Reading in dim light hurts your eyes.

TRUTH

Reading in a darkly lit room might give your eyes some dryness or fatigue, but it won’t cause any serious or long-term damage. Chillax.

OWT

Humans only use 10% of their brains.

TRUTH

In reality, the entire human brain is constantly active—even when we are sleeping. That said, I had a kid in class we called Cheese Cracker who I’m pretty sure only used about  7% of his brain.

OWT

Humans eat an average of 8 spiders a year while sleeping.

TRUTH

Scientists say it highly unlikely that a spider would ever end up in your mouth. Spiders tend to be found either tending their webs or hunting in nonhuman-infested areas. They usually don’t intentionally crawl into a bed because it offers no prey. Why in the world would they enter your mouth? Spiders ain’t dumb. Everybody settle down.

OWT

You should pee on a jellyfish sting.

TRUTH

Uh, that doesn’t work, but this does – first, remove the tentacles (that’s what’s hurting you so much) with something other than your fingers unless you want get stung again. Next, pour something acidic, like vinegar, lemon juice, or battery acid, on the sting. Finally, use a flat object like a butter knife to scrape off the stinging cells. Do that and you have treated your jellyfish sting, all without having Uncle Roger pee on you.

PS- I was joking about the battery acid. Don’t do that.

OWT

Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritus.

TRUTH

Scientists have never actually found a link between knuckle cracking and arthritis. Still, it’s annoying as hell so stop. Also stop popping your gum. And chewing with your mouth open. I’ll stop now.

OWT

Eating too much turkey makes you sleepy.

TRUTH

While meat does contain an amino acid that helps to create melatonin, a brain chemical known for making people tired, turkey does not actually cause more fatigue than other foods. We’re actually tired because of the large quantities of carbohydrates and alcohol that a lot of us consume on Thanksgiving. What I’m saying is that daddy is in the recliner sleeping because he’s drunk.

OWT

Sitting too close to the television will harm your eyes.

TRUTH

This one stems from the fact that General Electric produced color TVs back in the 1960s that emitted up to 100,000 times more radiation than federal health officials considered to be safe—and while the  television sets were recalled almost immediately, the Old Wives’ Tale hangs around (even with our new TV technology and whatnot).

PS- I’m not expert but 100,000 times more radiation does seem a tad high.

OWT

You shouldn’t swim for 30-minutes after eating.

TRUTH

This Old Wives’ Tale assumes that after eating the body diverts blood from your limbs to the digestive tract, thus depleting your arms and legs of enough blood to swim. While it is true that digestion requires extra blood, the body does not drain the limbs of enough blood to work properly. Bottom line, you might get a small cramp. Deal with it.

PS- I fondly remember swimming at the Mead Pool. It was amazing. I also fondly remember a girl about my age named Tammy that swam there. I had a remendous crush on her and would immediately look for her upon our arrival. I long for a simpler time.

OWT

Bulls hate the color red.

TRUTH

Yes!

People believe this because the bull charges at that thing the matador waves around, called a muleta. Actually, bulls are color blind. They’re agitated by the motion of the muleta, not its color. On a related note, I hate bullfighting. I always root for a good old fashioned goring. Leave the damn bull alone.

OWT

The 5-second rule.

TRUTH

This Old Wives’ Tale infers that if you drop food on the floor and snatch it up within 5-seconds it wasn’t on the floor/ground long enough to gather germs. Nobody really believes athat anymore, right? We say that jokingly, right? Right?

PS- This Old Wives’ Tale is sometimes known as the 3-second rule. Or in my case the 3-minute rule.

OWT

It takes 7-years to digest a piece of gum.

TRUTH

Negatory. The truth is gum doesn’t digest at all. It travels through your digestive tract and then, you know. On a related note, who swallows their gum?

OWT

To cure a hangover, just have a little “hair of the dog.” In other words have a drink.

TRUTH

Seems sort of obvious but you can’t drink your way out of a hangover, although many have tried. Der.

OWT

Eating chocolate will give you acne.

TRUTH

I heard this one a lot whilst growing up. It is true that a high fat or high sugar diet can exacerbate acne and sugary stuff can often cause hormone fluctuations, which can increase acne. However, there is no evidence that eating normal amounts of chocolate directly triggers acne. In reality dark chocolate actually promotes numerous health benefits. Snack away kids!

OWT

Rubbing whiskey on you baby’s gums will ease teething pain.

TRUTH

Actually, experts recommend using natural remedies, such as massaging a warm washcloth on your baby’s gums.

On this day in 1969, The Beatles recorded “Something”, a song that would be included on the album Abbey Road. Written by George Harrison, the song was issued on a double A-side single, coupled with “Come Together”, making it the first Harrison composition to become a Beatles A-side. The guitar solo by George is widely believed to be some of his best work. Both John Lennon and producer George Martin stated that “Something” was the best song on Abbey Road.

Thsi time of year is when I would be teaching about Gettysburg, and I’d always show the documentary “Gettysburg” to my students. As always, like when George Washington decided to turn and attack the Hessians in 1776, we’d discuss how one human’s courageous decision could change the course of history. Here we have Joshua Chamberlain at Gettysburg, men out of ammunition, yet they had to protect the flank at Little Round Top. Faced with a life-altering decison, Chamberlain decided to fix bayonets and charge. This scene, to this day, gives me chills.

  1. There isn’t a single bridge across the Amazon River.
  2. The founders of Adidas (Adi Dassler) and Puma (Rudolf Dassler) are brothers and their houses are next door to each other in Germany.
  3. The distance from the United States to Russia is 55-miles.
  4. Jack the Ripper was still active when Nintendo was founded.
  5. The sun is so loud that if space was filled with air instead of being a vacuum we’d be hearing screeching sun noises at 125 decibel at all times.
  6. Stonehenge was already a ruin when Jesus lived.
  7. Because the number of possible combination of genes isn’t infinite, there are probably at least 7 humans that look the same as you.
  8. Netflix was founded before Google.
  9. The 10th president of the US, John Tyler (1790-1862), has two living grandchildren. Yes, GRANDchildren.
  10. Wyoming only has two escalators.
  11. Dinosaurs were officially discovered in 1842, so George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the boys had no knowledge of them.
  12. Vending machines kill twice as many people per year than sharks do.
  13. Sharks are older than trees. Sharks date back 450 million years, trees 350 million years.
  14. The combined weight of all the ants on the planet is greater than the combined weight of all the humans.
  15. The Nazis were the first people in modern history to start an anti-smoking and tobacco movement.
  16. Maine is the closet US state to Africa.
  17. Woolly Mammoths were still alive when Egyptians were building the pyramids.
  18. England’s Oxford University had existed for hundreds of years when the Aztec Empire was founded.
  19. The world’s oldest living tree was already 1,000-years old when the last Wolly Mammoth died.
  20. When the Pilgrim’s landed at Plymoth Rock, the Spanish had been settled in what is now the American Southwest for 100-years.
  21. The Brooklyn Bridge was being built while Custer’s Last Stand occurred.

Man, were the Buckeye’s hitting hard this game.

Note: Special thank you to Blake Rinehart for loaning me scrapbooks that belonged to the late Dale Haynes. He collected nearly every article the Gazette published in every sport, and those scrapbooks were invaluable. Also thank you to everyone I quote in the article. So many of you brought back memories of a wonderful time in my life . . .

Anyone who knew anything about southern Ohio basketball saw it coming. The fans, opposing leagues, the players, everyone. The Scioto Valley Conference coaches knew and they said as much in the Chillicothe Gazette’s yearly league preview:

  • In 1989-90 it was a good league. Southeastern was a state semi-finalist, Huntington, Adena, Paint Valley and we were all decent. But this year, I don’t see a real weak team.” – Zane Trace Coach Gary Kellough
  • I don’t think it’s ever been as competitive as it will be now. There are seven teams that could win this thing with a few breaks. I think it might be the toughest it’s ever been.” – Huntington Coach Jerry Mowery
  • “I think there are about four teams you could shake up and put them in a hat and let it fall out.” – Piketon Coach Phil Howard
  • “There is no comparing this year to any other. I’ve been watching it since 1965. There hasn’t been anything close to this.” – Yours truly, Paint Valley Coach Dave Shoemaker

Consider the following – four of the five 1st Team All-SVC players from the previous year were returning. 1990-1991 SVC Player of the year Matt Combs was coming back. Three of the five 2nd Team All-SVC players from the previous year were also returning, so that’s seven of the top ten players coming back from the year prior.

And get this – that didn’t include transfers Eric Caudill at Piketon (from Eastern) and Shawn Beuscher at Westfall (from Wellston).

The league had five, five 1,000 point scorers on its rosters that year.

There were seven teams that thought they might have a chance to win the league in 1991-1992. Seven.

The SVC was so good that in the 2-years prior we had a team representing our league in the Final 4 – Southeastern in 1990 and Unioto in 1991. Both teams had seniors with Final 4 experience returning. Both coaches, Larry Jordan and Ron Lovely, were still there.

Today, if you talk to lifelong Scioto Valley Conference followers, some will argue that any of the top five or six teams in the league during the 1991-1992 season would have won the league in any other year. And you know what? It’s an arguable point.

It was a season that saw Unioto beat state ranked Division II Washington Court House and Paint Valley, without a senior on its roster, take #2 ranked D-2 Columbus St. Charles down to the wire without our starting point guard. Zane Trace beat eventual Regional Finalist Wheelersburg, and the Pioneers finished in a tie for fifth in our league. At one point three SVC teams (Unioto, Piketon and Huntington) were ranked in the Top 10 in the Associated Press poll.

Paint Valley’s Black Wave.

1991-1992 was the season where every game was a war, every night saw a packed house, and every student section was insane. From Unioto’s Section 8 to Zane Trace’s Pit Crew to Paint Valley’s Black Wave to Huntington’s Hunch Bunch, those groups were all huge and loud.

And yes, obnoxious, sometimes inappropriate, but always large, deafening, and above all, loyal. Hey, I swear I once saw a member of The Black Wave get a hand on a pass that was heading from the wing to the corner. Unioto’s Section 8? The PV cheerleaders put signs in all my players yards, very nice wooden signs that were professionaly painted. Craig Kerns’ sign came up missing. When we got to our game at Unioto, Section 8 had it sitting right there with them. Heck, our local paper had once called Huntington’s fans “Rude, crude, obnoxious and out of control.”

Huntington’s Scott Keller recalls that at Zane Trace the Pit Crew had Bert and Ernie dolls, complete with jerseys of himself and Chad Lytle. Oh, and they were hanging from ropes. Unioto? Section 8 had a monkey dressed up like Chad. Oh, and later in the game the girl holding the monkey took a “bad pass” from Lytle right in the face.

So yeah. Wild.

So wild that police escorts from the locker room to the bus were not uncommon.

Unioto’s Matt Combs.

Did anyone get offended? Nah, not really. Back then the players took the abuse and played harder. After all, the best revenge is winning.

That year, everyone knew that if you didn’t get to the gym before the freshmen game tipped off, you might not get a seat.

The coaches? You had Larry Jordan at Southeastern, Gary Kellough at Zane Trace, Ron Lovely at Unioto, Phil Howard at Piketon, Jerry Mowery at Huntington, Steve Kalinoski at Westfall, George Barnes at Adena and me, Dave Shoemaker, at Paint Valley. Five of those coaches (Jordan, Lovely, Kellough, Howard, and myself) had or would end up winning SVC Championships.

And the games, man. Like I said, every night was intense. Here’s just a few examples:

  • Huntington beat Paint Valley 44-39 in The Valley that saw the Huntsmen hold the ball for nearly a quarter as the packed house went berserk.
  • Southeastern beat D2 Waverly 80-78 in an early season thriller.
  • Huntington whipped Zane Trace 80-62 as Chad Lytle poured in 41.
  • Unioto defeated state-ranked Washington Court House 80-68 behind a Matt Combs 23 and 10 double-double.
  • Piketon hammered an undefeated but outmanned Western Latham squad 85-70.
  • Unioto dropped Vinton County 76-58, and after the game Matt Combs actually had this to say: “We played kind of flat, really.” 
  • Zane Trace whipped that year’s Regional Finalist Wheelersburg 56-54 using balanced scoring and stifling defense.
  • Paint Valley, with an all-junior starting five and without their sick point guard, nearly shocked Division II and 2nd ranked Columbus St. Charles in the Waverly Christmas Classic before falling 69-61.
  • Piketon defeated Unioto 76-74 on a last second putback by Jason Lamerson before a riotous crowd at Unioto. The Gazette said that it was “A wild, overflow crowd with coaches going crazy.” How crazy? Piketon Head Coach Phil Howard received a technical foul in the reserve game.
  • Southeastern dropped Unioto 93-85 as Mike Collins scored 29 for the Panthers.
  • Huntington beat Unioto 95-93 as Chad Lytle score his 1,000th point. Lytle scored 30 that night, Scott Keller poured in 27, and Matt Combs bombed in 36. Again, the doors were closed due to an overflow crowd. All the doors had signs that read, “SOLD OUT.”
  • Paint Valley won over Southeastern 53-51 in overtime before a packed gym in Bainbridge. Craig Kerns’ 27-points led the Bearcats in this game, which saw a fan rush the court and be taken away by security.
  • Unioto destroyed Adena 87-71 behind Matt Combs’ 45-point scoring barrage.
  • Paint Valley defeated Unioto 60-54 after trailing 25-12 in the second quarter. It was the Bearcats’ sixth straight win and seventh in their last eight games.
  • Zane Trace upset Huntington 58-53, again using a disciplined, balanced attack.
  • Unioto handed Piketon its first SVC as well as home loss, 87-78, once more before a raucous crowd. Jason Thress made five long distance bombs (several from NBA distance) for the Shermans on his way to 23-points.
  • Southeastern again upset Unioto, this time 71-64 at Unioto. Mike Collins scored 23-points and had four threes, and Chad Jordan scored 17-points and had 13-boards.
  • Piketon beat Paint Valley in Bainbridge as Eric Caudill scored 31 and Craig Kerns 23.
  • Paint Valley barely escaped with a 54-52 win over winless Adena in Frankfort as Craig Kerns took over after the Bearcats fell behind by 7 midway through the fourth quarter.
  • Piketon j-u-u-s-t got by Southeastern 58-57 on a game winning shot by Jeremy Tackett.
  • Zane Trace needed two overtimes to beat Westfall 63-57 as Jeff Hanes scored 28.
  • Paint Valley stormed back to beat Southeastern 53-48 in Richmond Dale after trailing by 9 late in the fourth quarter.
  • Huntington defeated Southeastern in Richmind Dale 74-68 in overtime behind 24-points each from Chad Lytle and Scott Keller.
  • And finally, Piketon clinched the SVC Championship with a 77-73 win at Huntington. The game saw Chad Lytle score 27-points to become Huntington’s all-time scoring leader, and Eric Caudill poured in 43 for The Streaks.

Chad Lytle, Huntington.

So yes, anybody could beat anybody.

Here’s what some of the participants remember about that incredible season. Common themes? Crowds, talent and coaching.

Huntington’s Scott Keller was a junior that year and is now back at Huntington as an administrator:

I’ve been around this league my whole life. I’ve never seen it, at any time, where every single SVC game was a battle. Every single team had at least two grown men, and some had three or four. Legends on the sidelines coaching, playing chess while we beat each other up on the court. The gyms weren’t just packed, they were sold out. The first time we played Unioto we were both ranked in the Top 10 in the state poll (along with Piketon) and the doors were locked before the freshman game even started. When we (the varsity) arrived we didn’t watch a second of the JV game because there was nowhere to stand, let alone sit. We all had attitudes, each school’s fans had attitudes, there wasn’t a better show around. I recall that our non-league games were boring and felt like scrimmages.

Paint Valley’s Craig Kerns was a junior in 1991-1992. Craig is now the high school Principal at Huntington:

I remember brutal games night in and night out. You might face Eric Caudill and his Piketon team on Friday night and Matt Combs and his team from Unioto on Saturday. This could be followed by a Tuesday game against McClain, then you’d see Chad Lytle and Scott Keller at Huntington on Friday and Zane Trace’s Pat Beard or Southeastern’s Chad Jordan the next. And let’s not forget the coaches – Shoemaker, Jordan, Mowery, Lovely, and Howard. To top it off you had some of the most ruthless, intimidating and spirited student sections I’ve ever seen in the league. It has to be the single best year in SVC history.

Jerry Mowery, former Huntington Head Coach, now the Superintendent at Zane Trace:

I remember the crowds and how large and enthusiastic they were! The volume of talent that year and how they played extremely hard and for each other. There was much parity and it was fierce competition. Great coaches that had teams prepared night in and night out. I remember the respect we had for the other SVC teams. There were some great battles that played out in ’91-’92. If you weren’t ready to play both mentally and physically you were going to get your brains beat out! Overall, one of the most competitive, exciting and talented years in SVC history. 

Phil Howard is the former Head Coach at Piketon. Phil went on to coach at Western Lathan where he made several tournament runs, including a Regional appearance in 2007. He’s now the Superintendent at at Jackson City Schools:

Without question, that year was the most competitive from top to bottom during my 10-years coaching in the SVC. You had to be ready to play every single night because five or six different teams were good enough to win the league that year.

Matt Combs, 1991 SVC Player of the Year, was a senior in 1991-1992. Matt is now a highly successful coach at Vinton County High School:

I’ve watched SVC basketball since the late 80s and I think it was the toughest league top to bottom during that time. I think the thing that may go unnoticed was the phenomenal level of coaching. I can only imagine how tough it was night in and night out to coach. Think about this: Besides the obvious ones like Larry Jordan, Gary Kellough, Ron Lovely and Dave Shoemaker you had Phil Howard, Jerry Mowery, and Steve Kalinoski. All have been highly successful coaches. 

Joe Abraham, Chillicothe Gazette Sports Editor in 1991-1992, now Head Softball Coach at the University of Toledo:

The thing I remember vividly is the crowds. No matter which game we attended, there was a full house and it filled up early. The athleticism in the league was incredible that year. I couldn’t believe some of the things that Eric Caudill and Chad Lytle could do. And teams had full starting fives of what would be all-league type players in any normal year, like Paint Valley. The league had scorers like Matt Combs and great complementary guys like Jason Thress, Josh Anderson and Jeremy Tackett. The league just had everything that year.

Chad Lytle, Huntington guard, 1991-1992:

How about the conversation you and I had for 5+ minutes during the game while I was standing (well, let’s admit it, I didn’t quite stand, I actually took several steps) while holding the basketball telling you to come out of the zone and get us. Looking back on that game, that was one of your many great coaching decisions. It played out exactly how you wanted it to. Even though PV lost, you had the ball late in the game and a chance to win. I also remember Huntington vs Unioto clearly. Huntington comes in ranked #9 in the state. Unioto coming off a State Runner-up season. Game was sold out at 4:50pm. No one else allowed in the gym. Huntington won in a shootout 95-93.  I scored 30 and got my 1,000th point, Scott Keller had 27 and Matt Combs scored 36 in the loss.

Note: He switched his pivot foot about 7-times while holding that damn ball. The refs refused to call it.

Coach Lovely of Unioto and Coach Mowery of Huntington.

Jeff DiVeronica, former sportswriter at the Chillicothe Gazette and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, now Director of Information at West Irondequoit Central School District. Jeff had just arrived from New York to take the job in Chillicothe:

The crowds. The amount of passion from the fans, the players and the coaches. The level of talent on so many teams. I had heard there was a lot of great players coming back from the year before, but I didn’t know what great meant in Ohio basketball until that winter. Regarding the league, Caudill really was a Redstreak, a streak of light. So fast. So smooth. And you could tell in Phil Howard’s aw-shucks voice, he knew what he had in that young man. I knew Unioto was coming off a big season. My jaw dropped several times the first time I covered them when Jason Thress started throwing up 3-pointers from the other side of Chillicothe. And Matt Combs knew how to play the game and how to get to the hole and score. What a dynamic duo Huntington had in Chad Lytle and their resourceful big man, Scott Keller. Chad was the definition of a combo guard before anyone really knew what that was. He could beat you so many ways and was built like a grown man. I was amazed by his athleticism. As for Paint Valley, you could tell this group was special – young, but special. They were built to win with kids who knew their roles. The Bearcats were unselfish to a fault and coached by a guy, Dave Shoemaker, who you could tell cared deeply for each kid. Forget that he could X & O with any coach anywhere at any level, the man was like a second father to some of those kids who were going through some tough times. And I absolutely loved how effortlessly Craig Kerns played the game. Joe Abraham (the other Gazette sportswriter) and I used to talk in the office that if we could pick one player to build a team around in the SVC, Kerns would be my pick. I love basketball, and I was absolutely in the right place at the right time to start a 25-year career. I used to literally have dreams after I left to come back to New York that I got the Sports Editor’s job back in Chillicothe. I have only fond memories of my 2-years there. 

Shayne Combs was a freshman at Unioto in 1991-1992. Shayne is now an educator and baseball coach at Paint Valley, and also maintains an SVC website called SVC Sportszone:

I think the 1991-1992 season was a buildup of 1990 and 1991 when both Southeastern and Unioto went to the Final 4. I know at Unioto we got off to an amazing start, then got hit hard in the middle of the season with injuries. The season started to get away a little bit, but it was fun to watch how the leadership kept things together. In my 30-years of playing, coaching, and covering the SVC, we have had great teams that could compete in any era. But, I still don’t recall a year where the league had so much depth and talent.

Jason Thress was a Unioto guard that season:

Jason Thress.

Absolutely loaded teams that year. Crazy group of good teams and probably the worst sports season of my life. And that’s said with a Sectional Title and District runner-up. We were a unanimous pick to win the league. Started off 7-0 and running over everyone. Then game seven happens and our best player (Dan Cox) destroys his knee on a fluke play. Next game we get beat by Piketon (picked 2nd) at the buzzer. First home loss in 17 games. Then we get smashed by SE (yes SE) the next night. Then we lose to Huntingon 95-93 the following week in front of an unreal crowd. Never did recover. Couldn’t get along with the underclassmen. Couldn’t find our identity. Finally got Dan back healthy, but even after walking into Piketon (playing there is hell on earth) upsetting them and that being their only league loss, the season seemed a little bit of a wash. Finished the 14-6, 8-6 in the league and I was kinda pissed off. Like a pimp Coach Lovely went after Huntington (which had just beaten us by 13 the second to last game of the year) and challenged us all to finally shut up and just play. We jumped out of the gate and got them down quickly. Held off the run they made and beat them rather easily, by 12 I think. 63-51 stands out for some reason. (Note: He’s right) We took down ZT again for a 3rd straight year for the Sectional Title, which of course was always nice beating your rival and making it to the Convo. We beat Manchester in a shootout in the semis but then ran into a buzzsaw in Wheelersburg in the District title game. Anyway, not that it may have mattered but once again we were without a healthy Dan Cox. If you can believe it, he broke his hand spelling out UHS on the gym floor at the pep rally before the game. Anyway, Piketon (deservedly so) won the league. They were an excellent team. Caudill, Lamerson, Tackett, they were fast and fun to watch. Huntington was tough as nails and would just run you over if you blinked. Which we did, twice. Zane Trace was always a tough out, especially at their place. They had Beard (just a junior) and Hanes. Paint Valley, you guys were the young, up and coming fun bunch. Very, very tall and skilled. Beat us at your place on my 18th birthday. Worst game I played in my life and that’s not an exaggeration. With Southeastern, Coach Jordan could always get his guys to play us hard, which he did and somehow beat us twice. Out of all those losses that year, the one to this day that sticks with me the hardest is the home loss against Southeastern. It came the night after we beat Piketon at their place. Ugh. I don’t know, most people would probably say I’m crazy for saying it was a disappointing year. Finishing 17-7 with a sectional title and district runner-up should seem like a successful season. But after winning the league in 9th, undefeated JV in 10th, and almost everything in 11th senior year just didn’t go quite like I thought and hoped it would. But as for looking back on the league as a whole? Wow. Yes, it was a very talented and loaded group of teams that year. Lots of fun games nearly every weekend. And that is something I am proud to have been a part of.

And now for the teams, listed in order of how they finished in the league that year:

  1. Piketon – Coach Phil Howard’s Redstreaks were led by lightning quick transfer Eric Caudill, who averaged 26.2 points a game and would garner the SVC Player of the Year Award. Jason Lamerson  scored 14.7 points per game. Add sharpshooter Jeremy Tackett, Jason Dunham, and bruiser Steve Ross inside and the Streaks were tough to stop. Todd Burkitt came off the bench.
  2. Huntington – Dynamic point guard Chad Lytle led Coach Jerry Mowery’s Huntsmen with 21.7 ppg, and 6′-5″ junior big man Scott Keller contributed 16.1 a night. Bryan Carter added 11.6 per game. Both Shannon and Brian Smith played big roles as well.
  3. Paint Valley – This was my team, in just my third year of coaching. We had no seniors and had graduated 50-points a game in the year prior. We were led by All-Ohioan and future McDonald’s All-American Craig Kerns (17.9 ppg), Shane Cawley (12.4 ppg), point guard Josh Anderson, big man Deric Newland, and defensive wizard Jason “The Weasel” Johnson. Kerns, Newland, Cawley and Anderson all stood 6’5″.
  4. Unioto – Coming off a Final 4 appearance and returning three starters, Ron Lovely’s Sherman’s were led by 1991 Player of the Year Matt Combs, Jason Thress (11.1 ppg and unlimited range), and jack of all trades Dan Cox. 6′-5″ Charlie Ward stepped up to average 13.4 points a night, and Jason Tuttle contributed as well.
  5. Southeastern – Coach Larry Jordan’s Panthers, coming off a Final 4 appearance just 2-years prior, were led by Mike Collins (14.0 ppg) and 6′-6″ postman Chad Jordan (13.9). Shane Weese, Stacey Ragland, and Brad Stulley all pitched in with valuable minutes.
  6. Zane Trace – Coach Gary Kellough’s Pioneers were led by 1991 1st Team All-SVC Jeff Hanes, who averages 16.3 points per contest. Pat Beard, one of the toughest defenders in the league, averaged 13.4 and Kevin Seagraves added 11.7. Rob Banks and Jeremy Hammond had their moments too.
  7. Westfall – The Mustangs were coached by Steve Kalinoski, who led the Circleville Lady Tigers to an unbeaten record just this past season. Westfall was a tough out with players like post man Ben Kern, who averaged 17.7 points a game. Wellston transfer Shawn Beuscher kicked in with 15.7, and Brian Dollison and Travis Bigam were good players as well.
  8. Adena – Coach George Barnes and his Warriors were the only team that wasn’t really competitive that year, but they still had some good players. 6′-7″ center Chad Lee was very good and averaged 15.0 points a night, and Brad Ater, Corby Free, David Pettiford all played as well.

Final 1991-1992 Scioto Valley Conference Standings & Recaps

  1. Piketon won the league with a 13-1 record, losing only to Unioto. They were 20-4 overall. In the tournament they beat Southeastern in the Sectional Final (by only 3, another testament to the strength of our league) Minford 70-64 and Belpre (who’d gone 18-2 in the regular season) 82-69, making it all the way to the Regionals where they lost to Wheelersburg by a score of 88-79.
  2. Huntington– 17-4 (11-3). The Huntsmen lost to Unioto in their Sectional opener.
  3. Paint Valley– 13-10 (9-5). The Bearcats started slow, going 0-5, but we won 13 of our next 17 and defeated Western Latham 62-57 in the tourney opener. We then dismantled Portsmouth Clay 68-39 in the Sectional Championship game to return to the Districts at The Convo. There we lost to Racine Southern, but won the SVC the following year.
  4. Unioto started out 7-0 but struggled in the middle of the season. They ended up finishing fourth in the absolutely loaded SVC, but when the tournament rolled around Coach Ron Lovely chose to play Huntington, a team the Shermans had lost to twice in the regular season. His gamble paid off as the Shermans beat the Huntsmen 63-51 and Zane Trace 68-61 in the Sectional Title game to earn a trip to The Convo. In the Districts, the Shermans beat Manchester 94-91 (who says you can’t shoot in The Convo?), but lost to Wheelersburg 78-65 in the Championship game. They finished 17-7, not bad for a fourth place team.
  5. Southeastern– 10-10 (6-8). The Panthers whipped Adena 80-44 to open the tournament, then lost a heartbreaker to Piketon on a last second steal and layup by Eric Caudill.
  6. Zane Trace– 10-10 (6-8) The Pioneers knocked off a very good Lynchburg-Clay team to open the Sectionals, only to lose to Unioto in the final by a score of 68-61 as Matt Combs scored 31.
  7. Westfall– 7-13 (4-10)- No information available. Still looking.
  8. Adena– 0-21 (0-14) The Warriors were throttled by Southeastern 80-44 in the Sectional to end their season.

A lot of people have mentioned the intensity that took place every single night in that magical 1991-1992 season. Hell, I went a couple years where both Larry Jordan and Ron Lovely wouldn’t speak to me, nor I to them. But I’m happy to say we all eventually became friends, partially because of that coaching brotherhood and the incredible competitiveness and intensity we all possessed, and that bond of having shared something so special. Like Jason Thress said and like how so many of us feel, it was something I am proud to have been a part of.

I, for one, will never forget it.

Note: Here is the absolutely loaded All-Scioto Valley Conference teams for the 1991-1992 season. Players are listed in order of votes received:

First Team

  • Eric Caudill (PIketon) – Senior
  • Chad Lytle (Huntington) – Senior
  • Matt Combs (Unioto) – Senior
  • Craig Kerns (Paint Valley) – Junior
  • Scott Keller (Huntington) – Junior

Second Team

  • Jason Lamerson (Piketon) – Senior
  • Jeff Hanes (Zane Trace) – Senior
  • Chad Jordan (Southeastern) – Senior
  • Ben Kern (Westfall) – Senior
  • Shane Cawley (Paint Valley) – Junior

Third Team

  • Chad Lee (Adena) – Senior
  • Jason Thress (Unioto) – Senior
  • Bryan Carter (Huntington) – Senior
  • Pat Beard (Zane Trace) – Junior
  • Jeremy Tackett (Piketon) – Senior

Special Mention

  • Mike Collins (Southeastern)
  • Charle Ward (Unioto)
  • Dan Cox (Unioto)
  • Shawn Buescher (Westfall)
  • Deric Newland (Paint Valley)
  • Josh Anderson (Paint Valley)
  • Todd Burkitt (Piketon)
  • Jason Dunham (Piketon)
  • Steve Ross (Piketon)
  • B.J. McCray (Huntington)
  • Kevin Seagraves (Zane Trace)

PS- Notice that Shawn Buescher averaged 15.7 ppg and Mike Collins averaged 14.0 ppg and only made Special Mention All-SVC. That’s how good the league was in 1991-1992.

Mansa Musa became the King of Mali in 1312. This was well before European Colonization of Africa and the slave trade. Africa was free to live unimpeded at that time and the Kingdom Of Mali was rolling in resources, specifically gold and salt.

The Kingdom was doing well and the then King of Mali decided to go on a pilgrimage, so he told Musa to run the kingdom until he came back. It being the 1300s and whatnot traveling anywhere was a gamble. No cell phones to call for help, exposure to storms, marauding headhunters, dysentery, typhoid, smallpox, leprosy, no Fortnite or NBA 2K20, you get the drift. Tough world back in the day.

So, something happened and the real king never came back. Nobody ever knew for certain why, but one of those reasons above is as good a guess as any. Anywho, because of this Musa ruled Mali for the rest of his life. He built upon the empire by acquiring Timbuktu and Gao, and that allowed him to dominate trade routes all over Africa during the middle ages. This was huge because the world needed Mali’s salt, of which it had in abundance. Salt back then was a big deal because it was used to preserve food. No refridgeration in the 1300s, kids. Salt was so important, in fact, that at that time that you could trade it for it’s weight in gold, and that is exactly what Musa did. He amassed so much gold that he was worth an estimated $400-billion in today’s money. That’s more than John Rockefeller, who topped out at a measly $336-billion. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos? A paltry $120-billion. That’s chicken feed to Mansa Musi. He probably carried half that under the cool turban he sported.

The thing is, nobody really knew about Musa because he was down in Africa. It wasn’t until he took his own pilgrimage to Mecca that people learned about him internationally. That said, he wasn’t going to make the same mistakes as the King before him. Nope. My man traveled in style. He traveled across Africa to Cairo and then on to Mecca with an entourage of 60,000 people and thousands of animals, and they would throw gold at people on the streets along the way. Amazingly, they brought so much gold with them that it messed up the world’s economy for a while. Mansa Musa alone increased the amount of gold in circulation by giving so much away. Good Lord, man.

Mansa Musa died in 1337 after ruling for 25-years and had continued to give money away for his entire life. He built so many mosques across Africa that the legend is he constructed one every single Friday.

So there’s your history lesson, my loyal readers. Mansa Musa, the richest man who ever lived.

PS- Mansa Musa roughly translates to “King Of Kings” and that’s certainly fitting.

 

Note: Shoutout to Barstool Sports, where I got a lot of this information.

 

Here we go kids, sitcoms from the late 50s to current day. You can vote for up to five, and if your fave is not listed you can write it in!

WARNING: There are 80 freakin’ albums (pared down from 124) listed, so this is for true music lovers only. That said, I spent a significant amout of time on it so read the damn thing. Maybe you’ll discover a nugget or two.

I know, I know. How has this subject not been addressed on Shoe: Untied already? God knows I’ve posted a lot of lists in the 8-year duration of this site. However, the thought of narrowing down my favorite albums has been too daunting for me.

Until now.

We’ve all been social distancing and flattening the curve lately, which of course has led to downtime for all of us. Because of this I’ve actually had the time to take on the challenge. Has it been hard? Hell yah. Still, I have perservered for you, my loyal readers.

Please remember that these albums don’t necessarily have to be the greatest or most influential of all-time to you or the general public, but they are to me. In one way or another, they’ve impacted my life. So, don’t yell at me because Highway 51 Revisited isn’t included. Sorry Mr. Zimmerman.

I did make a couple rules, with the main one being I would include no greatest hits albums, the other being no live albums. I mean, those would be sort of cheating, right? Let’s get to it . . .

 

THE 1960s

 

Introducing the Beatles – The Beatles (1963)

Ah, the album that started it all. I have written often of the day I first laid ears on it. I was on the couch in our living room, listening to music on one of those big stereo cabinets that were the size of a coffee table. I was playing an album by somebody, probably Bobby Vinton or Gene Pitney or somebody like that because it’s all we listened to at the time. But one day, in walks my sister Karen . . .

She’d been to town shopping and immediately pulled the needle off the album that was playing, which annoyed the hell out of me. But before I could say anything, she shushed me and said, “Just listen.”

At that point the guitars kicked in, and the lyrics began: “1-2-3-4 . . Well she was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way she looked, was way beyond compare . . .”

Yep, life as I previously knew it was over. Sis had dropped the needle on the album Introducing the Beatles, and I probably listened to it at least 1000 times in the months to follow. Sure, I probably would have discovered them anyway, but thanks to Sis I was clued in from the beginning.

PS- This record ended with The Beatles’ cover of Twist and Shout. Sublime. 

Revolver – The Beatles (1966)

I knew the minute I heard this album that something was  . . . different. It saw a huge leap in the band’s creativity and inspiration, and it also saw them drawing on their experiences with drugs and their interest in eastern religion. Every single song was killer, and The Beatles changed studio recording as we knew it with this album. They distorted sounds, experimented with sound effects, and worked with engineers to create distortion effects. And guess what? Double Tracking, a technique now commonly used in music to create multiple vocal tracks, was invented in the Abbey Road Studios in 1966 on this album.

The result? Songs so complex they were impossible to play live, and sure enough, none of the songs on Revolver were ever performed in front of an audience. With songs like Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Here, There and Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine and Got To Get You Into My Life, this was a glorious record.

Pet Sounds – Beach Boys (1966)

When John Lennon first heard this album he went straight to Paul McCartney and allegedly said, “We’re finished. We can’t top this.” Paul agreed and the two listened to it over and over and over. Brian Wilson’s production was incredible and his songwriting was unsurpassed with tunes like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B, God Only Knows and Caroline No. Simply a gorgeous album that’s usually ranked as the #1 or #2 album ever recorded. Oh, and The eventual response from The Beatles? An album called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

The 13th Floor Elevators were a short-lived, wild little band that I saw on American Bandstand and I was captivated. They actually have a guy blowing into some sort of utensil they called an “electric jug” and making bubbly noises. These cool cats were from Texas and were a huge inflence for none other than ZZ Top among others. Since I’m assuming many of you haven’t heard of these guys, let me give you a taste:

Man, that’s g-o-o-o-o-o-o-d. Dick Clark had no idea what just hit him.

The Doors – The Doors (1967)

The Rolling Stone recently called this “still one of the most dangerous albums ever.” When Break On Through (To the Other Side) kicked in I new this was something completely different. Jim Morrison’s voice, Ray Manzarek’s keyboards, it was all beyond anything I’d ever heard. Then, when Light My Fire started playing? I was all in.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)

Well, der. This album is widely thought to be the greatest album in the history of music, and there’s good reason for that. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest Rock & Roll group of all time. And kids, it was the first concept album ever. All the songs were tied together. I spun that record a million times as an 11-year old, marveling in its mystery and imagination. From the opening track Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the A Day in the Life finale, this album is close to perfection.

At San Quentin – Johnny Cash (1969)

Yes, I said said no greatest hits or live albums. However, where Johnny Cash is concerned it’s fine to break the rules. I was just a kid, so the sole reason I bought this album was because I loved A Boy Named Sue, probably the silliest song on the album. But when I listened to the record and the way Johnny Cash sang so raw and emotionally, the way he interracted with the prisoners in San Quentin, I was touched deeply. I mean, the man stood on stage and sang these lyrics in front of not only the inmates but the warden and guards as well:

San Quentin, what good do you think you do?
Do you think I’ll be different when you’re through?
You bend my heart and mind and you warp my soul;
Your stone walls turn my blood a little cold
San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell.
May your walls fall down and may I live to tell.
May all the world forget you ever stood.
And the world regret you did no good.
Clearly, as you watch the video below, the inmates loved it. The others? Not so much. Vintage Cash.

The Beatles (White Album) – The Beatles (1968)

Most people refer to this as The White Album, but in reality the correct album title is simply The Beatles. After the pageantry and complexity of Sgt. Pepper’s, and with everyone else now mimicking that style, the lads chose to go in another direction – simple cover, simple title. This was a double album, and it was obvious the boys were beginning to grow apart. Most of the songs were clearly solo efforts, but the album was still stuffed with classics, both simple and groundbreaking. To name just a few, Back in the USSR, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Birthday, Helter Skelter, and that’s naming just the most well-known songs. Just a wild, diverse mix of rock history. Give a listen to the first heavy metal/grunge song:

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (1968)

I have to admit I got on the Vanwagon a little late and bought this record a decade after its release. This jazz-influenced acoustic album featured minimal percussion, an upright bass, flute, harpsichord, vibraphone, strings, and stream-of-consciousness lyrics about being transported to “another time” and “another place.” Wild stuff, even for the free-thinking, out-of-the-box late 1960s. The album only contained eight songs, but man, every one was a haunting, melodic masterpiece. Astral Weeks is always listed among the top all-time albums, and deservedly so.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo – The Byrds (1968)


In one inspired blaze of creativity, The Byrd’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo leaped over the cultural divide between the acid-taking, peace-preaching long haired hippies and the beer-chugging, flag-waving good old boys by creating Country Rock. With rippling guitars and silky vocal harmonies, The Byrds sang a mix of country traditionals and originals. This record permanently shattered the wall between Country and Rock. Hell, the group even cut their hair and played the Grand Ole Opry. Kids, without this LP there would likely be no Eagles, no Lynyrd Skynyrd, no Marshall Tucker Band, no Allman Brothers, and by extension no Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban or Luke Bryan. A stretch? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Music from Big Pink – The Band (1968)

I love The Band, and their farewell showThe Last Waltz is one of my favorite concert films and albums of all-time. However, it was Music from Big Pink that started it all. The Band had previously been the backing band for the legendary Ronnie Hawkins, and after that for the even more legendary Bob Dylan. On this, their initial LP, their mix of Country, Blues, Gospel, Western Classical, and Rock was incredible. While Jimi Hendrix, Cream and The Who split eardrums, The Band turned down the volume, revealing the intricacies of their arrangements and complexity of their lyrics. While The Beatles and Brian Wilson were working in state-of-the-art studio laboratories, The Band holed up in a dank concrete cellar in the wilderness of the Catskills to make their magic. The result was different from anything being recorded at the time.

Note: Big Pink was a regular, ranch style home. It still stands. Here’s a pic.

Bucket List!

Abbey Road – The Beatles (1969) 

Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album. It was the very last album they recorded, although Let It Be was released after it. After the disjointed White Album and the aforementioned Let It Be, John, Paul, George and Ringo put it all together one last time for an amazingly beautiful, harmonic masterpiece. It includes the songs Something and Here Comes the Sun, hinting at what was to come from George Harrison. John Lennon’s Come Together also kicks off the album, but it’s the Side 2 medley that blew me away. Little did we know that when Paul McCartney’s little ditty “The End” finished the album, it really was the end.

Here’s the medley:

 

THE 1970s

 

Sweet Baby James – James Taylor (1970)

Pretty sure it was the voice that drew me in initially. I heard the single Fire and Rain on WLS out of Chicago late one night on my little transistor radio, and I’m guessing the DJ was Larry Lujack. Out of curiousity and my interest in that song, I bought the album. With the songs Sweet Baby James, Steamroller, Oh Suzannah and of course Fire and Rain emanating from the stereo speakers of my souther Ohio bedroom on many a warm summer night in 1970, I was hooked.

Note: James Taylor was at the forefront of the singer-songwriter movement that was to come.

After the Gold Rush – Neil Young (1970)

Although this album contained the songs After the Gold Rush, Southern Man (a great song about civil rights in the deep south) and I Believe In You, it was Only Love Can Break Your Heart that cut straight through to my heart. Neil and the other members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had all released solo albums after their album Déjà Vu, and Neil’s was by far my favorite. Just a stellar album from start to finish.

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison (1970)

After spending the previous 10+ years largely in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, George let loose with a torrent of creativity in this classic album. It was a little surprising to some that it became massively popular. All Things Must Pass spent 7-weeks at No. 1, and its’ lead single, My Sweet Lord, occupied the same slot on the singles chart, marking the first time a solo Beatle had occupied both spots. The 6-sided album (hey, I told you George had some pent up energy) also included the great songs What Is Life and All Things Must Pass. Incredible album.

The Harrison Estate ran a contest, asking fans to make a video for the song What Is Life. This video won:

Imagine – John Lennon (1971)

Any respectable music fan was waiting for this album, and John did not disappoint. This is a great album full of brilliant songs with great hooks, but also mixed with John’s ever-present barbed wit to avoid it from becoming the kind of music that John found irrelevant and boring. Of course it included the legendary song Imagine as well as great songs like Jealous Guy, Oh My Love and How Do You Sleep?, the famous attack on his old friend Paul McCartney. This was another sign for broken-hearted Beatles fans that even though The Beatles had broken up, the incredible music would continue.

IV – Led Zeppelin (1971)

I had never gotten into Zep before this fourth album, and I know not why. Like a gazillion others I took one listen of Stairway to Heaven and rushed to the record store to by IV (actually I couldn’t drive yet so it was probably Mom or a Sister who drove me).  Imagine this – I was a a freshman in high school, had only heard Stairway to Heaven, put on my headphones, dropped the needle on the album, and the first two songs are Black Dog and Rock and Roll. Those were followed by the slow, acoustic The Battle of Evermore and then Stairway concluded Side 1. What. The. Hell? My ears, and musical sensibilities, were forever altered.

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye (1971)

Marvin Gaye’s career as tuxedo-clad heart-throb ended when he cut this concept album dealing with Civil Rights, the Vietnam war and ghetto life. Equally startling was the music, softening and double-tracking his voice against a wash of percussion, strings and guitars. Motown boss Berry Gordy hated it, but the album’s social awareness caught the public mood. It ushered in an era of socially aware soul. My favorite tunes include What’s Going On and Mercy Mercy Me, a song about the environment:

So s-m-o-o-o-o-o-t-h-e.

Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren (1972)

My opinion of this record have been well documented on this site. For a comprehensive read about this album, click this link: Something/Anything?: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus. Quite simply one of rock’s great masterpieces.

School’s Out – Alice Cooper (1972)

I wore out this album in the summer of ’72 and beyond. The song School’s Out was the anthem of a generation, man. You think we didn’t have this blaring from our tape decks on the last day of school in 1973? You know it. Aside from the title song, though, there were tunes like Luney Tune and Gutter Cat vs. The Jets that rocked your socks off. The cover lifted like an actual school desk too. Far out, man.

Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)

I realize I keep saying this, but you knew immediately upon hearing it that this music was something very different. Dark Side of the Moon was an artistic concept album that included topics on wealth (Money), war (“Us and Them”), madness (“Brain Damage”), squandered lives (“Time”) and death (“The Great Gig in the Sky”). The sound was so unique at the time that it was difficult to describe, although David Gilmour attempted to when he said it was “that psychedelic noodling stuff.” Bottom line? Dark Side of the Moon was a dizzying, mind-bending joy ride from start to finish.

Note: Since we all have  alot of time on our hands, dig this – there’s a video where the movie The Wizard of Oz is synched with Dark Side of the Moon. It’s called Dark Side of Oz and it’s freaky as hell. It’s almost as if it was done purposely. At one point the lyrics say “drives the faithful to their knees” just as the Scarecrow falls to his knees. And believe me, there’s more. Wild stuff.

Muscle of Love – Alice Cooper (1973)

A bit of a surprise here possibly, but I absolutely loved this straight ahead, full bore album full of Rock and Roll. Included is one of the best hard rock songs of all-time, Muscle of Love. The album also contains such classics as Big Apple Dreamin, Teenage Lament ’74 (with the Pointer Sisters singing backup!) and Working Up a Sweat. Yeah, I loved the albums Killer and Billion Dollar Babies, but I’ll take Muscle of Love any day. Check out the title track:

Band on the Run – Paul McCartney (1973)

In my opinion Paul McCartney’s greatest solo effort. I mean, the album includes the songs Band on the Run, Jet, Bluebird, Let Me Roll It, Helen Wheels, and the underrated Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me). Just spectacular stuff. The album was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, and Paul and his wife Linda were actually robbed at knifepoint one evening. Bottom line, this was the album that proved Paul could put out an amazing album without the help of John Lennon.

On the Third Day – ELO (1973)

I’d bought the album ELO II, the song with Roll over Beethoven and Mama on it, and I loved it. But this, this one blew me away. The violins, the energy, the melodies, I loved everything about it. And the tracklist? Wow. Ocean Breakup/KIng of the Universe, Bluebird is Dead, Oh No Not Susan, New World Rising/Ocean Breakup (Reprise), Daybreaker, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, Dreaming of 4000 and In the Hall of the Mountain King are all groundbreakingly outstanding. Of course, this was followed by Eldorado, Face the Music, A New World Record, Out of the Blue and more. With On the Third Day, ELO was just getting started.

For a taste, watch this video:

 

On the Border – The Eagles (1974)

This was a record that probably wouldn’t have existed without Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds and Music From Big Pink by The Band back in 1968. It was one of the first mainstream albums kids my age had heard that had that Country Rock feel to it, with emphasis on the Rock (and yes, I know The Eagles had recorded The Eagles and Desparado before it). While I loved the hits Already Gone (a blistering missive aimed at a former lover) and Best of My Love, there are a couple of forgotten gems on the album as well, most notably My Man, James Dean and the Tom Waits classic Ol’ 55.

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie (1974)

Without a doubt my favorite David Bowie album, and it’s not even close. Called “a glitter apocalypse” by one critic, it has one of my very favorite starts of any album. Called Future Legend, it begins with a distorted howl and features Bowie’s spoken-word vision of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, now renamed Hunger City. He describes “fleas the size of rats” and “rats the size of cats“, and compares the humanoid inhabitants to “packs of dogs.” Halfway through the narration, the Richard Rodgers’ tune “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” strikes up. Future Legend then morphs into Diamond Dogs with the cry “This Ain’t Rock and Roll, This Is Genocide!”. Out. Standing. Oh, and don’t forget the classics Sweet Thing and Rebel Rebel. The LP concludes with a little ditty called Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family, perfect for those family barbeques this summer.

A Night At The Opera – Queen (1975)

Queen had released three albums before this one, and of course I’d heard Freddie Mercury’s sensational voice on the single Killer Queen from Sheer Heart Attack a year prior. But this album, released in late 1975, was different. From the searing Death On Two Legs that opened the album, to the smooth pop sound of You’re My Best Friend, to the achingly beautiful Love of My Life, this record had it all. And then, deep into Side 2 was song #11, the next to last song on the album. That song was Bohemian Rhapsody. What in the HELL? The rest, my friends, is history.

Bonus Vid: Love this scene from Bohemian Rhapsody.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – Elton John (1975)

I know, I know. Elton John had released 11-albums before this one, including classics like Madman Across the Water and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (I saw the tour!). He’d even released a greatest hits compilation the year before. That said, this album is my favorite. It’s an autobiographical account of the early musical careers of Elton John (Captain Fantastic) and his long-term lyricist Bernie Taupin (the Brown Dirt Cowboy). It was a simpler album, no overproduction or overarranging, less grandiose and more laid back than those prior, and I loved it. The only single from the album, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, wasn’t even close to my favorite from this one. Instead, I loved the songs Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Tower of Babel. Bitter Fingers, Curtains, and especially Writing. And you know what? It’s simplicity is one of the reasons it still holds up today.

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (1975)

I’d heard a little from Bruce’s previous albums, Greetings From Ashbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle and I liked what I heard. I knew the music was a throwback to simpler, more straightforward Rock and Roll, and I was ready for it. After buying the album in the summer of ’75, I brought it home and dropped the needle on Side 1. Imagine how I felt when the first two songs were Thunder Road and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. I was stunned. But the real life-changer for me came from the first song on Side 2. When the drums and guitars began on Born to Run, I knew Rock had really gone back to the basics. And a Springsteen concert reflected his style – no giant balloons, no laser shows, no glam makeup – just flat-out Rock and Roll like it was meant to be. I now knew what music critic Jon Landau meant when he said this after seeing Springsteen live:

“I saw my Rock and Roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw Rock and Roll’s future ,and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

PS – And oh yeah, Jungleland closed out Side 2. Amazing.

If you didn’t get a chill at the 3:33 mark you have no musical soul.

Bankrupt – Dr. Hook (1975)

This might seem like an odd choice, but it’s an album that I’ve played it over and over for 45-years. Dr. Hook had hits with Sylvia’s Mother on Doctor Hook and Cover of the Rolling Stone on Sloppy Seconds. But then they released an aptly titled album called Belly Up! that tanked at #141, followed by an album called Fried Face that was so bad no record company would release it. Then came Bankrupt, named because, well, you can figure it out. And guess what? This album wasn’t a hit either but that didn’t stop me from loving it. With witty, quirky tunes like Levitate, I Got Stoned and I Missed It, Wups, The Millionaire, and Everybody’s Makin’ It Big But Me, it was right up my musical alley. Their cover of Sam Cooke’s Only Sixteen was awesome as well. I still adore this album. And I dare you to watch this video and not smile:

Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Alan Parsons Project (1976)

Alan Parsons was no stranger to great music. He was involved with the production of several of the most significant albums in history, including the Beatles‘ Abbey Road and Let It Be, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Well, he went solo and his debut album knocked my socks off. The musical themes of the album, which are retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe (who I love), attracted a cult audience, me included. The title of the album is taken from the title of a collection of Poe’s macabre stories of the same name. Give a listen to the song To One In Paradise to get the vibe. Groundbreaking album that once again led to a lifetime obsession.

The Ramones – The Ramones (1976)

If I thought Bruce had taken us back to the 1960’s, The Ramones upped the ante. To really get rock back to its roots Joey Ramone and his three “brothers” (they weren’t really, not even related) did it with one album and 16 tracks, all under 3-minutes, just like back in the early days of Rock. They did it all with with speed, a distorted guitar thrash and a line in silly, dumb lyrics. In an era of Progressive Rock pomposity and 12-minute tracks, The Ramones back-to-basics approach was rousing, raw and confrontational. And although it was called Punk Rock or New Wave, what it really was was basic, garage Rock and Roll.

Fun fact: The Ramones were inspired by Paul McCartney, who would check into hotels as “Paul Ramon.”

 Bonus Fun Fact: The Ramones real names were as follows – Joey Ramone (Jeffery Hyman), Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) and Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin).

Out of the Blue – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

If Something/Anything? was Rundgren’s Magnum Opus, Out of the Blue was Jeff Lynne’s. A double album containing 25-songs, it’s the result of Lynne retreating to a chalet in the Swiss Alps and unleashing a burst of creativity. Although it didn’t have the overall impact of On the Third Day to me, basically because the style was so jarring on that one, Out of the Blue has many more incredible songs. To name just a few, how about Turn to Stone, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Night in the City, Steppin’ Out, Standin’ in the Rain, Big Wheels, Summer and Lightning, Mr. Blue Sky, and Sweet is the Night. Man, I spent many a night on 178 West Avenue, Apt. C, in Columbus, Ohio just off OSU campus listening to this one.

Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)

Speaking of 178 West Avenue, Apt. C, I was just around the corner from there when I first heard the dulcet tones of one Mr. Marvin Lee Aday, also know as Meat Loaf. The sound was something unusual, sort of Operatic Rock if you will. That made sense because Meat was an actor who’d performed in the musical Rocky Horror Picture Show. This album was prduced by my man Todd Rundgren, who also voices the introduction to You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night). Other amazing tunes are Bat Out of Hell, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad and of course Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Really good record that I just about wore out.

Alive On Arrival – Steve Forbert (1978)

Ah, Steve Forbert. Somehow I got into Steve with this album before his 1980 record Jackrabbit Slim, which included the hit Romeo’s Tune. I loved the sound immediately. It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him twice. Romeo’s Tune was his only commercial hit but that hasn’t stopped me from buying every single album he’s ever recorded. Love the songs Goin’ Down to Laurel and especially Settle Down, which has always touched me on a personal level:

If I’m caught up in a whirlwind, babe, I know
I’ll make it through,
I’ve seen that spinning power rise an’ fall.
I can ride it sailin’ higher. I can ride it comin’ down.
It’s a natural kind of cycle, babe, that’s all . . .
Fantastic album that introduced me to a life-long musical addiction.

Labour of Lust – Nick Lowe (1979)

I knew a little about Nick Lowe from his work in Rockpile, a great band he was in with Dave Edmunds. I’d heard a couple songs from Jesus of Cool, his first album. But when Labour of Lust was released in ’79 it blew me away. It wasn’t just Cruel to Be Kind, it was Born Fighter, Switchboard Susan, Dose of You and American Squirm that drew me in.  Like I’ve done with Steve Forbert, I’ve purchased every Nick Lowe record since that debut album.

Note: Saw him live for the first time recently. He did not disappoint.

Tusk – Fleetwood Mac (1979)

Sure, Rumours was awesome. But the great Lindsey Buckingham was determined to make an album nothing like it, and he did. It was experimental and was influenced by Buckingham’s infatuation with Post-Punk. I loved it from the get-go. The songs Tusk, Think About Me, Sara, What Makes You Think You’re the One, Storms, every one was amazing. Remember that the big hits from Rumours were Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way? Compare those to this song (wait for the USC Marching Band):

So yeah, different.

The Wall – Pink Floyd (1979)

Yes, I know. The original cover had no text.

Dark Side of the Moon was incredible, but The Wall is my favorite Pink Floyd album. A double album masterpiece, it is a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolized by a wall. Roger Waters father was killed during WWII and Pink’s father also dies in a war, which is where Pink starts to build a metaphorical wall around himself. The album includes several references to former band member Syd Barrett, including Nobody Home, which hints at his condition during Pink Floyd’s abortive US tour of 1967, with lyrics such as “wild, staring eyes,” “the obligatory Hendrix perm” and “elastic bands keeping my shoes on.” The song Comfortably Numb was inspired by Waters’ injection with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour while in Philadelphia. Just an amazing record that I played over and over and over back in ’79. And of course everyone remembers one of the most amazing choruses of all-time:

We don’t need no education . . .

 

THE 1980s

 

Hootenanny – The Replacements (1983)

Oh my. Sure, The Replacements had released one album before this one called Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (also an EP titled Stink), but Hootenanny is the one that grabbed me by the ears and rattled my brain. This was a band that could somehow come off as both sensitive and sarcastic and darkly poetic but also strikingly sophomoric. The Mats were raw, basic rock and roll with hooks, man. It was almost like The Beatles and Sex Pistols had a baby and that baby was The Replacements. I love Paul Westerberg’s voice (hoarse and real) and the guitars sounded like something  you heard in your buddy’s garage in 1973. The songs on Hootenanny range from the raucus Color Me Impressed to the sublime Within Your Reach. What. An. Album.

Murmer – REM (1983)

A-n-n-n-n-n-n-d here it is. The record that ignited my lifelong obsession with R.E.M. This band influenced so many future bands that when younger folk hear R.E.M. today it doesn’t even sound original to them. Peter Buck’s ringing, jangly guitar style, Michael Stipe’s distinctive vocals and obscure lyrics, Mike Mills’ melodic basslines and backing vocals, and Bill Berry’s tight, economical drumming made for a singular original sound, unlike anything we’d heard before. Peter Buck described it as “Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish” and I believe that explains it.  So many songs on this record are special to me – Radio Free Europe, Pilgimage, Talk About the Passion, Laughing, Moral Kiosk, Perfect Circle, Catapult, Sitting Still, 9-9, Shaking Through, We Walk, West of the Fields . . . wait, did I just name the entire album? I did.

Note: Without R.E.M. artists like The National, Beck, Eels, Pavement, Gin Blossoms, The Decemberists, and many more would not exist. True story.

Behold, 1983 R.E.M.

The Final Cut – Pink Floyd (1983)

In my opinion oner of the most underrated Pink Floyd albums, and it was Roger Waters’ last record with the band. Waters and David Gilmour fought constantly during the recording of the album, leading to Roger getting the hell out. Anyway, The Final Cut was basically a Roger Waters solo album and is an anti-war concept piece that explores what Waters regards as the betrayal of fallen British servicemen—such as his father—who during the Second World War sacrificed their lives in the spirit of a post-war dream. I know, heavy stuff. As for me, I loved the general dreamy feel of the record and songs like Paranoid Eyes, The Fletcher Memorial Home and Two Suns in the Sunset. Great album.

Note: The Final Cut was not included Floyd’s 1992 box set, Shine On. 

1984 – Van Halen (1984)

Without a doubt my favorite Van Halen record. There were five before this one, all pretty good. Lead singer David Lee Roth scrammed in 1985 for a sad solo career, but not before contributing mightily to this album. It grabbed me right away with the instrumental 1984, which kicks right into the legendary Jump. Add Panama, Top Jimmy and Hot For Teacher and you have one hell of an album.

Note: A lot of Van Halen hardliners didn’t like Jump because it wasn’t “hard” enough, being synth heavy and whatnot. I do not care. Loved it.

Fables of the Reconstruction – REM (1985)

Here’s one of the reasons I love R.E.M. – after their first two incredible albums, most bands would try and build on what they’d accomplished to try and really go over the top. Not my guys from Athens, Georgia though. They went in another direction and unleashed Fables of the Reconstruction, a big departure from Murmer and Reckoning, their first two records. Hell, the song Can’t Get There From Here even had horns! The record is chock full of great music and includes the R.E.M. classics Feeling Gravity’s Pull, Maps and Legends, Driver 8, Life and How to Live It, Old Man Kensey, Green Grow the Rushes, and Wendell Gee. Man, did my buddy Goose and I play the hell out of this one back in the glory days of 1985.

Mars Needs Guitars! – Hoodoo Gurus (1985)

Back in the day I would sometimes buy records on a whim, just taking a chance because I liked the band name or album cover. Such was the case at the gloriously named Magnolia Thunderpussy record store in Columbus, Ohio back in the fall of ’85. While perusing the selections I laid eyes on Mars Needs Guitars! by a band named the Hoodoo Gurus and I was smitten without hearing a note. Weird I know, but guess what? I loved it and I’ve purchased every Gurus album since because they are awesome. Anyway, Mars Needs Guitars! contains some amazing songs, including BittersweetShow Some Emotion, The Other Side of Paradise and the incredible tunes Death Defying and Like Wow – Wipeout!. Yep, my hunch was right.

Behold, Like Wow – Wipeout and Death Defying . . .

Lifes Rich Pageant – REM (1986)

The album title comes from a line in a Pink Panther movie:

Maria: “You should get out of these clothes immediately. You’ll catch your death of pneumonia, you will.”

Clouseau: “Yes, I probably will. But it’s all part of life’s rich pageant, you know?

Lifes Rich Pageant is varied, kicking off with the rockin’ Begin the Begin and These Days, then slowing down with one of Michael Stipe’s favorite R.E.M. songs, Fall On Me. Add Cuyahoga, I Believe and a raucous cover of The Clique’s Superman and you have another R.E.M. classic.

Note: The absence of an apostrophe in the title was intentional and I know not why.

They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants (1986)

 I can’t recall who first turned me on to this quirky little duo from New York City. It may have been my friend Goose or maybe Jed, I cannot recall. Anywho, my first reaction upon hearing them was “What . . . in . . . the . . . world?” The music of TMBG is, shall we say, different. It’s whimsical, funny, odd, tuneful, sometimes deep, and always amazing. On this, their debut album, the two Johns (Linnell and Flansburgh) unleashed the tunes Everything Right Is Wrong Again, Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head, Don’t Let’s Start and Youth Culture Killed My Dog on an unsuspecting public. Hey, I told you they were quirky. This album set the stage for my lifetime love of They Might Be Giants.

Cloud Nine – George Harrison (1987)

George had released several albums since All Things Must Pass, and I bought them all. I particularly liked Thirty Three and 1/3 and Somewhere In England, but it was George’s big comeback album after a 5-year absence that blew me away. Co-Produced by Jeff Lynne (and you can certainly hear his influence), Cloud Nine featured guest appearances by Lynne, Ringo Starr and some cat named Elton John. The big hit from the album was the cover of Jimmy Ray’s 1962 song Got My Mind Set On You, but I loved the tunes That’s What It Takes, This Is Love, When We Was Fab, and Devil’s Radio as well. Just a a sublime, infectious record and nice return for George.

Rehab Doll – Green River (1988)

Green River was Grunge before Pearl Jam and Nirvana, kids, but obviously never achieved the commercial success of those two bands. Green River made very little commercial impact outside Seattle, but what the band lacked in commercial success it made up for in influence. In general, Green River is widely regarded as being one of the pioneers of Grunge music. With its sludgy mix of hard rock, punk and metal, that was heavily influenced by The Stooges, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, coupled with Arm’s twisted lyrics and vocal delivery, Green River greatly influenced both its peers and bands that followed them. Even without the fact that some of its members would later go on to form some of the biggest bands of the Northwest music scene, Green River is still remembered for its musical foresight and innovation, years ahead of the rise of grunge. My faves from this album are Swallow My Pride and Porkfist. ‘Twas the earliest grunge.

Note: Several Green River band members went on to be in other, more famous bands. Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam), Steve Turner (Mudhoney), Steve Gossard (Pearl Jam), Bruce Fairweather (Mother Love Bone), and Jason Finn (The Presidents of the United States of America). ‘Nuff said.

The Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1 – The Traveling Wilburys (1988)

Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrision – quite simply the greatest Super Group of all-time. This album though. It’s Rock with a dash of Country and it’s great from start to finish.  They boys originally got together to record Handle with Care for Harrison to release in Europe. The result was deemed too good for such a limited release, however, so the group agreed to record a full album, titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. The rest is history.

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

I’ve always felt like The Stone Roses were Oasis before Oasis was Oasis. Only, you know, better. This record, their first, was a breakthrough success for the band and received critical acclaim, many regarding it as one of the greatest British albums ever recorded. Their sound is lush, harmonic and beautiful. The band had so many internal difficulties they could only eke out one more album, Second Coming, in 1994. It received mixed reviews although I loved it as well. Watch the video below to get that Roses vibe.

PS – Whilst reseaching the band I found out they released an album in 2016. W-h-u-u-u-t? Must. Check. Out.

Doolittle – The Pixies (1989)

Oh my. The Pixies came on like bats out of hell with this, their second release. The album’s offbeat and dark subject material, featuring references to surrealism, Biblical violence, torture and death, contrasts with the clean, poppy production sound. That, my friends, is right up my musical alley. Debaser and Here Comes Your Man, in particular, are absolutely killer tracks. Band members Black Francis (who later recorded solo as Frank Black), Kim Deal (amazing bassist and singer), Joey Santiago and David Lovering all contributed mightily to this legendary record.

PS- I saw them in the summer of 2018. So damn good.

 

THE 1990s

 

Flood – They Might Be Giants (1990)

Why is the world in love again? Why are we marching hand in hand? Why are the ocean levels rising up? Here’s a brand new record for 1990, They Might Be Giants brand new album, Flood!

I promise you that any middle school kid I taught in the early to mid-1990s will recognize that intro to Flood, the fantastic album by They Might Be Giants. That intro kicked into Birdhouse in Your Soul and the rest is history. This is the band’s most recognizable and definitive album, and it’s also their best-selling. But really, how could it not with songs like Birdhouse, Instanbul (Not Constantinople) and Particle Man? Holy hell man. Oh, and there are two other special gems there as well – Twisting and They Might Be Giants. Love love love.

Nevermind – Nirvana (1991)

This album pretty much has to make any discerning music lover’s list, amirite? Although Grunge music had been around for years, it was generally this record that brought it into the mainstream. The album started selling slowly, but with the help of the video for the song Smells Like Teen Spirit it eventually rocketed to the top of the charts (it replace Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by the way). For listeners who had heard bands like Green River or Soundgarden this wasn’t such a shocking sound. For others it was ear-opening. Amazing, music-changing album that featured drummer Dave Grohl for the first time.

Ten – Pearl Jam (1991)

This album was released less than a month before Nevermind, giving the world a 1-2 punch of Grunge and knocking it on its ass. Hair Metal, my friends, was essentially over. While Nirvana had done it with a punk attitude, catchy hooks and Kurt Cobain’s suffering, hoarse vocals, Pearl Jam did it with arena-sized riffs, choruses and Eddie Vedder’s wails. Nirvana’s sound was unique – nobody ever really tried to mimic them. On the other hand, Pearl Jam influenced great bands like Stone Temple Pilots and not-so-great bands like Creed.

Bandonwagonesque – Teenage Fanclub (1991)

Do you like The Byrds? R.E.M.? Gin Blossoms? Then you’d love Teenage Fanclub. On their third album, Bandwagonesque, they are firing on all cylinders. Like I mentioned, they were heavily inluenced by The Byrds and even the Beach Boys and Beatles. With hooks and harmonies, songs like The Concept, Star Sign and Metal Baby, this is the first Teenage Fanclub album that caught on with the masses. It was also critically acclaimed, and get this – it topped Spin Magazine’s Album of the Year poll, beating out . . . wait for it . . . Nirvana’s Nevermind. Just a wonderful, 60s vibed record.

Apollo 18 – They Might Be Giants (1992)

Another spectacular album by the two Johns, and this one has an interesting twist. Sure, it’s overflowing with catchy, melodic, weird tunes like I Palindrome I, Mammal, Dinner Bell, and See the Constellation, but the real treat is what ends Side 2. I’m talking about Fingertips and it’s 4:25 minutes of the strangest, most peculiar, most glorious music these ears have heard. Fingertips is composed of 21 short tracks ranging in length from 4 to 71-seconds and includes wild tunes such as Everything’s Catching On Fire, Who’s That Standing Out My Window?, Come On And Wreck My Car, What’s That Blue Thing Doing Here?, Something Grabbed Ahold Of My Hand, and I’m Having a Heart Attack. Stellar in every way. Here ’tis, but be warned – your ears may be twisted and turned inside out.

The MEN – The MEN (1992)

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the first single from this album. I was driving south down State Route 104 from Columbus, Ohio nearing Chillicothe, and I was passing between the two prisons there. I was listening to QFM-96 and on it came – Church of Logic, Sin and Love by a band called The Men (The Men consisted of two men and two women by the way). The song immediately blew me away, and guess what? It still does. I drove straight to the record store and ordered it, waited the requisite week or so, and when it arrived I was thrilled to find the entire album was incredible. In addition to Church of Logic, Sin and Love there were other great tunes like I Built My House This Way, She’s All Mine, Goodnight Sally, and Where You Found Me. Sadly The Men vanished from the airwaves after this one astonishing album, like a comet streaking across the night sky.

It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 – when Kennedy was in Life Magazine and everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Piece of Cake – Mudhoney (1992)

As I mentioned before, Mudhoney was formed by lead singer Mark Arm, who was in Green River and is credited with actually coining the term “Grunge.” Pretty cool. Mudhoney’s earlier song Touch Me I’m Sick and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP were massively influential on the Seattle music scene. More than almost any other release of the era they inspired the dirty, high-distortion sound that would become grunge. On Piece of Cake, Mudhoney unleashed Suck You Dry, Blinding Sun and No End In Sight on the shell-shocked masses. I got to see Mudhoney back in 2007 on their tour and am happy to say I scored their setlist, handed to me than none other than the man himself, Mark Arm.

See? I wouldn’t lie to you.

Automatic for the People – REM (1992)

R.E.M. had sure come a long way since 1983 when I first fell in love with them. Automatic for the People, their eighth studio album, put them smack dab at the top of the game. Out of Time, released in 1991, had been a huge success and included the smash single Losing My Religion, but this album is the one I loved the most. The songs are simply beautiful, and Automatic for the People is generally regarded alongside 1983’s Murmur as one of the band’s supreme achievements. The album yielded an astonishing 6-singles – Drive, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon, Nightswimming and Find the River. Just an exquisite record from beginning to end.

Fun Fact: The star on the album cover was in front of a Miami restaurant and Michael Stipe dug the way it looked. It had since been destroyed in a hurricane.

14 Songs – Paul Westerberg (1993)

I loved The Replacements and I loved their enigmatic frontman Paul Westerberg, so it makes sense that I loved his first solo album. I even wrote about him in a piece called Man Without Ties: Paul Westerberg. On this album Paul was in peak form, churing out cool songs like Knockin’ On Mine, Runaway Wind, First Glimmer and the sarcastic take on plastic surgery, Mannequin Shop. The album features contributions from Ian McLagan, former keyboardist for the Faces, a band that Westerberg has often cited as a favorite. I’ve loved a lot of Westerberg’s solo albums over the years, especially 1999’s Suicaine Gratification, but 14 Songs remains my favorite.

PS – I had the opportunity to see Paul Westerberg live in the late 90’s and he was everything I hoped he’d be.

Hi-Fi Sci-Fi – Dramarama (1993)

Dramarama had released 5-albums since 1985, but it wasn’t until 1993’s Hi-Fi Sci-Fi that I finally caught up with them. It was the song Work For Food that caught my ear, which led me to buying this album and subsequently every album they’d recorded previously. In addition to Work For Food, the songs Senseless Fun, Late Night Phone Call and Shadowless Heart make this an exceptional album. Oh, and John Easedale’s vocals are supreme throughout. Sadly this was Dramarama’s last album until 2005’s Everybody Dies. Great band.

PS- There’s also an acoustic version of Work for Food that is amazing.

100% Fun – Matthew Sweet (1993)

Matthew Sweet may be the most underrated artist this side of Todd Rundgren. The two albums preceding this one, Girlfriend and Altered Beast, were outstanding as well.  On 100% Fun, Sweet delivered a hook-filled guitar-fused power pop record for the ages. With a soft, warm voice, he always keeps the emphasis on the melody, no matter how aggressively hard songs such as Sick of Myself and Super Baby may seem. However, the gem on this album comes in at song #3 with the incredible tune We’re the Same. It evokes memories of the early Beatles, Raspberries and even Cheap Trick with it gorgeous harmonies, chorus and jangly guitars. Give it a listen below, and you’re welcome in advance.

PS- Who does Matthew Sweet credit with being his biggest influence? None other than R.E.M. 

Monster – REM (1994)

I feels like R.E.M. may have become a little weary of the commercial success that albums like Out of Time and Automatic for the People brought them. Monster didn’t sound like anything on the radio, and it certainly didn’t sound like 1992’s Automatic for the People. On Monster, the boys wanted a return to their roots and displayed a much harder edge with great, rockin’ songs like What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?, Crush With Eyeliner, Bang and Blame and Star 69. Was this a different R.E.M. record? It was. Was it awesome? Hell yes it was.

Note: What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? referred to the the infamous attack on Dan Rather on a NYC street  where the assailants repeatedly yelled the line.

The Hearing and the Sense of Balance – Fury in the Slaughterhouse (1995)

Fury in the Slaughterhouse is another band I’ve loved for years, and this is my favorite album of theirs. A German band, these guys have made a ton of good music. And don’t let the name fool you – they’re basically a straight ahead rock band with guitar led, hook-filled melodies. One song led me to this record, a song I’d heard on an alternative compilation of new and upcoming bands. That song was Milk and Honey, and I was smitten. Upon buying the album I was turned on to tunes like Down There, Hello and Goodbye, and Rainy April Day, a song about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Great album, great band.

Here’s a taste of the song that started it all, for me at least:

Nerf Herder – Nerf Herder (1996)

Ah, the Herders of Nerf. I cannot quantify how much enjoyment these knuckleheads have given me over years. They describe themselves as a Geek Rock band, and are known for simplistic modern punk-style songs with frequently humorous, juvenile, and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. This, their first album, contained the cult classics Down On Haley (not what you think), Sorry (not safe for children), and Van Halen (where they rip the band for replacing David Lee Roth). Nerf Herder is simply a band that sings nerdy, funny, irreverent, and sometimes inappropriate songs. Love these guys.

Note: Lead singer Parry Gripp is the nut who’s responsible for all those wild videos like Cat Flushing a Toilet, Hamster On a Piano and Baby Monkey Going Backwards On a Pig. Good stuff.

The Colour and the Shape – Foo Fighters (1997)

The Foo Fighters had recorded one album prior to this one, Foo Fighters, but it was with The Colour and the Shape that I got on board.  When Dave Grohl started The Foos after the death of Kurt Cobain ended Nirvana, nobody knew what to expect. Hell, we’d just seen Dave back there pounding the drums, many thought he couldn’t be a frontman. They were wrong. The Foo Fighters turned out to be one of the greatest rock bands in the world. This record grabbed my ears with great songs like Monkey Wrench, My Hero and the iconic Everlong. With The Colour and the Shape, the Foo Fighters were just getting started.

PS- I’ve been lucky enough to see several Foo shows over the last few years (including CalJam ’18), and thanks to a friend I’ve had backstage access. Incredible experiences all.

Electric.

Electro-Shock Blues – Eels (1998)

Everyone knows that The Eels are one of my Top 5 all-time bands. Mark Oliver Everett, who’s essentially the band, is a damn musical genius. I wrote about him in a piece called Mark Oliver Everett: A Man Called E if you want to know his story. However, it was this album that turned me onto him. Following the success of the band’s first album, Beautiful Freak, E experienced a difficult time in his personal life. His sister committed suicide and his mother was diagnosed with cancer (he’d discovered his father dead years earlier in their home). These events inspired him to write Electro-Shock Blues, which focuses on his family, which he had never written about previously. Electro-Shock Blues deals with many difficult subjects including suicide, death and cancer. However, don’t let that scare you off. The album is soothingly melodic, with intelligent lyrics. You’ll love this record. Check out Last Stop: This Town for a sample:

Imagination – Brian Wilson (1998)

Everyone knows Brian Wilson was the genius behind the Beach Boys and created one of the greatest albums in the history of music, Pet Sounds (see above). Years after the Beach Boys broke up, in 1988, Brian released a much anticipated solo album, his first. It was great, but then he pretty much vanished again. He released a couple inconsequential albums in the 90s, one that included a lot of remakes and another was a collaberation with old friend Van Dyke Parks. Neither were very good. And then, it happened. In 1998 he let loose with only his second solo album of original material, Imagination. The first song on the record was called Imagination as well, and it blew me away. Those old harmonies were back and the song was breathtakingly beautiful. Another tune, Lay Down Burden, is an amazing ode to his late brother Carl. South American is a catchy, beachy song he wrote with Jimmy Buffett. Keep An Eye On Summer could have fit right in on any 60’s Beach Boys album. All in all a spectacular return for the legend Brian Wilson.

PS- Shockingly, this album wasn’t received well by critics. Critics are idiots.

The harmonies at the 2:40 mark brought tears to my eyes when I first heard them.

 

THE 2000s

 

Daisies of the Galaxies – Eels (2000)

If you’re not aware of The Eels, this is the album you need to listen to. Daisies of the Galaxy is incredible from start to finish and has no weaknesses. Hell, its hidden track was undoubtedly its most popular song.  The album is cheerful on the surface (helped by its quirky, upbeat tone) but contains cynical undertones. E shows genuine calmness as he displays his sadness. It’s amazing really. It’s hard to explain, but E’s music juxtaposes itself effortlessly. From the carefree opening minutes of Grace Kelly Blues to the last, happy-go-lucky last song, Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues, Daisies Of The Galaxy has undertones of desolate emotion behind quirky, upbeat pop tracks. So, so good. My personal favorites, although they’re all excellent – Grace Kelley Blues, Packing Blankets, I Like Birds, Daisies of the Galaxy, It’s A Motherfucker (don’t let that title fool you, it’s a gorgeous, heartfelt song), Jeannie’s Diary, Wooden Nickels, Selective Memory (a great song about E’s late mother), and the aforementioned hidden track, Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues. Essential Eels, man.

Rockin’ the Suburbs – Ben Folds (2001)

This one is right at the top of my Ben Fold’s treasure trove of records. Released on 9/11/01, this was Ben’s first solo album since leaving Ben Folds Five. It contains the usual Ben Folds piano based, hook-filled gems. The record’s best songs are Annie Waits, Zak and Sara, Still Fighting It, Rockin’ the Suburbs, and one of the most beautiful songs ever written, The Luckiest. The whole album has a Burt Bacarach feel to it (look it up if you’re under 60), and believe me when I say that’s a good thing. And as always, Ben maintains that signature sarcasm throughout. I’d expect nothing less.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – Flaming Lips (2002)

I always liked the Lips, but this album is by far my favorite of theirs. It’s a weird, haunting, lush, symphonic record with gorgeous melodies and and an incredible, moody vibe. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots appeared in the best-albums-of-the-decade lists of several music publications, such as Rolling Stone (#27) and Uncut (#11), with Uncut also declaring it the greatest album released in the magazine’s lifetime. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I absolutely love the songs Flight Test, Are You a Hypnotist?, and Do You Realize?. What an amazing album with Wayne Coyne at the peak of his powers.

American Idiot – Green Day (2004)

Green Day had released a pretty bad album, Warning, just before this and the band was dropping in popularity big-time. They released a greatest hits album to buy some time, healed some old wounds in the band, and promptly unleashed their best album ever (in my humble opinion). American Idiot was not a traditional Green Day album. This was different. The band not only listened to classic rock operas and concept albums like The Who’s Tommy and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, but also pulled ideas from Broadway musicals. The record also includes classic rock influences (The Beatles) and the boys also allowed some of the top Rock and Hip-Hop acts of the day to factor into their sound and approach. According to Billie Joe Armstrong, “We decided we were going to be the biggest band in the world or fall flat on our faces.” What resulted was one fantastic album with songs like American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and Wake Me Up When September Ends. Spectacular album.

PS – I saw the band live right after this album dropped. Electric.

Indian Summer – Carbon Leaf (2004)

Carbon Leaf is the greatest relatively unknown band I’ve ever known. They burst onto the scene in 2002 when they won the Best New Band award at the American Music Awards. After that they settled in on a solid, successful career. Their sound has a Celtic, Irish feel to it, although lead singer Barry Privett calls their sound “Ether-Electrified Porch Music” which seems about right. Indian Summer is chock full of that unique, patented Carbon Leaf sound with tunes like Life Less Ordinary, What About Everything?, Grey Sky Eyes, Raise the Roof, and Let Your Troubles Roll By. I highly recommend you listen to this band, and you can start by watching the video below.

PS- I’ve seen the guys live several times and have become aquainted with them. Great, down-to-earth people.

PPS- Carter Gravatt is an incredible guitarist.

I And Love And You – Avett Brothers (2009)

I first heard The Avett Brothers in the early 2000s when I was driving my car through Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was on station 99.1 The Sound, where I always seemed to find new bands. The song was I and Love and You, and my proverbial socks were knocked off. The Avetts sound is really hard to describe. They combine Bluegrass, Country, Punk, Pop, Folk, Rock, Indie, Honky Tonk, and Ragtime to produce a unique sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the “heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of the Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones.” Yep. I would say that about covers it.

 

The 2010s

 

Something for the Pain – Redlight King (2011)

Redlight King is another band that hasn’t really received its due and I know not why. They formed in Canada in 2009 and released this, their first album, in 2011. Lead singer Mark Kasprzyk made news on this record for his success in securing permission from Neil Young to allow him to sample the 1972 song, Old Man, and the results were incredible. It’s sampled in Redlight King’s song of the same name, a tune about Kasprzyk’s father. I got a recommendation to listen to this album from a friend, and I’m forever grateful for that. In addition to Old Man, the songs Something for the Pain, Bullet In My Hand, Comeback and When the Dust Settles Down are all stellar. Give Redlight King a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Egypt Station – Paul McCartney (2018)

Just when you thought 76-year old Paul McCartney was getting close to the end of his career he dropped this bombshell on us. Ladies and gentlemen, Egypt Station was Sir Paul’s first #1 album in the USA since Tug of War in 1982. Let that settle in for a second.  As Rolling Stone reviewer Rob Sheffield said, “Make a list of all the songwriters who were composing great tunes in 1958. Now make an overlapping list of the ones who are still writing brilliant songs in 2018. Your list reads: Paul McCartney.” Man that’s impressive. Give a listen to songs like I Don’t Know, Come On To Me, Fuh You and Back in Brazil and you’ll know what he’s talking about. Did this record surprise me? It did. Should it have? Hell no. It’s Paul Freakin’ McCartney.

PS- Paul gets two videos.

So there you go, my 80 favorite albums of all-time. Eclectic? Yes. But I sort of pride myself in that. There’s really no musical genre I don’t like. And while making this list I realized that the album’s of today are not the same as the albums of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In the 60s and 70s, in particular, there was nothing better than buying an album, taking it home, peeling off that plastic cover, and reading the liner notes. If it was a double album it was even better. Today we just download a particular song to our iPhone and that’s that. Sad really.

Anyway, to those of you that stuck with me all the way through this l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g blog, I appreciate it. Please let me know if any of my albums match yours, or if there are other albums not included here that had an impact on your life.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Tim is new to this whole Twitter thing, but damn it if he’s not giving it his all. Tim is a National Treasure and, dare I say, the hero we all need right now.

[click and scroll to see the entire tweet]

In the world today, 1 in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Years ago my late father told me a story, a story that most kids today wouldn’t understand. It was from a time long ago, a time of hardship and poverty that most of us cannot begin to comprehend today.

My dad grew up the youngest of seven children, the son of Sadie and Royal Shoemaker. Grandpa was a carpenter and a blacksmith, and he and Grandma somehow raised every one of their kids to be a part of independent and successful families. The oldest was Myrl who ended up in the second most powerful position in the state of Ohio, serving as its Lieutenant Governor and Director of Natural Resources after 24-years as a State Representative. Brothers Hester (Deck) and Leroy were also strong figures who raised amazing families, and sisters Alice, Ruth and Millie were the matriarchs of great households as well.

Dad? His name was Ralph and he graduated from Ohio University and rose to the Head of Purchasing at the Mead Corporation, a large paper company here in Southern Ohio.

Bottom line, Grandpa and Grandma did an amazing job of raising seven children, most of whom grew up during the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.

Which brings me to my father’s story.

It was a Christmas morning, probably sometime in the 1980s, and we were all sitting around watching the grandkids open their myriad of gifts, just tearing through the presents and tossing them aside with barely a glance. It was apparent that Dad was amazed at the sheer number of gifts the kids were getting, and he and I were chuckling about it. At some point we found ourselves in another room and he asked me this question:

Do you want to hear about the best Christmas I ever had?

Well, sure. Dad was never one to share a lot of his personal feelings so I wanted to hear what he had to say. Then he began the story. I’m paraphrasing but I remember it well . . .

“It was, I don’t know, maybe 1933 or 1934. It was Christmas morning, although we didn’t have much of a celebration or anything. I think I was in 1st or 2nd Grade. We didn’t have much at all back then, and we all had chores to do around the house each day. One of my jobs was to get up and shovel coal into the furnace. It was cold in the house, so the first thing I did when I awoke was to put my shoes on. They were always right by my bed. When I put one of them on, I felt something inside. I reached in and there, with a white ribbon tied to it, was a red pencil. A red pencil! Some of the kids at school had their own pencils but most of us did not. I was so excited. I cherished that red pencil more than any present I ever got. I promise you I appreciated that gift more than kids today appreciate theirs. And I made that one pencil last the rest of the school year.”

As he recounted the story I could see the excitement in his eyes, even after all the years that had passed.

You see, back then in that space and time for that little boy, getting a new pencil was special. So special that he remembered it vividly decades later.

I guess we should just appreciate and be grateful for what we have, right? And it’s not always the quantity or the price of the gifts, sometimes it can be something very, very simple.

Like a red pencil.

 

Simply put, the NBA as we know it today wouldn’t exist without the ABA, or the American Basketball Association.

Formed in 1967 and lasting until 1976, the ABA played a flashy, distinct brand of basketball, one far different from what the NBA was playing at the same time. It had an awesome red, white and blue ball and 3-point shots (gasp!). And oh, by the way, it also featured the first slam dunk contest in 1976. The league only lasted a few seasons, but its impact on the game continues to this day. Four ABA franchises that merged into the NBA (the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs) remain today. And those innovations like the three-point shot have continued to help the NBA evolve over time.

The league consisted mostly of players not quite good enough for the NBA, although they did swipe a few from the older league. Some great players that chose to play with the league were Julius “Dr. J” Erving, George “The Iceman” Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Dan Issel, Louie Dampier, and Rick Barry (who they signed away from the NBA). They also signed players that had been banned from the NBA for various reasons, great players like Doug Moe and the legendary Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins. Both were banned for alleged gambling violations that were never proven.

Although only four teams eventually merged into the NBA, the original ABA featured some really cool names and logos. Some still exist today. Check ’em out:

 

Here are some random photos from the American Basketball Association. Like I said, they played the game up-tempo and wide open, much like the NBA game is played today. At the time the NBA was a walk it up, pound the ball inside league. And man, that ball. The way it spun was almost magical. Ah, the memories.

Finally, for an in-depth look at the ABA I beseech you, dare I say implore you, to check out this video. Amazing stuff.

I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned places, whether they be houses, cars, or anything really. For instance, there’s something about looking at an old abandoned house and knowing that it was once someone’s dream, a place where maybe kids were running around, a home that somebody took great pride in but now it just sits there, overtaken by nature. Why did they leave? What happened? To me that’s very intriguing.

With that in mind, here are 12 photos of abandoned places that I particularly like. I hope you like them too.

[click on a photo to begin scrolling]

Big word guy here. Everyone knows that. I’ve written several blogs about words, including the classics William Shakespeare, Rad Bro of Avon and Inventor of Words, 7 Redundancies We Need To Eliminate, Moving Forward, Allow Me To Reiterate, A Message To Social Media Users, 11 Examples of Why We Should Let Kids Name Stuff, Mispronounced Words: My Top 10, My 15 Favorite Palindromes, Here Are Some Words That Need To Make A Comeback, Word Up! Snorkel, Curds and Uranus and the legendary Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need to Make a Comeback.

So yeah, a lot.

And I once had a kid claim that “dude” was a word that only young folk should use, so of course I had to point out to him that it’s been around for at least 150-years, and that it was even used with regularity back in the stone age when I was in high school. And yes, I wrote about that too, in the blog The Etymology of Dude. 

Which brings me to today’s little piece about words that are older than you think. Let us proceed . . .

HIPSTER

Seriously. “Hipster” shows up in the 1941 Dictionary of Hash House Lingo (yes there was such a thing) and it meant “a know-it-all.” The words hip and hep had been around since the early 1900s, meaning being up on the latest and knowing what’s what. And by the way, I’m old enough to remember beatniks being called hep cats. God I’m old.

UNFRIEND

Think “unfriend” is a word brought upon us by Facebook? Naw. It’s been around a long time. It shows up in this example from 1659: “I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.” Cool. On a related note, if you don’t think I’m going to use the word “betwixt” henceforth you’re out of your gourd.

HANG OUT

Hang out has been used as a verb for passing the time since at least the 1830s. In the Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens wrote: “I say, old boy, where do you hang out?” True story.

PUKE

Puke has been around since the 16th century, man. The word, not actual puke. That’s been around forever. Anyway, while it is often claimed that Shakespeare invented the term, puke has been found in earlier sources. It meant then what it means now, to vomit. To hurl. Barf. Heave. Spew. Upchuck. You get the picture. But it also used to be a causative verb, meaning to make someone vomit with a tonic or potion. Your doctor might have you purged, bled, and puked for your own good. That’s disgusting, but I get it. Sometimes puking does make you feel better.

FUNKY

Funky was used as a term describing music back in the 1930s, but the “strong smell” meaning has been around long before that. Since the 1600s funk was slang for the stale smell of tobacco smoke, and by extension, anything that stank. Cheeses, rooms, hobos, and especially ship’s quarters could be described as “funky.” And oh by the way, I saw Wild Cherry perform “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)” on High Street in Columbus, Ohio 6-months before they hit it big. Boom.

FRIGGING

Wait, what you say? I kid you not. Frigging has been around since the late 1500s and has served as the more family-friendly substitute for that other F-word. Check out this 1943 quote, man:  “This shunting frigging new arrangement has got every flaming thing foxed up.” People used to talk way cooler than they do now, amirite?

LEGIT

Legit as a shortening of legitimate has been around since the 1890s. It started as theater slang for things associated with legitimate (as opposed to vaudeville or burlesque) theater. From the 1920s on, it referred to underworld or shady occupations or places. If you were “on the legit” you were being honest. Kewl.

So there ya go. Words that are older than you thought they were. I hope you learned something today, kids.

 

 

 

I can’t tell you how fascinated I am by these photos I randomly came across on the worldwide interweb. These are real, folks. In one Abe’s hair is a complete mess, in the other he’s sporting a do that would be appropriate for 2019. Abraham Lincoln, man. Dude was ahead of his time.

Click and scroll for the insanity.

One of the most iconic music videos in history, The Beatles singing “Hey Jude” on the David Frost Show in 1968. It was their first live performance in over 2-years. I love at the beginning when the lads are messing with Frost. Great stuff.

The album “Let It Be” by The Beatles was supposed to be a trip back to their roots – pared down, simple, no orchestration or strings, no overdubs, and no overwhelming production. They wanted the album to have an almost “live” feel. This from a band that had recorded albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in which the studio work and production were groundbreaking in their complexity. Bottom line, The Beatles wanted to get back to their roots.

Here’s the album track list:

Side 1

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let It Be
  7. Maggie May

Side 2

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling
  2. One After 909
  3. The Long and Winding Road
  4. For You Blue
  5. Get Back

The songs range from the silly (“Dig It”, “Dig a Pony” and Maggie May”) to the rockin’ (“Get Back”) to the almost country sounding (“One After 909”) to the beautifully legendary (“Let It Be”, “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road”). It was a truly a wonderful album in spite of the cracks that were beginning to show, fissures that would eventually tear the group apart.

Quick note – although “Let It Be” was the last album released by The Beatles, it was actually recorded before Abbey Road.

As I mentioned before, during the recording of “Let It Be” the relationships between all four Beatles was strained severely, almost to its breaking point. It was so strained, in fact, that the guys became so tired of the in-fighting they allowed manager Allen Klein (who Paul hated but John liked) to take over the finishing touches on the album. Klein ended up handing the project over to legendary “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, who proceeded to completely defeat the original purpose of the album by adding orchestras and female background singers (which The Beatles had never used before) to songs like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney has stated publicly many times that when he first heard the final product he was aghast at the results.

Years later, in 2003, the album was re-released by McCartney as “Let It Be . . . Naked” in an attempt to rectify the mistake and let the public listen to the album as it was originally intended. The result was a beautiful album of simple songs in which the voices and musicianship stand magnificently on their own.

Here’s a comparison of the original release of “The Long and Winding Road” with strings and background vocals, followed by the originally intended pared down, simple version:

Long and Winding Road (with added vocals and orchestration)

Long and Winding Road (original “naked” version)

Big difference. Sure, the first version is beautiful, but I much prefer the second one, especially since Paul wanted it to be heard that way originally. Again, all the added fluff went against the spirit of the album, which was to “get back” to the roots of The Beatles.

Here are some videos from the movie “Let It Be” which was basically a documentary regarding the making of the album. It includes the legendary surprise “rooftop concert”. Great stuff:

Let It Be

The Long and Winding Road

Get Back

Let It Be Factoids:

  • Piano legend Billy Preston played keyboard on the album.
  • During the recording sessions, tensions between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, grew so heated that Harrison left the studio.
  • Although recorded in 1969 and released on “Let it Be” a year later, the song “One After 909” was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first collaborations, dating back to 1959.
  • In the United States, advance orders for the album were the largest in the industry up to that point – over 3.7 million units.
  • Legend has it that when McCartney sang “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged” he was looking directly at Yoko Ono, who was in studio during the recording.

 

 

Yep. Not photoshopped.

You all know about my man Teddy Roosevelt. After all, I wrote about him in the acclaimed and cleverly titled blog “11 Examples That Show Teddy Roosevelt Was Either A Badass Or Batshit Crazy“. Click on that link to read about all that was Teddy.

Finished? Good.

What follows are 7 of the most savage, vicious lines that our boy Teddy laid upon some poor folks that got in his way. Dude makes Trump’s put downs sound like they came from an 11-year old. Read on . . .

I shall start with a personal favorite. Teddy once said of William Jennings Bryan, then Secretary of State to Woodrow Wilson, “He’s a professional yodeler, a human trombone.”

Boom. Roasted.

Once a Supreme Court justice dared to cross our man. Teddy proceeded to call him a “an amiable old fuzzy-wuzzy with sweetbread brains.”

Ouch. That’s cold, man.

Here’s what he said about William Alfred Peffer, a senator from Kansas who was hairy, tall, and lean – “He’s a pin-headed, anarchistic crank, of hirsute and slab-sided aspect.

Uh, OK?

Novelist Henry James once called Roosevelt “dangerous.” Teddy responded by calling James “a little emasculated mass of inanity.”

Burn.

Teddy once said of some government official named Charlie Lyman, “he’s the most intolerably slow of all men who ever adored red tape.” 

He saved some of his best zingers for William Howard Taft, calling him things like a “puzzlewit” and a “fathead.” He also said he had “brains less than a guinea pig.”

No love lost between those two, man.

Even family members weren’t immune to his barbs. He said of his brother Elliott, “He is evidently a maniac, morally no less than mentally.”

So you see, the Mad Tweeter that currently sits in the White House isn’t the first president to lower himself to insults about his enemies. Sure, Teddy delivered his lines with considerably more intelligence, but that’s no shocker.

Anyway, Teddy Roosevelt? You didn’t want to get on his bad side.

 

 

 

I don’t think I missed an episode of Soul Train or Midnight Special. Watch these dancers groove to Love Train by my buddies the O’ Jays. On a related note, Don Cornelius was the coolest cat around back then.

Since April 20th is on the horizon, I thought I’d post this article from Time magazine explaining the significance of the date to those of you who might be unaware. Interesting stuff.

TIME- Both marijuana smokers and non-smokers recognize April 20 or 4/20 as a national holiday for cannabis culture, but few actually know how the date got chosen.

Some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.

But, to put it bluntly, those rumors of the history behind how April 20, and 4/20, got associated with marijuana are false.

The most credible story traces 4/20 to Marin County, Calif. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to partake. They chose that specific time because extracurricular activities had usually ended by then. This group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall. They would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana.

As Reddix told TIME in 2017, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”

The shenanigans continued long after 4:20 p.m., too. The group challenged each other to find ever-more-interesting things to do under the influence, calling their adventures “safaris.”

Later, Reddix’s brother helped him get work with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh as a roadie, so the band is said to have helped popularize the term “420.” On Dec. 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One ended up with Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture. The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number. Soon, it became known worldwide as code for marijuana. In 1998, the outlet acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the “inventors” of 420.

Mirror: The Beatles Abbey Road album cover is one of the most famous in the world. The album’s sleeve shows the four members — Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — walking across the street outside Abbey Road Studios in North London.

However, if you look closely at the photo of the Fab Four, you’ll notice a suited gent standing on the pavement. For years fans have been trying to track the mystery man down, and it is an American tourist called Paul Cole. He was tracked down and said he was included in the snap purely by chance. Paul said he was standing by the side of the road waiting for his wife, who had been looking around a museum.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks. ‘A bunch of kooks,’ I called them, because they were rather radical looking at that time.”  

He said: “I saw the album and I recognized myself right away. I had a new sports jacket on and I’d just bought new shell-rimmed glasses.
I said to my children, ‘Get a magnifying glass out and you’ll see’.”

Paul Cole died in 2008 at the age of 98.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at that cover and wondered who the dude was standing on the street in the background. I just figured it was somebody who worked in the area and was used to seeing the boys around. Turns it was Paul Cole, an American who was tired of touristing with the wifey and had gone out for a quiet moment and some fresh air. Little did he know he’d end up being on one of the most iconic rock and roll album covers in the history of mankind. That’s wild stuff, man. Anyway, Paul Freakin’ Cole. Check him out:

It’s called “The Incident at Dyatlov Pass.” Here’s what went down . . .

On January 28th, 1959, 10-students and graduates of the Ural State Technical University embarked on a hike into Russia’s Ural Mountains. They were all experienced mountaineers, and they expected to reach their destination by February 12th.

One of the hikers, Yury Yudin, got sick early in the trip and had to stay behind. Turns out he was the group’s only survivor as well as one lucky flu victim.

So the group of 9-hikers heads into the woods and never came out. It’s sad, but it’s also one of the risks of wandering in the wilderness, right? The thing is, when they didn’t arrive at the expected time, the search-and-rescue team that was dispatched to find them discovered a terrifying and unexplainable scene that remains a mystery to this day.

First of all, the tent that the nine had shared had apparently been cut open from the inside and was full of the party’s food, warm clothing, and other essentials. The team then discovered five of the missing hikers about a mile from their tent. Two were discovered beside the remains of a campfire, and their hands were severely burned. The other three were discovered fairly close together of about 100-feet away, apparently attempting to return to their destroyed tent.

And get this – all five were found in various states of undress. Some were barefoot, others were wearing only their socks. One of the men, Rustem Slobodin, had a small fracture in his skull, but it was ruled that he had died from exposure, not injury.

The remaining four hikers were found approximately 3-months later. But instead of clarifying the situation, their bodies only made the story weirder. Some of the hikers were wearing clothes that belonged to hikers left at the campfire, indicating that they had scavenged those bodies in order to stay warm in the -30° weather, but all four apparently tumbled into a ravine and died there. These hikers had all suffered chest injuries that doctors compared to a car crash, and another was found to be missing her tongue.

Weird, right? But it gets weirder.

The hikers’ clothing was all strongly radioactive, and other than their severe injuries, there were no obvious signs of struggle or the presence of any other living thing in the area. One of the hikers, Semyon Zolotaryov, had apparently taken the time to grab his camera before fleeing the tent but left his clothing behind. What the hell had he hoped to photograph? And speaking of cameras, another member of the party, Yuri Krivonischenko, had taken a blurry picture of something weird and glowing before the incident.

Oh, and one more thing – the place they all died translates to “Mountain of the Dead.”

Gulp.

So, what could have killed the hikers? In short, nobody knows. There are a few theories that keep coming up, though. One is that they were attacked by someone or something in the woods, but there’s just one problem – the search teams found nine sets of footprints in the snow, one for each of the victims but no others. None made by humans, animals, Yetis, aliens, or otherwise.

So maybe it wasn’t an outsider? Maybe something happened between the hikers that caused them to turn on each other, or caused one to become extremely violent. Except there’s not really any great evidence of that, either. The diaries of the hikers found back in the tent didn’t indicate any kind of rising tension, nor did anyone who knew these nine believe they would have allowed their emotions to interfere in a survival situation. Some nearby residents reported seeing orange lights in the sky, leading some people to theorize UFOs had to be involved, and other slightly more rational minds suggested that they had been the accidental victims of some sort of Soviet weapons test. At least that would explain the radiation I guess? It would also explain why the official Russian investigation into the incident closed almost as quickly as it opened – investigators were satisfied to list “a compelling natural force” as the cause of death, and the region around the area where the incident occurred was closed for 3-years afterwards.

By the way, what exactly is “a compelling natural force”?

Oh, and about that aforementioned Yeti/Sasquatch/Bigfoot, you say? On one of the dead hikers cameras they found a mysterious photo of a man (or something). In any case it has a surreal look to it. Check it out:

Yikes. Fu-reaky.

It’s known as Photo 17, and it was the last photo taken on Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolle’s camera. Is it human, or something else? Could it be a member of the group coming back from somewhere? Maybe somebody else with sinister intentions? Nobody knows, but damn that’s a weird looking photograph.

So, the questions remain:

  • What frightened the hikers so much that they raced barefoot and half-naked into freezing windy temperatures?
  • What caused the traumatic injuries that doctors compared to those gotten from a car crash?
  • What caused the traces of radiation on the hiker’s clothing?

Anyway, it’s an enduring mystery and one that fascinates the bejesus out of me. Sure, you can find people on the worldwide interweb that claim to explain everything, but they an all go straight to hell because that’s no fun. Bottom line, they ultimately explain nothing.

PS- If you’re as interested in this as I am here’s a bonus, and also chilling, video for y’all. It includes some of the theories I talked about above, as well as some others.