It needs to be said, unequivocally, that Little River Band’s album Sleeper Catcher is one of the most beautiful, exquisite, perfect rock albums ever recorded.
I say “one of” because of course there are many, and my tastes are particular, and don’t encompass a lot of the music that my friends and colleagues swear allegiance to. But as I recently wrote in “What was I thinking?” about the shameful, unforgivable culling of my music collection, and have had cause to look down the list of what vinyl I had owned, and what I still do, and what I have in my huge digital library, and make comparisons, I understand that there are some albums that really should only be heard in their original formats, and Sleeper Catcher is one of those. You need to play it on vinyl, as it was released to the world in 1978.
One year ago Andrew “Greedy” Smith of Australian band Mental As Anything died suddenly. While we lose our music icons more and more as we all get older, this one was even more horribly upsetting because Greedy hadn’t been ill, he was way too young, and he was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. To pay tribute to him on this first anniversary, I’m sharing the entire chapter from my book Songwriters Speak on the Mentals’ two key songwriters, Greedy Smith and Martin Plaza, Hope you enjoy.
So I’m watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony a couple weeks ago on HBO, like all awards shows this year being a largely virtual event, and the Doobie Brothers kick it off with some terrific archival footage and heartfelt acceptance speeches. Yeah, I think, I really need to give the Minute By Minute album a spin on my newish USB turntable.
So I go to my media cabinet, slide open the door and look through my small collection of vinyl that I preserved after culling so many of my possessions in 2014 when preparing for my big move from Sydney to Los Angeles.
I got into my car yesterday morning to head to the beach. I’m rarely in the car nowadays. I have spent most of the past nearly eight months self-isolating at home so mileage has been low. But if I am in the car on a Saturday morning it’s fun to listen to an old episode of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Sirius XM’s 70s On 7 channel, and yesterday morning’s was a ripper. It featured the countdown from this weekend in 1973. Oh yes.
This month I’m taking some time out to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my book, Songwriters Speak, on my social media platforms. So I thought I really should acknowledge it here, too, now that I’m expanding the content on Debbie Does Music to cover the Australian music I was raised on and worked with prior to moving to Los Angeles.
Because I am in fact starting work on a new book about music, I’ve been diving back into the memories and archives of the conception, writing and publishing of Songwriters Speak.
Sherbet and the sound that is ever sweet
When the present is so precarious and the future is uncertain, there is one thing that is sure and true – the past. It can’t be altered, and if we are lucky it’s a trip back to some of the happiest times of our lives and culture…
The beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere means my mind is playing and replaying the best summer pop song I know, Sherbet’s “Summer Love”, and wishing life was like that song instead of what it currently is.
I’m not at an Eagles concert, which I would have been, twice, this weekend.
I’m not at any concert now or any time for the foreseeable future, as one by one the music events I was looking forward to – Joan Osborne at Pepperdine University’s Center for the Arts concert hall, Beth Nielsen Chapman at McCabes Guitar Shop, a Julie Andrews talk at the Skirball Cultural Center, the Eagles Hotel California shows at The Forum – were crossed off my calendar, along with other music and non-music happenings. My calendar is a mess of things crossed out. I sure hate a messy calendar.
The live Australian Cast Recording of Jesus Christ Superstar and Remembering Jon English
Or: How to Clean Your Home When You Don’t Want To
Easter has come and gone for another year, Passover is just about passed over, the Angel of Death didn’t get me thanks to my parents’ mezuzah on my doorpost, and I have a clean bathroom thanks to my favourite stage musical. Read on to see how these things are connected.
Fifty years ago I was just six years old. I was growing up in Sydney, Australia. The major music landmarks of 1969 in the United States were worlds away. Yet this year I will find myself preoccupied with many anniversaries of great albums and monumental events. Woodstock, for one, and Crosby Stills & Nash, Sweet Baby James, Morrison Hotel… and today I am thinking about Chicago Transit Authority.
“How can you mend a broken heart?” So sang one sibling group, the Bee Gees, and now the last man standing from that musical family, Barry Gibb, carries on, brilliant as he is, with an inescapable sadness over lives ended too soon, things that can never be said, or unsaid. Maybe that notion of the shortness of life is what’s prompted Ann Wilson to reunite with her sister Nancy Wilson and go back on the road as Heart this year. The what-can’t-be-said-or-unsaid concern, or just the lure of big money, has brought these goddesses back together for a 39-show “Love Alive” tour that will culminate at the Hollywood Bowl in September.