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December 2023
Vol. 23, No. 3


David Bowie!

by Bart MendozaAugust 2017

This month we look at David Bowie’s visit’s to San Diego, San Diego musician’s thoughts on subject matter for possible future bio-pics and a new batch of reviews.

David Bowie in San Diego
Music icon David Bowie only performed in San Diego six times during his lengthy career and three* of those shows were as sideman / frontman with a band, Iggy Pop / Tin Machine. Here are the details on the when, where and what (was played):

September 11, 1974 San Diego Sports Arena. Diamond Dogs Tour.
1984 / Rebel Rebel / Moonage Daydream / Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Reprise) / Changes / Suffragette City / Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) / All the Young Dudes / Cracked Actor / Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me / Knock on Wood / It’s Gonna Be Me / Space Oddity / Future Legend / Diamond Dogs / Big Brother / Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family / Time / The Jean Genie / Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide / John, I’m Only Dancing

February 13 1976 San Diego Sports Arena. Isolar 1 Tour.
Station to Station / Suffragette City / Fame / Word on a Wing / Stay / I’m Waiting for the Man / TVC15 / Five Years / Panic in Detroit / Changes / Queen Bitch / Diamond Dogs / Rebel Rebel / The Jean Genie

*April 16, 1977 Civic Center — playing piano in Iggy Pop’s band. Blondie opens.
Raw Power / T.V. Eye / Dirt / 1969 / No Fun / 96 Tears / Turn Blue / Funtime / Gimme Danger / Sister Midnight / I Need Somebody / Search and Destroy / I Wanna Be Your Dog / Tonight / Some Weird Sin / China Girl / Gloria

March 29 1978 San Diego Sports Arena. Tour opener. Isolar II Tour. Bootlegged as the album “San Diego Sailor”
Warszawa / “Heroes” / What in the World / Be My Wife / The Jean Genie / Blackout / Sense of Doubt / Speed of Life / Breaking Glass / Beauty and the Beast / Fame / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On to Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide / Art Decade / Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) / Station to Station / Stay / TVC15 / Rebel Rebel

*December 14-15, 1991 Spreckels Theatre. Two shows by Tin Machine.
Dec 14: Crack City / A Big Hurt / Bus Stop / Stateside / Betty Wrong / Goodbye Mr. Ed / Debaser / If There Is Something (false start) / Baby Universal / Go Now / If There Is Something / I Can’t Read / Sacrifice Yourself / Heaven’s In Here / Sorry / I’ve Been Waiting For You / You Belong In Rock ‘n’ Roll

Dec 15: Debaser / If There Is Something / Heaven’s In Here / I Can’t Read / Baby Can Dance / Betty Wrong /Stateside / Go Now / Shopping For Girls / Sacrifice Yourself / You Can’t Talk / Baby Universal / Bus Stop / You Belong In Rock And Roll / Crack City / Sorry / Under The God — Bootlegged as the album 911215 Spreckels Theatre

Music bio-pics and documentaries are becoming more common, but with hundreds of years of music history, it’s an endless source of material, with some pretty amazing stories out there. Recent entries include Hired Gun, a documentary about session and hired players, and England Is Mine, an upcoming release detailing the Smiths beginnings. We asked performers who they thought might make a good film subject:

Beston Barnett – (Zzymzzy Quartet): “Maybe Sidney Bechet – interesting life and fantastic music. Something really good about Duke Ellington would be great as well- can you imagine the wardrobe?!”

Alfred Howard – (Dani Bell & the Tarantist): “Jason Molina one of the greatest songwriters and lyricist of my generation, also prolific, plagued by alcohol, destroyed himself with it, last time anyone conjured tears from me.”

Ed Kornhauser: “Bowie. And given his whole androgynous, pansexual ethos they should get Tilda Swinton to play him. She even looks like him – would be perfect!”

Jordan Krimston – (Big Bad Buffalo): “John Reis – Interesting due to his influence in the DIY world AND the commercial world. Always producing work and always successful. Rob Crow – Would be cool to dive into his early days of Thingy, Heavy Vegetable and Optigonally Yours. He probably has a ton of stories regarding experimental music. That’s where his roots are and he continues to bring bands with small cult followings on pinback. Gary Wilson – Mysterious and elusive. Don’t know much about him except that I love his music and would love to learn more. Joey Harris – criminally underrated songwriter and musician from SD.”

Blanca Lucia Bergman – (Dreams Made Flesh) : “If any SD musician I’d say Pall Jenkins! He’s accomplished so much in his music career and always has something cool going on… e.g., and upcoming Black Heart Procession reunion.”

Andy Rassmussen – (& The Hi-Tones): “I have two: Joel Scott Hill & Ervin Rucker……..Joel Hill because of his sheer vocal and guitar talent. he started with The Strangers, and was among the first locals to have a nation wide hit with “Caterpillar Crawl.” He was instrumental in getting the Monogram label started and did session work for them. He did the Joel Hill Trio and JH & The Invaders. Eventually he joined Canned Heat as a main player (not a sideman), then joined The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Sierra in the 80’s. he seemed to have trouble with alcohol over the years which I think led to him slowing down in the 80’s and later years. i don’t feel he was fully recognized on a national or even local level. He has friends who check on him from time to time, but i have a gut feeling he’s probably in an assisted living home. He has no desire to be contacted for interviews, or may not be able to. It’s a pretty sad demise to a truly talented musician with an impressive resume and discography, he really deserved more.”

“Ervin Rucker on the other hand was a gifted soul singer. With singles on Duplex, GME, Musette, Will-Queen, Hawk, and a ton of others (in fact I’d like to do another comp on his music after the San Diego one). in the late 60’s he recorded and toured with Johnny Otis, & got name-checked by Marvin Gaye (!) He continued to perform into the 70’s & 80’s (was on the Homegrown comp with Ted Picou). He passed away in the early 80’s without much fanfare, and nobody seems to know about him (many people and collectors to this day think he is the same person as Ervin Groves –which has been debunked). Even his friends from SD don’t know where he is buried, I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find out. From what i understand he lived a pretty modest and unassuming life as a house painter when he wasn’t performing. His is another story I’d love to know more about, his voice sends chills up my spine every time I play his records. It’s so hard to explain why he wasn’t a house hold name.”


Carsickness — 1979-1982 (Get Hip 1173)
Fascinating. A 17 vintage tracks from circa late 1970’s Pittsburgh based punk band, Carsickness, including three previously unreleased tracks from 1982, with some tracks edging into new wave / post punk territory. The picture on the front looks pretty unassuming, but if you are a fan of any aforementioned genres, you’ll love this. There is a heavy Clash influence on tracks like “Police Dog,” “Bleeding,” while songs like “Suicide” are like a heavier Buzzcocks. These gents were pretty much unknown outside their general area, regional heroes. On the strength of this collection, they definitely deserved wider attention. As is to be expected considering the songs sources and age, sound quality varies and the lead track has non gratuitous profanity, but those are minor quibbles. This is a solid collection of tunes that will make you want to investigate the rest of this bands catalog.

Peter Himmelman- There Is No Calamity (Himmasongs

For his 13th album, we get 12 new songs from this highly respected singer-songwriter, with full band tracks in the tradition of Graham Parker, Randy Newman, Richard Thompson or Elvis Costello, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. Sonically, it’s terrific, with Berlin’s dense production giving an intimacy to the songs and Himmelman’s voice. There is a wide palette of tones using piano and twelve-string among the base sounds, with a sprinkling of female harmony vocals, horns, chamber music or whatever suits the song. As nice as that is, it’s all about the songs and Himmelman delivers with this collection. It’s a grower revealing more with each listen. It is indeed singer-songwriter rock, but with many facets within that structure. Favorite track is “Memories In This Heart of Mine,” a radio friendly jangle fest rocker, complete with chiming, climbing riff and an incessant title hook. A definite earworm. Also superb is “Burning Through The Days,” a piano based introspective lament highlighted by strings, but tracks such as “Smoke and Flames,” and “Ribbon Of Highway,” are all well worth hearing and stand well amongst his earlier works. If you are a longtime fan, There is No Calamity, is an essential addition to your collection, but it’s also a fine introduction to Himmelman’s sound for new listeners. Recommended.

The Jangle Band — Edge of A Dream (Off The Hip 7166)

A 10 track album, rounded out by a further 5 demos. As it says right there in the name of the band, this is music with a lot of jangle and an excess of melody. Chiming guitars, ringing Rickenbacker’s, inspired harmonies, it’s all heard here. The title track is probably my favorite tune — it’s got a jaunty piano based beat, great hooks, a twin lead guitar break and at 1:34 a seriously impressive melodic twist that puts the song over the top. It reminds me of a latter day Paul Bevoir production, complete with horns — superb. Another gem is a vocal and Hammond drenched rocker “This Soul Is Not For Sale,” this one reminds me a lot of Firetown. I love that the song has so much melody, the band introduces a guitar line counter melody at 2:34, running just the last bit of the song, but clearly demonstrating how seriously the band takes it’s craft. The magic is in the details. Overall the album reminds me of band like The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub and other combos with heavy folk influences and harmonies. The demos are of five of the album tracks, casting those tunes in a slightly different light. While the fidelity isn’t quite as strong on some of these cuts, as alternate takes, they are a revealing listen, particularly “Let me Breathe” stripped down to guitar and voices — quite effective. If you are a fan of any of the artist mentioned this will fit nicely in your collection and is definitely worth repeat listens.

John January & Linda Berry — Chemistry 101

12 tracks from blues duo John January and Linda Berry, with full band backing, all choice covers. Consisting of deep gems, this is a winner. You can tell the musicians involved are having a good time — it’s in the grooves. First off, there is great production from Thomas Yearsley and Scott Exum, highlighting both Berry’s commanding vocals and January’s excellent guitar work, on electric and acoustic guitars, depending on the tune. Secondly, while this is certainly a blues album, that tag is actually a little limiting as it encompasses many shades of blue within its dozen tracks. Major points as well for covering two songs by San Diego music icons, Jimmy Liggins 1947 jump blues stomper “I Can’t Stop It,” and J.J. Cale’s breezy 1979 shuffle, “Sensitive Kind,” the latter highlighted by sterling slide work from January. Also good is a swampy harmony and harmonica laden take on Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” adding a touch of pop to the proceedings, coming across like something from country radio circa 1968. The variety of sounds and settings on the album mixed with the great song selection, which also includes tunes from the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Johnson, make this a solid listen. Top shelf blues.

Paul Kelly — Life is Fine (Cooking Vinyl )

A dozen tracks from legendary Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, showing his knack for both writing hook filled songs and pushing his musical boundaries, to be fully intact. There is real range to his tunes, a cinematic quality to the lyrics of songs such as “Finally Something Good,” and plenty of melody. There are no weak songs here, though some are stronger than others. “I Smell Trouble” features a repetitive jazzy piano lick that grows in intensity, but it feels slight in comparison to some of the other tracks. The variety of sounds makes for good listening experience. With dozens of hit albums since the late 1970’s in his homeland, it’s clear that Kelly is a master of songcraft — listen to “Don’t Explain” sung by Linda Bull, the way the melody of the chorus flows, the terrific guitar riff that plays against the opening keyboard chords, the slide guitar solo with shades of George Harrison. A probable single would be “Firewood and Candles” a riff driven garage rocker, complete with farfisa solo. But then that’s followed by “My Man’s Got A Cold,” a bluesy, lumbering stomp sung by Vika Bull, that sounds like Eartha Kitt backed by Tom Waits. Brilliant. Almost every studio album — 22 to date – Kelly has released, has hit the Australian Top 40. With so much strong, radio friendly material, Life Is Fine, should easily join them and is deserving of chart action here as well. The album is strong enough to stand on its own as a representation of Kelly’s work, but there is also decades of great material you’ll want to investigate further.


The Paladins — More of the Best of Vol. 1 (Lux Records)
18 songs of blues, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, spanning the bands entire recording career, including two new songs. Honestly, this could be a one word review: Essential. If you only own one Paladins album, this is the one. Cherry picking the best tracks from various singles, comp appearances and albums, it’s all highlights, but picks include go-go beat and riff driven “15 Days” (co-penned by Jack Tempchin) and soul tinged lead guitar workout, “Follow Your Heart.” Also excellent is the instrumental “Shoulda Been Dreamin,” sounding like a lost late 1950’s single, with excellent lead work and a terrific organ break. With so many different sources for tracks, recording quality varies from track to track, but it never distracts, indeed it clearly shows the many dimensions of the band’s sound. The perfect introduction to the Paladins.

Andy Robinson — Andyland (Brontosaurus Records BR004)

15 nearly all instrumental tracks, pop rock for lack of a better definition, but with a kaleidoscope of influences in the mix. Americana, world music, folk, surf, prog etc. mingle here, but the most important element in the mix is melody, with arrangements a close second. Sonically? This sounds great. Ranging from 37 seconds long to 3:52, it’s clear that for Robinson the song is king, brevity is an art. At 41 seconds “Later” is a perfect, compact, concise piece of pop that wouldn’t sound out of place on a late 1950’s Henry Mancini soundtrack. The songs can careen all over the place stylistically, but these are catchy, intricate, melodic pieces of music that at times remind me of Paul McCartney’s more experimental tracks, or maybe bits of Mike Oldfield, Tom Waits or Brian Wilson. Every track here has its charm, but to my ears the single here is “Junkmobile”, a funky, keyboard driven tune that comes across like peak era Deodato. That it is immediately followed by the sad toned, French horn led, “Requiem For Daisy,” complete with rain sounds, shows the range of Robinson’s genius. Also excellent is “Gravel Dance,” an acoustic guitar folk/ Celtic based track which has superb melodic twists, such as the counterpoint that appears at 1:25. Robinson plays the majority of the instruments himself, with heavy hitters Jeff Niven (trumpet), Dennis Caplinger (fiddle) and Joe Rathburn (guitar) amongst the guests. A great listen, this is music to immerse yourself in. Brilliant stuff.

Produced by Andy Robinson & Scott Chatfield. Mastered by Paul Abbott at Zen Mastering. Mixed by Mike Harris and Sven Erik Seaholm


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