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Doc Rock – Let the Music Take You Away

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When you think you’ve heard just about enough about Ratko Mladick ( too many consonants ), President Ahmadinajad ( too many liesure suits ), Moamar Kadaffi ( too many pairs of bad sunglasses ) and Osama Bin Laden ( too many poor quality amateur videos )…..When you find it impossible to leave your home for fear of being swept away by flooding rivers, sucked-up by whirring tornados, shaken by earthquakes or consumed by rogue waves…..If you’ve ever felt as if the world is going totally mad anytime the likes of Casey Anthony, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck so much as open their mouths or if you feel your once secure future slipping away because of bankrupt Social Security, Wall Street greed, unfunded Medicare programs and a general loss of Faith…..

Then soothe yourself with a little selection from Doc Rock’s Mad Mad Mad World playlist:

” Blah, Blah, Blah ” by Iggy Pop

” Won’t get fooled again ” by The Who

” Living in the past ” by Jethro Tull

” Open Letter to a Landlord ” by Living Colour

“Revolution ” by The Beatles

” Change ” by Fishbone

” Rise ” by Bad Brains

” We care alot ” by Faith no More

” War Pigs ” by Black Sabbath

” Zoo Station ” by U2

” Zombie ” by The Cranberries

” Killing in the Name ” by Rage Against the Machine

Refill this prescription often. Doctor’s orders…….

Doc Rock – My Favorite Band Is Cream

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Cream is my absolute favorite band for a bunch of reasons.

Amazing musicians – Check 

Totally cool – Check 

Wild explosive personalities (the stories of the fights between them are legendary) – Check

Archetype of the 3 man power band – Double Check

However one of the two biggest reasons that I love Cream is that they knew when to call it quits. Three albums and they broke up.  Some would argue that they just barely touched the pinnacle of their prowess. I think about the bands I love and there are very few that I listen to who have more than a couple of years of music that I really love. There’s something about rock music.  The best that this genre offers comes from a perfect, but not totally understood combination of talent, testosterone and partying (some bands focus too heartily on this last ingredient).  This mystic combination only lasts a few years or an album or two before the combustible effects taper off.  Unfortunately, most bands don’t get this like the Rolling Stones. Honestly, have they really done anything you’ve really given a crap about since the days of Hot Rocks?  Anyway, I have the utmost respect for anyone who has the good sense to know when to give up …And Cream did.

The other reason is thanks to my younger son.   Six years ago he and I were on a string of college tours in the Northeast. He was a senior in high school at the time and we were going to see a school on the coast of southern Connecticut. Where we lived at the time was 4-5 hours from the school and we were scheduled to be on a tour of campus at 11:00 a.m.  That’s right, the dreaded pre-dawn start. Now mind you, neither my son nor I are early risers. After years of being in medicine, I’ve learned to be awake and function no matter how tired I am. My son has no such set of skills. Waking him before his body is ready is an act bordering on resuscitation. Picture these two sad souls droning down the interstate both in levels of consciousness not quit asleep though not really resembling awake when my son asks, ” Hey dad, you ever hear of the band Cream. ” Before I could shoot him one of those ‘You’re kidding me looks’ he pulled out Cream’s greatest hits album and put the disk into the player. And it was magic. We had the coolest day listening to that album and talking and just hanging out. It was one of those days when I was realizing that in a matter of months he would be leaving home and days we would spend together like this would be painfully fewer. We ended up having the greatest day together. And the best band in the world wrote the soundtrack…..

Doc Rock: A Novel Concept…..Artwork with your music

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The late 60’s and early 70’s were rife with concept albums.  These are albums in which all the songs contained are somehow connected by a unifying theme. Many premiere bands of the day such as Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Who and others joined in the fray.   This month I’d like to focus on Jethro Tull, another band that were not about to be left out of the concept album mix.  1972’s Thick as a Brick was this band’s offering and it remains a classic to this day.  In contrast to the heady, seriously themed offerings of the others, Thick as a Brick was a humorous, bizarre parody of all that came before.  Jethro Tull was riding the critical success of Aqualung their mainstream Rock offering from the year before.    However the critics repeated assertions that Aqualung was a concept album despite front man, Ian Anderson’s staunch denials.   Anderson finally commented “If the critics want a concept album, we’ll give them the mother of all concept albums and we’ll make so bombastic and over the top…..”.   Anderson was surely a man of his word.

Thick as a Brick is a poem written by a fictitious English schoolboy named Gerald Bostwick about the trials and tribulations of growing up (Very tongue in cheek and over the top as promised) wedded to some of the finest progressive rock music of the day. Instrumentally, all of the usual suspects appear on this gem; guitars, piano, drums, organ and bass, but listeners are additionally treated to Anderson’s flute riffs and the sounds of xylophone, Tympani, harp, trumpet and violin plus an assortment of other strings, a rarity for the rock tunes of the 1970’s.

And if that wasn’t enough, the original L.P. was contained in a cover that was actually a several page “newspaper” which contained the entire lyrics to the album, a review of the album itself, and several other fictitious articles which should make you laugh or scratch your head but nonetheless hold high entertainment value.

A compact disc has an advantage over an L.P.  It is small, portable, durable, and requires inexpensive equipment to play (The needle alone from a decent turntable could cost several times that of a standard C.D. player).  However this modern technology comes at a price.  You lose the big production album cover art and if you ask me, that’s a real shame.  In the days of the L.P., record companies often spent a small fortune producing cover art (remember, L.P. covers were approximately 12×12 inches).  Many an hour was spent by listeners enjoying these creations as well as the contained “liner notes” those envelopes which contained the L.P. were also often adorned with artwork and other interesting ditties.  The miniaturized versions contained in today’s C.D.’s just don’t cut it folks.   Thick as a Brick is a huge case in point.  The C.D. version comes with a heavily abridged, barely readable, quite laughable version of the newspaper.   So if you want the full impact of this month’s recommendation get your hands on the L.P. version of “Brick” and enjoy.    Your prescription is written.  Refill as needed.  Until next time the doctor is in…..

Doc Rock: Son of God…..With a Beat

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I’m certain I’ve listened to this album at least annually since its release in 1970: Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

The year it was released I was in religious confirmation classes preparing to be accepted as a man in the church. Being the good little Lutheran kids we were, we were suitably appalled by Tim Rice’s depiction of Christ as a fallible human being filled with doubt and fear as well as his unconventional portrayal of Judas as a tragic hero visionary trying to save the infant Christian movement from its own self destruction. Fortunately, our hip young minister used this Rock Opera as a platform to look critically at classical religious teaching and in doing so taught us not to be afraid to question conventional wisdom and to think for ourselves. It’s a gift for which I will always be grateful…..

Undoubtedly, the merits of Rice’s view of the last week of Christ’s life will be debated forever, but what’s undeniable in my mind is the sleek perfection of Lloyd Weber’s music.  Amazingly well-written Rock Music performed by highly trained musicians with vocals sung by some of the finest talents of the day. Though many versions of the musical are available on disc (and believe me, I’ve listened to a good many) for my money the best is still the original 1970 London Production.   Ian Gillan, as I suspect some of you are asking is the singer from Deep Purple and voices Jesus Christ.   While Murray Head who sang that strange little ditty from the 1980’s “One night in Bankock” kills it as the long tortured Judas.   That’s just for starters. Everyone from the High Priests to Mary Magdalene from the guitarists and amazing rhythm section to the horns and strings will blow you away. Guaranteed!  Alice Cooper even joins the mix for a turn on “King Herod’s Song.”  This kind of perfection is what happens when you have fantastically written Rock music performed by some seriously gifted musicians.  So before there’s a ‘second coming’ pick this one up…..Until next month…..The Doctor is in…..

Below are two selections BOMS digs from “Jesus Christ Superstar” – The first is from the 1970 release entitled “Overture” and the second is called “The Temple” and comes from the 1974 Norman Jewison film.

Doc Rock #1 Death: “For The Whole World To See”

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The BOMS Team warmly welcomes Doc Rock, an ER Doctor who works at a hospital in the wilds of Northern New England.  Doc Rock has been working the night shift for the better half of 25 years and can be found late night dealing with a variety of head wounds, gut shots, snow mobile chaos as well as treating the many mishaps based on over-indulgence.  Doc Rock’s crazy nights lend one to think he may enjoy quieter days.  This folks is not the case.   You can find Doc Rock in Bull Moose Music hunting through rock rarities by day as he blasts the likes of Bad Brains, The Stooges, Living Colour, Death as well as plethora of other artists.  His years of experience and bedside manor will come into play with his writing.  Quite simply the man has amazing taste in rock music and he has a way of reexamining an older album in ways you may not have thought to before.  Doc Rock will bring you monthly reviews on what he is listening to as well as what he sees and experiences in the world.  So ladies and gentleman roll up your sleeves and scrub up because it’s going to be a long night in Doc Rocks ER.

This is my debut entry, so here’s the deal. There’s a good chance I’m older than you are. And believe me; I haven’t spent much of that time sitting on my butt sniffing the Roses. Some of that period I’ve devoted to studying medicine, though I’ve also committed a prodigious (and admirable) number of hours listening to rock music. Along the way I’ve heard a bunch of musical gems. I’ve also listened to some real disasters.  So here’s my promise to you.  The young bucks on the staff will keep you abreast of the latest and greatest modern music coming down the pike. My job is more that of Rock Paleontologist. I’ll comb through my collection of 50 years of Rock and Roll and present to you only the real gems and promise to keep the disasters to myself.

Recommendation #1:  Death: “For The Whole World To See”

At a time when much of the Detroit music scene was dominated by Motown, three young African American brothers David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney recorded an album of politically charged hard rock bordering on Punk.  This three man power trio from mid-1970’s Detroit could be the long lost fore fathers of Bad Brains, 24/7 Spyz, and Living Colour.  The tapes sat dormant for over 2 decades gracefully aging until 2009 when Drag City Records officially released the album.  This was all apparently due to conflicts in 1975 with the label regarding the band’s controversial name “Death”.

Their music is as timely today as it was ahead of its time then. Take my favorite song on the album, “Politician in my eyes.” This ode to politicians slams their goals of self-enrichment and questions why they don’t have a clue about the people they should be serving.  The song’s lyrics and music ring as true today as they did in the 1970’s. The other songs on this album are amazing featuring drumming that is insanely tight, lyrics that pack a punch and guitar work will shake the dust off your old stereo cabinets.  My wife likes to remind me of the first time I listened to the album at a level that may have disrupted our neighbors.  The music struck such an amazing chord with me that I absentmindedly yelled loudly after each song “I really like that tune, and that tune, and that tune.”    I don’t care who you are, you shouldn’t be without this music.  It may be hard to find and you should stick closely to any music store that has it on the shelf.   ’til next time…..the doctor is in.  Side Note: This past year the SXSW music conference and festival invited the remaining members of Death out for a Q&A session and a performance.  The video below is them performing “Politician in my eyes.”