Saturday, June 6, 2009


The summer home renovation season is in full swing, with both weekends and weekday nights spent to a greater or lesser degree measuring, cutting and nailing. This weekend was spent ripping off another section of old cedar siding around and above the main entryway, dry, cracked and warped wood, liberating three decades of accumulated dried bug parts from insects that considered my house to be just one more pine tree to live in. Design problems are exposed and must be fixed before I can put the new siding up, adding new studs here and there in corners and walls and adding better sheathing on parts where siding goes directly onto the concrete foundation. I spent part of an afternoon in a hot attic, crawling around in fiberglass, dragging a nail gun while adding new studs to the exterior wall, sweating profusely. Fun stuff. A storm brews overhead, thunder booming but only managing to release a few drops of rain. I heard on the news later in the evening that a tornado made an appearance somewhere in the Denver metro area, some areas receiving golf-ball sized hail. The season of finishing the day sitting in a lawn chair atop the roof has also arrived, to watch some of the best sunsets ever, a setting suns light playing on clouds drifting above the mountains and plains.

You will have noticed that I've reduced my concerts from two to only one per weekend. The drinking and late nights are taking its toll. Plus, with my working on the house I can't afford to sleep in too late. So the party happens Friday night.

Lets get back to basics. The first show was Van Halen, recorded live on Saturday August 18th, 1984 when they appeared before an audience of 80,000 people in Donington Park in Leicestershire, England. A decent audience recording, my version of which is missing the encore. Classic Van Halen, with Dave tossing out his usual stories and one liners and including the jets passing overhead into the act. Looks like this bootleg recording came off of a 2 album set that was pressed sometime after the show. A very good show from the Monsters of Rock tour.

Screens glow in the dark
Quick death by remote control
Push of the button

Faces fill the screen
Bellowing venomous views
A talk show nation

Count down is delayed
Reality won't depart
Takes another swig

Ultra bass solo
Echo's deep within our core
Mike goes on too long

Goes in seeking help
Entranced by fair skins freckles
Forgets the disease

Part two of the evening was listening to Echo & The Bunnymen's second studio album, Heaven Up Here, originally released on May 30, 1981. The remastered version I had was released in 2003 and included a number of bonus tracks. The album starts off with the three strongest songs, "Show of Strength", "With A Hip" and my favorite "Over The Wall".

According to guitarist Will Sergeant, McCulloch considers Heaven Up Here to be Sergeant's album because he was bossy and a control freak during the recording. Will's psychedelic guitar sound permeates the entire album, and I love it.

I'm not sure how I managed to do it, but I dropped into bed around 3:30 AM. I suspect I hit the "repeat" button for "Over The Wall" one too many times.

From some random description of the album off the web:

A dark record, chilling in its detached dissection of love and life, Heaven Up Here is the product of a troubled psyche. It took a long time for me to appreciate this record; little on here jumps out at the listener like the single "A Promise." However, calling this a case of the sophomore slump misses the point. Far too much thought and care went into this music to dismiss it out of hand. In fact, the songs demand your attention: "Turquoise Days," "It Was A Pleasure," "Show of Strength" are arresting. Difficult to recall on command, sure, but the songs exist in a middleworld between the conscious and the subconscious anyway. You're supposed to feel music like "All My Colours," not go home humming it. The reference points are again Gang of Four, U2, The Cure, bands that managed to make more memorable music than what you'll find on Heaven Up Here. And little on this album sparkles the way those bands did, as Ian McCulloch sings just below the surface of the music. Words slip in and out, when you catch hold of a lyric it's usually very clever, but years later I still can't tell you what most of these songs are about. What does emerge is Will Sergeant's sonic artistry, extending his guitar into realms that Andy Gill and The Edge merely hinted at. With McCulloch and Sergeant occupying their own musical limbos, it falls to Pete De Freitas and Les Pattinson to provide a lifeline back to reality, often employing a vaguely tribal pattern to underscore the urgency of whatever McCulloch is mumbling about at the moment. Echo fans won't be scared off by Heaven's dark designs, but newcomers attracted by the band's more accessible work may find this unduly harsh.

Monkey on his back
Stranglehold that won't let go
Singing in his ear

Life left all behind
Whirlpool becomes a black hole
Won't ever escape

Reaches the limit
Toes stand over the dark edge
Leans and falls forward

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