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May 2010

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Here you can step back through the vortex of time to view old PopKrazy content. Pages, Podcasts, Polls, and Stories will appear here.

Roger the Engineer: An Appreciation

I don’t care that the album Yardbirds fans have come to know as Roger the Engineer didn’t include “Happening Ten Years Time Ago,” or the B side, “Psycho Daisies” on it originally.  I don’t care either that Epic called it Over Under Sideways Down in the U.S. when it was called The Yardbirds in England. It’s the Jeff Beck Yardbirds album, because whatever style is happening, going down, transpiring and/or taking place, Beck is nearly without exception at his all-time experimental best in a group format on this record.

There I said it, hedgingly. You can come after me if you like. I’ll make you tea and scones. Beck had set a tone, more accurately a fuzz tone on the psychedelic/blues single “Shapes of Things” earlier in 1966. And that's a mystery too: why was the Yardbirds’ biggest stateside hit left off?  “Shapes” came out in the winter of 1966, Roger in the summer. Go figure. But nothing about the Yardbirds’ legitimate recorded output and its subsequent marketing makes a whole lot of sense. No, not a whole lotta sense.

See, I’m not going to argue with Tom Henderson, Frank Portman’s rock savvy teenage protagonist in the wonderful King Dork when he says, “Now Led Zeppelin is all right (good  drums and guitar anyway, though that lead singer should have been silenced or muzzled or something—frankly, I prefer it in Yardbird form to be honest).” Me too. And I’m inclined to think of the Marquee and Giorgio Gomelsky’s Crawdaddy club as cauldrons of cool. From 1964-1966, the Yardbirds held forth famously at both.


Hap Townes Nashville Restaurant menu

There may have been no greater meat & three dining experience in Nashville, TN, than Hap Townes' Restaurant, renowned for their amazing dessert of stewed raisins (find the recipe in Real American Food by Jane and Michael Stern).

For 65 years, the father & son Hap Townes team served up Southern home cooking to a long line of faithful customers, oftentimes famous country producers and singers, including Faron Young.

I ran into Faron one June at the legendary little stone diner. I was taking a break from Fan Fair festivities, and there was Faron standing in line, looking lean and hungry.  Hap Townes even then only had 49 seats, and remained hard to find on a quiet back street in south Nashville.

And there was Faron:  the star of the great hillbilly exploitation flick, Nashville Rebel, and whose version of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls" still holds me in awe and haunts my brain everytime I think of Faron shooting himself because he believed the country music industry had abandoned him (despite the fact that his "It's Four in the Morning" was the first video to air on CMT when it launched!)....

But here you have it:  a truly rare document where eternal legends meet, one country celebrity checking in with another--proof positive.

Hap Townes menu Nashville eatery


Creem magazine cover Tom Petty The Police Blondie

JASON GROSS of POP MATTERS recently asked me what advice I would give to a young writer wanting to make it big in the rock-crit biz. I thought about it, and here's what I said--

ROBERT HULL (writer, sharing his musings regularly at POPKRAZY, an online hangout for brain-damaged popcult fanatics)

When I was 18, I was getting published by Creem because Lester Bangs liked the fact that I was so prolific (I had sent him about 50 record reviews, each one single-spaced on a letter-sized page).

These days, the best way to appear prolific is to blog yourself to death on your own site. I honestly don’t know what music journalism is anymore. There is so much content available that to try to break through the mess seems daunting.

Nevertheless, I would attach myself to several blogs/sites, then write in a unique style, be serious but funny (and genuine), and try not to imitate anybody.

[Any young (or old) up-and-coming neer-do-well is welcome to blog at my site called POPKRAZY. Just as Creem and Lester gave me a chance, I’d be honored to do the same. (POPKRAZY is a nonprofit zine/site focused on all aspects of pop culture from the days of yore.)]

But whatever you do, WRITE. Don’t just talk about writing. Let it loose!


I absolutely LOVE the Chuck Wagon Gang!!

I first heard their recordings, I think, on Rev. Mull's Singing Convention on his flagship station WJBZ in Knoxville.  On this praise station, Rev. Mull and his wife hosted the show and taught Bible prophecy.  (My father was a Presbyterian minister in Knoxville at the time, but this program had music that was somewhat rawer--more heartfelt, it seemed--than what I was hearing at my father's church.)

The Chuck Wagon Gang sang everything, every sacred song you could name.  Formed in 1936 by founding member D.P. Carter with his son Jim and daughters Rose and Anna, the Chuck Wagon Gang eventually signed with Columbia Records and remained with the label for over 40 years.  At one time, the Chuck Wagon Gang were Columbia's NUMBER ONE selling group.  In my opinion, they are the greatest Southern Gospel musical group ever.

Growing up in Tennessee in the '50s and '60s, you could hear the Chuck Wagon Gang on the radio consistently every Sunday morning.  It just wasn't Sunday without 'em.

Here is one of their sacred songbooks, a true treasure from the folks downhome, which is always the place to be---if you can ever get there.


The Dootz Does the Dootz 45 sleeve

If you can imagine it, there once existed a bizarre cross between American punk's Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the author of the histrionic "Paralyzed," and rockabilly's the Phantom, who won our hearts with the mysterious "Love Me."

His name was the Dootz, and he singlehandedly created a stylistic blend that can only be described as mutant American primitivism. This radical sound, born in the early '80s, was downright psychotic to the point of being transcendental.  It was the creation of one David Frey Johns, who had spent most of his life singing to records in his room and wailing in friends' showers, hoping one day to be heard in a social context.

As a child David Johns was called "Duke" by his father, a nickname that eventually evolved into "Dootz."  "My dad and I used to sing together when we went to church," the Dootz once told me, "but we had our own version of 'Onward Christian Soldiers.'  Everybody else was singing it the right way.

Johns' earliest musical influences were typical--Elvis, the Beatles, Buddy Holly--but he was especially devoted to James Brown and Jackie Wilson, two performers who possessed an intense emotional style both on record and in performance.  At times, the future Dootz even considered himself more of a soul singer because he could reach deep down and pour himself inside out with feelings from real-life experience.

Here They Come....



All Over The World.....



Here's the kind of thing your FB friends sometimes suggest you do on Facebook. The idea here is to write down 25 random thoughts that you think are clever and will make others scream with laughter.

Here's how three rock writers (whatever THAT means these days) wasted their time with this idiotic exercise.

[PLEASE do not leave your unkind comments after reading this buffoonery. Send your notes of complaint to the geeks at Facebook. We were just following directions.]