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MAGAZINES that ROCK (part one)

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Hangman, hangman slack that rope...”: Revisiting Koerner, Ray and Glover

So it is on nights like these, when rain that should be snow pounds against the window and sets me to tossing and turning because I’m afraid another leak will spring in the roof of this 126 year old house and send the third floor tenant running for a lawyer, that I think of Koerner, Ray and Glover. Why? That’s just how I roll__out of bed.

I must go now to the back of the house and listen to that tune which Leadbelly called “Gallis Pole,” which Led Zeppelin certainly called “Gallow’s Pole” and which as “Hangman,” Spider John Koerner, along with Dave “Snaker” Ray and Tony ”Little Sun” Glover, reworked into particles of current that still ebb and flow through the knob and tube wiring of my brain.

Like so many British folk tunes, “Gallow’s Pole,” snaked its way over time from the mid-Atlantic states to deep down South, and what you’ll hear in Koerner, Ray and Glover’s take (as well Leadbelly’s ) that you won’t in Zeppelin’s is the narrative piece.

A condemned man stands on the scaffolding facing the hangman hoping that his nearest and dearest will ride up post haste with enough currency to upend the inevitable. In this case, the man waits for his father, mother and wife. Now you’re probably wondering how such grim stuff can possibly get me through the night. Well, I’ll tell you; it’s not so much what the singer says, in this case Spider John Koerner, it’s the way he says it. Koerner, Ray and Glover’s is the loosest, most spirited version of “Gallows Pole” you’re likely to hear and emblematic of their jumpy, good time approach to American folk and blues music.

David Janssen's Eyes: Kafka TV

David Janssen as The Fugitive

Well before Harrison Ford was jumping into waterfalls and trying to stay one step ahead of Tommy Lee Jones terrifying case of lockjaw there was The Fugitive as a television series. What a strangely downbeat and moody bit of television this inexplicably popular series was. It ran for 120 episodes from 1963-67, was created by Roy Huggins (The Rockford Files), starred Richard Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, the falsely accused title figure, and the last episode remains one of the highest rated in TV history.

David Janssen Barry Morse  The Fugitive

Having recently hitchhiked through the full first season (Paramount DVD, 4 discs, $38.99), my dim memories of the series needed a serious recharging. The TV show was neither a cut-and-run suspense machine as I thought, and Janssen’s central figure was far more complex and decidedly less heroic than I recalled. What actually attracted me to this show as a Beaver Cleaveresque pre-teen? It depicts a monumentally grim world, with the truly laconic Janssen sleepwalking from one location to the next, all the while pursued by his equally tortured nemesis, the visually drained and dogged Barry Morse’s Lieutenant Phillip Gerard. The show allows for no reoccurring characters outside of the intertwined duo (a twosome that were decidedly weird for primetime—-both twitchingly neurotic, hollow and haunted), as Kimble stays on the road and on the run, backing himself into the deep shadows of America’s backwaters, stumbling into the briefest friendships and quickly doomed romances.

Remembering My First Record Album

My first record, purchased in 1974 at Giant Music, a late great record store here in Virginia, was Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods self titled [white] album. I was too young to snark about the silly jumpsuits [or their sound], and at six years old, they were my favorite. The title of "my favorite" was lost when I got wind of the Bay City Rollers. They were foreign after all and had better haircuts!

Gary Sees Elvis !!


Once again

available for viewing....



Greatest Hit !!! 

The Rolling Stones: Bringing American Blues Legends To The Party. Again.

This is gonna go all over the place folks but I think it's an essential point in rock and roll for me. I've been thinking about the equation all evening. Obviously, "the kids" screaming at The Rolling Stones back in 1965 got a hint too. Pop culture as we know it was changed, once again, by a gaggle of skinny young British guys with messy hair and crazy talent. The rest is history.

Otis "King of Soul" Redding and Jerry "The Ice Man" Butler wrote and produced "I've Been Loving You Too Long", or "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" in some instances, in 1965.  Redding recorded the song that same year on the Volt/Atco label.  It was a huge R&B hit A-Side single (B-Side, "Just One More Day") at the time. Destiny has it's way with artists and songs, and certainly Redding's body of work was destined, and it has been for decades, to be classic.


For all his greatness, Bruce Springsteen’s official releases can be frustrating. Frustrating because some of the unreleased material outshines the actual output.


The projects below (in chronological order) represent three sterling examples of what might have been. Please note I have omitted the long-rumored ’94-’95 hip-hop project, which ranks as the most frightening potential release by a major artist ever.

Bruce Springsteen  The Ties That Bind cover

The Ties that Bind: Following the lengthy lawsuit that preceded Darkness, Springsteen was determined to speed up his recording process and get records in the store more quickly. This is the result; a tight, peppy, poppy (somewhat) masterpiece that included several tracks that would turn up remixed or with different takes on “The River.” Others would show up on “Tracks,” some 20 years later. But “The Ties that Bind” shines with a clarity of purpose, immediacy, and features a stellar collection of songs – including “Loose Ends,” a definitive “Stolen Car,” the gripping first-take “The Price You Pay” with an added verse, and the underrated brilliant and slightly re-arranged “Be True” (called “To Be True” in this incarnation). All this and none of the bloatedness and tinny production of “The River.” Springsteen scrapped this as “not enough” after the No Nukes concerts in Sept. 79.

He was wrong. It was plenty enough. And essential.

Bruce Springsteen during time of Nebraska recordings


As Al Green sings repeatedly, on the great Call Me album,

"Jesus Is Waiting."