Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ROCKIN' nicely reviewed in ROD & CUSTOM Mag.

A very nice review of ROCKIN' appears in this month's ROD & CUSTOM magazine. And on the cover . . . "Exciting New Books You Need to Check Out!"
This mag is one I grew up reading, beginning many decades ago. It's an honor to be in there for sure. My one regret is that Gray Baskerville, long associated with R&C and many companion hot rod mags, passed away before ROCKIN' was published.
Special thanks to Brian Brennan, head of Primedia's rod & restoration group and R&C's editorial director, whom I first met at SEMA through Darrell Mayabb.

Monday, June 25, 2007

a ROCKIN' tip o' the hat to GARAGE Magazine

Garage Magazine, issue #14. On the newsstands now. Publisher: Jesse James. Editor-in-Chief: Dan Stoner. Art Director: Brian Bounds.
THE hippest review yet of ROCKIN'. (click photo to enlarge). Thanks, guys. I'm still wearing a smile, having read it.
But as an aside, I have to tell ya that the Doobies around 1971 - 72 were THE rad and bad biker band in the San Jose, CA territory. They played many of their early gigs at the Chateau Liberte on the top of the Santa Cruz mountains, midway between San Jose and Santa Cruz. The Chateau originally was one of the key Wells Fargo stage stops in the Bay Area, dating back to the 1800's. Even if some of their (later) music today strikes you as M-O-R, I seriously don't think even Jesse would make that comment in front of the Chateau bar or out in the parking lot, and certainly not to Pat Simmons, guitarist, biker, and gearhead, who is a particular hero of mine and who definitely could (and did) rock on down the highway. Other than that small point . . . carry on, it's a great mag.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

a ROCKIN' day (and a Cobra adventure) down at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, CA

(above) Doug Stokes, your host at Autobooks-Aerobooks,
with the day's 'pick to click"
(above) the legendary Ed Iskenderian ("Isky Cams")
(above) eye-in-the-sky traffic reporter Jeff Baugh KFWB 980
(mornings and evenings for 15 years = 26,000 hours)
(above) Steve Moriarty, certified race car driver and warbird pilot
with his '65 replica Cobra (with its 289 yielding 415 hp)

(above) Steve's Cobra's dash.
Click on the picture to enlarge, Look closely,
and you'll see (among others) autographs by Dan Gurney;
Indy racers Parnelli Jones and Jim Rathmann;
7-time SCCA champ Dick Smith
(who set the fastest time for a Cobra at 198.60 MPH);
and gearhead and TV personality Jay Leno
(above) rockin' down the highway . . . very fast
(above) the Cobra rocked me back in my seat . . . hard . . . as we hit 95
in three shifts on one of the on-ramps

(above) my host, upon exiting "Kermit"
(above) note the camera mounts. This is film studio territory.

Doug Stokes, who's the resident guru at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, CA, invited me down for a booksigning. I'd not been there before, so it was like a pig-wallow for me. Felt like I just stepped into an acre-wide world of books and diecast models. And it was also where I saw the latest review of ROCKIN', in the current issue of Garage Magazine (see next blog).
A-A is the place for erudite L.A. gearheads. I missed Jay Leno (a regular at the store) that morning by only a couple of minutes (I'd just flown down from Oakland, and rolled in at 11:00). Then, as I was busy signing, I was introduced to Ed Iskenderian, the man behind "Isky Cams." That was an honor.
The highlight of the day was meeting Steve Moriarty, known to all as a certified race car driver, a warbird pilot with roots in 'Nam, and an engineer/multimedia specialist. Also, owner of "Kermit," the replica '65 Cobra pictured above. After a good hang at the store, I politely asked Steve for a ride. Kinda reminded me of the ride I took with Bigg Slice in Snoop Dogg's "Lakersmobile," only this time it was a rip-roarin' adventure out on the freeway so I could taste some Cobra wind-in-the face. For more than a long moment, when Steve floored it on an on-ramp and I was knocked back in my seat, I got the idea pretty good of what people have to say about Cobra's. It felt totally solid, unlike a few experiences I've had with classic Corvettes that were, uh, way too loose.
The entire day was simply joyful. I got to open books, page thru magazines, eyeball diecast, and ultimately I took home Rin Tanaka's latest extraordinary artbook, "My Freedamn! #6," which has page after page of racing, bowling, and rock & roll fashion. And we sold many copies of ROCKIN' and as usual I made a bunch of new friends.
I thoroughly commend to all of you Autobooks-Aerobooks, which is on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, barely ten minutes from the Burbank airport. It's been a destination point since 1958, but changes to the store may be in the wind, so don't delay your visit. I might even go down again on August 11, for "Be-Boppin' in the Park," just so I can do it all over again.
Thanks again, Doug! The pleasure, as we say, was all mine.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

a candidate for the most ROCKIN' automotive-concept album cover of all time

While on the subject of truck-related album covers, I couldn't resist pulling this one out.
Head East was a hard rock quintet originally from south central Illinois. They played their first gig on August 6, 1969 at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The lineup that would take them through their first six albums began to take shape in Champaign/Urbana, the home of the University of Illinois.
Get Yourself Up, the band's second album, was released by A&M Records in 1976. It topped out at #161 on the Billboard album charts.
The cover photo is credited to Rudi Herzog. No more information exists, other than the cover concept is by Jeff Ayeroff (was he a friend of the band?). The art director was A & M's esteemed Roland Young.
To say the very least . . . inspired choice of a photo.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

a ROCKIN' look at the classic (and the cheesiest) truck drivin' albums

I belong to the American Truck Historical Society--in fact, I consider myself one of the founding members (there are about 25,000 members today). You haven't lived till you've been at an annual ATHS convention, where 400 - 500 restored big rigs from the '20s to the '60s gather.
For a guy like me who's into trucks, it's pure heaven.
I'm pulling together material on truck driving albums for the ATHS bi-monthly magazine "Wheels of Time," and I thought I'd share with you some of what's turned up, visually speaking.
The '60s-'70s trucker LP is a genre unto itself. Cheesy, of course. Heartfelt, yes that too. Yet a fantasy to some degree, especially the hitchhiker and truck stop waitress motif. Note that a number of the LPs actually share the same photo session. And it's curious to me that the trucks themselves are not very flashy, and even the choice of the trucks is open to question, visually speaking. I mean, there were better trucks (and better painted trucks) to choose from. I do like the GMC "howler" on the Willis Bros. LPs very much, as well as the B-model Macks ("That's Truckdrivin'"). Cabovers--at least those which ended up on the LPs--meh. But that's one sturdy lass on "Road Music."
The Starday and King labels are the classics. And the trucker-hero-musicians are Red Simpson, the Willis Brothers, Red Sovine, Dave Dudley, and Jimmy Martin, although very few (if any) actually sat in a cab, much less drove a truck. Note that I've left out "Convoy" and latter-day crappy compilations.
My all-time favorite is "Widowmaker" because of that bumper. Any of you blog-readers remember others I should include?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

ROCKIN' in the back seat (yeah baby!)

(above) poster by Alan Hynes and Christian Hall
(above) "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" reached #1
on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B charts in the U.S. in 1988
(above) poster by Daniel Danger
I just saw Daniel Danger's new concert poster (above) and I'd earlier clipped Alan Hynes and Christian Hall's piece done for a Dwarves event. It got me thinking about action in the back seat. What musicians and lyricists have been singing and writing about doing in the backseats of cars, or alluding to doing in cars likely in the backseat, has been the source of great controversy--and great interest--while earning expressions of ire from morality groups since the 1930s.
Robert Johnson TERRAPLANE BLUES (1936):
"When I feel so lonesome, you hear me when I moan
Who been drivin' my Terraplane for you, since I been gone"
Sonny Boy Williamson PONTIAC BLUES
"I'm going out with my baby tonight
Whole lotta loving, in that straight-8 Pontiac
We're gonna get on the highway
Cut the bright lights on
Turn the radio on"
But the number one backseat love song has to be Billy Ocean's Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, simply because it rose to #1 on two of Billboard's singles charts in 1988, but also because it was the basic recipe with all the ingredients:
"Get outta my dreams
Get into my car
Get outta my dreams
Get in the back seat baby
Get into my car
Beep beep, yeah
Get outta my mind
Get into my life
Oh, I said hey (hey) you (You)
Get into my car"
Here are some others I looked up, while thinking about all the ways the back seat figures largely in car songs.
"With my girl by my side
We can go for a ride
To find a place we can dance
And when it gets real dark
We can stop in the park
And have a backseat romance."
"So come out tonight
I'll take you for a ride
This steamy ol' wagon
The radio is getting wild
Sleeping in my car, I will undress you
Sleeping in my car, I will caress you
Staying in the backseat of my car
Making love, oh yeah"
Akcent KYLIE
"Kylie, give me just a chance
Let's go out and dance
We can get into the groove
I can watch you move
Later you can sing to me
Like a shining star
But I'd rather do you on the
Backseat of my car."
Now, to be sure, rappers have been covering this subject in their own inimitable style, sometimes referencing the backseat directly, others implying where the deed was done. FYI, for those who care, each of these songs is a gem, lyrically, although some may be offended by the overall content. Nevertheless, you can Google 'em up and take yer chances.
"Never had sex with a rich rap star
Till I got her in the backseat of my homeboy's car."
"In a '64, me and baby boo cruisin' (oh-hoooo!)
Body rag interior blue and
Have them hydraulics squeakin'
When we screwin'"
Mc Nas-D and DJ Freaky Fred IT'S MY CADILLAC
"My Caddy is so loud
Some neighborhoods ban me
But it just makes it easier
For me to get in panties."
"You're the type of girl that got class and style
Still all you need
Is the backseat of my Jeep once in awhile."
Fabolous CALL ME
"I remember every gesture made (ooh)
During the escapade (ooh)
In the back of the Escalade (whoa)"
Still, the all-time leader in explicit allusion (if that's the right term) is:
Clarence Carter STROKIN'
"Well, let me ask you this
Have you ever made love
On the back seat of a car?
I remember one time making love
On the back seat of a car
And the Police came and shined his light on me
And I said
I'm strokin' . . . That's what I'm doing,
I be strokin'
Was that what Kid Rock was thinking (?) when he penned:
"She had some Cadillac pussy
Some Cadillac pussy
Man, it would drive you wild."
Or, Eddie Money?
Eddie Money SHAKIN'
"Rosanna's Daddy had a car she loved to drive
Stole the keys one night and took me for a ride
Turned up the music just as loud as it could go
Blew out the speakers in her daddy's radio.
Got so high we had to pull over to the side
We did some shakin' till the middle of the night."
And who doesn't remember the line "being seventeen and being barely dressed," although in fairness the front seat might have been the operating theater in this song:
"I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night."
The Barenaked Ladies also expressed concern that sometimes lust got crossed up in the heat of the moment:
Barenaked Ladies IN THE CAR
"We were looking for ourselves
And found each other
In the car
It was rare to do much more
Than simply mess around
In the car
It was mostly mutual masturbation
And though we spoke of penetration
We'd have to wait for someone else
To try it out."
Billy F. Gibbons and company were just a little more confident:
"She don't love me,
She love my automobile
Well she would do anything
Just to slide behind the wheel
She said, "What's it gonna take for you
To lay your top on down?"
I said, "Honey, why don't you ask me
When we get to the outskirts of town"
And the Boss most certainly had it down:
Bruce Springsteen FIRE
"Im driving in my car
Turn on the radio
I'm pulling you close
You just say no
You say you don't like it
But girl I know you're a liar
'Cause when we kiss
Now, they're other songs of perhaps lesser stature that also cover the subject well, including the Violent Femmes' Gimme The Car, the Rolling Stones' Brand New Car, the Scorpions' Lovedrive, Paul McCartney and Wings' Back Seat of My Car, Die Vision's separately written Back Seat of My Car, the Ass Ponys' Dirty Backseat Car Thing, I Monster's The Backseat of My Car and Big Star's Back of a Car.
Nevertheless, the great ones really do get it:
"Hundred miles an hour
My hand's on the radio
Baby's in the back seat
Bompin' all over the road."
Unfortunately, bad--very bad--things can happen in the backseat too, through force and violence:
Tori Amos ME AND A GUN
"It was me and a gun
And a man on my back
But I haven't seen Barbados
So I must get out of this
Yes, I wore a slinky red thing
Does that mean I should spread
For you, your friends, your father, Mr. Ed
"Tell me what's right
Is it my right to be on my stomach
In Fred's Seville?"
So I close this meditation on back seats with two more memorable references:
Bruce Springsteen SHERRY DARLING
"Your mama's yapping in the backseat
Tell her to push over and move them big feet
Every Monday morning I gotta drive her
Down to the unemployment agency
Well this morning I ain't fighting, tell her I give up
Tell her she wins if she'll just shut up
But it's the last time that she's gonna be ridin' with me."
"I like the peace
In the backseat
I don't have to drive
I don't have to speak
I can watch the countryside
And I can fall asleep
Thanks everyone who contributed to my thinking. If anyone knows of other backseat songs, please contribute to this blog by responding. Thanks to to all the lyricists, songwriters, and musicians whose songs these are, and from which which I borrowed portions for the sake of this blog only. There is no permission granted or implied to otherwise reference or reproduce these lyrics. This is a documentary exercise. Peace out.