Saturday, June 1, 2013

Switching Stereos: A Jukebox For Jennifer Beasley


Hey! It's been quite a while since I've talked to you on Facecrack. In the past five months or so, you have made just two posts on your wall: a poem concerning cat vomit and a study-related blurb in reference to your pursuit of a degree in psychology. Good for you! Unlike yours truly, the virtual hangout doesn't drag on your precious minutes like the most addictive brand of cancer sticks. Last week, I set a PR by deactivating my Facebook account twice within a 24-hour period. The flip-flopping was due to being mildly upset with a dear(?) friend who'd seemed to enjoy spending time with me several weeks ago, but whose increasingly busy schedule has put a padlock on any more visits to "my Norfolk home." Since I shouldn't rely on someone to consistently break me out of the jail of my own creation, I'm back in the FB groove until further notice. From this day forward, I will suppress any emotions that have the potential to stain my page and surrender to the light-heartedness of T-shirt pics, Puma footwear and cool song clips from YouTube. By caring less, I shall gain more.

With every play, Switching Stereos: A Jukebox For Jennifer Beasley has proven to be one of the most enjoyable and diverse mixes I've compiled to date. Sorry it has taken so long to summarize the contents, but the original liner notes have gone missing. I'll just write on the fly and see how it turns out.

One of the themes I used for Switching Stereos was your old, bad-ass Cadillac Seville. In the midst of a lovely Norfolk night, your pimp ride appeared to be jet-black instead of the true-blue shine during the daytime. Though Quiet Riot's "Slick Black Cadillac" (Slade's Noddy Holder moonlighting as a car salesman?) and The Nomads' take of "Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache" (Dexter could've done this number at their Tanner's Creek show) suffered from a bout of color-blindness, The Suicide Kings' "Cadillac Boogie" (featuring a pre-Humpers Scott Drake) and Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars, Cadillacs" (a country song even Bart Simpson could love) didn't confuse red for green and kept Allstate's "Mayhem" trapped inside a TV commercial.

Of course, I had to represent the 757 with a quartet of local greats. Death Trip's Germs-y "I Can't Love You" will always transport me back inside the cactus-era Colley Cantina during their Hardcore Norfolk open-mic introduction to Ghentiles who "get it." "She knew she'd always be an actress/She bruised her back in her last screen test" forever positions Tango Storm's twitchy "Teenage Queen" (from 1980!) high on my countdown of Greatest Songs from Tidewater Bands. Because of its JAMC/ BRMC leanings, Cobra Spa's "The Way We Play" received the most spins via Pete Overstreet's system in his Mazda. Rip Dizzy's triple-set performance at Hilltop Brewing Company circa 2002 remains one of the best gigs I've ever attended, and "Babyrattle" shakes the band's seamless blend of power pop, punk rock and surf with an encapsulated excitement of that evening.

In a similar vein as Dizzy, The Figgs add an atypical Lenny Kravitz-like lilt to the vocals on "Hobbie Skirt (In Erie)" that surprisingly jells. Scott Miller And The Commonwealth wake up the oft-sleepy side of Americana with a powerful Mellencamp/Steve Earle mule kick on "Goddamn The Sun." Breathless intonations on Kirsty MacColl's "Patrick" lend themselves to be loosely tagged as "proto-Lush." The Hookers' "Universal Superstar" is suggestive of The Candy Snatchers with a more metallic side. From Hershey, PA, The Ocean Blue pack tons of Buzzcocks-ish Krackel crunch on "Whenever You're Around." I've owned the demo version of The Zillionaires' "She Went Pop" since 1997, and the " 'Joe Strummer, what a bummer,' she said/She don't even get The Knack" lyrical train has never once gone off-track. Jack And The Rippers' riff-punk gem "No Desire" caps a bit of 'tude seemingly at odds with their Swiss neutrality. Canadian godhead Gordon Lightfoot prefers pop over per-usual folk on "Someone To Believe In." The Ugly Beats from Austin are very reminiscent of the Lyres from Boston and make one wonder if there's a "Bee Line" between the two cities. Psychedelic-laced spoken passages from XTC alter- egos The Dukes Of Stratosphear ("Vanishing Girl") humorously segue right into the Keith Morris-helmed OFF!'s minute-and-change hardcore anthem ("I Don't Belong"). Husker Du's "Some Kind Of Fun" is the best studio outtake from the Up In The Air bootleg and brings a usually disguised Ramones-esque order to the Burger King register. Residing in the same city (Birmingham, England) as their legendary heroes, Witchfinder General's "Music" is a four-star salute to simplicity ("I need music/Oh, yeah/I do/I need music/ Every day").

 I'll forward this piece to your Facebook PM, Jen. Hopefully, you'll give it a once-over around Thanksgiving or thereabouts. On second thought, maybe it's better if the story doesn't find your eyes. People like you, Greg Wise, Charles Grant and others who turn a blind eye to social media are the true mavericks in a teched-up society. I oftentimes feel like a Luddite for having never owned a cellphone, but who in the hell would want to call me anyhow? Collecting digits from Facebook buds would turn back the calendar to 1986, when I asked mere acquaintances to sign my purple yearbook. As soon as access to borrowed technology becomes denied, perhaps I'll learn how to gallop off the grid. 'Til then, I'm off to browse images from yet another event graced by my absence. Take care, Jen.

Your pal,

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