Friday, February 25, 2011

California Dreamin'

You may have noticed a gap between posts last week. My kids were on break from school for a few days. So, we took off for Los Angeles and a quick trip to Disneyland. The boys had a blast, but my first trip to SoCal since I was a teenager was completely devoid of a visit to a record store. I just didn't have the time or freedom. That's not to say I didn't get to take in a little history, however. I saw the Capitol Records building and clubs like the Whisky A Go-Go and the Roxy. I certainly had a California soundtrack going through my head as well. I thought I would share a few of the songs I could not shake last week.

I have to admit the band that pops into my mind when I see the Capitol tower is the Beach Boys, but posting a song by them would attract the music police. So, I'll fight the urge. Same goes with Van Halen. They were the first band I thought of when I saw the Whisky, but my guess is I had better avoid VH tunes.

After our stay in Anaheim we moved the party to the Valley for two nights. That meant in order to do our sightseeing we passed the Hollywood Hills several times. So, here's the song I was constantly singing to myself as we made those treks. It's the first single from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I remember seeing these guys interviewed on I.R.S.' 'The Cutting Edge' when I was just a wee lad. I took to it immediately and still have the vinyl copy of their debut I bought as a 14 year old.

The Minutemen and X are a couple of my favorite American punk bands, and both of them are proud of their California heritage.

X - Los Angeles (mp3) Buy
Minutemen - O'er the Town of Pedro (mp3) Buy

Our trip to Hollywood made me think of a couple of bands that appeared in great films from my youth. Like most young males in the early '80s, I had a thing for Molly Ringwald, and she had a thing for a band called the Rave-Ups. You may remember she had their name scribbled on her three-ring binder in 'Sixteen Candles.' A couple of years later, the Rave-Ups appeared in the Ringwald flick 'Pretty in Pink.' They were the band playing at the bar. The Plimsouls were a huge part of the L.A. music scene in the early '80s, and they showed up for a couple of songs at the Hollywood hangout of the Nicholas Cage character in 'Valley Girl.' I still listen to these two classics all of the time.

The Rave-Ups - Positively Lost Me (mp3) Buy
The Plimsouls - A Million Miles Away (Live at the Whisky A Go-Go) (mp3) Buy

Let's skip ahead to the early '90s and a couple of power-pop bands that ruled the L.A. scene for a spell and wore their influences on their sleeves. After a fantastic debut album, the Sugarplastic even managed a major-label deal for a minute. They are still one of my favorite bands, and they do release new music every once in a blue moon. Fellas, how about a new one in 2011? It has been several years since Wondermints gave us something new, but they have a pretty good excuse since much of their time is spent backing Brian Wilson. If you don't already have it, do yourself a favor and buy their self-titled debut.

Sugarplastic - Howl a Little (mp3) Buy
Wondermints - Carnival of Souls (mp3) Buy

If the first song you think of when I say "Bangles" is "Walk Like an Egyptian," please take some time to listen to their early stuff... particularly their debut EP and LP. In my eyes, Jason Falkner can do no wrong. Whether you know him from the Three O'Clock, Jellyfish, the Grays, his work with Beck, Air or Paul McCartney, if you don't have each of his solo albums you have a big hole in your music collection. He may very well be my favorite musician today. OK, I said I wouldn't risk posting any Beach Boys, but I have decided to go the Wilson solo route. Wilson's 1988 solo album is a masterpiece. Although he rarely plays anything live from it other than an a capella version of "Love and Mercy," he made an exception on Sept. 24, 2000 when he appeared at the Hollywood Bowl. Rhino had just reissued the album, and he performed "Let It Shine" in honor of the event.

The Bangles - The Real World (mp3) Buy
Jason Falkner - I Live (mp3) Buy
Brian Wilson - Let It Shine (Live) (mp3) Buy

Nice mix, eh? Lucky for you I didn't go to Scranton. What songs put you in a California state of mind?

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