Friday, January 20, 2012

Who's Behind the Door

I was home from school faking an illness the day John Bonham died. As I recall it, the radio that afternoon was abuzz with a forthcoming tour announcement for the newly released In Through the Out Door LP when the news hit. The death (September 25, 1980, wikipedia says) would spell the end of Led Zeppelin and tear a giant hole in rock radio from which, for better or worse, it never recovered. It certainly hastened the end of the 70s, and provided a boost to the Punk & New Wavers coming from behind.

Then there were the bands who took up the flag for those who refused to move on. Zebra formed in New Orleans in the 70s but for a short period in the early 80s were H-U-G-E local heroes on Long Island, thanks largely to WBAB, which picked up on their Zepplinesque sound and advertised their constant Island gigging. Seemingly modeling every song after Stairway to Heaven's gentle acoustic start and jamming climax, Zebra also called to mind other trios like Rush (for the Plant-ish falsettos) and Emerson Lake and Palmer (for proggy synth flourishes and lengthy jams).

Back then, seemed to me as though there were Zebra fans, and there was anyone who'd heard Elvis Costello, and those groups rarely hung out together. I was solidly with the latter crowd and still think of Zebra with a little sense of slummy, douchey bemusement. I kinda like them but still have trouble admitting it. The band's 1983 "major label" debut album, which thanks to WBAB every kid on the Island knew by heart for years already, was reportedly the fastest-selling debut in Atlantic records history, but likely as a result of the changing times and a lack of variety, it never hit big nationally. Their second and third records seemed simply to rework their formula from the first, and that was that. Vocalist/guitarist Randy Jackson does the National Anthem at Mets games sometimes and some of their fans still haven't moved on, providing Zebra an open invitation to outdoor jams in Patchougue and reunion gigs at the Salty Dog for as long as they live, probably.

Here's 'Bears' from Zebra's second album, No Tellin Lies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Classic Rock Never Takes the Weekend Off

Just me and the cats this weekend. Saturday, painted and hung the closet doors, did a 7-mile run, watched the Patriots-Broncos debacle at a sports bar with wings. Today, fixed the back door, cleared out the tool case, ran another 7 miles. More chicken, more football and Moneyball on DVD await. Listened to Springsteen yesterday (my Lucky Touch mix, plus for the first time probably, Devils & Dust, which I liked quite a bit).

Human Touch is an outstanding song but a rather lousy album; but I always liked Lucky Town. I bought both these albums for cheap at K-Mart in Elkton back in '92. Cassettes, since I listened in the car almost exclusively then.

Streaming The River now and remembering that although I owned this as soon as it came out in December of 1980 it was probably too much me at 14. For example, I rarely if ever played Side 4. I'm only now working at separating liking Springsteen because I was supposed to (my initial attraction was more about imitating my brother, who is 7 years older and also aligning my tastes with what I knew was critically acclaimed). It's a great record when you're in the mood for it, and though it was hard to slot in with its predecessors, there are pieces of 'USA' and 'Nebraska' all over it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

To Do List

If I don't get to this blog this year I'd at least like to make progress once again on some neglected baseball research projects. Perhaps publishing the topics here will provide some motivation -- and a place to write down potential subjects when they come up.

Today I decided that in addition to my commitment to bio Terry Leach, I'd also like to write about Steve Trachsel. I also will need to make time in March and April to prepare for a presentation on Seaver for the Mets 50th anniversary event. If I get more ideas I want to write them down here. A goal of doing 10 bios this year might be a lot, but five ought to be doable. I found Trax's Facebook page.

Things really went whacky at Thanksgiving. Ate and drank too much and lost the momentum on the push-up and running. Very often any high point in running -- that fast 8K I did for example -- is followed almost immediately by a low period. I picked up the running again after some fear I might be hurt and/or bored, but I'm still feeling the extra weight I've been carrying around. Keep at it. Write. Do pushups. Follow through.