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Murder on the Oriental Rock n' Roll Express

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 31, 2017 05:58pm | Post a Comment

Orient Express

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


"His breakfast was his Amber Moon. He never rose until it had had its full effect."
- Mr. Beddoes, Butler of Samuel Ratchett, in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

First, what is an Amber Moon you ask? To make this morning cocktail, crack an egg in a highball glass Murder on the Orient Express(with the yolk unbroken), add two shots of whiskey and a few dashes of Tabasco, then send it down the hatch! Of the many movies that hit the big screen in 2017 (The Shape of Water was my favorite), the one major stink-bomb let down for me was Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express...not only because this egg drop cocktail was not featured, but because, let's face it, David Suchet is the only actor that should ever play Hercule Poirot (and Kenneth's mustache was more awful then the bread rolls at Tommy's Joynt). Regardless of how Hollywood murdered Murder on the Orient Express, Johnny Depp's acting as Samuel Ratchett was totally superb and I truly Murder on the Orient Expresshave not liked a Johnny Depp movie since The Ninth Gate. His character was the diamond in the rough of the cast.

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New "What's In My Bag?" With Our Record Store Day DJ Chuck E. Weiss

Posted by Amoebite, April 16, 2014 02:31pm | Post a Comment

Chuck E. Weiss

Before Chuck E. Weiss became known for his own musical talents, he was known for the company he kept. His circle of friends included the likes of Tom Waits and Johnny Depp to name a few. Back in the day,  Weiss was this trendsetting scenster from Denver who once toured as a drummer for Lightnin' Hopkins and recorded with Blues legends Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. After relocating to Los Angeles with his buddy Tom Waits, Weiss befriended singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones and Chuck E Weiss Red Beans & Weissbecame the subject of her hit song, "Chuck E.'s In Love."  

Weiss is back with his new album, Red Beans & Weiss (Anti-Records), after a seven year gap between his last release. The new album is chock full of zany, retro, blues and rockabilly influenced jams executive produced by Johnny Depp and Tom Waits. The record is fun and catchy!

Weiss is also a bonafide vinyl collector and record store culture runs in his blood (His parents owned the Record Center, a small record store in Denver, Colorado). So it's only fitting that Chuck E. Weiss will be playing a DJ set at Amoeba Hollywood for Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19th. Click here for the full schedule of events on Record Store Day.

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Son of Rogue's Gallery: Strange but Seaworthy Reworkings of Traditional Maritime Folk

Posted by Kells, March 4, 2013 01:17pm | Post a Comment
















Okay, we get it. There is no need for further evidence that Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski have developed an immortalizing affinity for all things piratical. Not that there's anything wrong with pirate fever, mind you, (I might be the only one on staff here at Amoeba Music SF that'll openly admit to being stoked about the prospect of future chapters in Pirates of the Caribbean film series) it's just that their enthusiasm for more legendary exploits of swashbuckling buccaneers, pillaging priveteers, salty sea dogs, and scurvy scallywags of yore sure has manifested itself in stranger ways than Walt Disney's theme park attraction turned multi-billion dollar motion picture franchise success story (sorry, Haunted Mansion). Of course I'm talking about their published tributes to the sea chantey arts.

Back in 2006 Depp and Verbinski had a hand in producing Hal Willner's Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys -- an unruly and somewhat drunken compilation featuring an intriguing, genre-spanning line-up of mostly high profile pop/rock artists revisiting a bounty of maritime folk and seafaring work songs, songs that were once passed down quite literally over vast oceans of time thus contributing to modern music styles in more way than one might immediately suspect. These reinvigorated renditions of antiquated rhymes that comprise Rogues Gallery serve as pleasant testaments to the durability of oral tradition, though oddball tracks buoy here and there throughout the cut, rendering some beloved chantey-man reels near unrecognizable, freakish even, challenging imbibers to sink or swim along with each tune and demanding listeners to temper their grog with a certain amount of equanimity.

Now, Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys, the latest second two-disc installment in the Depp/Verbinski/Willner pirate hymns and devotionals, released February 19th on Anti Records, is as boozy and weathered as its predecessor, exploring new crests and troughs of the diverse spectrum of second-wave maritime melodies that advance and perpetuate the popularity of salt-sea songs and drunken sing-a-longs. It should come as no surprise that the likes of Tom Waits lashed up with Keith Richards and the slow-rolling runnels of layered vocal-rumblings over a watery melange of acoustic strums and pluckings in their rendition of the early 19th century folk song "Shenandoah" is a highlight of the record that almost making up for neither of them appearing in the original Rogues Gallery crew. In fact, curious pairings are more of a theme this go 'round what with even Michael Stipe and Courtney Love getting together (!) for "Rio Grande" -- one of the more traditional-sounding contributions that outweigh, say, more "raw" cuts like Iggy Pop and Hawk and a Hacksaw's grisly take on "Asshole Rules the Navy".

Todd Rundgren, however, should be marooned for his take on one of the most wildly popular whaling chanteys, "Rolling Down to Old Maui" (made famous by the late great master of modern Canadian Maritime Folk, singer-songwriter Stan Rogers). His high-impact club-thumper of a pop dance pump-a-thon is the most heinous and unnecessary so-called interpretation of an enduring classic on the whole record. In fact, it's so abominable that I almost want it to work despite the sum of it's being jacked-up beyond all recognition because his is precisely the kind of yarn that makes this funky weave worth unraveling. Instead it seems that Todd is having a laugh, baiting the hook for nautical nerds everywhere only to violently yank our jowls out of our faces before we can fully gag on his electronic mutiny. [Dearest Todd, I love you and I know you've sort of "gone bamboo" of late what with your new tiki bar opening soon, but come on! Rather than pillage a classic when you should've pumped your bilge with a something a little more kitschy like the Sex Pistols did with "Friggin' in the Riggin'"] I'm just not into it.

Of all the artists that appear here there are some very lovely surprises like actress Anjelica Houston singing "Missus McGraw," Marianne Faithfull together with the McGarrigle Sisters on “Flandyke Shore,” some long lost Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Inventiondoing an instrumental version of one my favorite old sea songs "The Handsome Cabin Boy" (check out Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd's traditional recording on their albums The Black Ball Line (1957) and A Hundred Years Ago (1963) as well as the excellent Topic Sampler No 7 collection Sea Songs and Shanties) and even the rock n' roll pirate himself, the Depp, lends a loving hand on "The Mermaid" with Patti Smith and "Leaving of Liverpool" with Shane McGowan and first mate Gore Verbinski.

All in all, the savvy outweighs the sloppy with tracks like Dr John's rum-soaked "In Lure of the Tropics" drinking Macy Gray's reggae-toned "Off to Sea Once More" way, way under the ship's table in this NSFS (Not Safe For Starbucks) compilation. Other seaworthy notables include songs from Beth Orton, Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Cave (who previously stacked two tracks on the first Rogue's Gallery voyage), Sean Lennon paired with Jack Shit (also appearing again) as well as Akron/Family who this time around teamed up with New Orleans' gender-bending rap duo Sissy Bounce (Katey Red and Big Freedia) -- a triple threat balancing tamer teams of three like actor Tim Robbins with Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs singing "Marianne." In short, if you fancy lengthy compilations loaded with the promise of adventurous curiosities, maladjusted charm, sloppy oddities, and deviant beauty then avast ye matey -- this here's the swill for you.

Imbibing "Rummy 4" (In Which the Spiritus of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is Deemed Grog-Worthy)!

Posted by Kells, May 25, 2011 04:10pm | Post a Comment

Like any cinematic guilty pleasure worth weathering, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is more than just an overblown, summer  swashbuckler expressed by as yet untapped, stay-puft and plunging poet-shirted, scally-wag stereotypes. Nay, this flick be an opportune seaworthy vessel for a cine-booze cruise. Having veraciously enjoyed the film myself, I offer here some possible guidelines for dissolving that fourth wall of Disney imagineering with the real spirit of the eighteenth century --- RUM! --- an endeavor that'll surely have you listing near to scuppers or otherwise passed out in the bilge by journey's end: be ye warned!

First off, the obvious: 1 drink whenever anyone drinks, cheers matey. This is a pirate movie after all, savvy? (Make that a sip for every "savvy" uttered as well.)

1 drink for every instance of weird religious undertones. Hear me now believe me later, there is enough missionary madness and religious righteousness invoked here to warrant suspicions as to the possible narrative of Rummy 5.

1 drink when Richard Griffiths flashes his nasty, royal grill!

1 drink for every "Aye!" Geoffrey Rush's pirate turned privateer, Captain Hector Barbossa, delivers.

1 drink for every veiled dick-joke, sexually suggestive slight or instance of implied bawdiness.

1 drink whenever Blackbeard, played by "bad man" Ian McShane, strokes, draws or nefariously itches his sword.

1 tipple for every mermaid nipple hidden behind a mess of salty tresses. (Fun fact: Disney sought to cast talent with au naturel treasure chests for their mermaids, favoring mammary realness rather than epic breast augmentation.)

1 drink for every time a chalice is lost or otherwise not found.

1 drink whenever a flag is brandished.

1 drink every time the movie makes fun of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.

I think it best to end it there, as I'm sure these points alone are enough to float any boat game enough
to imbibe a right ruthless water-logging, wreckage and ruin. Please make free to raid and pillage this list at your own risk --- drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Either Dead or Married: All my celebrity boyfriends are pretty much taken....

Posted by Kells, July 1, 2009 02:09pm | Post a Comment

Anyone who's seen the recent Vanity Fair featuring a cover and interview/photo spread with Johnny Depp knows that his "celebrity boyfriend" cherishability index has increased exponentially with age. He is, however, a hopelessly taken family man, what with his kids, his mother-of-my-kids girlfriend, French chanteuse Vanessa Paradis, and his very own private Caribbean island escape. But the facts have never swayed my esteem for the Depp as a go-to example of male perfection. Indeed, given the average age in my stable of celebrity boyfriends, Johnny Depp has yet to fully bloom. 

I remember my first celebrity boyfriend fondly. His name was Lance. He wore a blue turtleneck and brown suede jacket when he wasn't in uniform "defending the universe" by piloting the Red Lion as second in command of the team-comprised mega-robot Voltron. The commanding officer, Keith, a very anime-handsome, if not overly serious young lad who displayed attractively obvious affection for Princess Aurora, always tempted my gaze, but then Lance's witty remarks and penchant for daring maneuvers always won me back. I never cared that Lance was a mere sketch brought to cartoon life. Besides, the very peak of hotness at that time belonged to another animated hot guy, as A-Ha's hit music video for their single "Take On Me" dominated the rotation on MTV and VH1. I mean, who can deny the freaky-deaky rotoscope, "don't get too close to my fantasy" appeal of Norwegian lead singer Morten Harket, on or off paper? 

My teenage celeBFs pretty much followed whatever I was into at the time, from "Hollywood" rockstars like Poison drummer Rikki Rockett (and Stephen "Patch" Nichols of Days Of Our Lives fame, by visual proxy) to sundry punk-rock deadbeats like Lee Ving and interstellar heart breakers like Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-D, as played by the now, forever and always celebrity boyfriend-of-mine Patrick Stewart on the hit sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, my attachment to Patrick Stewart has strengthened over the years to such a heightened tension that makes part of me believe that he sings songs like this one just for me:



My attachment to Patrick Stewart sparked a realization in me that I am attracted to bald men, and not just any bald man, mind you --- sorry, Telly. No, the kind of guy I fancy has to be a guy who could flaunt a full coiffure, but gives a dashingly handsome face without it. He must also have a way of moving that melts knee-joints and a voice that induces mild hallucinations of love. Naturally, after many seasons spent fawning over Patrick, my attentions were exceedingly diverted by the work of the late, great Yul Brynner.

Oh, Yul --- what a man! An all singing, dancing, acting Russian-Swiss-Mongolian mix of sex, pecs and flawless silhouettes. He was an avid photographer (his work is quite good), a noted chain-smoker (remember that ACS public service announcement he made in the eighties?) and he even penned a few books (The Yul Brynner Cookbook: Food Fit for the King and You is a favorite title). Though now gone from this world, the man has won my heart many times over. Sure, not all of his films are great, but the eye-candy factor alone makes many a stinker worth the time and, as Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus knows, some of Yul's films have only gotten better with time (as suggested by the song "Jo Jo's Jacket" on Malkmus' self-titled debut solo album). Yes, the robotic gunslinger Yul plays in Westworld (1973, Michael Crichton) blends just the right amount of old Hollywood glamour, spaghetti western machismo and 70's era, Sci-Fi mumbo-jumbo to make it one for the ages. Watch it as a trilogy, book-ended with Logan's Run (1976) and Soylent Green (1973) to complete the recipe. 

This look back at my celebrity boyfriends through the ages was sparked by the recent news that one of the last single men in my mental male-harem, a self-proclaimed bachelor playboy, has finally, somewhat secretly, married. Hitoshi Matsumoto, a Japanese comedian commonly known by his cutesy nickname, "Mattchan," and his celebrity status as exactly one half of Japan's most famous and wildly successful manzai comic duo, is only just gaining notice here in the States, thanks to the domestic release of his film Dainipponjin, or Big Man Japan, which he wrote, directed and stars in. The film has been widely marketed as a sort of This Is Spinal Tap meets Godzilla-caliber monster movie and I agree with this neatly wrapped description. Matsumoto plays a super hero charged with keeping Japan safe from all manner of ridiculous, XL-sized (and sometimes X rated) creatures in the mockumentary-style film that paints a pathetic picture of one messed-up, misunderstood loser of a dude. It's funny, it's weird and well worth watching if not for the gut-busting turn of events in the end. The CG will surely be dismissed as "slapdash" by nerdy perfectionists, but I believe the shoddy look is all part of the charm that makes this movie laugh-at-able. Besides, like I said, like, two sentences ago, stay with it to the end --- nothing can prepare you for what's in store. It's not often that I get the feeling that I've been "pantsed" by a movie; viewing Big Man Japan in its entirety is a major pants-ing in the making, make no mistake about it. And as for Mattchan's sudden marriage, well, another one bites the dust. I'm not obsessed, I just love his guts (and his baldy looks).

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