Swervedriver "Juggernaut Rides '89-'98"

These days when people think of the shoegaze sound, the dreamier (in my opinion, just plain wussy) artists like Slowdive, and, for Christ's sake, the Cocteau Twins seem to get mentioned first. While I like some of Slowdive's stuff, they were hardly the holy grail of the amazing early '90s UK guitar rock movement that spawned the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, The Boo Radleys, Catherine Wheel, and, perhaps, best of all, Swervedriver. What these bands all had in common -- at least on their early records -- was noise and melody with lots of reverb and feedback. All but one of Swervedriver's four full-length records are in print these days, which is why the recently released "Juggernaut Rides" is so essential. In addition to legendary cuts like "Rave Down," "Duel," "99th Dream," and "Last Train To Satansville," this two-disc 33-song career retrospective contains a number of rarities, previously only released on UK import EPs. If you haven't heard stuff like the title track and "Planes Over The Skyline," man are you in for a treat! Mixing then-modern influences like early Dinosaur, Jr. and Husker Du with '60s icons like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Stooges and Love, Swervedriver created vast soundscapes that would all but overwhelm you if not for Adam Franklin's silky smooth vocals. Do yourself a favor and get this while you can.



Wang Wei 10K

What does the unfortunate Chinese top gun pilot Wang Wei have in common with a Chicago 10K that went off course? Not too much, really, but bear with me. For those of you who might not remember, Wang Wei was the pilot who had been taunting US surveillance planes, flying so close at times that he would even flash his email address on pieces of paper at them! In early 2001 he clipped the wing of a US spy plane and fell to his death. The Chinese claim he was shot down. Because his name sounds like 'wrong way' he became fodder for late night comedians amongst others. Anyway, I went the 'wrong way' in my 10K this past Saturday. The course ran through a windy residential neighborhood and the leader who was way better than everyone else took off and the pace car pulled him out of sight from the chase pack I was in. Just around the 3 mile mark, there was a turn. Some guys ahead of me kept going straight. Two guys right with me got into an argument. One said to turn right the other said straight. I went straight and we got screwed. A few minutes later we realized that no one was following us but we kept running hard for whatever reason and weirdly enough found our way back into the race but now way back in the pack. At this point I was really frustrated and just didn't see the point of running an extra half mile or more and finishing with a lousy time! I'm really surprised that there were no volunteers on that part of the course. Oh well. Before the chaos my splits for the first 3 miles were 5:52, 11:52, and 17:52. It was real hot and humid and I can tell I would have slowed down a bit and probably ended up around 6:00 pace or slightly slower (i.e. 37:20-37:30).

That was only a minor blip though. The weekend was fantastic. My BMLC partner-in-crime John and his wife Jennifer (and their three super cool boys) treated us like kings. We saw lots of cool places and I had a kickass Chicago dog at the world famous Weiner Circle! Fortunately, John wasn't one of the guys who made the detour and he had a solid race after having missed 5 weeks with an Achilles injury. He wanted to run faster, but the weather was real brutal. 4 of the BMLC guys (me, John, Tom, Josh) will be running an 8K in Allen Park, MI in August. Look for a much better showing there. I promise to study the course map!


Forgotten Sounds: Easterhouse

Reviewing the Chapterhouse reissue reminded me of another great forgotten British band, the similarly named Easterhouse. Hailing from Manchester, the group fronted by brothers Andy and Ivor Perry on vocals and lead guitar respectively, released their debut album "Contenders" on Rough Trade Records in 1986. The group was championed by none other than Smiths icon Morrissey whose group released their masterpiece, "The Queen Is Dead," in the same year. Easterhouse were an intense bunch. Their dark, reverb-drenched sound combined the angst of the Chameleons and the first two U2 albums with some of the jangly guitar textures of The Smiths. That, combined with their defiant revolutionary lyrics made them stand out in the overly conservative climate of the mid-'80s. Despite writing songs that praised the likes of Lenin and IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, Easterhouse somehow managed to get an international deal with corporate giant Columbia Records before everything came crashing down. The Perry brothers had a falling out and the group broke up. Andy went on to release a second Easterhouse album with an entirely different lineup in 1989, but that pretty much sucked; the bland production and slick commercial sound all but washing out Perry's deeply soulful vocals, which shine so brightly on "Contenders." As a footnote, when The Smiths broke up in 1987, Ivor Perry was briefly considered as a repalcement for Johnny Marr. "Contenders" was reissued on Cherry Red Records in 2001 on CD with bonus non-LP tracks.


Raw Power

This post isn't actually about the finest rock 'n' roll band ever from Detroit (and pretty much everywhere else), but I'm always looking for an excuse to mention the Stooges and the title of their landmark 3rd album from 1973, "Raw Power," reminded me today of what I need to improve on most in my running game. Today I did 3 x 800 in 2:51, 2:44 and 2:38 with 60 seconds rest between each as the final tuneup before my 10K race on Saturday. I felt really good, but I can tell that I need more strength at higher end speeds. I feel like I can run all day at 5:50-6:10 pace, which is perfect for the 10K, but if I'm going to run really well in cross country races in the fall I need to work on that extra ingredient, raw power! This summer I'm going to do a lot of hill repetitions and try to do as much trail running as possible to build up my leg strength. Anyway, that's today's running sermon and since I did mention the Stooges, in case you're living in a cave the group's first two albums, "The Stooges" and "Fun House" were reissued by Rhino Records at the end of last year in deluxe 2-CD editions with really informative boklets full of great photos and all that jazz. The bonus material, including lots of alternate takes of their stone classics is amazing.


Chapterhouse "Whirlpool"

Originally released in 1991, Chapterhouse's debut album "Whirlpool" has grown in stature over the years, fetching some pretty crazy prices on eBay until it was recently reissued with bonus tracks on UK imprint Cherry Red Records. Part of the so-called shoegaze scene of the early '90s, which also included in its ranks British groups such as My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and Swervedriver (and numerous others), "Whirlpool" was actually dismissed by some critics and fans of the genre for being too poppy. See, I'm old enough to remember this stuff first hand. I loved the album back in the day and I love it just as much now so I'm glad it's part of the shoegaze holy grail so to speak. The Cherry Red version is essential for the 7 bonus tracks, which were B-sides from the group's first three rare-as-hell EPs. If you have never heard the group before I'd recommend listening to tracks 10-16 first in order to witness the groups progression from a noisy, more experimentally-inclined, yet always tuneful group into a band that became a major force on "Whirlpool," encompassing all of the best elements of The Stone Roses, Ride and MBV, but adding their own original touches. Favorites here include the infectious opener "Breather," the stunning single "Pearl," which was a minor UK hit, and the beat-heavy, guitar laced "Falling Down," which is my all-time favorite tune by the group. Detailed liner notes and lots of cool photos make this a fantastic package.


Rock 'n' Roll Runner: Anthony Famiglietti

fam Anthony "Fam" Famiglietti is one of America's elite distance runners. Primarily known for his prowess in the grueling 3000 meter steeplechase with a personal best of 8:17 and a spot on the 2004 US Olympic team, Fam has also turned his attention to the 10,000 meter run this season. Earlier this month he clocked a stellar 27:37 at the Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, CA, finishing a close third behind Alan Webb and Dathan Ritzenhein. He is now the tenth fastest American performer of all-time in the event.

What makes him a rock 'n' roll runner is the fact that he composes some pretty kick ass electronic music, which can be heard on his website (see link below) and has a pretty badass attitude. As a kid, Fam was a skateboarder, which probably explains why he has sported a Mohawk in recent years! How many Olympians can claim to have had punk rock haircuts?! Fam is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary called "Run Like Hell" that explores hise day-to-day life and includes racing and training footage from Europe and various parts of the US.

Unlike many status-crazed athletes, Fam has a pretty zen-like outlook on life. When asked about success in a recent interview in Runner's World, he responded: "Success these days seems to be measured in dollars and cents. Great emphasis is put on material wealth and lifestyle. For instance, when people ask me what I do for a career, and I tell them I'm an athlete, the first question out of their mouths is, 'How much money do you make?' Too often on television the ideal image is of someone driving a Rolls Royce, covered in diamonds, getting into exclusive parties, signing autographs and then returning home to their enormous mansion by the lake, impervious to everything... To say: that you may have the Rolls, you may have the diamonds and even the house, but if that mansion is in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina can flood that lake and take it all back. You'll have nothing; you're left with who you are. How do you measure your success then? "

For more info, including a trailer of "Run Like Hell," visit:



Editors "The Back Room"

Though I'm a pretty hardcore Anglophile I haven't been blown away by many British bands in recent years. I just don't get Franz Ferdinand and don't get me started on the Arctic Monkeys. That said, I dig Birmingham's Editors a lot. Their debut The Back Room is pretty damn great. Lazy journalists have been calling these guys the English Interpol, a copy of Interpol's copy of Joy Division. Well, I never thought Interpol sounded that much like Joy Division -- more like The Chameleons and early Psych Furs to my ears -- and while Editors vocalist Tom Smith has a similar delivery to Interpol frontman Paul Banks, his band's sound is much more urgent, quite reminiscent of the first three Echo and the Bunnymen albums. Songs like "Fall," "Lights," "Munich," "All Sparks" and "Bullets" explode out of your speakers with the same kind of intensity that Bunnymen classics like "Villiers Terrace," "All That Jazz" and "Do It Clean" did. Check out the band's website for more info, MP3s and videos.



Training Update

My next race will be on Saturday, May 27 in Chicago when my wife and I visit my teammate John and his family. John and I will be doing the Western Springs 10K. It's supposed to be a super fast course but the weather might be a bit muggy. We'll see. I'm hoping to run around 5:55 pace, which will be in the 36:40 range. Training has been going really well. Last Tuesday I did a solid 14 miler @7:00 pace on the marked bike paths in the Rocky River Metro Park, starting slow and running the second half progressively faster, working my way down to 12:25 for the last 2 miles. On Thursday I did 10 x 800 @ 2:55 with 60 seconds rest between each rep. This week I'm going to taper a bit for the race. Instead of my usual 12-16 mile long run on Monday, I'll do 10 and on Wednesday I'm going to do 3 fast 800s @ faster than 5K race pace to sharpen up.



I swore I'd never do one of these blog things but since my writing career is pretty much non-existent these days, I need a creative outlet of sorts. The basic lowdown is that I run Elephant Stone Records, an indie label that focuses on bands inspired by Britpop, shoegaze and all things psychedelic. My other main hobby is long distance running. I'm 41 and I've been running for about 2 years after taking 19 years off. I was a pretty good HS runner (best times 4:27 for the mile and 9:25 for 2 miles) but ended up burning out in my sophomore year of college and retiring at the ripe old age of 20. As I started nearing 40 I had the desire to get in shape again and I started running again and in the Spring of last year started doing races. I've surprised myself and run faster than I ever thought I would at this age. I have currently lowered my 5K (3.1 miles) time to 17:41 (5:42 per mile) a pretty decent time for my age (I tend to finish in the top 3 in my age group in most local races). This year the goal is to up the ante and train harder. Some old HS buddies of mine have caught the mid-life crisis bug too and we have formed a team called the BMLC Track Club. We'll be competing in the national cross country championships for old dudes (guys over 40) in SF in December. The distance will be 10K (6.2 miles).


  © Designed by Mousetrap Marketing from Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP