Watch Derek And The Dominos On TV

derek and the dominos
This was an American band.

Eric Clapton’s Fertile Years

The In Between Years

Derek And The Dominos are an anomaly in the career of Eric Clapton. Everyone knows about Layla, and the story behind it (kinda), but few know the album itself. It’s fucking great. You must listen to it fully.

After the breakup of Cream, and then the formation and immediate dissolution of Blind Faith, Eric Clapton was tired of being Eric Clapton. He was not tired of being addicted to heroin yet, though. He was still all thumbs up on that.

Eric Clapton was only 25 in 1970, yet he had already been famous for 7 years. He was the guitarist of the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream for fuck’s sake. Cream. For that alone he would be in the hall of fame, and that was just one charm on the bracelet. And then Blind Faith which also was huge. Holy Shit. It’s a lot. Eric was a little freaked out being God. He toured with his Blind Faith opening act,  Delaney and Bonnie, where he was fairly anonymous. It’s also where he met up with the fellows who would become the Dominos to his Derek.

Around this time (1970) George Harrison (bosom chum of Clapton) had just left the Beatles and was recording All Things Must Pass, his bestest solo album. It also featured all the other Beatles, just not all together (now), along with a bunch of fucks who would end up being the Dominos. Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason (kinda), and Jim Gordon.  American fellows and exceptional musicians. They had swing, they had that southern Lynyrd Skynyrd shimmy. Seriously, listen to the music on Layla. It is pure Southern swamp. Hell, it could be Muscle Shoals.

Take a look at the above performance on the Johnny Cash Show. They’re tight. They sound great, and it has a country groove to it. Derek & The Dominos kicked ass.

So, where were we? Ah yes, Eric Clapton took George Harrison’s band as his own. That’s not all he took. Wink.

The Longing Of Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton had fallen in love with his best friend’s wife. Pattie Boyd Harrison has had more famous songs written about her than anyone else I can think of. Here’s some off the top of my head:

  • Something
  • For You Blue
  • Layla
  • Bell Bottom Blues
  • Wonderful Tonight

There’s an article about 10 songs about her on Mental Floss, but the ones above are the biggies.

Eric Clapton’s Layla era songs are full of longing, regret, defiance, and conflict. The boy is hurting, but he’s in love. Look at the video below and see that even decades later, there’s still emotion he can tap into. Also, look at what a good singer he became.

Ok. This post has taken forever, over days, so I’m just going to birth this half formed, rather than let it languish in eternal almost done.

Watch Ren & Stimpy Space Madness

The Ren & Stimpy Show – S 1 E 5 – Space Madness by FullerHouseHD

The Ur-Alternative Cartoon

Ren & Stimpy

Ren & Stimpy were the progenitors of the absurdist animation of Adult Swim, which led to Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman, The Brak Show… all those first gen Adult Swim master. Ren & Stimpy made it happen, and it was shown on Nickelodeon. Holy Shit.

If you’re a Gen Xer like me, or anyone else on earth, you know of Ren & Stimpy. They’re not forgotten. They just lasted a good season or so, because of the mercurial (difficult) nature of creator John K. Who cares? This is about happy happy joy joy and dark humor.

This is my hands down favorite episode ever of Ren & Stimpy. There is what is, quite possibly the greatest McGuffin of all time. The History Eraser Button. This episode is so funny, that back in the early 90’s, when we were all young, my buddy Eric called me long distance, from Florida, and played this entire episode to me, over the phone. I died. It was so funny. So watch it and share a flicker of happy happy joy joy. Or don’t.

space madness
You covet my beloved ice cream bar!

Podcast Immanent

Those of you who are carryovers from Youdopia (my last blog. It was awesome. I miss it. I should have never let it go) may be wondering about the lack of content here. It’s a fair question. The truth is that Heart of Markness has not fulfilled me in the way Youdopia did.

I just don’t feel the magic as much anymore. Most of the stuff I feel inspired to post has already been written about on Youdopia, and even though that site is gone, it still feels cheesy to reboot.

SO… I have decided to start a podcast; not to replace Heart of Darkness, but supplement it. Things about which I want to discuss in depth lend themselves to audio more than 1000’s of words on a blog.

I have the equipment on order and it should be here at the end of the week. I already have my first topic ready. It’s going to be about the aborted XYZ project of Jimmy Page, Chris Squire, and Alan White, back in 1981.

I’ll explore the backstory of how it came about. I’ll go into the 4 songs that have made it into the bootleg world, and how those 4 songs have appeared on Yes, and Firm, albums.

And I’ll go into why it never happened. La la la. It’s good stuff, if you’re a Zeppelin fan, a Yes fan, a Firm fan (are there any?), or just a hominid.

So keep your eye out for my first podcast. I’m aiming for something that’s information rich, like Dan Carlin or Sam Harris do, but also fairly conversational and free form, like Bill Burr’s podcast. As the first one it will suck, but we all start somewhere. 🙂

Tedeschi Trucks Band Backstage Jam With Taj Mahal & Jerry Douglas

So Much Talent

In One Room

I thought I have had Taj Mahal on the blog before, even performing this song. I was wrong. It must have been my old blog. It’s ok. It’s so goddamn good you won’t mind if I post two different versions. If you do mind I’m sure you’ll get over it. If you can’t get over we will be enemies. I saw John Wick. I’m ready.

The song in question is Leaving Trunk. Jerry Douglas of Union Station (and husband of Alison Krauss, who made that album with Robert Plant that sold a trillion copies) joins the Tedeschi Trucks Band backstage, for a run-through of Leaving Trunk, before the show.

It’s tight. It’s intimate. It’s awesome. It’s a roomfull of incredible musicians playing the music they love.

The video below is from 5 years earlier (2009) and it’s Taj Mahal joining the Allman Brothers Band with both Derek Truck, and Warren Haynes. It’s fucking insane. Warren’s solo is so incredible that you are almost blown away, only to be annihilated by Derek Truck’s incredible slide solo. Jesus. It’s perfect. Watch both of these, and listen. It’s worth it. Do it in two sessions if you need to. There is beauty in the world. Here is some.

The Cult. The 80’s Band That Was Almost Great.

the cult love
Such an almost great album.

The Cult

The Best B+ Band From The 80’s

I am a child of the 1980’s. Generation X, that’s me. I’m middle aged but still play video games and read comic books. I’m probably creepy to the young women at work, but I still think I’m cool.

Anyway. Enough about my life. I’m about to hang myself in a moment of clarity. Let’s talk about my favorite band from the shittiest decade of all time, the 80’s.

The Cult showed up on my radar in 1985, on MTV (insert comment re: mtv:videos) with the song Rain.

This song kind of has balls, underneath the 80s shit production (more on that soon). They have a good look, and good song with a nice hook, and I dug it. I went out and bought the album (on vinyl for I was a record store snob). I LOVED IT. It had some clunkers but it was a solid album. What made it like manna from heaven was that it had balls. Kind of, but kind of was enough in that musical desolation that was the 80’s. (Mark, you seem to not like the 80’s much. Why is that? how perceptive. the 80’s were pure garbage. It’s the Taco Bell decade of the 20th Century. It’s completely void of nutrient but full of fat and flavor. It was the death rattle of the brief hope of the 60’s.) Anyway, back to our show.

Rain was good. I liked it. She Sells Sanctuary is good as well. It’s the most throwaway track in that it’s fluff, but it’s good fluff. What makes this album hold up as a good album is Love. The song Love has an actual groove. That’s something of which the 80’s was completely void. It was all white dancing.  At least where I grew up in the Boston Metro area. Love would be a great song if the production didn’t completely neuter it. That song need some goddamn bass holding that groove together, and beefing up the drums. But no. It sounds like you’re listening to a good song on a drive in movie speaker. This band needs ambience. You need to record the room as well as the instruments. Like the Black Crowes. But no, the Cult got boned aurally.

I posit that in an alternate universe The Cult were the U2 of the 80’s and 90’s, with hit after hit, and arena tours and great production. U2 was huge because Brian Eno produced them, and contributed enormously to the sound of the band. The Cult never had a Brian Eno or George Martin to polish the rough diamond into a shining gem.

This post is a goddam train wreck because all I really wanted to was say, “Hey, listen to these songs. They’re good.” But then I started writing about the band, because who the fuck knows who the Cult are in 2016? Over six weeks I would login and add more words to this piece, trying to find a theme upon which to expound, but I never could really care enough. So. Listen to these songs. They’re good.

Futurama Easter Egg In Rick And Morty

futurama rick morty
Brain Slug and the Smizmar Lady

As if Rick and Morty needed anything else to make it awesome. This show is a game changer, like the Simpsons were in the 80’s. I am probably super late to the party on this, but I was watching the recent Rick and Morty shorty I wrote about. The piece itself is hilarious enough, but seeing the nod to Futurama made me fairly burst with joy and good humor. A crossover episode would be as amazing as it is impossible. Nicely done.

Listen to CSN Live 2012 – Suite Judy Blue Eyes

I’m not a huge fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but this song is one of the prettiest ever. CSN have had a rocky road over the years. Epic addictions, fistfights on stage, myriad permutations of individuals (Stills-Young, Crosby-Nash, CSNY, etc.), but they fucking nail it on this night.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes is, of course, a love song to Judy Collins from Stephen Stills. It’s breathtaking, super hippy, and was omnipresent on the radio throughout the ’70’s and ’80’s. That said, it’s fucking beautiful.

This performance, from 2012, is noteworthy because CSN had not performed Suite: Judy Blue Eyes in years, because they’re old men now (legit in their 70’s old) and those high notes are brutal. To be truthful, I imagine it’s Stephen Stills who had the most trouble as David Crosby and Graham Nash seem to have kept their voices over the … holy shit… 48 year run that CSN has had.


Apparently either Stephen Stills’ voice was strong on this one night, or he worked on regaining range (maybe as simple as lifestyle changes), but in any case this performance is just sublime. Is that the word? Yes, I think so.

The purity of their tone in the harmonies during , “What have you got to lose?” is utter perfection. You needn’t be a fan of CSN to enjoy this. It’s beauty pure and simple, like a sunset, and Stills even throughs in a musical nod to George Harrison during the little guitar break before the doo doo doo part. It’s that Indian sounding bit. It’s the song Within You and Without You, off Sgt. Pepper. Good stuff.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash may rest on the laurels of their earlier work, but when it’s of such a high caliber as this, there’s no shame. Take a listen, really listen, and enjoy.

Watch Steven Wright & Rowan Atkinson In Their Oscar Winning Short

The Appointments of Dennis Jennings

Won Best Live Action Short Film Of 1988

I remember watching this on HBO in 1988 or 1989. I recorded it on my super snazzy hifi vhs recorder. I was all about recording back then. Boxes of tapes. Simpsons, The Young Ones, Blackadder, HBO comedy specials…. these are the days my friends. It could be Franky. It could be very fresh and clean.
… but I digress. The Appointments of Dennis Jennings is a bleak, stark, monotonous piece of dark humor, that has (unfortunately) fallen off the radar of pop culture. It’s a shame because it is brilliant. Grim. That is the vibe that carries through this piece. Funny is another word. It’s really, darkly, cumulatively so, but funny nonetheless.

"Why would anybody sleep with a parachute on?"
“Why would anybody sleep with a parachute on?”

I hadn’t watched it in at least 20 years, maybe longer, but I was reminded of it and thanks to YouTube, it’s available for all.

Steven Wright does his whole monotone deadpan thing, to perfection. Laurie Metcalf, who was hilarious on Roseanne, and Rowan Motherfucking Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr. Bean) are brilliant. This film takes time to put together, but it’s really rewarding, and completely deserving of an Oscar.

It has the dread and unease of a Terry Gilliam film, like 12 Monkeys but with none of the danger, tension, or life.

Brazil sans whimsy.

It’s kind of like a mashup of the non scary parts of Jacob’s Ladder and The Lobster. 

It’s absolutely worth the half hour to watch it. After all, it won an Oscar. 🙂

Fleetwood Mac 1970 Green Manalishi Live

fleetwood mac 1970 green manalishi

Many people forget that before the mid 1970s, Fleetwood Mac was actually a pretty hard rock/blues band. There are about 5 iterations of the band other than the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham days. Christine McVie was in the band for several lineups, moving from blues/hard rock gradually to the smooth, impeccable, California pop that was the Rumours lineup.

This song is from the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac. Green Manalishi is by all rights a metal song. It was covered by Judas Priest for Christ’s sake. In places this could be Black Sabbath, but it isn’t. It’s a top notch band playing stratospherically well, in that way that only the 1968-1972 era really contains.

It’s long. Like 15 minutes long, and from what I glean from the comments, this version is better than other (canonical) versions. I can see why. This is great. Heavy but still delicate. Out there but not too far. Yes, it’s super indulgent with the ten minute plus solo, but did you know much of that solo was played on a Fender Bass VI? That makes it cooler.

Basically, I’m sharing this because I recently discovered it, and it’s so damn good it should be heard by everyone. Enjoy.