Monday, December 15, 2008

Giving Up The Ghost

One day last week I got together with my former co-workers at the bank I used to work at. The occasion was a colleague's "retirement" luncheon. I use the word retirement in quotes because, although in her case there's a good chance that she will decide to retire, as with myself this was not by choice. After working there for over 20 years her position is being outsourced. Prior to this gathering I'd had a conversation with my ex-manager who told me that things were not going well with this whole program and it was starting to become apparent to people above him in the management chain. Very little work was getting done and many of the projects that were going into production were going in wrong and had to be undone and fixed. So naturally this raised my hopes a bit that the powers that be might have started to see the light and would possibly begin to consider hiring me back. Unfortunately, all my former colleagues told me that there were plans to lay off almost another 2000 employees within the next year. Most, if not all of them fully expect to be gone within the next 6 - 12 months. It's a bitter pill to swallow but I know it's better to finally face the facts. There will be no going back. 

All of this makes me wonder. In my little area alone they took 100 years of collective experience and decided that it could be replaced by inexperienced programmers mostly just out of school, from halfway around the world, ignoring all of the language and cultural differences. And this is happening not only at my former employer but at many other companies besides. All so that they can show a better bottom line in the short term and make the value of their stock go up. And we've all seen how much the value of the stocks have been going up lately - ha ha ha. The shortsightedness of this amazes me. Doesn't anyone think about what is good for the business (and the country) in the long term? Am I really the only one who sees this? The same thing is true for what is happening at General Motors. They let themselves be influenced (or maybe I should say 'bought') by the oil companies and did little or nothing to develop more energy efficient cars. Again, they went for the short term profits, gave themselves lavish salaries and bonuses and now they are in danger of going out of business entirely. I shudder to think of the long-term ramifications and ripple effect that GM shutting down would have on this country.

I don't know how much our new president will be able to do about this. After all, this is the result of a whole mind set that is based on greed. Hopefully if (or more likely when) there is a bailout package delivered to the auto industry there will be some intelligently thought out and strictly monitored strings attached that will lead to some more long-term thinking on their part. And President-Elect Obama has stated that he is against tax benefits for companies that continue to to move jobs offshore. I hope so. This is not just about me. With a little bit of luck and some hard work and brains, I'll most likely be OK. But there are a lot of people who are in the same situation who are, for various reasons,  a whole lot worse off.  I really believe that this is about the future of this country. 

Albert Hammond Jr. - In Transit
Although I haven't heard all that much from Hammond's band The Strokes, what I have heard hasn't impressed me all that much. To me they sound like little more than warmed-over Led Zeppelin. But his solo work is much more interesting. This song in particular has a nice melodic side to it that I find quite appealing. 
Zakary Thaks - Please
Even though this is not ZT at their 'garagiest'  it's always been a favorite of mine. Brought to you in crystal clear quality from their Sundazed CD "Form the Habit" which is highly recommended to any fans of Beatle-y (and sometimes harder edged) 60s garage band sounds. 
Big Boy Myles - Hickory Dickory Dock
Guess where this was recorded.  Did I hear someone say 'New Orleans'? Originally released on Specialty records in the late 50s, "Hickory..." really has that Crescent City bounce I've come to love so much.   
The Cramps - Human Fly
Although many musicians and singers have combined a cheesy horror flick sensibility with Rock & Roll, few have done so with the same flair that The Cramps have. Now in their 4th decade their approach has changed little since their early days. While I haven't bought a new Cramps record in over 20 years, their first few albums and singles are required listening. 
David Ruffin - I Want You Back
From his at-the-time unreleased album, David's take on the Jackson 5 smash shows that at heart, this was so more than just a typical teeny bopper bubblegum-soul song. It's a shame that it wasn't released as a single but I'm guessing that the Motown bigwigs didn't want it to compete with the J5 who were being groomed to be their next major superstars.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Too Much Aint Enough (Live 1978)
Although he was talking about Rock & Roll and girls and not corporate profits, this song definitely goes well with the theme of this post. I've never seen Tom Petty live and judging from this 1978 performance, that's my loss.
Don Wayne - Head Over Heels in Love
This upbeat little bopper is from the "Ten Long Fingers" comp, a collection of piano driven 50s rockers, many obviously influenced by Jerry Lee Lewis. On this song in particular I love those hiccupy vocals. The "TLF" comp is on Collector Records and can probably be ordered from Norton Records Mailorder. 
Jack Bedient & The Chessmen - Double Whammy
It should come as no surprise to anyone that these guys were from the Pacific Northwest as "...Whammy" sounds like it could've been recorded by either The Wailers or The Sonics. A classic stomper for sure.
The Lyres - Cinderella
Speaking of The Sonics, here are The Lyres paying homage to their heroes on this track, recorded at the Downtown Lounge in Portland, Maine on May 24, 1980. 
The Man From Delmonte - Drive Drive Drive
This is a band I know absolutely nothing about, although from the sound of them I'm guessing that they were part of the whole C86 scene. At this point I need to thank my friend TweeKid who turned me onto these guys. 
Rocket Morgan - Tag Along 
Once again I must plead complete ignorance as the only thing I know about this record is that it's on the "Louisiana Rock & Roll" comp on Krazy Kat records and it rocks like crazy. Any additional info anyone out there can provide would be greatly appreciated.
The Thanes - I'm A Fool
I saw these guys back in July of 2000 at the Las Vegas Grind festival. They were the last band playing the Sunday night show and there were only a handful of us left. In fact, by that time  I too had had more than enough and was thinking of skipping them when a little voice inside told me not too. I am sooooo glad I listened as they proved to be one of the highlights of that amazing weekend. Their forte is generally the folk-rock, poppier side of garagedom and here they turn in a wonderful version of The Sandy Coast's "I'm A Fool". 
H-Bomb Ferguson - Midnight Ramblin' Tonight
I first heard "Midnight Ramble Tonight" on the Hound's Saturday afternoon show on WFMU-FM sometime back in the 80s. For years I looked for a copy of this record to no avail but luckily now it's featured loud and proud on a few different comps including Ace's "King Rock & Roll" which is pretty readily available.     
The Vacant Lot - Just One Night
These guys were always favorites of mine especially in the early 90s when they used to play clubs like Mercury Lounge and Brownies in downtown NYC on a regular basis. Pete Ciccone, the singer and main songwriter in the band really had a way with a hook. Unfortunately he is pretty much out of music these days.
Warren Zevon - Poor, Poor Pitiful Me
About 6 months ago I bought a copy of WZ's tell-all biography "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon" but I'm somewhat afraid to read it. I've always been such a big fan of his songs and I guess I fear that if I get to know the man, and all the horror stories, I won't be able to appreciate his music anymore. I always admired his sense of humor and how he could direct it at himself as well as the world at large. 
West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - I Won't Hurt You
There's always been something special about this song that, if I were wooing a reticent lover, I would want to sing it to put to rest any fears. Maybe it's that percussion that sounds like a heartbeat but it's always sounded so reassuring and safe.
Gotta Get Away (second version) - William Penn & His Pals
From Palo Alto, California William and friends had had a few singles on the Scorpio label, same as the Pre-Creedence Golliwogs. I guess it was just a matter of not having the means to adequately promote their records as this definitely had hit potential.
Velvet Crush - Kill Me Now
Talk about injustices, these guys have close to 10 albums and EPs (maybe even more) and while they definitely have their cult following, success on a larger scale has eluded them. If Power Pop with a somewhat darker and deeper side sounds like your cup of tea, VC are definitely worth your time and money investigating. One place to start is Emusic which has about 7 of their albums including "Free Expression" from which this song is taken.    

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rodney Rocket Morgan a piano player
recorded a few great singles
on Zynn (Jay Miller)Crowley LA.
with Al Ferrier 's Band early 60's

You're humbuggin' me.
This life i live.
Irene .
Gonna Walk you home.
What you Gonna Do.
It's a sin.

Became a preacher

never seen a picture of him

YankeeBoy said...

Thank you so much for the info. I've heard the song "You're Humbuggin' Me" but I didn't remember it was by Rocket Morgan. It's a great record. Are his other records as wild as these two?

DefChef said...

Sorry to hear that the fallout from "the economy" (always a convenient excuse) has worked its' way into your corner of the world. Experience and institutional knowledge are the first things to go when it's time to start making cuts.

Anonymous said...

His name was actually Rodderick Morgan not Rodney. Not sure why, but it was listed wrong and he never changed it. I never asked him about that, but i will check and find out. He was my grandfather. He did become a preacher and died about 7 years ago from Cancer. he recorded 2 CDs a couple years before he died. one of his old music and another with new gospel music. he was a great man