Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fragile Musings And Black Coffee With Al

A warm and wonderful Christmas Holiday surrounded by family and loved ones brings hopeful anticipation for the coming new year and its prospects. The further development of close bonds especially represents meaningful opportunity as I am clearly reminded once again of just how fortunate and truly blessed I am in my uniquely creative, artful life and in every dimension of it that really counts.

Love, true light and a deep soul energy comprise the centre core of my illuminated universe with a strong and strengthening centrifugal force that has created in its spiritual path vast supernatural orbits of powerful gravity and truly amazing grace. Amen.

I wish therefore to take this opportunity as we head into 2006, to express my sincere appreciation to each and everyone of you who have visited FRANKtalk this year to read and explore what I have to offer here at my blog site and especially to all of you who have made FRANKtalk a regular choice and feature of your reading and research.

I am indeed grateful and inspired by your interest and support.

You are visiting in increasingly high and repeated return numbers now from every corner of the globe and indeed from every country on earth and I am again very grateful to you especially considering the fact that this blog spot has only been around for a little over six months at this point. So, my sincere thanks. I promise to continue doing my best to fulfill your expectations in my efforts here as well.

You are helping to make this forum a very satisfying one for my creative expressions and I am greatly honored by your acceptance.

My listening treats over the past week included the 1972 album Fragile by visionary prog rock group Yes. I've been a lover of Yes music from the beginning because of their prodigious musicianship throughout the line-up and their unique sounds which at times echo two other favorite British groups, The Moody Blues and Jethro Tull.

Fragile features the group's early 70's breakout single “Roundabout” which was most people's introduction to the band and the CD reissue also includes an alternate mix of that same song as its closer which is preceded by another bonus cover version of Paul Simon's "America" a beautiful song from Simon and Garfunkle’s great Bookends album.

Yes features Jon Anderson on vocals, Bill Bruford on drums and percussion, Steve Howe on guitars and vocals, Chris Squire on Bass Guitars and vocals and Rick Wakeman on electric piano, harpsichord, mellotron and synthesizer. The members of Yes are all legendary players in their own right as well as being group members of Yes.

Rick Wakeman is absolutely breathtaking in his own creative genius while innovative bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Steve Howe are regarded as pre-eminent, exemplary masters of their instruments.

Drummer/percussionist, Bill Bruford, has also been a major part of the renown of legendary group King Crimson in his brilliant career.

Fragile is a "half and half" creative balance between individual player ideas, adaptations and expressions [arranged and organized by the full band] and group arrangements and performances. Highlights of the record include Steve Howe's solo guitar piece “Mood For A Day”, an early single "B" side, “Long Distance Runaround” and of course, “Roundabout” which just honks with the amazing, treble sharpened, high-up-in-the mix, hot Rickenbacker bass voicing of Chris Squire.

Man do I love that sound. Yes!

Further on down the road, I intend on visiting the ultra cool website and habitat of the ultra cool Al Kooper where I plan to check in for a healthy serving of some Black Coffee and reminiscences with one of the greatest legends in the history of rock. Black Coffee is Al's most recent and highly acclaimed CD project, which is long overdue to be obtained for my collection. If you haven't heard Al Kooper in a few years, you may well remember a few career highlights such as his creating a little band called Blood, Sweat and Tears, his discovery of another band called Lynyrd Skynyrd...and oh yes, the fact that it was Al Kooper who played the cool organ on Bob Dylan's rock masterpiece Like A Rolling Stone. Al Kooper was a part of Bob Dylan's early group, which played the historic and pivotal 1965 Newport Folk Festival at which Bob Dylan famously went electric. Al plays on many of Dylan's early records too including Highway 61 Revisited & Blonde On Blonde.

Time for a second cup of Black Coffee with Al Kooper.

Or as Bob Dylan would put it...one more cup of coffee for the road...one more cup of coffee 'fore I go...to the valley below.

Hope you all enjoyed a great Christmas/Hanukkah Holiday time with many warm personal satisfactions and truly rich spiritual blessings.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you from around the world and thank you again for taking the time to visit and read my blog.

I appreciate your interest and your continued support of FRANKtalk.

See you early in 2006!

Frank Trainor

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Santa Paul [Notwithstanding Claus]

With Christmas and a federal election both looming now, I figured there ought to be a conscious and determined effort put forth here to abide in the generous spirit of the season and provide whatever illumination I can regarding Canada’s unsettling political landscape.

This is not difficult since we happen to be blessed in this country to claim the illuminative Kate McMillan at www.smalldeadanimals.com. Kate is not only a brave and determined woman, she also happens to be one of the smartest, most talented Canadians currently providing substantive commentary on our country's socio-political culture.

I mention Kate in regard to a recent SDA blog post that provides essential information and clear perspective concerning our country's Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms. There’s been a lot of focus in our socialist media over a much ballyhooed “straw man” taboo in our culture known as the "notwithstanding clause" of our country’s manifesto…er, I mean charter of rights and freedoms.

Charges have been leveled at Conservative leader Stephen Harper by our Evil Santa, Prime Minister Paul ["notwithstanding Claus"] Martin, as to Harper’s intended “secret agenda” to invoke our constitution’s notwithstanding clause as a means of overturning the Liberal’s own recently enforced legislation redefining the institution of marriage.

Kate's CBC political roundtable campaign blog journal [for which she's received tremendous heat from activist leftists] is also important to note. Kate’s CBC debut, The UnCanadian, was especially effective.

Read all of the links provided my friends. The truth will set you free.

Kate McMillan is the brightest light and hottest focal point of conservative courage that we've seen in Canada for a long time.

Kate and her www.smalldeadanimals.com blog display more brains, courage, proactive determination and true compassionate love for her country than many here have the foresight or guts to address. She is the very personification of true female strength and virtue.

She makes me want to be a better man.

Indeed, she reminds me of my own wife.

A strong and determined soul with a brave heart of everlasting value.

I love that kind of strength and courage in a woman...don't you?

Frank Trainor

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sirius, XM, iTunes, etc...

Press releases from satellite entertainment media giants Sirius and XM Radio this week signal a new phase in the ongoing evolution of non-terrestrial radio and future entertainment industry promotions. Combining rollouts with customized, cross-platform niche marketing and the dynamics of cutting edge platforms, at long last confirms the digital revolution’s promise of extending deeper and broader cultural roots within society and across the entire entertainment spectrum.

Music fans and lovers of the radio medium itself should be ecstatic, although it remains to be seen how responsive people will be in the long term towards premium subscription features of XM for example. However, greater public awareness and gradual consumption of these exciting, integrated dynamics should drive competition and further profitability in the near future although none are there just yet.

Both satellite services offer a wide array of choices and both will eventually come to be dominant players is my guess, despite our own country's bland, governmentally regulated media environment.

The superseding regulatory bodies in our native land’s protectionist socialist gulag of creative segregation have recently been forced to accept the real world and approve applications to provide satellite subscription services in our country in favor of offering consumers true choices against the more typical, across the board "Canadian Content" regulations and restrictions. This can only be considered as a victory in the battle for creative freedom and entrepreneurial enterprise as well as for the Canadian public's freedom of choice.

Sirius was first out the gate with their much-hyped acquisition of “shock jock” Howard Stern, who ranks as one of the top attractions in American broadcast culture. Stern is a hot brand commodity and a very big noise who pulls huge numbers for advertisers so Sirius and it's very "serious" investors are looking for major results from a star on whose name draw alone they've risked an incredible fortune.

Personally, I’m more interested and excited by the XM Satellite Radio news that Bob Dylan will be hosting his own hour long show beginning in March of 2006 wherein he will play personally selected music from his own record library collection and speak with invited guest artists. Now that's something I would definitely pay a subscription fee to be able to listen to...as Bob himself sings in his jump song Summer Days from 2001’s Love & Theft, "she said you can't repeat the past...I said you can't…?…wadda ya mean ya can't...? …of course you can..." And of course, Bob can repeat the past like no other and undoubtedly will in his eclectic personal music choices & timeless artistic reflections.

Amen and Alleluia.

Interesting timing to realize on a personal note here that having just published my recent post on Little Steven's Underground Garage, that news would emerge just days later on the XM Radio announcement about Bob Dylan and his own radio show. The times it would seem, and the airwaves, they are a-changin' indeed. Personally, I couldn't be happier about it from every perspective you can possibly imagine.

Talk about a simple twist of fate.

TALKING POINTS: The incredible success of iTunes has been in the news a lot lately as well and given everything that is developing so rapidly now in the digital download realm as well as in the hot satellite radio realm, I think it's fair to say that the revolution is well underway in achieving the bright new future for music creators and music fans alike that we've all been wanting to be realized finally.

It's a very satisfying feeling to be creatively involved in this revolution as a songwriter/artist and as a fan of great music.

My writer's soul is deeply energized and greatly enriched through these new mediums as a means of more closely sharing my creative gifts and songs with you on a much more personal basis than was ever possible in the past. Welcome to the future. We made it.

My personal thanks again here today to recent link partners who've honored me by adding FRANKtalk to their own personal blog rolls. Right Ho! is a political blog written by an anonymous professional journalist and I recommend it highly. Either Orr also provides very intelligent and salient cross border political commentary with a touch of humor added and my high recommendation there as well.

FRANKtalk is gaining notice and respect from a number of such sites of late now including Faithmouse, which mentioned us here recently.

Faithmouse is a wonderful Christian site featuring the world class cartoons of artist Dan Lacey and is a sister site to Renew America.

As a Catholic pro-life supporter of brilliant socio-political advocate and peerless orator, Allen Keyes, I couldn't be more proud of linkage with these particular philosophically rooted sites. And of course, as always, my deep respect and thanks to Right Wing Bob who is #1 on my personal list for many reasons not the least of which is the fact that RWB was the very first ever to link FRANKtalk to his great site.

Frank Trainor

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Stake my future on a hell of a past
Looks like tomorrow is coming on fast
Ain't complaining 'bout what I got
Seen better times but who has not?

Silver and gold
Won’t buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know

With season five's final episode of The Sopranos airing here this weekend, I thought it might be timely to check in on Tony's loyal and trusted lieutenant Silvio Dante aka Steven Van Zandt of legendary fame as guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band.

Van Zandt is an interesting cat whose sincere, life long rock 'n roll attitude towards music, community, loyalty and brotherhood, comes though in every aspect of his personality and style. Van Zandt's is a quirky "trip hip" gypsy style that suits him and is uniquely his own.

Honest as the next jade rolling that stone
When I come knocking don't throw me no bone
I'm an old boll weevil looking for a home
If you don't like it you can leave me alone

Beyond Springsteen and The Sopranos, Little Steven has been busy gaining new fans around the world with his own radio show out of New York City called Little Steven's Underground Garage. Van Zandt created the show three years ago and his playlist is dictated simply by what he chooses to play. He features guests such as Brian Wilson, Iggy Pop, Ringo Starr, Donovan and others, to help present the music on his programs, which aim to define the essence of rock 'n roll cool.

Heard by over two million listeners at over 143 radio stations around the world, Little Steven's Underground Garage plays to the alienation experienced by many in our modern day culture who are desperately looking for something real in music beyond traditional nostalgia.

It's a laudable enterprise and increasingly successful. I'm somewhat of two minds about it myself however, as firstly, I love the whole idea of casting a fresh spotlight on great pioneer rock 'n roll artists such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry while blending those greats into the mix along with newer artists and great & deserving bands who deliver real music made by real musicians. On the other hand, I find it a bit difficult to accept the regrettable notion of Van Zandt's [expressed in a recent interview] that in his opinion, it was the master, Bob Dylan, who somehow spoiled the party for rock 'n roll and it’s disciples.

Bob Dylan rocks harder than most in his shows these days with an amazing band that absolutely blows the doors off and keeps the joint jumpin' from the very first notes. I've been to several shows in recent years and believe me, you will not get a bigger bang for your rock music buck anywhere on the planet than you will at a Bob Dylan show. Dylan and his band kick serious butt "live" so as Tony Soprano's loyal lieutenant Silvio Dante might say..."hey, forget about it, Stevie …Springsteen's ok, but Dylan is the real Boss…that cat only answers to the “Chief Commander” …of this world and the one you can't see."

Interestingly, Van Zandt's young fans want to know about the past and older fans also want to find new music. The younger ones want to hear songs by groups like The Kinks, The Animals and The Hollies! This confirms a current trend, but, I believe it speaks also to a much deeper, more pervasive sense of loss which young people are aware of in realizing what it is they're really missing in today's debased, hugely watered down syndicated music culture. Corporate music product is designed to sell sex and in no way is capable of producing the hopefulness that genuine music culture ought to foment and always does where authentic culture is created and experienced.

Steven Van Zandt's slices of authentic traditional music culture are great and yet somewhat cynically offered as the bigger picture is obviously controlled and promoted by a completely amoral corporate culture with no deeper sense of responsibility to listeners than to the enticements of it's corporate bottom line concerns. Its product in this particular case is nostalgia and communal inclusiveness, which again, may beat narrow format radio programming hands-down, but it's still not truly authentic, bottom-up culture that is emerging. It’s just more of the same marketing driven programming we’ve known for years, meant to satisfy the niches of boomers and babies alike.

Today's monolithic, corporate music product is hopelessly cynical, virulently nihilistic and aimed at perpetual cross-platform merchandising of its products to a debased and superficial culture. A culture hopelessly adrift in it’s own relativism and mired in entropy.

The past is great to reflect upon, especially from an historical rock music perspective, but still, it's little wonder kids are killing other kids and offing themselves at an ever more alarming rate this past few years. The young have no honest music to raise their spirits up higher like we did when our music was new and fresh and springing up from authentic cultural roots and true artistic inspiration.

All they get today is narcissistic ear candy laced with poison.

I can snap my fingers and require the rain
From a clear blue sky and turn it off again
I can stroke your body and relieve your pain
And charm the whistle off an evening train

I give what I got until I got no more
I take what I get until I even the score
You know I love you and furthermore
When it's time to go you got an open door

I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain
You give something up for everything you gain
Since every pleasure's got an edge of pain
Pay for your ticket and don't complain

Little Steven Van Zandt is doing something he has a true passion for in attempting to revive the beat of a heart grown cold and from where I view his gig, I believe it's a cool enough trip. In the absence of any truly inventive and creative alternatives from the corporate music world, LSUG represents a diversion which some may receive as a breath of fresh air. It's also got a huge fun factor going for it, which is a much needed element in music again, whatever the vintage. But Bob Dylan matured the art form. He came to praise rock, not to bury it. So, Little Steven Van Zandt's opinions on Bob Dylan and rock ‘n roll itself notwithstanding, I say, with a few reservations on submitting your soul entirely to the grayer forces of the underground garage, that hey...ya gotta dig those grooves baby.

That's rock 'n roll.

Forget about it, Silvio...I gotta go.

One of these days and it won't be long
Going down in the valley and sing my song
I will sing it loud and sing it strong
Let the echo decide if I was right or wrong

Silvio, Silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know

"Silvio" written by Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter
From the Columbia album "Down In The Groove"
Copyright © 1988 Special Rider Music and Ice Nine Music

Talking Points: Believe it or not, I had this piece written when I discovered to my amazement that my friend and site link partner Right Wing Bob had also written a piece on the same Van Zandt interview statements I've alluded to in this post. It shouldn't surprise me as nothing passes RWB's keen and authoritative scrutiny when it comes to all cultural critiques regarding Bob Dylan and his music.

But it is a bit spooky to discover that each of us was writing on the same subject essentially at the same time unbeknownst to the other.

Read Right Wing Bob's post on Van Zandt as I believe it will inform more clearly in terms of argument where SVZ is off base in his views.

I highly recommend a visit to Little Steven's Underground Garage though 'cause hey...I'm a musician...I just really dig that whole trip.

I simply can't help gettin' down in the groove!

Frank Trainor

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns

This month marks the 38th anniversary of the passing of legendary songwriter and record producer Bert Russell Berns who died of heart failure on December 30, 1967 at the age of 38. Bert Berns produced an amazing body of work in a relatively brief period of time between 1960 and 1967 creating a catalog containing some of the greatest hit songs and records ever produced in the history of pop/soul music.

A native of New York [born in the Bronx on Nov. 8, 1929], Bert Berns was the creative force behind such timeless pop/soul classics as "Twist and Shout" [The Isley Brothers, The Beatles], "Here Comes The Night" [Van Morrison's early group, Them] "Brown Eyed Girl" [Van Morrison], and The Drifters "Under The Boardwalk". Any one of these gems would be an impressive credit for any songwriter or producer.

But that's just for starters: Berns also wrote "Hang On Sloopy"
among his numerous other classic pop and soul hits.

As a songwriter and producer, Berns was a master at getting great vocals out of artists and his songs express the deepest of feelings. Freddie Scott's "Are You Lonely For Me Baby", Solomon Burke's deep soul sermon "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", Erma Franklin's pleading "Piece of My Heart" [the same song Janis Joplin covered], the Garnet Mimms hit "Cry Baby" and Solomon Burke's "Cry To Me".

Bert Berns songs dealt with the tough emotions of life reflecting an essence of searching for something that isn't all that easy to find.

Bert Berns was a craftsman.

A true creative genius.

He was also an astute talent scout. A real hustler who left a job working as a staff producer at Atlantic Records to start his own label called Bang Records which is where he produced the very first hits of Neil Diamond and where he also signed the great Van Morrison.

Bert Berns is one of early rock's forgotten treasures.

A foundational figure who has been inexplicably overlooked.

That should not be the case in light of the enormous contributions Bert Berns provided to our musical and cultural heritage.

Bert Berns legacy belongs in, and is long overdue for induction into, The Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame.

Sadly, today's monolithic music industry has no interest in recognizing or developing the potential of visionary songwriters and producers such as Bert Berns. It's hard to imagine such a brilliant and creative spirit ever feeling welcomed again in the music business.

Bert Russel Berns was a truly remarkable talent whose songs and productions helped define an unforgettable era in pop/soul music.

Universal Music along with Doug Morris released a tribute album in 2002 called The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns, which is essential.

You can discover more on the music and life of Bert Berns at his home page www.bertberns.com. Well worth the visit.

Take a look at his site's Discography and Press pages. You'll be amazed and deeply impressed at what this brilliant and creative genius accomplished as a dynamic songwriter and producer in his all too limited time in this world. It will simply astound you.

Talking Points: It should be noted here on this date especially, December 8, 2005, the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's tragic death, that if John Lennon were alive today, he would likely be the foremost voice in support of recognizing Bert Berns contributions. After all, Twist and Shout, written by Bert Berns, defined early Beatle John Lennon as the definitive raw voice in rock for his times.

Frank Trainor

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Walrus Was Paul

I told you about the walrus and me-man,
You know that we're as close as can be-man.
Well here's another clue for you all,
The walrus was Paul.

I told you about the fool on the hill,
I tell you man he's living there still.
Well here's another place you can be,
Listen to me. Fixing a hole in the ocean,
Trying to make a dove-tail joint-yeah.
Looking through a glass onion.

"Glass Onion"
copyright 1968 Northern Songs Ltd.
Blackwood Music Inc./ATV Music [Maclen] [BMI]

There's a well-funded leftist missionary magazine in our country today that has caught my attention of late through some personal recommendations and free offerings delivered through the mail.

It's called The Walrus and although it's publisher and editorial board purport to want only to establish a stronger market foothold for long form reading, it's more essential message and political purpose is to propagate socialist public policy imperatives through literary means as a way of indoctrinating a younger, more benign readership to it's Marxist/Socialist assumptions and secular humanist biases.

The Walrus is published and edited by Ken Alexander with leading support of the Trudeau Foundation, The Toronto Star and the leftist think tank, IRPP . Alexander follows in the mold of leftist activist and editor of Harper's magazine, Lewis Lapham and is an admirer and champion of the left-wing ideological slant of the late Dalton Camp, a crimson "Red Tory" icon best known for plunging the longest blade deep into the back of Progressive Conservative Chief and former Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker years ago on what is known in our political history as the "night of the long knives".

The Toronto Star is the establishment Left's unrepentant organ of unquestioning servitude on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Pierre Trudeau destroyed Canada as a Liberal Prime Minister. Taking office in 1968 with an 800 million dollar surplus, he heralded what he termed his "Just Society" vision, which would eventually include the breaking down of every established institution of our traditional social democratic system, including objective standards of personal and social responsibility as well as the incremental diminishment of religious moral values including those of The Catholic Faith.

When he left office 16 years later, Trudeau and his leftist liberal apparatchiks had created a 38 billion dollar deficit from which this country is still recovering in terms of it's accumulated debt. He was an intellectual Marxist/Socialist and erstwhile Nazi sympathizer during the Second World War who was often seen openly sporting a swastika armband as he cavorted occasionally as a man about town.

Trudeau is directly and personally responsible for the political disaffection of the province of Quebec in our times and is almost single-handedly responsible for the total & permanent alienation of Western Canada towards centralized Federal Liberal government. He is responsible as well for having created the conditions by which our federal government and its control of our judiciary has sanctioned all objective morality while instituting every form of regressive aberration anathematic to human nature and societal progress.

Trudeau ensured that Canada's unique confederation of unity and trust would never function properly in freedom again and it hasn't.

His successors, former Prime Minister, Jean Cretien [a long time Trudeau Cabinet Minister] and current Prime Minister, Paul Martin Jr., [Cretien's Finance Minister whose father, Paul Martin, also served in Trudeau's Cabinets], have kept Trudeau’s shameful legacy intact. A legacy all Canadians can only hope to see ended for good once this absolutely corrupt and malign Liberal Party is finally consigned to the trash heap of history along with the antecedents of it's heritage and the culture of irresponsibility it has spawned.

Make no mistake. The Walrus was Paul, and Jean and Pierre and maybe George Soros’s money also quietly being pumped into these destabilizing socialist foundations in securing a northern beachhead for the allied blue state dream of final secular totalitarianism. God knows, it's been tough enough for that pure tyrannical vision to win free elections here in the west. Socialism itself must be obfuscated as Dogma and presented as something much more benign otherwise it's always rejected as an oppressive ideology whose real shelf life expired with the collapse of a rotten Soviet Union corpse unable to withstand the breath of freedom that knocked down the Berlin Wall.

If you know nothing else of The Walrus, it's Bookshelf writers index alone should tell you just about everything you need to know.

I’ve linked items to three authors below, promoted by The Walrus, whose political aims and identities are unquestionably socialist and whose stale dated ideas and retread opinions are long ago spent.

Linda McQuaig Lewis Lapham Tariq Ali

The Walrus Bookshelf is replete with many such socialist writers.

One issue’s typical feature piece provided glaring insights into the total arrogance and hypocrisy of The Walrus as an article on the extremely leftist CBC slanted to the notion that the reason more people don't appreciate CBC's socialist vision is that they just need to be more educated and aware. Presumably, for those intellectually underdeveloped idiots, [conservatives in other words], it simply takes brains and evolved enlightenment to fully "get" the CBC.

A separate article comparing the strident extremism of out- of-touch left-wing rag The Nation to the incomparable brilliance and poetical intellectual conservative philosophy of William F. Buckley and his National Review was laughable, if not veering towards parody.

The Walrus carries water and ads for establishment Blue State Elite humanists and their Lap dogs in this socialist Nirvana called Canada.

We know in which basket their collectivist eggs have been put.

Indeed, the walrus IS Paul, but who are these desecrators of intellectual honesty again...why, of course, they are the eggmen.

Goo Goo G'Joob...

Frank Trainor
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