Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Music Reviews”

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Still Tuesday, Rambling Man, Lanz and Speer



Tonight’s Background Music is provided by David Lanz
Album: Cristofori’s Dream
Best Song: “Spiral Dance

For those of you keeping track, today is Tuesday.  More importantly, it is Tuesday evening, which means that, for all intents and purposes, Tuesday is over.  Tuesday gave us its all.  It fought the good fight.  It left everything out there on the field.   But at the end of the day . . . well . . . it was the end of the day.

You may be wondering among yourselves just what the heck was up with that first paragraph.  “Where was he going with that?” you may be asking yourselves.  And who can blame you?  Heck, I am asking myself the same thing.

By now you are realizing (too late to help you, of course) that you are in the middle of some stream-of-consciousness rambling while I fumble around in the dark looking for something to write about.  Anything to write about.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I must leave no cliche unturned in my quest for something to write about.

I can hear the rumbling and murmuring as my readers get restless (and restive), wondering if I’m every going to get to something worth reading.  I fear you may be disappointed.

Did I ever mention that I got to see David Lanz in concert one time?  It was in 1988 when he played at McFarland Auditorium on the SMU campus.  I was a big fan of his from his partnership with Paul Speer and their albums “Natural States” and “Desert Vision”.  Lanz came to town flogging his newest solo album at the time, “Cristofori’s Dream” (sans Speer).  I loved the concert, particularly the song “Cristofori’s Dream” and the way he set up the song with a story of sorts about how Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano.  But missing from the concert was Paul Speer’s gritty guitar underlayment.  It was like listening to an a capella version of a Van Halen song.  Still, Lanz is a phenomenal piano player and can really write a good song.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this thing up before it goes off the rails even more than it already is.


Biff on Music — Night and Day

I swear this is a post about music, but bear with me a minute while I talk about television.

We in the Biff household are semi-avid fans of the television show “America’s Got Talent” (aka AGT).  I like the show better than your typical “we’re looking for the next big singer” shows because AGT is a variety show and you never know just what you’re going to be watching next.   It might be a comedian, a magician, an opera singer, a lady on a tall unicycle spinning plates, a man being shot out of a canon, trained dogs …. you just never, never know.

My favorite acts are those that come out of nowhere and go far in the show.  I love underdog stories.  I love people that one week are working 3 menial jobs to support an ailing mother and the next week are singing in front of millions of people.  What can be more satisfying than that?

That being said, my all time favorite moment from AGT is this one featuring Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.


What can be more satisfying than that?  Is that not what that show is about?  Is that not the American Dream writ large?  I love his voice.  I love his delivery.  I love his personality.  I love his look.  And I love his attitude on life.

So yes, I was very happy when he won Season Six of AGT.

And I bought his CD as soon as it was out.

My favorite song of his is this beautiful rendition of Night and Day.   I actually like his version better than Sinatra’s.  Yes, I know that as blaspheme.   So sue me.  🙂

Anyway, give it a listen.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Dante’s Prayer

One of the most beautiful and haunting songs ever created.

Loreena McKennitt – Dante’s Prayer





Ripping Good Time


It is a great day today.

While browsing the clearance CDs at Half-Price Books tonight I found a CD by the Rippingtons (with Russ Freeman) that I don’t have.  It is called “Let It Ripp” (2003).

Man!  I love The Rippingtons!  When I invent my musical time machine that allows me to go back in time to see great bands in concert, the Rippingtons in 1989 and 2003 will be my first and second stops.

I’m listening to “Avalon” at the moment.  Simply awesome!  What sax!  I am a big fan of Jeff Kashiwa when he was with the Rippingtons.  I thought he tore it up on the title song of the CD “Tourist in Paradise” (1989).  He left in 1999 and I didn’t think he could be replaced, but Eric Marienthal is awesome on sax on this CD.

This CD is now in my top ten favorites.  I can’t believe I’ve lived this long and have never heard this CD before.


P.S.   Here is a link to my favorite Rippingtons song, “Tourist in Paradise“.  And here is a live version that is pretty cool, too.



Monkee Business: Auntie Grizelda (A Review)


I have a confession to make.  I like the Monkees.  I have never admitted this to anyone before.  You can understand my shame.  When I was a wee lad my older brother had several of their albums and that was my introduction to them.  I was quite surprised a few years later to find out that not only did they make music, but they had their own TV show!  They were aired as re-runs on Saturday morning when I was a kid.  Of course, they weren’t reruns to me.  They were fresh and new and exciting  and unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard before.  Later on in my life I saw “A Hard Days Night” by the Beatles and I was incensed (incensed!) that they were so blatantly ripping off the Monkees trademark zany antics.  Just goes to show you how subjective history is.

At any rate, because it is the 50th anniversary almost to the day that this song debuted on the Monkee’s TV show (and in order to shamelessly pump up my blog hits), I’m going to review one of my favorite songs from the Monkees, “Auntie Grizelda.”  You can find the song here, and the lyrics here.

“Auntie Grizelda” features the forgotten Monkee, Peter Tork, which is why I was probably initially drawn to it.  I identified with Peter in some way I can’t explain.  He always seemed to be the odd man out, even in a group as strange as the Monkees.  He didn’t say much.  He seemed to be in a perpetual state of bewilderment, which, in my youthful innocence, I attributed to his pure heart and his innate naivety.  As an adult, however, I was made to understand that he was supposed to be the “high” one.  I like my interpretation better.  Peter  was also (usually) the last one to get the girl.  And on top of all that, he played the bass guitar, which is arguably the least chick-magnet-y instrument you can play in a band.

The gist of the song is Peter talking to some unnamed girl about her aunt and how she (the aunt) hates Peter and disapproves of their being together.  On it’s surface, the song is just sort of a funny series of insults about Auntie Grizelda.  Lines such as

No bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizelda

This is one of my favorite lines from the song and one of the best insults I have ever heard.  It is a subtle wind-up … and then the pitch … and boom!  You just got insulted.  Then there is:

She couldn’t budge a smile and do it for free

But the song isn’t just a collection of insults towards Auntie Grizelda, it is Peter begging the girl to please don’t be like her Aunt.  He is trying to tell the girl that, though it’s harder to be your own person while being raised under an oppressive thumb, she must make the effort or else she will end up bitter and judgmental like her Aunt and, ultimately, alone.

I’ve never quite understood Peter going off in the middle of the song into a series of gutteral noises and gibberish.  It certainly makes the song unique and memorable!  My only interpretation is that his frustration at not being able to get through to the girl he is talking to finally gets the best of him and he just snaps.  He is doing the equivalent of burying his face into a pillow and screaming to give vent to his frustration.  Or, another explanation is that they were the Monkees and he was just trying to live up to the band’s shtick and to stop being in the shadow of the other three Monkees.  But whatever the reason, he made for a memorable moment in Monkee history and one of the more stand-out songs that the Monkees ever recorded.

Additional Links

Here is an alternate video which apparently is a clip from the show.  However, the video has nothing to do with the lyrics.  It is pretty random.

Here is another clip from the show which just has the Monkees running around and imitating the Beatles from “A Hard Day’s Night”.  The sound quality isn’t that good, though.

And here is a bizarre clip of an elderly Peter Tork singing “Auntie Grizelda” live on stage.  He sort of sleepwalks through it and actually seems to forget the lyrics at one point.  Oh well … I can’t say anything about memory lapses!

And here is some random information about the song.

Recording Date:  October 23, 1966

Lyrics by Diane Hildebrand

Music by Jack Keller

Song appeared on the 1967 album “More of The Monkees”

Recorded at:  American Studios, Studio City

The song appeared in Season 1, Episode 18 of the Monkee’s TV show on January 16, 1967. The show was entitled “I Was A Teenage Monster”





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