Category Archives: Uncategorized

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I have never been away from the WGOM for a whole week.  Hopefully you all can point me to any awesome threads I missed.  And, this may be really pretentious, but I thought I'd recap some highlights and lowlights of my trip.  This was my first ever road trip, and aside from a flight to Yakima to see Spooky, I had never left the Midwest before.  So the last week I was awash with a whole lotta new.

Continue reading What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Classic Album Review: Gang of Four — Entertainment! (1979)


Considered one of the greatest albums to come out of the British post-punk period (1979-1984), Entertainment! is an album of grim politics, alienation, and loathsome sexuality. However it is also an album that musically breaks out from the typical 12…1234 cadence of most punk albums. Ambitious in scope, leftist in its politics, jarring in its music, Entertainment! is one of my favorite albums from the 1970’s and one that sounds just as vital today as it did over 30 years ago.

One of the first things one notices upon playing Entertainment! is that it is funky. The bass is deep and heavy throughout and the album is extremely danceable. In fact a popular Minneapolis band from the early 1980’s, The Phones, covered two songs from this album and would fill the dance floor singing Damaged Goods and I Found that Essence Rare (good thing we weren’t listening to the lyrics, as they are somewhat of a downer). Besides the bass, the guitar work also deserves mention. Always jarring, at times sounding like china busting up into shards in an all-tile bathroom, the guitars were played in a way that was never heard on a major label album and have been copied many times since.  Vocally, the lyrics are sung in that deadpan, affected British accent that was made popular by other British bands like Wire and Joy Division.  The album ends with Anthrax, with its feedback-heavy wailing guitars while two different lyrics are being sung-spoke in each ear (one is basically a treatise on why Gang of 4 doesn’t do love songs).  Amazingly enough, the original single has even harsher guitars (yes I have the single too).

Even if you don’t want to listen to the lyrics, the album is a great listen either alone or at a party. It really is the high water mark of those art-school educated British bands that came out in the late 1970’s and 80’s and as I said above, just as fresh today as it was in 1979 (You recently  heard the opening guitar riff from Nature’s Not In It in a Xbox Kinect commercial).  I’ve carried this album with me since 1981 and listen to it often whenever I need an uplift and want to listen to something that you don’t hear much anywhere else. For that reason, Entertainment! is a classic that deserves your attention.

EDIT:  BTW, when listening to this album, turn it up to 11!

WGOM Radio Recording

I don't know how many people here are free on Easter Monday, but it's a public holiday here. If you're available for a Monday pod recording, please say so in the comments and we'll see if we can get Episode 3 out to everyone.

Friday Fungoes: Hot Corner Hypothetical

When I first encountered this question, it was posited slightly different than how I'm ultimately going to present it to you. Here's the original question: As general manager of a hypothetical team, you are left to determine who your team will be better of with manning third base - Harmon Killebrew or Brooks Robinson. Thanks to hypothetical suspension of free agency, you get either player for his entire career. There's no question Killebrew was the better hitter, and likewise no question that Robinson was the superior defender. Who do you choose?

I wanted to update the players in this question a little bit, so my modification is this - would your team be better with Chipper Jones or Scott Rolen at third base? Continue reading Friday Fungoes: Hot Corner Hypothetical

Classic Album Reviews: Some Girls — Rolling Stones (1978)

As the last great Rolling Stones album, Some Girls came out at a time of enormous flux in popular music. In 1978, disco was still hugely popular and of course all the cool kids knew about punk.  A lot of the rock giants from the 60’s were either burnt out, gone, or easing into the nostalgia circuit. But not the Stones, they delivered one of their finest albums, one that covered disco, punk, and of course straight ahead rock and rock. There is/was only one band that could pull off such an effort and make it work, and for that reason deserves to be considered a classic album worthy of review at the WGOM.

One reason I really like Some Girls is that it not only reflects the times in which it was made but also reflects where the Rolling Stones were as a band and as individuals. By 1978 the Rolling Stones were nearly a decade into their “Greatest Rock and Roll Band” persona, with all the money, groupies, drugs, and adulation that goes with it. Jetting off to Rio, St. Moritz, or New York, was a monthly occurrence and the Stones obliged by having houses, girlfriends, and parties at all the world’s hot spots, always ready to hit the scene with other beautiful people.

Thankfully the Rolling Stones music didn’t suffer with all this jet setting, in fact, at the time of Some Girls’ recording, Keith Richards was cleaner – drug wise – than he had been for years. The recording sessions were in Paris and by all accounts were extremely productive. In fact the song Start Me Up was first recorded for Some Girls but Keith argued against its inclusion because he thought he stole the riff (turns out it was his own riff he stole). Just think how great this album would have been if it had also included Start Me Up?!! Wowza!

The album crosses many musical genres with the Stones putting their signature on Disco (Miss You), Country (Far Away Eyes), Motown (Imagination), and Punk (Shattered). The rest are straight ahead rock and rollers with the song Respectable an overlooked classic that should be dissected and taught in Rock School. The album ends with the song Shattered which perfectly described New York City circa 1978. The album got a lot of radio play and I purchased it shortly after it was released (with the Farrah Fawcett and Lucille Ball images on the cover -- since changed due to lawsuits) and hungrily lapped it up in all its rock and roll glory. Besides the songs listed above, Keith Richards’ Before They Make Me Run and Beast of Burden were favorites. It was the perfect Rolling Stones album with a solid rhythm section, Keith’s fantastic riffs, and Mick’s vocals unmatched before or since.

The album ended up being one of the Rolling Stones biggest selling albums and for better or worse resurrected their career and ensured that they would be recording and releasing albums of new material well into the next millennium. While not considered as strong as some Stones classics like Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet, or Exile on Main Street, I would argue that Some Girls is a fantastic rock album and somewhat slightly forgotten about over the years.  If you haven’t listened to it for a while, I strongly encourage you to give it a spin.

Friday Fungoes: The Other Walker

While I was looking around for information on Shane Mack for Will's post the other day, I found this tidbit from The Globe and Mail, published 25 September 1993:

Walker may land with the Twins; Expo star will seek $4-million, which makes him trade bait

Special to The Globe and Mail

The Montreal Expos' Larry Walker could be playing for the Minnesota Twins next season.

Rumours have Walker involved in a three-way trade between the Expos, Twins and another team. Outfielder Shane Mack would apparently leave the Twins but it's not known what other players are involved.

"From what I hear, Minnesota is going to get Larry," said Pat Rooney, Walker's agent. "There have been a lot of rumblings about that."

Larry Walker in a Twins uniform would have truly been awesome. But how would those mid-1990s teams have changed with him on the roster? What if, by acquiring Walker, the Twins committed themselves to reloading in the wake of 1993's disappointment, and not to rebuilding?

First, there's the question of who the Twins might have traded to acquire Walker. Beyond that, however, do the Twins keep Walker beyond 1994, when he became a free agent? Where do you play Kirby Puckett in 1994 (and 1995)? Absent the grind of managing awful teams, does Tom Kelly keep managing beyond 2001? What do your 1994-2001 Twins look like?

Friday Fungoes: Take Me Back to the Ballpark

This week's fungo comes to you via sean's link in the CoC:

Another year, another piece about Twins hitters complaining about Target Field's dimensions. Fine, guys, we get the point: you don't like the challenge of scoring runs in a ballpark which might actually allow you to field a competitive team. Mr. Pohlad, tear down this ballpark!

In its place, the Citizens of the WGOM will build you a new ballpark in which you can play a child's game for boo-coo bucks. The only hitch is, we get to pick a ballpark from baseball's past - whether it's a defunct major league park, a current or former minor league park, or a park from the Japanese league, it doesn't matter - and that will be your new home ballpark. We will magically insert it into the warehouse district (and magically make the Multifoods Tower/33 South Sixth invisible). After that, it's up to you and the front office to figure out how to win there (for the sake of things, we'll assume the Twins can figure out how leverage their "new" home to make enough money to win in an old ballpark like Fenway or Wrigley).

Gentlemen, your nominations, please.

Friday Fungoes: Most Similar Player

This week's question is pretty simple:

If your baseball skills had been good enough to get you to the majors, who would be your number one comparable player on your baseball-reference page? In other words, which actual major leaguer's style of play and skills most closely resemble the ideal version of your own when you played? And what number is on your jersey?

What does the WGOM's roster look like?

Friday Fungoes: Favorites

I suppose some may quibble with this statement, but I think the Twins have been fairly judicious when it comes to retiring player numbers. Four of the six are Hall of Famers who spent all or significant portions of their career in a Twins uniform, and the other two are franchise players who, while not Hall of Famers, had great careers and have tremendous resonance among fans.

If you ask most Twins fans who their favorite all-time Twins player is, you'd probably stand to receive more answers with a name represented by one of the numbers above than any other name. While that's all well and good, I think the more interesting answers are the unexpected players who get mentioned. With that in mind, who is your favorite Twin of all time who is not honored with a retired number? If your answer would be a recent player, who is your favorite Twin who hasn't played for the team in the last decade?

Mine is the guy in this photo.

Classic Album Review: Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty — The Grateful Dead (1970)


I know I am cheating by including two albums here but Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty were recorded about five months apart and in total clock in at just under 70 minutes, which today could fit on one CD. More importantly these two albums are quite similar musically as they cover folk, blues, Appalachia, as well as country and western in a way that is still fresh some 40 years later. Furthermore, along with The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, these albums ushered in a new era of country-rock that would flourish throughout the 1970’s and is still being felt today.

Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty were huge departures from the Grateful Dead of the 1960’s. Gone was the psychedelica that anchored the San Francisco hippie music scene and in its place the Dead explored traditional-flavored American music with lyrics that were more winsome than mind blowing. However it was these two albums that propelled the Grateful Dead into the mainstream and created a band personae that went way beyond the cult following of the Dead’s early career. The fact that at least four songs from these  albums can still be heard on classic rock radio station such as KQRS (and occasionally on The Current) is a testament to each album's staying power and popularity.

Workingman’s Dead came out in June 1970 and must have been a huge surprise to Dead fans. Uncle John’s Band kicks-off the album and although it is somewhat trippy, it was much more country than anything else previously from the Dead. This song has personal resonance too as it was played at my friend Bill Fadell's funeral. The second song, High Times, is practically Jerry singing acapella with just a bluesy guitar in the background. Cumberland Blues comes straight out of the West Virginny coal mines, while Casey Jones is an acid-washed, country-tinged bluesy train song.

If fans thought that Workingman's Dead was a one album fluke, American Beauty, which came out only five or so months later, quickly disabused them of that notion. The album starts with one of the singularly most beautiful songs ever written – Box of Rain – which was written and sang by Phil Lesh for his dying father. It’s a song about a son trying to understand the meaning of life in the face of his father’s death. Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, and especially Ripple (all of which became concert favorites of Deadheads for the next 25 years) are songs that could easily be found on an album from an old-timey folker or from a smart ass alt-country band from Austin, Texas. The songs are that timeless. The album ends with Attics of My Life and its beautiful 3-part harmony and of course the fan (and KQ) favorite Truckin.’ With Truckin’ the Dead look back and close the door on the 60’s with the now classic line “What a long, strange trip it’s been."

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t musically spare country or folk songs with guitar and rhythm section consigned to the background. No, the songs are highly textured with most have at least three guitars, mandolins, etc., playing different parts. It’s pretty heady stuff and I think most Dead fans, then and now, could get their freak on with both these albums. Another highlight is the harmonies. Most of the songs on Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty have at least 2-part, if not 3-part harmonies and Jerry was never in better voice. Garcia’s guitar work is stellar and the rhythm section is top notch, especially during the “boogie” songs such as Cumberland Blues and New Speedway Boogie. These aren't two sides of one album either. Workingman is a little bluesier, Beauty a little more folk and country.

As I mentioned above, these albums, for better or worse, ushered in the era of country rock and bands such as the Eagles, Poco, Linda Ronstadt, etc., would shortly become mainstays on the American pop charts. However, these two albums are as vital and influential today as they were some 42 years ago and are one of the reasons why the Grateful Dead became such cultural icons. The Dead deservedly have earned their hippie jam band reputation and their fans can be a little much but if you can get past those stereotypes, I think you will find Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty quite wonderful albums.