Monday, December 22, 2008

Transformer Man

Somehow Neil Young manages more than seems humanly possible. As if his outpouring of new music and the releases of his archive material isn't enough, he embarks on one of the coolest projects I've read about recently. Neil drove his 1959 Lincoln across the country to a guy named Jonathan Goodwin, who is transforming the behemoth from a 9 mpg guzzler to something that will ultimately get 80-100 mpg. The technology is intriguing to say the least. Basically, the ethanol fuel in a small engine powers a generator that charges the huge pack of batteries in the trunk, which runs the car's electric motor. The goal is for the ethanol to be used like we now use oil in our cars, creating something close to a vehicle that barely requires refueling. Neil drove to Wichita on Route 66, filmed the trip, and before his winter tour was hanging out in the guy's garage helping out and writing the occasional song. Oh, and when they achieve 100mpg Neil plans to race it cross-country for a $10 million prize. How cool is this guy?! It makes you wonder how much the auto industry (and big oil) is holding back on alternate fuel technology.


The 1959 Lincoln, by the way, is amazing automobile. The Lincoln is a prime example of the excess of the jet age, when cars had fins and chrome to make them look like rockets. The '59 Cadillac Eldorado is considered the epitome of the style, but the Lincoln, with its crazy front and rear grilles, is pretty sweet.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cream and Sour Grapes

I'm sorry to report only sixteen measly posts this year. I think I did about 100 my first year. It has been difficult to find time to sit down and write here at Wild Mercury. And when I do, it's typically been covered by 20 music blogs already. But you've heard me lament about this before. The answer is to simply sit down and write what's on my mind. The following caught my attention recently:

From the land of the dinosaurs, there was endless comment and speculation on the Led Zeppelin reunion, so much that I ignored it here. Thousands of fans weighed in the pros and cons of Plant vs. no Plant. For me, the bottom line is that I want to see Page, Plant and Jones on play on stage together. It's not Zeppelin without Bonham (John that is) anyway, so I don't care what they name the band. What I do not want to see is Page and Jones playing Zeppelin songs with Steven Tyler or that guy from Wolfmother singing them. That would be sad and pathetic. If it happens, they should play anything but Zeppelin songs.

What you might have missed last month was Cream drummer Jack Bruce ranting about all the Zep hype. Said Jack, “Everybody talks about Led Zeppelin, and they played one fucking gig — one fucking lame gig — while Cream did weeks of gigs,” Bruce said while accepting an award in November. “Fuck off, Zeppelin, you’re crap. You’ve always been crap and you’ll never be anything else. Cream is 10 times the band that Led Zeppelin is.” Bruce is referring to the mini Cream reunion that didn't exactly get rave reviews, as I recall. Admitting that he was having a little fun with the media, he went on to say in an apology, “The thing about Zeppelin is that obviously it’s a little bit of jealousy on my part — or more than a little bit — because the audience was created by Cream and Jimi Hendrix…this sort of very large audience…Then Zeppelin came along and had a very easy ride in that way. We were the pioneers and pioneers don’t always get the recognition they deserve, maybe.” Jeez, talk about sour grapes. If he means that Cream was the first to rip off American blues, I agree. Muddy and Howling Wolf were the pioneers, pal. Where would Clapton or Page be without the blues? I would not agree that Cream paved the way for Zeppelin, who consequently had an 'easy ride.' I could go on for days about this, but clearly Bruce is envious of the royalties amassed from Zeppelin's formidable catalog. Maybe if Cream had stayed together more a few years, they would have a greater legacy. He concluded his rant by saying “Let’s face it: Jimmy Page ain’t no Eric Clapton, no matter what anybody thinks." That's like arguing which is better, apples or oranges, but Jack, you're no John Bonham.

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