Thursday, October 30, 2008

FBO: 'REM Follows FBO (A Bit Late)'


REM is back in South America -- about 12 days behind the FBO -- and their overpriced show at Simon Bolivar Park didn't even make the local paper El Tiempo's arts section. It did make the news section though.

A pic on page one led to a page 16 story that pronounced 'REM se empapo de rock politco,' starting its news-related piece:

'With a dedication to Democratic candidate for president in the USA, Barack Obama, REM confirmed the tendency as a progressive and political group, during the concert last night in Bogota.'

Not very snappy -- my translation -- and certainly nothing new, but apparently Michael Stipe dedicated a so-so new song 'Man Sized Wreath' to Obama. This is potentially upsetting for some of the rich crowd here, who sometimes lean more towards the Republicans.

Or was it? According to*, the Bogota show was 'the loudest crowd of the tour.' Loud in a good way.

Yesterday I bumped into a young lightly bearded reporter for channel 7 here interviewing a black man from Colombia's Caribbean coast about 'human rights' and got to talking with him about travel, perception of Colombia, and why he should use his press card to sneak us both into REM. I mentioned REM often puts politics into their shows, and with Colombia being a surprise issue in the last presidential debate, he could talk with him about it. 'I like what you're saying. Do you want to get lunch?,' he asked. I had an another appointment.

Surely channel 7 is snapping their fingers in disappointment now.

Meanwhile, the FBO appreciates REM's continued attempts to apologize for well over a decade of mediocre work. But they're still not invited to the Panhandle Show in Guymon, OK (tentatively scheduled for May 2009).

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Bogota, Colombia

* Wonder why REM doesn't use So do we. Apparently no one else does either.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FBO: 'Bobby Kimball in Bogota'

You thought last week's Toto reference was just for fun. So did we. But magic happens in Colombia, proven by this photo taken during the on-going cultural symposium exchange between the FBO and Bogota.

Let's recap: In the next week: REM, Judas Priest, Ratt's first-ever Colombia show (on Halloween no less), a three-day rock festival featuring South American metal, FBO-acknowledged Kylie Minogue AND Toto.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Bogota, Colombia

Saturday, October 25, 2008

FBO: 'Colombians Are Nice & Happy (But Some Bite)'

The 70-year-old German who invited himself to sit with me at a orange-and-green restaurant near my guesthouse had bite marks on his finger, his arm and -- he indicated with a point -- his lower leg.

Bogota doesn't always have the best reputation for being a safe place. A couple years ago when I was here, a Juan Carlos (I met more than one) stopped a conversation mid-sentence in a central business office when a loud boom could be heard. 'Oh, you're lucky. It's a bomb!,' he said excitedly. Then after a moment, 'Oh, it was just a blown tire.' Outside a car driver stood by his stranded vehicle, hands on hips.

The German is travelling for half a year around South America, which I managed to understand despite his not being able to understand any English ('how are you?' 'I'm 70!' 'uh, no how are you? are you doing OK?' 'yes, I am 70'). Yesterday, his first day in Bogota, he went on a hike to a nearby mountain through one of the sketchiest areas of the city, and one everyone tells you to avoid. But the German went anyway and when two guys '50 years younger' than him approached he fought them off, and then they BIT him. Eventually he let go of 80 euro and a camera. On the way back, he got robbed again.

This is not the sort of experience I've had so far in this city of the world's third-happiest country. Sticking with busier areas with better reputations, Bogota to me has been a place that when you ender a grocery, museum or cafe, you're pretty much expected to give a smiling 'buenas dias' to whomever you see. People have been patient with my stumbling Spanish, laughing and urging me to continue. I met someone the other day who, when I mentioned I was interested in tejo (a traditional game involving throwing weights at gunpowder in warehouses with free entrance as long as you buy a 'box of beer' and use the urinal with a full view of the games), he immediately drove me -- past the red-light district, where locals and skimpily-clad woman exchanged words on street corners -- to a tejo place where a dignified group of gray hairs in suits stumbled out and warmly shook my hand. 'Ah, you like tejo too?'

--> Meanwhile, the FBO looks forward to seeing the next bit at either the Judas Priest show Nov 2, the first-ever Ratt concert in Colombia next week, or the three-day Rock al Parque (with many South American rock bands) at Plaza Bolivar next weekend.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Bogota, Colombia

Monday, October 20, 2008

FBO: 'This is that Man'


No one figured out that...

That's right! Bobby Kimball, the still-going lead singer of seminal pop/rock-with-southern-hemisphere-themed-singles band TOTO.

No one gets a free ticket to the Nov 8 Tall Tales show; a handshake is on the house though.

FBO Admin
Semi-Permanent HQ -- Bogota, Colombia

Friday, October 17, 2008

FBO: 'Trivia: Who is this Man?'

Trivia: Whoever names this man first gets one free ticket to the Nov 8 Tall Tales show -- and a handshake.

Hint: He will be invited.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FBO: 'News! Tall Tales to Play Norman'


November 8, 2008
The Deli, Norman

w/ Locust Avenue
& The Toothman (featuring FBO's Eric Harmon)

In a sneak preview of Panhandle Show possibilities, FBO Member #001 Tall Tales returns to the actual Oklahoma stage -- an FBO-induced 'live' EP included a fake audience -- a mere 14 years since the last performance. The show may include a 'live feed' of exile member Robert Reid, who will be in Colombia on a FBO cultural symposium in Bogota.

The band has been working up a set of 20-plus songs, new and old. Singer Dan Fallis promises there will be 'lots of grey beards and arthritis, plus tons of new bass equipment' and drummer Alan Hiserodt says one difference of the new era is 'trying to keep up with what I played as a 20-something as a 40 year old.'

More updates on the #001 return to the livehouse to come...

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, October 12, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrates SAGA Week (Days 6-7)'


No one will ever be able to hang any label of 'softie' or 'all talk, no action' on the Failed Bands of Oklahoma. To conclude the first-annual, partially successful first-annual SAGA WEEK, the FBO did something no prog rock fan, or otherwise, has ever done:

Listen to Saga's eight-chapter 'concept album' in order, five times, back to back.

Over each of Saga's first four albums -- the underrated disco/prog Saga (1978), the overworked Images at Twilight (1979), Silent Knight (1980) and the masterpiece Worlds Apart (1981) -- the Ontarian band released two songs subtitled by 'chapters.' They came out in a scrambled order (eg Chapter 6 in 1978, Chapter 2 in 1979 etc). Most songs are gloomy, meandering, synth-based songs -- frequently with chants. Debatably the 'chapter' subtitles provided a prod to what were often the least interesting songs on the albums.

Some notes:

* 7 or 8 songs begin with synths, the other begins with piano -- the full deal is nearly 50 minutes
* 5 of 8 songs are over six minutes, none are under four-and-a-half
* 3 of 8 have clear-cut sissy vocals, while 4 of 8 have very Dennis DeYoung-sounding vocals (no, that's not always the same thing)
* 5 of 8 songs have touches of macho guitar riffs
* 2 of 8 songs have obviously unnecessary musical segways
* 1 of 8 songs sound like the band Europe (who, by the way, still exist and at last have decided to do an 'almost unplugged' record... in 2008)

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--> FBO Observers: Saga never named this Chapters album! We need ideas for a name of the Saga 'Chapters Concept Album.' We'll send on our suggestion. To help the brainstorm, here's an overview of each song.

IMAGES (Chapter 1)
Synopsis: guy sits with chalk drawing pictures that the rain blurs while people circle him and laugh.
Sound: Sissy piano, almost operatic/Antony vocals, hard to pump up at traffic lights, gets stronger at musical outro
Lyrical highlight: the character uses 'small bits of chalk' to draw
Year: 1979

DON'T BE LATE (Chapter 2)

Synopsis: The song (a single, appearing as a live video in early MTV days) is a dialogue between Saga's long-haired, whispering keyboardist (playing a robot/humanbot?) and lead singer Michael Sadler (as The Lead Character/Parcel Carrier). The robot/keyboardist wants the other to 'not be late.' And is really worried about it, it seems. The Lead Character (LC) must deliver 'a parcel' at 10:00 (presumably night) and seems rather blase about it all.
Sound: Spooky, prodding with water-stream keyboards and classical-music outro with distorted guitars. Not unenjoyable in all fairness.
Lyrical highlight: 'can you pick up this slowing pace' -- slowing?
Year: 1980

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IT'S TIME (Chapter 3)

Synopsis: The elusive story plot starts to unravel here, something akin to a prequel to Styx's 'Kilroy Was Here'. The Lead Character has 'metal thoughts' and yells out 'it's time -- make me now!' Apparently he's being transformed from human to machine.
Sound: Sound-wise this again sounds like what Styx would pick up for 'Mr Roboto,' with full synth chords playing off overly busy sissy acoustic guitar fills -- then going into a rather poppy song, and turning into a pre-'Red Barcheta' solo (to simulate machine construction?).
Lyrical highlight: 'Even larger than I dreamed/this metal shift, a perfect shift'
Year: 1979

WILL IT BE YOU (Chapter 4)
Synopsis: Lead Character is feeling good, under a joyful keyboard pattern, and deliriously tells us that 'only one will survive -- 'will it be me? will it be you?' (Apparently talking to the tense keyboardist/robot character, but it's unclear.) In the end, he sassily predicts 'yes! it will be me!'
Sound: Possibly a single if the 'Chapters' album were packaged together (and it should be), with a sing-along chorus but the dreary chord-changing musical bridge should be edited out and brought right into the guitar-chugging last verse.
Lyrical highlight: 'computer dance, metallic romance, it really seems you had no chance'
Year: 1978

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NO REGRETS (Chapter 5)

Synopsis: A classic 'morning after' song with Lead Character pausing for reflection following the narcisstic romp of Chapter 4. Casual listens beckon thoughts of gay human/humanbot sex and abandonments, but it's more likely LC betrayed the keyboard/humanbot by escaping some sort of 'transformation precedure' half done...
Sound: Synthetic bells lead into an unbearably sissy vocal and deceptively interesting melodic lines that lead gradually into the one-time-only robotic chorus 'can you say there are no regrets?'
Lyrical highlight: 'Far down below, he could see the scars, left from the night before.'
Year: 1981

TIRED WORLD (Chapter 6)
Synopsis: The Lead Character wanders into an abandoned city. Hey man, where is everyone?
Sound: Fuzzy '70s keys slip into a rhythmic song with a lot of high-hat action and chants, and a little Brian May guitaring in the unsatisfying chorus.
Lyrical highlight: 'This cry has no one left it can bother'
Year: 1978

TOO MUCH TO LOSE (Chapter 7)

Synopsis: Ah! The Lead Character wakes up from a dream, but 'one picture still stood clear' -- he looks around him and sees nothing but hordes working and working. Apparently on something 'metal' to 'enable its flight.' Matrix? Bladerunner?
Sound: A roaming keyboard leads into a peppy, open-guitar-chord song with uplifting, Queen-style choruses and Brian May-style guitar overdubs.
Lyrical highlight: 'As the numbers grew, their swarm blackened his view'
Year: 1980

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NO STRANGER (Chapter 8)
Synopsis: The keyboardist/humanbot character returns here to confront Lead Character in a 'something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you Mr Jones?' moment. Apparently they'll both lose their memory of everything; New Character sighs at the end, 'I suppose we'll have to miss what you'll decide to do.' Perhaps sit and draw images with chalk? (See Chapter 1.)
Sound: This song is fantastic: the lost Saga classic you may not know. Again starting with a pokey keyboard softly winds its way into an explosive, summer-single guitar riff with quarter-note piano notes and infectious vocal line. (Unlike Geddy, Sadler CAN sing.) Curious the chorus comes about once, then sits buried under the verse later on. Long meandering musical outro.
Lyrical highlight: 'It wasn't long ago... I was one of your kind'
Year: 1981

And such concludes the FBO's first-annual Saga Week.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Friday, October 10, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrate SAGA Week (Day 5)'

Warning: This video cover version of Bob Dylan's 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' features (successful and failed) gunshots from the footage of the FBO-induced rehearsal for a re-enactement of the Battle for Hutchens.

The video excerpts lyrics from Saga's 'No Regrets (Chapter 5)' from the 1981 record Worlds Apart:

As the clouds
Continued to open
Each vision was hard to believe
Minimal motion
As far as the eye could see
Yesterday held so much promise
Today, only misbelief
And now the task of reconstruction
Salvaging all they could see...
Can you say there's no regrets?

For an explanation of how the collaboration happened see here.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Thursday, October 09, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrate SAGA Week (Day 4)'

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Due to budget restraints following a far more lackluster reception than expected to FBO's first annual Saga Week, Day 4 and Day 6 have been cancelled. Day 5 and Day 7 will go on as planned.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrates SAGA Week (Day 3)'

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As part of the FBO's first annual SAGA WEEK, the Failed Bands of Oklahoma have collaborated with surviving members of Ontario's Saga (pictured) on a collaboratory cover version of Bob Dylan's 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.'

If you don't know the song, rent the best 'rock' documentary of all time, Don't Look Back, which follows Dylan on his brief tour of England in 1965. Hovering in the background of the film is the adoration of British press of the 'new Dylan' folkster Donovan, who finally meets up with Dylan in Dylan's hotel late in the film and plays a 'sing a song for you' campfire diddly that Dylan interjects sarcastically 'hey, that's a good song' then takes the guitar and puts Donovan into place with the unsubtle lyric of 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.' It's classic.

--> See it here.

Meanwhile, the FBO offers this video as an explanation of how the song was chosen and how the collaboration happened.

--> Remember to vote through October 11 on who the best Canadian progressive rock band is.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

FBO: 'FBO Celebrates SAGA Week (Day 2)'

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Somewhere, somehow -- and soon -- the hipster quotient is going to (re?)discover progressive rock and you'll find songs coming out in 'Chapters' in scrambled order, lyrics discussing outer space or mind control, and melodies happily nicking from Bach's cupboard. Plus they'll let it bounce along enough that the softies can dance to it.

That's where Ontario's SAGA comes in.

Despite busy song arrangements, they never take themselves too seriously on the lyric front. Rush are nice guys, but there's little irony in theirs. Saga's songs tend to deal with confusion or flawed characters. The paranoid 'Framed' from 1981's epic 'Worlds Apart', for example, included this bit: 'Midnight courtroom confusion/The sentence of guaranteed seclusion/(no more Ernie Bilko)'

Ernie Bilko?

In 'Wind Him Up,' a catchy though ultimately revelatory-less assessment of gambling as an addiction, singer Michael Sadler (born in Wales) resists a literary reference to name the lead character something of a 'modern day Tom Sawyer,' and instead gives the guy a name: ALDO. And like Queen's 1980 hit 'Another One Bites the Dust,' the lyric begins by uttering the name (Queen's #1 song famously begins with 'Steve'). It's worth noting that rival Canadian rocker ALDO NOVA whose Top 40 song 'Fantasy' was released the same year, so in a way Crichton is pre-dating Stephen Malkmus' taunting name-drop jabs at Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins in Pavement's 1994 classic 'Range Life.'

--> Read an interview Aldo Nova discussing work with Jon Bon Jovi here.

In between finger-furied keyboard breaks, doubled on the guitars -- while a pounding Bonham-trained drummer ignores any thoughts of breaking into 7/8 time signatures and occasional keyboard overlays that wouldn't be out of place on the 'Teacher, Teacher' soundtrack pepper the scene -- Crichton looks dead serious when he sings (or taps his temple to stress a line), but his lyrics wisely don't strive for Rush's overly lofty themes. That's a subtle art prog rock could use more of. There are occasionally some nice, unexpected details from a prog rocker more keen on musical changes: 'Aldo lights a smoke, he's shakin', from carnation right to the ground...'

Saga also pre-dates Rush by a year with a curious voice-over. In the same song, as Aldo 'leaves the table' a Cockney-accented (it seems) young woman innocently asks 'no luck today?' A year later Rush would have Neil Peart (pictured, writing lyrics) chime in 'subdivisions' during the chorus of its namesake song (guitarist Alex Lifeson only pretended to do the speak-over in the video). This is not an accident. Rush, whom we support (and actively campaign for inclusion in to the flawed Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, was copying Ontario's Saga.

The FBO asks you to decide who the best Canadian progressive rock band is, per a poll through October 11: Rush, Saga, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Aldo Nova. (See poll to right.)

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Monday, October 06, 2008

FBO: 'Trivia Time; Launching a Celebratory Week'

Quick. Name a band with three keyboardists who were huge in Germany and Puerto Rico, where a sold-out early performance caused a riot of over 10,000 disappointed, ticket-less fans?

Hint: it's the same band that doesn't shy away from borrowing Bach melodies, and released a Q Tarantino-inspiring, sequentially-scrambled 'chapters' of a concept (that still defies explanation) over its first four albums.

Another hint: They're Canadian.

Their website includes recorded radio broadcasts from the Neal Armstrong's first step on the moon in 1969.

And, no, it's not Rush. Really.

The band is the best band of all time, Ontario's SAGA, who turned 30 years old this year.

The FBO dedicates the week of October 6-12 as FBO Celebrates Saga Week.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Thursday, October 02, 2008

FBO: 'European Sense of Pop > American Sense of Pop?'

The long debate of who does rock better, England or the USA, has lingered long after the British Invasion showed the Brit bands seem to cull out memorable harmonies and anthemic riffs in a way that tends to allude American pop bands. What bands -- bands, not solo artists -- can really compare with the Beatles, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, Motorhead ultimately?

(The answer of national supremacy, though, might be Australia. After all, what song is truly better than 'You Shook Me All Night Long' by AC/DC?)

Pop follows the same lines, and it's something the FBO gets a refresher on every time it goes on a cultural symposium tour of Eastern Europe, where VH-1 plays 24 hours daily without commercials. Two huge pop stars -- Kylie Minogue of Australia, Robbie Williams of the UK -- are hourly represented on cafe stereo systems or video hit channels over here. Yet neither make a blip here. One wonders why.

Kylie, who beat breast cancer last year and is the famed ex-flame of Michael Hutchence, has long grown out of being the 'Australian Madonna.' No, she doesn't write her songs, but she's nicer, more attractive, a better singer and a better dancer. And can you imagine Madonna doing a duet with Nick Cave where she's taken to a river and beaten to death with a rock? (Video follows.)

Robbie -- quick, name three famous Robbies* -- is enigmatic to US audiences, and humor. He plays a self-obsessed showman, with a hint of chump-ness that leads the literal to say 'that guy's just a chump,' rather than realize he gets the joke too. He mocks himself constantly. In one video, in fake KISS make-up, he ends with a glance into his leather-studded speedo bottom and shakes his head in disgust.

Pop music is a no-go zone for some, but there are charms in having a hook sung by people you can be generally entertained by. Not sure that Britney or Miley or Madonna can compete with these guys.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

* Robbies: We need three famous Robbies. The FBO starts the process: Robbie Krieger was the Doors guitarist. You may remember him in the 'Touch Me' video where Robbie's been touched by a fist; note at the 1:06 mark his huge black eye; apparently beaten up for allowing Ray Manzarek in the band.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

FBO: 'Delays Panhandle Show'

The Panhandle Show -- featuring FBO's four members and possibly members of the Central Iowa Rock website -- has been delayed. It's now scheduled for May 2009.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY