Friday, February 20, 2009

We're Still Bummed About the Grammys

Our Culture and Arts staff here at Legal Schnauzer recently went into a funk after the Eagles Long Road Out of Eden was almost shut out at the Grammy Awards.

It was our considered opinion that Long Road was far and away the best album of 2008--we are showing our age here; we still call them albums--and we remain mystified that the Grammy folks failed to consult us before handing out these awards.

Turns out, we're still miffed about the Grammys. That's because the album we consider the second best of 2008, Lindsey Buckingham's Gift of Screws, did not get nominated at all.

This kind of injustice gets us riled up here at Legal Schnauzer, so we decided to do something about it--by highlighting Mr. Buckingham's superb work to our massive international audience.

Lindsey Buckingham is best known as lead guitarist, chief arranger, and co-lead singer and songwriter (with the ever mysterious Stevie Nicks) for the mega-group Fleetwood Mac, which is about to embark on a nationwide tour. Christine McVie, the other singer/songwriter in the classic Mac lineup, left the band a few years back.

Buckingham has produced five solo albums that have drawn far less attention, and generated a fraction of the sales, of his work with Fleetwood Mac. But if you want to grasp the musical genius of the fellow who truly drives one of the biggest bands of the pop/rock era, you need to check out Buckingham's solo work.

If you like dazzling guitar work, innovative percussion, lush vocal arrangements, and creative compositions that call to mind the best work of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Buckingham's solo material is for you. And if you like quirky, in the best sense of the word, Buckingham's solo stuff is must-have material.

Admittedly, Buckingham's solo work is not everyone's cup of tea. Mrs. Schnauzer tends to put up with most of my musical tastes--with the exception of my hometown favorites, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. ("You're playing that hillbilly music again!). But she doesn't quite know what to make of Mr. Buckingham. She seems to dig his more mainstream, pop-oriented efforts. But his "esoteric" works leave her scratching her head. ("Hmmm, Lindsey's sounding weird again.")

We had the good fortune of catching Buckingham's stop at the Davis Theater in Montgomery on the 2007 Under the Skin tour. I've been fortunate to see some pretty good concerts over the years, but that was No. 1 in my book. Even Mrs. Schnauzer seemed to enjoy it, particularly when Buckingham brought down the house with a rollicking version of the Fleetwood Mac Classic "Go Your Own Way."

The title for Gift of Screws comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Essential oils are wrung
The attar from the rose
Is not expressed by suns alone
It is the gift of screws

I haven't a clue what that poem means. But it sounds cool. And for you single guys out there, I bet you can impress the ladies by quoting this poem. It's short, easily memorized, and is guaranteed to make you look deep and literary. (Let me know how this Legal Schnauzer "love tip" works.)

Anyway, let's enjoy a few tunes from Lindsey Buckingham's solo catalog. Here is a live performance of "Did You Miss Me," one of the more pop-oriented tunes from Gift of Screws. It has kind of a Chris Isaak/Roy Orbison vibe:

Here is the title song from Gift of Screws. Beware, this comes under the heading of "quirky" Buckingham material, what Mrs. Schnauzer would call "weird":

Buckingham is not known for political songs, but here is one that I think fits that category. "Treason" has rather oblique lyrics, but I'm guessing it's a pretty good shot at the Bush administration. That's how I choose to hear it, anyway:

Finally, we must include a song from Buckingham's 1993 masterpiece, "Out of the Cradle." If you want to try only one of Buckingham's solo albums, this is the one. It is a stunning piece of work and has held up remarkably well over time. The album's opener, "Don't Look Down," is Buckingham at his absolute best. This is a live performance from the Tonight Show With Jay Leno Show in 1992. For you guys out there, please note that Lindsey had a couple of serious "guitar babes" in his solo band from the '90s. Enjoy.

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