Long Way To Go Home: When the Zen Master Wasn’t Zen

In June of 1993, the Chicago Bulls stood as back-to-back NBA champions looking to complete the first threepeat since the 1960s Boston Celtics. After finals series wins over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 and Portland Trailblazers in 1992, the Bulls faced Charles Barkley’s Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA finals.

Phoenix, winner of sixty-two games during the regular season, held home-court advantage over the fifty-seven-win Bulls in a two-three-two finals series format. The Bulls won the first two games on the road, and the teams then split the first two games in Chicago. Holding a 3-1 series lead following their home win in game four on June 16, the Bulls had one opportunity to close out the series at home– game five on June 18– before the series would return to Phoenix for possible games six and seven.

Bulls forward Horace Grant was worried about the possibility of a summer return to Arizona, and Phil Jackson, Chicago’s cerebral coach dubbed the “Zen Master,” was especially interested in wrapping things up at home in game five, including for personal reasons: he had a concert to attend.

Continue reading

Halftime Score: Age statements for past Super Bowl halftime show performers

People say age is just a number. Here are some super numbers:

Extra credit awarded to Phil Collins and Shakira for performing at the Super Bowl on their respective birthdays.

You Took the Words Right Out of My Jam

Nobody hit that grand rock production sweet spot like Meat Loaf, who died yesterday at the age of seventy-four, and who, this now being the end of time for which no one prayed, Satan better hope is not coming his way. My first memory of Meat Loaf was an appearance at an MLB all-star game. (Google suggests it might be this one, but I’m not so sure.) When I later heard the original music he created with Jim Steinman, Prof. Roy Bittan, the Mighty Max Weinberg, and Todd Rundgren, with assists from Edgar Winter and Phil Rizzuto, it was almost impossible to believe it was real, and seeing that music presented in the context of the Rocky Horror Picture Show didn’t make it any easier to believe. Bat out of Hell, Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut, is punch in the face after punch in the face, and the title track and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” are knockouts. A decade and a half later, 1993’s Bat out of Hell II proved Loaf & Co. still had it, opening with comeback epic singalong “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do that).” (Full disclosure: this post is not sponsored by Dr Pepper.)

Meat Loaf’s memory can bear two selections, and these two heavy hitters will serve as this week’s Jam:

Riddim Jam

ALDLAND’s news desk is a bit backed up, but we can’t permit more time to pass without marking the passing of the Jamaican Bass Bard, Robbie Shakespeare, who stepped onto a new groove earlier this month. One half of a stellar rhythm section alongside drummer Sly Dunbar, Shakespeare played with numerous Jamaican artists, including Peter Tosh, before expanding his circle to include others in America and the U.K. Along with Dunbar, Shakespeare joined Bob Dylan as part of his incredible Infidels band, which also featured Mick Taylor and Mark Knopfler on guitars. Dylan’s camp recently released video of alternate selections from those studio sessions, one of which is today’s Jam:

Hot Tuna: Is this 2021’s Return-to-Rock Live Guitar Trend?

No, those wild and crazy guys aren’t back in the touring saddle quite yet, but some of their compatriots already have been shaking off the lockdown rust at an amphitheater or beach venue near you, and their guitarists have something unusual in common.

When Vermont’s finest, Phish, found fit to resume noodling for their fans in Bentonville, Arkansas last month, close observers noticed something unusual. Amidst the band’s compliment of new equipment appeared a familiar, if unexpected, appendage affixed to Trey Anastasio’s new guitar.

Continue reading

Ten Years In ALDLAND

Is ALDLAND the best land? It certainly has outlasted some of the other notable lands and done so with a budget and staff smaller than Wily Peralta’s July 2021 ERA. But has this persistence produced anything of value? What, after ten years, is ALDLAND’s interlocutory legacy?

On August 1, 2011, ALDLAND.com launched with a spread of five posts that, in their collective individuality, provided a serviceable preview of the site’s future range and attitude, and, in their totality, formed the sort of vaguely resistant– Buckley’s National Review this is not– word jumble with which Alvin Lee, singing above, might ambivalently resonate. Since then, we’ve published over 1,600 posts covering major and minor sports, sports media, music, movies, television, fake interviews with athletes, real reports from games and concerts, our own podcast and special-event live blogs, and muchsome more.

Most of my operational theses for this site boil down to an effort to create a sports-and-more website that I would want to read. A decade later, I confidently can report that ALDLAND has achieved that goal; after all, I remain a reader of the site. Whether many others read the site is a different and arguably more important question, though, and on that front the results are mixed. Regardless of what’s in the quarterly reports from our engagement department, though, expect ALDLAND to remain a reliable source for everything Mike Greenberg’s too scared to say and Rob Manfred’s too dense to admit. Thank you for ten years of readership!

End of an Era Jam

Nearly ten years after they first were featured in this space, ZZ Top has, with the passing of bassist Dusty Hill, ended its tenure as the longest-running music group with an unchanged lineup. To call this the end of an era is an understatement, as would be any attempted summation of the band’s history and legacy. The trio consistently embodied the total rock and roll package, and today’s Jam is a small tribute of gratitude to their commitment, sound, and style:

Turn The Page Jam

The past year has offered more than its fair share of challenges, and unwrapping a new calendar while casting out the old one isn’t likely to offer the degree of actual page-turning transformative catharsis many colloquially proclaim to expect and for which all hope.

Whatever the nature and trajectory of the new chapter that commences tomorrow, we pause here– unprecedently for this feature, on a Thursday— to acknowledge one last strike this current year struck in the taking of the captain of music’s all-name team and, along with Clarence Clemmons and Bobby Keys, a charter member of the most elite and exclusive cadre of rock and roll saxophonists, Alto Reed, who yesterday lost his battle with colon cancer.

With Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, Reed was the author of many essential rock horn licks and, as featured in today’s Jam, perhaps its most singularly memorable sax line. Seger called Reed his band’s ambassador and true rock star. Let this lonely, wintery wail never be far from your ear:

Might as well Jam

Eddie Van Halen was, until this week, a living legend. Cancer erased the first part of that, but he forever will have a prominent place in the pantheon of popular music, his monumental guitar work an essential element of rock music. While the lineage of his sonic legacy flows into harder rock and metal artists, his own music retained a melodic accessibility that helped maintain his mainstream appeal.

I’m too young to have experienced the phenomenon of Van Halen as it was happening, but I still can remember the time in middle school when I first heard “Right Now” and “Jump,” which, together, are this week’s Jam:

Smile and play the hits, of which there are many.

Reggay Jam

Toots Hibbert, founding father of reggae music, died this week in Jamaica at the age of seventy-seven. Along with his band, the Maytals, his words, voice, and sound are essential pillars of the genre he named, dubbed “reggay” in his spelling. Hibbert’s longevity and creative prowess are remarkable. With longstanding hits to match the caliber of those of fellow legends Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, he continued to create. Notable late-career efforts include 2004’s True Love, a star-studded update to some of the best parts of his catalog, and Got to be Tough, released just two weeks before his passing.

In 1972, the soundtrack to the landmark film,¬†The Harder They Come, with Cliff acting in the starring role, established an enduring, widely distributed touchstone of this music. It includes two Hibbert-penned tracks– “Sweet and Dandy” and “Pressure Drop”– that Cliff sings along with the Maytals. The following year, Toots & co. released the wonderful¬†Funky Kingston, which, in addition to a series of strong originals, presented two very fun covers: “Louie Louie” and “Country Roads.”¬†

Funky Kingston was maybe the second record I ever bought, and catching a glimpse of its wonderfully colorful cover still instantly transports me to the backyard of the house in which I grew up on a too-rare sunny summer evening in Michigan. To my untrained ears, this group brought a more present, earthier reality with jauntier rhythms than, for example, Marley’s familiar, philosophizing, pontoon-sailboat lilt. In short, Hibbert’s music is authentically irresistible, and it will stand forever as a sonic cornerstone. Do the reggay indeed: