Underground Garage

In a year that started with our president "staying the course" and ending with him saying the Commission on Iraq had some "good points" (yeah, like screw your course, get the hell out of there, you mo

In a year that started with our president "staying the course" and ending with him saying the Commission on Iraq had some "good points" (yeah, like screw your course, get the hell out of there, you momo), anything could happen. All right, I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

And how about dem majors?

There were still four as of this writing but don't count on that lasting much longer.

The real question is, at a cost of $1 million per record release, how long can they survive?

Indie retail took a hit with Tower finally giving up. Really depressing.

But not as depressing as CBGB getting kicked out of New York by one single landlord who defied all of rock'n'roll, the local community board, petitions, local businesses, a rally, local politicians, tens of thousands of tourists, the mayor and the governor.

Axl Rose went into his, what, 20th year of finishing a new Guns N' Roses album at a cost of probably a million per year? But why should he put it out? He passed the Guinness Book of World Records $5 million or $6 million ago for most expensive record ever, he's got no original band members left, no guns and one rose, and yet he's still headlining European festivals. He's never been bigger. Why screw it up with a record!?

English audiences continued to be thrilled by their usual schizo mix of alternative/dance/rock—Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, etc.—while the obvious album of the year, Primal Scream's "Riot City Blues," was ignored on both sides of the pond. Are junkies finally uncool? Then again, Babyshambles sold (in England, anyway) without a coherent song on it, so there goes that theory.

All English silliness was balanced by Ray Davies' magnificent solo record "Other Peoples Lives," as well as super albums from Len Price 3 and the Stabilisers, and good stuff from the Buzz-cocks, Zombina and the Skeletones, Kaiser George and lots of fun from the Pipettes. Of course Carl Barat got the last laugh. Dirty Pretty Things No. 1 band in all of Kazakhstan!

A pretty quiet year from the rock'n'roll capital of the world, Sweden. Global warming must have them all surfing instead of recording. We got a surprisingly cool package of outtakes from Soundtrack of Our Lives, but no Hives, Caesars, Maharajahs or, I missed them most of all, Sahara Hot Nights. A good Maggots, though, and a recent Nomads comp we'll be looking at soon. And oh yeah, a Teddybears with Iggy no less. If we count the Hellacopters '05 release, which we never stopped playing through '06, it wasn't such a bad year for Sweden after all.

Australia came roaring back with two of its favorite legends, the Saints and Radio Birdman, and we've got a new Living End record and an almost finished Stems for a promising '07.

It was a good year for renaissance legends receiving respect—Ronnie Spector, Sam Moore, Solomon Burke, Tony Bennett and Jerry Lee Lewis all had records, mostly tributes and duets and stuff like that. I've got to go with Jerry's for the most fun.

It was the first time at the rodeo for Cleveland's Vacancies, San Clemente's Shys, Sacramento's th' Losin' Streaks, Georgia's Butch Walker and the Let's Go Out Tonites, and Los Angeles' latest contribution to our well-being—including the Lords of Altamont and Jimmy Freek's Teenacide graduates, Boink! and the Holograms.

In Garageville, the Raconteurs blew minds, the Paybacks made their best album, and the Charms and the Woggles released very promising tracks, boding well for '07.

Businesswise, downloads increased while cell phones became the media-of-the-moment. Radio stayed confused. Yahoo threw away two of its best guys, and the best video was not on YouTube but in the AT&T Blue Room.

Other than the assassination of CBGB and the Continental stopping all music, New York had its moments with new Strokes and a fabulous new album, one of the year's best, by Willie Nile, and the wonderful surprise of a great new album by New York Dolls.

Otherwise, we have reached a critical point now in our culture from which I fear there is no return: There is simply no place in the mainstream for legends, greatness or gods.

They haven't been replaced, mind you, but shamefully they are no longer welcome in a world where Sample Rap is king and Paris Hilton is queen.

Joining Ray Davies in the "legend doing quality work and inexplicably receiving little, if any, airplay and sales" were: the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Cheap Trick, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Bon Jovi had to go country! And had a damn hit!

Bob Seger and Tom Petty are both more country than mainstream rock these days, so they did all right.

And Bob, what can we say?

Dylan's transcending the entire material world at this point and heading for another Grammy.

And anyway, when you get down to it, how bad a year could it be? We got a new Beatles album!

Play it in 5.1, turn the lights out, light some incense, get naked and smoke 'em if you got 'em.

And the new year will suddenly become an invitation to the bliss of unlimited possibility.

See you next year.

1. "Dolls," Prinal Scream
2. "If It Takes a Lifetime," Cheap Trick
3. "All She Wrote," Ray Davies
4. "Never Gonna Die," the Shys
5. "Everyone Knows," Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
6. "So Romantic," the Charms
7. "It's Not About What I Want (It's What You Got)," the Woggles
8. "Hands," the Raconteurs
9. "Wanna," the Stabilisers
10. "Wish I Never Loved You," Buzzcocks

1. "Riot City Blues," Primal Scream
2. "Other People's Lives," Ray Davies
3. "Rockford," Cheap Trick
4. "Chinese Burn," the Len Price 3
5. "Love," the Beatles
6. "Sinner," Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
7. "Streets of New York," Willie Nile
8. "One Day It Will Please Us to Remeber Even This," New York Dolls
9. "Last Man Standing," Jerry Lee Lewis
10. "Broken Boy Soldiers," the Raconteurs