She’s Your Pinball Wizard

Condensing a lifetime of hard music into soft, biweekly morsels


I’ve been at this music thing a long time. Let’s put it this way: The first time I got hurt in a mosh pit was in New York City at a CBGB’s hardcore matinee during the Reagan administration. The last time was two weeks ago at a Death From Above 1979 show at the Brooklyn Bowl. I have seen Carl Craig rock a soundsystem under the Brooklyn Bridge and I have watched Motown’s Funk Brothers play in a rehearsal room at the Apollo Theater. I’ve had a beer with Joe Strummer, and Tom Waits once told me I was funny.

Now that I’ve done my bit to impress or annoy you (hopefully both), allow me to explain. This column will appear every other week and cover … anything, whether it’s live bands or recorded music, international acts or local players, things that are utterly amazing or things that completely suck. If it makes noise and gets one excited enough to completely forget about personal safety, I’m there. Let’s get started:

What’s the most rocking place in Las Vegas that doesn’t host live music? The Pinball Museum, of course, where you can hear KISS, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica play their hits—albeit through a 4 x 4 inch speaker. Why would a band license a pinball game? Well, like rock ’n’ roll, pinball has been a hobby of juvenile delinquents and other malcontents since Marlon Brando leaned against a game in The Wild One and The Who threw down for Tommy and the Pinball Wizard.

The Guns N’ Roses game pulls its playlist from Appetite for Destruction, opening with a live recording of “Welcome to the Jungle” and keeping the music playing through “capture Axl” and shooting “the snakepit” for multi-balls. At the end, it plays an animation of a groupie taking her top off. If the numbers on her tits match the last two digits of your score, you get a free game. The AC/DC machine has tiny cannons that shoot the ball and a little “hell’s bell” that lets loose with guitar riffs when you knock it. On the Rolling Stones machine, the little plastic Mick Jagger has snapped off, leaving just the feet to dance for you. (I’m sure Keith Richards likes it better that way.)

There’s also the Elton John “Captain Fantastic” game and the Dolly Parton machine. Yes, I know there’s a Ted Nugent game but rock ’n’ roll is about high-fiving the underdog and sticking it to the man, not the other way around. …

No human should even consider going to a Black Friday sale … unless it’s in support of your local independent record store. Record Store Day Black Friday will be taking place at various Zia and Record City outlets as well as Wax Trax. Pick up some exotica for that fanatical fan on your list or perhaps just reward yourself for being so damn good all year.

Among the new releases will be David Bowie’s two-sided single and a double-disc set of Elvis live at the International Hotel—circa 1970. Yes, it’s sexy, showstopping Elvis, not pilled-out, pants-splitting Elvis. As usual on Record Store Day, there’s an abundance of vinyl exclusives: Miles Davis boxed sets and Hüsker Dü double-album reissues, clear-vinyl New Order and colored-vinyl Ennio Morricone, Dio picture discs and the Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” on vinyl cut into the shape of the W logo. In the spirit of the season, favorite holiday tracks from Run D.M.C., Bessie Smith and Wham! are being put out as singles, along with a colored-vinyl reissue of Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You.

What’s the best thing about Record Store Black Friday? It happens during normal business hours, so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving—and the store employees can, too.

What should I play next? Send your tips to

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