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October 16, 2005

♪in the clutch♪

I got two emails today asking me about Clutch. They've come up a lot in the HoF voting, especially in the underrated band category and now in the C category. The closest I can come to describing Clutch is: Frank Zappa meets early Black Sabbath. Or, imagine a funkadelic sort of heavy metal with lyrics that warp your brain.

I've uploaded three songs for those who want a taste.

Shogun Named Marcus
Soapmakers
bignews

Clutch site
Lyrics

Enjoy. I really want you to like this. If ranked by the strength of my passion, they would be second only to Faith No More on my favorites list.

August 28, 2005

Another Music Meme: Gotta make a move to the town that's right for me

I am such a sucker for music memes. So here's another.

Via Johnny Bacardi and Pop Culture Gadabout:
A.) Go to musicoutfitters.com
B.) Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year
C.) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

1980:

1. Call Me, Blondie
2. Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd
3. Magic, Olivia Newton-John
4. Rock With You, Michael Jackson
5. Do That To Me One More Time, Captain and Tennille
6. Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen
7. Coming Up, Paul McCartney
8. Funkytown, Lipps, Inc.
<9. It's Still Rock And Roll To Me, Billy Joel
10. The Rose, Bette Midler
11. Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes
12. Cars, Gary Numan
13. Cruisin', Smokey Robinson
14. Working My Way Back To You/Forgive Me Girl, Spinners
15. Lost In Love, Air Supply
16. Little Jeannie, Elton John
17. Ride Like The Wind, Cristopher Cross
18. Upside Down, Diana Ross
19. Please Don't Go, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
20. Babe, Styx
21. With You I'm Born Again, Billy Preston and Syreeta
22. Shining Star, Manhattans
23. Still, Commodores
24. Yes, I'm Ready, Teri De Sario With K.C.
25. Sexy Eyes, Dr. Hook
26. Steal Away, Robbie Dupree
27. Biggest Part Of Me, Ambrosia
28. This Is It, Kenny Loggins
29. Cupid-I've Loved You For A Long Time, Spinners
30. Let's Get Serious, Jermaine Jackson
31. Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer, Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes
32. Sailing, Christopher Cross
33. Longer, Dan Fogelberg
34. Coward Of The County, Kenny Rogers
35. Ladies Night, Kool and The Gang
36. Take Your Time, S.O.S. Band
37. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
38. Too Hot, Kool and The Gang
39. More Love, Kim Carnes
40. Pop Muzik, M
41. Brass In Pocket, Pretenders
42. Special Lady, Ray, Goodman and Brown
43. Send One Your Love, Stevie Wonder
44. The Second Time Around, Shalamar
45. We Don't Talk Anymore, Cliff Richard
47. Heartache Tonight , Eagles
48. Stomp, Brothers Johnson
49. Tired Of Toein' The Line, Rocky Burnette
50. Better Love Next Time, Dr. Hook
51. Him, Rupert Holmes
52. Against The Wind, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
53. On The Radio, Donna Summer
54. Emotional Rescue, Rolling Stones
55. Rise, Herb Alpert
56. All Out Of Love, Air Supply
57. Cool Change, Little River Band
58. You're Only Lonely, J.D. Souther
59. Desire, Andy Gibb
60. Let My Love Open The Door, Pete Townshend
61. Daydream Believer, Anne Murray
62. I Can't Tell You Why, Eagles
63. Don't Let Go, Isaac Hayes
64. Don't Do Me Like That, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
65. She's Out Of My Life, Michael Jackson
66. Fame, Irene Cara
67. Fire Lake, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
68. How Do I Make You, Linda Ronstadt
69. Into The Night, Benny Mardones
70. Let Me Love You Tonight, Pure Prairie League
71. Misunderstanding, Genesis
72. An American Dream, Dirt Band
73. One Fine Day, Carole King
74. Dim All The Lights, Donna Summer
75. You May Be Right, Billy Joel
76. Hurt So Bad, Linda Ronstadt
77. Should've Never Let You Go, Neil Sedaka and Dara Sedaka
78. Pilot Of The Airwaves, Charlie Dore
79. Off The Wall, Michael Jackson
80. I Pledge My Love, Peaches and Herb
81. The Long Run, Eagles
82. Stand By Me, Mickey Gilley
83. Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar
84. Deja Vu, Dionne Warwick
85. Drivin' My Life Away, Eddie Rabbitt
86. Take The Long Way Home, Supertramp
87. Sara, Fleetwood Mac
88. Wait For Me, Daryl Hall and John Oates
89. Jo Jo, Boz Scaggs
90. September Morn, Neil Diamond
91. Give Me The Night, George Benson
92. Broken Hearted Me, Anne Murray
93. You Decorated My Life, Kenny Rogers
94. Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
95. I Wanna Be Your Lover, Prince
96. In America, Charlie Daniels Band
97. Breakdown Dead Ahead, Boz Scaggs
98. Ships, Barry Manilow
99. All Night Long, Joe Walsh
100. Refugee, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Wow, 1980 was a horrible year for popular music. Horrible. I know 99% of the songs on there, but most of them are left blank because...meh. They were songs I heard on the radio and dismissed as not good enough to like but not bad enough to hate. Honestly, I can sing almost every single song on that chart word for word. I'm not proud of it, but it's not my fault. These things just seep into your head through some sort of top 40 radio osmosis. And they stay there forever, embedded in your brain and mosly forgotten about until one day you wake up singing Coward of the County and you don't know why. It's just your brain fucking with you, is all.

So, yea, I like Air Supply. I think I've admitted to that enough times by now. And even though I was big into the "Disco Sucks" thing, that one Donna Summer song makes me want to dance, and who in their right mind can really resist Funkytown?

And Emotional Rescue? Easily the worst song the Rolling Stones EVER made.

My god, look at that list. Olivia Newton John. Captaine and Tenille. Keeny Rogers. Bob Seger. Neil Diamon. Mickey freaking Gilley. How white bread America (read: boring) were the charts back then? No wonder I holed myself up in my room with my ginormous headphones and my satanic metal and "dangerous" punk.

Here's what I was really listening to in 1980 (not an all inclusive list, just a list of songs that were played a lot that particular year)

  • AC/DC - "You Shook Me All Night Long"
  • Split Enz - "I Got You" (wrote about that one here)
  • The Clash - "Brand New Cadillac" (need I get into the whole LONDON CALLING ROCKS thing again?)
  • Talking Heads - "Once in a Lifetime"
  • Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb" (yea, everyone was playing Run Like Hell or Brick in the Wall, but the stoners mellowed out Gilmour's solo)
  • The Vapors - "Turning Japanese"
  • The Jam - "That's Entertainment"
  • The Pretenders = "Tattooed Love Boys"
  • B-52's - "Dance This Mess Around"
  • The Cure - "Boys Don't Cry"
  • Boomtown Rats - "I Don't Like Mondays"
  • Van Halen - "And the Cradle Will Rock"
  • Ramones - "Rock 'n' Roll High School"
  • Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune" (long story)
  • Utopia - "Set Me Free" (what an amazing albumP
  • Rush - "Spirit of Radio"
  • ZZ Top - "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" (which would have been my tagline had blogs existed in 1980)
  • Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers (from a truly amazing album I should write more about)
  • U2 - "I Will Follow" (best debut album ever)
  • Queen - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
  • The Police = "Canary in a Coal Mine" (I just could not bring myself to sing that dodododadada song out loud. this one was far superior)
  • Judas Priest - "Breaking the Law" (ok, show of hands: how many of you automatically do the Beavis and Butthead thing when you hear this song?)
  • Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell" (Ronnie James Dio!)

July 11, 2005

(9 of the) 13 most overrated songs

Songs 1-8 here.

9. The Doors - The End

Most people -including the originator of this list - would pick Light My Fire as the most overrated Doors song. Not me. Do you know how many people think The End is the greatest piece of poetry ever written? Well, I dont have an exact number for you, but suffice it to say its a lot.

Again, confession time.

See, I was a Morrisonaholic. One of those people who thought Jim was the voice of a generation, a genius, a scholar, a poet, an icon to burn candles for and masturbate to thoughts of. Jim spoke to me. From beyond the grave. From the poster on my wall. You can see how I was easily swayed into believing this, right? There he was, in glorious black and white, shirtless, arms outstretched like a scarecrow martyr[Yes! That's the one!]. His eyes followed me around the room. He used to tell me things, whisper to me in the dead of night when the only light in the room was from the red-tinted bulb that pointed towards my Morrison shrine. When Jim whispered, he said things like You cannot petition the lord with prayer! Perhaps, like many other things I believed in my misspent youth, Boones Farm wine and Columbian Gold and purple microdot had something to do with my deranged ideas.

Anyhow, The End is probably the most quoted Doors song of all time. Its quoted by pretentious potheads who think they are being deep and meaningful; by retro beatnik poets who carry tattered paperback copies of On the Road in the back pocket of their faded jeans; by psuedo-intellectuals who claim that Adlous Huxleys Doors of Perception is the single greatest thing ever written by man; and by despondent, razor-weilding, confused, emotional teenagers who think they have this connection with Morrison, a connection with the sixties, man and hey, the blue bus is calling us.

Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby

The snake is long, seven miles

Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold

Do you know that otherwise intelligent people have spent entire weekends drinking vodka and deciphering those very lyrics? Heres a news flash: Its nonsense. No matter what you want to believe, no matter how allegorical and deep you think those words are, no matter how much Freud you studied or Smirnoffs you drank, those words are the magnetic poetry of the Age of Aquarius.

So, yea. The killer awoke before dawn and put his boots on and killed his mother. Or did he fuck her? Ohhh, the mystery! Fistfights have broken out over whether he fucked or killed her. Will we ever know? Of course not, because Morrison, realizing that he was nothing more than a sham, a bad poet and a bloated parody of his own idols, killed himself before he could tell us that, well, he had no fucking clue what he was saying there. He ad libbed it. Winged it. Made shit up as he was going along.

Im not saying the Doors sucked in general. I was a big fan and I still dust off the albums once in a while. But if youre over 18 and not hindered by drug addiction or alcoholism that may cloud your thinking and you still believe these words are the most powerful thing you ever heard, you might want to find the nearest bathtub and emulate your idol.

[4 more to go and still taking suggestions - I'm leaning towards a Billy Joel moment right now]

June 20, 2005

20 for 20 [updated]

I thought I'd do my albums list (see below) as a work in progress so you can see all the mind-numbing changes my list goes through. Kind of like seeing how sausage is made, though decidely less riveting and/or nauseating.

List will be updated and probably change considerably as the day goes on. I'm hoping to have my 20 completed before I leave work today.

  1. Radiohead - The Bends (1995)
    I chose this over Ok Computer for the simple reason that it has has much more depth, musically and lyrically. Ok Computer is fantastic, no doubt, but the songs on The Bends have more character, more soul. Best song: Fake Plastic Trees
  2. Faith No More - Angel Dust (1992)
    Sure, I could easily add two other FNM albums if I was going on pure favorites, but this is one, in my eyes, that really deserves to be on the list - musically it's all over the map, lyrically it's pure genius. Best song: A Small Victory, of course.
  3. Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
    Rock and roll orgasm, from start to finish. Best song: Mr. Brownstone
  4. Fear Factory - Obsolete (1998)
    Yes, this would only be on my list. This concept album (man v. machine) is not only a story, but a work of aural art. Best song: Ressurection
  5. Soundgarden - Superunkown (1994)
    Almost put Badmotorfinger, but I think that Superuknown carries so much more weight as a whole and shows off Cornell's voice in a way that the screechings (sexy as hell, still) on Badmotorfinger didn't. Best song: Limo Wreck
  6. Nine Inch Nails - Downward Spiral (1994)
    I love Pretty Hate Machine to death, but musically, DS blows it away. There is so much woven into this album that you may hear or understand things about years after first listening to it. Best song: Reptile
  7. Nick Cave - Boatmans Call (1997)
    Every damn song is great. Never have I listened to an album with such a range of emotions on top of such stirring music. It's gorgeous, it's morose, it's beautiful, it's hope and despair and a thousand tales of love wrapped together. Best song: (Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For?
  8. Weezer - Blue Album (1994)
    If I had to take only two albums to a desert island with me, this would be the one I choose without even giving it a second thought. I could not live without this album. Best song: Only in Dreams
  9. Hole - Live Through This
    I don't care what you think about Courtney, this album is brilliantly exectuted. Best song: Violet
  10. Brand New - Deja Entendu (2003)
    So you never heard of them. I have, and this album makes me believe that rock bands can still write beautiful, poetic songs. Best song: Play Crack the Sky
  11. Mr. Bungle - California (1999)
    A beautiful, harrowing trip through dozens of musical genres, lyrics that will make your brain ache and a voice to die for. What more could you want? Best song: Retrovertigo.
  12. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993)
    Cherub Rock, Disarm, Silverfuck, and one of the greatest songs ever written, Mayonaise. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius, so to speak, before Billy Corgan lost his shit.
  13. Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)
    What an incredible debut album. I had such high hopes for them. But they started with a "ten" and went progressively downhill since. This album, however, is nothing short of amazing. For the rest of my life, every time I sing that line in Black (you know which one I mean), I will have to choke back tears. That, my friends, is great music.
  14. Tool - Aenima (1996)
    I was having a debate with myself about whether I would put this album or Undertow on the list. Eventually I decided on Aenima because Undertow's Prison Sex creeps the hell out of me. Actually, I went with this one because it's more complex - meatier, if you will. best song: Jimmy
  15. Sublime - 40 oz. to Freedom (1996)
    Holy shit, this album is amazing. It's something different every time you put it on. From the opening bass on Waiting for My Ruca right on through, with the exception of Date Rape, which I LOATHE, it's like going to a bunch of parties in one day, all of them in different cities, different eras, with different people. This album makes me feel good. It makes me feel like it's always summer and I don't have a care in the world. Best song: Don't Push
  16. Korn - Self titled (1994)
    That's right. I said Korn. This album takes all your anger issues and lets you release them in a semi-healthy way. It's driven, it's pounding, it's dark and raging and breathes life into long dead skeletons. It's powerful, which is something all music should strive to be. Best song: Clown
  17. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead (1986)
    Ah, Morrisey. Tortured, withered, empty, desperate souls make such wonderful, poetic, touching, wallow-with-me music. Best song: Bigmouth Strikes Again
  18. Jane's Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990)
    Most people prefer Nothing's Shocking. I like the sparse feel of RdlH. I like that on the surface it seems like catchy rock tunes, but underneath it's so much more. And I love Three Days. There is no song that makes me feel so...trippy, for lack of a better way. Best song: Three Days
  19. Def Leppard - Hysteria (1986)
    What? Stop looking at me like that. This album rocks, man. Best song: Love Bites
  20. Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
    To maintain that kind of pummeling sound for a whole album in a way that the listener never tires of it is an accomplishment. Not enough credit is given to Slayer lyrics - too many people dismiss them without even giving a read through. If you're not a metal fan, you will think the album sucks. If you like metal, then you know that Seasons is an achievement. King and Lombardo especially give this so much power, so much testosterone that you think you can lift trucks with your bare hands after listening to it. Best song: Dead Skin Mask.

That's 20, but it's subject to change at whim. I may drop some and include some titles below, instead.

Honorable mentions:

Deftones, Around the Fur; Propagandhi, How to Clean Everything; MTX: Revenge is Sweet and So Are You; Dead Milkmen, Bucky Fellini; Slipknot, self titled; Godflesh, Songs of Love and Hate; Skinlab, Bound, Gagged and Blindfolded; Ultraspank, self titled; Type O Negative, Bloody Kisses; NOFX, Heavy Petting Zoo; Green Day, Dookie; Alice in Chains, Dirt; Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf; AFI, The Art of Drowing, Bloodhound Gang, One Fierce Beer Coaster; Clutch, self titled; Danzig, Danzig 4; Hayden, Everything I Long For; Life of Agony, River Runs Red; Marilyn Manson, Portrait of an American Family; Portishead, Dummy

May 23, 2005

Listomatic: TIME's movie list, two dicks and a drunken master

[Note: If you are looking for my review of RotS, which apparently people are, it's here]

So TIME Magazine, not to be outdone by every other list making magazine, came out with its own list of ALL-TIME 100 MOVIES as chosen by critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel. I'm thinking the list was originally just called Time's Greatest Movies, but they added on the author credit blurb after they saw the final list, so no one would think that this list somehow belonged to TIME as a whole. They were distancing themselves from the two Dicks.

First of all, any time you have the word "critics" in a list title, you know it's going to be pretentious. "Reader's list" or "listener's list," while they may include such titles as Debbie Does Dallas or Freebird, respectively, at least will have a certain feel to them, like the compilation of titles could be kindred spirits with your very own list. But when you add movie critics to the mix - not critics in the sense that you and I (or even the people at Rotten Tomatoes) are, but critics in the sense of sense of this is my nose and I'm looking down it at you - you end up with a list that rivals ROLLING STONE's Albums of the Year list for sheer pretensiousness, snobbery and, in some cases, utter head scratching. It's as if some of these titles were thrown onto the list in an effort to keep people like me from calling the critics unrepentant twits. Let's have a look, shall we?

Complete list

First of all, I never heard of some of these movies. That doesn't, in and of itself, make the list good or bad. It just means that a) I don't get out enough or b) the critics thought the inclusion of obscure foreign films would make the list highbrow.

The usual suspects are present and accounted for: Godfather, Casablanca, Singing in the Rain, Some Like it Hot, E.T., Goodfellas...you know the drill.

No Seven Samurai. Star Wars, but not Empire Strikes Back. No Shawshank Redemption or even Fantasia.

Oh, I know. You make a list of 100 movies and see how hard it is to include all the great ones. That's what you're thinking. But let's see what IS included.

Drunken Master. The Fly (1986). Finding Nemo. FINDING NEMO? Yea, it was a good movie, but one of the best ever made? If they wanted to throw in some animation to appease the lovers of that genre, Toy Story, Spirited Away, The Incredibles...all better than Finding Nemo. And they count The Lord of the Rings (2001-03) as ONE movie! That's cheating.

I'm not saying these movies are bad. But how can you take seriously any list that has DRUNKEN MASTER as one of the 100 best films ever made? And am I the only person alive who hated Raging Bull? (OH, and remind me to tell you of the nightmare I had about a remake of Taxi Driver, starring Adam Sandler)

Ok, you know what this means. What happened when Rolling Stone came out with their list of 500 greatest songs ever and I took issue with the whole damn thing? That's right, I made my own.

Get ready for the ASV 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, coming soon to a blog post near you.

Meanwhile, I fully expect you to start picking apart TIME's list. Bonus: How many of the 100 movies on this list have you actually seen?

May 12, 2005

Rock of Ages?

I had to laugh at myself last night as I was yelling at DJ to turn his music down. He was listening to a mix CD of Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and early Black Sabbath. I laughed because my mother used to tell me to turn down the exact same music.

Which got me wondering. Does today's music have any staying power? Will my kids be telling their kids to turn down that damn Limp Bizkit 25 years from now? It seems like the rock bands from the 70's/80's have such staying power - I see middle school and high school kids wearing Pink Floyd, Ramones and AC/DC shirts all the time. While I listen to a lot of current rock music, I just can't imagine these bands having the same generational impact that Van Halen, Zep or the other "classic rock" bands have. Hell, K-Rock (NY radio station) just changed their format to play more of the classic rock.

I imagine that by the time my children are old enough to have teens of their own, old Pink Floyd albums will still be outselling the current rock scene and Linkin Park will be a footnote in music history.

Just some food for thought. Discuss at will.

May 11, 2005

Culture Wars: i saw some people stompin' around sayin' disco sucks

The following is from the "best of ASV" archives, though it wasn't printed here originally

There have always been divides in the country. It's just that some of them get more coverage than others. Sure, protests and riots will always get the front page, but it's the little wars that have waged within that people tend to forget about. Yet these wars are part of our history and, to this day, the animosity and acrimony exist between the participants in these great battles.

One of the most bitter wars fought between Americans took place in the late 1970's. It pitted brother against brother, husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor. It threatened to tear the very fabric of our nation until the war finally ended in a great wave of flames on July 12, 1979. However, the embers of that battle between countrymen still exist today and threaten to flare up again every time a radio station plays Donna Summers's Last Dance.

Yes, I'm talking about the great war between Disco and Rock (alternately known as the Disco/Punk war).

Continue reading "Culture Wars: i saw some people stompin' around sayin' disco sucks" »

May 08, 2005

Weezer's Make Believe: a review as it happens

weezermb.jpgI am listening to the entire Weezer album here, and reviewing it as I listen to it for the first time.

  • Beverly Hills - Youve all heard/seen this by now. Rivers ode to being the odd man out. I think many, many Weezer fans can identify with the sentiment within. That the band managed to make the song infectious and fill the video with babes will make this one a chart topper.
  • Perfect Situation - good song, catchy, but almost expected, in a weird way.
  • This Is Such a Pity - bleh. Not liking it. Leaving me feeling dead inside, like Id rather be washing my hair or digging crumbs out of the couch, anything but sitting here listening to this.
  • Hold Me - melancholy, yet pretty in the way Only In Dreams was
  • Peace - right now this is my favorite. it's sweeping and emotional and plaintive and I imagine a million teenagers will be singing this one with their headphones on in their darkened bedrooms, little emo tears running down their cheeks
  • We Are All on Drugs - this is the next single. made for radio. Read into that what you may.
  • The Damage in Your Heart- it's just...Weezer. Can't explain it further than that. It's a typical Weezer song and when you listen to it you think that Rivers is the world's oldest teenager.
  • Pardon Me - I'm getting bored with the album now. I imagine that if one were to listen to the album several times in a row, the songs would all just blend into each other. The beauty of the Blue Album and Pinkerton was that each song seemed different than the next and not just a continuation of the one before it. Im not feeling that here, nor am I feeling the fun that was on the Green Album and Maladroit. Ok, I like the end of this song, the way it builds up and lets go.
  • My Best Friend - You're my best friend and I love you. Gack. Insert finger in throat. I will not be singing this one in my car with the windows down. Despite the fun guitar in the middle of the song, it makes me feel way too Patridge Family to enjoy it. I wonder if he's singing to himself. After reading the Rolling Stone interview with Rivers, I can only conclude that he is his own best (and only) friend
  • The Other Way There's hand clapping in this one. I hate hand clapping in songs. I'm bored with this one, too. On it's own, it may be catchy and peppy and hit radio friendly, but when listened to as part of this album, well, it's like looking at one of those hidden pictures things in Highlights Magazine. Is that a tiger? No, it's a leaf. Wait, it's the tiger!
  • Freak Me out - I like this one. Oh, yikes, there's a harmonica. I think I just like the idea of singing, man, you really freak me out, man you really freak me out....it's got a surreal feel to it. Much better than the pop fest of most of the other songs. This will be one of my favorites.
  • Haunt You Every Day Weezer really knows how to end an album. This one is going to be my favorite. I swear, it's this one. The words are good and Rivers sings them with the strange passion that made Say it Ain't So and Only in Dreams give me chills. This is the one that will not make it to radio, but will be the one that older Weezer fans hit repeat on.

So, I like about half the album. Its no Blue Album, but nothing in the history of rock, past or present, will be. Its just ok, on first listen. I think Make Believe is going to be one of those discs that grows on me after several listens, but its also going to be skippable, meaning there will be several songs that will get the NEXT button treatment.

As an aside, I think Rivers should give it up. It feels like he doesnt want to do it anymore and rather than be the Rickey Henderson of the music world, he should just go into seclusion now. Its only a matter of time before he becomes an eccentric recluse, anyhow. Why not get an early start?

April 30, 2005

On this date in 1980: a retro playlist

If it were April 30, 1980. Or 1980 in general.

On my mix tape of the day (the iPods of 1980) was the following playlist:

AC/DC - "You Shook Me All Night Long"
Split Enz - "I Got You" (wrote about that one here)
The Clash - "Brand New Cadillac" (need I get into the whole LONDON CALLING ROCKS thing again?)
Kurtis Blow - "The Breaks" (and this wasn't the last Kurtis Blow song that would appear on one of my playlists - look here at #246)
Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb" (yea, everyone was playing Run Like Hell or Brick in the Wall, but the stoners mellowed out Gilmour's solo)
The Vapors - "Turning Japanese"
The Pretenders = "Tattooed Love Boys"
B-52's - "Dance This Mess Around" (here)
The Cure - "Boys Don't Cry"
Boomtown Rats - "I Don't Like Mondays"
Van Halen - "And the Cradle Will Rock" (I really need to get finished on ode to DLR in which I refer to him as the most underappreciated entertainer in rock and roll)
Ramones - "Rock 'n' Roll High School"
Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune" (long story)
Utopia - "Set Me Free" (what an amazing album, saw them live three times, will never forget any of those shows)
Rush - "Spirit of Radio"
ZZ Top - "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" (which would have been my tagline had blogs existed in 1980)
Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers (from a truly amazing album I should write more about)
Billy Joel - "Still Rock and Roll" (you know that village green he sings about in Italian Restaurant? we hung out there. It was required of us at that stage, and at that particular high school, to listen to Billy Joel. Thank jeebus that phase passed, though I still maintain that his early stuff [think Summer, Highlands Fall] is fantastic.)
U2 - "I Will Follow" (best debut album ever)
Queen - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
The Police = "Canary in a Coal Mine" (I just could not bring myself to sing that dodododadada song out loud. this one was far superior)
Judas Priest - "Breaking the Law" (ok, show of hands: how many of you automatically do the Beavis and Butthead thing when you hear this song?)
Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell" (Ronnie James Dio!)

1980 is also noteable for being, in my eyes, the year Led Zeppelin died. I don't remember ever being as disappointed in an album like I was with In Through The Out Door.

Note - some of these songs didn't come out until later on in 1980, so it's more of a "year" thing than an exact "on this date" thing. And some came out in late '79 but gained popularity in '80.

Anyhow, I thought this would make an interesting meme type thing. What would have been on your playlist in the year you graduated high school? (And I don't mean what was popular that year, but what were YOU listening to)

April 29, 2005

overrated albums III: Bat out of Hell [updated and all revved up]

Ok, I'll be honest with you here. I bought the album. I bought the hype that went with the album. I thought it was brilliant, amazing and a work of art. It was 1977. Elvis had just died. I was momentarily blinded by heartache. No, I was trying to revolt against the constant crush of Eddie Money songs being played on 99X. I was trying to drown out the disco craze. I was looking for an alternative to my friends' constant playing of Billy Joel's The Stranger. My local department store where I bought my records didn't have Elvis Costello's My Aim is True. I was suckered in by Meatloaf's amazing turn as Eddie in Rocky Horror.

I could come up with a million more excuse, you know. But the fact is, I liked Bat out of Hell when it first came out. Don't look at me like that. Like you didn't lay in the dark with the headphones on and just wait for the part...

Then Im dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating
Still beating

That was beautiful, man. Genius. See..he was telling a story. But set to music. It works on two levels! And you had to sing it just like Meatloaf, as if you were on a high school stage in the midst of some overwrought musical about love and loss and umm...motorcycle accidents.

Ok, that one hasn't really stood up to the test of time. What about...

On a hot summer night.
Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
Will he offer me his mouth?
Yes

I'm sitting here wondering how I ever thought that was good. Maybe when you're drunk on Boones Farm wine at a party in someone's basement that's decorated to look like some kind of art deco cave and that Canadian kid you have a crush on is mouthing the words to you...well, that's hot when you're 15 and stoned on fermented strawberries. Now, in 2005 - even with a glass of Chardonnay down the hatch - it's cringe worthy.

But it's not even those two songs that relegate this album into the annals of Insipid Moments in Rock History. No. It's the song I hate more than any other song that has ever been written, performed or copyrighted since time began and will always, forever continue to be the one song that can make me run screaming from a wedding, bat mitzvah or block party. The song that can reduce grown men and women to pantomiming actors in a surreal line dance of lust.

It was at my sister's wedding ten years ago when I realized that Paradise By the Dashboard Light was my kryptonite. As soon as the first note emitted from the speakers, the dance floor was flooded with revelers. All the people who sat on their asses for the great dance songs of the night (oh, like you don't want to dance every time you hear Funkytown) were suddenly lined up on the floor, males forming a line down one side, females doing the same on the other side. It was reminiscent of a movie musical, where somehow everyone knows the words to the song and all the lines to sing. Maybe I hadn't been to enough weddings or bars lately, but I had no idea that Paradise had become a line dance/interactive favorite. It was the new Hokey Pokey!

Let me tell you, even with a couple of shots of tequila under my belt, and even with the giddiness that comes with complete exhaustion, there was no way I was loopy enough to join that crowd on the dance floor. No, I just stood back and watched as grown men and women - including town councilmen and judges and the president of the local Kiwanis - took turns singing the boy/girl parts and totally acting the part of lust filled teenagers in a steamy car. One couple actually stood in the center of the two lines during the whole baseball announcer verse and acted the whole thing out. I kid you not. When my jaw dropped and a cousin realized I was stunned, she told me that this went on at every wedding, in every bar, every night of the week and I needed to get out more. No, no, I told her. I need to never leave the sanctity of my house again.

When my kid's religious ed teacher did a sliding split into the middle of the dance floor, holding up her hand and singing "STOP RIGHT THERE!" and my uncle twirled his way beside her and responded with the "let me sleep on it" verse and then all of them did the whole back and forth thing and this went on until the very end, where they all did some bizarre dance as they whispered glowing like a metal on the edge of a knife, I thought I had been transported to the ninth level of hell and Satan himself was going to rise out of the dance floor.

Yes, that was ten years ago and I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday (sorry, couldn't resist). It was such a horrid experience that not only is it etched in my memory forever, but it has made me loathe the whole Bat Out of Hell album and even Meatloaf himself (his man tittie turn in Fight Club notwithstanding), as they are all part and parcel of one of the most nightmarish experiences of my entire life.

So I got off on a tangent there and probably failed to convey why Bat Out of Hell is overrated, but that doesn't even matter anymore. I have Paradise stuck in my head and I have to go find a way to get it out of there.

[cross posted at Blogcritics]

Update
: So maybe the whole album is worth it just to sing the last minute of All Revved up With No Place To Go (download)

April 28, 2005

Overrated Albums: Poll Winner

I finally closed the poll. And the winner of the coveted prize for most overrated album is:

White Stripes - Elephant

View final poll results here.

Now, I'm sure there was some rigging of the vote by one single person who is so offended by the sound of the White Stripes that he alone counted for 225 of the 226 votes. But that's the nature of polls (see, American Idol last night, for proof of that) and those are the results we shall go with.

wsel.jpgThat's not to say I disagree. Somewhat. I think. The whole White Stripes/Strokes/Hives thing baffled me. I suppose one could make the argument that the embracing of garage rock was in direct response to the proliferation of overproduced teeny bopper bands and flaky, yet hot, blonde singers and/or the rise in popularity of 30 year old men in nu-metal bands writhing in agony, still angry at their mothers for grounding them when they were 12. Who knows?

The thing is, after bitching and moaning for months about how much I hated the Stripes and that whole stripped-down-rock sound, they kind of grew on me. Not so much that I started to actually sing their praises, but enough so that I didn't turn "Seven Nation Army" down when it came on the radio. In fact, songs like "Ball and Biscuit," "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and "The Hardest Button To Button" remind me of what I first liked about rock and roll all those years ago and yes, the sound is quite reminiscent of sitting in Pat Henley's garage on summer evenings in the 1970's, listening to the band with no name play the same songs over and over again, but enjoying every chord, every beat. The simplicity of "Seven Nation Army" is it's beauty; there's hardly anything to the song, but yet it makes me want to do something - dance, or drum my pencil on the desk or tap my foot at least, much like the repeated chords in the Henley garage did. The band with no name's sound was born of pure desire to just play some music, and that's what I get with the Stripes.

However (there's always a however with these things), White Stripes are not the saviors of rock and roll. They are not the greatest thing since MC5. Elephant isn't so much a triumph of the simple sounds of rock and roll as it is a triumph of style over substance. The album is too simple to be anything more than a big, fat candy bar. Jack White's efforts to be everything to everyone in the re-emergence of pure rock bands is admirable; but his reliance on Meg White's mediocre drumming skills and his penchant for trying to do too much with too little overwhelms the sincerity within. It's a good, fun album. It's good background music for cleaning the house or pretending to do yardwork while you're just drinking beer and neighbor-watching or driving through rush hour traffic with one hand out the window and one hand on the horn. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's good music. It's rock and roll. But it's nothing that's going to change the world. Not even the music world.

I don't think Elephant is the most overrated album of all time. Not even close. But I just surprised myself here by what I wrote about it. I didn't know I liked the album so much until now.

You learn something new every day, even about yourself.

[Just because the poll has ended doesn't mean I'm done - I'll be "reviewing" some of the other overrated albums later today]

Update: Again, don't shoot the messenger! I'm only doing these albums because you people nominated them! If it was up to me, I'd just list every Dylan, Beatles, Eagles, Nirvana, Madonna and Stones album and be done with it. Maybe we should be doing underrated albums instead? Or just underrated bands in general? Anyone?

April 27, 2005

Overrated Albums II: The Wall

Before I get into The Wall, I need to clarify something in order to hold the pitchfork and torch crowd at bay. I did not randomly choose the albums that went into this poll. I pulled them all out of the comments here. Personally, I love London Calling - I wore out three copies (cassette tapes) in my car alone - and I feel nothing but pity for the people who can't understand what's so great about that album (and maybe later I'll do a post extolling the virtues of London Calling). Anyhow, White Stripes is currently holding a giant lead, so if you are really eager to see The Eagles win, get over there and vote. I'm closing the poll this afternoon.

thewall.jpgI love Pink Floyd. My relationship with that band goes way back. I mean, I was seven years old when I first heard Careful With That Axe, Eugene. And all these years later, I'm still listening. My 12 year old son is listening. My 66 year old mother listens obsessively. I guess PF is somewhat of a family tradition. So I feel comfortable in sitting here explaining to you why The Wall is overrated. I'm not some PF play hata throwing rocks at Roger Waters. I'm a fan who can admit when an album just over reaches.

First, I'm not a big fan of double studio albums (see, Frampton Comes Alive). More often than not, you end up with six or so good songs and lots of filler. Most of the time, that filler is a songwriter's narcissistic exercise in hearing himself think. And so it goes with The Wall.

Most of the album is an acid-fueled ego trip for Roger Waters. It personified angst before Cobain put on his first flannel jacket. It was emo before the guy from Dashboard Confessional ever shed his first heartbroken tear. It was the epitome of mother issues set to music before all those nu-metal bands made parental abandonment a niche market. It's a group therapy session at a drug detox center set to music.

And it is the music that saves The Wall from being nothing more than a pretentious, self-absorbed LiveJournal entry. From the frenetic pace of Run Like Hell to the sheer poetry of Gilmour's solo on Comfortably Numb, it is the sounds and not the words that held this album together and kept it from falling into the cut-out bins of record stores everywhere. Yet even the music in some parts contribute to the "what the hell were they thinking" aspect of this album, most notably the disco background of Another Brick in the Wall. The whole song is tedious - it's as if their goal was to come up with an anthem that the kiddies would sing along to, that would resonate with them and make them believe that this album was about them, too. "We don't need no education" was the Pied Piper line of The Wall. It suckered in millions of teens and young adults who shouted along with the lines and bopped their heads to the disco beat and never gave thought (at least not until their later years) to the fact that Waters and company were pounding out the disco beats (also on Run Like Hell and Young Lust, which makes the "dirty woman" line feel somehow justifiable) just a year after disco was declared dead. Was he being ironic? Was the whole album ironic? Who knows. The message sort of got muddled in between the Oedipal odes and the admonishments of eating your whole meal before you have dessert.

Don't get me wrong. I love Gilmour's work on this album. Comfortably Numb contains one of the greatest guitar solos in the history of guitars - Gilmour is able to evoke more emotion with the movement of his fingers than Waters managed to eke out in all the words within the album. I listen to The Wall mainly because I still get a rush from the inherent violence and anger unleashed in the short, yet powerful, Happiest Days of our Lives; but that's from the way it's set up musically, and not from the lyrics - which really hammer home the point that Waters had some deep seated issues with authority figures.

thewall2.jpgIt was when I finally saw the movie version of Waters' nightmare that I started to go from "what a work of genius" to "what a load of narcissistic crap." My god. Two hours of sitting through someone else's bad acid trip. That's what the movie was. I had enough of my own, thank you, without watching someone else have the freak out of their life. Not even the wretched depression of Brian's Song could top the depths of despair one feels when watching The Wall.

When taken apart, rather than listened to as a whole, The Wall fails on so many levels. Sure, when I was 17 and still finding genius in the lyrics of Genesis and the gaudy masterpieces of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Wall came off like a brilliant novel, a work of art, an anthem and a stoner's delight all in one. But years later, with the blinders of youth gone and the last joint stubbed out too many years ago and the knowledge that Roger Waters is a prick, The Wall just doesn't hold up like I thought it would. Oh, I still listen to it. Just not with the same awe I did in 1979. And that's not because I'm so far removed from that time that I can no longer appreciate it, because I still listen to Dark Side of the Moon with the same jaw-dropping awe I did when I first heard it at the tender age of 12. Which, coincidentally is the same age my son first heard DSOTM and fell in love with it. When I asked him how he likes The Wall, though, he said "I only listen to it for the guitar" in much the same way, a few years from now, he will say "I only read it for the articles."

So, did anyone else sit in their friend's basement with the headphones on and the bong water gurgling and try to find the deeper meaning in "if you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding?" No? Ok.

[cross posted at blogcritics]

April 26, 2005

Overrated Albums I: The Poll

[I put the poll below the fold because it was killing the load time on the page.]

Continue reading "Overrated Albums I: The Poll" »

Overrated Albums I: Frampton Comes Alive

[see here for reference]

On my 14th birthday I received Frampton Comes Alive.

A few friends had chipped in to get me the album. They didn't have enough money left over for wrapping paper, so they wrapped it in tin foil.

fca.jpgAs usual for a late summer afternoon in 1976, we met that August 25 behind the local 7-11 to drink beer (hidden in Slurpee cups) and smoke cigarettes. They presented the foil present to me and I unwrapped it, knowing what it was, relishing the moment I had been waiting for all week since Lori spilled the beans about my present.

And there it was. The blonde curls, the look of holy ecstasy, the blue lights; I was finally holding the prize of my collection in all its vinyl glory.

I didn't let on that I didn't really like Frampton's music. I liked his hair. I liked his smile. I liked him. I held fast to the lie that I was all into his music, but at that point in my life I was really into Kiss, Zeppelin and Genesis and Frampton was, for me, just a pretty face.

Ok, I went crazy over three songs on the double album ("Show Me the Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do," "Baby I Love Your Way") and two of those songs I only liked because of the "couples only" potential at the roller rink, but the rest was crap.

However, I was cool for having it because everyone wanted a copy. So the troops gathered and we went back to my house and listened for hours to the stupid wah-wah pedal thing.

When you are 14 and you just smoked some pot and the record player is emitting sounds of "do you feel like we do" played through some voice synthesizer, all you think about is some Charlie Brown special where the teachers are doing that wah-wah-wah voice and you keep saying to yourself, if I had just asked for Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak instead, I'd be rocking out to The Boys Are Back In Town instead of pretending to like the music of just another pretty face.

Yet, for some reason, Frampton Comes Alive makes an appearance on every list of top albums EVER. It's not. It's two albums consisting of three overplayed songs, a bunch of crap and some pictures of a really hot guy.

And that's why FCA makes my list for most overrated albums ever (you can still make your nominations). Next up: Why The Wall isn't as grand as people make it out to be (and a big middle finger to those who think Dark Side of the Moon is overrated).

[cross posted at blogcritics]

TV Turn On

[I'll get to the overrated albums thing in a bit - I couldn't let go without presenting my annual rant about it]

From 2002, modified slightly for age

I was asked by another mother at baseball practice yesterday if I was observing TV Turnoff Week. No. I mean, Hell No!

If you want to turn off your tv, that's fine. More power to you. If you don't own a tv, that's great, too. That's your prerogative. I admire your staunch stand on the issue. Just don't throw your tv-less ideals at me, ok?

hearttv.jpgWe love tv. And no, I am not going to sit here and pretend that all the tv we watch is educational. Sure, we watch the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and National Geographic TV. We love that stuff. But we also watch cartoons and sitcoms and the adults in this house watch late night softcore porn on Cinemax and violent movies and infomercials. And sports. We watch a whole lot of sports.

Don't tell me that tv keeps us from reading. We are all readers. We read every single night. Sometimes together, sometimes alone.

Don't tell me that tv keeps us from enjoying time together as a family. We manage to cram plenty of family time into the few hours a day we have together. Yes, we get outside. We play sports. We take walks. We run around. We hike through the local nature preserve. We sit on the lawn and stare at the stars and talk. My kids skateboard or play the guitar for hours on end, with - gasp!- no television playing in the background.

Continue reading "TV Turn On" »

April 25, 2005

do you feel like i do: overrated albums poll [updated]

So an offhand remark in this post about Framptom Comes Alive sparked a flurry of emails from people either begging me to do a "most overrated album" poll or people wanting to lynch me for calling the album a piece of overrated crap.

I'll write tomorrow about why I think FCA did not hold up well over the years. For now, I'll take your nominations for Most Overrated ROCK Album Ever poll. I'll put up a poll type thing tomorrow, and add some of my choices - with some downloads - later on this evening.

Update: Here's two songs from albums I think are overrated:

Radiohead - Optimistic
Led Zeppelin - The Ocean

October 23, 2004

Something New for Your Ears

Anyhow, back to the mundane stuff. It's been a long time since I got excited about a new band (or "new to me" band). I listen to a lot of music with my kids. We exchange mp3s and CDs and try to turn each other on to what we consider good music. Natalie has really gotten into Far (an obscure, broken up emo band that I once loved [check them out in the asv radio today]) and DJ has become obsessed with Queen (you should hear him play Bohemian Raphsody on the guitar). In return for those "new to them" bands, they've given me Brand New. They started listening to them when my cousin, who went to high school with some of the guys in the band (they're from Long Island) told the kids about them. I've been pretty lucky when trying out LI bands (Glassjaw, VOD, Taking Back Sunday) so I gave them a shot and literally fell in love with Brand New. It's a combination of nifty hooks and excellent lyrics, made better by the fact that they're emo-ish without the whining voice that usually accompanies that genre. As a public service, I offer you two Brand New songs to download and try out, both from their 2003 album, Deja Entendu. Lyrics to both below. If you want to check out something earlier, try Jude Law and a Semester Abroad from their 2001 release, Your Favorite Weapon. I never really get comments on posts like this, but I always hope that someone out there has discovered a new band to love. I'm always open to suggestions from the masses for new music for my ears. This has not been a paid ad. Brand New - I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light Brand New - The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows [update: downloads expired. If you would still like to hear the songs, email me]

Continue reading "Something New for Your Ears" »

July 08, 2004

Best Album Poll Winner: Exit Sandman

First things first: Lileks beautifully puts Michael Moore in a shredder today, but it's Treacher who supplies the best headline, as well as few scathing remarks about Moore on the Daily Show. And Ed Moltzen has a list of liberals that conservatives can like and a list of conservatives that liberals can like. Second thing: For those who are complaining about the best album poll and the lack of anything representative of their taste on the poll, I suggest that next time I open the floor for nominations you nominate. That list was not compiled by moi. I just took the most popular nominations. Anyhow, we have a winner and thank jeebus it's not Metallica's black album. I have nothing against Metallica. Well, yes I do, but that's another story. I am one of those pre-black Metallica fans. Give me Ride the Lightning anyday. The pre-black stuff was nothing short of amazing. The rest; suckage. Big, slurping suckage. And even if you are a post-black Metallica fan, how could you possibly say that album was the best album to be released in the 90's? Enter Sandman? Feh. Thankfully, people with good taste came through and we have a much more please (to me) winner. You can view the final results of the vote here. Winner and scary trophy below.

Continue reading "Best Album Poll Winner: Exit Sandman" »

July 07, 2004

Poll 2: Movies

I've got a lot to do between now and this evening. However, I must implore you to GO VOTE. Do not let Metallica's black album win this thing. And now for Poll 2 in the Best of the 90's Awards: I open up airwaves for you to list your favorite movies of the 90's. Any genre. List as many as you want.

Best Album of the 90's: The Poll

[Followup to this post from yesterday] Unlike some of my commenters, I think the 90's was a great decade for music. Depsite the influx of those damn nu-metal (rapcore) bands towards the end of the 90's, the rest of it was good for rock and roll. If you like my kind of rock and roll, that is. Some of my favorite albums from those years will never make most people's top tens. Incubus's S.C.I.E.N.C.E, Faith No More's Angel Dust, Mr. Bungle's California, Fear Factrory's Demanufacture and Tool's Undertow - among many other fine ablbums - all helped mark the 90's as a banner decade for me. But, that's just me. Let's look at your choices. okcomp.jpgI narrowed the albums down to ten because that what the poll machinery allows. Mostly, I chose the albums that were repeated in the comments several times. There was no formal counting. I run elections according to my whim around here. Of the ten albums in the poll, I own...ten! That's not to say I listen to them all. I haven't listened to U2 in years. The Tori CD might not even be open. Metallica was handed down to my son. I got sick of Nevermind a long time ago. The Jane's Addiction CD has been MIA since we moved. The remaining titles: Portishead - Dummy: Dummy gets taken out on dark, rainy days when I'm sitting on the couch reading and need a little headphone music. It's also known as the go-to album for when I've had too much to drink and am under the false impression that my husband would like me to serenade him. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream SD is still to this day a pleasure from start to finish, especially Mayonaise, which - in my humble opinion - is one of the greatest songs ever written. Even the songs that got constant radio play - Cherub Rock, Disarm and Today, never suffered from the wear and tear that radio often gives to good songs. SD is a great reminder of what Billy Corgan was capable of before ego and drama ruined him. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape It might not be as fast and furious as the self-titled debut, but Colour and Shape is still an amazing album. Hey, Johnny Park is always on my songs I can't live without. And Walking After You makes up for the overwrought My Hero. Pearl Jam - Ten One of the few albums I can listen to from start to finish without ever skipping a song. My sister says this about Pearl Jam - they started with a ten and went down a digit with each susbequent album. 'Tis true. Each PJ album after Ten left me vaguely disappointed, like they had topped out with their first effort. Best song on the CD: Porch. Radiohead - Ok Computer I prefer The Bends, but you guys seem to like OK. Actually both albums are works of art. While the rest of the world were scratching their heads over Paranoid Android and Karma Police, the rest of us Radiohead fans were being swept away by the beauty and sadness of Lucky, No Suprises and Exit (Music for a Film). I never, ever get tired of Ok Computer. In fact, I'm going to put it in the player right now. So which will I vote for? I think you can figure that out. The poll is below and you can vote starting now. Comments on voting enabled. New category in the Best of the 90's Awards coming up later today, hopefully. Category suggestions warmly welcomed.

Continue reading "Best Album of the 90's: The Poll" »

July 06, 2004

Best of the 90's Poll Phase 1: Albums

Weapons of Mass Distraction. That's exactly what I need right now. I'm betting that quite a few of you feel the same way. That is why I am unveiling the ASV Best of the 90's Pop Culture Awards. This is all the fault of VH1, which is presenting it's I Love the 90's series starting next week. Here's how it works. Each day I will announce a new category. I'll take nominations all day for that specific category. Eventually, I'll add up the nominees and present a very unscientific poll to come up with the final winners. The categories will be the usual; Best of books, movies, music, video games and whatever else comes to mind. I'll probably do a Worst Of award as well for reach category. I'm open to suggestions. It will pretty much run the same way I ran the video game awards: at my whim. I'm not going to be bothered with breaking down each category into genres. Just don't have the time or patience for that. Besides, who really cares about the best disco album of the decade? We're going to start right here, right now, with albums of the 90's. I already blogged this subject before and you can find my own nominees right here (just scroll down). The nomination process goes like this: Pick your favorite albums from the 90's (no more than three, please) and put them in the comments. You may include commentary if you so desire, which may come in handy at final voting time. Easy enough, right? Let the Nirvana v. Pearl Jam bickering begin. Nominations open until midnight tonight. Tomorrow brings a new category and the best album finalists. Below are some links to get your memory in gear.

Continue reading "Best of the 90's Poll Phase 1: Albums" »

June 08, 2004

Iced Earth: Metal From the Right Side

icedearth.jpgIced Earth is a metal/progressive/power rock/label of your choosing band. They've been around since 1991 and recently put out a new album, Glorious Burden. Burden has been described as a political album but, as songwriter John Schaffer says in the interview transcribed below, it is more of an historical album. Schaffer is a rarity in the rock music business - he is unabashedly pro-America. He is also a history buff and that is evident on Burden, an album that, Schaffer says, was inspired in part by 9/11, but is about more than that: There's a lot of writing on this album of history that goes back to Attila The Hun against the Roman Empire all the way to Afghanistan and 9/11. It's not a political album." Schaffer was interviewed by Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles, an online metal magazine. The interviewer was somewhat antagonstic towards Schaffer, but he stood his ground and gets my vote for Hero of the Day.

Continue reading "Iced Earth: Metal From the Right Side" »

Kick Out The Jams: The Coolest Song Parts

Let's take a break from it all, shall we? This is a great topic: 50 Coolest Song Parts. I could really go on about this forever. There are hundreds of songs that are just ok, but I play repeatedly for that one note or one scream or ten seconds of wailing guitar. Each song has its special moment (for instance, Kick it!), some are just more special than others. I'll get to mine later (running late, as usual) but off the top of my head right now, I can say that one of the coolest moments of all my favorite songs is in Tyler by The Toadies, when he sings She pulls the covers tighter. It's the way he says tighter with squeaky antcipation, the way his voice goes up and down on each note, the way I sound like a complete fool when I sing along, but I don't care because it's such a cool part. RetroCrush starts you off with 50, and it's amazing to see that all those little things about your favorite songs that you thought were special only to you came off the same way for other people. Like that moment in Crue's Home Sweet Home.... I'll review RetroCrush's 50 Coolest Moments later, as well as add my own. For now, the floor is yours.

May 21, 2004

Die, die my darling

Friday nights are generally quite around here, so I'll just throw out this one question for anyone hanging around: Via Bill and Shiela, name your favorite movie death. I voted for Sonny's death in The Godfather. I felt Sonny's terror - being trapped in the car, knowing what's going to happen, waiting for the first bullets to strike. I've seen the movie hundreds of times (well, maybe more like 70) and I still hold my breath during that scene. When the film came out, everyone said that Sonny's death was filmed at the toll booths in Long Beach and people would drive out there to check out the spot, but it was actually filmed on an old runway at Mitchel Field (which is now home to the Cradle of Aviation museum, but I digress). Anyhow, favorite movie deaths. [And now, I think I'll make a death-themed radio station for tonight] Update: To add to my list (or at least agree with people in the comments) "This is for...Matilda" True Romance Walken/Hopper scene Definitely the Black Rain scene with Andy Garcia. Whenever that movie is on, I watch it just for that part. The rest of the movie kind of sucked.

May 20, 2004

can't we start a petition to ban him from his own movies?

From Garrulatis: bq. But it isn't just that. Apparently, when he releases the DVD's for Return of the Jedi, he'll be cutting out Sebastian Shaw from the famous shot at the end of the movie where the ghosts of Anakin, Yoda, and Obi-Wan are standing together, and replacing him with that whiny little punk Hayden Christiansen. Please stop him. Somebody, for the love of the force, stop him. There's a reason this site is number one for George Lucas is a Fuckwad. And so ever shall it remain, so long as he still breathes. To quote myself, if I may: I am working on inventing a time machine. I will use it to go back in time and kill George Lucas before he ever had the chance to make Episodes 1 and 2. Maybe even I'll go back as far as inventing the Ewoks.

May 18, 2004

Great Moments in Music Lyrics, Part I

[Too busy for anything requiring heavy thought today. all filler, no killer.] I want a girl with a smooth liquidation, I want a girl with good dividends. At citi bank we will meet accidentally Well start to talk when she borrows my pen *** Morning has broken Mr. Coffee has spoken **** I leaped on the counter like a bird with no hair running through the mini mall in my underwear **** i'll set the world on fire and, in burning light i'll write my first love song and i will feel warmth *** I was thinking of you while I jerked off into my sock last nite *** Cause I'm kind of like Han Solo always stroking my own wookie, I'm the root of all that's evil yeah but you can call me cookie. *** You may beg to differ and go right ahead, because it's lunch time and I'm hitting the burger deluxe today.

Tony Randall (1920-2004)

So long, Tony. Tony Randall did played many roles in his acting career, and in life, but to me he will always be Felix Unger. I still know every episode by heart and to this day, even though I have not seen the show in years, I can hear Felix's sinus attack in my head. While I identified with Oscar (being a slob and all), I enjoyed Randall's character more, just for the way he played it. Great comedy, all around. My favorite Odd Couple episode is the one where Felix sings the song "Once there was a man named Oscar" or maybe the one where Felix writes poetry, or Password... What's yours?

May 17, 2004

radio, radio II

New playlist is up. It has a definite them, not sure what. Your job is to listen to the songs and give the playlist a name. Meanwhile, look at this site and you'll see what I mean by themes. Your job is to come up with a title for a mix and I'll create that mix out of my music collection to put on the radio station. The playlist changes every night (time willing). I'm going to start making a collection of the playlists. Perhaps I'll eventually end up with one for each of my moods and personalities.

May 16, 2004

Syd Hoff (1912-2004)

Syd Hoff is dead. sammy.gifSyd was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. His books were simple to read, those early primer readers with short sentences in big type and not too many words that broached two syllables. But the imagination, laughter and improbability packed into those books made those simple words magical. I was introduced to Mr. Hoff by way of Danny the Dinosaur. My teachers would let me take home as many of the I Can Read series of books home with me; I'd read one every night which certainly impressed the teachers. I remember trying to explain to them that reading Hoff's books weren't really like reading at all, they were like playing with words and pictures. I don't think they understood. Hoff also wrote a slew of joke books filled with the kind of humor that only a child or an adult who never forgot how to be a child will laugh at. His book Animal Jokes (I'm nearly positive it was that one) was my first introduction to the wacky world of puns. In addition to writing and illustrating wonderful children's books, Syd Hoff was a regular contributor of cartoons to The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and many other magazines. He also had two comic strips - Tuffy, which appeared in hundreds of papers daily and the one panel strip Laugh it Off, which was syndicated by King Features. Rest well, Mr. Hoff. And thanks for all those hours of enjoyment.

May 15, 2004

Read it, loathed it, loved it, two snaps and a thumbs down

All the cool kids are doing it, and I really have nothing better to talk about while I kill ten minutes waitingf for the Lewis Black special. Below is a list of 101 Great Books Recommended for H.S. Students & Readers of All Ages. It appears that of the books on the list that I've read, most of them were read in high school or college. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them. Notes on some, bolded titles are the books i've read.

Continue reading "Read it, loathed it, loved it, two snaps and a thumbs down" »

A Small Victory - The Band

Speaking of Google searches.. pieceswekeep.gifA good portion of my Google hits from people searching for "A small victory" have other search words added on that lead me to believe they are searching for this band, who reside at asmallvictory.com. I've known about this band's existence for a while due to the searches, but only now got around to checking them out. They describe themselves as rock/emo/southern rock, which is a pretty unique combination of genres. I listned to the sampling of two tracks available few tracks here, and was left with the impression that, while the genre mixing may be odd, it works. (You can download Hammer Strong and get a good bio of the band at their lable's site) ASV brings to mind Glassjaw (the harder portion of the music, the lyrics) and bands like Brand New (the melodies and voice) but the thing ASV has that Glassjaw and Brand New don't is a sense of rock and roll. It's good stuff. I'm going to buy the CD and give it to my son. He'll be able to say he was way ahead of the curve when ASV breaks out. They are on tour now and will be appearing on the Warped Tour this summer (which we just may attend). Hopefully, you'll go over and check out the band 's site if they sound like you're kind of thing. Which site, by the way, is the reason I had to settle for .net instead of .com. But I won't hold that against them.

May 14, 2004

Gimme that, gimme that now, now, now, yeah!

I changed my mind about something. Thunderkiss 1965 is the greatest driving song ever. Soundgarden's Drawing Flies will just have to bow out gracefully.

Mike Patton 101

Actually, this would be 102, as we've had our first lessons already. See here, here and here and probably a million other times. The purpose of this is to introduce you the many musical stylings of Mike Patton. And also to fill some space on a Friday night. First, take a look at that picture. Look at that face. Ah, I would give anything to.... I want to... Err.. Nevermind. No need to know that. Let's listen to his music instead. Then, if anyone is actually around on such a beautiful Friday evening and you actually download and listen to the music, we can discuss it, if you would like to do such a thing. Yes, we can discuss the versatality of Patton's voice, his soothing tones, his guttural screams, his passionate moans, his lyrical genius, his musical genius..and then we can discuss his face, if you still want to. Here, for you to study, are three Mike Patton samplings, from three different eras/bands. 1. Download: Faith No More - Midlife Crisis It's not my absolute favorite FNM song, but somehow jumping right into Crack Hitler didn't seem right. With lyrics like Your menstruating heart, it ain't bleedin' enough for two and liberal use of Patton's clenched teeth hissing and growling, Midlife Crisis is a great starting point for the uninitiated. It's got this raw anger that comes only with age; a bitterness that leaves a taste like Greek olives in your mouth and a certainty that yea, you're getting old but at least you're bound to beat the shit out of someone before you're too tired to do it. Ok, maybe that's just me. 2. Download: Mr. Bungle - Retrovertigo. Taken from the pure work of art known as California, Retrovertigo is, in my mind, one of the greatest songs ever recorded. It's slow, it's moody, it pulls at your gut and sucks you in and never lets you out. Patton's voice is at its finest here. He's all smooth and low one minute and powerful the next and in between there's about a billion emotions. Here, you can also get a great lesson in how to compose a tune that will forever be etched in someone's head. You'll be watching the news one day and suddenly these words will pop into your head: Now I'm finding truth is a ruin Nauseous end that nobody is pursuing Staring into glassy eyes Mesmerized There's a vintage thirst returning But I'm sheltered by my channel-surfing Every famine virtual Retrovertigo And Mike Patton will be singing them. And you will thank me. 3. Download: Lovage - Anger Management Here we have a selection from another Patton band, Lovage. Guys and gals, if you were ever looking for music to make love to, Lovage is it. In fact, this album is called Music To Make Love To Your Old Woman Lady By . It was produced by Dan the Automator and features the incredibly sexy voice of Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) as well as appearances by Kid Koala, Damon Albarn of Blur and Prince Paul. Listening to Music to Make Love is to put yourself in a red velvet bedroom with mirrors on the ceiling. It's sitting in a smoky barroom watching the female lounge singer lick her lips and run her hands down her sides. It's red lipstick and black garters and cigar smoke and maybe even a few dollars on the nightstand in the morning. my inner demons compel me to be here your cheeks are flush like rose petals you're consumed with rage but i'm consumed with you our eyes intertwine through the haze intoxicated by your bloodshot stare in all of my dreams i never thought i'd see a face that could launch a thousand ships Swoon with me, baby. Just swoon. Download and discuss at will.

January 30, 2004

Squeezed Out

[If you were under the impression that I would stop blogging just because I have mono, you're crazy. Blogging is the only thing between me and an imprint of the couch on my ass]

cfc.gifYes, I am addicted to VH1's Bands Reunited, thank you for asking.

It was great to see The Alarm again, even if Mike Peters sort of flattened out his hair, which was what attracted me to the band in the first place.

Today was Squeeze's turn. Surely you remember Squeeze? A band that is never given enough credit for their talents, Squeeze tends to get thrown into the slush pile of funny looking 80's bands that had a hit or two.

Unlike some other bands of that era that got famous because of their style or gimmick or just because they hit the right place at the righ time, Squeeze was oozing with talent.

Difford, Tilbrook, Holland and all those other guys who didn't matter as much as those three combined to make some of the greatest songs to come out of an era when great songs were not nearly as numerous as their overstyled, synth pop counterparts. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I loved the whole synth pop-new wave thing. I was just able to recognize that while most of the music of that genre was filled with fun beats that you could bop your head in time to after a few shots of tequila in a grungy-on-purpose club, Squeeze was different.

While a lot of people joined the Squeez fan-wagon when East Side Story (1981) came out (and some, not until Squeeze Singles in 1982), I had a head start on the band due to my employment at a radio station in 1980. Ok, I wasn't an employee so much as a phone volunteer, one of those people who answered the 24-7 request line and handled the contests and listened to a lot of heavy breathing and requests for sexual favors that were unheard of in my little, naive corner of the world.

Volunteering had its perks. Lots of free albums, meeting semi-stars, going on the air once in a while (I even made a few commercials) and getting a heads up on the up and coming bands, which proved to be a constant source of jealousy on the part of my friends when a band I predicted would become famous actually did and I could smugly say "I called that one!" Like I did with U2. But that's another story.

This one is about Squeeze and about a copy of Cool for Cats that made it into my hands in early 1980. The record had actually been released in '79, but New York radio was slow to pick up on it. The station I was working at, WLIR, went by the slogan "Dare to be Different," and they held true to that motto by daring to play the title song of Cool for Cats.

It was love at first listen. It was different, so far apart from anything I was hearing at the time. I grabbed a copy of the album and spent that night listening to it for hours, flipping the disc at least ten times. The lyrics to Up the Junction were simple, the rythmn almost monotonous. But somehow those two parts together formed a riveting song. Even Cool for Cats, with its machine-gun presentation of the lyrics (I give a little muscle, and I spend a little cash, but all I get is bitter and a nasty little rash) was just so out there that I couldn't help but love it. If I Didn't Love You (I'd Hate You). was the ultimate in relationship songs:

Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans .

Well, I thought that was pretty damn deep back then. In fact, I still do. And I still quote it.

I found a copy of U.K. Squeeze. - their first album and the original name of the band- in some dirty record story in the city. While it seemed to be made by almost a different band, it was still some good shit, as we used to say in the 'hood. Take Me, I'm Yours inspired many a late songwriting session on my part, trying to recreate that staccato delivery of passionate-in-an-odd-way lyrics.

Then along came East Side Story and Squeeze became a sensation. Tempted pushed them onto the charts and out of the dark, dingy clubs I had seen them in into Madison Square Garden. Elvis Costello worked wonders with the band, polishing their genius and creating a bigger, more diverse sound. Unfortunately, it was one I didn't love. I liked it, but I didn't love it the way I did Argy Bargy. I gave Sweets from a Stranger, their next album, a chance but was turned off when I found my mother singing Black Coffee in Bed.

Regardless of whether I liked them anymore or not, they were still damn talented. Jools Holland's piano playing always amazed me. Difford and Tilbrook wrote some amazing songs. And those other guys did...other talented-like things. In between the breakup of Squeeze and the reunion of Squeeze, Difford and Tilbrook released an album together, the highlight of which was a wonderful tune called Love's Crashing Wave's.

At one point, I pined for the days when Cool for Cats was considered exciting and new. When new wave finally crashed and burned, that was the one album I went to (ok, that and the 12 inch single of Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy's Kiss Me) when I wanted to sulk in my room and relive the glory days of night clubs, spiked hair and torn, black stockings.

So it was with trepidation today that I watched VH1 take their turn with Squeeze. And I was mostly relieved when the plans fell through and the band did not go through with the reunion. They probably would have played one of their later songs, anyhow. You know it wouldn't have been Cool for Cats or Up the Junction, and that's how I want to remember them.

The 80's nostalgia crap is getting to me. Someone stop me before I hunt down all the members of Aztec Camera and force them to play the entire track listing of High Land, Hard Rain. In my living room.

And if you are tempted to use the comments to say what band you would want VH1 to reunite, don't. That's for tomorrow's open mic night. Save it.

Update: This is the station I worked for. They officially went off the air this month after many, many years of providing great music to Long Islanders. This makes me incredibly sad. How sad? You'll have to wait until tomorrow's eulogy to a radio station.

More like this in: Essential Media

January 29, 2004

Disney: Dead on Arrival

Who didn't see this coming? Pixar has dumped Disney. TO INFINITY...AND BEYOND!"After ten months of trying to strike a deal with Disney, we're moving on," Pixar CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "We've had a great run together -- one of the most successful in Hollywood history -- and it's a shame that Disney won't be participating in Pixar's future successes." To repeat what I said on December 1st:
Pixar could still renew their contract with Disney, but I wouldn't bet on it. The success of Finding Nemo alone should give Pixar the balls to venture out and find another studio to work with. Sure, they may end up staying with Disney but, if they don't, Disney will be left with nothing but a lot of memories and a pile of straight-to-video sequels that just won't hold a candle to what other studios (i.e., DreamWorks) are doing.
And to quite un-humbly quote myself even further: Eisner has shaped Disney into his own image and, in the process, has cut the animation giant off at the knees. I restate my declaration from this morning: If Eisner stays on, Disney will sink with him. Two days ago, there was this:
Roy Disney, a former Walt Disney Co. board member who resigned amid his opposition to Chief Executive Michael Eisner, Tuesday urged shareholders to vote against Eisner and three other directors standing for re-election to the company's board. "Now is the time for all Disney shareholders to take the first step to bring needed change to The Walt Disney Company," said Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, who also resigned from the board in protest, in a letter to shareholders sent ahead of the March 3 annual meeting.
The glory days of Disney are long gone. They will continue to release - and then withdraw from the shelves - remastered versions of old classics in the hopes of keeping the Disney animation cash flow from drying up. They've come a long, long way since the days when movies like The Little Mermaid made Disney all the rage again. A long, long way down, that is. All hail Pixar, our new animation overlords. Endnote: Pixar (PIXR: Research, Estimates) stock jumped in after-hours trading, according to Reuters, while Disney (DIS: Research, Estimates) stock sank more than 4 percent.

January 27, 2004

He's a Rainbow in the Dark

counterafd.gifCan I get a HELL YEAH? A fellow New Yorker, Ronnie James Dio is my choice for President of the United States. He is the only one who can take us into the next four years with confidence and righteousness. He has worked in several cabinets, doing time with Ritchie Blackmore and Ozzy Osbourne before striking out on his own to win the hearts and minds of American voters. Dio on Homeland Security: So, fortune shine your light on me and my clothes Cause we need some security. What he means is that he doesn't want to have to wear radioactive suits, so he is going to be big on securing the U.S. against terror attacks. Dio on Crime: Cry out to legions of the brave, time again to save us from the jackals of the street. RJD would send the National Guard out wipe out street crime. Every day, in every state. Dio on the War on Terror: Ride the tiger/You can see his stripes but you know he's clean/Oh don't you see what I mean/Gotta get away/Holy Diver. Basically, you go all religious jihad on us, we'll go vendetta jihad on your ass. Dio on legalizing marijuana: And now you can fly/So take your magic carpet ride. Enough said. Dio on Gay Rights: I was feelin' rather good/Should've touched some wood. Yea, he's on your side, guys. As it says on Dio's election blog:
In fantasy tales, peasants had to worry about dragons coming to take their children away, hoping that their feudal lords would protect them from the marauding dragons with their strength or magic. But those times are long gone, and today's leaders have lost all their magic. Fortunately, the only thing that regular people need to protect themselves today is the vote and you've got it!
His name is Dio and he dances on the sand. Ronnie James Dio. Get out the vote.

January 24, 2004

This just makes me happy

Hey Ya Charlie Brown

Thanks for open mike Saturday Michele!

Mara

January 16, 2004

i'm such a lemming: movie version

Oh what the hell. Everyone else is doing it. I bet you'll do it too [and if you don't have a blog, feel free to use my comments for your list]!

Supposedly this is a list of someone's favorite movies. But it's not. I knew it looked familiar and, sure enough, it's the first 100 of the IMDB top 250. No matter. I'll play along anyhow.

I'm not following Solly's rules. Too many. So, the bolded movies are ones I've seen. The underlined movies are the movies on the list that I own. I think I'll tackle the other 150 movies later as a blatant attempt at putting off laundry, etc.

What would be really interesting is to see how many of the IMDB's bottom 100 we all have seen or own.

Continue reading "i'm such a lemming: movie version" »

November 22, 2003

Essential Media Files: Boycott Rudolph!

rudgun.jpgBefore you all go grab your latest issue of TV Guide and start circling the various holiday specials you intend to watch (A Kid Rock Christmas, anyone?), I'd like to talk to you about something.

Rudolph. Is there a creature so beloved as that red-nosed reindeer? Is there any stop-motion animated movie that tugs at your heart more? No, of course not. You will gather - and by you I mean everyone, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Satanists - in front of the tv with your children at some point in the next month to watch this time-honored tale.

Well, I'm here to put a stop to that. Rudolph is not a cuddly, warm, fuzzy story. Rudolph, in fact, is a tale of pacifism and appeasement and mental abuse.

When Rudolph is first discovered to have the light bulb nose, his father is appalled. Ashamed, he tries to cover up his son's nose. What kind of father is that? He is telling his kid right off the bat, kid, you're ugly and you embarass me. Diguise yourself in public. Right then and there someone should have called social services to tell them that there was a brute of a stag emotionally damaging his child. I mean, the poor kid has a disfigurement. They should have been helping him, not making him feel even worse about it.

So everyone eventually finds out about Rudie's nose anyhow. The kids torment him and pick on him and turn him into an outcast. He's not allowed to join in their games because he is, gasp!, different!

So what happens? Rudolph goes off on an adventure (where he comes upon the Island of Misfit Toys, but that's a whole other dissertation), where it is discovered that his nose can actually come in handy. Hey, the kid is a freak, but he's a useful freak.

The rest of the reindeer gang find out that Rudolph is going to lead Santa's sleigh through the snowstorm. You know what happens. They suddenly love him. He's a hero. Even though he's been scorned and ridiculed and isolated, the other reindeer discover that they can use Rudolph's disfigurement to their advantage, so now they'll let him in their little club.

And what does Rudolph do? He leads the damn sleigh and saves the day. Now everyone in this movie, from Rudolph's parents to his girlfriend to Santa, the other reindeer and the Yukon guy mock him throughout or at least make him feel like crap. Apparently, Rudolph has no balls.

This is all his father's fault. Dad turned Rudolph into the reindeer equivalant of a nerd when he taught Rudie to just take the abuse from his neighbors and classmates because he deserved it. After all, he was hideously deformed. In essence, he taught his son not to stand up for himself.

If Rudolph learned anything at all on his great adventure, he would have turned around and said fuck off and die you miserable bastards. Find some other sucker to save Christmas for you. And then he would take out his AK-47 and turn the whole crowd of miserable reindeer into a carnivore's dream. Then he would go back to the Island of Misfit Toys, become their ruler and plot to take over all of Rankin-Bass land.

So parents, don't let your babies grow up to be Rudolphs. Don't watch the show. Or it could be your kid standing in the middle of the forest one day, gunning down all the kids who wouldn't let him play their reindeer games.

This has been a public service announcement.

[more essential media files here]

November 21, 2003

Essential Media: Gather your Lists

VH1, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Me - everybody loves a list. 500 best albums, 100 greatest songs ever recorded, best books ever, sexiest man alive, top ten movies featuring mimes, the five best conspiracy theories....well, you get the point. You could make a list of the best lists ever and people would read it.

Here's the thing I don't like about Best Albums Ever lists: they are so arbitrary. Rolling Stone is an indie artist's dream - you probably have never heard of half the artists on their year end best of list. VH1's best albums are probably limited to bands that have videos that are actually played on VH1. Spin Magazine is going to give you a much different take than Billboard.

Continue reading "Essential Media: Gather your Lists" »

November 19, 2003

essential media: charting the demise of MJ through his music

mjben.jpgEveryone has seen those pictorials that mark the change in Michael Jackson's face from adorable little boy to scary elephant man. But isn't it what's on the inside that counts? Of course it is. And that's why I am going to show you the slippery slope of MJ's psyche over the course of his recording career. We'll skip over the Jackson 5 era; obviously his mental state was clearly controlled by his father during those years (which, by the way, lends great explanation to his behavior today).

Let's harken back to 1972, when the fresh-faced young boy released his first album, Got To Be There. Look at that face, that smile. You just want to pinch his cute little cheeks! At this early point in his career, Michael had yet to develop the large ego that would allow him to build Neverland later on. This is evidenced by the selection of songs on the album. There are quite a few cover songs. Obviously, Michael wasn't self-assured enough to put out a solo album of his own songs. And it's obvious from the song titles that Michael was ready to embrace life on the wings of love.

Continue reading "essential media: charting the demise of MJ through his music" »

November 18, 2003

Essential Media Files: Whatever Happened to James Hetfield?

[Essential Media Files is an ongoing theme where I cover anything and everything media-wise]

When a member of a rock band says to an interviewer "But we're huge in Europe," it's all over. Huge in Europe is just a euphemism for "we are this close to being kicked off of our record label." I mean, John Tesh is huge in Europe. Is that who you want to keep company with?

The latest person to speak those words is none other than James Hetfield of Metallica.

James seems a little disturbed that Metallica's latest effort, St. Anger, wasn't exactly a hot commodity in the U.S. In fact, James said "it's a bummer."

"It's a very challenging record," [Drummer Lars] Ulrich said of "St. Anger," which was constructed by a computer program and features no guitar solos. He added that U.S. rock radio programmers seemed more interested in playing bands like Nickelback.

I think Metallica can find the key to their problems in just three words from the above statement: No. Guitar. Solos.

Continue reading "Essential Media Files: Whatever Happened to James Hetfield?" »

November 15, 2003

five second movie review

Interstate 60: See it.

It's got Gary Oldman (a/k/a World's Greatest Actor). And it's got the original Pink Power Ranger (remember Kimberly?) and she's like....a whore. And that's just wrong. But the movie itself is sort of like Wizard of Oz and Donnie Darko and a couple of purple microdots of mescaline all mixed together in a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Trust me.

best albums of the 90's: covers

coverssmall.jpgObviously (well, obvious to me, at least) there is no way I can do a small review of every single one of my favorite albums from the 90's without going into next year. I'm still going to keep with the theme for this weekend at least, but I thought I would make a game out of it this morning.

The image above consists of 16 album covers - all in my list of favorite 90's albums - with the artist name and album title Photoshopped out. Your mission - to name all of them. Oh yea, there's a bigger image below. I'm not that much of a dick. Use the comments only to let me know which numbers you got right.

[If you want the rest of the album reviews so far, go here and scroll up]

Continue reading "best albums of the 90's: covers" »

November 14, 2003

best albums of the 90's: my name is jimmy pop

bhg.jpgBloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster (1996) More guilty pleasure than jacking off to a Maria from Sesame Street (so I'm told). You can't listen to it in front of your parents and you can't listen to it in front of your kids, so you just have to find a bunch of like-minded immature people who laugh at jokes about those less fortunate than you and maybe know how to make that fart sound with their armpits or see farting contests as high culture or listen to Skid Row when nobody's watching. Yea, I'm talking about you. You know you giggle when you sing the lyrics life's short and hard like a body-building elf, or but if I crashed into Uranus I would stick it where the sun don't shine. And come on, you felt a slight sense of comraderie with the BHG while downing your 40oz of Miller Lite and singing Your best friend is you I'm my best friend too . Sing it with me now. Put your hands in the air.

Eat Spam from the can watch late night C-Span
And rock out to old school Duran Duran.

Yea. I'm talking to you.

best albums of the 90's: listening station and quickie poll

I'm having way too much fun with this and I'm thinking about doing it for the whole weekend. What do you think? Would it hold your interest? Should I bother? Would anyone like to make a guest post about one of your favorite albums from the 90's?

For your listening pleasure (maybe), here's a song off of one of the aforementioned albums:

Coal Chamber - Big Truck.

Turn it up.

best albums of the 90's: i bet you thought i'd hate these

[for those just joining us, I'm boycotting the news today and doing nothing but my favorite albums of the 90's. It starts down there somewhere]

a/k/a If it's not their first album, it's crap!

ratm.jpgRage Againt the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (1992) The first band to successfully merge rap and metal. This album kicked my ass the first time I heard it. It was fresh, exciting and made my pulse quicken. Driving on the Long Island Expressway with Bombtrack screaming from the speakers - pure rush. Everything after this album Sucked with a capital S. Classic case of people taking themselves too seriously.

lb3.jpgLimp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all (1997) I can almost hear the collective clunk as you all drop to the floor in a dead faint. Limp Bizkit? Don't you hate them? Don't you wish bad things to happen to Fred Durst? Well, yes and yes. But this was before Durst slipped into asshole mode and before LB became a favorite of 12 year old rebellious white boys everywhere.

Forget the stilted remake of Faith. That's not what 3 Dollar Bill is about. Skip right over it. Hit Stuck or Sour or Nobody Loves Me instead. Pure adrenaline. This wasn't so much rap-metal as it was "holy shit, I am really pissed off at the world" metal. Before Durst realized he could sell a million records by dumbing it down the simple phrase break stuff, he wrote some scathing lyrics. Too bad about the rest of the albums.

cc1.jpgCoal Chamber - Coal Chamber (1997) From the very first notes of Loco, I was hooked on this album. Yea, Dez sounds like a strung out version of Cookie Monster when he sings, but, again, this is adrenaline rock. Pure power and fury. Bass lines that will make your stomach drop. No big profound statements in the lyrics - in fact they are pretty stupid at times. But it's sure a hell of a lot of fun to drink Mountain Dew slurpees topped off with tequila and sing along to Big Truck and Sway. Pass on the rest of the catalog. The Cookie Monster/Scary Rock schtick gets old after a while.

best albums of the 90's: we be clubbin

publicenemy.jpeLet's hit a genre this time.

Wu Tang Clan - Enter the Wu Tang - 36 Chambers (1993)
Damn, I can't believe this album is ten years old. It hasn't aged a bit. Can it all be so Simple still makes me swoon. 36 Chambers set the standard for hip-hop. Without this album there is no Jay Z, no Biggie. I would be hard pressed to describe this album to someone who never heard Wu Tang. Perhaps: a waterfall of sound and fury, signifying everything. Too overwrought? Oh, RZA kicks some major ass.

Ice Cube - The Predator (1992) Yea, I know that the critics liked AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate better, but for us poser gangstas, you can't beat Check Yo Self, Wicked and It Was a Good Day.

Ice T - O.G. Original Gangsta (1991) Told ya I'm a poser. In 1991 I was a 29 year old, suburban, stay-at-home mom. But in the dark of night, when no one was looking, I was rockin' out to Bitches and Body Count. I still do that on Friday nights. And Ice T plays a cop on tv. We all sell out at some point, I guess.

Public Enemy - Fear of A Black Planet (1991) Can't have the above without this. For such a controversial record, it's on an abundance of best-of lists.

Hey, did you ever see the movie Fear of a Black Hat? Must see tv, people. Go rent it.

best albums of the 90's, Faith No More style

I may as well get the Faith No More out of the way.

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Three FNM albums (and for this specific list I am not including live or best of compilations, nor Eps) came out in the 90's: Angel Dust, King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetimeand Album of the Year. You would probably be hard pressed to find a person who isnt a hardcore FNM fan who would include KFAD (1992) in their best of the 90's list; I think its an acquired taste and one has to be able to recognize the genius of Mike Patton in order to really appreciate KFAD. Best song: Gentle Art of Making Enemies, of course.

If I had to make a list of my favorite albums ever, in order of preference, Angel Dust (1995)would be in the top five - maybe even the first. Patton is all over the place on this one, from screaming (Caffeine) to melodic (A Small Victory). The lyrics are as intense as the music - AD is filled with angst and anger and wistfulness. From beginning to end, a complete masterpiece, a work of art, a....you get the picture.

Album of the Year (1997) was a bit of a departure from the metal-tinged riffs and underlying creepiness of AD. Part rocker, part melancholy lounge singer material, AD is FNMs tightest album. The band sounds whole, Pattons voice is at is its best, and the lyrics and music blend so perfectly it could bring one to tears. Really. Stop looking at me like that. Just listen to Helpless or Paths of Glory or Ashes to Ashes.

Ok, thats five albums down and about one hundred to go.

[Off topic, thecomments in this thread are cracking me up.]

best album's of the 90's

[See here for reference and Dean for original impetus]

I'm going to do these two at a time, all day and night if I have to (hey, I do have a job to do here). It's going to help me keep my vow to stay away from the news and Ted Rall today.

I think the best way to do this is in a "no particular order" way, so as not to open myself up to an avalanche of emails and comments disputing my ranking of one album over another.

Let us begin.

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Pearl Jam - Ten
(1991) One of the hallmarks of a great album is the ability to listen to it from beginning to end, without skipping a song. Ten is one of those albums. Alive (which, coincidentally, just came on the Winamp) and Black are masterpieces of subtlety. While it's hard to understand exactly what Vedder is singing sometimes, there is no denying his emotion. Favorite song: Porch.

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Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991) Before SuperUnkown and mega-popularity came Badmotorfinger. This the best Soundgarden album. Don't let anyone tell you different. Evidence: Rusty Cage. Outshined. Jesus Christ Pose. Searching With My Good Eye Closed. And, the piece de resitance, Drawing Flies, which is possibly the best driving song ever. The hell with the "grunge" sound. This was rock and roll.