Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Attention Mr. & Mrs. America and all the ships at sea..."

Urgent message from Yahoo! News Service:

“Technology can sometimes be so ridiculous, we just have to tell you about it. Such is the case of the Japanese MPION MP3 player with acne-fighting technology. Wired writes the 128MB player can improve a girl's complexion by releasing positively and negatively charged ions that neutralize breakouts.
Apparently, you hold the music player to your face as you listen to tunes. Flipping the switch to minus releases negative ions to open pores and replenish moisture, while flipping the switch to the plus sign reduces oil and closes your pores back up. You need to do this for five to ten minutes per session.
That's right ladies and gents, zapping your pimples while you listen to Meatloaf is now possible thanks to this acne-fighting music player.”

Actually, I think listening to Meatloaf would give me cysts. And probably an addiction to Percodan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just A Minor Vent...

Just got kicked out of the living room for making fun of this years American Idol Finalists. It's 70's week and I've just heard the worst renditions EVER of Killer Queen, Hot Blooded and Papa Was A Rolling Stone. My girls love the show, but the price to watch in our house includes putting up with the verbal abuse I toss out to the contestants every once in a while.

Given my twisted and sarcastic personality I can't help but make snide remarks when confronted with such an obvious musical affront (and I'm sure that poor Freddie Mercury is turning in his grave tonight). In explaining to my 7 year old daughter why I didn't like this particular version of Killer Queen, I said,
"Do you like orange juice? How about tomorrow morning we fill your glass with half water, half OJ, 14 cups of sugar and a pickle?"

She stuck her tongue out and made a gagging noise.

"Exactly", I said.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Something Smells Funky!!

Nothing gets my blood boilin’ (in a good way) than really good FUNK music. That strong, complex rhythmic groove of the drums and bass, the scratchy guitar, the horny horn section and the soulful and usually playful vocals all add to the overall effect of the music.

I’m not talkin’ ‘bout rap, I’m talkin’ ‘bout the FUNK of the late 60’s through the late 70’s. Although some rap music can be pretty funky (Public Enemy, Ice-T, NWA, Eminem) I think it lacks the soul and ‘fun factor’ the funk of the 70’s had. Plus, most of the rap bands used (stole?) many of the beats and rhythms of the funk songs of the 1970’s as a rythmic base for their own brand of (usually) politically charged music. Early rap hasn't aged very well while the best funk of that period has aged like a fine wine.

Of course it all starts with the Godfather, the Prime Minister Of Funk, Mr. James Brown.

A taskmaster to the n’th degree, James insisted on hiring the tightest and most talented musicians around at the time, some of which went on to successful solo careers after graduating James Brown’s Funky Booty Camp.
Bootsy Collins, possibly the funkiest bassist ever, is probably the most famous of his early crew. Flamboyant and precise, his style of playing has gone on to influence a slew of players ranging from Flea (The Red Hot Chili Peppers) to Les Claypool (Primus) to name but a few.
Maceo Parker (saxophonist), Jimmy Nolan (guitar) and the Funky Drummer himself Clyde Stubblefield round out his impressive crew. This lineup created some of the best funk music ever pressed, including “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose”, “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved”, “Hot Pants” and “Funky Drummer”. Listen closely and you can hear James barking orders at his crew; when he yells ‘Bootsy!’ and Collins starts his snakey bass solo during Give It Up, you’ll get shivers.

I was having a conversation with Philbert the other day where he stated that any band who needed to use a spaceship during their concerts (E.L.O., Boston, etc) was not worth listening to. I reminded his that one of the funkiest (and greatest) group/ collectives of all time, Funkadelic/ Parliament, used one as part of their stage shows. Not quite sure if Phil acquiesced on this point or not, but there is absolutely no denying that these guys were a formidable funky force to be reckoned with during the 70’s. Albums such as Maggot Brain, One Nation Under A Groove and Mothership Connection have become funk standards and have influenced countless rock, R & B and rap bands over the years.

There were so many seminal funk albums released during this time that it’s hard to keep track. Here’s some favorites of mine that I believe are worth tracking down and should be in every music aficionado’s collection: “Ah, The Name Is Bootsy… Baby” by Bootsy Collins; “In The Jungle Groove“, by James Brown; “Innervisions”, by Stevie Wonder; “Superfly”, by Curtis Mayfield; “Fire”, by the Ohio Players; “Rejuvenation”, by The Meters; “The World Is A Ghetto”, by WAR; “Street Songs”, by Rick James; “Machine Gun”, by The Commodores; “Car Wash“, by Rose Royce. And, really, anything by Parliament, Funkadelic or James Brown.

In the immortal words of George Clinton, “Free your mind and your ass will follow!"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Die, Die My Darling

Isn’t it sad to see your favorite bands go down the proverbial crapper? Some bands have the good sense to call it quits when the creativity dries up and others dive headfirst into self parody and insignificance willingly, often tainting their legacies in the process.

Hindsight is 20-20 and the following is my own pigheaded evaluation and opinion of a few bands and artists who either got it right, or horribly wrong.

The Beatles
Lifespan 1963-1970
Virtually every album a winner, probably died at exactly the right time.
E'S VERDICT: Should of died after 8 years, which they did!

The Rolling Stones
Lifespan: 1964-Present Day.
Should have disbanded in 1978 right after Some Girls, although some would argue 1981’s Tattoo You was their last ‘Classic Album’.
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 14 years.

The Who
Lifespan: 1965-Present Day
Should have ’let go the coat’ after Moon The Loon died. 1973 was the year their last great album, Quadrophenia, was released.
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 9 years.

Lifespan: 1975-Present Day
Bon Scott was classic sleaze and the band pretty much invented the Dance Metal genre. Back in Black was great, but after that things got fuzzy. Should never have done Maximum Overdrive. 1980 was the year they should have died.
E'S VERDICT: SHould have died after 6 years.

Lifespan: 1994-Present Day
Two magnificent albums, then one bloated record after another from these boys from Manchester. Needed to give up the gig after 1995’s What’s The Story Morning Glory?
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 2 years.

Big Star
Lifespan: 1972-1974
Two near perfect albums, one mental breakdown. Like the Beatles, broke up at exactly the right moment in time.
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 3 years, which they did!.

Lifespan: 1991-2003
Parklife and The Great Escape re-defined British pop, and 1997’s self titled album was a great re-invention of their sound, but that’s where it should have ended. They limped on for another 6 years before they called it a day.
E'S VERDICT: SHould have died after 7 years.

The Clash
Lifespan: 1977-1985
After Mick Jones was sacked after Combat Rock Joe Strummer soldiered on, hiring two young punks of questionable talent and releasing the God-awful and aptly titled ‘Cut The Crap’.
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 6 years

David Bowie
Lifespan: 1967-Present Day
In all honesty, David Bowie released his last great album, Scary Monsters, in 1980. Many missteps were to follow, including the Glass Spider fiasco. Some say he’s made a comeback, I say he should have packed up his mascara in 1980...
E'S VERDICT: Should have died after 14 Years

If the above is correct, and I know it is, the MAXIMUM lifespan of a band should be no more than 7 1/2 years. There will be oddities, of course, but not many...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Rock Star Quotes

"Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed"
--The Boss

"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts.”
--Henry Rollins

"I don't intend to be a performing flea anymore.
I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be
around I don't intend to be running at 20,000
miles an hour trying to prove myself.
I don't want to die at 40."
--John Lennon

“If you love god, burn a church”
--Jello Biafra

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I've Got Angst In My Pants!

See that album over there on the right? Nick Lowe just re-issued that seminal 1978 album today, complete with ample bonus tracks all in a beautifully designed package.

I wanted a hard copy.

I purchase most of my music via MP3 format now, but for special albums I will actually plunk down the extra money for the hard copy. The re-issue of Jesus Of Cool is absolutely one of those albums.
Since there are no brick and mortar record stores around anymore I am forced to go to Best Buy or...ughh...Circuit City. After work today I walked into Best Buy with my crumpled $20 bill and looked for that iconic cover in the 'New Releases' section.


I looked under the 'L's in the general inventory but they didn't even have a label for poor Nick. Not even a greatest hits comp. I asked one of the pimply-faced clerks who cheerfully said "Nick WHO?" and proceeded to look in her computer inventory. She informed me that they have two copies ordered and that it might take 10-14 days for them to arrive. I politely thanked her, walked to my car and drove to...ughhh...Circuit City. Same freakin' deal there, not ordered yet. 14 days, sir. Thanks for coming in!

Long story short I downloaded the sucker from iTunes, printed the album cover on some glossy photo paper, stuck it in a jewel case and burned an archival copy for back-up.

I guess Nick's just not that great a priority. There were, however, plenty of Panic At The Disco and Fall Out Boy albums...

Oh, and the bonus tracks? They're great! Worth my $9.99, for sure.

Anyhew, I'll need to own the hard copy someday but until then I'll have to make due with my cut-and-paste version.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Kula Wait Is Kula Over!

ALBUM: Strangefolk
ARTIST: Kula Shaker

After months, nay YEARS of pining for a follow up to Kula Shaker’s Pigs, Peasants and Astronauts, the mighty Shaker have finally released Strangefolk. Expectations were high. It reminds me a little of the great ‘folk-rock revival’ scare back in 1999, when the Spin Doctors came out with ’Here Comes The Bride’, their homage to Mike and The Mechanics folk rock masterpiece, The Living Years. It was a disappointment to all us ’Spinheads’, and we had always hoped the band would stage a comeback. But it took over 6 years for the bearded nanny’s to create a follow up, and by then no one was listening. In the 7 years between Shaker albums their fan base has dwindled considerably, but those that remain are some serious strange folk indeed.
You may recall the famous Provo Utah Kula Kompound standoff of 2003, where five innocent Quaker Elders were massacred by the Shaker faithful in a ritualistic sacrifice marathon that lasted for 6 days, 6 hours and 6 minutes. The Devotees of The Shaker strapped the Quakers, one at a time, to a huge turntable device covered in plush green and orange shag carpeting, then spun them around and around to the strains of Sleeping Jiva. Once the Quakers were sufficiently discombobulated to the Shaker’s satisfaction, they would push them into the yard where they were viciously mauled and eaten by Mexican Hairless pigs.
The standoff went on for days before an enterprising young police rookie had the bright idea to blast Cat Stevens records until the cult surrendered, which they did. About halfway through Lady d’Arbanville, 10 of the cultists came out holding their ears, some bleeding profusely. The rest of the cult, it was reported, simply committed suicide at the chorus to Wild World.

What about the new album Uncle E, you ask? Is it any good?

Well, no actually. It’s total crap.

Come on, you didn’t actually think I was serious, did you? I mean, come on! “K” was good fun and all, but…

I think Britain’s own New Musical Express has summed up the new album better than I ever could, so let’s have a read, eh?

"It’s possible that no album has arrived at NME Towers on more of a hiding to nothing than ‘Strangefolk’. For younger readers, Kula Shaker were eminently punchable mid-’90s toffs with an irritating line in Indian spirituality-obsessed psychedelia, and, in Crispian Mills, the most instantly hateworthy frontman who ever lived. Depressingly, the vaguely impressive Verve-isms of opening track ‘Out On The Highway’ suggest we may be forced into the most unlikely critical coddling in music journalism history, but as soon as Mills indulges his inner hippy on ‘Second Sight’, the die is cast. The title track sounds like it is vocalised by the female speech function on a Mac’s TextEdit facility and is roughly the worst thing ever made, yet it’s still only the third-worst track on the album (‘Great Dictator (Of The Free World)’ and ‘Dr Kitt’, in case you’re wondering).

‘Strangefolk’? Shitberks."

‘nuff said?

Under The Radar & Unclassifiable

ALBUM: The Return To Form Black Magick Party
ARTIST: Pop Levi

So this one hit me from out of left field. Part pop, part glam rock, part Led Zep, part freak folk, this English multi-instrumentalist has put out an extremely interesting and, dare I say it, refreshing listen.

It starts off with "Sugar Assault Me Now”, a 70’s style power pop number with pounding drums, great fuzz bass and a chugging guitar riff. Probably the catchiest song you’ll hear all year.
Blue Honey” opens with a bass that sounds like the strings are going to fall off any minute, then morphs into the best Led Zep/ Bay City Rollers amalgamation since, well, never.
“(A Style Called) Crying Chic” is a shuffling folky number that reminds me a bit of classic Donovan. Once again, like all the other tracks on this album, it’s immediately catchy.
Jittery cotton candy fun house music to the max, “Pick-Me-Up Uppercut” has the distinction of being the only really irritating song on the album, and kind of kills the flow for me.
Skip Ghetto” brings it back to earth, though. Another strolling psychedelic folk number, Mr. Levi (I assume), sounding more like Physical Graffiti era Robert Plant than Jack White ever could. Very nice number, this.
Dollar Bill Rock”. Rollicking Marc Bolan guitars, handclaps, squeeze box, like the sound of Bourbon Street hookers.
Flirting” should have been released in 1964. glockenspiel, gentle guitars, a ’whoooh whoooh whoooh’ chorus and Spector like production.
Mournin’ Light”. Rocks like a motherf*&^er. I will be playing this very loud on the way to work tomorrow.
See My Lord” is the albums’ “Revolution #9”. Weird, disjointed and nary a melody in sight. Sound experimentation bordering on musique concrete.
Then “Hades Lady” brings it back to classic mode, once again. Fuzz guitar, a stomping drum beat and sing-along lyrics. Love the title of the song too, by the way.
From The Day That You Were Born” is VERY John Lennon, circa the White Album. Probably my favorite track on the album. Piano, Harrison style guitar, soulful vocals and ending with some tasteful orchestration. Great way to close the album.

Overall, I dig this album immensely. Even though the influences are apparent, this band somehow makes it all sound original and fresh. I would recommend it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dazed And Confused On Appleby Line

My folks preferred to have their kids drink where they knew they couldn’t get arrested.

Back in the good old C.A.N.A.D.A., where I was raised, I used to throw bonfire parties out in our ‘backyard’ (our house backed onto 88 acres of harvested corn field) which consisted of about 100 or so rowdy teenagers, good music, crappy wine, great beer, DuMaurier Special Mild smokes, other combustibles and about one cord of wood.

The planning was the thing, though.

Invitations were always word of mouth, and consisted of me telling a few people who would tell as many people as they could, which would result in quite the cross section of, shall we say, personalities. Back in rural Canada (Dave, stop it!), everyone was always looking for a good reason to party, so I always felt confident that there would be plenty of people.
On Saturday (always Saturday), I would start preparing for the onslaught. Sometimes, usually actually, I would have one or more friends come over early and help. We all agreed that drinking, for us festival organizers , would commence immediately following lunch. At about 1pm, we would start dragging the extension cords from the garage to the ‘pit’ area, where the stereo would be set up. That’s right, I’m not talkin’ ‘bout no ghetto blaster here. I would drag my Techniques dual cassette player and amplifier (with 20 band equalizer, of course) and secure it about 10-20 feet away from the ‘pit’. Then out came the speakers: 3 feet tall, 250 Watts per side, dual polypropylene woofers and cone tweeters all in their faux oak, reinforced casings. These bad boys were massive and they were LOUD! Punk and electronic music sounded particularly good.

Two weeks prior to the event I would compile my mix-tapes. They were all numbered and sorted according to the time and the mood, naturally. More mellow stuff for the first hour, slowly progressing in energy level as the night went on, then back to ‘chill mode’ for the later part of the evening.

This never worked. Partly because I was too drunk, too involved with a girl, or because I delegated the duties to someone else less musically inclined. By the second hour nobody cared much anyway.

It was fun to watch people arrive. They would always trickle in slowly at first, then quicker by the minute after that, the stream of headlights looking a little like that scene from Field Of Dreams. Out popped punkers, jocks, so-called nerds, college buddies, some relatives (cousins), cheerleader-types, batcavers, skids (long hairs), you name it, all carrying their chosen bag ‘o’ beverage for the evening.

Mass consumption of alcohol (and perhaps other forms of intoxicants!) ensued, which led to lots of dancing, talking, laughing (giggling, for those partaking of the ‘other’ intoxicants), hooking up and various other hilarious moments.
My good friend Dave recounts one particularly silly moment:

“There was a fellow there who was showing off some of his wide array of martial arts moves near the bonfire. (I have no idea what his name was... I've since dubbed him "Skarate").
The Specials came on the stereo, and this gentleman kicks it up a notch, and proceeds to demonstrate some sort of run/jump/kick move THROUGH the (quite large) flames of the bonfire. The smoky silhouette lands in the lap of my friend Pam. The putrid smell of burnt hair was overwhelming.
He pops up out of Pam's lap, brushes himself off and casually states "I love the Ska", and walks away.”

Another friend and his ‘lady’ thought it would be a good idea to streak through the house, unbeknownst to me at the time. They ran all over the raised ranch and eventually ended up in my folks bedroom, which they apparently thought was empty. That is, until my Dad turned on the side table lamp wondering what the hell all that screaming and giggling was about.

They thought they were being robbed. By streakers, apparently.

Good sports, my Mum and Dad.

I believe there were a couple of good 'dust-ups' every once in a great while, but they never got too out of control.

The house rule was that if anyone was too drunk to drive they could stay, either in the basement or they could pitch a tent somewhere in the back yard, which some actually did. In the morning Mum would make a hearty breakfast, tell us to “try not to let your friends streak in the house next time, boys”, ask us if everyone had a good time and then tell us to go clean up her backyard.

Clean up was never fun, but it was lucrative. Bottles were freakin’ everywhere, some broken, most not, and I usually netted enough to buy my next case of beer and a pack of smokes. It would usually take me upwards to two hours to clean everything up to my parents satisfaction.

In hindsight, especially in this litigious society we now live in, I think my folks were VERY lucky that nothing really serious ever happened at these things. But nothing ever did.

There are a ton of other stories out there about these bonfires, most of which I cannot recall due to my well documented case of Molson Lager Amnesia, so if any of you Canucks out there remember others, please tell~

Friday, February 15, 2008

More Tales From The “Who Gives A Rat's Ass?” File

From the Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. - The chief songwriter and founder of the band Boston has more than a feeling that he's being ripped off by Mike Huckabee. In a letter to the Republican presidential hopeful, Tom Scholz complains that Huckabee is using his 1970s smash hit song "More Than a Feeling" without his permission.
A former member of the band, Barry Goudreau, has appeared with Huckabee at campaign events, and they have played the song with Huckabee's band, Capitol Offense.
Scholz, who said Goudreau left the band more than 25 years ago after a three-year stint, objects to the implication that the band and one of its members has endorsed Huckabee's candidacy.
"Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for," wrote Scholz, adding that he is supporting Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. "By using my song, and my band's name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed. In other words, I think I've been ripped off, dude!"

He recommends that Huckabee "stick to music recorded by far-right Republicans."

Stick to music by far-right republicans, eh?

Let’s see, that would include Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Charlie Daniels, Foghat and the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd (we won't count Tom Selleck, even though I hear he plays one hell of a mean Pan Flute!)
Boy, what a creepy concert that would be, eh kiddies? Let's see what kind of possible campaign anthems Huckabee would have to choose from should he decide to pick songs from within his own party:

"Is It My Body?", "Muscle Of Love" or "Welcome To My Nightmare", by Alice Cooper

"Funk You", "Love Grenade" or "Bridge Over Troubled Daughters", by Ted Nugent

"What This World Needs Is More Rednecks", "Drinkin' My Baby Away" or "The Devil Went Down To Georgia", by Charlie Daniels

"Slow Ride" or "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", by Foghat

"Free Bird", "Gimme Back My Bullets" or "What's Your Name", by Lynyrd Skynyrd

I dunno, they're all so appropriate.

If I were the Republicans, I think I'd stick to John Phillip Sousa marches.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Replacements Fans Rejoice!

Hot off the wire from the NME: "The Replacements have announced that they will release deluxe reissues of four of their landmark albums this spring.

The influential American rockers are preparing to reissue 'Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash', 'Stink', 'Hootenanny' and 'Let It Be' on April 22 in the US.

The albums, which were originally released between 1981 and 1984, have been remastered and contain bonus material featuring rare and previously unreleased tracks."

If you're a Replacements fan, which I am, this is some pretty exciting news. I'll also be purchasing the deluxe 30th anniversary edition of Nick Lowe's Jesus Of Cool when it comes in next Tuesday. It will contain all tracks from both the English AND American (where it was called Pure Pop For Now People) edition plus some other little gems.

Can't wait!

More Great Rock Star Quotes

“I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.”

"If it has more than three chords, it's jazz."

"Being famous is great. I can't understand
Eddie Vedder. I mean, lad, if you hate your job,
why don't you f*cking work at a car wash?" --

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bogus Band Bio #4: Who’s Cryin’ Now?, part V

'Why are you drinking?' demanded the little prince.
'So that I may forget,' replied the tippler.
'Forget what?' inquired the little prince, who was already sorry for him.
'Forget that I am ashamed,' the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
'Ashamed of what?' insisted the little prince, who wanted to help.
'Ashamed of drinking!' the tippler brought his speech to an end, and shut himself up in an impregnable silence.
And the little prince went away puzzled.
'The grown-ups are certainly very, very odd,' he said to himself.'

Excerpt from ‘The Little Prince’

“I’m hallucinating,” Steve thought to himself as keyboardist Gregg Rolie started to bang out the opening riff to ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. His eyes turned to the red light bulb above the door to the studio. ‘This has already happened. THIS HAS ALREADY FREAKIN’ HAPPENED!!” Steve yelled, out loud this time, and violently threw his mike stand through the framed photo of Andy Kim, destroying it instantly.

“Hey, WHOA,” yelled Schon. “A little respect for the mighty Kim, bro! My mother painted that!”

Steve started hyperventilating, and soon fell to his knees.

He had every intention of playing along with this 'dream', he really did. But this was just too surreal to keep up the facade. He could smell the putrid sweat emanating from Schon’s ratty headband (or was it the leather trousers?) for God's sake. And how often does one dream about odors, anyway?

Neil Schon once again broke the silence. “This better not be the Peyote, Steve. You signed a waiver!”


Oh, right.

Steve remembered that back in the late 70’s, friend and confidante Gary Glitter gave him some Peyote at one of his famous swinging ‘fish bowl’ parties. Steve had heard of Peyote, but just that it was a plant, with an effect not unlike pot. He didn’t realize until it was too late that the main psychotropic ingredient in Peyote is Mescaline, which can be highly addictive. Steve ended up hooked for over 12 months before the band decided to have an intervention. The thought of being forced out of Journey was just too painful, so he agreed to 2 months of rehab and to sign a ‘Band Document’ (a letter of intent, really), which was the 'waiver' Neil was referring to.

His head started swimming again, but this time he couldn’t breathe. There was something blocking his throat. He tried to cough but all that came out was an ever expanding river of white foam.

“Get an ambulance,” cried Neil.

Then Steve, once again, blacked out.

What Steve couldn’t have known is that the boys were sending him to Lakeview Nervous Hospital, an infamous lunatic asylum run by, reputedly, the Devil himself…

To be continued…

1 Line Record Reviews

Encapsulating for your (dis)pleasure some of my favorite albums in one easy to digest sentence.

Hey, it's harder than it looks…

OK Computer, by Radiohead: “The template for the future of alternative rock.”

Revolver, by The Beatles: “Every band today owes a massive sonic debt to Revolver.”

Stone Roses, The Stone Roses: “Psychedelic pop matched with the freewheeling spirit of Funkadelic and Led Zeppelin.”

Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd: “So sonically brilliant I understand they have an entire factory in Germany dedicated to creating just this one CD.”

Jesus Of Cool, by Nick Lowe: “Anyone who can write a lyric like ‘I heard they castrated Castro’ and make it the poppiest thing since the Archies deserves massive props!”--thanks for the 'steal', Phil...

London Calling, by The Clash: “The punks cried ‘Sell out’ while everyone else cried ‘Genius!’”

Blood On The Tracks, by Bob Dylan: “One broken marriage, one great album, filled with warmer acoustic numbers that are still inspiring the young’uns!”

Parklife, by Blur: “The younger, cheekier and seedier brother to Ray Davies' The Villiage Green Preservation Society, Parklife is 1990's England personified.

Screamadelica, by Primal Scream: “Perfectly blending the drugged out bliss of the 1960’s with the drugged out bliss of the early 1990’s, Screamadelica is a masterpiece of modern sonic experimentation and organic instrumentation that still sounds revelatory even today.

Hunky Dory, by David Bowie: “Better than Ziggy Stardust, period.”

Kind Of Blue, by Miles Davis: “No beret or funny little beard required to enjoy this cornerstone album, just good taste.”

Transformer, by Lou Reed: “A more gloriously seedy celebration of junkies, whores and transvestites has never been heard.”

Saturday, February 9, 2008

iPod Roulette

It’s time for another edition of “iPod Roulette”, ladies and germs.

Uncle E is putting it all on the line again for your petty amusement and desire for cheap thrills!
I’ve decided to up the ante for this one by adding an additional five tracks. Stupid or daring, I don’t know.

Probably stupid.

Here we go…thumb on the button and…SHUFFLE!

#1. Running Scared, by Roy Orbison.
Hey, he's a classic! I'm gonna be allright.

#2. The Ballad Of Wendell Scott, By Mojo Nixon
One of my favorite turd-rockers from San Diego. Cool.

#3. Victoria, by The Kinks
Doesn't get more classy than Ray Davies. 12 to go.

#4. Great King Rat, by Queen
Oohhh. I've already confessed my love for Queen, but this Dungeons & Dragons track from their early days is right on the edge...

#5. Ways To Be Wicked, by Lone Justice
Don't think anyone out there will know this little known band from the 80's. God, I don't even remember them!

#6. Venus In Furs, The Velvet Underground
Ok, now we're smokin'. Cool incarnate, man.

#7. Your Possible Past, by Pink Floyd
Don't care what all you Floyd-Heads out there think, The FInal Cut was a damn fine album!!

#8. Dirty Day, by U2
Back in the days when U2 were still good. Seven more to go.

#9. Oye Como Va, by Santana
This is going well.

#10. Peter’s Donuts, by Bob and Doug McKenzie
Those damn drunken Canadian bufoons can still make me laugh!

#11. When The Lovelight Starts SHining Through His Eyes, by The Supremes
An early Motown classic, way before Diana Ross became a man.

#12. Wishbone, by Architecture In Helsinki
One of my least favorite songs on the album "In Case We Die". Artistically sound, though.

#13. Baby Boomerang, by T. Rex
Can't go wrong with the T Man!!!!

#14. The Wrath Of Marcie, by The Go! Team

Like the soundtrack to "Adult Swim" programs on the Cartoon Network. These guys have really grown on me in the last few months. Just ONE left now...

#15. Mother’s Talk, by Tears For Fears
All right, not disasterous. Dated, but not embarrassing.


Great Rock Star Quotes

"I feel bad for the guy. You hate to
see anyone fall apart. Nevertheless, he
should keep his f*@king hands off my kids."
-- DAVE GROHL on Michael Jackson

Friday, February 8, 2008

Punk Rock Girl

I’ve been thinking.

I know, a dangerous thing, especially for one who maintains a blog on the W.W.W. and updates it on a regular basis. But I can’t help it; if I don’t get these thoughts out of my head and onto e-paper I’ll have to actually talk to someone real, and that is infinitely more dangerous, so…

…I’ve been thinking.

About the different groups of people I hung out with during my ‘formative years’, and what kind of influence they had on my musical tastes and prejudices. There were many different groups and each had a profound influence on who and what I listen to.

But I just want to talk about one today. Her name is Tammy, and she was about as rock and roll as it gets. Spiky hair, ripped fishnets, dark eyeliner, leather jacket, some politically incorrect tee-shirt, smoked too much and drank like a fish (didn‘t we all?). A real Goth-punk chick, but in a very cool way. She was espousing the virtues of David Bowie before it was cool, and she shared a love for the more adventurous music of the day, which was primarily punk and underground ‘new wave’, a term I absolutely loathe.

During those halcyon days way back in the 1980's, I’m sure most of my old friends would agree, getting ready to go out partying took some preparation. For me, it was lacing up those knee high Yugoslavian army boots. Took ages, man. Ripped jeans, a white or black tee-shirt (I believe my tee-de-jour said “EAT THE RICH”), black leather jacket (‘natch!) and a doo-rag, or bandana covering my head. With our respective boyfriends and girlfriends (I always got the psycho chicks!) we would go to underground dance clubs like the now defunct Matches and RPM, dance under the strobes to bands like Fad Gadget, The Sisters Of Mercy and Tones On Tail, smoke and drink too much, usually throw up and then go home. Man, were those some good times…yeah, good times.

Actually, they were. I’m not being funny. Really. Everything except the throwing up, that usually wasn’t too much fun. But come on, we were in our teens, we were freakin’ invincible, IMMORTAL!

But, as I'm often want to do, I digress.

So back to Tammy. My mother is fond of reminding me of an incident Tammy and I had with my Grandmother, one of the most prissy, Victorian proper “ladies” who ever walked this earth. Whenever I ate dinner at her house she would make me say, “I am replete, may I leave the table?” instead of my usual “GOD I’m stuffed, I gotta go pinch a loaf!” response. Get the point? She was old school baby, and she didn’t take kindly to freaks.

Of course, being the guy I am I decided it would be a good idea to bring Tammy to meet dear Nana. Can’t quite recall the circumstances leading up to that meeting, but it happened nonetheless. I thought it would be fun to see Nana’s reaction. Tammy didn’t dress up for the event, either (again, my memory is a tad hazy on some of the details, so forgive me if I’m wrong, Tam), wearing the same clothes she always wore, as described above. Meeting my grandmother was a little bit like meeting the queen; usually a very formal affair, with lots of protocol. Bow slightly, always address her initially as Mrs. Fletcher, then each subsequent time you address her in later conversation you will use “'Ma'am.” Do not, under any circumstances chew gum. Do not turn your back on her. Always wear gloves in her presence. Do not, under any circumstances, fart in her presence.

Bottom line was that I knew Tammy would just ‘be Tammy’, and I was ready for some real fun.

But something strange and unexpected happened. My Grandmother LOVED Tammy. Actually adored her. They sat there chatting about God-knows-what while I was left on the other side of the couch, bored and sucking on stale peppermints. Tammy must have really impressed her, because as we were leaving my Nana gave her $20.00! Not me, her favorite blue-eyed doting grandson, but Tammy, this ripped stocking spiky-haired rock and roll freaky chick I thought for sure would have given my Nana a freakin’ heart attack, or a stroke at the very least!

But she gave her $20 instead.

Tammy is now married to another friend, Steve, and are now living in New Zealand (please explain someday, Tam?). She tells me she doesn’t smoke, burned all of her punk rock garb, had a beautiful baby and is a responsible citizen concerned with saving the earth from it’s impending doom at the hands of the intergalactic space warriors, the Unarians.

Actually, I made that last bit up, but the rest is true.

I think.

Damn Molson Canadian!

*(By the way, the photo at the top of this post is NOT Tammy, just a crude facsimile.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Great Rock Star Quotes

"I've never had a problem with drugs.
I've had problems with the police."

Self Indulgent Post # 37a

Which was the best decade for Rock And Roll?

Let’s just take a few minutes and see if we can come up with an answer. It would take waaaay too much time and effort for a sick-o like me (damn head cold again) to list all of the best albums that came out during each decade, so I thought I’d just name the bands that released their debut album during each decade, and leave it at that. Most released their undisputed “masterpieces” during the decade of their inception anyway, so I think the logic is sound.

Shall we?

Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry.

Although most artists released singles and not proper albums back in the 1950’s, each of the afore mentioned artists were formidable talents and were extremely influential.

The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, The Who, Leonard Cohen, The Kinks, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel, The Yardbirds, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Moby Grape, Cream, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, CCR, Grateful Dead, Big Brother And The Holding Company, The Small Faces, The Band, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash, Flying Burrito Brothers (Gram Parsons), Nick Drake, Led Zeppelin, MC5, The Stooges, The Temptations, Santana, Strevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Sly And The Family Stone.

From folk to psycedelia to hard rock, this decade seemed to have it all. I think it's safe to say that this decade saw the greatest 'burst' of creativity, but did it release the best music? Read on...

Black Sabbath, John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney’s solo stuff, Soft Machine, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Jim Croce, Jethro Tull, Marvin Gaye, The Bee Gees, YES, Carole King, Isaac Hayes, The Allman Brothers, Elton John, John Prine, Funkadelic/ Parliament, Flamin’ Groovies, T-Rex, David Bowie, Randy Newman, Big Star, Steely Dan, Lou Reed solo stuff, Iggy Pop, The Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Paul Simon solo stuff, Roxy Music, Alice Cooper, WAR, Bob Marley, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Genesis, ZZ Top, New York Dolls, The Stranglers, Kraftwerk, Queen, Supertramp, 10CC, NEU!, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, The Modern Lovers, KISS, RUSH, Billy Joel, ELO, Wire, Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, The Jam, Buzzcocks, Van Halen, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Police, AC/DC, The B-52,s, Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Cheap Trick, The Specials, Motorhead, Nick Lowe.

A little self indulgent but loaded with great musicianship and flamboyant showmanship!

Adam Ant, Cramps, Dead Kennedys, The Cure, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Killing Joke, New Order, English Beat, The Pretenders, OMD, Psychedelic Furs, Black Flag, Bauhaus, ABC, Madness, Orange Juice, Violent Femmes, R.E.M., The The, The Blue Nile, U2, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Replacements, Lloyd Cole, Tears For Fears, The Fall, Mekons, The Pogues, Kate Bush, Jesus And Mary Chain, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Talk Talk, Billy Bragg, Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, XTC, Dinosaur Jr., The Cult, Dfepeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Sisters Of Mercy, Guns ‘n’Roses, Butthole Surfers, Husker Du, Waterboys, Fishbone, Mudhoney, Pop Will Eat Itself, Happy Mondays, Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, American Music Club, Janes Addiction, Public Enemy, Faith No More, Madonna, INXS, The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Fugazi, N.W.A, Art Of Noise, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave, Housemartins, Love and Rockets, Prefab Sprout, Renegade Soundwave, Stephen Duffy.

Unfairly dismissed as a rotten and wasted decade for music. How can you say that about a decade that birthed the Smiths?

The Shamen, The LA’s, The Black Crowes, Ride, Nirvana, Ice-T, Pearl Jam, The KLF, Massive Attack, Teenage Fan club, Pavement, Morrissey solo stuff, Rage Against The Machine, Lemonheads, Spiritualized, Alice In Chains, Suede, Blur, Oasis, Paul Weller solo stuff, Smashing Pumpkins, Grant Lee Buffalo, Jamiroquai, Bjork, The Orb, Boo Radleys, Sebadoh, Portishead, Jeff Buckley, Nine Inch Nails, Chemical Brothers, Green Day, Prodigy, Foo Fighters, Supergrass, Radiohead, The Verve, Leftfield, Super Furry Animals, Stereolab, Beck, Belle and Sebastian, Wilco, Eels, Son Volt, The Charlatans, Underworld, Daft Punk, Mercury Rev, Queens Of The Sone Age, AIR, Lambchop White Stripes, Kings Of Leon, The Beta Band, Ben Folds Five, Of Montreal, Grandaddy.

Starting to slow down a notch or two on the creativity, but the 90's still produced some excellent bands. If we were going by great albums the fate of this decade would be much different.

Ryan Adams, Goldfrapp, M Ward, Gorillaz, The Strokes, Gotan Project, Royksopp, Doves, The Hives, The Vines, Carbon/ Silicon, Iron and Wine, Mars Volta, Scissor Sisters, Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, N.E.R.D., The Libertines, The Streets, A3, Aqueduct, Arctic Monkees, Band Of Horses, Broken Social Scene, The Clientelle, The Go Team, Trans Am, Golden Bear, Great Lake Swimmers, Handsome Furs, Hot Chip, Jack Johnson, Kasabian, LCD Soundsystem, Caribou, Midlake, Muse, My Morning Jacket, The National, New Pornographers, Panda Bear, Rooney, Secret Machines, Black Mountain, Shout Out Louds, Stars, Willowz.

A resurgence of sorts with many excellent, talented bands who have yet to reach their full potential.

So let me ask you again: “Which was the best decade for Rock And Roll?”

I think the answer is, “It depends who you ask.” After looking at this list again, I gotta tell ya, I haven’t a friggin’ clue.

I am partial to the 80’s stuff because that’s what was playing when I was a teenager/ young adult, and maybe that’s the answer. Whatever was playing when you were growing up is bound to be your favorite decade for music. It’s when you’re at your most susceptible and when you’re forging those lifelong friendships through the mutual appreciation of alcohol, girls/ boys and…music. Make sense?


Well then, screw it! I’m too tired, too sick to debate anymore. Even with myself.

Think I’ll go watch VH1...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I bet this never happened to Iggy Pop.

Stepping in puppy crap and spot cleaning urine stains off the carpet at 2am is soooooooooo not rock and roll, man. As a matter of fact it's probably one of the least rock and roll things that can happen to a person!

I have a question for you: If someone drop-kicks a puppy across a fence, and no one's around to hear, did it really happen?

Just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading.


Monday, February 4, 2008

LIVE, AT BUDOKAN (well, Toronto actually...)

Fact #1. I’m married with two kids, own 2 cars, have a ridiculous monthly mortgage payment, work full time and live 141.35 miles from the nearest major “city”.

Fact #2. I never go to concerts anymore.

When I was single, stupid and lived near Toronto, Canada (current Pop: 5,000,000+ and growing!) I saw TONS of amazing concerts. The good thing about living near a big cosmopolitan city like Toronto is that most major bands will stop there on their world tours. The sheer variety of clubs and smaller venues also attracted many up and coming underground bands, most of which were from England.
The majority of the concerts I saw I can still remember vividly, others will forever be lost in a haze of smoke and Molson Canadian induced amnesia. Some I'm damned proud of and some I'm...well, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelete, right? My wife still won't forgive her parents for choosing to go see the Carpenters over Elvis, one of the worst decisions any parent ever made, I'm sure. Even after years of Primal Scream therapy she still has nightmares.

I thought I would take the time and jot down some of those more memorable shows for y'all. No real details, just a laundry list for my own (and maybe your) edification. Maybe it'll get you thinking of some of your favorite shows, and if you've got the time I'd love to hear about 'em.

For your consideration...

I saw INXS (they had just released Shabooh Shoobah) open for The Kinks in 1983. INXS were still pretty raw, the Kinks were fantastic! Seeing Ray Davies play those opening chords of Lola from 30 feet away was a magical experience.

I saw The Clash at Maple Leaf Gardens but I can’t remember who opened for them (amnesia), some reggae band I think. During London Calling the entire audience started kicking their seats to the beat and many came off their hinges and were thrown, Frisbee style, into the general vicinity of the security guards and police officers, metal frames and all. My friend hit someone in the head, I think it was a Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for all you Yankees). Great gig.

I was fortunate enough to see Spinal Tap with Shearer, Guest, McKean and an unknown guy on the drums (can’t recall if he “blowed up” at the end).

I have witnessed a plethora of punk gigs, the most memorable of which were SNFU, Forgotten Rebels, NOMEANSNO and GBH. The Pogues opened for GBH and simply blew them out of the water!

I saw Henry Rollins and the Beastie Boys, which was one of the loudest concerts I have ever seen.

Alice Cooper and Motorhead were a good show. Alice was a little surreal and a little over the top but Motorhead was 100% brute force and extremely entertaining.

Some of my favorite gigs were those underground bands from England that played the smaller clubs, such as Pop Will Eat Itself, Happy Mondays, The Wonder stuff, Inspiral Carpets, Billy Bragg, Stereo MC’s and Primal Scream.
OK, Dave, which ones have I forgotten?

Some 80’s staples I’ve seen: Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark, The Smiths (twice!), The Fixx (surprisingly good), The Cure, Simple Minds, U2, Depeche Mode, The English Beat, The Police, George Thorogood and Men Without Hats.

Concerts that friends had to drag me kicking and screaming to that I actually ended up enjoying were: The Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia, John Fogerty.

Bands that I wished I had the good fortune of seeing: Neil Young (I scalped my tickets for beer money!), The Who, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, BLUR, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, and a host of others too numerous to mention.

There were probably a hundred or more bands, especially given the amount of Lolapalooza-type festivals I attended, but those were the most memorable. I may take some of THE best and expand on them in future posts, but I'll have to edit most of them to attain a PG rating.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

QUEEN: "Let Me Entertain You"

I am officially putting my rock snob credentials in jeopardy by admitting that I have always been, and will always remain, a huge QUEEN fan.


Don’t go!

Let me explain, please?

When I was 9 years old my cousin came waltzing into my Grandmother’s house with a brand new album tucked under his arm. He placed it on the counter and proceeded to make himself a sandwich, after the obligatory salutations and mandatory small talk with Nana, of course. Curious, I walked over to the counter and flipped the album to peruse the cover.
It was one of the most amazing, disturbing, cool images I had ever seen. I was fascinated by it, to say the very least.
Pictured on the front was a giant silver robot, looking quite sad actually, who was holding two dead people in his hand; one with a bloody puncture wound in his chest (which explained the robot‘s bloody finger), the other seemed simply at peace. A third figure was falling to his death.
I would later learn that this was a reproduction/ manipulation of a cover for “Weird Tales” (I think it was Weird Tales, my fact checker is on coffee break!), a science fiction pulp magazine around the time of 1940. The artist was Frank Kelly Freas who would later, miraculously, go on to paint some iconic cover images of Alfred E. Newman for MAD magazine.
A few months later I conned my parents into letting me purchase the album News Of The World, and what I heard within those grooves still amazes me today. This was an album that was dark, brooding and stylistically all over the place, played by obviously competent musicians.
In a word, it was magnificent! Forget the stadium anthems We Will Rock You/ We Are The Champions, they’re the lamest on the disc. Try Sheer Heart Attack, penned by their drummer Roger Taylor, for it’s speed and ferocity that predated Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All by a full six years. Get Down, Make Love, a strange apocalyptic number later covered (though not so well) by Nine Inch Nails, still gives me chills when played at full volume. Fight From The Inside is chilly robo-funk, and Sleeping On The Sidewalk, a cautionary tale about the music biz, is a swaggering blues rocker with a killer guitar solo.

My favorite quote about Queen: “Their music is a bizarre yet highly accessible fusion of the macho and the fey.

Which brings us to Farrokh Bulsara.
Freddie Mercury, surely one of the best front men of all time, epitomized the macho and the fey. His songs were usually very dramatic, most often involved a piano intro and always, always delivered the goods. Even Bohemian Rhapsody after all these years still sounds fresh, at least to my ears, and I’ve heard it hundreds of times. When the band kicks into high gear ¾ of the way through the song…well, let’s just say it’s euphoric. And Bohemian Rhapsody is only one Mercury masterpiece out of many.

It sure didn’t hurt that Queen had one of the best and tightest rhythm sections in rock history either, with Roger Taylor on the kit and John Deacon on the bass. Both of whom wrote music, a number of which became fan favorites and chart toppers.

And the guitarist, one of the most underrated in history, was incredible. The guitar sound, played with an English coin instead of the traditional pick, has never been duplicated by anyone other than Brian May. Perhaps it’s partly due to the fact that he built his guitar out of wood from a mantelpiece and spare parts from a car (his “Red Special“) that makes it so unique. I dunno, probably. Whatever the case, it's sound is unlike any guitar I've heard before or since.
Brian also wrote some of Queen’s most famous songs (including Brighton Rock, Keep Yourself Alive and Tie Your Mother Down) and sang the majority of his own compositions. A triple threat, so to speak. Mr. May finally got some recognition when Rolling Stone Magazine recently voted him the 39th greatest guitarist of all time.

Queen reached their zenith with the Game, an unabashed ‘pop’ album with a strong funk influence. The critics, as usual, hated it but the fans made it their best selling album to date. It spawned the massive hits “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Play The Game”.

Then things started to go downhill, and fast. After releasing “Under Pressure” with David Bowie they offered up Hot Space, a strange hodge-podge of watered down funk, cheesy lyrics and an earnest, but sappy tribute to the recently assassinated John Lennon (“Life Is Real--Song For Lennon“). Brian May, understandably, went into a depression not long after the album was released.

I have to admit that after Hot Space I stopped listening. I chose not to tarnish their legacy by continuing to buy their post-1980 catalogue, but I will admit that I have heard (and even liked) some stuff off their 1984 album, The Works.

Sure they had a tendency to meander, and it is that meandering that seemed to pigeonhole them as pretentious in the eyes of the critical 'elite'. I think they had a wonderful sense of humor, (for the most part--Prophet's Song can get a little serious and "long in the tooth", even for me), and I don't think they ever took themselves too seriously. One of the last great unique bands, Queen.

Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but Queen was an integral part of my musical education. Why do I continue to listen? Perhaps it was the excellent musicianship, maybe the genre-hopping, or maybe the over-the-top theatricality of Mercury. Could be part nostalgia, also.

Who knows.

But I would like to think that, at the end of the day, it’s because those four amazing musicians knew how to write a great ‘pop’ song.

Go ahead, Philbert, give me your best shot! But remember: I know things...

God Save The Queen!

*Thanks to Holly, fellow blogger, for the inspiration for this post!*

BOGUS BAND BIO #4: "Who's Crying Now?", part IV

The sight that greeted Steve Perry wasn’t real. How could it be?

The studio where they had recorded the trio of albums which would come to be known as Journey’s ‘Cocoon’ Trilogy was exactly as he had remembered it. Corkboard walls, duct tape everywhere and the bands spiritual mentor, Andy Kim, hanging in an elaborate gold frame on the wall next to drummer Aynsley Dunbar.

Neil Schon, who was mauled and subsequently disfigured by a wolverine in 1993, looked great. Vaurnet sunglasses resting on the bridge of his nose, red headband wrapped around that magnificent afro, skin tight leather pants, green “Beatle” boots and his trademarked, heavily zippered pink leather jacket.

“What’s the matter, Steve?” asked Neil. “You ready to soft rock, or what?”

“Give me a minute…”, whispered a totally bewildered Steve. He wondered if he were dead. This was, for certain, the studio that yielded the sessions that would produce their most famous of albums, ESCAPE, which included the hit singles Don’t Stop Believin‘, Who’s Cryin’ Now? and Open Arms. So it could be Heaven, although Steve doubted that God would permit Neil’s head band there. God would probably also make Neil take the zucchini out of his trousers before being granted entrance to the pearly gates, but who knows?

He decided it was best to just play along, for a while, until he could figure out just what the Hell was going on.

“Yeah,” he said, and grabbed the microphone. “I’m ready to soft rock.”

…to be continued.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Just received an "URGENT" email from

Thought it was Steve Perry's attorneys serving me with an online writ of summons for the bogus Journey bio piece!
Turns out it's just an online graphics software company.

Like I say in the header, "WHEEEWWW!"

Can Rock Music Make A Difference?

Perhaps a better question would be, “Should rock music try to make a difference?”
God knows it tries.
Is it, though, out of guilt? Are millionaire rock stars like Bono simply feeling guilty about taking so much from society and feel the need to give back, or is it simply a prime example of ego run amok?
There is no doubt in my mind that rock music has shaped/ changed my life. From the friends I acquired (and still keep in touch with) through mutual appreciation for certain bands and albums to my still percolating desire to question authority at every available opportunity. As ridiculous as it sounds, I learned a great deal about politics and morals from listening to John Lennon, Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra. At least they got me thinking in the right direction. Yes, I may be a ‘corporate stooge’ to a degree, and I do work very hard for a publicly traded media company, but I think I have still retained my rebel attitude, albeit slightly watered down, over the years.

Here’s a little sermon from Jimmy Swaggart, or as I like to call him, Beelzebub.

“What is the truth about rock music? Music is a powerful, and perhaps the most powerful medium in the world. Music. Plato says when the music of a society changes, the whole society will change. Aristotle, a contemporary of Plato’s, says when music changes there should be laws to govern the nature and the character of that music. Lenin says that the best and the quickest way to undermine any society is through its music…Music, ladies and gentleman, is the gift of God. It was given to man to offer praises to God and to lift us up to him and to exalt Him to touch the tender recesses of our hearts and of our minds. Satan has taken music and he has counterfeited it, convoluted it, twisted it, exploited it and now he’s using it to hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer a message into the minds and the lifestyles of this generation.” (Jimmy Swaggart, sampled on PWEI’s Cure For Sanity album, 1990)

I totally agree. The religious right should be frightened.

From the folk music in the 60’s (“We Shall Overcome”, which Pete Seeger popularized, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, etc), to the punk movement in the 70’s (Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag) to the (self?) righteous Live Aid in the 80’s, rock musicians have at least attempted to make a difference. And perhaps, to some degree, they succeeded. Were the folkies of the 60’s at least partly responsible for ending the Vietnam war? They got people to take to the streets in protest, didn‘t they? So, maybe.
How about those punkers? Although I don’t really believe they changed anything, politically speaking, in a dramatic way (come on, Reagan was elected twice!), I think they got a lot of young people thinking about the direction of the country. Plus, props to them for shaking the music industry out of it’s corporate-controlled doldrums.
And the Live Aid folks, well they generated almost 240 million dollars for famine relief in Ethiopia, right? Good for them.

What about today? Well, you’re pretty much stuck with Bono and his self righteous pontificating. I really believe his heart’s in the right place, but he’s so damn earnest about it. Too damn earnest about it. My opinion is that he’s become somewhat of a self parody nowadays.
It’s also affected U2’s music, and not in a positive way. But that’s just my opinion.
And Jann Wenner, Publisher, who's always used Rolling Stone magazine to bolster the positions of the Left.

Hey, I totally realize that this is a rant, by the way.

To get back on track, why should the Swaggarts of the world be frightened? Because rock music exposes their hypocrisies, that’s why. These preachers preach, and that’s about it. Then they, for the most part, go back to their mansions, beat their kids and cheat on their wives. No real action and no real accountability. Totally self-serving and scared out of their ever-lovin’ wits that kids who listen to rock music will rise up and expose them for what they truly are. Hippocrates to the nth degree.
Unfortunately, I don’t see much action on the part of kids today. One theory is the fact that there is no draft. Faced/ forced with getting killed for a war you don’t believe in would be enough to get me to take to the streets.

And God bless folks like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, who are still plugging away trying to get the apathetic youth of today to take some damn action. Unfortunately, for all of us, it’s fallen on deaf ears.

So go burn your bras, eat the rich and peace love and eternal grooviness, y’all!

UPDATE, Sunday, Feb 3rd: One of R & R's greatest political bands, Gang Of Four, is set to release an album of new material in 2008. Dave Allen, the groups bassist, says,

"I recently looked around the music landscape, and there's no one out there doing anything about issues. What I'm really getting at is that we have on our hands a global conflict. Rock music has lost its way. People used to be speaking out in the arts ... but in the last 15 years, all the artists have become pro-everything. Rock ceded our voice to underground hip-hop, speaking out about social issues and American hegemony, but now even that's gone."--Can't wait for the new release!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Something's Gone Wrong, Again!

Something messed up and I had to remove the music player. Toby Keith and a slew of other talentless hacks started popping up, and God knows we can't have that.

So it's now dead. Sorry...

Oh, and all due apologies to any Toby Keith fans out there. I just can't stand the guy!