Monday, December 21, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (491) All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople [1972]

Everybody knows Mott the Hoople for their big hit, the title track from All the Young Dudes. But, you know, it's like, man, they made more than one song that just happened to be used in a popular movie. So based on that one song I was pretty excited to listen to Mott the Hoople's 1972 release. Expectations were almost impossibly high because "All the Young Dudes" is so good.

The story goes that the band wanted to break up, but David Bowie gave them "All the Young Dudes" and produced the album. And even though the song is and remains amazing, the rest of the album is top notch 1970's rock 'n' roll, a.k.a. classic rock. Much of it sounds like the Rolling Stones did during the same time period (also the last time the Stones would make listenable music).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (492) Vitalogy by Pearl Jam [1994]

Cover of "Vitalogy"Cover of Vitalogy
While I have never been a huge Pearl Jam fan (I don't dislike them though) and only knew one song from Number 492, Vitalogy was interesting and good. From my "research," i.e. a quick Google search, most reviewers saw it as an experimental album. The songs do span some differing sounds, for sure, but considering my preference for 60's psychedelic music, it did not seem to be all that experimental.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Track of the Week: Starry Eyes by The Records

I can't believe I had never heard this song until last week! Thanks LastFM recommendation radio station! This power pop classic, which I guess it is somewhere where I don't live, certainly deserves a place among the better rock 'n' roll songs of the 70's. Released in 1979, "Starry Eyes" was a near hit for The Records, peaking at #56 in the U.S. While it did not set the world on fire, it became a cult classic and eventually landed on the Pitchfork 500 (the online music critic site's list of the greatest 500 songs of the past 30 years).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (493) That's the Way of the World by Earth, Wind and Fire [1975]

Finally, some funk and soul! You can tell just from the fantastic album cover that these songs will groove along. And they do, but what sets That's the Way of the World apart as a funk/soul record is the song writing and musicianship. Not only a fun record, Earth, Wind & Fire succeed in making an interesting one as well. There are certainly some elements of jazz here. Fortunately, the band manages to almost completely avoid the self-indulgent side effect of most records which blend jazz and pop, soul, rock, etc.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Track of the Week: "Stay Forever" by Ween

Ween can pretty much do any music style ever and do it well. Not many bands can do that and maybe only the Beatles did it better. On "Stay Forever," Ween do the whole pretty Beatles ballad and it works. Boy does it work. Actually, I think if John Lennon hadn't been murdered and the Beatles had been able to get back together they would have sounded like the album this track appears on, White Pepper. (And if you believe an uncited source on Wikipedia, the album title is in reference to the Beatles' The Beatles a.k.a. "The White Album," and Sgt. Pepper's)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (494) She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper [1984]

I remember hearing a few of these songs on the radio in the early to mid-90's. The singles were good, but the overall record is even better. Simply put, if today's pop music sounded more like "She's So Unusual," it would be a billion times better than it is. Cyndi Lauper's sound here is peppy and fun, the lyrics generally straightforward and simple, but all of it is earnest and good. And for an 80's record with a certainly 80's sound, it has worn well and still sounds fresh 25 years later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (495) New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü [1985]

So I tend not to like hardcore punk because what I know about it is contemporary. But "New Day Rising" is really, really good! The guitars are fuzzed out. The singing is, well, actual singing. I mean, I like 70's punk, but contemporary hardcore punk sounds pretty stupid usually. This sounds like sped up garage rock and I love garage rock...and speed (or not). The vocals sound a bit pop-y, but not whinny like contemporary bands. Another plus.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (496) Destroyer by Kiss [1976]

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Destroyer  is a certifiably terrible album. Really, it sounds like a parody of Kiss. Everything is hard rock cliche. The high production value really amplifies how bad the band, especially the singing, is.

Rolling Stone 500: (497) Yo! Bum Rush the Show by Public Enemy [1987]

Wow. The first Public Enemy record sounds different from their songs I know from a few years later. The beats and rhyming are really old school. The good thing about even average hip-hop is it will almost always have a good beat. But the lesser songs on "Yo! Bum Rush the Show" do drag this record down.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (498) Tres Hombres by ZZ Top [1973]

I grew up listening to classic rock. My dad listened to this stuff all the time. For a reference point, watch That 70's Show. It pretty much is his generation in sitcom format. So, I know ZZ Top and I've heard their songs on the radio, but I usually change the station when they come up. The 70's-era blues-influenced classic hard rock style turns me off usually. It's okay, just not my tatse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (499) Born Under a Bad Sign by Albert King [1967]

Now this, this I can get behind. As I listened to Albert King play of course his amazing guitar playing stood out, but even more impressive, the backing band. Who could be that good. Well, freakin' Booker T. & the MGs that's who! Shoot, Issac Hayes plays piano on the record! The Memphis Horns! Steve Cropper! Alright, let me calm down for a second. Needless to say, though I still shall, I really dig that old Stax Records sound.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: Touch by Eurythmics [1983]

Making lists is hard. So when Rolling Stone made a list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, it was never going to please everyone. Now, I'm going to listen to each one and write about it. The end. Or beginning.

The first album on Rolling Stone's list is the Eurythmics' "Touch." Now, it came out in the early 80's and certainly sounds like the time. With that in mind, I have to say about half the songs have aged poorly. But the ones that are good are really, really good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Dead Weather Release Hilarious Interview Video...and a Record

The Dead WeatherImage by aurélien. via Flickr

The concept of the "supergroup" has been around since probably the Dirty Mac in the late sixties (John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell). Although they only played one show, we have gotten pretty used to supergroups touring and, frankly, sucking. Usually there is a burst of creativity and then egos get in the way and the band fades away, leaving behind so much Potential.

But there is one thing that can make a supergroup great: chemistry. And the Dead Weather, consisting of Jack White (White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack Lawrence (Greenhornes) and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), certainly have that. They recently released a video of an interview with the band that proves as much.

The organ pretty much makes this amazing.

Corn over flour tortillas? Blasphemy! Nevertheless, I want to see these guys live. I saw the Kills once and was pretty close to the stage and I completely fell in love with Alison Mosshart.

The End.

Hang You from the Heavens by The Dead Weather
Offend in Every Way by The White Stripes
Love Is a Deserter by The Kills
Pattern Skies by The Greenhornes

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Track of the Week: "Can't Stand Losing You" by The Police

Lots of people love the Police (except N.W.A., but that's something completely different), but I have always had a problem with how over-produced their stuff sounds. The songs are good, the playing good; I just do not particularly dig the production on most of their records. However, "Can't Stand Losing You" is so stripped down and to the point that I can't get enough of it.

The 1978-79 single also appeared on Outlandos d'Amour, the Police's debut album. Essentially, the song is an eerie story about a bad break-up. The narrative follows a man who can not accept the break-up. Okay, so far a basic rock 'n' roll (or, shoot, even blues) story. Generally there would be a positive resolution with finding another girl or just getting over the relationship. This is where "Can't Stand Losing You" goes from a good song with a catchy beat to a great song. The depressed narrator begins to see life as worthless and finally snaps after the second chorus of the song.

At about the 1:32 mark, all of a sudden the narrator just stops and the song gets strangely calm. Then he snaps and decides suicide is the only option. Only killing himself will get her attention and at the same time make her see how much she hurt him and make her feel guilty. Pretty angst-y for a time when Donna Summer's "I Will Survive" was getting heavy play. Ew, disco...

Still, I have a problem with the way the Police play the song live. The first video is from around the time the song came out. They expand the breakdown part of the song. It begins to get on my nerves a bit about halfway through the expanded part though. Even then the song sounds raw and, therefore, good.

Now look at this video from 2007. The production is better because of the larger stadium. But the expanded part just seems indulgent and unnecessarily long to me. The original recording is perfect. Why mess with perfection? It just takes away from the effect of a guy going through such a drastic breakdown. When I heard them perform this during Live Earth, I just could not believe Sting was doing some terrible scat singing thing. Anyway, whatever.

I've called you so many times today
And I guess it's all true what your girlfriends say
That you don't ever want to see me again
And your brothers going to kill me and he's six feet ten
I guess youd call it cowardice
But I'm not prepared to go on like this

I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't
I can't stand losing you
I can't stand losing you
I can't stand losing you
I can't stand losing you

I see you've sent my letters back
And my lp records and they're all scratched
I can't see the point in another day
When nobody listens to a word I say
You can call it lack of confidence
But to carry on living doesn't make no sense

I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing

I guess this is our last goodbye
And you don't care, so I won't cry
But you'll be sorry when I'm dead
And all this guilt will be on your head
I guess you'd call it suicide
But I'm too full to swallow my pride

I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing

I Can't Stand Losing You by The Police

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Track of the Week: Ghetto Cowboy by Mo Thugs Family

I grew up watching Westerns and love the genre. The romanticized stories of the Old West really appeal to me. But I never expected a rap song to venture into Old West mode. Obviously it would sound stupid, one would think. And yet, listening to "Ghetto Cowboy" it works especially well. The song appeared on Mo Thugs Family's 1998 record "Chapter II: Family Reunion."

The strangest thing about the song, even stranger than rappers from out east doing a song about the Old West (Bo Diddley, from Mississippi, already did a song about being a gunslinger at the O.K. Corral, where the famous gunfight took place in Arizona in 1881), is the lack of cussing. I have a bunch of Bone Thugs 'n' Harmony records and they cuss, liberally. Not a big deal, but out of character. Also, a rap song featuring a harmonica? Amazingly cool. And it is not even simply a few bars played on endless repeat (aka a sample).

The story in the song is pretty straight-forward. Krayzie runs into Thug Queen while on his way to plan a robbery with Layzie. While going to meet with him, Layzie meets Powder Pete and all four leave to Tucson to rob a bank.

You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)
You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)
You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)
You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)

The name is Krayzie Big bad ass bone,
Wanted up north for all the gold that I stole
Along with some cash I even took the mayor's daughter
Now that there's kidnap, but she was with us so I brought her
Dun got myself into a whole heap of trouble,
Double-crossed by the law so it's nobody to run to
Yeah it's just me and my sawed-off shotgun
I dun now call him 'Leatherface'
I'm headed for the west heard they got a couple banks in town
That ain't been held up yet, well uh, I ought to make it by sundown
I figure that's enough time for me to get the whole rundown
So I continue my mission, it's gettin' dark
So now I'm watching for them damn injuns
They like to catch up then they rob -n- split
I'll be a rootin' tootin' shootin' damn fool, protectin' my chips
All of a sudden, I heard somebody rumble in the bushes, stopped my horse
"Whoa nelly! Who in the bushes, you better speak up
Or I'm a-let my shotgun's song sing out"

Thug Queen:
Who's this? Hope this ain't the law, draw out the bushes with my sawed-off shotgun

"Come on out right now I'm gettin' angry"
Took a step back 'cause it could get dangly

Thug Queen:
"Please don't shoot it's just me Thug Queen, horse stealer"

"Then why the hell is you hidin' in them bushes?"

Thug Queen:
"I'm wanted in four counties, for armed robbery, killed two sheriffs, six of his best men with my head,
Stole two horses, thought you was the law that's why
I jumped in the bushes"

Now she was hotter than a barrel of fire but I could use her for the job so I told her to ride
"Come on"

Thug Queen:
"May I ask you what you headed to the west for?"

"I got a partner got a plan for some dough and if you're down you can pick up yourself a pretty penny
Be in town in a minute now be sure if you're with it"

Thug Queen:
"We be up before the sun rise got a stal here for your partner to ride hit the saloon before the moonshine down for whatever let's ride, let's ride"

"These directions say we go to Tucson, Arizona
When we arrive we'll cop a place we can bunk,
And meet my boy in the morning for details 'n' hookup"

You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)
You better count your money [2x]
(Ghetto Cowboy)

"Rise -n- shine, good morning, howdy.
Nine o' clock we meet my boy in the saloon in the valley.
Now I dun came a long way and I don't wanna be late

Thug Queen:
"Tell him I'll make it to him, you know we ain't"

Move out! Giddy up giddy up giddy up [4x]

You better count your money [2x]

I'm peepin' Krayzie's 'Wanted' poster in the saloon
So I assume it'll be trouble round here pretty soon
Glanced across the room I seen this youngster gettin' ready to fight
But if he mess up tonight I think that Krayzie just might take his life
So I approached him and I pause
"Look man, I really don't wanna brawl, but won't you chill before them laws
Come messin' up this master plan
Since he already rowdy I'm just asked the man
You want some work well partner put in your bid
And by the way now what's your name, they call me Layzie the Kid"

Powder Pete:
"The name's Powder Pete, can I get a 12 gauge?
Outlaw every day, on the front page
Mister Kid, if you give me the low-down me and Blackjack
Be ready for the showdown, with 2 double-barrels pointed at whatever
We'll stick together, I'm pretty clever"

"So saddle up, jump on the bandwagon because it's all goin' down"
I heard the guy runnin' the bar screamin' "Krayzie's in town"

"Now when we get to this saloon, you don't worry, wait outside.
Don't be stealin' nobody's damn horses"
Stepped inside the bar
"Layzie Kid, you son of a gun"

"Hey man I'm glad you made it safely, now let's go have some fun.
And this my partner Powder, he's a young gun"

Powder Pete:

"Mighty glad to meet ya son
Oh yeah, you know I also brought a friend along, meet Thug Queen,
The horse peddler, straggler, just met her"

Thug Queen:
"Howdy partner, already got the horses saddled up"

"I hope you're good at robbin' banks like you rustle that cattle up"

Powder Pete:
"Now y'all, it's gonna be gettin' dark real soon"

"I think you're right. I say we move, come on let's move out"

Giddy up giddy up giddy up [4x]

You better count your money [8x]

Ghetto Cowboy by Mo Thugs Family

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Track of the Week: Elenore by The Turtles

The Turtles had already struck it big with a few hit singles by the time it came to make their new record. Of course, the record company wanted to duplicate the success of "Happy Together," which reached number one. And of course the band wanted to do their own thing and did not appreciate the labels insistence a song very similar to "Happy Together." So, what do they do? They make a record where they get to pretend to be a different band on each track, using a different musical style on each one (The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands). And they also write a parody of the song the label wanted, complete with over-the-top, sugary-sweet sentimental lyrics. And it became another hit. [Songfacts]

That does not mean the song was produced like it was a throw away. Bongos set up a really cool, laid back beat for the first verse. As the chorus approaches the song picks up and explodes in the least serious expression of love in a song ever. Nobody could seriously write or sing, "Gee I think you're swell." And imagine telling your supposed love, "You're my pride and joy, et cetera." It is as if the singer just gives up on trying to come up with words! That also happens to be my favorite part of the song. (Like, oh well, just...I love you or whatever?, yeah, that you're my pride and joy, et cetera. So, you wanna go out or what?)

The second verse introduces an eerie organ for a few bars. It fits in well because the whole song is so strange. And to top it off, a falsetto voice screams "One more time!" as the song is coming to a close and they repeat "Elenore, gee, I think you're swell. Ah, haaaaa!" A perfect comical ending to a perfect comical song.

You got a thing about you
I just can't live without you
I really want you, Elenore, near me
Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There's no one like you, Elenore, really

Elenore, gee, I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

I really think you're groovy
Let's go out to a movie
What do you say, now, Elenore, can we?
They'll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won't watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore, love me

Elenore, gee, I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

Elenore by The Turtles

Review: Kaleidoscope "Tangerine Dream" [1967]

Essentially, this 1967 record from Kaleidoscope combines psychedelic-pop whimsy with early Procol Harum-lyrics, Zombies-harmonies and a touch of Procol Harum. In fact the high points of the record rank right up there with Odyssey and Oracle and any other record of the period. I would not go as far as saying this is a legendary album, but it is amazing at points and maintains a high quality of music throughout, interesting no matter how many times one may listen to it.

On the whole the lyrics on Tangerine Dream are either haunting or nonsense. What keeps them from venturing into the "trite" category is lead singer Peter Daltrey's delivery. He whispers, to great effect, at least parts of each song. Add to that the reverb drenching every syllable and you have something beautiful and relaxing and psychedelic. No matter that he sings on "Please Excuse My Face"
Blushing, smiling through the tears
Please excuse my face/ I feel dead
I'll hide myself away.
This could easily turn rather pathetic quickly. However, the beauty of the acoustic-driven song and the earnest voice of Daltery allows it to come off pleasant, if a sad song can be so (and they can be).

Other very good tracks include "Dive into Yesterday" and "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion," both of which feature time signature changes and uber-psychedelic, "I Am the Walrus" lyrics. Take "Dive into Yesterday,"
Battalions in navy blue are bursting beige balloons
The water pistols are all filled with lemonade
The jester and the goldfish have joined minds above the moon
Oh, please kiss the flowers and you, too, will be safe
What does that mean? And does it matter if the answer is nothing really? The images, as incredible as they are, could be in another language. It would not matter because the overall effect of the music serves to take the listener to another place. And I believe that to be the main point of music in general and psychedelic music in particular.

But my favorite lyric on the whole album is uttered on the awesomely named "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion." Sounding overwhelmed, which I think if one were to travel around in the world of this record would be perfectly understandable, the singer manages to half-sing
My God, the spiders are everywhere...
If you dig 60's psychedelia you will dig "Tangerine Dream," certainly. If not, you may enjoy some of the songs, but eventually become annoyed with some of the sillier songs. But I highly recommend a listen.


  1. Kaleidoscope
  2. Please Excuse My Face
  3. Dive into Yesterday
  4. Mr. Small, The Watch Repair Man
  5. Flight from Ashiya
  6. The Murder of Lewis Tollani
  7. (Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion
  8. Dear Nellie Goodrich
  9. Holiday Maker
  10. A Lesson Perhaps
  11. The Sky Children
  12. A Dream for Julie [bonus]