Thursday, October 02, 2008
Five Bucks Well Spent
An hour and twelve minutes of live Metallica, recorded a couple of weeks ago. Includes half of the new album. Five bucks, man. Five measly bucks. And it sounds great. That's less than the price of lunch at Burger King. What are you waiting for? Go DOWNLOAD IT now!!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
They Were Right
It turns out that MCF was right. Every song really is better with more cowbell:
And if you thought I'd figure out a way to work Metallica references into both of those items ... well, damned if you weren't right, too.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done
I'm still celebrating the release of the first outstanding Metallica album in almost two decades.
I've been exchanging e-mails with a few friends about the new album, and we got on the topic of how to rank each Metallica album from best to least. I decided to post my list here for the heck of it.
But first, a list of qualities that qualify me to make such a list:
- I'm soooo metal.
- I've seen Metallica live somewhere between three and five times.
- I have a big-ass Metallica collection, representing 26 years of the band's history.
- I've been a fan of the band's for twenty-two or twenty-three years.
- Really, I'm very, very metal.
- I once saw the Cult open for Metallica and I was close enough to the stage that when the Cult's guitarist came over and started shaking his head around, some of his sweat flew onto me. I didn't protest very loudly.
And so, in order to satisfy the clamoring* for my official ranking of Metallica's albums, here's the list:
The Official SouthCon Metallica Album Ranking
- 01: Master of Puppets. The best album they've done. I got it when it was new, mostly to shut up a friend who kept telling me that, really, he was certain that I'd absolutely LOVE it. My friend was right. I'll never forget the first time through this album. Eye's wide, mouth hung open, stomach clinched, thinking "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God..."
You know those moments when you realize that your taste in music has been changed forever?
- 02: The self-titled Black Album. A grower, not a shower. I didn't know what to make of this album at first, it seemed like a major departure. Now I consider it essential listening. This may be the band's best written album. It's tight, it's solid all the way through, it endures.
- 03: Kill 'Em All. Indispensable, if only because of how well these early songs still go over live. Can you imagine a Metallica show without Seek And Destroy or No Remorse or at least Whiplash?
- 04: Death Magnetic. It's that good. Not yet two weeks old and this one already deserves a high ranking. This is the album hardcore Metallica fans had been hoping and praying for for a long time.
- 05: Load. This is the one I always catch hell about, but I think it's a solid album. It deserves to be ranked this high. Well written, well performed, well produced, only about three clunkers in the set. And I don't mind that it isn't really a "metal" album. Every good band is going to have it's "experimental" period if they last long enough. This album was the highlight of Metallica's experimenting.
- 06: Ride The Lightning. Production quality holds this one back, plus two of Metallica's most boring songs, Trapped Under Ice and Escape. I haven't sat all the way through those two songs in years. But there are some classics on here, and Creeping Death, the title track and For Whom The Bell Tolls are genre staples.
- 07: ...And Justice For All. Production value is a big problem with this album. Most of the songs are too long, too, and some are too repetitive. I suspect that, at this point, Metallica was just doing long songs because they thought their fans expected it. That's why they shortened the songs on the next album, their Black Album. They just did what felt right and said to hell with expectations. I've heard them say that very thing about the Black Album.
- 08: St. Anger. In spite of the genuinely downright bad production and the absence of solos, this is still a set of well written songs. And there is a tremendous energy on the album. Had Bob Rock not sabotaged the band, this would be higher on the list. Songs like Sweet Amber, Dirty Window and The Unnamed Feeling show the band in top song-writing form. Hetfield's vocals are the best element of the album.
- 09: Reload. A group of meandering, mostly unimpressive songs. Standout tracks, the only ones worth listening to, include The Unforgiven II (I catch hell for liking that song, too, but I think it's the best on the album), Fixxxer, The Memory Remains and Bad Seed. Everything else is filler. This should have been an EP.
- 10: The disc of new recordings from the Garage, Inc set. Yeah, I'm mostly including it here to get an even ten albums, and it's totally forgettable. The cover of Sabbra Cadabra and the cover of Blue Oyster Cult's Astronomy are decent, but not worthy of anything more than b-sides. This "album" was totally phoned in.
* ... Note: Author apparently has no idea what the word "clamoring" means.
Monday, September 15, 2008
So Grim, So True, So Real:
A Backward-Looking History Of Metallica
Event: Release of album Death Magnetic.
After some sixteen months of internet hype and speculation, Metallica releases Rick Ruben produced ninth studio album through Warner Brothers Records.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: After years of lackluster experiments with other sounds and song styles, the band returns to their thrash metal roots in an obvious attempt to sell records. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Film Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster documents the recording of Metallica's most current album.
Documentary reveals the inner conflicts of a band in turmoil. Key scenes involve the band's group therapist inviting himself to become a "fifth member" of the band and guitarist Kirk Hammett surfing. Guitarist/singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich spend most of the movie shrieking at one another.
Several scenes reveal producer Bob Rock's attempts to get the feuding members of Metallica to quit having slap fights long enough to record a few tracks. Film also documents hiring of veteran bass player and all-around badass guy, Robert Trujillo.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: The movie reveals the band to be a bunch of spoiled, rich cry-babies. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Album St. Anger is released with bonus DVD and coupon to download free audio from four concerts.
The angry, disjointed, noisy sessions during which St. Anger was recorded result in an angry, disjointed, noisy album. Listeners aren't sure why producer Bob Rock decided to create a "Fisher Price" drum sound. Lack of guitar solos and "low-fi" sound quality give the album an ill-timed, ill-conceived "grunge" feel. Rock's tenure as Metallica's producer comes to disappointing, inevitable close.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: The album indicates that at this point, Bob Rock is totally in control of the band. Fans worry that next album will feature Metallica simply as a backing band while Rock croons Aerosmith covers. Or perhaps they'll do a ska record. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Bassist Jason Newstead leaves the band, frustrated that founders Hetfield and Ulrich won't allow him work on side-projects during his free time.
All your bass are belong to us.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Newstead's departure indicates that even the members of Metallica can't stand the members of Metallica. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Napster uproar.
After an incomplete demo of the song I Disappear turns up on the internet, Metallica sues file sharing services for enabling copyright infringement.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Metallica doesn't understand the internet. Now that they're rich and lazy they want to squeeze their fans for every nickel and dime. Rumor spread that Lars has been drumming in an ascot and monocle. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Release of S&M two-disc set.
Metallica records renditions of their songs supported by the San Francisco Symphony and composer/conductor Michael Kamen. During the performance, Hetfield refers to the song Of Wolf And Man as Of Wolfgang And Man, a reference to Mozart. Really. I didn't make that stupid crap up.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: And, oh, how they danced; the little children of Stonehenge. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Double-disc collection Garage, Inc includes a disc of newly recorded covers and some older material that had previously been released as b-sides and on EPs.
Many fans perplexed by some of the material found on the disc of new songs, including covers of originals by Nick Cave, Bob Seger and Thin Lizzy.
The band releases a video for the song Turn The Page featuring porno actress Ginger Lynn. Seriously, that's who that was in the video.
Guest musicians on the Lynyrd Skynyrd cover Tuesday's Gone include Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity), Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney (Alice In Chains), Jim Martin (Faith No More), John Popper (Blues Traveler), Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Les Claypool (Primus), Ja-Rule (Murder, Inc), Natasha Bedingfield (Featuring Sean Kingston), Gwen Stefani (No Doubt), Missy ("Misdemeanor") Elliott, Cirque du Soleil, Billy Bob Thornton, The San Francisco Symphony and composer/conductor Michael Kamen.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: The band is trying to re-sell old material that their fans have already bought once. To make the set more "attractive" to potential buyers it includes a disc of hastily recorded covers. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Album Reload released to non-clamoring fans.
Ulrich tells fans that Reload is conceptually the second disc of a double album, along with the previous release, Load.
Fans respond that Reload is conceptually a piece of shit.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: The album features guest vocals by 60's icon Maryanne Faithful, who appears to be singing with her throat slit. Single Fuel adopted by NASCAR for theme song in TV broadcasts. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Five years of recording silence is broken with the release of album Load.
Long absent band returns with new non-metal album, short hair, eye-liner. Promotes album on Lollapalooza tour.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Long absent band returns with new non-metal album, short hair, eye-liner. Promotes album on Lollapalooza tour. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Jump in the fire.
Metallica tours with Guns N' Roses. Axl Rose makes headlines during the tour by exciting riots and engaging fans in fights. Not to be outdone, Hetfield climaxes Metallica's August 8th show by setting himself on fire. Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper and Screamin' Jay Hawkins simultaniously say "Damn."
Band claims that Hetfield's injuries were the result of a pyro effect gone wrong. Hard rock band Great White notes incident, vowing to never misuse pyrotechnics.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Footage of Hetfield's self-immolation is not included in the concert videos that accompany the Live Shit: Binge And Purge box set. Disappointed fans get second mortgages to buy box-set only to sit crestfallen in front of their TVs without ever seeing the singer burst into flame. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Self-titled Black Album released, sells seventy million zillion bajillion copies.
Metallica gets first taste of genuine cross-format commercial success with huge hits Enter Sandman and The Unforgiven.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Most songs on the album are under fifteen minutes long. Some songs are based around two or fewer riffs. Album marks band's first collaboration with Bob Rock, producer noted for working on albums by Motley Crue, David Lee Roth and Bon Jovi. Ballad Nothing Else Matters suitable for playing over a boom box under your girlfriend's window. Metallica produces videos for seventeen of the album's twelve songs. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Album ...And Justice For All released.
Album features new bass player Jason Newstead, who replaced the late, great Cliff Burton. New guy goes on to be Metallica's longest running bass player to date, staying in the band roughly fifteen years.
Album features muted "wow-wow" bass sound that leads fans to wonder if Newstead is actually on the album. Long-time producer Flemming Rasmussen never works with the band again.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Band produces their first MTV-ready video for the song One. Video features such 80's MTV staples as Tawnie Kitaen dancing on top of luxury cars, caged go-go girls in skimpy bikinis, a blind, deaf, mute, limbless man writhing in pain, and actor Jason Robards talking about war. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Major-label debut and undisputed greatest metal album of all time, Master Of Puppets, ships to record stores and malls across America.
Early copies of the album have a sticker on the front that reads ""The only track you probably won't want to play is "Damage, Inc." due to the multiple use of the infamous "F" word. otherwise, there aren't any "Shits," "Fucks," "Pisses," "Sucks," "Cunts," "Motherfuckers," or "Cocksuckers" anywhere on this record".
Fifty million teenage boys hear the album, say all of the curse words listed on the sticker in agog amazement, and run out and form bands. Metallica supports album with tour opening for Ozzy Osbourne.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Band reveals obvious desire to move a lot of units by signing contract to release albums for major label Elektra Records. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Band's second album, Ride The Lightning, creates major buzz.
Album features metal classic Creeping Death, the band's most consistent show-opener.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Metallica's first "power ballad," Fade To Black, closes side one of the album. The song, an angry screed about suicide, features lyrics such as "Deathly lost, this cant be real / Cannot stand this hell I feel." This is an obvious attempt to score with chicks because they dig that sort of junk. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: Metallica releases debut album, Kill 'em All on independent label Megaforce Records.
Band begins cycle of perpetual touring, drinking, fighting and recording long songs full of a zillion riffs.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: In an obvious play for commercial viability, band fires original guitarist Dave Mustaine before recording, simply because he's always too drunk to play his instrument. Replaced by guitarist Kirk Hammett, Mustaine goes on to form his own successful and popular metal band, Winger. Metallica relents on original goal of naming the album Metal Up Your Ass so that record stores will stock it, hoping to sell lots of copies. Long time fans proclaim that the band is "no longer relevant."
Event: James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich form a band, Metallica, and look for friends to flesh out the line-up.
Band members take turns hosting "jam sessions" in each other's parents' basements.
How this is proof that Metallica has sold out: Lars Ulrich has admitted that he stole the name "Metallica" from a fellow high school student who showed him a list of possible "cool band names." Fellow high school student proclaims that Lars is "a Danish asshole."
Note about the above time line:
Some of that crap I made up. But the stuff that I insisted was for real really was for real.
I can't imagine my life without Metallica. God bless ya, guys.
Mustaine is awesome. Winger rules.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Album Review: Metallica's Death Magnetic
You may have heard that the new Metallica album leaked to the net last night, and that the band is basically fine with that. Lars says
"Listen, we're ten days from release ... If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days. Happy days. Trust me ... Everybody's happy. It's 2008 and it's part of how it is these days, so it's fine. We're happy."Spoken like a guy who gets it. It wasn't too long ago that Metallica's attitude about music on the internet was ... uh ... "You can do it your own way, if it's done just how I say."
I don't mind admitting that I've been been desperately searching for a leaked copy of this album for more than a month now. So I was in the right place at the right time when a blogger who shall remain nameless posted a link last night at about 10:00 PM Eastern.
For the record, I have every intention of buying the new album on CD when it hits the stores on September 12th. But I've been a rabid Metallica fan since the '80's and I just could not wait to hear it.
I've listened to Death Magnetic about four times now. I'm so happy with it that I'm surprised that I can do anything other than roll around in the floor, kick my feet in the air, and giggle.
As of now, the self-indulgent, meandering, artsy-fartsy Metallica that made Load, Reload and St. Anger seems to be gone.
I'm glad to be able to report that, instead, the self-indulgent, meandering, artsy-fartsy Metallica that made the band's ground-breaking first four albums is back. In a big, loud way. And it's music to my ears.
2003's St. Anger was supposed to be a return to the band's thrash metal roots after several years spent experimenting with everything from alt-prog rock to faux celtic dirges to haughty, orchestral crap. But St. Anger was produced by a band in crisis, as the 2004 documentary Some Kind Of Monster revealed. Instead of re-embracing their origins, St. Anger seemed to be the sound of a band grasping aimlessly.
The combination of sobriety, group therapy, and the chops of outstanding new bass player Robert Trujillo seems to have seriously re-energized this band. In spite of it's morose title, Death Magnetic is the product of a band experiencing rebirth.
Death is a topic that pervades the album's lyrics; but there's nothing macabre here. These aren't songs that glorify death, the way a band made up of late-teens might if they were trying to come off like bad asses. If the members of Metallica are showing their (pushing 50) age at all, it's in the lyrical maturity and introspection offered here. These songs reflect on death not as a subject of fascination but as an ultimatum ... an inspiration to squeeze every damn drop of life out of every day you spend breathing. Death is magnetic ... it draws us all. But get the polarity right and you can push like hell back against it. That's the dynamic in these songs.
And, musically, this is the Metallica that those of us who've followed the band for 20 plus years know and love. The songs are long, heavy as anything, and full of freight-train riffs and jack-knife time changes. There's even a full-on metal instrumental in the tradition of Orion and To Live Is To Die. Only one song, the unfortunately titled Unforgiven III, slows the tempo significantly. That's probably my least favorite song on the album. But I gotta admit, Kirk Hammett's guitar solo in that song is one of the best on the album. I don't see me skipping this song when I listen to this disc. It'll grow on me, I'm sure.
Rejoice, Metallica fans. This is the album we've wanted for years. It belongs on the top shelf, with Master Of Puppets (their best album ever) and 91's watershed Black Album.
2008 is the year of Death Magnetic. No others need apply.
PS - a note to the 20 year old snotnose punks who'll find this review through Google and stop by to leave poorly worded, misspelled, idiotic, belligerent comments: Shut up, boy. I was listening to this band in specific and METAL in general before you were even born. I really don't care what you have to say and I'll just delete your comments as soon as I see them. Move along, Junior. I'm sure your friends are waiting for you in World Of Warcraft.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
More New Metallica!
Click here now!
This one reminds me of Through The Never and a bit of Whiplash.
I do kinda wish they hadn't posted this particular song. This one is the album-closer, according to the track listing at Wikipedia. I feel like I've heard it out of context.
I'm going nuts over these new songs. I've looked everywhere for a leaked copy of the album with no luck. Don't worry, Lars is going to get his money, I'm gonna buy the album on September 12. I'd just like to be able to actually listen to the damn thing now.
I've seen all kinds of sources for .zip and .rar files that are said to contain Death Magnetic, but they're all frauds.
PS - A note to 22 year old self-proclaimed "metal experts." I was literally listening to Metallica when you were still pooping in your pampers. You can't teach me a damn thing about what is or is not authentic Metallica. So shut up.
Friday, August 22, 2008
GAH. TOE. MIGHTY.
The first single from Death Magnetic, called The Day That Never Comes, is AWESOME!!
This clip is not a proper "video," just the single's cover art and the song. And that's all you need.
The first three, three-and-a-half minutes is just build-up. Once the song really gets going it kicks ass ... and everything between the five-minute mark and the end of the song is just pure Metallica in the best sense of the word. Man, it's good to hear Kurt shredding again.
Update: I've listened to the song four or five times now and I friggin' LOVE it. I can't get over how much it lives up to my hopes. It reminds me of One, what with it's mellow, ballady beginning and it's insane riffing at the end. If this is any indication of what the album is going to be like, I can't wait to pony up my twelve bucks to buy it next month. Lars, James, Robert, Kirk ... looks like you guys finally did right by your fans. Now, why didn't you do this in '91 to begin with and save us seventeen years of heartache? But enough bitchin'. Metallica is back. Long may they reign.
Update 2: Click here to hear short clips of several songs from the album. I'm downright giddy about this. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming album.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The first song that most of us have been able to hear in it's entirety from the new Metallica album:
It didn't grab me the first time I listened to it last night. It just kinda went in one ear and out the other.
But I listened again today, and maybe the key was that I listened rather than watched. I minimized the browser window and didn't look at the YouTube clip, I just listened to the song. The second time through I enjoyed it more. I wouldn't say I "loved" it, but I did enjoy it, and it might grow on me. I'm still super excited to hear the whole album.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
My hopes are high for the new Metallica ... and part of me thinks that I'm setting myself up for a major let-down.
Then I see stuff like this clip of the band working on one of the songs and I just get flat-out giddy:
Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please ... let them have just one more good album in them.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Via MCF: Proust's Questionaire
I feel like blogging, but I don't feel like writing anything about bladder cancer. I'm friggin' SICK of writing about bladder cancer. So I'm going to borrow a page from MCF and answer the questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire:
- 1) What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
If I were to answer this question seriously, I'd say the most miserable thing in the world is the loss of a child. But if I were to answer the question sarcastically, I'd say ... oh, screw it. After bringing up the loss of a child, who can be sarcastic?
- 2) Where would you like to live?
Where I live now. Well, in this state and in this county ... but maybe somewhere more rural.
- 3) What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spending the day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my family.
- 4) To which faults do you feel most indulgent?
Ah, damn. I indulge in a LOT of faults. I'll say I'm most guilty of indulging in compulsive behavior. Anything that can be done compulsively ... smoking, eating, drinking ... I've either done it in the past or still do it today.
- 5) Who is/are your favorite hero/heroes of fiction?
OK, let's see, there's Sam Fisher, Spider-Man, Batman, etc, etc, etc.
- 6) Who are your favorite characters in history?
You know, that really is an odd way to phrase it: "Characters in history." Nonetheless, my list of mortal heroes from real life would have to include St. Peter, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell, Johnny Cash and Ray Charles.
- 7) Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
OK, uh ... My mom, St. Dymphna, Loretta Lynn, and of course Mary, Mother of God.
- 8) Who is/are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Holy crap! I never think about some of these things. If I gotta come up with something, I'm saying Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials. "Surprise! Let's bag these up."
- 9) Your favorite painters?
Damn. I don't have any favorite painters. I'll say The Red House Painters are my favorite painters.
- 10) Your favorite composers or musicians?
Well, Gov't Mule, Pink Floyd, Tool, Tony Rice, Marvin Gaye, Metallica, Frank Zappa, Merle Haggard, Phish, and the artists I listed above.
- 11) What qualities do you most value in a man?
Holy crap, I never even THOUGHT about this. I'll say that what I want in a man is someone who's tall, dark and handsome who'll hold me when I cry.
- 12) What qualities do you most value in a woman?
Honesty, accountability, reliability, virtue, reason, reverence, and big, big boobies.
- 13) Your favorite virtue?
- 14) Your favorite occupation?
I worked in radio for eight years and had a great time. I didn't make any money, but I had a lot of fun.
- 15) Who would you like to be?
Me, but cancer-free. DOH! I was gonna go without mentioning cancer in this post.
- 16) Your most marked characteristic?
I'm inclined to say sarcasm.
- 17) What do you most value in your friends?
Like MCF, I'd say that I value friends who have shared interests and a similar sense of humor. And who're capable of having actual conversations. And who have big, big boobies.
- 18) What is your principle defect?
Selfishness. It's at the root of everything I do wrong.
- 19) What is your favorite color?
Black. I guess. I never think about it.
- 20) What is your favorite flower?
For real? Geez. Uh ... the ones I don't have to mow around.
- 21) What is your favorite bird?
My favorite bird would be the one Johnny Cash flipped in that famous picture taken during his concert at San Quentin.
- 22) Who are your favorite prose writers?
C.S. Lewis. Thomas Sowell. Elmore Leonard. Chuck Palahniuk. And a number of other writers, all of whom I'm too lazy to code links for.
- 23) Who are your favorite poets?
Dammit, maybe I shouldn't have done this questionnaire. I don't have any favorite poets. I do have favorite lyricists, though ... so I'll say Bono, Merle Haggard, Frank Zappa, John Mellencamp, and Glen Phillips.
- 24) What are your favorite names?
Does this mean names of mine? I have two informal nicknames, Flounder and Derail. I'll answer to either of them as readily as to the name my mother gave me.
- 25) What is it you most dislike?
People who don't take the time to learn about the issues but still voice their opinion loudly. Childishness. People who won't act their age.
- 26) What historical figures do you most despise?
Well, the obvious ones; Osama bin Ladin, Hitler, etc. But also the Clintons, Margaret Sanger, Richard Dawkins.
- 27) What event in military history do you most admire?
- 28) What reform do you most admire?
Well, I was glad when Vernon Reed reformed Living Colour.
- 29) What natural gift would you most like to possess?
- 30) How would you like to die?
Well, I came into this world naked, bloody and screaming ... and as long as I don't go out that way, I'll be happy.
- 31) What is your present state of mind?
Distracted and kinda bored
- 32) What is your motto?
"Death to Smoochie."
I'd like to have the strength of a thousand men. And be able to fly. And shoot lasers out of my butt. Do those qualify as natural gifts?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Bass! How Low Can You Go?
So the number of people in our family who own musical instruments that they can't (yet) actually play is now three.
I have an acoustic guitar. It sits in a corner in our bedroom and mocks me. Every time I walk past it it quietly snickers and occasionally whispers "Psssst! Hey! When was the last time you actually picked me up? You might as well have bought a rocket launcher the day you bought me."
My son owns an electric guitar, and to his credit, he does take lessons. I have to wonder, though, if he originally wanted a guitar because of a deep drive to create music or because of another time-honored reason: chicks dig guys who play guitar.
Today Liam became the first person in our family to pursue a future as a bass player. He started talking about wanting to get a bass guitar quite a while ago, but Wendy and I quietly discouraged him. We were afraid that he thought that playing bass would be as easy as playing Guitar Hero, a video game he's actually very good at.
But Liam persisted, and made up his mind that if we wouldn't buy him a bass, he'd by-God buy one himself. So for months every dollar he received from the Tooth Fairy or for a birthday or a holiday, whatever, went into Liam's bass fund. And whattaya know if he didn't eventually save enough money to buy himself a bass. Fed Ex brought it today and he spent some of the evening studiously watching the included instructional DVD and plucking away.
That bass is bigger than he is. But he seems pretty serious about it. Good for him.
Liam got me thinking about bass guitar today, how much I enjoy good bass guitar and how important a good bass player can be in a band. So I did what bloggers everywhere do when confronted with such a topic. I made a top-ten list and even put together a YouTube video.
You can watch it here, a two and a half minute tribute to my ten favorite kings of the bottom end:
Just a bit of explanation ... here's how these ten guys ended up on my list:
- 10: Steve Harris
Steve was the first bass player I ever really noticed. Iron Maiden was my favorite band when I was 14, and like many other 14 year olds, I was initially drawn to my favorite band due to their gnarly lyrics and cool guitar solos. But one day I realized that Steve's galloping bass lines were a big part of the reason that Iron Maiden was so cool.
- 09: Roger Waters
He's probably best known as the primary song-writer and lyricist in Pink Floyd, but Roger's bass playing was a big part of what made up the Pink Floyd sound. Roger's bass sound was thick, though rarely in the forefront of their music. And the more you listen to Pink Floyd, the more you find to enjoy about his playing.
- 08: John Paul Jones
Drummer John Bonham and bass player/keyboard player John Paul Jones were (in my opinion) the best part of Led Zeppelin. I know that Robert Plant's singing and Jimmy Page's guitar work are the things that most Zeppelin fans talk about, but what keeps me coming back is the drums and bass.
- 07: Doug Wimbish
Doug wasn't the original bass player in Living Colour, but I think he was the band's best. His work on the album Stain just blows my mind.
- 06: Robert Trujillo
Fans of Infectious Grooves, Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne were well aware of Robert Trujillo's talents long before he joined Metallica. I remember thinking that he'd be my dream-pick to replace bassist Jason Newstead when Newstead left Metallica. I was thrilled when he got the job, although it remains to be seen if my hypothesis was correct. That hypothesis being that Trujillo's stellar musicianship would force the rest of Metallica to step up a notch.
- 05: Mike Gordon
For a long time I resisted Phish's music because I find the band's fans so repellent. But I was only able to hold off for so long, thanks to the great musicians in the band. Trey Anastasio (guitar) and Page McConnell (keys) are awesome, and they usually distract me from paying attention to Mike Gordon's bass. But when I do pay attention, Gordon always impresses me. It was probably Mike's incredible groove on the song Weekapaug Groove that got me into Phish in the first place.
- 04: Allen Woody
The late, great Woody was a big part of Gov't Mule's original sound. The band has carried on without him since he passed away in 2000, but Woody's presence is still a big part of the band. His bass lines in songs like Thorazine Shuffle and Rocking Horse are some of the first things that really hooked me and turned me into a rabid Gov't Mule fan.
- 03: Simon Gallup
I think that Simon is the only member of the Cure (besides founder and front man Robert Smith)who's been in every incarnation of the band. But I'm not sure, to be honest. The Cure has had so many line-up changes that it's hard to keep track. During the Cure's early days, when the band was a three-piece, Simon's bass playing was a defining part of their sound. In fact, the best thing about some of those early albums (see Faith) is Gallup's bass playing.
- 02: Adam Clayton
I can't imagine U2 without Adam Clayton's moody, melodic, haunting bass sound. Now, granted, Bono and The Edge are the keys to what makes U2 such a good band. I won't deny that. But Adam Clayton's bass playing is always outstanding. His bass parts are tasteful, understated, never showy ... but they're often the best part of any given U2 song. Can you imagine With Or Without You without Clayton's mournful rumble giving the song all of it's weight?
- 01: Vic Wooten
Wooten is godlike. He's amazing. He can do anything with a bass guitar. ANYTHING. His regular gig is the bass player in the Flecktones, but Vic has played with a great many other bands and he's done solo-work, too. I hadn't heard of him eight or nine years ago when Wendy first mentioned him to me, and she encouraged me to check out his bass-solo take on the hymn Amazing Grace. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was when I heard it. Since then Wooten has totally won me over with his versatility and virtuosity. He can do it all; funk, rock, jazz ... Vic Wooten could make a bass guitar stand up and go outside and wash his car if he wanted to.
So there's my list. Keep in mind that it's just a list of MY favorite bass players. And I know that bass fans everywhere could look at my list and take offense. I've left off legendary players like Charles Mingus, Flea, Stanley Clarke, Les Claypool, Sting, Phil Lesh, John Entwhistle, Roger Glover, and Geddy Lee. I'm not trying to knock those guys. There's nothing wrong with any of 'em and they're all good at what they do. But the ten guys listed above; well, that's my list.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
What's UP With THAT?
- What's Up With Hillary Clinton's apology extravaganza?
Hillary Clinton isn't known for apologizing for anything ... so I suppose that her current whirlwind apology tour is a sign of just how desperate she is to hold on to whatever chance she might have of being the Democratic Party's nominee in November. Hilary has apologized for remarks made by Geraldine Ferraro and then apologized for remarks her husband made in South Carolina. She'd do well to apologize for her husband's hideously irresponsible eight years in the White House, but I don't see that happening.
Look, I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton. I've made that clear. But the more I learn about Barack Obama, the more I realize that I was foolish to think of him as a slightly better choice than Hillary. I guess here's where I stand on the two of them now: We're going to have to deal with Obama as a presidential contender at some point. There's no getting around it. The guy has a huge fanbase among the many, many people who don't really understand anything, and it's probably enough to get him elected. So I hope he goes ahead and gets the nomination and effectively ends the Clinton-era of national politics forever. I hope he doesn't win the Presidency, but I really think he's going to be President eventually, so maybe the sooner we get his term in office over with, the better.
- What's up with the upcoming Metallica album?
The band has been pushing the release of this album further and further back, and now it's tentatively scheduled for release in September. Metallica doesn't have a title for the album yet. I call it Chinese Democracy 2 because I'm starting to doubt that it actually exists. And I'm kinda dreading it's release. I can't wait to hear it, I'll get it the day it comes out, and I'm sure I'll be totally disappointed in it for one reason or another. I've said before that for the past few years I've come to feel like Metallica's battered wife. They mistreat me, they never live up to their promises, but I stick with them because they used to be soooooo good to me! If you could only see what they're like when nobody else is around! Really, they're not who you think they are. Besides, we've been in therapy.
- What's up with Eliot Spitzer's call-girl?
Hey, not for nothing, but the girl really isn't all that hot. And I wouldn't make mention of it, except that in her role as a call-girl I'd say that her looks were entirely relevant. It's not that she was ugly, it's just that she kinda reminds me of a poor man's Daisy Fuentes. And that can't have been worth it. If I'm the Governor of New York and I'm gonna risk losing everything and spend ... what was it? $5,000? On one night with a call-girl? Come on. She's gonna look a whole hell of a lot like Rhianna or Katharine McPhee and not a little bit like some washed-up former VJ from the '80's. (Preferably Rhianna ... 'cause ... damn.) This is gonna have to be a memory that'll last a life-time for my five-large. You know what I'm sayin'?
- What's up with the fruity-looking new five-dollar bill?
OK, call me old-fashioned. Call me a troglodyte. (Please ... I like being called names.) Call me a curmudgeon .... but I like my five-dollar bills the way they were when I was a kid. Ugly. Green and wrinkled and marked with that simple, thumb-sized picture of Abe Lincoln's ugly mug.
Ever since the government started messing with the money ten or twelve years ago I've had this vague feeling that we're all walking around with wallets full of pretend currency. And the newest version of the five dollar bill is the worst offender yet. It has purple on it. PURPLE! What is that all about? Can we please go back to real money and come up with a better way to discourage counterfeiting? Like maybe the weekly televised beating of counterfeiters. I personally would volunteer to beat a counterfeiter with a rake for ten minutes every week. Or maybe we just catch them and force them to wear purple.
You know, if we all did our parts, we could probably get the government to go back to printing real money. Call or write to your congressman now and say "Yes! I'll beat a counterfeiter with a rake!" Tell them Darrell at SouthCon sent you.
- What's up with Edward Norton and Marvel?
The promotion of ... and possibly the release of ... the upcoming Incredible Hulk movie is being pushed back because of Edward Norton feuding with Marvel over the final cut of the movie. Partly, I blame Marvel. Norton has had a reputation as a real S.O.B. for years ... and as the old Indian story goes, they knew he was a snake when they picked him up. (I'm assuming that Somebody at Marvel had final approval of the cast.) Either way, Norton is a brilliant actor when he gets it right, but Keeping The Faith indicated that, behind the camera, he ain't no Stanley Kubrick. My two cents: Norton needs to shut up and back out. He's done his job, now let those who handle the movie from here do their jobs.
- What's up with black political figures throwing the n-word around?
Two recent instances, one right after the other, really jarred me. One instance involved Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who's being investigated for corruption and lying under oath. Now, to fend off the charges against him, Mayor Kilpatrick has dropped the N-Bomb and started talking about lynch mobs:
Woah! Hey, hold on there a minute, pal! Who's been launching racist attacks on your family? Should't those people be prosecuted for making threats and/or for harassment? And what's that got to do with the charges against you, Mayor Kilpatrick?
And then, right on the heels of that, there's this from Barack Obama's minister:
Hey, wait, woah, WHAT?
If I started listing things that are wrong with that I'd have to write for another three hours. And that's only the beginning of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's recent wacky remarks. And, make no mistake, this guy is an official member of Obama's campaign.
Let me specifically mention the use of the n-word by these guys. Can we just stop with that? Please? For ages and ages that word was used by arrogant, ignorant white people as a way to keep black people down. Now we're having instances of certain black guys throwing that word up as a way to shut up scaredy-cat whites, to avoid the real issues, and to cancel all debate. What good does that do? Who benefits from that? Can we please grow the f* up, maybe? It's 2008, fer Pete's sake. When white-on-black racism is the actual topic, let's deal with it. But let's not use it as a way to avoid dealing with anything else. Not for nothin', but too many good, honest black people have really been victimized by racists for their struggles to be trivialized as a political bargaining chip.
- What's up with Spitball Politics?
Well, I'll tell ya what's up with it. Spitball Politics is a new political blog that features the writing of (among others) Scott, the Spiritual Tramp in my blogroll. Stop by, check 'em out, leave a comment or two.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
They'll Grab Ya
I never actually set out to find pictures of notable tattoos, but somehow I end up coming across pics like this on a regular basis.
Here's what happened tonight, if you're interested: I was looking up the latest info on Metallica's upcoming Rick-Rubin-produced album, and I ended up mentioning to Wendy how Metallica's logo has evolved over the years. That lead to a Google Image Search for the Metallica logo, which turned up a few images of Metallica inspired tattoos.
So, next thing ya know, I'm clicking through page after page of tattoo images at Google Image Search. Then I'm saving them to post them at the blog. You can click each image below to see the page where I found it.
I try to keep this blog fairly family friendly, so I won't be posting every tattoo image I saw, even if some of the potentially controversial ones made me laugh like crazy. And then there's Steve-O's tattoos, which are ... well, interesting to say the least.
Anyway, here are a few of the ones from tonight's web-surfing. I've placed an ugly tag on each of these images since people are going to continue hotlinking my pics and stealing my bandwidth, and I figure I oughta at least get some credit out of it.
I know a few bloggers who might like this one.
Oh, nice. A tattoo of the World Trade Center attack and a blissfully happy Muslim figure. That'll go a long way toward helping Westerners embrace Islam.
"Well, thank you for coming in today, but we do have a few other applicants to interview ... so, uh, don't call us, we'll be in touch if we think you're the man for the job..."
Then again, this guy is a public speaking teacher, so I don't suppose that all face-covering tattoos are necessarily a guarantee of unemployment.
I think this is an excellent tattoo. To get on your back. And walk around a marine base. To help with their target practice.
HTML geeks (like me) will enjoy this one.
MC Escher, that's my favorite MC.
This tat isn't just awsome, it's also incredable.
Just to know your what?
I'm not sure if this is a pro-taco tattoo or an anti-taco one, but I do feel that I should be clear about where I stand on the issue.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
MCF recently mentioned the B13's bad car accident in '92. I'd seen the pictures before and they always make me cringe.
I'm something of a paranoid passenger, as Wendy can attest, due to my own history of car accidents. I'm one of those guys who sits in the passenger seat maniacally clutching the dashboard, eyes wide, mouth agape, screaming "SLOW DOWN!! And that's before the driver even puts the key in the ignition.
My first car accident occurred shortly after I got my driver's license. I was a junior in high school. As MCF says, "kids are crazy," and I was one of many who had to learn lessons the hard way. One lesson I learned the hard way is that you should pay attention to the road, the road signs and the traffic signals when you're driving ... instead of haphazardly bopping down the road over the speed limit, eating a McDonalds cheeseburger and blasting Metallica's Disposable Heroes, paying no attention to traffic lights. I ran a traffic light at a busy intersection and crashed my mother's Ford Escort into a Chevy Blazer. I totaled the Blazer I hit and did something like $3,000 worth of damage to the Escort; shockingly it wasn't the other way around. Upon impact I flew forward (nope, not wearing a seatbelt) and spider-webbed the windshield of the Escort with my head, then flew to the left and embedded the window crank into the door with my left arm. Pretty scary. And to make matters worse, I knew that it was my fault. Thankfully, nobody was hurt beyond my few bumps and bruises, but I was terrified to tell my mom what had happened. Long story short, I got a year's driving probation and a good scare.
A few years later I was driving home from work one afternoon, once again blasting Metallica but this time paying attention to the road, when an old man ran a stop sign and I hit his station wagon with my car; that same Ford Escort which I'd since bought from my mom. This time the accident wasn't my fault, and I was fortunate in that a police officer witnessed the whole thing and testified on my behalf when the case went to court. Nonetheless, in this second instance there was more damage done to me and the car. This time the Escort was totaled, and I had to be cut from the car with the jaws of life and taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I was strapped to a flat surface of some sort by paramedics and x-rayed and cat-scanned before I was allowed to get up because I'd had a neck injury. Thank God the injury turned out to be just a bad strain/sprain and not something more severe.
When that case went to court the old man who'd ran the stoplight told the judge that it wasn't his fault, but the police officer who'd seen the accident testified differently. The cop suggested that the old man have his license revoked since he had a history, but the judge didn't take that suggestion. Sadly, a few years later, the old guy got on the interstate near here going in the wrong direction and hit a big truck head-on. The truck driver wasn't injured, but the old guy was killed.
Then, a few years after that, I was on my way to visit a girlfriend who was going to college at James Madison University, about 90 minutes away. It was a winter night and an icestorm blew up from out of nowhere. I didn't realize how quickly the weather had gotten bad and I didn't adjust my driving in time… so I hit an ice patch on an interstate bridge going at least sixty. My car spun three times at that speed, and it seemed to take about a half an hour. You know how people say that time slows down during those kinds of things? It really does. I can vividly remember having time to pray that God would just make the car stop spinning. And I can vividly remember the headlights of other cars all around me. They seemed to be coming from all directions. Finally, my car came to a stop on the shoulder of the interstate, facing in the wrong direction. I wasn't hurt and the car itself was unscathed. I sat staring at the cars passing me as I faced them pointed in the wrong direction, wondering how in the world I could possibly be perfectly fine. It was the most uneventful of my car accidents but it was easily the most terrifying.
So, yes, I'm a bad passenger. I always assume that the "other guy" is going to run a stop sign, that there's some unseen hazard on the road, or that safes and pianos are going to just start falling out of the sky.
Unless I'm driving. Then, I find that I often feel secure enough to drive and play air guitar at the same time.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Concert Diaries
In October, Wendy and I are going to see Gov't Mule at a club in Richmond. Gov't Mule is the first rock band I've heard in something like 15 years that I've actually liked enough to plan to see live. My last rock concert was Nine Inch Nails in Winston-Salem, NC, in November, '94. Since then I've only seen one nationally touring act (Lyle Lovett, an adult-contemporary/folk/jazz/country performer).
In the 80's and early '90's I saw a buttload of bands in concert … mostly hair metal bands since it was, after all, the 80's and early '90's and I was a teenager and hair metal was my thing.
I figured that since this blog is the closest thing I'll ever have to a diary I'd go ahead and post a brief "concert diary" while I can still remember the bands I've seen live. The following is a list of the bands I can remember having seen in concert, along with a brief memory or two about the acts.
One of the best bands I've ever seen live. I saw them in '88, I think. AC/DC is always reliable as a fun, energetic, good-time rock band. I was thrilled with how much of their older material they performed. I remember being giddy with glee when they played the opening riff of "Whole Lotta Rosie."
I saw Aerosmith around '92. The most memorable thing about this show was that it was the only concert I ever attended with a girl with whom I was on a first date. It was kind of a distraction. Aerosmith was OK, I guess.
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allmans put on a great show when I saw them in the early '90's. Interestingly, their lead singer and guitar player at the time was Warren Haynes, the singer and guitar player who impresses me so much in Gov't Mule. So although I don't remember him, I'm 99% sure that I've already seen this remarkable musician play live.
I saw Tori on tour in support of her Little Earthquakes album. She didn't have a band, just her and her piano. It was a really great show. She's an outstanding entertainer.
I saw the "Taking Care Of Business" band in the late '80's. I remember someone threw a full "Big Gulp" size cup of soda and ice and hit Randy Bachman in the chest. Uncool. He brushed it off and kept playing. Very cool.
A popular country artist from the early '90's, Clint put on a decent show. His opening act was Lorrie Morgan. Anybody remember her?
The main thing I remember about Bon Jovi is that they are one of only two rock bands I ever saw live who didn't curse or use any vulgarities at all during their performance. Even in my teenage years that impressed me. It made them seem confident in their music.
I gotta say, Garth went out of his way to entertain his audience, and judging from the way my girlfriend at the time reacted, Garth did a good job. I wasn't much of a fan, but I don't remember having a terrible time at this show.
The main thing I remember about Cinderella was that they were a tall band. The average member was probably 6'. Maybe 6'3" with hair, 6'5" with hair and heels.
This band produced one of the best and most underrated, underheard rock albums of the '80's. When I saw them their drummer was Matt Sorum, who went on to later fame drumming for Guns N' Roses. The Cult was a good live band, playing crowd-pleasing, competent, note-for-note reproductions of their live tracks.
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy
Remains the only hip hop band I've ever seen in concert. They were pretty good, I enjoyed their set. The cool thing about Disposable was that they played live music rather than just rapping over prerecorded tracks. Their guitarist was Charlie Hunter, who has since made quite a name for himself in the world of jazz.
I'm including Gibb here even though he's a bit of a regional artist and most of you have probably never heard him, except maybe through his work with Keller Williams or as a performer at The Gathering Of The Vibes. Gibb is an electric guitar player in the Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughn tradition, and he's really very good. He does a lot of session work now and occasionally produces a solo album, but back in the day he used to tour as the guitarist and singer in a three-piece band. I saw Gibb and his band play, damn, I don't even know how many times. I never saw a bad show. This guy is a great entertainer, a damn good songwriter and musician, and an all-around nice guy. I've been waiting for him to finally get his "big break" for more than ten years now.
I saw Dokken in '88, I think. I have absolutely no memory of their set. You know, it's probably better if a band makes a bad impression (like Poison) than no impression at all.
I saw Foreigner during the height of their "I Wanna Know What Love Is" popularity, back when they had the original members of their classic line-up. They had a lot of lasers and dry ice and a big choir with them. This was the first rock band I ever saw live, I was maybe 14 or so. I was quite impressed.
Four Non Blondes
I saw them open for Aerosmith. They sucked. Their lead singer was Linda Perry, who is now a producer and songwriter responsible for a number of bad current hit records. Apparently she isn't through messing up my life yet.
Who the hell are Giuffria? I was asking that when I saw them live and I'm still asking that. OK, thanks to the internet, I do have a bit of interesting trivia about this band. Giuffria's lead singer was David Glen Eisley, who I remember cursing an excessive amount during their show. Even if you've never heard of him, you have probably heard him sing if you're a Spongebob Squarepants viewer. It seems that Eisley is the singing voice of Spongebob in the Band Geeks episode of the show. He sings the song "Sweet Victory" in that episode. So when I saw the little known rock band Giuffria in concert, I was entertained by the spectacular vocals of Spongebob Squarepants.
The best thing I can say about the Great White set I saw is that I survived it. After the band's irresponsible use of pyro lead to a fire a few years ago, I considered getting an "I Survived A Great White Concert" T-shirt. The second best thing I can say about the Great White show I saw was that they were the best unofficial Zeppelin cover-band I ever saw.
A true legend of country music. I enjoyed his set, although I remember that the guy had this really crazy looking glint in his eye while he was performing. Merle might be a little touched in the head.
I've seen the Indigo Girls play live twice, and both times I had a great time. One time they played a few requests from the crowd, including one song they didn't know ("Me and Bobby McGee") that they tried to work out for the first time on the spot. I've never seen another nationally touring band do that. The Indigo Girls are the best lesbian folk-rock duo I've ever seen in concert (though not the only one). In fact, the Indigos are probably one of the top fifteen lesbian folk-rock duos in the US, right up there with The Murmurs, Tegan and Sara and Tenacious D.
A Led Zeppelin wannabe band that opened a rock festival I saw in the late '80's.
Like the Allmans, who I saw after the death of Duane Allman, I saw Little Feat after the death of their founder and leader, Lowell George. Nonetheless, Little Feat was still made up of a number of damn good musicians, and I remember that I thought that they were very good live.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band is both the name of one of their albums and the name of Lovett's touring outfit. They're a remarkable assembly of players and singers. Wendy and I saw them three or four years ago, and they sounded great. We were both a bit disappointed, though, in Lovett's decision to play mostly brand-new material.
Apparently, Marilyn Manson failed to shock or scare me since I saw him and his band open for Nine Inch Nails and have no memory of their performance.
I saw Metallica three or four times in the '80's and early '90's. They really are one of the most consistently entertaining and worthwhile rock bands I've ever seen. I never saw them have an off night. They always sound good and always play for a long time. Plus, when they play live, their songs have a kind of loose groove that isn't there on the albums. They're awesome live, well worth seeing.
I saw Motley Crue two or three times in the '80's. They were fun live, but extremely cheesy. For instance, one of the conventions of rock shows is that the band will come out and play for a while and then say "Thank you, good night!" They'll then go back stage and the crowd will stay in place and the house lights will stay down and the crowd will chant and the band will come back out after ten minutes and do a few more songs. It gives the impression of an "on demand" encore, but it's conventional. I've never been to a rock show where this didn't happen. Anyway, one time when I saw Motley Crue they did the "Thank you, good night!" bit and went off stage … and then a big electric sign behind the stage started flashing the word "CRUE CRUE CRUE CRUE," which, of course, prompted the crowd to chant for ten minutes. Then the band came back on stage and Vince Neal said something like "Boy, you guys must want some more, huh?" Gimme a break.
Nine Inch Nails
My ears rang for weeks after seeing NIN in '94. They were the loudest band I've ever seen and may have been violating noise ordnances when I saw them. They were also very good live. I thoroughly enjoyed their painful set.
The most interesting thing about the Ozzy Osbourne show I saw was that, at the time, Ozzy was touring with Geezer Butler on bass guitar. Ozzy and Geezer were, of course, founding members of Black Sabbath. Now, at the time, guitarist Tony Iommi was the only original member still in Black Sabbath. So when I saw Ozzy, I saw more original members of Black Sabbath than I'd have seen at a Sabbath show. Also, Ozzy's guitarist on that tour and at that show was Zakk Wylde, a good musician and bandleader in his own right. Zakk's guitar playing during "Paranoid" produced the best version of that song I've ever heard.
Poison may be the worst band I ever saw live. Bad singing, bad playing, bad sound, bad showmanship, bad songwriting, bad make-up, bad costumes, bad conduct and bad hair. Other than that, fine show.
Primus had the worst sound mix of any live band I've ever seen. The music was one loud, fuzzy throb. I didn’t enjoy their set.
I saw them touring in support of the album Green, on election day, 1989. This was the day that Virginia screwed up and elected the likable but incompetent Doug Wilder, which I thought was a good thing at the time. I drug my friend Jamie to this show and he had a miserable time. I had an OK time. REM's opening act was some band I've forgotten (it was the band Pylon, thanks for the reminder, Jamie), and their lead singer was visibly pregnant. She remains the only visibly pregnant singer I've ever seen open for R.E.M.
I'm not even sure how many times I saw Ratt in the '80's. Maybe four times. They were a reliably middling-to-awful band. Their singer sucked. Their guitarists sucked. I thought they were awesome at the time, though, because I was easy to please.
The best musician I've ever seen play live, and my favorite guitar player of all time. I saw him do a set with Peter Rowan, another legend in the bluegrass arena, but I hardly remember Rowan's presence. Rice is the man as far as I'm concerned. After the show Tony came out and socialized with the fans, so I got to meet him and thank him for the positive difference his music has made in my life over the years. He seemed genuinely touched by my gratitude. Tony Rice is the coolest guy in the world.
Another of the country bands I saw in concert during my years working in country radio. You get the tickets for free, so you figure, heck, I might as well go. I have no memory of their set.
I saw this band around the time of their mega-popular live album, World Wide Live. They sounded very good live. This was a band that had been touring, recording and performing for some fifteen years by the time I saw them, and they were tight and talented.
Shenandoah was a popular country band in the '80's and '90's. If you weren't listening to that kind of music at that time, you don't remember them. They were, in all honesty, the best country band I ever saw in concert. (Notice I said "country," not "bluegrass." I've seen a bunch of better bluegrass players.) Anyway, Shenandoah played their hits along with a number of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg covers and ended their show with an impressive (and utterly unexpected) cover of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker." I went home happy. I think my girlfriend at the time (the Garth Brooks fan) was a bit baffled by their song selections.
Slayer was really outstanding live. I saw them in a club in Hampton Roads, Virginia, touring in support of Seasons In The Abyss. They opened their show, if I remember correctly, with "Raining Blood," one of their heaviest songs. The played hard and fast and loud and never made a misstep. The Governor saw that show with me and has since seen them a number of times, and he has never reported a bad show. If you like loud, aggressive thrash metal, Slayer is the band to see live. And, by the way, Slayer is the only other rock band (along with Bon Jovi) that I've seen play live who never uttered a single swear word or vulgarity during their set. Instead, their singer, Tom Araya, kept saying things like "I trust that everyone is enjoying our performance this evening..."
I saw this thrash metal band open for Slayer. I remember thinking that they were good and that their singer was a huge, scary guy.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Toad was a popular alternative rock band in the '90's and they were pretty good live. I saw them with special guests Everything, a one-hit-wonder from that time. I think I remember that Everything was pretty good, too. The main thing I remember about Everything was that they were selling t-shirts that had their logo on the front and the words "Poor. Ugly. Happy." on the back. I thought those were pretty cool shirts.
On the Zoo TV tour at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh in the early '90's. Best show I have ever seen. U2 is a stellar live band, and they had all the bells and whistles, props and lights and lasers, that a stadium-size show will accommodate. Man, what a great show. They sounded great, they thoroughly entertained several thousand people, I went home exhausted and happy.
I saw Van Halen three or four times in the late '80's, during the Hagar era. They were a solid band live. Eddie Van Halen once threw a guitar pick right over my head; the guy behind me got it. Dammit. I also remember that during one show Hagar spotted security roughing a guy up and stopped the show mid-song and told them to stop. Very cool.
Vixen was an all-girl metal band that was popular for six minutes in the late '80's. After they broke up, the guitarist briefly taught guitar for a living on Long Island, New York. She was the guitar teacher for a guy my wife used to date before she and I ever met. Six degrees of separation or something.
They didn't suck.
I saw them twice. They were prompt and professional, as is befitting a group of veteran British musicians. I saw them during the years when lead singer David Coverdale was still dating Tawny Kitaen. This was the '80's when she was still young and hot, as opposed to nowadays when she looks like a transvestite.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Music That Doesn't Sooth The Savage Beast
I read Janet's Tell It To Me Tuesday regularly, but don't usually contribute because I just don't often feel like I have anything worth adding. Better to keep your mouth shut than to add something pointless, right?
But this week's topic happens to be a subject I know a little about: songs that invoke anger. Or, as I interpret the topic, songs to listen to when you're good and pissed off.
I've mentioned before that music therapy is the only thing that works for me when I get highly aggravated, and what I often do is listen to good anger-music to get it out of my system. Once I've heard a few tunes ... good and loud, mind you ... and maybe let out a couple of primal screams ... I tend to feel better. Here are some of the songs that help me bring the anger to a head, dissipate it, and get on with my life.
Pantera: "Regular People"
There are a ton of good Pantera songs when it comes to lettin' off some steam, including B13's outstanding choice, but the one I'd pick is "Regular People", a song about having had it up to here with somebody's BS. As heavy metal goes, Pantera was one of the best bands ever ... and their music was the kind that perfectly suited aggressive, angry lyrics. Each and every track on Pantera's amazing "Vulgar Display of Power" is a monster, and "Regular People" is one of those "critical mass" songs for me.
I’ve trampled on that road
That you think you own.
You and that ’smart ass’ attitude,
It’s time to stop the fiction.
Some YouTuber has put together a music video for the song, featuring video from some video game. I have no idea why, the video adds nothing to the music ... but you can sample the song here:
Metallica: "Wasting My Hate"
Of course, the worst thing about being good and mad at someone is that when you get mad and stay mad at some idiot, you're giving them too much of yourself. When you're mad at someone, you're giving them your time, your energy, your mind and your body. And most of the time, when you think about it, the person you're mad at isn't worth the sacrifice.
Metallica's "Load" features a song called "Wasting My Hate", and it really puts it all in a nutshell. The band's James Hetfield wrote the song after hearing a story from country and western legend Waylon Jennings: Jennings was sitting in a cafe having a cup of coffee when he noticed a guy sitting in the parking lot, in the passenger seat of a truck, giving him the evil eye. Jennings looked away, but when he looked back, the guy was still looking at him. So this time he tried to stare him down, but the guy didn't budge. The longer he sat there, the angrier Waylon got, and finally he decided to walk outside and really give it to the guy. And when he got outside and approached the truck, he realized that the guy was sound asleep, head cocked back on the seat, and actually staring at no one and nothing. "Man," Waylon is reported to have said to Hetfield, "I was just wasting my hate on that guy."
Good day, how do,
And I send a smile to you.
Don't waste, don't waste your breath,
And I won't waste my hate on you.
Again, the YouTube video features unrelated and irrelevant video, but you can hear the song here:
Johnny Cash: "San Quentin"
Johnny Cash didn't write protest songs to be trendy or to attract attention. If Johnny wrote a song in protest of something, it was because he was good and pissed off. Such was the case in 1969 when Johnny visited San Quentin State Prison in California to perform for the inmates and saw them living in conditions not fit for human beings.
According to the liner notes from Cash's legendary live album "Johnny Cash At San Quentin", Johnny wrote his classic song entitled "San Quentin" during the first hours of his visit to the penitentiary. That was the thing about Johnny Cash... when he converted to Christianity, he took the call seriously. Including Christ's call to His followers to visit and minister to those in prison. Cash believed that people who'd committed crimes should pay their due to society, but that they shouldn't be reduced to something less than human. What he saw at San Quentin appalled him. During his concert that day Cash asked for a drink of the same water that the prisoners drank and found it filthy and disgusting. Later, Johnny debuted the new song for San Quentin's inmates, stirring them to the point that he had to perform the song again, immediately, to satisfy them. Imagine that. Imagine being one of the guards or the warden in that infamous hellhole, watching as a pissed-off country rocker got your whole prison population all worked up, all at once.
San Quentin, I hate every inch of you.
You've cut me and you've scarred me through and through.
And I'll walk out a wiser weaker man;
Mister Congressman, you can't understand.
And here's a clip of that very legendary performance:
The heavy progressive rock band Tool just gets better and better. Their 2001 album "Lateralus" is possibly the finest example of heavy progressive rock that's been turned out by any band ... but each of their albums is good in it's own right, and 1993's "Undertow" features a number of great songs, including "Bottom".
"Bottom" is a song about wallowing in your own spite ... and let's face it, we all do that from time to time. But "Bottom" is an honest song; a song that admits that when you're wallowing, you're doing nothing more than celebrating your own failure. Still, wallowing has it's appeal. Sometimes when you're good and mad you just want to be left alone to enjoy your anger. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you get it out of your system and move on. Have a good wallow, then get up and get on with it.
I have swallowed the poison you feed me,
And I survive on the poison you feed me.
Leaving me guilt-fed. Hatred-fed. Weakness-fed.
It makes me feel ugly.
Again, ignore the animation that some YouTuber has attached to the song and just enjoy Tool's groove:
Billy Joel: "Pressure"
Is there anything worse than some jackass who just can't wait to tell you what you should be doing when things fall apart? Not much. And we all know the type, too. We all know some blowhard who just lurks in the background, waiting to see if you're going to fall on your face, not caring what you're doing or what you're learning or how hard you're trying ... just waiting for that chance to waltz up and say "You know, if I were you..."
Billy Joel has obviously dealt with those kinds of people before, and his 1982 album "The Nylon Curtain" contains a track that sums them up to a tee. Billy even sings "Pressure" with a voice that's about to crack from anger, making it obvious that he's not singing about a hypothetical lunkhead. Some smart-ass actually inspired this song. I hope he knew that it was about him when he first heard it on the radio.
I'm sure you'll have some cosmic rationale.
But here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice.
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure.
And here's the classic music video from the '80's.
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