Sunday, April 30, 2006

PEARL JAM - In Stores Tuesday, May 2nd

Oh, my. I'm starting to get the impression that Mr. Vedder and company are not supporters of President Bush. Here I thought the song Bu$hleaguer had been a good-natured prank amongst friends...

PEARL JAM (2006) is a message to be certain. It's actually packaged as a little hardback book. The pages contain lyrics to the songs amidst some dark and disturbing artwork. And, there at the back is a sleeve with a compact disc. Here is what that CD contains:

1. Life Wasted (Vedder/Gossard)
2. World Wide Suicide (Vedder)
3. Comatose (Vedder/McCready/Gossard)
4. Severed Hand (Vedder)
5. Marker In The Sand (Vedder/McCready)
6. Parachutes (Vedder/Gossard)
7. Unemployable (Vedder/Cameron/McCready)
8. Big Wave (Vedder/Ament)
9. Gone (Vedder)
10. Wasted Reprise (see "Life Wasted")
11. Army Reserve (Vedder/D. Echols/Ament)
12. Come Back (Vedder/McCready)
13. Inside Job (McCready/Vedder)

"Life Wasted" is a rockin' opener, a call to arms, so to speak. "I have faced it/A life wasted/I'm never going back again". Great song. This is followed by the 1st single, "World Wide Suicide". It's certainly an anti-war song: "It's a shame to awaken/In a world of pain/What does it mean/When a war has taken over". Heavy, driving electric guitars and screaming vocals. "Medals on a wooden mantle/Next to a handsome face/That the President took for granted/Writing checks that others pay".

"Comatose" is yet another heavy rocker. "Severed Hand" has a slow, almost spacey intro that builds to a solid, pseudo-funk gutar riff with slow and deliberate vocal delivery. "Tried to walk/Found a severed hand/Recognized it/By the wedding band".

"Marker In The Sand" is funky, in an edgy, rockin' way. "Those undecided/Needn't have faith to be free/And those misguided/There was a plan for them to be/Now you got both sides/Claiming killing in God's name/But God is nowhere/To be found, conveniently".

"Parachutes" is the first acoustic song, and slower in pace. Vedder makes use of his favorite metaphor, the breaking of waves. "World Wide Suicide" contains the line, "And the wave won't break". Here, we have "A wave will break on me today". Haahnster can clearly hear the song from Yield that says "We're all just breaking like waves" (It's "Push Me, Pull Me", I believe). The guy's a surfer, whattaya want?!

"Unemployable" returns to the heavy, electric guitar. It's the story of an unfortunate soul who loses his job. How will he support his wife and kid? "So this life is sacrifice/To a stranger's bottom line"...wait, there are real, human faces attached to those unemployment statistics?!

"Big Wave" is a fast, heavy rocker involving riding big waves (one presumes they are breaking at some point). I suppose this song is a sequel of sorts to "Do The Evolution" (from Yield): "I used to be crustacean/In an underwater nation/And I surf in celebration/Of a billion adaptations".

"Gone" starts off slow and mellow. "This American dream/I am disbelieving". The heavier sound kicks in to punctuate certain passages, then fades back out. It's one of those just-need-a-change-of-scenery-to-get-past-current-hopelessness type of songs. "If nothing is everything/I'll have it all"...Eddie sure can be cheery!

"Wasted Reprise" consists of select lines from "Wasted Life" sung over a churchy-sounding organ. I think it serves to refocus, as it leads into "Army Reserve". There, funky guitar returns, as we get a soldier's, as well as his family's, perspective on war. "She tells herself/And everyone else/Father is risking/His life for our freedoms" and "I'm not blind/I can see it coming/Looks like lightning/in my child's eye", among other passages.

"Come Back" is a slow, sad song that deals with the personal loss associated with those left behind. "Please say that if you hadn't gone now/I wouldn't have lost you another way/From wherever you are...Come back". This song ends with guitar soloing behind Vedder's seriously soulful wailing. It's powerful stuff.

"Inside Job" closes the album. "I will not lose my faith." "Life comes from within your heart." We each need to do what we can.

Bottom line: Buy it and play it LOUD!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

LIVING WITH WAR - Initial Impressions

OK, I have very few computer skills (Radiohead might've said, "Not OK, Computer"). In fact, my best "computer skill" is probably knowing others who can get shit done. It's usually pretty efficient that way. All of this is a way of saying I don't know how, but I have Neil Young's LIVING WITH WAR on CD. It was burned from mp3's which were generated by capturing the streaming audio from Neil's website. So, it's an audiophile's worst nightmare, "purity"-wise. But, it'll certainly do in a pinch.

Here's the scoop:

"After The Garden" - This one is a cool start. The guitar is fairly "Slip Away" (from 1996's Broken Arrow) in nature. I like the "Garden" concept, as in Garden of Eden...Iraq...biblical kind of thing. What will we do after the garden is gone?

"Living With War" - The guitar is heavy and distorted, but fairly slow. "I'm livin' with war in my heart every day." "When the night falls, I pray for peace. Try to remember peace." Good sentiment. He does a little twist, inserting some lyrics from "The Star Spangled Banner". I think it's effective. The trumpet takes a nice solo. It's cool. It might've been nice if Neil took it as a guitar solo. But, I suppose the whole trumpet/bugle analogy works.

"The Restless Consumer" - Now, things kick in for real. Neil's guitar intro is cool. This Cromwell guy can pound the freakin' skins, man. Drums are in your face! Neil is pissed here. "Don't need no Madison Ave. whore"..."Don't need no more lies". Neil raps, in essence. This tune will get HEAVY play by the Haahnster.

"Shock And Awe" - Neil's guitar is somewhere between Ragged Glory and Mirrorball. "Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/Our chief was landing on the deck/The sun was setting on the golden photo-op/Back in the days of Mission Accomplished". The trumpet solo is cool. Again, I wouldn't have minded a guitar solo in its place. The chorus sounds decent here. The drums are absolutely thunderous.

"Families" - This one is short and sweet (2:25). It almost seemed like a throwaway the first time through. It's starting to grow on me, though. The guitar is chunky. The chorus is used effectively. Of course, war affects families. It makes sense. I'd like to see him blow this one up to about 15 minutes with a HUGE guitar solo when he plays it live.

"Flags Of Freedom" (Think: "Chimes Of Freedom" by Bob Dylan. I mean that in a good way, of course.) He refers to Dylan by name. I like the "flat-screen TV" reference. Oh, yeah, and flags. "Do you think you believe in yours/More than they do theirs, somehow?" Good fucking question.

"Let's Impeach The President" - You have to hear it to believe it. It's unique, to be sure. He calls "W" on almost everything imaginable: misleading us into war, illegally wire-tapping in the U.S., running up record budget deficits, etc. He even uses the baseball/steroid scandal against him. (The way Neil says the word "steroids" is absolutely classic Neil.) He uses Bush soundbites against him. There's almost no chance this song can age gracefully. But, I'll certainly enjoy it while it lasts!!!

"Looking For A Leader" is the beginning of the healing process. I.e., let's say we 've impeached Bush, now what? Neil calls on Obama, or maybe Colin Powell ("to right what he's done wrong").

"Roger And Out" is another one that didn't grab me the 1st time by. Now, it's among my favorites. Neil's guitar is ragged, but slow. When the chorus goes into the "oohs", I SWEAR that Axel Rose is going to burst into the GnR cover version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door". It's sweet...stolen melody for sure, but sweet nonetheless.

"America The Beautiful" - This is an effective finish the 1st time through. I doubt I'll listen to it too often, though. I'm not a big, a cappella chorus kind of guy.

Bottom line: I think it works well at LOUD VOLUME (and what other way would you want it?), and I think it's going to resonate with a lot of people. I'm sure it will alienate a few, especially the Fox News watchers. Fuck 'em. PLAY IT LOUD!!!!!!!!!

Fan Club Pre-Orders RULE!!!

Imagine my incredibly pleasant surprise when I checked today's mail delivery, only to find a little package from Ten Club.

That's right, the new PEARL JAM!!!! I'm officially in new release heaven!!! Of course, as the street date is not until Tuesday, I am unable to open it and listen until then...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... I'm crackin' myself up with that last remark.

Friday, April 28, 2006

What The Hell Are You Doing HERE?


Here's the link.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"The Reasons Are Several, Most Of 'Em Federal"

"I got a letter from the government/The other day/I opened and read it/It said they were suckers/They wanted me/For their Army or whatever/Picture me givin' a damn/I said, 'Never!'" So opens the song "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos", one of the many amazing songs on Public Enemy's landmark album, IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK (1988). At # 48, it is the highest placed "rap" album on the Rolling Stone "Top 500 Albums" list. (I guess that makes it the Sgt. Pepper's of rap! Oh, wait, this album holds up better! One of these days, I might get tired of ragging on Sgt. Pepper's...)

Public Enemy, on the Nation Of Millions album, was Chuck D (C. Ridenhour) - "Messenger of Prophecy", lead rapper; Flavor Flav (W. Drayton) - "The Cold Lamper", rapper, sidekick, general comic relief; Terminator X (N. Rogers) - "Assault Technician", DJ; Professor Griff (R. Griffin) - "Minister of Information", liason with S1W, road manager; and, of course, The Bomb Squad - producers. The Bomb Squad consisted of Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric "Viet Nam" Sadler, and Carl Ryder (actually a pseudonym for Chuck D himself).

Track Listing:
1. Countdown to Armageddon (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
2. Bring the Noise (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
3. Don't Believe the Hype (Drayton/Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
4. Cold Lampin' With Flavor (Sadler/Shocklee)
5. Terminator X to the Edge of Panic (Drayton/Ridenhour/Rodgers)
6. Mind Terrorist (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
7. Louder Than a Bomb (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
8. Caught, Can We Get a Witness (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
9. Show 'Em Whatcha Got (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
10. She Watch Channel Zero?! (Drayton/Griffin/Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
11. Night of the Living Baseheads (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
12. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (Public Enemy)
13. Security of the First World (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
14. Rebel Without a Pause (Ridenhour/Rodgers/Sadler/Shocklee)
15. Prophets of Rage (Drayton/Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)
16. Party for Your Right to Fight (Ridenhour/Sadler/Shocklee)

Public Enemy's debut album, YO! BUM RUSH THE SHOW (1987) had been a militant call to arms. A quick scan of the titles above should indicate that Nation of Millions picked right up where Bum Rush had left off. From Wikipedia, "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is a 1988 album by the hip hop group Public Enemy. Enormously influential, the album's mix of The Bomb Squad's sample-heavy beats and revolutionary lyrics railing against corporate control, structural racism and police brutality turned the album into a sensation..." not bad. But, "sample-heavy" only begins to describe it. There weren't just '60s/'70s funk samples. There were jazz samples, classic rock samples, even pure noise sampled and repeated over and over, to drill directly into your brain. And, of course, there were spoken word samples, many from various civil rights speeches from Professor Griff's archives. Shit, there were even several instances of samples of Chuck and Flavor's voices from one song used in another song. Lyrically, Chuck D wasn't ryhming about who was a better ryhmer, or east coast/west coast, or who was a bigger pimp. Chuck D was talking about all the things Wikipedia mentions, and much more.

"Bring The Noise" kicks off with a spoken word sample, "Too black, too strong...too black, too strong". Then Flavor chimes in "Yo, Chuck, these honeydrippers are still frontin' on us...etc.", ending with his patented,"Yeeeaahhh, Boooyyyeeeee!" And, then Chuck D's unmistakable baritone, "Bass! How low can you?/Death row, what a brother know." The beeping and squeaking and static samples abound. Terminator X scratches records like he's trying to see if the needle can actually penetrate the vinyl.

"Don't Believe the Hype" has more grating, screeching, squealing noises. The 2nd verse starts with "Yes, was the start of my last jam", a reference to the song "Rebel Without A Pause", which had actually been released as a 12" single before also being included on Nation Of Millions. But, the key passage has to be the beginning of the 3rd verse, "Don't believe the hype/It's a sequel/As an equal/Can I get this through to you?"

Flavor takes his typical, one lead rap per album on "Cold Lampin' With Flavor". It's a pure goof, witness "We got Magnum Brown, Shoothki-Valoothki/Super-calafrag-hestik-alagoothki/You can put that in your don't know what you said book". "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic" samples heavily from Queen's "Flash Theme" (or whatever it's called from that early-'80s Flash Gordon movie), among other places.

"Louder Than A Bomb" uses the line "'Cause I'm louder than a bomb" as a chorus, but whispered, of course. Some great, quick scratches by Terminator X propel this one. Flavor also appears near the beginning, uttering to Chuck, "Show 'em what you got", a sample of which later becomes the basis for the semi-"instrumental" filler song of the same title.

"Caught! Can I Get A Witness!" is the fictional story of a phenomenon that would soon become all-too-real, lawsuits over sampling. Chuck D puts forth the theory that beats are a mineral, there to be mined by whomever might have a productive use for them. (Ironically, when Madonna's song "Justify My Love" later used what would certainly seem to be the beat from this album's "Security Of The First World" instrumental, Chuck D seemed to have a much different view.)

"She Watch Channel Zero?!" is a great, anti-TV rant, with heavy metal guitar propelling the tune itself (was Executive Producer Rick Rubin in the studio that day?). "But her brains being washed by an actor...I don't think I can handle/She goes channel to channel/Cold lookin' for that hero/She watch channel zero".

My personal favorite might be "Night Of The Living Baseheads". I could write a whole post on this one. The intro is from a speech about slaves being brought to America. It ends with the line "And, many of us, by the way we act, we even lost our minds". Then Chuck D booms, "Here it is/BAAMMM"! A single horn note is sampled and repeated endlessly. Between the 1st and 2nd verse, suddenly Chuck D is a cappella "I put this together to..." There are multiple breaks, and changes of tempo. There's even a David Bowie sample ("Fame") that serves as a break. And the story, which villifies drug dealers, and attempts to shame them for selling to their own people, takes the whole "leave that crack alone"-type of token line to a completely different level of social awareness.

And, now, we've arrived where we started above, at "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos". This is the fictional story of a prison break. It is filled with great soundbites (e.g., "I wanted the Governor, y'all/And plus the warden to know/That I was innocent/Because I'm militant/Posin' a threat/You bet it's fuckin' up the government"). The keyboard sample, I later learned, is from Isaac Hayes's "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic". Flavor Flav calls in on the "prison" phone between verses to reassure Chuck that the rescue is imminent. Chuck's lyrics "This is what I mean--an anti-nigger machine/If I come out alive then they won't come clean" became the basis for the song "Anti-Nigger Machine" from PE's follow-up album FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET (1990). And, of course, at the end, Terminator X provides some of his heaviest scratching ever (apparently of a "Bring The Noise" 12" single), repeating Chuck D's line "Death row, what a brother know". These guys are self-referential to a point only exceeded by the Beastie Boys! Of course, with the Beasties, it usually just seems like an inside gag. With Public Enemy, it's almost always to underscore a far more serious point.

"Rebel Without A Pause" is a great song, with what might be the most annoying of the annoying-noise samples (I love it, by the way) on the entire album! Check out the great lines: "Yes--the rythm, the rebel'..."Radio--suckers never play me"..."From a rebel it's final on black vinyl/Soul, rock 'n roll comin' like a rhino"..."No matter what the name--we're all the same/ one big chess game".

"Prophets Of Rage" features more references to civil rights activists and world leaders (e.g., Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher), and a repeated sample "Power of the people say". The album ends with "Party For Your Right To Fight", a militant reworking of the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right (To Party)". It contains the album title: "It's proven in fact/It takes a nation of millions to hold us back".

Bottom line: This album is truly a battle cry, a tour de force, a (whatever superlative you prefer). It is impossible to overstate the impact that this album had on the hip hop world. The production pushed the envelope. The subject matter pushed the envelope. Call it "folk protest music for the dawn of the '90s".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Absolutely, 100% Unintentional

If she gets to keep the money, I think I'm going to start "writing" too. Can you say, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T?

"Viswanathan said she read McCafferty's books three or four times while in high school but didn't bring them to Harvard with her and didn't consult them while writing."

Haahnster would like to report that I have written a great novel. It's about a Russian character's descent into madness after killing a pawnbroker. I think it will be called Crime and Punishment. What? Dosto-who?

"I Must Admit I Felt A Little Uneasy..."

Wow! I pulled out Bob Dylan's BLOOD ON THE TRACKS (1975) for the first time in a long time. It's yet another example of a vinyl album I haven't replaced with CD (yet). What a great record! Dylan actually wrote and recorded the songs in 1974. Then, at the last minute, decided to re-record half of them. Thus, the release date was in January of 1975.

This was all in the wake of his "estrangement" from his wife of 10 years. The entire album has that gut-wrenching, end-of-a-relationship feel to it, even when the words aren't as obvious. But, believe me, there are some words that seem pretty obvious. I'm not saying that in a bad way. Let's just say this seems more personal than much of his earlier work. Of course, it's also believed that he's implied that the songs were all based on Chekov short stories. With Dylan, who knows for certain?

Side 1
1. Tangled Up in Blue - 5:40
2. Simple Twist of Fate - 4:18
3. You're a Big Girl Now - 4:36
4. Idiot Wind - 7:45
5. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go - 2:58
Side 2
1. Meet Me in the Morning - 4:19
2. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts - 8:50
3. If You See Her, Say Hello - 4:46
4. Shelter from the Storm - 4:59
5. Buckets of Rain - 3:29

The album kicks off with one of my all-time favorite Dylan songs, "Tangled Up in Blue". This is as good a song as he's ever written or played, in my humble opinion. It's a great piece of storytelling, with vivid imagery. It's also got what might well be the single greatest set-up/punchline in music history: "She was workin' in a topless place/And I stopped in for a beer/I just kept lookin' at the side of her face/In the spotlight so clear/And later on as the crowd thinned out/I's just about to do the same/She was standing there in back of my chair/Said to me, "Don't I know your name?"/I muttered somethin' underneath my breath/She studied the lines on my face/I must admit I felt a little uneasy/When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe/Tangled up in blue." Allow me to summarize: topless...uneasy...bent down...laces of my shoe...GENIUS!

"Simple Twist of Fate" is a song where Dylan really belts out the vocals. Let me just put in another public service announcement to all those who have ever said "Dylan can't sing". I say, pull your head out of your ass. It isn't opera. But, damn it, it's got the emotion.

"You're a Big Girl Now" is a slower tune that really seems to have a personal feel (e.g., "Love is so simple, to quote a phrase/You've known it all the time, I'm learnin' it these days" and "I'm going out of my mind, oh, oh/With a pain that stops and starts/Like a corkscrew to my heart/Ever since we've been apart").

"Idiot Wind" is another Dylan classic. It's a really strong vocal performance by Bob, and the organ accompaniment is great. Dylan again shows his uncanny ability to do put-downs ("Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth/Blowing down the backroads headin' south/Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth/You're an idiot, babe/It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe"). However, he really does a great job of capturing that end-of-a-relationship angst, as he ends by turning the focus on himself at least a bit ("Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats/Blowing through the letters that we wrote/Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves/We're idiots, babe/It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves").

"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" quickens the pace again. And, again, it certainly relates a fair share of emotional pain: "Situations have ended sad/Relationships have all been bad/Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud/But there's no way I can compare/All those scenes to this affair/Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go".

Side two opens with "Meet Me in the Morning". This tune has some plucky guitar pickin' with steel guitar accompaniment. It has a great, bluesy feel ("Well, you know I even outran the hound dogs/Honey, you know I've earned your love").

"Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" is yet another example of a Dylan song that makes the listener marvel at how he could possibly sustain that lyrical pace for that length of time. "The hangin' judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined/The drillin' in the wall kept up but no one seemed to pay it any mind/It was known all around that Lily had Jim's ring/And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king/No, nothin' ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts."

"If You See Her, Say Hello" is slower-paced, and again feels very personal. "I see a lot of people as I make the rounds/And I hear her name here and there as I go from town to town/And I've never gotten used to it, I've just learned to turn it off/Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft."

Next up is "Shelter from the Storm". Yes, the song used as the theme for the Hurricane Katrina Telethon (Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast) from September 2005. This song is built around classic Dylan: writing, acoustic guitar strummin', and singing. "Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount/But nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts/And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn/'Come in,' she said, 'I'll give you shelter from the storm'." Oh, and of course, there's "I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove/And old men with broken teeth stranded without love/Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?/'Come in,' she said, 'I'll give you shelter from the storm'."

Finally, the album ends on what some might call a brighter note, "Buckets of Rain". I think this song is a great example of Dylan's vastly-underrated guitar playing. He just plays cool-sounding stuff, end of story. Lyrically, it's simpler, but not uneventful: "I been meek/And hard like an oak/I seen pretty people disappear like smoke/Friends will arrive, friends will disappear/If you want me, honey baby/I'll be here."

My album came with a sticker on it that says, "Featuring 'Tangled Up in Blue', 'Idiot Wind', 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts'" Typical for a Dylan album...I mean, songs as great as "Shelter from the Storm" don't make the cut to be 'featured' on the sticker.

Bottom line: Blood On The Tracks is another Dylan album that should only have a sticker that says "Featuring EVERY song on it, dammit!" By the way, Rolling Stone put this one at # 16 all-time on their "Top 500 Albums" list. Seems like a good ballpark figure (not that they have the right 15 ahead of it).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Couldn't Resist This One

Normally, I don't post much on politics. However, when I saw this picture, I instantly thought the caption should be, "Would you PLEASE stop talking to me about my latest poll numbers!!!!"

Have a great day.

Walkin' Around With Your Head In The Clouds... makes no sense at all...makes no difference at all...

FLIP YOUR WIG (1985) was the last album Husker Du released on the SST label. Let's look at the Wikipedia article about it:

"Flip Your Wig is a 1985 album by the Minneapolis band Hüsker Dü, their last release on SST Records. With each album, Hüsker Dü's sound grew more sophisticated, and by the time of this release, they had signed a major-label record deal. However, the band felt they owed one more album to SST and produced Flip Your Wig."

How cool is that?

"Perhaps owing to the expedient circumstances of its recording, Flip Your Wig is overall lighter in tone than most of Hüsker Dü's other albums, with obvious filler such as 'The Baby Song'."

If this is "light"...I'm very, very scared of "heavy"!!! Also, re: "The Baby Song", I never would've questioned that sentence before. However, now I have seen my 10-month-old's reaction to it about 4 or 5 times. It stops her dead in her tracks every time. She smiles; she listens. It truly is a song for babies! Because, once the next song kicks in, she goes right back to crawling or playing with whatever toy she was before it started. Amazing.

"In this respect it might seem less essential than New Day Rising or Candy Apple Grey, but individual songs are outstanding, and critical opinion of the album runs very high. The title track and 'Keep Hanging On' became staples of the band's live shows, while 'Makes No Sense at All' was featured in a music video and was sometimes performed by Mould in his solo career, where he otherwise largely distanced himself from his years in Hüsker Dü."

Well, I can't remember if I ever had New Day Rising, but I KNOW I like Flip Your Wig better than Candy Apple Grey. Of course, I'm not saying my tastes equate to what is "essential".

"The song 'Makes No Sense At All' was released as a single, with 'Love Is All Around', the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, on the b-side. The 'Makes No Sense At All' video includes both songs, back-to-back.
As of 2005, Flip Your Wig, like Hüsker Dü's other SST releases, has not been remastered for improved sound on compact disc, and the original CDs for this band are particularly weak-sounding, so interested listeners will find the best representation of the album on vinyl record."

Cool! Finally, a case where I can feel good about not having replaced one of my vinyl albums with a CD yet!

The band line-up: Bob Mould (guitar, vocals), Greg Norton (bass), Grant Hart (drums, "slide whistle" on "The Baby Song")

Here's the track listing:

1. Flip Your Wig (Mould) – 2:33
2. Every Everything (Hart) – 1:56
3. Makes No Sense At All (Mould) – 2:43
4. Hate Paper Doll (Mould) – 1:52
5. Green Eyes (Hart) – 2:58
6. Divide And Conquer (Mould) – 3:42
7. Games (Mould) – 4:06
8. Find Me (Mould) – 4:05
9. The Baby Song (Hart) – 0:46
10. Flexible Flyer (Hart) – 3:01
11. Private Plane (Mould) – 3:17
12. Keep Hanging On (Hart) – 3:15
13. The Wit And The Wisdom (Mould) – 3:41
14. Don't Know Yet (Mould) – 2:14

I'm sure there was a whole lot of consternation amongst fans as the sound shifted from their original punk to this heavy/alternative rock. However, so what? This album is a great listen, especially the 1st side (songs 1-7). The first 4 are all upbeat rockers. "Green Eyes" is a touch slower, but still heavy and loud. Check out these lyrics from "Divide and Conquer": "We'll invent some new computers/Link up the global village/And get AP, UPI, and Reuters/To tell everybody the news"...pretty damned prescient for 1985!!!

The last two songs on the 2nd side, "The Wit and the Wisdom" and "Don't Know Yet" are both instrumentals. The first of the two has some glorious guitar noise. It's "essential" in my book.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Have I Been Wrong All These Years?

For as long as I can remember, I've been an anti-DeadHead. I probably wouldn't have given it too much more thought, but for a comment by rabidt in which he (shockingly) admitted to having heard and enjoyed some Grateful Dead music. Now, this was a revelation. And, it was a revelation from an individual who has a loooong history of revealing great music to me.

So, I was spurred to some introspection. If I were ever going to listen to some Dead without merely dismissing it out of hand, I would have to get past some preconceived notions. I would have to look at the reasons why I didn't like the Grateful Dead:

1) The stuff I'd heard on classic rock radio sucked. I'm sorry, people, but "Truckin" is as bad a song as I can imagine, especially relative to the level of hype and airplay it has received over the years. "Casey Jones" is a bit better. But, take out the lyrics "high on cocaine", and it probably wouldn't have attracted as much attention as it has. "Uncle John's Band" is a song I find repetitious and boring. "Sugar Magnolia" never did anything for me.

2) DeadHeads are annoying. Admittedly, this was based on anecdotal evidence, mainly second-hand stories at that. Perhaps it would be more accurately stated that "DeadHeads" as a concept were annoying. I mean, a bunch of dirty, ratty, left-over hippies following a band around the country, getting high, shitting in the woods, selling burritos in the parking lot for a "living" didn't really appeal to me. I was raised in a somewhat conservative household, after all.

3) I was lead to believe that hallucinogenic drugs were a prerequisite. The title of this blog indicates my tendency to "hallucinate". However, I assure you it's not drug-related. I've never tried anything "harder" than pot, and that was decades ago. Hell, I hardly ever even drink beer any more. My "hallucinations" are usually the result of too-quick formations of opinions. If LSD was necessary, I wasn't interested.

So, here's what I did. First, I said, I love the Rolling Stones. And, I know they recorded more songs than "Brown Sugar", "Bitch", "Beast of Burden", and "Miss You". But, I can't remember the last time I heard something else of theirs on the radio. Perhaps judging a band with the longevity of the Dead based solely on a handful of songs from a couple of albums (Workingman's Dead and American Beauty) that were released in the same year (1970) isn't the right way to go.

Secondly, I paused to recall that I no longer subscribe to the theory of judging artists by their fans. I gave that up long ago, except for two cases: The Dead and Jimmy Buffet. I figured I wasn't quite ready for Buffet yet, but I'd try the Dead. Finally, I resolved that if it couldn't be heard sober, then I could legitimately say it still sucked.

So, I searched the net this weekend, and found the Aquarium Drunkard had posted a Dead show from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, May 8, 1977. Use the link, and then the 2006/04 Archives. The post is from 4-15-2006. You can listen to mp3 files of each song.

It's a great recording of a great concert. I'm not just saying, OK, these guys are a little better than I thought. I'm saying this is great stuff. Garcia was way, way better on guitar than I ever would've imagined. Fluid. Reminded me somewhat of late-'60s/early-'70s Carlos Santana in that respect. Of course, Santana was all about pausing to sustain a note for an impossibly long time. So, they're definitely different. But, both are/were very fluid.

I'm not going to get into it too much more. I'll just say that, once again, mainstream radio had steered me away from the right stuff. I'll also say that I've developed a theory to help keep my life from becoming any more unmanageable than it already is. My theory is that this 5-8-77 show is the absolute pinnacle of the Dead's existence. Thus, since I have captured this show on 3 CDs, I no longer need to seek out any more Dead music. (Lord only knows I cannot afford to start chasing another musical act with a seemingly infinite number of recorded shows...)

Saturday, April 22, 2006


The timeline, as it has been published here:

Available as streaming audio on Neil Young's official website: April 28, 2006

Available for digital download: May 2, 2006

Available for sale: As soon as the discs can be manufactured & distributed!

I Blatantly Stole This To Help Keep You Informed

Haahnster is sorry to report he still cannot comment firsthand, because he has still not heard the album!!! But, this lady has. So, I stole her words...

"Well, I am proud and honored to report that I, along with only 19 other people (two other Rusties) were privileged to hear Living With War tonight at the Reprise Records building in Burbank, CA. It was such a cool experience. I felt like I was going to have a fuckin' heartattack all the way there in the evening traffic, wondering if I'd make it on time, and just thinking 'Oh MY GOD!!!' It was so exciting. Well, I did make it on time, with 20 minutes to spare, to the beautiful wood building on the corner of Burbank Blvd. and Riverside Dr. near the equestrian area of Burbank, which is right next to the gigantic Griffith Park, which is kinda like LA's Central Park.

Anyway, the security guard let me in and I walked up to the desk and signed my name. I noticed that there were others signed in, and that they had put their purpose of being there as 'Neil'. So, I followed suit, and put 'Neil' down as the reason for my visit. I also noticed a name that looked familiar, and I thought, 'Rustie?' Well, it was a Rustie (Who's name I now forget--I'msoooooo sorry, man! I feel terrible, but I am SO bad at names!!!) We had verynice chit chat in the waiting area in their big, comfortable leather chairs. There was a humungous tapestry of Madonna on one wall that I found captivating (I'm a closet Madonna lover, shhhhhh).

At about 7:50PM a slight man walks out and says 'All you for the Neil listening party, come with me.' Everyone in the waiting room stood up andwalked with him. First, we walked down some stairs, then out a door that led to a nice atrium, then into a nicely furnished room that was obviously a special listening room. It was spacious, with book shelves on the far wall, some couches and chairs, and a coffee table. Off to one side was a big desk with chairs. On the opposite wall from the book shelves there was a nice state of the art entertainment center, complete with large screen TV, speakers galore (that were all camouflaged), and an X-Box, plus all your normal entertainment gadgets such as DVD, CD, etc.

We all took some seats and then picked up a paper that had NEIL YOUNG LIVING WITH WAR written on it. Each song was listed 1-10, and then on the bottom of the page it said and Living With I borrowed a book from the shelf behind me to write on and took out a pen. The guy introduced himself as Dan, thanked us for coming on such short notice (which made me chuckle, cause I was like, 'you're thanking ME?'), and then told us that this album was meant to be heard in its entirety; that we should write our reviews to him and he would post them on the blogspot; and that this album was being released in an insane amount of time, and would be available for us to purchase probably by next weekend. That news brought a smile to everyone in the room. He then started the disk, which I noticed was just a normal TDK (I think it was TDK) disk with some black lettering on it.

Here is the official song list:
1) After the Garden
2) Living With War
3) Restless Consumer
4) Shock and Awe
5) Families
6) Flags of Freedom
7) Let's Impeach the President
8) Looking for a Leader
9) Roger and Out
10) America the Beautiful

Overall, I would say that my first listen of the album was one of interest. I'm a fan, and I like Neil a lot, so I was there to see what he had done, and I was determined to not be disappointed. And overall, I was not disappointed. In a nutshell, I would say that if you like 'Mirror Ball' and 'Broken Arrow' you will like the music on this album. It's very raw, very rough, not like the metal you hear on 'Eldorado' with the clean, crisp guitar solos and clear vocals. This music is messy, but somehow flows with a melodic beauty. It's not a new sound for Neil, totally, but it is new. Here's how...the backing vocals.

The voices singing back up meld right along with the music much of the time.And sometimes they really make you want to sing along. I noted this in particular with the first cut, 'After the Garden.' The voices just move with the guitar's melody. I liked that song, but I didn't think it was a strong intro to the record. Sometimes Neil's music takes a few songs for me to warm up to, and this may be one of those songs.

You know how Neil does that thing he does where he pairs sad lyrics with more upbeat grooves, and then sometimes vice-versa? The second cut, 'Living With War' is a song with more upbeat sound, musically, but the lyrics are a real downer. The trumpet plays along with the guitar's melody during some parts of it. The background singers are singing lots of Ooooooooo's in the background, which adds to the sadness. It's very emotional in a way, although I think it would be more listenable if the lyrics were more poetic. The lyrics RHYME,yeah, but they are so straight shooting it just makes you feel bad.

Track 3, 'Restless Consumer,' is sooooo great. I wanted to hear it again right away. The beginning riffs and melodies throughout remind me a lot of 'Be the Rain'. Neil is speaking the line 'Don't need no more Lies!!' with a fierceness, over and over. And then there's that great line that made many of us laugh in the room that went, 'Don't Need no TV tellin me how sick I am.' It's all about the constant weight of the media tellin us to buy things we don't need. I absolutely loved this song.

My love continued to grow for the record with the 4th track, 'Shock and Awe.' Again, lyrics that don't leave a lot of room for interpretation, but musically, I enjoyed it. This was the song that reminded me the most of 'MirrorBall.' There was a lot of solo singing by Neil on this one, whereas in some of the others the background singers sang with him. Plus, during this song there was a great guitar solo, which, to me stood out from any of the other previous songs. And then, as if from nowhere, a lone trumpet solo, backed by heavy guitar and drums, especially symbols. Very cool song, and I would have liked it to have been longer.

'Families' was a shorter song, and it didn't grab me at the first listen. I didn't even write anything about it during the session. I honestly, at this point, can't remember anything much about it. I have to admit that I attended a birthday party afterwards and didn't get home till late, so I guess I should've written down some more notes during the listen...(blush).

The 6th track, 'Flags of Freedom,' had catchy lyrics, in my opinion. I loved the backing vocals...very effective. I fantasized about a live CSNY performance of it, rallying the audience. That would be so cool. Of all the lyrics on the album, I thought this one had the most poetic of all....still...very straight forward....but much more visual.

'Let's Impeach the President' is well situated between the previous song and the next. All I can say is laugh your ass off here. I mean, it's sad, of course, to put together all the shit this president has said and realize how lame he has been over the years. But, I tend to find a lot of humor in Neil's lyrics, so I found myself laughing. I'm sorry I didn't write more of specifically what I heard, but I just remember laughing and smiling through most of it. Sometimes Neil says, 'Flip...flop' and sometimes the background singers say it. It's great when Neil says it...just funny, I don't know.

'Looking for a Leader' is outstanding....this, track 3, and track 9 are my favorites at this point. The message is brilliant and well-said. It fits perfectly after the previous song, and I love the lyric about how 'America is beautiful but it has an ugly side.'

Track 9, 'Roger and Out' really stood out. it was kinda like a mix between music from 'Are You Passionate' and 'Prairie Wind.' It paints a beautiful picture in your mind of two friends bound for adulthood, in the prime of their life, who fall into the war and never see each other again. It's a memory to song, slow and dream-like, but still with great electric guitar. It's a keeper.

I really thought I'd get goosebumps while listening to the 100-voice choir sing 'America the Beautiful.' But I didn't . It was a great version, don't get me wrong. I LOVED the voices. Some folks really got into it, too, and did their own little 'thing' during the song, but it did not give me goosebumps. That's not a bad thing though. There are many songs I love that don't give me goosebumps.

Neil is definitely in the ditch with this album. I'm not saying that it's not listenable or that it's not enjoyable. I loved it....especially musically. But the lyrics are not the kind that make you want to listen over and over to see if you can gain some knew understanding of what it is he's saying. The meanings aren't all that debatable. They are more like speeches put to music, and you either agree with them or you don't. Personally, I agree with everything he said. I'm looking forward to buying the album and playing it some more. This review may not be a cleverly-put thoughtful rant like you might read in Rolling Stone, but it is my first and only thoughts of the album, and from this point on we can only delve deeper into the undertaking. To me, Neil is as full of integrity today as he's always been, and I admire him for allowing his muse to send out a message of shock and awe to the masses, using music that captures the spirit of the message, paired with lyrics that can't be confused for idealism or hypocrisy."

Laurie Hoffman

Reprinted here with Laurie's permission pending...(in other words, if I were a reporter, I would say "Ms. Hoffman was unavailable for comment", meaning she has yet to respond to my hastily sent email from 4 AM).

Friday, April 21, 2006

1989: Year Of The "Comeback"

Previously, I have posted about Neil Young's FREEDOM (1989), which was almost unanimously viewed as a "return to form" after the various musical avenues Neil had explored previously in the '80s. Bob Dylan released OH MERCY in 1989 to wide critical praise, after many had questioned his ability to remain relevant, especially after (mis)adventures such as the Traveling Wilburys (not as bad as some say) and Dylan & The Dead (no comment).

Then, of course, there was Lou Reed's NEW YORK (1989). I'm sure it's been said before, but can you believe it took Lou Reed until 1989 to release an album with the title "New York"? Phrased another way, is there anyone more associated with New York's rock music history than Lou Reed? It just fits, doesn't it? And, thank goodness he saved it for a great album.

All tracks written by Lou Reed except as indicated.

Romeo Had Juliette (3:09)
Halloween Parade (3:33)
Dirty Blvd. (3:29)
Endless Cycle (4:01)
There Is No Time (3:45)
Last Great American Whale (3:42)
Beginning of a Great Adventure (Reed, Mike Rathke) (4:57)
Busload of Faith (4:50)
Sick of You (3:25)
Hold On (3:24)
Good Evening Mr. Waldheim (4:35)
Xmas in February (2:55)
Strawman (5:54)
Dime Store Mystery (5:01)

Lou's liner notes instruct us that "This album was recorded and mixed at Media Sound, Studio B, NYC, in essentially the order you have here. It's meant to be listened to in one 58-minute (14 songs!) sitting as though it were a book or a movie." That's a good suggestion, but not always possible. Certainly, one can enjoy individual songs, especially when pressed for time. The liner notes proceed, "I'm on the left & the other guitarist, Mike Rathke is on the right. I did all the solos except for the two clean ones on 'Endless Cycle' & 'Sick Of You'." That makes me smile. He goes on at some length about personnel, and ends with this ultimate truism, "You can't beat 2 guitars, bass, drum." Amen.

Lou gives us a series of New York scenes. Some are atmospheric, others tackle serious issues head-on. He moves freely and easily across an emotional spectrum that includes anger, indignation, sarcastic wit (i.e., good old-fashioned smart ass), as well as introspection. And, damn, the guitar work is pretty hot. "Dirty Blvd." got a lot of airplay at the time, and is a great song. "Strawman" is probably the heaviest rocker. Lou's stinging lead guitar on "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim" could literally poke holes in you at high enough sound levels. This is a great album! I can't believe how long it had been since I last listened to it, until I pulled it out two days ago.

"Halloween Parade", which Lou wrote about AIDS, contains these lyrics, "There's no Peter Pedantic/Saying things romantic/In Latin, Greek, or Spic". Lou has a sincerity that allows the occasional slur, I suppose. After all, it's part of the New York scenery. Sometimes you just have to love Lou's bluntness. I think I'll give you a few examples:

"A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel/He's selling plastic roses for a buck/The traffic's backed up to 39th Street/The TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck" ("Dirty Blvd.")

"Some say they saw him at the Great Lakes/Some say they saw him off the coast of Florida/My mother said she saw him in Chinatown/But you can't always trust your mother" ("Last Great American Whale")

"Does anyone need yet another politician/Caught with his pants down/And money stickin' in his hole" ("Strawman")

Lou rips organized religion and militant "pro-lifers" in "Busload of Faith". He rips sensationalistic TV news in "Sick of You". And, he rips Jesse Jackson and Pope John Paul II in "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim". He attacks racially-charged violence in "Hold On". He addresses child abuse in "Endless Cycle". Heavy topics to be sure, and this could've easily been an album that drags the listener deeply into depression. Luckily, there's an appropriate amount of cathartic rage in the guitars. At least, for me, I find it thought-provoking, but oddly uplifting as well!!!

Bottom line: NEW YORK is a great album, and I highly recommend it. Of course, it didn't make the RS "Top 500 Albums". But, at this point, I'm hoping you've gathered just how irrelevant that is!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

OK, I Hope I Didn't Leave The Wrong Impression

As I've listened to Bob Dylan's HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (1965) several times over the last couple of days, it occurred to me that I need to clear something up. PLEASE don't EVER get the impression that I think this album is overrated. At # 4 on the RS "Top 500 Albums" list, it's probably a couple of spots too low! For the record, I will state again that its immediate predecessor chronologically, Bringing It All Back Home is my personal favorite. That one, at # 31, is certainly UNDERrated. It seems to be treated as a 2nd class citizen in comparison to Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, and even Blood On The Tracks. I certainly think that is wrong. BUT, nothing can take away from the greatness of Highway 61 Revisited!!!

OK, is that cleared up? Please let me know if there's any remaining confusion on this issue. Now, on to the album itself, the one that signalled the folkies' worst fears were a confirmed reality. It was the end of August, 1965. Dylan had "gone electric" and there was no turning back!!!

Side 1
Like a Rolling Stone
Tombstone Blues
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry
From a Buick 6
Ballad of a Thin Man
Side 2
Queen Jane Approximately
Highway 61 Revisited
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Desolation Row

1st up is the song RS named # 1 on its "Top 500 Songs" list, "Like A Rolling Stone" (Now it should be pointed out that the appearance of the words "Rolling Stone" in the title of the # 1 song were certainly just a coincidence!!!). Seriously, though, I cannot argue with that ranking. I think I've been guilty of looking past this song because I've heard it so much more often on radio, and elsewhere, than many of Dylan's other great songs. But, what an absolute tour de force to open the album! It's a masterpiece, to be sure. It's also a song that had already stretched the boundaries of popular music. Pardon my frankness, but fuck "Hey Jude". At more than 6 minutes in length, "Like A Rolling Stone" had been released as a single in July 1965 and climbed all the way to # 2 on the charts. Take a moment to absorb...over 6 minutes...1965...I rest my case. And, what an amazing put-down song: "You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely/But you know you only used to get...juiced in it/Nobody's ever taught you how to live on the street/And now you're gonna have to get...used to it". Ouch.

"Tombstone Blues", also more than 6 minutes long, is a good time to mention two words: Mike Bloomfield. Actually, he should've been discussed sooner. But, better late than never. Mike Bloomfield plays lead guitar on this album. That is to say, Bloomfield shreds through some of the most stinging, ripping, bluesy leads in recorded history. In fact, that might be the advantage that Highway has over Bringing It. No offense to anyone else on either album's recording sessions. But, Bob's writing and performing is so fucking good on both albums that his efforts cannot be used to distinguish between them. MY GOD!!! I've got "Tombstone Blues" on again right now. Make that three words: Mike Fucking Bloomfield. (Suck this, Crapton!)

Here's a long song title for you: "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry". It opens with "Well, I ride on a mailtrain, baby/Can't buy a thrill." Hey, wait, Bob stole that 2nd line from a Steely Dan album title! (Just joking, Bob fans.) This song is a bit slower than the previous two songs. It's also the simplest song in my estimation. I like it, don't get me wrong. But, here's a thought: what if "Positively 4th Street" (recorded on the same day, but only released as a single) had been substituted in its place? Is there room enough on one album for the two greatest put-down songs ever? Just a hypothetical scenario to ponder.

"From A Buick 6" picks the pace back up. "Well, she don't make me nervous, she don't talk too much/She walks like Bo Diddley and she don't need no crutch/She keeps this four-ten all loaded with lead/Well, if I go down dyin', you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed." Love it, although my favorite line of the song is "I need a dump truck mama to unload my head". Classic Dylan imagery.

"Ballad Of A Thin Man" closes side one. It's slower paced. But, at just under 6 minutes, it packs in a ton of great lyrics (e.g., "You've been through all of/F. Scott Fitzgerald's books/You're very well read/It's well known/But something is happening here/And you don't know what it is/Do you, Mister Jones?").

Side two opens with "Queen Jane Approximately", possibly the most Dylanesque of titles. It's the "Approximately", isn't it? Just like "Positively 4th Street" has that "Positively" in the title. Not "4th Street" or "4th Street Blues", but "Positively 4th Street"...Not "Queen Jane", but "Queen Jane Approximately"...even Bob's song titles added to the mystique. This song picks up right where side one ended, pace-wise. "Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned/Have died in battle or in vain/And you're sick of all this repetition/Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?"

The title track is up next. Musically, it's very upbeat, and it's got the goofy siren sounds (which I believe Dylan made with his mouth). Lyrically, it evokes images from every conceivable source. Some appear biblical ("God said to Abraham, 'Kill me a son'). Some appear to be from the old west ("Ol' Howard just pointed with his gun"). It even ends with a darkly comedic scene of capitalistic violence ("Now the rovin' gambler he was very bored/He was tryin' to create a next world war/He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor/He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before/But yes I think it can be very easily done/We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun/And have it on Highway 61"). No one else could squeeze so much into 3 minutes and 30 seconds!

"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (there's that Dylanesque title thing again) is great almost beyond description. Just look at these lyrical snippets: "When you're lost in the rain in Juarez/And it's Eastertime too...And my best friend, my doctor/Won't even say what it is I've got...Because the cops don't need you/And man they expect the same". Now, look at this KILLER closing verse: "I started out on burgundy/But soon hit the harder stuff/Everybody said they'd stand behind me/When the game got rough/But the joke was on me/There was nobody even there to bluff/I'm going back to New York City/I do believe I've had enough"!!!!

OK, the grand finale, "Desolation Row" is the one solo-acoustic Dylan song (maybe an accompanying bassist or 2nd guitarist??). It clocks in at a massive 11 minutes, plus. Lyrically, it's among Dylan's best, which is to say among the best of all-time. To sustain this level of lyrical excellence over an 11+ minute song is yet another of Dylan's extraordinary achievements. Read the lyrics in their entirety here. I'd have to say that "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Desolation Row" might well be the best opening and closing combination in the history of popular music albums.

Bottom line: This album deserves every accolade it's ever been given. It is certainly among the best of all time. I still have a slight personal preference for Bringing It All Back Home. But, I would not begrudge anyone who named this album ahead of it. And, I'll be damned if it doesn't belong above that #@%$#%^-ing Sgt. Pepper's.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Kids Don't Follow" Plus Seven

STINK (1982) was a mini-LP released very soon after the debut LP from The Replacements, SORRY MA, FORGOT TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH. The way the band name and title are presented, The Replacements Stink, is a fine example of the band's self-deprecating humor, even from its infancy. Stated plainly, these guys had about the perfect amount of "We don't really give a fuck" in their attitude. It's certainly endearing to me.

STINK is 15 minutes of pure, joyous noise. It's somewhat akin to hard-core, but fast & loose...I just call it "rock and roll", baby. Heck, there's a harmonica on the song "White and Lazy"! Maybe The Stones' Exile On Main St played at 78 speed would get you close? But, maybe I just think that because The Replacements were drunk all the time...

Track listing:
Kids Don't Follow − 2:50
Fuck School −1:26 *
Stuck in the Middle − 1:48 *
God Damn Job − 1:19
White and Lazy − 2:06
Dope Smokin' Moron − 1:31 *
Go − 2:29
Gimme Noise − 1:41 *

All songs written by Westerberg except * by Westerberg/Stinson/Stinson/Mars.

Paul Westerberg - vocals, guitar
Bob Stinson - lead guitar
Tommy Stinson - bass
Chris Mars - drums

The Replacements recorded this record at Blackberry Way, Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 13, 1982 and it was released on June 24, 1982. So, before you dismiss songs such as "Fuck School" and "God Damn Job", remember these were young guys in 1982. Somebody had to write and record these songs. And, these were just the guys to do it perfectly.

Check out the AllMusic review...

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
"Following quick on the heels of the group's debut, the Stink EP takes the loud-hard-fast attitude of Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take out the Trash to the extreme, mistakenly giving the impression that the Replacements were a hardcore band. Even though the EP isn't much more than clamor, it's better clamor than before — the band doesn't sound tighter, but their noise is more galvanizing and a handful of songs ('Kids Don't Follow', 'Fuck School', 'God Damn Job') suggest Paul Westerberg is improving as a songwriter."
[Haahnster says: Seems fairly positive to me, considering the only 2.5 (out of 5) star rating!]

Let's check in with "The Dean":

Robert Christgau “Dean of American Rock Critics”

Stink [Twin/Tone, 1982]

"They're young and they're snotty. They think fast and short but play it too loose for hardcore. And they make getting pissed off sound both funny and fun, which is always the idea. Tunes emerge from the locomotion, sometimes attached to titles like 'Fuck School', 'God Damn Job', 'White and Lazy', and 'Dope Smokin' Moron', sometimes not--usually it doesn't matter all that much. They even have their lyrical moments. A-

"A-"...that's more like it. And, when I'm in the right mood, make it a big, fat A+ !!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cold Bowl Of Chili Theory On The Boss

Here's one I'd never heard before. Some "dude" commenting under the name "Cold Bowl of Chili" over on Thasher's Wheat's "Neil Young News" blog has a theory that Mr. Springsteen is pissing on the American Flag on the cover photo of BORN IN THE U.S.A.

Interesting theory, and it's one I'd never heard in the 20+ years that the album has existed. Now, I'll go on record (again) right here that I'm not a big fan of "The Boss". His stuff never really grabbed me. I'm not sure why.

Back to the theory in question, I was going to dismiss it out of hand when I first read it. However, in my attempt to be an open-minded individual (quit laughing!!!), I figured I'd at least look at the album, which I've never owned. Of course, I'd seen it many times before, as it was one of the biggest sellers of the entire decade of the 1980s. I suppose it's the apparent placement of the right hand that leaves anything open to question. Hmmmmm.

I suppose it's a valid interpretation. Paranoid, perhaps, and slightly delusional, maybe, but it is still possible. I'd say if that's truly what Bruce was going for, it's too bad he let his leg block the evidence, instead of leaving the wet spot in the open to see, a la WHO'S NEXT on that concrete block or whatever it was. Why keep it subtle? If you're going to flag-piss, at least have the balls to be open about it. Any thoughts?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Random Thought: A Question I Have...Please Help

I was just momentarily (& involuntarily) thinking about the movie Reservoir Dogs, which I watched again this past weekend. Someone please answer this: Has Tarantino ever spoken about the relationship between Vic Vega, aka "Mr. Blonde" (Michael Madsen's character in Reservoir Dogs) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta's character in Pulp Fiction)?

Does he just think "Vega" is a cool-sounding last name? Or, is there some relationship of which I should be aware?

Just curious.

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, Vic and Vincent Vega were intended to be brothers (fictional, of course).

Oh, I Almost Forgot...

By way of follow-up to the Television/MARQUEE MOON post & comments. Here's an excerpt from the Nick Kent review referenced by Rabid T. I found it very likeable!!!

"He takes these potentially cataclysmic ideas and rigorously shapes them into a potential total redefinition of the electric guitar. As far as I'm concerned, as of this moment, Verlaine is probably the most exciting electric lead guitar player barring only Neil Young. As it is, Verlaine's solo constructions are always unconventional, forever delving into new areas, never satisfied with referring back to formulas." -- Nick Kent, "Just Watch This Screen", New Musical Express, February 1977.

A Much Better Guitarist Than I'd Ever Realized

Forgive me, please, all you die-hard Pink Floyd fans. But, I must admit I never thought of Pink Floyd as a guitar band (still don't). However, I recently acquired a recording of former Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour's concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Amazing thing, the internet...the show took place on April 4, 2006, and I received it on 2 CDs in the mail on April 12th just by responding to a post on a Yahoo! Group...sweet.)

Gilmour, now 60 years old, played a set of his solo work, including his recently released album, ON AN ISLAND. He also threw in several Pink Floyd tunes. Now, I'll freely admit that I know nothing about ON AN ISLAND, and I've only listened to the show once. So, I really don't feel comfortable commenting on his solo stuff. But, let me tell you, he played the hell out of the Floyd songs!

He managed to bring "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" to life...that's practically a miracle in my book. He did a nice DARK SIDE OF THE MOON medley of "Breathe"/"Time"/"Breathe (Reprise)". He did a fantastic "Wish You Were Here", which I did always recognize as a great piece of acoustic guitar work, come to think of it. And, of course, as the grand finale, he did "Comfortably Numb". I guess I remember that song having long guitar solos...I don't know. For whatever reason, it just sounds soooo cool live.

Of course, as I was listening to it on the weekend immediately following my 36th birthday, I felt a bit downtrodden as I realized "Comfortably Numb" is a 27-year-old song!!!! Jeeeezus. Where does the time go? I can remember THE WALL coming out in 1979. It was "the new" Pink Floyd album, and people debated whether it was better than DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. I was 9 years old at the time, and one of my good friends played that thing constantly. Good old Jason, I wonder where he is now.

The other thing that struck me was how well Gilmour handled the lead vocals. In fact, on the Floyd songs, it made me wonder if he didn't sing some of them originally. I thought Roger Waters sang lead on everything. I guess I didn't pay close enough attention to Pink Floyd...(?)

Interesting side note: Of all people, David Crosby and Graham Nash joined Gilmour on stage to add some backing vocals on a couple of his newer tunes, and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". And, during the encore, between "Wish You Were Here" and "Comfortably Numb", Crosby/Nash came back with Gilmour to do a three-way, a cappella version of the old CSNY tune "Find The Cost Of Freedom". It was actually pretty cool. I was shocked.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Burned My Credit Card For Fuel"

Here's an "H/H" 1st: My ugly mug (I'm the one with the cheesy porno-style moustache and the baseball hat) for all the world to see! My 10-month-old daughter, Emily, is enjoying her 1st ice cream cone, a freebie courtesy of a fine local establishment: a Dairy Queen and A&W sandwiched together in the same building...sheer genius!

As I burned a CD copy of RUST NEVER SLEEPS for my brother--er, I mean my car (whew, that was close), I was reminded that it is as good an album as I'd imagine you'll ever encounter. I never actually reviewed it here. I merely posted a link to a really good "professional" review. Well, here are some amateur thoughts of mine. Lyrically, it challenges AFTER THE GOLD RUSH as Neil's best, in my humble opinion. Musically, the songs are tightly structured, and flawlessly executed. I love the 1 side acoustic, 1 side electric set-up, including the "My My, Hey Hey" and "Hey Hey, My My" bookends.

And, man oh man, "Thrasher" is a great, great song! It's a good thing I feel a DEEP bond with my family, including the little girl you see pictured above, enjoying her 1st ice cream cone on my 36th birthday. Because, I'll tell you what...when I hear lyrics like those in "Thrasher", I just have an almost irresistible urge to hop in my car and drive. I'd just head west into the afternoon sun, and disappear from all obligations and responsibilities..."Burned my credit card for fuel"...what a great line!

Well, I'm not going to go into a whole song-by-song thing here. But, I did try to fill up the CD (got to 79+ minutes) with some non-Neil nuggets. I threw on "Vamos" by the Pixies (the SURFER ROSA version) right after "Hey Hey, My My". As I've said before, I think the squealing guitar in "Vamos" is directly descended from Neil's bursting solos in HH,MM.

I followed that with The Yardbirds' "I'm A Man", a frenetic cover of the old Bo Diddley tune. The guitar solo "freak-out" that Jeff Beck lays down at the end of this song is wild-sounding to this day. If someone can find me an earlier example (1965) of someone sounding this wild on electric guitar, please tell me. What a scrape-fest of a sonic delight! The fast, driving drumbeat fits nicely as a follow-up to the almost impossibly fast "Vamos", IMHO.

Next up is "She's Gone" by Hound Dog Taylor. When Neil was once asked which guitarist he most regretted not having been able to meet, his answer was Hound Dog Taylor. This song is a fantastic example of the joyous marriage that was Hound Dog's growling vocals and biting blasts of slide guitar. Great stuff!

The next one is one that I've been thinking about a lot recently, as examples of great, @ss-kicking guitar solos have been discussed. It's Love's electrified version of "Signed D.C." The solo that closes the song is pure guts. I also included "Once More" by The Bevis Frond, featuring Bari Watts. Please see my previous post on Bevis's INNER MARSHLAND for a lengthy discussion on this one (including that it just might be the greatest guitar solo ever recorded).

Finally, I finished with four songs from BEET by Eleventh Dream Day, possibly my absolute favorite Neil-inspired band ever! "Between Here And There", "Testify", "Teenage Pin Queen", and "Go (Slight Return)". It's a damned fine CD if I do say so my damned self. Happy Easter, people!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Neil Young Records LOUD Album Slamming Bush

Go here to read about Neil's latest project. This is at least the 5th different place I've seen this. It's starting to seem real. The line-up is allegedly Neil Young & The Restless (i.e., Neil on vocals and guitar, with Rick Rosas on bass and Chad Cromwell on drums). These are the guys with whom he recorded the Eldorado EP (the Japan/Australia-only release that preceded FREEDOM), which rivals Neil & Crazy Horse's RE-AC-TOR and RAGGED GLORY as his LOUDEST records.

Here's hoping it gets rushed out to the market, "Ohio"-style!!!

Can You Be "Post-Punk" BEFORE Punk Existed?

Here's what I don't get: the Wikipedia article on Television's MARQUEE MOON (Released in 1977, but was Recorded in 1975) states, "The introspective mood of the album, and the careful, instrumental virtuosity of Verlaine and his band were arguably one of the first manifestations of the 'post punk' movement." Wow, since most people date "punk" back to The Ramones in 1975 (or 1974 at the earliest), I'd say "post punk" happened pretty damned quickly!

Or, maybe instead of getting twisted up in our underwear trying to categorize everything, we should just acknowledge this album for what it is: a great rock album. Now, it is of some note that it was a great rock album based on a twin guitar attack and solid rhythm section with minimalist production at a time when "glam rock" was supposedly king. But, "post punk"? I don't know. I've also seen Television referred to as a "punk" band, and that doesn't make much sense to me either.

Oh, well, enough of that shit. Here's the deal: THIS ALBUM ROCKS! It even managed to make # 128 on the Rolling Stone "Top 500 Albums" list. But, to quote Wikipedia again, "Despite critical acclaim, the album never achieved more than a cult following in the United States at the time of its release, but rose to #28 in Britain." SEE! I told you before that if a New York band only sold in the UK that would be fine by Rolling Stone. I know those bastards a little better than you thought...

"See No Evil" (3:58)
"Venus" (3:54)
"Friction" (4:45)
"Marquee Moon" (9:58)
"Elevation" (5:10)
"Guiding Light" (5:37)
"Prove It" (5:05)
"Torn Curtain" (7:10)

Television (at least on this album) was Tom Verlaine (lead vocals, gutar, keyboards), Richard Lloyd (guitar, vocals), Fred Smith (bass, vocals), Billy Ficca (drums).

The opening riffs of "See No Evil" are grabbers. Strap in. Whether Verlaine is singing (with what I think is a very cool vocal affectation) about Venus De Milo, friction, or elevation, the songs are all guitar masterpieces. Some (e.g., "Friction") are somewhat noisier. Some (e.g., "Marquee Moon") are more wandering and expansive. But, the interplay of Verlaine and Lloyd on guitar is as good as I've ever heard. Think "Down By The River"...sort of. Honestly, I can't think of anything else from that era that sounds like Television. They had their own sound.

This was not merely a lead guitarist/rhythm guitarist arrangement. But, it was also not two or more guys each waiting their turn to solo (Think "Free Bird" or "Hotel California"). No, this was, as far as I'm concerned, the PERFECT interplay of two electric guitars. "Elevation, don't go to my head."

Rabid T, if you're out there, I feel like I need a little help on this one. What am I missing? I don't feel like I'm describing this as well as I should be. This is a hard one for me. The lyrics are somewhat simple, but not in a bad way. They aren't particularly "quotable", though. The song structures are relatively simple, tight, solid rhythms (bass & drums), but with intricately interwoven guitar parts. Tom Verlaine lays down some freakin' genius guitar solos. I hope at least my enthusiasm is coming through, even if I'm not being very articulate.

Bottom line: If nothing else, check out the streaming audio!!!! MARQUEE MOON is an essential for anyone who enjoys electric guitar.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bringing It All Back Home

There are 30 albums more Top Album-ish than this one? I don’t think so!!! Nope. Sorry, folks, but even at # 31, I must insist that Bob Dylan's BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME (1965) is woefully underrated. This is a landmark album. It's also an album that withstands the test of time, mainly because, even 40+ years later, NO ONE has figured out how to write songs like this! English grammar would dictate that I say "no one else has figured out how to write songs like this," as to exclude Bob Dylan from the "no one." Unfortunately, as he will freely admit, even Bob Dylan doesn't write songs like this anymore!

From Wikipedia: "One of Dylan's most celebrated albums, Bringing It All Back Home was soon hailed as one of the greatest albums in rock history. In 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide, critic Dave Marsh wrote a glowing appraisal: 'By fusing the Chuck Berry beat of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles with the leftist, folk tradition of the folk revival, Dylan really had brought it back home, creating a new kind of rock & roll [...] that made every type of artistic tradition available to rock.' Clinton Heylin later wrote that Bringing It All Back Home was possibly 'the most influential album of its era. Almost everything to come in contemporary popular song can be found therein.'"

Now we're talkin' (although I find it interesting that it can't just be "the Chuck Berry beat". But, at least he listed the Stones ahead of the Beatles!!!).

Subterranean Homesick Blues - 2:21
She Belongs to Me - 2:47
Maggie's Farm - 3:54
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - 2:51
Outlaw Blues - 3:05
On the Road Again - 2:35
Bob Dylan's 115th Dream - 6:30
Mr. Tambourine Man - 5:30
Gates of Eden - 5:40
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - 7:29
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - 4:12

Side One: Dylan goes electric! “Johnny's in the basement/Mixing up the medicine/I'm on the pavement/Thinking about the government”, and it’s off from there. Pure stream-of-consciousness lyrics set to upbeat rock music, I’d classify “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as groundbreaking. “Maggie comes fleet foot/Face full of black soot”…is this the same “Maggie” referenced a couple of songs later in “Maggie’s Farm”? I have no idea, but if so, does this qualify as a concept album? Gosh, I hope so, 'cause that's such an impressive term. But, I digress.

“She Belongs To Me” provides a brief respite as a quiet love song. But, even in this setting, Dylan can certainly turn a phrase: “You will start out standing/Proud to steal her anything she sees/But you will wind up peeking through her keyhole/Down upon your knees”.

“Maggie’s Farm” is vivid imagery set to squealing electric guitar. (“Well, he puts his cigar/Out in your face just for kicks/His bedroom window/It is made out of bricks/The National Guard stands around his door/Ah, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.”) This is a true classic.

“Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is deceptively simple on the surface, but still quite a good, catchy tune (“Some speak of the future/My love she speaks softly/She knows there's no success like failure/And that failure's no success at all”).

“Outlaw Blues” is a favorite of mine, with it’s boogie rhythm, and classic Dylan attitude in the lyrics, such as “Well, I wish I was on some/Australian mountain range/Oh, I wish I was on some/Australian mountain range/I got no reason to be there, but I/Imagine it would be some kind of change.”

“On The Road Again” is another boogie number, with crazy imagery (“Well, I go to pet your monkey/I get a face full of claws/I ask who's in the fireplace/And you tell me Santa Claus/The milkman comes in/He's wearing a derby hat/Then you ask why I don't live here/Honey, how come you have to ask me that?”)

But, the surrealism reaches its absolute pinnacle with “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”. It begins with “I was riding on the Mayflower/When I thought I spied some land/I yelled for Captain Arab/I have yuh understand/Who came running to the deck/Said, ‘Boys, forget the whale/Look on over yonder/Cut the engines/Change the sail…’” and goes from there. “Just then this cop comes down the street/Crazy as a loon/He throws us all in jail/For carryin' harpoons” Heck, there’s even a Beatles reference: “I ran right outside/And I hopped inside a cab/I went out the other door/This Englishman said, ‘Fab’.” The truly dream-like imagery continues, “A pay phone was ringing/It just about blew my mind/When I picked it up and said hello/This foot came through the line”! Of course, the end is fitting, “But the funniest thing was/When I was leavin' the bay/I saw three ships a-sailin'/They were all heading my way/I asked the captain what his name was/And how come he didn't drive a truck/He said his name was Columbus/I just said, ‘Good luck.’” Lyrically, this is so far ahead of almost everything else I’ve ever heard that it’s damned near impossible to believe. But, it’s, at best, only the 2nd greatest lyrical achievement on this album!!!

Side Two is back to acoustic Dylan. Whether this was to show the world that he was still the master, or to hedge his bets, or just because he liked these particular songs better this way, who knows? In any event, the four songs on this side are nothing short of masterpieces.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” probably encapsulates the ’60s psychedelic-drug-counter-culture more effectively than any song that came before or after. Yet, musically, it is a straight-forward, acoustic song. There’s none of that crazy sound effect shit designed to distract from substandard lyrics. This is top-notch stuff: “Take me on a trip/Upon your magic swirlin' ship/My senses have been stripped/My hands can't feel to grip/My toes too numb to step/Wait only for my boot heels/To be wanderin'.”

“Gates of Eden” is a harrowing tune. “With a time-rusted compass blade/Aladdin and his lamp/Sits with Utopian hermit monks/Side saddle on the Golden Calf/And on their promises of paradise/You will not hear a laugh/All except inside the Gates of Eden”…this guy Dylan is clearly on another level.

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, as I’ve stated previously, is the single finest piece of poetry EVER set to music, in my ever-so-fucking-humble opinion. Take a moment to read these lyrics in their entirety here. The rapid-fire guitar and vocal delivery are awe-inspiring. Listen to this one through headphones while lying flat on your back at 4 AM, and just let it cascade across your consciousness. It’s a true ass-kicker.

The album ends with “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, quite possibly the single greatest relationship-ending song in history. “Yonder stands your orphan with his gun/Crying like a fire in the sun/Look out the saints are comin' through/And it's all over now, Baby Blue”. Just for the record, I find the imagery of “The empty-handed painter from your streets/Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets” to be more than a bit disturbing! Incidentally, this song was later remade by Them (featuring Van Morrison). It’s a fantastic version, probably my 2nd favorite cover version of a Dylan song ever, behind the Hendrix version of “All Along The Watchtower”.

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME was released on March 22, 1965, after having been recorded in January of that year. As a point of reference, The Beatles did not record RUBBER SOUL until Oct/Nov 1965. It was released in December 1965. But, I'm not even that interested in who influenced whom. It's just a distraction.

Bottom line: The fact remains that I find this album almost infinitely more listenable than Sgt. Pepper's. I suppose it's just my opinion. And, if you disagree, that's cool. After all, “It's life and life only.”