January 2009

Title: Circus of Death

Artist: The Human League

Album: Reproduction

Year Released: 1979

What It Is: This ain’t your father’s Human League. It’s the original vision of the band – dark, eerie and experimental. They were a trio at this point, but two of them left to form Heaven 17 amongst other things, leaving Phil Oakey to reconstruct the Human League into pop-tastic synth goodness.

Riffage / Hookage: Not really – though there is a burbling synth-bass line. This was ART, dammitall!

Cowbell?: No – just electronic noises.

Words Of Wisdom: “The circus of death is approaching
Its pathway is painted in red
Before it the frightened and helpless
Behind it a trail of the dead”

Not exactly “Fascination”, is it? It’s more of a death metal thing, right?

Mixology Report: It’ll fit in some dark, eerie places.

For The Good Of The Order: Steve McGarrett? What in the holy hell is this thing about? And how is Hawaii Five-O going to solve crimes in the UK? Questions, questions…and I don’t have answers.

The video is nice and cheery too…


Title: He Come Down

Artist: The Beach Boys

Album: Carl & The Passions “So Tough”

Year Released: 1972

What It Is: A bunch of hippy-dippy TM crap saved by one of the most righteous choruses the Beach Boys ever did!

Riffage / Hookage: The chorus’ hook (and production) is one of the best things the 70’s Boys’ ever did. It’s a shame the verses cluttered it up – THANKS MIKE LOVE!

Cowbell?: Nope, though the drummer for the Boys at this time (Rikki Fataar, since Dennis Wilson cut some tendons in his hand, semi-on purpose) was later in the Rutles! As the stand-in for George Harrison! Go figure.

Words of Wisdom: “Hey-yon-du-coma-nauga-ton
Means avoid the suffering before it comes
Krishna said a long time ago
To “Let the arrow fly first without the bow”

Um, see what I mean…

Mixology Report: This may take some tolerance by your listener until the chorus kicks in, and then that’s worth it right there!

For The Good Of The Order: Brian Wilson worked on this album for maybe 10 minutes, so Love and Al Jardine could get away with a lot. Somehow they got this chorus right. Now if we could put some verses to it! I mean verses that make sense!

(Sorry, no video goodness. Also, see the new feature, “Words of Wisdom”)

Title: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

Artist: Frankie Valli

Album: Solo

Year Released: 1967

What It Is: A wonderful bit of schmaltz released as a solo project, but it’s pretty much a Four Seasons type record without their harmonies. That may be because it was basically a Four Seasons production for the most part.

Riffage / Hookage: Let’s see – can you sing this song from memory? So yeah, there are hooks.

Cowbell?: The kitchen sink production does not include cowbell as far as I can tell.

Words of Wisdom: Pardon the way that I stare.
There’s nothing else to compare.
The sight of you leaves me weak.
There are no words left to speak”

A bit stalkerrific there…

Mixology Report: Good for camp, kitsch, and getting’ a little somethin’ somethin’. And we all need that, right? Heh.

For The Good Of The Order: Doesn’t this sound like Vegas baby? Wayne Newton could have killed with this. Heck, he may have. I am not up on my Newton discography.

Title: The Small Hours

Artist: Holocaust

Album: Hypnosis Of Birds

Year Released: 1992

What It Is: A studio version of the infamous song that was covered by Metallica on one of their Garage Days albums. The original version was a live version that was circulated amongst the underground metal community until finding a release in 1983 (or so). It’s not as powerful and potent as the live version, but the sound is better, and the riff is still doom-riffic.

Riffage / Hookage: As I said, doom-riffic. Detune yer guitars!

Cowbell?: No. Generic metal drumming abounds.

Words Of Wisdom: “Time is an illusion,
Rising from time,
Steep is the mountain which we climb.”

Pretty darn close to the department of redundancy department there. But who cares about the words when the riff is as great as it is? Right?

Mixology Report: It takes a long time to get rolling (making you check the disc or iPod) and frankly, dark doomy metal isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

For The Good Of The Order: The singing on this is a bit shaky, like the dude’s had a few too many pints over the course of his life. And below, a live video from ‘back in the day’, instead of being scary metallers like those Norweigan doomies, they look rather silly in their early 80’s garb.

Title: Mad At You

Artist: Joe Jackson

Album: Beat Crazy

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: An expansion of the trio+singer motif  from the first two Joe Jackson albums as he leads his band into an exploration of reggae rhythms and sounds. This even has an element of dub in this toward the end with the echoes and extended outro. The band showed they could handle it, but Jackson was turning into such the chameleon so his next efforts would be well beyond the scope of the original trio + Jackson.

Riffage / Hookage: The bass line is killer and carries the song. Graham Maby is an unsung bassist in this era. Gary Sanford’s scratchy guitar riffs and piercing solo are highlights as well. Not a hook for a single, but it holds together.

Cowbell?: No cowbell, but some interesting percussive bits by Dave Houghton shaking this, whacking that, and all.

Words Of Wisdom: “So come on what’s your problem
You know we’ll miss half the show
How come I’m walking so fast
How come your walking so slow”

Fellers, am I wrong in saying that 99.44% of us say or think those exact words???

Mixology Report: It fits well, especially as a bridge to and from some deeper rocksteady or reggae from new wave.

For The Good Of The Order: “Beat Crazy” was underappreciated, and really hard to find for a long time. However, it’s the best of the original backing group’s albums.

Title: Fire Of Heaven / Altar Of Earth

Artist: Matisyahu

Album: Youth

Year Released: 2006

What It Is: A much better example of Matisyahu’s unique ‘toasting’ (if you will) than the hit. The playing is very tight, and fits well with his rap.

Riffage / Hookage: Not per se, but the beat and bass are wicked.

Cowbell?: Not this time, no. But some good reggae drum sounds and righteous cymbals (though it’s probably enhanced).

Words Of Wisdom: Capitalize on hot air, soar like an airplane
Yearn to rise in the sky quick high like cocaine
False pride is suicide but you’ve got nothing to gain
Babylon’s buildings raise like flames”

I think he’s trying to tell us something there…

Mixology Report: Hasidic reggae toasting can’t be put next to just anything, you know. So be careful.

For The Good Of The Order: Some looked at him as a ‘novelty’ but give the man his due. He’s got the skillz!

This is a video done by a fan using the recording, so instead of some shaky cam video from a festival you have the actual recording, so you can hear what he’s all about in studio!

Title: Dream At Tempo 119

Artist: Silversun Pickups

Album: Carnavas

Year Released: 2006

What It Is: The junior Smashing Pumpkins, without the megalomania and total arty pretensions. Oh sure, they do some arty stuff and have pretensions. But the guitar sound is right on for Billy Corgan’s – back when Billy decided to let loose on his guitar. Notice he’s doing that again

Riffage / Hookage: The guitar part underneath the chorus before the bridge about 40% of the way into the song is divine.

Cowbell?: No.The bridge has backwards sounding instruments, weird sound effects, a glissando, but no cowbell. And I’m not good on BPM, so I don’t know if it’s 119. I bet not.

Words of Wisdom:I couldn’t end it there
as her wooden bones grew through her skin
crumbled naturally
as her limbs and leaves had broken free”

That’s either some serious imagery or some serious substances. Both, maybe?

Mixology Report: Dang straight you mix this one. Even the mellower set will dig it.

For The Good Of The Order: For the longest time, I thought their name was the SliverSPUN pickups. You know, sometimes I can’t read.

All the videos on You Tube are audience shots with icky icky fidelity. Ah, well.

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