February 2009

Title: The Eton Rifles

Artist: The Jam

Album: Setting Sons

Year Released: 1979

What It Is: One of the strongest tracks from their somewhat uneven fourth album (which was a half-concept album that Paul Weller couldn’t finish, but kept the tracks), the Jam is still true to the sound of the early Who on this one. At the same time they vary it up (like the subtle organ embellishments and solo during the bridge and  the long outro that bring in a bit of Weller’s Motown fetish) so it’s sounds fresh. This song was a powerful one live.

Riffage / Hookage: The chorus is hooky with the gang “Hooray!” and the interesting cadence on “The Eton Rifles”.

Cowbell?: No. Rick Buckler tended to play it straight and powerful.

Words Of Wisdom: “Sup up your beer and collect your fags,
Theres a row going on down near Slough”

That means – “Drink up. Get your cigs (or friends, either), because there’s gonna be a fight near Slough!

I also loved this part:

“We came out of it naturally the worst,
Beaten and bloody and I was sick down my shirt,
We were no match for their untamed wit,
Though some of the lads said theyll be back next week.”

The phrase “we were no match for their untamed wit” as describing a street fight with Eton students is clever!

Mixology Report:It’s a good rockin’ tune and makes you think!

For The Good Of The Order:This was the only single taken from “Setting Sons”. The Jam usually released singles apart from albums (like the good ol’ days) which was good for fresh content and the band’s coffers.

Here’s a live shot of them pounding out the song on the tee-vee!


Title: Baby Talks Dirty

Artist:The Knack

Album: But The Little Girls Understand

Year Released: 1980

What It Is:“My Sharona”, Pt. 2. It basically turns around the main riff of “My Sharona”, adds to it some squicky lyrics that emphasizes the sleaze factor in the Knack (a mistake, in more ways than one, as it turned out), and presto, another hit single! Well, um, scratch that part. The album hit Top 20, but the single died at 38, and with it, the Knack’s career for all intents and purposes.

Riffage / Hookage: Say what you will about the Knack, they were able to deliver a hooky riff and songs that you can remember and sing along to. And while everyone can spot the “My Sharona” part of this song a mile away, it doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.

Cowbell?: Yes. Starting with the second verse (after the repeat of the main riff). Cowbell in all of its glory! Didn’t help.

Words Of Wisdom: You know my baby walks nasty
She take it slow but she’s a a fasty
My little lady like a licky
She do it good she make it oh so sticky

She wanna keep our love a secret
I got to tame her make her my pet
When she say do it to it do it to it do it to it yeah uh”

‘scuse me…I just threw up a little.

Mixology Report:A fun one, especially if you do a mix and just identify the band, because hardly anyone remembers this one. Heck, I don’t think they played this single in Indiana (hence the #38 ranking, which was probably based mostly on pre-orders of the single.)

For The Good Of The Order: Lover-of-teenage-girls-to-the-border-of-a-felony Doug Feiger, the lead singer and main songwriter, is the brother of Kevorkian lawyer Jeffrey Feiger.

Ah, the video. Found it. MTV didn’t play this one, either.Some of the images are, well, um, quite provocative. Fleeting, yes, but still…squick!

Title: Bat Chain Puller

Artist:Captain Beefheart

Album:Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)

Year Released: 1978

What It Is: A deep groove underpins the song, with accenting typical Beefheartian guitar parts (which are complicated rhythmically and sonically) and the Captain’s own odd poetry. It’s quite a listen.

Riffage / Hookage: The groove is the riff and the hook. It propels the song and allows the guitarists space on which to cast their interesting spells. Oh, and allows a bedrock for the Captain to do his thing, too.

Cowbell?:No, the drums are very basic. Beefheart was over his marimba phase, too. (Basically, since Art (Ed Marimba)Tripp left the group.)

Words Of Wisdom: “It whistles like a root snatched from dry earth
Sodbustin’ rakes with grey dust claws
Announces its coming in the morning
This train with grey tubes
That houses people’s very thoughts and belongings.”

I don’t think I could add anything else…

Mixology Report: Careful scouting of your mix target will determine if they are Beefheart-ready. It takes a while to ‘get it’, but once they do, then Beefheart away!

For The Good Of The Order: He recorded this earlier as part of the “Bat Chain Puller” album, which for many tangled legal reasons involving Frank Zappa, never saw the light of day except on bootlegs. I have heard that bootleg, and the versions aren’t remarkably different. He had this thing worked out.

Here’s Beefheart on French TV in the early 80’s. As you can see, the musicians are tight but they have to know what they’re doing in order to get it right. And it still doesn’t sound ‘right’ but it’s right. Trust me.

Title: XXX

Artist: Helium

Album: Pirate Prude

Year Released: 1994

What It Is:Slow. Slow and noisy. Slow and noisy and beautiful. Slow and noisy and beautiful and scary.

Riffage / Hookage: Not in a traditional sense, really. The guitar is noisy and rife with distortion and feedback. The melody is hauntingly slow and off kilter a bit. The whole thing sounds like it’s been recorded during a Robitussen spree.

Cowbell?: Noper. Just drummin’.

Words Of Wisdom: “And now I feel good, I feel like candy
go out on the street I wanna make some money
That was just a joke about the money
you’re gonna pay me with your life”

I am mixed about what this song really means. Is Mary Timony a hooker? Is she complaining that men treat her like a hooker and try to buy her love? Do the sirens mean anything? Do they mean…MURDER? Is this all a metaphor? Am I reading way too much into this? Is the slow tempo causing me to overthink?

Mixology Report:Good for our adventurous mixers.

For The Good Of The Order: The video, below, was a star attraction on “Beavis & Butthead” where I saw it first. The miscreants were riffing on how she just woke up, and how slow the thing was, and why she beat the hell out of the overhead projector. I wonder about the projector as well. Mr. Lebedeff would be distraught.

Title:She Sells Sanctuary

Artist: The Cult


Year Released: 1985

What It Is:The lead single from the Cult’s breakout album. After a few years of scuffling in the UK with name and direction changes, the Cult strike it rich with a blend of psychedelia and hard rock. Soon they would abandon the psychedelia, but for this record at least it was all wah-wah’s and mystical lyrics.

Riffage / Hookage: Oh hell yeah! It’s a monster riff. On the studio version, overdubbed acoustic guitar gives emphasis to it, but Billy Duffy’s riffage is strong.

Cowbell?: No, but Mark Impossible Name To Spell Brzezicki (drummer for Pete Townshend and Big Country) provided solid beats. The Cult never really settled on a drummer.

Words Of Wisdom: You know, I looked at the lyrics. I really don’t have a clue. Ian Astbury could sing the phone book and it would be just right for this song.

Mixology Report: Damn straight you mix it, especially for a young in’ who missed all of the Cult’s glory days hoo-hah. And mix it for the chicks, and then point them to the vid below, showing Astbury in hip swervy mode (among the 80’s visual effects).

For The Good Of The Order: First they were the Southern Death Cult, then the Death Cult, and then the Cult, and then they went from Native American imagery to psychedelia to proto-metal to glammy hard rock back to Native American imagery. All that in 10 years. Whew…

Here’s a live clip of them. I dig the echo on Billy Duffy’s guitar

Title:Witeman Country

Artist: Mutabaruka

Album:Check It!

Year Released: 1983

What It Is: Reggae poet Mutabaruka’s track about injustice of his fellow Jamaicans in the UK.

Riffage / Hookage: While Mutabaruka is a very serious person who speaks from the heart about the plight of his people and culture, he still knows to make sure the song has a great hook so you can sing along to it.

Cowbell?: No, just good reggae percussion, mon.

Words Of Wisdom: “If you wite alright

If you brown stick aroun

If black get back

Or ya betta attack”

Mixology Report:While some may be shocked at dub toasting, and the lyrical content, the hook is strong and the song is fierce.

For The Good Of The Order:I have to credit my buddy Moose for this find. Back when we were roomies, he remembered Mutabaruka from his days at Kenyon College, and had it, I believe.

Here’s a live clip of the song. I think he’d be a heck of a performer live, and he’s still around, I believe!

Title: Indiana Wants Me

Artist: R. Dean Taylor

Album: I Think, Therefore, I Am

Year Released: 1970

What It Is:Classic one-hit wonder pop of the 70’s. Fits into the ‘maudlin pop’ genre (as I just coined it) that was rife among singer-songwriter types in the early days of that decade. All you need was a sad sad song and a whole lot of strings in the string section, and viola, a hit record!

Riffage / Hookage: The chorus, of course, is a huge hook. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a hit.

Cowbell?: You couldn’t hear the cowbell because of the over-wrought strings.

Words Of Wisdom: If a man ever needed dyin’, he did
No one had the right to say what he said about you
And it’s so cold and lonely here without you
Out there the law’s a-comin’
I’m scared and so tired of runnin'”

That’s definitely a 70’s wimpy singer-songwriter mentality. Can you imagine a gangsta, or a true rock-and-roll outlaw singing like that. They’d be celebrating that they waxed the man that dissed their woman and would be just waitin’ for the cops. Me, I’d get one of those good defense lawyers on Law & Order and claim not guilty by mental disease or defect. Maybe get it knocked down to Man 2.

Mixology Report: Good for a 70’s mix of like minded songs. Otherwise, out of context, people will think yer nuts. Of course, I am.

For The Good Of The Order: Right now I am back in Indiana, and thus far have not been arrested. So that’s good for me.

Ah, yes, the video. God love You Tube. It’s a video with about as much production value as “Manos, The Hands Of Fate”.

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