August 2009

Title: I Am Your Singer

Artist: Wings

Album: Wild Life

Year Released: 1971

What It Is: So bad it’s good? So bad it’s…bad? Off of the first Wings album (you know, where Paul really wanted a ‘band’ again), this has a typical singable McCartney melody (he must have about 210 of these tunes just lying around at any given time) with excruciating lyrics and a big dose of Linda. On the studio version, it’s almost a Linda lead vocal. Be warned.

Riffage / Hookage: Oh, hell, you can sing it in the shower. But why would you?

Cowbell?: Not as such.

Words Of Wisdom:“You are my love, you are my song, linger on,
You are my song, I am your singer.
You are my one, you are my own melody,
You are my song, I am your singer.

Someday when were singing
We will fly away, going winging.

Sing, singing my love song to you.

My song is sung,
When day is done harmonies willinger on,
I am your singer,
I am your singer,
Singing my love song to you.”

Oh, dear God! It’s worse than “My Love”

Mixology Report: Only to fill time? Yeah, probably. But I am both repulsed and attracted to this tune, so some other bozo may dig it!

Top Five Genius Results: Promise To You Girl – Paul McCartney
Here Comes The Night – Beach Boys
Beaucoups Of Blues – Ringo Starr
Message From The Country – The Move
Just A Season – The Byrds

For The Good Of The Order: Wild Life was a mess of an album (not to be confused with the B-side by Wings, “The Mess” was the flip of “My Love” and 6.02 X 10 to the 23rd power better), but better than Paul’s first solo album (with about 3 1/2 good songs) but not as good as Ram. Then he (er…Wings) released Red Rose Speedway. Oh, dear Lord that one was dreadful. Now, I can see why John wanted to record with Yoko. She was an artist (unconventional, yes, and very strange, but an artist with credentials and her stuff wasn’t as out there as some Beefheart stuff). But Linda? Linda was a good photographer. Notice George and Ringo kept their spouses out of the recording studio. I know Linda was the love of Paul’s life, but, really, Paul needed a foil to produce his best work (and Linda wasn’t it – neither was Denny Laine, really). I’m going on and on, sure, but I just had to get this off my chest, again, for the first time.

Here’s a live audio clip. This had to be the European 1972 tour where they jaunted around the continent and played post-Beatles stuff (probably to the chagrin of many). I mean, opening up with “Bip Bop” and also playing “Mumbo”, which seemed to be two songs written off the cuff in the studio? Nice throwaways, but as 2 of the first 3 songs when trying to establish a band? Wow, I’m beating a long dead horse here, right? Anyway, now, the clip. You can really tell when Linda appears, eh?


(Oh, I am probably on the hot rails to hell for this…but…)

Title: Let’s Lynch The Landlord

Artist: Dead Kennedys

Album: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: Punk rock! But it’s punk rock with a swinging bass line, a cool surf guitar solo from East Bay Ray, an actual melody, and well, you can dance to it. And not just pogo. This is crucial rock and roll to be heard by everyone, youngsters and oldsters.

Riffage / Hookage: East Bay Ray’s main riff is simple yet carries the tune. And as I said, Klaus Fluoride’s bass line isn’t just “hit the root and the fifth in rhythm with the bass drum”. Jello sings, for the most part. He really does!

Cowbell?: No, but there are a lot of cymbals courtesy of original drummer “Ted”.

Words Of Wisdom: “There’s rats chewin’ up the kitchen
Roaches up to my knees
Turn the oven on, it smells like Dachau, yeah
Til the rain pours thru the ceiling “

Not a happy place to live, yeah!

Mixology Report: While I’m not saying that you bump it next to Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey (hey, if you’re mixing them, why are you reading this?) but it’s versatile enough to fit in many places, sending a statement all the while.

Top Five Genius Results: Gimme Gimme Gimme – Black Flag
World Up My Ass – Circle Jerks
I Don’t Care About You – Fear
Minor Threat – Minor Threat
Pay To C*m – Bad Brains

Wow, quite the punk rock all star team!

For The Good Of The Order: Of course, even in punk rock, things can turn acrimonious. Jello Biafara is a stalwart, refusing to sell out and refusing to release sub-standard (in his opinion) live recordings. His band mates wanted more control and wanted some live recordings out. (While they do have money in the bank, they’re not rich and still need to work for a living.) Jello lost, and a few live recordings have trickled out. But no one won, really, except the lawyers, because now the DK’s good name has been sullied thanks to the lawsuit opening up the internal gunk and there is no way that Jello would reunite with them. (Actually, that’s probably not so bad. No one really wants to see 50-somethings act like punk rockers.)

But ‘nuf that stuff….here’s the DK’s live in 1980! D. H. Peligro on drums, I believe.

Title: Beyond Belief

Artist: Elvis Costello

Album: Imperial Bedroom

Year Released: 1982

What It Is: The kick-off track from one of Costello’s best albums. The Attractions are in rare form, the production by Geoff Emerick is right on target, and Costello’s writing is at its best – both tuneful and wordy! In fact, sometimes a bit too wordy (as it may have hampered its success on the radio). (Wait, what am I kidding, Costello on the radio? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

Riffage / Hookage: In a dense song like this, it’s hard to establish a true hook, but the song is rather singable despite the verbosity.

Cowbell?: No, a cowbell wouldn’t add anything here. The production is dense enough to swallow up anything like a cowbell.

Words Of Wisdom: “You know she has no sense
For all your jealousy
In a sense she still smiles very sweetly

Charged with insults and flattery
Her body moves with malice
Do you have to be so cruel to be callous

And now you find you fit this identikit completely
You say you have no secrets
And then leave discreetly”

Mixology Report: Costello’s a pretty consistent element in many of my mixes, because of his ever-mutating sound.

Top Five Genius Results: Hitsville UK – The Clash
I’m The Man – Joe Jackson (sidebar, each time I hear that song now, I think of this OSU football rant. (“I’m A MAN! I’M 40! at 2:25”, but I digress…)
Crazy – REM (cover of Pylon tune)
Kiss Me On The Bus – The Replacements
TVC15 – David Bowie

For The Good Of The Order: What can I say about Costello? Um, have about three days. Basically, buy his stuff. He’s great!

Here’s a live 2003 version of this great tune from A & E’s “By Request” show. Dig it, kiddies!

Hey, I’m just in a rockin’ mood, OK?

Title: Straight Through The Heart

Artist: Dio

Album: Holy Diver

Year Released: 1983

What It Is: What it is? It’s DIO, man! DIO! Oh, come on. You know! The group led by the really short egocentric dude (Ronnie James Dio, hence the name of the band) that sang with Rainbow, Sabbath and formed his own group AND came up with the rock-and-roll devil horn symbol (I think). You know, the guy on the VH-1 Metal documentaries. Yeah, him!

Riffage / Hookage: Viv Campbell! Hell yeah!

Cowbell?: Vinny Appice (yo!) slams the skins with aplomb, but sticks to the basics.

Words Of Wisdom: Hanging from the cobwebs in you mind
It looks like a long, long way to fall
No one ever told me life was kind
I guess I never heard it, never heard it all

Living in a world of make believe
I can hide behind what’s real
But wearing your emotions on your sleeve
And they all know what you feel

Well, lyrics ain’t Dio’s strong suit. But he can blast ’em out like nobody’s biz.

Mixology Report: If you can’t fit Dio into a mix, then…you suck! (Heh…)

Top Five Genius Results: Lady Evil – Black Sabbath (of course)
Metal Gods – Judas Priest
Still Life -Iron Maiden
No Bone Movies – Ozzy
Back For More – Ratt

A good selection of deep cut early 80’s REAL metal!

For The Good Of The Order: Dio got back together with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Appice to form the band Heaven & Hell, and as you can tell, it’s basically the Dio-era Sabbath reborn. Rock, on, you old man! (He’s 67!)

Here’s a classic clip of Dio being Dio.

(Perhaps setting a record for largest paradigm shift without a clutch in music blog history…)

Title: Looking Glass

Artist: The Association

Album: Renaissance

Year Released: 1966

What It Is: A simply beautiful example of ‘sunshine pop’. The Association received a bad rap for being ‘squares’ in the 60’s, and yes they weren’t radicals and sometimes tried too hard to be hip. But they were an excellent group for what they did – which was write pop songs with great harmonies and melodies. This was a B-side of a single with “No Fair At All” on the A, but DJs liked both and so basically neither side hit the charts big time. That’s what happened sometimes back in the days where radio was a bit more free form. But at least it wasn’t cookie cutter radio – as in the rock station in Buffalo is the same as Fresno.

Riffage / Hookage: The song didn’t have as strong of a hook as their big hits like “Along Comes Mary”, “Cherish” or “Windy”, and perhaps that’s why it didn’t have that huge of a radio impact. But it’s a pretty nifty melody. The guitar solo is pretty good for a sunshine pop tune.

Cowbell?: A woodblock and wind chimes, close enough? No? Ah, well.

Words Of Wisdom: “So go, play in jeweled cities
Play with pretties, tie ribbons in your hair
And if you find the looking glass
Please stay and ask the other side
Who’s that standing there, who’s that standing there
What’s her name
Does she still wear morning in her hair
And smile the same

Wearing morning in her hair? Jeweled cities? They may have dabbled in substances…

Mixology Report: It’s always a good idea to put a sunshine pop tune in there for a change up.

Top Five Genius Results: Midnight Confessions – The Grass Roots
This Diamond Ring – Gary Lewis & The Playboys
You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice – The Lovin’ Spoonful
There’s A Kind Of Hush – Herman’s Hermits
Precious & Few – Climax

For The Good Of The Order: They’re still out there. They shut down for a while in the 70’s but have been out there for a long time. And because of that, they’ve had some changes. Even now, there are three members of the band that were there in the 60’s still going strong (Russ Giguere, Jerry Yester and Larry Ramos) and the son of bassist Brian Cole is also part of the group (as is the son of Larry Ramos). Sure they play a lot of small casinos, small colleges, and county fairs, but hey, they’re still making music for a living. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Just look at who their management represents. Quite an odd lot!

Here is the Association on the Andy Williams show. Man, my mom LOVED Andy Williams. But she thought this was that loud rock and roll, no doubt.

Title: Disaster Blaster

Artist: White Zombie

Album: Make Them Die Slowly (“Disaster Blaster 2” was on an EP “God Of Thunder”)

Year Released: 1989

What It Is: Is this where White Zombie crossed the line from barely intelligible, poorly produced, horror based metal to competent, coherent, horror based metal? Perhaps. But the production is still rotten – it sounds like the group was trapped in an empty corn silo to record the track. (Disaster Blaster 2 sounds better – it also introduces the infamous movie samples White Zombie used in their major label records – but the tempo drags and Rob Zombie doesn’t sound interested in remaking the song on that version.)

Riffage / Hookage: John Ricci (soon replaced by Jay Yuenger, who manned the riffs for their major label releases) spewed out some fine riffs. But I can’t tell if bassist / Zombie-girlfriend Sean Yseult is on the track thanks to the lousy production. It’s not like she can’t play – she can – the echoey mess hides her lines.

Cowbell?: Oh, no, not here, because it would echo all over the place. Who produced this mess, anyway? Ah, Bill Laswell. Interesting choice? Someone said it was a tax writeoff.

Words Of Wisdom: “Creature of destruction
Laughing dead corruption
Challenge to survive
Love butcher alive”

Oh, that’s precious. They should make a Hallmark card with those lyrics!

Mixology Report: Wow, it’s tough. The song kicks ass but the production is so bad it may turn people off.

Top Five Genius Results: Twist Of Cain – Danzig
To Live Is To Die – Metallica
Too Many Puppies – Primus
Seasons In The Abyss – Slayer
Hello Again – The Cars

(One of these things is not like the other…one of these things just doesn’t belong.)

For The Good Of The Order: White Zombie signed to Geffen, recorded two successful albums and then, Rob Zombie decides to move on. He was always a multi-media person anyway, but I think his music has suffered without White Zombie around, and his films are an acquired taste. Yseult and Zombie broke up in the mid-90’s and now she’s a designer based in New Orleans.

Here’s a classic clip of pre-fame White Zombie (with Yuenger on guitar). Just look at the hair fly! Yseult has definitely got the hair flip down, doesn’t she?

Title: Sultans Of Swing

Artist: Dire Straits

Album: Dire Straits

Year Released: 1978

What It Is: An encapsulation of club band (especially jazz band) ethos? Sure, I’ll buy that. One of the strongest debut singles ever? Yeah, that too. A breath of fresh air on album oriented rock radio in the late 70’s? Heck, yes. Sure beat Seger, Styx and Journey 24-7.

Riffage / Hookage: Now, the ‘riff’, the ongoing rhythm part, isn’t the centerpiece of the song, though David Knopfler and John Illsley do a fine job keeping things goin. The star, of course is Mark Knopfler and his finger-picked leads and fills. Almost all of Knopfler’s guitar work utilizes finger picking (he did admit to use a pick when recording rhythm guitar tracks later in his career, but here, that’s what baby brother was for).

Cowbell?: Maybe when Knopfler sings “the time bell rings”?

Words Of Wisdom: “You check out Guitar George
He knows all the chords
He’s strictly rhythm; he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
And an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing”

Mixology Report: Yeah, but if pressed, I’d choose “Water Of Love”, “Setting Me Up”, “Lions” or “Down To The Waterline” from their first record. But I’m onery like that.

Top Five Genius Results: Reeling In The Years – Steely Dan
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive (?)
House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
All Right Now – Free (?)

Genius…genius…need to stop thinking Dire Straits is an AOR arena-rock band.

For The Good Of The Order: I had a conversation with a friend this weekend, who is a younger chap, but knows some good tunes. He was surprised, perhaps, when I stated that to my ears this debut album (and Making Movies) were much better than Brothers In Arms. In fact, this debut may be one of the best debuts ever (it’s in the team picture). For some reason, I prefer Dire Straits before they added a lot of flashy production and effects. So up to that point, each album is pretty nifty (even Communique, and don’t forget about the single “Twisting By The Pool”).

Here’s Dire Straits at the “Old Gray Whistle Test”:

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