November 2009


Title: They Called It Rock

Artist: Nick Lowe

Album: Pure Pop For Now People

Year Released: 1978

What It Is: Smart funny rock-and-roll by Nick Lowe and Rockpile. It’s a remake of a song called “Shake & Pop” that was on his “Jesus Of Cool” LP in England, but this version is much cleaner, faster, and takes the message home effectively.

Riffage / Hookage: Nick Lowe always has a way with hooks, and Billy Bremner’s opening riff is pretty solid in a twangy 50’s way.

Cowbell?: Nope.

Words Of Wisdom: “They cut another record, it never was a hit
Someone in the newspaper said it was shit
The drummer is a bookie, the singer is a whore
The bass player’s selling clothes he never would have wore”

Mixology Report: Lowe’s always good for a mix or three!

Top Five Genius Results: Rockpile – Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)
Graham Parker – Mercury Poisoning
Elvis Costello – You’ll Never Be A Man
Dave Edmunds – Girls Talk
Joe Jackson – Kinda Kute

I’m surprised Billy Bremner’s solo single isn’t in the top 5.

For The Good Of The Order: This was recorded during quite a whirlwind era for Lowe. Rockpile recorded three records (one by Dave Edmunds, one by Lowe and one as Rockpile) plus sessions that became another Edmunds LP. This song was a non-album single. Lowe also was busy as a songwriter and producer. After splitting from Edmonds, and after his marriage to Carlene Carter (making him related to Johnny Cash in a cousin in-law way), he slowed down and stalled creatively. He was quite clever, but soon his cleverness became trite. He still was a go-to producer, though, and brought together Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner to work on a John Hiatt record. That record (“Bring The Family”) is the reason we know Hiatt today. That’s just a tidbit of what I could say. I didn’t even mention Brinsley Schwarz…yet…

And here’s a live tidbit!

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Title: Savory

Artist: Jawbox

Album: For Your Own Special Sweetheart

Year Released: 1994

What It Is: Loud. Intense. Loud. Riveting. Loud. Thought-provoking. Did I mention loud?

Riffage / Hookage: J. Robbins and Bill Barbot’s guitars work together as a brutal yet unified force. One plays a heavy heavy riff and the other starts with some psychedelic-ish discordant patters. Throw in Kim Coletta’s powerful bass lines and you got yourself some world class volume there. But even though it’s quite a racket, you can still hum the chorus.

Cowbell?: Zach Barochas starts by pounding his drum set like he was trying to put out a fire, but later shows some deft jazzy touches. Alas, though, no cowbell (though he likes his cymbals, which is a good thing.)

Words Of Wisdom: “Hey angel, fly over and bless me
See you feign surprise
And I’m all eyes
And you’re all you need to be”

Mixology Report: Me, I’d mix this. Well, you knew that already. However, the discordant sounds means you may need to plan your transitions well.

Top Five Genius Results:Burning Airlines – Outside The Aviary (fitting, since that was the band J. Robbins and Bill Barbot formed after Jawbox)
Fugazi – KYEO
Drive Like Jehu – Do You Computer
Dismemberment Plan – A Life Of Possibilities
Minutemen – History Lesson, Part II

For The Good Of The Order: Well, I’ll have you know I’ve met half of the band at my best bud’s house in Maryland. And just today, I talked to one of them at a conference. We spent 20 minutes talking about Krautrock, the nature of singles vs. albums in today’s day and age, the Minutemen, neo-psychedelia, and Budgie. No, not birds. The band Budgie. Oh, and database and web stuff, the reason we’re AT the conference.

Here’s the video for this tune. This album is being re-mastered and re-released on Dischord (they originally released this on Atlantic and were branded ‘traitors’ and ‘Judas’ by some uptight indie rock zealtos). They’re also going to be on Jimmy Kimmel’s show in December. TiVo it and wake up yer ma with it!

Title: Should I See

Artist: Frozen Ghost

Album: Frozen Ghost

Year Released: 1987

What It Is: Catchy, 80’s synth pop with a message (about it’s only distinguishing feature from the other ready-made 80’s synth pop bands). The message? Don’t stifle my views man you moral majority influenced hypocrite. Of course, since they’re Canadian, they do it politely.

Riffage / Hookage: Chorus has a catchy hook and the synth and bass lines are also ear candy. The sax solo clinches it as Canadian though. A nice, polite sax instead of a shredding solo is the Canadian way. The ending did have the guitar and interesting time changes (for effect). But that guitar was too little, too late, I think.

Cowbell?: Only if the cowbell came from a computer.

Words Of Wisdom: “Cover my eyes and ears
‘Til it all dissapears
How can you judge for me
What I should hear and see

You take away freedom of choice
Take away the right to voice
My beliefs and and all my views
You take away my right to choose”

Well, like, that’s your opinion, man.

Kidding aside, this song has a pretty strong message. It’s like this band anticipated Fox News.

Mixology Report: Fits in pleasantly, especially with an 80’s mix.

Top Five Genius Results: No genius, denied. That’s not surprising, since I looked in vain for a digital copy and had to break down and get a hits collection via Amazon. Yes, I actually have a CD in my house now (well, until I hit the used CD store). The horror!

For The Good Of The Order: This band was formed from the ashes of Sheriff, which reached #1 with “When I’m With You” in 1989, six years after the band recorded the song. Gotta love that timing. (I bet it’s one of the few pre-1992 #1 songs that I don’t recognize at all – and if I heard the tune it would have been completely by accident.) At any rate, Andre Lanni and Wolf Hassel were Frozen Ghost, though if I remember the credits correctly Lanni played 12 instruments, produced the record, programmed the synths and the drums and sang. Hassel played bass. Ol’ Wolf probably laid down his parts and then took off for Val D’Or or someplace and asked Andre to call him when the record was done.

Hey, an 80’s video! Complete with hair, a drummer with a headband, and blank expressions by the hired touring musicians. And hair. LOOK AT THE HAIR! Yeesh. They should have been “Band Of Mullets” Or “Mullets Of Kintyre”. And they weren’t even hockey players. (But the were Canadian).

Title: Magic Potion

Artist: The Open Mind

Album: Single Only. Released as a bonus track on The Open Mind in 2006.

Year Released: 1969

What It Is: A long forgotten psychedelic acid-rock / proto-metal / prog single. It’s got the psychedelic sound, but with heavier guitars and fantastic double-bass drum work. It’s a fantastic single, but it was both dated AND too forward-looking, which is really hard to do.

Riffage / Hookage: Two fuzz guitars playing excellent psychedelic riffs with metal tinges. The solo has a definite neo-metal edge with fuzz and wah. There is a hook, too. One wonders why it wasn’t a hit. One wonders…

Cowbell?: No, but the double bass drum is not only a prog-rock precursor, but I’m sure Lars Ulrich heard this at some point.

Words Of Wisdom: “Take a drink from a magic potion
Tell me do you still feel fine?
Once sip and you will see
Things you never saw before”

DUUUUDE! That’s like SOOOO heavy. I’m seeing a talking orangutan. Oh, I’m watching Planet Of The Apes.

Mixology Report: Yeah, man. Blow the minds of the squares.

Top Five Genius Results: The Craig – I Must Be Mad
Q’65 – Cry In The Night
Fire – Father’s Name Was Dad
The Factory – Path For The Forest
The Bluestars – Social End Product

For The Good Of The Order: I guess the album by the Open Mind can command four bills now. But thanks to Rhino and the Nuggets collection, we can all buy this song (not on the original album, since that was the British thing to do) and freak out just the same. I can’t describe how incredible the sound of this song is, especially given the time and place. And I have never done psychedelics of any sort at all. Heavy.

Here’s a fan’s video.

Title: Milquetoast

Artist: Helmet

Album: Betty

Year Released: 1994

What It Is: A strong hard-hitting song from one of my favorite 90’s bands. For some reason they signed a big major label deal (post-Nirvana giddyness by record companies) when they were rather stark and uncompromising. This is toned down a bit from their first major release, and a LOT toned down from “Strap It On” and “Born Annoying”. But still, music of quality and distinction. And….YAAAAAAH!

Riffage / Hookage: Helmet = riffs. Riffs, harmonics and Coltrane-like guitar excursions. That’s what you get with them. Of course, it helps that Page Hamilton, the leader of Helmet, was a serious jazz student who found he loved distortion and worked with Glen Branca.

Cowbell?: John Stanier usually sticks to his toms and pounds them with alacrity.

Words Of Wisdom: “Tell me if you think it’s all right
I’ll give in to what you know
I don’t see the habits that become me
I’ve saved up my useless thoughts

Well means, it works I’m on your side
I said that? Well so, I lied
Remember I tried not to be wary
This failed me once too much

Unrecognized
Well preserved
Don’t forget what you heard”

Just like the music, the lyrics are sharp, concise and well thought out.

Mixology Report: Everyone needs a bit of AAAARGH! in their life. Why not have it something meaningful, thoughtful and atypical.

Top Five Genius Results: Soundgarden – Room A Thousand Years Wide
Rollins Band – Low Self Opinion
Fugazi – Repeater
Alice In Chains – We Die Young
Mother Love Bone – Stardog Champion

For The Good Of The Order: Hamilton’s had some…issues…keeping a band together. They broke up in 1998 after some band members came and went, and reformed in 2004. But the personnel still changes seemingly on a whim. Also, I’m not that happy with the direction. Instead of singing (sort of, but at least not growling), Hamilton now just barks out the lyrics. At least he tried to get some melody in there before.

Here are two clips. For some reason, they both start a few seconds into it (so be patient). Here’s the studio version:

Here’s a shot of them live. I did seem them live, in 1992, and yes, it was kinda like this.

In a fiesty mood…

Title: Territory

Artist: Sepultura

Album: Chaos, A.D.

Year Released: 1993

What It Is: Brazilian thrash-speed metal with a social conscious. Before you run away in fear, consider that this song is complex, the lyrics are thoughtful and the musicianship is top notch. Oh, yeah, and it’s LOUD, too! God love it!

Riffage / Hookage: Monster riffs all the way through. The best part about it is that it’s not insanely fast where the riffage blurs together. You can hear and feel the riffs envelop your body.

Cowbell?: Excellent double bass drummin, though!

Words Of Wisdom: “Years Of Fighting
Teaching My Son
To Believe In That Man
Racist Human Being
Racist Ground Will Live
Shame And Regret
Of The Pride
You’ve Once Possessed”

A lot of their work is in support of the native Brazilians who have been oppressed brutally over the years. Coupled with the fact that the band grew up in third-world type poverty under a military dictatorship, then you kinda get why they’re a bit pissed off.

Mixology Report: Unfortunately, some will hear Max Cavalera’s vocals and tune out. So be careful. But my wife likes it!

Top Five Genius Results: Slayer – War Ensemble
Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh
Prong – Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
Megadeth – Wake Up Dead
Testament – Into The Pit

For The Good Of The Order: Sepultura was on their way to become the premier heavy metal band of the 90’s, but infighting led to Cavalera leaving the band. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts, and neither Sepultura nor Max’s band Soulfly ever caught the spark again.

Here’s the video. The Mrs. and I saw this one night after getting home from some carrying on in Indy during the days of “Headbangers Ball”, no doubt.

And they can kick ass live, too!