Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What I'm Listening To #2

Right now I'm digging on this great gem from the late 1980's, Sebadoh's The Freed Man. This is one of the greatest albums of all time. No shit. Listen up and I'll tell you about it.

For those of you who may not know (or care), Sebadoh started out as a fuzzy, fucked-up, lo-fi and proud 4-track musical project by Dinosaur Jr.'s then-bassist, Lou Barlow, and his zany bud Eric Gaffney. From the start the two wove a complex (and dank) web of mutated sound that fused folk, rock, country, punk, avant-garde noise, and psychotherapy into one big ball of awesomeness that didn't sound as jumbled as it looks on paper (or screen).

The history of their first two releases, Weed Forestin' and The Freed Man, is kinda convoluted, so I won't even try to make any definitive statements. That said, I think Weed Forestin' came first, and while it contains many great songs and ideas, it doesn't compare to the extreme genius and balls-out brilliance of The Freed Man.

Yeah, it's a fuckin' masterpiece. From the opening bit that sounds like fifty insane cats having an orgy to the speed-manipulated Sesame Street record that closes the album forty minutes later, Sebadoh give you an incredibly unique vision of the world that seems to incorporate everything that these two gentlemen had experienced thus far in their lives.

Who couldn't love songs with lyrics like these?: "My soulmate is a special girl, a girl that's just like me/ She'll share tremendous oral sex and try everything she sees" ("Soulmate"); "I love me, I love me, I love me, 1-2-3!" ("I Love Me"); "This is a complete ripoff of every other song I've ever done" and "I'm still a selfish asshole" ("True Hardcore"); "Thought God was love/ this may be right/ But now is the time/ to kill the light" ("Made Real"); "I can't fuckin' stand this confusing shit" ("Crumbs"); "You're my best friend/ That means I should be your best friend/ Someone to tell your most twisted secrets to/ But don't ask me to see you naked/ I'm not gay, my friend/ That's a problem that I can't share with you/ Sorry" ("Growin' Up With You"). And that's just side one!

Songs come in and out like a fuzzy radio station. Songs come from out of nowhere and suddenly end, erupting into punk fury, inexplicable sound effects, or bits of unintelligable conversation. But don't think that this album is by any means just a bunch of noise; among the sonic experimentation and musical fragments are some truly great melodies and songs. And seriously, the ending of this album is so creepy and awesome that it makes my skin crawl.

Unfortunately, not too many people seem to know about or give a shit about this incredible album because it's only been released once on LP and cassette back in '89 and has been out of print for quite a while. Sure, they made that Freed Weed CD in the mid 90's that has all of Weed Forestin' and not even half of The Freed Man, but who needs that shit? None of the between-song sound bites are there and most of the truly insane songs have been excised ("Land of the Lords"). This needs to be reissued because my LP was pressed crappily in the first place and has all sorts of terrible pops and skips on the first side.

A plea: Lou! Wake up! I need my Freed Man! Give it to me, stat!

There. I feel better.

To cap this thing off, I want to give you my transcription of what I feel are some of the finest lyrics on The Freed Man. They're for the song "Moldy Bread" and they go a little something like this:

A troubled baby raised on moldy bread
Abusing mind-fuck drugs, softening my head
Out of control energy on the ground
Christ slips on ice, off falls the crown
Digging ourselves deeper into holes
Becoming blood to our dirty souls
Careless mind hands...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The King Can't Help It

The Elvis song that's now stuck in my head is this little live gem from 1970, "I Just Can't Help Believin'", taken from the soundtrack to the awesome concert film Elvis: That's The Way It Is. Unfortunately, the current DVD edition of the movie leaves this song out even though it purports to contain extra footage. And that blows. Fortunately, this song doesn't.

This easygoing song has a melody that's somehow bored a hole into my head. Written by B.J. Thomas, it's essentially a love song about how the singer is happy that this chick he's with might be his woman and not just another tawdry one night stand.

As with a fair amount of the King's stuff from the 70's, this tune is overloaded with strings and orchestral sap, but the greatness of the song still shines through. Elvis's performance is great (he was still in his prime, and I've read that his shows from '69 and '70 were among his best) and his interaction with the background singers is pretty cool.

Anyway, if you haven't heard this song and you're at all interested, it can be found on the album "That's The Way It Is", the 3 disc special edition soundtrack album of the same name (which contains the original album plus extra live songs, an entire concert from August 12, 1970, and rehearsals for the live shows), and the 5-disc 70's box set Walk A Mile In My Shoes. Or you can listen to it on Rhapsody like I did (PLUG!).

If you're not interested, that's cool. Who knows... my fascination with Elvis could be because of a brain tumor or something.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dion! Dion!

Dino! Dino!

Dio! Dio!

I Don't Think This Is Dio...

Ronnie James Dio?

I'm having a hard time figuring out which one's Dio.

Insano Collector Goes Bonkers Forever!

Records rule!

I just bought a whole bunch of bitchin' records for real cheap. I'm going to be totally self-indulgent and list every single one of them right now:

Syd Barrett - "The Madcap Laughs and Barrett" (2LP)
The Flamin' Groovies - "Teenage Head" (2LP compilation)
Sebadoh - "4 Song CD" (yeah, that's what it's called even though it's an LP)
Sonic Youth - "Daydream Nation" (2LP)
The Pogues - "If I Should Fall From Grace With God"
The Pogues - "Red Roses For Me"
The Beatles - "The Beatles" (White Album)(2LP - White Vinyl)
The Beatles - "1962-1966" (2LP - Red Vinyl)
The Beatles - "1967-1970" (2LP - Blue Vinyl)
Rory Gallagher - "Sinner..."
The Dream Syndicate - "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Hot Tuna - "Burgers"
The Jam - "The Gift"
The Jam - "Setting Sons"
The Jam - "Sound Affects"
The Jam - "Snap!" (2LP + 7")
Jeff Beck - "Truth"
Jeff Beck - "Beck-Ola"
The Velvet Underground - "White Light/White Heat" (UK issue with toy soldiers cover)
Jimi Hendrix - "Flashback"
Jimi Hendrix - "Crash Landing"
Jimi Hendrix - "War Heroes"
Jimi Hendrix - "Band of Gypsys/The Cry of Love" (2LP)
Jimi Hendrix - "Rainbow Bridge"
Jimi Hendrix - "Axis: Bold As Love"
The Who - "Rarities Vol 1: 1966-1968"
Buffalo Springfield - "Buffalo Springfield" (2LP)
T. Rex - "The Slider"
T. Rex - "Tanx"
T. Rex - "Billy Super Duper" (pictured)
Tyrannosaurus Rex - "A Beard of Stars"
Dr. Feelgood - "Malpractice"
The Steve Miller Band - "Sailor"
Nazz - "Nazz"
Nazz - "Nazz Nazz" (red vinyl)
Nazz - "Nazz III"
Television - "Marquee Moon"
Television - "Adventure" (red vinyl)
The Small Faces - "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" (round sleeve)
The Small Faces - "The Immediate Story (Volume Two)" (2LP)
The Mothers - "Fillmore East - June 1971"
The Yardbirds - "Having A Rave Up"
The Yardbirds - "Second Helping"
The Yardbirds - "For Your Love"
The Yardbirds - "The Best of The Yardbirds"
The Yardbirds - "Roger The Engineer"

So that's about it. I'm pumped about these records. I'm listening to the first Nazz album right now and it's totally awesome. It's cracklin' in all the right spots. Rock and roll is king, baby.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Virtuosity = Bad Music

Steve Vai can play anything on the guitar. So can Joe Satriani. So can Eric Johnson. The guys in Dream Theater are all incrdible musicians. The guys in Tool are good as well.

Why does their music suck so much?

I think it's because they're all too good. They don't think of rock music as being songs made up from chords and melodies and lyrics. They think of rock and roll as conceptual art made up from obscure scales, complicated rhythms, and grand scale theories.

And they don't ROCK.

Sure, I haven't heard everything that Vai, Satriani, Johnson, and Theater have recorded (I have heard every Tool album and besides being virtually indistinguishable from each other I find them to be extremely tedious and BORING), but I've heard enough to know that these guys don't even have the capacity to Rock. The three solo guitarists, like I said earlier, can play their asses off, but I've never heard anything approaching a good SONG from any of them. And they ain't got no soul.

Speaking of no soul, Dream Theater has to be one of the most soulless bands my ears have ever screamed for mercy upon hearing. Their stuff from the 80's and early 90's is "complicated" hair metal with a horrendous singer; you know, that kind of late 80's crap where the singer who went to Berkely or some shit for a semester decides he wants to rock out some opera in a desperate attempt to get chicks (and money to pay for his hair spray, mascara, and pleather outfits, which he has to buy in order to get chicks... it's an endless cycle).

Well, a guy I know tried to convince me that Dream Theater went through some big change (for the better) in the 90's, with grand concept albums and shit... I heard it and it was perhaps even more awful than the hair metal. At least with the metal they kinda approached being relevant for the time.


Dream Theater doesn't Rock. Simon and Garfunkel rock more than them. Put on "Cecilia" at a party and follow it up with any 45-minute multi-part Dream Theater wankery and see how long it takes for you to get thrown out a window. Hell, I'll do you a favor and just kick you in the face right now if you admit to me that you own a Dream Theater CD. You can bleed in the privacy of your own home and your friends won't have to know that you like to masturbate your ears while drooling over the sixteen different time signatures that drummer Mike Portnoy is playing in simultaniously on part thirty-six of their latest Five-CD album named after a very obscure disfunction of the pituitary gland.

Naw, on second thought, your friends probably like that same stuff too. And you're probably the kind of person that actually would play some Dream Theater for a houseful of drunks at a party.

Go ahead, pick a window.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another Damn Great Elvis Song!

There is yet another truly great Elvis song tucked away on the B-side of the rather sleep-inducing ballad "Until It's Time for You to Go". As you can see by the words hovering just to the left of the Pelvis' King Crotch, this kickass nugget of sweet soulful 70's rock is called "We Can Make the Morning". Sheeut, you've gotta listen to this track.

"It's a long, long, lonely night. You can make the morning if you try. It's a long, long, lonely night. We can make the morning if we try; we can make the morning you and I, together."

You see, it's about fighting lonliness with love. And probably with some doin' it. And probably with some fried chicken and peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Yo, it's got the line, "Lonliness is darkness' first companion," in it. How can a song with stuff like that for lyrics not be Boss?

Not the boss, but the King.

Shit yeah.

What I'm Drinking

All hail the greatest beer of all time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What I'm Listening To

Just listened to these two bitchin' tracks a little while ago: I'm Leavin' and Heart of Rome. As you can see by the picture, these were originally released on a single in 1971 and are available on the CD box set Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70's Masters.

I'm Leavin' is an extraordinary song that I've only recently discovered; it has a gentle country-ish feel and an overall melancholy tone that differs from a lot of Elvis stuff that you may be familiar with. Picked acoustic guitars and piano abound in this song, as well as some relatively strange time changes and a whole lot of the word "la". Very emotional and stirring. I keep listening to it again and again!

Its B-side, Heart of Rome, is no sloucher either. It's quite a bit more upbeat and melodramatic, with sweeping strings and blasting horns. There are quite a few "la"s in this song as well... dunno what was going on at this time. It does, however, help to tie these two songs together well.

By the way, both of these songs have some great harmony vocals that accent and support that of the King's. I can't determine exactly who that is singing backup on these parts, but it sure is good. [Update: I found out that the background vocals on Heart of Rome are done by Elvis's long-time right-hand man, Charlie Hodge.]

I think Elvis's 70's recordings are a bit underrated. Sure, they're schmaltzy and a bit over the top. And some of it is pretty sappy. And corny. But hell, it's the king! There really are some good songs and performances to be found in this era (also known as the Fat Elvis period)... you just have to open up your ears a bit.

I don't think enough young people know the power of Elvis.

I'm kinda high right now.

Drumtron Welcomes You

All hail the greatest band of all time.