At the Drive-In - "Proxima Centauri" (Vaya, 1999) Vaya is my second favorite ATDI release, and this song is one seven reasons why. It has the polish of their follow-up Relationship of Command combined with all the raw punk energy of their earlier releases. But heaven help me if I can make any sense out of any of Cedric Bixlar-Zavala’s lyrics:
I can’t believe
The feeble recipe
Civilization tastes so good
Nero has conquered the stars
No one ever saw the spacesuit togas
Wreaths around the head like Saturn’s rings
The Beatles - “Money (That’s What I Want)” (With the Beatles, 1963)
A Barry Gordy song covered by many artists, including the Beatles. Apparently this version was a big deal back in the day while today it seems fairly tame.
Devo - "Fresh" (Something for Everybody [Deluxe Edition], 2010)
Lead-off track of the first studio album in two decades (with a funny tongue-in-cheek video to boot), “Fresh” gave Devo super-fans—as well as casual fans—something to get excited about. While it didn’t garner the same attention as “Whip It,” it contains many of the same elements that made its predecessor a mega-hit back in the day. Funny how that works.
These are nights I’ll never remember with friends I’ll never forget
Genius. This is from a 6-track recording of a live acoustic session (betcha figured that out already, huh?!) the band sold as a limited edition CD during a 2008 acoustic tour with Ginger Wildheart and later released on iTunes.
Tsar - "Punctual Alcoholic" (The Dark Stuff - EP, 2012)
Tsar is another band whose lyrics can sometimes lean toward the obtuse, although this little nugget appears straightforward enough:
I wanna waste my time and waste my money
And do stupid things that get me in trouble
The Mob - “I Will Follow” (The Mob, 2005)
Decent track from a Doug Pinnick (King’s X) one-off “supergroup” side-project with Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Whitesnake), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Timothy Drury (keyboard-for-hire most known for stints with Whitesnake and the Eagles), and Kip Winger (duh!). The focus here was more about fun, 80s-influenced hair metal (and way too much guitar wankery from Beach) than anything serious, and unfortunately much of the album suffers because of it. This song is one of the exceptions, but it’s still pretty forgettable despite having one of my all-time favorite singers on it.
R.E.M. - "Pilgrimage" (Murmur, 1983)
Jangly alterna-pop from one of my favorite 80s “alternative” bands. Yeah, yeah, I know, but I try to forget about everything after 1991’s Out of Time, not being a big fan of the band’s direction from Automatic for the People onward.
Alice in Chains - "Angry Chair" (Dirt, 1992)
I can’t say I ever understood this song much (and likely neither did Layne Staley, who was high as a kite during the recording of it if the mostly-reliable Wikipedia is to be believed), but I don’t think that was ever the point. I’ve never been a fan of Staley’s vocals on the spooky-sounding verse sections, but I absolutely adore the “chorus” section with Jerry Cantrell’s harmony vocals and the “I don’t mind/Lost my mind/Can’t find it anywhere” lyrics.
Collective Soul - "Reach" (Hints Allegations & Things Left Unsaid, 1994)
Jangly alterna-pop from one of my favorite 90s “alternative” bands.
Transatlantic - "Spinning" (The Whirlwind, 2009)
We end today’s Five the same way we started—with a supergroup of sorts, although I’m sure most people would be hard pressed to name a single member other than Mike Portnoy or be able to identify the bands from which the members hail. The difference here is that Transatlantic was never intended as a one-off project, and these guys were always pretty serious about bringing prog to the people. As a matter of fact, they very nearly lost me when they cranked the prog knob up to 11 for 2009’s The Whirlwind, a one-track progfest with 12 parts. “Spinning” is special-edition bonus track with a country swing despite the classic prog keys opening and is unlike most of the album proper. Still, it’s a good song that features Roine Stolt on vocals (and the prog kicks in at about the 5-minute mark just in case you’re interested).
Matt Walsh reviews the new “‘least biblical’ biblical film ever made”1 that is causing such a ruckus in the Christian community.
If you’re looking for a movie more obviously inspired by Biblical precepts, go see anything else [other than Noah]. Go see The Lego Movie. I’m sure even that will bear a closer resemblance to Scripture than emo Noah and his gang of Boulder Creatures.
Four Stars for marketing
No Stars for quality, substance, coherence, meaning, or theological accuracy.
Coldplay - "Daylight" (A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2002)
Coldplay seem to catch a lot of grief, but I quite liked them up through X & Y, and I think they are better musicians than they get credit for being. For some reason I never got on board with Viva la Vida. To be totally honest, I never really heard much of it other than the song they “stole” from Satriani, so I may well have loved it, but by that point they were so huge, I would have probably lost interest anyway. I think I played AROBTTH fairly extensively when it was released—my iTunes play counts got so jacked up I had to start over at some point—and “Daylight” is a good song with a bit of a groove to it.
I Mother Earth - "Earth, Sky & C." (Scenery and Fish, 1996)
A friend of mine turned me onto IME’s debut album Dig, and it was different enough with its jam band feel and Latin-influenced rhythms that I promptly borrowed every album he had and liked them all enough that I started buying them for myself. Easier said than done. Even though the band put out only five albums, a couple of them must be out of print, because all I could track down at the time were used import copies for about $45 each. I decided I didn’t like IME that much. This isn’t a particularly bad track, but it’s not great either. I remember liking this album way more than my actual listening of it reveals. Memory is a funny thing.
Anthrax - "Discharge" (Persistence of Time, 1990) Persistence was the last album to feature Joey Belladonna on vocals during his first run with the band, and it was probably the hardest album for me to get into at the time. Their previous albums had been funny, and despite being very heavy, had catchy melodies and choruses—at least as catchy as 80s thrash got. But this album was dark and serious and heavy in a completely different way, and it took me awhile to really appreciate it despite its having some excellent material that showcases Anthrax at their most progressive.
Kansas - "Don’t Take Your Love Away" (Drastic Measures, 1983)
Looks like I’m the one with a case of Friday Five Whiplash today! Since I was hitting my musical stride in the 80s, the John Elefante-fronted Kansas is the version I was introduced to, somehow either not having been exposed to “Dust in the Wind” or not realizing it was a Kansas tune until my youth pastor made me a couple of mixtapes with Kerry Livgren’s and Elefante’s more overtly Christian lyrics and themes. I think the two albums with Elefante at the mic get poo-pooed more than they deserve, despite this one not standing the test of time very well with its definite early-80s vibe. There is a huge stylistic difference between Livgren’s three songs and the remainder of the album written by Elefante and his brother Dino. This is one of the better tunes on the album and one of my favorites.
Goo Goo Dolls - "Slide" (Dizzy up the Girl, 1998)
“Slide” helped sell a gazillion copies of this album and catapult the Goo Goo Dolls into superstardom. And while this track, along with “Iris” and “Black Balloon,” received the most attention, there is some other very strong material here—“Dizzy,” “Broadway,” “Bullet Proof,” and “All Eyes on Me” being the ones I’m most drawn to.
Queen - "Play the Game" (The Game, 1980)
One of the first albums “I” bought with “my own” money (actually, my mom bought it for me since I probably had no money at 10 years old), and if memory serves, I got it at a grocery store in the town near where I grew up in the rural Mississippi Delta. I had received News of the World for Christmas the year before from an aunt, so this was a purchase based on name-recognition only and not influenced by anything I may have heard on the radio. I don’t remember my initial reaction, but I’m sure I was surprised by how different much of this album was from NOTW . This is not a go-to song or album—my favorites were and still are “Dragon Attack,” “Coming Soon,” and “Sail Away Sweet Sister”—but I still quite like it.
Eureka Machines - "Everyone Loves You" (Do or Die, 2008)
I didn’t quite remember how I originally stumbled onto these guys (a quick peek at my blog reminded me it was via The Paranoid Squirrel Rock Show podcast), but I’m glad I did since they’ve become one of my favorites of a handful of bands and artists most folks have never heard of. I have covered them quite extensively on my blog, the video for this song being the second thing about them I ever posted. How can you not like a band with pop sensibilities and a sense of humor that knows how to rock, who dress in matching black suits with white ties, and whose frontman plays an Ibanez Iceman and sports a mohawk (long since abandoned due to the same hair-loss affliction I suffer from)?
Queen - "Bicycle Race" (Greatest Hits I & II, 1995)
Another Queen tune? This is turning out to be an interesting Five. Classic Queen track that I’m way too familiar with to provide any kind of objective opinion. I love it.
Lizzy Borden - "Visual Lies" (Visual Lies, 1987)
Lizzy Borden is one of those acts I latched onto back in the early days of my musical experimentation and interest in bands that were just different enough that most of my friends had never heard of them (some things never change, huh?)—bands like Anthrax, Flotsam and Jetsam, Queensrÿche, Metal Church, and Grim Reaper. For those of you who might not be familiar with them either, Lizzy Borden was a theatrical metal band with a lead singer who had adopted the same name (ala Alice Cooper), and they were just weird and heavy enough not to get lumped into the hair metal scene. Their theatrics were fairly derivative of KISS, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, etc., but their music was really good, and I loved their first three albums. Visual Lies was their third release, had much slicker production than the previous two albums, and featured guitarist Joe Holmes, who would go on to enjoy a short stint with Ozzy. This title track is a slower, less metal, mid-tempo number, and while not my favorite, is not a bad track at all.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Manic Depression" (Are You Experienced?, 1967)
“Manic Depression” is one of the only Hendrix songs I really like. *drops mic, walks off stage*
Alice In Chains - "Brush Away" (Alice In Chains, 1995)
We start this Five the same way we ended last week’s—with a spooky sounding AIC tune. On second thought, is there any other kind of AIC tune?!
Collective Soul - "Skin" (Blender, 2000)
Say what you will about Ed Roland and Collective Soul, but I used to have a huge crush on this band and tried to get my hands on everything they put out. But things started falling apart, Ross Childress left, the band started running into label issues, and I lost interest. As an aside, I think some of Ed’s solo projects held more interest for me than latter-day Collective Soul, especially his Sweet Tea Project. Anyway, at this point in the game, Collective Soul was experimenting with electronic textures and drum machines, but I still like this.
Victor - "The Big Dance" (Victor, 1996)
There’s no way you could convince me that this is Alex Lifeson if I didn’t already know it. Victor is all over the sonic map, some of it really good, some of it not so much. This tune finds Alex and I Mother Earth’s vocalist Edwin channeling their inner Nine Inch Nails. Good for an occasional listen, but not something I would go to often.
Judas Priest - "(Take These) Chains" (Screaming for Vengeance, 1982)
One of my all-time favorite Priest songs!
Scorpions - "Holiday" (Lovedrive, 1979)
Ditto for this Scorpions tune, and a fine way to end this Five. Have a great weekend, Fivers!
Here’s another PledgeMusic campaign for you to contribute to. This time it’s Devin Townsend with a project he is calling Casualties of Cool. He describes it as
…this weird, dark, not evil but verging on it, bluesy, Johnny Cash-y, strange, quiet folk record. But I love it, it’s the one record that I’ve done over the past 10 or 15 years where I can truly say, ‘This is where I am right now.’
Apparently Devin met his goal in mere hours, and with 3033 pledges at the time of this writing, he sits at 275% of the goal. Excess funds will go toward future projects like the upcoming massive Ziltoid sequel Z2. Additionally, a percentage of pledges will help charities that work with animals that are homeless or in shelters.
Devin will be singing on about half of the material, with the remainder featuring Vancouver artist Ché Aimee Dorval, who sang previously on Devin’s album Ki. You can check out a sample of the new album (as well as Dorval’s singing) at the Casualites of Cool project page—the bluesy, ethereal “Forgive Me.”
Here’s what Devin has to say about the project:
Casualties Of Cool has been something I’ve been working on for years, a real passion project. Not since Ocean Machine (my first record) have I had the opportunity to do music for the sheer sake of the love of it…
It’s not a metal album, nor is it meant to be a statement about my interest in metal. It’s a side project from my work with DTP, Ziltoid and my touring band. I love that music, and always will…this is something different. This is something that I would write late at night while working on other projects as sort of a ’release’…a way to make music for myself, without pressure from ANYONE to do things a certain way. It’s an independent release, and it’s dark, quiet, and special…
Casualty is something that I’ve done without any pressure, without anybody telling me what to do, without showing it to anyone, it’s just what evolved when I wasn’t thinking about it…
What we are trying to prove with this pledge campaign, beyond raising funds, is to make a statement to the industry at large that we have a killer fanbase, an army of folks that prove the worth of this type of thinking that will tell the industry it is a force to consider. I know we can do it.
Go pledge to get access to the album and any of the extras or if you simply like Devin and want to help him achieve his artistic vision and goals.
The Beatles - “She’s Leaving Home” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
I have a cover of this tune that Billy Bragg did for something called Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father where his accent is much thicker than Paul’s ever was.
Ozzy Osbourne - "Little Dolls" (Diary of a Madman, 1981)
That may be a “guide” solo on the track (per the AllMusic guide), but Randy’s work on this album is stellar. Funny story—just last night I was driving with my 14-year-old son with the radio on one of the local classic rock stations, something I almost never do (because for the most part, those stations suck balls). “Over the Mountain” came on, and Randy’s solo was enough to pull his face out of his new-to-him iPhone 4 long enough for him to exclaim, “Whoa!” And this is a kid who is mostly into hip-hop and rap.
Dierks Bentley - "Draw Me A Map" (Up on the Ridge, 2010)
I know next-to-nothing about Dierks Bentley, but I love this song. As I mentioned before, I’m not much of a “new country” fan, but this has enough of the elements I really like in country music to make the cut and remain in my library.
Alice In Chains - "Dirt" (Dirt, 1992)
An archetypical spooky-sounding AiC song with a burning Cantrell solo. Not sure what else to say.
The Future of Music Coalition has posted an interesting article on its blog detailing the legal entanglements De La Soul may have put themselves in by offering up free downloads of their back catalog for 24 hours last week. I’ve sampled (see what I did there?!) some of the meat of the issue, but to get the whole gist, you really need to read the entire post over at their website.
This giveaway comes with a complicated backstory, one marked by deep frustration with the state of sample clearances…
Contrary to many headlines, De La Soul didn’t actually give away their entire catalog, rather the portion controlled by their former label Warner Brothers Records—albums currently unavailable on any digital service… It seems the WB material is stuck in a sort of major-label license-negotiating purgatory due to De La Soul’s jazzy sound collages…
…It’s unlikely that De La Soul were within their legal rights in making their own catalog available for download. Their former label Warner Bros likely own the master recordings of the De La cuts; various parties control the sound recording and composition copyrights for samples running the gamut from from Steely Dan to Billy Joel to Kraftwerk. (And contrary to what many internet users believe, you don’t have to be making money to be committing copyright infringement and ultimately liable for statutory damages). On the other hand, it’s possible that by framing the giveaway as a “gift to their fans,” De La Soul have created a situation where any potential litigant would face a PR nightmare if they filed suit.
(Bizarrely, the MP3s distributed by De La Soul seem to be sourced from illegal Russian sites; did no one have a CD copy available? Or is this perhaps a subtle dig at Warner Bros and/or sample rightsholders, implying that their failure to clear samples over the last decade drove consumers to obtain the music unlawfully?)
When music sits in record company vaults or is relegated to the grey market of free downloads, no one makes any money (except perhaps online ad services and file sharing sites): not the artist, not the performers or composers of the original samples. Artists, record companies, and publishers all have an incentive to make it easier to solve these problems. As Posdnous has said in an interview for Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola’s Creative License: The Law & Culture of Digital Sampling, “We understand that if you sample someone, you should pay for it. If someone wants to get paid for it, I understand. They made it.” It’s not as if any party is claiming the samples are fair use…
So the question becomes: are there policy provisions that could allow for some kind of sensible middle ground, making it easier and more economically feasible for diverse kinds of musicians to license samples, driving more content out of the grey market of “mixtapes” and toward legal licensed uses that generate revenue for musicians and songwriters? Might there be ways to do this that still allow artists to say no to uses they deem offensive?
Yesterday Michael Butler posted the latest Rock and Roll Geek Show episode, an epic two-hour interview with Georgia Satellites frontman Dan Baird and Warner E. Hodges, former guitarist of Jason & the Scorchers. The interview touches on songwriting, influences, touring, and living in Nashville, but the main focus is a track-by-track discussion of the latest Dan Baird and Homemade Sin album Circus Life. The three examine the songs’ meanings and origins, who plays what, technique, and gear choices, all while Michael literally gushes—in typical Rock and Roll Geek fashion—about his love for the album. In all honesty, it’s a great stripped down, straight-ahead, country-influenced rock ‘n’ roll album, and the interview is a must-listen for any rock geek that enjoys deep dives into an album and dissecting its songs.
What happens when you shuffle a playlist of songs from my iTunes library containing terms of endearment and love?! Not your set of typical love songs, that’s for sure.
Atomic Opera - "Love Is As Strong As Death" (Gospel Cola, 2000)
No chugging, down-tuned guitars here. And no sappy, puppy-love, sweetheart lyrics, either. Instead you get atmospheric ode to love that transcends life itself, more akin to an orchestral number than the band’s typical rock groove, and complete with cello, recorder, and other instruments not normally heard on a rock album.
The Cars - "Bye Bye Love" (The Cars, 1978)
Always it’s some other guy. More like an unrequited love song, but this is one of my favorites from the Cars’ excellent debut.
Whitesnake - "Hungry for Love" (Slide It In, 1984)
I don’t think it’s love you’re hungry for, David.
Shandi’s Addiction - "Calling Dr. Love" (Kiss My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved, 1994)
This track is the lovechild of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, RATM’s Tom Morello and Brad Wilk, and Faith No More’s Billy Gould for the KISS-endorsed, -sponsored, -directed, and -created tribute album Kiss My Ass (think about that for a second—what other band on the face of the planet would be so in love with itself that it would create its own tribute record?!). Definitely not the best track on the album, but given the members in this one-off “band,” it definitely could have been a whole lot weirder than it ended up.
Hayseed Dixie - "Love Gun" (Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to KISS, 2003)
This country/bluegrass unit slows the pace a bit on this KISS concert staple and gives it a yearning vocal delivery that puts a twist on Paul Stanley’s original over-sexed execution.
The Wildhearts - "The Jackson Whites" (Chutzpah, 2009)
I’ve been on a bit of Ginger kick lately with the release of his Albion PledgeMusic project, so this is a welcome way to start off my Five.
Styx - "Mr. Roboto" (Kilroy Was Here, 1999)
And just like that, the mood changes. “Mr. Roboto” is not a bad song (I have always quite liked it, thankyouverymuch), but I agree with Tommy Shaw—it must have been maddening to come up with synth-laden songs about robots when you were coked out of your mind and just wanted to rock.
Miranda Lambert - "Makin’ Plans" (Revolution, 2009)
Genre whiplash! I have very few songs in my library that would be considered country, and most of them are actually of the bluegrass/newgrass persuasion or guys like Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash. So I was a bit surprised when this popped up. Where did I even get this?! Turns out, it’s not even in my local library but is a song that resides in my iCloud storage. I’m not a fan of the country whine and drawl—that only works if you’re Hank Williams. Sr., that is.—but if I’m going to listen to country, this is the kind of song I would pick.
Pink Floyd - "Run Like Hell" (Delicate Sound of Thunder, 1988)
Snap! Whiplash again. I have always liked this live album, but this song just seems to be missing some of the energy of the album version.
Hüsker Dü - "She’s a Woman" (Warehouse: Songs and Stories, 1987)
Short, sweet, and catchy. Seems to be as good a place to end this all-over-the-map Five as any. Have a great weekend, Fivers!
Leaving Araby - “I Hurt. Can I Hurt You?” (Slightly South of Scene, 2006)
If you can get past the monotonous refrain “I’m not quite sure what you’re waiting for,” this is a great track from this indie band’s 5-song debut EP.
U2 - "Love and Peace or Else" (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004)
Despite my waning interest in U2 by this point, I thought HTDAAB was quite a good album. This however is not one of my favorites.
Tool - “Faaip De Oiad” (Lateralus, 2001)
OK, so this isn’t a real track, but it totally freaked me out the first time I heard it.
King’s X - "Pray" (Live Love in London, 2010)
30 plus years on, and this trio shows it still has the chops in this 2009 show at the Electric Ballroom in London. Need proof? Watch the show here.
Jars of Clay - “Crazy Times” (The White Elephant Sessions, 2000)
A (very polished) demo version of the lead single from Jars of Clay’s second album Much Afraid from a demos and rarities companion piece to their 1999 third album If I Left the Zoo. Over the years, The White Elephant Sessions has actually become one of my favorite “albums” from the band.
Slammed at work today, so this will be a short on commentary…
Joe Satriani - "Secret Prayer" (Crystal Planet, 1998)
I started losing interest in Joe somewhere around this time. Not sure why now that I listen back to this. The man has such great phrasing and taste in his selection of notes.
Queensrÿche - "Spreading the Disease" (Operation: Mindcrime, 1988)
OK, joke’s over. Can I have this version of Queensrÿche back now, please?!
Ginger Wildheart - “Unlucky in Love” (Potatoes and You, 2011)
Live acoustic cover of a song that came out of Ginger’s Clam Abuse project with Alex Cane of Life, Sex & Death. More from Ginger’s Bandcamp store where you can purchase the “album”:
Recorded at TJ’s in Newport, Wales during an acoustic tour in 2005, this album was released as a tour only CD, and was sold on subsequent acoustic tours, but never in shops or iTunes. Now deleted, we want to make the recording available to everyone.
Tommy Stinson - "Something’s Wrong" (Village Gorilla Head, 2004)
Tommy runs hot and cold with me. I think I remember not liking this whole album much despite quite a few good songs and a couple of excellent ones.
Tesla - "We’re No Good Together" (Mechanical Resonance, 1986)
Ah, a good ol’ tender jam to start things off today. I normally skip right over this one, forgetting how good it is in a cheesy, schmaltzy ’80s ballad kind of way. Such a good debut, and to think I picked it up at a record store (remember those?!) along with Anthrax’s Among the Living without ever having previously heard a single note of either album.
The Cult - "Aphrodisiac Jacket" (Electric, 1987)
A good friend of mine and fellow musical misfit—we were the oddball metalheads in our very small Mississippi Delta private school, though I definitely didn’t look or act the part—very nearly burned me out on this album after its release. There was a point in the late ’80s and early ’90s that I couldn’t even listen to it, familiarity breeding contempt and all that. I still alternate between cringing and loving it when a track from this album pops up.
Atomic Opera - "Fade" (Penguin Dust, 1997)
Speaking of oddball, Atomic Opera is one of those bands that elicit strange looks when I bring them up (I mean, Atomic Opera, what the hell kind of name is that?! Then again, what about Foo Fighters or Toad the Wet Sprocket? Not exactly marketing-friendly, either. Just ask Dave. But I digress). Then I mention their pedigree as being part of Sam Taylor’s “Houston” triumvirate along with King’s X and Galactic Cowboys (funny since none of them originally hail from Houston) and their Christian leanings and spiritual themes. Then the litany of non-rock instruments—many of them run through distortion or other effects—the band incorporates into its heavy, chuggy, detuned low-end groove: cello, organ, recorder, basouki, dulcimer, jembe, ocarina, mandoin, and Chapman stick, just to name a few. You get the picture. Anyway, decent tune from a great album. That is if you are into weird, rule-breaking rock bands with a spiritual message.
AC/DC - "Back in Black" (Back in Black, 1980)
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? One of the greatest “comeback” albums of all time. Who would have thought AC/DC could have bounced back from Bon’s death like this?
KISS - "Strutter" (Alive, 1975)
One of my favorite KISS songs ever. “You wanted the best, and you got the best!” If only that were still true.