Friday, October 24, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut R: "She Wants Money" by Ratt

It's Hair Band Friday, so we're going to go with a Ratt song for the letter "R."  Ratt is best known for their 1984 hit "Round and Round," which made it to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.  In addition to that, they had another six songs that charted on the Hot 100, as well as eleven songs that made the Top 40 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts and four platinum albums.

Their 1984 debut album, Out of the Cellar, was their biggest-selling album, going platinum three times, and it tied for their highest-charting album, topping out at #7 on the Billboard album charts.  The aforementioned "Round and Round" was on the album, as well as three minor hits, "Back For More" (which was one of two videos the band had featuring Milton Berle), "Lack of Communication, and "Wanted Man" (which reached #87 on the Billboard Hot 100).  And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that '80s video vixen Tawny Kitaen –- who, before marrying Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale and appearing in five Whitesnake videos, and before marrying MLB pitcher Chuck Finley and stabbing him in the leg with her high heel, was the girlfriend of Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby -- is featured on the cover of the album, crawling towards a cellar.  She was also featured in the "Back for More" video.

Anyway, for the deep cut, I was choosing between "She Wants Money" and "I'm Insane," both of which are on Out of the Cellar, and are probably my two favorite songs off the album.  Both are great songs, but I went with "She Wants Money" because it seems more reflective of the '80s and of the Sunset Strip, when you could write a song about a whore (who wants money) and no one would bat an eye.  Plus, it's a badass song.  Written by bassist Juan Croucier, it is a fast-paced rocker with typically gritty vocals from Stephen Pearcy and great guitar work from Crosby and Warren DeMartini.  Enjoy.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/24/14

Hair Band Friday - 10/24/14 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist v. 2.0

The moon's transition into Scorpio can mean only one thing:  it's almost Halloween.  Call me a pagan who occasionally drinks goat's blood and dabbles in necromancy, but Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. 

In case you hadn't noticed, I also love music.  Exactly one year ago today, on a day just like today, I posted my Ultimate Halloween Playlist to significant fanfare.  It has since been called "rad" and "the only Ultimate Halloween Playlist I have ever seen."  But many of you bloodthirsty buggers have been openly clamoring for more than the mere 41 songs included on last year's list.

For your benefit, Countess Bathory, I have more than doubled the list this year, compiling the best songs for you to use either at a Halloween party to set the mood right or in the background on Halloween night, when you're dressed like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, passing out candy and Jergens to the neighborhood kids.

As I so astutely observed last year, Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay to embrace evil.  At any Halloween party or during trick-or-treating, you want there to be a certain level of creepiness, as well as some campiness, because Halloween is supposed to be a mixture of paganism, macabre, and fun.

As a result, the playlist below includes songs that have dark and evil themes, talk about monsters or the devil or witches or the like, mention the word "Halloween," or are just plain creepy.  My mix has a lot of heavy metal, but that's kind of expected, since metal bands are more likely to embrace darker subject matter than, say, Meghan Trainor.  As I pointed out last year, you don't want to go too dark, like, say, Norwegian black metal, because you're going to lose your party-goers or the neighbors are going to think you're really into church burning.  And if you are into church burning, you're probably not going to want to tip the neighbors off by blaring Mayhem out your front door while handing their children fun-size Twix.

For parties, you'll probably want to mix these songs in with your regular party mix.  After all, who doesn't want to hear "Bark at the Moon" after "All About That Bass"?  For trick or treating, you're probably going to want to just go straight spooky, which probably means a heavy dose of Ghost BC, Pentagram, and Black Sabbath.

Halloween is on a Friday this year, which means Halloween parties should be starting as soon as this Friday.  I'm having one Saturday night, which I'm pretty excited about, and you can guarantee the 85 songs below will be played (except maybe "Angel of Death" because there will be children there).  You can also bet on the fact that there will be a fog machine, some fake bats, and probably a bunch of snatch.

With that, here are my recommendations for your Halloween playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, with comments where I felt it was necessary, and with an embedded player afterwards with every song, so you can creep our your co-workers for the next eight days:

1-2.  "Highway to Hell" and "Night Prowler" by AC/DC
"Highway to Hell" is an obvious choice and a crowd pleaser.  "Night Prowler" is a slower, creepy song that, several years later, serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka, "the Night Stalker") claimed inspired him, or something like that.
3-5.  "Black Sabbath," "The Wizard," and "Heaven and Hell" by Black Sabbath
"Black Sabbath" was inspired by a vision Geezer Butler had one night after reading a book about witchcraft that Ozzy Osbourne gave to him.  He woke up in the middle of the night, and a black figure was standing at the foot of his bed.  The figure disappeared, and when Butler went to get the book, it too was gone.
6.  "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
But do fear unvaccinated children.
7.  "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
8.  "Howl" by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
9.  "Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter
Instantly recognizable as one of the more creepy horror movie themes.
10.  "The Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles
11.  "Spooky" by The Classics IV
12.  "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps
13.  "Am I Demon" by Danzig
14.  "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head
"Yes I am."
15.  "A Nightmare on My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This is a classic late '80s rap song, playing off of the popularity of Freddy Krueger, who, for many of us growing up in the '80s, was the most terrifying of all the horror movie villains.  I should also note that I did, in fact, perform this with a friend for our elementary school talent show in fifth grade.  I was Freddy.  It was pretty awesome.
16.  "Dream Warriors" by Dokken
Speaking of Freddy, this was the title track to Nightmare on Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors.
17.  "Season of the Witch" by Donovan
18-19.  "The End" and "People Are Strange" by The Doors
"The End" is one of the creepier Doors songs, which says a lot.
20.  "Murder On the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
21.  "Trick or Treat" by Fastway
'80s metal band Fastway played the soundtrack to the 1986 the metal-themed horror film Trick or Treat.  This is the title song.
22.  "Evil and a Heathen" by Franz Ferdinand
23-25.  "Monstrance Clock," "Year Zero," and "If You Have Ghosts" by Ghost BC
"Monstrance Clock" is about conceiving "Lucifer's son," and "Year Zero" is about Satan in general and has a nice gothic feel to it.  To be honest, I would suggest just including all songs from Ghost's two albums, Opus Eponymous and Infestissumam, especially if you're looking for trick-or-treating background music.  They are demonic in a polite Swedish way.
26.  "Hallow's Eve" by Hallows Eve
27-28.  "Halloween" and "Mr. Torture" by Helloween
German power metal band Helloween obviously has the right name for a Halloween mix, and their song "Halloween" is included for obvious reasons.  I also chose to go with "Mr. Torture" because I like the song.  So there.
29.  "Friendly Ghost" by Harlem
This one's a little more light-hearted, to offset the vast majority of this list.
30.  "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I prefer the original to CCR's cover (which is still very good) because Hawkins adds a level of voodoo campiness that CCR just couldn't have matched.
21.  "I Ain't Superstitious" by Howlin' Wolf
32.  "Devil Inside" by INXS
33-35.  "Killers," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden
It was tough figuring out just one Iron Maiden song to include, so I went with two, both from 1981's Killers album:  "Killers," which is essentially about someone being stalked and murdered, and "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which is not only my favorite Iron Maiden song, but is also based on short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name.
36.  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This is a no-brainer and should be played at every Halloween party for eternity.
37.  "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
This is especially good if your partygoers are all on LSD.
38.  "Devil's Child" by Judas Priest
39.  "Hotter Than Hell" by KISS
40.  "Pretend We're Dead" by L7
41.  "Heeby-Jeebies" by Little Richard
42.  "Look at Your Game, Girl" by Charles Manson
Recorded when Manson was still trying to break into the LA music scene and before he started ordering his minions to murder movie stars and grocery store owners, this song comes across as an innocent folky acoustic song.  Then you realize it's sung by Charles Manson, and it becomes super creepy.
43.  "Evil Love" by Meat Puppets
44.  "Fade to Black" by Metallica
45.  "Halloween" by The Misfits
This is my daughters' new favorite song.  Seriously.
46.  "Shout at the Devil" by Mötley Crüe
47.  "Dead Men Tell No Tales" by Motörhead
48.  "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt
49.  "Running Scared" by Roy Orbison
50.  "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
51.  "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
52.  "Satan's Bed" by Pearl Jam
53.  "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" by Pentagram
Doom metal pioneers Pentagram have a good number of hard-rocking creepy songs, but this one is probably the most relevant to Halloween.
54.  "Zombie Zoo" by Tom Petty
55.  "The Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers
This is a classic Halloween song that should be played at least once at every Halloween party.
56.  "Halloween" by Matt Pond PA
57.  "Going to Hell" by The Pretty Reckless
58.  "Gates of Babylon" by Rainbow
The song is about sleeping with the devil.  And then paying for sleeping with the devil.  Probably because the devil gave you the clap.
59.  "Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela
60.  "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones
61-63.  "Soul Sacrifice," "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways" by Santana
64.  "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs
65.  "Angel of Death" by Slayer
While I would generally recommend steering clear of Slayer at parties, there is no more appropriate time to let it loose than Halloween.
66.  "Bullet With Butterfly Wing" by Smashing Pumpkins
It just wouldn't seem right to have a Halloween playlist without a Smashing Pumpkins song on it.  I went with this one, not only because it starts by exclaiming -– wrongly, mind you -– that "the world is a vampire," but also because it's an awesome song.
67.  "Serial Killa" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
68.  "Wicked Garden" by Stone Temple Pilots
69.  "To Hell With the Devil" by Stryper
In case you are concerned that your playlist might be a little too devil-heavy, you can balance it out with this '80s Christian hair band classic.
70.  "Santeria" by Sublime
71.  "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads
72.  "Here Comes the Night" by Them
73.  "Killer On the Loose" by Thin Lizzy
74.  "Running With the Devil" by Van Halen
75.  "The Black Angel's Death Song" by The Velvet Underground
I have never done acid, but I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.
76.  "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
77.  "Got My Mojo Working" by Muddy Waters
78.  "If My Mind is Evil" by White Lion
79-81.  "Death Letter," "Little Ghost," and "Walking With a Ghost" by The White Stripes
82.  "Boris The Spider" by The Who
83.  "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
"I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's / And his hair was perfect."  Great line.
84-85.  "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl" by Rob Zombie
Ultimate Halloween Playlist by GMYH on Grooveshark

Rocktober Deep Cut Q: "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen

With "Q" up to the plate, you know I'm going with a Queen song.  Even though "Stone Cold Crazy" has appeared on a handful of Queen compilation albums and is well-known in hard rock and metal circles for its influence, I have never heard it on the radio and I doubt many casual Queen fans know of its existence, so I think it qualifies as a "deep cut."  This is a straight, ball-busting hard rock song off of the band's third album, 1974's Sheer Heart Attack.  With it's heavy breakneck riff, screaming guitar solos, frenetically paced lyrics, and thundering rhythm section, it is rightfully considered a precursor to thrash metal.  Of course, it's about a third as long as most thrash songs, but you can still see the influence.

New Book: 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

I finished reading White Line Fever: The Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza several months ago, and it was a pretty good read.  It was definitely in Lemmy's voice, which made it pretty entertaining.  The man has lived a hell of a life, and has done about every drug imaginable, as well as thousands of women.  If you like rock and roll, and want to read the story of a true original who has rocked for over 40 years, then I definitely recommend it.  Of course, if you are a Motörhead fan, then it goes without saying that you should read this.

After I finished that, I took some time off from reading to get beaten down every day on the train while playing Blackjack on my Blackjack app.  Even though it's fake money, it's pretty fucking annoying when the dealer hits 21 five times in a row, again.  Finally, a couple weeks ago, I realized that I should probably start reading on the train again, for my own sanity.  I love horror movies, and growing up, I used to read a lot of Stephen King books, since his book formed the basis for many of the horror movies that I watched and enjoyed.  One book (and both of the related TV miniseries) that escaped my grasp was 'Salem's Lot.  This being the season of spookiness, I decided to buy a few Stephen King paperbacks, starting with that one.  I started reading it last week, and so far, I have not woken up in the middle of the night screaming and soaked in my own piss, at least not from the book.

Books read in 2014:
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Any Questions?: The Complete Art Brut 2003-2013 by Eddie Argos
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
White Line Fever: The Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" by Fu-Schnickens featuring Shaquille O'Neal

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Brooklyn-based hip hop group Fu-Schnickens' second and final album, Nervous Breakdown.  The lead single off of that album (which was actually released the year before) was "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" the group's collaboration with a then-young-and-budding NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal.  The song cracked the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100, topping out at #39.  Unfortunately, for Fu-Schnickens, by the time Nervous Breakdown was released, rap and hip hop had gone the way of the gangsta, so their clever, lightning-fast, kung fu and pop culture-inspired lyrics were apparently not what the kids wanted to listen to anymore. 

I will say that I had the Fu-Schnickens' first album on tape, and I absolutely loved it.  In fact, I am going to Amazon right now to check on its availability.

Rocktober Deep Cut P: "Smile" by Pearl Jam

Even though Pearl Jam's 1996 album No Code hit #1 on the Billboard album charts, it has been received with mixed reactions since it was released.  It was the band's first album not to go multi-platinum, and it didn't have the radio success that the previous albums had.  "Who You Are" was a Top 40 hit, but I don't think most people would put that on a list of the 25 or 30 most recognizable Pearl Jam songs.  Other than that, "Hail Hail," "Red Mosquito," and "Off He Goes" all made the Top 40 of the US Mainstream Rock charts, and seem to find their way into live albums and greatest hits albums.  Those are all great songs, but "Smile" is probably my favorite song off of No Code.  It's almost like grunge meets Tom Petty, with a crunchy guitar riff, well-placed harmonicas, and a great, wailing chorus.  When I hear it, it reminds me of college, which makes me -- wait for it -- smile.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Most Awesome Things I Did Today

10.  Had cake.  For breakfast.

9.  Checked out the spot where a Wallenda might plummet to his death in less than two weeks.

8.  Drove to Joliet and back, if for no other reason than I would have committed legal malpractice and would have been fired if I hadn't done so.

7.  Had a breakfast sandwich.  For lunch.

6.  Listened to some Ozzy.

5.  Had chicken and dumplings.  For dinner.

4.  Went to one of those temporary Halloween stores to close up some loose ends on my costumes and to get some Halloween decorations for our upcoming Halloween party.  I love those temporary Halloween stores.

3.  Took Daughter to the Halloween store with me, after which we went to the grocery store, where she had to go to the bathroom twice.  The men's room at the grocery store had that overpowering wet dog smell that you would never expect to encounter anywhere outside of a dog bath.

2.  Bought some beer at the grocery store, you know, because they sell beer at the grocery store.

1.  Disobeyed my wife's directive that I not spend more than $15 on any one Halloween decoration at the Halloween store because, if I had obeyed her, someone else would have purchased the floor model fog machine for $45.  Now, our Halloween party just went from not foggy to somewhat foggy.

Rocktober Deep Cut O: "You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You" by Ozzy Osbourne

For "O," especially in October, you can look no further than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.  The Ozzman has a plethora of hard rock and metal classics that you can hear on classic rock and hard rock radio stations. 

His debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, hit the shelves a little over 34 years ago, in September 1980, and eventually went platinum four times over.  It gave us what is probably Ozzy's most recognizable solo song, "Crazy Train," as well as another Ozzy staple, "Mr. Crowley," and the infamous "Suicide Solution," which is unfortunately famous, not because it's a sad commentary about AC/DC frontman Bon Scott's death by alcohol or Ozzy's own struggles with alcohol abuse, but because a depressed teenager allegedly killed himself listening to the song, and then his parents sued Ozzy, claiming their son's death was his fault.  Thankfully, the case was dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

But anyway, the Ozzy song that I'm going with is "You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You," which was the B-side to the "Crazy Train" single, but not on the original Blizzard of Ozz album.  A remastered version appeared on the 2002 reissue of the album, and I can't believe it wasn't a single in its own right.  The song has everything someone (or a record label) could want in an early '80s hard rock song.  It's catchy, it rocks, it has an easy-to-remember chorus, and it has a sweet Thin Lizzy-esque guitar solo (albeit with one guitarist instead of two).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut N: "Breed" by Nirvana

It's crazy to think that there was a time in the early '90s when you had to define yourself as a grunge fan or metal and/or hair band fan.  You can guess which camp I fell into.  I didn't necessarily dislike grunge, but if given the choice, I would go hair band and metal all day.  Of course, it turns out that a lot of grunge is essentially hard rock, some of which even borders on metal, so now it seems silly that society made us choose between the two.  All of this is to say that it took me a couple years before I was comfortable listening to grunge, and I found that I really liked a lot of it, including the reluctant spokesband of the genre, Nirvana.

Their record company was hoping their second album, Nevermind -- the cover of which featured someone fishing for human babies with dollars -- would sell around 250,000 copies.  It is now certified diamond, meaning it has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone (and 30 million worldwide).  The singles from the album -- "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Come As You Are," "In Bloom," and "Lithium" –- are all great songs, but, much in the same way I think the non-singles on Appetite for Destruction make it so good, it's the non-singles on Nevermind that really make the album for me.

Of the non-singles, "Breed" –- the fourth song on the album, sandwiched between "Come As You Are" and "Lithium" –- is my favorite.  It's probably the fastest-paced song on Nevermind.  It starts off with feedback, and then bursts into a great hard rock riff, followed by machine gun drums and a driving bass line that kind of acts as the song's locomotive.  The lyrics are about some chick explaining that you don't have to breed if you don't want to, but instead, you can plant a house or build a tree.  Or you can do all three, even if the latter two are impossible without the help of hallucinogens.

I used to listen to this song before flag football games in college.  (And yes, I used to psyche myself up before intramural flag football games.  You may laugh, but did you score three touchdowns in the intramural championship game, leading your team to its first-ever all-campus title, after listening to "Breed"?  Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novselic may as well have been on the team.  Well, not Cobain, you know, because of the shotgun to the face and all a few years prior.)  "Breed" is a mainstay on my running/workout mix, and I don't foresee that ever changing.  It's one of those songs that I hope comes on when I'm about three-fourths of the way through a run and I need some extra pep to take me the distance.