Monday, September 17, 2018

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Twentysomething female, to a friend:  "You're like the Avril Lavigne of music."
--Chicago, Monkey's Paw, Southport and Lill
Eavesdropper:  GMYH

As always, if you overhear something funny or ridiculous (or that can be taken completely out of context), email it to, along with the location you heard it and your preferred eavesdropping handle, for inclusion in the next exciting edition of Midwestern Eavesdropping.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 9/14/18

1.  "Let's Get Rocked" by Def Leppard

2.  "Fight For Your Right" by Mötley Crüe

3.  "Zombie Stomp" by Ozzy Osbourne

4.  "How Can You Do What You Do" by Mr. Big

5.  "Sunday Afternoon in the Park" by Van Halen

6.  "Get Your Shit Together" by Danger Danger

7.  "That's Not Enough" by Slaughter

8.  "One More Reason" by L.A. Guns

9.  "Big Guns" by Skid Row

10.  "Feel Like Makin' Love" by Dangerous Toys

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Angel Eyes" by The Jeff Healey Band

This week's Retro Video of the Week was a tough choice because there are a lot of great albums featuring huge hits that were released this week on various five-year anniversaries between 20 and 25 years ago -- Huey Lewis & The News's Sports, UB40's Labour of Love, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, to name a few.  The problem is that I've already had a few Huey Lewis videos (including "I Want a New Drug" off of Sports) as Retro Videos of the Week, and I've also had "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf -- arguably the greatest song ever made.  I would go with "Red Red Wine" by UB40, but Labour of Love was released in 1983, and that song freakishly became popular several years later, so it's not really an apt anniversary.

So what are we left with?  The Jeff Healey Band's debut album, See The Light, which was released 30 years ago tomorrow.  In case you don't remember him, the late Jeff Healey was a blind Canadian guitar player, which makes the title of the album somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but then again Canadians are generally funny like that.  Healey was blind since he was about one, after both his eyes had to be removed due to cancer (he received prosthetic eyes, presumably so others didn't think he was a ghoul).  He began playing the guitar at three, and he played the guitar on his lap, almost like a steel guitar.

See The Light was the band's highest-charting album in the U.S., reaching #22 on the Billboard 200 album charts, and it spawned the band's biggest hit, "Angel Eyes," which went all the way up to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- the band's only Top 40 hit in the U.S. (although they had 11 Top 40 songs on the Canadian charts).

Of course, you may remember The Jeff Healey Band as the Double Deuce's house band in Road House -- inarguably the greatest Patrick Swayze movie ever made.  To paraphrase Dalton, Healey plays pretty good for a blind white boy.  Here's the video for "Angel Eyes."

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Van Halen Songs

Van Halen is probably one of the top five American rock bands ever.  I don't say that lightly.  I say it because it's true.  Last week, one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman, published an article on ranking all 131 of Van Halen's studio album songs.  It was a massive undertaking, and I'd be lying if I told you I read his write-up of every song, since that may have taken days.  Even though I don't agree with all of his rankings, I sure as hell respect them.  All in all, it's a pretty solid list.  Here are Klosterman's Top 10 Van Halen songs (song, album, year):

10. "'5150'" (5150, 1986)
9. "Romeo Delight" (Women and Children First, 1980)
8. "Runnin' With the Devil" (Van Halen, 1978)
7. "You Really Got Me" (Van Halen, 1978)
6. "Hot for Teacher" (1984, 1984)
5. "D.O.A." (Van Halen II, 1979)
4. "Panama" (1984, 1984)
3. "Dance the Night Away" (Van Halen II, 1979)
2. "Unchained" (Fair Warning, 1981)
1. "Eruption" (Van Halen, 1978)

This is a very fair top ten, and of course, like any list of music, is completely subjective.  I'm going to give you the list of my ten favorite Van Halen songs momentarily.  First, it's important for you to recognize a couple things about my relationship with Van Halen.  I own every studio album from Van Halen through For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, as well as the band's 2012 Roth "reunion" album (minus Michael Anthony), A Different Kind of Truth.  So, I don't have Sammy Hagar's last album, Balance, or the much-criticized Gary Cherone album, Van Halen III, or the "Best of" albums that had a couple originals.  And while I don't dislike the "Van Hagar" era, my tastes trend toward the energy and urgency of the Roth era rather than the more polished Hagar era.  I make no apologies for my list.  Here we go:

Honorable Mention:  "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (Van Halen, 1978), "Eruption" (Van Halen, 1978), "Ice Cream Man" (Van Halen, 1978), "Hang 'Em High" (Diver Down, 1982), "Top Jimmy" (1984, 1984), "Hot For Teacher" (1984, 1984), "Summer Nights" (5150, 1986), "When It's Love" (OU812, 1988)

10.  "Unchained" (Fair Warning, 1981)
"C'mon Dave, gimme a break."  "One break, coming up!"  You can't make that shit up.  And let's not discount the distorted riff.  Just a great rock and roll song. I also love the lyric "blue-eyed murder in a size five dress."

9.  "In A Simple Rhyme" (Women and Children First, 1980)
The sweet acoustic intro belies where the song quickly goes.  Enter Alex's breakneck drums, and the song takes off.

8.  "Dance The Night Away" (Van Halen II, 1979)
Like Klosterman notes in his piece, this song just makes you feel good.  It makes you feel like it's summer, even when you're stuck on an Antarctic weather station in the middle of winter.  You haven't seen the sun in weeks, and the wind is enough to rip your tits right off.  But then you hear that cowbell, that sweet and catchy riff, and that drum fill, and all of a sudden you're right back in Pasadena in the summer of 1980, just going at it with that bad boy Dale right there in the middle of the Cal Tech campus.  Nothing too lewd -- just a little making out and some over-the-clothes rubbing.  In a few years, he'll be in work-release program and you'll be in a PhD program.  You'll all but forget about him, except for every time you hear this song.  It brings a genuine smile to your face for three minutes and ten seconds, before the harsh reality of a career centered on the mating habits of penguins smacks you back into reality.

7.  "Poundcake" (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991)
This is my favorite Van Hagar-era song.  Eddie uses a drill in the song.

6.  "Light Up The Sky" (Van Halen II, 1979)
That ascending guitar intro takes you straight into the sky, and you don't come back down.  This song -- as with many of these -- is on my running playlist.  Whenever it comes on, right after the bridge, when Roth yells "light 'em up!," I am physically unable to prevent myself from raising my right palm towards the sky like I'm grabbing a low-hanging boob and mouthing the lyrics in triumph.

5.  "Sinner's Swing!" (Fair Warning, 1981)
When I saw this one ranked at #70 on Klosterman's list, I nearly drove to Akron or Fargo or wherever he might live these days, and vigorously questioned him.  This is another frenetic hidden gem off of an underrated Roth-era album.

4.  "Beautiful Girls" (Van Halen II, 1979)
Setting aside that this was the soundtrack for maybe the best SNL fake commercial ever (though they have since changed the background music, presumably because SNL used "Beautiful Girls" without permission), this song is just plain awesome.  It's catchy, it rocks, and it's fun.

3.  "Everybody Wants Some!!" (Women and Children First, 1980)
Even if this song wasn't prominently featured in a scene involving anthropomorphic hamburgers in my favorite John Cusack movie, I would still put it up this high.  Those tribal drums and howling at the beginning set the tone for a five-minute ride down the road toward an aural orgasm.

2.  "Panama" (1984, 1984)
1984 was the first Van Halen album (tape, of course) that I ever owned.  I remember going to a friend's house after he got it, and we listened to it about ten times in a row on his brown Fisher-Price tape player.  On an album full of great songs, "Panama" was the song that struck me hardest.  This song still makes me want to roll down my windows, crank the volume, and pump my fist while I take my kids to the grocery store in our hybrid minivan.  And you better fucking believe that's what I do.

1.  "Romeo Delight" (Women and Children First, 1980)
This song is pure energy, and it sums up everything I love about Van Halen.  Right from the get-go, it grabs you by the balls, puts you shotgun in that T-Top Trans Am, shoves a tallboy of Bud in your face, and takes you to the best fucking party of the summer at 90 miles an hour.  By the end of the song, you've had a bottle and a half of whiskey, and you've woken up in the morning next to that hot nerdy chick who says she wants to study penguins.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 9/7/18

1.  "Running Wild In The Streets" by W.A.S.P.

2.  "Ecstasy" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion

3.  "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC

4.  "Get In Touch" by FireHouse

5.  "Sweet Little Sister" by Skid Row

6.  "Dirty Girl" by Y&T

7.  "Road To Nowhere" by Ozzy Osbourne

8.  "Rock Me" by Great White

9.  "Ride The Whip" by Trixter

10.  "Tease Me Please Me" by Scorpions

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Celebrity Skin" by Hole

On Saturday, when you're sitting by your above-ground pool slamming cans of Busch heavy while your kids remind you of everything you could have been, I want you to think about the fact that Hole released their third album, Celebrity Skin, twenty years ago.

After the band's first two albums -- 1991's Pretty On The Inside and 1994's Live Through This -- which were very grungy and angry, the band decided to go in a little bit of a different direction on Celebrity Skin.  It's more polished, and the songs are definitely more radio-friendly. Courtney Love cleaned up her look, going from scary and druggy with smeared makeup to presentable and attractive with appropriately applied makeup.  

I'm not making any comment one way or another on whether that's a good or bad thing, as I like both phases of the band.  Celebrity Skin went to #9 on the Billboard album charts -- by far the band's best-charting album -- and it has gone platinum in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  The title track is my favorite Hole song.  It was co-written by Love, Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson, and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, and it hit #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.  Here's the video, with the aforementioned presentable Love.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Cannonball" by The Breeders

Friday is the 25th anniversary of the release of The Breeders' sophomore album, Last Splash.  The band started as kind of a side project for Pixies' bassist Kim Deal, and she recruited her sister Kelley and a couple others for Last Splash, which was the band's biggest album, reaching #33 on the Billboard album charts and producing the single "Cannonball" -- the very video and song that convinced me to start doing a Retro Video of the Week nearly seven years ago.  "Cannonball" is a fantastic rock song, and it ended up being The Breeders' biggest hit, going up to #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.  It was the first Retro Video of the Week, and now it is the 300th Retro Video of the Week.  Enjoy the video, and dammit, live your lives. Wear shorts and knee-high white socks. Roll cannonballs down the sidewalk. Blow whistles under water. Rock. Roll.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Fun Facts About Pearl Jam's Ten

Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of the release of Pearl Jam's debut album, Ten, which, along with Nirvana's Nevermind, is probably the most important album of the grunge era.  The album really didn't gain steam until the following year.  I remember the first time I saw the video for "Jeremy."  It was during the late summer of 1992, and I was sleeping over at a friend's house.  We were watching MTV at like five in the morning, as teenagers were wont to do back then, and "Jeremy" came on.  It was a captivating video, and Eddie Vedder looked like a madman, but I think we liked it, in no small part because the name of my friend was (and still is) Jeremy.

Anywho, the album took off, as you know, and now it's certified Diamond by the RIAA.  Two years ago, Rolling Stone had an article entitled "Pearl Jam's 'Ten': 10 Things You Didn't Know."  Rolling Stone re-posted the article yesterday, and I took a look, as apparently I had missed it two years ago.  Check it out.  Learn something.  Listen to the album.  Wear flannel.  Rock on.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 8/24/18

1.  "Who Made Who" by AC/DC

2.  "When I Look Into Your Eyes" by FireHouse

3.  "Patience" by Guns N' Roses

4.  "Closer to My Heart" by Ratt

5.  "Love Song" by Tesla

6.  "Home Sweet Home" by Mötley Crüe

7.  "Heaven" by Warrant

8.  "No One Like You" by Scorpions

9.  "Photograph" by Def Leppard

10.  "Blaze of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Low" by Cracker

Friday is the 25th anniversary of the release of Cracker's sophomore album Kerosene Hat.  Today -- five minutes ago, to be exact -- I learned that the title of the album took its inspiration from when lead singer David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman lived together in a run-down house in Richmond, Virginia during the band's early days.  Two kerosene heaters were the house's source of heat, and they would have to go to the gas station to get kerosene when they ran out.  When it was cold, Lowery wore an old hunting cap that he called his "kerosene hat."  That's fun little rock and roll anecdote, isn't it?

Kerosene Hat was the band's highest-charting album, reaching #59 on the Billboard album charts, and "Low" was the band's highest-charting single, going up to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It seems like that's too low (no pun intended), since I remember hearing the song all the time on Q101.  Anywho, here's the video.