Friday, February 23, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 2/23/18

1.  "Heaven" by Warrant

2.  "Bad Boys" by Whitesnake

3.  "Empire" by Queensrÿche

4.  "Love of a Lifetime" by FireHouse

5.  "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by Scorpions

6.  "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses

7.  "Blaze of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi

8.  "Danger" by Mötley Crüe

9.  "Red, White & Blue" by Judas Priest

10.  "What's It Gonna Be" by Ratt

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Led Zeppelin Songs

Tonight I'm going to see Robert Plant in a relatively small venue (The Riv here in Chicago), and I'm predictably pretty excited.  In honor of this blessed occasion, I'm going to repost my Top Ten Led Zeppelin Songs, which I originally posted way back in May 2009, when my now-eight-year-old, Daughter, was still technically abortable.  Back then, you could make and embed playlists for free on several sites, which I can't do anymore (thanks, Obama).  However, I have supplanted the playlist with YouTube videos of each song.  With that, here is my post from nearly nine years ago, with a couple updates when necessary and a slight change in the order -- though the songs remain the same.  And that's how you drop a Zeppelin pun, motherfuckers!

There comes a point in every man's life where he discovers Led Zeppelin. It's usually around junior high, potentially earlier if you have a cool older brother who lets you borrow his records, or potentially later if you have an older sister who listens to Cyndi Lauper and will be pregnant by the time 1987 rolls around. Either way, you discover them, and then it's over -- meaning your pre-Zeppelin existence. From then on, you love them. They are probably the ultimate guys' rock band: blues-influenced, pounding drums, killer guitars, a wailing front man, sexually charged lyrics, mystical lyrics, banging groupies with fish. And any self-respecting classic rock station has a daily "Get the Led Out" block of Zeppelin songs, which you can't really say for any other group.

One of the worst days of my life came my senior year of college when an unnamed coed named Jessie left the passenger door of Blackura (my '89 black Integra) unlocked over night. In a shoebox on the floor in the back seat, I had a bunch of tapes, including every single Zeppelin album. The thieves did not take my Oakleys, nor did they take any Cream, Hendrix, or Doors tapes. No, they took every one of my Zeppelin tapes, except for the two that sloppily fell to the floor as they were trying to escape. To punish Jessie, I forced her to spend the rest of her life with me.

Zeppelin obviously has a lot of great songs, and narrowing my favorite down to ten was as difficult as forgiving Jessie (i.e., it has taken nineteen years). Here are my ten favorite songs, with the album from whence they came in parentheses (and because I love you, I included the honorable mention on the mix):

Just missing the cut: "Ramble On" (II); "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" (III); "Tangerine" (III); "Misty Mountain Hop" (IV); "The Ocean" (Houses of the Holy); "Houses of the Holy" (Physical Graffiti); "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (Presence); "Fool in the Rain" (In Through the Out Door)

10. "How Many More Times" (I).
This is a badass song. You're not sure where it's going for the first 30 seconds, and then Bonham just starts sounding like a heard of elephants, and Robert Plant kicks it in, explaining that whoever he's singing about is consistently ungrateful.

9. "Travelling Riverside Blues" (Box Set).
This is a great cover of a Robert Johnson song, which the band recorded in 1969 (but didn't release). There is also a version on the BBC Sessions double CD. Jimmy Page's slide guitar sounds otherworldly (and I kind of mean that literally), and the whole "squeeze my lemon til the juice runs down my leg" thing means the guys must appreciate homemade lemonade.

8. "Bring It On Home" (II).
This one starts out slow and bluesy, and it almost lulls you to sleep. Then, at about 1:44, BAM! What an awesome guitar riff.

7. "Good Times Bad Times" (I).
I've always loved this song. Well, not always, but at least for the past 27 or 28 years. What a heavy song for 1969. As this was the first song off of their first album, it was the first thing tons of people ever heard by Zeppelin. And with that, heavy metal was born.

6. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Houses of the Holy).
What a great song, starting off with an acoustic intro, and then building up with anticipation until sonic orgasm is reached with the chorus.

5. "Your Time Is Gonna Come" (I).
I don't know how I forgot about this one on my list of Top Ten "Fuck You" Songs, but it should probably be up there. It starts with some strange church organs, lulling you into a false sense of security before unleashing some hate on a woman who done somebody wrong. "You been bad to me woman, but it's comin' back home to you."

4. "What Is and What Should Never Be" (II).
It starts off all slow and trippy, the busts into the chorus like John Bonham into a liquor cabinet.

3. "Hey Hey What Can I Do?" (B-side to the single version of "Immigrant Song"; also on the Box Set).
This is a very sweet song about a whore.

2. "Out on the Tiles" (III).
This is an underrated Zeppelin nugget about hanging out on tiles and such.

1. "When the Levee Breaks" (IV).
I've sung this song's praises before, and I will likely do so again.  It's been my favorite Zeppelin song for nearly three decades.  The unmistakable drum beat, driving guitars, fuzzed-out harmonica, and wail of Robert Plant adds up to seven minutes of blues-soaked awesomeness. It feels like you're in an unrelenting rain storm in the Mississippi Delta in the late '20s.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 2/16/18

1.  "All Over Now" by Great White

2.  "One In a Million" by Trixter

3.  "Thunderbird" by Quiet Riot

4.  "If You Don't Like It" by Cinderella

5.  "Temperamental" by Mr. Big

6.  "Find Your Way Back Home" by Danger Danger

7.  "She Goes Down" by Mötley Crüe 

8.  "Poison Angel" by Winger

9.  "Closer To My Heart" by Ratt

10.  "Finish What Ya Started" by Van Halen

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness

It's Valentine's Day, and it only makes sense to have a Retro Video of the Week about love.  That should narrow it down, right?  Rather than fret over it, I just went with one of my favorites, even though it's technically outside the temporal parameters of Retro Video of the Week.  But isn't that exactly what love is all about?  Blowing preconceived notions of time and rock and roll out of the water?  I will always believe in a thing called love. Happy Valentine's Day, you goofy bastards.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Concerts I Attended in 2017

2017 was an amazing concert year.  Here's how good it was.  As you may recall, back in May, my friend Greg Weeser*, within the confines of a thorough discussion of the state of rock, strongly urged me to see U2's Joshua Tree show at Soldier Field several weeks later.  At the time of my post, I didn't have a ticket to the show, and I didn't think I would be going, considering tickets on Stub Hub were more than I was willing to pay.  Then, one of my friends had an extra GA ticket for face value, so I decided to go.  I lamented privately that the U2 show might be the sixth best show I would see in June alone, and it turns out I wasn't that far off.

Here are my top ten concerts of 2017.  As always, this will not include the shows I saw at Lollapalooza, which I separately ranked here.  I'm also not going to include the shows I saw at Chicago Open Air, which was a three-day metal festival at Toyota Park (where the 1998 MLS Cup champion Chicago Fire play their home matches) in July.  I attended the fest on Friday July 14, where I saw the likes of Kiss, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, and Anthrax.  It was a hell of a line-up, and even better people watching.

Anyway, with those festivals out of the picture, here's my list.  As in years' past, it was tough to narrow down to ten, and even then, tough to rank them.

Other shows attended (in chronological order):
Japandroids and Craig Finn - February 15 - The Vic
The Hold Steady - June 15 - Thalia Hall
Three Minute Mile - August 26 - Tonic Room
Trombone Shorty and Vintage Trouble - October 21 - The Riv
Black Pistol Fire - December 7 - Bottom Lounge

10.  U2 and The Lumineers - June 4 - Soldier Field
U2's Joshua Tree 30th anniversary show wasn't quite the religious experience my friend Greg said it would be, but it was still very cool.  Admittedly, I'm not a huge U2 fan, and I wouldn't call The Joshua Tree my favorite U2 album, but the the visuals for the show were spectacular.  Behind the band was a massive screen that went the length of the stage, and each song had its own mini movie playing behind the band.  It was one of the more impressive concert visual effect that I've ever seen.  As you may know, U2 knows what they're doing when it comes to live performances.  I also may have been a little more excited about this if the opener wasn't The Lumineers.

9.  Blackfoot Gypsies - August 18 - Schuba's

It has been a few years since I've seen Blackfoot Gypsies.  Since the last time I saw them, they expanded from a duo to a quartet, adding a bassist and a harpist.  The band still plays with a ton of energy, mixing blues, garage rock, slide guitars, harmonica, and awesomeness.  And they are still cool enough to hang out after the show.  We had a good conversation with drummer Zack Murphy, who was wearing a pretty phenomenal '80s Camel football jersey, no doubt purchased as some point with Camel Cash.  Unfortunately, he is blocked out in this picture.

8.  Def Leppard, Poison, Tesla - June 24 - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
This was our annual "limo show," where a group of us get a limo to take us to Tinley Park to see some rock and roll.  I've seen Def Leppard more than any other band except The Hold Steady, and I've never seen a bad show.  Poison and Tesla were both great too.  It was basically heaven for me.

7.  Green Day - August 24 - Wrigley Field
Before this show, I had only seen Green Day at Lolla, and they were great.  This time around was no different.  It was a sellout show at Wrigley, and I had GA field tickets.  Even in their 40s, the band is all energy.

6.  Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold - June 18 - Soldier Field
Metallica was predictably awesome, and this was a great way to spend Father's Day night.  Like U2, Metallica had a huge, stage-width screen behind the stage, as well as pyro.  Can't forget the fire.  Every time those flames went up, it was strong enough that we felt it back around halfway back on the field.

5.  Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers- June 29 - Wrigley Field
This one is obviously bittersweet, and I'm giving it a bump of a few spots based on the sentimental value of it.  With rain coming down for most of the show, the weather wasn't perfect, but no one cared.  Petty and the Heartbreakers played a great show, and I don't think anyone in the audience thought Petty would be dead a little over three months later.

4.  Buddy Guy and Linsey Alexander - January 26 - Legends
Every January, blues legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Buddy Guy does a residency at his blues club in the South Loop, Legends.  I've always talked about going, and finally, I just went ahead and did it.  I'm mad I waited so long, but I'm glad I saw the show I did.  Opening was Chicago bluesman Linsey Alexander, whose song "Two Cats" (spoiler alert: it's not about felines!) is still in my head, killed it as the opener.  Then Buddy Guy came on and destroyed.  He's in his 80s, his language is rated R, and he plays guitar better than most people a third of his age.  On top of that, he walks through the crowd at some points in the show, so you can see him up close.  If you get the chance to see him at Legends, do it while you still can.

3.  Experience Hendrix - March 25 - Chicago Theatre
I'm obviously never going to get to see Jimi Hendrix live, but this might be the next best thing.  It's an all-star lineup that goes on a limited tour and plays all Hendrix songs.  The lineup changes with each city, although there are some musicians who play in all cities.  The show was nothing short of amazing.  In Chicago, former Band of Gypsys bandmate Billy Cox held down the bass, with Chris Layton (of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble) on the drums.  And then there were the guitarists:  Dweezil Zappa, The Slide Brothers, Mato Nanji, Ana Popovic, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Buddy Guy.  It was 30 songs, and every one of them was awesome.

2.  The Struts and Gin & Tonic (Struts as Oasis) - October 30 - Bottom Lounge
The Struts play glammy rock and roll with swagger and energy, and I think they might be able to save rock and roll.  This show was in a relatively small venue, and it was the day before Halloween, so as a bonus, the band opened for themselves as "Gin & Tonic," which was the band dresses as Oasis.  They played a six-song set of Oasis covers pretty fantastically, and then came back out a little while later and torched the place with their own songs.  The first picture below is of them as Oasis.

1.  The Hold Steady - June 17 - Empty Bottle
I posted about this back in June.  Seeing one of my favorite bands in a venue that only holds about 300 people was pretty damn cool.

2018 is shaping up to be pretty damn good too, with Def Leppard/Journey/Pretenders, Foo Fighters, and Pearl Jam all scheduled to play at Wrigley, and tickets to see Robert Plant, The Struts, Hall & Oates, and The Darkness (with Diarrhea Planet opening) already purchased or in the queue to purchase.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 2/9/18

1.  "Freakshow" by BulletBoys

2.  "On Fire" by Van Halen

3.  "Slick Black Cadillac" by Quiet Riot

4.  "Mr. Gone" by Mr. Big

5.  "Big City Nights" by Scorpions

6.  "Wheels Of Fire" by L.A. Guns

7.  "Slippin' Away" by Dokken

8.  "Mystery" by Dio

9.  "Round and Round" by Ratt

10.  "Thrills In The Night" by Kiss

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Superstar" by The Carpenters

This past Sunday marked the 35th anniversary since Karen Carpenter died at the age of 32, from a heart attack caused by complications relating to anorexia.  She had a wonderful voice, and I always thought it was an octave deeper than you would expect from such a petite woman (even prior to the anorexia).  "Superstar" has always been one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" songs.  Even though it was released in 1971 and, therefore, technically falls outside the temporal parameters of Retro Video of the Week, it's my damn blog, so I'll post it.  And what is time anyway, but a construct by which to measure our existence?  The song hit #2 in 1971, and regained fame in 1995 when Tommy Callahan and Richard Hayden tearfully belted it out during a sales roadtrip.  Here is the video of the song in all its glory, pre-anorexia.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Black or White" by Michael Jackson

You can thank Nippelgate, dancing sharks, and the combination of Aerosmith and Britney Spears on what happened 25 years ago today.  On January 31, 1993, Michael Jackson performed at halftime of Super Bowl XXVII, launching the trend of hiring big-name musical acts to keep people tuned into their TVs in between the first and second halves of the Super Bowl.  Jackson performed a medley of "Jam," "Billie Jean," and "Black or White," followed by a choir of 3,500 children singing "We Are The World," who then Jackson for the finale, "Heal the World."

Of those songs, I'm going with "Black or White" for this week's Retro Video of the Week because it is such an iconic video, and maybe in these days -- where a bunch of old white men are trying their best to keep minorities and people whose skin color is darker then theirs down -- something celebrating diversity rather than trying to stamp it out is what people need to see.  Because I'm sure members of the Trump Administration and Congress are reading this.  And to be clear, I'm going with the 11-minute extended version that aired on national TV and featured the controversial crotch-grabbing dance and car smashing at the end.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Best and Worst Overall Super Bowl Scoring Margins

With this Sunday's Super Bowl between the Eagles and Patriots fast approaching, I think it's safe to say we all know what's going to happen.  The Eagles will outplay the Patriots, but the Patriots will get some lucky bounces and end up winning by 3 points, Brady will get another Super Bowl MVP, and we'll all have to listen to how he's the greatest of all-time.

Daughter has a kid in her class who is apparently a Patriots fan, and a loudmouth at that, despite the fact that he is not from New England.  Last Friday -- the 32nd anniversary of the Bears' 46-10 triumph over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX -- I told Daughter to tell that little fairweather piece of shit that, even in their combined five Super Bowl wins, the Patriots have still only outscored their opponents by 17 points less than what the Bears beat them by on January 26, 1986.  It's a pyrrhic victory, but that didn't seem to matter to Daughter.

After that, I got to thinking that Brady could just as easily be 0-7 in Super Bowls as 5-2.  The Patsies' largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl was 6, in last year's OT win over the Falcons.  Of course, one might argue that he could just as easily be 7-0, given the Giants' two come-from-behind wins in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, but one might also be an asshole.

Anywho, I also got to thinking about which teams have the best and worst overall scoring margins in Super Bowl history.  So, I decided to take a look, and here's what I found out.  I'll list the ten best and ten worst teams.  Following each team, I'll list the scoring margin and the teams record in Super Bowls (not including the one that's about to be played, of course).

Best Overall Scoring Margin
1.  San Francisco 49ers: +96 (5-1)
2.  Dallas Cowboys:  +72 (5-3)
3.  Green Bay Packers:  +57 (4-1)
4.  Baltimore Ravens:  +30 (2-0)
5.  Pittsburgh Steelers:  +29 (6-2)
6.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  +27 (1-0)
7.  Chicago Bears:  +24 (1-1)
8.  Washington Redskins:  +23 (3-2)
9.  Seattle Seahawks:  +20 (1-2)
10.  Oakland/LA Raiders:  +18 (3-2)

Worst Overall Scoring Margin
1.  Denver Broncos:  -112 (3-5)
2.  Buffalo Bills:  -66 (0-4)
3.  Minnesota Vikings:  -61 (0-4)
4.  New England Patriots:  -38 (5-4)
5.  Miami Dolphins:  -32 (2-3)
6.  San Diego/LA Chargers:  -23 (0-1)
7.  Atlanta Falcons:  -21 (0-2)
8.  Philadelphia Eagles:  -20 (0-2)
9.  Carolina Panthers:  -17 (0-2)
10 (tie).  Cincinnati Bengals:  -9 (0-2)
10 (tie).  Kansas City Chiefs:  -9 (1-1)

So there you have it.  The Patriots currently have the fourth worst overall scoring margin in Super Bowl history.  However, with a win of 39 points or more this Sunday, they can get into the black.  On the other hand, if the Eagles win by 38 points or more, they will go from the bottom ten to the top ten in scoring margin.  Fly Eagles Fly!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 1/26/18

1.  "Good Enough" by Van Halen

2.  "Dyin' to Live" by Lillian Axe

3.  "Hysteria" by Def Leppard

4.  "Love Song" by Tesla

5.  "Gypsy Road" by Cinderella

6.  "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

7.  "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses

8.  "Here I Go Again" (original 1982 "hobo" version) by Whitesnake

9.  "More Than Ever" by Nelson

10.  "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC