Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rocktober Album #21: Mötley Crüe - Dr. Feelgood (1989)

This will be the last Rocktober post of 2010. Stay tuned Monday for Oh No!-vember, a daily look at history's most tragically hilarious around-the-house accidents, starting with Bo Diaz.

We ended Rocktober with Mötley Crüe last year, so why not make it an annual tradition? Mötley Crüe's Behind the Music set the archetype for Behind the Musics to come. They worked hard to get discovered, made it big, indulged in excesses beyond your wildest imagination, fell on hard times with drugs and alcohol, got clean and sober, and then rocked harder than they've ever rocked before.

Dr. Feelgood came in at that last stage. The band had gone through significant drug and alcohol problems. Bassist and main songwriter Nikki Sixx had to be resuscitated after a heroin overdose in December 1987. In 1984, lead singer Vince Neil was driving his Ferrari drunk when he hit another car, resulting in the death of the passenger in his car, Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley, for which he was sentenced to 30 days in jail (and served 18). Things had gotten so bad by 1987/1988 that the band's managers held an intervention for the band and refused to let them tour Europe.

After that, the band got sober, and sobriety treated them well. They wrote their most successful and strongest record, Dr. Feelgood, and hired now-legendary Bob Rock to produce it. It came out in September 1989 (right at the beginning of sixth grade for me), and it hit #1 on the Billboard album charts and stayed on the charts for 109 weeks. It was the band's first (and only) #1 album, and it was their only album to crack the top 10 in the UK. It spawned five Billboard Top 100 songs, including four Top 40 songs, and the band's only two Top 10 hits: "Dr. Feelgood" (#6); "Without You" (#8); "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" (#19); "Kickstart My Heart" (#27); and "Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)" (#78). In addition, they band had a pretty solid who's who of rock and roll singing backing vocals throughout the album. I'll make a note of where that happens when I'm discussing each song (other than Bob Rock, who sings backing vocals on several songs).

For me, it's one of those albums that helped shape my musical tastes and that I have very fond memories of. I got it relatively soon after it came out, and I thought it was awesome (and still do). I remember sitting in airports, listening to this on my Walkman™ and flipping out the liner notes so that every hot chick would know that I was listening to Mötley Crüe. I have a Dr. Feelgood poster (see image to the left) I got at the LaGrange Endless Summerfest in 1990 or 1991 that I will never let Jessie throw away.

The version I now have is the 2003 remastered version with five bonus tracks, which is apparently no longer in production. Unfortunately, several of the songs (including all of the bonus tracks) are not on

1. T.nT. (Terror 'n Tinseltown)
This is a short instrumental intro that sets the tone for the album.

2. Dr. Feelgood
The title track is a raunchy, streetwise hard rock song about a drug dealer named Jimmy (aka Dr. Feelgood). The song kicks off with a great bass riff and pounding drums, and then Mick Mars comes in with kind of an eerie guitar before the song kicks into gear with Mars's riff. I've always liked this song. Even though I was far from the coke-dealing scene in Hollywood in the late '80s, I've always thought the story the song tells is a good one. And then there are those demonic, unintelligible ramblings during the bridge, which always added some intrigue. VH1 ranked it the 15th best hard rock song of all-time.

3. Slice of Your Pie
When you're 12, you don't really understand overt sexual metaphors, so I assumed when Vince Neil sang "order me up another slice of your pie," he was in some sort of Sunset Strip diner. He might very well have been, but he wasn't talking about pie. This song is another ballsy, raunchy rock song. It starts off with a bluesy acoustic intro and then kicks into the main riff. If the ending riff sounds familiar, it's because it was taken from The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Steven Tyler sings backing vocals on this song. Perhaps that's why there's a lyric "baby blow up my fuse when you walk this way."

4. Rattlesnake Shake
Not to be confused with the Skid Row song of the same name, this is also one of those songs whose metaphorical meaning was lost on me when I got the tape. Then again, my dick has never rattled, so maybe it is actually about snakes. It's not. What it is, however, is a nice little hard rock song. This is also one of only two songs on the album written by all four band members.

5. Kickstart My Heart
This is the song legends are made of, or, actually, it's the other way around: this is the song made from a legend. As you may or may not know, bassist and main songwriter Nikki Sixx had a bit of a heroin problem back in the '80s. He did something most junkies don't normally allow: he let someone else fix him. The resulting heroin injection killed him, quite literally. He was dead for several minutes, had an out-of-body experience, and was shocked back to life by two shots of adrenaline. They kickstarted his heart. Of course, after he left the hospital, he went home and cooked himself up a nice fat needle, but eventually he got clean and he wrote this song. I would put this up there as one of the top five Mötley Crüe songs. It starts off with that wicked motorcycle-sounding guitar riff, then just busts balls after that. Mick Mars's frantic guitars really drive the song. I've always loved the line "And I'd say we're still kicking ass." Yes, you are.

6. Without You
The hair band that invented the monster ballad (see 1983's "Home Sweet Home") showed off their softer side on "Without You." It's a little drastic. The last line is "With you in my life / You're the reason I'm alive / But without you, without you." The thought isn't finished, but it presupposes death.

7. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
This is my favorite Mötley Crüe song. It starts off running, and it's just catchy as hell. The riff throughout the verses is a fantastic hook. I love the line "Now, I used to call her Cindy / She changed her name to Cin / I guess that's the name of her game." Even at age 12, I thought a cellophane dress sounded pretty cool. The song is just so happily raucous. Why did grunge have to ruin this for everyone? Night Ranger's Jack Blades sings backing vocals on this song. This is also the other song on the album written by all four band members.

8. Sticky Sweet
This is another one of those songs dripping with sexual metaphors. It's another great, raunchy hard rock song. Singing backing vocals are Tyler, Blades, and Bryan Adams.

9. She Goes Down
I have no idea how I didn't know what this meant when I got the tape. This doesn't even try to be subtle. Hell, there's a zipper sound and a woman laughing naughtily at the beginning of the song. Then again I was 12, and I though a blowjob was when a woman blew on your dick. I had no idea what either party would get out of this, but I still knew it was something that I wasn't going to ask my current girlfriend to do. Anywho, I dumped her before I had the chance, moved onto another girl I wouldn't ask, and then started an unprecedented dry spell with women that would last until my freshman year of college. I don't -- and would never -- blame Mötley Crüe for this drought. Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen sing backing vocals on this one.

10. Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
This is another great song. I sing the chorus of this song, repeatedly, to Jessie whenever we get into a fight, and it usually ends up with her putting her hands on her hips, smiling coyly, and saying, "What am I gonna do with you?" Then I look at the camera, shrug sheepishly, and smile. Then we ride our motorcycles up the coast to play pool with our friends. The line "Too young to fall in love / Guess I knew it all along" is a reference to "Too Young to Fall in Love" off of the band's 1983 album Shout At The Devil (reviewed masterfully by me last Rocktober).

11. Time for Change
This appears to be the Crüe's social consciousness song, written about what Sixx felt plagued society at the time. Unfortunately, it can be seen in retrospect as an ominous foreshadowing of the grunge movement ("Change / Now it's time for change / Nothing stays the same / Now it's time for change"). Fucking dirty, depressed, plaid-wearing assholes. Sebastian Bach sings backing vocals on this song.

12. Dr. Feelgood (demo)
This is one of the few times that a demo version of a song isn't just a shittier version of the real song. This version of "Dr. Feelgood" has almost entirely different lyrics. The verses are different and it's sung from a first-person perspective ("I'm the one they call Dr. Feelgood."). I think the final version is better, but this one is definitely an interesting look into what the song had previously been.

13. Without You (demo)
The demo version is not great.

14. Kickstart My Heart (demo)
This version is also not as good as the final version. It sounds like a true demo -- a rougher, less polished version of what the song would become.

15. Get It For Free
I love a good bonus song, and this is a good bonus song. This song is raunchy, with crunchy guitars and innuendo-laden lyrics. It could very well have made it onto the album.

16. Time for Change (demo)
This version is a little more gothic than the final version, or at least that's what it sounds like to me. The organs are a little more pronounced. The backing vocals are also a little wilder.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rocktober Album #20: Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)

Plain and simple, Black Sabbath is heavy metal. As a little bit of background, the band was originally called Earth, but changed their name in late 1969 when they found out another British band had the same name. They took their new name from a Boris Karloff movie, and decided they would make the musical equivalent of horror movies. Fittingly, they hailed from Birmingham, a working class steel city, so metal had literally always been a part of their lives. In what is part of heavy metal lore, guitarist Tony Iommi (who is a lefty) lost the tips of two of the middle and ring finger of his right hand in an industrial accident when he was 17. He then melted down plastic liquid soap bottles and molded his own prosthetic tips for his fingers. His new fingers allowed him to create a slightly different, more metallic sound, on the guitar.

This is the album that started heavy metal. Released in the UK on February 13, 1970 -- on Friday the 13th -- and in May 1970 in the US, the album is the antithesis of flower power, with its dark imagery based on the occult, supernatural, and the devil, combined with eerie, minor keys, and a frontman who sounds like a possessed banshee. Even the cover is creepy. I mean, seriously, what is that woman doing there? I don't want to follow her, but I'm definitely interested in what she's up to.

Despite a relatively unfavorable critical reception, the album must have struck a chord with those disenchanted by the '60s. It rose to #8 on the UK album charts and #23 on the Billboard album charts, which is pretty decent for a debut album, especially given how dark this was compared to everything else in music. It has since been named to Rolling Stone's list of the Top 500 albums of all-time.

The North American version of the album (which is what I have) groups several of the songs together reasons that are unclear to me, but may be clear to the woman on the cover.

1. Black Sabbath
The rare self-titled song off the self-titled album. Triple your pleasure. Right from the start, you know this isn't your daddy's rock and roll. The title track is unbelievably dark. It starts with rain sounds and then kicks into the riff -- the infamous "devil's triad," a tritone that Western music avoided because it was thought to summon the devil. The song was inspired by a vision bassist Geezer Butler had after he awoke from a nightmare. He saw a black silhouetted figure standing at the foot of his bed ("What is this that stands before me / Finger in black which points at me"). Of course, there is also Satan-based imagery later in the song. The song is slow and plodding until about the 4:35 mark, at which point the pace picks up and the band ends the song in a frenzy (to go along with the lyrics about running away from Satan).

2. The Wizard
Following the supernatural and occult imagery theme, "The Wizard" is a badass blues-based song about a wizard walking through a town. Can you imagine? It has a great harmonica riff and a great guitar riff as well.

3. Wasp/Behind the Wall of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B.
"Wasp," I think, is just a guitar intro to "Behind the Wall of Sleep," which is a solid hard rock song about taking your body to a corpse at the behest of a priest. "Bassically" is kind of an intro to "N.I.B" with a distorted wah-wah bass lick courtesy of Butler. Contrary to popular belief "N.I.B." does not stand for "Nativity In Black," but actually refers to drummer Bill Ward's goatee at the time, which the band thought was shaped like a pen nib. The song is, however, told from the point of view of Lucifer, who is apparently trying to seduce a woman and seems to genuinely be in love for the first time. It's pretty lighthearted and adorable if you think about it.

4. Wicked World
In a bit of a surprising turn, this one's kind of dark. It's about how the world pretty much sucks. Iommi has a short, but pretty solid, guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through the song.

5. A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning
"A Bit of Finger" is an awesome name for a heavy metal song, especially considering Tony Iommi did, in fact, lose a bit of one of his fingers. "Sleeping Village" is only four lines long, and Ozzy is using some sort of voice-altering device. It sounds creepy, but it's not. The last ten-plus minutes of the album is "Warning," a cover of a blues-rock song by Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of these three songs on

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I Love The Constitution"

A few people sent this to me. If you're thinking about going to law school, please watch this video. You may think it's satire, but it's merely the truth.

Rocktober Album #19: AC/DC - Highway to Hell (1979)

It's Halloween week (and my birthday week), so the albums this week will have a flavor for the dark and macabre. As a result, today's featured album will be AC/DC's 1979 classic, Highway to Hell, which not only features songs about hell and such, but also features guitarist Angus Young on the album cover with devil horns and a tail. (Plus, it's not like I could go two Rocktobers without an AC/DC album.)

Highway to Hell was the band's sixth album, but it was the band's first album to crack the Top 100 of Billboard's album charts, reaching #17. It has since gone 7x platinum. The album was produced by now-legendary producer Mutt Lange. This, of course, was lead singer Bon Scott's last album before his untimely death in February 1980 from "over-consumption of alcohol."

There is not a bad song on the album, and every song rocks. I've always thought Scott's voice has a little bit of a tongue-and-cheek and ribald quality about it -- like he's always up to no good and he knows it, but he doesn't necessarily want you to know it. Of course, Angus Young's guitar work is exceptional, and the rhythm section is tight. All in all, it's a great album that every fan of rock, and certainly every fan of hard rock and metal, should have.

1. Highway to Hell
The title track is a hard rock classic. That opening riff is awesome. The song is about the singer going to party with his friends, perhaps in hell. It was the band's first song to chart in the US, making it to #47, and it has since been named to many "greatest" list, including Rolling Stone's 500 greatest songs of all-time. It's kind of eerie, given that Scott died soon thereafter. Just to be clear, I'm not implying Bon Scott is in hell. In fact, the song is apparently about a particularly dangerous road in Scott's hometown that led to a bar.

2. Girls Got Rhythm
This is another great hard rock song. It's got a catchy riff, and the lyrics discuss a "backseat rhythm," which I assume means some chick shakes her ass a lot when she dances.

3. Walk All Over You
This is another fast-paced, ballsy rocker, although the song slows down for the choruses, where it is declared without a hint of figurativeness "Tonight is gonna be the night / I'm gonna walk all over you." There is also a pretty sweet guitar solo.

4. Touch Too Much
This one's a bit naughty. I think it might be about sex, but you can never tell with rock and roll. I've always liked the line: "She had the face of an angel, smiling like sin / The body of Venus with arms." She has arms! This song was the second and final song off the album to hit the US charts, climbing all the way to #106.

5. Beating Around the Bush
"Beating Around the Bush" has an awesome, ballsy riff that Angus rips into at the beginning of the song, and then an equally wicked bass riff as well. I don't know what else to say about it, except that it's an awesome hard rock song that isn't on

6. Shot Down In Flames
This might be my favorite song on the album. It rocks, it's catchy, and it's either about rejection or being burned to death with a flamethrower. Either way, it's a shame, and Angus has a nice guitar solo.

7. Get It Hot
Yet another solid hard rock song. I assume it's referring to chocolate. This one is also absent from

8. If You Want Blood (You've Got It)
This is another great hard rock song, starting off with a good riff and building up into the first verse. Perhaps it's a coincidence, and perhaps not, that this song was written only about 29 years before True Blood debuted.

9. Love Hungry Man
"Love Hungry Man" is a slightly slower song. I would not classify it as a ballad, but it's about as close to a ballad as AC/DC comes, which means it still rocks. It's a good song, though. Unfortunately, this is also missing on

10. Night Prowler
This one is a nice, slow, creepy song, and the most controversial on the album. According to the band, the song is about a boy sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom while her parents are asleep. Unfortunately, Richard Ramirez was a big fan of the song. Ramirez, as you may know, is better known as The Night Stalker, a satanic serial killer in California in the early '80s. Allegedly, Ramirez's nickname was somehow derived from "Night Prowler," although that seems like a stretch, since I don't think Ramirez gave himself the nickname. He did, however, wear an AC/DC shirt during at least one murder. As you might expect, the last words of the song are "Shazbot, nanu nanu," which is, of course, a phrase from Mork and Mindy. Sadly, the version of this on is only an excerpt from the song. I included it anyway.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Inseams

By looking at me and the number of t-shirts I own, you know I don't really care how I dress or look. To a certain extent, I carry that attitude over to my work attire. I'm not the kind of guy who gets anything custom made, or even the kind of guy who shops at any sort of store that could be considered fancy (unless you consider TJ Maxx or Marshall's fancy, in which case I'd like to meet you and help you get back on your feet).

That said, every now and then, I realize that a pair of pants is, perhaps, getting too faded or to tattered to wear to work. Then six or seven months later, I do something about it, which usually entails buying another pair of pants.

My inseam is 31 inches, which means I am pretty much screwed when it comes to buying pants because finding pants with 31-inch inseams is about as common as finding an Irishman who has pleasant things to say about the English. I am forced to choose between two unpleasant alternatives: (1) go with a 30-inch inseam, which gives the appearance that I am concerned about flood waters; or (2) go with a 32-inch inseam, which gives the appearance that I am a child trying to wear grown-up pants. I have multiple pairs of each. (Yes, I realize I can just buy pants with 32-inch inseams and then have them tailored, but I am very lazy.)

Sunday, Jester and I were at Target. She was off looking at power tools, so I headed to the menswear section to see if there were any t-shirts of interest. There weren't, but I did see some khakis that were on sale. There are a couple pairs of khakis that I currently own (and regularly wear to work) that are well past their primes. They definitely fall into the "flood" category. Jester cracks wise about it. I simply don't give a shit.

So anyway, I picked up a couple pairs of khakis with 32-inch inseams. I didn't try them on because I figured they had the same measurements as about half of my pants, which fit me just fine (aside from being too long). I hate ironing and I'm always playing with beets, so I was about as excited as one can be about buying khaki pants from Target because the pants were billed as both stain resistant and wrinkle resistant.

Yesterday morning, I tore the tags off one of the pairs of pants, expecting that they would fit me and knowing they would perfectly complement the wrinkled brown polo shirt I grabbed from my closet floor. Admittedly, my ass is a little bulbous, but when I pulled these pants up, something wasn't right. The length was actually okay and the waist was fine, but the crotch -- good God, the crotch -- was all sorts of wrong. It was WAY too tight. It was uncomfortable. I thought to myself, "Okay, well maybe the pants will stretch out a little. Let's see what the mirror has to say." I walked over to the mirror and, I kid you not, I could see a near-perfect outline of my junk -- balls, shaft, all of it. This wasn't something that could be adjusted either. Lord knows I tried. No matter what I did, it looked like I was on my way to fix the cable in a '70s porn. If I had worn these to work, I'm pretty sure I would have been fired on the spot for creating a hostile work environment for everyone (myself included). I would post a picture, but I don't want to risk getting GMYH blocked by your place of employment. Plus, I don't take pictures of my dong.

Defeated, I took the pants off and put on a pair that had been on its way to retirement. If there's anything to be learned here -- aside from the fact that I am a poorly dressed sloth with the ass of a gorilla -- it's that, unless you are a eunuch, make sure you try on khaki pants at Target.

Rocktober Album #18: Iron Maiden – The Number of The Beast (1982)

In the world of metal, there are few bands that are arguably as important as Iron Maiden. They spearheaded the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (along with Judas Priest), and influenced pretty much every subsequent form of heavy metal. I've always thought there is a symphonic and operatic quality to Iron Maiden's music, particularly after Bruce Dickinson became the lead singer. His voice is so powerful, and the themes of the songs are often drawn from literature, history, or folklore.

In late 1981, Iron Maiden parted ways with its original lead singer, Paul Di'Anno, and chose Dickinson (formerly of NWOMBH band Samson and no relation to the fictional record producer from the SNL "more cowbell" sketch) to replace Di'Anno. The first album with Dickinson was 1982's The Number of The Beast, and it is rightly considered one of the greatest metal albums of all-time. It was the band's first #1 album in the UK, and their first album to chart in the US, making it to #33 on the Billboard album charts. It has since gone platinum in both countries.

From beginning to end, it's an exhibition of everything that is great about metal: powerful vocals, twin lead guitars, thundering drums, ridiculous bass lines, and songs full of macabre imagery. Seriously, though, listen to the bass lines. Steve Harris is unbelievable.

Of course, given the title of the album, it received a certain amount of backlash from idiots who assumed that meant the band was Satanic. In reality, the title track was inspired by a nightmare Harris had. Chill, Christians.

FYI, the version I have is a remastered version with an extra song ("Total Eclipse"). Unfortunately, only three of the songs are on, which is nothing short of a travesty.

1. Invaders
"Invaders" is a fast-paced song with a great guitar and bass riff and a machine gun intro. Right off the bat, Dickinson shows off his pipes.

2. Children of the Damned
Based on the Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned movies and books, this song is dark and plodding for the first two thirds, and then it breaks into a frenzied twin guitar solo. That the song came out mere months after Jenna and Barbara Bush were born appears in large part to be a coincidence.

3. The Prisoner
This might be my favorite song on the album. It starts off with an audio clip from the British TV show of the same name, then goes into kind of a plodding intro. After that, the tempo changes to a breakneck pace and Dickinson kicks in. The song is about breaking free, which is always a nice theme. It's a great song to blare on the last day of a job you hate. The version of this that is on is for some reason 59 minutes long. Feel free to skip to the next song after the first song ends.

4. 22 Acacia Avenue
This is the second song in the Charlotte the Harlot series (the first being "Charlotte the Harlot" off the band's self-titled debut, the third being "Hooks in You" from 1990's No Prayer for the Dying, and the fourth being "From Here to Eternity" from 1992's Fear of the Dark). Apparently, Charlotte is trying to give up prostitution in this one, which I think would be hard to do, since her name is Charlotte the Harlot.

5. The Number of The Beast
This song is, quite simply, awesome. It's almost always in the top ten of any "greatest metal songs" countdown. It starts with a Vincent Price-esque voice reading a passage from Revelation. Then there is a muted guitar with Dickinson kind of whispering eerily about seeing some crazy ass shit, and the listener is just waiting for the song to explode. When Dickinson lets out his primal scream at about the 1:17 mark, it's go time. The song then tears into itself, with a quick, repeating riff that drives the song. Of course, there's the chorus: "Six six six / The number of the beast." I can't understand why parents and the Chilean government were so up in arms about the song.

6. Run to the Hills
This was the band's first Top 10 song in the UK, reaching #7, and it may be the band's most recognizable song (certainly to the younger generation of Rock Band gamers). Interestingly (given that Iron Maiden is British), it's about the persecution of Native Americans by the U.S. government in the 19th Century. Musically, the song starts out with a heavy drum beat and a nice twin guitar riff while Dickinson explains why white people are assholes. Then it bursts into a galloping (to steal a word from the song) verse and a soaring chorus that showcases Dickinson's vocal range. This is a tough one to sing on Rock Band -- well, for some people anyway.

7. Gangland
"Gangland" has a great driving drum beat, guitars, and bass line that make you tap your feet when you're listening to the song. The song is about murder.

8. Total Eclipse
This was originally the B-side to the "Run to the Hills" single, and it wasn't on the original album. The band added it to the album as part of the 1998 remastering, apparently regretting not including it on the original album. I can't blame them. It's a gritty, heavy rock song about astronomy. You can't go wrong with that combination.

9. Hallowed Be Thy Name
This is definitely one of those songs that I would consider operatic. It starts out with a slower, dark intro about heading to the gallows, with what sound like church bells in the background. Then it picks up, with Dickenson sustaining a note as a bridge between the intro and the next part of the song. After that, the song kicks into the plodding verses, eventually building up into a frenzy with guitar solos and Dickinson wailing the song title. It's a great end to a great album.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Five Campaign Lies About the Economy

I try not to get political here on GMYH because I have friends and readers on all points along the political spectrum, so don't take this post as anything political. You know I hate political ads. Both sides of the fence are guilty of spinning and outright lying, and frankly, I will be ecstatic after election day when I don't feel the need to punch my TV during every commercial break. On that note, I came across an interesting article that exposes the five biggest lies politicians are making about the economy. As expected, both sides stretch the truth. The five topics covered are: (1) the stimulus plan; (2) which party is driving the nation towards insolvency; (3) the cost of healthcare reform; (4) the alleged impact of healthcare reform on small businesses; and (5) job creation.

If you think you know something about any of those topics (or if you don't), read the article. The worst thing you can do when voting is to vote based on a misconception or on ignorance. Maybe it's the Jeffersonian in me, but you owe it to yourself and to your fellow citizens to make educated decisions at the polls.

Rocktober Album #17: Slash - Slash (2010)

Slash is one of the most recognizable faces (or, I guess, heads of hair and top hats) in rock and roll, and he's also one of the best hard rock guitarists of the last 25 years. As a result, it should come as no surprise that when Slash wants to put out a solo album, he can gather some pretty fantastic singers and musicians to take on vocal duties and non-lead-guitar instrumental roles.

His eponymous album, which was released this past April in the US, is a solid collection of hard rock songs, with a nice (and sometimes surprising) array of guest vocalists and musicians, from Ozzy to Fergie to Chris Cornell to Adam Levine to Lemmy to Iggy Pop. Even more intriguing, in my mind, is that every Appetite-era GNR member except Axl appears on the album. Aside from "Watch This," which is written only by Slash, every song is co-written by Slash and the artist featured on the song (and sometimes an additional writer).

I just bought the regular version of the album. There are at least eleven deluxe or bonus editions, featuring more songs, demos, and even some covers of classic GNR songs.

1. Ghost (feat. Ian Astbury)
This is a really good, straightforward hard rock song. The guitar intro is catchy. Lead signer of The Cult and Jim Morrison doppelganger Ian Astbury lends his talents and does a predictably great job. Izzy Stradlin plays rhythm guitar on this song. There is no indication as to whether Mr. Brownstone made an appearance.

2. Crucify the Dead (feat. Ozzy Osbourne)
There's just something about Ozzy's voice that makes any song dark and awesome. This song has a symphonic quality to it, while still rocking. Providing backing vocals are Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and music producer Kevin Churko. Unfortunately, didn't have this one.

3. Beautiful Dangerous (feat. Fergie)
Whether or not you like the Black Eyes Peas or her lovely lady lumps, you have to respect Fergie's pipes. Hell, she sang "Gimme Shelter" along with the Rolling Stones at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert. Just as she wailed there, she wails on "Beautiful Dangerous." This is a great hard rock song that sounds like it could be on just about any Black Crowes album.

4. "Back From Cali" (feat. Myles Kennedy)
If you haven't heard of Kennedy, his is the former lead singer of hard rock outfit Alter Bridge, and he appears a couple times on this album. He also tours as Slash's vocalist. This song is kind of blues rock song. Kennedy has a good voice.

5. Promise (feat. Chris Cornell)
"Promise" starts out with a nice riff. Cornell (lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave if you are unfamiliar with rock and roll music), of course, has a great, powerful voice. I like the verses better than the choruses on this song.

6. By The Sword (feat. Andrew Stockdale)
If you don't know Andrew Stockdale by name, you will immediately recognize his voice as the lead singer of Wolfmother (see the trailer for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles 2 -- er, I mean, Due Date -- which features the Wolfmother song "New Moon Rising"). I love Stockdale's voice. It harkens back to early heavy metal. Slash plays a great, soaring guitar solo.

7. Gotten (feat Adam Levine)
Levine, lead singer for Maroon 5, sings on this softer, acoustic song. He has a really good voice, and I like him better when he opens it up and wails because he can sound like Stevie Wonder. Here, it's a little soft for my tastes.

8. Doctor Alibi (feat. Lemmy Kilmister)
Slash + Lemmy = awesome. As you might expect, this song is fast-paced and in your face, with snarling vocals, driving drums, and wicked guitar. It's amazing to me that Lemmy still sounds the same as he did 30 years ago. Given the way he sings, you would think his vocals chords would be completely shredded by this point. They are not. Sadly, this song is not on

9. Watch This (feat. Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan)
This one is an instrumental, with Grohl on drums and McKagan on bass. It's dark and heavy. Slash goes off on this one.

10. I Hold On (feat. Kid Rock)
"I Hold On" is a straightforward, soulful rock song. You forget that Kid Rock can actually be a decent rock singer when he wants to be. As expected, Slash has a nice guitar solo.

11. Nothing to Say (feat. M. Shadows)
M. Shadows is the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, so it should come as no surprise that "Nothing to Say" is one of the heavier songs on that album. Slash lays down an awesome, gritty riff, and Shadows delivers raw, loud vocals. This is just a really good hard rock/heavy metal song.

12. Starlight (feat. Myles Kennedy)
"Starlight" is the second song on the album to feature Kennedy on lead vocals, and this one is bluesy as well. Kennedy does his best Chris Cornell impression on this song and belts it out. The chorus kind of comes out of nowhere and absolutely soars. Drums on this song are provided by Steven Adler and former Average White Band and uber session drummer Steve Ferrone. Unfortunately, this one's not on

13. Saint is a Sinner Too (feat. Rocco DeLuca)
DeLuca is the lead singer and guitarist of Rocco DeLuca and The Burden, and he is well-known for playing a resonator guitar, which he plays on this song while Slash plays an acoustic. The song is kind of slower. DeLuca's voice is somewhat high, which give the song a slightly eerie feel. This one's not on either.

14. We're All Gonna Die (feat. Iggy Pop)
The album ends with a solid rocker. Iggy Pop is, well, Iggy Pop. His vocals are predictably dark and brooding. The chorus has a pretty good message, I think: "We're all gonna die / So let's get high / We're all gonna die / So let's be nice." He also tells you to "pee on the ground and jump around." Done and done. Unfortunately, this one's not on either.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Spring Break Up

I came across an article today listing the 50 cities in the U.S. with the highest divorce rates. Panama City, Florida holds the dubious distinction of being America's divorce capital, and Florida has far and away the most cities on the list, including every major city in Florida. Here is list of the number of cities by state:

Florida: 12
Alabama: 5
Arizona: 4
California, Georgia: 3
Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, West Virginia: 2
Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington: 1

What I found interesting is that 25 of the Top 50 cities are located in Southern states, which are traditionally considered strongholds of "family values," or at least that's what they'll tell you while they're trying to plow your wife.

Rocktober Album #16: Cinderella - Long Cold Winter (1988)

Last night, I had a relatively strange dream. I was in what appeared to be like a '50s diner/strip club, where Joan Jett was performing. In the dream, she was kind of a bitch to her backing band, but she looked great. The audience was comprised of a lot of musicians (not famous musicians, just people who apparently played instruments). Many of them brought their guitars and basses with them, which I thought was okay in the dream. Anyway, before the show started, I was conversing with a tattooed dude with a guitar who looked like he was in his 50s. He asked me, "Who do you think has a better voice, the guy from Soundgarden or the guy from Cinderella?" Without hesitation, I said, "Chris Cornell or Tom Kiefer? That's a close call, but I'd have to go with Chris Cornell. He's got some pipes."

That's not to say that Tom Kiefer is a bad singer. I actually like his wail. Cinderella is one of those bands that automatically gets grouped in with all other hair bands, but that's not completely fair. Sure, they had big hair, but so did everyone in the '80s. Sure, they had a power ballad, but so did everyone in the '80s. What sets them apart, in my mind, is that a lot of their songs are blues based, and they use a bottleneck slide a lot more than most hair bands. Another interesting tidbit about Cinderella is that the band's drummer, Fred Coury, was previously in the legendary Sunset Strip "feeder" band London, which throughout its history also had future members of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, and W.A.S.P., but never itself had the kind of success those bands had. Another interesting tidbit: Cinderella's original guitarist, Michael Smerick, and drummer, Tony Destra, left the band in 1985 to form another relatively successful glam metal band, Britny Fox.

Long Cold Winter is the band's second album, released in the heyday of hair bands. Their first album, Night Songs, did pretty well, rising to #3 on the Billboard album charts and going double platinum in about six months. Long Cold Winter followed suit, rising to #10 on the album charts and also going double platinum within about six months (and eventually going triple platinum). The album was easily the band's most popular as far as singles went, with three songs making the Billboard Top 40 ("Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" #12, "Coming Home" #20, "The Last Mile" #36) and another in the Top 100 ("Gypsy Road" #51). All in all, I think it's an underrated album, with a lot of great, catchy, blues-rock songs.

As seems to be the norm, only half of the songs are on Of course, you can hear samples of all of the songs on Amazon, where you can also buy the album for $7.34.

1. Bad Seamstress Blues
Right off the bat, they start off with a blues-based song. The intro is acoustic blues, and Kiefer actually sings in a normal voice (as opposed to his usual gravelly falsetto). Then the song kicks in, and it's a dark, gritty song about some shitty seamstress. It's a good song, but an unusual one for a hair band to put as their first song on an album.

2. Gypsy Road
I think we can all agree that we hate gypsies. Get off my lawn! What I don't hate is this song. It's a nice catchy hard rock song, with a kickass guitar solo. This was actually the band's first single released off of the album, but it didn't chart until nearly a year later.

3. Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)
This is the band's most popular and most successful song, and one of the better hair band power ballads. Of course, it has a special place in my heart, not only because it reminds me of my childhood and because I love hair band music, but also because it featured prominently in a dream I had about physician-assisted suicide.

4. The Last Mile
This song has nice bluesy guitars, and it's another solid, catchy rock song.

5. Second Wind
"Second Wind" starts out with a nice fast driving riff. The verses are frantic, and then the chorus slows down a little, almost as if the band is catching their breath to get their -- wait for it -- second wind. Touché, Cinderella.

6. Long Cold Winter
The title track to the album is just straight-up blues. Kiefer wails on this song like he's in a South Side juke joint, and the guitars are great as well.

7. If You Don't Like It
This one is had a nice riff that drives the song as Kiefer sings the verses at a breakneck pace. The song has a good message: "If you don't like it, I don't care."

8. Coming Home
This song is the band's second-highest charting song off the album. It's acoustic and a little slower than most of the other songs, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Like many of the songs, it's a pretty straightforward rock song.

9. Fire and Ice
"Fire and Ice" starts off with a ballsy riff and Kiefer angrily yelling, most likely at some devil woman.

10. Take Me Back
I don't know why this wasn't released as a single. It's a really catchy hard rock song, with great guitars and a sing-along chorus. One time during trivia at Rocks when the name-that-tune round was all hair band music, I think I might have been the only person in the bar who knew this song. Nice try, Kevin.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Midwestern Eavesdropping - 10/21/10

Girl talking on cell phone waiting for train: "First of all, the only thing I remember was the catheter."
--Chicago, State and Grand
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Sign hanging from balcony facing elevated mass transit system: "If you're paralyzed, you can't fuck - buckle up."
--Chicago, facing Brown/Purple Line tracks near Halsted when traveling north
Eavesdropper: Pissed Off

Thirtysomething female enters elevator talking on cell phone, eyes occupants, muffles voice: "Well, you know... it's dry-er... like... less moist? And less... swollen? I can't really say much more, I'm in an elevator."
--Chicago, Washington & Wacker
Eavesdropper: RobD

Twentysomething guy: "Do you want to go see the new Wall Street movie?"
Other twentysomething guy: "No, it's got Shia LeBoeuf."
Twentysomething guy: "Who's Shia LeBoeuf?"
Other twentysomething guy: "He's a dick."
--Chicago, Lakeview Athletic Club, Broadway & Belmont
Eavesdropper: Trashton

Twentysomething female whose husband is Jewish: "If you can't laugh at concentration camps, what CAN you laugh at?"
Eavesdropper: The Losse-Lipped Lithuanian

Thirtysomething woman at a bar: "I had to hold it like this because it was so massive."
--Chicago, Rocks, Schubert & Lakewood
Eavesdropper: Gregerson

Thirtysomething female who is not from the deep South in the 1950s: "Squeezing my boobs in this dress is like 2 pigs fighting in a gunny sack."
Eavesdropper: AlyK

Thirtysomething mother referring to her infant daughter: "She's got a bit of a camel toe going."
--Chicago, Lincoln Park, Webster & Stockton
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Sweat-suited Businessman: "I could be married in a matter of weeks."
Lawyer: "I don't even want to think about what your bachelor party will entail."
Sweat-suited Businessman: "I'm not having one. My whole life's a bachelor party. What do I need a bachelor party for?"
--Chicago, Benchmark, Wells & Burton
Eavesdropper: RobD

Thirtysomething male in middle of phone conversation: "That has to be the ugliest Jew I've ever seen on TV."
Eavesdropper: GMYH

As we do from time to time, here is something that's not technically eavesdropping, but it's worthy of inclusion:
--Somewhere in Ohio on I-75
Eavesdropper: Mounty

As always, thanks to everyone who contributed. And remember, whenever you overhear or oversee something hilarious, email it to for inclusion in the next Midwestern Eavesdropping.

Rocktober Album #15: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (2009)

Behind hair band music, I think my second favorite genre of music might be classic '60s soul. There's a neoclassic soul movement afoot, with artists like Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Ray LaMontagne, and Eli "Paperboy" Reed leading the charge, each pulling influences from different genres. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, in my opinion, come the closest to capturing that Stax/Volt sound, but they also add their own flavor to it. They have an eight-member band, complete with a horn section. Lewis has a great voice. It's kind of like James Brown and Otis Redding mixed with Dan Auerbach. I would describe their sound as a combination of garage rock and classic Memphis soul. It's awesome.

Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! is the band's first full-length album, and it was produced by Jim Eno of the band Spoon. It's energetic when it needs to be, bluesy when it needs to be, and tongue-in-cheek when it needs to be. There isn't a bad song on the album.

The band played at the Sheffield Garden Walk street festival this past summer here in Chicago. I went with the intention of seeing them, but Daughter had other ideas. We were standing pretty far back, but she started to lose her shit after a couple songs, probably because it was hot as hell and we wouldn't give her any beer. She'll learn soon enough that I hold grudges.

Half of the songs are on, so I embedded the songs that were available below. For the rest, click on the link to the album above, which will take you to Amazon where you can hear samples of every song and subsequently buy the album.

1. Gunpowder
The album starts off with a twangy guitar and some organ, then about ten second in, the horns kick in. The song is fast-paced, simple, and straightforward, and it gives you a nice glimpse of what you're in for with the rest of the album.

2. Sugarfoot
This is just classic soul. If you didn't know any better, you might think Booker T. & The MGs and The Memphis Horns were playing on this track. This song is energetic and catchy as hell.

3. I'm Broke
This song is more bluesy, and has a distinct James Brown feel to it. The keyboard really shines in this song and keeps everything going. It's one of those songs that, when you're listening to it, you involuntarily bob your head. And then maybe you bite your lip. And then maybe you close your eyes or furrow your brow. And then you're playing air bass in your office when your boss walks in.

4. Big Booty Woman
This song not only has an awesome name, but it has a nice '60s garage rock feel it. The organ riff is catchy, and the tambourine is always a nice touch. It ends with a nice jam.

5. Boogie
"Boogie" is exactly what you would expect from a song with that name. It makes you want to run in place. The horns really drive this one, and there's a muted guitar you hear every now and then that kind of rocks while trying not to let you know that it's rocking, until the guitar solo. All in all, this is a really good, energetic song.

6. Master Sold My Baby
This one is kind of a take on the "Mary Mary, why you buggin'?" melody. There is somewhat incomprehensible lyrics, followed by a dark bass line and a twangy guitar. Sometimes I play this album around the house. Daughter will be crawling around, but she'll stop whenever the bass line kicks in and do the closest thing she can do to dancing, which is to sit down and move both of her hands like she's turning two giant dials back and forth.

7. Get Yo Shit
I like this song a lot. It kicks off with a garage rock-y organ. Then it's kind of a half-spoken word song that kicks into gear in various places, kind of like George Thorogood's version of "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." The song recounts a tale of some crazy woman who throws the narrator's shit on the front lawn because she thinks he doesn't love her, but he does, but she's still crazy. Even after he spells her name correctly, things go south.

8. Humpin'
This is an instrumental song with solid horns and organs, and those choppy soul guitars. It's good for love makin'.

9. Bobby Boshay
It's unclear if this Bobby Boshay is in any way related to the former South Central Louisiana State University waterboy and linebacker Bobby Boucher. I'm guessing not, since this Bobby Boshay is described as a "mean dude."

10. Please Pt. Two
This is a fuzzed-out song where Lewis pleads for something. Perhaps that was explained in part one.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kanye's Mouth is Worth More Than Your Mouth

It has come to my attention that rap mogul Kanye West has replaced several of his bottom teeth with diamonds. He explained on Ellen that his new teeth are not caps. I shit you not, he had his real teeth removed and then replaced with teeth-shaped diamonds. Sure, diamonds are very hard, so he can now easily break up those otherwise hard to chew Grammy Awards, but this is insane. I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing if I had as much money as Kanye. Actually, that's exactly what I'm saying. I don't ever want to put myself in a situation where people would be in any way encouraged to forcibly rip my teeth from my mouth. Kanye, I beg you to heed the following advice: do not trust anyone with pliers who doesn't already have diamond teeth.

Rocktober Album #14: Metal Massacre Volume One (1982)

Back in the early '80s, American metal was still in its infancy, drawing from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, classic metal and hard rock, and even punk. Metal Blade Records, an independent metal label based in California, decided to put out a compilation of songs by unsigned metal bands. The result was 1982's Metal Massacre. (Only now is it referred to as volume one, since there have been a total of 13 Metal Massacre compilations released.)

Metal Massacre has an interesting history. Most notably, this is the first time the world heard a fledgling band from the Bay Area called Metallica, who contributed "Hit the Lights." Metal Massacre had two pressings, one in 1982 and another in 1984. When it was first pressed in 1982, it had ten songs, including "Tell the World" by then-unsigned Ratt, and "Cold Day in Hell" by fellow Sunset Strip rockers Steeler. Also, Metallica was misspelled in the first pressing as "Mettallica."

The album was then pressed a second time in 1984. The second pressing – which is the one I have – has only nine songs, dropping "Tell the World" (presumably because the song was, by then, on Ratt's debut album Out of the Cellar) and replacing "Cold Day in Hell" with "Chains Around Heaven" by Black 'N' Blue. In addition, Metallica re-recorded "Hit the Lights" because James Hetfield was unhappy with the version on the first pressing. This second pressing version of "Hit the Lights" features Dave Mustaine on lead guitar, obviously before he was booted from the band and went onto form Megadeth.

Some of the songs sound particularly dated or a little too "screamy," while some of the songs are very solid. You can definitely see the bands trying to find their bearings as they attempted to create what would become American heavy metal. It's an interesting mix. The album is available at Amazon for only $6.98, which I think is a pretty good deal for a piece of metal history. I didn't even bother attempting to find any of the songs on, but you can hear samples by clicking on the Amazon link in the previous sentence.

1. Chains Around Heaven - Black 'N' Blue
Black 'N' Blue is one of those bands that just never quite hit it big, which is too bad considering the promise they showed on "Chains Around Heaven." It's a really solid, catchy, relatively straightforward hard rock song. The band was recently inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. Guitarist Tommy Thayer is now, as you may now, in Kiss, playing the part of Ace Frehley.

2. Live for the Whip - Bitch
This song is an ode to sadomasochism, which has a driving riff and nice beat. The lead singer, the aptly named Betsy Bitch, sounds like she is straining to keep up in some places. Other than that, it's a pretty good song. An interesting tidbit: Bitch was the first ever female-fronted American heavy metal band to sign with a record label. Also, the band was a target of Tipper Gore's censor-geared PRMC because of their sadomasochistic themes. As predicted, the publicity spiked the band's sales.

3. Captive of Light - Malice
This song sounds like a slightly harder NWOMBH song. It's pretty good, and it is the first of several songs on the album that seem to disparage lightness. Malice, of course, went on to mild fame due to their performance in the Judge Reinhold-Fred Savage vehicle, Vice Versa.

4. Octave - Avatar
And you thought the word "avatar" was a recent creation. I just hope James Cameron paid the band for use of their name. This song is an instrumental, and it rocks.

5. Death of the Sun - Cirith Ungol
This is one of those "screamy" songs I was talking about. Musically, the song is a fine example of early American metal, but the vocals are what I would describe as banshee-like. It's hard to take the song seriously as a result. I should expect nothing less from a band who took their name from a place in The Lord of the Rings novel that means "Pass of the Spider" in Elvish.

6. Dead of the Night - Demon Flight
This song starts out with a nice dark guitar and bass riff, which gives the impression that the song is going places. Then the lead singer steps in sounding like a castrato, making this song another one that didn't stand the test of time very well. To its credit, it does have a great guitar solo.

7. Fighting Backwards - Pandemonium
I would liken this song to early Mötley Crüe, with different sounding vocals -- kind of a harder hair band song. It has a gritty feel to it, and a nice little drum solo in the middle. From what I gather, fighting backwards is not as advantageous as fighting forwards.

8. Kick You Down - Malice
Two Malice songs on one compilation?! Indeed. This song has a great riff and great guitar work in general. It's just a good metal song.

9. Hit the Lights - Metallica
Like I said, this is the second version of the song. After a drum crashing intro, the band just slaps you in the face with a blinding riff, a breakneck beat, and a glimpse of what would become thrash metal. What always strikes me about this song is James Hetfield's vocals. His voice sounds so different than it does now (or even a year or so after the song was recorded). It's much higher and less of a growl. Regardless, the song is fantastic. I particularly enjoy Mustaine's guitar solo, and I'm sure he'd be willing to tell you about how he can play it better than Kirk Hammett.

Kramer vs. Dr. Lecter

Dreams can be awesome. During one of my nine-minute between-snooze-button forays this morning, I had a quick and confusing dream. I was standing next to a woman who was not my wife but who I apparently knew relatively well. She resembled Don Draper's secretary. For sake of ease, we'll call her Hortence. Hortence was distraught and talking on the phone to a court administrator, who had just informed Hortence that her child custody case was assigned to a particular female judge. Hortence kept asking the administrator to assign the case to a different judge, but the administrator refused. This is where I stepped in. I was furious. I grabbed the phone and yelled at the court administrator, "This is unacceptable! I want to talk to your supervisor." "Why, sir?" "WHY?! Because you just assigned her case to the same woman who released her kids into the custody of known cannibals!" Then I woke up with bite marks all over my arms and chest.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rocktober Album #13: Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak (1976)

Before 1976, Ireland's Thin Lizzy was not well-known outside of the UK. But that all changed with the release of their sixth studio album, Jailbreak. It was their first album that charted in America, rising as high as #18 on the Billboard album charts, and it was the first of five albums in a row that hit the Top 100 in America.

For anyone looking to get into Thin Lizzy, this is the album I would suggest as the first purchase. Not only does it have the band's two biggest and most-recognizable songs ("The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Jailbreak"), but it features everything that mad the band great: great riffs, lyrics that tell stories, twin lead guitars, and tight rock songs.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I think Thin Lizzy is one of the most underrated bands in rock and roll history. Phil Lynott – lead singer, bassist, and main songwriter – had a way with words, writing great rock songs with interesting lyrics. The band went through several lineup changes and had several what I would consider classic line-ups, including the line-up on Jailbreak, which, in addition to Lynott, featured Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on twin lead guitars and Brian Downey on drums. As I've previously noted, Henry Rollins (a huge Thin Lizzy fan) once said, "If you like big rock music with great vocals and tremendous guitar, there's at least five Thin Lizzy albums which you need to run out and get, like right now." This is definitely one of those albums.

Unfortunately, only four songs from the album are on, but in my view, they are the best four songs on the album, so enjoy.

1. Jailbreak
What a great barroom song. The song teems with mischief. The riff is gritty. There are wah-wah pedals in use. The drum breaks invite curiosity. The lyrics are dangerous and a bit dirty. Overall, it's simply a fantastic hard rock song. VH1 rated "Jailbreak" as the 73rd best hard rock song of all-time. I probably would have put it higher, but they didn't ask me.

2. Angel From the Coast
The band keeps the energy going with the second song, "Angel From the Coast," which has kind of a staccato feel to it, which makes some of the more melodic guitar parts stand out.

3. Running Back
Walter Payton had only played one NFL season when this song came out. That's neither here nor there, as this song is apparently not about American football. It's a lighthearted love song, about a guy who plays music for a living, but comes running back to his love. Of course, it doesn't end well. Originally, the song was more bluesy, but, against Brian Robertson's wishes, they brought in a keyboardist to play on the song, which lightened it up and made Robertson unhappy with the finished product. I don't think it's that bad, although I'd like to hear the original version.

4. Romeo and The Lonely Girl
This is another, for sake of a better term, less rocking song. That's not to say it's bad because it's actually quite catchy. It's just more poppy than most of their songs.

5. Warriors
"Warriors" has a dark feel and an edge to it. That's all I got right now.

6. The Boys Are Back In Town
As soon the opening chord is struck, you immediately recognize this song. Far and away the band's most recognizable and successful song (at least in the US, where it went to #12 on the Billboard charts), "The Boys Are Back In Town" is a hard rock classic. It's about guys returning to their hometown from fighting in a war and the resulting celebratory mayhem. It's one of those songs that allows you to plant yourself inside it and view this little world that Lynott created. I love the opening to the first verse after the bridge: "Friday night they'll be dressed to kill / Down and Dino's bar and grill / Drink will flow and blood will spill / And if the boys wanna fight, you better let 'em." And of course, the twin guitar solo is a trademark.

7. Fight or Fall
This is another slower song with kind of a soul feel to it. I'm not a huge fan, but that's okay.

8. Cowboy Song
How a half-black Irishman could capture the spirit of the American old west so well is beyond me, but that's why Phil Lynott was such a great songwriter. If you didn't know any better, you would think he was from Texas when you heard this song about coyotes howling, busting broncs, and Southern girls. Regardless, this is a great rock song. It starts off slow and a cappella, then kicks into gear. Lynott wails. There is a great guitar solo.

9. Emerald
This song was the only one on the album written by all four members of the band, and it is nice and ballsy. The guitars really crank on this one, and Lynott seems to snarl most of the lyrics. The song is about an army plundering a foreign land and killing its inhabitants in search of "the Emerald." One can only assume it's about what the English did to Ireland.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Rocktober Album #12: The Ramones - The Ramones (1976)

Admittedly, I got into punk music relatively late. It's not that I didn't like punk; it's more that I wasn't exposed to it. In the '80s and '90s, you didn't hear punk on the radio as much as classic rock, hard rock, or even metal.

In case you've been in a Mason Storm-like coma for the past 34 years, The Ramones were the leaders of the punk revolution. They were four guys from Queens who took their name from an alias Paul McCartney used to use at hotels, and they all changed their surnames to Ramone -- becoming the first family of punk. They were ugly, they were raw, and they dressed like greasers. It was the opposite of what was popular back then.

In 1976, mainstream rock music was becoming more and more overproduced. Bands like ELO, Styx, Yes, and Led Zeppelin made albums with elaborate productions, filling arenas and putting on over-the-top shows with lasers, smoke, and long guitar solos. Worse yet, disco was starting to emerge. The Ramones stripped everything down to its essence and brought rock back to what it used to be -- catchy, two-minute songs -- but they added an element of anger and frustration, along with adult subject matters. Don't get me wrong. Obviously, I love Zeppelin and '70s rock, but I think my generation doesn't quite understand how revolutionary and different The Ramones were when they arrived. In a day and age where Ramones t-shirts are worn with reckless abandon and popular children's shows are named after Ramones lyrics, it's hard to imagine a time when The Ramones weren't around.

Anyway, this is the band's self-titled debut. You learn pretty quickly that The Ramones were all about power chords (and not many of them), driving beats, straightforward lyrics, and garbled singing. Half the time, I have no idea what Joey Ramone is singing, but you eventually figure it out. Despite the fact that this album peaked at #111 on the Billboard charts, it is generally recognized as one of the best albums in rock history. The album is 14 songs, yet it's barely 29 minutes. (Also, there's a 2001 remaster with demo versions of eight songs added on, which is pretty solid for $7.98.) From start to finish, it's speed and energy, and it was a undoubtedly a breath of fresh air for a lot of people.

1. Blitzkrieg Bop
"Hey! Ho! Let's go!" Could there have been a more perfect opening line for punk music to introduce itself to the world? "Blitzkrieg Bop" is a rock and roll classic, and among the many honors it has received over the years, Rolling Stone ranked it as one of the top 100 songs of all-time.

2. Beat on the Brat
This is a rather straightforward song about beating a brat with a baseball bat. "Brat," of course, does not mean a German encased sausage in this instance. In fact, legend has it Joey Ramone wrote this after seeing a mother running after her son with a bat in the lobby of his building. Only in New York!

3. Judy Is a Punk
This is probably my favorite Ramones song. It's relatively insane, if you listen to the lyrics, as it's about Jackie (who is a punk) and Judy (who is a runt) going to Berlin to join the Ice Capades. Perhaps they'll die. Of course, I had no idea what he was saying for several years until I actually looked up the lyrics.

4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
It's no secret that The Ramones loved early rock and roll and doo wop. This is a '50s throwback, complete with a relatively sweet and vanilla subject matter, a nice melody, and backing "oohs."

5. Chain Saw
I like this song because it's about chainsaws. Better yet, Joey Ramone repeats the phrase "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and he pronounces "massacre" as "mass-a-cree."

6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
This is a punk classic about boredom and things one might do to escape from that boredom. I've never been much of a glue sniffer -- more of a silver spray paint in a tube sock kind of guy -- but I can see how this appealed to all those dirty loser punks who listened to this crap. I kid.

7. I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement
At a whopping 2 minutes and 34 seconds, this is the longest song on the album. It took me awhile to figure out what Joey Ramone was saying when he was singing the title to the song. I don't know what I thought he was saying, but it sounds like "I don't wanna go dance in the face." Of course, once I actually read the title to the song, things became much clearer, although basements are usually pretty cool, so I don't know what the deal is.

8. Loudmouth
I definitely like the message of this song -- loudmouths should shut up or get beat up.

9. Havana Affair
This is your classic punk song about a Cuban who helps the CIA. He used to pick bananas for a living. Unfortunately, only has a live version, so that's what I included.

10. Listen to My Heart
This is another song where I should have paid more attention to the title before trying in vain to figure out what Joey Ramone was saying. "Next time, I'll list 'em aaaaalllll" is not what he's saying. I don't know why you'd make a song about writing lists anyway, so good call Ramones. This one isn't on, unfortunately.

11. 53rd & 3rd
This is a great song. Interestingly, Dee Dee Ramone wrote it about a street corner in New York that was notorious for gay prostitution, and the song's narrator kills a Vietnam vet with a razor blade to prove that he's not a sissy. We've all been there.

12. Let's Dance
You may recognize this song, as it's a cover of the Chris Montez classic. The Ramones covered several '50s and '60s songs throughout the years, adding their flavor and energy. This song translates really well to punk, but unfortunately, it's not on

13. I Don't Wanna Walk Around with You
This song asks the question that has plagued many bad relationships since the dawn of time: "I don't wanna walk around with you, so why do you wanna walk around with me?" Unfortunately, this too is not on

14. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World
I really like this song. It has an odd backstory. Dee Dee Ramone lived in Germany when he was young because his father was stationed there. This song is sung from the viewpoint of a German boy fighting "for the fatherland." It's often misconstrued as a pro-Nazi song, which it absolutely is not (and would be strange considering Tommy and Joey Ramone were Jewish). To me, it's more about the flaws of blind allegiance, but then again, I didn't write the song.

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New Book - You Shall Know Our Velocity! By Dave Eggers

I finished When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by Jerry Weintraub with Rich Cohen. It was interesting. I didn't know who Weintraub was before Australian Andrew recommended the book to me and let me borrow his copy. It's your standard memoir about a kid from the Bronx who joins the Air Force, then gets into talent management, then promotes concerts for some of the biggest acts in the word, then produces blockbuster films. I kind of felt like it was a "hey, look at what I've done" kind of book, but then again, I guess that's what most memoirs are. That's not to knock anything that Weintraub has done. He has led an amazing life, has done things that most people will never get to do, and is (or was) friends with so many random important people. It kind of makes you sick when you look at what little you've done with your own life.

I have now started You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers, which was his first novel. I really enjoyed his memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and thus far I am enjoying You Shall Know Our Velocity!, which is about two friends who attempt to travel around the world in one week and spend $32,000 for some reason. I've been there.

Books read in 2010:
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Happy Hour is for Amateurs by The Philadelphia Lawyer
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
Open by Andre Agassi
Too Fat to Fish by Artie Lange
Graceland by Chris Abani
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert Ressler and Tom Shachtman
When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by Jerry Weintraub with Rich Cohen

Friday, October 15, 2010


In the past few days, GMYH has gotten several thousand hits – far more than the usual 50-100 daily hits I receive. Relatively recently, Blogger started keeping track of stats, which is pretty cool because I can tell which posts are getting the most hits, what search terms are leading people to GMYH, and which websites are referring the most people to GMYH.

As it turns out, Mr. 6000 is very popular. Over the past several days, my fake biography of my friend Adam has received several thousand hits. Apparently, yesterday was the 23rd anniversary of baby Jessica McClure falling into a well. In Adam's biography, I put forth an alternative theory for how Baby Jessica fell down the well. I also posted a link to a more recent alleged picture of her. The link to the picture apparently comes up pretty high on some search engines when you search for an image of Baby Jessica. So, kudos to Adam for being a part of GMYH history.

Thanks to his fictional life, GMYH has made significant jumps in the Technorati ratings. While it was already rated a "Top 100 Music" blog, it has jumped from being somewhere in the 34,000s overall to somewhere in the 28,000s. Granted, these rankings change every day, so I realize everything about this is temporary, but it's nice to know there are only approximately 28,000 English-speaking blogs out there that have more "authority" than GMYH.

Rocktober Album #11: Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz (1980)

In 1980, Ozzy Osbourne was reeling. Alcohol and drugs were causing problems. He had parted ways with Black Sabbath, and in his absence, they had hired Ronnie James Dio (rest in peace) as their new frontman and released a great album in early 1980, Heaven and Hell, which had done well on the charts. He needed to reinvent himself and show the metal world that he could be something outside of Black Sabbath.

Managed by his future wife, Ozzy assembled a solid band, with drummer Lee Kerslake (of Uriah Heep), bassist and lyricist Bob Daisley (of Rainbow), keyboardist Don Airey (of Rainbow and who had also been a session keyboardist on Black Sabbath's Never Say Die! album), and, of course, young guitar wunderkind Randy Rhoads, who had been in Quiet Riot (before they hit it big).

Released in September 1980 in the UK and March 1981 in the U.S., Blizzard of Ozz was Ozzy's reintroduction to the music world. The songs are metal standards, and the album propelled him into solo superstardom. Of course, Ozzy has one of the more distinctive voices, and it never ceases to pierce you. Thankfully for the music world, Ozzy united with Randy Rhoads (rest in peace), who laid down some phenomenal guitar work on this album (and in the next album, Diary of a Madman, Rhoads's last album before his untimely death in 1982). The other musicians bring it all together for a tight package that every hard rock or metal fan should own.

Interesting tidbit: Blizzard of Ozz is one of the few albums to go multi-platinum without a Top 40 single.

1. I Don't Know
This is a solid start to the album. Rhoads starts off with a nice riff, and Ozzy's trademark shrill voice kicks in. The song seems to be Ozzy telling the world "I don't have all the answers, but I will continue to rock. Follow me on my journey."

2. Crazy Train
I'm not sure there's much to say about "Crazy Train," since I'm sure you all know it and know that it's one of the greatest metal songs of all-time. This is the song that put Ozzy back on the map, and the riff that made Randy Rhoads a guitar god. In the video, of course, Ozzy has a haircut that makes him look like a possessed housewife, but I guess that's not too far from his normal look.

3. Goodbye to Romance
This is a slower ballad. Perhaps it relates in some way to "No Bone Movies" (see #7 below).

4. Dee
This is a relatively short (49 seconds) instrumental written by Rhoads for his mother (Dee). It's only Rhoads playing an acoustic guitar, and it's really more of a classical guitar

5. Suicide Solution
Far and away, this is the most controversial song of Ozzy's career. It was written as tribute Bon Scott, AC/DC's lead singer who drank himself to death a few months before this album was released. The opening line is "Wine is fine / Whiskey's quicker." Unfortunately, in 1984, a 14-year-old boy committed suicide while listening to this song (not with alcohol, interestingly). Music doesn't make people kill themselves. Nonetheless, some bastard lawyer filed suit against Ozzy on behalf of the kid's estate, claiming that the song was the reason this depressed teenager shot himself in the head and claiming there was backmasking in the song with the subliminal message "Get the gun. Get the gun. Shoot, shoot, shoot." I get livid whenever I see that lawyer's face on documentaries, watching him try to explain his bullshit theory. He looks like Nosferatu – soulless and evil, his eyes filled with concern, not for the real reason why his client's son killed himself, but for how much money he stood to make. Yes, I myself am a lawyer, but it's people like this guy that bring the profession down in the eyes of the public, in my opinion. Thankfully, the court dismissed the complaint. In any event, the term "solution" in the title and lyrics was meant as a liquid solvent (i.e., alcohol) and not as an answer to a problem. If anyone reads the lyrics to the song, it is clearly an anti-alcohol abuse song, written in part by a man who himself had serious issues with alcohol. Any reading of it as an command to commit suicide is delusional. All right, I'm off my soap box.

6. Mr. Crowley
The "Mr. Crowley" in this song's title refers to Aleister Crowley, an infamous British occultist. The song itself starts out with eerie, Castlevania-esque organs, letting you know that something weird is amiss. Then the organs drop off as Ozzy's voice comes in with "Mr. Crowley, what went down in your head? / Oh, Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?" The rest of the song seems to be calling Crowley a charlatan. Rhoads's guitar solos are awesome, as expected.

7. No Bone Movies
In case you were unclear about the subject matter from the title, "No Bone Movies" is about stag films – or, more accurately, about trying to kick an addition to stag films. "Voyeur straining in love with his hand / A poison passion a pulsating gland." Yep, those are lines from the song. I have no idea why Ozzy wrote this song or why he was vehemently against watching people bone on film. Only the live version was on, so I included that.

8. Revelation (Mother Earth)
This is a weird song. It's slow and dark for most of the song. For about the last minute, the band goes off on what I would call a pre-Metallica Metallica jam. Rhoads whales on his guitar while the rhythm section keeps it going, presumably while Ozzy shorted lines of coke or possibly ants.

9. Steal Away (The Night)
This is one of those songs you hear and you ask why this wasn't a single. Not only is it fast-paced, but it's catchy as hell. The guitars are awesome. It's a great song that would seem to have captured both metal fans and non-metal fans.

10. You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You
This is a bonus track on the 2002 remaster of the album. To be honest, I don't know why this wasn't on the original album. It's a great song, and it's another one of those that I think could have done well as a single. It rocks and it's catchy, and it gives you pause as to who is looking at me and who is looking at you. Plus, Rhoads has a Thin Lizzy-esque guitar solo that I particularly enjoy. There's something about this song that, when I hear it, it's more familiar than it should be – like it meant something to me when I was a teenager in the early '80s. The only problem is that I was barely three when this album was released in the U.S., and I don't even think this song was released in any form until 2002 (but I could be wrong).

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