Monday, February 28, 2011

Big Ten Tournament Seed Projections

It's that time of year again. The Madness is about to set in.

As I do every year for some reason, I am counting down to the Big Ten Tournament and providing Nostradamus-like seed projections. I kid you not, someone actually asked me the other day why it's taken me so long to do the projections this year. Two reasons. First, don't ever ask me about my business. Second, lately I've been busy as hell -- which I understand to be very busy.

I'll try to update the projections after each day of games this week. I know at least one of you cares.

Here are the current standings, with each team's remaining games:

1. Ohio State (14-2). Remaining games: at Penn State (W), Wisconsin (W)
2. Purdue (13-3). Remaining games: Illinois (W), at Iowa (W)
3. Wisconsin (12-4). Remaining games: at Indiana (W), at Ohio State (L)
4 (tie). Illinois (8-8). Remaining games: at Purdue (L), Indiana (W)
4 (tie). Michigan State (8-8). Remaining games: Iowa (W), at Michigan (L)
4 (tie). Penn State (8-8). Remaining games: Ohio State (L), at Minnesota (L)
7. Michigan (8-9). Remaining game: Michigan State (W)
8. Minnesota (6-10). Remaining games: at Northwestern (L), Penn State (W)
9. Northwestern (6-11). Remaining game: Minnesota (W)
10 (tie). Indiana (3-13). Remaining games: Wisconsin (L), at Illinois (L)
10 (tie). Iowa (3-13). Remaining games: at Michigan State (L), Purdue (L)

Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place and how the Big Ten Tournament will play out (all times are Eastern):

1. Ohio State (16-2)
2. Purdue (15-3)
3. Wisconsin (13-5)
4. Illinois (9-9)
5. Michigan (9-9)
6. Michigan State (9-9)
7. Penn State (8-10)
8. Minnesota (7-11)
9. Northwestern (7-11)
10. Iowa (3-15)
11. Indiana (3-15)

First Round - Thursday, March 10
-2:30 p.m. (ESPN2) - (8) Minnesota vs. (9) Northwestern. Winner: Minnesota
-25 minutes after previous game (ESPN2) - (7) Penn State vs. (10) Iowa. Winner: Penn State
-7:30 p.m. (BTN) - (6) Michigan State vs. (11) Indiana. Winner: Indiana

Quarterfinals - Friday, March 11
-Noon (ESPN) - (1) Ohio State vs. (8) Minnesota. Winner: Ohio State
-25 minutes after previous game (ESPN) - (4) Illinois vs. (5) Michigan. Winner: Michigan
-6:30 p.m. (BTN) - (2) Purdue vs. (7) Penn State. Winner: Purdue
-25 minutes after previous game (BTN) - (3) Wisconsin vs. (11) Indiana. Winner: Indiana

Semifinals - Saturday, March 12
-1:40 p.m. (CBS) - (1) Ohio State vs. (5) Michigan. Winner: Ohio State
-25 minutes after previous game (CBS) - (2) Purdue vs. (11) Indiana. Winner: Indiana

Championship - Sunday, March 13
Game 10 - 3:30 p.m. (CBS) - (1) Ohio State vs. (11) Indiana. Winner: Indiana

There it is.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Most Successful Bands With Overlapping Members

This past Saturday, while eating dinner on a beach in Puerto Vallarta and slamming tropical drinks like we had new livers and low blood-sugar concerns, someone at our table began (or perhaps continued) an interesting rock and roll discussion. Obviously many rock stars have been in multiple bands. However, of those, who has been in the most successful bands during their tenure in each band? That is, what are the most successful bands with overlapping members?

Here are the rules:

1. This list looks only at the time period the member was in each band, and there must be some legitimate success and new musical output during the time the overlapping member was in each band. This is the most important rule. Thus, even though Dave Navarro (who was in Jane's Addiction) was in Red Hot Chili Peppers for a short time, you wouldn't look at the full body of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction when judging whether to include those two bands, just as you can't put Queen/Bad Company/Free on the list simply because Paul Rodgers joined Queen in recent years. And this rule would exclude bands like London, which was essentially a feeder band that had a ton of musicians who eventually became famous and successful in other bands, but which was not itself a very successful band.

2. Solo careers don't count. That's an entirely different discussion that can be had a later date on a different beach. Along those lines, members of a solo act's backing band don't count. Thus, just as I wouldn't include Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne on the list with Ozzy Osbourne as an overlapping member, I wouldn't include Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads as an overlapping member because Ozzy Osbourne isn't a "band."

3. Also, members actually have to be in the band and can't just have either played on albums or been session musicians. Thus, even though The Band backed up Bob Dylan and Booker T. & The MGs backed up a ton of Stax/Volt artists, those don't count. Similarly, the fact that Eric Clapton played on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" or that Huey Lewis played harmonica on a couple Thin Lizzy songs doesn't mean they were members of those bands.

4. Supergroups do count. There was some discussion about whether supergroups should be included, and I think they should, since supergroups are, in fact, bands. Regardless, supergroups are rarely as successful as the members' original bands, so in many cases, it won't really matter. Bad English comes to mind.

5. One-off bands count, but collaborations don't. It is unbelievably rare that a band only puts out one album that is uber successful and then breaks up (Sex Pistols, I'm looking your way), much less that a member of that band was also a member of another successful band, so I will include one-off bands, to the extent there are any. That said, they actually have to be separate bands. Thus, while "Bob Dylan and The Band" is the artist listed on The Basement Tapes album, I don't consider that to be a band, but rather a collaboration between Bob Dylan and The Band. Same thing goes for Temple of the Dog, which was a collaboration between Soundgarden and the remaining members of Mother Love Bone (and some new dudes named Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready) that made a tribute album to honor deceased Mother Love Bone lead singer Andy Wood.

6. Bands that changed their name don't count as two different bands. I don't know how many of these there would be anyway, but if a band is successful, then changes its name while maintaining essentially the same lineup, that doesn't count (even if the band's membership has some changes). Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship, Joy Division/New Order, and The Young Rascals/The Rascals come to mind as bands that fit into this category.

With that, here are my top ten, along with the groups I considered, but rejected. I basically wrote down everything I could think of, which is why there were so many "considered."

Considered, but rejected:
Buffalo Springfield/Crosby Still Nash & Young (Stephen Stills and Neil Young); James Gang/The Eagles (Joe Walsh); Free/Bad Company (Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke); Ides of March/Survivor (Jim Peterik); Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver (Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum); Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver (Scott Weiland); Soundgarden/Audioslave (Chris Cornell); Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave (Tom Morello, Brad Commerford, and Brad Wilk); Red Hot Chili Peppers/Pearl Jam (Jack Irons); The Cult/Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver (Matt Sorum); White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather (Jack White); Greenhornes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather (Jack Lawrence); Queens of the Stone Age/Dead Weather (Dean Fertita); The Kills/Dead Weather (Alison Mosshart); Greenhornes/Raconteurs (Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler); The Beatles/Traveling Wilburys (George Harrison); ELO/Traveling Wilburys (Jeff Lynne); Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers/Traveling Wilburys (Tom Petty); Dio/Whitesnake/Def Leppard (Vivian Campbell); Quiet Riot/Whitesnake (Rudy Sarzo); Deep Purple/Whitesnake (David Coverdale); Runaways/Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Joan Jett); Soundgarden/Pearl Jam (Matt Cameron); UFO/Fastway (Pete Way); Motorhead/Fastway (Eddie Clarke); Humble Pie/Fastway (Jerry Shirley); Fastway/Flogging Molly (Dave King); Extreme/Van Halen (Gary Cherone); Exodus/Metallica (Kirk Hammett); Metallica/Megadeth (Dave Mustaine); Flotsam & Jetsam/Metallica (Jason Newsted); Suicidal Tendencies/Metallica (Robert Trujillo); Styx/Damn Yankees (Tommy Shaw); Montrose/Van Halen/Chickenfoot (Sammy Hagar); Night Ranger/Damn Yankees (Jack Blades); Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention/Journey/Jefferson Starship/Whitesnake (Aynsley Dunbar); The Tubes/Journey (Prairie Prince); Joey Dee and The Starliters/Young Rascals (Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, and Gene Cornish); Depeche Mode/Erasure (Vince Clarke); Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club (Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth); Broken Bells/The Shins (James Mercer); Broken Bells/Gnarls Barkley (Danger Mouse); Fratellis/Codeine Velvet Club (Jon Lawler); Arctic Monkeys/Last Shadow Puppets (Alex Turner); Art Brut/Everybody Was in the French Resistance . . . Now! (Eddie Argos); Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin/Them Crooked Vultures (John Paul Jones); Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures (Josh Homme); Red Hot Chili Peppers/Chickenfoot (Chad Smith); Jane's Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers (Dave Navarro); Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros (Perry Ferrell); Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan (Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain); Blur/Gorillaz (Damon Albarn); Genesis/Mike and the Mechanics (Mike Rutherford); Samson/Iron Maiden (Bruce Dickinson); Yes/Asia (Geoff Downes and Steve Howe); Emerson Lake & Palmer/Asia (Carl Palmer); King Crimson/Uriah Heep/Roxy Music/Asia (John Wetton); Small Faces/Humble Pie (Steve Marriott); Hawkwind/Motorhead (Lemmy Kilmister); Moody Blues/Wings (Denny Laine); Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin/The Firm (Jimmy Page); Black Sabbath/Dio (Vinny Appice); Vanilla Fudge/Cactus (Carmine Appice); Duran Duran/Power Station (Andy Taylor and John Taylor); Free/Bad Company/The Firm (Paul Rodgers); Uriah Heep/Manfred Mann's Earth Band/The Firm (Chris Slade); Mott the Hoople/Bad Company (Mick Ralphs); Deep Purple/Black Sabbath (Ian Gillan); Thin Lizzy/Tygers of Pan Tang/Whitesnake (John Sykes)

10. Rainbow/Black Sabbath/Dio
Ronnie James Dio: Rainbow 1975-1979; Black Sabbath 1979-1982, 1991-1992; Dio 1982-1991, 1993-2010
Dio was heavy metal's ambassador, in part because he popularized the devil horns, but mostly because he was a part of several great (and successful) hard rock and heavy metal bands. With Rainbow, he was part of the band's hardest rocking era. He then replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath and put out several good (and successful) albums, ressurecting a band that had been in kind of a holding pattern for several years prior to his arrival. Then, he formed his own band, Dio, which had a string of Top 40 hits in the early to mid '80s -- a time when straightforward hard rock wasn't getting a ton of airplay.

9. Deep Purple/Rainbow
Ritchie Blackmore: Deep Purple 1968-1975, 1984-1993; Rainbow 1975-1984, 1994-1997
As part of two of the most influential hard rock bands of all time, Blackmore was the only consistent part of all of Deep Purple's successes and all of Rainbow's successes. Deep Purple was one of the original heavy metal bands, with over 100 million albums sold worldwide, 6 Top 20 albums in the US, and 12 Top 20 albums in the UK (including 3 #1 albums). Rainbow went through a lot of lineup changes, but the band's albums always cracked the Top 100 in the US and the Top 15 in the UK, and just about every song they put out between 1978 and 1983 made the Top 40 in the UK.

8. Jeff Beck Group/Faces/The Rolling Stones
Ronnie Wood: Jeff Beck Group 1968-1970; Faces 1970-1975; The Rolling Stones 1975-present
He would be higher on the list if he had joined the Stones before 1975. Faces is a very underrated band (with 5 UK Top 40 albums and 3 US Top 40 albums), as is Jeff Beck Group, both of which, of course, featured Rod Stewart on vocals. The Rolling Stones, on the other hand, are not underrated because they are, in fact, awesome.

7. Spencer Davis Group/Traffic/Blind Faith
Steve Winwood: Spencer Davis Group 1963-1967; Traffic 1967-1969, 1970-1974; Blind Faith 1969
Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group when he was only 14, and that soulful voice you hear on 1966's "Gimme Some Lovin'" is only 18 years old. He then left to form Traffic, which, aside from his one-off album with supergroup Blind Faith, he was in until 1974. Traffic was more successful in the UK than in the US, but still had a number of top 10 albums on both sides of the pond.

6. The Hollies/Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young)
Graham Nash: The Hollies 1963-1968; Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young) off and on from 1969 to the present
The Hollies were a solid part of the British Invasion, and Nash was the lead singer on many of their massive hits. He then joined CSN/CSNY, and had even more success.

5. The Byrds/Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young)
David Crosby: The Byrds 1964-1967, 1972-1973, 1988-1991; Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young) off and on from 1969 to the present
Crosby was part of one of the most successful American rock bands before teaming up with Still and Nash (and sometimes Young). He was also part of all of CSN/CSNY's successes. I also thought about including Stephen Stills and Neil Young on the list for their membership in Buffalo Springfield, but I didn't for a couple reasons. First, Buffalo Springfield was a great band, but not as big as The Byrds or The Hollies, in my opinion. Second, as far as Neil Young, he was in and out of CSN/CSNY, and he wasn't a part of several of their big hits. It's a tangled web I'm weaving here.

4. Santana/Journey
Gregg Rolie: Santana 1969-1972; Journey 1973-1981
Neal Schon: Santana 1971-1972; Journey 1973-present
Gregg Rolie is kind of the unsung (ironically) hero of early Santana, not only playing the keyboards, but also singing on many of the songs on the band's first four albums (which were all great albums), including their then-biggest hit "Black Magic Woman." Neal Schon was a guitar prodigy, who joined Santana when he was 15 and played on Santana's third and fourth albums. Rolie and Schon left Santana and formed Journey in 1973. Schon has been in the band since then. Rolie was a significant contributor until 1981, often providing lead vocals before Steve Perry joined the band in 1977 and providing co-lead or backing vocals afterwards.

3. Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Them Crooked Vultures
Dave Grohl: Nirvana 1991-1994; Foo Fighters 1995-present; Them Crooked Vultures 2009-2010
As the drummer for Nirvana, Grohl ushered in grunge and a music world full of teenage angst and flannel, effectively killing hair metal (which wasn't particularly nice of him). And then, after Kurt Cobain died, Grohl formed the most successful hard rock band of the last 15 years. And then, he teamed up with John Paul Jones and Josh Homme for Them Crooked Vultures, a one-off supergroup that put out a decent album a couple years ago, and without which he would still be ranked #3 on this list.

2. The Yardbirds/John Mayall's Bluesbreakers/Cream/Blind Faith/Derek & The Dominos
Eric Clapton: The Yardbirds 1963-1965; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers 1965-1966; Cream 1966-1968; Blind Faith 1969; Derek & The Dominos 1970
Good Lord. This is a remarkable seven-year run. He was in the most successful Yardbirds lineup, performed on the only Bluesbreakers album that anyone owns, formed the greatest supergroup of all-time, formed another supergroup, fell in love with George Harrison's wife, and then made the greatest lovelorn album of all-time. And then, in 1971, he turned 26.

1. The Beatles/Wings
Paul McCartney: The Beatles 1959-1970; Wings 1971-1981
Once upon a time, Paul McCartney was in a band that, during a ten-year span, had 23 Top 40 songs, 14 Top 10 songs, 6 #1 songs, 9 Top 10 albums, and 5 #1 albums. Before that, he was in The Beatles.

Thoughts? Any others I forgot?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Like Narco Polo

Fair readers, I have to return some video tapes, and then I'm going to play Marco Polo with a couple narcoleptics. That always takes a while, so I will be AWOL for the next few days. Fear not, though, I will return next Monday with tales of brave Ulysses and how his naked ears were tortured by the Sirens sweetly singing. During my absence, I'd like you to consider which Cream song best represents your life. For me, it's "Pressed Rat and Warthog," for fairly esoteric reasons.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Songs with "Sex" in the Title

So yesterday was Valentine's Day. Hopefully everyone out there was having lots of safe, consensual sex, either with someone else or with yourself. I don't judge.

In honor of V Day, I decided to compile what I believe to be the ten best songs with the word "sex" (or any variation thereof) in the title. Here you go.

Honorable mention: "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots; "Sexx Laws" by Beck; "Make Sex" by Andrew W.K.; "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex" by CSS; "Sex Action" by L.A. Guns; "Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake; "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate; "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart

10. "Sex and Candy" by Marcy Playground
What a great title. It was allegedly written after some chick accidentally walked in on one of the dudes in the band and his ladyfriend, and the girl commented that the room smelled like sex and candy. While "candy" is vague in this instance, the title works a lot better than "Sex and A Half-Eaten Bag of Circus Peanuts."

9. "Sex On Fire" by Kings of Leon
This is a solid, straightforward rocker (the kind of songs I wish Kings of Leon would stick to), with an anthemic chorus that can fill any arena or large outdoor concert venue. That said, any burning sensation caused by sex is a serious issue, which brings us to our next entry . . .

8. "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt 'N' Pepa
This is a nice, catchy song about having safe sex. Let's face it, no one wants to wake up with any sort of discharge coming from their privates or a diminishing T-cell count. Salt 'N' Pepa just wanted to make sure you remembered that.

7. "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd
I don't care if you think this song is cheesy or not, it's a great song. Even though you wished it sucked, it's catchy and little bit funny. I mean, who says to a girl, "I wanna sex you up"? These guys, that's who.
And they meant it.

6. "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael
What I think is really awkward about this song is that, on my way to my first concert ever (a George Michael concert when I was in fifth grade, after winning tickets from Z-95), I had to explain to my mom that George Michael had a song called "I Want Your Sex." Mercifully, she did not ask me to recite the lyrics.

5. "Tired of Sex" by Weezer
This is one of my favorite Weezer songs, and Rivers Cuomo really belts out this song about being tired of having sex with random groupies and not being able to find true love. It's got everything I love in a song: fuzzy guitars, an interesting subject matter, primal screaming, and great use of anticipation.

4. "Sexy MF" by Prince
Prince is pretty much a badass, despite his small stature and affinity for wearing purple and scarves. This song is a solid piece of funk, with a great tagline.

3. "Sexy Sadie" by The Beatles
As I'm sure you remember, this is my sixth favorite Beatles song. It wouldn't be on this list if it had gone by its original title, "Maharishi." John Lennon wrote it about the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who John felt had been a bit of a fraud after he apparently hit on a female attendee of an ashram put on by the Maharishi that the Beatles were also attending in India. At the behest of George Harrison, they changed the name of the song to "Sexy Sadie." One must wonder if they hadn't changed the name to "Sexy Sadie," would I have named my old '89 Accord "Maharishi" and would "Maharishi" have been playing when I totaled the car named Maharishi? Only John Lennon knows for sure. This one wasn't on, but here is a "video" of the song.

2. "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)" by James Brown
This was a tough call. I almost made this #1. This is just a fantastic example of early funk, courtesy of the Godfather of Soul. Back when I was in college, I swear that every time I went to Kilroy's my junior and senior years, this song played at least once on the jukebox. That's neither here nor there, but the song reminds me of a pretty awesome two-year span. On top of that, the song has one of those grooves that just makes you want to move your hips. Next thing you know, your boss walks in your office and you're humping the windows, allegedly.

1. "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye
It's tough to argue that any song with "sex" in the title can top Marvin Gaye's 1982 classic, "Sexual Healing," released about a year and half before his untimely murder at the hands of his own father. Gaye has, in my opinion, one of the best voices in rock and roll history, and he adds to that voice some lyrics about love makin' and a great title. I also recently learned that, as the music fades out at the end of the song, Gaye sings, "Please don't procrastinate, 'cause then I'll masturbate." Nice work.

Any other "sex" songs I missed?

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Me Like a Reptile

This weekend was pretty low key. I had a grand total of one beer, which I think is a record low (if not damn close) since sometime the summer before my freshman year of college.

I ended up watching the documentary Lemmy twice -- on Friday night when it debuted and then again on Saturday night. For those of you who don't have VH1 Classic -- and I genuinely pity you, if that's the case -- Lemmy is a documentary about Lemmy Kilmister, the gravelly voiced lead singer and bassist of Motörhead. It is a must see for any metal fan, and Jester even enjoyed it despite her relative dislike of metal music and her inability to understand anything Lemmy was saying. I think the documentary was, in a way, meant to show you how solitary Lemmy's life is. He is 65 (63 when the documentary was filmed), has never been married, lives alone in a 2-room apartment near the Sunset Strip that he rents for $900 a month, and plays a lot of Touch Screen games at the Rainbow. While that may seem lonely (although I think it sounds quite delightful), he is probably the most loved man on the Sunset Strip, and he's a hell of a nice guy, who just happens to smoke Marlboro Reds and drink a bottle of Jack a day. But he's one of those rock stars who is completely grounded, appreciates where he is and what he's done, and always takes time to talk to fans. He's also bedded over 1,000 women. He also has the best facial hair in metal. I don't know where all this is going, other than to say it was a good flick, and I recommend it.

Then last night I watched the Grammys, interspersed with some Californication. So Lady Antebellum was the big winner, taking home five Grammys. However, their big song "Need You Now" is pretty much a rip off of the Alan Parsons Project's "Eye in the Sky." I could give two shits about Lady Antebellum, or the Alan Parsons Project, for that matter, but there's something about this that just rubs me the wrong way. I also thought Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" sounded a lot like Madonna's "Express Yourself." Apparently I'm not the only one. By the way, that Hank Moody is incorrigible!

I am also very happy that Justin Bieber didn't win Best New Artist. I have no reason to dislike Justin Bieber, but I do. It's the hair, I presume. It's awful. I'm also extremely jealous that he has been in a commercial with Ozzy Osbourne and I haven't (yet). So, congratulations Esperanza Spalding, whoever you are.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

R.I.P. Gary Moore

Gary Moore, two-time guitarist for Thin Lizzy (one of my favorite bands) has died at the age of 58 of an apparent heart attack. Moore was in the band in 1974, then left without playing on any albums, then returned from 1978 to 1979 and played on my favorite Thin Lizzy album, 1979's Black Rose: A Rock Legend. Moore co-wrote two of my favorite songs on the album (and two of my favorite Thin Lizzy songs period): "Toughest Street in Town" (in which Moore has a wicked solo at about the 1:30 mark) and "Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend" (a song that, to paraphrase one of the commentators on YouTube, makes you feel more Irish after you listen to it). Here are YouTube "videos" of the songs:

In addition, Moore had a long solo career, which, in the last 20 years, was primarily blues-based. Throughout his career, he collaborated with the likes of George Harrison, Albert King, Albert Collins, the Traveling Wilburys, the Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

A revamped Thin Lizzy will be touring Europe this spring (obviously with a new lead singer and bassist, since Phil Lynott has been dead for 25 years), and I don't think Moore was going to be a part of that. I know Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell is one of the guitarists, joining longtime Thin Lizzy members guitarist Scott Gorham, drummer Brian Downey, and keyboardist Darren Wharton. Hopefully, the tour will make it across the pond because I'd love to see them live, even if some of the original members are no longer with us.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 2/11/11

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite White Stripes Songs

As you may have heard, The White Stripes have broken up. This is terrible news. I'm still in denial. In my opinion, The White Stripes are (or were) the greatest rock band of the last fifteen years. To get that much power and sound from two people is amazing. A guitarist and a drummer. That's it. And better yet, the fact that Jack and Meg White were married when they started the band and divorced before their second album (of six) was released makes their story and longevity that much more intriguing. Think about that for a second, if you haven't already. "Look, I know you don't want to be married anymore, but let's not let that affect our band." Thank God they did keep the band together because they pumped out five more albums that were among the best of the last decade.

Jack White is one of the most underrated guitarists and songwriters around. He is a wizard on the axe, and he has written great songs in a wide variety of genres, from straight punk ("Fell In Love With a Girl") to blues ("Ball and Biscuit") to Motown-inspired soul ("My Doorbell") to heartfelt ballads ("We're Going to Be Friends") to sports anthems ("Seven Nation Army") to garage rock ("Hello Operator," among many others) to tongue-in-cheek songs ("It's True We Love One Another," "It's Not My Fault For Being Famous") to Help!-era Beatles pop ("Hotel Yorba") to fuzz rock ("Icky Thump") to bluegrass ("Little Ghost") to songs that could fit in on Led Zeppelin III ("As Ugly As I Seem") to glam ("Blue Orchid") to a song based entirely on dialogue from Citizen Kane ("The Union Forever").

Meg White is diminutive in stature and personality, but she hammers the drums with authority and precision. I think of her much like I think of Ringo. She is not the greatest technical drummer ever, but she was perfect for the band she was in. She knew when to hold back, when to go nuts, and everything in between. No one else would have worked.

Here is the official announcement from the band's website (by the way, I think the picture below the announcement on the website might have been taken at a park off of 13 Mile road a couple miles from my dead grandma's old house):

The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live.

The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

Meg and Jack want to thank every one of their fans and admirers for the incredible support they have given throughout the 13 plus years of the White Stripes' intense and incredible career.

Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault Subscription record club, as well as through regular channels.

Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who've shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.

With that in mind the band have this to say:

"The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful."

Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes
I respect that, but it doesn't mean I like it. It just can't end yet. The White Stripes have never made a bad album, so I doubt they would have done so in the future. More than anything, I am legitimately sad. When I heard rumors that they were going back to the studio this year, I was really excited. I was hoping for a tour, since I'm still stinging from their cancellation of their 2007 show at the Aragon when Meg had acute anxiety. I'm just glad I saw them in 2005 in Indy at the Murat Theatre (which was a fantastic show). Now, there's going to be a hole in rock and roll, and I keep telling myself that it can't be true -- that they'll reunite at some point in the future and everything will be okay. But I get the feeling they won't reunite.

With that, I am here today to do what The White Stripes asked: celebrate the wonderful music they made. Here are my ten favorite White Stripes songs (and 17 honorable mentions).

Honorable mention (in no particular order): "Seven Nation Army"; "Walking With a Ghost"; "It's Not My Fault For Being Famous"; "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)"; "Slicker Drips"; "Hello Operator"; "Red Death at 6:14"; "Broken Bricks"; "Black Jack Davey"; "Ball and Biscuit"; "Blue Orchid"; "I'm Slowly Turning Into You"; "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise"; "Fell In Love With a Girl"; "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground"; "Screwdriver"; "Rag and Bone"

10. "Black Math" (Elephant, 2003)
This song just blazes from the beginning, aside from the slowed-down bridge. Jack has a phenomenal guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through.

9. "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)" (Get Behind Me Satan, 2005)
This is one of the songs on Get Behind Me Satan that featured a marimba, but somehow made it work. It's a nice little song where each verse starts with just Jack and a marimba, then adds some drums, and eventually builds into Jack belting out the chorus.

8. "Jimmy the Exploder" (The White Stripes, 1999)
The first song off of their first album, "Jimmy the Exploder" starts off with a pounding drum beat and a plodding guitar riff. Then it kicks into a frenzied, garage punk rocker, giving the listener a sense of what they would be in store for over the next ten years.

7. "My Doorbell" (Get Behind Me Satan, 2005)
This is just a great pop song with a great beat. It's like "Lady Madonna" meets Motown. It's catchy as hell, and I love it, and that's about all I have to say about it.

6. "A Martyr For My Love" (Icky Thump, 2007)
An organ and crashing cymbals kick the song off, followed by a somewhat muted verse. The chorus is what makes this song for me. You know I love the use of anticipation in songs, and this one makes great use of it. You can tell the song is building. Then, when you're least expecting it, boom! The chorus kicks in and the organ, drums, and cymbals wail along with Jack.

5. "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" (Elephant, 2003)
This is a cover of a Burt Bacharach song, and The White Stripes kill it (in a good way). Meg's drums are crisp and Jack's guitar is jagged. Its sweet start is thrown to hell during the violent, wailing choruses, where Meg crashes away and Jack fuzzes out. It says a lot about this song that it's my favorite song off of Elephant.

4. "Hotel Yorba" (White Blood Cells, 2001)
This is another great pop song. Like I said before, this song could easily be on The Beatles Help! album. This one was definitely on my wedding cocktail hour mix, not that anyone remembers much of it.

3. "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)" (De Stijl, 2000)
Every one of The White Stripes' six album starts off with a great song. This one kicks off their sophomore album, De Stijl. It's a two-minute garage pop masterpiece. Something about the song has always drawn me to it. Even after listening to this song for damn near ten years, I'm not sure exactly what it means. It appears to be about an above-average-looking female with a broken back.

2. "Jolene" (live) (Blackpool Deluxe EP, 2004)
This is a cover of a Dolly Parton song, and it's extra creepy with Jack's wavering vocals. There's something about this version that is kind of hypnotic. And then, of course, the band rocks it out during the choruses.

1. "Offend in Every Way" (White Blood Cells, 2001)
This is a gritty, garage-y song with a distorted guitar intro that leads into self-loathing lyrics about a guy who just can't seem to say anything without offending someone. The first line of the second verse has always been a favorite: "I'm comin' through the door / But they're expecting more / Of an interesting man."

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I apologize for my lack of posting over the past couple days. As it turns out, I am out of town. Sunday after the Super Bowl, I wigged out a little. After a couple hours on, I had no choice but to see if Agnes was as good as her profile indicated. Jester has always been under the assumption that I'm training for the Iditarod, so I rounded up a few Malamutes, and headed to Columbus with a case of Activia and a bottle of pineapple brandy. Things were looking pretty good. I was hoping she was as generous a lover as she was a grandmother to Cody and Emma.

Turns out Agnes was about 15 years older and 30 pounds skinnier than what she said on her profile, and it is damn near impossible to tell if she is, in fact, a natural red head. I hope she made it back all right from Thurman's after I stole her Segway.

As you know, my goal with most of my writing is to force America to become comfortable with skull fucking. Thus, I'm now just hanging out alone in my room at the Super 8, blaring The Smiths while I work on my screenplay for my live-action, NC-17 version of The Snorks. Don't you think Wilfred Brimley would be a perfect Wellington Jr. Wetworth? And that Pink would be a perfect Casey Kelp -- you know, because she's pink? So do I, although the snorkel raping scene is taking a while to get just right. The dialogue is still to jokey.

The kicker about being away is that I have most of a killer Tuesday Top Ten about The White Stripes written on bond paper at home. Expect to see a digital version on Thursday. Jester, I'll be home tomorrow. I have no idea what's wrong with me.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


You may have heard there was a bit of snowfall in the United States over the past couple days. Chicago was not without its share. 20+ inches in less than 24 hours. Not to shabby.

While I wasn't one of the lucky 1000+ idiots who got stuck on Lake Shore Drive, I did have the pleasure of staying home from work yesterday. Between about 10 p.m. Tuesday night and Wednesday night at 8 p.m., not a single vehicle went down our block, resulting in an untouched blanket of snow that made the block look like a narrow field flanked with some giant blocks of metal. It was pretty cool. Here is what it looked like yesterday morning:

There are several cars on our block, including ours, that will require a solid half-hour of shoveling to escape Skadi's wrath.

Our back porch was equally uninhabitable. I think Harley's out there somewhere.

I attempted to do some time-lapse photography, but I haven't put it together yet to see if it actually worked. If it did, I'll be sure to post it. Of course, I didn't take any pictures for the 7 hours and 43 minutes I was asleep Tuesday night, so there may be some holes in the story.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Rock and Roll Covers of Delta Blues Songs

As you know, I'm in the middle of reading a book about the history of the Delta blues. So far, it's fantastic, and while reading it, there have been several times where I've seen a familiar song title and thought, "I had no idea that was originally a Delta blues song." Of course, there are other Delta blues songs that I knew were covered by rock and rollers. Either way, it inspired me to do this list.

To understand rock and roll, you have to understand and appreciate where it came from. The Mississippi Delta spans from Memphis to about halfway down Mississippi, along the river, stretching out up to 40 or 50 miles inland in some parts. In the first forty years of the last century, this region gave birth to the most important native American (not to be confused with Native American) form of music, and maybe the most important cultural gift America has ever given the world: the Delta blues.

The number of early Delta blues songs have been covered over the years by rock and roll musicians is a testament to the influence and importance of the Delta blues. The Delta blues was ahead of its time in its content (like music often is). It was introspective, blunt, and, for lack of a better word, real -- generally created by a repressed socioeconomic group (poor, black musicians, who often worked as sharecroppers or otherwise in manual labor), largely during the Great Depression. It dealt with topics like floods, famine, drinking, death, murder, sex, adultery, religion, good, evil, and, of course, milk cows.

When I was compiling this list, I limited myself to pre-World War II songs by Delta blues artists. It's somewhat difficult because so many artists started out in the Delta and migrated north to Chicago or other cities, and had many successful post-Delta, electric years (like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and John Lee Hooker, to name a few). Of course, many of the songs have changed over the years or were adaptations of Delta blues songs, as electric instruments became the norm and as instruments other than guitars (and maybe the occasional piano or harmonica) were added. I also didn't include cover versions by other blues artists. To the extent the originals and covers are available on, I am including them in the embedded Victrola below.

Here are my top ten rock covers of Delta blues songs, in alphabetical order:

1. "Baby, Please Don't Go" by Them (Big Joe Williams, 1935)
In 1964, Northern Irish rockers Them (led by Van Morrison) put out a fantastic single, with their cover of "Baby, Please Don't Go" as the A-side and "Gloria" as the B-side. While "Gloria" has since become more popular, their version of "Baby, Please Don't Go" is just as great. It's frantic and dark, just as it should be. And of course, Van Morrison's voice is fantastic.

2. "Catfish Blues" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Robert Petway, 1941)
In case you hadn't heard, Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all-time, and I would say that moniker applies both to rock & roll and the blues. Hendrix was hugely influenced by the blues, and while the Jimi Hendrix Experience's three studio albums did not contain any blues covers, there are blues covers on many compilations, live performances, and BBC sessions. Hendrix's cover of Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues" was one of the first blues songs I really listened to. It's about wishing you were a catfish, which made a lot of sense to me when I was in junior high. The song is on the Radio One album, which included a bunch of songs recorded for the BBC, as well as the Jimi Hendrix Blues album.

3. "Crossroads" by Cream (originally "Cross Road Blues" by Robert Johnson, 1937)
The most legendary, well, legend from the Delta blues involves Robert Johnson. He was apparently view as a rather mediocre guitar player, when he came to the crossroads of two highways with his guitar in hand. A being -- believed to be Satan -- appeared and tuned Johnson's guitar, in exchange for Johnson's soul. After that, Johnson was a guitar wiz. Thirty years later, another guitar wiz, Eric Clapton, breathed new life into Johnson's "Cross Road Blues." The now-unmistakable riff from Cream's fast-paced version is almost synonymous with Clapton.

4. "Death Letter" by The White Stripes (Son House, 1930)
Jack White is huge fan of the blues, and the blues have a pretty obvious influence on a lot of The White Stripes' songs. On their 2000 sophomore album, De Stijl, Jack and Meg covered Son House's "Death Letter," a dark tale of a dude who finds out his lady is dead. "I got a letter this morning / What do you reckon it said? / It said the gal you love is dead." Pretty hardcore. Jack White plays some mean slide guitar on the cover version.

5. "On the Road Again" by Canned Heat (an adaptation of "Big Road Blues" by Tommy Johnson, 1928)
Psychedelic blues rockers Canned Heat reworked an old Delta blues song in 1968 and added some Eastern influences to give it an especially trippy feel. The '60s must have been fun.

6. "Stack Shot Billy" by The Black Keys (an adaptation of "Stack O'Lee" by Mississippi John Hurt, 1928)
The murder of Billy Lyons by Stagger Lee Shelton has been an often-reworked theme throughout the history of the blues, coming in various forms ("Stagger Lee," "Stack O'Lee," "Stagolee," "Stackerlee," and "Stack-a-Lee," to name a few), but it was Mississippi John Hurt's 1928 version ("Stack O'Lee") that really put all the elements together (which is why I'm including that version, as opposed to earlier versions). The Black Keys did their version on 2004's Rubber Factory as "Stack Shot Billy," and it is as solid a blues rock cover as you can get.

7. "Stones in My Passway" by John Mellencamp (Robert Johnson, 1937)
In 2003, John Mellencamp released an album of folk and blues covers called Trouble No More. For me, the highlight of the album is his cover of Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway," with a jagged, repeating slide guitar riff to complement Mellencamp's voice.

8. "Sweet Home Chicago" by The Blues Brothers (Robert Johnson, 1936)
Johnson, by all accounts, never went to Chicago. In fact, in his original version, he implied that Chicago was "in the land of California," although that appears to be more of a metaphor for a far-off land of plenty than an error. Over time, other blues artists covered this song, but none more popularly than Jake and Elwood Blues for their 1980 biopic, The Blues Brothers. This song has become an anthem for Chicago, and rightfully so.

9. "Traveling Riverside Blues" by Led Zeppelin (Robert Johnson, 1937)
It includes the line "I want you to squeeze my lemon / Until the juice runs down my leg," which has been used in other songs (most notably, Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song," which is kind of a hybrid cover, mostly of Howlin' Wolf's "The Killing Floor"). Zeppelin's version of this song is awesome. Jimmy Page really pulls the listener in with the opening slide guitar riff.

10. "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin (Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, 1929)
Originally written about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, Led Zeppelin transformed it into a thundering, wailing, fuzzed out masterpiece. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but this is my favorite Led Zeppelin song, and one of my overall all-time favorite songs. It is my ringtone.

Honorable mention: "Alberta" by Eric Clapton (originally "Corrine, Corrina" by Bo Chatmon); "Black Betty" by Ram Jam (Leadbelly); "Crawling King Snake" by The Doors (John Lee Hooker); "Fixin' to Die Blues" by Bob Dylan (Bukka White); "From Four Till Late" by Cream (Robert Johnson); "I'm So Glad" by Cream (Skip James); "Love In Vain" by The Rolling Stones (Robert Johnson); "Prodigal Son" by The Rolling Stones (Robert Wilkins); "Ramblin' On My Mind" by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (Robert Johnson); "Stop Breakin' Down" by The White Stripes (Robert Johnson); "Stop Breaking Down" by The Rolling Stones (Robert Johnson)

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