Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Killer Whales Almost Killed Me

I haven't had time to write a Tuesday Top Ten this week because I had to travel to a whale's vagina for an orca-based business skills seminar.  We could learn a lot from these noble beasts you call killer whales.  Pods.  Think about it.  I will say this.  The Dollar Rent-a-Car location near the San Diego airport is a strange and fascinating place.  It's right next to a strip club (all-nude, in case you're wondering), which is pretty sweet if you have some time to kill while waiting for your Ford Focus.  The Dollar workers seem to have taken a page out of Ron Burgundy's book, as one twenty-something male employee with hair like Pauly D kept asking a thirty-something potentially South American female co-worker if she had a boyfriend.  It is also apparent that the only two demographics who rent from this Dollar location are professionals between the ages of 25 and 40, women with really big bottoms, and unkempt Baby Boomers who wear Outback hats and are returning to Southern California presumably to attend the Manson Family reunion.  Also, I learned that it is considered more rude to point out to a fellow air passenger that he is "snoring like a fucking chainsaw and annoying the shit out of everyone on the plane" than to actually snore like a chainsaw and annoy the shit out of everyone on a plane.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Flower counter clerk: "We only got primary colors, see? Red, yellow, purple."
--Chicago, Jewel, Clark & Division
Eavesdropper: RobD

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star

For reasons that will forever remain a mystery to me, I thought of this song yesterday.  I think it's strange I'll never know.  But now I can watch the video.  Thanks, YouTube!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Worst College Sex Scandals

I am hellishly busy this week and next, so I haven't had time to write a Tuesday Top Ten this week (and may not next week).  Thankfully, the good people at Best Online Colleges sent me a link to their article entitled "10 Worst College Sex Scandals of All Time."  While I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up listing the ten best college sex scandals of all-time, this is particularly timely given JoePa's passing this weekend.  By the way, apparently the best way to avoid flack for failing to report child rape is to win 409 college football games and then die of cancer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Bearded gentleman calling himself "Turban" talking to a stranger at a bar: "I don't even know you and I want to make you vomit."
--Lake Tahoe
Eavesdropper: Bonham

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Murder House for Sale!

I think I've found my dream house.  The Murder House from American Horror Story is for sale, for a mere $17 million.  This is up slightly from the $4.5 million that the homeowners had previously sought.  After all, nothing says "extra $13 million" like a house where dozens of people have been brutally slaughtered in a variety of ways seemingly every year for the past eight decades.  "Honey, can you go grab a light bulb from the basement?"  "Shit no."  Granted, it was all on TV, but the house is real.  Thanks to Jesterio the Magnificent for the link.  In addition to sleight of hand and birthing children, she is quite adept at internet research.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "O.P.P." by Naughty By Nature

This is one of Daughter's favorite songs.  Of course, she thinks O.P.P. stands for "Other People's Chocolate Milk."  She doesn't really get acronyms.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Bands or Artists Who Deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

About a month and a half ago, on December 7, the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were announced. The performers being inducted are Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N' Roses, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Small Faces/The Faces. Musicians are eligible 25 years after they released their first record, so 1987 is the year. For the most part, I am not knocking any of the musicians or artists who have been inducted because most of them deserve it (other than Steely Dan -- I hate those fuckers -- and who the fuck is Laura Nyro?). Unlike some people (most notably, the hosts of That Metal Show), I don't think rap and hip hop artists are any less deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame than rock and rollers. After all, to me, the term "rock and roll" is broad and includes pretty much all popular music since the mid '50s (country music excluded, for the most part). That said, I do agree with the That Metal Show hosts' gripe that not enough metal acts are in the Hall. Since 2003, the Hall seems to be more willing to give hard rock and metal acts their due, inducting AC/DC (2003), Black Sabbath (2006), Van Halen (2007), Metallica (2009), Alice Cooper (2011), and Guns N' Roses (2012). It's not just metal that's being overlooked. There are a lot of non-hard rock and metal bands or artists that have been snubbed. It seems like the Rock Hall voters are choosing to ignore a lot of successful and influential bands and artists from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, instead choosing bands and artists who they feel SHOULD have been more popular and influential. Again, who the fuck is Laura Nyro? I like to think I know a fair amount about music and music history, and I have honestly never heard or her. I went to her Wikipedia page, and did not recognize any of her songs, even those that other artists recorded. Maybe she is "Hall worthy," but certainly not before the artists below, in my opinion.

Anyway, here is my list of the top ten Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snubs, with the year of the band's first album in parenthses.

Other snubs (in alphabetical order): Pat Benatar, Boston, Jimmy Buffett, Cheap Trick, Joe Cocker, The Cure, The Doobie Brothers, Duran Duran, ELO, The Guess Who, Hall & Oates, Jethro Tull, Joan Jett, Journey, LL Cool J, The Monkees, The Moody Blues, Motley Crue, Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Ozzy Osbourne solo, Public Enemy, The Replacements, Steppenwolf, Styx, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

10. Steve Miller Band (1968)
The Steve Miller Band is another one of those bands that you forget how successful they were, but if you turn on a classic rock radio station, you are almost guaranteed to hear one of their songs within a couple of hours, whether it's "The Joker," "Jet Airliner," "Jungle Love," "Take the Money and Run," "Rock'n Me," "Swingtown," "Abracadabra," or "Fly Like an Eagle." They had five platinum albums (out of six released) between 1973 and 1982 (four of which hit the Top 3 on Billboard's album charts). During that same span, they had 13 Top 100 hits, 9 Top 40 hits, 5 Top 10 hits, and 3 #1s. As a drunk chick once said, "Steve Miller is the soundtrack of my life."

9. Rush (1974)
I don't like Rush, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. I know that they are a big influence on the hard rock and metal bands that followed them, and Neil Peart is widely considered one of the top drummers in rock history. Certainly, they are the most notable band in the prog metal genre. They have 14 platinum albums, an estimated 40 million album sales worldwide, 11 Top 10 albums in the U.S., are third behind the Beatles and Rolling Stones for most consecutive gold or platinum albums, and had a relatively big presence in the Paul Rudd/Jason Segel movie "I Love You, Man."

8. The Cars (1978)
The Cars get lumped into new wave and the '80s, but they were unique in that they had the new wave look and certainly used synthesizers, but also had more of a rock legitimacy to their music than a lot of new wave bands. "Just What I Needed" has held up better than most other songs that you might consider "new wave." The Cars released 7 studio albums (6 between 1978 and 1987 and one in 2011), and their lowest charting album still hit #26, with all but one of the remaining albums breaking the Top 10. Between 1978 and 1987, they had 13 Top 40 hits and 4 Top 10 hits. You can hear (or at least I can hear) their influence in bands like The Strokes, Hockey, and Franz Ferdinand.

7. Deep Purple (1968)
Deep Purple is one of the most underrated bands in rock history, in my opinion. The band was one of the pioneers of heavy metal, and a huge influence on the genre, be it Richie Blackmore's guitar, Ian Gillan's soaring vocals, or Jon Lord's fuzzed-out organ. They found success with various different line-ups, with 8 Top 40 studio albums in the US and 10 in the UK (and 22 total Top 40 albums in the UK including live albums and compilations). Songs like "Smoke on the Water," "Woman From Tokyo," "Hush," and "Highway Star" are hard rock staples.

6. Def Leppard (1980)
Def Leppard is one of my favorite bands, so I am admittedly a little biased, but then again, they deserve a spot in the Rock Hall. They are one of the most successful bands of the '80s, with both 1983's Pyromania and 1987's Hysteria being certified diamond albums by the RIAA, making them one of only five rock bands with two RIAA certified diamond albums (the others being The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Van Halen, all of whom are in the Rock Hall). Def Leppard has sold an estimated 65 million albums worldwide, and has 8 certified platinum albums, 6 Top 10 albums in the US (12 Top 20) and 7 in the UK, and 15 Top 40 hits in the US and 19 in the UK. Musically, they were much more complex than other bands from their genre, and unlike nearly every other band from the hair band era, Def Leppard has stayed together, continued to make music, and still tour successfully. Frankly, any band that can make a certified diamond album AFTER its drummer loses an arm in a car accident deserves a nomination.

5. Bon Jovi (1984)
Bon Jovi, like Def Leppard, is lumped negatively into the hair band genre. Both were bigger than the genre, in my opinion. Bon Jovi has sold an estimated 130 million albums worldwide, and has managed to weather the '90s and beyond better than just about any other band that can be labeled a hair band. They have 10 platinum albums, 14 Top 40 albums, 11 Top 10 albums, and 4 #1 albums -- including Top 5 albums in the '80s, '90s, and '00s. They also have 17 Top 40 hits (8 of which were in 1992 or after), 10 Top 10 hits, and 4 #1s. When they come to town, they play Soldier Field, which few other bands can do.

4 (tie). Iron Maiden (1980) and Judas Priest (1974)
You can't in good conscience induct one without the other, so I am including both. They are two of the most influential bands in heavy metal history. Iron Maiden is a tour de force, with over 70 million albums sold worldwide and a rabidly loyal following across the globe, selling out stadiums and arenas for 30 years. They define the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Despite having virtually no airplay in the US, they have 8 gold or platinum albums, 13 Top 40 albums, and 2 Top 10 albums in the US. In the UK, they have 25 Top 40 albums, 14 Top 10 albums, 4 #1 albums, and 35 of the 41 songs they have released as singles have hit the UK Top 40, with 17 Top 10 hits and on #1. Judas Priest is the band that gave metal its black leather and pushed metal from the early sounds of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple towards the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, thrash, and hair bands. With their twin lead guitar attack and soaring vocals, Priest, like Maiden, achieved huge success with little airplay in the States. They have 11 Top 40 albums in the US. As with Iron Maiden, they achieved more success in their native UK, with 14 Top 40 albums, 2 Top 10 albums, and 5 Top 40 hits. There aren't too many hard rock or metal bands since these two came along that don't list them as major influences.

3. Heart (1976)
I don't know how you can induct Laura Nyro, whose songs no one outside of her immediate family and Rolling Stone's offices have ever heard, and not induct Heart, one of the biggest female-fronted rock bands ever. Heart shattered the glass ceiling for female rock bands, in my opinion. For 14 years between 1976 and 1990 (with a brief period of relative weakness in the early '80s), Heart was a force to be reckoned with. All of their 10 studio albums broke the Top 40, with 6 breaking the Top 10, one hitting #1, and 7 going platinum. Heart has had 20 Top 40 hits, 9 Top 10 hits, and 2 #1s. Sorry Rock Hall voters, but "Magic Man," "Crazy On You," and "Barracuda" are better songs than anything Laura Nyro ever wrote or recorded. Also, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" was my and my girlfriend's song in sixth grade, even though we didn't quite understand what it meant, so there's that.

2. Chicago (1969)
Chicago is another one of those bands that is sneakily successful. The only American band with more success on the Billboard singles and albums charts is the Beach Boys. They have sold an estimated 122 million albums worldwide, with 18 platinum albums, five #1 albums, three #1 songs, and 21 Top 10 songs. They were the leading US singles charting group during the 1970s. They released 12 albums in the '70s, five of which hit #1 and ten of which were in the Top 10. All but one of the 30 singles they released in the '70s charted on the Billboard Top 100, with 22 Top 40 hits, 13 Top 10 hits, and one #1.

1. KISS (1974)
Are you kidding me? KISS is one of the most recognizable, popular, and successful rock bands of all time. The band has sold over 100 million albums worldwide (with relatively little radio airplay, especially in the beginning), is probably the best live band ever, revolutionized live shows, revolutionized live albums from an afterthought to a viable vehicle for bands and record labels, revolutionized rock merchandising, and has influenced thousands of artists from Anthrax to Weezer. They have 34 Top 100 albums, 27 Top 40 albums, 8 Top 10 albums, 8 Top 40 hits, and 2 Top 10 hits. For Christ's sake, they wrote "Rock and Roll All Nite," a song that, more than any other, defines what rock and roll is all about. Whether the Rock Hall voters don't get KISS or are just musical snobs, I don't know, but it's ridiculous that KISS is not in the Hall of Fame.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Skinning Music

Silence of the Lambs is perhaps the most unintentionally funny movie of all-time.  On a macro level, it should be scary:  a psychothriller about a young FBI agent trying to track down a serial killer with the help of an imprisoned cannibalistic former psychiatrist/serial killer.  On a micro level, it's hysterical:  Buffalo Bill's mocking wail of the chick in his basement well; Buffalo Bill dancing nude in front of his own video camera with his dong tucked between his legs; "Would you fuck me? I would fuck me."; Hannibal's voice; Buffalo Bill's voice; Clarice's voice; "do the lambs still cry, Clarice?"; Jame Gumb; Lecter eating that guard's face; a supermax inmate defying physics by throwing his man goo on Clarice mere minutes after telling her "I can smell your cunt"; "He said 'I can smell your cunt.'"  "I see.  I myself cannot."; "Oh wait, was she a great big fat person?"; tales of eating a government employee's liver with fava beans and a nice chianti; "Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?"; "His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue"; and, last but certainly not least, "it rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."

The band The Greenskeepers have used the last one (and other Buffalo Bill-isms) as inspiration for a song, with an accompanying video of clips from Silence of the Lambs.  Thanks to Bonham for the link.  Enjoy.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 1/13/12

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Way, Your Way, Anything Goes Tonight

On the eve of yet another Hair Band Friday, I want to share an awesome dream I had last night.  In the dream, I was living at the house I grew up in, although I apparently owned it, was single, lived there by myself, and it was in or around Los Angeles.  My neighbor in back of me was Slash.  It was Halloween morning (a Saturday, no less), and I went to an upstairs bedroom window facing Slash's house.  He was passed out, lying naked on his back porch, just outside his back door.  It was clear to me in the dream that he had tried to make it home after a night of boozing, but fell just short.  It was unclear to me why or how he lost his clothes.  I opened the window and yelled to him, since we were obviously buddies.  He woke up, stood up, but his top hat over his crotch, had a good laugh, and then we talked about our plans for that day/night.  I was going to dress up as Slash (which, as you may recall, I've done before with disastrous results for my liver), and Slash was going to dress up as Axl.  We were going to take a limo to the Rainbow early in the day to have some lunch and drinks with some strippers, and then we would be staying on the Sunset Strip the rest of the day/night, doing a little bar crawl.  In my head in the dream, I was thinking, "Damn, that's gonna be a lot of drinking.  I gotta make sure I don't overdo it early."  Why?  Because the plan was to end the night singing live band karaoke at The Roxy.  Slash was going to pretend to be Axl, then grab a guitar and reveal that he was, in fact, Slash.  Meanwhile, I would be singing as Slash, so there would be two Slashes on stage.  It was a ruse that couldn't fail.  After that, we would walk downtown (which is several miles, mind you) and catch a bus outside the fictitious building where I allegedly worked.  I figured that I would have to stay in costume just in case I ran into anyone from work, so they wouldn't recognize me.  After we hatched this plan -- me in my second-story window, fully clothed, and Slash in his backyard completely naked, save for a hat that covered his dong, but not his billowing crotch hair -- Slash said that the limo was picking us up at 11, so we only had a couple hours to get into costume.  It was go time.  I had to dig my Slash costume out and make sure I had a good '70s rock t-shirt with the sleeves and neck cut out to wear under my cut-off jean jacket.  The precious wailing of a four-month-old prevented me from doing so, and it was one of those moments where, not only did I want the dream to keep going, but I also wanted the dream to be real, even though I know Slash has had substance abuse problems.  So Slash, if you're reading this -- and I assume you are -- shoot me an email and let's make some Halloween plans.  Just please promise you'll keep your pants on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "Lovefool" by The Cardigans

This song seemed to be everpresent during the winter of my freshman year of college.  I particularly remember the morning after my last final of the first semester, trying to sleep off a hangover while the guys in the room a floor below me blared "Lovefool" on repeat starting at about 9 a.m. as they packed for winter break.  Such is college.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Albums of 2011

I would have posted this earlier, but I was awaiting the arrival of a couple albums from 2011, which I have now received and had time to digest.  Thus, I am now in a position to rank my top ten albums of 2011.  As with my rankings every year, this list includes only albums that I own, and I only bought 16 albums that were released last year. Also, it does not include live albums or EPs (I bought one of each –- Def Leppard's Mirror Ball – Live & More and Gary Clark, Jr.'s The Bright Lights EP, respectively -- both of which I recommend), which knocks the pool of options down to 14.

I thought 2011 was a decent year for music, or at least the albums I bought were pretty good as a whole.  Below are my ten favorite, with my favorite song from each.

Others purchased:  Artic Monkeys - Suck It and See; Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday; The Sheepdogs - Learn and Burn; The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

If you can get past the name (which I don't mind, but then again, I'm also insane), you will find a short (19 minutes) but sweet album chockfull of fuzzy, frantic, lo-fi garage punk.  For a more in-depth review of the album, click here.
Favorite song:  "Juggernaut!"

The first Strokes album in five years wasn't as good as I had hoped, frankly.  That said, it's still pretty good.  It's a little bit of a departure from their prior albums, with some of the songs having kind of a more synth-y feel to them, like they were listening to a lot of Duran Duran (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).  Of course, several of the songs remind you why they vaulted into stardom a decade ago -- catchy, crunchy, and frantic.  The album is very good, but top-to-bottom, I don't like it as much as their first three albums.  I was going to say this albums sounds like it was influenced by the band Hockey, but as I was writing it, it occurred to me that it's probably the other way around.
Favorite song:  "Under Cover of Darkness"

Garage-y goodness, with a Ramones meets Exile On Main St.-era Stones feel to many of the songs.  The songs are short and catchy, and there are a lot of songs that, if you didn't know they were put out in 2011, you might very well think they were from the mid to late '60s.
Favorite song:  "Modern Art"

If you mixed The Ramones, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, The Raveonettes, The Andrews Sisters, '60s girl groups, and The Detroit Cobras or Ko & The Knockouts together, the result might be Those Darlins.  They play good, catchy garage punk with a splash of Nashville.
Favorite song:  "Hives"

This is just good, old fashioned, straightforward, booze-soaked rock and roll.  You should listen to this music in a bar or in a car with rear-wheel drive with the windows rolled down, no matter the temperature.  Unfortunately, I missed these guys when they came through town last year, but hopefully they will hit Chicago again.
Favorite song:  "All Over the Road"

One of my favorite bands has released another fantastic, '70s rock-influenced album.  One More Summer is darker than the band's prior albums, but rocks just as hard.  The influences I hear (whether they were actually influences or not) include Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, '70s Aerosmith, and UFO.  It's another solid offering, and I hope these guys make it to Chicago this year because they put on a great live show.
Favorite song:  "Arrow"

Label mates of Diarrhea Planet, Jeff The Brotherhood is the latest in a long line of duos that produce a lot of sound (White Stripes, Black Keys, etc.).  Jeff The Brotherhood play a fuzzy, yet catchy, brand of rock and roll that incorporates elements of hard rock, garage rock, pop, '60s psychedelic rock, metal, punk, and new wave.
Favorite song:  "Diamond Way"

Akron's favorite sons (apologies to Ripper Owens) have again teamed up with Danger Mouse with excellent results on their seventh studio album (Danger Mouse also produced 2008's Attack & Release).  Unlike some other bands, I feel like The Black Keys have progressed as they've gone along.  I love all of their albums, even if they are different from one another.  El Camino has elements of hard rock, soul, early rock and roll, glam, and, of course, garage rock.
Favorite song:  "Lonely Boy"

In my opinion, Foo Fighters are the best hard rock band since they released their debut album in 1995.  Wasting Light is a great album with an edge and snarl that some of their previous albums haven't had (not that any of their previous albums are bad).  It has a garage metal feel to it (as it was, in fact, recorded in a garage).  Some reviewers have said that the album sounds influenced by Nirvana, which I don't necessarily agree with (although it was produced by Nevermind producer Butch Vig).  I hear more of a Queens of the Stone Age influence (Dave Grohl worked with QotSA lead singer Josh Homme on their side project Them Crooked Vultures), along with early '80s metal.  One thing is certain:  no matter the influence, the album kicks ass.
Favorite song:  "These Days"

I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to hate good soul music.  I understand the reasons why people might not like other genres (not that I agree with these).  Metal is too loud and evil.  Jazz is too convoluted and inaccessible.  Punk is too angry and talentless.  Country is too "rural."  Rap and hip hop are too "urban."  Indie rock is too pretentious.  Top 40 pop is too commercial.  The blues are too depressing.  Techno and disco are too X-y and fake.  But soul music -- and I mean classic '60s soul like Otis Redding, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett -- is impossible to dislike.  It just penetrates you, dare I say it, to your soul.  That's exactly what this album is, with some garage rock mixed in.  Is garage soul a genre?  If it is, these guys rule the roost.  You can't go wrong with a horn section.  The band's second album destroys any worries of a sophomore slump.  If you like Stax/Volt soul –- and based on my theory, you must -- then you will like this album.  From the beginning to the end of the album, you can't help but nod your head or tap your feet.  It has fast-paced songs that make you want to dance and slow songs that make you want to make sweet love.  Buy it.  Love it.  LIVE it.
Favorite songs (tie):  "Black Snake," "Mustang Ranch," and "You Been Lyin'"

Any other albums from 2011 I should check out?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Middle-aged man on escalator begins talking to thirtysomething woman who is a stranger:
Man:  "Nice outside, isn't it?  It's supposed to be almost 50."
Woman:  "Yes it is."
Man:  "I don't have a refrigerator.  I better take my meat out of the window."
--Chicago, Chicago Public Library, State and Van Buren
Eavesdropper:  Jester

Resolutions for 2012

2011 kind of sucked.  On the bright side, I attended my first Bears playoff game, Bulls playoff game, MLB Opening Day, and NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite 8, IU beat the #1 and #2 teams in the country, I finally switched to an iPhone from a Blackberry, I got a promotion, I got Lebowski on Blu-ray, and I welcomed a second child, Lollipop, into the family.  To offset those, I had friends who lost grandparents, fathers, brothers, and sons, a co-worker whose teenage nephew was killed by errant gunfire, and a brother-in-law who spent several weeks in a coma after a motorcycle accident.  2012 has to be better, unless of course the Mayans were right.

Here are my resolutions for 2012:

-Lose some weight.  I'm serious this time.
-Tell everyone I know who rides a motorcycle to wear a helmet.
-Fulfill my promise to my great-great-great-great-grandfather and vote straight Whig in November.
-Learn how to sing doo wop.
-Watch the IU men's basketball team play in the NCAA tournament, either in-person or on television.
-Develop ridiculous calf muscles.
-Get 3 stars on all levels of Angry Birds.  Sorry Jester.
-Shoot an arrow with a bow.
-Write a lot of doo wop songs.
-Listen to more music.
-Reach 200,000 hits on GMYH.
-Mine diamonds, no matter what the cost in human capital.
-Form a doo wop group called Little Andrew and The Donkey Raping Shit Eaters.
-Continue to keep Daughter and Lollipop away from NCAA assistant coaches.
-Develop a miniseries based on the real-life meteoric rise and disastrous, drug-, hooker-, bow-and-arrow-, and Angry-Birds-laden fall of a crudely named doo wop group who couldn't deal with their lead singer's unbelievable calves.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam

The first time I ever saw this video (which was also the first time I ever heard the song), I was staying overnight at a friend's house.  His name?  Jeremy.  Coincidentally, he also used to gnash his teeth and bite the recess lady's breast.

New Book: No Regrets by Ace Frehley

A couple weeks ago, I finished Sweetness: The Enigmatic life of Walter Payton by Jeff Pearlman.  As a huge Walter Payton fan, it was a really interesting read.  It was eye-opening because I never realized that Payton essentially led two lives.  His public persona was that of a caring, sign-every-autograph, loving husband and father life.  However, in reality, while he was certainly a caring individual, he was a giant philanderer, fathered a child with another woman, and lived apart from his wife and kids for nearly his kids' entire childhoods.  More than anything, the book makes you realize that Payton, despite being the greatest football player of all-time, was, in fact, human and had his problems just like everyone else.  Pearlman did a great job of going into detail, interviewing the people who knew Payton best (which wasn't necessarily his family or teammates) and refusing to accept as truth everything previously written about Payton.  As it turns out, Payton was an enigma (hence, the title of the book).  He only had a few close friends, and was relatively guarded.  He even lied about his birth year for most of his adult life.  Anyway, the book is a must-read for any Bears, Payton, or NFL fan.  My only gripe is that, in the afterword, the author was discussing supertalented people and mentioned "Jimi Hendricks."  How any editor doesn't know the proper spelling of Jimi Hendrix is beyond me.
Speaking of guitar gods, I have started reading Ace Frehley's autobiography, No Regrets.  The Spaceman speaketh.  So far so good.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Concerts I Attended in 2011

Other than booze, cigarettes, opium, gambling, Angry Birds, and being dominated by women dressed up as Yukon Cornelius, my only vice is live music.  2011 was a pretty good year for me, concert-wise.  It was eclectic, as I saw everything from Celtic punk to '70s rock to garage rock to hip hop to indie rock to soul to funk to punk to cock rock to '90s rock to '60s rock to African-inspired pop.  2012 is looking like it will be a good one as well, with Motörhead/Megadeth, The Darkness, The Black Keys, and Flogging Molly/Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears shows scheduled for February and March (and tickets already purchased).

Anyway, here are my top ten concerts from 2011:

Honorable mention:  Dropkick Murphys and Naked Raygun, Congress Theatre, February 26; Sybris, Schuba's, April 1; Paul Simon, Chicago Theatre, May 17; Daysleeper, Schuba's, June 22; Eminem, Grant Park (Lollapalooza), August 4; The Hold Steady and The Donkeys, The Metro, August 25; Robert Randolph & The Family Band and Steepwater Band, Park West, October 29

10.  JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Schuba's, December 30
I had never heard anything by these guys before the show, but they turned out to be awesome.  They are what I would call neoclassical soul – great, '60s-inspired soul music, taking influences from James Brown, as well as Stax/Volt catalog of musicians.  The rhythm section was tight (as they have to be), the keyboardist was great, and the guitarist looked like Gene Vincent and played a fantastic-looking red Gibson hollow-body.  But of course, it was lead singer JC Brooks who stole the show.  As my buddy Bonham said during the show, it's as if JC Brooks was the reincarnation of Jackie Wilson.  It was an appropriate comparison.  Brooks has a great voice, and, like Wilson, is a showman.  What's the point of being on stage if you're not going to put on a show for the audience?

9.  J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Grant Park (Lollapalooza), August 4
They played the first show on Saturday at Lollapalooza, which meant that I was able to get right next to the stage. These guys played straight up rock and roll with no nonsense. As I previously described them, they are like Led Zeppelin meets Jerry Lee Lewis. Walston is a hirsute piano-playing madman, and the rest of the band follows suit. Among the highlights was a rollicking cover of Little Richard's "Lucille.

8.  Stiff Little Fingers and Flatfoot 56, Double Door, August 18
If you don't know, Stiff Little Fingers is an old Northern Irish punk band.  I think their song "Alternative Ulster" is probably my favorite punk song.  The guys are all in their 50s now, but that hasn't slowed them down.  They put on an energetic show, two minutes at a time.  The opener, Flat Foot 56, was pretty good too.  They played Celtic punk in the vain of Dropkick Murphys.

7.  Buckcherry, Taddy Porter, and Stars of Boulevard, House of Blues, July 10
Every now and then, everyone needs some cock rock, and this show had a lot of it.  Stars of Boulevard looked like they were from the Sunset Strip.  Taddy Porter is a ball-busting, '70s-inspired hard rock band that I highly recommend seeing.  And Buckcherry makes no apologies for rocking out with their cocks out.  Adding to the goodness was the crowd, which included:  (1) a woman in her 40s from The Region with teased-up mall bangs who gave Daniel her number and invited him to go to a strip club with him after the show; and (2) a woman in her late 20s or early 30s who was dancing like a whore against the bar and trying to get backstage while her husband watched in helpless disappointment.  They exchanged words later.

6.  Ace Frehley, House of Blues, November 9
I wasn't sure what to expect from the Spaceman, but he put on a hell of a show.  It was a nice mix of Kiss and his solo stuff, leaning more heavily towards the former.  I was pleasantly surprised that he and his backing band played several Kiss songs that Gene, Paul, or Peter sang (which were sung by others in his band).  One thing is for sure:  his guitar playing has not lost a step in the last 35 years.  And smoking guitars are always a plus.  My only complaint is that my ears were ringing for the next day.  I guess I'm too old. 

5.  Thin Lizzy and Lovehammers, The Vic, April 1
Yes, I realize Phil Lynott has been dead since 1986.  However, Thin Lizzy is one of my favorite bands, and they were a legendary live band back in the day, so I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to see them when they came to town in April.  Joining longtime Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham, drummer Brian Downey, and keyboardist Darren Wharton were Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, Irish guitarist and lead singer Ricky Warwick, and metal/hard rock journeyman bassist Marco Mendoza.  The band was very tight, and you could tell they were having a great time.  Campbell played the whole show with a smile on his face (Lizzy was a huge influence on '80s hard rock and metal).  Warwick sounded close enough to Lynott that if you closed your eyes, you would think you were listening to the Live and Dangerous album.

4.  Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and Those Darlins, Double Door, April 2
The first weekend in April was a good one musically.  The night after Thin Lizzy (and Sybris at Schuba's after Thin Lizzy), I went to the Double Door to see Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and Those Darlins.  I had never heard of Those Darlins before that night, but I enjoyed them.  They are three ladies and a dude drummer, and I would describe their sound as Detroit Cobras meets Johnny and June Carter Cash meets The Ramones.  As for Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, they put on a phenomenal show.  Like the aforementioned JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound (see #10 above), Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are a neoclassical soul band, and they are my favorite of the bunch because they add a little garage rock tinge to the music.  Plus they have a full horn section, which is always awesome.  If the Stax/Volt label was still around today, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears would be the label's flagship act.  They are opening for Floggin Molly in late February, and I can't wait for that show.  Assume you will see them on my Top Ten Concerts I Attended in 2012 list in about 365 days.

2 (tie).  Weezer, Aragon, January 7; Weezer, Aragon, January 8
I previously recounted my "Weekend of Weezer," so I will let you read that if you really want to know about it in detail.  Long story short:  the first night they played the Blue Album in its entirety and the second night they played Pinkerton in its entirety (with a "greatest hits" set preceding the album both nights). Awesome.

1.  Paul McCartney, Wrigley Field, July 31
He's a Beatle.  Game over.