Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rocktober Video #23: Ghost B.C. Live at Coachella

With today's meeting of the spirit world and the earthly world, Rocktober has sadly come to an end until next year.  Tomorrow begins Nogovember, a daily look at history's most hilariously stubborn bladders.

But before then, I have one last ghoulish musical delight for you, courtesy of Sweden's Ghost B.C. (also known as Ghost).  If you haven't heard of Ghost, they are a pretty awesome metal band whose members remain anonymous.  The lead singer is known as Papa Emeritus II, and he dresses in kind of a demonic skeleton pope get-up.  His face paint was the inspiration for one of my costumes this year (stay tuned for next week's Tuesday Top Ten about Halloween costumes).  The other members of the band are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls, and they wear the same black robes and masks.

There was a mild controversy here in Chicago recently, as local metal-tinged burger joint Kuma's Corner named their burger of the month for October after Ghost, and the burger was topped with braised goat shoulder, a red wine reduction, an unblessed communion wafer, and ghost chili aioli.  Of course, the Catholics shit a brick over it, but Kuma's rightly refused to take it off the menu.

Anyway, Ghost was one of the bands I most wanted to see at Lollapalooza this past August, and they did not disappoint.  What I found hilarious is the contrast between their costumes and music –- both of which are dark and have various Satanic references –- to Papa Emeritus II's pleasant and polite banter with the crowd ("would it please you for us to sing another song?").  Their live show matched their music, and I would definitely recommend seeing them.

The videos below are their full set from Coachella earlier this year (broken into three videos) and, because I can, I also included their last song in their set at Lollapalooza, "Monstrance Clock."

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rocktober Video #22: "Hallows Eve" by Hallows Eve

On this, the eve of Hallows Eve, I present to you "Hallows Eve" by Hallows Eve, live in Brooklyn in 1986, because it was the only live version of "Hallows Eve" by Hallows Eve I could find on this, the eve of Hallows Eve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Velvet Underground Songs

On Sunday, rock and roll lost one of its great rebels and poets, Lou Reed.  Like many (I assume), I discovered The Velvet Underground in college.  Before that, I knew who Lou Reed was, and I had heard The Cowboy Junkies' haunting cover of "Sweet Jane" from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, but in college I actually started listening to them.  I found the band to be fascinating because, for the most part, they sounded nothing like anything else that was from that era (1967-1970).  Their songs ranged from what seemed like Gregorian chants (thanks, Nico) to garage rock to droning to extended jams to pop to country rock to folk to tongue-in-cheek to straight up rock and roll.  But they were largely ignored by mainstream society, with no songs that came anywhere close to charting, and three studio albums out of five barely cracking Billboard's Top 200.
There's a famous saying that only 30,000 people ever bought a Velvet Underground record, but every one of them started a band.  It's verifiably false, but the sentiment is important.  The VU and Reed were punk rock and art rock primogenitors, influencing punk, glam, alternative, and rock music from 1967 to the present.
Admittedly, I know a lot more VU's music than Lou Reed's solo stuff (or his odd collaboration with Metallica a couple years ago), so I thought it would be more appropriate to compile a list of my ten favorite Velvet Underground songs than my favorite Lou Reed songs.  Reed wrote pretty much all of VU's songs anyway.  With that, here they are:
Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): "All Tomorrow's Parties"; "Beginning to See the Light"; "I'm Sticking With You"; "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'"; "Prominent Men"; "Rock and Roll"; "Run Run Run"; "Sheltered Life"; "Sunday Morning"; "There She Goes Again"; "White Light/White Heat"

10 (tie).  "Oh Gin"
Probably the second greatest song in rock history about gin (the first, hands down, is "Cold Gin" by KISS), "Oh Gin" is kind of a poppy little number about how gin is a motherfucker ("Oh gin / How could you treat me this way?").  Having not had gin since March 1998 as a result of some vomit-induced taste aversion, I can relate.  Of course, the song's narrator is concerned that gin went away.  I'm okay without gin in my life.
10 (tie).  "Black Angel's Death Song"
I included this one in last week's post with my Ultimate Halloween Playlist.  As I said in that post, I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.  It's a very weird and eerie song, but that's why I like it.
9.  "Pale Blue Eyes"
This one is a slower, acoustic song.  It's a lot crisper than most VU songs, and it's about a lovelorn guy chasing a married woman.  That guy's name, by that way, was Lou Reed.  The woman actually had hazel eyes, which is to be expected because people with hazel eyes are better than everyone else.
8.  "Femme Fatale"
This is a distorted, strange song sung by Nico, as you might expect when a German chanteuse is handling lead vocals, but I can't help but like it.

7.  "Stephanie Says"
"The people all call her Alaska."  Which is weird because her name is Stephanie.  This was featured in The Royal Tenenbaums.  Wes Anderson never fails to make good use of music.

6.  "I'll Be Your Mirror"
This is another Nico-sung song.  It's a sweet, poppy song, in which the singer is telling the subject to appreciate his/her inner beauty.  This one was on my wedding cocktail hour mix.

5.  "Sister Ray"
This is a 17-minute improvised garage rock jam that somehow works, probably because it is high-energy the entire time.  Reed based the lyrics around a story he wrote.  He described it as follows:  "I like to think of 'Sister Ray' as a transvestite smack dealer. The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear."  The fact that the line "too busy sucking on my ding dong" is repeated at several points in the song has always struck me as kind of funny.  This one was not on my wedding cocktail hour mix.

4.  "I'm Waiting For the Man"
If there's a better song about coping dope, I'm not sure I've heard it.

3.  "The Gift"
This is a strange song because it's basically a short story with background music.  I've always thought it would make a great short film.  John Cale tells the story of Waldo Jeffers, a neurotic collegian separated by several states from his girlfriend, Marsha, during the summer.  Unable to afford to a proper method of transportation to see Marsha, Waldo decides to mail himself to her, having no idea that she's a cheating whore.  It turns out mailing himself in such a secure manner was a bad idea because Marsha and her friend couldn't get the package open in a traditional manner.  I'll let you listen to hear what happens next, but it's not pretty.  One of my favorite VU lines is from this song:  "Daytime fantasies of sexual abandon permeated his thoughts."  I don't know why, but that line has always stuck with me.  Probably because I'm a dude, and that pretty much describes every male every day.

2.  "Heroin"
This has been on my running mix since 1998 (when my running mix was actually on a cassette tape labeled "Pyscho").  Having never done heroin, I can only assume that the song is meant to simulate the experience, going back and forth between slow, droning parts and frantic, up-tempo parts with what sounds like a wall of psychotic violas.

1.  "Sweet Jane"
It was really a toss-up between "Heroin" and "Sweet Jane," and 10-15 years ago, I probably would have gone with "Heroin.  I still need "Heroin" in my life (the song –- calm down, Jester), but now, it doesn't get any better than "Sweet Jane" for me.  It's catchy and it rocks at the same time.  I love how loose Reed is on the lead vocals.  It sounds like he's having fun, adding "oohs" and "just watch me now" to verses.  On top of that, there is great imagery and some great lines in the song, from wondering why Jack is wearing a corset to a stern warning on how not to be a parent ("And there's even some evil mothers / Who'll tell you that everything is just dirt.").
Favorite Velvet Underground Songs by GMYH on Grooveshark

Rocktober Video #21: "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult

One of the creepier mainstream hard rock songs from the '70s is Blue Öyster Cult's 1976 classic "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."  It's a haunting song about dying, suicide, and not fearing either.  I had the pleasure of singing this at karaoke last Friday, while dressed as the grim reaper (more on that a week from today, during my annual Halloween recap), and it went over quite well.  This is a live version from 1977, the greatest year in recorded history.  Of course, pop culture knows the song from the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, which I am also embedding below.  And, before that, the song was prominently featured in the 1994 stoner flick, The Stoned Age, so I am embedding the part from that movie where the guys are at a BOC concert and a laser from the laser light show stops on one guy's face, causing a strange dream sequence.  Notably, the clips in the movie showing BOC on stage appear to be from the same show as the concert footage of the song embedded first below.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Dude, Triumph, and Coterie

I have a few interesting and hilarious things to share on the eve of the beginning of my thirty-seventh year on your planet.

First is an article entitled "50 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Big Lebowski."  (Thanks to Daniel for the link.)  The title is a bit presumptuous, given the film's cult following.  Hell, I knew 19.  Not exactly a lightweight.  Number 20 might be my favorite.  If you are a fan of the movie and have not seen the edited-for-TV version, make sure to watch it when you get the chance.  Given the number of f-bombs in the movie (see #22), the edits are pretty entertaining.

Second is a video of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at a craft beer festival.  (Thanks to Chandler for the link.)  As usual with Triumph, there are multiple times when I was laughing out loud.

Third is a spot-on fake movie trailer from this weekend's Saturday Night Live.  As a Wes Anderson fan, I thought this was hysterical.

Rocktober Video #20: "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana

We started off Rocktober with Richie Havens's performance of "Freedom" at Woodstock.  Now that it's Halloween week, I had to add my favorite Woodstock performance:  "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana.  I remember watching this when I was a kid and just being mesmerized by the fact that the drummer Michael Shrieve –- who, at 20, was the youngest performer at Woodstock -- was playing these blistering drums with his eyes closed and a purplish hue to his skin that, even as a child, I attributed to LSD.  At the time of Woodstock, the band was still pretty unknown, and their performance at the festival helped kickstart their career.  

On a related note, according to Santana's Wikipedia page, current members of the band as of 2013 include Shrieve, Michael Carabello (who was on the bongos in the video), original vocalist and keyboardist Gregg Rolie, and Neal Schon.  Of course, Rolie and Schon left Santana in 1972 to form Journey.  But, if that line-up is going to be touring, you better make sure to see them.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rocktober Video #19: "Runnin' With the Devil" by Van Halen

We've arrived.  It is now one of the best weeks of the year:  Halloween Week.  Until the end of the month, all Rocktober Videos will have some sort of macabre, devilish, dark, or Halloween-related subject matter.  Since this is Hair Band Friday, the first video will be from the band that kind of pioneered the hair band genre, Van Halen.  This is the first song off of their first album, and it announced their arrival as much as any song this side of "Eruption" (which was the second song) could do.  It climbed all the way up to #84 on the Billboard charts in 1978 –- a modest chart position for what would be voted by VH1 in 2009 as the 9th greatest hard rock song of all-time.  This video is from a 1982 show in Largo, Maryland.  If nothing else, it highlights that Michael Anthony was a great backing vocalist and early '80s video cameras were pretty terrible.  As an added bonus, I'm including the promotional video for the song, but someone took out all the tracks except the vocal tracks and Eddie's guitar solos.  And a kazoo.  It's pretty cool.  I've heard it before, but not synced up with the video.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/25/13

Hair Band Friday - 10/25/13 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BAM!: Prologue and Cast of Characters

It's been about three weeks since I returned from BAM! –- the clever acronym I have devised for my trip to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Munich.

While I continue to eagerly await gather photographic evidence from others who attended (and who are willing to share), I would not be able to live with myself if I left you empty handed and if I didn't build some anticipation. 

Below is a list of those who participated in BAM! and a brief biography of each.  While the numbers are not as high as they were in Oktoberfests past, the per capita vigor was just as strong.  We spent 8 nights and 9 days destroying our livers, consuming fries topped with mayonnaise, and creating memories that would last a daytime. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a day-by-day recap of the trip.  If nothing else, it should encourage you to do every single thing we did.  Anywho, here's who went on the trip: 

GMYH.  You know me.  I'm the horse-raping miscreant whose blog you read.  One time I ran a 4.4 40 in sandals.  Prove that I didn't.  Sometimes I let my hair grow out for your amusement.

Bonham.  Bonham and I have been friends for about 28 years, despite his increasingly adamant belief that "the world would be better off if we were all eunuchs."  His squeaky clean reputation and hairless-from-the-neck-down body hide a dark secret:  a pagoda fetish.

Gregerson.  The guy likes to ride lions.  That's all you need to know.

Colleen.  Gregerson's betrothed, Colleen boldly agreed to come on the trip, despite the fact that she was the only female and has a paralyzing fear of Flemish people.  She is an outspoken gingers' rights activist.

Daniel.  An ad man by day and a crooner by night, Daniel is your stereotypical lowland Venezuelan shaman.  Throughout the trip, he sang "Sister Christian" hourly, even in his sleep.

Chandler.  The consummate traveler, Chandler knows how to say "please," "thank you," and "doggy style" in 19 different languages, including Sanskrit, "because you never know."  He has not been home on his birthday since 2005.  On a related note, he has been homeless since 2005.

In the next episode:  our triumphant arrival in Brussels; the worst/best museum in the world; Delirium

Rocktober Video #18: "Kings Highway" by Scorpion Child

I'm still pretty psyched about the fact that we are now in the month of Scorpio, so before we get into the Halloween-themed videos, I will give you another Scorpio-themed one.  This one is from Austin-based Scorpion Child, a great up-and-coming hard rock band whose lead singer, Aryn Jonathan Black, happens to be a cousin of my buddy Alex.  The band released their self-titled debut album earlier this year, and it is a hard-hitting blast of '70s-inspired rock and roll.  Get it if you like music made with balls, not synthesizers.  Unfortunately, I missed them when they rolled through Chicago earlier this year, but I hope to catch them next time they're in town.  Anyway, "Kings Highway" is the first track off of their album.  It has a definite Zeppelin feel to it.  This version is live from the Good Music Club.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ultimate Halloween Playlist

With Halloween weekend coming in a mere two days and Halloween proper coming in a mere eight days, planning for parties and trick or treating is in full swing.  "But GMYH, I don't know what songs to play at my Halloween party!"  Cool it, bitch.  I got you.  I have compiled a list of the best Halloween songs for you to use either at a Halloween party to set the mood right or in the background when you're handing out apples with razor blades in them candy to the neighborhood kids.

Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay to embrace evil, so let your playlist embody that.  Thus, my mix does have a heavy dose of heavy metal, but that's kind of expected, since metal bands are more likely to embrace darker subject matter than, say, Robin Thicke.  That said, you don't want to go too dark, like, say, Norwegian black metal, because you're going to lose your party-goers or you're going to be viewed as "the Satanists that moved into the old Thompson house."  Nonetheless, you do want there to be a certain level of creepiness, as well as some campiness, because Halloween is supposed to be a mixture of paganism, macabre, and fun. 

For parties, you'll probably want to mix these in with your regular party mix.  After all, who doesn't want to hear "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" after "Blurred Lines"?  For trick or treating, just go straight spooky, which probably means a heavy dose of Ghost BC and Pentagram.

Anyway, here are my 41 recommendations for your Halloween playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, with comments where I felt it was necessary, and with an embedded player afterwards with every song:

1-2.  "Highway to Hell" and "Night Prowler" by AC/DC
3.  "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath
4.  "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
But do fear minotaurs.  They can't be trusted.
5.  "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
6.  "Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter
Instantly recognizable as one of the more creepy horror movie themes.
7.  "Spooky" by The Classics IV
8.  "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps
9.  "Am I Demon" by Danzig
10.  "A Nightmare on My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This is a classic late '80s rap song, playing off of the popularity of Freddy Krueger, who, for many of us growing up in the '80s, was the most terrifying of all the horror movie villains.  I should also note that I did, in fact, perform this with a friend for our elementary school talent show in fifth grade.  I was Freddy.  It was pretty awesome.
11.  "Dream Warriors" by Dokken
Speaking of Freddy, this was the title track to Nightmare on Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors.
12.  "Season of the Witch" by Donovan
13.  "Trick or Treat" by Fastway
'80s metal band Fastway played the soundtrack to the 1986 the metal-themed horror film Trick or Treat.  This is the title song.
14-15.  "Monstrance Clock" and "Year Zero" by Ghost BC
"Monstrance Clock" is about conceiving "Lucifer's son," and "Year Zero" is about Satan in general and has a nice gothic feel to it.  To be honest, I would suggest just including all songs from Ghost's two albums, Opus Eponymous and Infestissumam, especially if you're looking for trick-or-treating background music.  They are demonic in a polite Swedish way.
16.  "Hallow's Eve" by Hallows Eve
17-18.  "Halloween" and "Mr. Torture" by Helloween
German power metal band Helloween obviously has the right name for a Halloween mix, and their song "Halloween" is included for obvious reasons.  I also chose to go with "Mr. Torture" because I like the song.  So there.
19.  "Friendly Ghost" by Harlem
This one's a little more light-hearted, to offset the vast majority of this list.
20.  "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I prefer the original to CCR's cover (which is still very good) because Hawkins adds a level of voodoo campiness that CCR just couldn't have matched.
21.  "Devil Inside" by INXS
22-23.  "Killers" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Iron Maiden
It was tough figuring out just one Iron Maiden song to include, so I went with two, both from 1981's Killers album:  "Killers," which is essentially about someone being stalked and murdered, and "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which is not only my favorite Iron Maiden song, but is also based on short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name.
24.  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This is a no-brainer and should be played at every Halloween party for eternity.
25.  "Look at Your Game, Girl" by Charles Manson
Recorded when Manson was still trying to break into the LA music scene and before he started ordering his minions to murder movie stars and grocery store owners, this song comes across as an innocent folky acoustic song.  Then you realize it's sung by Charles Manson, and it becomes super creepy.
26.  "Halloween" by The Misfits
27.  "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
28.  "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
29.  "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" by Pentagram
Doom metal pioneers Pentagram have a good number of hard-rocking creepy songs, but this one is probably the most relevant to Halloween.
30.  "The Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers
This is a classic Halloween song that should be played at least once at every Halloween party.
31.  "Gates of Babylon" by Rainbow
The song is about sleeping with the devil.  And then paying for sleeping with the devil.  Probably because the devil gave you the clap.
32.  "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones
33.  "Black Magic Woman" by Santana
34.  "Angel of Death" by Slayer
While I would generally recommend steering clear of Slayer at parties, there is no more appropriate time to let it loose than Halloween.
35.  "Bullet With Butterfly Wing" by Smashing Pumpkins
It just wouldn't seem right to have a Halloween playlist without a Smashing Pumpkins song on it.  I went with this one, not only because it starts by exclaiming -– wrongly, mind you -– that "the world is a vampire," but also because it's an awesome song.
36.  "To Hell With the Devil" by Stryper
In case you are concerned that your playlist might be a little too devil-heavy, you can balance it out with this '80s Christian hair band classic.
37.  "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads
38.  "Running With the Devil" by Van Halen
39.  "The Black Angel's Death Song" by The Velvet Underground
I have never done acid, but I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.
40.  "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
"I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's / And his hair was perfect."  Great line.

41.  "Dragula" by Rob Zombie
Ultimate Halloween Playlist by GMYH on Grooveshark

Rocktober Video #17: The Scorpions Live in Tokyo 1984

As the sun moves into Scorpio –- the most intuitive, diabolical, and sexually insane of the zodiac signs –- there is only one band who should be featured:  The Scorpions.  I have seen these guys twice in the last few years, and despite the fact that they are now in their mid 60s, they blew the doors off the venue both times. 

The video below was taken at the height of their popularity, although a lot of people don't realize that they were a pretty successful (and highly influential) metal band throughout the '70s before breaking into the mainstream and filling up stadiums in the early '80s.  As you can see, their live shows are full of energy and, well, the band just fucking rocks.  There is no mistaking Klaus Meine's voice, and he always has his pipes in fine working order.  Guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker trade solos effortlessly, and Schenker in particular runs around the stage like a madman.  Drummer Herman Rarebell can generally be seen going ape shit, and bassist Francis Buchholz isn't too far behind in terms of energy.  All in all, it's a great concert video, and from my experience, representative of Scorpions' live shows.

Here's the set list:
1.  Blackout 0:00
2.  Coming Home 3:50
3.  Bad Boys Running Wild 7:12
4.  Make It Real 11:00
5.  Big City Nights 14:35
6.  Coast to Coast 19:25
7.  Rock You Like a Hurricane 24:09
8.  Can't Live Without You 28:20
9.  Dynamite 33:20
10. The Zoo 41:00
11. Can't Get Enough 47:24

If you don't want to watch the whole show, a couple highlights for me were "Blackout," "Dynamite," and my favorite Scorpions song, "The Zoo" –- although frankly, the whole show is pretty damn good.  You can just keep it on in the background while you work, eat lunch, do naked tai chi, or whatever else it is that you do in your office on a weekday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Things You Should Be For Halloween

As you may know, Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I kind of got a late start this year thinking of a Halloween costume, so a week or two ago, when I decided on the fox from "What Does The Fox Say?" -- along with hundreds of thousands of other people, apparently.  The cheapest fox costume I could find online was $200 on Amazon, although it was the "official" costume from the video.  I have since decided on several other costumes, which I will choose not to reveal just yet.  The beauty about Halloween is that, assuming your wife lets you, you can have three different costumes -- one for Friday night, one for Saturday night, and one for Halloween proper.

If you are still looking for ideas, I have some.  There are more than ten because I am a fountain of ideas.  They're not all good, but that's what you get for waiting so long.  

1.  A seal.  As long as you only say "ow ow ow" the entire night.
2.  Bad Grandpa
3.  Slutty Jethro Tull.  The whole night, people would be asking "what are you?" and you can answer, "A horse-drawn ho."  People probably won't get it, but you should never play down to your audience.
4.  Fizbo the Clown
5.  The Jackalope.  You could just spend the whole night running away from people and saying "fast as fast can be, you'll never catch me."  I'm literally crying because I'm laughing so hard thinking about how great this would have been in 1992.
6.  Jack the Stripper.  Basically, this would be a slutty Jack the Ripper, which is ironic because Jack the Ripper disemboweled sluts (whores, actually, but six of one, half-dozen of the other).
7.  Cosmo Kramer
8.  Baby Hitler.  You know, before he was evil.  If nothing else, it will start an interesting conversation about whether humans are born good or evil.  Nature versus nurture.  That kind of thing.  On second thought, you should never dress up as Hitler.
9.  Robert Montgomery Burns.  Basically, it would be Mr. Burns in a red sweater, trying to throw a chair, but he can't because he's too weak.
10.  Zombie Ron Santo
11.  Fruit of the Loom guys.  This is a group costume, obviously, because it would be weird if a giant sprig of grapes was walking around alone.
12.  Lazlo from Real Genius
13.  The Baseball Furys from The Warriors
14.  The Birds and The Bees
15.  Slutty Walter White.  That Breaking Bad is so hot right now.
16.  Bad Santa.  You'll have to find a midget to dress up as an elf, so this one might be difficult.
17.  Rick Allen from Def Leppard, if you're an asshole.

That's all I've got right now.

Rocktober Video #16: "Wasted" by The Runaways

After looking back at the Rocktober videos thus far, I noticed a lack of vaginas.  To remedy that, here is a video of '70s rockers The Runaways, which, of course, was the launching pad for Joan Jett and Lita Ford, and inspired a generation of girls to rock.  The song is "Wasted," and it was taken from a performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977.  This is obviously a more recent remastering of the performance, as evidenced by the "BBC Four" logo in the top left corner and the little factoid bubbles that pop up throughout it -- one of which is clearly wrong, as it refers to Lita Ford as Cherie Currie (who had quit the band by this point).  Anyway, the song kicks ass.  Jett wails raspily.  Drummer Sandy West punishes the drums and provides a solid cow bell.  Bassist Vicki Blue holds everything down.  And Ford not only looks fantastic in head-to-toe black spandex (and she still looks good, by the way), but she shreds on that guitar, playing the raunchy riff that repeats throughout the song and a great solo at about the 2:15 mark.

Monday, October 21, 2013

2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Deep Purple
Peter Gabriel
Hall and Oates
LL Cool J
The Meters
The Replacements
Linda Ronstadt
Cat Stevens
Link Wray
The Zombies

This is the first time Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Link Wray, Cat Stevens, Yes, and The Zombies have appeared on the ballot.  Musicians are eligible 25 years after the commercial released their first recording (album or single), so 1988 is the magical year at issue here.  (And yes, Nirvana released their first single in 1988.)

Now, over 600 supposed "experts" from around the world will vote for the next few months on who will be inducted.  To be inducted, an artist or band must receive at least 50% of the votes.  In addition, this is the second year that fans can vote.  Until December 10, fans can vote on Rolling Stone's website for their top five artists.  When all of the fan votes are compiled, the top five vote-getters will be cast as one ballot (whoopee!).  Generally, five to seven performers are inducted each year.

According to the Rock Hall's website, "[c]riteria [for induction] include the influence and significance of the artists' contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll."

I think the list of nominees is pretty strong, although based on years past, I'm not all that optimistic that the bands and artists who truly deserve to be inducted will make it in.

Back in January 2012, about a month after the 2012 class of Rock Hall inductees was announced, I posted a list of the artists I thought most deserved to be in the Hall of Fame that were not yet.  Rock Hall voters must read GMYH because, from my list, Heart and Rush were inducted last year.  And the nominators must be reading too, because Deep Purple, Hall & Oates, KISS, and The Replacements all made appearances on my list.  With that in mind, of the list of nominees, here are the six that I think most deserve to be inducted (in alphabetical order):

1.  Deep Purple
Here is what I wrote in my January 2012 rant about Rock Hall snubs, and it all still holds true:  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.

2.  Hall and Oates
It's honestly hard not to like Hall and Oates, or at least hard to dislike them.  On one hand, you have Daryl Hall's blue-eyed soul and, on the other hand, you have John Oates's iconic mustache.  For many children of the '80s, Hall and Oates was a fixture at home, in the car, and on MTV.  You can't really dispute that Hall and Oates can write a hell of a pop song.  They are, after all, the most successful duo of the rock and roll era, with 7 platinum albums, 6 #1 songs, 16 Top 10 hits, and 29 Top 40 hits.  Between 1980 and 1985, it was almost guaranteed that any song they put out would crack the Top 10.  And, with Daryl Hall's successful web series, Live from Daryl's House (where he literally has bands over to his house to jam), Hall and Oates has reemerged into the public consciousness in recent years.

3.  KISS
I'm going to paraphrase and directly quote my January 2012 rant here, but it's an absolute abomination that KISS is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  If the criteria for induction include "the influence and significance of the artists' contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll," look no further than the greatest live rock and roll band ever.  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 35 Top 100 albums, 28 Top 40 albums, 9 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. They gain more and more fans with every generation.  I'm not sure what the Rock Hall is looking for when it comes to "perpetuation of rock and roll," but I would think 40 years of kicking ass and celebrating rock and roll would suffice.  It's probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that there is no one on Earth who doesn't recognize KISS, and there are very few bands or artists in the history of rock for whom that is true.  Get your shit together Rock Hall voters, and vote KISS in.

4.  Nirvana
This one's a no-brainer.  Even though they were short-lived, thanks to the rock and roll cliché of a tortured, drug-addicted genius who died at 27, there is no question that they changed music and were one of the most important bands of my lifetime, so I won't belabor the point.

5.  N.W.A.
Like I've said before, I have no problem with rap and hip hop acts being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  N.W.A. is probably my favorite rap group ever, and they represent everything that is "rock and roll," from their innovative and gritty music to their fuck-the-establishment (and the police) attitude to their dissolution due to members being prima donnas.  They changed rap and hip hop, ushered in gangsta rap, and produced two of the most important names in rap and hip hop history, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.  Frankly, I can't think of more than a handful of rap or hip hop acts that I would consider more important and worthy of Rock Hall induction than N.W.A. (and most of the others are already in the Hall).

6.  Linda Ronstadt
She'll probably get in because female singer-songwriters always get in.  (Again, who the fuck is Laura Nyro?)  But seriously, she absolutely deserves to be inducted.  She's one of the most successful female rockers in history.  In addition to being one of the great collaborators of the past 45 years (she has appeared on over 120 albums by other artists), she has 21 Top 40 hits, 10 in Top 10 hits, and one #1 ("You're No Good"), along with 10 Top 10 albums and 3 #1 albums.  Sadly, it was recently announced that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson's.  Not to be flippant, but that all but guarantees her induction, since, obviously, the more it progresses, the less likely it is Ronstadt would be able to perform at the induction ceremony.

With respect to the other performers, here are my thoughts:

Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  Great and influential '60s Chicago blues band.  Mike Bloomfield was an amazing guitarist.  I just don't think they have the broad appeal to get inducted.

Chic.  A disco-rock band best known for disco hits "Le Freak" and "Good Times," both of which went to #1 and have been sampled heavily over the years.  I'm kind of torn with disco acts, and Chic, while purportedly influential, was really only big for about two years (their five Top 40 hits were all between 1977 and 1979) and died along with disco.

Peter Gabriel.  I think Peter Gabriel has a decent shot at eventually getting in as a solo artist (he's already in as a member of Genesis), although oddly enough, this is the first time he has been nominated as a solo artist, despite releasing his first solo album in 1978.  I'm just not totally sold on his staying power as a solo artist.  Yes, the So album in 1986 was huge, "In Your Eyes" is forever with us because of Say Anything, and "Solsbury Hill" seems to be in just about every dramedy, but he really doesn't have the chart success that you would expect from a pop star.  He's only had three Top 10 albums in the US (8 in the UK), 5 Top 40 songs in the US (10 in the UK), and 2 Top 10 songs in the US (4 in the UK).

LL Cool J.  I like LL Cool J, I like his music, and I think he has had a very solid career in music and acting.  Of his 13 studio albums, 9 have cracked the Top 10.  He has 14 Top 40 songs, and 6 of those made it into the Top 10.  For one reason or another, I just don't see him getting into the Rock Hall this year.

The Meters.  The Meters are definitely within the "influence" category, rather than the commercial success category.  They were early funk pioneers, and have been sampled by legions of hip hop artists.  I don't think they are well-known enough to get in right now.

The Replacements.  I think The Replacements are awesome, Paul Westerberg is a great songwriter, and they certainly influenced a lot of alternative rock, punk, and pop punk bands, but punk, post-punk, and college rock bands generally haven't had huge success getting into the Rock Hall.

Cat Stevens.  Now known as Yusuf Islam (after his conversion to Islam in 1977), Stevens was a singer-songwriter and folk singer, probably best known for his songs "Peace Train" and "Wild World."  He was pretty successful in the '70s, notching 7 Top 10 albums (and one #1 album), 11 Top 40 songs, and 4 Top 10 songs in the US during that decade.  I'm just not sure he has the whole body of work and influence that merits inclusion in the Rock Hall.

Link Wray.  Wray's 1958 distorted, brooding guitar instrumental "Rumble" is credited with introducing the power chord to rock and roll, which is obviously a huge deal.  He has been cited as an influence by the likes of Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Pete Townshend, and Jimmy Page.  The fact that this is the first time he has been nominated is either an indication that he may not deserve to be in the Rock Hall or that people are finally starting to see his influence.  It probably helps his case that Duane Eddy and The Ventures have both been inducted.

Yes.  English prog rockers Yes probably won't get in on their first shot, but, for better or worse, Rush definitely paved the way for more prog bands to get serious consideration.  Yes was actually a lot more successful on the charts than I had expected, and for a longer duration than I had expected as well.  Between 1971's Fragile album and 1991's Union album, all 10 studio albums they released made Billboard's Top 20, including 7 in the Top 10.  On the singles chart, they weren't quite as successful (which can be expected from a prog rock band), with only 6 Top 40 songs in the US (4 in the UK), and only on Top 10 hit, although that was "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which did go to #1 in early 1984.

The Zombies.  The Zombies were a British Invasion band who were pretty popular for several years in the mid-to-late '60s, before breaking up in 1967 prior to the release of their last album.  They only had three Top 40 songs in the US, all of which made it into the Top 10 ("She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" in 1964 and "Time of the Season" in 1969).  Outside of those three songs, I'm not sure The Zombies have the credentials to be in the Rock Hall.

Rocktober Video #15: "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan

In today's age of nonchalance, crossovers, blending of genres, and a relative lack of emotion or loyalty regarding certain genres, it is nearly impossible to imagine fans of a particular artist being so passionate that they would pay money go to his concert and call him out for being a traitor.  But that's what happened to Bob Dylan -- the greatest songwriter in rock history -- in 1966 at a concert in Manchester.  Between songs, someone shouted out "Judas" because he was playing an electric guitar.  Someone was so upset with Dylan for betraying his folk roots that they openly likened him to the man who sold out Jesus.  But that's not even what makes it remarkable.  It's Dylan's reaction that makes this performance legendary.  Rather than sit there and take it, he calls the guy a liar, and then turns to his band -- which was The Band, mind you -- says "play it fucking loud" and busts into one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all-time, "Like a Rolling Stone."  And that, my friends, is what rock and roll is all about.

The video isn't fantastic, since it appears to be from a documentary or something, but it's all I could find with the full song.  And it's just a great rock and roll moment.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rocktober Video #14: Def Leppard "Live: In the Round, In Your Face"

Back in the late '80s, Def Leppard brought the concert-going experience to a new level with its innovative in-the-round stage.  Rather than the typical stage at one end of an arena, Def Leppard put their stage in the center and played 360 degrees to the audience.  I was lucky enough to see them in the round on the Adrenalize tour in 1992, but needless to say, I would have loved to have seen them on the Hysteria tour when Steve Clark was still alive.

In 1989, the band released a concert video called "Live: In the Round, In Your Face," featuring footage from the Hysteria tour in 1987 and 1988.  My buddy Weez and I watched this on VHS many times back in the day, but I probably haven't seen it in at least 20 years.  That's why I am posting the entire video.  Here is the set list, which is predictably fantastic:

1. Stagefright
2. Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
3. Women
4. Too Late For Love
5. Hysteria
6. Gods Of War
7. Die Hard The Hunter
8. Bringin' On The Heartbreak
9. Foolin'
10. Armageddon It
11. Animal
12. Pour Some Sugar On Me
13. Rock Of Ages
14. Photograph

And now here's one of my favorite bands on the top of their game.  Something to note is that, beneath that stage, all sorts of depraved sexual acts would be occurring before, during, and after the concert.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/18/13

Hair Band Friday - 10/18/13 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rocktober Video #13: "Jolene" by The White Stripes

One of my favorite bands is The White Stripes.  One of my favorite songs by the band (and one of my favorite cover songs by any band) is their version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene."  It might not seem natural on paper for a male singer in a Detroit garage band to cover a female country artist begging some other woman taking her man, but Jack White's execution is hauntingly perfect.  This version is from the band's concert film and live album Under Great White Northern Lights, recorded as they toured Canada in 2007.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"One Man Died For All"

Thanks to Weez for the picture, which he apparently got from Caveman Circus.

Rocktober Video #12: "Shake" by Otis Redding

Before June 1967, Otis Redding had played primarily to black audiences.  At the behest of Atlantic Records co-founder Jerry Wexler, Redding -- backed by Booker T. & The MGs, of course -- headlined the second day of the now-legendary Monterey Pop Festival.  He absolutely killed it, starting out his set with with "Shake" and working the tens of thousands of audience members into a frenzy, before ripping through a set of his soul classics and some rock covers and making many new fans in the process.

Sadly, Redding wouldn't be able to fully capitalize on his new-found crossover success, as he died about six months later when a small plane he was riding in crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin -- a mere three days after recording "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," which went on to become the first posthumous #1 song in US history.  But anyway, here's "Shake."

Rocktober Video #11: "Barracuda" by Slash and Fergie

I was busy returning videotapes last night, so I didn't have time to post anything.  To make up for that, I will post two Rocktober videos today -- one now and one later.  The anticipation should be more than you can handle.  The first one is Slash featuring Fergie, covering what is, in my opinion, Heart's greatest song, "Barracuda."  This was filmed by someone in the crowd at the 2010 Sunset Strip Music Festival.  If anyone thinks Fergie is just a pop singer, watch and behold her pipes.  Fergie sings the hell out of this song.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Only Reason You Should Ever Watch Dancing With The Stars

I'm so excited.  Thanks to Weez for the link.

Rocktober Video #10: "Cowboy Song" by Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy has to be one of the most underrated bands in rock history.  I really don't know how these guys weren't bigger outside of the UK and Ireland.  Instead of preaching, I'm just going to give you some vintage Thin Lizzy, playing one of my favorite songs by the group, "Cowboy Song."  It's a great example of the twin lead guitar sound that was the band's hallmark, and the song has not one, but two, phenomenal guitar solos.  I've been called a generous lover, and for good reason.  There are two live versions I really liked, so I'm giving you both.  The first is live at the Rainbow in London in 1978, and it is truer to the album version of the song.  The second is live at Rockpalast in Germany in 1981, and, while it takes some liberties compared to the album version, lead singer Phil Lynott has some good back and forth with the crowd.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rocktober Videos #8-9: "Animal" by W.A.S.P. and "Live Wire" Mötley Crüe

Many apologies for not posting a Rocktober video yesterday.  Judging by the volume of emails and telegrams I have received, you were hurt, angry, and, in one case, unhealthily horny.  To make up for my misgivings, I'll post two videos today.  Given that it's Hair Band Friday, I'm flying to the epicenter of the hair band genre as we speak, and I may very well be on the Sunset Strip tonight, it seems extremely fitting that I post two videos by Sunset Strip bands.

The first is one of Tipper Gore's favorites, "Animal (F**k Like a Beast)" by W.A.S.P. from a 1984 show in London, which, coincidentally (but not ironically), was the name of the infamous revolving-door LA glam metal band for which W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless briefly played bass, before leaving to form W.A.S.P.  Coincidentally (but not ironically), the man Lawless replaced in London was Nikki Sixx, who, of course, left London to form Mötley Crüe, which, coincidentally (but not ironically), is the band featured in the second video.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

It Was My Understanding That There Would Be No Math

Yesterday was Chevy Chase's 70th birthday.  He is one of my favorite actors, and probably one of the funniest people of the last 50 years.  There aren't too many people with better comedic timing than he had.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Fletch.  Then watch it a few more times to catch everything he says.  Anyway, I came across an interesting article in honor of his birthday, with 70 facts about Chevy Chase.  My favorite fun fact is that, while in college, he quit playing drums and keyboards in what he describes as a "bad jazz band" that would go on to become Steely Dan.  God, I hate Steely Dan.

Rocktober Video #7: The Beatles Rooftop Concert

Today, John Lennon should have turned 73, so it seems like as good a time as any to post a Beatles live video.  Or three.  On January 30, 1969, the greatest rock band the world has every known was hurtling towards a break up.  Tensions in the band were high, as were the band members themselves.  They had come up with the idea to rehearse a new album of material and then play it live on record and film for the first time, so they had a film crew record what would become the Let It Be film and the making of the album of the same name.  After they couldn't agree on a location for the live performance, they finally settled on the roof of Apple Corps (their company) at 3 Savile Row in London.  It would be their first live performance in over three years (save for a couple live TV performances), and it would be the band's last ever live show together.

Let It Be (the film) is bittersweet because it's like watching your parents get a divorce right in front of your eyes, only you have four parents.  But the rooftop performance is like watching your parents get back (pun intended) together and then tell you Billy Preston is also coming to live with you.  The band looks happy and like they're having fun, probably because they were returning to their roots -- playing live rock and roll music for a crowd.  Imagine how cool it would have been to be walking in downtown London on a cold day and, all of a sudden, you hear some music, and you look up, and the biggest band in the world is playing on a roof.  Who does that?  The Beatles, that's who.

I've decided to go with three songs from that rooftop show.  There are two John songs -- "Don't Let Me Down" and "Dig a Pony" -- as well as one of my favorite Beatles songs, "I've Got a Feeling," which is one of the last true Lennon-McCartney collaborations.  Happy birthday, John.  And you, too, Mike Singletary.  And you, too, Scott Bakula.  And you, too, Tony.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Add a Word Ruin a Movie

This weekend on Facebook and Twitter, a fun game called Add a Word Ruin a Movie (#addawordruinamovie) seemed to take off.  The premise, as the name implies, is to add one word to a movie title, thereby creating a fictional movie that would be much worse than the original movie.  For instance, the first one I saw was Patriot Board Games.

Here are my ten favorite that I saw, in alphabetical order.  Some are my own, some are from my Facebook friends, and some are from random people I saw when I clicked on the hashtag.

1.  1492 Handies
2.  Charlotte's Web Cam
3.  Dirty Harry Balls
4.  Fisting Leonard: Part 6
5.  Lafayette Indiana Jones.  (For those of you not familiar with Lafayette, Indiana, it is a horrible, rancid place.)
6.  Orphans Die Hard
7.  Pearl Necklace Harbor
8.  Rick James and The Giant Peach
9.  Schindler's Grocery List
10.  She's Having a Baby Carrot

Honorable mention:  Batman Begins Pooping; Big Vaginas; The Joy Luck Fuck Club; Leaving Las Vegas Early; Raping Gandhi; Sex Toy Story; Tickle Fight Club

I strongly encourage you to post your own in the comments because I can't get enough of this.