Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Dreams Daycare

A former co-worker shared this video with me, and I thought it was particularly appropriate to share with all of you, on this, the day when the natural and supernatural worlds are one in the same.

Rocktober Deep Cut W: "If My Mind Is Evil" by White Lion

All Hallows Eve is upon us, and it is also Hair Band Friday –- a delightful blend of devilishness and decadence.  We have reached "W" in the Rocktober deep cut countdown, and there is no shortage of hair bands starting with "W":  W.A.S.P., Warrant, Whitesnake, White Lion, and Winger, to name the most popular.  Each provides good possibilities for the Halloween week deep cut, from Whitesnake's "Children of the Night" to W.A.S.P.'s "The Torture Never Stops" to Winger's "Poison Angel."

However, I decided to go with a White Lion song, "If My Mind Is Evil."  White Lion had two Billboard Top 10 hits in 1987 and 1988, "Wait" and "When The Children Cry," respectively, as well as three other songs that charted.  "If My Mind Is Evil" comes from the band's 1989 album Big Game.  It's a minor-keyed, dark rocker with a heavy riff, a nice guitar solo, and lyrics about an evil televangelist and man's evil mind (this was right around the time of Jim Bakker's spectacular fall from grace).  It ends with a question Diamond Head asked and answered in the same manner:  "Am I evil? / Yes, I am."

Unfortunately, with the end of October comes the end of Rocktober.  But fear not!  Starting Monday, stay tuned for Hell-No-We-Won't-Govember, a daily look at history's most adorable sit-ins.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/31/14

Hair Band Friday - 10/31/14 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut V: "The Black Angel's Death Song" by The Velvet Underground

For "V," I was initially inclined to go with something from Van Halen, but I couldn't think of a Van Halen deep cut more appropriate for Halloween week than The Velvet Underground's "Black Angel's Death Song."

It should come as no surprise to you that The Velvet Underground had some weird songs.  "The Black Angel's Death Song" –- the penultimate song on the group's debut album, 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico -- might be the weirdest.  If I had to sum the song up in one word, it would be "disorienting."  John Cale's electric viola screeches throughout the song, and there are random feedback-filled hisses, also courtesy of Cale.  Meanwhile, Lou Reed talk-sings lyrics from the perspective of the grim reaper.  As I have described the song in the past, while I have never done acid, I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.  It's a perfect song for a haunted house, or if you want to creep out trick-or-treaters, or for a scene in a movie where Jack the Ripper walks through Whitechapel, chooses a prostitute, escorts her to the single room house in which she lives and entertains clients, and closes the door, and then all you hear are screams and you see blood splatter on the white curtains that cover the room's only window.  Aaaaaannnnd scene.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut U: "Mother Mary" by UFO

For "U," you probably thought I was going to go with U2.  Well, I'm not a huge fan of U2, and frankly, I don't know enough of their non-popular songs to reliably give you a deep cut.  Uriah Heep was another option, but I also don't know more than a handful of their songs.  So, that pretty much left me with British hard rockers UFO, who, if you've ever watched That Metal Show, you know is co-host Eddie Trunk's favorite band.  They weren't hugely popular outside of hard rock and metal circles, although you have likely heard their song "Lights Out" now and then on classic rock radio.

I decided to go with "Mother Mary" off of the band's 1975 Force It album.  It's an awesome hard rock song, with some fantastic guitar work by Michael Schenker.  I have to get home to eat some cake, so unfortunately I don't have time to say much more, but enjoy and definitely check this band out if you haven't already.

Retro Video of the Week: "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

There is no better video I can think of for Halloween week, so here is all 13+ minutes of the "Thriller" video.  I love the disclaimer at the beginning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Cream Songs

On Saturday, former Cream bassist and lead vocalist Jack Bruce died from liver disease at the age of 71.  If you're not familiar with Cream, you can probably stop reading here and go fuck yourself, they were the first supergroup, featuring Bruce (who had been with Graham Bond Organisation and briefly John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann), drummer Ginger Baker (also of Graham Bond Organisation), and, of course, Eric Clapton (who had been with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers at that point).

Although Cream was only together for a little more than two years, they put out four studio albums and had a profound influence on rock and roll.  Top to bottom, I'd be hard-pressed to find a more musically talented group.  Bruce was a phenomenal bassist with a great blues-rock voice, Baker is probably one of the top five drummers ever (and was at the top of his game in Cream), and Clapton is, well, God.  I consider them to be the first hard rock group, and they were certainly heavier than anything that came before them.  On top of that, presumably like many others my age, some of the first blues songs I heard were played by bands like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Led Zeppelin.  Cream seemed to have been more blues-based than the other two, but Cream also predated the others by a couple years.  It wasn't until years later that I realized "Crossroads" was a classic acoustic Delta blues song from the '30s, "Spoonful" was a Howlin' Wolf song, and "Born Under a Bad Sign" was an Albert King song.

With that, here are my ten favorite Cream songs, in alphabetical order.

1.  "Badge"
In addition to being a great song, "Badge" has a great story.  It was co-written by Clapton and George Harrison, and it was untitled.  The word "bridge" was scrawled on the music sheet indicating, well, the bridge, and urban legend is that Clapton read the word "bridge" as "badge" and laughed because he didn't know what it meant, and then a drunken Ringo Starr came into the studio and provided the line about the swans living in the park.  '60s London must have been awesome.

2.  "Born Under a Bad Sign"
This is a great, brooding blues song.  "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."  Glass half full, people.

3.  "I Feel Free"
From the beginning "bah bah bah bah bah-bah," this is a feel-good song about feelin' free.

4.  "Rollin' and Tumblin'"
This is a blistering take on a traditional blues song.  The band just tears this song a new one.

5.  "Steppin' Out"
"Steppin' Out" is an up-tempo instrumental where the band, and particularly Clapton, shreds, or as BBC DJ Brian Matthews says on the BBC Sessions, "fixin' to blow your mind."

6.  "Sunshine of Your Love"
This is a classic.  There is something primally satisfying about the riff in this song.  It's so heavy, especially for that time.  It's also the first bass line I learned to play (and pretty much the only one I still know how to play).

7.  "SWLABR"
I've always like this song, but until tonight, I never thought to look up what "SWLABR" stands for.  Apparently it stands for "She Was Like a Bearded Rainbow," which makes sense, given the lyric "you've got that rainbow feel, but the rainbow has a beard," even if you have to be under the influence of lysergic acid diethyl amide to really understand what that means.

8.  "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
This is a dark and beautiful song about a dude who goes on journey, and it's the first song in which Clapton used the wah pedal.  I love the wah pedal.

9.  "Traintime"
This version is from the band's BBC Sessions album, and it's pretty much just Bruce scatting some words about a train in between wailing on a harmonica while Ginger Baker plays the drums real fast.  Sounds strange when I describe it, but it does sound like a runaway train, so that's cool.

10.  "White Room"
"White Room" is the first Cream song I remember hearing, and it's still my favorite.  That gothic-sounding intro sets the stage, before the band bursts into four and a half minutes of rock and roll heaven.  Clapton is particularly good on this one, making good use of the wah pedal.  I love the wah pedal.  Not sure if I've mentioned that yet.
Favorite Cream Songs by GMYH on Grooveshark

Rocktober Deep Cut T: "Toughest Street in Town" by Thin Lizzy

I have likely said it before, and I will likely say it again:  Thin Lizzy is criminally underrated, at least in this country.  Phil Lynott was a fantastic songwriter, writing interesting stories in the Irish tradition.  Like with Springsteen, I think a lot of his songs would make great short stories or even movies.  The band's use of twin lead guitars (for most of their existence, anyway) was both revolutionary and influential, especially in the hard rock and metal world (see Iron Maiden and Judas Priest).  As Henry Rollins (a huge Thin Lizzy fan) once said, "If you like big rock music with great vocals and tremendous guitar, there's at least five Thin Lizzy albums which you need to run out and get, like right now."  I agree.

In the UK, the band had 9 Top 10 albums (including live albums and compilations), to go along with 13 UK Top 40 hits (including 4 Top 10), as well as 12 Top 20, 6 Top 5, and 2 #1 songs in their native Ireland.  However, as a result of some bad luck and illness while touring the States back in the '70s, the band never made it as big here as they should have.  Only three of their singles charted on the Billboard Hot 100 -- "The Boys Are Back In Town" (#12), "Cowboy Song" (#77), and "Do Anything You Want To" (#81) -– and only one album cracked the Top 20 on Billboard's album charts (1976's Jailbreak).  Chances are, other than their two classic rock radio staples –- "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Jailbreak" –-many American listeners have never heard a Thin Lizzy song.  Frankly, I can think of only one or two times when I've heard a Thin Lizzy song other than one of those two on the radio, and I think that's a damn shame.

When choosing a Thin Lizzy deep cut with a dark theme for Halloween week, I had a few options, but ultimately decided to go with "Toughest Street in Town" off of the band's 1979 album, Black Rose: A Rock Legend (which I reviewed on this here blog during the first year I did Rocktoberfest).

"Toughest Street In Town" is one of my top 5 favorite Thin Lizzy songs.  It's a look at the underbelly of society in the bad part of town.  Drugs, prostitution, muggings, murder, upper class apathy.  It's all there, placed on top of a frantically paced rock song.  The opening twin lead guitar riff is gritty, the drum fills are perfect, the guitars during the song are catchy at times and blazing at others, and Lynott's singing is typically soulful, complemented by the backing vocals on the chorus.  When I hear this song, I really can't figure out why these guys weren't more popular.  Good shit, for sure.  I strongly urge you to follow Henry Rollins's advice.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ashes to Ashes

It Halloween week, so it seems like an appropriate time to tell this story.  I recently heard one of the most awkward/hilarious stories I've heard in a long time.  To protect everyone involved, have changed change names and taken liberties with some non-essential details, but rest assured, this is a true story.

A friend of mine -- who we'll call Griffin, no, actually, Bort -- was out of town for work.  Bort and several co-workers went to a bar one night.  Bort and a co-worker, who we'll name Hannibal, were talking.  Hannibal had a problem.  The poor guy had a headache, but no pain killers.  Egad!

Next to Hannibal, however, was the purse of another co-worker, who we'll call Morticia.  Hanging from a carabiner on Morticia's purse was one of those little cylindrical travel vials of aspirin.  Morticia was heavily involved in another conversation, and her back was turned to Bort and Hannibal.  Not thinking anything of it, Hannibal grabbed the aspirin canister and popped the top open, hoping to grab a couple pills to ease his increasing cranial pain. 

There were no pills inside, but rather the vial was filled with a bluish gray powder.  "What the hell is that?," Hannibal muttered.  Is it a crushed up drug of some sort?, he wondered silently, now looking at Morticia in a different light.  Not white enough to be cocaine, he thought, but it could be Adderall?  Ritalin?  Heroin?  Bath salts?  "Maybe it's PCP," Bort cautioned, half-laughing, although visibly uncomfortable with the whole situation.  Just close it and put it back, man, Bort wished he could have said, but couldn't manage to choke out the words.

Only one way to find out, Hannibal thought, his inner monologue sounding a lot like Sean Connery for some reason.  He licked the tip of his finger, stuck it into the powder, placed the fingertip full of powder on his tongue, kind of rolled it around his mouth with his tongue, and then swallowed.  Unable to place the taste, Hannibal said, "I have no idea," before placing the cap back on the vial, and putting it back on Morticia's purse before she could notice. 

Thank God that's over, Bort thought, noticing how clammy his palms had become.  "Another beer?  I think it's my round," Bort said, hoping to change the direction of the conversation away from what Bort believed was not only an invasion of privacy by Hannibal, but was also the very real possibility that his co-worker Morticia was hooked on angel dust, a drug known to give its users a dangerous combination of superhuman strength and vivid hallucinations.  Don't piss Morticia off, Bort thought to himself, just in case.  "Yeah, I'll have another," Hannibal replied. 

Bort summoned the bartender, a man-child with a black horn-rimmed glasses, a tight-fitting vintage Frankenberry t-shirt, and a full, bushy beard that hung four inches below his chin.  "Two more Mich' Ultras, hombre," Bort said, even though this man was not a native Spanish speaker.  "Thirteen dollars," the man-child replied in a cool, indifferent tone, while twisting the caps off of two well-chilled bottles of beer.  Bort counted the money in the brushed nickel Tanqueray money clip he found on the sidewalk seventeen months earlier.  Exactly thirteen dollars.  God damn, Kalamazoo is expensive, he thought as he handed the money to the man-child.  Bort then reached into his other pocket and fished out seven quarters, which he delicately placed on the bar in single stack.  "He deserves it," Bort whispered to himself. 

Bort handed one beer to Hannibal.  They clinked the necks of their respective beers together, and each took a long slug, both satisfied knowing that this beer wouldn't damage their svelte, almost sickly figures.  As their conversation drifted back to the office fantasy cricket league and how that prick Grant Davies was going to win it all again this year, Bort felt a quiet comfort.

A few minutes later, there was a break in Morticia's conversation.  Not even talk of the Chennai Super Kings' top three batsmen could prevent Hannibal's curiosity about the contents of the vial from coming to a rolling boil.  He tapped her on her shoulder, noting how smooth her tawny velour pullover felt under his fingers.  Hannibal exclaimed, "Hey Morticia, quick question," a little louder than what the situation called for.  "What is it, Hannibal?," she said, thinking about how comfortable her top felt on her skin and noticing for the first time that Hannibal had gray eyes.  "I have a headache, and I noticed you have an aspirin vial.  Can I have a couple?," he asked.  "Oh, that's not aspirin," she replied.  "What is it then?," Hannibal asked, blissfully unaware that he would never forget the next two words that came out of her mouth:  "My sister."

Rocktober Deep Cut S: "Hell Raiser" by Sweet

Halloween week is upon us, which means the rest of the Rocktober deep cuts will feature songs with evil, dark, or demonic themes or song titles.

For "S," I'm going with '70s British glam band, Sweet (or sometimes called "The Sweet").  From 1971 to 1978, Sweet racked up an impressive roll of hits.  While they were more popular in their native UK (15 UK Top 40 hits, including ten in the Top 10 and one #1), I was surprised to see that they had a considerable amount of chart success here in the US as well.  Nine of their songs made the Billboard Hot 100, with five Top 20 songs and four Top 10 songs ("Little Willy" (#3), "Ballroom Blitz" (#5), "Fox On The Run" ("#5), and "Love Is Like Oxygen" (#8)).

One of the songs that either wasn't released as a single in the US or just didn't chart was "Hell Raiser," a non-album single released in 1973.  The first time I heard the song was a version Def Leppard put on their 2006 album Yeah!, which featured covers of '70s rock songs.  Their cover of "Hell Raiser" also featured Darkness lead singer Justin Hawkins on backing vocals.  I liked the song, so I checked out the original version (which is apparently hard to find in the US), and I liked it as well.  It's a great example of '70s glam rock:  hard rocking, catchy, high-pitched vocals.  And, of course, as evidenced by the cover of the 45 single, Sweet dressed the part.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut R: "She Wants Money" by Ratt

It's Hair Band Friday, so we're going to go with a Ratt song for the letter "R."  Ratt is best known for their 1984 hit "Round and Round," which made it to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.  In addition to that, they had another six songs that charted on the Hot 100, as well as eleven songs that made the Top 40 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts and four platinum albums.

Their 1984 debut album, Out of the Cellar, was their biggest-selling album, going platinum three times, and it tied for their highest-charting album, topping out at #7 on the Billboard album charts.  The aforementioned "Round and Round" was on the album, as well as three minor hits, "Back For More" (which was one of two videos the band had featuring Milton Berle), "Lack of Communication, and "Wanted Man" (which reached #87 on the Billboard Hot 100).  And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that '80s video vixen Tawny Kitaen –- who, before marrying Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale and appearing in five Whitesnake videos, and before marrying MLB pitcher Chuck Finley and stabbing him in the leg with her high heel, was the girlfriend of Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby -- is featured on the cover of the album, crawling towards a cellar.  She was also featured in the "Back for More" video.

Anyway, for the deep cut, I was choosing between "She Wants Money" and "I'm Insane," both of which are on Out of the Cellar, and are probably my two favorite songs off the album.  Both are great songs, but I went with "She Wants Money" because it seems more reflective of the '80s and of the Sunset Strip, when you could write a song about a whore (who wants money) and no one would bat an eye.  Plus, it's a badass song.  Written by bassist Juan Croucier, it is a fast-paced rocker with typically gritty vocals from Stephen Pearcy and great guitar work from Crosby and Warren DeMartini.  Enjoy.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/24/14

Hair Band Friday - 10/24/14 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist v. 2.0

The moon's transition into Scorpio can mean only one thing:  it's almost Halloween.  Call me a pagan who occasionally drinks goat's blood and dabbles in necromancy, but Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. 

In case you hadn't noticed, I also love music.  Exactly one year ago today, on a day just like today, I posted my Ultimate Halloween Playlist to significant fanfare.  It has since been called "rad" and "the only Ultimate Halloween Playlist I have ever seen."  But many of you bloodthirsty buggers have been openly clamoring for more than the mere 41 songs included on last year's list.

For your benefit, Countess Bathory, I have more than doubled the list this year, compiling the best songs for you to use either at a Halloween party to set the mood right or in the background on Halloween night, when you're dressed like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, passing out candy and Jergens to the neighborhood kids.

As I so astutely observed last year, Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay to embrace evil.  At any Halloween party or during trick-or-treating, you 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.

As a result, the playlist below includes songs that have dark and evil themes, talk about monsters or the devil or witches or the like, mention the word "Halloween," or are just plain creepy.  My mix has a lot of heavy metal, but that's kind of expected, since metal bands are more likely to embrace darker subject matter than, say, Meghan Trainor.  As I pointed out last year, you don't want to go too dark, like, say, Norwegian black metal, because you're going to lose your party-goers or the neighbors are going to think you're really into church burning.  And if you are into church burning, you're probably not going to want to tip the neighbors off by blaring Mayhem out your front door while handing their children fun-size Twix.

For parties, you'll probably want to mix these songs in with your regular party mix.  After all, who doesn't want to hear "Bark at the Moon" after "All About That Bass"?  For trick or treating, you're probably going to want to just go straight spooky, which probably means a heavy dose of Ghost BC, Pentagram, and Black Sabbath.

Halloween is on a Friday this year, which means Halloween parties should be starting as soon as this Friday.  I'm having one Saturday night, which I'm pretty excited about, and you can guarantee the 85 songs below will be played (except maybe "Angel of Death" because there will be children there).  You can also bet on the fact that there will be a fog machine, some fake bats, and probably a bunch of snatch.

With that, here are my 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, so you can creep our your co-workers for the next eight days:

1-2.  "Highway to Hell" and "Night Prowler" by AC/DC
"Highway to Hell" is an obvious choice and a crowd pleaser.  "Night Prowler" is a slower, creepy song that, several years later, serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka, "the Night Stalker") claimed inspired him, or something like that.
3-5.  "Black Sabbath," "The Wizard," and "Heaven and Hell" by Black Sabbath
"Black Sabbath" was inspired by a vision Geezer Butler had one night after reading a book about witchcraft that Ozzy Osbourne gave to him.  He woke up in the middle of the night, and a black figure was standing at the foot of his bed.  The figure disappeared, and when Butler went to get the book, it too was gone.
6.  "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
But do fear unvaccinated children.
7.  "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
8.  "Howl" by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
9.  "Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter
Instantly recognizable as one of the more creepy horror movie themes.
10.  "The Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles
11.  "Spooky" by The Classics IV
12.  "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps
13.  "Am I Demon" by Danzig
14.  "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head
"Yes I am."
15.  "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.
16.  "Dream Warriors" by Dokken
Speaking of Freddy, this was the title track to Nightmare on Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors.
17.  "Season of the Witch" by Donovan
18-19.  "The End" and "People Are Strange" by The Doors
"The End" is one of the creepier Doors songs, which says a lot.
20.  "Murder On the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
21.  "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.
22.  "Evil and a Heathen" by Franz Ferdinand
23-25.  "Monstrance Clock," "Year Zero," and "If You Have Ghosts" 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.
26.  "Hallow's Eve" by Hallows Eve
27-28.  "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.
29.  "Friendly Ghost" by Harlem
This one's a little more light-hearted, to offset the vast majority of this list.
30.  "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.  "I Ain't Superstitious" by Howlin' Wolf
32.  "Devil Inside" by INXS
33-35.  "Killers," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "Number of the Beast" 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.
36.  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This is a no-brainer and should be played at every Halloween party for eternity.
37.  "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
This is especially good if your partygoers are all on LSD.
38.  "Devil's Child" by Judas Priest
39.  "Hotter Than Hell" by KISS
40.  "Pretend We're Dead" by L7
41.  "Heeby-Jeebies" by Little Richard
42.  "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.
43.  "Evil Love" by Meat Puppets
44.  "Fade to Black" by Metallica
45.  "Halloween" by The Misfits
This is my daughters' new favorite song.  Seriously.
46.  "Shout at the Devil" by Mötley Crüe
47.  "Dead Men Tell No Tales" by Motörhead
48.  "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt
49.  "Running Scared" by Roy Orbison
50.  "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
51.  "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
52.  "Satan's Bed" by Pearl Jam
53.  "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.
54.  "Zombie Zoo" by Tom Petty
55.  "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.
56.  "Halloween" by Matt Pond PA
57.  "Going to Hell" by The Pretty Reckless
58.  "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.
59.  "Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela
60.  "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones
61-63.  "Soul Sacrifice," "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways" by Santana
64.  "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs
65.  "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.
66.  "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.
67.  "Serial Killa" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
68.  "Wicked Garden" by Stone Temple Pilots
69.  "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.
70.  "Santeria" by Sublime
71.  "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads
72.  "Here Comes the Night" by Them
73.  "Killer On the Loose" by Thin Lizzy
74.  "Running With the Devil" by Van Halen
75.  "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.
76.  "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
77.  "Got My Mojo Working" by Muddy Waters
78.  "If My Mind is Evil" by White Lion
79-81.  "Death Letter," "Little Ghost," and "Walking With a Ghost" by The White Stripes
82.  "Boris The Spider" by The Who
83.  "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.
84-85.  "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl" by Rob Zombie
Ultimate Halloween Playlist by GMYH on Grooveshark

Rocktober Deep Cut Q: "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen

With "Q" up to the plate, you know I'm going with a Queen song.  Even though "Stone Cold Crazy" has appeared on a handful of Queen compilation albums and is well-known in hard rock and metal circles for its influence, I have never heard it on the radio and I doubt many casual Queen fans know of its existence, so I think it qualifies as a "deep cut."  This is a straight, ball-busting hard rock song off of the band's third album, 1974's Sheer Heart Attack.  With it's heavy breakneck riff, screaming guitar solos, frenetically paced lyrics, and thundering rhythm section, it is rightfully considered a precursor to thrash metal.  Of course, it's about a third as long as most thrash songs, but you can still see the influence.

New Book: 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

I finished reading White Line Fever: The Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza several months ago, and it was a pretty good read.  It was definitely in Lemmy's voice, which made it pretty entertaining.  The man has lived a hell of a life, and has done about every drug imaginable, as well as thousands of women.  If you like rock and roll, and want to read the story of a true original who has rocked for over 40 years, then I definitely recommend it.  Of course, if you are a Motörhead fan, then it goes without saying that you should read this.

After I finished that, I took some time off from reading to get beaten down every day on the train while playing Blackjack on my Blackjack app.  Even though it's fake money, it's pretty fucking annoying when the dealer hits 21 five times in a row, again.  Finally, a couple weeks ago, I realized that I should probably start reading on the train again, for my own sanity.  I love horror movies, and growing up, I used to read a lot of Stephen King books, since his book formed the basis for many of the horror movies that I watched and enjoyed.  One book (and both of the related TV miniseries) that escaped my grasp was 'Salem's Lot.  This being the season of spookiness, I decided to buy a few Stephen King paperbacks, starting with that one.  I started reading it last week, and so far, I have not woken up in the middle of the night screaming and soaked in my own piss, at least not from the book.

Books read in 2014:
Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin
Any Questions?: The Complete Art Brut 2003-2013 by Eddie Argos
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
White Line Fever: The Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" by Fu-Schnickens featuring Shaquille O'Neal

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Brooklyn-based hip hop group Fu-Schnickens' second and final album, Nervous Breakdown.  The lead single off of that album (which was actually released the year before) was "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" the group's collaboration with a then-young-and-budding NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal.  The song cracked the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100, topping out at #39.  Unfortunately, for Fu-Schnickens, by the time Nervous Breakdown was released, rap and hip hop had gone the way of the gangsta, so their clever, lightning-fast, kung fu and pop culture-inspired lyrics were apparently not what the kids wanted to listen to anymore. 

I will say that I had the Fu-Schnickens' first album on tape, and I absolutely loved it.  In fact, I am going to Amazon right now to check on its availability.

Rocktober Deep Cut P: "Smile" by Pearl Jam

Even though Pearl Jam's 1996 album No Code hit #1 on the Billboard album charts, it has been received with mixed reactions since it was released.  It was the band's first album not to go multi-platinum, and it didn't have the radio success that the previous albums had.  "Who You Are" was a Top 40 hit, but I don't think most people would put that on a list of the 25 or 30 most recognizable Pearl Jam songs.  Other than that, "Hail Hail," "Red Mosquito," and "Off He Goes" all made the Top 40 of the US Mainstream Rock charts, and seem to find their way into live albums and greatest hits albums.  Those are all great songs, but "Smile" is probably my favorite song off of No Code.  It's almost like grunge meets Tom Petty, with a crunchy guitar riff, well-placed harmonicas, and a great, wailing chorus.  When I hear it, it reminds me of college, which makes me -- wait for it -- smile.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Most Awesome Things I Did Today

10.  Had cake.  For breakfast.

9.  Checked out the spot where a Wallenda might plummet to his death in less than two weeks.

8.  Drove to Joliet and back, if for no other reason than I would have committed legal malpractice and would have been fired if I hadn't done so.

7.  Had a breakfast sandwich.  For lunch.

6.  Listened to some Ozzy.

5.  Had chicken and dumplings.  For dinner.

4.  Went to one of those temporary Halloween stores to close up some loose ends on my costumes and to get some Halloween decorations for our upcoming Halloween party.  I love those temporary Halloween stores.

3.  Took Daughter to the Halloween store with me, after which we went to the grocery store, where she had to go to the bathroom twice.  The men's room at the grocery store had that overpowering wet dog smell that you would never expect to encounter anywhere outside of a dog bath.

2.  Bought some beer at the grocery store, you know, because they sell beer at the grocery store.

1.  Disobeyed my wife's directive that I not spend more than $15 on any one Halloween decoration at the Halloween store because, if I had obeyed her, someone else would have purchased the floor model fog machine for $45.  Now, our Halloween party just went from not foggy to somewhat foggy.

Rocktober Deep Cut O: "You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You" by Ozzy Osbourne

For "O," especially in October, you can look no further than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.  The Ozzman has a plethora of hard rock and metal classics that you can hear on classic rock and hard rock radio stations. 

His debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, hit the shelves a little over 34 years ago, in September 1980, and eventually went platinum four times over.  It gave us what is probably Ozzy's most recognizable solo song, "Crazy Train," as well as another Ozzy staple, "Mr. Crowley," and the infamous "Suicide Solution," which is unfortunately famous, not because it's a sad commentary about AC/DC frontman Bon Scott's death by alcohol or Ozzy's own struggles with alcohol abuse, but because a depressed teenager allegedly killed himself listening to the song, and then his parents sued Ozzy, claiming their son's death was his fault.  Thankfully, the case was dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

But anyway, the Ozzy song that I'm going with is "You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You," which was the B-side to the "Crazy Train" single, but not on the original Blizzard of Ozz album.  A remastered version appeared on the 2002 reissue of the album, and I can't believe it wasn't a single in its own right.  The song has everything someone (or a record label) could want in an early '80s hard rock song.  It's catchy, it rocks, it has an easy-to-remember chorus, and it has a sweet Thin Lizzy-esque guitar solo (albeit with one guitarist instead of two).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut N: "Breed" by Nirvana

It's crazy to think that there was a time in the early '90s when you had to define yourself as a grunge fan or metal and/or hair band fan.  You can guess which camp I fell into.  I didn't necessarily dislike grunge, but if given the choice, I would go hair band and metal all day.  Of course, it turns out that a lot of grunge is essentially hard rock, some of which even borders on metal, so now it seems silly that society made us choose between the two.  All of this is to say that it took me a couple years before I was comfortable listening to grunge, and I found that I really liked a lot of it, including the reluctant spokesband of the genre, Nirvana.

Their record company was hoping their second album, Nevermind -- the cover of which featured someone fishing for human babies with dollars -- would sell around 250,000 copies.  It is now certified diamond, meaning it has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone (and 30 million worldwide).  The singles from the album -- "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Come As You Are," "In Bloom," and "Lithium" –- are all great songs, but, much in the same way I think the non-singles on Appetite for Destruction make it so good, it's the non-singles on Nevermind that really make the album for me.

Of the non-singles, "Breed" –- the fourth song on the album, sandwiched between "Come As You Are" and "Lithium" –- is my favorite.  It's probably the fastest-paced song on Nevermind.  It starts off with feedback, and then bursts into a great hard rock riff, followed by machine gun drums and a driving bass line that kind of acts as the song's locomotive.  The lyrics are about some chick explaining that you don't have to breed if you don't want to, but instead, you can plant a house or build a tree.  Or you can do all three, even if the latter two are impossible without the help of hallucinogens.

I used to listen to this song before flag football games in college.  (And yes, I used to psyche myself up before intramural flag football games.  You may laugh, but did you score three touchdowns in the intramural championship game, leading your team to its first-ever all-campus title, after listening to "Breed"?  Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novselic may as well have been on the team.  Well, not Cobain, you know, because of the shotgun to the face and all a few years prior.)  "Breed" is a mainstay on my running/workout mix, and I don't foresee that ever changing.  It's one of those songs that I hope comes on when I'm about three-fourths of the way through a run and I need some extra pep to take me the distance.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut M: "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)" by Mr. Big

You probably assumed I was going to go with something from Mötley Crüe, given that it's Hair Band Friday and all.  You were wrong.  Don't pigeon hole me, man.

I decided to go with Mr. Big, who hit it big (no pun intended) in the early '90s with their megahit, "To Be With You" -- which went to #1 in 15 countries, including the U.S. -- off of their second album, 1991's Lean Into It. Everyone knows that song, and you may also know "Just Take My Heart" off of the same album, which hit #16 on the Billboard charts, or their cover of Cat Stevens's "Wild World," which hit #27 in 1993.

"To Be With You" and "Just Take My Heart" are both ballads, and "Wild World" isn't exactly hard rock.  Unfortunately for Mr. Big, like so many other hair bands, they were forced to release their ballads as singles, so the world isn't aware of their propensity to rock.  Paul Gilbert is a phenomenal guitarist, and Billy Sheehan can play the bass with the best of them.  Eric Martin's voice has a lot of soul, and Pat Torpey was a pretty good drummer.

For Mr. Big's sake, I am including their most-rocking song off of Lean Into It, "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)," even though it's technically on their greatest hits album, since it wasn't released as a single and chances are, you've never heard it, unless you live in Japan, where Mr. Big is huge (that's not a joke).  The song proclaims, "I'll be your daddy, your brother, your lover, and your little boy."  I'm not sure I want to delve into exactly what the implications of that statement might be, but the song rocks.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/17/14

Hair Band Friday - 10/17/14 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut L: "Out On The Tiles" by Led Zeppelin

When I conceived the idea for a "deep cut" Rocktober, the first song that came to my mind was "Out On The Tiles" by Led Zeppelin.  This is such a great song, and I really have no idea why it isn't played more often (or at all) on classic rock radio.  The song is ballsy and aggressive, with a great riff.  "Out on the tiles" is a British phrased often used by John Bonham, meaning a night out on the town getting sauced.  So musically and lyrically, the song is everything I would want from a great rock and roll song. 

It was the last song on side one of Led Zeppelin III (the "heavy" side of the album), which is an underappreciated album, in my opinion.  My first thought about the lack of airplay when it was released was that it might have been too heavy for radio back in the day, but "Immigrant Song" was on the same album, and it was a Top 20 song on the Billboard charts.  

As for nowadays, despite the fact that you can hear 75% of the Led Zeppelin catalog on classic rock or hard rock stations, somehow this isn't one of those songs.  You even hear some of the other more obscure songs from Led Zeppelin III on the radio now and then, like "Friends," "Since I've Been Loving You," and "Gallows Pole."  You might even hear "Tangerine" or "Celebration Day" once in a blue moon.  Hell, you even hear the non-album b-side to "Immigrant Song" -- "Hey Hey, What Can I Do?" -- on the radio (which you should because it's an awesome song about a whore).  Yet somehow, you never hear "Out On The Tiles."  Oh well, I guess it makes it more special -- kind of like I know about this secretly awesome song that only several million others (as opposed to several hundred million others) know about.  Listen to it and see what I mean.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Too Late For Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon

Thirty years ago today, John Lennon's older son, Julian, released his debut album, Valotte.  The album cracked the Top 20 on both the US and UK album charts, and it featured three songs that made the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including the title track (#9), "Say You're Wrong" (#21), and "Too Late For Goodbyes" (#5).  I went with the last one because it's the only one I know, and I distinctly remember seeing the video on MTV as a kid.  Of course, as a 7-year-old, I had a vague notion of who John Lennon was, but didn't really grasp his majesty until many years later.  Now, of course, when I see this video, all I see is John.  Julian looks like him and sounds like him -- and that's not meant to be a slight on Julian.  Sons tend to look and sound like their fathers.  Oddly enough, I think the song itself sounds more like a Paul song than a John song.

Rocktober Deep Cut K: "War Machine" by KISS

You knew "K" was going to feature a KISS song.  This was a tough decision, given the breadth of the KISS catalog.  I was going to go with "Rip It Out" off of Ace Frehley's solo KISS album (which might be my favorite KISS song).  But, even though it's technically a KISS song, going with a song off of any of the four solo albums didn't seem right because the full band didn't play on the respective solo albums.  

So, I decided to go with "War Machine" off of 1982's Creatures of the Night, the last album before KISS took off their make-up.  It's actually a pretty decent album, and I think it probably would have done better if it had been made by a band other than KISS (meaning that KISS was kind of falling out of favor in the early '80s, not that KISS did a bad job on the album).  Even though Frehley is pictured on the album cover, his replacement, Vinnie Vincent, did all of the guitar work on the album.  "War Machine" is one of the better early '80s KISS songs, which I realize isn't saying much (looking your way, Music From "The Elder").  It's a Gene song, with a guttural riff and gritty vocals.  That's about all I have to say about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut J: "Edge of the Blade" by Journey

In 1983, Journey was riding high, right in the middle of a seven-year run that included 16 Top 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including five that hit the Top 10.  Their 1981 album, Escape, reached #1 on the Billboard album charts and spawned four Top 20 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including three in the Top 10.  Their follow-up album, 1983's Frontiers, didn't quite match the success of Escape, but it came pretty damn close, reaching #2 on the Billboard album charts.  In addition, Frontiers included four Billboard Top 40 songs, including two in the Top 20 and one in the Top 10 ("Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" (#8) and "Faithfully" (#12)).

I do, in fact, own Frontiers (and just about every other Journey album) on vinyl, thanks to my mom's neighbor unloading her entire vinyl collection on me a few years back, and I tend to listen to this album more than the others because "Separate Ways" is Lollipop's favorite song.  For a svelte three-year-old, she can fist pump with the best of them.  However, it's the first song off of the second side of the album, "Edge of the Blade," that I feature here today.  It's a hard rocker, in the same vein as "Separate Ways," and it sounds like it could very well be the song in the background during a training montage of an '80s boxing or martial arts movie.  Yes, it's that good.  But seriously, what a kickass song.  Steve Perry wails.  Neil Schon lights it up on the guitar.  How is this not more popular?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut I: "Murders In The Rue Morgue" by Iron Maiden

For "I," the obvious choice is Iron Maiden.  The band is insanely popular around the world (and has been for 30+ years), selling over 80 million albums worldwide.  In the US, their albums have done okay on the charts (8 Top 20 albums and 5 platinum albums), although they receive virtually no radio airplay, as evidenced by their one charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 (a live version of "The Trooper" released in 2005 that hit #67).  In the UK, on the other hand, these guys are monsters, with 14 Top 10 albums, 4 #1 albums, 35 Top 40 songs, 17 Top 10 hits, and one #1.

Admittedly, I got into Iron Maiden late in the game, but have been doing my best to catch up.  My favorite Iron Maiden album is their second one, 1981's Killers.  It happens to be their last with original lead singer Paul Di'Anno, before the band fired him and picked up Bruce Dickinson (the lead singer, not the fictional record producer who likes cowbell), who took the band into the stratosphere.

Killers is a dark and fantastic New Wave of British Heavy Metal classic, and my favorite song off the album is "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which is loosely based on an Edgar Allen Poe short story.  The song starts with an eerie, slow guitar intro that sets the stage for the song's subject matter, before the rest of the instruments come in as accompaniment for the remainder of the intro, which doesn't have much to do with the rest of the song.  

When the intro finishes, the song's tempo increases significantly, where it stays for the rest of the song.  The song is about a guy who finds two dead women on a street in Paris, and is accused of their murder, so he tries to escape to Italy.  Di'Anno spews out the lyrics at breakneck speed, while the rest of the band tries to keep up.  Were it not for the musical ability of the band and the literary theme, this could almost be considered a punk song.  It's fast, catchy, and interesting.  About two-thirds of the way through the song, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith share a nice twin lead guitar solo, before the last verse reveals that, in the narrator's mind, he knows he's killed before.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut H: "Top of the Rock" by HSAS

"H" on a Hair Band Friday is a tough letter for deep cuts.  I consider some of Heart's '80s songs to fall within the hair band genre, but I don't know any deep cuts from that era.  Other than that, there aren't any "H" hair bands recognizable or well-known enough to garner deep cut consideration.  Chances are, you've never heard any songs by Hanoi Rocks, Heaven's Edge, Hericane Alice, or Hurricane, so what's the point of choosing a deep cut?

This was my conundrum today, until I remembered a short-lived band called HSAS that had a few pretty good songs.  "But GMYH, I've never heard of HSAS.  How are they possibly different from Hanoi Rocks, Heaven's Edge, Hericane Alice, or Hurricane?"  Well, fair reader, even if you haven't heard of HSAS, you have certainly heard of its members.  The fact that half of the band is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is what makes HSAS different from Hanoi Rocks, Heaven's Edge, Hericane Alice, or Hurricane.  The "H" is for Sammy Hagar (in the Rock Hall as a member of Van Halen), the first "S" is for Neal Schon (of Journey and Santana fame), the "A" is Kenny Aaronson (famous session and touring bassist), and the other "S" is for Michael Shrieve (in the Rock Hall as a member of Santana, famous for his ridiculous closed-eyes drumming during "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock as a 20-year-old).

HSAS put out one album in 1984,Through the Fire, while Schon was in between albums with Journey and about a year before Hagar joined Van Halen.  I was actually surprised to see that the band had a song that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, but they did –- a cover of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale," which hit #94 on the charts.  So, other than that song, you can consider any other HSAS song a deep cut for any of these guys.  I am going with the first song off of Through the Fire, a nice little rocker called "Top of the Rock."  I can't remember exactly how I came across this song, although I assume it was because of my Hair Band Friday Pandora station.  It's just a good rock and roll song, performed by guys who know what they're doing.  Enjoy.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 10/10/14

Hair Band Friday - 10/10/14 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut G: "Rocket Queen" by Guns N' Roses

For "G," the choice was easy.  Was there any doubt that I would go with "Rocket Queen," which was, is, and will always be my favorite Guns N' Roses song?  No, fair reader, there was no doubt.

"Rocket Queen" is the last track off of GNR's debut album, Appetite for Destruction, and it is a suitable ending to the greatest selling debut album of all-time.  The song is apparently about a chick the band knew in LA, Barbi Von Greif, who wanted to form a band called Rocket Queen, and it's kind of an ode to her.  What a perfect name for female '80s Sunset Strip scenester, by the way.

There are two distinct parts to the song.  The first part starts off with a bang, as Steven Adler drives the song with a relentless drum beat, followed by Duff's driving bass line.  Then you get that raunchy riff from Slash that repeats throughout the first part of the song, before Axl breaks in and does what Axl does.  I have always loved the first lines of the chorus:  "Here I am, and you're a rocket queen / I might be a little young, but honey, I ain't naïve."  As an 11-year-old, I could relate –- not to the part about the rocket queen, but about being young, but not naïve, honey.  Then again, I'm pretty sure Appetite for Destruction was the sole reason I was no longer naïve

During the break, right around the 2:20 mark to the 3-minute mark, you can hear a woman moaning, which is, in fact, the sound of Steven Adler's girlfriend at the time, Adriana Smith, copulating (or pretending to copulate) while getting banged in the studio.  The only problem was that it was Axl Rose, and not Steven Adler, who was banging her.  Needless to say, things between Adler and Smith kind of deteriorated after that.  Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that things between Adler and everything deteriorated after that.

Then, around the 3:25 mark, the song kicks into the second part, which is essentially a different song, but the parts flow together quite well.  The second part is a relatively touching message of hope and friendship from Axl, who explains that he'll be there for this chick whenever she needs him.  "If you need a shoulder / Or if you need a friend / I'll be here standing / Until the bitter end" has to be one of the genuinely nicest and supportive lines in the Guns N' Roses catalog. 

But enough talking.  Listen to the song, and fall in love all over again.

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Adolescent male hollering at a group of adolescence males outside a school: "You the boys that be sucking turds out of girls' booty holes?!" 
Adolescent male's friend: "Man, that's too far. You don't joke about sucking on booty holes."
Eavesdropper: Can Can

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut F: "New Way Home" by Foo Fighters

In my opinion, Foo Fighters are the best hard rock band of the last twenty years, and certainly the most consistent.  They have never put out a bad album, and have generally rocked every step of the way.  My favorite Foo Fighters album is their second, 1997's The Colour and The Shape, which featured songs like "My Hero," "Everlong," and "Monkey Wrench," but it's the last song off that album, "New Way Home" that I present to you today as the Rocktober deep cut for the letter "F."

"New Way Home" ends a phenomenal album with a bang.  From the opening note, the song is a driving rocker.  It's an ode to Dave Grohl's hometown of Seattle, and specifically driving past the Kingdome and realizing everything is going to be okay.  My favorite part is about halfway through the song when everything gets very faint, and then slowly crescendos into a sonic onslaught as Grohl repeatedly belts out the chorus (" I felt like this on my way home / I'm not scared / I pass the boats and the Kingdome / I'm not scared") until the song finally fades out.  This has been on my running mix since I still had a Walkman.  Listen to it.  Love it.

Retro Video of the Week: "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie

Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary since Biz Markie released his sophomore album, The Biz Never Sleeps, which featured his biggest (and pretty much only) hit, "Just a Friend."  The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it tells the classic story of some lying tease who uses a man while hooking up with some other dude who she claims is just a friend.  The moral is simple, but bears repeating:  women cannot be trusted.  Ever.  This is a great song, and an even better karaoke song.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Terrifying Two-Sentence Horror Stories

With the leaves beginning to fall, the temperature dropping, and American Horror Story's season premier tomorrow night, it's beginning to look a lot like Halloween.  A few days ago, I came across this post entitled "9 Of The Most Terrifying Two Sentence Horror Stories Ever Told."  I know what you're thinking:  "GMYH, how can you tell a horror story in two sentences?"  Pretty easily, fair reader.  Read them.  They are pretty damn good.  Because there are only nine in the article, and this is the Tuesday Top Ten, I'll add one more:  College tuition has risen by an average of five percent over the last ten years.  If that keeps up, by the time Daughter is a freshman at IU, it will cost almost $66,000 in tuition alone for an out-of-state resident.

Rocktober Deep Cut E: "So Much for the Afterglow" by Everclear

Unlike "B" and "D," the letter "E" presented me with a relative dearth of well-known rock bands.  I don't know enough about The Eagles' non-hits to give you a deep cut from them.  Plus I hate the fucking Eagles.  I can't name a non-popular song by Europe, Eve 6 isn't well-known enough, and there wasn't anything in the Extreme catalogue that struck my fancy.

Ultimately, I decided on Everclear, which I think was a pretty good rock band.  Between 1995 and 2000, they had three platinum albums, as well as six songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 or Hot 100 Airplay charts, including "Santa Monica" (#29, as well as #1 on the Mainstream Rock charts), "Everything to Everyone," "I Will Buy You a New Life," "Father of Mine," and "Wonderful."  Many of the songs centered around lead singer and songwriter Art Alexakis's terrible childhood (which featured his father leaving the family, being sexually abused by older neighborhood children, his brother dying of a heroin overdose when Art was 12, and his 15-year-old girlfriend committing suicide).

I decided to go with the song "So Much For the Afterglow," which is the first track to the band's most successful album, 1997's So Much for the Afterglow.  It starts out with a church-choir-meets-The-Beach-Boys a capella intro for about 40 seconds, and then rips into the rest of the song, which is a nice little fast-paced power pop/rock song that appears to be about a broken relationship with a woman named Susan.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Rocktober Deep Cut D: "Soul Kitchen" by The Doors

The letter "D" presented another dilemma for me, since there are a bunch of great "D" bands, including, but not limited to, Def Leppard, The Darkness, Deep Purple, Derek & the Dominos, Dio, and The Doors.  In the end (pun intended), I decided to go with The Doors for no real reason, other than the fact that they have a lot of great deep cuts.  The song I am going with is "Soul Kitchen," which is the second track off of the band's 1967 self-titled debut album.  There is not a bad song on the entire album, although "Light My Fire" and "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" are the ones that get a ton of airplay, and, of course, "The End" is a legendary 11-minute Oedipal nightmare of a song that was later given new life in Apocalypse Now.  You might even see "Crystal Ship," "Alabama Song," or "Twentieth Century Fox" on a greatest hits album here or there. 

Yet somehow fame and airplay have eluded "Soul Kitchen," and I'm not sure why because it's a great song (and probably my favorite song off of the debut album).  The song was apparently inspired by a soul food restaurant in Venice Beach that Jim Morrison frequented.  It starts off with a catchy organ riff by Ray Manzarek (not unlike the organ riff in "When The Music's Over") and that repeats throughout the song, and a meandering guitar line from Robby Krieger.  The verses are kind of low-key, with the aforementioned organ riff and a James Brown-esque jangly guitar.  But then, everyone turns up the energy for the chorus.  As the band bashes away on their respective instruments, Morrison belts out: "Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen / Warm my mind near your gentle stove / Turn me out and I'll wander baby / Stumblin' in the neon groves."  I had always assumed this song was about sex (or at least a giant vagina), but I guess it's actually about a soul kitchen.

And We'll Never Be Orioles

It's baseball playoff time, so you know I'm going to drop statistical knowledge on you when I get the urge.  I got the urge last night.  When I woke up this morning, it was still there, burning deep inside me like a stubborn bout of chlamydia.  

Long Time Coming
As you may know, the Royals and the Orioles are playing in the ALCS, which I think is awesome because it's nice to see teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Tigers playing in the ALCS.  The last time the Royals played in the ALCS was 1985, when they won the World Series.  The last time the Orioles played in the ALCS was 1997, and their last World Series win came in 1983.

That means it has been 29 years since the Royals won a Worlds Series and 31 since the Orioles won.  Since the MLB began playing the League Championship Series in 1969, this is only the fourth time that two teams will be playing in the ALCS or NLCS where both teams have not won a World Series in at least 25 years.  Here is each time it has happened, with the number of years since the last World Series title in parentheses. (Note that for expansion teams, I calculated the year they entered the MLB as their first year of not winning a World Series, so, for instance, although the Mets had technically never won a title in their first NLCS appearance in 1969, they were only around for 7 years at that point, so they would not be included on the list):

2014 ALCS:  Royals (29), Orioles (31)
2011 ALCS:  Tigers (27), Rangers (50 (never))
1989 NLCS:  Giants (35), Cubs (81)
1986 ALCS:  Angels (25 (never)), Red Sox (68)

AL Central Dominance
With their sweep of the Angels, the Royals become the fifth AL Central team to make it to the ALCS since 2002, making the AL Central the only division in baseball in which all five teams have played in the LCS since 2000 while being a member of the division (the Astros made the NLCS as a member of the NL Central, but have not made the ALCS since moving to the AL West last year).  If the Nationals can pull off an improbable comeback and with the next three games against the Giants, then the NL East would join the same club. 

Here are the MLB divisions and each team's LCS appearances since 2000:

AL Central
Chicago White Sox:  2005
Cleveland Indians:  2007
Detroit Tigers:  2006, 2011-2013
Kansas City Royals:  2014
Minnesota Twins:  2002

AL East
Baltimore Orioles:  2014
Boston Red Sox:  2003-2004, 2007-2008, 2013
New York Yankees:  2000-2001, 2003-2004, 2009-2010, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays:  2008
Toronto Blue Jays:  none

AL West
Houston Astros:  none as member of AL West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:  2002, 2005, 2009
Oakland Athletics:  2006
Seattle Mariners:  2000-2001
Texas Rangers:  2010-2011

NL Central
Chicago Cubs:  2003
Cincinnati Reds:  none
Houston Astros:  2004-2005
Milwaukee Brewers:  2011
Pittsburgh Pirates:  none
St. Louis Cardinals:  2000, 2002, 2004-2006, 2011-2013

NL East
Atlanta Braves:  2001
Miami Marlins:  2003
New York Mets:  2000, 2006
Philadelphia Phillies:  2008, 2010
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos:  none

NL West
Arizona Diamondbacks:  2001, 2007
Colorado Rockies:  2007
Los Angeles Dodgers:  2008-2009, 2013
San Diego Padres:  none
San Francisco Giants:  2002, 2010, 2012

MLB Parity
Amazingly, since the 2000 season, only 5 of the 30 MLB teams have not advanced to an LCS.  In that span (starting with the 1999-2000 season for the other sports), that is the lowest percentage of franchises in the four major sports leagues that has failed to make it to the conference championship game.  Here's how the four major sports leagues stack up in that respect (with the percentage of teams that haven't made a conference championship and the list of the teams for each league):

1.  MLB:  16.7%  (5 of 30 – Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Toronto, Washington)

2.  NHL:  20% (6 of 30 - Columbus, Florida, Nashville, New York Islanders, Washington, Winnipeg/Atlanta)

3.  NBA:  26.7% (8 of 30 - Atlanta, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans, Toronto, Washington)

4.  NFL:  28.1% (9 of 32 - Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Washington)