Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister

I haven't had much time over the last few days to commit to this blog, but apparently Kyrie Irving was recently traded, and now the Cavs are pissed because Isaiah Thomas was more injured than what they believed when they made the trade.  It reminded me of my favorite Mr. Mister song, "Broken Wings."  You know, because it's like Thomas has a broken wing or something.  Then I'm like, "You numb nuts.  They have a fucking song called 'Kyrie.'"  "Yeah, but isn't that pronounced 'key-ree-ee-aye,' not 'kye-ree'?"  "Don't be a dick."  "I'm done with this conversation."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Book: Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

About a month ago, I finished reading Trouble Boys:  The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr. It was a fascinating and depressing biography of a band that could have and should have been one of the biggest alternative bands of the late '80s and early '90s. The Replacements were basically on the same career arc as R.E.M. -- and were much better and edgier, in my opinion. But where R.E.M. actually made wise career decisions, The Replacements engaged in self-sabotage like no other band in rock history.  Aside from the band's rampant alcoholism and drug abuse:  

  • They purposely tanked auditions for record labels.
  • They destroyed and regularly pissed all over their own tour bus (which they had to pay for).
  • They refused to release videos during the formative years of MTV.
  • They would show up wasted to meetings with records labels and do their best to piss off the people who could have given them record deals.
  • When they were given the chance to tour as openers for bigger acts (like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), they tried to alienate audiences.
  • They swore live on air when they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1986 (resulting in being blackballed from network television).
  • When they finally released a video, it was a song about teen suicide ("The Ledge"), right around the same time as several high-profile teen suicides around the country, so MTV refused to play it
  • They would play "pussy sets" when they didn't like the way a concert audience was reacting, basically bombing on purpose and playing random songs that they thought the audience would hate.
  • They would literally burn the money they got for their per diems.
  • When ostensibly promoting a record by doing radio interviews, they would often purposely piss off the very DJs who would have otherwise played their songs on the air. 

At the recommendation of a friend, I listened to the band's albums kind of chronologically as I was reading about the band making each album, and I definitely recommend doing the same. If nothing else, the band was a huge influence on the alternative rock scene in the late '80s and '90s, and the book was a great read, particularly if you are looking to read about one of those bands that people always say "why didn't they ever get big?" The answer here seems to be booze, drugs, and a paralyzing fear of success, but it's a hell of a ride. 

After four rock and roll biographies in a row, I decided to switch it up, going back to some horror/suspense.  I started reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. It's another collection of King's short stories. I read Night Shift last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then again, I don't think there's anything I've read by Stephen King that I haven't enjoyed. 

Books read in 2017:

-X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Ray Davies
-Phil Lynott: The Rocker by Mark Putterford
-I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman
-Trouble Boys:  The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 8/25/17

1.  "Thrill That Kills" by BulletBoys

2.  "Winds of Change" by Cinderella

3.  "14 Years" by Guns N' Roses

4.  "I'll Wait" by Van Halen

5.  "Save Your Love" by Great White

6.  "Long Way To Love" by Britny Fox

7.  "Lightning Strikes Again" by Dokken

8.  "The Whole World's Gonna Know" by Mr. Big

9.  "Crying In The Rain" by Whitesnake

10.  "Spend My Life" by Slaughter

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler

Apologies for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  I was busy making my triumphant return to bar trivia at Rocks last night.  But anywho, enough about me.  With the solar eclipse mania that has gripped the country and the world this week, there is only one song video I can play in good conscience.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 8/18/17

1.  "Down Boys" by Warrant

2.  "Stevie" by Britny Fox

3.  "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses

4.  "Brain Drain" by Jackyl

5.  "Jump" by Van Halen

6.  "Animal" by Def Leppard

7.  "More Than Ever" by Nelson

8.  "Rattlesnake Shake" by Skid Row

9.  "Love Don't Come Easy" by White Lion

10.  "Blood Pollution" by Steel Dragon

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Only In My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson

This Friday is the 30th anniversary of the release of Debbie Gibson's debut album, Out of the Blue.  If you were alive in the late '80s and listening to the radio, Debbie Gibson was ubiquitous.  Her catchy, dance-friendly "mall pop" songs were hugely popular, as all but one of the first ten songs she released in the U.S. hit the Top 40, including five Top 10 and two Number Ones ("Foolish Beat" and "Lost In Your Eyes").

Released when Gibson was two weeks shy of her 17th birthday, Out of the Blue was pretty much a success right out of the bat, getting up to #7 on the Billboard album charts and spawning five Top 40 hits in the U.S.:  "Only In My Dreams" (#4), "Shake Your Love" (#4), "Out of the Blue" (#3), "Foolish Beat" (#1), and "Staying Together" (#22).  The album eventually went triple platinum in the U.S., and is still Gibson's best-selling album.  Most impressive is that, unlike a lot of teen pop stars (both in the '80s and continuing through to today), Gibson wrote all of her songs.  In fact, when "Foolish Beat" hit #1 in June 1988 (when she was still 17), Gibson became the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Whenever I hear a Debbie Gibson song, it immediately takes me back to fourth to sixth grade, when her songs were in heavy rotation on Top 40 radio.  Say what you will about "mall pop" or the superficiality of '80s pop music, these were some damn catchy songs.  I'm going with her debut single, "Only In My Dreams," because that's what I feel like going with.  Of course, we are still waiting for that Gibson vs. Tiffany celebrity boxing match.  Well, I am anyway. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Lollapalooza 2017

A week and a half ago, hundreds of thousands of music fans descended on Chicago's lakefront for the 13th edition of Lollapalooza in Grant Park.  It was my 12th in Grant Park and 13th overall (shout out to Lollapalooza '94!), and as always, it was a blast.  For the second year in a row, Lolla was four days, stretching from Thursday through Sunday.  I'm not sure that fourth day is necessary, but I'm sure they're making money, or else they wouldn't do it, and who am I to complain about another day of great live music?

While I had to ditch out on Sunday due to some travel conflicts, in the three days I did attend,  I saw some great bands, and did some even better people watching.  Aside from some dicey weather Thursday night, it was a pretty nice weekend weatherwise.

Thursday, as I did last year, I took Daughter and Lollipop down to the fest for the afternoon, so that they can witness what not to wear and how not to act when they are teenagers.  Seriously, how can a 17-year-old girl wearing basically just a bra and short shorts be so drunk/high at 1 p.m. that she can't stand up?  It's fucking Thursday.  Pace yourself.

Anyway, the Kidzapalooza area was fantastic again.  The girls got free tattoos, free hair coloring, free balloons, not free sno-cones, and a free Kidzapalooza pin.  They also got to paint on a giant plywood contraption.  Both painted pizza-related images.  We are from Chicago, after all. 

The girls even watched a few real bands this year, including White Reaper and The Oh-My's, and unknowingly took in their first (and second and third and fourth and fifth) smells of weed.
Around 4:30, I had to take the girls to meet Jester when she was done with work, which meant that, unfortunately, I missed Liam Gallagher's meltdown.  In case you didn't hear, the mercurial Oasis frontman played about four songs before quitting because the crowd watching him apparently wasn't large enough.  I had a work function to attend, so I also unfortunately missed Cage The Elephant, who I hear put on a great show (they always do).

Upon my return, I met up with my friends Chandler, Daniel, and Meredith in time for Spoon.  Then it started to rain.  Muse was one of the headliners that night, and after their fourth song -- as lightning was flashing on both sides of Grant Park -- all of the shows going on that night were canceled, and the fest was evacuated.  Fear not, we made our way to a local establishment, so that we could imbibe a few more beers.  Sadly, my Bulls flip flops -- which, as you may recall, were wounded last year -- fell back apart, so I spent my walk back from the L to my house with one flip flop on and one off.

Friday, we gained a few more compatriots, as Jester, Kyla, and Jen joined us.  It was only in the 60s, so for the first time ever (and quite begrudgingly), I wore pants and shoes to Lolla.  At least it didn't rain.  Unfortunately, the band I was most looking forward to seeing -- The Pretty Reckless -- had to cancel their set because their flight the night before got canceled.  But nevertheless, we persisted.

The downfall of cooler weather is that, instead of needing to drink liters and liters of water to stay hydrated, we gravitated towards beer.  We also discovered the cocktail tent right around 4 p.m.  Quite prophetically, we predicted this would be the turning point.
The margarita was very good -- and very strong.  We declined from there, going with our standard "sport bottles of wine when the sun goes down."  They added rose as a wine option this year because, you know, white chicks love rose.  Jester's brother Willie eventually met up with us at some point.  Blink-182 headlined that night and was great.  Kyla may or may not have been slipped a mickey by a stranger.

That night, Foo Fighters were playing an aftershow at The Metro.  While we didn't have tickets, we decided to head to the G-Man Tavern, which is right next door, hoping that maybe a Foo or two would stop by before or after the show.  The show started at 11.  We closed it down at 2.  The Foo Fighters were still playing for another half hour after that.  Willie and I grabbed some much-needed Mexican food on the way home.  I miss late-night burritos.

Saturday, the weather was just about perfect.  Mid '70s, mostly cloudy.  It was a nice full day of music, capped off by lovable local hero Chance the Rapper.  During Chance's show, we staked out our usual spot on the little hill to the left of the stage.  Some dude was lying down and full-on puking into a sewer grate about 15 feet away from us for a good five minutes.  I offered him a water, and his eyes were focused on something that was apparently 20 feet behind my eyes, but he nodded "yes."  When I got back less than two minutes later with said water, he clearly had no recollection of our exchange, but he took the water nonetheless.  After a few minutes of lying on the ground and appearing nearly comatose, he popped up and danced his way into the masses of the crowd.  Such is Lolla.

Here's a panoramic shot of the field Saturday night before Chance the Rapper started.

Here are the bands and artists for which I saw two or more songs over the course of the weekend:

Thursday:  White Reaper; The Oh-My's; Middle Kids; Spoon; Muse

Friday:  PUP; Cloud Nothings; Tegan & Sara; Ryan Adams; Run The Jewels; Moksi; Blink-182

Saturday:  Blossoms; Ron Gallo; 888; Highly Suspect; Colony House; The Shelters; Royal Blood; The London Souls; Live; The Head and The Heart; Chance The Rapper; Kaskade

Here are my top ten shows that I saw over the course of the weekend:

Honorable Mention:  Blossoms; The London Souls; PUP

10.  Muse
These guys probably would be higher on the list if they played more than four songs.  They were just starting to ramp up when the lightning began.  Muse is one of those bands that is made for large crowds.

9.  White Reaper
Even though they were too loud for Daughter and Lollipop, I thought they were great.  They were energetic, and their music was a nice blend of punk, power punk, pop punk, power pop, and garage rock.

8.  The Shelters
I missed their regular set Saturday afternoon, but thankfully they were playing at the Toyota tent Saturday evening, so I caught some of their set.  Good, catchy, California rock and roll.

7.  Cloud Nothings
I have liked these guys for a few years.  Another good, garage-y punky band.

6.  Chance The Rapper
I'm not going to pretend that I'm some huge Chance fan.  I think he's a great dude, he does a lot for the community, and he's a Sox fan, so you know he's okay in my book -- but I don't know any of his songs.  That said, I really enjoyed his set.  He commanded the crowd, and there was a really cool moment when he asked everyone to put their cell phones up, with the screen facing the stage.  Nothing like 50,000+ cell phones shining in the night.

5.  Blink-182

I had never seen Blink-182, so I was excited to see them.  They didn't disappoint, even if Tom is no longer in the band.

4.  Royal Blood
I love Royal Blood, and was pissed I didn't get tickets to their aftershow at Lincoln Hall.  Regardless, I'm always amazed at how they get that much sound out of only a bass and drums.  They rock, plain and simple.

3.  Run The Jewels

They were fantastic.  The whole set was full of energy, and they even brought a fan up on stage to rap one of the songs (see pic below), and the guy killed it.  We had a lot of fun watching these guys.

2.  Live
Live was another band I was pretty excited to see, since I've never seen them.  I gotta tell you, they brought it.  We got relatively close (or at least closer to the stage than we usually bothered to get), and enjoyed the hell out of their set.  In addition to their classic hits, they covered Johnny Cash and Audioslave (the latter, obviously, in honor of Chris Cornell).  The band looked like they were having fun, and I know all of us Gen Xers in the audience were having fun.

1.  Ron Gallo
This was our annual "discovery of Lolla."  My favorite thing about Lollapalooza is discovering new bands.  Ron Gallo and his band were awesome.  It was fuzzed-out protopunk and rock, full of visceral energy, reminiscent of The MC5.  Their songs not only rocked, but had a bit of irreverence, which I liked.  Definitely check them out if they come to your city.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 8/11/17

1.  "Suzie (Wants Her All Day What?)" by Extreme

2.  "Widowmaker" by W.A.S.P.

3.  "Back Off Brother" by Jackyl

4.  "Top Jimmy" by Van Halen

5.  "Unskinny Bop" by Poison

6.  "You're No Different" by Ozzy Osbourne

7.  "Exciter" by Kiss

8.  "No Bed of Roses" by Lynch Mob

9.  "I Want You" by Bon Jovi

10.  "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" by Mötley Crüe 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Vacation" by The Go-Go's

I have spent most of the last six days at Lolla or traveling, so I haven't had any time for a Tuesday Top Ten.  That means you will have to wait until next Tuesday for my Lolla recap.  Let the anticipation build.

In the meantime, this Friday marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the second studio album by new wavers The Go-Go's.  Vacation didn't top the Billboard album charts like its predecessor did, but it still hit #8, so it's hardly a sophomore slump.  Despite their grammatically incorrect name, I have always enjoyed The Go-Go's.  Their music is catchy, but with a little bit of an edge.  It's definitely one of those bands that, when I hear them, I am immediately transported to early '80s suburban life.

The album's title track also hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.  "Vacation" (the song) is probably the band's most recognizable video, with the waterskiing and all.  Sadly, it would be the band's last Top 10 song, as they broke up after their next album, Talk Show, although lead singer Belinda Carlisle, of course, found huge success in the later half of the decade as a solo artist, with four Top 10 songs between 1986 and 1988 (including the #1 hit "Heaven Is a Place On Earth").  But I digress.  Just enjoy the "Vacation" video, already.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard

Two weeks ago, it was the 30th anniversary of Appetite for Destruction.  This week (tomorrow, to be exact), it's the 30th anniversary of Def Leppard's mega-album, Hysteria.  That's right.  Arguably the two best albums of the hair band genre and two of the best hard rock albums of the '80s were released a mere two weeks apart.

If there was ever a band that went through hell and deserved huge success, it was Def Leppard between the Pyromania and Hysteria albums.  After the Pyromania tour, the band went home for the holidays in 1984, when drummer Rick Allen got into that fateful car accident in the English countryside that resulted in the loss of his left arm.  He had to basically build his own drum kit (part regular drums and part electronic drums), so that he could play the parts that he had played with his left hand by using pedals with his left foot -- and then he had to reteach himself how to play the drums that way.  That's pretty fucking amazing, if you ask me (not to mention that his bandmates stuck by him the whole time, rather than get another drummer).  And then, while making Hysteria, the band went through a few producers before Mutt Lange finally came back on board.  And then Lange got into a car accident of his own.  And then lead singer Joe Elliott got the mumps.

After Hysteria was finally released in August 1987 -- four and a half years after Pyromania had been released -- it struggled to gain momentum, and it was said that the band needed to sell 5 million copies just to break even.  Enter "Pour Some Sugar On Me" -- the third single released off of the album.  I remember the first time I heard it.  I only caught part of the song, and the DJ didn't say who sung it.  But I immediately fell in love with it, and I was determined to buy the tape of whoever sang it as soon as possible.  During my next trip to Phar-Mor, I flipped through all of the tapes, looking for a song called "Burning Like a Flame" because that's what I misremembered the "love is like a bomb" lyric as being.  As a result, I nearly bought a Dokken tape, since they had a song called "Burning Like a Flame," but I didn't pull the trigger because something told me that wasn't the right band.  When I finally figured out it was Def Leppard, I bought Hysteria and have never looked back.  I credit the Hysteria album with turning my musical focus from pop and the Beach Boys to hard rock and hair bands.  

It's an amazing album, top to bottom, that has sold 25 million copies worldwide and 12 million in the U.S.  Hysteria topped the album charts in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia, among others, and it ended up spending 96 weeks in the Top 40 of the Billboard album charts -- tied with Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. for the most weeks an album spent in the Top 40 during the '80s.  It spawned an unheard of (for a hard rock band) seven songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including six Top 20, four Top 10, and one #1.  They were, in order:  "Women" (#80), "Animal" (#19), "Hysteria" (#10), "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (#2), "Love Bites" (#1), "Armageddon It" (#3), and "Rocket" (#12).  With Hysteria and Pyromania, Def Leppard has two RIAA-certified diamond albums, making it one of only three hard rock bands that can say that (along with Led Zeppelin and Van Halen).

"Pour Some Sugar On Me" quickly became my favorite song, and that hasn't changed since.  It is, to me, the perfect rock song.  It's about sex (which was way over my head at the time), it's catchy, it has a snarling riff, it has a sing-along chorus, and it just fucking rocks.  And there are two videos for the song (the original was a UK-only release).  Because I love you, I'm posting both.  With that, step inside, walk this way . . .

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: That's What She Said

I don't have time (yet again) for a proper Tuesday Top Ten, but I won't leave you empty-handed.  I was a big fan of The Office, and I'm still a big fan of a well-timed "that's what she said" joke.  Thankfully, the good people at The Office US YouTube account have compiled all of the "that's what she saids" from The Office's entire run (thanks to Trashton for the link).  So, here it is.  I think you'll find it quite satisfying. That's what she said.