Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ozzy Osbourne on AC/DC

"By the time the fire engines arrived, the flames had already burned themselves out. Randy was gone. Rachel was gone. I finally put on some clothes and took a beer from what was left of the fridge in the bus. I couldn't handle the situation. Sharon was running around trying to find a telephone. She wanted to call her father. Then the cops arrived. Good ol' boy types. They weren't too sympathetic.

'Ozzy Ozz-Burn, huh?' They said. 'The bat-eating madman.'

We checked into some shithole called the Hilco Inn in Leesburg and tried to hide from the press while the police did their thing. We had to call Randy's mum and Rachel's best friend Grace, which was horrendous.

All of us wanted to get the fuck out of Leesburg, but we had to stay put until the paperwork was done.

None of us could get our heads around the situation. Everything had been magic one minute, and the next it had taken such an ugly, tragic turn.

'Y'know what? I think this is a sign I ain't supposed to do this anymore,' I said to Sharon.

By then I was having a total physical and mental breakdown. A doctor had to come over and shoot me up with sedatives. Sharon wasn't doing much better. She was in a terrible state, poor Sharon. The one thing that gave us some comfort was a message from AC/DC saying, 'If there's anything we can do, let us know.' That meant a lot to me, and I'll always be grateful to them for it. You learn who your friends are when the shit hits the fan. In fact, AC/DC must have known exactly what we'd been going through, 'cos it had only been a couple of years since their lead singer Bon Scott had died from alcohol poisoning, also at a tragically young age."

From I Am Ozzy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rush, "Time Stand Still"

Yes, that's a pre-fame Aimee Mann singing on the chorus. This is actually a great pop song, and if it didn't have the name "Rush" on it, you'd hear it on the radio next to Cyndi Lauper. Instead, us Rush Heads remember it as one their best songs from the '80s, and a contender for the most hilariously bad music video of all time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Five Great Songs from the Say Anything... Soundtrack (that aren't "In Your Eyes" or "Joe Lies")

My sister once declared that Say Anything..., which turns 25 today, was a definitive chick flick that guys will watch (she phrased it more eruditely than that, but you get the idea). She's right--maybe it's Cameron Crowe's screenplay, or the way it captures the aches of the male crush, or its creation of a world where a guy who spends his Saturday nights at a Gas 'n' Sip could date a girl that looked like Ione Skye. There's something about Say Anything... that gets through to the lunkheaded heterosexual male, more than perhaps any other film in Netflix's Rom Com section.

As with every Crowe film, us music nerds get the bonus of a killer soundtrack, doused with everything from Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle" to Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden two years before the grunge boom (which Crowe went on to capture in his next movie, Singles). Of course Say Anything... is best known for the Peter Gabriel song in its most famous scene, and Lili Taylor's odes to her callous ex are probably a distant second, but its soundtrack has a trove of less-famous gems worth celebrating today.

1. Living Colour, "Cult of Personality"

It's a classic today, though there was no way of knowing that in 1989, when Living Colour were a relatively new band under producer Mick Jagger's wing. They're still a ferocious live band, and Vernon Reid is universally acknowledged as one of the world's greatest guitar players, but this is deservedly their most enduring song.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Taste the Pain"

Another band on the cusp of megastardom when Crowe picked them for Lloyd Dobler's tape deck, the Chili Peppers were streamlining the disjointed funk rock of their earliest albums on "Taste the Pain," showing hints of the songmanship that was about to peak on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

3. Depeche Mode, "Stripped"

Like Crowe himself, Depeche Mode were experts at taking the artsy underdog to the mainstream, being lonely enough for Cusack types and sexy enough for the rest of the world. Arguably the male musical equivalent of "a brain trapped in the body of a game-show hostess."

4. Fishbone, "Skankin' to the Beat"

Now that ska has been raided and exhausted beyond repair, "Skankin' to the Beat" should be as dated as Fishbone's cameo in Back to the Beach. Thankfully, its got enough of a new wave touch to earn its spot in the graduation party scene, and justify the Fishbone logo on Lloyd Dobler's shirt.

5. The Replacements, "Within in Your Reach"

Crowe dug this one out from the second half of the Replacements' messiest album, where it hid next to a drunken cover of "The Twist." Performed entirely by Paul Westerberg, "Within Your Reach" is the only song in Say Anything... that sounds like something Lloyd Dobler would actually write, though I'm glad Crowe made him a kickboxing instructor instead.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Jesus Lizard, "Boilermaker"

The Jesus Lizard will never win a Grammy, a gold record or a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, but now they've got something better than all three combined, a book. Better yet, it's a brilliantly-compiled collection of photos, essays, recipes and more from the band and several of their music industry fans. Like the band itself, Book was meticulously prepared but feels thrown together. Naming your printed tome Book seems lazy until you realize it falls in line with the band's album titles (Pure, Head, Goat, Liar, Lash, Show, Down, Shot, Blue, Bang and Inch).

Chris Weingarten, now of Rolling Stone, contributes two pieces, including three paragraphs on the first second of "Boilermaker" on Liar. I hope to write about music as well as he does someday.

"The opening second of Liar is hands down the greatest opening second of any album ever recorded. It makes the introductory chord of A Hard Day’s Night sound like a chorus of wet farts. It makes Bobby Gregg’s snare crack on Highway 61 Revisited sound like a cat coughing up a paperclip. If rock music is inherently about sexual energy, 'Boilermaker’s' inaugural second is the shock and shame of premature ejaculation.

Part of its charm is how hilariously self-defeating it is to put the climax of your album within its first second. To compare, note that the bridge to Nirvana’s 'Drain You' comes like twenty-eight minutes into Nevermind—what are you guys, Genesis? If Liar were a splatter flick, it would start with the woodchipper scene. It’s getting cold-cocked without even seeing the face of your attacker. No matter what volume your stereo is at, it’s too loud.

Best of all, this onomatopoetic spittle-sprayer is barely a bark. It’s like walking in midbark. Bark as suffix. It’s opening the door to find the Jesus Lizard rehearsing (or worse) in your living room. Their first album released after the 'alternative gold rush,' and here’s an abrupt jolt coming in midsentence, seeming to send the message, Uh, the party’s already started, where the fuck have you been?"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Andrew W.K. on GWAR

"I first found out about GWAR when I was around 13-years old. I was just completely blown away by everything about them. I'd never seen -- not only a band like them -- but I'd never really seen anything like them. I'd never seen creatures that looked like them, let alone ones that played music. From that moment on, I really looked at GWAR as an arbiter of excitement and a living example of the idea that anything was possible in this amazing thing called 'the living arts.' If this group of people could become rock and roll monsters and travel the earth, then maybe I could do whatever I dreamed of in life."

Read the rest in The Village Voice here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Santana, "Samba Pa Ti"

Earlier this week I was caught in an argument over whether Carlos Santana had ever written any good songs. He's played on them, for sure, just as he's played on a few that are so awful I can barely type the titles (see his biggst hit, or the Steven Tyler collaboration that came about 30 years too late). True, he's an excellent player, but most of his best songs, including "Oye Como Va," "Evil Ways," "Black Magic Woman" and "Jingo" were written by other people.

However, he did write my favorite song that he ever recorded, "Samba Pa Ti."

Does he even play this at shows anymore? Could he? It sounds naked next to anything from his Supernatural era. It's the kind of thing you'd hear an extra talented band play at a restaurant where you're the only one paying attention.

As of 1998, enjoying "Samba Pa Ti" meant liking one of Santana's biggest hits, but after watching him smother the last fifteen years of his music in inferior guest artists, it feels like being in on a secret. Give him all the hell you want for inviting Chad Kroeger into his discography, but few musicians have ever given the world anything as beautiful as this.