Friday, March 27, 2015

For Birthday Boy Rifkin

For Birthday Boy Rifkin
  1. The Jesus Lizard, "Boilermaker"
  2. Shining, "I Won't Forget"
  3. Blur, "There's No Other Way"
  4. Janet Jackson, "Rhythm Nation"
  5. Alice Cooper, "Clones (We're All)"
  6. AC/DC, "Riff Raff"
  7. Q-Tip, "Move"
  8. Pailhead, "I Will Refuse"
  9. Goatwhore, "Apocalyptic Havoc"
  10. Marsha Hunt, "(Oh, No! Not) The Beast Day"
  11. Stevie Wonder, "That Girl"
  12. Squeeze, "Goodbye Girl"
  13. Tinie Tempah, "Pass Out"
  14. Shuggie Otis, "Strawberry Letter 23"
  15. Killing Joke, "Requiem"
  16. Bill Withers, "Grandma's Hands"
  17. David Axelrod, "The Human Abstract"
  18. Living Colour, "Solace of You"
  19. Ozzy Osbourne, "No More Tears"
Happy birthday, JR.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Immortal, "Withstand the Fall of Time"

I'm sorry to see that Immortal is breaking up again. Yes, they were silly, and yes they'll probably get back together at some point, but it was fun to know they were always out their, mugging and posing like a black metal Kiss.

Immortal were best appreciated from the stage, freed from the miserable production of their records and the self-seriousness of the genre. Smoke, lights, ridiculous banter and best of all, songs like "Withstand the Fall of Time", from 1999's At the Heart of Winter, defined Immortal in all their kvlt galore. "Epic" may be the most overused word on the internet these days, particularly as an adjective, but "Withstand the Fall of Time" owns it in both the poetic and the entertaining sense.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Free, "All Right Now"

Having spent two summers and my senior year of college working at classic rock radio stations, I must have heard Free's "All Right Now" hundreds of times, thousands if we're counting bumpers. And yet, long after I've tired of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Free Bird," I'll happily sit through "All Right Now."

I'm still hearing new things in it. Two years ago, I heard an organist play it at a Cubs game and realized the verses have the same melody as "Footloose" (which "All Right Now" predates by 14 years).

It's the only Free song I know, and I've never felt inclined to seek out any others. I'm assuming they're good, and maybe someday I'll find out. But as of now it feels like the complete encapsulation of a band. Maybe Free themselves realized this, as Paul Rodgers saved nearly of his hits for Bad Company. You've heard the riff in countless other songs, but never played like this, and you might forget which hook goes with it the first dozen or so times it turns up on your FM. But once you get there, you'll stick around for Andy Fraser's moment of rock immortality. The bubbling bass line that takes over the bridge right around 2:20 is a pioneer moment of a bassist taking the lead in a great rock song, and still one of the only rock bass solos that doesn't disappoint or wear out its welcome. Now that we've heard Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Sting, Flea and more it doesn't sound so unusual, and yet no less perfect.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Social Distortion, "Another State of Mind"

Thom Wilson will be best-remembered for producing the Offspring's albums on Epitaph (especially the highest-selling independent album of all time), but his punk credibility was set ages earlier, with his name on records ranging from Christian Death's Only Theatre of Pain to the Dead Kennedys' Plastic Surgery Disasters. Like millions of kids who were in middle school in the mid-90s, I will best remember the late Thom Wilson for Smash, but more than enough will be written about that album this week. Let's take a look at Mommy's Little Monster.

It probably didn't seem likely that Social Distortion would last much longer in 1983. The heroin-addicted bandleader with an affinity for guyliner decades before it had a name and a fashion sense that owed as much to the Fonz as Johnny Rotten barely looked like he could keep his life together, much less a band. In the must-see punk doc Another State of Mind, the charms of Social Distortion and bandmates Youth Brigade (whom Wilson also produced) are far more apparent than their talents, even when we get a glimpse of Mike Ness writing a future punk anthem. Live, Ness barely knows what to do with his voice yet, but on Mommy's Little Monster he sounds not only self-assured but downright powerful, the bellowing old rockabilly hero in a hardcore kid's body any punk worth his or her patches today could instantly recognize. Orange County punk wasn't anyone's idea of a big seller in 1983, but the world would eventually catch up, as Green Day, the Offspring and Rancid could tell you, or even Social D, who have walked the line between punk and mainstream as well as any guitar slingers this side of Joan Jett. Maybe Ness was already more confident in the studio, but from Another State of Mind I'm guessing Wilson had to coax it out of him. Rock fans should be ever grateful.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Iron Maiden, "The Ides of March"

Contrarians will ever be telling you that Iron Maiden was at their best in the Paul Di'Anno era, argument which deserves about as much ground as those from listeners who've convinced themselves that Sammy Hagar was Van Halen's best frontman. However, Steve Harris' songwriting prowess and the band's chops were already clear on the first two records, both of which have enough great moments to deserve Eddie on the cover.

Killers, the band's second record, is the only one with more than one instrumetal (sic), "Genghis Khan" and "The Ides of March." The latter is a war march-styled anthem that kicks off the album, alerting the world to a band that was about to slaughter and take over (but not betray) the metal landscape. It's more solo-heavy than Maiden's usual fare--maybe they were already eager to get Di'Anno out of them. But had they kept him on, or even if they'd broken up, songs like this would have secured their spot in metal history.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bruce Sinofsky

There have never been more important metal filmmakers than Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger. Sure, McFadyen and Dunn are more metal, and Christopher Guest's one-off is in a class by itself. But no films nailed the substance of metal and metal culture more than Sinofsky and Berlinger's Some Kind of Monster and Paradise Lost trilogy.

People throw around praise about movies saving lives all the time, but Sinofsky and Berlinger's films did just that, casting a light on people and issues that were being ignored or vilified and changing them for the better. They kept the greatest metal band in the world together and kicked off arguably the most significant cultural movement in metal's past twenty years, leading to the exoneration of the West Memphis Three. Thank you for your work, Bruce Sinofsky, and for being a leading example of how great art can change the world for the better.