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rock’n’roll

One of the comments I received on Part One elsewhere stated categorically: “I found almost nothing on this list to agree with.”

You know, I’m glad. It shows yet again that there’s no accounting for taste. We’re all products of our time as well as our place. It says something that once upon a time at the tender age of 15, I thought the Bee Gees were the epitome of sophistication. It was 1978 and the world was in the grip pf Saturday Night Fever. In my defence, I lived on a rural island that emphatically was not the center of the universe, or even an interesting place on the perifery.

It all changed some two years later. There was, of course, a a guy to blame, my first boyfriend. He had the brilliant idea to take me to the Roskilde Festival, and on a late Saturday afternoon, standing on a stacked beer crate, my disco days died a painless death, never to return. It was summer, the sun was shining, he was my first -if thankfully not my last – love, and that live band phenomenon known as Santana were about to take the Canopy Stage.

Back in the day, being a product of her times, my mother was an AM radio fan, a sometime hippie (at least so long it was fashionable), and a former attendee of Woodstock. So I knew Santana. What I did not know was that I was about to experience a 20th century version of the mass religious epiphany – over 50000 people in one location and with one goal in mind – to throw themselves into that great mindless cauldron called musical surrender, no questions asked. There was no past, no future and no thought except one – to give yourself over to the beat and to the moment and let yourself be taken as well as being taken over.

Santana delivered. A fine thing to say for someone who later evolved into a black-wearing Goth, but there you have it – to this day, I will gladly fork over money to hear them live, because I know I’ll not only get my money’s worth, I’ll leave in a state of pure joy that will persist for weeks.

Santana led to other things, like jazz, like fusion, like punk, like metal, like grunge, like the whole rest of my musical journey that sadly, these days, hasn’t found a helluva lot of “new” music to get excited about, except certain outer reaches of metal that really do push boundaries, if not always the boundaries I want to push.

Rap leaves me – ice cold. The whole emo thing has it all backwards. Coldplay – puleeeeeeze. That’s not rock’n’roll, that’s the voice of some poor emasculated bastard who had his balls surgically removed at birth and has been searching for them ever since.

That’s OK. I no longer have any obligation whatsoever to be screamingly up-to-the-minute hip to anyone besides myself.

And if that’s not the ultimate exercise in maladjusted middle-finger-extended rock’n’roll attitude, what is? It doesn’t matter. I know what I like. Gene Simmons once said that rock’n’roll was about getting down to that part of you that’s hairy and stinks. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s more of the same, and none of it stinks!

Best 80’s Musicology Lesson In A Song:
Joy Division, “Disorder” (Unknown Pleasures, 1979)
You wonder, if you were around in 1979, if you ever would have heard the sound of clanking jawbones dropping in awe to the floor when this was put on record players. Joy Division’s first album – and “Closer”, the one that followed, was a harbinger of an entire decade, and even, by extension, a harbinger of some elements of grunge a decade later. Everything in the Eighties that made you go “wow” back then, you will hear here for the first time, but boiled down and distilled to the bare-bones bleak and bleached essentials. I still listen to Joy Division, and I still think they were towering geniuses miles and lightyears ahead of their time.

Best Two Reasons For Perpetual Indecision Albums:
Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon” and Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here” (1973/1975)
I can’t choose between these two. I can’t. I can’t. I’ve spent far too many hours on the floor in front of my dark-blue 1982 Technics stereo contemplating the anguish of the human condition to the sound of these two albums. They’ve paved the road for so many bands since. They are, both of them, stupendous. It is entirely possible that Pink Floyd is one of the top five rock bands ever to grace this miserable rock in space we call Earth, but don’t take my word for it. You might think it’s so much hippie-dippie tie-dyed British ballyhoo. You would be, I am delighted to say, dead wrong. Both of these albums have made me realize what a privilege it has been to live in a time when I got to listen to this – as often as I wanted. Shine on!

Best Series of Rock Albums That Could Have Been A Novel:
Frank Zappa, “Joe’s Garage” (1979)
There are legions of people who simply can’t get their heads around Frank Zappa. He applied classical and avant-garde musical techniques to the standard rock framework, and came up with a long laundry list of music that quite simply is some of the most technically advanced and challenging rock music ever written. And the entire 3-LP/2 CD set of “Joe’s Garage” is, in my anything but humble opinion, his finest hour. In Europe, Zappa was a rock god, far more so than in the US, and worshipped as one. In “Joe’s Garage”, we follow the rise and fall of an average Joe thoughout his rise and fall in the music business, with all that entails – groupies, STD, cults, prison and all-out musical mayhem. His lyrics are anything but politically correct and often hysterically funny, but the music, man – is astonishing. This is – a great story, a collection of amazing songs with some likewise amazing musicians, and if you happen to think Zappa never could play a straight guitar without going all Varese, then I dare you to listen to “Watermelon in Easter Hay”. Back in the day, when I got stewed enough, I would often give a stand-up performance of “Wet T-shirt Contest”. “So, whaddaya say, fellas? Nice set of jugs?” It got me banned from several Copenhagen bars at the time. To this day, I know the entire lyrics of all three albums by heart, to be recalled at the drop of a hat, a wet t-shirt or halfway through the tequila bottle, whichever comes first.

Best Singalong Song To Entirely Take Over a Party With:
Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night At The Opera, 1975)
Here comes another ground-breaker and head exploder. I grew up in a household where opera was not at all a dirty word, not even “The Ring of the Nibelungen”. So when this came along to blow up my brain a long time after it actually debuted, the territory was as familiar as my mother’s opera collection. We’ve all been to parties that tried ever so hard to be pretentious, grown-up affairs, wannabe salon soirees in a living room full of drunk, post-punk anarchists. You can see on their faces that the guests are thinking about that other party down the street, where the music is better and the guests at least know how to party. I snuck this one on the record player, and instantly, 12 people got to their feet in various stages of intoxication to give it their all, me among them. It became, we all agreed later, A Night To Remember. “Mamma Mia, let me go!” This is a song that never will.

Best Reason To Remain A Perpetual Teenager Song:
KISS, “Rock’n’Roll All Nite” (Dressed To Kill, 1975)
Some things, you never outgrow. Never, ever. KISS is another band I shouldn’t like, but I do. They were never the greatest, the most ground-breaking, boundary-pushing band on the planet. Innovation was not part of their musical vocabulary. But getting down to the hairy, stinking, id essentials of rock and roll was, and millions of fans agree. This is stupid, loud, obnoxious, teenaged and – fun. Thousands of forty-something teens agree. May we never grow up! Ever!

Best Housecleaning Album Of All Time:
Sex Pistols, “Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” (1977)
A world without punk music is a world I have a hard time imagining, since both the music and the mindset to a large extent defined my entire “No Future” generation. Never mind that we all later devolved, just like our despised hippie parents, to become quite well-behaved pillars of our communities, much to our own dismay. Never mind that punk gave us: thrash metal, doom, goth rock, grunge and a whole slew of other genres, some of which are better left unnamed. The Sex Pistols defined the quintessence of punk. Period. The whole album is fabulously not bad, but as motivational mood music for housecleaning, this has no peers. My toilet bowls have never recovered. So long as I own this, they never will. So long as I own this, my neighbors never will, either. They’ve been eyeing me askance ever since.

Best What It Feels Like For A Guy Song:
Nine Inch Nails, “Closer” (The Downward Spiral, 1994)
Trent Reznor, to all intents and purposes, is a modern Marvel Man – and a marvel. I dare you to find anyone who not only singlehandedly has turned himself into a genre, all by himself, but also a one-man industry. Arguably one of the most influential musicians of the last two decades, and arguably, one of the few who have totally keyed into where music will be going not in a year, but ten years from now. As a dedicated and devoutly questioning heterosexual female, I’ve always wondered, you know, what it feels like for a guy. Nine Inch Nails spilled the beans. Now I know. Since I first heard this, my world has never quite been the same. On that note-

Best What It Feels Like For A Girl Song:
Kate Bush, “The Sensual World” (The Sensual World, 1989)
Forget Madonna’s lame, tame, radio-friendly song, and get thee to Kate Bush, another musical envelope pusher with one of the best voices in modern music. She does only what she pleases, and still manages to please. Very, very few females make my personal list, not because I’m a male-centric slut, but because I’m demanding. I want some bang for my musical buck, and so few ladies deliver. Kate Bush does, and still does. I dare you to find a better or a classier definition of a woman caught in that first delicious flush of lust and sensual anticipation. Mmmm, yes!

Best Revealing Insight Into The Ultimate Male Fantasy Song:
Type O Negative, “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” (October Rust, 1996)
This is so cheesy, so tacky, so unapologetically infectious and catchy, you might as well give in. The ultimate male fantasy scenario, obviously written – and sung – by someone who got lucky, and wasn’t afraid to brag about it. Thousands of guys have been envious ever since. Then, they saw the video, and were even more envious. Unless, of course, they’d been there too, in which case, they’d try to smirk as well as Peter Steele. They wish. You can find that video here.

Best Timewarp I’m Fifteen With No Cellulite Again Song:
Boston, “More Than A Feeling”(Boston, 1978)
Oh, boy, I can feel the howls of derision coming my way. As Johnny Rotten would say, “Sod off!” Boston deteriorated badly after their third album was released, and I’ll be the first to admit it. In 1978, when I first heard it, their eponymous first album blew everyone away, at least in my overlooked corner of the world. But man, oh, man. I listen to this and suddenly, I’m fifteen and only just managed to be rid of my virginity, and the entire world is an open road that goes ever on and on, and where it goes, I can’t even begin to guess. If only I knew then what else I would lose. My illusions, for starters.

Best Reason To Become a Metalhead For Life:
Black Sabbath, “Paranoid”(Paranoid, 1970)
It’s kind of hard to realize that this album came out in 1970, about the time the post-Sixties hangover was settling in, and music was desperately trying to find some kind of foothold, since even the Beatles were about to go their separate ways. It’s even harder to imagine what sort of shock to the musical status quo Black Sabbath was. Nothing, and I do mean, nothing was even remotely close to sounding like this. That’s it. Enter dystopia. Descend into darkness. Clue in catharsis. A tremendous work of edifying and stupefying splendor not one metal band ever since has not been indebted to. And speaking of debt-

Best “We’re Not Worthy! We’re Not!” Album:
Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare” (1975)
It was sometime around 1973 or so when prepubescent kids everywhere suddenly discovered the joys of really pissing off their parents. This was when Alice Cooper (who did everything in shock rock before anyone else had even thought about it) was ubiquitous with “School’s Out”, and suddenly, the idea of striking terror into the hearts of hippie-liberal parents became a reality. At some point around that time, Alice Cooper toured the US and I pitched such a stinking fit that finally, after days of endless pestering my otherwise pretty laid-back Dad, I got to go. With my Dad. Five years later, that would have been the epitome of embarrassment, but then, it was – OK. It was more than OK when he liked it even more than I did, and promptly bought the albums. Chicken blood fazed him not at all. The sheer theatricality and sensory overload blew him away just like everyone else. If I were to name every performer who owes Alice Cooper at least something to his career in rock’n’roll, we’d be here till doomsday. But really – there’s a reason everyone who’s anyone loves Alice Cooper, even the Waynes of this world. Alice, dear, we really aren’t worthy. But we thank you anyway!

Best Ever Reason To Boogie Song:
ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man'” (Eliminator, 1983)
In my time in New Mexico, there was an ancient joke trotted out whenever a wetlander newbie came across a native. “Why is New Mexico so dry?” “Because Texas sucks!”. There was, in fact, an entire genre of of lame jokes along the concept that Texas – sucks. Well, people, I*ve been there, and I hate to say it, but it’s true. Texas does – suck. The one place in Texas that everyone who is not a religious nutcase can agree upon does NOT suck – Austin – also furthered another reason why Texas boogie, among other things, also most emphatically does not suck. This is another party kickstarter, no question. ZZ Top is deceptively simple, unapologetically fun, and unabashedly down and dirty. Loved the car. Love the beards. Love this song. Boogie down! ‘Cuz every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man!

Best How To Get Stoned Without Actually Smoking Anything Illegal Song:
Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, “Some Velvet Morning When I’m Straight”(1967)
I have been listening to this since the early Nineties, right before some hipsters decided to make Lee Hazlewood happening again. Well, the fact is, Lee Hazlewood was happening waaaaay before the rest of us were even born. That he could persuade a good Catholic girl like Nancy Sinatra to sing his songs, knowing full well she did not get it at all, only makes them better. I still haven’t figured out this song. But the title gets me, man, “Some velvet morning, when I’m straight” – how genius a title is that? You think it would have stood a chance if the title had been “Some burlap evening when I’m baked?” Fat chance.

Best Ultimate Showoff One Hit Wonder Worm:
Iron Butterfly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”(1968)
I distinctly remember the first time I heard this. I had just completed a creative marathon – 19 hours in a stretch, lost into the rabbit hole of creativity. I suspect I had been abducted by aliens that looked a lot like my cat. When I came to, it was 3 AM, and my radio – which had been playing unnoticed for 19 hours, suddenly began to play something that clanked my disbelieving jaw to the floor with a thud. I could not, for the life of me, stop listening. I could not, ever, forget I had heard this. I still can’t. This is pure, distilled, listen and die with envy embryonic heavy metal. Iron Butterfly never had another hit. They couldn’t top this. I dare someone else to try.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part One:
Jane’s Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual(1990)
Perry Farrell annoys the shit out of me. He’s got just the kind of whiny, nasal, high-pitched voice and obnoxious opinions that set my teeth on edge. Unless you lived in Ulan Baator back in 1990, you would have heard “Been Caught Stealing”. Or seen the video. And you would likely have left it at that. You would have missed out on an album that pointed north – toward Seattle and grunge, bubbling beneath the radar in those days, backward in time – toward some of the seamier elements of psychedelic rock, and firmly towards the LA scene that gave us grateful music sluts bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers. Jane’s Addiction never quite repeated the promise they showed here. Success – and rehab – got in the way.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part Two:
Soundgarden, “Superunknown” (1994)
Some albums, we unworthies really don’t deserve. Likewise, some frontmen, we don’t deserve. Chris Cornell, we definitely don’t deserve. This is arguably some of the most intelligent music ever to come out of the Nineties, and it still sounds as fresh today. Either that, or else, I’ve got calluses on my auricles. Can’t live without it. Wouldn’t want to try.

Well, folks, I could go on. I could continue this into a Part Three, and even a Part Thirty-Three, but what’s the fun of that? You go with what resonates, what strikes chords in your own life, what makes you stop in your tracks and think that maybe, baby, magic happens and you transcend the petty limitations of your pathetic, miserable existence into a plane of existence where it’s all good, all the time. or all bad, depending on your mood.

When it comes to music, we’re all of us looking for that moment when magic happens. When we have lost ourselves, and our selves, our egos even, and all that remains is a pulse – pelvic or otherwise, that proves one thing only.

We’re never too old for rock and roll, but we’re certainly too young to die! We’re alive. And we like it!

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And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. It’s gotten far too serious of late. Dissociation. pissed-off females, long-dead Lotharios – this is all fine and worthy, lofty subject matter. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do, and sometimes, that means – worthy, lofty subject matter. Better out than in.

But every so often, there’s a limit to how much loftiness and worthiness I can stand. It’s spring. Spring always makes my id start itching, and it’s not just the pollen, either. It’s not the aconites carpeting the forest floor in my local neck of the woods. It’s not the wild garlic spreading like an odiferous emerald rash beneath the beech trees, which – even for trees – are looking rather restless themselves. It’s not the birds beginning their morning concert at 3 AM. It’s not even the enormous bumblebee, trapped in my bedroom, that woke me up this morning by sounding like a very frustrated chain saw. It was of course let out and flew off to do bumblebee business. I took it as a good omen.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about music. The kind that floats your boat, the kind that gets your motor revving, the kind that inspires you and makes you happy, elated, the kind that elevates your miserable, pathetic existence to an altogether higher plane of consciousness. The kind, dare I write it, that makes you feel – young again, and with an upcoming birthday of the “let’s just forget about it, OK?”-variety, the importance of feeling young can never be underestimated.

I do lots of things to music. Housecleaning, cooking, baking, and last, but never least, writing. Writing to music shuts up the right side of my brain, so the other half can focus on the task at hand – cracking the metaphorical whip at my characters in order to get them to behave themselves, for a change. And every once in a blue moon, I can be found playing air guitar on my hairbrush, if only to let out frustration – any flavor. I may or may not be in my underwear. Needless to say, I’d kill for a PS3 and “Guitar Hero”. Not for any Hendrix aspirations I might have (I don’t), but just because it appeals to my inner teenager.

I also happen to live in a household with widely disagreeing musical tastes. The Resident Buttkicker has a shady past as a Deadhead, and man, I can’t stand ’em. Phish are even worse. I keep wanting to slap them across the backside and say “start playing a TUNE for a change!” We can agree on a lot of things – grunge, Beatles, quite a few classic buttrock bands. Even classical music, for that matter, a big part of my own culture-vultured childhood. I have not. however, introduced him to Wagner. I left that to Chuck Jones. Certain composers you have to work up to, in metal as in opera. Or even opera.

My son, on the other hand, thinks Peanuts TV cartoons are the epitome of musical sophistication. He loves all music, except Mom’s favorite guilty pleasure, because they scare him. Fair enough. He’s four. I am a good deal older than four, and sometimes, they scare me.

Me? I am nothing if not eclectic. I love folk metal and blues and Celtic music, I love classic jazz and Mozart, I love the Beatles and Beethoven and Van Halen and AC/DC, Nirvana and Pearl Jam and U2 and The Gossip and White Zombie and Rob Zombie and My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins and the Cure and the Cult and Soundgarden and My Dying Bride and a whole bunch of Danish bands no one knows about outside of Schleswig-Holstein and, and – oh, yeah. The guilty pleasure. The band I shouldn’t love so much, but heaven help me, I do. I apologize. Really.

So it follows that in my personal little monarchy, I would have knighted the inventors of the iPod. What I did before the days of the iPod and iTunes. I can tell you. I once spilled coffee all over my Sony Discman. It died, not quietly. I suffered, also not quietly.

Bummer, dude!

Therefore, furthering my own unique brand of solipcism and ego-tripping in the blogosphere (an honored occupation), I hencewith offer my Rock’n’roll Redemption Infinite Playlist. The songs I would want played at my funeral, the ones I wish were played at my wedding, the ones that can take any mood I may be in and turn the volume control to “happy” or “ecstatic”. The ones I misspent my wanton youth to. The ones I had one-knight stands to. The ones that make the big, bad wolf of the world go far, far away – or come closer still, depending on my mood. (See “guilty pleasures”).

Some are entire albums, simply because I’m a wimp and also because the whole enchilada is a work of towering genius without one misplaced note or drumbeat. Musical Mikado – take out one note, one riff, one wet, lascivious, luscious lick, and the whole towering edifice would crumble into dust. All of them are in no particular order of pre-eminence, except for the guilty pleasure.

You will likely disagree. So? It’s my blog and I can make noise if I want to.

Best “1983” song:
Van Halen, “Jump” (1984, 1983)
When it comes to impersonating a 16-year-old teenaged male, David Lee Roth wins, no contest. He’s practically turned it into his entire career. Love him or loathe him. I surrendered a long time ago. This song brings me back in an eyeblink and a keyboard riff to 1983, when every weekend was a party and life was an ice-cream cone and all you had to do was lap it up like soft-serve. So I did. And I still do, whenever I hear this song.

Best “Life is A Flawless Work of Infinite Beauty” Song:
Cocteau Twins, “Iceblink Luck” (Heaven or Las Vegas, 1989)
There are few words for how much I love this. Rumor has it that several mental institutions are filled with those poor hapless souls who tried to figure out precisely what Elizabeth Frazier was singing, but me – I don’t care. It’s beautiful. Perfect, and purrfect. I wish I had this played at my wedding. Unfortunately, my Republican mother-in-law would never have approved. Too bad. This is musical nirvana, and always makes me float away on little fluffy pink-tinged clouds of bliss.

Best “One Knight Stand In a Dark Inner-City Courtyard at 5 AM” Song:
AC/DC, “Thunderstruck”(The Razor’s Edge, 1990)
AC/DC is one of the very best bands in the world for pure, undiluted, unadulterated and utterly unapologetic rock and roll. No excuses. No pretensions. All id, all the time. So, this is a song best enjoyed without underwear. But with an available and utterly unsuitable knight who just happened by a nice set of jugs fuelled by slightly too much tequila and free condoms in a dark bar. Lust is a many-splendored thing. This is what mine sounded like in my Wild Woman days.

Best “Now And Then And Hopefully Many years From Now” Song:
Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica, 1991)
In my part of the world, and in my generation, Metallica is considered a national treasure. Well, even after all those years in the US, Lars Ulrich is still a Dane. All hail the beast! If the Buttkicker and I have a song we’ve claimed as our own – no easy task when we disagree on so much music, I’ll have you know – this would be it. Because no matter what happens, no matter what the completely clueless, careless rest of the planet thinks, nothing else does matter. He’s here. So am I. Basta! Fuck what they think!

Best “Let’s Make a Baby” Song:
Tears for Fears, “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (The Seeds of Love, 1989)
A cheap shot, I will admit. But Tears for Fears, one of the better pop-rock bands of the Eighties, did Great, Big and Bombastic beautifully. This fits the bill as the ultimate reason for procreating, as opposed to by accident. So it’s Eighties. So what. Somewhere on my internal FM station, this was playing that early spring day the Buttkicker and I made Damien, the Sequel.

Best “So Jazzed And Hip It Almost Hurts” Song:
Donald Fagen, “Springtime” (Kamakiriad, 1993)
Donald Fagen, whatever else anyone might say about him, makes albums that are, quite literally, technically flawless. The hip and happening jazzy, boozy, smoky bebopping and harmonics might be someone else’s idea of a nightmare. There’s a thick undertone of irony and more than a touch of the sardonic in his voice that you either hate or love. Me – I love it. Yowee! It’s Connie Lee, at the wheel of her Shark de Ville! We’re cruising about a thousand miles an hour, but the car is standing still! It’s cool. It’s jazzin, man. It’s terminally and fatally hip! It – swings, man! Get off at Laughing Pines and drive into springtime! Are we there yet? Who cares? Jazz it, baby!

Best “2009 Anthem Theme Mantra” Song:
Ozzy Osbourne, “No More Tears” (No More Tears, 1991)
All hail the mighty Ozzman. For that matter, what would metal be without Black Sabbath? Whenever I need to feel righteous, or just righteously indignated and need to bite the world in the tail, this is what I listen to. The lyrics are not the point. It rocks. It rolls. It moves me. It’s my mantra for this year. That’s right. No more tears. Enough of the bs!

Best Underrated Hairbrush Solo Song:
The Cult, “She Sells Sanctuary” (Love, 1985)
Billy Duffy, guitarist of the Cult, back in the day when they were really, really, really great, gives his all here, and cooks up a devilish riff I dare you to get out of your head without chemical help. I am the worst dancer on the planet, with the possible exception of the Buttkicker, not that that ever stopped us. But I can’t stop moving to this one – with or without a hairbrush.

Best “Whatever Reason And No Reason At All” album:
Beatles, “Rubber Soul” (1965)
Now, an album. I can’t pick. I’ve tried. On countless occasions. Ain’t happening. I take one song, and I want them all. Not one bad song on the album. Not one bad note, even. And this one album influenced not one, but several generations of songwriters, some of whom weren’t even born when it came out. *Nuff said! Listen, or die trying!

Best “To Be Taken At Face Value – Never, Never, Ever” Song:
Carnivore, “Male Supremacy” (Carnivore, 1986)
Uuuuuh, this is where things get dangerous, where the wild things are, where – well, you really, truly do not want to know. Certain things should not be mentioned in daylight. Thrash metal is an acquired taste I must have acquired back in the very early Eighties when I hung out in a now non-existent high temple of punk rock known as the Salt Warehouse. This is not a song I play for anyone I haven’t known for at least twenty years, with the Buttkicker as the exception in our courting days. (litmus test!). Raw meat is flung around at Carnivore concerts, and sometimes livers, too. Musical metaphor, artistical statement, or just a bunch of now forty-something benighted teenagers seeing what outrageousness they can get away with? My money is on the latter. Lyrics, as a rule, don’t make me laugh until I cry, but these did. Testosterone as satire. And irony. And a thick dose of sarcasm. Wowee!

“Best Song Ever To Be Ruined By A Commercial”:
The Cure, “Pictures of You” (Disintegration, 1989)
Ah, dear old The Cure. They have a special place in my heart. They always have, and they always will. Robert Smith, the man I wanted to marry when I grew up and thankfully, didn’t, does deceptively simple and elegantly catchy tunes that still hold water many, many years later. He’s one of the few gsuys my sister and I can always agree upon. We can even, to this day, turn another song from “Disintegration” into an instant duet – “Kyoto Song”. His lyrics satisfy your intellect, his tunes satisfy your soul. Unfortunately, HP hijacked it for a printer/digital camera commercial, and for that, I shall perpetually boycott all HP products forever. But this is – beautiful. No wonder they hijacked it.

Best “Hairbrush Air Guitar Solo” Song:
Pantera, “I’m broken” (Far Beyond Driven, 1994)
This one takes no prisoners, except middle-aged teenaged women vainly trying to recapture their misspent youth by playing air guitar on their hairbrush in their underwear, the not-for-public-display variety. Dimebag, I’m not worthy! Really, I’m not!
Then again, I strongly suspect you wouldn’t mind, and might even approve. You were – that kind of guy!

Best “Despair Never Sounded So Beautiful Before Or Since” Song:
Type O Negative, “Anesthesia” (Life Is Killing Me, 2003)
OK, OK. True confessions. My very, very, very guilty pleasure. I really, truly should not like this band. They have, on occasion, spooked me senseless and scared me shiteless. They have, on other occasions – well, you don’t want to know. But Type O Negative, for all their Black Sabbath meets the Beatles aspirations, sound not quite like anything else out there. They didn’t in the beginning, back in 1991, and they don’t today. They dole out albums with eyedroppers at long intervals, and they never, ever repeat themselves, or do what you expect. In this day and age of rampant commercialism, that’s quite refreshing, if only for a change. They could fill stadiums with their armies of diehard fans. They’re so hip, they don’t want to! Here, they’ve outdone their gloom-and-doom. Peter Steele looks into the abyss, and just as it did for Nietzsche, the abyss looks back. If you ever wanted to know what a primal scream sounds like, search no further. The hairs on your neck will take hours to lie down.

To be continued…

Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Or die trying!

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So, man – tell me all about it. Is it all it’s cracked up to be, parked on a cloud with your notebook and a pen? Does that get too boring, and if it does, do you hang out with your buddies, Janis, Jimi, Keith, Jon and that outrageous Texan called Dimebag? A word of advice, Jim – watch out for Lane. The man has issues. Issues, man, I’m telling you. Kurt, I think, you could relate to. If he has any head left by now, that is.

I think about the jam sessions you guys must have, and jealous is NOT the word. One day, Dionysus. But not any time soon. I have stuff to do, man. Loads of – stuff. Pestering the blogosphere is just one of them.

I wonder if you ever think about the havoc you wrought and the wrecks you left in your wake when you left. Dude, it hasn’t ever been quite the same since, and I was a baby when it happened. They don’t make gods quite like they used to, although you have a few contenders down here, you know, the guys who thought you were such an inspiration they riffled through your image wardrobe and stole what they could find; your outrage, your irony and your diabolical way with words.

Oh, yeah. Your ability to get up in front of a mike on a stage and just – slay ’em. Because you did. You and your bandmates took out all that fluffy-bunny love-peace-and-understanding navel lint and shot it – on stage and on albums – to the sky.

“Embrace the dark!” You nearly said. “Follow it to where it leads you!” And so we, they – hell, everybody! did, and some still do, and gotta say it, even without those Mayan prophecies, the world is still a darker – and more interesting place.

Because you showed us the way that music, the music that isn’t just another kind of background noise, but the vibrations that take you up and out and away from yourself, can transform you, can redeem you, can change your mind, your outlook and your soul – for ever. And nothing at all will ever be quite the same, be quite so innocent, quite so carefree again. And it’s cool, man, really. Not all of us were like you – born old souls, with the shadow of a god perched on his shoulder. Some of us are just plain garden-variety human, pathetic in our limitations, humble in our aspirations.

But we have music, and we have words and we have your words. At least, we have that.

Thanks, man, Appreciate it. You have no idea how much.

So happy fucking birthday, JIm Morrison. I look out on a dismal December sky, and for reasons I’m not sure I understand, I think of you and all those other long-gone guys and remember some lines from a poet you must know. He shared your predilection for divine madness, or diabolical inspiration. He would have dug you, I think. Or vice versa. And like you, he left this world too soon.

“WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.”

Eat cake. Have fun. Happy Birthday.

Originally posted as a “review” – of sorts – on an online writing community. Part rant, part rhetoric – and all heart!

The Aural Anaconda

-a review of ”Bloody Kisses”

It’s time…for a change. It’s time to get my head either out of my ass or out of Roman Britain, or just plain…out, somewhere – elsewhere, or else wear out what’s left of my synapses. They’ve been buried, unfortunately not fatally, in dense archaeological tomes of academe. A woman can only take so many Sub-strata B earthworks variations (early first to third-century CE), before having an overwhelming urge to cause a good few third millennium earthquakes of her own.

To that end, I take a deep breath in front of my CD collection. I shall pretend that I have never heard the contents of any of these glossy acrylic cases before. This will not be hard to do. I shall shut off my superego at its main power supply and up the volume on my id, who is only too happy to oblige. Any excuse, right? So, deep breath. Close eyes. Trail fingers over cases. Back and forth several times and…there! A snag, a slight tug and pull, and out comes…

“Bloody Kisses”, by Type O Negative.

Wow. This should be fun. A lesbian love fest is in full swing on the cover, and I haven’t even put in the CD yet! Damn it, I wasn’t even invited! My id is already happy-dancing. My inner six-year-old wiener wants to know where their hands are, but the outer 44-year-old takes one look at those faces and – knows.

On the back, four funereal dudes are wondering why they’ve been caught grave-robbing, but then, I happen to blink, and there he is, Poe’s poison-green Imp of the Perverse, jumping on a tombstone and somersaulting out over the trees decked out in winter drab. I blink again, and he’s gone, but I saw him, I swear I did. The underpaid morticians on the back cover never noticed. They’re checking out the real estate, thinking “development opportunity”.

I have been warned. This is, in other words, to be taken at face value – at my peril.

Few opening tracks in the history of music recording have been so aptly named as “Machine Screw”. The title alone says it all, and whatever’s left over will clear any earwax your Q-Tips might have missed. Be careful, though. Prolonged exposure might take your brain with it.

Just before my disappointment reaches epic levels, an eerie, creepy keyboard line insinuates itself into my now immaculate auricles and I’m well away, borne on a twisting sinuous tide into “Christian Woman”, and…Holy Catechism! I totally get it! It’s Bernini’s “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa” in music.

Now, this is a statue that has been known to make even hardened Catholics smirk. They nod, they walk around this epic poem in marble in awe, and then – they smirk. Religious ecstasy, sure it is. Her toes are furling, her fingers curling, and as for that expression on her face, well! Obviously, those smirks seem to say, religious ecstasy has something to recommend it, doesn’t it? One and a half billion Catholics can’t be wrong. This statue is what all those millions of Catholic women are hoping for.

Evidently, these women have never read Origen, Tertullian or St. Augustine. Maybe they should listen to this.

If first impressions are important, then one of the first things you are going to notice is that Peter Steele can sing. Love it or loathe it, you can’t get around it. By donning a black-clad, neo-Goth Orpheus persona, his voice also has a strange effect on just about every female I’ve ever introduced to the band. All male rock’n’roll singers are testaments of testosterone, one way or another. Put a guy with an attitude in front of a microphone stand and a band, and he becomes a singing, breathing projection screen for every female fantasy a woman can throw at it. By welding his bleeding heart right out in the open onto his cast-iron shirtsleeve, Steele just might have an edge on all those other guys, who would never dare. His voice has been slaying ladies in the aisles and everywhere else ever since.
So, for the sake of argument and my fragile sanity, he shall hereafter be referred to as That Voice. It’s a voice that can and all too often does most peculiar things to women in particular, making them do things like lose all reason, buy CDs, black corsets, Type O concert tickets…Trust me. I’ve introduced every girlfriend I have to that voice, and the same thing inevitably happens. They really, truly lose it. They seriously discuss the virtues of Catholicism. They develop an insatiable craving for black Valenciennes lace. You’ve heard of those voices who could read phone books and you’d swoon, but this is ridiculous. It spans a range in one song that goes from upper baritone to basso profundo, which is nearly as low as a human being’s vocal chords can go. The only thing That Guy has to do is…breathe, and there we stupid susceptible, suggestible females would be, “before him begging to serve or please, on our backs or knees”. Oh, yes, we would. Not in a New York minute, but a Brooklyn second!
And right before we feckless females are about to enter St. Theresa mode, borne off on a relentless tide of musical bliss both harrowing and sublime – the arrow! The arrow – please, right this effing second, I am so…ready! – comes the punch line, carried by a raunchy, leering guitar and a hard beat, and the imp comes out again. “Jesus Christ looks like me!” Well, blow my mind! Here I thought he’d be a swarthy, hirsute Levantine! Silly me. When I should have been looking for a nice Brooklyn boy of Northern European extraction. Catholic, of course. A godless Lutheran could never have written this.

Then, a riff of the Munsters theme brings me back to Earth, sort of, and an ominous growl pronounces: “I went looking for trouble. And boy, I found her…” “Black no. 1” is a brilliant satire of that nemesis you used to hate, back when Goth was cool the first time around, back when Ian Curtis was a (recently dead) genius and I wanted to marry Robert Smith when I grew up. If he wasn’t available, then Andrew Eldritch would do. Ian Astbury, in a pinch. Indulge my severe fit of nostalgia for a moment. In those days, I did my level best to exude my own unique brand of 5’2” fabulousness. Black wardrobe? Check. Snow-white tan? Check. Too much makeup? Check. A haunting telltale trail of Eau de Sarcophage? Caron’s “Narcisse Noir”, purloined from my mother, who never did forgive me. Prerequisite over-sized boyfriend? Double-check. I had two at the same time – one 6’4” Henry Miller look-alike, one 6’8” curly-haired grizzly bear. We scavenged our wardrobes and our furniture from the Soviet Army “surplus store” dumpster-diving outside the Soviet Embassy in Copenhagen at 3 AM. And meanwhile, right when I really thought I was too cool and too Goth for pre-20th-century words, there was another girl, who somehow managed to be several degrees more sepulchral than even I could manage. She was tall, she was thin, she was lethally gorgeous, and I hated her on sight. We all did. This song was written for her, I swear on my first edition of “Fleurs du Mal”. This is what happened when the Christian Woman gave up holy orders, decided that the Jesus Christ-a-like from Brooklyn wasn’t satanic enough for her, and dumped him. He went looking for revenge – and boy, he found it! If only all revenge was this hilarious. “Loving you was like loving the dead.” One thing none of my former boyfriends ever complained about.

Before I’m completely carried away by a tidal wave of nostalgia, a tribal chant marks the return of the Imp, and the second practical joke of this album, “Fay Wray Come Out and Play”. Please, Fay, do. King Kong is waiting, and the natives are…restless. So is King Kong. And you look so beautiful when you scream.

Are you dying for a chance to stomp the imbedded cat fleas in your carpet into submission? Do you want them to beg for mercy on their tiny knees and make you swear on your old copies of Green Egg that you will never do that again? Would that be too cruel for your eco-friendly sensitivities? Then, practical joke number three is not for you.

If, however, you don’t give a flying about those poor dying fleas in your fifth-hand rug, and you can be found in your off moments playing air guitar with a hairbrush in your skivvies to Pantera (guilty!), then “Kill All the White People” is for you. Try headbanging to this with the nearest available three-year-old, and he will, if he knows what’s good for him, love you forever for it. He might even join you. He won’t get the joke, but you will. If, on the other hand, you don’t, then you don’t deserve this album. May I commiserate. Not.

A very long time ago, there was such a thing as eight-track cassettes. A.M. radio was huge, because that’s where all the hits of the time were played. One cheesy bit of dandelion fluff was a monster hit on A.M. radio in those days. It was called “Summer Breeze”, by Seals and Croft. I lived through those days, and I remember the song well. Catchy. Cheesy. More or less instantly forgettable, even with hippy-dippy harmonics. Not likely to be induced into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame anytime soon.
Try to get this particular version of it out of your brain, and you are in mortal danger of never hearing it any other way again. Ever. All D-tuned strings, distortion, doom-laden drums, keyboards proclaiming the coming Apocalypse and vocals by Beelzebub, giving a throwaway hit some sinister, serial-killer punch it certainly never had before and likely will never have again. You can just see Ted Bundy, coming through the door and across the floor, wielding a bloody axe to this, blowing through the jasmine in his mind. My awfully wedded shall never forgive me for playing this version for him and ruining the original forever. Not to mention screwing up his happy childhood memories. This is evil, evil genius.

Right before a fatal descent into the maelstrom, you are brought back from the brink by “Set me on Fire” and a bright burst of keyboard masquerading as cathedral Bach, where the Dybbuk-in-Disguise has ditched the Devil, left the building and headed straight for the choir of Silly Seraphim. It’s the perfect antidote for serial killer schmaltz, if only because this song – with lyrics consisting of seven words – goes on for over three minutes, and lo and behold!, you can even dance to it. It is bouncy and silly and stupid and beautiful all in one, and if it can make a nearly middle-aged woman feel all of 16 at 9 AM on a dreary rain-soaked Tuesday, then it can’t possibly be bad.

This is an album recorded by four incorrigible practical jokers, and the Imp makes yet another appearance, before I self-asphyxiate in warm, fuzzy 16-year-old thoughts. First, we have “Dark Side of the Womb”, and I can’t quite decide if this is what really happens to Rosemary’s Baby once the camera stopped rolling, or if this is what I wanted to happen three years ago when I gave birth to Damien, the Sequel. The blood of a newborn child. Oh, the possibilities!

There’s more flea murder and dust-bunny decimation to come in “We Hate Everyone”. In fact, it might be fair to say that it takes hardcore to a whole new level. My downstairs neighbors never breathed a word of complaint over Pantera. But they complained about this one, and they have a point. Even the jaded three-year-old didn’t like it much. As a motivational track for housecleaning however, this has its uses. It even beats my perennial favorite the Sex Pistols into shame. My toilet bowl underwent a cathartic experience from which it has never quite recovered. Methinks, however, the gentlemen doth complain a tad too much.

I have days like that, too. It’s called PMS. At least I have that excuse.

From extending a middle finger to the rest of the world to bombastic blood-chilling…suicide? We’re back in penny dreadful novel territory with “Bloody Kisses” (A Death in the Family). I don’t mean that in a bad way. The band throws every single death-and-despair cliché at the unsuspecting listener, and then milks all of them dry for all they’re worth. Ah, this is heart-breakingly depressing. And heart-stopping beautiful. I award it five Victorian mourning hankies. I may cry. You’ll have to excuse me. I have to swoon now. Ah, they’re dead! Alas, they’re dead! And now I have no hankies left to mop up those salty tears. Just loosen my stays. Or else I’ll have to swoon again. All that wailbone is killing me.

By now, I think I’m suffering from a mild case of musically induced schizophrenic personality disorder. “Too Late/Frozen” begins with a screw-up intro, someone calling “Fourths, dude!”, then…we’re back on familiar ground here. Or are we?
What’s really disturbing is the way the opening piece reminds me of a catchy early-Seventies commercial jingle. “It’s too la-a-a-a-a-ate!” coos the chorus like blissed-out pigeons on Prozac, and suddenly I catch myself thinking that chorus would be perfect for a car commercial. Just have them sing “Chev-ro-le-e-e-e-et!”
“So you call to say you’re very sorry/Won’t happen again – forgive me?/Time will not heal these wounds/And I’m bleeding/Because of you” croons That Guy again, and within seconds, this hapless female has forgiven him not just that Beelzebub impersonation, but – everything! Only to be dropped off a cliff at a vertiginous height, and the only way to go is…down and down and down.
You’ve heard of raining on someone’s parade. This is the equivalent of a monsoon downpour on the Fourth of July. What I really love/hate/loathe/adore is that I’ve woken up at 4 AM with this song on constant replay in my head. So catchy, it’s driving me crazy, and I already have plenty of reasons to be lured over the brink, thanks. There should be a health warning on this CD. “Listening to this will be hazardous to your health.”

More hazard lurks ahead in “Blood and Fire”. One-two-three-four, here we go again. “No more nights of blood and fire/with no warning/you were gone/And I still don’t know what went wrong” warbles the black-clad Orpheus with all the heartfelt sincerity of the thoroughly beaten dog you’re convinced he is, and like any human hound who ever lived, breathed and wagged his tail alluringly, he goes on…”You don’t know what I’ve been through/Just want to put my love in yo-ooooooo-o-ooooooooou”.

Uh huh. Sure you do. That’s where the trouble starts, right? Exit sanity, enter libido, begin heartache. And other aches and itches and twitches for which all guys think they know the cure. And they wonder why we leave.

Sanity, man. We just can’t handle all that rock hard love. It does weird and eerie things to our heads. And other susceptible parts of our delicate feminine anatomy.

Right when I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’m at least semi-sane again, the final coup-de-grace. “Can’t Lose You” should be recommended by the New York Psychiatric Association as aural therapy for libidinally impaired females. Or indeed any females who think they’ve lost their primeval urge and have only menopause to look forward to.
Ladies, listen to this. I dare you. One long, meandering, near-instrumental croon with a sitar, yupp, the Ravi Shankar inciting variety that is the nearest thing to aural sex I’ve ever heard. Somewhere between the sitar, the guitar and oh, geez, that, ahem, Effing Voice again, I’ve totally and utterly lost it. Thankfully, I’m married, which means a dick is never too far away.

This album is a mess. It’s not hard to guess the influences here. Take vintage Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and a whole army of butt-rock bands large and small, add a healthy dose of the Beatles, along with generous sprinklings of lesser-known bands like the Cocteau Twins, Lush, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, and put them all in a blender. Whatever you do, don’t forget a good, few economy-sized wallops of classic punk and molten-lead metal. Now, add a liberal sense of twisted humor, an amazing keyboard player who spans the range from Bach to Jon Lord to OhmiGawd and far beyond, cackling all the while. Remember a drummer who can actually play drums, believe it or not. Right before you’re about ready to scream, throw in a guitar player who’s been practicing licks and riffs since the womb, I suspect, and is not averse to delivering a few new versions to fully satisfy your curiosity about New Things to Practice on Your Hairbrush In Your Underwear.
Oh, yeah. The bass player. He plays the bass. Most of the time, not badly. He’s also the guy who sings. The combination has been hazardous to my health ever since.
Turn on the blender. Forget the lid. Let’s face it, you’ve always wanted oxblood walls, right? Here’s your excuse.
You might, if you’re very lucky, end up with something like this. The album is now teenaged, in a matter of speaking, but it doesn’t sound dated, doesn’t have that feel that screams “Oh, that sounds so…Nineties!”.
Type O Negative is, shall we say, a definite acquired taste. You either hate the solipsistic/narcissistic bombastic Baroque satirical mess of it all, or you give up, give in and let yourself be swallowed whole by an aural anaconda of an album that won’t let you go. Not now, not tomorrow, not fifteen years from the moment you bought it. Just don’t let the Imp out of your sight. He’s there, all right, and boy, is he perverse!

Speaking of which, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to see if a guy can be raped. The sitar made me do it.

You think you’ve landed on one of those useless, time-consuming, time-wasting blogs that are basically just another form of verbal – errr – masturbation. let’s say. You think that with a blog name like this, the owner and creator is either:

a) a 440 lb exceedingly frustrated housewife in a trailer park in AR, who has five snotty kids and a husband who works just over the road in Bentonville, whose name is Dwayne.
b) a 440 lb former biker named Dwayne, NOT in AR
or
c) both of the above, they really are in AR and it’s the inside joke of the week at the local dive.

You would be wrong.

You would, one way or the other, be conforming to the expected stereotype, that there are things someone my age, and my demographic should never, ever do.

Man, I’m so insulted.

For starters – I am not even in AR. Or even the US. I am not 440 lbs, I have not one body modification except for two pierced earlobes, and I own no tatoos. Not one. I have, however, been known to wear black. A lot. You can take a girl out of Goth(am), but you can’t take the Goth out of the girl.

Besides, I’m 5’2″. I need all the help I can get.

I have also been known to puncture holes ihn the minds and egos of those who think that there are certain things women “my age” (I’m 45, and so what, so get over it already!) do not do, and that is have a definite predilection for music, art and other forms of human creative expression that are, well, toward the darker end of the scale.

And lo, and behold – I have discovered to my dismay and seeming disbelief, that the literacy level is either so high you will never, ever get any of the esoteric references that are spewed like forgotten pearls in every other sentence, or else will appeal mainly to troglodytes who communicate only in grunts.

So what’s a woman of literary inclination to do? Where to rhapsodize over the virtues of playing air guitar on your hairbrush in your underwear? The questionable delights of maintaining your tinnitus with liberal doses of Megadeth (before Mustaine was brain-processed by his personal Messiah)? Where can I get enlisted for the Kiss Army?

And where can I dump all political correctness and stereotypes by the wayside when it’s really, honestly, all rock’n’roll to me?

Here.

Reader, beware!