Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shirley Manson is an Entertainer

The whole video is worth watching.

Shirley Manson of Garbage stops a song to chastise a "fan" who hits a woman down near the front of the stage. And watching her handle the situation, calm the crowd, and defuse the tension reveals her to be a consummate entertainer.

The Jazz Butcher The Gift of Music Covers

Being an American, and a Midwesterner, and a lover of all things imported from England that could be described as excellent, this record was conceived, pressed, and marketed specifically to me. However, I did not acquire my copy until well into the 2000s when I went on an eBay buying spree and collected up all of these wonderful titles. Ah, eBay. Where did that go? Nowhere for me. I haven't bought anything off of eBay in four years.

The Gift of Music was an album released in 1985 by the folks at Glass Records. It was targeted at the import market, being a compilation album of singles thrown together so that they could be collected in one convenient place.

The Jazz Butcher are still an entity, being the brainchild of Pat Fish. If you are ever in Northampton, you can probably catch Fish playing live.

What's Playing on the Mini Console?

The Jazz Butcher and His Sikkorskis From Hell released the Hamburg album in 1985. It was recorded live in Onkel Pö's Carnegie Hall, Lehmweg 44, Hamburg on August 16, 1985. I have the original vinyl edition, on Glass Records.

Marred by some shady production duties, it is, nevertheless, a worthwhile thing to listen to whilst driving the Mini. It retains a kind of bootleg feel without actually being a bootleg.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not Too Cool to Show Up

Bob Dylan received his Presidential Medal of Freedom, but I have a hard time reconciling this with the song "Masters of War."

It's pretty clear where Dylan drew the lines in his life and in his art, and I am wondering what criticism he will face, if any, when all is said and done.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In honor of the return of the Stone Roses to the stage, there is this lush and wonderfully illustrated package.

Really, how can you justify a greatest hits package when you've only done two proper albums? Well, the entirety of the first album and the better half of the follow-up make a wonderful group of songs and so it's more than justified.

This particular set makes excellent use of the art of John Squire, especially from his Jackson Pollock-inspired period.

Everyone in England (and wherever there are fans) is waiting to see if this "goes." The potential for everything to fall apart is there, but the rapturous reception for their free gig indicates that they are ready for the summer tour.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Richard Ashcroft A Song For the Lovers EP

I love the use of minimalism in a design or a cover; for a single, minimalism is a consistent winner. Trying to create large design concepts or pull something elaborate off in the short amount of time people have to look at singles (when they used to look at singles, I should say) leads to confusion and illegible text.

Richard Ashcroft was eager to put his past behind him in 2000, and this single shows how he made a concerted effort to win over fans and break new ground. Oh, sure. It's a bit grey on the back. But at least he didn't junk it up with something ridiculous.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Charlatans A Man Needs to Be Told CD 2 Cover

The Charlatans are one of the hardest working survivors of the Madchester/Britpop era in British music. Despite tragedy and setbacks, they have never disappointed. They are the epitome of soldiering on and playing for the fans.

This is an excellent example of the double single release--two different versions of the same single on two different discs. Hardcore fans snap these up, driving the singles up the charts. This particular release is the second of two versions of the "A Man Needs to Be Told" single from the Wonderland album. Shockingly--at least to me--this is eleven years old. It still feels brand new. I remember being startled when Tim Burgess came onto the record with his falsetto--more Bono than Bono.

The singles from Wonderland all featured this wonderful design. Images of street scenes appear with the band in the background, almost like Banksy's stencils. And, as it always happens with the Charlatans, you get great B-sides and a worthwhile single.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Wheels Are Coming Off the Van Halen Bus

If you believe half of what Sammy Hagar wrote about the Van Halen brothers, this is nothing surprising. It's a wonder they made it half this far without imploding.

Hope you didn't buy tickets.

True story: the first thing I ever wrote that pissed people off was a mocking review of the solo David Lee Roth album from the mid-1980s. Still rings true today--with Roth, they are a clown show.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You're Doing it Wrong

This really does look like an outtake from the Abbey Road cover shoot, doesn't it? Well, the Beatles spent ten minutes shooting their album cover. Most bands nowadays spend months arguing over what won't be on the cover of the album that their record label won't release.

It is strange to think that very little time was spent crafting such an iconic album cover. What happened to spontaneity?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

U2 Mysterious Ways Single Cover

Mysterious Ways is one of those great songs that deserves heaps of praise and a careful examination of how it came to be.

When U2 went into the studio to make the proper followup to The Joshua Tree, they decamped to Berlin and started the frustrating process of reinventing themselves. Amongst hundreds of ideas, a bass line was salvaged, a Korg 3 effects pedal was produced, and a funky drum beat shaped what would be U2's second single from Achtung Baby.

Released in the late fall of 1991, this is where the Madchester "baggy" sound appeared more fully formed in U2's hands. Inspired (intimidated?) by the emergence of a sound championed by the Stone Roses, there's no way to listen to Mysterious Ways and not hear the influence of Fool's Gold.

It is a testament to how "weird" this U2 album was when you note that none of the singles released from it hit number one in the United States. Neither One nor Mysterious Ways were to chart that high, and that's the real shame of it all They hit ten and nine, respectively, and let us not forget that the first single from the album, The Fly, was an absolute bomb, charting no higher than 61. Both are classic tracks, and Mysterious Ways, in particular, incorporated the kind of innovation that characterized the early 1990s.

I remember buying this and never listening to it. I am not a big fan of the remixes, but that's me. I'm a bit weird that way. I love B-sides, but remixes, eh. Not so much.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Too Tan or Too European?

I live in a part of Germany where these ads are everywhere right now; some of them are even less modest than the one depicted above and feature a model that is way, way more tan (or at least looks more tanned).

The H&M chain is very popular here and their ads run on a regular basis. But I don't think anyone here really registers the same level of outrage that is shared in the article. Europeans tan very deeply, and on purpose, and despite the warnings of skin cancer. As soon as the sun comes out, people take the time to get their tan going, and today was no exception. The people I saw today were heavily tanned, and that's because tanning booths or sonnen studios are very popular in the colder months of the year. It's like everything else. Here, they just say to hell with it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So What is Playing on the Mini Dashboard?

Two things:

1. It is not easy to explain the cover of Rush's Hemispheres album to anyone, let alone people who weren't alive when it was released.

2. This is proof that I don't take photos unless the car is safely stopped. See the odometer? It's at zero.

With the USB sticks, I dump hundreds of MP3s into one folder and select RANDOM and let the thing run for days. It is the neatest thing since sliced bread. And, somehow, the album art for Hemispheres transferred over. What an amazing album. Does anyone have a better sixth studio album?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fake Bono Strikes Again

Social Media is where the trolls and the hacks and the fakers come to play.

Is this a real Bono page on Google+ or is it a fake one?

It's fake. I'm about three percent sure (never make a guarantee when you're blogging--it's so aggravating to be wrong).

U2 is one of the most heavily controlled and managed bands in history. Things do not just "appear." Is this page linked on the U2 home page? Is there a tie-in with the U2360 project?

There is simply no way I would believe that this is Bono's "page" because their modus operandi is to coordinate the creation of all four band members' pages at once, and tie that in with the release of a single, in conjunction with someone like Apple, and then couple that with a promotional campaign to save the whales while, at the same time, appearing six weeks before a major release consisting of twelve songs I'm pretty much never going to listen to.

Now, I love U2. But the U2 we have now is not the U2 we used to have. What we have now is something that is just a little bit too coordinated, controlled, and forced.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

U2 New Year's Day Single

I rather liked the formats that U2's New Year's Day single was originally released in. This wasn't available in 1982; in order to get it, you had to buy it as a 7-inch, a 12-inch, or in the format that I own, which is the double-gatefold format. The double 7-inch record was absolutely special back in the day. Someday I'll tell you how I found the double 7-inch single in a South Minneapolis pawn shop for U2's Fire single and...well, I just did.

Keith Moon Will Not Be Appearing at the Olympics This Summer

What do you expect from squares and flunkies? A working knowledge of the culture? Of course not.

What I want to know is--what happened to that biopic of Keith Moon that was supposed to happen? Wasn't Mike Myers going to try to pull it off? It looks absolutely dead in the water, no pun intended.

The thing is, to accurately portray Moon you would need someone in absolute top physical condition--a marathon running dervish with attention deficit disorder. You'd need someone able to move for days on end. He was an absolute powerhouse of a human being. Capturing him on film will be impossible for whoever tries.

Black Grape Kelly's Heroes Cover

Garish, inverted colors, unreadable text--oh, but the music is all that matters. Ignore these covers from Black Grape and just burn the tracks.

The mid-1990s weren't all about grunge and whatnot. It was about getting out of your noggin'.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Adam Yauch 1964-2012

The loss of Adam Yauch is a devastating one. No word yet on whether or not this was related to cancer, but I think that is probably the very sad case here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Swervedriver Mezcal Head Cover

Swervedriver ended up being namechecked earlier this week when I was expressing my surprise at the reverential treatment of My Bloody Valentine. I stand by my assertions, and I would humbly suggest that a trip through Mezcal Head will convince doubters of the superiority of this record to anything MBV ever did.

Mezcal Head has one of the most kickass album covers ever, and I enhanced it a bit because I can't find my copy.

This is Not Mike Mills

Because I'm weird, I saw this and said to myself, "so that's what Mike Mills has been up to since R.E.M. stopped making albums I will never listen to."

That is not Mike Mills, but the resemblance is eerie.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Primal Scream Country Girl Covers

This is where I really, really started to get into Primal Scream again.

Sure, I'll admit it. Some of their stuff turned me off for a while. But that was my problem, not theirs. And I am a huge fan of their take on Vanishing Point.

This single has a fantastic cover. Country Girl is a classic rave up. Live, this song brings down the house. The cover here is classically presented with a dark and sinister top and bottom bar, just like a scene from a letterboxed film. I love what they did with this package.

It's all so retro without being obvious. Vintage, surreal, and disturbing. Kind of like the Scream itself. A fantastic shot of gutbucket blues and honky tonk chillin'.