Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Neil Peart and his Steampunk Drum Set

Rush and their Time Machine concert were on Palladia last night, and even though Palladia is frustrating as hell (you cannot pack a concert into an hour full of commercials and promos), it was wonderful to see Neil Peart's steampunk drumset.


One of the hottest bands in England right now are Temples, and I don't know anything about them. I do know that I will probably find a way to hear them one of these days. What with blogging, nostalgia, scanning, and work, it's a wonder I even found time to write about anything anymore.

These are some cool images, however. I love the fact that there are such radically different versions of their album.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

George Jones Will Soon Be Forgotten

There are a lot of polite things being said about the late George Jones, but, please. The greatest singer ever? The best there ever was? Hardly.

George Jones had great talent and ability, but much of that was thrown away. The vast majority of his career and his recorded output consists of treacly schlock and throwaway garbage. He recorded a staggering number of songs no one will ever hear and which no one will ever buy. He signed away his rights on terrible deals, abused drugs and alcohol like a champ, and leaves behind a few well-regarded phases of a career that was probably too long and too full of trash.

Johnny Cash was a polite man, and Johnny Cash loved George Jones. But it is Cash who leaves behind a career worth something, despite his own periods of creative decline.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thom Yorke Needs to Calm Down

What a pant load.

Atoms For Peace is, most emphatically, a "super group" and Thom Yorke needs to calm the hell down and deal with the fact that, when you bring in Flea, you're building a supergroup. When you bring in the bass player who did that thing with that band ten years ago and those guys who were in that one thing, that's a band. When you're bringing in people who are well known and respected, you're building a supergroup.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Incredible Vision of Storm Thorgerson

The entire reason for this blog can be summed up in the word "cover." I love album and CD covers and I love the art that goes into those things. To say that I am saddened by the death of Storm Thorgerson is an understatement. There will never be a graphic artist like him again.

The impact of those albums--Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin--is difficult to fathom in this post-music industry era. A Storm Thorgerson cover might have graced the walls of innumerable music shops, but most of those are now gone. His work went from hanging on walls and adorning album covers to being shrunk down to the size of a 5kb square on Amazon.com.

Thorgerson is the towering figure over graphic art that many people still appreciate. His passing has been big news, and I think it is because people remember the impact of album cover art from the 1970s. Here are three that stand out besides the iconic image of Dark Side of the Moon. This is a small sampling of his work, and it is by no means definitive. These are the three that I think symbolize the impact Thorgerson had on the culture.

Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother (Storm Thorgerson)
 Nothing captured the imagination like the cover from Atom Heart Mother. What the hell was this, I suppose some people may have said. What kind of music was this? Not a great big seller but an early work that approximated what Thorgerson was willing to do. Daring, defiant, and brilliant (especially when you consider what was actually on the album).
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (Storm Thorgerson)
The cover for Wish You Were Here symbolized the cynicism of Pink Floyd's later works, showing how the grind of show business had begun to take a toll on the band. Everything that was phony about cinema, art, commerce and music was exposed here in a single image, shrunk down and made more noticeable by the use of space around the image.

Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy (Storm Thorgerson)

The controversial cover for Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin does not need further examination here. But try to imagine the 1970s without any of these iconic images--you can't.

Thorgerson worked on numerous projects in his later years and his passing is a great loss.

The Lamest Band in America

You can't get any more delusional than Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, which is now the lamest band in America.

Being a "Guns N'Roses" style rock star is dead and buried, and that's a damned good thing for music. Living in that kind of a craven, unhealthy past is something that no one should long for. Does Wentz want to see women objectified and treated like prizes? Does he not understand that hair metal was as misogynistic and ridiculous then as it is now? Having a bloated record contract, massive intake of drugs and alcohol, and a creative dry spell running nearly twenty years is what Wentz wants? Screw him.

It's time for a revival of punk, and the Do It Yourself ethic. It's time for people to make music for themselves and put it out there and make a good living doing so. It's time for people to stop stealing music and to support artists. It's time to kill off the lame bands like Fall Out Boy and embrace the future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dumbest Thing Anyone Ever Said Ever

The winner of the absolutely stupidest goddamned music "critic" award ever goes to Sean Michael Robinson of The Atlantic:
The Replacements' Let It Be, for instance, rough edges to the performances aside, could sonically be a Stryper album.
Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Robinson, who is young and immature and can't string together anything other than a series of misremembered scraps gleaned from the this'll make me cool like all the other music critics playbook, actually thinks that The Replacements are just Stryper without better production.


This throwaway line comes as Robinson grapples with the legacy of The Violent Femmes and their debut album. His article is a mishmash of nonsense; he does not understand anything about the Femmes because he wasn't there, didn't apparently live during the 1980s, and thinks it was all about synthesizers and cannon-like snare drums. What a clown.  Back then, it was popular music against underground music, and The Replacements were a punk band. A punk band that played songs influenced by virtually everything from Hank Williams to Alex Chilton to The Rolling Stones to The Suicide Commandos. The Violent Femmes were a folk punk band; these are not mutually exclusive things.

Stryper were a heavy metal band. I will not insult them.

Comparing punk bands--and the various flavors of punk run the gamut, of course and it's impossible to categorize everyone who was a punk band as being one kind of punk--with heavy metal bands is a joke. 

Robinson writes of the Femmes:
The unadorned aesthetic made them painfully un-hip at their own time, but at a distance of 30 years the approach seems downright visionary. It is, after all, in perfect service to the songs and to the band's ragged delivery. It isn't just the carefully portrayed lust and regret, the jolting ugliness of desire, and the impossibility of deliverance—it's that by eliminating the aural tics of the era, the record documents not a moment of time, but a time of life...
What a bunch of horseshit. They were just playing the songs they had and they were just trying to make it. There is an undercurrent of misogyny that runs through Gano's songs, and that's a word Robinson doesn't include in his word salad explanation of the band. This misogyny is evident in the line "that bitch took my money and she went to Chicago" and it was done to shock people and gain attention, much like the Christianity that would appear on their second album. 

The Femmes were brilliant, and I love their debut, but let's not elevate it above the rest of the work they did. They have a body of music (does anyone even own 3?) that is replete with brilliance and loss, heartbreak and excitement. If you think it was all about their first album, then you're missing tons of stuff that mattered. They were more than their first album; it would be like saying, well, R.E.M. and Murmur, that's all you need. 

Now, as for the bullshit, how do you proceed? Should I go there? I think I will. Why does Let it Be sound the way it did? Let me explain something about this.

I have stood in the room where it was recorded. I have been to Blackberry Way studios in Minneapolis, and, in what was probably 1989 or so, I remember thinking how cool it was to actually be in such a place. 

They call it Old Blackberry Way now, and it looks the same as it did back then. It was not a fancy recording studio, but it was perfect for bands and musicians to make demos and recordings. It was not a terrible, junky place. Quite the opposite. It was a place where people recorded music for as little money as possible with professionals who cared. It used to cost $350 per day to record there; not a princely sum at all unless you're an underground band that's trying to make it.

So, please spare me the comparison between The Replacements and Stryper. Nothing on Let it Be sounds like commercially-marketed heavy metal, up to and especially their Kiss cover and Gary's Got a Boner. There's nothing slick about anything The Replacements ever did, and that's why people love them.

Sean Michael Robinson, what an assclown.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ride Going Blank Again Deluxe Edition

I don't know how you spent 1993, but I spent it listening to Going Blank Again by Ride almost every day.

Gorgeously restored and remastered, this is the deluxe edition that includes the Brixton Academy show. I am the proud owner of the VHS tape, sold in Japan, from whence this show was mastered, and now I can chuck that thing away (well, I won't, but still).

Each and every song is a classic, the performance on the DVD is Ride at full throttle, and the sound quality is superb. Of all of the classic albums I own, this is one of my top five, and has remained there for twenty years.

Roger Waters is Going to Think About It

If this were anyone but Roger Waters, I would suspect that this is about money. In his case, I don't think it is about money. I think that Waters wants to be on the correct side of the issue. He has more money than God, he's been touring for years, and he doesn't need the money.

Now, having said that, should he boycott playing in Israel? Absolutely. If you believe in human rights, then what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian Arabs who live in Israel proper is not right. Israel has long been the victim of aggression and terrorism, however. So, you have to weigh those two things. Ultimately, staying out of that region is a healthy way to express displeasure with the logjam of diplomacy that prevents anyone from getting anywhere with the peace process.

Really, though. It's nothing to do with music. It's about who you want to play in front of, and Waters is thinking very seriously about who he plays for.

Monday, April 15, 2013

No One Ever Pays Attention to Underground Music

I can't figure out what Steve Lamaq is actually saying here. Does he mean to suggest that there was a time when people were paying attention to underground music in far off places and were tuned into the sounds being made by kids who didn't have major label record deals?

That's been the case since forever. No one is going to pay attention to the ten or twenty unsigned bands who are playing once or twice a month gigs in Sheffield unless someone can figure out how to make money off of them. And, even then, who will really pay attention unless it's free on the Internet so that the band can fall apart because no one has any money? The economics of the music business require bands to play live, establish an expensive presence on the Internet, maintain that presence by being social media aware, and to give their recorded music away just to get some interest paid to the gigs they play and the stuff they can sell outside of the venue. It's crucially important to note that there just isn't any money to be made anymore--no one's going to offer them tens of thousands of pounds to go make a record and no one is going to sign them because they're the eighth most popular band in Leeds.

What is Lamaq going to play on the radio? The songs the bands can't record because no one will pay them for a recording session? The session they can't record in his studio because they're unable to make the trip down to London?

Underground music has never been appreciated in my lifetime. Why would anyone start paying attention now?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Johnny Marr Live at Coachella

Johnny Marr's performance at Coachella will, hopefully, bring him some attention and success. I am hoping to acquire his latest solo album; people tend to call this latest one his first, but Boomslang seemed like a proper solo effort to me.

No Big Deal

Ian Brown plays Coachella with The Stone Roses

So, the Stone Roses played in America for the first time since their disastrous tour supporting Second Coming, and they had to do it in the wee early hours of the morning in front of whoever bothered to show up? And that was supposed to be a gig?

What a shame. The Roses have never properly toured America, in my opinion, and they need to get out there and play those small venues and tear the roof off every night. They need to play 1,000 seat venues and crush it. A new album, a 50-date tour, and a solid promotional campaign in America would certainly help people understand why they are an important band.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Story of The Killing Moon

This is embedded from the NME website; I don't know how to make it not automatically start playing. That's my bad...

The only thing I can suggest is hitting the pause button on the video box. NME, you need to fix that...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Stone Roses Ten Storey Love Song Cover

Ten Storey Love Song peaked at number 11 when it was released as a single, but it should have been a number one. Killed by the hype, released years too late to save the Stone Roses, and woefully unappreciated, what a song. What a song.

I love John Squire's artwork. In and of itself, that's worth the price of picking this up if you do not own it already. As we wait for new music from the Roses, this reminds me of the tension surrounding the Second Coming album and all of that. If this had come out in 1992, well, would it have made a difference? Who knows?

Ian Brown Gives Others a Helping Hand

Ian Brown is trying to make a difference in the lives of other people. Instead of cashing in, he's handing out money to qualified students who want to get into the music industry.

I've been reading War and Peace, which is a book about The Stone Roses, and it talks at length about the humble origins of everyone in the band. No one came from money, everyone struggled for years on little or nothing beyond what the dole gave them, and the band was ripped off like few others have ever been ripped off. These are the British kids who survived Thatcherism in Manchester. They put on flares and then their fans put on the same thing. They were arbiters of the culture in which they lived.

They were ripped off by their record company. They were responsible for bringing dance music into the Indie scene and were hugely influential. Tons of bands made bank copying their style and sound. Their management would sell t-shirts and Reni hats at their huge concert events and the band would never see any of that money.

Did this make Ian Brown greedy and bitter? Hell no. He's as regular today as he was back then about helping others.

Patti Smith Meets the New Pope

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This matters because Brian Williams missed the juxtaposition of it all. Back in the 1970s, Patti Smith appeared on Saturday Night Live and sang, on Easter Sunday (after midnight), that Jesus did not die for her sins. Now, she's visiting the Pope in Rome, and it's all good.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Who Has Their Own Line of Cosmetics?

Before anyone can put out an album, they now have to go out and make deals on the periphery in order to actually make any money. I don't blame Paramore for having to strike these kinds of deals; twenty years ago, yes, you could cry sellout. But the new reality of the music business is, if you don't cut these deals, you're going to go broke because no one pays for music anymore.

This must be one of those normal, every day problems Hayley Williams is now singing about.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

You Cannot Change Fan Behavior With Signs

This is a nice idea, but it won't work.

Bootlegging concerts began when portable recording equipment could be smuggled into venues; bands furiously fought against this practice but it now continues in the form of handheld video recording devices no bigger than the very cellphones they are trying to get their fans to stop using. The problem is, people have paid good money to stand there and ignore the band on stage so they can watch a crappy video over and over again until they get frustrated and delete it.

Good luck getting them to stop doing this sort of thing. Charging them an arm and a leg just to stand there and ignore you only makes them want to record the show even more.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Normal Life Problems With Hayley Williams

There are two things that made me laugh here. How do you appeal to "older" audiences by referring to drugs and sex (I thought those were young people things; apparently not) and how do you talk about "normal life problems" when you're the lead singer in half of a band that you blew up because you're a crazy diva with every kind of problem in the world that does not include "normal life problems?"

How nuts do you have to be to be Hayley Williams and not have people put you in a padded room somewhere so you can be detoxed slowly?

I hope Paramore keeps the fans they have. It would seem to me that if you're going to make statements like this, it would tend to mean that what you're putting out there is music to wash the dishes by and not so much a comeback album full of excitement and artistic accomplishment.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wayne Coyne is Out of Ideas

When you're forced to cover someone else's entire album again and again, you are probably out of ideas, especially when you deride the actual work you're covering out of some misguided sense of insecurity. What's the point of covering someone else's entire album unless you just can't think of anything better to do? I don't get why Phish would do that and I certainly don't understand why Wayne Coyne would do what Phish has done and just regurgitate the work of others. Come up with your own stuff or shut the hell up.

If the first Stone Roses album is "virtually the same song over and over again," then why was it more successful than anything your own lame cover band ever put out? Why is it routinely voted one of the greatest debut albums in the history of rock and roll and why is it a virtual lock on the British top ten every time it is discussed?

I've never really understood the appeal of the Flaming Lips. Being weird on purpose is a gimmick that covers up your inability to actually perform. Lots of people like them. But, lots of people buy Creed albums as well. The Flaming Lips are like the Creed of the indie world--no one expects much but damn, they do sell some units, don't they?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Knew?

Charlie Watts has a reason for not wanting to play outdoors--the wind makes his cymbals move.


And no one thought to put up screens to keep him from being disturbed by the elements? No one thought to enclose the sides of the stage so that the wind wouldn't be a factor? And how many other drummers complain about such things? I've never heard of this.

Anyway, who cares? The Rolling Stones couldn't be more irrelevant than they are right now. And yet, everyone is so fanatical about seeing them stumble through the same hits every time they go on the "final" world tour.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Cure and New Order Are On Tour

This item about Lollapalooza made me laugh.

Here, you have The Cure receiving what should be top billing for a show and, buried in the list of oh-by-the-way bands you have:
Also confirmed to play: Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, the Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, New Order, Queens of the Stone Age, The Lumineers and The National.
How messed up is that? You have a chance to see The Cure and New Order at an event (I'm guessing they will be playing on different days) and it isn't newsworthy enough to mention? How is it that we are living in 2013 and the fact that both The Cure and New Order are on tour isn't a huge, oh-my-God kind of a big fucking deal?

I guess music just doesn't matter anymore.