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Mainstream Rock: Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas, “Mas Tequila” (1999)

Will: Where to start with this? Well, how about that Gary Glitter really deserves a co-write? Several times throughout the duration of the show, I was profoundly aware of the similarity to “Rock & Roll Pt. 2.” But, of course, I was also profoundly aware that it’s one of those songs that screams, “I want the most obnoxious fans in the fucking WORLD!” I mean, I like Hagar well enough as frontman for Van Halen, but as a solo artist, he seems to go out of his way to create a fanbase full of the kind of people that I spend my life steadfastly trying to avoid. “I love to drive fast! I love to drink tequila! I love to think I’m more awesome than I actually am!” Pass.

Robert: A four-minute song about tequila? Cut it in half and get back to me, Sammy. I like to imagine that Hagar and Gary Cherone are e-mail buddies, that Hagar reached out to Cherone in 2000 and said, “Don’t take it so hard. Eddie’s got PROBLEMS, man.” I also like to imagine that David Lee Roth tries to instant-message both of them and each one pretends like he was in the bathroom or making a sandwich at the time.

Gary: Decent song, but not one of Sammy’s best. It seems like a bad attempt to do a song that will guarantee airplay at every sporting event, while promoting his line of tequila at the same time. Plus it rips off Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll Part 2.” Definitely a bathroom break/beer run song during a Hagar concert.

John: I think it takes a singular talent to make me sympathize with child molester Gary Glitter.

Poor Gary. Perhaps this is Sammy’s version of street justice?

Taylor: He’s screaming for more tequila because he knows it’ll take a ton of it for anyone to think that this could pass for music. If you’re going to fuck with “Rock ‘n Roll Part 2,” at least make it for something good instead of irreparably retarded.

David: That popping sound you heard was my Lyric Cliche-o-Meter taking its own life.

Dunphy: This is yet another example of a song I know of but didn’t think charted, which is silly. If I don’t own the song in some form, yet I know it, it must have charted. And thank God I don’t own it because this song is dumb. It’s so damn dumb.

Sammy has a great rock voice, perhaps one of the all-time best, but his repertoire revolves solely around getting drunk, stoned or laid, and solely on frat-boy terms. He should rename himself Frank The Tank.

Py Korry: When you have a successful business making high-end booze what’s the point of writing new material? Well, if you’re Sammy, it’s to cross-promote your non-musical product. I gotta hand it to The Red Rocker, though. Even though he likes to exude a “Let’s party” public persona, he’s really all business and understands the concept of “synergy” quite well. Too bad the song to promote his product sucked.

Kurt: Sammy may write the dumbest fucking songs in all of rock. But I cannot say that at times, his melodies don’t rock. For every “Amsterdam” or “I Can’t Drive 55” he’ll back it up with “Why Can’t This Be Love” or “I’ll Fall In Love Again.” What the anti- is to this song, though, remains a mystery.

Jefito: I used to have a real soft spot for ol’ Clown Pants Hagar. I even bought his first few post-VH solo records. That all ended the first time I heard “Mas Tequila.” “Dumbest fucking songs in all of rock” for $800, Alex.

Scott: After Sam made a kick ass album (Marching to Mars), he decided to become the hard rock Buffett and sell a lot of his fine tequila. I have no problem with Sam ripping off Gary Glitter. The song was never meant to change lives, it’s a frickin’ party song. When he plays this for his multitude of fans toward the end of every show, every person in the crowd is shitfaced. I love Sam and I think he gets a bad rap. But, as anyone who has ever listened to one of his albums can tell you, he could care less what we think of him.

Jason: I think I may have, in a previous Chartburn or TWIR, discussed my disappointment with Sammy when I saw him play with VH in ’04. He annoyed the hell out of me. Therefore, I’m abstaining from watching this video.


Modern Rock: XTC, “The Mayor of Simpleton” (1989)

Scott: Great, great, great, great song. From the waining days of 120 Minutes, right before the dawn of Nirvana, came this beautiful song. No snark here, my friends.

John: Love these guys, but honestly, I felt this was one of their weaker efforts, especially when taken against Oranges and Lemons as a whole. A little too cute for Andy’s good, here. “King For A Day” is much better.

Robert: Great song. And I love “Dear God” and “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” and “Ball and Chain” too. Actually, I want to hear more XTC now. Anyone got any recommendations about where I should start? Is there a good, affordable compilation I should buy first?

Jason: I have to give credit to Jeff for changing my mind about XTC. For years, people waxed rhapsodic about Skylarking (especially after hearing I was a Jellyfish fan), and when I finally listened to it, I didn’t like it. I gave it a couple years, went back, and still didn’t care for it. Don’t know why. It just didn’t resonate with me. Jeff sent me a mix of his favorite XTC songs, and I think I loved just about every single song. Of course, “The Mayor Of Simpleton” was on there, and has become one of my favorite of the bunch.

Taylor: These guys sound like they’re not breathing correctly while they’re singing and that bites my nerves a bit, but I love the song otherwise.

Py Korry: What a great song! When I first heard this song in 1989, it immediately when into “high rotation” in the mix tapes I used to make for my car. I think XTC were in top form in crafting such a catchy pop song never really made it out of modern rock realm. This one could have easily crossed over to CHR/Top 40.

Will: I love love love this song. And this album. And, frankly, just about anything Andy Partridge does. (Notable exception: his recent Monstrance album, which was excruciating.) I actually bore a very vague resemblance to Partridge during this era:or, at least, I thought I did. I may have been the only one who believed it to be so. Eh, whatever. Kudos for the “Avengers”-themed video, whcih works better here than in the Pretenders’ similar attempt in “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”

Kurt: Overrated yet undeniably catchy.

Jefito: “Mayor of Simpleton” overrated? What the — how in the — did you — ?

Kurt: Typical “alternative for the sake of being alternative” quirk pop. Annoys me overall, but like I said, as far as melody: catchy. But lyrically? As dumb as “Mas Tequila.”

David: I think my head’s about to explode. Debating the lyrical of prowess of Andy Partridge, and how it compares to that of Sammy Hagar, might be the most unintentionally funny thing I’ve ever read.

Jefito: What? That song is loaded with clever lines. Comparing it to Hagar’s most retarded drinking anthem — one he didn’t even bother writing music for — is just crazy. I’m worried about you, Kurt.

Will: All I’m saying is:

“If depth of feeling is a currency,
Then I’m the man who grew the money tree.”

One of my all-time favorite couplets.

Kurt: Anyone who rhymes “song” with “shun” worries me. I looked up the lyrics. Great, ironic idiocy. Never got it, never cared to. Must be my old age.

Dunphy: Well, “I just shun” rhymes with “simpleton”. They just bounced the rhyme scheme. Overall though, you have to admit, Sammy overdoes the boho-pagan-party-dude schtick a bit. Even if this song is hung up on the late-’80s jangle sound (gotta love the chorus pedal, eh?) it is hard to find fault with XTC. They’re smart but not crushingly so like, say, They Might Be Giants, where they’re so impressed with how many encyclopedia references they can jam into a tune that they forget the tune itself. And they make with good, solid pop.

I wish they were still around, but all signs indicate that Andy Partridge has moved on to other things.

Will: Actually, the problem is that Colin Moulding has moved on to absolutely nothing at all, which necessitated Partridge doing something on his own.

Dunphy: To be blunt about it, Moulding’s contributions to the Apple Venus discs weren’t much to jump up and down about anyway. I kind of wish Partridge and Gregory would try out the duo thing awhile and let Moulding “tend to his fruit”:

David: I always thought of Colin as Steve Young to Andy Partridge’s Joe Montana. He’s quite a good songwriter, but he’s playing second fiddle to one of the all time legends. Who doesn’t love “Frivolous Tonight”?

Jefito: Well, me. But then, I didn’t like any of his songs on that last pair of albums…

David: Not even “Standing in for Joe”? Granted, it’s no “Wheel and the Maypole,” but I liked it that Andy stepped aside once in a while.

Gary: Andy Partridge looks like Elton John in this video. Never got into this group, and this reminds me why. Okay song, but boringly bad vocals. Even Todd Rundgren producing an album couldn’t help them in my ears. I never knew Pat Mastelotto was with these guys, though! He played with Mr. Mister, the Rembrandts, and King Crimson. What was he doing slumming with XTC?

David: He plays for Mr. Mister and the Rembrandts, but it wasn’t until he drummed for XT-freaking-C that he started slumming. Only in Chartburn would you read such words.

Dunphy: That’s just the way it is, baby.

Kurt: Because what you hipper-than-thou in the room forget, taste is subjective. Hey, even Creed has its fans.

Gary: Ask any music fan on the street to name a Mr. Mister song and a XTC song. Bet most will come up with more than one Mr. Mister song and none for XTC. I consider myself pretty well versed in music, but until this song came up in this week’s Chartburn, besides “Dear God,” I couldn’t tell you another song by them at all.

Dunphy: And if you ask anyone on the street the lyrics to “My Humps,” they’ll probably know that too.

Py Korry: Hmm: I’ll take the bait.

How ’bout this:

Mr. Mister

1. Kyrie
2. Broken Wings

XTC:

1. Love on a Farmboy’s Wages
2. Sense Working Overtime
3. It’s Nearly Africa
4. Summer’s Cauldron
5. Grass
6. Earn Enough For Us
7. Big Day
8. Dear God
9. Mayor of Simpleton
10. King for a Day
11 Your Dictionary
12. We’re All Light
13. Generals and Majors

Dunphy: From the department of misheard lyrics: I was never big on studying catechism, which infuriated the ruler-wielding nuns: So I always heard, “Carry a laser down the road that I must travel.”

Py Korry: That’s better than mine: “Cari yay..dah:dah:dah:road:must:.avel.”

Kurt: I’m calling Bravo Sierra here:I’m about musically knowledgeable as they come and I couldn’t tell you what the majority of those XTC songs you listed are. Gary is 1000% correct:more people would defintely know Mr. Mister over XTC.

David: Yes, but does that make them better? More people know “Macarena,” but does that make Los Del Rio one of the best bands of all time?

I can’t believe I’m wasting this much time debating whether XTC is better than Mr. Mister. What planet is this?

Dunphy: Look, I’ll agree with you that people in general will know Mr. Mister over XTC. And it may be subjective for me to say XTC holds up better than Mr. Mister, but I don’t hear anything terribly unique about Messrs. Mister either. It could be Chicago’s “Hot Streets” for all I know on passing listen.

Give me this much: XTC cannot be confused with anyone but XTC (which is why I like ’em so much).

Kurt: I didnt say better:but Gary said better-known and I’m backing that up. Again, remember, taste is a subjective thing. I’d say personally Journey shits over 99.9% of the acts discussed here, but some would think otherwise. Doesn’t mean either of us are right or wrong:just means we dig different things.

David: Jefito, we should set up a battle of the bands bracket and have your faithful readers vote. Round 1: Mr. Mister vs. XTC. What do you think the Vegas line would be on that?

Jefito: You know, that’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure how I’d organize it, but it’s an interesting idea. It does sort of run counter to one of the main ideas behind my blog, though, which is that everyone is worth listening to, and everyone sucks sometimes. Put another way, I would hesitate to try and (even half-jokingly) ‘prove’ that XTC is better than Mr. Mister.

(Even though they were.)

And anyway, I think everyone here knows, deep down, that if you were to approach a random person on the street and ask them if they know more songs by XTC or Mr. Mister, they’d just blink at you. XTC had what, one Top 40 hit, and Mr. Mister had two. And both of them were on the radio over 20 years ago. I think the difference between the two bands lies in cultural impact — Andy Partridge didn’t sell many records, but he influenced a lot of songwriters. I don’t think anyone — even Richard Page — would say the same thing about Mr. Mister.


AC: Journey, “When You Love a Woman” (1996)

Taylor: [excerpt from a message from the music police to Steve Perry:]
“Listen, Steve, I’m sorry, but: well, there’s a been a mistake. Journey was never supposed to make it past the ’80s. I’m not really sure how you managed to sneak into the ’90s – I think our team was still dealing with all the grunge rip-offs. Anyway, uh, if you could destroy all material produced by Journey in the ’90s, that’d be great. To be frank, the only reason we let you stick around in the first place is so that the drunks in the ’70s and early ’80s would have something besides Jimmy Buffett. But after that, Sammy Hagar took over. Sorry. We had to give someone else a shot, you know?”

John: I’ve never heard this before. Nothing new, really, but no one holds it against Interpol for recording the same album over and over, do they?

Kurt: The rest of you can hate all you want, but this is one of the greatest power ballads of all time. Journey remains a classic American rock band. Some 25 years on, “Don’t Stop Believing” can still make a run at the charts. Doubt we’ll be seeing that from any act of the last 10 years.

Jefito: Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia, Kurt. A quarter of a century from now, your great-great-grandchildren could very well be boogieing to a surprise reissue of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” after it’s featured in the closing moments of Survivor‘s umpteenth season. And “When You Love a Woman” is, as my daughter would say, “powerful stinky.”

Will: Journey’s last album with Steve Perry, which snuck out when most of the world could’ve cared less. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s got that instant familiarity that I really like.

Jason: My mom loves this song. Had the entire CD as well as the CD single. Did I mention we went to see Air Supply last week?

Gary: Of all the Journey ballads, this is one of my favorites, and besides “Castles Burning,” one of the only great songs on a dissapointing reunion album. Great guitar break from Schon, and Perry still sounds great. Who knows what might have happened if Perry had been up for touring for this album.

Py Korry: I’m a fan of Journey, but I gotta say that I’m not enthralled with their power ballads. I did see Journey when they released Red 13 and they played a few “rockers” from that CD. Sadly, those songs sent many ‘o folks to get beer while they stuck around for the ballads sung by the “other” Steve:Steve Augeri.

Dunphy: The power ballad in general irks me. It is a transparent grab at crossover success and is seldom done with grace. That really comes through on the Escape album where the biggest singles are my least favorite tracks (barring “Who’s Crying Now”). I like “Still They Ride” quite a bit even though the lyrical imagery is hackneyed.

And the primary reason I bought the album all those years ago? The B-side of the “Who’s Crying Now” 45 was an edit of “Mother, Father,” which may have been the band’s last truly great rock tune.

What’s worse than late-period Journey? Late-period Journey trying to sound like Bryan Adams, and buster, that’s exactly what this is. You could very easily mash this tune into “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You (And You’ll Like It, Or Else!)” and the two would be rendered indistinguishable from each other.

One really appreciates the song solely for the return of Steve Perry, after having rolled the stone away from the tomb on the third day, lighting down from heaven and greeting Apostles Neal, Jonathan and What’s-His-Name, commanding them to “rock on, but gently, oh so gently.” Once the transcendence has past, you’re left with a nugget of holy crap.

Finally, and this really needs to be addressed: is is just me or is there a definite thread of violence between Perry’s lyrics and the threat of shooting or killing girlfriends in those earlier Journey albums?

Robert: Good call on the Bryan Adams rip-off! I remember when this came out, Journey’s comeback album had its own infomercial in the fall of ’96. My favorite part of Paula Abdul’s American Idol scandal a few years ago was that Abdul supposedly told contestant and boy toy Corey Clark to sing Steve Perry’s “Foolish Heart” in one of his auditions because Idol judge Randy Jackson was friends with Perry, having played with Journey in the ’80s. The footage of that audition ends with Jackson clapping and saying something like, “You know Steve Perry’s my dawg, right?”

Py Korry: Recounting as many Journey lyrics as possible, I’m just not aware of the kind of violent lyrics you speak of, Dunphy:

Dunphy: From “Line Of Fire”:

It was a hot and steamy night,
Then Frankie pulled his gun in sight.
He said, now Suzi, don’t you lie.
Did Stevie, did he catch you with another guy?
Standing in the line of fire its gonna shoot ya.
Standing in the line of fire its comin’ to ya,
Its goin’ through ya.

There are others, but this is the one I remember off the top of my head. I recall that the lyrics suddenly had a firearms-kinda’ bent to them:

Py Korry: Now THAT’S impressive. And here I was trying to recount something in “Open Arms” where Steve Perry suggests strangling or perhaps suffocating his girlfriend with a pillow.

David: As evil Willow would say, “Bored now.” I actually like a lot of Journey (I second the ups for “Mother, Father” and “Still They Ride”), but this is just lame.

Scott: Someone mentioned that this album was released in the mid ’90s and no one cared. Not true! It debuted in Billboard’s Top 10! Not band for a band everyone calls a joke. Not me, though. I love Journey. I think Steve Perry is an ass for the shit he pulled with the band, but I love this music. And this ballad, I feel, was their most assured and mature. Finely crafted and well played all around. the rest of the album has some killer guitar work, too.


Hot 100: Billy Idol, “Eyes Without a Face” (1984)

Gary: Ahh, another great ’80s song with a completly awful video. No clue what the lyrics mean, but it’s still such a cool song. Billy’s singing like a lounge lizard over the synths in the beginning, then Steve Stevens comes in and wails on the guitar. This was Idol’s first Top 10 hit in the US and it still sounds good 23 years later. Just can’t watch the video anymore.

Kurt: AOR masquerading as punk, Billy at this point was about as hardcore as Duran Duran. Good tune, if a bit overproduced by his own standards.

Will: Billy Idol does a ballad! Nice one. I used to love this song. In fact, I pretty much loved anything Billy did up ’til “Mony Mony.” (Now THERE’S a song I could get rid of forever and be quite comfortable with.) Anyone ever heard Paul Anka’s version of this song? Seriously. It’s better than you’d think.

Jason: What passed for “badass” in the early ’80s just wouldn’t fly now; now, in order to be badass, you have to pretty much scream bloody murder into a microphone. Billy Idol was an actual singer, and he’s crooning the hell out of this ballad. I swear, with a different arrangement and maybe some horns, I could hear Sinatra singing it.

Dunphy: I don’t need to tell you Billy Idol is a weird guy.

He has two rock classics to his name. Even if you can’t stand the songs, “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” are going to be around long after my criticism has dispersed. But the he has these bizarre pop tunes to contend with. “Dancing With Myself”? Is that some sort of ode to tenderizing the tube steak? And if it is, what do we make of “Eyes Without A Face,” or as I refer to it, “Eyes Without A Face-ace-ace-ace”? Is it some sick fetish for potatoes? Is it about a hot opthomologist? Is it about getting kicked in the nards so hard you pop your peepers out of your noggin?

Either way, it’s a harmless piece of synth pop that anyone could have done in the ’80s. Case in point? Billy Idol did it! Prosecution rests!

Taylor: As nonsensical as it is (both by title and in relation to everything else about Billy Idol), I really like this song.

Py Korry: Is is me, or does “Eyes Without a Face” has a similar quality to “Drive” by The Cars? I really have very little to say about this song, except that my step dad had a great mis-heard lyric when listening to it back in 1984:

Dad: “Hey, you know that new Billy Idol song?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Dad: “What’s he saying in the chorus?”

Me: “Eyes without a face:”

Dad: Is THAT what he’s saying? Wanna know what I thought he was saying?

Me: Sure.

Dad: “How’s about a date.”

Good times.

Robert: Good call on the Cars rip-off! Wait, which came first? Didn’t they both come out in ’84? “Dancing With Myself” and “To Be a Lover” are the only Billy Idol songs I really like. Wasn’t “To Be a Lover” a big hit in ’86? I don’t remember hearing it on the radio that much after ’86, though. Why the prejudice, radio programmers? Do not shun, DJ simpletons.

David: Never thought about the similarity between this and “Drive,” but I’ll be damned if there isn’t one. I love how sad Billy looks in the last verse, yet the lyrics he’s singing mean absolutely nothing. Now everybody spank their asses four times fast.

Scott: Billy ‘friggin’ Idol, man. ‘Nuff said.

John: I never got that middle eight part —

When you hear the music you make a dip
Into someone else’s pocket then make a slip.
Steal a car and go to Las Vegas oh, the gigolo pool.
I’m on a bus on a psychedelic trip
Reading murder books tryin’ to stay hip.
I’m thinkin’ of you you’re out there so
Say your prayers.

How sweet. Oh, and the ladies are singing “Les yeux sans visage” in the
chorus, in case anyone wondered.