It's the Friday Five! Shuffle through five random tracks from your library and share it with the Popdose community.
Author Greg Prato speaks with Popdose regarding his new book about Faith No More and Mr. Bungle.
You can't say these eight bands didn't have their chance to do it one last time before the world came to an end.
As we gather once more at the Popdose dinner table to crack open some beer, bubbly, and/or bourbon (or, in Jason’s case, an orange Nehi) and chow down on the delicacies that have been emerging from the kitchen for the last ten minutes, I must admit to a moment of misty humility. I consider myself fortunate to know and work with my ‘Dose friends, to write for and correspond with our readership, and to bask in the sickly glow of my computer monitor for hours upon hours every week in order to partake of their virtual presence.
It hasn’t been easy, particularly lately. Time, time, time has not been on my side (no, it hasn’t)—job and family responsibilities, as well as a frustrating and ill-timed relapse or two into procrastination (not to mention an honest-to-God flood this fall), have conspired against me, rendering my schedule a miserable mess, and my ‘Dose output has suffered in frequency, if not quality. An unpredictable and unfocused malaise has also settled upon me at various times this fall, rendering me not merely unable to devote the time to write, but also bereft of both inspiration and of words to describe my lack.
Well, here we are once again in the midst of my favorite season of the year: awards season, that glorious period at the start of a calendar year when almost every entertainment awards ceremony is held.
My favorite awards are those dealing with film (the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild awards, the BAFTAs, the Independent Spirit Awards) as well as those that don’t have live telecasts (the Directors Guild, Producers Guild and Screenwriters Guild awards). Per usual, I’m doing my damndest to see as many films nominated for all of these awards and I’m doing pretty well, considering I was housebound for five weeks during the peak period when most of the nominees were released in theaters — the holiday season.
Last year, in honor of my favorite time of year, I decided to do a series of special Soundtrack Saturday posts dedicated to the sometimes baffling, almost always entertaining Best Original Song category. I had a lot of fun writing those posts and I think you, my loyal readers, enjoyed them, too, so I’ve decided to bring the series back in 2011.
As a reminder, this category, technically called “Best Music, Original Song,” was introduced at the seventh annual Academy Awards in 1935 and is presented to the writer(s) of a song specifically written for a film. Unless the song’s performer(s) contributed to the music, lyrics, or both, he/she/they don’t receive an Oscar if the song wins. Nominees are determined by members of the Academy who are songwriters and composers, with the winner chosen by the entire Academy membership.
Unlike last year, I’ve chosen to discuss one year each from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. I think the four years I’ve decided to cover are four strong and very interesting years for this category and I think you’ll agree. I’m sticking to the same definition of “year” that I went with last year, meaning I’m discussing the year the Oscar telecast aired, not the year in which the films were made.
So, let’s dig right in with our first year, 1974.
In the ever-evolving column we call Friday Night Videos!, there's always room for expansion. This week, with Thanksgiving vittles solidly out of our systems (and it took a whole two weeks, and one round of Mellowmas to do it!), and holiday parties with loads of
Happy Black Friday! If you’re a sensible human being, you’re reading this post shortly after waking up instead of reading it on your way back from a four-hour shopping spree at Best Buy. Perhaps you’re at work today, silently cursing your colleagues who made Thanksgiving a four-day weekend. Or maybe you’re lying on the couch, slightly comatose, wondering if it’s too early to eat your third turkey-related meal in the past two days. Perhaps you’re hiding from family in the other room, checking your e-mail for the seventh time in ten minutes. Or perhaps you’re getting ready to get in the car and drive back home to a world of sensibility, devoid of awkward conversation about government conspiracies and your grandmother’s incontinence problem. (If it’s not immediately clear from this paragraph, I have slept very little in the past two days.) In any case, my point is this: it’s a great time — nay, the perfect time — to listen to this fine, shiny new episode of The Popdose Podcast.
As Thanksgiving is a time when we get together with family, perhaps those we haven’t seen in a while, we decided an appropriate topic for this episode would be Reunions. We’re talkin’ ’bout the reunions we remember the most, for both good and bad reasons, the bands we still want to see reunite, the bands that should have stayed broken up, and…well, dammit, just listen to the podcast. It’s great.
Hi everybody! It’s CHART ATTACK! time once again, and this week’s pretty solid, if I do say so myself. (And I do.) This week, we bid a fond (okay, maybe not-so-fond) farewell to three artists who had a slew of Top 10 hits in the ’80s but came to a dead halt within a few weeks of this chart. One day, someone will write a requiem for Loggins, Lewis and Palmer (sounds like a really bad supergroup), but until then, we’ll just have to pay tribute to them here, as we look back to September 24, 1988!
10. Don’t Be Cruel — Bobby Brown Amazon iTunes
9. Nobody’s Fool — Kenny Loggins Amazon iTunes
8. If It Isn’t Love — New Edition Amazon iTunes
7. One Good Woman — Peter Cetera Amazon iTunes
6. Perfect World — Huey Lewis & the News Amazon iTunes
5. Love Bites — Def Leppard Amazon iTunes
4. Simply Irresistible — Robert Palmer Amazon iTunes
3. I’ll Always Love You — Taylor Dayne Amazon iTunes
2. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns N’ Roses Amazon iTunes
1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy — Bobby McFerrin Amazon iTunes
10. Don’t Be Cruel — Bobby Brown
Whenever I’m feeling down in the dumps, I like to present myself with some perspective. I always used to think about the Blues Traveler line “It won’t mean a thing in a hundred years,” but I think I’m switching to “hey, you could be Bobby Brown.” Because I don’t know if anybody is such a great example of having everything and then flushing it right down the toilet. He’s even worse than Andy Gibb. I mean, Bobby Brown is so universally hated that even Whitney’s Oprah interview can’t bring her back to the top. You only need to spend a few minutes with Bobby Brown to know that it’s generally a bad idea (case in point? Glenn Medeiros); Whitney spent what, five years with this tool? Maybe if she could still sing, we’d take her back, but this is all besides the point. The point is that no matter how bad you think you’ve screwed up, or how much you think you’ll never be able to get back to a better place, remember: hey, you could be Bobby Brown.
Bobby’s first solo album King of Stage didn’t do so well on the charts (quite possibly because was not the king of the stage). Not so with Don’t Be Cruel, both the album and the single. This was the lead-off single, and though it took a couple of months, it eventually peaked at #8 and paved the way for the other hits from the album. “Don’t Be Cruel” is a pretty sweet R&B song; dare I say it deserved to chart higher, or at least higher than “Humpin’ Around.” My only criticism of the song, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, is that it ends too abruptly. Bobby does a nifty lil’ rap, and then there’s a fade-out. I seriously want more.
9. Nobody’s Fool — Kenny Loggins
As we’ve said before, Kenny Loggins was the undisputed King of the Soundtrack Songs in the ’80s. You can’t deny the awesome montage/we’re-gonna-make-it-after-all power of “I’m Alright,” “Footloose,” “Danger Zone,” and “Meet Me Half Way.” Kenny would agree; they’re included on his 1997 greatest hits collection. “Nobody’s Fool,” however, isn’t on there. Seems odd, right? The song did reach #8, certainly higher than other included songs like “Forever” (#40), “Conviction of the Heart” (#65) and “The Real Thing” (#âˆž).
So why isn’t it included? I’m going to guess that perhaps it’s because the song was the “Theme From Caddyshack II,” which was a terrible, terrible movie. And because it actually includes the line “Back to the shack,” which just reeks of desperation. Take a look at the video, which — of course — includes numerous clips from the movie itself. When you’re competing with Jackie Mason for screen time, you know you’re in serious, serious trouble.
“Nobody’s Fool” was Loggins’ final appearance not only in the Top 10, but in the Top 40. That might be another reason why the song isn’t included. It’s actually a shame, because the chorus is pretty damn good. You can read more about the song and its video at Gavin Edwards’ Rule 42 blog.
Welcome back, everyone, to another edition of CHART ATTACK! Before we get to this week’s Top 10, I’d like to remind you all that Jeff Giles, Michael Parr and I will all be at Mohegun Sun tonight for the Jack Wagner concert. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jeff might actually be there at this very moment, dreaming of Jack Wagner singing to him interviewing fans that will supposedly be waiting on line all day for tickets.
If you happen to be somewhere near Uncasville, CT tonight, and you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time, then you’re free to join us. Michael and I are bringing our wives, so if you spot two ladies in the casino weeping about the cruelty of marriage, you know we’re right around the corner. If you can’t make it (lucky you!), you can follow me on Twitter and read my up-to-the-minute recounts of what is sure to be the event of the century evening. I promise to tweet at the very second a tear falls down Jeff’s cheek.
Anyway, on to the chart! Two weeks ago, we covered a summer week in 1974, and I received some very nice comments from people reminiscing of their childhoods. So this is the week where I completely ruin all that nostalgia and hit a current year — well, current for this series, anyway. Here we go, attackin’ August 1, 1992!
10. Wishing On a Star — The Cover Girls Amazon iTunes
9. Giving Him Something He Can Feel — En Vogue Amazon iTunes
8. End of the Road — Boyz II Men Amazon iTunes
7. Life Is a Highway — Tom Cochrane Amazon iTunes
6. November Rain — Guns N’ Roses Amazon iTunes
5. Just Another Day — Jon Secada Amazon iTunes
4. Achy Breaky Heart — Billy Ray Cyrus Amazon iTunes
3. Baby-Baby-Baby — TLC Amazon iTunes
2. This Used To Be My Playground — Madonna Amazon iTunes
1. Baby Got Back — Sir Mix-A-Lot Amazon iTunes
10. Wishing On a Star — The Cover Girls
Here’s the first of three covers on this week’s chart. “Wishing On a Star” was originally recorded by Rose Royce in 1978, though it had very little success in the US — it was the Cover Girls version that has seen the most chart action, peaking at #9. Since then, it’s been covered by a number of artists, most notably BeyoncÃ©. And I don’t understand it at all, because I really find this song terribly boring. If you don’t remember it, don’t worry about it; you’re not missing anything. Besides, everybody knows the Cover Girls’ best song was “Show Me,” followed closely by “Because of You.” These two songs are still played on NY radio all the time. (By the way, that clip of “Show Me” looks like it’s from a local public-access cable channel. Worth watching at least 30 seconds just to see if Robin Byrd is going to show up.)
9. Giving Him Something He Can Feel — En Vogue (download)
I don’t miss most of the artists on this Top 10. I’ll be just fine if I never hear from the Cover Girls again, as well as…hang on, let me count…at least five of the other artists on this chart (unless Sir Mix-A-Lot comes up with something brilliant). But I genuinely miss En Vogue — specfically, I miss En Vogue hanging around on the charts. They’re still together, although you need some kind of graduate degree to figure out the complicated soap opera of who left, who stayed, who re-joined and who didn’t. I can’t think of a popular En Vogue song that I don’t like (though I could do without the “Who’s Loving You” opening to “Hold On,” but that’s a story for another chart). Each of the women had phenomenal voices and impeccable harmonies, and I’m assuming from the live clips I’ve seen that they did most of it without a lot of fancy studio tricks.
“Giving Him Something He Can Feel” is a cover of a Curtis Mayfield song from 1976, composed for the movie Sparkle. Here’s the original from the film, sung by Sister & the Sisters, with Lonette McKee on lead vocal, and Irene Cara and Dwan Smith on backing vocals.
On the soundtrack, however, the song was performed by Aretha Franklin, who took it to #28. En Vogue brought their beautiful version to #6, produced by the group’s creators, Thomas McElroy and Denzil Foster, who had previously been members of Club Nouveau and had produced for Timex Social Club and Tony! Toni! TonÃ©!, to name a few.
8. End of the Road — Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men: Great singers, extremely tight harmonies, great feel for R&B, can’t get arrested these days. I don’t know what happened, exactly, although it seems like Motown essentially buried them after conflicts between the label and the group. But back to better times: “End of the Road” was a massive, massive hit. It spent 13 weeks at #1, which broke a record held up until that point by Elvis Presley. Of course, Whitney Houston beat it by a week just two weeks later with “I Will Always Love You,” but Boyz II Men tied it with “I’ll Make Love to You” shortly after. So yeah. Massive hit. It was written by the powerhouse team of Babyface, L.A. Reid and Daryl Simmons, intended for a specific scene in Eddie Murphy’s Oscar-winning Boomerang. (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) Babyface considered keeping it for himself, but instead gave it to the guys, who recorded it in under four hours. Reid and Babyface also produced the song, but that doesn’t help me figure out who to blame for the two things that drive me nuts here:
With the exception of whichever one Mase was in, perhaps no musical genre has endured a swifter or less celebrated mainstream extermination than Hair Metal, whose predominant 1980s celebrants – generally uncomplicated fellows who came to town with nothing more than hearts of gold, dreams of fame and lady makeup – wanted nothing more than to have a good time, even if you couldn’t get one to write a decent lyric about it by electro-shocking him in the shoulder pads.
Once that floating naked baby record and the flannel people materialized, of course, such bands couldn’t do much but struggle to quote-fingers evolve (anyone remember Poison’s gospel-tinged ode to individuality “Stand?” Pfft.), but surprisingly, most fans resisted the abruptly spiritual carpe-diem stuff emerging from the very same people who just minutes prior were panting out songs like “The Hunter” and “Wanted Man” and “Slip of the Lip” and “You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner” while thrusting, into the MTV cameras, anything attached to them that was thrustable. Eight minutes later “Beavis and Butthead” put a dingus named Stuart in a Winger T-shirt and the coffin was closed. For a while.
Because these days, a great many hairtacular bands have circled their wagons on the middle-tier nostalgia package-tour circuit looking, if not to conquer the Earth, to at least ruin some more of its ozone. These are the lucky ones, of course, as some are surely moving used cars in Lexington, some are assembling weird simulacrums of their former bands and releasing “Chinese Democracy” and still others are smacking their noses into parts of the Tony Awards. It’s a mess, is what I’m saying. But regardless, somewhere on its plummet down from the wild ’80s schmaltz-glitz years of Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue and the 250 bands that started with W, hair metal — and this was really nice of it — forgot to die.
Hey, hey, hey! It’s Friday, and you know what that (sometimes) means! That’s right, it’s time to take a look at another Billboard Top 10 from ages past, and today we’re heading back a full 20 years to see what the charts were like on May 13, 1989!
10. Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler Amazon iTunes
9. Patience — Guns n’ Roses Amazon iTunes
8. Rock On — Michael Damian Amazon iTunes
7. Second Chance — 38 Special Amazon iTunes
6. After All — Cher and Peter Cetera Amazon iTunes
5. Soldier of Love — Donny Osmond Amazon iTunes
4. Forever Your Girl — Paula Abdul Amazon iTunes
3. Real Love — Jody Watley Amazon iTunes
2. Like a Prayer — Madonna Amazon iTunes
1. I’ll Be There for You — Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes
10. Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler
I try to stay away from directly quoting Wikipedia entries, but this sentence is just perfect: “Because of the song’s soaring imagery and the extreme earnestness of Midler’s iconic performance, the song has become ripe for parody.” I mean, that’s totally it, isn’t it? It doesn’t really get any more earnest than this, unless you count “From a Distance,” which was totally Midler’s (successful) attempt to repeat her newfound success as an inspirational singer. Midler didn’t actually care for the song when she first heard it — she was convinced to do it by Marc Shaiman, her long-time musical director (as well as the genius behind the songs in the Broadway version of Hairspray and a million other movies, including South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police). The song won Grammy awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, but strangely lost the Earworm of the Year award to “Love Shack.”
Although the song will always be tied to Bette Midler, she was far from the first person to record it. The song was written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley, and was first rejected by Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow. (When Barry Manilow is turning down your sappy song, you know you’re in trouble.) Artists who recorded the song before Midler include Roger Whittaker, Sheena Easton, Lou Rawls, Lee Greenwood, B.J. Thomas, Gladys Knight (her version was called “Hero”) and Gary Morris, who recorded a country version, much to the chagrin of Silbar and Henley…until it won Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards. Apparently when Morris performs it, he often says “Bette is free to sing this however she wants, but personally, I think she butchered it.” Har!
My favorite version, however, is the duet between Midler and Krusty.
9. Patience — Guns n’ Roses
Written by Izzy Stradlin, “Patience” peaked at #4 on the charts and, recorded in a single session with three acoustic guitars, clearly showed a different side of the band. It very clearly said to audiences that Guns n’ Roses wasn’t just happy getting with teenage girls backstage. They wanted their mothers, too. Even my Lionel Richie-lovin’ mother liked this song…until the end when Axl started that “awful screaming” (which is kind of my favorite part of the song). By the way, I wish people would take that specific vocal section into account before they decide to sing this song at karaoke. It’s always painful.
8. Rock On — Michael Damian (download)
What’s sadder: the fact that I hadn’t heard “Rock On” before Damian’s version, or that I can immediately tell you that this was on the soundtrack to Dream a Little Dream, the movie starring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim? Both are pretty sad, don’t you think? I agree. (I’m sure Kelly Stitzel is with me on this one.)
You may be thinking what I’m thinking: Michael Damian, “Rock On,” total one-hit wonder, right? Actually, it turns out that he’s had two other hits in the Top 40, both in 1989: “Was It Nothing At All” made it all the way to #24, and “Cover of Love” reached #31. Damian had recorded “Rock On” a couple of years earlier in his garage with his two brothers, but it was rejected by most record labels. Dream a Little Dream director Mark Rocco asked Damian’s brothers if they could write some music for the soundtrack, and they brought him “Rock On.” The track reached #1 in early June and surpassed the original, a #5 for David Essex in ’74.
Apart from “Rock On,” Damian’s had numerous successes: he played a lead role on The Young and the Restless for 18 years, appeared in the revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (and earned a Grammy nomination), and even won the BMI Songwriting Award for “Was It Nothing At All.” Furthermore, he’s directed two award-winning independent films! So there’s no mocking Damian here, folks. This guy hasn’t really done anything to…aw, Jesus. Wait a second.
“The only place I get hurt is out there. The world don’t give a shit about me.”
I. Well, I’m Frustrated and Outdated
The first voice you hear is a dead man’s scream. It’s one of those full-throated primal belts, like Roger Daltrey’s in “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Here it’s Kevin DuBrow, his scalded screech busting the floodgates for “Bang Your Head (Metal Health),” the second single from Quiet Riot’s landmark Metal Health (1983), the first slab of fuzz ’n’ meedley to ever reach #1 on the Billboard Albums chart.
The band was at its mainstream zenith then. Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was probably just getting started, years of toil finally paying off as professional wrestling graduated from the sweathouse din of high school gyms to respectable arenas in metropolitan cities. It came with a price, of course. Regional territories were swallowed by ambitious, growing monoliths. But that wouldn’t matter for a while, not even to the Ram. Luckily, he was in his prime, synchronous with the era. He was the ’80s.
Someday that would come back to haunt him, but someday was just a harmless, nebulous future. For now we’re in his past. Wisely, director Darren Aronofsky (on a Robert D. Siegel script) never shows us this past except as a collage of scattered magazines and handbills against the ghostly chatter of ringside patter and a raucous anthem that rocked a long-gone summer, growled by a man who in 2007 was silenced forever.
But Ram still struts to this hoary buzzsaw, having plucked it during its popularity and transformed it into his ring-entrance music. When the riffs kick in to summon his fist-pumping form, the crowds respond as they would at a concert. They know what’s coming: a classic blast from their childhoods, riding into town with a near-suicidal need to entertain. And the outcome is always predetermined. Once their faded hero climbs the ropes and drops that old-school Ram Jam finisher — his greatest hit — it’s over, brother.
Uncle Donnie gets pissed very rarely, but when he does he can certainly lay into you. I wonder what Scott Weiland thought when he got this. â€”RS TO: Scott Weiland FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz RE: Career advice I get mad at you, Scott Weiland, and I don't get mad at
This week we have a ginormous, gigantic, gargantuan post, as we finish up with the letter G on our trek through the bottom of Billboard‘s Hot 100 charts during the ’80s.
“Theme From ‘Terms of Endearment’” — 1984, #84 (download)
You know, it feels like every week here at Bottom Feeders starts with something completely bland or just plain douche-a-rific now. I guess if you’re listening to everything from top to bottom you can consider this your intro song. Or if you’re putting together a nice light-rock CD for grandma, you can make this your centerpiece. That’s it — grandma music.
If I didn’t collect ‘80s music I most certainly would have missed out on these gems and thought that “King of Wishful Thinking” (1990) was Go West’s first single and Indian Summer (1992) their first album. If you ever wanted to get into Go West for some reason, that album could easily be the place to start and stop. However, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not going back and listening to their 1985 self-titled debut. The follow-up, 1987’s Dancing on the Couch, wasn’t quite as good as Go West, but it still contains some catchy-as-hell pop tunes. All three of the great songs featured here are from Go West, and though they sound dated today, if you think back to 1985 they actually sound a little too sophisticated for that era. Maybe that’s why none of them made an impact on the charts. Go West had one single in ’87 barely crack the Top 40 — “Don’t Look Down (The Sequel)” hit #39, but it isn’t even included on the British version of Dancing on the Couch.
It’s the curse of the debut album: the artist, unsure of who he/she is or what he/she ought to sound like strikes out in all directions — a power ballad here, a blues grinder there, a piano pop-tune way over yonder. The artist can be forgiven for their somewhat schizoid aim since the label has put all the weight of the company, as well as one’s own career path, down on their freshman shoulders. With that in mind, W. Axl Rose is the oldest freshman in the history of music, as his magnum opus Chinese Democracy has finally seen the light of day. The good news is that it isn’t the unmitigated failure we expected, yet it is far from the triumphant return from exodus his handlers would like you to believe.
It is the equivalent of time travel wrapped in aluminum, or vinyl if you so desire, as songs that gestated through the 15-year span in between it and the previous covers album The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) have not been updated to any semblance of modernity. Rose’s flirtation with industrial rock in the early nineties, plainly NIN-fluenced, are left intact and instantly dated as are the tracks that are NU-fluenced. Korn should be proud to hear the presence of down-tuning, hip-hop loop beats and scream chants on a GNR album, but even Linkin Park jumped that train and caught a taxi to emo-town. I suppose we dodged a Rose-colored, mascaraed bullet on that.
But there are a couple songs that I didn’t mind listening to. In fact, if “Better” came on the radio, I might not turn the dial. It has a semblance of the old attitude the band once had, and not too much of the stylistic shout-outs that bog down the rest of the album. “Shackler’s Revenge” survives a disheartening opening to reveal itself as one of the stronger tracks, and because I do have a soft spot for proggish bombast and consider “November Rain” my favorite GNR tune, “There Was A Time” survives the time trials. But where I finished Metallica’s Death Magnetic and thought, “I’ll still listen to Justice and the black album more, but I’ll revisit this occasionally too,” I can only bring myself to clicking off my favorites in Chinese Democracy‘s jumble and dumping them into a hard-rock mixtape. The rest of the album is skip-fodder and, considering the majority of my music listening happens in my car, I’d rather play a different CD and keep my eyes on the road.
Unless you’ve spent a lot of time in the company of William Shatner, Chinese Democracy will likely be one of the most ridiculous audio recordings you ever come across. It is sprawling and stupid and ludicrous and hilarious and will make you shoot milk out of your nose and cringe and it is not very good and sometimes extremely terrible, and just when you think things cannot possibly get any more extraordinarily strange, that’s when Axl Rose drops the MLK sample on you.
Originally slated for release in 1948, Chinese Democracy comes out Sunday exclusively for people shopping for Black Friday-sale plasmas at Best Buy, a wise promotional stunt and kind of an all-in proposition — if putting this record out this week doesn’t create interest or move units, nothing will. Because one thing is sure: the songs won’t sell it.
The final, finished, ostensibly archival version of Chinese Democracy is a fucking mess, a haphazard, stop-and-go Transformer of rap-metal parts, ideas, sketches, Chester Bennington riffs, lyrical crimes, la la las, and ridiculous electronic touches and twists that only occasionally resemble completed songs; in what will be the least surprising thing you’ll read all week, it sounds like what happens when you dicker around with something so long it stops making any sort of cohesive sense. Tracks like “I.R.S.” and the absurd “Riad n’ the Bedouins” barely begin accelerating before they veer into left-field guitar solos, tempo shifts, distracting vocal tricks, and Axl’s never-far-afield need to drop in something robotic. These songs build no momentum, create no wave. It’s more like Axl’s “A Day in the Life”; you feel like he cut up the tape, threw it into the air, and sticky-taped together the results.
When Kyle Vincent released his eponymous album on Hollywood Records in 1997, it looked for all the world that, after spending over a decade on a quest to earn himself a Billboard Top 100 hit, he was about to bring a dream to fruition. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case, but he made enough of an impact with the album’s single, “Wake Me Up (When The World’s Worth Waking Up For),” to show up on the radar of quite a few pop fans…including me. (Like you didn’t see that revelation coming up Main Street.)
Although Vincent’s stint on Hollywood Records only lasted for that one record, he didn’t let any moss grow under his feet. Indeed, he’d returned to the studio even before Hollywood went through the corporate restructuring that would cost both he and virtually every other artist on the label their deals. In the end, he released the follow-up to Kyle Vincent on his own label, SongTree Records, but it featured just as much gloss and sparkle as anything released on the majors that year.
Sadly, the sound of Wow & Flutter was a far cry from what the cool kids of the world were listening to in 1999. Their mothers, however, would’ve loved it…if only they’d had ample opportunity to hear it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often found myself listening to a song and thought, “My mom would like this,” and when I do so, I’m not thinking it in a sneering, disparaging way. On a Mother’s Day many moons ago, I made my mother a mix tape called A Little Bit of Mom Music, If You Please, and I filled it with songs by They Might Be Giants, The Beautiful South, the Cure, the Smiths, Captain Sensible, 10,000 Maniacs, the Blue Nile, and probably a dozen other artists…and she loved it. I think she played in the car until they finally upgraded from a cassette player to a CD player, in fact. Just because your parents might listen to music that you can’t readily defend in a court of cool – my mother’s love of Anne Murray is one which I’ve never personally been able to embrace – doesn’t mean that they can’t appreciate some of the tunes you’re grooving to, and Wow & Flutter is definitely a record that multiple generations can appreciate.
Booyakisha!Â This week’s mix is about a season that seems to get very little love in the world of song.Â And before you run to the comment section and say: “Hey Ted, don’t you know that autumn started last month?” I should remind you that yours truly lives in the Golden State of California, and we get days that top out in the 90-100 degree range right up until the end of October.Â But sometimes the weather turns to autumn early (like it did last week) where the leaves fall, the air feels a bit different (in California it’s a very subtle difference), and the smell of fires burning in the fireplace is prevalent. Okay, are you in an autumn mood? Then let’s get going with this week’s mix!
“September in Seattle,” Shawn Mullins (Download)
Full disclosure: I have a tough time warming up to artists whose songs I used to play over and over when I was working in radio.Â Mullins’ “Lullaby” was one of those songs that never went away where I worked, and when I started hunting for autumn-themed songs, I was a bit leery about including this song — ’cause, you know, I’m kind of allergic to Shawn Mullins’ music.Â However, I got over my prejudices (and allergy) pretty quickly, and found that this tune to be quite the charmer.
This past week I was like a pig in shit. Nine tracks from Chinese Democracy were leaked and I couldn’t be happier. See, Guns n’ Roses are my Led Zeppelin. They’re my Black Sabbath. Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987 when I was 11 and they were pretty much the first hard rock band I had ever really come in contact with. I’m not sure what music my dad liked. I mean, he gave me money to buy records, but I don’t really ever remember him buying anything for himself, so maybe he just liked me enjoying it. I know my mom liked The Moody Blues and Queen, so Queen was probably my first exposure to rock music — but GNR was the first hard rock that I can remember. Thinking about it right now, it was probably pretty cool of my mom to let a preteen listen to Appetite.
I’ve mentioned before how I don’t remember actually listening to much in the ‘80s. But there are two things I remember vividly. The first is coming home from school one afternoon and every hour on the hour huddling around the TV with my friends to watch the MTV premiere of the video for “Paradise City.” And the other was sitting on the back of the school bus and trying to convince all the kids that I had one of the “original” copies of Appetite for Destruction because “Paradise City” was much louder after the whistle on my version.
Everything is worse in high school: your hair, your taste in music, your grasp of how bad you have it, your ability to have a meaningful conversation with a girl that does not revolve around how awesome Nine Inch Nails are. But especially worse is your ability to maintain a relationship of any kind, which is why most high school romances end in whatever is the emotional equivalent of watching a bus full of orphan blind baby koalas go over a cliff in a bus on fire. Let’s go back to school now with, uh, me:
“I’m A Cold Heartbreaker Fit To Burn And I’ll Rip Your Heart In Two”
By Jeff Vrabel
In spite of an unfortunate decision by my parents to hold off on getting me braces until late in high school, and a general disposition that led to a running joke involving my similarity to Paul Pfeiffer on The Wonder Years, I actually had a girlfriend for the better part of my senior year, though I had absolutely no idea what was going on most of the time, and was, as I recall, so deliriously happy that someone was paying attention to me that I implicitly, and gleefully, consented to dating a girl who was pretty regularly flirting heavily with several dozen other dudes at any given time of day, especially Gabe, the new trenchcoat-wearing long-haired tortured poet-type who could draw really well, was a good listener and liked the Smiths. Fucker.