Thursday, August 30, 2007

"All the Way to Reno" / REM / Reveal

Oh, man, I have some things to get off my chest.

Let me begin by saying that to those of us that grew up in Athens, there is no band that means more to many of us than REM. Even before they hit the big time, beginning in the late 1980's but really taking off in 1991, REM was the soundtrack for Athens youth. We literally grew up with them, album to album. There's almost no music as important to me and my "musical developement", if you'll allow, than those classic REM albums like "Lifes Rich Pagent", "Murmur" and "Reckoning". They were always ours, and we were proud to have them, and when the time came we were tickled to share them with the world.

Then Bill Berry quit and "Up" happened. Now God forgive me...REM kinda sucks. And that absolutely breaks my heart.

Sure, there's been the occasional interesting single, like "Daysleeper", "At My Most Beautiful", "Imitation of Life", even this song's OK. But most REM albums (and I've bought them all - I'm nothing if not a loyal fan) are plodding, mid-tempo, hookless drudgery.

I'm of the opinion that they should have ended with the underrated "New Adventures in Hi-Fi". That album, and especially the closing song, "Electrolyte" would have made a great coda to their career. Now it's like watching Evander Holyfield trying to make comeback after comeback. You feel bad for them; you just want to pat them on the shoulder and say, "You know what? You had a great run. But it's over. Don't embarrass yourself or tarnish your legacy. Go out with some dignity".

Supposedly they are back in the studio, and there's always that hope that they can rekindle the magic...but I don't think I can be a party to it anymore.

At least the video is charming

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" / Sam & Dave / The Best of Sam & Dave

I think Sam & Dave are a great soul act that get lost in the shuffle. I know they weren't part of the Motown juggernaut, but they should be more popular and appreciated than they are. They've done quite a few songs that are classics like "Soul Man" and "Wrap It Up". I think they may have been a Stax group, but I"m not sure. (***edited: A quick check of wiki says yes, they were from Stax. And, snap, they were both Georgians. I should have known that!***)

That being said, I probably wouldn't have known about them myself if I didn't have a deep, abiding love for the movie "The Blues Brothers", which used some of their tunes to great effect. "Soul Man", of course, but also "Soothe Me" and "Hold On, I'm Comin". I bought this best of CD to keep those songs handy and ended up liking the whole thing.

This song itself is a slow jam which has been covered by many artists. It's got that slow, horn-filled style to it that's recognizable of many old soul love songs; all of them seem to have those arpeggioed piano notes in the verses. In lots of ways, it reminds me of "Try Me" by James Brown, or even "Oh Darling" by The Beatles is a great point of comparison.

A clever reader is helping me include links to the songs. Try the link below to see if it works.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Mad Mrs. Leroy Brown" / Loretta Lynn / Van Lear Rose

What a treat this CD was. I've always had lots of respect for the classic country artists of the 60's and 70's, and it was awesome to have Jack White give Loretta Lynn the same treatment Ruck Rubin gave to Johnny Cash.

This CD actually sounds a lot like a White Stripes album to me, which makes perfectly good sense. It seems Loretta had fun doing the record, and on this song especially. Noting quite says country music like a good old "revenge on a cheatin' man" song - especially one that involves a pink limo and Mrs. Lynn promising "I'm gonna grab her by her phony ponytail / I'm gonna sling her around and around"

At the the end of the song, you can hear some playful banter between her and Jack which is really...cute, for lack of a better term. Let's only hope that the rumors about a relationship between the two while recording this were only rumors. On second thought, that kind of kicks ass.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Devil Town" / Bright Eyes / The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered

First off, I have to say that this is one of my five year old's favorites. He likes anything slightly creepy or macabre (I guess being born a week before Halloween can do that to you), and one day I was playing a mix CD in the car and this song came on. Quinn got really quiet, then said out of the blue: "Dad, why are his friends vampires?" (there's a line that goes "All my friends were vampires / didn't know they were vampires / turned out I was a vampire myself in a devil town"). So, anyway, I get a few requests for this song on trips.

I've come to Daniel Johnston late; a friend from work only recently burned me a CD of his, and it's...OK...but this song is great. You may notice that it's a cover, Bright Eyes did this version, and I bought this single because it was the only version of the song on itunes.**Edited to add - I just looked again on itunes, and the original's there now. The cover is still better, in my opinion**Not a big Bright Eyes fan myself, but they do a damn fine job here, capturing the spookiness and meloncholy of the song perfectly.

I bought this song because of my love for the TV show "Friday NIght Lights". Believe me when I say I don't watch much TV, and there are maybe three or four that I watch religiously, and FNL is the king of all shows. I"m serious. If you didn't see last season, check it out on DVD before season two starts. You don't even have to like football, either, it's just an incredibly well done show. I haven't been in love with a show this much since "Freeks and Geeks", or maybe "Reba".

Anyway, I believe in the pilot they played this song over the opening credits, which made me immediately think - damn, they may have something here (incidently, the show's inde cred is airtight - Explosions in the Sky does much of the score, and I've heard tracks from The Go! Team, Spoon and Le Tigre too). At the end of the season, they bookended the final scene of the state championship parade through town (not a cheesy at it sounds, trust me) with this song again, and I swear, my allergies started acting up just a little. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"One Of My Turns" / Pink Floyd / The Wall

Sorry for the delay, life intrudes as it will....

So, when did your Pink Floyd obsession begin and end? Almost every big music fan has had that love affair at some point in their lives. For me, it was tenth grade to twefth grade, give or take. I listened to "The Wall" (either that, "Led Zeppelin III" or "Electric" by The Cult) on my walk to school almost every day of my sophomore year. And really, what better age than 14 to listen to "The Wall" constantly and wallow in its themes of being misunderstood and outcast? It's like flies to shit.

Later, I delved into "Dark Side of the Moon" (of course) and "Wish You Were Here" (in my opinion, the best of those four or five classic PF albums). Floyd was even the first big arena concert I went to - 1987 in the old Omni in Atlanta.

Then, yes, I outgrew them. I must say, though, that enough time has passed that I can look back fondly and appreciatively on those albums. I saw a show on VH1 Classic called "Classic Albums" in which the Floyd guys revisited the studio and showed how they made the album, and it was really interesting and cool to see. I also found a vinyl copy of "Wish You Were Here" and gave it a few nostalgic spins before I had to dismantle my record player for the time being.

Anyway, to this song, there's not much to it. It's very soft and slow at the beginning, and moves the narrative forward (something about his Mom? and a trial? Anyway). The lyrics I always remember are "Cold as a razor blade / tight as a tourniquet / dry as a funeral drum" because I though it was cool that a British guy could rhyme "razor blade" and "tourniquet".

If you're an old school Athenian, you can help me out here too. At the end of the song, there's a line that is almost acapella and drawn out : "Why are you running away?" I swear, I remember this line being in an old Video Library commerical on MTV back in the day. Am I crazy or does anyone remember?

Saturday, August 11, 2007


You'll notice that I changed the bolg template. I was never really happy with the original; there may be a couple more tweaks here and there as I find what I really like.

I've changed the "Comments" section too, so if you'd like to leave a comment and don't have a blogger account you can now leave one anonymously (though it would still be nice to sign it so I can see who's commenting).

On another note, if anyone more experienced with this format can tell me how to embed a YouTube video, that would be nice.

"Don't Come Round Here No More" / Tom Petty / Tom Petty's Greatest Hits

Let me start off by clarifying that some songs may actually be my wife's or something my brother downloaded (if it's cheesy modern country or terrible Dutty Souf rap. Love ya, bro!). And I say that not to dismiss Tom Petty, 'cause Tom Petty's OK with me...but I'm just sayin'.

I guess like many of you I can't listen to this song without thinking of the freaky Alice in Wonderland video (LINK: . As a song, though, it has some good moments. The shouted "HEY!" throughout the song is kind of cool, and I've always liked songs that have "acts", as it were, and I'm thinking here of the shift in the song towards the end when it throws the mandolin out the window and goes into that fast, chugging guitar riff to finish up.

Overall, as I said, I like Petty OK - a good Southern boy even though he's a Gator from Gainesville, Florida. Eric and Jeff loved them some Petty back in the day, and I used to argue with them in my advocacy of John Mellencamp (I've always thought of those two as populist rockers cut from the same cloth - kind of like a hick version of the "Stones or Beatles?" argument).

If I had my druthers, though, I'd prefer to hear "The Waiting" (his best song and a bonafide classic), "Don't Do Me Like That" or "Stop Draggin My Heat Around".

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky" / Red Hot Chilli Peppers / Mother's Milk

File this one under other "Native Americans done wrong" songs along with Anthrax's "Indians", Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills", The Doors' "Wild Child", and most of The Cult's music from the 90's when Ian Astbury (like Jim Morrison) inexplicably decided he was really Indian all along.

Now that I think about it, one of the RHCP's first singles was "True Men Don't Kill Coyotes" and I believe Anthony Keidis has a Thunderbird tattoo across his back, so I guess they've always enjoyed that vibe.

I like the way this song starts, with the snippet of "The Star Spangled Banner", then dips into some classic wa-wa funk guitar of John Fuschiante (he was their guitarist then, right?) and of course, Flea's ridiculous bass. He really has some great parts in this song, especially that descending run down the fret right before the chorus.

All in all this is my favorite RHCP album. Reminds me (again) of my senior year in high school. I saw the video for "Knock Me Down" on 120 Minutes or something and loved it, so I had to get that album. On this album itslef, though, this is one of my least favorites.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"The Cherry Tree" / 10,000 Maniacs / In My Tribe

I know I'm going to get a lot of shit for this, but I really, really, like this album. I'm not crazy about the Maniacs in general, but I think this album is just about perfect from start to finish (with the exception of "My Sister Rose", which is, far and away the weak link and keeps it out of the pantheon of all-timers).

On the album itself, it's right between "Like the Weather" and "The Painted Desert" and is a nice transition between the two. It's got a lively, bouncy , almost (dare I say) danceable beat to it. To be honest, I never knew the title, but I always recognize it as a favorite when it starts.

This album, in general, reminds me of 1993. I think I bought the used casette on a whim and listened it it pretty constantly that entire year. It has indelible memories of a certain young lady I was seeing at the time, and of trips through the Appalachian Mountains with said young woman in my 1985 Buick Regal.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Stop" / Jane's Addiction / Ritual de lo Habitual

It's incredible the influence that a band like Jane's had from more or less only two albums (plus a live EP). They were almost Nirvana before Nivana, in other words, they were thisclose to being the big 80's alternative band that made it mainstream.

I'll never forget hearing "Nothing's Shocking" my senior year in high school (class of 1990) and thinking, "Shit - this is altogether different - this may be the best album I've ever heard". That album was passed around many of my friends, and we couldn't wait for the new album to come out.

So in 1991, "Ritual de lo Habitual" came out with a decent bit of fanfare (remember, still, this was pre Nirvana, pre Lalapalooza, so the fact that this album had some press was impressive and exciting at the time). I remember loving it, and "Stop" was one of the most impressive on it.

Of course, the big hit was the gimmicky "Been Caught Stealing" which most people remember Jane's Addiction for (that or the overplayed "Jane Says"), but for my money give me a "Stop", "Three Days", "Mountain Song" or "Ocean Size"

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Factory Girl" / The Rolling Stones / Beggar's Banquet

You can have your "Exile on Main Street" - for my money, the best Stones album is "Beggar's Banquet". Unfortunately, this is my least favorite song on the album, but then again, it's only 2:12 long.

I really like the strummed intro and there's some nice percussion to set the scene, but Mick's voice grates. It seems like it's a character voice (the same as he does in "Dear Doctor" earlier in the album), but I can't really figure out what character that might be. Any guesses as to what a "Factory Girl" is, anyway?

I must say though,

"Waitin' for a girl and she gets me into fights
Waitin' for a girl we get drunk on Friday nights"

Is a great couplet. In fact, it reminds me of my wife. Ha.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Here's the premise behind this blog: I will open itunes and hit "random", post the resulting song here, and then give you my thoughts on the song, artist, or on any other personal responses I may have associated with said song. It's going to be very, very exciting. I'll try to add to it about twice a week, so check in and be sure and leave some comments to continue discussion.

First off, though, in the spirit of one of my favorite blogs (, a college football blog), I will offer points for creative, witty, snide or astute comments. The overall points winner gets my brother's old 45 of Poison's "Fallen Angel" from my record collection. Values to be determined by me.

So, to start us off, 25 points to anyone who can tell me from whence the title of this blog came.