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Archive for the ‘Alice Cooper’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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[ATTENDED May 18, 2012] One Hot Summer

IMG_7665My five-year old daughter Tabitha was in her second recital last night.  Last year she performed in one routine and this year she moved up to two–a ballet routine and a tap routine.

And my little girl got to lead the group out on stage!

She performed in two routines, “Ice Cream Ballet” (to the tune of Frank Mills’ “Music Box Dancer”) and “Hot Dog!” (the closing theme from the Mickey Mouse Show).

As with last year, I have no intention of critiquing any performances on the stage tonight.  Every girl and boy tried his or her best and they all did better than I could do.  However, I want to make some general observations about the performance.

This year’s theme was all about summer, so imagine my surprise when the first act was a dance routine set to “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper!  I feel like one of the big things that the dancers need to learn is to really exaggerate your excitement on stage–really get into it.  I know it is very hard to let loose in this way (although I noticed some of the boys really got into it), but if you just think about the sentiment of “Schools Out” you’d expect these kids to be wildly excited–exaggeratedly so. (more…)

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loveindeSOUNDTRACK: KURT VILE-“Wakin on a Pretty Day” (2013).

Kurt Vile_CVR-31981badf76ce6680de293138b7fbf1807fe323f-s1I don’t really know that much about Kurt Vile.  I’ve been hearing about him for a while. I assumed his name was a kind of joke–like he was a comical metal guy, maybe like Alice Cooper.   That appears to be far from the truth.  I also wasn’t sure if he was well-known outside of the Philly area, but I do know that NPR has championed him for a while.

Well, he has a new album out and since NPR was streaming it, what better time to hear what the long- haired dude is all about.

There is much talk bout his voice (NPR says: There’s something about Kurt Vile’s voice that transcends whatever comes out of his mouth.).  But the whole time I listened to this song (which was a while, as it is over 9 minutes long), I kept thinking that he sounds just like the guy from House of Love, an underrated band here in the States. (He sounds even more like him in Kv Crimes”) It’s not necessarily a bad thing to sound like someone else (often times it can’t be helped I suppose), but it is a little distracting to me.

So this song is kind of groovy.  I like it musically more than vocally (there’s so many “Yeah…yeah yeah yeahs” that I lost the point of the song).  But the music is really good, including Vile’s lengthy guitar solos.  Interestingly, I was kind of bored by the song after about 45 seconds, but by 8 minutes I was really grooving it.  Subsequent listens have made me like it more, it has a kind of Neil Young or maybe Meat Puppets vibe.

My head says there’s really nothing special about this guy and yet after more and more listens, there’s something that draws me to him.  Weird.

[READ: April 2, 2013] Love, An Index

The back of Lindenberg’s book explains that the man she loved, poet Craig Arnold, disappeared in a volcano while traveling in Japan.  For such a very specific kind of event, I don’t think I would have gotten anything quite like that from these poems.  Indeed, for a book that is so specifically created about this man, there’s very little sense of the exact nature of the loss.  In some ways that’s good, it could have been a very maudlin, ungraceful collection of poems if she explicitly talked about volcanoes, but at the same time, the feeling of loss that comes across is less about death and more about abandonment (I would have presumed that the guy had left her).

I really enjoyed these poems even though I have a  really hard time accepting the bulk of these, in particular the thirty-four page title poem, as poetry.

“Love, An Index” is thirty-four pages and it is an index.  Literally, she lists words alphabetically and writes a little “definition” for each one.  There are arbitrary line breaks in the definitions but in no way does it feel like a poem.  Even the individual entries are not very poetic.  Like “Compromise, I will get up early with you/so long as you’ve made coffee.”  Okay, so that’s funny/sweet, but it’s not a poem.  But then what it is?  Yes, it is part of a greater whole and removing part of it diminishes that whole.  But again, what is the whole?  Genre defying I suppose.  Which is cool.  And despite my criticism, I really enjoyed this index.  There were personal notes that I would have no idea about, there were commonplace ideas that are familiar to all.  There’s also a ton of quotes from other poets.  And it all works together to create a beautiful portrait of a relationship. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The Believer July/August 2010 Music Issue Compilation CD: “We Bumped Our Heads Against the Clouds” (2010).

Of all the Believer music compilations, this is by far my least favorite.  It would be oversimplifying things to say that the music is not for me, but in many respects it is not.  Chuck Lightning, the curator of the project states that this compilation is more or less a look into the state of the union for black artists.  And that invariably means a lot of R&B and songs that might be heard on Glee (I like the show, but I never know any of the music).

Deep Cotton’s “Self!” reminds me of novelty dance hit from the late 80s.  Of Montreal, who I thought sounded totally different from this, offer “Hydra Fancies” which is as catchy a disco anthem as any disco anthem can be.  Roman GianArthur’s “Depraved Valet” is an amazingly falsettoed Prince knock off.  Cody Chestnutt’s “”Come Back Like Spring” is a simple almost acapella ode to spring.  Saul Williams’ oddly titled “B.S. in a Tampon” is a spoken word with acoustic guitar that reminds me of Gil Scot-Heron.  Janelle Monáe’s “Cold War” is the first really catchy song (the la las remind me of Carole King), although  I could do without the overstated “Calinda” part and the extended fade.

The first song I really liked was BLK JCKs “Iietys” which sounded enough like TV on the Radio to be really interesting.  Spree Wilson’s “Chaos” also sounds like TV on the Radio (the more R&B side of the band, although the guitar solo is a dead ringer for “Hotel California.”  Scar’s “Rewind” is the song that should be on Glee.  I want to hate it but it is so damned catchy, I can’t.  Again, those Oh Oh Ohs are too perfect (and the auto0tune of course is unassailable).

Rob Roy’s “Velvet Rope Blues” is my favorite song on the disc by a large distance. It’s a weird rap that reminds me of The Streets, with an awesome sung chorus ala OutKast.  Hollyweed’s “Have You Ever Made Love to a Weirdo” is a trippy, juvenile space rap that is really silly.  Sarah hates it but I kind of like it, as it’s in the spirit of Frank Zappa, (although I hate the sax solo).  Fear & Fancy’ s “Off the Grid” sounds also not unlike OutKast.  And George 2.0′ s “Turn Off the TV” is a anti-TV rap rant (with the somewhat ironic conclusion that you yourself might end up ON the TV).

M.I.A. is probably the biggest name on the disc. “Born Free” is a weird little track of highly distorted vocals over a punk guitar buzzsaw sound.  But her vocals are mixed so loud in the mix that they sound unrelated.  It sounds not unlike a Go! Team track.  This track makes me wonder how she became such a sensation.

Hot Heavy & Bad’s “One” returns to that disco sound in the vocals with some contemporary bass sounds.  It wears out its welcome pretty quickly.  Tendaberry’s “Cold Boy” sounds like a less horn-y Fishbone.  Mother Novella offers one of the few all guitar songs, “Closer 9 1/2” and it’s an okay mid tempo rocker.

The final song is pretty awesome in theory: Nina Simone covering Alice Cooper.  That’s right, Nina Simone covering Alice Cooper.  Sadly I don’t know the Alice Cooper song, so it’s a bit lost on me.

[READ: September 16, 2010] Speaking with the Angel

I bought this volume when it came out (and apparently donated $1 to TreeHouse at the same time).  It’s a collection edited by Nick Hornby (and the cover is designed similarly to the way High Fidelity and even About a Boy were at the time (“the Hornby look,” I suppose).

I didn’t buy it for Hornby alone, although he does have a story in it, but because it looked like a really promising collection of stories from authors I liked.  And for some reason I didn’t read it until now.  It includes 12 stories, and as the introduction notes, $1 was donated to TreeHouse.org.uk (in the US $1 goes to TreeHouse and another $1 goes to New York Child Learning Institute).  I don’t know if the money still goes there, but you can donate with a form at the back of the book.  (more…)

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