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Archive for the ‘The Doors’ Category

tokyoSOUNDTRACK: THE MOPS-“Goiken Muyo (Ilja Naika)” (1971)

mopsThe Mops were a Japanese psychedelic band who were inspired by American psychedelia.  They appear in one of the films below (Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo from 1971) in a really weird scene in which the band is playing on the back of a flatbed truck (in the middle of another scene that has nothing to do with them).  They play their song and then drive away.  Weird.

Anyway, the song is pretty great.  There’s all kinds of interesting percussion (the film clip shows them playing stuff which most likely is not what they are playing).  But the studio version (linked to below) has great audio quality and a lot of depth in the bass and cool screaming guitars.

The band released possibly 9 albums (it’s a little hard to tell from their Wikipedia page).  With their first album being pretty psychedelic and this one (I assume their third) being much heavier and fuller sounding.

I had found a clip of the band from the movie.  Then I lost it and cannot find it anywhere.  But here’s the studio version dubbed over the movie clip

But really, check out the whole album, it’s pretty great.

[READ: October 10, 2015] Tokyo Grindhouse

The life cycle of a book at my work is pretty straightforward.  If I see it at all, I usually catalog it or send it on its way to someone else.  But for some reason this book came back to my desk three times.

I didn’t know a thing about Tokyo Grindhouse, I’d never heard of pinky movies, but if something keeps coming back you gotta check it out.  So it turns out that this book has about ten pages of text and the rest is pictures.

And the book is about “classic” exploitation films made in Tokyo from 1960-1970 (or so).  The text by Jack Hunter explains that women and violence have been in Japanese exploitation films since the 1950s.  Evidently there were some landmark films in the mid-fifties about topless pearl divers that set off a craze for topless women in films.  This morphed into movies where women were the victims of violence with translated titles such as Nude Actress Murder Case: Five Criminals. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: COLONEL LES CLAYPOOL’S FEARLESS FLYING FROG BRIGADE-Live Frogs Set 1 (2001).

220px-Live_Frogs_Set_1With Primus on hiatus, Les Claypool set out to do some solo work with a band that was quite different from Primus’ three man set up.  But staying ever true to his roots, he included former Primus guys Todd Huth (guitar) and Jay Lane (drums) in addition to guitarist Eenor, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Skerik on saxophone.

The band in this incarnation released two live albums that were recorded in 2000.

This first one is the first set which is a couple of covers and some Les solo work all extended into lengthy jams.

The opening track is a cover of King Crimson’s-“Thela Hin Ginjeet.”  Musically they are great–the get all the complicated sounds perfectly.  Les can’t quite hit all the vocal notes that Belew does, but that’s okay.  There are a few lengthy jamming solos, which are quite different from the original.

Next comes the Sausage song “Riddles Are Abound Tonight.”  It’s the shortest song on the disc even with the sax solo.  Then come’s Les’ solo song “Hendershot.”  I like the album version better because of the dynamic way it is sung, but it’s cool live too.  “Shattering Song” has more energy live than on record.  I enjoyed the segue into “Riders on the Storm.”

“Running the Gauntlet” has a weird opening with that crazy watery bass and a song about a chicken laying a hard-boiled egg.  Then it gets into the song proper. After each section, a musician gets to take a solo.  Skerit goes over his allotted time  and Les gives him a hard time about it.  “Girls for Single Men” sounds much more sinister here and Les sings it very quickly–it’s a weird version.

The set ends with a really good version of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  They really nail the music of it and Les sings it quite well, too.  This is a really solid collection of songs, especially if you like prog rock.

[READ: January 20, 2014] “Medical Meals”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker was its semi-annual food issue.  As such there were four food-related essays by writers who I’ve written about before.  The section was called “Rations.”

The first was by Rivka Galchen.  I’ve enjoyed Galchen’s writing quite a bit in the past.  And while I may have known she was a nurse, I never thought about her going to residency school or anything like that.

So this essay is about the kinds of crappy food that medical school students would eat during their rotations.  This is of course kind of funny to think that they are eating badly while they are supposedly taking care of other people.  It seemed especially obnoxious that they were eating this badly while working at a bariatric surgery center. (more…)

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june2SOUNDTRACK: THE BLACK ANGELS-Indigo Meadow (2013).

indigoThere’s another round of bands with Black in their name.  I had heard good things about this particular “black” band so I decided to get Indigo Meadow, their 4th album.  And while the album cover hints at the type of music (retro psychedelia), I was unprepared for the insane retro feel of this album.

The guitars are fuzzy, the keyboards are straight out of the 70s, there’s a middle eastern vibe and the vocals even sound of that era (a little tinny, a little fuzzy).  The music is a little heavier perhaps than the music of the era (well, except for Black Sabbath, of course)–louder, faster drums, newer guitar noises, things that make it sound new, not just like a lost relic

There’s something minor key and ecstatic about the way the title track builds and builds.  It’s an auspicious opening to the album.  It’s slightly off kilter but ever so catchy.

“Evil Things” has a big old heavy metal riff, but it throws in some different items–a slow soaring chorus and a big old Doors’ keyboard solo (over the top of that heavy metal riff) which creates an interesting mix of sounds.  “Don’t Play with Guns” has a slightly different sound, with a sixties pop chorus (under that psychedelic fuzz of their guitars).  The delicate keyboard opening of “Holland” quickly morphs in to a more retro keyboard sound with more echoed vocals.  It is one of the longer songs on the album at 4 minutes (So despite this album being psychedelic, the songs are all pretty short, emphasizing their pop roots).

Like “The Day” which is only 2 and a half minutes.  “Love Me Forever” has a very Byrds-ian feel, but with a far heavier chorus.  “Always Maybe” has an exotic sounding guitar riff and “Broken Soldier” has a really chorus (for a pretty dark song).

“Twisted Light” alternates between that retro keyboard and a buzzy guitar riff.  And the harmonies reinforce that era’s feel.  “You’re Mine” even sounds like it might be a cover (that chorus is a perfect example of psychedelic pop).  The final song plays with the set up somewhat by having the first two minutes build quietly before the big fuzzy guitars propel the song to the end.

So yes, the album is not original (although it is, since they take a style and aren’t afraid to tweak it) and it does not deviate from the style very much.  But it’s done so well.  And f you enjoy psychedelic pop (with a bit of heavy metal sprinkled on top), this i s an album that you will enjoy.  It’s 45 minutes of fuzzy pop fun.

[READ: August 17, 2014] “Ba Ba Baboon”

This is a story of deception, dishonesty and dogs.  It is told in third person and as we begin, we see that there are two people hiding in a pantry.  It turns out that the protagonist, Brooks, and his sister, Mary, are the ones hiding.  And they are hiding in someone else’s home.  We learn that whoever they are hiding from may have left.  But before we learn why they are in the closet, we learn a bit about Brooks.

He had an “accident” some time ago which did damage to his brain.  Someone smashed the left side of his head with a brick and took his car and wallet.  His memory isn’t what it used to be, but his “old self” likes to make jokes at his own expense (like singing “If I Only Had a Brain”).  And he is also rather different–he can’t tolerate smoke anymore even though he used to be a smoker, he can’t wear any dark clothes and he is intolerant of creases in his pants.  And, worst of all for Mary is that Brooks used to be the one who looked out for her–her big strong older brother, and now it is her turn to look after him.

So why has she gotten him trapped in a closet?  Mary says “we’ve been in here for an hour.  I don’t see the dogs.”  It turns out that on the other side of the flimsy door are two of the biggest dogs they have ever seen.  These are vicious guard dogs who can be turned of with a safe word, which Mary thinks is “Baba Beluga” or something like that. But that clearly isn’t it. The dogs and the house belong to Wynn, a “friend” of Mary’s.  (more…)

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booger1SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC in 3-D (1984).

in3dAfter Al’s debut he came roaring back the next year with In 3-D a disc which opens with his first Michael Jackson parody “Eat It.”  The song was leaps and bounds above anything on the debut (even if there are still hand farts in it).  The song actually sounds like the original (if a little less “full” and a little goofier and on the whoo hoos).  But the solo by Rick Derringer rocks and the whole song works very well.  The rest of the album is a solid mix of originals and parodies

I didn’t really understand that “Midnight Star” was meant to parody the Weekly World News and such (I didn’t really know those papers at the time) but I thought the headlines were funny.  And yes its a lot of fun to sing a long to.  It’s always funny when Al parodies a song that is already rather stupid (My Sharona, or in this case Safety Dance), and “The Brady Bunch” opens with a general overview of stupid TV shows and then morphs into the The Bunch’s theme song to the music of “Safety Dance.”  “Gonna Buy Me  A Condo” is a reggae song which I never really got the joke of as a kid.  I mean, I knew it was reggae but I didn’t know enough about reggae to know that this song is kinda funny, about selling out for the mainstream life.  It’s not genius or anything but it’s kinda funny–in fact I think it’s funnier now than I ever did as a kid.

“Jeopardy” works perfectly as a parody.  It retains all of the weird sounds and “drama” of the original and yet it works entirely unto itself.  It’s definitely an early highlight.  This disc also introduces what would be come a staple on all his later albums:  “Polkas on 45” where he mashes together a string of songs into a polka beat.  They are always fun and clever.  This one is a mix of new wave and classic rock bands Devo, Deep Purple,  Berlin, The Beatles,  The Doors,  Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads, Foreigner, The Police,  The Clash,  The Rolling Stones,  and The Who.

“Mr Popeil” is another one that I didn’t full get until later (why did i like Al if I didn’t get any of the jokes?).  Ron Popeil is the king of the As Seen on TV  product (as listed in the song).  The thing that I really didn’t get was that this is was a parody of the B-52s–one of the first parodies he’d done that’s a parody of band but not really a song.  This is not a parody of Rock Lobster exactly, but it sounds quite a lot like it–and that’s a neat trick.

“King of Suede” is a parody of The Police–I never really liked it even though it does work as a parody–perhaps the original isn’t a very string song.    “That Boy Could Dance” is instantly forgettable, so much so that I had forgotten all about it.  “Theme from Rocky XIII” is a pretty funny parody of “The Eye of the Tiger.”  But it doesn’t prepare you for the genius that is “Nature Trail to Hell.”  An epic song about horror movies with the great line “if you lie the 6 o clock news you’ll love Nature Trail to Hell (in 3D).”  It’s over the top and very silly–the music escalates  with screams and strings and several different sections (although the solo section is a little anemic).  I can’t imagine what he would do with it today if he rerecorded it.

So In 3-D was a big jump in quality for “Weird Al” and was actually a pretty big hit (charting at #17).

[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2

Since it is 2013 and not 2003, I don’t have to wait several months for Part 2.  Huzzah!

The opening comic in this book not only gives all of the Captain Underpants background that it usually does, it also includes what happened in Part 1.  At the end of the book, the robotic booger monsters (Carl, Trixie and Frankenbooger) were on the attack.  They destroyed the Combine-O-Tron 2000 so it would not reverse the effects of the machine on Captain and Melvin.  But Sulu the hamster rescued them by hurling the boogers into space (with his mouth, ew).

The boys want to get things back to normal.  But Professor Krupp (who is in Melvin’s body) is going about his business getting everyone in trouble.  Except that since he looks like Melvin people are getting angry at him rather than listening to him.  This book features a wonderful letter swap from “Check out our school’s big internet website at http://www.jhes.com” to “We shake our big butts when we swim in the toilet.”

The boys give up on trying to fix the Combine-O-Tron and decide to use the Purple Potty Time Machine that is in the library and go back in time.  There’s a great sequence in which the librarian has banned every book but one and I love the posters that are up encouraging the banning of books–it’s another awesome dig at those who censor.  And the librarian is named Miss Singerbrains. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JIMMY FALLON (as THE DOORS)-“Reading Rainbow” (June 2011).

I heard this song on WXPN and it cracked me up–I believe they played it because the Reading Rainbow iPad app just launched.  But I had no idea who was doing it.  It was a spectacular Jim Morrison impression.  The Doors are iconic enough that it’s pretty easy to do Jim Morrison, but Fallon is so right on–phrasing and movements–that it’s really amazing.  And they went all out for the video (if I thought the song was good, the video is amazing): the band, the sound, the clothes, the filming–it’s all perfect.  And the craziest thing is that the nonsense in the middle–when Jimmy is reciting kids books (the Goodnight Moon section is especially cool) sounds just like some poetry that Morrison would have said.

It’s outstanding.

http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1368107

Makes me smile every time.  I’m only bummed I can’t embed it.

[READ: February-March, 2012] The Secrets of Droon: Books 22-25 & SE#3

I’ve really enjoyed Droon so far.  The stories have been interesting and fun, and they have allowed the three kids to meet interesting characters and to face some dangers.  But it is with this group of books that the series gets really intense and I’m looking forward to reading them as much as Clark is to hearing them!

It’s also growing harder and harder to avoid spoilers because the spoilers are what are so exciting about the books.  Indeed, the backs of the books even give stuff away about the previous book.  So, yes, there may be a spoiler or two in here, but it’s hard not to talk about the cool things that happen. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SLOAN-The Double Cross (2011).

Sloan never fail to make enjoyable punky pop songs.  Surely it has something to do with having four songwriters in the band (which must minimize clunkers).  I can never decide who my favorite songwriter of the group is as they all do fairly varied work.

“Follow the Leader” is a fast rocker (with a very cool guitar solo bit and a nice acoustic break in the middle).  While “The Answer Was You” is a bouncy piano-based song that starts out fast and then settles into one of the more recognizable Sloan voices (I wish I knew who was who–even after twenty years I have never quite determined who was singing what).  This song also has a great third part, minor keys and very dramatic structure.  It’s the first of several songs that hover around the 2 minute mark, as well.

“Unkind” is a simple guitar based song and man is it catchy, with a chorus that sticks with you.  “Shadow of Love” is a great fast rocker and even at only 2 minutes long it has several great parts.  “She’s Slowing Down Again” has some great bah bahs and a strong chorus.  “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” actually slows things down, with a gentle acoustic ballad.  But it’s followed by one of their screaming punk tracks, “It’s Plain to See,” simply put, it’s two minutes of adrenaline.

The album changes somewhat with “Your Daddy Will Do,” a catchy disco song.  Yes, disco.  How else do you explain those keyboards riffs?  And man is it catchy.  “I Gotta Know” may be the stupidest song they’ve recorded yet.  How many times is the phrase “I gotta know” repeated in 82 seconds?  Still, you can’t deny how catchy it is.  “Beverly Terrace” returns to that cool pizzicato piano that they do so well.

“Traces” is the longest song (almost 5 minutes) and is one of the longer Sloan songs in general.  It feels like  an old classic rock song for many reasons (including Doors-y keyboards), and yet it doesn’t feel retro at all.  Neat trick, that.  The disc ends with “Laying So Low,” a piano ballad with a great catchy melody.  It slows the album to a nice ending.

12 songs in 33 minutes.  Multiple genres, multiple styles, multiple singers.  All of it wonderful.  Just an other typical Sloan album. Great jobs guys, here’s to twenty more years.

One word to yeprock records, though.  If you offer “free bonus” songs for purchasing their album, I would suggest in the strongest possible terms that the four bonus songs should not be one song each from their previous records.

[READ: December 29, 2011] Chew: Volume Three

We were quite excited to get this book–we were on the Hold list forever at the library.  So I’m surprised to see it came out back in 2010!  I assumed it was much newer than that.  I guess there’s a Volume Four out already (yes it came out, and they have just published issue 22 in single issues).  Volume three covers issues 10-15.

This mini-arc, as they call it, isn’t so much of an arc as a continuation of the awesome story line.

For those in the dark, read the first two posts.  But in a nutshell, Tony Chu is a Cibopath, which means that anything he tastes he knows the entire history of, be it vegetable, meat (ew) or, since he is a cop, human (bleagh, but hey it’s a comic book, right?).  His partner, John, is part machine now, having been practically blown up and then put back together.  And, as we start Chapter One (Issue #11), Tony is out on his first date with Amelia Mintz (alright, they got together!).  Amelia Mintz is a Saboscrivner which means she can write about food so wonderfully that you can literally taste it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ULVER-Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998).

Suffice it to say, if it were not for this album I wouldn’t have read this piece by Blake.  I have been aware of it through the “doors of perception” quote that created the band name The Doors, but I never had any compelling reason to read it before.

Of course when I first listened to this, I had no idea that it was literally the entire work of Blake’s piece set to music.  And I had no idea that there would be so many diverse styles of music on the album.  I’m going to focus more on the music, as I’ll address the “lyrics” later. 

The first song starts out in a kind of synthy way–maybe early Depeche Mode.  But it quickly become more sinister, with a heavy guitar section and then a spoken word over industrial keyboards like early Nine Inch Nails.   Track two, simply called “Plate 3” is a mournful guitar solo which plays behind a woman reciting plate three.  Strangely enough, this plate is split in two parts where Blake references the bible and so Ulver end the spoken part in the middle but keep the ominous music going for the final two minutes of the track.  The next track picks up with “Plate 3, Following,” a slower piece with creepy echoey male vocals that echo the female lead.

“The Voice of the Devil, Plate Four” is a very delicate guitar part.  The female voice introduces the piece and the male voice recites the statements .  It;s the most easily understood of all the tracks (the vocals are crystal clear).  When the parts are done, the song turns in to a heavy metal guitar solo over some heavy chords. It’s a really great mix.  “Plates 5-6” is also a very clearly spoken/sung track.  Over a classical guitar with occasional heavy beats, the voice narrates (with amusing mispronunciations (there are many thoroughout the piece, but hey English isn’t their first language)).

“A Memorable Fancy (Plates 6-7)” is the first of five fancies.  This one has a very electronic feel (later period Nine Inch Nails).  This one even creates its own chorus by repeating “fires of hell” where the words do not belong.  “The Proverbs of Hell” is probably the most complex and multifarious musically.  It goes through many different musical and vocals styles.  The opening is barely audible while later parts are spoken clearly.  Other lines are hidden under a fog of noise.  Musically it’s very engaging, but it’s a shame to miss out on the poetry without a lyric sheet.

“Plate 11” also opens virtually inaudibly, with a crazy echo placed on the female vocals.  Half way through the voice become clearer and the music, which was quiet and mellow, picks up, but retains the simple melody it had.  “Intro” is an instrumental, an odd thing to include if they are following the book so specifically, as there is no intro.  It is simple, repeated waves of chords which grow louder for 3:30.   It ends with some maniacal drumming .  However, it is a nice breather as we head into “A Memorable Fancy Plates 12-13,” which opens with a very slow piano.  It turns into a largely drum-based song with a clear spoken word.  Until about half way through when the voice is heavily distorted until the end.

“Plate 14” is a percussion heavy electronic track with heavily distorted vocals (this is where “the doors of perception” bit comes from).  It leads to “A Memorable Fancy (Plate 15)” which opens with more low rumblings (like “Intro” above).  When the vocals come in, after 3 minutes, they are distant and tinny, but very clear.

Disc 1 (did I mention there were two discs) ends with “Plates 16-17.”   It opens with quiet music that slowly grows louder and more electronic.  The vocals are echoed and distorted and hard to understand.  The end of the track picks up the electronic beat for about a minute.

Disc two opens with the eleven minute “A Memorable Fancy (Plates 17-20)”.  It opens with a cool beat and a dark tone with vocals that are mostly understandable.   After a couple of minutes, the song settles into a late period Depeche Mode style–distorted guitars and vocals that sounds not unlike Dave Gahan’s.  By the end, it’s a pretty standard heavy metal chugging guitar (with a simple but interesting solo).

This is followed by another “Intro,” this time a rather pleasant guitar solo over picked guitars.   “Plates 21-22” is quite enjoyable as the vocals are clear and emphatic over a standard heavy metal song.  It feels like comfort food after all of the different styles of the disc.

“A Memorable Fancy Plates 22-24” has a great weird keyboard style (kind of Marilyn Manson).  The penultimate track is another “Intro.”  This one has some swirly minor-key guitars that sound  a bit like the guitar outro to Rush’s “Cygnus X-1.”   It goes through several iterations before ending in distorted waves that lead to “A Song of Liberty Plates 25-27”.   There are three guest vocalists on this track: Ihsahn and Samoth from Emperor and Fenriz from Darkthrone.  The interesting thing about this is that Garm (the male vocalist on all the tracks) has so many different styles of singing/speaking throughout the album that it’s hard to even notice that there are guests.

It start as mainly electronic piece with heavily distorted vocals (Ihsahn sounds like he is being strangled).  In the second part, the vocals are clearer.  The drums gets louder (sounding like the Revolting Cocks, maybe).  By the third part (Fenriz) the song turns into a guitar solo and the style of recitation reminds me of Allen Ginsbregr’s Howl.  His section ends with a distorted voice chanting the final lines and then twenty minutes of silence (the track is listed as 25 minutes, but there’s only 5 minutes of song and then 30 seconds at the end).  The final “Chorus” of the book is pretty well inaudible.

Despite the complexity of the album and the hard to follow lyrics and all of that, the entre work is really something. It is powerful and complex and runs through so many wonderful pieces and movements.  I have no idea how to classify it as it has pieces of metal and electronica as well as classical.  Perhaps it’s safe to just call it a soundtrack.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this CD, but I barely scratch the surface of what could be said about it.  Check out this amazing review from Encyclopaedia Metallum who go into wonderful depth and a thorough comparison of the music to the text.

[READ: November 27, 2011] The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 

The Blake piece is available online in several places, although I got my copy from the library.  Mine contained several critical essays which I looked at briefly but decides they simply weren’t all that compelling, especially since Blake’s work (aside from details that simple footnotes might hep to clear up) is pretty understandable. 

In total, Blake’s work is 27 plates long. Each plate is hand written (in a fancy script) and many have illustrations (also hand drawn and colored).  There are allusions to many different things and it helps to be familiar with the Bible and with Emanuel Swedenborg’s theological work Heaven and Hell which is directly referenced several times.  Indeed, this work is clearly a response to that one; the opening states “and it is now thirty-three years since its advent” when Swedenborg’s book was published 33 years before Blake’s.

The gist of Blake’s piece is that God did not intend for man to separate the sensual and physical from the spiritual and mental.  It is basically a plea to hedonism, although not even seemingly to excess.  More like an “if it feels good, do it” attitude.  And he lays out these ideals pretty clearly in many of the passages.  True, there are many passages that are inscrutable (like the crazy opening–don’t be put off bu Rintrah), but when he gets to his main points, he is quite clear.  Blake attacks established religion but does not condemn God or endorse atheism.  So we get quotes like this:

“Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.
Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.”  And shortly after: “Energy is Eternal Delight.”  Blake cites Paradise Lost as a history of the separation of these two ideas and concludes “that the Messiah [Reason] fell, & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss.” (more…)

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