Archive for the ‘Van Halen’ Category


raidIt should come as no surprise that Cline’s media campaign would include a Spotify “Raid the Arcade” playlist.  A playlist of the mixtape that the protagonist’s father made when he was a teen.

And I can pretty much see how this would have been a very satisfying mixtape for killing aliens and generally rocking out.  Of course, I had to have a listen and add my thoughts.

Side A: Track:

  1. One Vision – Queen (I was never a big Queen fan, particularly their later poppier stuff)
  2. Crazy Train – Ozzy (A classic, of course)
  3. Chase the Ace – AC/DC (I find it odd that the two AC/DC songs are instrumentals from the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack.  It makes sense given the guy who made them, but there’s so many better AC/DC songs)
  4. Hair of the Dog – Nazareth (One of my favorite classic rockers)
  5. Get it On – Power Station (I really hate Power Station a lot, and this version of an already pretty stupid song song is pretty dreadful)
  6. Old Enough to Rock and Roll – Rainey Haynes (I didn’t know this song.  It comes from the Iron Eagle soundtrack.  This song is not on Spotify and I imagine that’s because it’s terrible)
  7. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins (This song is such a punch line that even if I did like it I’m not sure I could take it seriously)
  8. Vital Signs – Rush (I was totally psyched that he chose this Rush song)
  9. Barracuda – Heart (I’ve mixed feelings about Heart, but I do like this song a lot)
  10. T.N.T. – AC/DC (Now this is more like it for AC/DC songs–not an overplayed one either)
  11. You Really Got Me – Van Halen (Not my favorite Van Halen song, but a good rocker)
  12. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen (I loved this song when it came out.  It holds up pretty well (there’s some interesting sound effects in the background, but it’s nowhere near as good as the songs below)
  13. One of These Days – Pink Floyd (I love this song but never would have considered it particularly rocking–in the way these other songs are.  But it does rather work)
  14. Top Gun Anthem – Harold Faltermeyer (seriously?  Well, I guess if you like piloting video games, this makes sense.)

Side B: Track:

  1. I Hate Myself for Loving You – Joan Jett (I don’t care for this song, although the guitars sound good for the mix)
  2. It Takes Two – Rob Base (I’m surprised and pleased that this song made it into what is basically a metal compilation.  I never would have had such diversity at that age.  Although I got really sick of this song in college.)
  3. Hammer to Fall – Queen (I don’t really like this era of Queen)
  4. Twilight Zone – Golden Earring (I don’t love this song, but it is cool to hear once in a while)
  5. We’re Not Going to Take It – Twisted Sister (I loved TS back in the day, although I wince at them now. If this song wasn’t overplayed I could probably really get into it.)
  6. Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions (I loved the Scorpions back in the day too. I certainly tapped my foot along to this one.)
  7. Black Betty – Ram Jam (This song is in a Rayman video game that Clark plays and while I think the song is really dumb, it certainly rocks.)
  8. D.T. – AC/DC (see above for instrumental AC/DC)
  9. Delirious – ZZ Top (I never got into ZZ Top, and while I do like some late 70s ZZ, I really don’t like mid 80s ZZ)
  10. Iron Eagle – King Kobra (Wow, this was obscure even to me–more pop metal from Iron Eagle)
  11. Run’s House – Run-DMC (Whose house?  It’s funny how stripped bare Run-DMC songs sound compared to contemporary rap.)
  12. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions –Queen (overplayed but classic)

Bonus Track: Snoopy versus the Red Baron – The Red Guardsmen (a goof y novelty song that I think overstays its welcome.)

So I guess my verdict is that I really don’t like the Raid the Arcade mix all that much.  That’s kind of a shocker, actually.

[READ: July 31, 2015] Armada

I loved Cline’s first book Ready Player One.  And Sarah and I were understandably excited about his latest book, Armada.  I was surprised about the content of the book which is of similar plot to the new movie Pixels (I say similar based on what little I know of Pixels–that video game characters attack the earth).  This is surprising to me because Cline has already sold the rights of this book to Spielberg–and I have a  hard time believing someone would try to cut Spielberg with an idea.

Of course, Armada is rather different from Pixels in that the characters that attack the earth are not classic 80s video game characters.  Indeed, there is a whole back story that shows how very different these two premises are.

In a recent interview, Cline talked about how you have to include all the pop culture sci-fi and video games in his book because there’s no way you should be able to make a sci-fi book or movie on earth and not reference all of the pop culture that the protagonist grew up with.  So this story is not set in a vacuum.  In fact, it the pop culture establishes the plot.

Zack Lightman is a senior in high school.  He’s had a pretty crappy life.  His father was killed in a sanitation explosion when Zack was just a month old.  The death set him and his mom up for life, but he has spent his whole life immersed in his father’s life (he is close to his father’s age when his father died).  Zack has a lot of his father’s effects.  His dad was a huge gamer, spending a lot of time at the arcade, and loving all things sci-fi and fantasy.  His father would have been born around 1970, making the pop culture references perfect for those of us around the same age.

One day, while looking out the window of school, Zack sees an alien ship.  But not just a generic cigar shaped UFO.  Rather this is a ship directly from his favorite videogame, Armada.  Zack plays this game pretty much every day. In fact, he is ranked sixth in the world as a pilot protecting the earth from alien invaders.  Naturally he assumes he has gone insane–especially since no one else has seen it. (more…)

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greatestSOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-“The Hard Way” and “Wine Glasses” (1974).

glassThis book informed me about these two unreleased Pink Floyd songs (there’s a Wikipedia site that lists some fifty more !).  While the were unreleased in 1974 (from the abandoned Household Objects album), they were eventually released in 2011 on expanded versions of albums.

“The Hard Way” features some “percussion” that sounds like someone taking steps.  There’s a bass riff which I gather is from rubber bands (but very well tuned).  There’s clocks ticking and chiming and tape being unspooled.  It’s a neat idea and while it is absurd to think you could make a whole album with this kind of stuff (in 1974), it’s a surprisingly good sounding track.

“Wine Glasses” was apparently made with wine glasses.  It is all of 2 minutes long.  It was designed to be a full song but was eventually used in the introduction to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  I never really considered that there were wine glasses making the sounds (and clearly there are synths added on top), but yeah, so that ‘s kinda neat.

[READ: November 25, 2014] The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear

I found this book at work and knew I had to read it.  I was actually surprised at how long it took me to read (there’s a lot of entries).

The title and subtitle pretty much say everything you need to know about this book (and if you need to read it or not).  This book collects a series of writers who give a brief history of some of the more famous (and some not so famous) albums that were never released.  It explains (as best they can) why the albums weren’t released and even gives a percentage chance of likelihood of the album ever seeing the light of day (interestingly, most seem to be a 3/10–they may have been able to use a 5 point scale).

I knew some of the records they talked about (The Beach Boys’ Smile, Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams), but was ignorant of quite a lot of them. And while big fans of the artists may know all of the details about their favorite lost album already (these are sketches, not exhaustive research), there will certainly be some new information.  For instance, I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan but had no idea about the two shelved works mentioned here.

I liked the way the book was done chronologically and grouped by decade.  It was also interesting to see how the “reasons” for the non-release morphed over the decades from “the record label didn’t like it” to “it was leaked online.”

The one major gripe I have with the book is that it is chock full of “imagined” album covers.  This in itself is okay, but it is not made explicitly clear that they are all imagined (credits are given at the bottom of each image, but it took me a few entries to realize these were just people’s ideas of what the covers could look like).  And most of them are gawdawful.  Just really lame and dull (as if they had 20 minutes to come up with an idea).  They mar an otherwise cool collection,especially since some of the unreleased records actually do have proposed covers (even if they were never released).  I see that there is in fact a paragraph about the covers in the front pages of the book, but it is almost hidden away.

In addition to the albums I’ve listed below, I learned some fascinating things.  That Bruce Springsteen has hundreds of songs that he wrote but never released for various reasons.  That Pink Floyd did try to make an album out of household objects (with no instruments).  That the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks was almost simultaneously released illicitly as Spunk.  And that Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album was recently remastered.

The end of the book includes two small sections: other favorites that were never released.  Not sure why they earned only a small column instead of a full entry, but that’s okay.  The second was albums that we eventually did see, like My Bloody Valentine’s MBV and Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

So if you ever wondered what happened to that long lost album, this may be the book for you.

A sampling of the unreleased records include:

  • The Beach Boys-Smile
  • Buffalo Springfield-Stampede
  • The Kinks-Four Respected Gentlemen
  • The Beatles-Get Back
  • Jeff Beck-The Motown Album
  • Jimi Hendrix-Black Gold
  • The Who-Lifehouse
  • Wicked Lester
  • Rolling Stones-American Tour ’72
  • CSN&Y-Human Highway
  • Pink Floyd-Household Objects (1974), Spare Brick 1982
  • Dusty Springfield-Longing
  • David Bowie-The Gouster (1975), Toy (2001)
  • Sex Pistols-Spunk
  • Neil Young -Homegrown (1975), Chrome Dreams (1976)
  • Frank Zappa-Läther
  • Beastie Boys-Country Mike’s Greatest Hits
  • Weezer-Songs from the Black Hole
  • Jeff Buckley-My Sweeetheart the Drunk
  • Van Halen-IV
  • Foo Fighters-The Million Dollar Demos
  • Green Day-Cigarettes and Valentines (the author doesn’t believe it was actually stolen)
  • Tapeworm (Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan among others)
  • Deftones-Eros
  • U2-Songs of Ascent
  • Beck-The Song Reader



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sylvanOne of the fun things about doing these summer posts is finding appropriate music to each week’s write up. I like to find something related to what’s down below.  Last week it was an artist named Pale King.  This week it’s a band called Sylvanshine.

Sylvanshine is a cover band from Texas.  According to their web site, they play covers of Collective Soul, Van Halen, The Black Crowes and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I didn’t listen to any of their live tracks, but the excerpt of their version of The Toadies’ “Possum  Kingdom” is pretty spot on.

Learn all about them (or book them) at their website.

[READ: July 21, 2014] Pale Summer Week 2 (§10-§21)

Week two continues some of the characters’ lives and introduces us to them at the Service.  It also has a couple of very lengthy passages in which people spout their opinions about aspects of the country and the Service which are thoughtful and, frankly, very interesting and would work as good meme quotes, if you liked that sort of thing.


This is a two-paragraph chapter about bureaucracy “the only known parasite larger than the organism on which is subsists.”


A list of syndromes/symptoms associated with Examination Postings in excess of 36 months (ending with “unexplained bleeding”).


Leonard Stecyk is back in this short chapter.  He is an adult now. He is walking door to door to introduce himself to his presumably new neighbors, and to offer to the neighbors the Post Office’s 1979 National Zip Code Directory–“his smile so wide it almost looked like it hurt.”


An unnamed character is inflicted with nervous profuse sweating.  (This character will be identified later).  This chapter also has footnotes (as did the Author’s Foreword), although these footnotes are in the third person (as is the chapter).  Does this mean it is written by Dave Wallace too?  It is another thoroughly detailed chapter that I find very enjoyable to read even if it doesn’t advance the “story” much. (more…)

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[WATCHED: October 11, 2013] Pearl Jam interviews

lightning bowlToday is the release date for Pearl jam’s new album, Lightning Bolt. I have heard two songs from it (the fast and furious “Mind Your Manners” and the gorgeous “Sirens”) and I’m quite excited to hear the whole thing.  For the release of the album, Pearl Jam has decided to do some interviews.  But not with the usual suspects.  Rather, they have done four exclusive interviews with surfer Mark Richards, NFL player Steve Gleason, all around awesome lady Carrie Brownstein and director Judd Apatow.

The Mark Richards interview is available in excerpted form here.  I’m not sure how long the whole interview is.  But from the edited down video, we see that he interviewed all five of them for a bit (and then Stone, Jeff and Mike) and then Eddie.  A surfer seems like a reasonable person t ask them about their music and they clearly feel very comfortable with him.  (The video above is about 5 minutes). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GWAR-“Carry on My Wayward Son” (A.V. Undercover, October 8, 2012).

gwarIf I thought Reggie Watt’s cover of Van Halen’s “Panama” was absurd, imagine my surprise when GWAR’s version of “Carry on My Wayward Son” proves to not only be not absurd but actually rather faithful.  Well, I mean Oderus Urungus is certainly not serious, but the band sounds amazingly tight–who knew they could play their instruments so well?

The opening is played very faithfully–solos and all–it’s quite impressive under all that foam.  The verses are played at breakneck speed (with Oderus barely singing and improving at times). The chorus is fascinating though as they slow it down quite a lot–with a different singer this might bring an extra gravitas to it, although this version assuredly does not.

I never knew Oderus’ mask fit so poorly before.  And I don’t believe I’ve ever really noticed the large green item hanging down between his legs.  See for yourself:

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Sleeping Together”

The final article of this forum about sleep is set in Tokyo.  Lewis-Kraus has gone to the first co-sleeping cafe. For about $30 for a membership and $30 for 40 minutes you can sleep with a woman.  Not sex–indeed, nothing sexual is allowed to happen. You just sleep.  Or more specifically, you lie next to a woman (seems unlikely that you could actually sleep).  You can also get options like staring into each other’s eyes, being petted on the head, spooning and resting your head on her lap.

There are, of course sexual cafes, as well. The kayabakura is a bit more explicit than the sleeping cafe–the women are all made up and act servile, but this is different.

The woman who the author sleeps with is Yukiko. Yukiko admits that most men don’t sleep, they talk.  She says that in their culture shame is very big, so men seek comfort and encouragement from women. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: REGGIE WATTS-“Panama” (A.V, Undercover, January 22, 2013).

reggiepanama This is from the A.V. Club’s third series of covers called A.V. Undercover.  In this series, the bands select what they are going to cover from a list (which gets shorter after each go).  I’ve been really enjoying Reggie Watts lately.  And I really enjoy this “cover” of Van Halen’s “Panama.”

In the pre-song interview he explains how he knows the guys in the band and that this version is a cover of an earlier demo version of the song.  Who knew the original content was so different

Check it out (and groove on the sweater).  “Oh woah, shipping canals!”

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Insomnia”

Solnit posits a wonderful idea–if only sleep could be hoarded and then accumulated or traded.  She has suffered from sleep deprivation off and on for decades–her mind just can’t turn off–like hamster on a wheel.  And like a hamster on a wheel, she is annoyed that all of the churning is so unproductive.

She talks about the two kinds of insomniacs–those who can’t fall asleep and those who wake up in the middle of the night (that’s me).  She quotes F Scott Fitzgerald who said “in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.”  Because as anyone who has woken up at that time knows, everything is overwhelming, arduous and against you.  “At that hour you could probably contemplate pancake recipes with terror.” (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: REGGIE WATTS-Tiny Desk Concert #227 (July 12, 2012).

reggieI know Reggie Watts from Comedy Bang Bang, but his name sounds familiar, like he’s been around for a long time.  And he has, although not in ways that I am familiar.  He’s been in a million bands (none of which I’ve heard of) and done a number of short films and concerts (prominently as of 2004).  Interestingly he was born in Germany to French and American parents.  And, yes, he lived his early life in Montana.

In his early bands, Reggie sang (he has a beautiful voice).  In recent years he has become sillier, doing improv and a lot of looped vocals.  he also has a lot of funny comedic lyrics.  But not all of them.  In this Tiny Desk concert, Reggie does three songs (with funny intros).  The first one “Song #4” is a “proper” song.

The other two are improved.  The middle one, about NPR is very funny (if you know your NPR).  In all of the songs he samples his voice creating bass lines and whatnot (he does amazing beat box work).  The set is really impressive that one guy can make so much beautiful music.

Although normally I enjoy just listening to the Tiny Desk shows, this is one that demands watching, just to see how he does it all.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Motherhood”

Manguso writes about being a mother and how sleep deprivation as a new mom is actually somewhat enjoyable (I suppose she means in retrospect).  She doesn’t say anything all that new about being a mom and the experiences of waking up at the slightest sound (or lack of sound) from your children.  Although of course it’s original to everyone when it is their child.

And she does make some interesting observations about how when the baby is first-born you rush to help him or her at the first cry but as they get older you feel even more protective of them.   I also enjoyed the idea that maternal love is in no way a softening or weakening force but is actually a courageous act–sacrificing yourself for someone else. (more…)

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