Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pallet Cleanser: Marvin Gaye

I don't need to say much about this album. What I will say is that it's one of the most beautiful listening experiences that you could have, unless you absolutely hate urban soul (go listen to your Johnny Rebel records, Grand Wizard). Why post about Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" on a blog about loud music? Well, in order for loud music to retain its impact you need to cleanse your pallet once in a while. I have a more balanced and sophisticated taste in music than what is presented in this blog. It's just that loud music is what I (mis)spent my youth listening to, and it has a special place in my heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dr. Feelgood: Malpractice

I came across this album in a dusty vinyl shop that I like. The proprietor about had a baby when he saw what I had brought up to purchase. He gushed on about Dr. Feelgood for about twenty minutes before I could get away. I appreciated the story, though. I knew this much about the band before I bought this record: The group Dr. Feelgood were an influential pub rock band which had their heyday in the early-through mid-'70s. They were an influence on many British punk bands, especially The Clash. Joe Strummer belonged to a pub rock group before The Clash called the 101'ers. This is where the two groups rubbed shoulders and the straight-forward essence of The Clash came from this pub rock scene. I didn't know, however, what Dr. Feelgood brought to the table. This is the line-up from that era: Lee Brilleaux (vocals) - Wilko Johnson (guitar) - John 'Big Figure' Martin (percussion) - John B. 'Sparko' Sparks (bass).

I don't know enough about the background of the tracks, yet, to give an informed opinion on each one. There are originals mixed with covers on this album. I wish I could tell you off the bat which ones are which, but I figure if you're interested enough, you'll find out yourself. I will say that their style is straight-up, pure rock'n'roll. This is served with plenty of grit, much like the Stones. This is also a band that would be best experienced live. That's not to say that they couldn't get their sound down on record, though.

The guitarist, Wilko Johnson (second from the right), is especially good. I play guitar and can appreciate his scrappy rhythm and sparse leads--that's my style--it's more his right hand (percussive attack) than his left (fingering technique). His guitar/amp combo gives off a midrange bark that is never clean, is not heavily distorted, but hangs out where overdriven crunch likes to play.

Lee Brilleaux (second from left in the white suit) has the gruff to front the band with authority. This is a full, angry man's voice: imagine Bon Scott's vocals, but lower range. There is never a moment on this album where he doesn't shine. The rhythm section does an excellent job of moving along and providing the foundation for the other two.

The standouts on this album, for me at least, are as follows:
  • I Can Tell: this is a good example of the strong vocals of Lee and the choppy guitar work of Wilko.
  • Back In The Night: Wilko nails it with his stuttering slide.
  • Rolling and Tumbling: This is the one to blow your speakers on. Insane hard blues rock...this is my fave.
  • Riot in Cell Block #9: An awesome version of producers/writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's tune. The Coasters and Wanda Jackson did the most notable versions. Dr. Feelgood does this one good.
There will be many who might not get this music and pass it off as old, unhip, and obslolete. Bullshit! If you are consumed with finding something new just to keep up with or impress the hipster crowd, then you are about the scene and not the music--better pass this one up. I don't care if it's caveman farts blowing pixie whistles, Gustav Mahler, or the future reincarnation of Brian Eno (look forward to whoever he becomes), if it's good music, listen to it. Dr. Feelgood is raw, simple, and loud music. I think it qualifies as good music. Listen to it now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Dictators: Go Girl Crazy!

Has anybody ever heard this record before? Will anybody take my recommendation to listen to this immediately, seriously? I'm probably talking into a void here, but for those fortunate few who want to listen, here we go: Before the Beastie Boys, Spinal Tap, and The Darkness there was The Dictators. I realize that judging from my picks so far, you all probably think that I'm fifty years old. Nope, I'm still but a sprout, relatively speaking. I just have this kind of haphazard way of finding obscure stuff in record stores.

"Go Girl Crazy" was released in 1975 abouts and was the Dictators first LP. They were part of the original CBGB's scene. While they are true punks in behavior and heart, they took a more stoopid "RAWK" approach to their music. The best part of this album is how funny the whole thing is. How can you take yourself too seriously as a band when your leader goes by the rasslin' moniker of "Handsome Dick Manitoba"?
The opener is a little ditty about fame, called "The Next Big Thing", but it's also their wake up call to the state of the pop music world. A fun song and it has some great dumb guitar riffs: easy to learn too, kiddies. The next tune is a royally obnoxious cover of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe." It works my funny bone pretty good. These next two tunes are great. "Back to Africa" and "Master Race Rock" are entirely politically incorrect, but it's all farcical. Master Race Rock has a killer chorus to sing along to. I wish I could be playing it here for you now.

My favorites of this album are these two: "Teengenerate" and "Two Tub Man". Teengenerate has this line that just cracks me up, "Who's that boy with the sandwich in his hand?" I don't know why I find it funny, I just do. Two Tub Man is good for cranking loud. Its contents deal with the larger-than-life persona that is Manitoba.
Several peiced together lines say it all, "I can go anywhere. People look and people stare.... (it's feeding time).... Do what ever I want to do...who I want to screw I'll screw!" The remaining stand out track in my opinion is "Cars and Girls", a kind of silly Beach Boys send off, but also a lament of the 70's gas crisis. The best parts of this record are of the man himself, Handsome Dick Manitoba. He has these little intro bits that are pretty hilarious where he does his pro-rasslin' shtick. Buy, beg, borrow, or steal this album. Unless you are a complete wet rag, you will not regret it. Don't take my word for it because, as the man himself exclaimed, "They're all going under the thunder of Manitobaaaaa."

Play it loudest!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chinese Rocks

Johnny Thunders is the guitarist that Slash wants to be. Even though you could argue that Slash is technically more proficient than Johnny, he can't touch his attitude. That's saying a lot. Johnny Thunders started a group called the Heartbreakers after the New York Dolls (his former band) broke up. At one point, former Neon Boys (Pre-Television) alumnus Richard Hell, was a member of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers--before he formed Richard Hell and the Voivods. Richard joined forces with Dee Dee Ramone and wrote this song. Dee Dee couldn't use it for his group because Johnny Ramone was opposed to drugs being a part of the band's image--the song is about the perils of heroine addiction. So, Richard Hell and Dee Dee Ramone let Johnny Thunders use it in his band.

The guitars are so heavy on this song--raunchy is the word I'm looking for here. Don't for a minute expect anything resembling current punk here. This is straight ahead New York 70's vintage punk. The thing that has endeared me towards Johnny's guitar playing is that he has that true rock'n'roll swing when he plays, but he manages to keep it going and not devolve into boogie rock (not that there's anything wrong with that). I can't do this song justice with my words, so here's the lyrics:

Somebody called me on the phone
they said hey, is Dee Dee home
do you wanna take a walk
do ya wanna go and cop
do ya wanna go get some chinese rocks?

I'm living on chinese rocks
all my best things are in hock
I'm living on chinese rocks
everything is in the pawn shop

The plaster's falling off the wall
my girlfriend's crying in the shower stall
It's hot as a bitch
I shoulda been rich
But I'm just diggin this chinese ditch

repeat chorus

repeat verse two

repeat chorus 2x

Monday, November 07, 2005

It's probably cheating recommending a whole album, but this is one of the darkest and heaviest Sabbath albums and my personal favorite. I don't want the newbie to start at "Paranoid". How many times do you already hear "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" on a classic rock station, anyways? The reason to buy that album is for "War Pigs," but that deserves another post of its own.

When listening to "Master of Reality" for the first time, you'll suddenly realize that Soundgarden must've studied this album like the bible. "Sweet Leaf," holy shit! Ozzy is singing a love song about his stash: starts with a bong cough (Tony Iommi couldn't handle a hit and the band secretly taped it), then the coughing echoes till there's nothing but regeneration leading into "Bwah,, na,, na" (use devil horn sign and proceed to bang head to the rhythm). Ozzy first tries to get his pot's attention, "Alright now, won't you listen?" He proceeds to talk about the time that they first met, then sings,"You introduced me to my mind and left me wanting you and your kind....I love you!" I don't smoke pot, but listening to that song, I've got to wonder what it's all about. I mean, Sir Paul McCartney wrote "Got To Get You Into My Life". I hope I don't need to explain that he was not talking about a girl in that song.

There are a few slow numbers on this album, but most are crank worthy. The song that I absolutely love to crank to is "Into the Void." On this one Ozzy kind of takes a back seat and lets Tony Iommi lay down some brutal riffs. This is where one will hear how much Kim Thayl was influenced by Iommi. I really can't explain how much this series of guitar riffs means to me. The riff starts out like one guy slowly walking down the alley. You think that you can take him, but then his friend (Geezer Butler's bass) pops out behind a dumpster. You start to think that there might be a chance to get out alive, then Bill Ward's Drums beat you down to the ground. It's all over, you think, then it cuts to a slightly faster guitar riff--sans the rhythm section. This is where that first guy drags you to the gutter. Then the rhythm section hits you even harder, pummeling your brain 'till the blood drains from your ears into the sewer. You're down for the count, now.

These are my two faves on this album, but all the tracks are good.

Play it loudest!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Damned Trio

"A New Rose"

Rat Scabies' "California Sun" style drum intro pounds alongside a thin, razor sharp, four-chord progression by Brian. This is then interrupted by Dave Vanian's ferocious bark. After all of this, chaos ensues. Gloriously addictive and the first Brit-Punk single committed to wax. "I've got a new rose. I've got it good!"

"Neat, Neat, Neat":
Captain Sensible's rubber-band bass introduces this one at break-neck speed, and yes, we get the Vampire's holler in this one too. The chorus is where you'll feel this one deep in your stem. So far, I can sing along with them on the "Neat, Neat, Neat" part. Don't ask me what the other lyrics are. This isn't what this blog is about.

"Problem Child":
The Holy Grail of two genres blended together--Mod Revival and Punk. Listening to this song, who would ever of thought that these guys would go Goth? There's also a part in the song about playing records loud at 3 A.M. My kind of lads.

Play it loudest!