Saturday, December 16, 2017

Song Of The Week: 12/17/17







Song: "Come And Get It"

Artist: The Beatles

Album: "Anthology 3"

Year: 1996

Place Of Origin: Liverpool, England

Years Active: 1960 - 1970



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

"Come And Get It" appears to be about someone who is foolish with their money. He is almost generous to a fault and seems not to care when his riches will run dry. I guess you can look at it two ways. The guy is either the nicest, most generous person in the world or he is just the dumbest person in the world. Either way, he seems totally content with his actions. "Come And Get It" is a song that was written by Paul McCartney during The Beatles "Abbey Road" sessions. He gave the song to the band Badfinger and produced the track for them. This version I chose for my song of the week featured McCartney recording piano, maracas, drums and bass as well as double tracking the vocals. This unreleased version saw the light of day on The Beatles "Anthology: Vol. 3" in 1996.

THE BEATLES DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1963 - Please Please Me (Parlophone Records)
1963 - With The Beatles (Parlophone Records)
1964 - A Hard Day's Night (United Artists Records)
1964 - Beatles For Sale (Parlophone Records)
1965 - Help! (Capitol Records)
1965 - Rubber Soul (Capitol Records)
1966 - Revolver (Capitol Records)
1967 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol Records)
1967 - Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol Records)
1968 - The White Album (Apple Records)
1969 - Yellow Submarine (Capitol Records)
1969 - Abbey Road (Apple Records)
1970 - Let It Be (Apple Records)
1988 - Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2 (Capitol Records)

*The Beatles also released a slew of compilations, live album and singles as well as different versions of many of their albums. These albums that I listed are basically the core studio albums as well as "Past Masters" being the ultimate Beatles comps.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE BEATLES:

In 1957, a young teenager John Lennon formed a band called The Quarrymen. Soon, a guitarist called Paul McCartney would join the band and in 1958, McCartney convinced Lennon to let his friend George Harrison join the band as lead guitarist. In 1960, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best joined the band and by August of that year, they were called The Beatles. Sutcliffe soon departed the band and while recording their first album, the band as well as producer George Martin felt that Best did not fit in. In 1962, Ringo Starr joined The Beatles and the "Fab Four" was created. Honing their skills by playing live clubs in Germany, The Beatles first album, "Please Please Me" was a mix of covers and originals by Lennon and McCartney. The song "Please Please Me" would be The Beatles first #1 hit. For whatever reason, Capitol Records was dragging their feet when it came to releasing The Beatles albums in the States. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was released in the U.K. in 1963 but Capitol didn't release it as a single in the U.S. till 1964. The single exploded and became the first #1 hit for The Beatles in the United States. Beatlemania had arrived! Beatlemania exploded when the band performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. The show did a whopping 34% Nielsen rating! Riding on this success, the band released "A Hard Day's Night", both as a movie and soundtrack. 1965's "Help!" also had a film attached to it. When the band recorded "Rubber Soul", you could feel a stylistic change in the band. The songs were growing more mature and a little more experimental compared to their first few albums which were basically melodic pop songs. 1966's "Revolver" really stamped Lennon and McCartney as superior songwriters as well as George Harrison who was beginning to shine. 1967.. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".. Perhaps the greatest album of all time! By now, The Beatles were essentially a studio band. Their last concert was performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. The extra time that the band had in the studio led to an abundance of creativity. The band's sound was also becoming much more psychodelic. In 1968, The Beatles created their own record label, Apple Records. The first release on their new label would be "The Beatles", or better known as "The White Album". Tensions were getting high at this point in the band's career, so much so that John Lennon considered "The White Album" to be like a compilation of solo songs. There wasn't much collaboration on this album. The "Let It Be" sessions would be equally painful. Oddly, the band basically had "Let It Be" completed before they did "Abbey Road", but "Abbey Road" was released before "Let It Be". August 20, 1969 would be the last time that the four members of The Beatles were in the studio together as they finished up the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". A month later, John Lennon announced he was leaving the band. On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announced he was departing The Beatles. In the 70's following the break-up, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all began solo careers. Most of the members would collaborate on each other's songs, but never all four on the same song. Lennon and McCartney were basically in a feud which subsided a bit by the mid-70's when they began speaking on friendly terms again and even meeting with each other, one famous instance when they were together at John's apartment in New York when Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live offer $3000 to reunite The Beatles on his show. John and Paul actually thought about going down to SNL but decided against it. In 1980, John Lennon was tragically shot to death by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman. This tragic event basically shut the door on The Beatles. In 1988, Capitol Records released "Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2", which essentially compiled the singles that were not released on full length albums. In 1995, Harrison, McCartney and Starr got together for the "Anthology" project. The band was given some unfinished demos of John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono. Of these demos, "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" were re-worked with the other Beatles adding instrumentation and vocals making those two songs essentially the last two Beatles songs ever recorded. In 2001, George Harrison died of lung cancer leaving Paul and Ringo as the last two remaining Beatles. To this day, McCartney and Starr still tour pretty relentlessly and still come out with new music. A few occasions, they have performed together as well. The Beatles are basically considered the best band of all time. I wouldn't even put a genre on that because their influence spans all of music. They played pop, they played blues. They mixed in some rock and roll and soul. They ventured into Indian music and owned psychodelic rock. When it comes to songwriters, Lennon and McCartney sit at the top of that hill. The band has sold over 800 million physical and digital albums worldwide! That's just astonishing! A half a century later, The Beatles music still holds up and is still superior.

TEN BEATLES SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Come Together
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
3. Two Of Us
4. Here Comes The Sun
5. Revolution
6. Don't Let Me Down
7. A Day In The Life
8. Rain
9. Strawberry Fields Forever
10. Paperback Writer

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Song Of The Week: 12/10/17







Song: "Down On The World Again"

Artist: Social Distortion

Album: "White Light, White Heat, White Trash"

Year: 1996

Place Of Origin: Fullerton, California

Years Active: 1978 - present



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

To use some key words the vocalist Mike Ness uses in "Down On The World Again", I can let you know just what he feels about the world and his place in it. He's "disillusioned". He's "relentless". He's been "forsaken". He's "disrespected". He's "resentful". He's "unforgiven" and he's "distorted". He just goes through life with a dark cloud over his head and through the rage and intensity of the song, you almost feel as if he's gonna snap!!

SOCIAL DISTORTION DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1983 - Mommy's Little Monster (13th Floor Records)
1988 - Prison Bound (Restless Records)
1990 - Social Distortion (Epic Records)
1992 - Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell (Epic Records)
1995 - Mainliner: Wreckage From The Past (Time Bomb Records)
1996 - White Light, White Heat, White Trash (Epic Records)
1998 - Live At The Roxy (Time Bomb Records)
2004 - Sex, Love And Rock 'n' Roll (Time Bomb Records)
2011 - Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes (Epitaph Records)

CURRENT STATUS OF SOCIAL DISTORTION:

Social Distortion is an Orange County, California punk band that got it's start back in 1978. The constant in the band is chief songwriter and guitarist Mike Ness. The original incarnation of the band featured Rick Agnew, Frank Agnew and Casey Royer who would leave Social D. to help form the Adolescents. Around this time, Ness also met Dennis Danell. Danell was originally the bass player but very soon switched to guitar. Ness and Danell were the two constants in the band right up to Danell's death in 2000. Besides those two, the band has been basically a revolving door of members. Social Distortion's first release would be the single "Mainliner/Playpen" in 1981. The first full length album would be 1983's "Mommy's Little Monster". Following this album, Mike Ness began to develop a pretty serious drug habit. Finding himself in several rehabs and at times in jail, by 1985, he became serious to kick his habit and gain some control of his life and his musical career. 1988's "Prison Bound" began to show the influences Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones had on Ness. The mixture of punk, country and blues began to be termed "cowpunk". Signed by major label Epic Records in 1989, Social D.'s self-titled aboum in 1990 really put the band on the map. The singles "Story Of My Life", "Ball And Chain" and the Johnny Cash cover "Ring Of Fire" became instant classics and really caught buzz on the college radio scene. 1992's "Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell" continued with that punk/rock-a-billy style but 1996's "White Light, White Heat, White Trash" would be Social Distortion's heaviest effort. This album brought the hammer and featured one of the band's biggest singles, "I Was Wrong". In what would be a recurring theme, the time between Social Distortion albums would start getting longer and longer. In the 8 years from the release of "White Light..." and 2004's "Sex, Love And Rock'n'Roll", Ness would release two solo, country/folk albums, a live Social D. record would be released and tragedy would strike the band when long time member Dennis Danell passed away on February 29, 2000. Many of the songs on "Sex, Love And Rock'n'Roll" were written about Danell including "Don't Take Me For Granted" which is just a total kick ass song. Again, it would take 7 years until their next record, 2011's "Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes". For this album, Social D. hooked up with long time, iconic punk rock label Epitaph Records. Though the band has long layoffs between albums lately, that doesn't mean that they are not putting themselves out there. Social Distortion is constantly touring and unlike most bands, they do not shy away from playing new material live, well before the songs see an official release. Ness has said that the band is very comfortable doing this as it let's him know what songs cause the best reactions from fans. The most recent news is that the band is in pre-production for a new album but a lot of the material is in it's infancy stage, so perhaps a new Social Distortion album in summer/fall of 2018? Social Distortion is really the innovators of the punk rock/punk-a-billy/cowpunk style. Their sound kind of covers many generations of music. Their base sound is punk rock, but you can hear elements of 50's rock and roll and country, 60's blues inspired rock, 70's glam rock, 80's hardcore punk and 90's more melodic punk. They mesh these styles so effortlessly in their sound. Social D. has become one of the better selling punk bands out there. They are accepted and respected by other musicians I believe because of their originality. They really don't sound like anyone else. Their sound is their own and that's pretty impressive in and of itself. Social D. makes great songs, great albums and are incredible when they perform live. In my mind, one of the best bands around, and not just punk bands, all genres. One of the best.

TEN SOCIAL DISTORTION SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Story Of My Life
2. Machine Gun Blues
3. Prison Bound
4. I Was Wrong
5. Don't Take Me For Granted
6. California (Hustle and Flow)
7. Far Behind
8. Under My Thumb (Rolling Stones cover)
9. Ring Of Fire (Johnny Cash cover)
10. When She Begins

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Song Of The Week: 12/3/17







Song: "I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are"

Artist: Local H

Album: "As Good As Dead"

Year: 1996

Place Of Origin: Zion, Illinois

Years Active: 1987 - present



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

"I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are" is a song that appears to be about old wounds returning to the surface. Perhaps the life that the vocalist was trying to leave behind him is coming back into his present world and now he has to deal with situations that he thought he was done with and people he no longer wants to associate with. I think it's related to abuse, physical and mental.

LOCAL H DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1995 - Ham Fisted (Island Records)
1996 - As Good As Dead (Island Records)
1998 - Pack Up The Cats (Island Records)
2002 - Here Comes The Zoo (Palm Pictures Records)
2004 - Whatever Happened To P.J. Soles (Studio E Records)
2004 - Alive '05 (Cleopatra Records)
2008 - Twelve Angry Months (Shout! Factory Records)
2012 - Hallelujah! I'm A Bum (Slimstyle Records)
2015 - Hey, Killer (G & P Records)

CURRENT STATUS OF LOCAL H:

Local H got its start back in 1987 when all the members were in high school. Early on, this was a full 4 piece band. In 1991, the band released their first EP, "Drum". By the time 1994 rolled around, Local H featured just Scott Lucas on guitar and Joe Daniels on drums. This did not stop major label Island Records from signing the duo to a record contract. In 1995, the band released their debut full length album "Ham Fisted". It was the band's second release however that would earn Local H some success. "As Good As Dead" would feature three Top 40 singles, "Eddie Vedder", "Fritz's Corner" and perhaps the band's biggest single, "Bound For The Floor". Local H was officially on board the alternative music train of the mid-90's. 1998's "Pack Up The Cats" fulfilled the band's contract with Island and the band would never see a major label again in their career. Despite not sticking with a label, Local H managed to continue to drop albums every couple of years. In 2004, the band released it's very first live album, "Alive '05". The album included one studio track, a cover of the Brittany Spears song "Toxic". This was surprisingly a successful single for the band. Along with the band's 8 studio albums and 1 live album, Local H has also released 7 EP's and 4 demo compilations. Some standouts are the 2003 "No Fun" EP, "Local H's Awesome Mix Tape 1" and "Local H's Awesome Mix Tape 2". The band's most recent release was 2015's "Hey, Killer". Local H was the duo rock band that was popular before The White Stripes became popular. They were part of that second wave of alternative rock/post grunge era bands that flooded the market after the Seattle bands exploded. Scott Lucas is basically the brain of the Local H machine. The band has featured three drummers, Joe Daniels (1987-1999), Brian St. Clair (1999-2013) and Ryan Harding (2013-present). As for sound, I'd say Local H has similarities to bands like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Everclear, Silverchair and Smile Empty Soul. Though Local H's popularity has steadily waned since the year 2000, they have a pretty die hard fan base, especially in Chicago, which is basically thier hometown. They almost always play special shows in the Chicago area on Halloween and New Year's Eve. The Halloween shows usually involve the band playing an entire set of cover songs by a band of their choice. They've done a show as such bands as Kiss, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin to name a few. The New Year's Eve shows are mostly put together by the fans. They often vote for the setlist or vote for the band to play an album in it's entirety. Local H doesn't really blow you away but they are a pretty damn good band. They are also a very active band.

TEN LOCAL H SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Fritz's Corner
2. California Songs
3. All The Kids Are Right
4. Bound For The Floor
5. Hands On The Bible
6. Toxic (Brittany Spears cover)
7. Team (Lorde cover)
8. Everyone Alive
9. All Right (Oh Yeah)
10. 24 Hour Break-up Session

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Song Of The Week: 11/26/17







Song: "Red House"

Artist: Jimi Hendrix

Album: "Are You Experienced"

Year: 1967

Place Of Origin: Seattle, Washington

Years Active: 1963 - 1970



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

"Red House" is a 12-bar blues song written by Jimi Hendrix. The song's meaning is a common theme in old blues songs. A man comes back to find his woman is no longer there. The twist is at the end where he says that he can go back and get with her sister since she has left him. "Red House" probably has it's roots in the 1961 Albert King song "Travelin' To California". Jimi started adding to it when he offered the song "California Night" to the band he was playing with at the time, Curtis Knight and the Squires. The first official recording of "Red House" was in 1966.

JIMI HENDRIX DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1967 - Are You Experienced (Reprise Records)
1967 - Axis: Bold As Love (Reprise Records)
1968 - Electric Ladyland (Reprise Records)
1970 - Band Of Gypsys (Capitol Records)

*After Jimi Hendrix died, there were a slew of post-humous releases, some good, some bad. Producer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell finally got the chance in 1997 to make what they felt would have been Jimi's proper fourth studio album when they put together "First Rays Of The New Rising Sun". There are several other compilations and live releases that are out there but I would say "First Rays" is the definitive one to get.

CURRENT STATUS OF JIMI HENDRIX:

Born in Seattle, Washington, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. After a brief stint in the military, he moved to Tennessee. After performing in several bands, he got a gig as the guitarist for the Isley Brothers and later worked with Little Richard. Jimi, however, was getting sick of just being in a backing band and had visions of being bigger than that. He moved to New York and formed a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. At one of his performances, Linda Keith, girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, told Chas Chandler of Animals fame to come and see Hendrix perform. Chandler had Jimi's ticket. And that ticket was to go to England. While in England, Chandler helped Hendrix form a band, The Experience, with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. Before The Experience even had an album out, Hendrix convinced Eric Clapton to let him join Cream on stage to which Clapton agreed. Hendrix jammed with them on a ripping rendition of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" that literally blew Clapton away. In 1967, The Experience dropped their first album, "Are You Experienced". The album took off in England, with top singles like "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe" and "The Wind Cries Mary". Jimi's success in the States took a bit longer. It wasn't until his masterful performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival that Jimi became a legend. His blistering set ended with what Jimi described as sacrificing the thing he loved when he set his guitar ablaze. It's an iconic moment in rock and roll history for sure. When Jimi dropped his second album, "Axis: Bold As Love", he wanted to continue being creative in the studio but felt cramped by time constrictions and an ever growing studio expense. This led Jimi to think about creating his own studio which he would in 1970, called Electric Lady Studios. For the recording of "Electric Ladyland" the album, the relationship between Jimi and Chas Chandler was basically on the outs. Chandler stepped down as producer on that album and Jimi handled the board with the help of Eddie Kramer. "Electric Ladyland" was Jimi's most experimental album to date and it also featured his first top 40 hit, a cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". "Electric Ladyland" was also Jimi's only album to reach #1 on the charts. The Experience as a band was beginning to falter however. Redding would eventually quit and Mitchell was eased out. Jimi began performing with Buddy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums in what Hendrix would call the Band of Gypsys. This band would release a live album to fulfill an old record deal which featured the epic "Machine Gun". All the songs on that album were recorded from four different shows at the Fillmore East in New York. By January of 1970, the Band of Gypsys were no more and the plan was to reunite The Experience. Hendrix, however, decided against bringing back Noel Redding and the band moved on with Mitchell on drums and Buddy Cox on bass. Sporadically, Jimi was working on new material for his fourth studio album. He only spent four days at his newly designed Electric Lady Studios before having to depart to England. In those four days, he recorded the song "Night Bird Flying". Jimi was not too happy to be touring in Europe at this time and longed to create music in his new studio. The tour was marred with bad performances and cancellations. Jimi's last concert was performed on September 6, 1970 at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany. The band travelled back to London after that show. Jimi's last public performance would be when he jumped on stage to jam with Eric Burdon and his new band War at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho. Jimi would die less than 48 hours after this jam session. On September 18, 1970, Jimi's girlfriend at the time, Monika Dannemann, woke up to find Jimi breathing, but unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead about an hour and a half after she called emergency. Autopsy results showed that Jimi Hendrix aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates. At just 27 years old, Jimi Hendrix had left this world. Jimi Hendrix is a virtuoso in every sense of the word. He changed the way electric guitar would be played. Before Hendrix, guitarists used to try to avoid feedback. Hendrix embraced it. Hendrix was innovative when it came to incorporating wah pedals and phase pedals. Hendrix could be as gritty a blues player as there ever was yet he could play beautiful, rhythm and blues at the same time. He could go psychedelic or he could stomp you with the heaviest of hard rock songs. He was an innovator, a genius and a musical mastermind. Rock and roll history would not be complete without some of Jimi's signature moments. Stealing the stage from a legend like Eric Clapton at a Cream show. Setting the bar as high as it can go with his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Playing Sgt. Pepper's live at a show in which Beatles members Paul McCartney and George Harrison were in attendance. Sgt. Pepper's came out just 3 days before that performance and Jimi nailed it! Closing the infamous Woodstock Festival in 1969 with a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner with enough feedback to make it sound like rockets were blasting across the morning sky! Jimi Hendrix is a legend. The greatest rock guitarist ever! It's amazing how big his impact is on rock and roll when you consider most of his material was created in a four year span. It makes you wonder how much more Jimi had to offer and what other creative grounds he could have broken if he had not died so young.

TEN JIMI HENDRIX SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
2. Purple Haze
3. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
4. Little Wing
5. Fire
6. Red House
7. Castles Made Of Sand
8. Bold As Love
9. Highway Chile
10. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan cover)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Song Of The Week: 11/19/17







Song: "Twist And Shout"

Artist: The Beatles

Album: "Please Please Me"

Year: 1963

Place Of Origin: Liverpool, England

Years Active: 1960 - 1970



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

"Twist And Shout" isn't too hard to read into lyrically. The vocalist is basically liking what he is seeing by a certain female on the dance floor and he wants her to dance with him and be his girl. He's basically admiring her. "Twist And Shout" was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns in 1961. The first artist to record the song was The Top Notes and the song first achieved chart success when the Isley Brothers covered it. The Beatles covered it and released it on their debut album, 1963's "Please Please Me".

THE BEATLES DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1963 - Please Please Me (Parlophone Records)
1963 - With The Beatles (Parlophone Records)
1964 - A Hard Day's Night (United Artists Records)
1964 - Beatles For Sale (Parlophone Records)
1965 - Help! (Capitol Records)
1965 - Rubber Soul (Capitol Records)
1966 - Revolver (Capitol Records)
1967 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol Records)
1967 - Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol Records)
1968 - The White Album (Apple Records)
1969 - Yellow Submarine (Capitol Records)
1969 - Abbey Road (Apple Records)
1970 - Let It Be (Apple Records)
1988 - Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2 (Capitol Records)

*The Beatles also released a slew of compilations, live album and singles as well as different versions of many of their albums. These albums that I listed are basically the core studio albums as well as "Past Masters" being the ultimate Beatles comps.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE BEATLES:

In 1957, a young teenager John Lennon formed a band called The Quarrymen. Soon, a guitarist called Paul McCartney would join the band and in 1958, McCartney convinced Lennon to let his friend George Harrison join the band as lead guitarist. In 1960, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best joined the band and by August of that year, they were called The Beatles. Sutcliffe soon departed the band and while recording their first album, the band as well as producer George Martin felt that Best did not fit in. In 1962, Ringo Starr joined The Beatles and the "Fab Four" was created. Honing their skills by playing live clubs in Germany, The Beatles first album, "Please Please Me" was a mix of covers and originals by Lennon and McCartney. The song "Please Please Me" would be The Beatles first #1 hit. For whatever reason, Capitol Records was dragging their feet when it came to releasing The Beatles albums in the States. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was released in the U.K. in 1963 but Capitol didn't release it as a single in the U.S. till 1964. The single exploded and became the first #1 hit for The Beatles in the United States. Beatlemania had arrived! Beatlemania exploded when the band performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. The show did a whopping 34% Nielsen rating! Riding on this success, the band released "A Hard Day's Night", both as a movie and soundtrack. 1965's "Help!" also had a film attached to it. When the band recorded "Rubber Soul", you could feel a stylistic change in the band. The songs were growing more mature and a little more experimental compared to their first few albums which were basically melodic pop songs. 1966's "Revolver" really stamped Lennon and McCartney as superior songwriters as well as George Harrison who was beginning to shine. 1967.. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".. Perhaps the greatest album of all time! By now, The Beatles were essentially a studio band. Their last concert was performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. The extra time that the band had in the studio led to an abundance of creativity. The band's sound was also becoming much more psychodelic. In 1968, The Beatles created their own record label, Apple Records. The first release on their new label would be "The Beatles", or better known as "The White Album". Tensions were getting high at this point in the band's career, so much so that John Lennon considered "The White Album" to be like a compilation of solo songs. There wasn't much collaboration on this album. The "Let It Be" sessions would be equally painful. Oddly, the band basically had "Let It Be" completed before they did "Abbey Road", but "Abbey Road" was released before "Let It Be". August 20, 1969 would be the last time that the four members of The Beatles were in the studio together as they finished up the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". A month later, John Lennon announced he was leaving the band. On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announced he was departing The Beatles. In the 70's following the break-up, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all began solo careers. Most of the members would collaborate on each other's songs, but never all four on the same song. Lennon and McCartney were basically in a feud which subsided a bit by the mid-70's when they began speaking on friendly terms again and even meeting with each other, one famous instance when they were together at John's apartment in New York when Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live offer $3000 to reunite The Beatles on his show. John and Paul actually thought about going down to SNL but decided against it. In 1980, John Lennon was tragically shot to death by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman. This tragic event basically shut the door on The Beatles. In 1988, Capitol Records released "Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2", which essentially compiled the singles that were not released on full length albums. In 1995, Harrison, McCartney and Starr got together for the "Anthology" project. The band was given some unfinished demos of John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono. Of these demos, "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" were re-worked with the other Beatles adding instrumentation and vocals making those two songs essentially the last two Beatles songs ever recorded. In 2001, George Harrison died of lung cancer leaving Paul and Ringo as the last two remaining Beatles. To this day, McCartney and Starr still tour pretty relentlessly and still come out with new music. A few occasions, they have performed together as well. The Beatles are basically considered the best band of all time. I wouldn't even put a genre on that because their influence spans all of music. They played pop, they played blues. They mixed in some rock and roll and soul. They ventured into Indian music and owned psychodelic rock. When it comes to songwriters, Lennon and McCartney sit at the top of that hill. The band has sold over 800 million physical and digital albums worldwide! That's just astonishing! A half a century later, The Beatles music still holds up and is still superior.

TEN BEATLES SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Come Together
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
3. Two Of Us
4. Here Comes The Sun
5. Revolution
6. Don't Let Me Down
7. A Day In The Life
8. Rain
9. Strawberry Fields Forever
10. Paperback Writer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Song Of The Week: 11/12/17







Song: "Flaming Youth"

Artist: Kiss

Album: "Destroyer"

Year: 1976

Place Of Origin: New York City, New York

Years Active: 1973 - present



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

"Flaming Youth" appears to be an anthem for the youth. An uprising song for the underdog and for those who others look at as losers. It could be considered the anthem for the Kiss Army. Young kids who are looked at as different and chastised because of it. Here is a place we're they can feel strength and togetherness. Here's a place where they fit in.

KISS DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1974 - Kiss (Casablanca Records)
1974 - Hotter Than Hell (Casablanca Records)
1975 - Dressed To Kill (Casablanca Records)
1975 - Alive! (Casablanca Records)
1976 - Destroyer (Casablanca Records)
1976 - Rock And Roll Over (Casablanca Records)
1977 - Love Gun (Casablanca Records)
1977 - Alive II (Casablanca Records)
1978 - Gene Simmons (Casablanca Records)
1978 - Ace Frehley (Casablanca Records)
1978 - Peter Criss (Casablanca Records)
1978 - Paul Stanley (Casablanca Records)
1979 - Dynasty (Casablanca Records)
1980 - Unmasked (Casablanca Records)
1981 - Music From The Elder (Casablanca Records)
1982 - Creatures Of The Night (Casablanca Records)
1983 - Lick It Up (Mercury Records)
1984 - Animalize (Mercury Records)
1985 - Asylum (Mercury Records)
1987 - Crazy Nights (Mercury Records)
1989 - Hot In The Shade (Mercury Records)
1992 - Revenge (Mercury Records)
1993 - Alive III (Mercury Records)
1996 - Kiss Unplugged (Mercury Records)
1997 - Carnival Of Souls (Mercury Records)
1998 - Psycho Circus (Mercury Records)
2003 - Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (Sanctuary Records)
2006 - Alive! The Millennium Concert (Universal Records)
2009 - Sonic Boom (Kiss Records)
2012 - Monster (Universal Records)
2016 - Kiss Rocks Vegas (Eagle Rocks Entertainment)

CURRENT STATUS OF KISS:

From the ashes of a band called Wicked Lester, bassist Gene Simmons and guitarist Paul Stanley set out to form the band that they wished they had seen. Enlisting drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley, the band was set to explode, quite literally, on the music scene. Influenced by the theatrics of Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls and by the sounds of Led Zeppelin and The Who, Kiss set out to be a band that would blow your eardrums out and fascinate you visually. Being that they formed in 1973, there's a lot of history. You can kind of break down the band in four eras.

The first, 1973 to 1982. This was the make-up era. You know the characters, Paul (Starchild), Gene (Demon), Ace (Spaceman) and Peter (Cat). In the early years, Kiss didn't get any radio play but their live show was creating serious buzz. You look back now and their first 3 albums (Kiss-1974, Hotter Than Hell-1974 and Dressed To Kiss-1975) are littered with hits and concert anthems but it wasn't until the band released the double live album "Alive!" in 1975, that they started to achieve some success. In 1976, the band enlisted famed producer Bob Ezrin to help them produce the ultimate Kiss album. A feat which I think was accomplished with the release of "Destroyer". This is the first Kiss album I owned and it holds a special place. The band released some more classic albums, "Rock and Roll Over", "Love Gun" and "Alive II" by 1977. This was the heyday for the band and in my mind, Kiss at their very best. The armor was beginning to crack however. They delivered solo albums in 1978 as well as filming a flop of a movie, "Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park". Then in 1979, came out with a disco influenced album "Dynasty", followed by a pop album in 1980, "Unmasked", then followed up with a concept album for a movie that was never made, 1981's "The Elder". What the hell happened to my hard rock, kick ass band??!! Peter Criss was fired from the band following the release of "Unmasked" and while the band regrouped in 1982 to release a return to roots type of album with "Creatures Of The Night", it wasn't enough to keep Ace Frehley in the band as he also departed, barely playing anything on the "Creatures Of The Night" album.

Second era. This is the non make-up years, 1983 to 1995. This was a tough era for the band. They were struggling trying to find themselves as a band without their bigger than life personas. It was much easier for Paul than it was for Gene in this era because the Demon character was such a big part of who he was as a performer. Eric Carr, who became the new drummer in 1980, brought a more heavy rock and roll feel to the kit than Peter, who was schooled in jazz but made up for that with pure aggression when he was at his best. Eric would succumb to cancer in 1991 and was replaced by Eric Singer, who played on 1992's "Revenge". The band went through guitarists Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John before finally settling on Bruce Kulick to hold down the leads. One thing I hated about this era is that Kiss became followers instead of leaders. It seemed whatever hair metal act came out, Kiss would follow that. Look and sound like Motley Crue on one album, like Ratt on the next. Like Stryper or Poison on the next. Bon Jovi on the next. Guns n Roses and even Alice In Chains!! This is not to say that they didn't have some good songs. "Lick It Up", "Tears Are Fallen", "Crazy Crazy Nights", "Unholy", "Who Wants To Be Lonely" and "I Just Wanna" are all cool songs. It seemed like 1992's "Revenge" was a point where their look and sound finally felt comfortable. But, by then the grunge era was exploding and though Kiss tried to go with that style ("Carnival Of Souls"), it really just wasn't who they were.

Third era. Reunion! In 1995, Kiss was set to perform on MTV's Unplugged series and as a special treat, invited Peter Criss and Ace Frehley to come out and play a few songs. This would be the impetus of getting a full on, original four reunion. In full make-up and costumes of the 1977 "Love Gun" era, Kiss announced that they were embarking on a world wide reunion tour in 1996 and 1997. This would be one of the most successful tours for the band. The were the top drawing act of 1996. Though the tour was successful, and Kiss was on top of the world again, old scars began to surface again. Addiction issues that plagued Ace Frehley in the 70's began raring their ugly head again and Peter's attitude was volatile from one day to the next. Paul and Gene shouldered some of the blame as well as a lot of their business decisions could be considered shady at best. In 1998, the band put out a new album, "Psycho Circus". Problem was that Ace and Peter barely played on it and were not really asked to. Ace recorded his song in his own studio and Peter provided vocals to a song that Paul wrote. Hardly a band effort, again increasing tensions within the band. They did tour to promote the album. In 2000 and 2001, Kiss embarked on a supposed farewell tour. By now, the members were barely talking to each other and just riding out the string. Ace would play his final show with Kiss at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City while Peter's last gig would be the Symphony concert in Australia in 2003.

Fourth era. The Farewell Tour was really just a farewell to Peter and Ace. Gene and Paul had no intention of stopping Kiss. In a controversial move amongst some fans, Eric Singer would don the Cat make-up and Tommy Thayer would wear the Space Ace make-up. Some people call them half a cover band while others supported the move. One thing for sure is that the band was much more reliable. This era also saw the band release two more studio albums, 2009's "Sonic Boom" and 2012's "Monster". Both of these albums were considered full band efforts unlike "Psycho Circus" which had ghost players up the ying yang! The band continues to tour around the world and perform to sell out crowds with shows that still show that even in thier 60's, they can still have bombastic shows with tons of energy. The only sad thing is that Paul's voice, which was once so strong, is a shell of it's former self. It seems that the years of straining his vocal chords are starting to take it's toll.

Kiss is such a lightning rod of a band. You either love them or hate them it seems. They've sold over 75 million albums world wide so they must be doing something right. To me, there is the real band and that is the original line-up from 1974 to 1977. That's classic Kiss. That's what 90% of their live shows consist of even today. Of course, that era started to breed what would become the commodity Kiss. Was merchandise overtaking the importance of the music? Maybe. But, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Kiss. They were the first band I ever loved. I'm talking when I was like 3 or 4 years old! There's so many bands I like more than them now, but I will always revisit some of those classic Kiss records and remember old memories from when I was a kid. Shout out to the REAL space man!! Ace was always the coolest member!!

TEN KISS SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Deuce
2. Detroit Rock City
3. Parasite
4. Love Gun
5. Black Diamond
6. I Stole Your Love
7. It's My Life
8. Mr. Speed
9. Makin' Love
10. King Of The Night Time World

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Song Of The Week: 11/5/17







Song: "I Hate Myself And Want To Die"

Artist: Nirvana

Album: "Pennyroyal Tea" single

Year: 1994

Place Of Origin: Aberdeen, Washington

Years Active: 1987 - 1994



WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT:

In retrospect, looking at a song called "I Hate Myself And Want To Die" and knowing that the song's writer, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide about a year after writing the song, you would think it would be foreshadowing events that were about to happen. Not so. Forget my interpretation of the song, here is the story behind the song straight from Cobain himself. "Kurt Cobain's last interview was with Rolling Stone magazine on January 27,1994. When the writer asked him, "One of your songs that you cut from In Utero at the last minute was I hate myself and I want to die. How literally did you mean it?" Cobain responded: "As literal as a joke can be. Nothing more than a joke. And that had a bit to do with why we decided to take it off. We knew people wouldn't get it; they'd take it too seriously. It was totally satirical, making fun of ourselves. I'm thought of as this pissy, complaining, freaked out, schizophrenic who wants to kill himself all the time: 'He isn't satisfied with anything.' And I thought it was a funny title. I wanted it to be the title for the album for along time. but I knew the majority wouldn't get it."

NIRVANA DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1989 - Bleach (Sub Pop Records)
1991 - Nevermind (DGC Records)
1992 - Incesticide (Sub Pop Records)
1993 - In Utero (DGC Records)
1994 - MTV Unplugged In New York (DGC Records)
1996 - From The Muddy Banks Of Wishkah (DGC Records)
2009 - Live At Reading (Geffen Records)

CURRENT STATUS OF NIRVANA:

Nirvana got it's start as a band back in 1987 when guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic were in high school in Aberdeen, Washington. After using such bands names as Skid Row and Fecal Matter, they decided upon the name Nirvana. The Melvins were an important band to Nirvana in the early years in fact, Melvins drummer Dale Crover actually played on some of Nirvana's early material and toured with them sometimes as well. In 1989, Nirvana released their debut full length album "Bleach" on Seattle underground label Sub Pop. Cobain didn't feel Nirvana was a "grunge" band however. When the band began working on new material, Cobain's songs were getting much more melodic and definitely had pop sensibilities. In 1990, the band finally settled on a drummer with Dave Grohl, formerly of the D.C. hardcore band Scream, joining Nirvana. With the line-up settled, Nirvana turned to Butch Vig to produce their next album. 1991 was the year. "Nevermind" was the album. The music world changed on that day! Radio stations and MTV began rotating the single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" heavily. The band didn't even know they were blowing up as they were on tour in Europe. They did start to notice that the clubs they were playing couldn't fit the demand as venues were overpacked with fans to see them live. "Nevermind" has sold over 30 million units worldwide. The singles "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "In Bloom", "Come As You Are" and "Lithium" became anthems for the youth. Kids that became labled "Generation X" and Kurt Cobain was unwillingly thrust in the position to be their spokesman. Overwhelmed and exhausted, Nirvana had to cancel part of their tour in support of "Nevermind". When it came time to start writing their next album, Cobain was again ready to shift the band's sound a bit. He wanted the songs a little more abrasive and less radio friendly. The band selected Steve Albini to produce their next effort, 1993's "In Utero". Featuring the dark single "Heart Shaped Box" and the harsh "Rape Me", "In Utero" solidified Nirvana's place in the music world. In my opinion, the band's best album. The Pacific Northwest ruled the musical landscape at this time. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains ruled the charts and were selling out venues all around the world. On November 18, 1993, Nirvana had a live acoustic performance in New York taped for MTV's "Unplugged" series. This was an epic performance by a band who was more known for their distorted guitars and screaming vocals than they were for stripping down acoustically. Stand out tracks were the Bowie cover "The Man Who Sold The World", "All Apologies" and the Leadbelly classic "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". Even while Nirvana was riding high, Cobain was struggling both with unwanted fame and what was becoming a crippling addiction to heroin. On March 4, 1994, Cobain's wife, Courtney Love, found the singer unconscious in their Rome hotel room. He was rushed to the hospital where they said he had a bad reaction to a mix of sleeping pills and alcohol. It was much deeper than that however. After having an intervention with him, family, friends and bandmates convinced Kurt to get treatment which he agreed to. After one week in the facility however, he escaped and returned to Seattle. After mixing heroin and cocaine, Kurt Cobain committed suicide by self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. His body was found on April 8, 1994. The music world was shocked. Cobain was just 27 years old with so much ahead of him. His death really signafied the beginning of the end of sorts to the Seattle sound. Soundgarden would break up a few years later. Pearl Jam totally pulled back from the mainstream and Alice In Chains were going through their own addiction problems, most notably with lead singer Layne Staley. Generation X lost their voice. "MTV Unplugged Live In New York" would be released in November of 1994. A haunting performance by a band that appeared to have so much more to offer. Nirvana as a performing and recording band ended with Cobain's suicide though the remaining members, including guitarist Pat Smear who joined the band on the "In Utero" tour, would perform at Nirvana's 2014 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In my mind, the Seattle sound of the early 90's was the last great music to come out. Not saying there isn't good new music coming out, but Nirvana was a gamechanger. The same way that the Beatles changed the musical landscape in the 60's or the punk movement of 1977 really changed the rules. Nirvana came at a time when rock music really needed a kick in the ass. Much like the punks of the 70's, it was music for the underdogs and the unpopular. It was most definitely the music of my generation. It's amazing to me that here in 2017, Kurt Cobain has now been dead for 23 years. Layne Staley has been dead for 15 years and we just lost Chris Cornell in May of this year. Here's hoping that Eddie Vedder is taking good care of himself cuz he's the last man standing.

TEN NIRVANA SONGS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:

1. Heart Shaped Box
2. Drain You
3. School
4. You Know You're Right
5. Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Leadbelly cover)
6. Lithium
7. Polly
8. Aneurysm
9. About A Girl
10. Serve The Servants