Tag Archives: Music

Oi Polloi

The band from Scotland, not the shop. Ha!

Still brilliant after all these years. In fact, the newer stuff they’ve put out is, in my humble opinion, some of their best by far. Anarcho-Street-Crust at its finest!

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UP THE IRONS

When I was a wee lad, maybe 7 or 8, my big brother had an Iron Maiden sticker on his stereo.  I used to look at it and it, in equal parts, fascinated and freaked me out!  It was the Number of the Beast LP cover.  At the time it proved really engaging, but a bit much for me. Then, three short years later I discovered the “Somewhere in Time” LP and the  single “Wasted Years.”  I was a touch older, and I was hooked.  Now, turning into an uptight new-wavish punk-rocker type did little for my love of metal.  I had to keep it on the down low all through school.  I still loved all that stuff but shied away from it.  Pity, really.  Then I went to University and I didn’t care as much what others thought of my musical taste…even the cool dudes.  I re-discovered my real, honest LOVE of IRON MAIDEN.

I went to see them last week (2nd time) and it was absolutely brilliant.  I can’t stop listening to them and my obsession is growing. I also watched Flight 666 last night with my Missus and pal Jon.  If you have ANY interest at all, please take a look at that film.  It is epic and WONDERFUL.  Here’s to the lads in the band.  Keep up the brilliant work!

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Ida

Hey!  Just a short post about Ida. 

The first 3 Ida LPs on vinyl.

I absolutely LOVE this band.  Ever since my friend Jessie played them for me in 1994 I’ve LOVED them, and in recent years it seems I obsess about them in one form or another for a few weeks at a time or a month here or there.  So here is a link to their website.  Enjoy!

 Ida.

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X-Mas Music All Time Top 20!!!

I’ve posted about Christmas music on here in the past.  I have taken the liberty of creating an all time top 20 (with a few honorable mentions thrown in) of Christmas songs.  For your perusal, and listening pleasure:

OK, first, honorable mentions:
“Do They Know it’s Christmas” by Band Aid.  This is on here because it’s so bad it’s good again.  Paul Young, Style Council, Banarama, Shalamar (!!!) and Kool & the Gang (among others). 
“A Patrick Swayze Christmas” from the cast of Mystery Science 3000.  Amazing song, and in this, the year of Swayze’s death, I really enjoyed listening to this the other day.
“Don’t Believe in Christmas” by The Sonics. Great surf rock x-mas classic.
“White Christmas” by Otis Redding.  Otis.  Brilliant.
“The First Noel” by Elvis Presley.  Elvis is well represented on the list below, but this one is one of my favorites.  It’s great. Beautiful, and classic.

OK…on to the Top 20!

#20 “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.  Brilliant classic old English Christmas hymn that, yes, mentions satan.  Nice.  Plus this version has brilliant harmonies and a fantastic bass line.

#19 “Christmas Time Is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.  The Charlie Brown Christmas stuff is really a good time.  I love this one…yes…even the vocal!

#18 “Santa Clause Is Back In Town” by Elvis Presley.  Ahhh, the King of Rock ‘n Roll scores a cracker with this rockin’ tune.  Excellent in every way to me.

#17 “Merry Christmas Baby” by Bruce Springsteen.  Bruce does a great job with this live, rock song.  Excellent vocal here.  Oh, and The E Street Band hold it down on this one!

#16 “If We Make It Through December” by Merle Haggard.  A scorcher.  This one is a real heartbreaker.  The music has been spoofed, but the original is still one of the best.

#15 “Carolina Christmas” by Squirrel Nut Zippers.  The Christmas Caravan release by Squirrel Nut Zippers is a real good time!  My Missus is a big fan, and this one has really grown close to my heart at this time of year.

#14 “Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.  This is fantastic because of a few reasons: the crazy ass skit at the beginning, the way that they sound together, how low they sing…all quality.

#13 “Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow” by Dean Martin.  SO smooth.  Deano does it like no other. 

#12 “Twelve Days Of Christmas” by John Denver and the Muppets.  The John Denver + the Muppets Christmas album is a real classic.  I like this one because the whole cast has a line or two.  It’s a good, classic carol and the way the Muppets sing it is still funny to me.

#11 “Skating” by The Vince Guaraldi Trio.  This is the kind of Christmas jazz I like. 

#10 “Christmas Time” by The Darkness.  This one is special.  This is such an AMAZING Christmas song.  So well done…and that falsetto…WOW.

#9 “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town” by Bruce Springsteen.  Even better than “Merry Christmas Baby” for me.  I think of my Mom listening to that song on KDKA when I was a little kid in the morning before school.  This is a good one.

#8 “Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues.  This is one of the saddest, most beautiful, brilliant songs I’ve ever heard.  I cried when it was on today while I was driving home from work.  Oh man.  SO BRILLIANT.  Nobody does a sad Christmas song like the folks from the British Isles.

#7 “What Christmas Means To Me” by Stevie Wonder.  This is a soul soaked R&B jam.  I really LOVE this song.  This takes most of what makes Christmas songs so great, but with a fantastic soul beat.

#6 “Thank God It’s Christmas” by Queen.  Oh man.  This is a special one.  Mr. Mercury and company deliver it.  Plus, this is  beautifully sad and wonderful. 

#5 “Merry X-Mas Everybody” by Slade.  Glam.  Beauty.  A wonderful classic.  I adore this song.

#4 “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.  This is my Mother in Law’s all time favorite Christmas song, and it’s a beauty.

#3 “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley.  So great.  From the backing vocals (a favorite of my Missus and mine) to the way Elvis brings it, this is a brilliant one.  If I was wealthy, I would visit Graceland near Christmas just to see the blue lights.  This is a classic and is near perfect.

#2 “Last Christmas” by Wham!  OK…this might seem an odd choice for my second all time favorite, but aside from The Darkness, this the probably the last Christmas song that needed to be written.  Great pop music, sad as hell and almost perfect.

and now…the number one…..BEST ALL TIME CHRISTMAS SONG………

#1 “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.  This is it.  The best.  Hands down.  Sad, yet hopeful and beautiful.   PERFECT.  The song builds and is a real sonic treat.  The instrumentation is fantastic.  Best lyrical content, hands down.

There ya have it.  Agree, disagree, lemme know.  I love the winter time holidays.  Solstice, yuletide, Christmas, it’s all the same to me.  Not being a “believer” doesn’t bother me.  People have been celebrating the cold and dark times by hanging out, getting into the light together and giving each other things…and eating.  This all happened long before any Christian, Jew or Muslim had anything to say about the matter. 

Stay warm and have fun!

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[Old Time] Music – A Bit of Nostalgia

Last night, after I posted the earlier bit about running, my Missus had a run in with the cat.  The younger of the felines enjoys using the corner of the wall in the dining room as a scratching post.  To get him to stop, when he does this we spray a little perfume that my Missus doesn’t use anymore on the corner where he was scratching.  It seems to work for a few days a time.  Well, my missus was a bit at the end of her tether with young Thunder Paws and sprayed a number of times and kind of fumed me out!  I wasn’t into sitting inside a cloud of perfume, so I trundled off to the upstairs.

In the warmth of the office, I did something that I had been meaning to get to for a week or more.  I had been meaning to get back into some of my old records – specifically the Inchworm Records “FOOD NOT BOMBS BENEFIT” LP.  That record is SO GREAT.  I listened to it so much over the years.  Going back through and reading the booklet and listening to that record was simply wonderful.  It’s a bit much that I’ve had it since 1994, but hey, we all get older, right?   Looking at and listening to that inspired me to break out two boxes of 7″ ep records and look through them.  In some way it’s like art, or an artifact – especially when I’m not listening to the record itself, but just looking it it – reading it and taking it in.  Those records are AMAZING.  I don’t mean that the music is something perfect.  The aesthetic is what it is.  The sound and the style of those records and bands was a specific thing from a specifc time.  I happen to love the sound and the style, but that’s not what is amazing to me.  The fact that those records exist at all is what is amazing to me.  That the people involved were motivated enough to create those sounds, to make those noises and exist within those stylisitc cultures – all done by themselves – that is what still amazes me.

Many of my good friends who were around then like to downplay those days.  For some it all seems so silly now.  For others it is the manifestation of a lot of repression and misguided feelings – especially “guilt.”  If for my friends those days were something less than magical, I am sorry.  They were kind of magical for me.  Don’t get me wrong.  Life wasn’t perfect then, and those bands and records and styles didn’t make it perfect.  In addition, I look back on what I missed within the culture of those bands at that time – the shows I didn’t go to, the fests I missed out on, the records I never found or could not afford or chose poorly in regards to and passed up – and I know that my experience is limited and specific to me.  But even within all of this glorious imperfection, there existed a group of people attempting to make something of their own, and doing a rather amazing job of it when I look back now, 15 years later.   

So much of who I now am – who I STILL am – is tied up in those days.  I guess it’s all about developmental stages.  If those things had come about when I was younger or older I might not have the relationship with them that I now possess.  But I hit it at a sweet spot, so to speak.  I was at a point in my own personal, political, emotional and aesthetic development that really clicked with what was happening with those bands.  I’m still vegan.  I still – for whatever reason – keep up with news and politics and give a shit about social justice.  I still play music that has screamy vocals and most people call “noise” or more kindly, “noisy.”  I know that these things are tied to what I specifically experienced from late 1993 till 1995.  There was some after that, too I’m sure.  But this was the beginning of something.  I suppose for me it went on through the mid to late 90s in some capacity.  Again, developmental stages at work. 

Silly or not.  Waste of time or not.  Useless screaming that no one cared / cares about or not.  I can’t deny it.  I love that stuff.

It’s like visiting with good, old friends.

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A matter of only hours…

I am almost within 24 hours of the Morrissey show…right here in my own fair city of Pittsburgh.  Nay-sayers will complain and say that Moz has bailed on the last 2 Pgh shows and he’ll cancel tomorrow.  Ahhhhh, those of little faith and less loyality.  I’ll be there.  And it will be wonderful.

The record is stellar and I am anxious and excited in a way that doesn’t happen very often. 

Morrissey.

My city.

Brilliant.

Stay tuned for a proper report post-show.

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New Sounds…

Three recent musical acquisitions have made my life a little better this week.  They are (in no particular order):

 

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PROPAGANDHI -‘Supporting Caste”  My my my.  Still excellent, angry when they need to be, poignant, interesting and thought provoking when they should be.  I had kind of let this band fall off the radar for me for a while.  I’m glad I’m back because with records like this I have a little more hope for this madness around me.

 

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ANTHONY HAMILTON – “The Point Of It All”  I’m not a huge fan of contemporary R&B, but I have loved Anthony Hamilton since the first time I heard him.  I would humbly classify the man’s vocal work as soul music, but the lines of genre are often blurred.  This record is as good or better than anything Hamilton has recorded to this point.  It holds ground with the “Comin’ From Where I’m From” LP, as well as the later “Soulife” and “Southern Comfort” material (which, especially on “Southern Comfort” he very successfully experimented with other forms and styles).  The remaining “Ain’t Nobody Worryin” LP has a slightly darker, grittier feel, and is equally brilliant.  The newest offering is a solid mixture and well worth the wait.  For whatever reason Anthony Hamilton gets relatively little press.  I can only assume it is because he is ACTUALLY a REAL TALENT.  We all know how the record industry craps it’s collective pants when faced with real talent.  That’s my theory.

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MORRISSEY – “Years Of Refusal”  My Moz returns WELL IN FORM.  I like this record a lot, perhaps as a whole even more than “Ringleaders…” even though the previous release has some brilliant stand alone gems.  One thing that strikes me as particularly fantastic about “Years Of Refusal” is that it, for lack of  a better term, kicks out the jams pretty well!  The tracks are much more up-tempo and faster.  There is a bit more crunch to the guitars.  Jerry Finn produced this piece and did well.  EXCELLENT.

As Spring slowly begins and life swirls around us, baffling and confusing, confounding, frustrating and amazing us at every turn, it’s always good to have the touchstone of music nearby to lean on in times of need, to revel in during times of celebration and to commiserate with is times of sorrow.   Play your records.

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