Rock Is Dead

Just read a little blurb on yahoo news about Motley Crue suing their manager for focusing all his energy on Tommy Lee. Something about Tommy looking buffoonish, and hurting the Motley rep.
 

I find that hilarious. Tommy is a buffoon, always has been. Tommy is the perfect example of the media savvy rock star, unfortunately that has backfired on him big time. He’s known more for being a “celebrity” than a musician. This is a 50 year old guy. In his furious attempt to stay relevant, he forgot he’s not 22 anymore.

Rock and Roll is a young man’s game, and only one guy has pulled off the aging rock star thing, and that’s Kieth Richards. And Keith doesn’t even try to stay hip, by say dressing like a 22 year-old Emo kid, like Tommy does. 5 years ago when Tommy was only a spry 45, he was dressing like a white rapper.

Which reminds me of why Rock sucks so bad now. With MySpace and cell phone cameras, and DVD’s, there is no longer one bit of mystery left in Rock and Roll. When I was a kid, I didn’t know a damn thing about the artists I loved, aside from the very few articles that came out in the 2 or 3 rock magazines that were available, and those articles and pictures were strictly controlled by the artist’s exactly to preserve the mystery.

I didn’t have the faintest idea how Led Zeppelin felt about politics, or how Pink Floyd felt about the environment, they let their music do the talking. I saw an old interview with Freddie Mercury last night, and he said people always ask him what Bohemian Rhapsody is really about, and he said his answer is always “I don’t Know,” because an explanation would ruin the mental picture people have in their heads, would take away the mystery. People can interpret the song anyway they want, and they are all correct. That’s what art and Rock and Roll are all about.

These days it’s all about knowing every possible thing about these idiots, you can chat with them on MySpace. Do you think Jim Morrison would’ve chatted with every drooling moron who wanted to talk to him? Would Jimmy Page have a blog about the crappy cheeseburgers they got in Tulsa while on tour? The stuff those guys did became legend because nobody had a video of it. There was mystery. Was Jimmy Page really into witchcraft? Who knows, because he didn’t have a “Here’s the witchcraft I did today” section of his MySpace page.

The most aggregious example of knowing too much about rock stars are Metallica, with their pathetic documentery “Some Kind Of Monster.” I confess I love this movie, only because I hate Metallica, and no one could have portrayed them in a worse light than they happily did themselves. It’s basically 3 hours of them whining, and “getting in touch with their feelings” with their $30,000 a month therapist. They should be taken to Graceland and castrated, but it’s too late, as they left their balls in therapy. At least Jason Newstead had the sense to bail on those whiney schoolgirls.

Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 5:27 pm  Comments (2)  

Layne Staley

I happened to catch an old “Unplugged” last night on VH1, featuring Alice In Chains. I liked Alice In Chains, in fact I liked most of the “Grunge” stuff. It reminded me of the odd and incredibly sad way that singer Layne Staley died. Overcome by heroin addiction, and the band finding itself irrelevant in the post-grunge era, Staley Od’ in April 2002.

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What’s sad, is that apparently, he had been dead for close to 2 weeks before his body was found, and was so decomposed, that it took awhile to get a positive ID on him. His death was met with a collective shrug, much different than the worldwide mourning of another Seattle icon’s suicide, Kurt Cobain.  Only 200 people showed up for his candlelight vigil.

Ultimately, he did it to himself, and I don’t have a lot of sympathy for junkies, but I just find it sad that this guy was so despondent, and alone, so alone that no one missed him for 2 weeks. The guy had a great voice, right up there with Chris Cornell. 

On some level I do understand, because I’ve known addicts, and you get to a point where there’s simply nothing you can do, you have to give up on them. Sounds harsh, but anyone that’s dealt with it will understand. That seems to have happened to Staley, in a big way.

This clip, “Rain When I Die,” is some anime thing, but the track is incredibly powerful, one of my favorite AiC songs, that, like most of their catalogue now, is morbidly ironic.

Published in: on September 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

The VMA’s Suck Out Loud

There was a time the VMA’s were cutting edge, irreverant, and had career making moments. Those days are long gone. MTV has lost it’s sense of humor and irony altogether, and now they think this is the Oscars, or the Grammys. So do the artists, like that stupid moon man means anything, especially these days, when no videos are even played on MTV.

I tried to watch this year, but all I was able to handle was checking in here and there. Sorry, but every hip-hop or rap artist sounds the same to me, I cannot tell them apart, and the same goes for Emo bands. Maybe I’m just getting old, but there just ain’t no excitement goin’ on. They’ve replaced actual interesting muscal moments with staged controversy.

I mentioned this on my other blog, I believe Britney’s horrible performance was absolutely staged precisely to be horrible. Her musical career has been irrelevant for about 5 years now, and like Tommy Lee, she is no longer famous for being an artist, she’s famous for being famous. She certainly has the ability to pull off one single song without a hitch, no matter how messed up she is, but who wants that? Being stable and together would ruin her career, and she and her people know it. Hence, a controversial performance, that leaves everyone worried about poor Britney.

The rest of the show was basically a commercial for The Palms. The performances in the suites were claustrophobic and dark, and were an excuse to get awesome helicopter shots of the balcony pools.

Published in: on September 11, 2007 at 10:57 pm  Comments (5)  

Great “Rockumentaries”

hype.jpghype.jpgI love rock documentaries, even bad ones. The great thing about them is, you don’t have to be a fan of the band or music being featured to enjoy the film. Here is a list of some that I think are really fascinating, in no particular order. I believe these are all available on Netflix, except the Decline Of Western Civilization movies.

Another State Of Mind-1982

This film documents an ill-fated tour by two punk bands, Social Distortion (still together today) and Youth Brigade. They fix up an old school bus, and hit the road, to mostly disastrous results. Fans of old school punk will see many familiar faces, including Ian MacKaye of Fugazi. This was 1981-82, and punk rock was still far outside the mainstream.

Memorable Scene: As the tour disintegrates with money problems and the bus constantly breaking down, a roadie and member of Youth Brigade quit, and take a Greyhound home.

127_dig_dig_06_01.jpg Dig!

This is what documentaries are all about. This film was shot over 7 years, and chronicles 2 L.A. bands, that are rivals/friends, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The Dandy Warhols. While the Dandy Warhols go on to huge success in Europe, The BJM disintegrate under the ego and drug problems of their leader, Anton Newcombe. Absolutely fascinating from start to finish. More info here. 

Memorable scene: The BJM get into a brawl onstage at the Viper room, in what was to be a showcase for a label that was about to sign them, blowing the deal. A career destroying moment, caught on film.

The Decline Of Western Civilization Parts One and Two232eeb6709a06e8f0ed41110__aa280__l.jpg198300_rt.jpg

Made by now famous director Penelope Spheeris, part one focuses on the L.A. punk scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and part two, the L.A. metal scene of the late 80’s. Part one features interviews with long dead punk icon Darby Crash, who committed suicide shortly after the film, as well as Lee Ving from Fear, now an actor, and the band X. Really interesting stuff, even if you hate the music. Shot in gritty black and white, the film really captures the rawness of early punk.

Part two, “The Metal Years” is a cult classic, having only been released briefly on VHS, and now pretty much unavailable, and not on DVD. It is however, played often on VH1, as well as the Sundance channel. Ultimately became a scathing expose of the bloated L.A. metal scene of the 80’s. A must-see.

Memorable scene: WASP guitarist Chris Holmes swilling vodka in a pool, in full leathers, getting sloppy drunk, in front of his mom. Actually, a painful scene to watch as he clearly has some issues, but rockumentary gold! 

Hype! hype.jpg

This film chronicles the rise and fall of Seattle Grunge, as told by almost all of Seattle. If you were into that, it features just about anybody who was anybody in that scene.

Memorable scene:  An itern (I think) at Sub-Pop records, recounts a story about how People Magazine contacted her about popular “Grunge Terminology,” and she proceded to make up slang on the spot, which People printed.

Tribute-The Movie  tributepostersmall2.jpg

This is not available anywhere, I’ve only seen it on Sundance.  A doc about tribute bands, this one hits home to me, as I know a bunch of guys in tribute bands. Generally, the tribute band is the last refuge of aging never-were’s, who just don’t want to quit. In this film, we get the story of four tribute bands, a Kiss, a Queen, a Judas Priest, and a Monkees, as well as some obsessed tribute band fans. This film is painful to watch, but I can’t look away. We get a glimpse into how some of these guys start to think they are the rock star they are portraying, and also of the sad reality as these guys, mostly in their late 30’s or early 40’s, realize they are not going to be rock stars in their own right. Compelling film, if you get a chance to see it. Here is the website, but it’s never updated.

Memorable Scene: There are so many, but I’ll go with a scene where the Kiss band is auditioning a new Gene Simmons, at obviously, one of their mom’s house, (these guys look to be about 35), and the guy auditioning is a total freak, who won’t listen to instructions, and jumps around like an idiot. Really tough one for me, as I’ve been a part of many auditions, and dealt with guys just like this.

Published in: on September 4, 2007 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another Under-Rated Guitar Player

Adrian Belew.

Adrian is amazing. This clip shows his unique ability to wrestle the weirdest sounds out of his strat, as well as his funky rythym playing, and Holdsworth-esqe soloing. A little Fripp action too. Playing drums, the oft mentioned Bill Bruford. Put your seatbelts on for this one.

Published in: on August 31, 2007 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Little Ditty From Sublime

Sublime were a 3 piece band from Long Beach Ca. They were just beginning to break, when their lead singer/writer/guitarist, Brad Nowell, died of a heroin overdose in 1996. This song is a take on Gershwins “Summertime.” I normally am not a big fan of sampling, but I love what they did with this. Brad could put a melody to a monkey fart if he felt like it. The guy was amazing. The bass player and drummer also kick ass. One of the most under-rated bands of the 90’s, probably due to their erratic live shows, as Brad was usually drunk or high. I got to see them about 2 or 3 months before he died, and while the show was rough, the crowd sang/shouted along to every song, almost drowning out the band.

Published in: on August 30, 2007 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  

80’s Songs That Should Be Banned Forever Part 1

This will be an ongoing list, as I remember all the 80’s songs I despise. Songs that have been overplayed to the point that I want to put a gun in my mouth when I hear them. The kind of novelty of 80’s songs made them staples of radio stations starting in 1990. Most pop radio stations have some kind of “80’s at Lunch” or something like that, and these songs are used on a zillion TV shows, radio shows, commercials etc.

1.) She drives me crazy- Fine Young Cannibals.fine_young_cannibals-tabs.jpg

I hated this song when it was new, I really loathe it now. That guy’s voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I swear, I can hardly get through a day without hearing it somewhere. Aaaarrgghhh!

Tainted Love-Soft Cell soft.jpg

This is like the “Stairway to heaven” of the 80’s. To add insult to injury, it’s like 7 minutes long. It seems to never end, and the incessant “Ka Dink Dink” makes me want to put that synthisizer where the sun don’t shine, although I think they would enjoy that.

Come on Eileen-Dexy’s Midnite Runners 5702560.jpg

This was a cute song. For about the first 400 million times I heard it. Now? Umm…..Not cute. Let’s leave it at that, I’m trying to avoid using profanity.

Money for nothing-Dire Straits e83123z6234.jpg

You will never see me move so fast as when I hear the opening riff of this crapfest of a song. In 1985, this song was on a constant loop on MTV, and it seemed like whole radio stations were devoted to playing it non-stop. To this day, a staple on classic rock radio.

My beef with these songs is that they never went away. They went directly from over-played hit, to over-played nostalgia. We never even had a chance to miss these songs. If I never hear them again, it will be too soon……..wait….there it is….Ka Dink Dink…..

Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 7:51 pm  Comments (3)  

You Probably Haven’t Seen This In Awhile

Jamiroquai “Virtual Insanity”

I love this video. I still don’t know how they did it, because CGI was in it’s infancy.

UPDATE!! Here’s how they did it! (Fricken You Tube rules!)

Published in: on August 23, 2007 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Life Taken Too Soon

I wrote about Jeff Buckley in my 5 important albums post, but here is the title track to his album, Grace. He was truly a gifted songwriter and singer, one of those guys that really would have been a major influence on pop music as we know it. Jeff died under kind of myterious circumstances, as detailed here. I’ll give you the short version:

Thursday night, May 29, Buckley was hanging out with a friend at the Mud Island Harbour marina, half a mile inland off the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee. He and the friend were listening to a stereo and playing a guitar when Buckley waded, fully clothed, waist-high into the water. He started singing and laid back on the water, when a boat went by causing waves to come in to the shore.

The friend on shore turned his back to move the stereo away from the incoming waves and when he turned around, he couldn’t see Buckley. After a 10-minute search, the friend called local police. The Memphis police department began dragging the waters that night and continued to do so – for two days afterward. Harsh rains hampered their search efforts. They also checked, in vain, on the chance of him having wandered out the water. Friends were contacted and people in the area of the marina questioned. They came up with nothing.

He was found three days later by passengers on a steam boat, who saw a body in an Altamont T-shirt tangled up in some branches on the riverside, near Harbor Island.

He was 30 years old.

Sorry about the You Tube thing, just click it a few times, it will go to You Tube and play the vid.

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

More Guitar Dorkery

You Tube is so fricken awesome. This is Steve Morse, a great guitar player, most known as the leader of The Dixie Dregs, and currently with Deep Purple(!?).  Guitar playing is kind of a dying art, so that’s why I’m putting this stuff up. If I had You Tube when I was learning to play, I never would have left the house. Don’t worry, this won’t be a completely guitar centric blog.

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment