29 April 2009
Long Division In The Waiting Room
As much as I love Fugazi, I gotta admit, there's something about Ian MacKaye that has always kinda unsettled me. I can deal with his intensity, since the hardcore and post-punk scene was my scene for many years, and it's always been fairly intense. No, I think it's his earnestness, and the fact that he could get a bit preachy at times. I'm not 100% sure if he and the band were/are straight edge, but I can say that I never cared for straight edgers too much. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." Now, I'm not saying Ian MacKaye and the band have few virtues, but the band did attract plenty of straight edgers in their crowds, and those guys have always been a bit hinky, like they might get you in the kidney with a homemade shiv cuz yr smoking weed at the edge of the mosh pit. Not that Ian MacKaye likes mosh pits. In fact, he had a habit of stopping midsong in concert to bitch at slam dancers. I mean, it's his perogative to keep the fans safe, but c'mon, that is kinda lame, right?
A Word With Moshammer's Ghost
Hot Poop User's Manual # 42909
HOT FIVE: R.E.M. Warner Bros
Featuring..."Radio Song", "Losing My Religion", "Low", "Near Wild Heaven", "Shiny Happy People", "Half A World Away", "Country Feedback"
There are plenty of questionable songs in the R.E.M. catalog, and even a few outright stinkers. Out Of Time, the band's second album for Warner Bros, contains at least two of 'em. "Shiny Happy People" was fairly annoying even before it was a radio and MTV hit, but "Radio Song", featuring a rather lifeless KRS-One (whom I genuinely like), is perhaps my least favorite R.E.M. song of all time, and they had the horrible sense to lead off the album with it and eventually release it as a single with it's own meaningless video...It's a bloodless, plodding tune that leads directly into the biggest hit of the band's career, "Losing My Religion", which proved that seven albums in, they could still write a "classic R.E.M." tune. Out Of Time also contains two of my favorite R.E.M. songs from their Warner Bros years, "Low" and "Half A World Away", not to mention "Country Feedback", their best straight C&W tune since "Rockville". "Me 'n' Honey" ends the album on a throwaway note, the song meant to be this album's "Superman", but instead the duet with Kate Pierson of the B-52's is an unfortunate routine finish to an otherwise solid, if not stellar, album.
It only seems natural that R.E.M.'s first album without drummer Bill Berry would make use of drum machines and plenty of keyboards and synths. While there are still guitars on Up, it would seem Peter Buck was more interested in creating textures than being upfront with his usual melodic leads. What we end up with is perhaps the biggest left-turn in the band's discography. As a whole, the sound is soft and warm and breezy, a triumph of tone on an album concerned with air and flight, a literal departure from their previous longplayer, New Adventures In Hi-Fi, which was an album built for the road, and concerned with pavement and metal and glass and modernity. Up is mostly about the sky, from the album's title, through songs like "Airportman", "You're In The Air", "Parakeet", and "Falls To Climb". A decade later, Up still sounds rather fresh and inviting, an underappreciated, and maybe even forgotten, gem in their 25 year career. Solid and lasting.New Adventures In Hi-Fi is grimy and fuzzy. It's all about travel and exploration and escape, about love and lust and other earthly delights, and it's perhaps no surprise because many of the songs were written and recorded on the road during their Monster Tour of 1995. As a whole, the album has a sweeping, almost epic feel to it...Gradually unfolding, like the American landscape through a tourbus window...Heavy and raw and alive, sometimes rushing along like all the windows are open, at other times moving in slow motion, content to enjoy the ride, and it brings to mind "You Are The Everything" from their Green album..."Here's the scene, you're in the backseat, laying down, the windows wrap around to the sound of the travel and the engine...All you hear is time stand still..." But that's another song from another album, and we'll get to that later...Ironically (or not), R.E.M. didn't tour in support of this album, but I did spend six weeks on a road trip around the western half of the United States in the 1996, with my old friend Ike. In fact, New Adventures In Hi-Fi was released on the fifth day of our trip, and I bought the cassette at Amoeba Records in Berkeley for the road. It proved to be a remarkable soundtrack for our own new adventures that autumn. Even without my own deep personal connection with this album, critics and time have been kind to this album, and while it might be a song or two too long, it's still a very good and solid longplayer.
02: Automatic For The People 
Featuring..."Drive", "Try Not To Breathe", "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight", "Everybody Hurts", "Star Me Kitten", "Man On The Moon", "Nightswimming"
To be honest, I can't explain why I like Automatic For The People so much. It's a bit scattershot, stylistically, and doesn't really have any utterly remarkable individual songs, and yet, listened to all the way through in one sitting, the album has a nice flow to it, and even as I type that fucking cliche, I understand how meaningless it sounds. "Everybody Hurts", of course, was an enormous hit for the band, but for me, it's just a bit too earnest, even if it ranks as one of Michael Stipe's best vocal performances. It does come on the heels of the first three song - three very solid songs that illustrates how the album doesn't really knock you out, but just keeps bringing one good song after another, the next a natural progression from the last, until we get to the final three songs, perhaps the three best on the album - "Man On The Moon", "Nightswimming", and the wistful "Find The River". "Man On The Moon" was one of their biggest hits, of course, and "Nightswimming" is simply one of the finest songs in their entire catalog, and because the album is so solid and so well-arranged, can be confidently placed at the end, followed up finally by the equally lovely and contemplative "Find The River". A truly great collection of songs, the sum greater than the parts...And isn't that what a truly good ALBUM is supposed to be?
01: Green  Featuring..."Pop Song 89", "Get Up", "You Are The Everything", "Stand", "Orange Crush", "Turn You Inside-Out", "I Remember California"
While the argument certainly can be made (and won) that Green is NOT the best album from R.E.M.'s Warner Bros years, I'm ranking it #1 here for at least two reasons. First of all, it marks perhaps the most radical departure for the band, in that they simply "went for it" when they seemingly "sold out" by signing with Warner Bros. Green is a big and shiny album, full of plenty of big pop hooks and a radio-ready sound. They got their big contract, got a glimpse of how big they could get, and went for it. Not only did they craft an album readymade for mass consumption, but the band stepped up their live act. Forced to contend with the rather big and open stages of arenas and stadiums for the Green World Tour, the band cranked up the amps, wore louder suits, and Michael Stipe, in particular, proved he was a great frontman. Now he was leading crowds of 15,000+ around the world, and he was every bit as mesmerizing as he was in those early days, when crowds of a few hundred were child's play for him. I saw the band on the Green World Tour in September of 1989 at Alpine Valley, an outdoor ampitheater in the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin, and it remains the greatest and most memorable concert of my life. It was a cloudless night of a million stars, and I leaned back on the grass, stoned on weed and wine, and was stunned and shaken. They were larger than life, and yet with a crowd of about 14,000, it also felt perfectly intimate. Stipe had become a masterful performer, and even an outright entertainer, and the band brought the tunes and amps to fill those major league spaces. They could have failed, but they didn't, and I was able to gloat to my friends because from their very first album, Murmur, I had been telling anyone who would listen, and plenty who wouldn't, that R.E.M. were going to be a band for the ages. Green marked the crucial turning point simply by being the band's first release for Warner Bros.
And here we are.
28 April 2009
Tuesday's Fortune: 28 April 2009
27 April 2009
RIP, Bea Arthur
Nothing much to say except I used to watch "Maude" with my mom when I was a kid, and Bea Arthur reminded me of my mom, who was a fairly progressive woman herself...
And tall...My mom was 5'11"...
Rest in peace, Bernice Frankel.
25 April 2009
Something 4 The Weekend # 115
This was the official stance (and logo) of the British Phonographic Industry back in the 1980's, when the fear was that blank cassettes would be the ruin of the recording industry. Of course, here we are, 20+ years later, and the recording industry, as I previously mentioned, still generates $10+ billion dollars in revenue annually.
Indeed, the recording industry has got it all wrong. They were 100% wrong about home taping in the 1980's, and they're 100% wrong about filesharing today. Filesharing has a negligible impact on the industry's bottom line. There are any number of studies that support this claim, and I'll leave it to you to investigate on your own if you feel like it. Here's one simple link.
Anybody with any knowledge of marketing will tell you that word-of-mouth has always been, and will always be, the most effective marketing strategy. You're more likely to buy that new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album because I raved about it last week (and shared a couple songs), than some print ad you saw in Rolling Stone magazine. Now, that might be because nobody buys/reads RS these days, but that's a different topic for a different post, I suppose...
I'm not sure what else to say about this topic except that Shakespeare had it right in Henry VI, when Dick the Butcher, while discussing how to create a more utopian England with Jack Cady, pretender to the throne of England, suggested that "the first thing we do is kill all the lawyers"...
The world is not black and white. This whole topic is much more nuanced than "legal" and "illegal", and my streaming of an MP3 or two each week is completely and utterly inconsequential to the recording industry and the artists they market and distribute. With one lawsuit, they could effectively ruin my entire fiscal life, and yet, here I am this week with another song for you. That's because I care about Fugazi, and I think it's worth telling you that I believe they're one of the finest rock bands ever. A band that never charged more than $6 for their shows or $8 for their recordings, and ultimately were (likely) more fiscally successful than any of their friends who signed with a major label. Not that filthy lucre was ever Fugazi's reason to be. It's about the music.
If you like this song, do 'em a favor and go buy the album.
21 April 2009
No No Nos!
Information wants to be free, but the Universal Music Group feels otherwise. Apparently the half dozen readers of this blog might download the two Yeah Yeah Yeahs' songs I uploaded, thus sending UMG into fiscal ruin.
Now that I'm on the IFPI's radar, I suspect more of my S4TW posts might disappear, and of course, the HOT POOP blog itself might ultimately be taken down and myself banished from Blogger for continued illegalities.
Too bad, UMG...I've spent and awful lot of money on my music collection over the past three decades ( I have approximately 8,000 albums in my collection, all paid for legitimately), but you will never get another dime from me.
Tuesday's Fortune: 21 April 2009
19 April 2009
RIP, J.G. Ballard
18 April 2009
15 April 2009
HOT FIVE: R.E.M. I.R.S.
Featuring..."Finest Worksong", "Exhuming McCarthy", "Strange", "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", "The One I Love", "King Of Birds"
This was R.E.M.'s last recording for I.R.S., and it finds them beefing up their sound a bit, working with producer Scott Litt for the first time...The big, polished sound of this recording signaled a play towards a major label deal, which they accomplished the very next year when they signed with Warner Brothers, but despite this "sell-out" the songs themselves were a daring and eclectic mix of styles, incorporating more horns, funky backbeats, weird time signatures, an edgy cover version of Wire's "Strange", and the exotic and beautiful "King Of Birds"...It also contains "It's the End Of The World As We Know It" and what can only be described as Stipe "rapping", and the band's first Top Ten single, "The One I Love". Document was also their first platinum album. Yeah, it was time to leave the College Rock world behind...
03: Reckoning 
Featuring..."7 Chinese Brothers", "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)", "Pretty Persuasion", "Time After Time (Annelise)", "Camera", "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville"
The first R.E.M. concert I attended was at Merlin's in Madison, on their Reckoning tour...I was a newly-minted freshman at the University Of Wisconsin, and I was wild and I was free for the first time in my life...My memories of Reckoning are intertwined with those of casual dorm-room hook-ups, passing a huge bong called "The Purple People Eater" around a perfect circle of smoking acquaintances and friends, and other times listening to this album and Murmur on headphones while doing my Introduction to Folklore reading assignments...It was the best of times, nowhere near the worst of times, even though I did plenty of foolish things when I was eighteen and still minty...I was making some mistakes, and gaining some wisdom, and doing some new and exciting kinds of living, and R.E.M. were the biggest part of the soundtrack.
02: Lifes Rich Pageant 
Featuring..."Begin The Begin", "These Days", "Fall On Me", "The Flowers Of Guatamala", "I Believe", "Swan Swan H", "Superman"
By 1986 I was living in Milwaukee, laying low on the "fashionable east side" in a spacious loft hovering near the UW-Milwaukee campus...I spent most of my time outside of class writing awful poetry alone in that loft, to the muffled sounds of heated, booze-fueled sex coming from the loft on the other side of the northern wall...That was Irene and her part-time boyfriend Bill. She called him "Little Willie", and so did I. I wanted to have heated, rum-soaked sex with Irene on this side of the northern wall, but we were only ever part-time friends. Her and I did see R.E.M. on their Pageantry Tour stop at the Oriental Theater in November of that year, and it was a good-sized venue (1200-1500 capacity) for that point in their career, when they were transitioning from a more intimate College Rock band into something more powerful and compelling. Songs like "Fall On Me", "Flowers Of Guatamala" and "Swan Swan H" were in their more "classic" jangly style, but they were also getting a bit heavier, with bigger-sounding songs like "Begin The Begin", "These Days" and "Just A Touch"...At that Oriental show, the stage was crafted to look like the inside of a country church, with a huge spotlight in the back corner of the stage acting as a full moon, shining through a "window" in the backdrop down upon the middle of the stage...Which just so happened to be where Michael Stipe was proselytizing. The band was growing, and Stipe was turning into a larger-than-life and undeniable performer. He had 1000+ people in the palm of his hand for two hours. This was my fourth R.E.M. show. I was already a convert. As far as their five I.R.S. LPs are concerned, I believe Lifes Rich Pageant is perhaps the strongest and most cohesive of the bunch, and sounds the least dated and quaint to my ears. It strikes a great balance between their earlier, janglier sound, and the big rock band they were on the verge of becoming. This was the last tour the band would do during their I.R.S. years, deciding not to tour behind 1987's Document LP...By 1988 they were doing a bonafide WORLD tour behind the Green LP, and nothing would ever be quite the same...A pageant, indeed...
01: Fables Of The Reconstruction 
Featuring..."Feeling Gravitys Pull", "Driver 8", "Life & How To Live It", "Cant Get There From Here", "Green Grow The Rushes", "Auctioneer (Another Engine)", "Wendell Gee"
I saw two R.E.M. shows in 1985. The first was in May, on the Pre-Construction Tour, at the fucking Stock Pavilion on the UW-Madison campus! The Stock Pavilion was nothing more and nothing less than a large indoor rodeo ring - an open dirt floor dotted with cow and horse and bull shit. It was hot and it was dusty and full of life's richest aromas, and somehow the rural, southern-fried gothic storytelling of the new Fables Of The Reconstruction songs were stunningly perfect for that night...I was floating around on shrooms, lost in an older time and a different place... "Read the scene where gravity is pulling me around...Peel back the mountains peel back the sky...Stomp gravity into the floor...It's a Man Ray kind of sky...Let me show you what I can do with it..." They opened that show with "Feeling Gravitys Pull", and it quickly became my favorite R.E.M. song of all time. When I saw them again on their Reconstruction Tour, it was late August at a skeevy club in Jacksonville, and when they opened the show again with that song, I swear I smelled manure. "Holding my head straight (looking down)...This is the easiest task I've ever had to do..." Fables Of The Reconstruction remains my favorite R.E.M. album, a perfectly realized collection of songs that best represents the "classic" R.E.M. sound, when they were still decidedly Southern, and still completely Independent.
14 April 2009
Tuesday's Fortune: 14 April 2009
12 April 2009
11 April 2009
Maneuver Inca Roads Sideways
Good luck finding a Bob Dylan video at YouTube that can be embedded...Damn you, Sony!
Instead, we've got 9:39 of Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention circa 1975, doing "Inca Roads", and the band is outta site...Arguably Zappa's best line-up ever...
Go ahead, argue.
10 April 2009
HANK RANKS No. 21
06: Ted Healy [1922-1934]
05: Moe Howard [1922-1975]
04: Ron Asheton [1969-1973, 2007-2009]
02: Curly Howard [1932-1947]
Something 4 The Weekend # 113
Now, if you got me really drunk, and really high, around a campfire some dark Saturday night, I'd tell you that my favorite Bob Dylan tune is "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", and I'd start singing "Darkness at the break of noon, Shadows even the silver spoon, The handmade blade, the child's balloon, Eclipses both the sun and moon, To understand you know too soon, There is no sense in trying..." And I'd fumble with the chords on my guitar, and take another hit off the pipe, and exclaim suddenly and as a matter of fact, that my all-time favorite Bob Dylan tune is actually "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"...
And as I sit here typing this, messed up on nothing more than 3 Tylenol PM gelcaps and two fingers of Maker's Mark, I'm gonna stick with that one..."I Don't Believe You" is a song about a hook-up, a one-night-stand during which Bob falls in love with the lady in question, or becomes smitten at the very least...Which is kinda adorable, when you think about it, because nobody really ever thinks about a smitten Dylan, but there he is, in all his glorious youth, bewildered because the woman ignores him the next day...And you can hear the anguish and confusion in his voice (further proof that Dylan is a much better singer than most people ever gave him credit for), but by the end Bob gives us what we've all come to expect from him, a bit of wisdom delivered with the slightest of sneers and some clear-eyed cynicism...
But for the purposes of the weekend, and S4TW, I'm gonna go with my third favorite Bob Dylan tune, "Tombstone Blues"...Not only is it a early example of Country-Rock, but it's possibly the hardest song on an album that was the second in the defiant one-two punch of Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited in 1965...when Dylan "went electric" and pissed off the non-believers...And they called him "Judas"!
So, not only does "Tombstone Blues" blast with an almost Punk-like fury, but it's fully-loaded with non-sequiters and kitchen wisdom for six minutes and twelve verses, and I think if one listens to this song enough times, eventually it all makes absolute and perfect sense. I've probably listened to it 200 times (and even performed it a handful of times), and I'm still not sure...But it's fun, and it rocks seriously, and right now I believe it's actually a telling of the history of The United States, except in my mind, I think America...
But that might just be the Tylenol talking...
09 April 2009
HOT FIVE: Zappa
Featuring... "Dancin' Fool", "Jewish Princess", "Bobby Brown Goes Down", "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes", "City Of Tiny Lites"
Zappaphiles will scoff and snark at the inclusion of Sheik Yerbouti on this list of my five essential Zappa albums, but you must understand that this album was my proper introduction to Frank...At the age of thirteen, I knew who he was from my subscriptions to Creem and Rolling Stone, but the first Zappa song I ever heard in my life was "Dancin' Fool", which Steve & Garry played on their morning show on WLUP cuz, well, Steve Dahl hated Disco, hated it so much that in August of 1979 he hosted the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park...Steve & Garry also played "Jewish Princess" off this album, and I gotta admit, that's the song that convinced me to go to Galaxy Of Sound at the Manchester Mall and actually buy the album...Zappaphiles scoff because this is a solid but fairly unremarkable album in the Zappa discography...But to my perpetually juvenile ears, it's a double LP's worth of great filthy fun...Indeed, it's one of his funniest albums, if only because it's one of his dirtiest...Jewish princesses with pre-moistened dumpers, broken-hearted assholes sniffing the reeking buns of Angel, balls in vices, towers of power, golden showers, and stroking dingers with stinky fingers - you know, all sorts of wild love...Musically, it's worth mentioning that Adrien Belew is playing guitar on this record, and Terry Bozzio and Patrick O'Hearn are holding down the rhythm section and getting their shit together before going off to form Missing Persons...Stylistically, it's all over the map, with Disco, Punk, Doo Wop, Heavy Metal, Musique Concrete, Jazz, Classical, Klezmer and R'n'B, just to name nine types of industrial pullutants...Which is my sly way of suggesting that the inclusion of Sheik Yerbouti on this list means I had to sacrifice other, better albums, like Uncle Meat...Or Bongo Fury, Hot Rats, One Size Fits All...Joe's Garage...But no, the sentimental tug of this album is just too damn strong...It's been in and out of me, in and out of me, so many times, that I hope all you hungry freaks understand...Plus, it's got the song about the poop chute.
04: Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger 
Featuring..."The Girl In The Magnesium Dress", "Naval Aviation In Art", "Dupree's Paradise", "The Perfect Stranger"
Well, here's another selection that the hardcore fans are likely going to mock and deride, but I felt it was only right to include an album of Frank Zappa's "serious" music, and I put that adjective in quotes because who's to say that orchestral music is any more high-minded than Ska or Heavy Metal or ??? I mean, some people take their R'n'B quite seriously, you know? And at the end of the day, it's all just staff paper covered in dots and lines anyway...The Black Page...As far as Zappa's Classical music goes, The Perfect Stranger is my favorite album, and is probably the most accessible of his "serious" stuff...What I really love about the music on this album is Zappa's fondness for malleted percussion and woodwinds...This lumpen is thick with clarinets, oboes and bassoons, and I've always shared Frank's love for that particular instrument... "The bassoon is one of my favorite instruments. It has the medieval aroma - like the days when everything used to sound like that." But here's the thing - four of the seven songs on this album aren't even played by an actual orchestra, instead it's The Barking Pumpkin Digital Gratification Consort, which is just a fancy way of saying "Frank with his Synclavier and whatnot, down in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen...
03: apostrophe (') 
Featuring..."Stink-Foot", "Cosmik Debris", "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow", "Nanook Rubs It"
It only seemed right to place the apostrophe (') album at #3 on this list, right in the middle...The crux of this particular post, you might say...Running throughout Zappa's entire discography is something he called Conceptual Continuity, or the Project/Object...Here's Frank to explain: "Project/Object is a term I have used to describe the overall concept of my work in various mediums. Each project (in whatever realm), or interview connected to it, is part of a larger object, for which there is no technical name. Think of the connecting material in the Project/Object this way: A novelist invents a character. If the character is a good one, he takes on a life of his own. Why should he get to go to only one party? He could pop up anytime in a future novel. Or...Rembrandt got his 'look' by mixing just a little brown into every other color -- he didn't do 'red' unless it had brown in it. The brown itself wasn't especially fascinating, but the result of its obsessive inclusion was that 'look.' In the case of the Project/Object, you may find a little poodle over here, a little blow job over there, etc., etc. I am not obsessed by poodles or blow jobs, however; these words (and others of equal insignificance), along with pictorial images and melodic themes, recur throughout the albums, interviews, films, videos (and this book) for no other reason than to unify the 'collection.'" Whew! If Frank came closest to actually directly addressing Conceptual Continuity in his music, it's in the song "Stink-Foot", in which Fido the dog (who himself bites and chews his way through plenty of Zappa's Projects) explains that the crux of the Conceptual Continuity biscuit is the apostrophe...Now, as a punctuation mark, the apostrophe does two things - it marks omissions, and it signals possession. That is, is represents what we have, and what we don't have. Taken a bit further, the apostrophe suggests that "things" are defined by what they are not (ain't) as much as by what they are...That life is nothing if not contradictions. This is nothing less than dialectics as put forth by Hegel and later Marx...(Don't laugh)... The idea that progress or unity is only achieved through opposition and negation. Hell, the very building blocks of the universe are electrons and protons, you know? And somehow Frank Zappa puts forth these very ideas through the voice of a talking poodle named Fido in a song about an exquisite little inconvenience by the name of "Stink-Foot"...Put another way, "ain't this boogie a mess?" Frank's Project itself was 30+ years of messiness and contradictions...From the sublime ("The Perfect Stranger") to the profane ("Broken Hearts Are For Assholes"), and everything in between...Frank was many things, but he was never boring, and he never stood still...
02: We're Only In It For The Money 
Featuring..."Who Needs The Peace Corp?", Flower Punk", "Let's Make The Water Turn Black", "The Idiot Bastard Son", "Hot Poop"
Frank referred to his band and the people around them as "freaks", and he was always very clear that freaks were not hippies...Zappa didn't care for the hippies, and We're Only In It For The Money is essentially his manifesto against those people and that movement. First of all, he never cared for drugs, and never used them because he never believed he needed them to progress and do his thing. But more to the point, he felt that whatever noble intentions the counterculture (anti-war & civil rights) movement of the 1960's might have had in the beginning, it very quickly devolved into nothing more than a fashion show and an excuse for a bunch of spoiled white kids to take alot of drugs and basically sit around doing nothing, and in the process avoid the realities of their young adulthood (see also, Grunge)...Especially that horrific war on the other side of the world...Now, Frank certainly didn't like the war either, and avoided it himself (contradictions!), but he understood that the anti-war movement was ineffectual (we didn't leave Vietnam until 1975, sixteen years after we arrived), and that for most participants, it was about dressing the part, acting the part, doing the right drugs, listening to the right music, and in general, fitting in...For all the talk about free love, self-expression, and whatnot, there sure was a ton of conformity within the movement...So many contradictions...As Frank himself once infamously said from the stage when a fan shouted that there were uniformed cops in the audience: "Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself." Ah, so many Hegelian dialectics at play...The counter-culture opposing the government, and Frank and his freaks opposing the counter-culture...Frank opposing his own fans...I think for Zappa it was a matter of "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em", and since the hippies left such a bad taste in his mouth, he decided to beat 'em at their own game...While it's certainly true that the freak scene that emerged around Frank was every bit as conforming, Frank essentially stood in opposition to everyone and everything, with the exception of his family, his Object and all Projects therein, and his bandmates. This album is ultimately a huge, hilarious and satisfying bitchslap to an entire generation of phonies with crabs. The crux of the Zappa biscuit is his continual and intentional practice of creating music and presenting ideas that contradicts and challenges conventional wisdom, good taste, and various interpretations of the First Amendment. Everything he did seemed like a conscious attempt to avoid fame and fortune, everything he did as a professional musician ran counter to the way one works within the music industry, and yet, despite working in this way for more than 30 years, he became not only rich and famous, but arguably one of the most significant songwriters/composers/musicians/entertainers of the 20th century, at least according to those who supposedly understand such things and shape popular opinion. Consider this - his most radio-ready songs usually had the filthiest fucking lyrics or subversive ideas, insuring hardly any of that sweet, sweet radio play that created stars back then, but dammit if it those very songs didn't fill arenas around the world and allowed Zappa to finance his more "serious" Projects, which were often so modern, idiosyncratic and avant-garde that they too would only ever appeal to a fairly small number of people. Then again, Jazz From Hell won a Grammy, and mark my words - 50 years from now, Zappa compositions will be as common as Stravinsky or Mahler in orchestral repertoires around the world. Or maybe I just bought the myth and drank the Kool-Aid. Frank Zappa was a salesman and barker as much as anything else, and he sold one thing - Frank Zappa. Chew on that, Fido.
01: Zappa In New York 
Featuring..."Titties & Beer", "Cruisin' For Burgers", "Punky's Whips", "The Illinois Enema Bandit", "I'm The Slime", "The Torture Never Stops"
It seems to me that the most essential Zappa album would have to be a LIVE album, because a Zappa concert was never just a bunch of men with beards standing around and playing their hits exactly like they do on the records...Zappa put on SHOWS in the truest sense of the word...They were EVENTS, complete with songs (of course) and dances, dramatic re-inactments, giraffes full of whipped cream, tons of left-turns and surprises, and plenty of audience participation...And of course plenty of conceptual continuity...Every show was an OBJECT with it's own SECRET WORD and it's own aroma...For me, Zappa In New York is the single most perfect example of Zappa's PROJECT. It's got plenty of the funny, filthy songs, it's got plenty of the more "serious" music...Oftentimes, Frank shuts up and plays his guitar, and that's a whole 'nother wonder I didn't even talk about in this entire blather of mine, and finally, it's got Don Pardo doing the sophisticated narration throughout. I can't necessarily say that this is the very best Zappa album (it's a serious contender), but if I were to recommend the single best album for a Zappa neophyte to start with, I'd have to go with this one...Arf! Arf! Arf!
08 April 2009
A Word With Moshammer's Ghost
07 April 2009
EVERYTHINGATHON! April 2009!
Yeah, the title of this month's EVERYTHINGATHON! is supposed to be a sly reference to the opening line of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, but don't let that fool you into thinking this podcast is intellectually stimulating, cuz it's basically just an hour of yours truly spinning rain songs and drinking heavily on the WBST airwaves...Cuz that's what happens in spring in Wisconsin - it rains, and it's a cold, hard rain...
So, there's nothing very special about this month's podcast, unless you enjoy a bunch of geezer mold tunes and me spewing uninspired gibberish between those tunes...Having said that...ENJOY! Right now, and until May 1st, when we'll stream something else...
Tuesday's Fortune: 07 April 2009
03 April 2009
Sideways *cough* Maneuver
This is a Luden's Cough Drop commercial featuring a song called "The Big Squeeze" by Frank Zappa. Zappa was actually hired to do the music for this commercial. Wunnerful, wunnerful...
Thanks to guest blogger Richard Metzger over at boingboing...
Something 4 The Weekend # 112
And I wish I could claim that I "discovered" Paul Weller on my own, but the truth of the matter is that it was my younger sister who actually introduced me to The Jam. I have no idea how or why she liked The Jam, because they were so different than the stuff she usually listened to back then - The Bee Gees, Shaun Cassidy, Bay City Rollers, etc. But damn if she didn't have two or three Jam albums in her collection, and I remember hearing their All Mod Cons album thumping through the wall separating our bedroom one day, and I was pretty much immediately hooked.
So, thank you, sister Starsky, for 30+ years of solid entertainment. Excellent fucking call.
01 April 2009
I'm not a fan of Star Wars in the least...Hate Star Wars, actually...
However, I AM a fan of sounds, electric guitars, and facial hair, and I got a small kick outta this 20 second video. Plus, if push came to shove, I'd admit to thinking that Chewbacca is kinda cool.