Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Out of the Vaults # 13 - Otis Redding - Deep Memphis Soul

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the Cd for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc, etc, etc

Out of the Vaults #13 - Otis Redding - Deep Memphis Soul

I would like to say I have been listening to Otis Redding for years but It would not be true. The first time I ever bought something by Otis was just a few years ago on a trip to California. While rummaging through the dollar bin at a hole in the wall record store just off the beach in Venice, I ran across a copy of Deep Memphis Soul. Being just a dollar there was no excuse not to finally give Otis a try

I had to wait until I returned home a few days later to get a chance to  the listen to the album but once the disc  made it's way into my CD player, it would be stay there for some time.

The desperation of the lead off track "These Arms of Mine", "Change is Gonna Come" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long", both done by many but none capture the feeling of  Otis's versions. The later one almost brings a tear to my eye each time I hear it.

Then there are the bluesy tracks. "Tell The Truth" and "Pain In My Heart" supply the "Memphis" part of the album's title.

But of course it's not all about sad songs, We also get the very upbeat horns driven "I Can't Turn You Lose", "Shake"containing one of my favorite song lyrics "You're shaking like a bowl of soup", "Look At That Girl", the Carla Thomas duet "Tramp" and the original version of a  "Respect". An altered version would go on to be singer Aretha Franklin's signature song. The original Otis version, which he wrote himself, with different lyrics contaning no "R-E-S-P-E-C-P-T", is a far better song.

"Respect" is not the only song you may recognize. Until I bought this album I had no idea the most known Black Crows song "Hard To Handle" was also originally done by Otis Redding. That intense song lip synched by John Crier's "Ducky" character while thrashing around the record store in Pretty In Pink was "Try A Little Tenderness" is actually Otis. The scene only helps prove it is one of Otis's most intense songs.

The most well known Otis Redding song "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" closes out an awesome introduction to one of music history's greatest singers.

Watch Otis Reding singing "Respect" below. I want to know your opinions on who's version is better

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Matt Skiba and The Sekrets - Babylon: One Blogger's Opinion

Let's face it. After 2003's classic Good Mourning, The Alkaline Trio became too polished and frankly pretty boring. I think even the band realized this when their last album was just rerecorded and acoustic versions of their older songs.

When I accidentally ran across Babylon, the new album by The Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba's new solo band The Sekrets, keeping my expectation low I decided to give it a listen. Never really being a big fan of the songs bassist Dan Adriano sang on the Alkaline Trio albums, maybe Matt Skiba vocals alone on Babylon may actually be a plus.

The very powerful and very catchy "Voices" leads off the album. It's not too much different from the louder ones on the last few Alkaline Trio albums but it does have a little extra "oomph" to it. There is an (almost) annoying keyboard that probably could have been left out. Thankfully the keyboard sits out the next song. "All Fall Down", with it very strong full sound, could easily fit right in on the Some Kind Of WonderfulPretty In Pink or any other John Hughes movie soundtrack.

"Luciferean Dreams" tries to take the place of one of those Dan Adriano Alkaline Trio tracks. It's more laid back then Matt's usual scorchers. The songs title gives us this album's first taste of The Alkaline Trio's continuing "horror" lyrics and themes they first adopted years ago.The theme can also be heard in the lyrics to "Death of Joy" ("This crimson dripping off these hands of mine from all the time I've killed"), "You" ("Dreams of demons") and a few more places sprinkled throughout the album. I was kind of hoping Matt would skip the whole "horror" theme on this one...

"Haven't You" is a very New Wave sounding slower song. The keyboard is back and even attempts to hog the spotlight by show off with random noises here and there. The song does take off for the last chorus bringing back memories of "Continental", my favorite Alkaline Trio song. If you would like to check out this song, along with Babylon's "How the Hell Did We Get Here" and "Angel of Deaf" in their early stages, check out Matt's "Demos" collection from last year.

"You" is a fast moving song. In my opinion this is the best song on the record. Matt's voice takes on an evil tone. The pesky keyboard player decides to switch to a real piano and what do you know, it works! When before the last chorus Matt sings "Dance with me, dance with me" in a very sinister voice, I like to think he is paying tribute to T.S.O.L.'s classic 1981 horror/goth punk album of the same name.

For "Olivia" Matt returns to the friendlier voice. The song possesses a classic hook Alkaline Trio chorus which has had me singing along on my walk home from the train for the last two weeks. "Falling Like Rain" starts off with some scary Dark wave dance keyboard but the song really takes off with an ultra catchy chorus. Soon the keyboards returns but don't be scared, now they are not so dark!

By the time the album reached "How Did We Get Here" at track 9, I am actually missing those Dan Adriano songs that I used to fast forward through. The songs is very good. Powerful and filled with hooks, plus the keyboard is not so up front this time. But still this song made me realize Matt solo may have been better suited at just an EP's length.

The play on words titled "Angel of Deaf" closes out the album. Although it is a good song I feel Matt may be trying a little too hard to repeat "Blue in the Face", the awesome song that closed out Good Mourning eight years ago.

Overall Babylon is a very good album. It has been playing over and over again in my house for weeks. Even though there are about six of the ten songs that  really stand out, "You" and "Voices" stand out just a little further, ALL ten of the songs are pretty much better than anything Matt's main band has released in recent years. Horror themed an all


Friday, May 18, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #12 - The Descendents - Hallraker Live!

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the Cd for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc.

Out Of The Vaults #12 - The Descendents - Hallraker !

The Descendents are my ALL-time favorite band. Hallraker was the first album I ever bought by them.

It's like in Nick Hornby's book  High Fidelity when the narrator asks, "Which came first-the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music?" Are the songs on Hallraker some of my favorite Descendents songs because it was the first album I bought by them? Or is Hallraker one of my favorite albums because so many of my favorite Descendents songs are on it?

I am unsually not a fan of live albums. They just don't hold up on repeated listening. Most of the ones I have bought in the past either end up being given away or sold back to used record stores. Hallraker and its recorded on the same tour counterpart Liveage are two exceptions.

Hallraker was released because fans felt Liveage left off so many of The Descendents best songs but most people still prefer Liveage. I on the other hand favor Hallraker for a few reasons. The first being there are so many songs on the album which The Descendents rarely played live. Songs like the quick lead off burst of "Global Probing" of he faster super old songs in "Kabuki Girl" and "Hey Hey". All three originally on their1982 debut album Milo Goes To College.

There are also three of the best songs off the at the time new album ALL. The angry "Jealous Of The World", the very metal "Iceman" and the power hooks in "Cameage" were all left off of Liveage. Plus how could they have forgotten one of the songs which kept me going through many rough times, "Pep Talk"?

Hallraker also contains some of The Descendents' best "Girl" songs. The classics "Good Good Things", "Cheer" and "Christmas Vacation", all with subject matter totally relating to stuff I was going through when I bought the record at 16 years old. "Christmas Vacation" in particular has a few moments really hitting home.

The pseudo thrash of "Hurtin' Crue", the youthfulness of the always played back to back "Rockstar" and "NoFb" and the 17 second classic "I Want To Be A Bear" round out one of my ALL-time favorite live albums.

There is one more major reason why I favor Hallraker over Liveage- The "All-O-Gistics". Out of all the songs on every Descendents album including the two "Reunion" albums, "All-O-Gistics" is the only song I cannot listen too and it is on Liveage. Maybe it's the "Quan, quams" but the songs just bugs me. Totally breaks up the flow of the record.

Obviously I am not saying to forget about Liveage. If you did you would miss out on great live versions of “Bikeage”, “Silly Girl”, “Weinersnitzel”, “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”, “Suburban Home" and 13 other awesome Descendents songs

Friday, May 11, 2012

Out of The Vaults #11 - Green River - Come On Down

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the Cd for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc.

Out Of The Vaults #11 - Green River -Come On Down

I always thought Green River was like the movie The Outsiders of bands. Just like in the movie where all these actors who had not really done much acting at the time would go on to pretty big careers, Green River was made of up guys who had never really done too much musically before but would all go on to be major players in the Seattle scene and music in general

Although Come On Down (Homestead Records) and Green River’s later Ep Dry as a Bone and album Rehab Doll (both on Sub Pop Recordswere all released between 1985 and 1988, I first picked them both up circa 1991 when some of their later bands and bands they influenced were in full effect. Listening to Come On Down you can almost pick the different places in these songs those later bands drew inspiration.

The Title Track is a song told from the point of view of the person who the band took their name from, The Green River Killer. The song’s heavy guitars played slightly sloppy with heavy bass and thundering drums set the precedent for the sound bands like (early) Soundgarden, Tad and other bands of Seattle/Sub Pop scene would use as guidelines for their own sound. Being released in 1985, the Green River Killer was still at large. This song gives the listener a frightening image of what his 48+ victims may have experienced. The bubbles at the end of the song are a very nice touch

“New God” is a continuation of the sound of the title track with an even heavier tidal wave of guitars, but it’s at Track 3 where we find one of the songs most important to Pacific North West Rock and Roll: “Swallow My Pride”. This song keeps the heaviness of the bass and drums but now the guitarist breaks out the “Superfuzz” and “Big muff” effects  pedals which would become the signature of his later band as well as half the bands in Seattle. “Swallow My Pride” also has load of hooks and can almost be sung along too. This would be further proven when Seattle’s great Power/Punk/Pop The Fastbacks would cover it on the legendary Sub Pop 200 compilation. Soundgarden would also cover the song on their second Ep FOPP (now on the Screaming Life/FOPP CD).

Three more songs, including the 7+ minute opus “Tunnel of Love” close out what many consider the first release by a “Grunge” band.

After one more Ep and an album, now available as the Dry as a Bone/Rehab Doll CD, Green River dissolved over a few of them wanting be major label rock stars and few wishing to remain independent. Singer Mark Arm and guitarist (on Come On Down, not later stuff) Steve Turner would go on to form the long standing (and one of my favorite bands) Mudhoney. Guitarist Stone Gossard, Bassist Jeff Ament, along with later Green River guitarist Bruce Fairweather  would grab Malfunkin singer Andrew Wood to form the more rock sounding Mother Love Bone. After Wood fatally OD’ed on heroin, Stone and Jeff found drummer Matt Cameron, guitarist Mike McCready and a guy named Eddie Vedder and formed some band named Pearl Jam. Ever hear of 'em?

I couldn't find a decent video of Green River when they were originally together but I did find an AWESOME video of them reformed performing "Come On Down" at Sub Pop's 20th Anniversary July 13th 2008. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Now Here's A Little Story I've Got To Tell: Tribute To A Beastie Boy

In 2001 when I heard the choked up DJ on the radio announce Joey Ramone had passed away I had to pull over. Even  though I never met Joey,  his band’s music had been a big part of my life since I was about 15 years old. I took it pretty hard. I have been a huge fan of the Beastie Boys music since I was 13 years old. Last Friday when they announced Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, of course better known as MCA had passed away I took it even worse.

License to Ill was not the first album I ever bought. It was however my first gatefold cover album. For someone who would go on to a lifetime of listening to and collecting records this was a pretty big deal. For me the draw of LPs over cassettes (CDs were not around yet) was the sleeves. They give you something to look at while listening to the record. Gatefold covers allow you double the space to admire. Although License to Ill’s cover looks like a simple plane crashing into a mountain there was actually so much more going on in the picture. The “Beastie Boys” insignia on the tail, the Def Jam logo and the numbers and letters that we could never figure out the meaning  to in front of it. Every time my friends and I put on the record we tried to see if there was anything else on the album cover we missed. The whole time we were totally oblivious to the fact the plane was made to look like a stubbed out joint.

The great thing about License to Ill was we all could listen to it. There was never a fight over what to put in the boom box. Our Rocker friend loved the Aerosmith samples on “The New Style” and the Led Zeppelin sample on “She’s Crafty”. Our friend who was into rap loved the Run-DMC samples on "The New Style" and Slick Rick samples on "Hold It Now, Hit It". The Black Sabbath guitar riffs sampled on “Rhymin N Stealin” satisfied our metal friend. He was especially pleased when we learn the guitarist Kerry King of his favorite band Slayer was responsible for the guitar riffs on “No Sleep To Brooklyn”. Personally I loved it all. 

Throughout Middle School other bands and albums would come and go off our record players, boom boxes and parents car radio tape decks but License to Ill would remain in our rotation all the way through the end of eighth grade.

In High School a few years later The Beastie Boys released their second album Paul's Boutique. My homeroom class bonded over our secret plot to have the album's "Hey Ladies" voted in as the theme to the Homecoming Dance.

I was lucky enough to have seen the Beastie Boys live three times. The first was in 1992 just after Check Your Head was released. They were playing with Sonic Youth at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie,Maryland of all places. The Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth. You can't get much more New York than that. The second time was in 1994 at a Sold Out last minute show at WUST Music Hall (now the "New" 9:30 Club) in Washington, DC just a few days after Ill Communication had been released. I remember Mike D., Adrock and MCA checking  the score of the Knicks playoff game between each song. The "Secret" show was meant to be a warm up for the Beastie Boys upcoming stint on Lollapalooza tour, which is actually the third place I caught them

About ten of us piled into two cars and headed to Charlestown, WV for the show. Each one of us with a few  acts in particular we wanted to catch. Some went for Tribe Called Quest, a few went for Smashing Pumpkins, one or two for The Breeders and a couple for George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. I wanted to see them all.  Out of the ten of us there was no one who was not totally psyched  to be seeing the Beastie Boys. With no cell phones or set place to meet it was not uncommon at all day "Festival" concerts to become separated from your friends for hours on end. Throughout the day various members of our group found ourselves lost from the group for long periods of time. When The Beastie Boys came on we all found ourselves reunited right up front. 

Last week when  MCA. passed away from cancer it was almost eleven years exactly after Joey Ramone's life was taken by the same disease. Eleven more years listening to and buying new albums from one of my earliest favorite bands. From the very beginning I definitely thought MCA was the coolest Beastie Boy. After all  if you remember the video for "(You've Got to )Fight For Your Right (To Party)" he is the only one  wearing a leather jacket.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #10 - Husker Du - ZEN ARCADE

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the Cd for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc.

Out of The Vaults #10 - Husker Du - Zen Arcade

Zen Arcade is the second album out of my "Holy Trinity" of  incredible double albums. The other two are Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation and the Minutemen’s Double Nickels On the Dime. Daydream Nation was actually the very first “Out of the Vaults” pick at the very beginning of this blog. 

Even through Zen Arcade and Double Nickels came out in 1984 and Daydream Nation in 1988, I bought them all within a few weeks of each other circa1988 or 89. All three are perfect albums, each on a whole different level them  everything else that was being released at the time. In my opinion all three of them are also the best material each band ever released.

Although guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart wrote the songs on Zen Arcade, bassist Greg Norton has the honor of being the first member you hear on it. His bass on “Something I Learned Today” gets the ball rolling before the rest of the band kicks in. With song #2 “Broken Homes, Broken Heart” the albums narrative begins. I am not going to get too much into the story because I want you to be able to listen to it yourselves. The acoustic but no less intense “Never Talking To You Again” follows.

“Chartered Trips” picks up where “Broken Homes, Broken Heart left off”. Bob Mould's patented buzzing guitar wailing along as you can hear the urgency and desperation in his voice. “Dreams Reocurring”  is a minute and a half instrumental. Composed of backwards tape loops, piercing and swirling guitars, bass and various other instruments, the song is very reminiscent of The Byrd’s “Eight Miles High”, a song Husker Du would be covering as a single in the near future.

Song #6 “ Indecision Time” continues the intensity with guitar noises attempting to escape from all directions only to be pummeled back down into the ground.

“Hare Krishna” comes on next, bringing more buzzing guitars. Bob’s mumbling lyrics intertwined with drummer Grant Hart’s chants of “Hare Krishna” make the song perfectly convey the feeling of being confused and smothered by religion.

Following are the trio of “Beyond The Threshold”, “Pride” and “Never Forget You”. The middle one is NEVER to be listened to while working out at the gym. If you do, instant heart attack. This song is that intense. You have been warned.

At track 11 we find one of my all time favorite songs. “Biggest Lie” has an awesome heavy build up at the beginning  followed by more of Bob’s trademark guitar sound.  The song also has the best Bob Mould guitar solo ever. His solo on Husker Du’s “Could You Be The One” a couple of years later, a close second.

Track 12 “What’s Going On” has Bob and Grant shouting at each other while guitars wail . I can just picture them in the studio, each one gritting their teeth as they attempt to become louder than the other. The exchange is so intense that neither one seems to notice two minutes into the song a piano has snuck in and grabbed the solo. I always picture bassist Greg sitting there watching Bob and Grant battle it out, seeing this is his chance to shine, runs out of studio, grabs the piano and bring it back without the other guys noticing.

Pretty soon the shouting does dies done but with 30 seconds left, both Bob and Grant attempt to one up each other by starting the shouting again.  Bob emerges the victor, celebrating with a few quick guitar riffs at the very end. Feeling bad about it, he let's Grant take the lead vocals on the next song, "Masochism World".

After the slower "Standing By The Sea" and the very Who-esque "Somewhere", both with Grant on lead vocals, we find the first of two forty second piano interludes "One Step at a Time". Along with the one a few songs down, these interludes are a very good way to separate sections the story. They also allow you to take a breath and prepare for the tragic "Pink Turns To Blue" which follows. Bob takes over the lead for the two songs, separated by the second forty second interlude of "Monday Will Never Be The Same", which follow. In "Newest Industry" and especially "Whatever", Bob's voices becomes so intense and urgent to the point beyond the threshold (couldn't resist) where it sounds as if it is almost about to break.

The droning psychedelic looping sounds of the next song, the three minute "The Tooth Fairy and The Princess" is the sound of the narratives main character waking up leaving them and the listener wondering if it was all just a dream.

Closing out the the monumental album is "Turn on The News", a song which the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Hopefully pretty soon Husker Du, one of the most important bands in alternative music, will finally receive it's own rightful place in the Hall

The album officially ends with a fourteen minute extended "Dreams Reoccurring" called "Reoccurring Dreams". I always thought of it as the music playing while the credits for the rest of the album and story were rolling.

According to the front page of iTunes "Husker Du Classic Just Added" with Zen Arcade among them. Go over there and purchase it or listen to it on Spotify. Just please don't listen to it at the gym. You have been warned.