Thursday, June 30, 2005

Live 8 Tracks: Number 3

Live 8 will consume all.

#3: "Stigmata"
-Ministry, In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up [Live] (Sire/Warner Brothers)

In an era (the early 90s) when slackers were en vogue, leave it to Ministry to call "Bullshit". While the album title takes underachievers to task, the music "burning inside" ICYDFLSU is a blitzkrieg of industrial metal laced with bile. Al Jourgensen saves his most caustic remarks for the final track, and "Stigmata" closes with a flourish of "fucks" that are beautiful in their offensiveness. Just listen to it.*

*Not for the faint of heart.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Live 8 Tracks: Number 4

Live 8 is only 3 days away. Buy your beer now.

#4: "Whole Lotta Love"
-Led Zeppelin, How the West Was Won (Atlantic)

Medleys are usually concert cop-outs. A band at the peak of their popularity will string together some of their early material in a feeble attempt to appease older fans. It sucks. "Whole Lotta Love" from HWWW is a rare exception. Instead of cramming their own songs into the medley, Zeppelin dabbled in covers that revealed their influences (most notably John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillun"). The inclusion of the four songs in the middle of "Whole Lotta Love" stretches the original song to 23 minutes. Only "Poop Ship Destroyer" from Ween's Paintin' the Town Brown LP boasts greater expansive powers: turning a 2-minute ditty into a 26-minute cruise on the chocolate stew.

Normally I prefer single-date concert discs to the hodge-podge live album culled from numerous shows, but HWWW (recorded over 2 dates in August 1972) has been masterfully mixed to resemble a single performance (except that the 3 discs would be a marathon concert).

After drummer John Bonham's death in 1980, Led Zeppelin broke up...and then reformed for Live Aid in 1985. The results were so disasterous (Phil Collins played the skins) that their performance was excised from the Live Aid DVD/CD.

Pink Floyd is reuniting in London for Live 8. Let's hope they fare better.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Live 8 Tracks: Number 5

Leading up to Live 8 on July 2nd, I'm counting down 8 of my favorite live tracks.

#5: "Suicide Solution (with guitar solo)"
-Ozzy Osbourne, Tribute (Sony)

Just the fact that Ozzy sang, "Food, glorious food" backstage at the Philadelphia Live Aid concert in 1985 qualifies him for inclusion on this Live 8-inspired list.

"Wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker/Suicide is slow with liquor."

Is there a better song to listen to while drinking in a dive? I don't think so. How many quarters did I spend (notice I didn't write "waste") playing this song on the jukebox at the East End Tavern* in Manayunk? So many fuzzy evenings. So many excellent conversations.

The guitar solo on "Suicide Solution" comes at the very end of the song. The song is essentially over...and then the solo begins. While Rhoads is out there shredding, the rest of the band takes a Spinal Tap break for beers.

The inside cover of Tribute bears this inscription:

"This is a tribute to my friend and my partner. Not a day goes by when I don't think of him. He is dearly missed."

-Ozzy Osbourne

That is a damn fine thing to say about a person. Tribute is a reminder that life is short, and it immortalizes the performances of a brilliant guitarist. Isn't that the purpose of a live album?

Lift your glass to Mr. Randy Rhoads.

*Does anyone remember the show mentioned in this link? I never saw it, but it's creeping me out that it was called Mr. Rhodes and the jukebox at the East End Tavern stocked Tribute. Different spelling of "Rhodes/Rhoads", but still weird.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Live 8 Tracks: Number 6

Leading up to Live 8 on July 2nd, I'm counting down 8 of my favorite live tracks.

#6: "Riot Starter"
-Cypress Hill, Live at the Fillmore (Columbia)

With all due respect to Philadelphia's The Roots and their excellent The Roots Come Alive LP, Cypress Hill's Live at the Fillmore takes the (space) cake as the best live rap album to date.

What makes Fillmore such an outstanding concert recording isn't just the quality of the performance, but the crowd's response to it. They're going absolutely crazy! The band's playing reflects the intensity of their fans' energy. Listening to the crowd's reaction on this disc makes me want to travel back through time and space to San Francisco on August 16, 2000. Along with the Mexico City fans on "Seek and Destroy" from Metallica's Live Shit: Binge and Purge box set, this might be the most vocal audience ever recorded. Crowd interaction is a vital component of live recordings, but the balance has to be just right; too much noise and the music is lost (a common problem with bootlegs), too little noise and the recording doesn't sound spontaneous. Fillmore gets it perfect.

Backed by metal band SX-10, the intensity of the band's performance builds as the night wears on, and on the penultimate track, "Riot Starter", Sen Dog makes a final provacative statement to incite the crowd, "I see a bunch of pussies in the back that don't want to come to the front and get motherfuckin' busy. The fuck you think this is, motherfucker? You ain't in no motherfuckin' gym class. This is Cypress Hill". I imagine all hell breaking loose in the pit as the guitars rip like buzzsaws. If only all rap metal were this potent. Sadly, I can count the number of talented rap-metal bands on one middle finger: Rage Against the Machine.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Live 8 Tracks: Number 7

Leading up to Live 8 on July 2nd, I'm counting down 8 of my favorite live tracks.

#7: "We Are 138"
-Misfits, Evilive (Plan 9)

The sound quality's poor, but Evilive captures the Misfits perfectly. Not the strongest track on the album, “We Are 138” nonetheless features a guest appearance by “Henry from Black Flag”. That would be Henry Rollins. It was always the subject of debate who would win in a fight between Rollins and Glenn Danzig. My money was always on Rollins: Danzig was muscular, but he didn’t look flexible enough to put his arms down.

Guest appearances at concerts are (usually) a treat for fans and set a live show apart from listening to an album at home. I've been fortunate to witness a couple outstanding guest appearances, but the one I remember best was also the first one I saw. Radiohead's Thom Yorke joined Belly's Tanya Donelly on the stage of the Trocadero for "Untogether". I remember Yorke was waifishly thin and twitched a lot (someone in the crowd yelled, “Get off the smack”). Considering Radiohead’s current level of popularity it’s amazing that in 1992 they were the opening act for Belly.

I'm still hoping for a Danzig-fronted Misfits reunion, but given the general quality of reunion tours, maybe I should reconsider that wish.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Live 8 Tracks

Leading up to Live 8 on July 2nd, I'm counting down 8 of my favorite live tracks. I haven't listened to every live album ever produced, so I welcome recommendations of songs/albums.

#8: "Paper Thin Walls"
-Modest Mouse, Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again (available at

There are certain obvious things that separate a live album from their studio counterparts. One of these is band-to-audience dialogue. A great off-the-cuff remark (or rant, in this case) can be as memorable as the song being played. At the end of "Paper Thin Walls", Isaac Brock responds to a fan's request for "Freebird". Brock is not modest when he declares, "life is too fucking short to play or hear ‘Freebird’"

Stage dialogue was sadly missing from Nirvana's From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. I have heard several Nirvana bootlegs (I recommend Roma, if you can find it), and Cobain made funny, bizarre, and insightful remarks in every one of them ("We're Nirvana, and we're from Tokyo!"). By removing all dialogue (save for a faint "Great Caesar's Ghost!"), From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah fails to truly capture the essence of a live Nirvana performance.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Live Blogging as a Last Resort

It's come to this. I'm so out of ideas for how to respond to shitty writing that I'm going with "live blogging".

While I don't endorse the column, it does help to read Neil Ferguson's "Lush Life" review of Doobie's (2201 Lombard Street, 546-0316--the 215 is understood) from the June 22, 2005 Philadelphia Weekly (a.k.a. the weekly that panders to the suburbs) to understand my critique. Cliff Notes version: Neil Ferguson is full of shit.

11:59 p.m.: Sentence 1 and 2--Neil establishes that he's aware that Doobie's, "a neighborhood institution (if nothing else)", has changed its facade. Brilliant observation of the obvious, but let's go on. Ferguson then uses his mental powers to imagine what people who drink regularly at Doobie's are saying, complete with cursing (cuz everyone uses the 'F' word when talking about the local bar). The "if nothing else" parenthetical note is the weak catch-all.

12:00 a.m.: Hooray, it's Friday! Boo! I'm still reading this shitty column. Neil goes on to reveal that he was down with the Doobie's scene before it was spruced up, he even listens to music when drinking (and can read what's in the jukebox). Good for him, his 4th grade teacher is proud.

12:02 a.m.: Damn. It took me 2 minutes to read a couple sentences and write a response. Still haven't changed my mind that this column's a piece of shit. Maybe I should reveal here that I had the idea to "live blog" the column after I read it the first time. This is a reactionary piece, but a live reactionary piece of my second reading. Neil takes a stand on the side of smokers in the proposed Philadelphia smoking ban. Way to go out on a limb. He even cheapens the use of Nazi symbolism to promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Hey, I'm against a smoking ban, too, but I'll save Nazi comparisons for something legitimate. Seriously, he's really going to compare a ban on smoking to mass genocide? "Shithead" isn't a strong enough term for Mr. Ferguson. In his words, "This is a bar, after all, not a health farm", or a concentration camp, right? Asshole.

12:03 a.m.: "Hooray for me!" Sorry, I'm watching Chapelle's Show while I read this shitty column. Needed something to smack the taste out my mouth.

12:04 a.m.: Ferguson makes a "personal criticism": he hates people. There you have it. He doesn't want to drink with people who take themselves seriously. Fine. So why doesn't he just hang out on Delaware Avenue? Because he's a piece of shit.

12:05 a.m.: Ferguson proclaims himself an authority on "cool", and lays out ground rules for how to be cool. He addresses his readers directly by declaring himself a "professional" of cool and declaring: "The basic rule means not trying". Shit. Kids, if you are reading this, be aware that anyone who purports to be an authority of cool is a fuckin' authority figure. Fuck the man. Fuck! The! Man! As soon as you claim to be an authority on cool you forfeit any coolness you may have had. Sorry Ferguson, your cool pass (if you ever had one) has been revoked.

12:06 a.m.: Ferguson can't walk and chew gum at the same time. While sippin' his lukewarm beer and trying to keep his balance on a barstool, he takes issue with people who can drink and knit at the same time.

12:07 a.m.: What a surprise, Neil Ferguson is a belligerent drunk. The Lush Life auteur threatens to, "shove the needles where the sun don't shine." I'm calling his bluff. That's some pretty tough talk for an alcoholic. Guess what, you're not Hemingway. I was talking to some knitting friends of mine and they've proposed a "knit in" at Doobie's. They encourage you to show up.

My prediction is Neil will have more (knitting) needles in his ass than the last time he visited the VD clinic. I've wasted enough time dissecting this turd.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Live 8-Ball

OE 800 declares itself the official malt liquor of Live 8!*

PHILADELPHIA, PA: In a natural merger of marketing and corporate sponsorship, the Miller Brewing company has declared its intention to make Olde English 800 the official malt liquor of Live 8.
In a haze of intoxication, spokespeople for OE released this statement, "The brew, long known as 'the cadillac of 40s' is a uniquely portable (and potable) beverage that fits snugly in a classic brown paper bag wrapper."
Advisors to Philadelphia Mayor John Street stopped short of endorsing the beverage since it's not brewed in the City of Brotherly Love, but were quick to welcome donations from corporate sponsors. The mayor added, "Drink responsibly, kids."
Approximately 1 million fans are expected to clog the Ben Franklin Parkway on July 2nd for the event. Retailers in the area have already doubled their orders for 40s. One area merchant declared, "I'm clearing out the dairy case and loadin' up on liquor. This weekend the milk teat is goin' dry. Who wants milk on a hot summer day? I just hope I have enough paper bags."

*Not really, but I'll be swiggin' the 8-Ball on the Parkway, cuz when you're donating your money to charity (as I am), you have to be economical in your beverage selection. That's where the 40 comes in.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Live H8

After losing 50 Cent, Philly’s Live 8 concert is getting Linkin Park and Destiny’s Child.
I guess Beyonce and her 2 friends have recovered from being booed off stage during the 2001 NBA Finals here in Philadelphia.
Is it acceptable to boo artists performing for charity? Only time will tell, I guess.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Sight Unseen: Summer Edition 1

Several weeks worth of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

Batman Begins
What exactly is Batman beginning? He's obviously beginning to make money for Warner Bros. again.

Cinderella Man
Is this the worse superhero name ever? To paraphrase Batman Begins, "Anyone who goes around dressed like Cinderella has to have issues."

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Well, they're flying 'cross the land, tryin' to get a hand, playing in their traveling pants. Soon to be broadcast repeatedly and forever on the Oxygen Channel.

The Longest Yard
I can't even count the number of recycled "jokes" that appear in the trailer for this turd. Let's start with the gentle giant who doesn't know how to use his size and seeks coaching from Chris "I'm only funny in stand-up" Rock, who asks the big guy not to eat him. Who the fuck laughs at that old cliche? Now I know why these movies are aimed at teens. Kids are the only ones who aren't culturally literate enough to call "bullshit!" (OK, maybe not the only ones: see also fans of the Blue Collar Comedy Shitfest).

Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Not a sequel to the Jimmy Stewart filibuster movie. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie aren't going to Washington...They're going to hell for adulterous relations (and laughing all the way to the bank). Like Charon, Vince Vaughn will transport them across the River Styx. We'll see you again later this summer, Mr. Vaughn.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Live 7.50

50 Cent has dropped out of the Philadelphia Live 8 concert, leaving us with Live 7.50.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to make/think of that joke, but I haven't seen/heard it yet, so there it is.