About Us


There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Top Ten (and then some)

The taint-tickling reviewers on this site were asked to submit their top ten music-related obsessions for 2010. Below you will find lists of the records (old and new), shows, books, and documentaries that captivated us this past year.


Anita Papsmear:

Top CDs of 2010.

1. The Heavy – The House That Dirt Built (2009). I know this came out last year, but this band is amazing. They have a throwback 50’s/60’s sound with amazingly catchy rhythms. They can also float from genre to genre so easily – great musicianship. Everyone I’ve turned on to this CD has ended up loving it! I keep playing it too!

The rest are in no particular order – they all get 5 out of 5 smears!

2. The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream (2010).

3. Sa Dingding – Harmony (2010). If you haven’t heard of her, look her stuff up immediately. She will rule the world one day and you should be familiar with your leader.

4. Dan Sartain – Lives (2010). This guy sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are smitten. I’ll be reviewing this CD soon – it’s great and you must get it!

5. Groove Armada – Black Light (2010). Rhythms that move and get you moving, featuring a few different vocalists. Notably a velvety smooth appearance by Bryan Ferry. He sounds as good as the Avalon days! This is a great CD to listen to if you are getting ready to go out, are out, or, just got back from being out! Great stuff!

6. Beach House – Teen Dream (2010). Floaty and dreamy. The kind of CD that, when you are playing it, people inquire about it.

7. Grinderman – 2 (2010). See review on this blog.

8. The Swimmers – People Are Soft (2009). Unsuspecting pop gem that will hit you over the head and leave you clamoring to punch the repeat button.

9. Jaill – That’s How We Burn (2010). Fucking awesome! “She’s My Baby” should be song of the year!

10. Unkle – Where Did the Night Fall (2010). Awesome stuff…different vocalists (including the Black Angels), different sounds. Uber-good!

11. Wintersleep – New Inheritors (2010). Pop genius. You’ll be singing it over and over! Ear worm good!

12. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010). The live show was as brilliant as this CD. Lyrically, it’s a sign of the times. If you aren’t familiar, google the lyrics and start reading; then youtube some videos. This group is important and incredibly adept at capturing modern society and it’s many ills into toe-tapping, body moving ditties.

13. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (2010). If I had a dollar for every time I listened to “Dilly,” I’d be a lucky smear! This CD is perfect.

14. Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void (2010). This band can do it all and has some great song writing to back it up. I look for them to do big things.

15. Massive Attack – Heliogoland (2010). I am of the belief that anything these guys do is brilliant and perfect. Enough said.

16. Yeasayer – Odd Blood (2010). The first time through this CD, I was a neasayer about Yeasayer. After another listen, I am a HUGE YEASAYER about YEASAYER. This is a great CD and has some of my fav musical moments of the year. Listened to this a lot….

17. I wanted to put The Black Keys, Brothers (2010) on here. And I did cuz it’s a great CD…. But I still am really in love with Dan Auerbach’s Keep It Hid (2009) release. I don’t leave home without it.

18. The Vaselines – Sex With An Ex (2010). Not a throw away in the bunch!

Honorable Mentions:

Song: “Alice’s Theme” (2010), Danny Elfman – brilliant.

Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul (2010).

Turbo Fruits – Echo Kid (2009). These guys are great and deserve a mention!

Little Black Bottles – Werewolf of Moncton (2010, EP). Great tunes including, “The Devil Takes a Girl.”

The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards (2010). Awesome!

Echo & The Bunnymen – The Fountain (2009). This is a great release by one of my fav bands…they are a band that definitely provided some tunes on the soundtrack of my life. But this CD is solid – from the song writing to the many catchy tunes – impressive.

The Features – Some Kind of Salvation (2009). Again, a 2009 nod but great CD!

Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010).

Laurie Anderson – Homeland (2010). If you haven’t caught her live show, do try to catch it!


Class Warrior:

These are the albums that I have listened to the most this past year. Unfortunately, there are no new albums in this list. I wish it were not so. These albums are in no particular order.

1. Tom Robinson Band - Power in the Darkness (1978)

2. Blyth Power - Alnwick and Tyne (1990)

3. Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (1975)

4. Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool (1978) and Labour of Lust (1979)

5. Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations (1981)

6. Omen - Battle Cry (1984)

7. Ramones - Ramones (1976) (always and forever in my top ten)

8. Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky (2009) (almost current!)

9. Songs from Thomas the Tank Engine (courtesy of the little Warrior)

10. RICK SPRINGFIELD - Working Class Dog (1981)


Dave:

Here is my list of favorite stuff this year in the realm of music.

1- Keelhaul - Triumphant Return to Obscurity (2009)

2- BBC documentary Prog Rock Britannia (2009)

3- Egg- Polite Force (1971)

4- No Means No, North by Northwest performance

5- Kayo Dot- Blue Lambency Downward (2008)

6- Jesu- Opiate Sun (2009)

7- OFF!- First 4 EPs (2010)

8- KARP- Self-Titled (1997)

9- Dillinger Escape Plan- Option Paralysis (2010)

10- Generally being an antisocial prick


Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B.:

Top eleven records.

The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute (2005)

Virgin Steel – The Black Light Bacchanalia (2010)

Tarantula AD – Book of Sand (2005)

US Christmas – Run Thick in the Night (2010)

Blotted Science – The Machinations of Dementia (2007)

Zodiak – Sermons (2008)

Budgie – Squawk (1972)

Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall (2007)

Nomeansno – All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt (2006)

Sweep the Leg Johnny – Tomorrow We Will Run Faster (1999)

The Pack AD- We Kill Computers (2010)


Kloghole:

1. Venom - Welcome to Hell (1981)

2. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I See A Darkness (1999)

3. Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain’t No Grave (2010)

4. Fred Eaglesmith show in South Haven, MN

5. Overkill Killfest show in St. Paul, MN

6. Iron Maiden show in Denver, CO

7. Testament show in Minneapolis, MN (oh yeah, and Megadeth and Slayer were there too)

8. Death Angel - Relentless Retribution (2010)

9. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys Of Neptune (2010)

10. Overkill - Ironbound (2010)


Null:

1. Oasis brake -up

(See Grievances of 2010, enough said.)

2. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (Virgin 2009)

Although this album came out in 2009, I didn’t pick it up until this year. I thought I would like a few tracks on it. Much to my surprise, I have almost worn the damn thing out. I simply could not stop listening to the beautiful dreary vocal harmonies and the slow burn.

3. Iron Maiden Live

Good friends, good music, and lots of new tunes. I never thought I would see this day. I sang along like there was no tomorrow.

4. Susan Enan - Plainsong (Feast 2009)

Susan Enan is a British singer-songwriter that made a super mellow album of incredible beauty. It is a little like the Alice In Chains record: Dark and slow but somehow beautiful. Is she an angel that no longer believes in eternity? I cherish this record. Like a drink of cold water, it always feels good. I fear that in a few years she could be the new-overproduced-nightmare that Sarah MacLauchlan became. But for now we have the sorrowful sweetness of Plainsong, an album that ends with an ode to the finality of the grave. You can only get this album from her website

5. Bob Dylan - The Complete Mono Recordings

The classic first 8 LPs siphoned through a single channel. Fucking awesome.

6. The Beatles & John Lennon Catalog re-masters

I love the Beatles when I don’t want to kill them. It all depends on what side of the bed I roll out of on any particular day. The Beatles re-masters actually came out in 2009 but when one attempts to listen to all the Beatles albums in order, one gets the inclination to put a gun to one’s head. It took me time to get through all the albums again. They sound great. Then, the Lennon records came out and I realized, yet again, what an incredible impact his solo albums had on my first years of high school and many continue to bare a weight…“boy, you’re gonna carry that weight a long time.”

7. Bad Religion Live & New Album - The Dissent of Man (Epitaph 2010)

Great new album. I had seen Bad Religion live several times but it had been a few years since my last live encounter with them. There I was, front and center again; we are all a little bit older but this band remains as tight as a snare drum and they continue to pull at my heart and brain strings. Cathartic. If you ever go to see them, get there early and stake a claim at the front of the stage. Hang on to the railing, make sure you know all the words, and prepare to be blown away. I wish I had front and center seats for Maiden.

8. Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble - Before the Ruin (Navigator 2008)

There is a great Scottish rock band called Idlewild. I fucking love them. Their lead singer, Roddy Woomble, teamed up with two other Scottish folk musicians and made one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. Though it came out in 2008, it is only available as an import (like many Idlewild related releases) so I was a little behind on this one. Let me put it this way, the track “The Poorest Company” will be played at my funeral. This album is full of brilliant lyrics and timeless, haunting melodies. Roddy Woomble also put out a great solo album in 2007. Rod Jones, Idlewild’s guitarist, put out a solo album (also import only) this year as well, which is great…and…

9. Idlewild - Post Electric Blues (Cooking Vinyl 2009 - domestic release 2010)

I couldn’t wait for the domestic release, so I bought the import. This band never lets me down. Great rock and wonderful ballads with mysterious poetic lyrics that often, ironically, border on the very specific heart wrenching moments of modern life. Great.

10. Joy Division (The Miriam Collection) Documentary Film (2008)

Finally, an intelligent and thoughtful documentary on this fantastic band that almost does them justice. It does not romanticize Ian Curtis’s suicide and yet it touches on the social impact and content of both the sound and lyrical content of the band.


Plainzero:

In no particular order.

Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac (1983)

Anthrax - Spreading the Disease (1985)

BG - The Congratulations (2002)

Schlong - Tumours (1995)

Chicken Farm - Chicken Farm (1994)

Teen Cthulhu - Ride the Blade (2003)

Corrosion Of Conformity - Eye For An Eye (1984)

Iconoclast - Groundlessness of Belief (1994)

Wynona Riders - Artificial Intelligence (1997)

Youth Against... - La Revolucion De Los De Abajo (1999)


Scott:

Below, in no particular order, is my top ten for the year—including new albums, older albums I was really digging in 2010, and other music related stuff. I should mention that there are two missing albums I would have otherwise included: Addicted by The Devin Townsend Band and The Obsidian Conspiracy by Nevermore. But since I already reviewed both of them for all you taint-ticklers out there, I’m leaving these two (awesome) albums aside. Also, I would have included Agalloch’s latest, Marrow of the Spirit, but that just came out recently and I haven’t had the time to really digest it. On the first couple of listens, though, it’s as good as anything they’ve released, which is to say, it fucking rules. Anyway:

1. The Big To-Do, Drive-By Truckers. A fantastic release by a band at the top of their game. I would say these guys (and gal) are getting better and better, and maybe in some ways they are. But I’d rather say they’re just consistently so fucking good, album after album. “Birthday Boy,” “This Fucking Job,” and “After the Scene Dies” are standout tracks. I’m looking forward to ringing in the New Year with them in NYC.

2. Supporting Caste, Propagandhi. Their newest LP, released in 2009. I listened the shit out of this album this year. There’s a proggy edge here (they mention fellow Canadians Voivod and Rush in the liner notes), and the lyrics are often brilliant and moving (and occasionally pretty funny). Check out “Dear Coach’s Corner” for the best song about hockey since Warren Zevon’s “Hit Somebody!”

3. Coal, Kathy Mattea. An entire album about coalor, really, people whose lives are shaped by the coal mining industry. Matteaonce a big country hit maker and now working in a more traditional, stripped down styleapproaches these songs with reverence but isn’t afraid to really inhabit them and make them her own. It’s a passionate album, and political in the best, most powerfuland most humansense. When I’m listening to this and her version of Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” comes on, I need to stop whatever I’m doing and just listen.

4. Life’ll Kill Ya, Warren Zevon. I’ve slowly been making my way through Zevon’s catalog, and this album might be his best (I’ve heard so far). Great humor mixed with excellent songwriting and intelligence. The album takes on additional meaning now that Zevon himself is gone, and it’s a shame that we won’t hear any new material from this totally unique songwriter. But like the man said, “Life’ll kill ya, and then you’ll be dead,” so might as well enjoy this stuff while we can.

5. Roadhouse Sun, Ryan Bingham. He put out an album in 2010, and this ain’t it (that album, Junky Star, is solid, though). Roadhouse Sun came out last year, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me. Bingham doesn’t have a very wide-ranging stylemany of his songs sound pretty similar, his just-gargled-a-pack-of-Marlboro-reds voice hardly changes, and he uses a lot of the same vocal melodies. So, I knew I liked it, I enjoyed listening to it, but nothing stuck. I put it aside for a couple of months, and brought it out again sometime this yearand man, this album is fucking great. Not perfect by any means, but once the songs become familiar, they feel very familiar, like you’ve been listening to them for years.

6. Faith No More reunion concert. I wanted to include a show on here, but choosing which one was difficult. I think I went to more great shows this year than any time I can remember. But, in the end, I have to give it to Faith No More, who reunited and played in Brooklyn on the waterfront over the summer. Here are a few reasons: 1) I love FNM but they were beyond anything I expected; the energy was so high and the crowd was so into it (and surprisingly rowdy) that the songs took on a totally different character, like hearing them all over again for the first time. 2) A beautiful outdoor venue, right on the bank of the East River with the NY skyline rising up on the other side. 3) It was the band’s first East Coast show since the late nineties. 4) The great Neil Hamburger was the opening act (and if you don’t know who he is, look him up). 5) There was a guy wandering around with Mastodon shoes (I shit you not, available wherever Mastodon merchandise is sold: http://nogoodforme.filmstills.org/images/mastodonvans.jpg) AND a life-size cardboard cutout of Vince Neil. Next: a new album? We can only hope.

7. Young, Loud, and Snotty, Dead Boys. A classic album that I finally bought and ended up listening to quite a lot. This band is a bunch of assholes: moronic, offensive, crude, sleazy. I mean, “Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth”? Jesus. They have none of the charm of the Ramones and none of the artistry (or social message) of The Clash. But when you’re pissed off (especially for no reason), this is exactly what you want to fucking hear. And it’s catchy, too!

8. Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Story by Dave Marsh. I grew up in New Jersey at the height of Brucemania, so of course I hated that motherfucker. He was like some patriotic (and patriarchal?) authority figure we were all “supposed” to love, and he played corny oldies music. Ok, I’m being harsh, but I resisted Bruce for a while until I realized I was being irrational, and that I really did like his music. So I gave him a shot … and it all made sense to me. These days I’m a total Bruce convert, lamenting my sinful past, crying “Broooooooce” into the New Jersey night sky and begging for forgiveness (I went through a similar process with Bob Dylan). Anyway, this book is the definitive bio written by an astute critic (and close friend of Bruce, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Anyone who even sorta likes Bruce should read this bookit’s engrossing but very sharp in its analysis (and the author’s politics, while subtle, are radical, so he’s more than up to the task of addressing the social meaning of Bruce’s work). I’m not even done with it yet and it’s going up on the top ten.

9. After, Ihsahn. A new solo album from the main force behind the mighty Emperor. His last solo album, AngL, blew me away, especially the duet with Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth, “Unhealer,” so I had high expectations. Ihsahn not only met themhe threw in a fucking saxophone! That’s right, just check this out and wait for the sax solo, around 30 seconds and again around 1 minute in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ0vYjrefO4. Is Ihsahn the Bruce of black metal? I suspect he is. This whole album smokestotally mesmerizing.

10. Elvis (in general). I never really took Elvis seriouslyI mean, who really listens to Elvis? (A lot of people, as it turns out.) So I finally bought a 2-disc greatest hits, figuring that any self-respecting music fan should at least have some Elvis in their collection. And man, I never looked back. There are things to dislike about Elvisthe man, the musicbut there’s way more to enjoy. I still have trouble taking certain songs seriously (“Jailhouse Rock” and a few of the other early hits feel like novelties at this point in their pop-cultural institutionalization), but goddamnit isn’t “Can’t Help Falling in Love” one of the greatest songs ever written? Not that Elvis wrote it, of course, but that’s all part of the Elvis contradiction. This was probably my most unexpected musical moment of 2010, but I’m glad it happened.


SoDak:

Making a list of my top ten for the year was a difficult task. My initial list included twenty-plus items. But I managed to trim the list down to the following, which I present in no particular order.

Gaslight Anthem – American Slang (2010). This summer I was in a record store in Boulder, Colorado. A promotional copy of this record was being played. I loved it. The band has received a ton of attention this year. It is well deserved. Gaslight Anthem has released several great rock records that sound classic and contemporary at the same time. “Old Haunts,” “Orphans,” “American Slang, and “We Did It When We Were Young” are outstanding songs.

June Star – Lower Your Arms (2010). June Star is an awesome Americana band from Baltimore, Maryland that I first learned about from Miles of Music many years ago. They have put out many great records. Their new record consists mostly of songs that Andrew Grimm released on solo records over the last several years. Here, the songs get the full band treatment. Andrew has a great voice and is an outstanding songwriter. When I put this record on the stereo, I have to listen to it at three times in a row. I can’t get enough of it. Almost every track is awesome. Check out “Wolves,” “Breakdown,” and “If You Leave.” For now, this is all I want to say about the record. Support this hard-working band.

Idlewild (their entire catalog). For years, I looked at Idlewild records, but never bought one. I had no idea what they sounded like. Null sent me some of their CDs, and I was completely hooked. I love the ongoing development of this band. Their records are filled with songs that one minute break your heart and the next that rock the fuck out and make you dance around the room. When I play any of their records, I stop everything that I am doing to just listen to the voice, the sound, the structure of the songs. Their record Post Electric Blues was released stateside this year. It is a fuckin’ good record, and I spent a month listening to almost only this band. Damn, I think I will go listen to them now.

Iron Maiden – Final Frontier (2010). I grew up loving Iron Maiden. Obviously, they are a classic band. Yes, the early records are awesome, but so are their recent records. The last four records, including the most recent one, are incredible. While this may be blasphemous to many, I think Iron Maiden keeps getting better. They are creating epic records, but these releases demand that listeners actually devote time to listening to them. For me, the new record really starts rolling from the third song on. I love the range of songs here, as well as the dynamic play within each song. By the time, the closing eleven minute song, “When the Wild Wind Blows” ends, I am already reaching for the remote to push play again. I cannot get enough of this record.

Band of Annuals – Ep (2008) and Let Me Live (2007). Band of Annuals are a great Americana band from Salt Lake City. Check out their myspace page, or their website. Listen to the song “Echo” on the Ep. Order the record it from CD Baby. Do it.

Sam Quinn Fake that Sunk a Thousand Ships (2010). I already reviewed this record. Sam kicks ass. Can’t wait for the next record.

Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking it Easy (2010). I have been picking up the various Phosphorescent records since 2003. I liked the previous records, but I rarely listened to them. But Here’s to Taking it Easy really caught my attention. This record is mostly mellow, alternative country-rock that sounds rough around the edges. “Nothing Was Stolen” and “Tell Me Baby” are great tracks on this record.

Leatherface – Stormy Petrel (2010). I reviewed this record this past year—great punk rock record and awesome band. I would love to see them live.

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage DVD (2010). I have liked Rush since I was a child, but as the years pass my love for this band only increases. Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B and I saw them play a few years ago in Vancouver, Washington. This documentary is absolutely wonderful. My partner, who dislikes Rush, even liked this film. I enjoyed hearing other musicians talk about their connections to Rush. The interviews with the three guys in Rush were fascinating, revealing their friendship, humor, and development. Of course, I wish the documentary covered more ground, focused on additional records and periods of the band, and was longer. Nevertheless, Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen have made another great rock documentary.

Iron Maiden concert, Denver, Colorado (2010). This past summer I was finally able to see Iron Maiden. A group of close friends, including fellow reviewers (Kloghole and Null) on this blog, met in Colorado to spend several days together and to attend this show. Iron Maiden mostly played songs from the recent records, which I thought was great. This band still kicks ass and puts on an awesome show.

Fuck it, here are a few more musical obsessions this year:

Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water Is Life (2007)

The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream (2010)

Blue Öyster Cult – Secret Treaties (1974)

Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (2010)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Path to Musical Obsession: An Introduction

By Anita Papsmear


I, Anita Papsmear, being of marginally sound, unstable mind, do solemnly swear (with a promise to swear a lot), to tell the truth, the whole and/or partial truth, so help me, my pagan gods.

One of my first memories is around the age of 4 when I woke up my parents in the middle of the night cuz I was sitting in my room at my play table singing. I’ve always been drawn to music, I have strong opinions about music, in my next life I will play/perform music, and some days, it’s the only thing that gets me thru. I also grew up with lots of different types of music, so that was helpful to my puny, smeary brain. As a child, my nerdy parents would do “The Stroll” (The Diamonds) in the living room for fun. Mama Smear dabbled in classical piano and the television was tuned into everything from Lawrence Welk to Soultrain. We also listened to a lot of 70’s FM radio. Papa Smear also had a penchant for comedy…Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart. Carol Burnett is a huge hero of mine (hollah)…don’t ask me how this has anything to do with music, but it had to have some affect on a developing smear.

Around 1973, I received my first record (that’s vinyl to the kids) – it was John Denver’s Greatest Hits (insert pic of album cover here: John smiling among the aspens, wearing a down vest and clutching his cowboy hat atop his head). Next came 1977 and Barry Manilow Live – a brilliant 2 record set, which I would play loudly in my bedroom while lip-synching and performing to every song. I still know all the words. Incidently, it was around this time that the parental smear units took me to my first concert, Barry Manilow at Red Rocks….Yes, I’m that cool.

As a child, for fun, I would sit down with my toilet shaped transistor radio (true factoid) and a pen and paper and keep track of the leapfrog countdown with Mr. Kasey Kasem and America’s Top 40. I remember hearing The Spinners, “Rubberband Man” for the first time and having it blow my mind.

As the darkness of the teen years approached, I found myself yearning for something more than the country and pop music I had grown up with. Plus, by this time, I had worn out that old toilet transistor radio. I turned on a public TV station late one night and there was something on it that changed my life forever…a music video show called, “FM TV.” I was hooked…the first video I saw was Landscape’s “My Name is Norman Bates.” From there, I cut my musical milk teeth on everything they played (Duran Duran, B-52’s, Culture Club, Go Go’s, etc.). I got a lot of cavities in those years, but I do credit the B-52’s with getting me thru high school. I would write out their song lyrics to stay awake in class. Needless to say, my friends thought I was weird. I’d say, ”Have you heard this song? It’s by a band called Duran Duran.” Blank stares. Then, a few months later “Girls on Film” hit. Who’s the smear now?

College – ah, the musical salad years! There was a great college radio station where I went to school. A friend of mine had a radio show and, apparently, I called in requests so much that they gave me my own show so I would stop bugging them! It was 1984…fuck…what a great time for music. In my 5-year tour of college (shut your mouth), I hosted a few different radio shows and played everything from Madonna to the Producers, XTC, Translator, BoDeans, Bowie, Siouxsie, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode, New Order – I loved it all! I also dabbled in the metal arena with, the aptly named, “M & M Heavy Metal Show” where I featured the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Accept, Wasp, Guns & Roses, Grim Reaper, Yngwie Malmsteen, and other such delights. I became the Music Director during my junior and senior years and I went to a lot of concerts, traveled to music seminars on the coasts, and interviewed and meet some cool people. Highlights include: seeing the Minutemen (before the passing of D. Boon), Nina Hagen, The Damned, Abbie Hoffman, The Godfathers, TSOL, Fishbone, and Lone Justice (the last two before they were signed). Okay – those were the cool ones….I also met (and have the pics to prove it): Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Vince Neil & Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, Weird Al, and Dr. Dimento (although the latter two ARE cool)! It was in college when I started to DJ in clubs. Of course, it is important to note a depressing fact, the hottest spot to dance where I went to school was the local Holiday Inn. Tough training waters, but it was fun and I learned a lot!

Once sprung from the collegiate world, I found myself a professional radio gig at KTCL – a modern rock radio station. This was a time before big corporate conglomerates owned all media; a time before industry consultants and mandatory playlists. There were only 32 modern rock stations in the country when I became music director of KTCL. Four years later, there were over a hundred. During this time, Nirvana and Pearl Jam hit big and literally changed the face of the medium. Unfortunately, big media corps smelled a profit and moved in for the big, fat kill – buying up all the radio stations they could find and flipping to the mod-rock format. Anywho, I digress! I spent 7 years at the radio station, serving as music director for four of those years. This work lead to more travel, concerts, interviews, parties, and coolness. My CD collection grew exponentially at this time! Highlights included: interviewing and meeting PJ Harvey, Mission UK, Midnight Oil, and going to England’s notorious Reading Festival (1993) – an amazing 3 day festival with TONS of bands. Bands came to the Fest whether they were playing or not, so there were a lot of famed people milling about. It was a huge press junket backstage. It was here that I got to do my most fav interview of all time – Matt Johnson of The The… the man slays me with his song lyrics and turns out to be one of the funniest people ever. I met/interviewed Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine, and also had the opportunity to meet and gaze upon one Richard Ashcroft (Verve) – insert huge sigh here….I may just slide off my chair just thinking about him! That man is beautiful!

Around the time I landed the KTCL gig, I also landed a VJ spot on what was now called, “Teletunes” (the FM TV of old that inspired me so much years before)! A dream come true! Although I detested watching and listening to myself, I was an addict for the music, the travel, the concerts, and meeting and interviewing artists. Okay…and the parties! To be paid to listen and experience music all day? I long for those days now! I also took on a couple regular DJ gigs – alternative night and a disco/80’s night – way fun. I got to DJ a goth fashion show which was really cool, but my fav nights were the goth nights; black is still my favorite color. I think I may have even met a real life vampire one night – fascinating. Highlights were: meeting and interviewing Nick Cave (see Grinderman review 9/2010), Anthony Kiedis/Red Hot Chili Peppers, Siouxsie and her Banshees, Toni Halliday from Curve, Tori Amos, The Charlatans, Lush, and Ride.

All these years later, I still get off on a good song. No matter what genre, there is always a gem to be found and I am ready to hear it. Currently, I DJ for a community station (KRFC) and I get to play whatever the fuck I want (sans cuss words) – and it’s fun! This way, I am able to attend to my violent musical mood swings and share it with anyone who dares listen. I can’t tell you how freeing that is!

If you really want to know more about me, you will know me from my trail of dead (or injured) that I’ve left in my wake after attending these shows (which may, or may not, be in order and which I am adding to the list still): Del Rubio Triplets (thrill – got to meet them!), Love & Rockers (multiple), My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult (multiple), Danielle Dax, Sisters of Mercy, Pixies (multiple), The Orb, Hole, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Dead Can Dance, Wall of Voodoo, Stan Ridgeway, Siousxie & the Banshees (multiple), Portishead, PJ Harvey (multiple), The Wonderstuff, The The, New Order (2), Depeche Mode, The Verve, Radiohead, Blur, Jesus and Mary Chain, Curve, Sinead O’Connor (2), NIN, Ween (multiple), The Damned, Yothu Yindi, Dave Matthews, Ministry (multiple), Skinny Puppy, Butthole Surfers, The Church (multiple), Peter Murphy (multiple), Bauhaus, The Cure (2), Ozric Tentacles, Daniel Ash, Billy Bragg, Split Lip Rayfield, Primus (multiple), Gorillaz, King Khan & the Shrines, Godfathers, DeVotchka, Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven, Tricky, Thievery Corporation, REM, Nirvana, Machines of Loving Grace, Big Star, Faith No More (with Chuck Mosely/original singer), Faith No More (this time with Mike Patton singing), The Minutemen, Southern Culture on the Skids, Cocteau Twins, Lucinda Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers (2), Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osborne, TMBG, Phil Collins, Ronnie James Dio, Guns & Roses, Beatfarmers, Tears For Fears, Pink Martini, Mission UK, Level 42, Little River Band, Ziggy Marley, Tori Amos (2), Andreas Vollenweider, King Crimson, Tom Jones, John Denver, Chuck Mangione, Barry Manilow, Rick Springfield, Morcheeba, GoGo’s, Adorable, Grateful Dead (with Bruce Hornsby – no Jerry, I’m not that cool), The Chieftains, Soupdragons, Soul Asylum, Lords of Acid (multiple), Peter Himmelman (multiple), Twice Wilted, Melissa Etheridge, Sugarcubes, Henry Rollins (spoken & music), U2, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Police, Loverboy, Danzig, Fuel, Green Day, Steel Pulse, Dwight Yoakam, Public Enemy, Voice of the Beehive, Pavement, Beck, Brian Setzer, B-52’s (2), The Ramones, Combustible Edison, Lush (multiple), Ride, Slowdive, Hoodoo Gurus, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Live (2), Big Head Todd & the Monsters (multiple), Opie Gone Bad, Big Audio Dynamite, George Clinon, Jellyfish, Pop’s Cool Love, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, Phil Collins, Motley Crue, Chris Isaak, Violent Femmes, Bob Mould, War, Blind Boys From Alabama, Oasis, Maceo Parker, Alison Moyet, Alainis Morrissette, Cake, Morrissey, Billy Idol, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Midnight Oil, Medicine, Sarah McLachlan, Terrance Trent D’Arby, Duran Duran, Cowboy Junkies, Wolfgang Press, Crowded House, Dada, Dick Dale, Deeelight, Dinosaur Jr., Everclear, Filter, Shelleyan Orphan, Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Sunny Day Real Estate, Curve, Jane’s Addiction (2), Porno for Pyros, Therapy?, Pato Banton, Belly, Better Than Ezra, BoDeans, Warlock Pinchers, Frank Black, Johnette Napolitano, The Cars, Sonic Youth (multiple), Shonen Knife, The Breeders, The Charlatans, Chemical Brothers, Flaming Lips, The Fluid, The Forty-Fives, Garbage, Ben Harper, Rev. Horton Heat (2), Jewel (ew – I was waiting to see someone else perform), Jesus Jones, Sugar, Indigo Girls, 10,000 Maniacs, James, Levellers, Squeeze, David Lindley, Living Color, Luscious Jackson, Stone Temple Pilots, Soho, Social Distortion, The Smithereens, 16 Horsepower, Revolting Cocks, Sick, Rage Against the Machine, Wilco, X, Lucinda Williams, John Wesley Harding, Lone Justice, Wretch Like Me, Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Deborah Harry, Dresden Dolls, Bjork, Sum 41, Arlo Guthrie, Eliza Gilkyson, Buffalo Tom, Beautiful South, Michelle Shocked, Gram Parker, Pete Droge, Rise Against, Action Action, The Cult (2), Harvey Knuckles, Royal Baby, Twice Wilted (2), Lori Anderson, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Teenage Fan Club, Lyle Lovett, Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Jim Rose Circus Side Show (multiple), Kids in the Hall (multiple), Catherine Wheel, Tool (multiple), Mary Lou Lord, Gary Clail & the On-U Sound System, Swervedriver, Kingmaker, Paul Westerberg, The Replacements….


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Festivus Grievances

You may have noticed the days are getting shorter, the sky a little darker, and depending on where you live, a hell of a lot colder. You know what that means? Yes, it is time for the airing of the grievances. The Taint Ticklers set up their Festivus poles, and angrily typed out their 2010 musical grievances. Read on and share our pain.

Anita Papsmear:

1. Why oh why do people think Michael Buble is a good singer? What is that all about?

2. If I have to endure another Sugarland video - I will murder someone.

3. Christian music is really just children's music with religious buzz words put in the chorus.

Class Warrior:

1. I wish that punk rockers could make innovative music without it being completely unlistenable. Remember: it's called punk ROCK!

2. Judas Priest should not break up ever, and Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee should have been resurrected after three days in the tomb. Roll back the stone - they're not there!

3. Two-year-olds should not have delicate eardrums that you have to protect from loud concerts.

4. All popular music in 2010 is wretched garbage engineered in capitalist labs in an attempt to extract more surplus value from us. Twenty-five years ago, only ninety-eight percent of pop was corporate sugar-coated turd candy. Let's get back to the good old days!

Dave:

1. Formulaic doom/death/thrash/stoner metal bands need to stop putting out the same album over and over.

2. Hypsters bringing back the worst recording format ever the cassette tape.

3. Blast beats don't require good drumming technique, and ruin any groove a song might have.

4. I don't care how fast your band can play, that was already done in '89, write something memorable.

5. A lot of people have gotten this stupid Idea that really extreme bands come from Scandinavia, when really all they did was water down Florida death metal, and put on stage make-up to be scary like Scooby Do villains with guitars.

Jimmy “Explosive Diarrhea” B:

1. I still hear people talk about how modern music sucks. There are shit-tons of cool underground bands out there. Get off your asses and go find it you lazy fuckers!

2. I have run out of room in my house for new music, yet I continue to buy more records. I have a problem.

3. The next time someone tells me Rush is a metal band, I am going to put my foot up their ass. Do you hear me SoDak?

4. Blue Oyster Cult is on the oldies circuit playing casinos and fairs. Jesus fucking christ on a pogo-stick, I am getting old!

5. Ozzy Osbourne continues to be an embarrassment.

6. U2 continues to unimpress and Bono’s hat continues to get better treatment and shelter than the poor populations for which Bono claims to be fighting. How can a man, the New Internationalist calls one of the world’s biggest tax dodgers, claim to give a fuck about the needs of the poor.

Kloghole:

1. Metallica did NOT announce their retirement.

2. $40 dollar T-Shirts at the Iron Maiden show. You have to be in the band to afford the fucking things.

3. People who buy all their fucking music digitally. Go to a goddamn record store and get your fingers dirty, you fucks.

Null:

1. Oasis break-up
(More on this later in my Top 10 of 2010)

2. Kid Rock continues to suck corporate cock and steal precious oxygen from more dignified organic life forms. I went to high school with this prick. Well, at least he is consistent in his moronic shallow stupidity.

3. Gwyneth Paltrow records a “new country” song for her lame ass movie and …..ummm…releases it as a single.

I have a theory. It goes like this…the more rich and famous you become, the more fucking stupid and delusional you get. Look, she is pretty, has a nice voice, and can act(?). Why the fuck would she do this kind of horrid shit when she could have any movie role she wants…like say, an intelligent and creative independent film? I saw the video of her “single” from the pre-fab stereotype VH-1 Shania fucking Twain nightmare reality and I just…the world is…plastic is organic …and commercials for cleaning products are the only real human expression…what the fuck! The sad truth is that all the fucking urban city/country folk think Shania Twain is “roots” music and I am sure they can’t tell the fucking difference between a wishing well and god’s giant anus. Is this a music video or a GAP ad? Wait, my false assumption is that there is a difference. Fuck that bitch and the slithering sweatshop corpses she rode in on.

4. Rolling Stone magazine continues to be referred to as a music magazine, and not the music industry bitch it actually is.

5. Bono

At this point, buddy, you wouldn’t know what socially conscious means if it crawled up your ass in giant bug glasses. (See my “theory” in #3 above - “The more rich and famous you become, the more fucking stupid and delusional you get.") Don’t get Bono mad…why, if we don’t end famine in Africa now, Bono might do something rash like…like…go buy a new leather jacket.

6. The continual perpetuating lie that Ryan Adams will finally release the 100+ acoustic albums he recorded.

7. Once I thought Lita Ford had a good song. 30 songs later I realized I was horribly mistaken.

8. Take all the time you need, boys - but I am dying for a new Fugazi album.

9. I am still unable to find the second Malignus Youth LP or get a copy of Les Thugs’ Nineteen Something on vinyl.

**Unexplained Phenomena of 2010

1. Repeatedly listening to the Ratt album Invasion of Your Privacy on the way to school.

2. Somehow, every couple of weeks I put Cannibal Corpse’s Evisceration Plague in the CD player and stare at the speaker like a dumb-founded dog stares at the TV when a dog barks during M.A.S.H.

Plainzero:

1. People just hearing early '80s metal for the first time telling me how good it is.

2. Speaking of '80s metal, could Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, etc... please hang it up? You haven't released anything good since 1990.

3. Why are '70s southern rock bands like Linnerd Skinnerd or the Almond Brothers, for example, still around? There isn't an original member left and its kept alive by some dude that smelt the lead singers sweaty balls at a concert in '76.

4. Thanks to MTV, people with no talent such as Snookie get paid $25K to make an appearance at some nightclub, which goes to show there is no justice.

Scott:

This year Isis announced that they'd be breaking up after their tour. I had seen them live once before and they put on a great show -- really powerful and hypnotic at times. So I was pretty bummed. A friend of mine and I got tickets, we spent a couple of hours boozing away our sorrows at a bar before the show, then headed over and saw the Melvins open. They were great. But, it was a bittersweet night, ya know? So we spent most of the Melvins set hanging around the bar in the venue getting plastered. Then, the lights went back down, we pushed our way up through the crowd, Isis took the stage ... and then I woke up the next morning. (I'm pretty sure that sometime during the set I got kicked out for falling down the stairs on my way to the bathroom, and then just went home -- but who knows?) So this grievance is directed mainly toward myself. Alas, poor Isis!

SoDak

1. Paste Magazine. This fuckin’ “magazine” is really just a series of advertisements for clothing, booze, etc. It is a piece of shit. Why did I ever subscribe? When No Depression folded, my subscription was transferred to this steaming pile of crap. Unfortunately, I had paid for a subscription for several years. The CD with each issue of Paste had some interesting bands on it, and it was the only thing that made the magazine worthwhile. This past year Paste, which was supposed to be “monthly” magazine, only put out a couple issues. There is essentially no content to this fuckin’ magazine. How fuckin’ hard is it to throw some ads together? They ended their print version. Guess, I won’t be getting a fuckin’ refund. Fuckers. Fuck.

2. Judas Priest announcing their farewell tour. Boo!

3. Scorpions announcing their retirement and releasing a final, lackluster record with three songs with the word rock in the title—so original.

4. Hearing Gang of Four’s song “Natural’s Not in It” in a commercial for Xbox Kinect television.

And now, the feats of strength…

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waylon Jennings

Waylon, Live (Buddha Records, 1999)
Greatest Hits (RCA, 1979)

Reviewed by Kloghole

"Jeeeeeus Christ, Cookie. Goddammit, what the hell are you doing? Just throw the goddamn thing out the window. Goddammit, it's gettin' all over the car." My Mom pulls her finger off the crack in the milk jug to show us the stream of root beer gushing from the crack in the plastic. My brother and I howl with laughter in the backseat. We can't help it. It looks like the milk jug is taking a root beer pee all over my Dad's Cutlass 442. Mom offers a solution. "We'll just drink it, and then it'll stop leaking." Dad retorts, "Them boys'll be up all goddamn night." As my Mom pours us the root beer, Waylon reminds us that "this time will be the last time."

Other than my Mother, few people have had such a significant impact on my psyche as Waylon Jennings. I resonate with songs like "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" and "I've Always Been Crazy." There is an anger and tenderness in his songs that reveal a struggle between compassion and rebellion. Waylon was part of the "outlaw" movement in country music. The reality is less romantic that the myth. The outlaw movement was really a struggle against alienation in the music industry. At the time Waylon was building his career, record companies controlled the intellectual production of the music. Artists were packaged and promoted with little input regarding the backing musicians and musical content of their albums. Waylon and others resisted the stripping of their intellectual contributions - their alienation - from their own musical creations. The label of outlaw took on a life of its own. In his song, "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand," Waylon documented how the exaggeration of the notion of outlaw drew attention from law enforcement agencies. It wouldn't be the first time that police were used against rebels, nor the last. There is an especially poignant version of this song on Waylon Forever.

On our frequent trips from our home in Iowa to our grandparent's house in Wisconsin, we listened to a few 8-tracks. For you youngin's that have no idea what an 8-track is, it is the precursor to cassette tapes, but the tape is a continuous loop contained in a plastic case the size of a paperback book. Waylon's Greatest Hits and Waylon, Live were among the most often played. I can still practically sing all the words to the songs on these collections. Listening to these songs and albums bring back memories, good, bad, and insignificant. I remember laying down to sleep on the floor in the backseat of my Dad's Cutlass 442. While we listened to "I'm a Ramblin' Man," I also remember looking out the back window to see the stars as we traveled the country highways back to our house.

I also remember stopping because our dog, Boots, basically had a heart attack. My Mom gave him chest compressions or something to bring him back around. Anyway, after a bit of nursing, he was back on the road. That dog was a crazy son-of-a-bitch. He was a Boston bulldog, and he fuckin' loved water, but in a suicidal way. He would attack a stream of water from a hose or a sprinkler. Once, we thought he would like a swim on a hot day, so my Mom held him above the water in the pool. His legs started spinning like a man possessed, so she dropped him in. It sounded like a watermelon hit the pool - ker pluunk! He went right to the bottom, legs a flyin', bloodshot eyes, bubbles out of his nose, skating across the bottom of the pool. When we pulled him out, he almost looked disappointed, like he was just getting the hang of it. Crazy fuckin' dog.

Speaking of the dog, at one point, we had all eaten some bologna sandwiches which were not sitting very well on the curvy roads. The first to go was Boots. He yacked in the backseat. As soon as Boots started gagging, my Dad started to pull the car over. He had a fragile constitution for such a tough son-of-a-bitch. After the dog barfed, I was probably the next to go, and then I think my brother, but he probably just sat there nonplussed by the whole circus. By that time, the stench had my Dad retching. I think he jumped out of the car before he had it in park. My Mom just laughed when he started gagging. He was puking by the side of the road while my Mom went to work on the backseat with paper towels. The whole time this fiasco is going on, Waylon is reminding us that "she's a good hearted woman in love with a good timing man."

Some evenings, my Dad would begin to nod off. My Mom's solution was to encourage us to make noise. It was a free ticket to do shit that would usually get us in trouble. In addition to screaming unintelligibly, we would also sing, "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." My brother and I would pinch our noses so we could sing the Willie parts. I had a habit of substituting in cowpie for cowboy. "Don't let your babies grow up to be cowpies."

I am not usually one to lionize any artist or band. I hate the idea of Deadheads, Zepheads, etc., but I have to say, Waylon approaches that kind of iconic status with me. Waylon is an unbelievable artist, but like the rest of us, he is not without his flaws. There is a song on Waylon and Company called "Leave Them Boys Alone" by Waylon, Hank Jr., and Ernest Tubb that kinda sums up the whole outlaw country movement. Hank Jr. sings the line that says Waylon has a "string of hits about two miles long." There is no questioning Waylon's talent. If you do, I question your sanity. I don't give a shit if you are punk, metal, grunge, jazz, etc., Waylon is just a solid fucking artist that creates an emotion with his words and picking. But, he had a darker, fractured side to him also. My Mom recounts the story of how she and my Dad went to see a Waylon show. When the show started, he stumbled onto the stage so fuckin' drunk he needed a stool. After about half a set of forgetting the words and fucking up, Jesse Colter came out to finish the set. I remember my Mom telling the story, not with a great deal of anger, but disappointment. I think Waylon understands the complex relationship that artists have with their fans. In the song "Leave Them Boys Alone," Waylon tellingly sings about an occasion when Hank Williams was too drunk to perform, "Now the people got mad and they all went home. The first thing they did was put his records on." As fans, we seem to think that performers are all trained monkeys for our enjoyment, but as Waylon sings, they are real people with their own personal lives and baggage.

I think I have a different appreciation for artists than most folks because of my Mom's experience. When Richard Buckner walked offstage after ten minutes of performing, I think I had a greater respect for him, rather than less. Prior to the show, I noticed that the club sent him back upstairs for a free beer ticket just so he could have a shitty beer before the show. So, after experiencing the rudeness of having to "prove" that you are an artist worthy of a free beer, the fucking feedback that kept fucking up his performance was the last straw. I am not saying that Buckner was right, but as a fan, I should not expect that he will lick my fucking dingle-berries if they get itchy. Artists live their own fucking lives, and they have bad days, bad months, and bad fucking lives. If you enjoy the music, then leave them folks alone. We are so used to the commodification of everything that we think that even their performance is ours to be consumed.

Waylon is one of those artists who has influenced me so much that I created a number of mix tapes to drink myself into a stupor. If you are going to introduce yourself to Waylon, you can certainly start with Waylon, Live or Waylon's Greatest Hits. You do not have to be as preoccupied as SoDak and I to pick up every obscure album you can find. The early stuff is different because it was subject to the record company control, but you can still hear Waylon's distinct style emerge from its shackles. The 70's is really the high point of the gritty outlaw sound, and Live and Greatest Hits give you the core of the Waylon spirit. His later work aged in various ways, just like myself.

I have found myself both rebellious and supportive. I tend to cut my own trail. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have grown up with strong women who have struggled in life and set their own boundaries. When I would hang out with my Mom, sometimes listening to Waylon's albums, there was a sort of unspoken understanding of the shared struggle and a mutual support that was necessary to survive a working-class existence. Waylon's music was the soundtrack to this struggle. "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" is a simple song, but incredibly strong in its delivery. Waylon ponders his approach to success. I certainly have pondered how I have come to stand on the trail I now occupy. I like this song so much that I have tried to learn how to play it. After a late night of trying to get it down, I concluded that the whole effort was akin to banging two cats together. No matter how much I enjoyed the experience, it still just made one hell of a racket.

There are not enough sweet sticky balls on an Indian buffet to really indicate how great these albums or Waylon's music really is, so we'll just leave it there.

This review is dedicated to my Mom.

Sweet Dreams, Motherfuckers

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Prince - Dirty Mind

(Warner Bros., 1980)

Reviewed by Null.

Prince is a complete douche-bag. Seriously. I may not be telling you anything new but trust me; he is more of a douche-bag than you can possibly imagine. He is a sexist, money obsessed, shallow, religious fanatic, megalomaniac that squanders his incredible talent watching himself jerk-off in front of a mirror while leafing through the children’s illustrated bible. When he finally cums, he does so while humming the national anthem. I am not making this up. It is all documented in his albums. You see, I am very familiar with his work from 1978 to 1988. I have all those albums on vinyl and know them all by heart, for better or worse. When I really started to get into music, I started off with Prince, Led Zeppelin, and the Stones; I studied them to find out how rock music “worked” and how it was all organized and such. Later, I would discover punk rock, which changed my life with its intelligence and humanity. But, I digress, in middle school I listened to a lot of Prince. Whatever Prince has done after 1988 I have absolutely no interest in. As a matter of fact I have very little interest in what he did before 1988 but I can’t undo what has been done and his early catalog will rest forever in my memory.

Recently, I revisited the early Prince records that were tucked away in my CD room. Wow, the worse thing is when he tries to write a “political” song, which only illustrates his complete simplistic, nationalistic, and idiotic view of the world. Then of course, there are the songs where he is having sex with a woman who is screaming while he chants the Lord’s prayer. How someone, somehow, could confuse Jesus’s coming with a penis cumming is beyond me. Keep in mind, this isn’t punk rock satire, he is serious about this shit. Some of the music during his first 10 years is interesting but his intellect is like a bowl of cranberry sauce left on the dining-room table two weeks after Thanksgiving.

However, if one can get past all this stuff, it is interesting that on many of his releases, he plays ALL the instruments, as well as writes, produces, and arranges all his albums. Believe it or not, on his first record he even plays drums, bass, and guitar on a track like he is in a shredding metal band, which makes all his later work that much more disappointing. It was also disappointing when he became an “acceptable” artist, to the extent that you can imagine Barbra Streisand liking some of his stuff. He used to be “dangerous,” long before he and Oprah went to the same pedicurist. Also, I have always thought Prince had a great voice; it is very versatile - somewhere between Aretha Franklin and HR from Bad Brains. While moving through this maelstrom of memory and disgust I came upon Prince’s finest moment: DIRTY MIND.

Dirty Mind was released in 1980. It is his third album and it isn’t until 3 albums latter that he would hit the big time with Purple Rain. When Dirty Mind was released, his famous purple trench coat was grey and it was probably purchased at a thrift store. I am sure he put the spikes on himself, before he had a personal tailor. This is a different Prince, dare I say it, even a dangerous Prince. What makes this album so great is that it is fairly short, containing only 8 songs, the music has a minimalist, post-punk, or even “do it yourself” homemade feel. The keyboards are even kind of new wave. The album also lacks the religious content that pervades his latter releases. Yeah, it might make you want to fuck…but this is the one time where Prince makes you want to FUCK THE SYSTEM.

Let us start with the album cover. Someone once told me that when they bought the album they had to hide the cover so the parents wouldn’t see it. It is a black and white picture of Prince standing in front of a mattress stripped down so the springs are exposed. He is wearing his trench coat, a black Speedo, and black thigh-high leg warmers; that’s it. This is also what he used to wear on stage in 1980.

The album opens with the title track “Dirty Mind,” which has a minimalist pulsating beat. You feel that shit is gonna start drippin’. He explains, “I really wanna lay ya down / in my daddy’s car / it’s you I really wanna drive / underneath the stars.” It is just a simple and brilliant song that sets the stage for the rest of the album. The clean jangly guitar, sweet minimalist new wave keyboards, and driving bass and drums will be a reoccurring theme throughout.

The second track is an undisputed classic: “When You Were Mine.” This track has been covered and made famous by numerous artists. It is a perfect little pop gem and this is the original. With a clean jangly guitar and a great one finger keyboard accompaniment, he sounds like a clean little new wave garage band. He croons, “you didn’t have the decency to change the sheets!”

The next two tracks cool you down before the real funk hits the fan. “Do It All Night” is a smooth little mild funk number about how he wants to, you guessed it, do it all night.

“Gotta Broken Heart Again” is a sweet little R & B number, super smooth like 70’s radio. The little guitar part in the middle is subtle and brilliant. At this point you may be feeling that this album is just “ok” but these last two tracks just allow you to rest before Side 2 makes you go get the funk bucket.

Get out the baby oil and dildos.

Side 2 opens with “Uptown.” Goddamn, shit starts gittin’ good here. Prince is more than proficient with the funk. He plays all the instruments to create a motherfucking super-groove. This is no boring Parliament Funkadelic funk. Each instrument plays into the groove. Now Price usually doesn’t talk to strangers but he decides to give this lady a “little ear.” This is the conversation that transpires:

"What's up new girl?"
"I ain't got time to play."
Baby didn't say too much
She said, "Are you gay?"
Kinda took me by surprise
I didn't know what to do
I just looked her in her eyes
And I said, "No, are u?"
Said to myself, said
"She's just a crazy, crazy, crazy
Little mixed up dame.
She's just a victim of society
And all it's games."
Now where I come from
We don't let society
Tell us how it's supposed to be
Our clothes, our hair
We don't care

Furthermore, everybody is invited to the freak party:

White, Black, Puerto Rican
Everybody just a-freakin’…
Now where I come from
We don't give a damn
We do whatever we please
It ain't about no downtown
Nowhere bound
Narrow-minded drag
It's all about being free

As Prince is popping the bass, I’m thinkin’ “fuck yeah,” I am down with this party….Then just when I think things can’t get any funkier…the next song kicks me in the ass. It is called “Head.” I experience a deep rooted super-controlled salt of the earth mega-funk with this one. It is similar to what I experience when I hear Peter Tosh doing “Reggaemylitis.” Sometimes the funk is so deep I don’t know what to do with my body. I tap the foot and move the head and whisper “fuck” under my breath. But unlike the Peter Tosh song, I am suddenly feeling a little horny. And I am thinkin’ “Goddamn this is some good fucking music!” I start slappin’ the dildo like Prince is slappin’ that motherfucking bass. Again, this simple combo of drums, bass, guitar and keyboard is fuckin’ my mind.

Then I hear the story behind of the superfunk of “Head.”

Basically, Prince meets a woman on the way to her wedding but she ends up marrying him instead when he “cums on her wedding gown”; now “morning, noon and night he gives her Head.” When they first meet she says,

"But I'm just a virgin and I'm on my way to be wed
But you're such a hunk
So full of spunk,
I'll give you Head”

He even goes on to describe how giving head will made your love “turn red.” The instrumental breakdown in the middle turns into some sort of 1950’s Buck Rogers ray-gun orgy. Fantastic!

Then things take a much darker turn. The next track clocks in at just over a minute and a half. It is an up-tempo little rocker called “Sister.” Read these lyrics:

I was only 16 but I guess that's no excuse
My sister was 32, lovely, and loose
She don't wear no underwear
She says it only gets in her hair
And it's got a funny way of stoppin' the juice
My sister never made love to anyone else but me
She's the reason for my, uh, sexuality
She showed me where it's supposed to go
A blow job doesn't mean blow
Incest is everything it's said to be
Oh, sister
Don't put me on the street again
Oh, sister
I just want to be your friend
I was only 16 and only half a man
My sister didn't give a goddamn
She only wanted to turn me out
She took a whip to me until I shout
"Oh, motherfucker shes’s a motherfucker
Can't you understand?"
Oh, sister.

The song is such a catchy little number: it almost sounds like a celebration. Seriously, I don’t even know where to start with this one. First of all, do panties really “get caught in women’s hair” and “stop the juice”?

The line “My sister never made love to anyone else but me” has got to be one of the greatest rock lyrics ever written. But the clincher is when Prince does that diabolical scream that only he can do when he exclaims, “ohhmotherfuckershe’samotherfucker” like it is one big word.

This leads me into a related story. It was sometime around 1985 or so and my stepfather saw the PMRC on a TV show talking about satanic and sexually perverse records that America’s children may be listening to. They held up several Prince albums for the TV viewing audience.

“Doesn’t our son have all those records?”

When my stepfather and mother asked about the records, I told them I would be more than happy to sit down and listen to Prince with them. Even in 8th grade I had a great deal of confidence in my understanding of the complexities within the arts. I had a good defense. I grabbed the Dirty Mind cassette tape and headed for the kitchen for our listening session. I was a ballsy little fucker. My stepfather (picture a mix between John Wayne and Bruce Springsteen / Ford factory worker and dairy farmer) sat chain smoking with a perplexed look on his face as Dirty Mind echoed through our kitchen. He was “OK” with most of it, though he was sure that Prince was gay but, I mean, who doesn’t like getting Head? So I thought they related at least on that level. However, when the song “Sister” finished, my stepfather looked at my mom and said “What the hell was that?” My mother, “the patron saint of the arts,” said, “Don’t you see, he is singing about how terrible incest is, how it messed him up. I could do without the cussing but I think our son understands these things.” My mom kicks ass. That was the end of that; oh, my stepfather didn’t like Prince but my with my mother’s help he realized that he, too, enjoyed sex, swearing, and thought incest was bad as well.

However, later that year my stepfather ripped a Prince poster off my wall, threw me in the closet, and said he didn’t want me to be gay, screaming “He is as queer as a three dollar bill!” -- gesturing wildly at the crumpled Prince poster in his hand. Later, my football star/ Marine brother retrieved the poster from the garbage and returned it to me, saying, “Put that somewhere where he won’t find it.” When it comes down to it, my brother had my back.

Anyway, back to the record.

Things brighten back up for the last track, “Party Up.” This track is the icing on a short and perplexing cake. We come out of “Sister” into a pro-party / anti-war anthem. This is made clear by the opening line, “We don't give a damn / We just want to jam.” Prince does it again with the magic combo of instruments creating space and hand claps that make you wanna fly your freak flag. Fuck the furniture. Fuck the dog. Fuck the man. He sings,

They got the draft,
Uh, uh
I just laugh. Party Up!
Fightin’ war
Is such fuckin’ bore…Party Up!
…Because of their half-baked mistakes
We get ice cream
No cake
All lies
No truth
Is it fair to kill the youth?

He then leans on the keyboards like the phantom of the opera and throws in guitar licks that remind you that he knows exactly what the fuck he is doing. This song makes Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” seem like a Sunday church downer. The song ends with a breakdown of only handclaps and a repeated chant:

You're gonna have to fight your own damn war
Cuz we don't wanna fight no more
You're gonna have to fight your own damn war
Cuz we don't wanna fight no more
I said we don't wanna fight no more (gonna have to fight your own damn war)
Cuz we don't wanna FIGHT NO MORE!

And it is all over much too quickly.

This little album is a reminder of Prince’s talent and what could have been. He had other songs and albums in the following years that were great and interesting and what not, but this was the summit of his powers, short, concise, disturbing, sexy, and anti-war, in his own simplistic way. He would never be this “dangerous” again, yes, he would be “nasty” but this is the closest to a punk rock record he ever came. Of course, it is not a punk rock record, except somewhere in my little puberty confused 7th grade head.

If you must have a Prince record, get this one. It’s fucking great.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Martha Argerich - The Deutsche Grammophon box sets

Reviewed by Null

The Collection 1 : the solo recordings (8 CDs)
(DG 2008)

The Collection 2 : the concerto recordings (7 CDs)
(DG 2009)

The Collection 3 : chamber ensembles (6 CDs)
(DG 2010)

The Deutsche Grammophon label has always put out great recordings of classical music. I like my violins and cellos LOUD and CLEAR. Sure, there are many other great labels but DG has never let me down. Also, just for the record, I don’t give two shits about some stuffy German motherfuckers with asses so tight they can only eat caviar. The whole classical music “scene” makes me kind of nauseous with its stuffy, rich, and elitist atmosphere. I single-handedly commandeer the music back to the heart and the people. That is why classical music needs me. I am that important.

I can’t handle classical music concerts: the few I have been to were a stuffy, uncomfortable affair. The music was great but the crowd…oh my god! You have to sit in those goddam seats like you were carved out of wood, as if the whole idea is to deny any emotion you might feel when hearing the music. The rich have no taste and wouldn’t know how to crank Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto and let lose if you gave them LSD and told them they were going to die in 4 hours.

I listen to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto while watching the leaves falling outside and shedding a tear for the beauty and futility of existence. This is what I do. Classical music can be some of the most moving and profound music I have ever heard and it is, to me, the antithesis of the cold stuffy atmosphere often found and associated with the genre.

I crank that shit till the house shakes…and then I cry.

Oh, right, this is a review of the Martha Argerich box sets.
For those of you that do not know, Martha Argerich is an amazing pianist. She is originally from Buenos Aires and was born in 1941. She was rockin’ Mozart on the piano when she was eight. I believe her first release was in 1961.

She was often criticized for playing with “too much emotion”; it was said that she was too romantic. She would smoke cigarettes and often dress in black. She didn’t have all that shitty make-up and gaudy crap on; her hair was long and wild like a banshee. In some ways she plays like she looks. As you may have guessed, I was inclined to like her before I ever heard her play. Fuck ’em Martha! Do what you want!

These box sets are fucking handsome little things. I mean, these things are as cool as the Billy Bragg box sets and the first 8 albums included in the Black Sabbath box set. Each box comes with little facsimiles of the original vinyl releases. As you may have noticed from the heading of this review, they are broken up into solo piano, concerto, and chamber ensemble works. Let me tell you, it is a shit-ton of music and it is all beautifully performed by Martha, either solo (astonishing) or with fellow musicians (astounding). The recordings span from 1961 to 2009 and they are all the complete compositions featured on the original vinyl LPs.

Throughout these box sets she plays works by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Liszt, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Beethoven, Shostakovich (my favorite composer), Rochmaninov, Bartók, and Shubert. It is a nice sampling of different composers. I could go on and on about each piece but it is just too much.

I am so excited about these box sets that I had to tell somebody. I will be thinking of you while I dance around naked or cry in my wine as Martha makes my windows shake.

In my house…we rock this shit.