Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mott the Hoople: All the Way From Memphis

This was one of those "love at first hearing" songs. I have vivid memories of hearing it in the car with my sibling, who cranked it up.

I couldn't get the words the first few times, but they're excellent. Long story short: rock star leaves his guitar behind, has to go and get it. It's one of those "life on the road" songs that bands love to record, despite the fact that only other bands really experience that.

I'm a sucker for:

- piano in rock songs;
- a good guitar hook;
- quotable lines;
- saxophone;
- long jammy song endings.

This song has it all.

I cringe a little at the ethnic slur in the song, but it's in the best part, when the protagonist of the song get scolded for mistreating his guitar.

"Well I got to Oriole, man, it took a month.
And there was my guitar, electric junk.
Some spade said, 'Rock and rollers, you're all the same.
Man that's your instrument!'
I felt so ashamed."

They later change it to dude, but the more generic term makes it just a little less easy to visualize. I sing along to this and point accusingly off into space while I sing the lines.

Good stuff, and a song I only recently tossed back into my car playlist . . . and it popped up unexpectedly as I'd forgotten I'd grabbed my Mott the Hoople along with some assorted T.Rex.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Like the Cover Better: My Back Pages

This cover of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" is why I like the song "My Back Pages."

I'd heard the original, but it took The Ramones (here fronted by C.J. Ramone on vocals) to make it more than just a Dylan song that I didn't pay much attention to.

Going back to any of Dylan's versions (like this all-star one) and the cover by The Byrds, yes, I like it a lot. I love the lyrics, every single one of them, especially the refrain ("Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now") and this:

"In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow."

That last couplet, especially - it's a line that sticks with me when I can't see my way forward, and reminds me it's all going to look like foolishness or wisdom once I see where I've ended up. Plus it's flat-out fun to sing. Especially when it's C.J. Ramone singing.

I only ever saw The Ramones live with C.J., and they performed this. It's probably when the song really slammed into me and said, pay attention, these are words you want to hear.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tomoyasu Hotei

So I'm taking a trip this year, and I'm leaving town the day before Tomoyasu Hotei comes around to play a gig.


I first discovered Hotei thanks to Kill Bill, v1, which is also where I first heard the 5,6,7,8's as well, who are seen wiggling and rocking (but not yet heard) in this clip:

Here he is playing the same tune live:

I liked what I heard, and I kept an eye out for his stuff. While taking a slow train trip across Japan, I stopped at a used CD shop in the train station at Shimonoseki and found three of his CDs for like 350 yen a pop. I bought all three.

Later, I saw him in Samurai Fiction. It was a good movie, and I liked Hotei's music in it. Plus, like me, he's 背が高い.

When I visted the states, I loaned those CDs to a friend of mine . . . same guy who told me about Hotei coming to town. I think I made him watch Samurai Fiction with me, too. I'll have to give Tomoyasu Hotei a miss this time but I'll make it out to a show eventually.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wire - Dot Dash

So there is a new Wire album out.

I'm pretty sure this is the first song I ever heard by Wire:

Dot Dash, Don't Crash.

My coworker GB back when I was an intern introduced me to them. I was way into punk from when I first heard it, but GB really helped expand my access to music. Wire, the Stiff Little Fingers, the Undertones . . . so many bands.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Blind Faith - Can't Find My Way Home

Another I heard first in my sister's collection. I'm 100% certain I was interested because of the cover, not the musicians.*

But it's Cream plus Steve Winwood. Lots of good stuff on it, but this song is what pulled me in:

In the Presence of the Lord has gotten a lot of airplay in the past year or so around where I live. I'm not sure why, but I'll take it for whatever reason.

By the way, check out this cool version - Steven Winwood and Tom Petty, live.

* That's how I heard The Guess Who the first time - they had a cartoon album cover with them as hockey players with the Stanley Cup. So I checked it out. Blind Faith was a better discovery.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Maximum the Hormone - Koi no Mega Lover

My friend Ahn* in Japan introduced me to this band. He figured, I liked MMA (we were MMA training partners) and I liked Jackass (I kinda did, sort of), so I'd like this band. Also, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, who need a post of their own.

Maximum the Hormone (マキツマム ザ ホルモン)

He was right.

Sadly, the mix CD of tracks he burned for me got scratched to unreadability by the crappy CD player in my old Dodge, so that's that.

But I can still track down their song videos for you, like my favorite song of theirs:

Maximum the Hormone - Koi no Mega Lover

The band has everything. A death-metal voiced singer, a female drummer with a voice like a J-pop idoru, slamming guitar, you name it, they have it.

What I found odd was that my punk rocker students were totally nonplussed by this band. They didn't even like that I liked them, which is kind of funny. But didn't seem that out of place in Japan, either - there are rules, and I sat on both sides of the divide.

* It could have been a nickname - we had so many people with the same last name I knew them by their first names and nicknames. If you've deal with Japanese folks, you get how weird that is. I lived in a Sato-heavy prefecture. He could have been one of the half-dozen guys named Satto who all showed up at class.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Infra-Riot - Catch-22

I've mentioned before that I borrowed an unlabeled mix tape off of a co-worker of mine when I was an intern. I found so, so many bands from that one tape. Some I'd heard of, many I hadn't. I couple I just didn't get into, but others I just loved.

One of the ones I loved was Infra-Riot, based on this one song, Catch-22.

Trouble on the streets means trouble in the home. Trouble in the home means there is no where to go.

Short and angry and awesome. It sounds like The Stiff Little Fingers crossed with Sham 69 fronted by Mick Jones.

Here I am twenty years on, and it's still a chore finding their stuff. I've found a full album video, which is excellent:

But for a long, long time I almost felt like I was imagining this band. Couldn't find them. Record store owners didn't recognize the name (clearly, I went to the wrong places.) The one that did didn't have any (The Record Exchange). Years later I found a mention of them in a punk-related book and thought, "Yes, I'm not crazy! That guy wasn't just humoring me!" Then I found "Emergency" and "Catch-22" again, finally.

But it was Catch-22 that grabbed me.*

* Probably didn't hurt that I love punk and loved the Joseph Heller novel. It's why I know what Callypigian means.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Beat Crusaders - Japanese Girl

Some of my punk-rock loving students turned me on to the Beat Crusaders. Same kids who introduced me to Hi-Standard and Ken Yokoyama, actually.

The Beat Crusaders are way poppier, in the way that The Pillows are poppy.

There seems to be an official, totally weird video:

Got to love that Angus Young-ish outfit and headbanging-while-dancing bit, too.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Plasmatics - Butcher Baby

Just some pre-bed relaxing music tonight . . . one of the best songs by The Plasmatics.

And why yes, Wendy O Williams' top consists of shaving cream (or whipped cream) and two clothespins.

The crescendo of on-stage destruction is pretty tame by their standards, but it's still fun watching WOW stick out her tongue as she saws a guitar in half with a chainsaw.

Actually, last year I was at Irving Plaza and there was a band scheduled to play the next week called "Butcher Baby." There is a Plasmatics cover band? Apparently.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Killdozer - One Tin Soldier

Yet another song I heard thank to my older sister's record collection. Why she had For Ladies Only, I don't know, but I'm glad she did. I put it on because, hey, the band is named Killdozer.

Can a band named Killdozer possibly be bad?


No, they can't.

Maybe not good, in the classic sense of a nice voice and smooth guitar, but good in the sense of holy crap turn that up right now.

This is probably my favorite Killdozer song.

That's a tough call, though - Burnin' Love and their cover of Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (with Alice Donut - aka Kill Donut) were both contenders.

And just because Killdozer:

Fresh Young Fellows, "My Boyfriend's in Killdozer"