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Happy New Year!  I’ve got my pork und kraut in the crock pot, American style collegiate football on the telly, the Stones on the stereo, and my little baby boy is chillin’ in his rocking chair.  Life is good.  Welcome to 2018!

So, when I finished my master’s degree about 5 1/2 years ago, the Princess gave me a gift card to Bestest Buy as a graduation present.  So I remember picking this up for $10, along with the blu ray edition of the PJ20 movie, and some PS3 games.  I remember at the time I was on a Stones kick, and I wanted to have “Satisfaction” on CD.  Which, I suppose I should note that this is the American version of this album, with “Satisfaction” on it.  Like many albums from that era, the British version had a different track list, omitting “Satisfaction” completely, and different artwork.  But while the Beatles catalog was eventually “canonized” with the British versions of their albums, no such thing ever happened with the Stones, so often it is the American versions that are most familiar to folks on this side of the Atlantic.  However, like the Beatles moptop era records, this album contains a lot of covers.  Actually, it’s half covers, but that’s what makes it fun.  On this record, Mick and company cover Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and even some Otis Redding (who returned the favor by covering “Satisfaction” that same year).  The result is a straight up R&B record that showcases the band’s ability to groove.  Of the six Jagger/Richards originals (of which “Satisfaction” is obviously the highlight), only “Play With Fire” breaks the mold and delves into the Baroque influenced sound the Stones would explore on their next album, Aftermath.  There is a little bit of a country influence on “The Spider and the Fly”, but it still winds up being more of a blues tune.  Overall, this is a great record that showcases the Rolling Stones’ early R&B influences.  In short, it rocks and it rolls.

Other lists: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is also #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Rolling Stones’ Songs, along with “The Last Time” at #23, “Play With Fire” at #36, “Cry to Me” at #72, and “That’s How Strong My Love Is” at #79.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from it’s original position at #114.

My favourite track: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

Honourable mention: “The Spider and the Fly”

Quote: “So don’t play with me, ’cause your playing with fire.”


“The trash collected by the eyes and dumped into the brain, said it tears into our conscious thoughts, you tell me who’s to blame?” — W.A. Rose

Last spring I was up in the NEO, I think it was for Mi Madre’s Day, and I stopped by The Exchange in Willoughby and found a few of the albums for this list.  This one was $6.00.  And generally I like The Who a lot, so I was pretty excited to listen to it.  But this album is kind of weird.  It’s not bad, just weird.  It sort of reminds me of how rap albums in the 90s would contain skits and stuff between the songs.  In this case, it’s commercials, some real and some fake, interspersed throughout.  The result is somewhat humorous, which I think was the intent, but it isn’t exactly hilarious.  But maybe I’m just jaded.  As for the actual songs, they are pretty good, but overall it isn’t on the level of the stuff on Who’s Next or Tommy (although there is a surprise use of material from “The Underture” towards the end).  The only real stand out for me is “I Can See for Miles”, and that’s because it’s the only song where Roger Daltrey really lets loose.  Townshend sings way too much on this album in his high wispy voice.  And it’s almost as if Daltrey was forced to sing in Townshend’s style on many of the other tracks.  And John Entwistle sings a few character type songs like “Silas Stingy” to a somewhat humorous effect.  But props to Kieth Moon…the drumming is pretty stellar on this record.  That actually might be the highlight for me.

This album does, however, raise the question of what is considered “selling out” in the music industry.  Musicians seem to have pretty strict, unwritten rules about selling out, especially in some of the more extreme punk and indie rock communities.  Now, these rules don’t apply to other types of celebrities.  Pro-athletes hock everything from shoes to jeans to pizza to underwear (and college athletes probably would too if the NCAA would allow it).  And while it seems to be frowned upon for most A-list actors to appear in commercials, that doesn’t seem to have stopped Matthew McConaughey from appearing in ads for cars and liquor.  And it makes me sad every time I see Sam Jackson, the baddest mofo in the Tarantinoverse, trying to sell me a credit card.  But for musicians, selling a song to a commercial triggers instantaneous criticism and a lack of credibility.  Jim Morrison famously blocked the rest of The Doors from selling “Light My Fire” to a car commercial.  I was recently disappointed to hear Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” in a shoe commercial, mostly due to the irony that the song originally blasted that particular shoe company back in the 90s for not being socially responsible.  And I thought the world was going to end when I saw Bob Dylan in a super bowl commercial a few years ago.  It is an interesting conundrum…musicians obviously have the right to profit from the songs they write, but they are frowned upon for doing so in a commercial manner.  Is it because we hold musicians to a higher standard?  Do we expect musicians to maintain a certain ideal level of integrity?  Are we looking for musicians to be the voice of truth and social justice in our society?  I actually think we do, and I’m okay with it.  And at any rate, I really don’t buy anything because somebody famous endorses it.  Actually, often times I refuse to buy something because someone I don’t like is endorsing it (I’m looking at you Padre John).  I just hope I never see Thom Yorke or Axl Rose trying to sell me a new car or a pair of sunglasses.

Other Lists: “I Can See for Miles” is #262 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is #2 on the list of the 50 Greatest Songs by The Who, along with “Tattoo” at #19, “Sunrise” at #24, “I Can’t Reach You” at #43, and “Relax” at #49.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped two spots from it’s rank of #113 on the original list.

My favourite track: “I Can See for Miles”

Honourable mention: “Tattoo”

Quote: “Me and my brother were talking to each other ’bout what makes a man a man.  Was it brain or brawn or the month you were born?  We just couldn’t understand.”


#114: “Disreaeli Gears” by Cream

I feel like I’ve been trying to find time to write on this blog for months, probably because it has been months since I picked up this album at Barnes and Noble for $5.99 with a gift card my former boss gave me for the holidays last year.  But a brand new baby boy and a brand new house have been taking up most of my time these days.  So now, on a Sunday, instead of watching the Browns lose their ninth game in a row, I am going to try to find time to write a bit.  So yeah, I like this Cream (sh-boogie-bop) record a lot better than their first album.  The first was a bit too psychedelic for me, but this album get more into riff rock and the blues.  Sure, there’s still some mopey psychedelic tracks (“World of Pain”, “We’re Going Wrong”), and too many track sung by Jack Bruce, but overall, those songs make way for phat riffs (“Sunshine of Your Love”), driving rock (“Tales of Brave Ulysses”), and the electric blues (“Outside Woman Blues”, “Take It Back”).

So I remember getting into “Sunshine of Your Love” back in high school.  We played it in marching band, and I dug it so much that I got the two-disc Eric Clapton live set, 24 Nights, mostly for the 9-minute live version.  And I know I’ve talked about high school marching band before on this blog, it truly did have a big impact on my life.  I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been for band trips, I might never have left Northeast Ohio.  But my freshman year we went to Gatlinburg, TN and my junior year we went to Disney World.  Plus we had smaller trips to King’s Island my sophomore year and to Niagara Falls my senior year, and these trips helped me see that there was more to the world than just the shoreline of Lake Erie.  And of course, some of the friendships I made in band have been the lifelong kind.  I met Black Cloud when he and I were both 8th grade band helpers (is there anything nerdier on the planet than being an 8th grade band helper?) and even though the Last Boy Scout and I were already buds, rooming together for four straight years at band camp helped cement our friendship.  Good times, yo.  I kinda wish I had been able to continue marching band in college, but the TBDBITL didn’t have saxomaphones, so I was out of luck.  And I think I was ready to move on as well, which is prolly why I became a choir director and not a band director (plus, it got me out of 16 years of Friday night football games).

Other lists: “Sunshine of Your Love” is #65 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from it’s ranking of #112 on the original list.

My favourite track: “Sunshine of Your Love”

Honourable mention: “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Quote: “You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever, but you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.”

I picked this album up in the $5 bin at the Barnes and Noble at Polaris back around the Christmastime.  I had a gift card to B&N that my former boss had given me when I got promoted.  So I did a little Christmas shopping for myself while I was out spreading the holiday cheer.  I don’t know why the cover is so faded on this edition, but it isn’t just my copy.  I recently saw two copies in the used bin at Magnolia’s, and one was the same edition and the cover was faded too.  The other was a different edition and the cover was much brighter.  Oh well.  I try never to judge a CD by its cover anyway…

So this album is very similar to the other Joni Mitchell album, Blue, that I wrote about years ago.  And at the time, I remember mentioning many of the female artists I used to listen to in college that were certainly influenced by Joni.  And of all those artists, Natalie Merchant is the only one I still follow closely.  But the same chiquita who introduced me to Natalie also got me into Tori Amos (at least through her first four albums).  And I would say Tori is the one who most closely resembles Joni Mitchell in style…freeform song structures build around piano with a mix of jazz and classical influences.  And back in the day, when Tori was at the height of her popularity, the gang and I went to see her in concert…

Now, before the world wide interweb became a global phenomenon and people could order concert tickets from the comfort of their own home, people had to go stand in line at some random Ticketmaster outlet to get tickets.  So Tori announced a tour and a show at the Cleveland State Convocation Center (where I saw my very first concert, Pearl Jam) and the tickets were going on sale at 1o AM on Saturday.  So I was living two floors below Lord Bacchus at the time, and he was dating the Twins, who was also into Tori, so the three of us got up early and walked across the alley to the Newport Music Hall box office to get in line to get tickets, except there was no line.  Apparently the college students in the Bus were not as geeked about a Tori show in the Land as we were.  The guy in the ticket booth was an older guy, and he was cool about it and he said he would try to get in the system as soon as the tickets went on sale.  So he starts clicking away right at 10 o’clock and he looks up with a smile on his face and says “I think I just hooked you up!”  Well, we look and he had gotten us three tickets on the right center floor in the third row!

So the day of the concert rolls around and the three of us roll up to C-town.  Now, at the time Black Cloud and the Gear Head still had an apartment on CSU campus right above the YMCA.  Now, Gear Head would not have been caught dead at a Tori Amos concert unless Eddie Van Halen was playing guitar in her band, but Black Cloud had tickets (not sweet third row tickets like we had, but tickets notheless) and L.B.’s younger brother, Middle Bacchus, was also in town for the show.  So we all pre-party at the apartment, and then about an hour before the show we all walked over to the Convo.  At that point the group split up, and L.B., the Twins, and I walked down to the floor to our sweet third row right center seats where we could essentially make eye contact with Tori the entire night while she played the piano.  And it was a pretty awesome show from what I remember of it.  But none of us had cell phones yet, so we were unaware that before the show had even started, Middle Bacchus had purchased a hot dog from the concession stand and had begun to choke on it.  Like choke so seriously that the EMTs were called and he was rushed to the hospital.  Black Cloud strikes again!  So Middle Bacchus missed the whole show.  I don’t remember if Black Cloud went with him to the hospital or not, but I think he did.  In hindsight, its probably a good thing we didn’t have cell phones, or we probably would have felt obligated to leave too.

Other lists: “Help Me” is #288 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped two spots from its original position at #111 due to the rise of Kid A and If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.

My favorite track: “Court and Spark”

Honorable mention: “Free Man in Paris”

A word from the Princess: I like this album.

Quote: ” I deal in dreamers and telephone screamers.  Lately, I wonder what I do it for?  If I had my way, I’d just walk through these doors.”

I am not a music teacher anymore.  I have crossed over to the “dark side” and I am now an administrator.  But back when I taught music, I always thought that harmony was the hardest thing to teach.  Rhythm tends to come pretty quickly to most people, and melody, well, most people can at least carry a simple tune.  But vocal harmony really takes a developed ear and a little knowledge of music theory to really be able create it and know where it’s going.  And actually, vocal harmony is what you hear the least of in current popular music.  In this era of solo artists and bands with single lead singers, groups that harmonize seem to have become novelty acts on bad reality music shows.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.  I only bring it up because the Mamas and the Papas were known for their harmonies.  Well, the blend of their voices might be a better term, because actually there isn’t as much vocal harmony on this record as you might expect.  More often there is call and response singing between the men and the women, or there is a lead singer with the others singing folky oos and ahs behind him or her.  And there is as surprising amount of unison singing.  But occasionally they will bust out a long chord, often with the women singing a suspension and then resolving it, and those moments are truly glorious.

I don’t really have any childhood memories of the Mamas and the Papas.  I think I was more of a Peter, Paul, and Mary kind of guy.  I do vaguely remember an episode of Scooby Doo that guest-starred Cass Elliot, but I really didn’t know who she was at the time.  And it wasn’t as good as the episode with the Globetrotters.  But in college I remember picking up a copy of their Greatest Hits cheap at Johnny Go’s House O’ Music.  I think the only song I ever listened to on that album was “California Dreamin'”, but I remember really liking that song a lot and listening to it while I was trudging around campus on cold winter days.  I think we may have even sung an arrangement of “California Dreamin'” in Statesmen, but I may be misremembering that.

I picked this album up for $7.99 on Amazon Prime.  I am glad it has the original cover, as apparently at some point the cover was censored because the record company thought the toilet was inappropriate.  So for many years the toilet was covered by a banner with the song titles on it.  Actually, I think the original vinyl pressings were pulled off the shelves because of the cover, and as such have become valuable collector’s items.  By today’s standards, a toilet seems pretty mild, but I get it.  Times were different back then.  Insert Dylan quote here.

Other lists: “California Dreamin'” ranks at #89 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album jumped up 15 spots from its original ranking at #127 on the original list.

A word from the Princess: [after listening to “Monday, Monday”] “I think I like Fridays better.  And Saturdays.”

My favorite track: “California Dreamin'”

Honorable mention: “Go Where You Wanna Go”

Quote: “You gotta go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do, with whoever you wanna do it with”



“Anyone can play guitar and they won’t be a nothing anymore” – T. Yorke

It was the spring of 1994 and I had just finished seeing my first real rock and roll show (at least since coming of age).  It was Pearl Jam at the Cleveland State Convocation Center and the story of that life changing event will be told in full when (and if) I ever get to the entry for PJ’s Ten.  But I was there with the Artistic One, and immediately we ran into Lord Bacchus and Lightning 101 inside the arena, and after the show was over and we had all purchased our black bootleg concert T-shirts in the parking lot and had a slice at a nearby establishment, the Artistic One and I jumped in his mother’s blue Chevy Lumina mini-van (his family used to call it the Lumi), and we proceeded to have an experience not unlike the movie Judgement Night (a movie whose soundtrack is more memorable than the movie itself), minus Jeremy Piven of course (nobody died).  But we got lost driving around the east side of the Land for about two hours, which is especially idiotic of us since the freeway ramp to route 90 is literally a block from CSU campus.  But oh well, we were young and dumb and indestructible (and directionally challenged).

So we had a case full of CDs that we had just gotten from BMG and a cassette-adaptor that plugged into the tape deck and a portable CD player powered by the lighter jack, so at least we had music on this impromptu journey (C-town radio is sketchy at best).  By that point we were pretty much PJ’d out (we had listened to them all day, and then they essentially played every track off Ten and Vs plus all the b-sides at the show), and so we decided to branch out into some new material.  And the two albums I remember playing as we wound our way through the boarded up houses and abandoned factories were the Counting Crows’ August and Everything After, which is typically remembered as their best release, and Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, which was generally regarded as their worst album up until TKoL was released.  But at the time, I remember liking Pablo, even if it wasn’t that great.  It still had some really teen angsty defiance (“I am not a vegetable, I will not control myself!”) mixed with a keen sarcastic bite (“I wanna be, wanna be, wanna be Jim Morrison!”).  And I remember quipping that they need some original song titles, as Stone Temple Pilots (ugh) already had a hit with a song called “Creep” and Candlebox had a song called “You” on the charts (oh, the irony!).  But the main problem was Pablo is just kind of noisy.  Radiohead’s “three guitar attack” (remember when Radiohead used to play guitars?) essentially had strings ringing all over the place, and even though there was some Nirvanaesque crunch, it lacked Cobain’s precision.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Lord Bacchus and I had both moved down to the Bus to pursue our higher edumacations and as so often happened, we were spinning some tunes while we threw a few back on the weekend.  He was prolly living in the Briar Patch at the time.  Anyway, at some point he was like “you gotta check this out” and he put on the new Radiohead album (how he always got new tunes first, even before the days of digital file sharing, I still don’t understand).  But he put on The Bends and I just remember being blown away by the whole album.  It was totally unexepected…the little one-hit wonder Britpop band who had largely been overshadowed by Oasis and Blur had suddenly grown up and released one of the best albums I had ever heard.  The songwriting was light years ahead of where it had been on Pablo Honey, and while the lyrics were still pretty angsty, they weren’t teen angsty.  In fact, it resonated pretty well with the college life.  But I think the main thing was that the “three guitar attack” (remember when Radiohead used to play guitars?) had been refined with Thom playing acoustic rhythm, Ed playing electric rhythm, and Jonny doing leads and effects.  The ringing strings and general dissonance had been replaced (mostly) by just very focused and driven guitar work.  I liked it so much, Lord Bacchus dubbed it onto a tape for me (hey, I was a poor college student and I only bought CDs when I found them used) so I could listen to it back in my dorm room.

Eventually I must have bought it, and I must have bought it new because my copy doesn’t have a sticker on it anywhere.  And actually, there is some residue on the case from those stupid long white stickers they still put along the top spine of a new CD.  But regardless, it has remained a treasured album in my collection for 20+ years.  Personally, it is my 2nd favorite Radiohead album (most of the time, but from time to time In Rainbows sneaks up into that #2 spot) and I go back and listen to it quite frequently.  I even have the Collector’s Edition (I pretty much hate all the money grabbing re-releases aimed at my g-g-generation these days), and there are some pretty awesome b-sides and live performances on it.  And the My Iron Lung EP bears mentioning, as it also has some pretty awesome non-album tracks (and also starts the tradition of every Radiohead album having a companion EP).  Only OK Computer eclipses this album in my mind in the Radiohead catalogue, and even then the two are pretty close.  Ironically, The Bends wasn’t a commercial hit, and it didn’t have a hit single nearly as popular as “Creep”, but it’s a true masterpiece and it established Radiohead as a post-grunge force to be reckoned with.

Other lists: “Fake Plastic Trees” is #385 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  The Bends also clocks in at #21 on the list of the 100 Best Albums of the Nineties (even though it is above most of the top 20 on this list…way to be consistent Rolling Stone!).

Ch-ch-changes: The fan favorite vs. the critical darling!  Even Radiohead is affected by their own success, this album falling one spot from its original position at #110 due to the critics pushing Kid A up to #67.

My favourite track: “Just”

Honorable mention: “Fake Plastic Trees”

Show: “Street Spirit [Fade Out]”

Quote 1: “You do it to yourself, you do, and that’s what really hurts is you do it to yourself, just you, you and no-one else.  You do it to yourself.”

Quote 2: “He used to do surgery for girls in the eighties, but gravity always wins, and it wears him out.”

Quote 3: “Blame it on the black star”

Quote 4: “Nice dream.”




“The whole world’s comin’ to an end, Mal!” — Mickey

It was late summer back in 1994.  I had gradiated from Olde Genevieve, but college hadn’t started yet.  I was in a dawg haus with my girlyfriend’s parents from which I was never destined to emerge.  Nevertheless, we went to the movies one night.  It was a strange crowd.  One that never really hung out together.  In addition to me and the Drama Queen, the Artistic One and Top Gear were with us.  Now, to this day the Artistic One and Top Gear remain polar opposites on the electromagnetic spectrum, so yeah, it was weird.  But we were all out to see Ollie Stone’s latest controversial flick, a little ditty named Natural Born Killers.  It was supposed to be uber-violent and edgy, kinda like a modern A Clockwork Orange.  And usually that kind of thing would have been right up the Artistic One’s alley, but for some reason he didn’t take to it and he stepped out to smoke a ciggy.  And strangely enough, so did the Drama Queen, even though she didn’t smoke.  But it kind of got my proverbial goat, ’cause I had this weird vendetta against cigs since mi padre died when I was a wee lad, so it put me in a bad mood.  And it was just me and Top Gear watching the movie, and he was pretty much hating every minute of it.  So about halfway through (right about when Mickey and Mallory go into the drugstore to get the snakebite juice) we all bailed.  Which is okay…the second half of the movie is rubbish anyway.  But it was just a strange night, and it wound up being the last movie the Drama Queen and I would ever see together.

The connection here is that the song “Sweet Jane” features very prominently in the movie and on its soundtrack.  In fact, it’s sort of Mickey and Mallory’s theme and it comes back several times in the movie when ever they have a romantic scene.  But it’s not the Lou Reed version of the song, it’s a cover done by the Cowboy Junkies.  And all through college I used to love that version of the song.  Its mellow and soothing and the slide guitar just relaxes my mind and the la la section at the end takes me to another place.  Actually, the entire NBK soundtrack is killer (forgive the pun) and features tons of really great songs.  It was pretty much hand selected by Mercer, Pennsylvania’s favorite son and was Trenton’s first foray in cinema music (he’d win an Oscar later on for The Social Network original score).  And “Burn” may be the best non-album NIN track.

But as good as the soundtrack is, the movie pretty much is crap.  Even Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. can’t save it.  And that’s despite being written by my favorite auteur, Quentin Tarantino (sort of).  As the story goes, after Tarantino had dropped out of high school and was working at the video store, he wrote three scripts: True Romance, Natural Born Killers, and Reservoir Dogs.  Well, he wanted to make Dogs himself, so he sold the other two to finance it.  True Romance wound up being made by Tony Scott (who changed the ending), and Oliver Stone picked up NBK.  The thing is, he completely rewrote it…so much so that QT asked to have his name taken off it (he still gets a story credit).  Now, I’ve read the original script, and its basically a crime drama (much like the rest of QT’s early work).  But Stone decided to make it a media statire and his transparent moralizing ruins the film.  And the 8 million cuts are bizarre and fairly obvious (“hey look, it’s Mickey’s inner demon!”).  Its sort of an attempt at 90s psychedelia, but it doesn’t work and it hasn’t aged well.

So I picked up this album a year or so ago at the east side Half Price Books that used to off Brice Road (it recently moved all the way up to McNaughten).  They were playing it over the sound system while I was browsing, and when I got up to the register I asked how much it was and the clerk said $6.99 American and I said “I’ll take it!” (probably without that much enthusiasm).  As far as the music goes, I dig the songs Lou Reed sings and not much else.  Doug Yule just really doesn’t do it for me.  But hey, at least Nico was long gone by this point.  Actually, Lou Reed was gone too by the time this was released…on to a stellar solo career (minus that one collaboration a few years ago with Metallica…ugh, that record is terrible!).

Other lists: “Sweet Jane” is #342 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: Even the Velvets are not immune to the critical darling that is Kid A and drop one spot from their original position of #109.

My favorite track: “Sweet Jane”

Honorable mention: “Rock & Roll”

Quote: “Then one fine mornin’ she puts on a New York station, she couldn’t believe what she heard at all.  She started dancin’ to the fine fine music, you know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll.”


About this time two years ago, the Stones announced that their Zip Code tour would be rolling through the Capitol City and that they would be playing at the holy shrine of collegiate American-style football, the Olde Horseshoe on the muddy banks of the Olentangy.  Well, I was interested in going, but the ticket prices were pretty steep, and I had half a mind to do what I did back in ’97 when the Stones came through town and sit on a hill outside the stadium and listen (Saylor Moon joined me that night).  It is an open air stadium, after all.  But then myyoungestniecia texted me because she wanted to buy a ticket to the concert for ma soeur for Mommy’s Day.  And since ma soeur was going, I decided to go too.  But then I thought I should get a ticket for mi madre too, as she is a huge Stones fan.  And then mon frere decided to tag along as well, so I became a family affair (and actually the same group that took me to Dylan, Petty, and the Dead back when I was a wee lad).

So the day of the concert was also my last day as a Cowboy, as I had recently been promoted, and we were gradiating the most recent class of cowboys and cowgirls.  And the Math Professor was retiring, and I wanted to put in an appearance at his farewell party.  Also, there was a minor monsoon hovering over the Capitol City, and it was threatening to put a damper on the evening’s festivities.  So I wound up running pretty late, and I was worried I would miss the rendezvous with my family, which was pretty important, since I had everybody’s ticket.  But it didn’t matter because my family was running late too, and when they finally arrived, I laughed to see the mon frere had duct taped ma soeur’s front bumper on after it had fallen off at a gas station in Medina.  So typical of my family!  Well, the monsoon was still raging and no-one really wanted to see Kid Rock perform as the opening act, so we hung out and had a few adult beverages before the show.  Then, miraculously, the clouds parted and the rain stopped just as we left for the ‘Shoe.

I had a tip from a friend that the parking lot by the Schottenstein Center would be free and mostly empty (a good combination), but it is quite a hike from there to the stadium.  And mi madre was in a wheelchair, but we all took turns pushing and we got there just before the Stones took the stage.  Now I had shelled out the big bucks for mi madre, ma soeur, and myself, but mon frere had opted for the cheapest ticket possible.  However, mi madre had a special ticket in the wheelchair section, and mon frere pushed her in like he belonged there and noone ever said anything to him.  So actually, he was the closest to the stage and he paid the least!  In retrospect, I gotta admit I wish I had thought of that.  Ingenious!  The concert itself was excellent.  A huge stage, three large video screens, and plenty of pyro-technics.  But all of that was just window dressing, because the band actually sounded great.  Kieth Richards actually sort of stole the show from Jagger…every strum on his guitar seemed to cut through the evening air and he had a huge smile like he was having more fun than anyone in the world.  Jagger was good too though, dancing like he was thirty years younger and generally being the archetypical leading man.  They played pretty much everything I wanted to hear, including “Sympathy for the Devil” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, the latter of which featured the choir from the other university named after the state of Ohio.  My only complaint was they didn’t play “Dead Flowers”…it was one of four potential songs in a pre-concert online vote and it lost out, not-surprisingly, to “Paint It, Black”.  Oh, and did I mention they had a Scarlet and Gray version of the famous mouth logo!  It was practically the perfect evening.

As for this album, meh.  I hate to say it, but I don’t really dig early Stones.  This is from the 60s, before they had their epic run in the 70s.  As such, it doesn’t really have that bad boy rock and roll identy of later Stones albums.  There’s some blues (“Dontcha Bother Me”), some county (“High and Dry”), some psychedelica (“Paint It, Black”), and weirdly even a little baroque (“Lady Jane”).  It’s a hodgepodge, but it just doesn’t gel.  I bought it for $11.88 off of Amazon Prime.  It’s the American version…the British version has a vastly different track list and order, adding four songs but deleting “Paint It, Black”, about the only song I really dig on the album.  Overall, it’s not bad, it’s just not great either.

Other lists: “Paint It, Black” and its oddly placed comma rank at #176 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes:  The ripple effect of Kid A has dropped this album one spot from its original spot at #108.

My favourite track: “Paint It, Black”

Honourable mention: “Under My Thumb”

Quote: “It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black.”


#108: “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie


“There’s a starman waiting in the sky.  He like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” — Z. Stardust

I took it pretty hard when David Bowie died back in January.  I responded by listening to Ziggy Stardust pretty much nonstop for weeks.  And of all the albums I’ve “discovered” so far by doing this blog, that one might be my favorite.  I haven’t brought myself to listen to his posthumous release, Blackstar, yet.  I guess I’m saving it for something.  I’m not sure what though.  Maybe I’m just avoiding the finality of it.  But 2016 has sadly been the year of artists passing, with Prince and Leonard Cohen among the musicians, and actors such as Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder.  And just yesterday, Carrie Fisher died.  Haven’t even really processed that one yet.  All of these celebrity deaths, along with the election results, have cast a pallor over 2016, and I hear lots of people just wanting the year to end so they can move on to 2017.  But actually, 2016 was a pretty memorable year for me: I got married, I got promoted, and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the Land’s championship drought.  As such, despite all the other stuff, I’ll quote Tori Amos and say “well, still pretty good year”.

So I dug into Hunky Dory hoping to hear the same glam rock crunch and sing-a-long bar rock choruses of Ziggy Stardust, but I was actually a bit disappointed.  This precedes Ziggy by a year, and instead features a more art-house piano cabaret style on most of the songs.  There are a few exceptions, like “Changes” (which I reference often in this blog), “Life on Mars?”, and “Queen Bitch”, but for the most part coffee shop style poetry and odes to Andy Warhol and Robert Zimmerman.  I probably built this album up too much in my mind, and I thought it was good, but not great.  I got this in a lot with Ziggy Stardust on ebay for $10 (and I’m not proud to say I gifted the extra disc on Xmas, but hopefully Myoldestniecia is rocking out somewhere to “Suffragette City”).  I wanted this particular edition because it is the out-of-print Rykodisc version with bonus tracks, as opposed to the most recent Parlophone release with no bonus tracks and likely mp3 era remastering issues.  It lacks the lettering on the front cover (weird), but it also lacks a bar code on the back (coolio).

Other lists: “Changes” is #128 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes (ahem): Even the Starman cannot escape the power of Kid A (sounds like a comic book tagline) and drops one spot from its original position at #107.

My favourite track: “Quicksand”

Honourable mention: “Life on Mars?”

Quote: “I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman.”


Before I dug into this album, which I picked up on Amazon Prime for $9 (two day shipping baby!), the only Sam Cooke song I thought I knew was “A Change Is Gonna Come.”  And I was aware of that song mostly because we studied it as a civil rights era anthem in one of my music history classes in college.  And like most things, one can study it in a class, but it wasn’t until I became a music teacher that I realized the true power of the song, as it truly has become transcendental in that it has been passed down from generation to generation.  More than any other song, and I include Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in this statement, “A Change is Gonna Come” has been embraced as an anthem for change and equality and human rights by the old and the young across the nation.  And sadly, Sam Cooke didn’t live long enough to see the impact his masterpiece had on people across the country, but that is another story for another time.

So anyway, when I listened to this album, which is essentially a greatest hits package, I discovered that i knew several of the songs on it.  Songs like “(What a) Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Another Saturday Night”, and “Good Times”, were radio staples when I was kid.  I just never knew those songs were sung by Sam Cooke.  And as a singer, I certainly enjoyed Sam’s voice on this record.  Stylistically, his tenor voice sits somewhere between the silky smoothness of Marvin Gaye and the raw emotional power of Otis Redding.  And he sings in a full voice, rarely, if ever, using falsetto, which is a plus to me.  But, as much as I enjoyed Sam’s voice, I felt his talent was wasted on most of the songs on this album.  For the most part, these songs sound like same trite 50s pop you would have heard on the juke box in a soda shop.  And listening to this album, I just kept yearning to hear Sam sing something more substantial.  Maybe I need to look up his gospel recordings, as I really do like the first song on this album, “Touch the Hem of His Garment” a lot.  At any rate, he was a great singer, even if the quality of these songs doesn’t quite live up to the level of his talent.  And his take on the Gershwin classic “Summertime” is pretty awesome.

Other lists: “A Change is Gonna Come” is #12, “You Send Me” is #115, “(What a) Wonderful World” is #383, and “Cupid” is #458 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Sam Cooke is ranked at #4 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and at #16 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

Ch-ch-changes: Like most of the albums through this section, it is one spot lower than its original ranking at #106.  Kid A!

My favorite track: “Summertime”

Honorable mention: “Another Saturday Night”

Quote: “Yeah, come on and let the good times roll.  We’re gonna stay here till we soothe our souls.”