Archive for February, 2014


Sly Greatest Hits

 

I have always had a secret desire to be funky, which isn’t an easy thing to accomplish when you’re a rural small town white boy.  But ever since I first heard Vanilla Ice’s cover of “Play That Funky Music” on his To The Extreme album back in 1990, I have always wanted to be the guy to lay down the boogie and play the funky music until I died.  Well, not really, but it sounded good in my head.  Actually, I think I stole that from an internet meme on Facebook (all your base are belong to us?).  Regardless, I usually enjoy funk music, even though I don’t normally seek it out, so I was excited when I found this album on Amazon for a mere $4.44 because I wanted to hear Sly bring the funk.

So I was surprised that this doesn’t get very funky until the second half.  Actually, this is more pop rock oriented with a very definite psychedelic hippy vibe.  In fact, at times this probably has more in common with Sgt. Pepper’s and Pet Sounds than Funkadelic or the Commodores. At any rate, Sly and the Family address some of the same social issues that other artists have tried to tackle over the years (racism, oppression, etc), but they do so in a positive, uplifting way.  “Everybody is a Star” and “You Can Make it if You Try” are standard “believe in yourself” type songs, while “Everyday People” is in the “why can’t we all just get along” vein.  And when the Donkey was screaming “Dance to the Music” at the end of Shrek, I never realized there was an instrument lesson a la “Peter and the Wolf” in the song.  And despite the stupid “(Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” subtitle, “Thank You” brings the funk.  And we all know you can’t fake the funk…

Other lists: “Everyday People” is #146, “Dance to the Music” is #225, “Stand!” is #244, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” is #250, and “Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” is #410 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Sly and the Family Stone are #43 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists, while Sly Stone himself is #78 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

Ch-ch-changes: This album was bumped down one spot from the original list due to the addition of CCR’s “Chronicle”.

My favorite track: “Everyday People”

Honorable mention: “Dance to the Music”

Quote: “Different strokes for different folks”

Trout Mask Replica

 

I remember a Glee Club trip back in college when we went up to sing in the Cleveland area.  A bunch of us were staying overnight at this house in Medina, and I remember all of the guys crowding into the living room to watch David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”.  And I remember feeling left out because I just didn’t get it.  Of course, it didn’t help that my chin was bleeding profusely from an injury I had sustained playing driveway basketball in the sub-zero northeast Ohio temperatures, but even so, I just couldn’t grasp what other people were seeing in that movie.  And pretty much the same thing had happened, minus the bleeding chin, when I had watched David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” with the Elusive One a few years prior, so maybe it’s a David Lynch thing.

But it’s also a Captain Beefheart thing, because I had the same feeling of being left out of the party when I was listening to this album.  I found it in the bin for $6.99 (minus my teacher discount) at the Half Price Books in Upper Arlington (where all the hippy-beatniks hang out), and its only the second record on this list after Love’s “Forever Changes” for which I had absolutely no preconceived notions.  But then I saw Frank Zappa’s name listed as producer, and well the only Zappa I have is his set with John and Yoko on the live disc of “Some Time in New York City” (“this song only has two words…SCUM-BAG!”), and I thought “oh no”.  And sadly, my worst fears were realized when I heard this 80 minute set of experimental, hippie-beatnik garbage.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I usually like experimental.  And I think I have talked several times on this blog about the experimental nature of my favorite band, Radiohead.  But while Radiohead experiments with song structure, they leave the rest of the elements of music intact: rhythm, pitch, harmony, etc.  This album completely disregards all of the above, leaving a completely free-form mess that is an extremely difficult listen (supposedly Captain Beefheart rehearsed the band obsessively for a month to get this?).  And I might even be able to forgive this disaster if the lyrics were any good, but the good Captain’s poetry is almost as bad as his musicianship.  At times he tries to be playful, almost like a beatnik Dr. Suess, but he falls far short of the good Dr.’s wit, charm, and social commentary (read the Sneetches if you want the best ever commentary on capitalist society!).  So what if the Mascara Snake is fast and bulbous?  Whatever dude.  It’s like going to see some awkward performance art/poetry slam in a tiny little theater in an abandoned warehouse with a bunch undergraduate English majors.  Blech.

Other lists: To my knowledge, this album and it’s songs do not appear on any other Rolling Stone lists.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped two spots from #58 due to the rise of “Meet the Beatles!” and the addition of CCR’s “Chronicle”

My favorite track: “China Pig”

Honorable mention: “Moonlight on Vermont”

Quote: “She wears her past like a present”

Chronicle

 

I’ve owned this CD since college.  It’s in pristine condition, even though I used to rock out to it quite a bit back in the day.  I don’t think it ever left my dorm room/apartment though.  I think I got it from either scamming Columbia House or BMG, and since it has a bar code on the back I think it was from Columbia House.  I have always liked CCR, but when I listen to this, I think of Saylor Moon and Krissyfur who absolutely loved CCR (and the Doors…and the traveling Doors cover band Moonlight Drive, for whom they were practically groupies).  Saylor Moon and Krissyfur were Geneva girls who worked at the Evil Empire with Lord Bacchus and I.  They were cool chicks who were a couple of years younger than us, but they used to like to party with us at the Great Ranch in Trumbull Township (which reminds me: Black Cloud I will never, ever forgive you for that one), and when we started going to OSU, they would often come down and party with us here.  Saylor Moon eventually wound up going to OSU, and I think Kissyfur went to Kent or Mount Union or somewhere up there.  At any rate, they were huge CCR fans and we used to pre-party with this CD before going out to catch Moonlight Drive at the Newport (they even got me backstage there once to drink a few beverages with the Drive).

My other memory of CCR actually involves being stuck in Lodi, Ohio, just like the song says (yeah, I get it that Fogerty wasn’t singing about Lodi, Ohio, but I got stuck there just the same).  It was summer and I was home in Geneva, but I was heading down to Columbus for a Pearl Jam midnight sale for the album “No Code” at World Record, and because Disco Bitch had an extra ticket to Miss Saigon (rock stars!).  So the Gothic One, who had a strange love-hate-love-confusion-apathy relationship with the Artistic One, jumped at the chance to hitch a ride to the ‘Bus.  Well, on the way the Blue Lagoon started to have some serious car troubles.  First, somewhere near Medina, it started to overheat.  When I pulled into a gas station and popped the hood, I saw there was a pin-hole leak in my radiator house.  Well, I wrapped that sucker in duct tape, and we were back on the Route 71 South when my tailpipe dropped and my muffler started to drag.  So this time I pulled over at the Lodi exit (“Oh lord, stuck in Lodi again!”) and saw that one of my C-clamps had rusted through.  Well, the Gothic One was a goth girl after all, so I borrowed one of her garters and wrapped it around my tailpipe, and then I borrowed her choker chain, hooked it through the garter and the undercarriage and voila…back on the road and into Cbus in time for Miss Saigon and a Pearl Jam release party.  Rock stars!

So listening to this CD now, I realize two things.  First, the rhythm section was incredibly precise.  Seriously, Tom Fogerty never misses a stroke on the rhythm guitar (listen to “Proud Mary” for an example) and Stu Cook and Doug Clifford lock in with the bass and drums to make the perfect backing tracks for John Fogerty.  Which brings me to my second point…John Fogerty has one of the most unique voices in rock and roll.  It’s strong and scratchy and bluesy while still being bright and powerful, and it just fits these tracks perfectly.  And his leads are pretty good too.  It’s kind of funny that these guys became know for southern swamp-rock when in reality they hailed from California, but it works all the same.  Classic!

Other lists: “Fortunate Son” is #99, Proud Mary is “156, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” is #188, and “Bad Moon Rising” is #364 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Creedence Clearwater Revival is #82 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists, and John Fogerty is #72 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

Ch-ch-changes: This is a greatest hits package that replaces two CCR studio albums on the list (so much for the deep cuts!).  These were “Green River” and “Cosmo’s Factory” at #95 and #295 respectively.  “Meet the Beatles!” was the original #59 on the 2003 list.

My favorite track: “Fortunate Son”

Honorable mention: “Long As I Can See the Light”

Quote: “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no [senator’s/millionaire’s/military] son.  No, it ain’t me, it ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one! No!”