Category: Music

I’ve never cared much for the Byrds.  I always wrote them off as a glorified Dylan cover band.  And it drives me nuts whenever I see them described as the U.S. version of the Beatles.  Not even close.  And for Los Angeles bands from that era, I always preferred the Doors for being more unique and original.  So I when I found this album used for $6 at the Exchange in Willoughby, I bought it with some trepidation, figuring I probably wouldn’t like it…but it surprised me.  I probably should have realized from the title and the cover, but this isn’t the hippie folk crap I was expecting.  Instead it is country western with a strongblue grass influence, and I actually kind of dug it.  Other than a couple of Gram Parsons’ songs, it’s mostly covers (including two Dylan covers, of course).  It was apparently recorded in Nashville, a city I enjoy quite a bit, and the Nashville influence really does shine through on most of the tracks.

Now, I’m not much of a country guy, but I do like me some alt-country and some bluegrass.  And living here in the crossroads of America, central Ohio actually has a pretty strong original bluegrass scene.  Here in the ‘Bus there are a couple venues like Woodlands Tavern and Rambling House Soda that cater to that crowd.  And despite the fact that that crowd is incredibly hipster and seems to pride itself on overgrown facial hair and skinny jeans, the venues and the bands are pretty cool.  And there is a local band, the Spikedrivers, that I really don’t care for much, but they have built quite a fan base and reputation in the scene.

In fact, about five years ago, the Princess and I did a weekend camp out at a country bluegrass festival called the Duck Creek Log Jam (“Yip, yip, yee-haw!) out in Hocking Hills.  We even tried to do it right by buying the full weekend pass, and it was actually pretty fun.  Friday night it wasn’t very crowded, and they had performances on a really small remote stage in the middle of the woods.  There wasn’t any electricity, so it was all acoustic, and the only lights were from candles in peach jars hanging from tree branches.  The ambiance was incredible!  Then the next day started off with a couple performances on the front porch of the park’s shelter house, and then the rest of the weekend was more traditional performances on the big stage.  I saw quite a few decent bands that weekend, but the stand out for me was band from the ‘Nasty named Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle.  I’ve seen them a couple times since and they always put on a great show.  The only downside to the festival was that there were no restrooms, showers, running water, or electrical outlets (which is probably why I’ve never been able to talk the Princess into going back), so we wound up making a run to WallyWorld for a “solar shower” and a bunch of jugs of water.  But it was a fun festival and someday I would like to go again.

Other lists: The Byrds are #45 (overrated) on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists and Roger McGuinn is #95 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.

Ch-ch-changes: This one also dropped 3 spots thanks to Kid A, Kanye, and the Mothers and Fathers.

My favorite track: “Pretty Boy Floyd” (Woody Guthrie cover)

Honorable mention: “Life In Prison” (Merle Haggard cover)

Quote: “As through this life you travel, you meet some funny men.  Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” – W. Guthrie



I didn’t really know anything about Etta James until I listened to this album for the first time.  I picked it up on Amazon for the paltry sum of $4.99, and after giving it a spin, I realized that man, this lady had some pipes!  It’s a big, soulful voice that she pushes to the brink, sort of like a female Otis Redding.  I don’t know how I totally missed the boat on her, but she’s pretty great.  My only complaint is the vehicle for her voice…these dinky pop tracks just don’t do her justice.  I want to hear her singing over a blues or a jazz combo, but instead we get Disney-style strings with an occasional saxophone.  But bad production aside, she still manages to shine.  And I can definitely hear her influence in some of the retro-style female artists like Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse (although neither of those two girls have Etta’s chops).  And I never realized that the Violent Femmes borrowed some of the lyrics for “Gone Daddy Gone” from “I Just Want To Make Love To You” (which is actually a Willie Dixon song, but Etta sings it here).  Good stuff.

Other lists: Etta James is ranked #22 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped 3 spots from its original spot at #116 (Kid A, Kanye, and the Mamas and the Papas bumped it down).

My favorite track: “Stormy Weather” (actually my favorite track is probably “Spoonful”, but its a bonus track that wasn’t on the original album)

Honorable mention: “I Just Want To Make Love To You”

Quote: “Tough Mary is tough!”

“Uhh, yeah, uhh, yeah” – Every Rapper Ever

I found this a couple years ago at the Half Price Books in my old hood on Bethel Road.  It was only $3.99 (minus my edumacator discount), so I picked it up ’cause I knew it was on this list, not because it was anything I ever really wanted to own.  Now, I don’t have any animosity towards Kanye West.  To be honest, I never really cared about him.  See, I used to really like the hippity-hoppity music back in high school, but I pretty much left rap music when the gansta movement happened in the mid-nineties.  But this is definitely not gansta rap, even though it borrows heavily from Ye’s mentors like P Puffy Daddy Diddy and DJ Jazzy Jay-Z.  Actually, if there is a post-gansta rap category for over-produced pop rap stars like Drake and Kanye, well, this definitely fits the bill.  Or to use an alt rock analogy, Kanye seems to have more in common with Colin Meloy (minus the sea shanties) than Kurt Cobain.  Or put another way, this ain’t straight outta Compton, it’s straight outta the Hamptons.

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.  My point is that Yeezus is not a street level prophet like a Snoop Dog or an Eminem.  These aren’t songs about drugs and guns and murder and being a baby daddy.  These are songs by a middle class twenty-something trying to be funny and get girls.  Yes, there are sentimental moments, like on “Roses” when he writes about his grandmother being in the hospital, but they are few and far between.  The rest of the album is filled with James Bond references (“Diamonds from Sierra Leone”), skits about broke frat boys, and guest appearances from everyone from Adam Levine to Common.  The best track is definitely “Gold Digger”, but in retrospect, it’s hard to take the song seriously after he married Kim Kardashian.  I’m mean, I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger, but Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, and Kanye West ain’t exactly broke dudes.

Other lists: Even though this is the second album from the 2000s on the Top 500 list, Rolling Stone only ranked this #40 on the 100 Best Albums of the 2000s.

Ch-ch-changes: This album is brand new to the Top 500 list.  It had not even been released when the original list was published.

My favorite track: “Gold Digger” (Jamie Foxx nails the Ray Charles hook)

Honorable mention: “Gone” (only due to the Otis Redding sample)

Quote: “He got that ambition, baby, look in his eyes.  This week he mopping floors, next week it’s the fries.”

So often times great art seems to come from people in a great deal of pain.  You see it all the time with musicians…starving artists who put out phenomenal debut records, only to become mediocre once they start living comfortably.  Well, Clapton never became mediocre, but he is certainly at his best here on this record when he was in a lot of emotional pain.  Apparently this entire album was inspired by his future wife, Pattie Boyd.  The only problem was that she was married to his best friend, George Harrison, at the time (I never realized Clapton had so much in common with Black Cloud before.  Ahem.)  So he channeled his feelings into this record, and the result is fantastic.  Sure, eventually Harrison and Boyd split and she and Clapton got married.  And sure Harrison was cool about it and even attended their wedding reception.  But in the moment of this recording, Clapton was feeling the blues, and he got it all out in the studio.  I actually like this stuff way better than Clapton’s stuff with Cream.  That band veered too far into psychedelica for my taste, but this set is dirty and bluesy.  Duane Allman contributes as well, which makes for some pretty stellar dueling guitar solos.  I snagged this new for $13 at The Exchange in Willoughby last spring, and its been in pretty heavy rotation ever since.  I never quite realized “Layla” had a 4 minute piano coda before…I guess I must just have been familiar with the radio edit.

Other Lists: “Layla” is #27 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from its original position at #115.

My favourite track: “Layla”

Honourable mention: “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out”

Quote: “I got the key to the highway, billed out and bound to go.  I gonna leave here running; walking is much too slow.”

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.”