Tag Archive: Cleveland State


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.”

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the-bends

“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.”