Milestones - Thank You, Boys: Nothing's Shocking Turns 30

Nothing's Shocking
[Warner Bros - 1988]

Because of the band's glowing reputation in the music press as an art/funk/metal hybrid with a killer stage show that preceded my actual encounter with their music, I was intensely excited about the prospect of listening to their major label debut album. And then one summer night in 1988, while in bed listening to the local rock radio station, a song came on that somehow, unmistakably, led me to believe it was them, even though it didn’t adhere to the above adjectives. It was their unofficial theme song “Jane Says” and I was hooked. (Curiously, because I’ve never owned it on vinyl, it was a while before I discovered that one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs, “Pigs In Zen”, which closes out the album, was a CD/cassette bonus track. Boy, does that vinyl version now seems like it stops rather than ends with “Thank You, Boys” as its closer.) Ultimately, the record was a game changer, one whose power has not been diluted over the years and deservedly so.

Included in both Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Nothing’s Shocking is not just a landmark recording in the annals of alternative rock but a thrilling, majestic collection of songs that alternately fires you up and lulls like a sunset when its work is done.

Released August 23, 1988.

Highlights: “Ocean Size”, "Mountain Song”, “Jane Says”, "Pigs In Zen”.


All Hail The Queen [RIP]

More eloquent and heartwarming statements have been made as we mourn the passing of one of the faces on our musical Mt. Rushmore so I'll keep mine brief.

Here are the two things that happened when I heard she was gravelly ill:

- I flashed back to her 2015 appearance in honor of the great Carole King at the Kennedy Center Honors. Her rendition of King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” that night was one of the greatest musical performances I have ever witnessed. Ever. (King was very emotional and President Obama was seen wiping a tear or two. Damn.)

- The chorus of her duet with the late George Michael started buzzing in my head.

Yes, we have lost a true musical giant but she gave us so, so much; enough to last a couple of lifetimes.

God bless you, Queen.
(1946 - 2018)


Dave Grohl - "Play"

For a few years now, Blue Oyster Cult guitarist/keyboardist Richie Castellano has been delighting music fans with a series of one man videos in which he performs such classics as The Beatles’ “The End” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’ve yet to see his clips do so immediately. They are far and away worthy of your time and attention.

Dave Grohl is no stranger to one-man endeavors: he wrote, performed and recorded the self-titled Foo Fighters debut album by his lonesome, of course. (The one exception being Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs playing rhythm guitar on the song “X-Static”.) But that was a record made by a 25 year old rock star trying to find his way back into the world of music after the demise of his massively popular band. This lone gun endeavor, on the other hand, is the fruit of a wildly successful career rocker pushing 50 and availing himself of the ample resources at his disposal to do anything he pleases. So when it’s his turn to do the one man video thing he one ups Castellano and others by having a film crew document his gimmicky performance—Grohl appears as multiple versions of himself, all playing at the same time—of a 23-minute original instrumental in which he even plays instruments we don’t normally associate with the head Foo, such as keyboards, minor percussion, tympani and vibraphone.

“Play” is almost a half hour long and has accountrements of prog rock littered throughout, but no one who’s heard the dude's music will be surprised by this instrumental track. In other words, if latter day Foo Fighters were to channel Pink Floyd, Rush and Yes, this would quite likely be the end result. However, unlike the best work of those acts, there are transitions between the sections on “Play” that are bit clumsy and could’ve benefitted from the logistics of being performed by an ensemble, as Grohl performed each instrument for one complete take and went back to the beginning every time he flubbed a part.

As an exercise in rock star ego he could’ve done considerably worse but “Play” wasn’t meant to reward anyone but Grohl himself. A decent and enjoyable composition, it’s the kind of song you’ll watch on YouTube, marvel at the man’s prodigious talent and inevitably forget not long after.


Today in Music History (August 8)

1960 - Decca Records destroys 25,000 copies of Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Lover Her" because they felt the song, which recounts the last thoughts of a teenager dying from a car accident, was "too tasteless and vulgar". A cover version by Ricky Valance, went to No.1 on the UK chart a month later. 

 1966 - The Beatles release their seventh album, Revolver, in the US. Featuring "Taxman", "Eleanor Rigby", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Here, There and Everywhere", "She Said, She Said", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Tomorrow Never Knows", the album spent 77 weeks on the Billboard chart peaking at No.1. Exactly three years later, in 1969, the photo session for the cover of their Abbey Road album takes place on the crossing outside Abbey Road studios. After photographer Iain McMillan, balanced on a step-ladder in the middle of the road, took six shots of John, Ringo, Paul, and George walking across the zebra crossing while a policeman held up the traffic, the band then returned to the studio and recorded overdubs on "The End", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Oh! Darling".

1981 - MTV broadcasts its first stereo concert: REO Speedwagon in Denver, Colorado. The band had just released their hit album Hi Infidelity.

1986 - David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash is released from prison after serving three years on drug and weapons charges. (His conviction would be overturned by a Texas appeals court in November of 1987.)

1987 - U2 score their second US No.1 single from The Joshua Tree with "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", which received two nominations for the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988: Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

1988 - N.W.A release hip hop classic Straight Outta Compton on Ruthless Records. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

1992 - A riot breaks out during a Guns N' Roses and Metallica show at Montreal Stadium when Metallica's set is cut short after singer James Hetfield is injured by pyrotechnics. Guns N' Roses took the stage but frontman Axl Rose claimed that his throat hurt, causing the band to leave the stage early. The cancellation led to a riot by the audience who overturned cars, smashed windows, looted local stores and set fires.

2010 - John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, has his parole hearing delayed until early September so that officials could gather additional information. Chapman had become eligible for parole in 2000 after serving 20 years, but had been denied his freedom five times.

 2016 - The judge presiding over the "Stairway To Heaven" copyright infringement trial rules against Led Zeppelin and their publishing company's attempts to recoup nearly $800,000 in legal fees. While a federal jury determined that Led Zeppelin were not guilty of plagiarizing Spirit's "Taurus" in a copyright infringement trial, judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that, since the lawsuit itself was not frivolous and meritless, the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy (California) Wolfe and their attorney Francis Malofiy were not obligated to repay the defendants' legal fees.

2017 - Singer/guitarist/songwriter/television host/actor Glen Campbell dies in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 81. Campbell released more than 70 studio albums and sold 45 million records worldwide. His hits include:"By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman" and 'Rhinestone Cowboy", and his guitar playing can be heard on "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers and "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees. 

Today's Birthdays include...drummer Liberty DeVitto, best known for his work as a drummer for Billy Joel's recording and touring band as well as Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, Rick Wakeman, Bob James and Meat Loaf (68); A Flock of Seagulls drummer Ali Score (62); Dennis Drew, keyboardist for 10,000 Maniacs (61); Madness guitarist Christopher Foreman (60); and U2 guitarist and backing vocalist Dave Evans aka The Edge (57).


The Four Album Run

Scores of artists have had the opportunity to release a great album; some have been inspired enough to put out two of 'em back to back. But when you get to three consecutive records your wading into choice territory. And a quartet of great albums in a row is, undoubtedly, big name real estate.

Here are 5 artists in alphabetical order who have managed to score a four leaf clover (notice the respective timespans and be further impressed): 

The Cure (1985-1992): 
Head on the Door, Disintegration, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Wish

Guided By Voices (1994-1997): 
Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Under the Bushes Under the Stars, Mag Earwhig

Pink Floyd (1973-1979): 
Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall

The Rolling Stones (1969-1972):
Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St.

* Stevie Wonder (1972-1976): 
Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Songs in the Key of Life

* [a case can be made for a five-album run]

Til Tuesday - "Voices Carry" (live in NYC)

Hard to believe but, in a previous musical life, indie singer/songwriter darling Aimee Mann was the frontwoman of a Boston-based, major labeled-backed, MTV-featured new wave combo. Yup.

Here they are, performing their lone Top 10 hit and title track of their 1985 debut album, in the city it was recorded, during the tour for said album.


U2 - "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"

“...dressed up like a car crash / your wheels are turning but you're upside down...”