When Poptomists Attack

Pardon the misleading header (really, aren’t poptomists too busy praising ephemera to really lay in wait for rockists and jazzbos so they can drop the hammer down?), but I found these questions from Tom Ewing (via M. Matos) kind of interesting.

1. What moment, or trend or era in music have you felt was most important while it was happening?

The rise of rap from the street to chart topping movement in the mid- to late 80s. It seemed to come out of left field, particularly for suburban America. I was pretty oblivious to hip-hop as culture, because I wasn’t privy to it as a all-encompassing lifestyle. It was MTV and Rolling Stone and Top 40 radio shedding light on this “radical” new thing.

2. Have there been any moments you felt at the time were important, which don’t seem as important with hindsight.

The mainstreaming of college/alternative rock. When Nirvana broke through in 91 (on the heels of the successful and much more outré Lollapalooza tour) I was a freshman in college. Suddenly, the weirdos and radio geeks were cool, and I rode that wave of popularity for all it was worth (it helped that I already looked the part with my 14″ mohawk). It was such a feeling of “We won! We won!” Of course the music, once it shed the bargain basement production and poor distribution, really came to look a lot like the classic rock my friends and I bemoaned in high school. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wasn’t “More Than A Feeling” after all. It revitalized rock music after it had been both lipsticked and emasculated as the 80s ended, but it wasn’t the “seismic shift” I thought.

3. When you first became aware of pop music as something which had a history, what seemed to you the most important things in the previous ten years?

It was the early 80s; I was familiar with much of the 60s music from my parents collection, but it didn’t fit with what my sister liked in the late 70s (Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy are not poart of any continuum I acknowledge). But discovering Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin somehow made me realize that there were big, important artists that filled the gap between The Beatles, Stones and Simon & Garfunkel I knew from my parents and Michael Jackson and Van Halen. Not a continuum of sound, but of dominance, of “import”. I didn’t really hear punk for several years, though I remember hearing about it. It just didn’t exist for me as a pre-teen. Much of my music history was imparted by my cousin Kevin, who was 3 or 4 years older; he played me my first Zep and Hendrix, the B-52s and Talking Heads.


A Few Questions Answered

Phil (of Running The Voodoo Down) asked his reader’s to answer a series of questions and post them in his comments. I thought they were interesting enough to share with my readers and to make the same request to fill up my comment box. What follows are Phil’s questions and my answers:

1) What song or album did you have to listen to multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it
Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies. Ended up being my favorite Kinks album, but it didn’t sound like anything I liked about the Kinks.

2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
Sex Pistols. Wonderful product, horrible music.

3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another song within a song
AC/DC – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. I still smile when he throws “TNT” and “High Voltage” as possible ways to ff the offending personage.

4) Favorite Stax/Volt song
Only one… today, it’s “Able Mable”. Tomorrow could be “Bootleg”, or “You Don’t Miss Your Water” or a dozen other tracks.

5) Your favorite music video
I haven’t watched many videos since I was a kid, but I still like “Sledgehammer” and maybe “Sabotage”.

6) Nas or Jay-Z?
Nas, but more by default than choice. I’ve always gritted my teeth at Jay-Z’s habit of lazily falling off the beat. If the line you write is meant to fit the rhythm in a tight and meticulous fashion (as opposed to MCs who play off the beat like jazz soloists, working to accentuate their rhymes and flow), then hit the mark. Don’t drift away on the fifth line, never to return.

7) Song or album that, despite being from a genre you don’t typically follow, led you to appreciate that genre’s possibilities
I’m not big on the ambient or post-rock genres, but the MONO/World’s End Girlfriend album Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain is one of the best things I’ve heard in the last six months. Evocative and beautiful.

8) Favorite Rolling Stones song
“Little T&A”, but I’m not much of a Stones fan.

9) The Clash or the Ramones?
The Clash, but the best of both are pretty unimpeachable.

10) What song can make a shitty day seem less shitty?
“Bring It On Home To Me” – Sam Cooke, from Live At The Harlem Square Club.

11) Conversely, what song can make you wish you were deaf, at least temporarily, whenever it comes on the radio/TV/grocery store PA?
“Paradise By The Dashboard Light” – Meatloaf fills me with thoughts of violence, pure white hot rage.

12) Favorite James Brown song
“Licking Stick-Licking Stick”, from Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.

13) Beck or Bjork?
Bjork by a landslide. Excepting Mutations, I could pretty much leave all of Beck’s catalog alone.

14) What is the most inventive usage of a sample you’ve ever heard?
I’m unsure of what is really the heart of this question – I’ve been surprised (say, Timbaland sampling Area Code 615 for Bubba Sparxxx), I’ve been impressed (Paul’s Boutique), but inventive? Maybe the Butthole Surfers with “22 Going On 23” – they took a radio call in help show and made the most disturbing, menacing and dark thing I’ve ever heard.

15) Robert Christgau once wrote that “All good rock and roll risks fascism simply by generating mass energy, and much of it flirts with sexism simply by exploring the music’s traditional subject matter. Sometimes the risks are worth it, sometimes they aren’t.” What are your favorite examples of the former and the latter?
I don’t see any truth in this statement.

16) Favorite Miles Davis song
Not really a fan, but I like some of the late 60s quintet recordings, say “Nefertiti”.

17) Favorite song about comic book characters
“Alley Oop”.

18) Betty Davis or Millie Jackson?

19) Your favorite, or most despised, lyrical cliché
People as food stuffs in a sexual way is rather tired.

20) Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction — yes or no?
Yes. Still a great hard rock album, big dirty riffs and Axl as sleaze vs. creep.

21) Favorite Wu-Tang verse
Haven’t cared since 95.

22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
Slade. Nothing quite like them, and they were pretty much solid gold from 71-75.

23) Your favorite rock song to not use guitar (or favorite jazz song to not use piano, or favorite rap song to not use samples/scratching)
Rap song: Devin The Dude – “Brairpatch”.

24) MF DOOM or Madlib?
Better together, like Peanut Butter & Jelly, but Operation: Doomsday is better than the Madlib I’ve heard.

25) Your favorite live album
Sam Cooke – Live At The Harlem Square Club.

26) What alternate take/demo version/remix do you like more than the original version?
Elvis Costello – “Green Shirt (demo)”.

27) Favorite song on which Duane Allman plays guitar
Wilson Pickett – “Hey Jude”.

28) Portishead or Massive Attack?

29) Your favorite Captain Beefheart song title
“I Wanna Find A Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go” from Lick My Decals Off, Baby.

30) As a music fan, what do you want from a music critic, or from music criticism? And where do you see music criticism in general headed?
I want less reviews and more thought. Prior to the last few years, reviews were critical because most music being reviewed the reader would never hear. Now you can sample almost anything, whether through online stores, band or label websites, myspace, etc. I would love to read more criticism that aimed less at telling me what something is (press releases are everywhere, too), but more on why I should listen, how does it succeed or fail, how should I listen to better understand. For example, I’m trying to familiarize myself with metal after a 15-year hiatus; what should I be listening for in the new Neurosis or in Ulver? What was necessary in the 200-word print review seems lazy in the modern world of online media; shorthands like “typical tech/death metal” don’t tell anyone unfamiliar with a significant portion of that genre anything at all – what about it is typical, and what makes it tech/death metal?

This is where blogs and forums become so important. People who have the breadth of knowledge can share that with people who may not, and can do so with only the limitation of their own desire.

Motion Picture Soundtrack (Another Rip List)

I usually get my meme on via Alex, but today Ian provides the latest variant list-making framework.

The rules:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.
6. DON’T LIE! That’s not cool!

Opening Credits: “Transfiguration #1” – M. Ward.
A quiet opener, maybe like the slow move through the swamp in The Muppet Movie. Kermit could do the “sitting Muppet nod dance” to this quite easily. But then Dom DeLuise comes in and it all goes sour.

Waking Up: “Rich Girl” – Hall & Oates.
Great eighties montage song. You could see Ferris Bueller mirror primping to this, working in a nice peg-pant spin. Would work well with the themes of money and happiness in that movie as well. Hmmm.

First Day Of School: “Artificial Heart” – Yo La Tengo.
A sort of generic post-punky YLT song with lyrics from poet Ernest Noyes Brookings of Duplex Planet zine fame. Striking resemblance to “Warsaw” by Joy Division. I guess it would be okay for the cool kid’s arrival in a Zach Braff version of Footloose. And yes that is damning with faint praise.

Falling In Love: “Pop, Popcorn Children” – Eldridge Holmes.
Great falling in love song! Who doesn’t fall for someone who can shake it? Plus, you can’t help but smile and be happy hearing this as James Brown doing “Dancing In The Street.”

Fight Song: “I Hold No Grudge” – Joy & The Hit Kids.
From a Krautrock sampler put together somewhere on the net (I’m sorry, but I don’t remember where), this is a Moog-driven psychedelic take on an early sixties girl-group style song. Not great for a fight, but works as an “aftermath of a win by the underdog” sequence. You know, fixing the collar, hands running back to straighten the mussed up hair kind of thing.

Breaking Up: “Goody Two Shoes” – Adam Ant.
Got to show your cards, amiright? Untraditional – it sure ain’t sad, but could be an interesting take if the focus is on the dumper v. the dumpee. No scat jokes, please.

Prom: “Joy Of Sound” – The Make-Up.
Born to hand jive, baby! We got clapping, grooves, and if you could get Ian Svenonious and co. to actually be the prom band in your movie, this scene would be classic.

Life: “Requiem For O.M.M.2” – Of Montreal.
Like Ian I don’t really get this category, but it is a great “looking back at better times” song. So, I guess that works…

Mental Breakdown: “Count Five or Six” – Cornelius.
Ha! I’m not cheating people. The energy and repetitive vocals here are perfect – just counting, with some orientation directives. Your mind goes out with a harmonic feedback squeal. Fitting.

Flashback: “Aquarium” – Robyn Hitchcock.
As if I could play a dozen tracks without him popping up. Looking back and not understanding makes this a good flashback song. Not a happy one, not with these lyrics: “Everything revolves around the sun/You know I’m gonna miss you when I’m gone.”

Getting Back Together: “Little Nut Tree” – The Melodians.
All about seeing true love in front of the little nut tree, and thanking the Lord for it. Kinda weak for this category – it is a “love at first sight” song. That rocksteady swing though – still magic.

Wedding: “Flying” – The Beatles.
Pretty melody, wonderful McCartney bass line. Stately, could be a good “walk down the aisle” song, as long as you get there before the flute part at the end (Yuck!). Not a wedding reception song.

Birth Of A Child: “Runnin’ Wild” – Django Reinhardt & co.
People give birth in Woody Allen films, so why not? That chugging Gypsy swing could be matched nicely with those shots of laborious breathing – “hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, arrr!”

Final Battle: “The Bed’s Too Big Without You (Mono version)” – The Police.
The menace in the introduction is palpable. Shame that Mary J. used it to no great effect a few years back. Wish it was slightly further into dub, though this mono version does compress and limit Sting’s voice in interesting ways. Let’s see – maybe cutting from eye to eye, no movement beyond a blink like in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. I’m trying to make it work.

Death Scene: “Charlotte Anne” – Julian Cope.
Fragile, but a bright one, like a melting icicle. The lyrics are darker than the music, so
it might work for a happy passing, a redemptive sacrifice. Man, that spoken bit is a little too Spinal Tap. But then, Julian seems to be Nigel in some ways.

Funeral Song: “Tiny Steps” – Elvis Costello & The Attractions.
Someone isn’t happy with the mourners and wants to point fingers or something. Doesn’t work in the least.

End Credits: “Maggie’s Farm (live at Newport)” – Bob Dylan & his co-conspirators.
Dylan goes electric and drives the people out of the aisles. What’s done is done, and Pete Seeger and his apocryphal ax can’t change it. Go home, it’s over.

Alex’s Music Geek Challenge (Revisited)

Alex is on a roll, sort of the anti-me, cranking out post after post of parental woe, musical experiences and today, the formerly over-gilded MR. T!

So it seems mere moments after my first real post he upped the ante with yet another Music Geek Survey. Even though I haven’t posted much in between, I present The Great Music Survey Strikes Back!

Last Five Albums you bought/burned:

The Pogues reissues
AC/DC – many boots
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years
Bishop Allen – July EP
The Evens – The Evens

Five great albums that are not available on compact disc:

Charles Mingus – Mingus at Carnegie Hall. Mobile Fidelity put this in CD in the early nineties and I missed it. Now highly priced on the used market.
The Chills – Brave Words
The Feelies – the entire catalog, by thunder!
Robyn Hitchcock – Queen Elvis. A&M – no excuse not keeping his catalog in print, or licensing it to Rhino or something.
Secos & Molhados – 1st self-titled album. Available as an import, but Ney Matogrosso’s band should be more easily found by all.

Albums you wish they’d re-master/re-release (w/ deluxe bonus tracks, expanded artwork — the whole nine):

Robyn Hitchcock – Moss Elixir/Mossy Liquor. More people should hear Trilobite.
Charles Mingus – Mingus at Carnegie Hall. The whole concert please, thank you very much!
Butthole Surfers – Double Live. Get the MP3s. Harass them to clean it up and release in higher quality.
Ac/DC – High Voltage/T.N.T./Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Give the U.S. the real, proper releases of these seminal albums. My crappy MP3s of “Love Song” and “R.I.P.” should be in the dustbin.

Album you’re looking for but have yet to find:

Captain Beefheart – Lick My Decals off, Baby

“Seminal, canonical” album that you’ve never owned/heard:

The Who – Who’s Next/Tommy/Live at Leed’s/Who Sells Out. I never went through a Who phase. I had the crappy Who’s Greatest Hits on cassette and never liked it enough to want to hear more. I once dated a girl who was obsessed with Quadrophenia so I’ve heard that overblown monstrosity many more times then I wanted.

Album you love, but wouldn’t want randomly lying around when your in-laws come over:

I don’t particularly have one. My in-laws know well enough I like crazy, strange and horrible things. I guess if they found the old vinyl of Jesus Christ Superstar it might be interesting.

Five songs you never want/need to hear again:

“Two Princes” Spin Doctors
“Independent Women” Destiny’s Child
“Nobody’s Perfect” Madonna
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2
“Hey Jealousy” – Gin Blossoms

The dealbreaker album: if you spot this album in the person you’re dating’s collection, it’s OVER!

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell. See this piece from a few years back.

Do you own any albums autographed by the artist:

Inadvertently, yes. I bought Yes, Virginia and the record store gave me an insert signed by the Dresden Dolls. I had nothing to do with it. I’ve never been an autograph hound, and don’t care much either way.

Unlistenable album you’d never part with:

Thus – The Hermeneutic Ubermenschen … Sing! Former guitar duets by the one and only Neil Feather and his cohort John Berndt. Love Neil, love his instruments, but I don’t particularly care for this recording. Love Revelation of An Anaplumb and cherish it more than I should.Favorite song in a genre you otherwise hate:

Garth Brooks – “Friends In Low Places”. I detest modern country with it’s fake twang and shiny veneer. It is perfectly symbolized by the headlight stickers that attach to the sheet metal on NASCAR vehicles. All surface, no substance, existing only as a slick cosmetic because people expect it.

Songs Played at Your Senior Prom:

I honestly don’t remember. I assume a great about of hair metal ballads as it was spring ’91 in NH. Probably any song with heaven in the title, like Warrant and Bryan Adams. I think the class song was “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, so that most likely got a spin.

First album you ever bought:

Men At Work – Business As Usual. I had, prior to this, purchased “The Tide Is High” 45 for my sister for her birthday.

Favorite Elton John song:

“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”

Favorite David Bowie song:

So hard – far too many I love far too much. Today – “What In The World”

Favorite Bob Dylan song:

Again, too many. “Isis”

Favorite Bruce Springsteen song:

“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”

Favorite Michael Jackson song:

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”

Album you’d leave on continuous play to torture your neighbors over the course of a long weekend with:

My neighbors are all over 500 feet away. Hmm – played louder than loud – how about Bill Cosby – Hooray For The Salvation Army Band!

Worst Cover song ever:

If I don’t pick something off that Cosby record, how about Dylan doing “Big Yellow Taxi” on the not-on-cd Dylan album?

3 Albums owned by both your parents and yourself:

I now have my parent’s record collection, so there are tons! But as far as albums they played/still play that I have my own copy, I’d say the Simon & Garfunkel albums, Mamas & Papas and The Kingston Trio.

3 Albums you’d wager are in the collection of everyone who might fill this out:

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
The Beatles – Revolver
(Alex picked the big three. He made it up and then handicapped us all – though I don’t own The Joshua Tree, and never have.)

3 Albums that SHOULD be in the collection of everyone who might fill this out:

The Pogues – If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

The Great Music Geek Survey

I came across this over at Flaming Pablum, and thought if I got off my ass to start another music blog I would start if off with this: The Great Music Geek Survey. I think it is useful to get some idea of my likes and dislikes before you decide to invest in following my sordid tales. I also really liked how Alex added some cover art here and there to spice up the drabness, so I’m going to rip that off too. Thanks Alex! So, ado be done – The survey awaits!

What’s a great late night song?
“Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” – The Velvet Underground

Name 5-10 wistful/bittersweet songs:
“Man Out Of Time” – Elvis Costello
“Didn’t I” – Darondo
“Metarie” – Brendan Benson
“North Dakota” – Lyle Lovett
“No, I Don’t Remember Guilford” – Robyn Hitchcock

The 4 Best Songs Ever Written:
“Love Minus Zero/No Limit” – Bob Dylan
“Jive Talkin'” – The Bee Gees
“Strange Fruit” – Lewis Allen
“Airscape” – Robyn Hitchcock

3 Current Favorite Songs:
“Right In The Head” – M. Ward
“Honest” – The Long Winters
“Serious Times” – Gyptian

Classic Early Evening Drinking Music:
Bei Uns Umd Ie Gedaechtniskirsche Rum… [Berlin cabaret songs] – Various Artists

3 All Time Faves That Never Get Old To You:
“Leaves That Are Green” – Simon & Garfunkel
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” – Talking Heads
“Strobe Light” – B-52’s

Songs Played At Your Wedding:
“Gett Off” – Prince
“Twiggy Twiggy/Twiggy Vs. James Bond” – Pizzicato Five
“Steppin’ Out with My Baby” – Fred Astaire

Song You Want to Play At Your Funeral:
“Done To Soon” – Neil Diamond

4 Records You Really Dug from 2005:
The Repulsion Box – Sons and Daughters
Shamelessly Exciting – Jason Forrest
Mugimama Is This Monkey Music? – Mugison
Woman King – Iron & Wine

Favorite Records From This Year So Far:
Six Demon Bag – Man Man
Post-War – M. Ward
Witch – Witch

Good Angry Songs:
“2+2= “- Bob Seger
“Sweatloaf” – Butthole Surfers
“Murder License” – Xinlisupreme

4 Clever Song Titles Or Album Titles:
“I Heard You Looking” – Yo La Tengo
“The Decline of Country and Western Civilization” – Lambchop
“See You Later, Allen Ginsberg” – Bob Dylan & The Band
“Save Me From Happiness” – Tim Keegan

One of Your Favorite Lyrics:
My favourite buildings stretch upwards for miles
Remind me somehow of your favourite smiles
Like oak leaves in autumn cascading on stiles
In the rain
– “My Favourite Buildings” – Robyn Hitchcock

5 Cover Songs Arguably Better Than the Original:
“Everything I Own” – Ken Boothe (Bread)
“Shine” – Dolly Parton (Collective Soul)
“Memories Can’t Wait” – Living Colour (Talking Heads)
“Hallelujah” – John Cale (Leonard Cohen)
“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” – The Minutemen (Van Halen)

Ironic Song to Brutally Murder Someone to in a movie:
“Grow Old With Me” – John Lennon

Great Dance Song You Maybe Never Realized Was a Great Dance Song Back in the Day:
“Why Can’t This Be Love?” – Van Hagar

Good Album To Workout To:
Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk – Son of Bazerk

Good Album to Clean The House To:
Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash – The Replacements

Good Dining Music:
Moods – Neil Diamond

Good Album To Have Sex To:
My Life – Mary J. Blige

A Good Album To Put You In the Mood (that is NOT Sade, Marvin Gaye or Barry
Ainda – Madredeus

Good Album To Sleep To:
Songs Of The Humpback Whale – Dr. Roger Payne

5 Good Rock Songs That You Can Dance To:
“Antmusic” – Adam And The Ants
“Hey Bulldog” – The Beatles
“Elephant Stone” – The Stone Roses
“East Easy Rider” – Julian Cope
“Rusty Cage” – Soundgarden

4 Good Dance Songs (any kind):
“52 Girls” – B-52’s
“Soul Finger” – The Bar-Kays
“Marijuana” – Dr. Evil
“Pilot” – The Notwist

Song That Is Too Damn Sad:
“Me And A Gun” – Tori Amos

Great Love Song:
“I Feel Beautiful” – Robyn Hitchcock

An Album Full of Tenderness:
Out Of There -Departure Lounge

Song To An Ex That Isn’t Meanspirited:
“If You See Her, Say Hello” – Bob Dylan

Song To An Ex That Is Kinda Meanspirited:
“Congratulations” – Traveling Wilburys

Song to Listen to While in The Country Looking at Stars:
“Imperial” – Unrest

Song to lose your Mind to:
“Shrivel-Up” – Devo

Songs That Make You Feel Amped and Inspired:
“We’re Coming Out” – The Replacements

Great Semi-Obscure B-side:
“The Ghost In You” – Robyn Hitchcock

Song That Makes You Miss Your Mom:
“Homeward Bound” – Simon & Garfunkel

That’s Baby Makin’ Music (No, Really):
“Green Onions” – Booker T. & The MGs

Criminally Underrated Band That Didn’t Get Attention and Then Broke Up:

The Hummingbirds

Feel No Shame – Great Current Pop Songs:

“Ain’t No Other Man” – Christina Aguilera
“Maneater” – Nelly Furtado

Album No One Would Expect You To Love:
Thank You – Stone Temple Pilots

Album No One Would Expect You To Dislike:
I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass – Yo La Tengo

Album No One Would Expect You To Really Know:
Little Sparrow – Dolly Parton

Emo Album You Actually Like:
E=MO2 – Emo Philips

Good, But Overrated Cause Of Indie Revisionism:

5 Desert Island Discs off the top of your head (30 sec clock):
I Often Dream Of Trains – Robyn Hitchcock
Peggy Suicide – Julian Cope
Black Foliage – Olivia Tremor Control
Live At The Harlem Square Club – Sam Cooke
The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady – Charles Mingus

3 Contemporary Artists That Were Your Faves 10 Years Ago:
Robyn Hitchcock
Tom Waits

Music That Makes You Feel Sophisticated:

Fave Electronic Record You Own:
What Sound – Lamb

Fave Hip-Hop Record You Own:
Deliverence – Bubba Sparxxx

Hip-Hop Song You Know All the Lyrics Too:
They Want EFX – Das EFX

Random Album You Loved In High School But Are Afraid To Admit It:
Black Out In The Red Room – Love/Hate

Album You May Have Listened To More In Highschool than Any Other Album:
Nothing’s Shocking – Jane’s Addiction

If You Could Enter A Wrestling Ring to a Song It Would Be:
“From Out Of Nowhere” – Faith No More

Album To Clear A Room With:
Machine Gun – Peter Brotzmann Octet