Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sweet - Desolation Boulevard

I was still in elementary school when this record came out and took the airwaves by storm.  Man, we thought Ballroom Blitz was beyond cool.  I remember hearing the album in my friend's sister's room while that song was still super new, and I immediately thought Fox on the Run was the best song on the album.  Hey, I was 12.  When I finally got my own copy of this LP (which is long gone, eaten by cheap record players and youth's grubby hands), my favorite song turned into Sweet F.A. and it still is today, for several reasons.

First of all, it's easily the best song on the album, even if lyrically it's by turns repulsive or downright stupid.  It's also the first song my mom completely freaked out about.  We used to have a little Webcor stereo that my dad ordered from a catalog (I loved my dad but good sound didn't mean anything to him so he ordered a stereo because it looked like it would do what he wanted it to, not because it sounded great).  The Webcor sat out in the family room and even with it's minuscule speakers I could turn it up way louder than my plastic GE record player.  I think mom tolerated side one.  She probably correctly figured I'd just think A.C.D.C. was the usual rock lyrics where they couldn't keep things like tense and subject straight so the words would rhyme and that I didn't have any idea what the subject was really about.  But when I flipped the record over and played Sweet F.A. and If she don't spread I'm gonna bust her head came blasting out of the Webcor, that was it for Sweet!  I think the only way I kept it was I told her it was someone else's record so she couldn't throw it away, and then I listened to it in my room after that.  I think this was the first record I had that had this power.  So even today I remember that day every time I hear that song.

I still think the first side is better than the second side (even though mine is on a CD now).  probably because the guys that wrote most of Suzi Quatro's best songs, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapmann were behind the songs on side one of Desolation Boulevard.  I never cared much for Sweet after this album.  Not because I'm some big Glam Rocker, but because the band's in house songwriting sounds too much like watered down Queen, or maybe 10cc with a distortion pedal.  I think everything good they had came out on side two of this album, and it slowly loses its luster.  It's not like it slowly turns to crap, but Chinn and Chapmann had a great formula and I like their big, dumb riffs.

I don't have a lot of albums left from when I was 12.  Probably because my tastes have changed drastically (hopefully), but there's a handful of them.  I think the ones I still like aren't considered necessary or particularly cool these days, but I don't care.  I like this stuff.  I know it's kinda dumb and it's definitely made for a teenage audience that doesn't even exist anymore, but it makes me happy.  How can it not?  It's like a Snickers bar, all sweet and crunchy.  And do you know how big a Snickers was in 1974?  Way bigger than now, that's for sure!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Bloody Hollies - If Footmen Tire You

OK, so I just bought this on vinyl yesterday.  It's really pretty, too.  Super shiny cover (watch out on the dance floor at a Bloody Hollies show - if you fall they'll pummel you!), and a super flat red record with custom labels.  Now you may ask, "I thought he didn't want to talk new stuff?" and you'd be right.  But I had an old blog and I've had this on CD since 2005 and it was my album of the year when I did that sort of thing.  I found it at a place in Cleveland called The Loop.  The Loop is a coffee shop that sells records and CD's.  I'm guessing they do most of their business in coffee, but I found a few things I wanted.  I've been meaning to go there for ages and I finally did yesterday.  I wasn't blown away by the place, but the records are fairly graded. There's some post it notes on a lot of the records describing what they are, and they're well worth reading.  One thing I didn't get - there's stickers on a lot of new records that say, "Don't break Seal or you Bought It!" on them.  Do their regulars think they can just open up records and pop them on the listening station to see if they like the music first?  Really?  Why would people think that they could open a new record? They sell new and used stuff and I found this in the used section.  I grabbed it right away, because it looks like it may never have been played and it's about the best Punk album to come out in the past decade.

Is that a lot of praise?  I hope so.  The Bloody Hollies are the three hardest hitting riff drivers around.  Their music is like getting punched in the gut, and getting up and taking it again because it was so much fun the first time.  Singer/guitar player Wesley Doyle may have the kind of voice that takes some getting used to, but this is one of those albums I've put on without telling anyone what it was just to see their reaction, and while it's divisive, if you fall on the side that likes loud, fast and hard, you'll probably love this album.

No songs on the album are over 3:30, so The Bloody Hollies don't fuck around building things up.  They get right to it, find the riff, and beat it into submission.  They sing about girls and being pissed off.  The lyrics won't be mistaken for Bob Dylan, but they won't be mistaken for Gene Simmons, either.  They fit the songs and Wesley's voice will make up for anything lacking lyrically.  He means what he's saying.  The main thing here is to Rock and to Rock Hard.

All the songs are top notch.  Their first album, Fire at Will is good, but this album is great.  Maybe it's just having Jim Diamond at the controls , but these guys just fattened everything up and made it just perfect.  Gasoline is the kind of song that will get you a ticket when you're driving on a sunny day.  The drums and bass are just relentless and the guitar stabs in and out of the beat and just slashes everything in sight.  I'd have to wonder if they can even play another song after they play that one.  The song that closes out side one, right after Gasoline, is Right Between the Eyes, and that's exactly where it hits ya!

Side two is more of the same hard hitting sonic assaults, like Raised By Wolves and Mind Control.  There are no slow songs or ballads, just slashing guitars, pounding drums and bass and shredded vocal cords.  I'm not exactly sure what more you could ask out of an album.  I'm sure this isn't for everyone, but I think it's pretty much as good as it gets.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Middle Brother

I don't usually write about something I've only had a few weeks.  Sure, I did it with Wild Flag, but man, that's just such a great album!  I suppose every now and then I get a bug up my ass to show that I don't just sit around and listen to ancient records.  The other thing besides me not having this for very long is that John McCauley is in Deer Tick, and I already wrote about one of their albums on here and I made a pledge to myself to try my damnedest not to put a second article (I mean, they aren't exactly reviews, are they?) about a band until I hit 50 articles.  Then all bets are off.  I can just go on about whatever I want.  I kind of do that anyway, but there's actually a little (very little) thought behind this!

Middle Brother is the aforementioned McCauley of Deer Tick, with Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes.  Now I've never really checked out Delta Spirit or Dawes, but based on how much I seem to really love this album, I'm going to have to correct that oversight.  Especially when it comes to Delta Spirit.  Matt Vasquez really knocked me out with his songs on here.  I still think I like McCauley's songs best, but I'm a big fan of Deer Tick so I'm nice and comfortable with John's approach.  McCauley's songs are the most ramshackle and sloppy, and that's what I like.  And before you get pissy and try to argue with me, I think it takes great craftsmanship to write and play Rock N' Roll that sounds like it's the first time a band ever played a song, but it never falls apart.  I think that's a lot more work than a lot of people give it credit for.

Vasquez has written what's got to be my all time favorite song in the world right about now.  I could listen to Blue Eyes all day.  The kind of country kind of Stonesy sound is built on an earwig of a riff, and where I'm usually completely happy just to have one or two good lines in a song, Vasquez just seems to have a wonderful way of looking at things.  A line from the opening verse is what grabbed me right away,

A soft kiss is a hard goodbye
Been knocked out since yesterday

I think that's just great and it really made me pay attention.  My favorite part of the song is a complete jumble that I really had to read to get straight because it's convoluted, but it really works, at least for me.

Told myself that you're the one
And I told myself I could get you back
When I came back you still weren't mine
Then I left again and you still weren't mine
I'm back again so just be mine
I am so tired of runnin'

That really doesn't look like it would work, but it does for me.

Then they toss Portland in, and I'm just on board with these guys all the way.  I always want to think that an odd Replacements song like that is kind of a wink to fans of that horribly overlooked group (sort of like a band playing a Big Star song years ago), but the more I think about it, the more I think it's nice to hear any Replacements songs covered.  Middle Brother does a great job with Portland, and it's a nice way to close the first side.

So I'm really glad I picked this up finally last week.  I've been meaning to grab it for ages, but this has been one of those records that's at the store when there's a couple of "Oh man, I've been looking for this!" records and before I knew it almost a whole year went by since it was released!  And now I'm gushing about it here after just a week.  So is it possible that I'll get bored with it?  Nah, I don't think so.  I have a feeling that Taylor Goldsmith's songs will all be the kind that grow on me, and McCauley's songs are his usual top notch stuff.  So I'm pretty comfortable saying that if I had bought this last year, and I bothered to do a Top Ten List, this would have been in my top five.  If you haven't checked this out yet, you really should, especially if you're one of those "there hasn't been any good music since blah, blah, blah" people.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Paul Collins' Beat - The Kids Are the Same

I have nothing but contempt for the term Power Pop.  It's just stupid.  It's not very descriptive, and it sounds like some kind of second rate music that really doesn't need anyone to check into it more than a song or two.  Like it's all the same, so why bother?  But Paul Collins seems to embrace the term, and if he can be okay with it, then I guess I should, too.

I haven't had this all that long (in the grand scheme of things).  I like The Plimsouls, and I think Peter Case is pretty close to a National Treasure.  I've had the first album by The Beat for awhile, probably even before Alive Naturalsound Records rereleased the first EP by The Nerves.  When push comes to shove, I like that first album by The Beat more than this one, but On the Highway is on here, and for me, this was a long lost song that I only heard in my memory for a long, long, time.  Give the old memory some kudos,. it really remembered the song pretty well.  I guess it was a big MTV hit, but I didn't have cable until well into the 21st century.  I couldn't afford it, I guess. Either that or I felt better about blowing my money on music!

On the Highway is one of those moody songs that really works for me.  If I'm driving at night and I'm the only one awake (pretty common travel for my family), I can just zone out and cruise to this song.  It's the same with Televison's Marquee Moon.  I know On the Highway is kind of meant to be a car song, but it's just hypnotic to me.  I'm pretty sure it's one of my absolute favorite songs, and it's possible that it skews the whole album on the greatness scale for me.

But it's not a bad thing.  There's a ton of catchy, fun songs on here.  The title track is a nice blast of Rock N' Roll and not worrying about what's going on in the world, because the kids are the same everywhere, just leave them alone.  Sure, it's kind of a dumb idea, but it does kind of make me think that if the kids are the same everywhere, then what the fuck happens to them when they grow up?

I'm not gonna get all heavy like that, though.  This isn't my politics blog, it's just what I think about my records, primarily on one day, while I'm listening to it.  Besides, I don't know enough about politics to write about it.  I barely know enough about music.  But I know what I like.  And I like Paul Collins.  His voice is a little weak.  Maybe not so much weak as it is kind of limited.  But Paul knows his limitations and he has the attitude to make you pump your fist in the air and dance like there's no tomorrow with him and his killer band.

It's recorded for that big arena sound, but these songs would work in your backyard.  I don't know what was so damned important in 1981 that this couldn't be a big hit, other than maybe Paul didn't have enough hair and didn't wear a stupid wig (thanks by the way, Paul).  The back cover picture of the band is one of the best pictures of a Rock N' Roll band ever and there's nothing but catchy riffs and choruses.

There's nothing but Rock N' Roll goodness all over this record, and I'm glad I finally found it.