Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blacktop - I Got a Baaad Feeling About This

As we approach post number 50, which I had damned well better pick a decent record for, I’m  trying to think of what that record should be, and that means for sure, Mick Collins has to be in consideration.  I think Mick is one of the absolute best things about American music.  He’s got a guitar sound that is almost indescribable, and the guy can sing with as much soul and feeling as anyone, anywhere, anytime.  I’m not sure what he would consider his musical direction to be, because he’s all over the map stylistically, but his bands always have a style that they stay true to, but at the same time they don’t mind pushing envelopes.  Mick seems real good about letting the band sound like themselves, and I’d think that probably means he’s a pretty generous musician and it’s probably fun to play in his bands.

So today I’m gonna talk about Blacktop.  This is Mick’s band after The Gories, and no, I wasn’t anywhere near cool enough to know who they were while they were functioning as a unit.  I barely knew who The Gories were, and for me, the book is still out on them.  But Blacktop was awesome.  I mean, these guys were noisy and dark, with big, thumping drums and distorted, raw guitars.  Reading the liner notes of the cd version of I Got a Baaad Feelin’ About This also explains why Mick’s voice is as shredded as the guitars.  I’m pretty sure a lot of people won't  like Blacktop, but who cares?  I think it’s fantastic.  One of the albums I’m more than happy to have the original vinyl of as well as the cd with tons of bonus tracks.

The best thing about the record is that it’s one of those rare albums that are just cohesive and perfect in and of themselves.  You don’t need the cd if you have the vinyl, but it’s nice to have.  The best thing about the cd is they put the whole album in order and then they add everything else after, so you can listen to it the way it came out originally, just quit listening after track 14.  You’ll be good after that anyway, trust me.  Like I said, it’s kinda dark and it’s a record that demands your attention.  Not like it’s hard to listen to, but it’s hard to not listen to it.  You’ll pay attention.  You may get up and dance, but you’ll be involved because this is involving music.

Which kind of means that if you came here because you wanted to find what I have to say about Rod Stewart or Artful Dodger you may not like this at all.  Which is fine.  This is my record collection, and when push comes to shove, as much as I like things like BTO or David Bowie, I bet I listen to things like this more often.  It’s a shame drugs fucked this up (not Mick Collins, he’s not fucked up at all – in fact, I talked to him at a show and he’s a super nice guy), because I think Blacktop could have been something.  I’m not thinking commercial success, but something other than a band I have a record and cd of and wouldn’t ever get rid of either because I think they’re so unbelievably great.  So to me, this is one of the posts I think should get 1000 hits, but it won’t.  It will get 25 in two years, but that’s just the way it is.  Maybe if you haven’t heard them and you made your way to my little blog, you’ll check them out and you’ll like it as much as I do.

Now, my cd is the usual cd – silver and flat with terrific liner notes by Mick.  My record is cooler.  I found it at a record show, and the guy selling it didn’t know what it was, and he seemed pretty knowledgeable about more underground bands.  It was cheap, and it’s almost perfect in every way.  It was fun talking to the guy I bought it from.  I told him it was one of my all-time favorites, and it was Mick Collins.  He knew The Gories and The Dirtbombs but had no idea about Blacktop, and after I told him about it he said he wished he had listened to it.  I told him I was glad he didn’t, because I didn’t think he’d have sold it to me if he had!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bachman - Turner Overdrive II

I’m never gonna apologize for my love of the first few Bachman – Turner Overdrive albums.  NeverBTO was one of the first bands I ever loved, and Bachman – Turner Overdrive II may be one of the first albums I ever bought with my own money.  It may even be the very first.  I know I got it when it was still in the charts, so I was eleven.  I thought I was very sophisticated for having an album with songs like Welcome Home on it, which I thought the slow parts of were what Jazz would be like.  And I just knew that one day, I’d have a basement bar like my friend’s dad that had a real stereo had, and I’d sit around drinking brown liquor in a rocks glass and impressing my grown up friends by grown up me proudly proclaiming that, “I was into jazz at a young age.  Remember Welcome Home by BTO?  That’s what got me into jazz.”  Grown up me would then bask in the awesomeness that a statement like that was sure to bring.

So it turns out that’s still what I think jazz should be, and if it isn’t that, then it’s boring.  If that makes me boring, so be it.  I’m done trying to like music that’s boring to me.  I like Rock N’ Roll, I make no apologies and you can listen to all the noodly guitar playing and drums solo’s with brushes you want.  I want some amplification.  I don’t seem to care how dumb it is, and BTO is loud and dumb and I love it!  Besides, C. F. Turner has always seemed to me to be like the manliest man of all when it comes to singing.  Cheetah Chrome talked about the difference some guys singing have, and he just said that some guys have more balls in their singing, and all the guys lacking in that department can look at C. F. Turner and know that they’ll never measure up.  Is there anything more purely male than Let It Ride?  I don’t think so.  It starts off with those almost jangly guitars and some acceptable harmony singing, then the monster riff kicks in and C. F. lets it go,  While you been out runnin’ I been waitin’ half the night

Dude’s pissed.  You can tell.  He’s doing things worthwhile, and the old lady isn’t.

But this album just stuck in my ear all the time because all the riffs are huge, and the lyrics weren’t way over my head when I was a kid.  Hey, I wanted to ride my sting ray bike around and be able to sing the words with my friends and not feel stupid because I thought he was singing something totally different than he really was.  Thanks, C. F.  That big voice of yours cut through everything into my eleven year old brain, and it stuck good.  I knew back then that the whole thing with girls was gonna be a bitch, but I wouldn’t be alone.

Then there’s like the monster hit that Randy Bachman sings, Takin’ Care of Business, which was everywhere on the radio back in ’73.  Hell, it’s still on the radio all the time!  I always thought it was strange that the biggest BTO hits were Randy’s songs, because they were never the really heavy ones.  I think even my parents could stand the poppy Randy songs, but they were damned glad when I had this album I had a lowly GE plastic mono record player with a nickel on the tonearm to grind the needle into my records better.  You couldn't hear it more than two or three feet away, so it would be a few years before my parents found out what a woofer was.

So obviously, the copy I have now isn’t my original, but it’s not bad.  The original wouldn’t play, I’m sure.  But mine is pretty flat, quiet during the songs but a little noisy in between, and it’s got the old red label, just like mine did when I was a kid.  Now, should you run out and get this if you don’t have it?  Probably not.  But I wouldn’t get rid of it in a million years!