Tuesday, May 20, 2014

King Tuff - Was Dead

There are times when I look at my records and I think they're all ancient and I feel like one of those guys that says there's been no good music recorded after whatever date, which always seems to coincide with when they got finished with school.  I think that's stupid, especially because half the time those people don't know anything about any music that came out before The Beatles.  So generally the only good music came out over maybe twenty years, and that's just stupid.  I'm not some major musical historian, and I'm not some kid that just from having friends hears all the latest stuff.  I don't know anything about whatever the Top 40 or Bro Country charts are doing, but I'm not that young anymore and now I spend my time looking for things that make me happy.  I don't care if it's a record from 1976 or 2014, but no matter what, I'm still gonna do what I've done as long as I can remember.  I'm gonna read reviews, I'm gonna talk to people and I'm gonna go to the record store and buy things because I like the covers.  I'm not going to keep buying the same records over and over, looking for some elusive pressing with more Pace, Rhythm and Timing or Bass Slam. I think that's just obnoxious, and I think that's really something more for people interested in their equipment more than the music (which is okay, it's just not for me).

All that certainly doesn't mean I don't like it when someone asks me what I'm listening to.  My wife does it now and then, but she usually says, "What are we listening to?" with some kind of a sneer or outright distaste.  Every now and then someone (including her) will actually come in from the other room and say, "What are you listening to?" and sit down and listen with me.  That makes me feel good.  Not because it really matters to me if other people really like what I like, but when it's a band that's actually out there working today, and the person listening is only 30 or so, then I think it's cool to turn them on to something that may be a scene they can actually be a part of (cuz face it, I'm not part of any scene unless that's the sitting in my house listening to records by myself scene).

So just the other day I was listening to King Tuff - Was Dead while my oldest son and one of his friends were here.  I was feeling like and old fart and wanted to listen to something I haven't heard since Jr. High, and I decided on King Tuff.  I bought this just because I liked the cover and the name of the band.  It turns out it's a reissue of a really limited 2008 record by a guy named Kyle Thomas.  I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't play everything on the record.  So what does that usually mean?  It usually means lets have fun and blast some guitars the way kids have done it since before The Beatles.  King Tuff is all guitars and garagey goodness.  There's guitar solo's galore, and absolutely nothing to bring you down on this record.  I think I was hoping it would bring the sun out, and looking out the window right now, while Ruthie Ruthie is blasting its killer riff, I think the sun is trying to come out, anyway.

I like this record because it's the kind of record that it's really hard to pick standout songs.  The whole album is fun from front to back.  It's pretty much pedal to the metal for the most part, but Stone Fox is a slower song, but it's still drenched in great electric guitars, and there's none of the boring acoustic instrumentation some bands on indie labels seem to use as their stock in trade, and it doesn't drown itself in distortion like some newer bands seem wont to do these days.  I mean, who cares how catchy your pop hooks are if I can't make them out through the distortion you're purposely putting in to the recording?  I'm okay with lo fi, and King Tuff is never going to be considered as a reference kind of recording, but it sounds good.  it sounds good and the music is fun.

Mine's still pretty new, so it kind of obviously looks and plays like a perfectly new record.  The Burger Records reissue is nice, thick vinyl and it comes with a pretty cool poster of Kyle sitting out in the woods. It's a nice package and it's a great record.  The kind of record that's so great the kid's friend came up, asked what it was and sat and listened to the whole record with me.  What else can you ask a record to do?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Brownsville Station - Motor City Connection

Well Crabby mentioned some Brownsville Station stuff in the comment section to Brownsville Station's Yeah! album and I'll tell ya what - I just don't need much prompting to get started listening to anything Cub Koda was connected to.  Because plain and simple, Cub loved Rock N' Roll the same way I do, and he knew why some music was great and why some music just sucks.  You don't need a refined or critical ear for Rock N' Roll, but you do need to know why some stuff, even though it's nothing new, is now and always will be 100 times better than something like say, whoever this year's "Rocker" is on American Idol.  Yeah, maybe Brownsville Station spent too much time in Boogieland, but even their worst is better than every one of those guys on that show combined.  Maybe it's the Detroit Rock N' Roll Swagger?  I don't really know. But I'll say this, whatever it is Brownsville Station had, it's the thing that craftsmanship and attitude only make better.

Because I'll admit it, there's no-one in this band with Rock Super Powers.  No one plays 100 miles an hour, no one writes lyrics that have so many meanings you could write a book about them and no one will make you cry with their beautiful voice.  You will however, have your face rocked off on their killer instrumental cover of Crazy Legs.  It's just bitchin' guitars and a killer harp rocking your ass for three minutes or so.  It's the kind of thing J Geils Band did, but Brownsville Station is just stopping in for a quickie in that genre, and they pretty much show everyone how it's done.  It sounds effortless, but I'm sure it has a lot of thought behind it.

I knew a guy that used to play a lot of Brownsville Station albums (I seem to remember it was either them or a host of Progressive Rockers - kinda weird).  He had this album, and I always remembered Crazy Legs, the fantastic opener Automatic Heartbreak and the truly epic They Call Me Rock N' Roll.  You might be thinking, "only three memorable songs?" but that's not exactly right.  Combination Boogie and Self Abuse are the kinds of things you could count on on a Brownsville Station album.   It's not filler. It might not be brilliant, but you can always put on a Brownsville Station album and you can listen to the whole thing and it's all good.  There's never anything shitty on their records.  Anyway, this guy lived in his own house, over by the airport and he was all by himself with no one near.  He had some kind of old speakers that looked like end tables, and they were huge.  I think he had a shelf full of Pioneer or Marantz stuff and we'd blast the hell out of that thing.  The whole house was probably less than 600 square feet, but when I was 16 I thought it was beyond cool.  He paid like 125 bucks a month for it, which was ridiculously cheap, even then.  I loved going over there.

I bought this at a used record store, I think.  Not really all that long ago.  Maybe just a year or two.  I know it was still sealed, and I couldn't believe it!  I remember the kid asking me if I was going to keep it sealed for an investment, and I just said, "No, I'll probably open this as soon as I get home and play it right away."  He seemed to think I was making a mistake, but I don't buy records to look at.  I buy them to listen to.  And I've listened to every record I have.  I don't get buying them just "because."  I have some records I don't like, but I eventually take them to the record store and get rid of them.  But records I've never played?  That's just stupid.  So anyway, since I got this still sealed, it's like a brand new record from 1975.  It sounds like a brand new record and it looks like one, too!