Archive for the ‘Mötley Crüe’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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carrieSOUNDTRACK: CATE LE BON-Tiny Desk Concert #337 (February 18, 2014).

cateCate Le Bon has a very interesting style of singing–it reminds me of Grace Slick in her enunciation, but also like someone whose speaking accent is very strong and is somewhat masked by her singing (like the way she sings “reason” as “ree-sun” as opposed to “reezun”).

The blurb explains that her “phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh…. The enunciation is completely tied to the loneliness and the questioning.”

 For this concert it is just her and her fellow guitarist H. Hawkline (both wearing super cozy sweaters).  They share the guitar licks very nicely–it’s not always clear who is playing what–with her sometimes finishing his lines (I believe).

“Are You With Me Now?” has a very catchy chorus (with an “ah ha ha ha ha” part that makes it sound like an olde English ballad).

“No God” plays with very simple guitar lines (chords played very high on the neck of her guitar and a simple accompanying riff).  Hawkline plays keys (and sings some great falsetto backing vocals) to flesh out this song.  Everything is so clean you can hear each note from the guitar and her voice.

“Duke” opens with some interesting slightly off sounding from Cate while Hawkline plays a simple chord pattern (his fingers are enormous, by the way).  Hawkline’s falsetto is almost as engaging as the vocal lines that match the guitar line which Cate plays.  And when she says “I’ll see you here” in that unexpected pronunciation, it’s totally captivating.

I like Le Bon a lot and want to hear what she wounds like on record.

[READ: May 18, 2016] Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

After finishing Bob Boilen’s book and thinking about how I don’t really love music-based books, I immediately read Carrie Brownstein’s book.  Carrie Brownstein is one of the two guitarists in Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag.  She is also one of the leads (writer and actor) on Portlandia.  And she wrote for NPR for a while, too.  Basically, Carrie is the shit.

One thing I took away from this book is that I’ve read a few musician memoirs (Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson to name a few) and this is the first one I’ve read that was filled with so much sadness.  Not “I was stoned and regret sleeping with that person with an STD sadness,” but like, real family problems and even a dead pet.  And, as Carrie herself jokes, her stories of being on tour and ending up in the hospital are not based on drugs or other debauchery, but on anxiety and even worse, shingles.

The beginning of the book starts in 2006, around the initial break up (hiatus) of Sleater-Kinney.  Carrie is in pain–emotional and physical–and she can’t take much more.  She starts punching herself hard in the face. (more…)

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dec2SOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES-The Beatles (1968).

220px-TheBeatles68LPDespite the sound effects, it’s clear from the start that this album is going to be different from the psychedelia of previous albums.  And the whole album is very stark—guitars, bass, drums, occasional piano and organ but not much else.  True there are some strings and horns, but it’s all very much in the vein of rock and roll–nothing trippy.  Turns out that most of the songs were written during a Transcendental Meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India–a period that was free from drugs (except or marijuana of course).

“Back in the USSR” is a fun rocker, although it always confused me and there’s some explanation that this is sort of a joke on the Beach Boys.  “Dear Prudence” is a mid tempo song (with some cool bass lines).  I should have been keeping track of all the Beatles songs that I know better from other artists.  This one I know better from Siouxsie and the Banshees.  I had no idea what this song was about, and the story is weird and fascinating.  I love the way it builds band builds. “Glass Onion” has a really groovy sound, and I love all the self referential nonsense in it.  “the walrus was Paul” and “I told you about the Fool on the Hill” (McCartney overdubbed a record part to reference the original)–sounds like Lennon goofing around but making cool music out of it.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”is a goofy song (Paul is good at those it seems).  Evidently it was meant as a pastiche of ska (with Jimmy Cliff contributing initially).  According to Wikipedia this song is one of the factors that led to the break up of the band because they got so sick of it.  “Wild Honey Pie” is a weird 50 second snippet of a song.  This seems to foreshadow the medley tracks on Abbey Road.  Evidently it was just McCartney goofing around and referencing “Honey Pie” from later in the album.  “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is a song that I always sort of liked because it’s so weird.  But I never understood it.  While it may not be necessary to know all of the details of songs, it’s fascinating to learn that this one was written by Lennon after an American visitor to Rishikesh left for a few weeks to hunt tigers. The recording features vocals from almost everyone who happened to be in the studio at the time. Yoko Ono sings one line and co-sings another.  The Spanish guitar at the beginning of the recording was overdubbed later by Harrison.

I’ve always really liked “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and thought Harrison was an underrated songwriter because of it (although I find that I don’t really like most of his other stuff that much).  I never knew that Eric Clapton played the leads on this song, which may be why I like it so much–not that I’m a huge fan of Clapton but he really scorched this song in a way that I don’t think Harrison every would have.

“Happiness Is A Warm Gun”always surprises me because the first verses sound so unlike the rest of the song–I really don’t recognize it as this song, always assuming it starts at the “I need a fix” part.  Of course, there are so many different parts that it’s really more like several different songs.  And that was all for side one.  Side Two opened with “Martha My Dear” a jaunty piano ballad played entirely by McCartney.  “I’m So Tired” reminds me a lot of “Bungalow Bill” and seems unnecessary.  “Blackbird” is, simply, a beautiful song.

“Piggies” is an interesting criticism of modern society–I love that they used a harpsichord for it (evidently Charles Manson was inspired by it as well as “Helter Skelter”).  Like “Bungalow Bill” I never really understood “Rocky Raccoon.”  McCartney’s crazy accent at the beginning and the whole premise of the song is peculiar–unless of course you don’t think of Rocky Racoon as a raccoon (which I have a hard time getting past).  It’s a pretty decent folk song. though, I suppose.  “Don’t Pass Me By” is a song I really don’t know at all–a honky tonk piano (which was the first solo song Ringo wrote).  It’s fine and kind of nice.

I had always assumed that “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” was a Lennon song, but it was all McCartney–Lennon didn’t even play on it.  It’s  just a weird noisy track (written when Paul saw monkeys doing it in the road in India)  Despite its brevity (less than 2 minutes), I actually find it goes on too long.  “I Will” is a sweet acoustic song.  I always assumed that “Julia” was a McCartney song, but it’s a beautiful Lennon ballad.

I asked Sarah, who was a huge Beatles fan, if she listened to sides 3 and 4 as much as sides 1& 2 because listening to these sides, I feel like I don’t really know them that well.  She says they did, so what do I know?

Of course I know “Birthday.”  i find it to be a weird song–why would you write a song about a birthday unless you didn’t want to sing the Happy Birthday song anymore?  It is evidently meant to be in the style of Little Richard.  I didn’t know and rather dislike “Yer Blues,” which I simply don’t believe the lyrics of.  And um, what is the reason why? It’s a pretty dull blues song although the guitars solos are pretty good.

I don’t really know “Mother Nature’s Son” that well–I feel like I know the little bass line between verses as significant but not the song itself.  It’s a pretty acoustic song that kind of reminds me of “Julia.”  “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” has some really sharp piercing guitars on it.  I like the ringing bells and c’mon c’mon section. The whole song is fun, whatever it’s about.  “Sexy Sadie” is a song I’ve never been too crazy about.  I like the middle part better than the verses.  Apparently this was originally called “Maharishi” and was written about him–he changed the words later–which makes it all make a bit more sense.

It’s a shame that Manson has co-opted “Helter Skelter” because it’s a wonderfully blistering song.  The guitars and vocals are just awesomely rocking and raw.  I also love that a helter skelter is just a slide and not something sinister (duh, Charles–see what happens when you try to read into Beatles lyrics).  I actually knew Siouxsie and the Banshees and Mötley Crüe’s versions before the original, but now I think the original is the best version.  I love that the song just never really ends–it’s got codas and extras and blisters on fingers.

“Long, Long, Long” is a song I don’t really know.  I like the melody although it’ a bit too slow for me.

“Revolution 1” is weird to me because I knew the more rocking version first and this sounds like a kind of jokey version (with the shoobie doo wops)–although it was actually recorded first.  “Honey Pie” is a cute dance hall/1920s era song–Lennon played the guitar solo on the track, but later said he hated the song, calling it “beyond redemption”.  (He was quite nasty about a lot of Paul’s silly songs).  “Savoy Truffle” is yet another Harrison song that I just don’t know–did radio stations ban his songs?  It’s a decent rocker with electric piano and saxophone.  “Cry Baby Cry” is a song that I kind of know. I like that there’s accordion on it.  It builds very nicely.  The end has a little coda called “Can You Take Me Back.”

“Revolution 9” is probably the most notorious track on the disc.  I have to assume it was left on because there was a lot of empty space to fill in order to make the album a double album.  It’s such a strange creation and has really been responsible for so many cut and paste songs I’m sure.  There’s some sophisticated tape manipulation going on, but at 8 minute sit is just too long for what it is.

“Goodnight” is a sweet song that I have to assume was often ignored by fans who took the needle off the record during “Revolution 9.”  i actually didn’t even know there was a song after revolution 9.  Indeed, I only know the song because it was on a children’s CD that I used to play for my kids every night.  And while Ringo’s voice is nice, I like the other version (which I can’t think of) a little more.

So there’s the big white album–an album I never owned until recently.   It could probably have been reduced to a single album, but there are some undoubtedly brilliant songs on it.

[READ: July 3, 2014] “Road Kill”

I was curious to see how many short stories of older New Yorker magazines I had read.  It turned out that I have read nearly every story in every issue for the last several years from 2009-2014 (and many from 2008).  However, I have missed a few over the years.  Like this one.  I had typed up a post but just never finished it for some reason.

So, I’ve decided that I will go back and make sure that I’ve read each story from each issue from 2008-2015 (but not right away, I’ve done a lot of New Yorker stories recently.  So, I’ve got 13 from 2009, 6 from 2010, 2 from 2011, 1 from 2013 and 1 from 2014 (and, uh 27 from 2008–that’ over half, so maybe I wasn’t quite in the spirit of things yet back then).  But in the meantime, here’s one from 2013.

This is a brief story about a taxi driver in Sri Lanka.  He has been traveling the same route (across country) for two years.  This necessitates a stop in Kilinocchi, a town associated with the nerve center of terror (it is even commented on that it sounds brutal in English).  But the driver is a pro now—he says all you have to do to stay safe is keep your eyes open to drive all night.

On this trip, he is driving Mr and Mrs Arunachalam to see their soon-to-be house.  She is hugely pregnant and complains much of the way and they are both relieved when the hotel pulls into view. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 9, 2014] Def Leppard

Two years ago, Kiss had Motley Crue open for them.  Crue was one of those bands that I liked when they first came out and then, as they made poppier/sleazier music, I liked them less.  This year, the opener was Def Leppard.  Def Leppard was even more egregious in terms of going from a heavy metal band to a massive pop band.  And, heck, it worked for them.  But as a young metal head, who enjoyed most of High and Dry and some of Pyromania, Hysteria was just too far.  And I actively disliked a lot of those songs (perhaps more than I needed to) at the time.

And what I learned is that even after all these years, while I could “forgive” some bands and actually enjoy their sets, I could not forgive Def Leppard for all of the songs that I really disliked.

But first…how ballsy is it to have your intro music be The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then after the big scream near the end, have your banner drop and you finish the song.  I was pretty surprised.  But they sounded quite good, loud and brash.  And then they opened with “Let It Go,” a pretty heavy (for them) track from High and Dry which I had forgotten about but which rocked really well.  And I thought, hey, any chance they’re just going to play the heavy songs?

But no.  They moved into “Animal,” one of 6 songs from Hysteria.  Of course, it wasn’t all Hysteria.  They did play “Foolin'” which really didn’t do it for me as much as I thought it would-perhaps I was bitter about the Hysteria.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2012] Kiss

Kiss has never really been cool.  Even in fourth grade when they were cool, it wasn’t cool to like them.  They have been really uncool on and off from time to time and that seems to make their fans even more die-hard.  I’m not die-hard–I’ll not be spending $4,000 on a Kiss book–but I will buy their records and see them once in a while.

The last time I saw them was 12 years ago (July 2000) for their Farewell Tour (the irony is not lost, no).  That was a fun show, seeing the original line up in make up.  And they played most of their hits (even ones I didn’t like so much).  The set list from 2000 is at the bottom, for comparison to the new set list.

This tour was odd for this reason–they have a new album coming out.  And yet its arrival date is just after the last day of the tour.  Who ever heard of ending a tour before the album comes out?  Also, they just reissued Destroyer in a new recording, but it wasn’t even mentioned.  And they didn’t do any extra songs from it.  Weird.  The Kiss machine will not deviate from its plan.

So, there’s no Peter or Ace anymore.  Eric Singer looks enough like Peter in the makeup and he sounded great in Black Diamond (thankfully t here was no “Beth.”  But you can really see a difference between Ace and Tommy Thayer.  Regardless, Tommy sounds an awful lot like Ace when he sings and, since he’s a pro, he can handle all guitar duties.   There is something a little odd in him doing all of the same things that Ace used to do–shouldn’t they update the tricks a little bit?–but it’s always fun to see the guitar shoot off roman candles. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2012] Mötley Crüe

Back in 1998, I saw Aerosmith and Monster Magnet play a set at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA.  It was my first time seeing Aerosmith and I was a little bummed that Stephen Tyler had broken his leg.  He was amazingly limber and nimble for a guy in a leg cast, but I’m sure he could have done a lot more if he was unhampered by injury.

Fourteen years later, I’m back on Montage Mountain to see Kiss and Mötley Crüe.  And just a few days before this show Vince Neil broke his foot.  While he’s not quite the acrobatic showman as Stephen Tyler, he was definitely hampered amidst the excitement of their stage show.  It didn’t affect his voice though.

I liked Mötley Crüe’s first two albums quite a lot.  I liked Theater of Pain a lot less–even if “Home Sweet Home” was the biggest song in the world at the time.  What is it about a piano ballad that drives hard rocker people crazy?

Since then the Crüe have released some 5 albums and have had a half-dozen or so hits (some pretty massive).  Of course, I never liked the glammier or even the more “rock n roll” sound of their later albums.  I had pretty much given up on them altogether.  So I didn’t really care much that they were opening for Kiss at this show.

But I will say this–Mötley Crüe put on one hell of a spectacle.  And that’s what some concerts are all about.  There were scantily clad women swinging on ropes and walking on stilts and bringing guitars to the band and dancing abstractly (that’s got to be a very hard job–pretending to dancing rhythmically and sexily to Motley Crue for an entire song).  [If you object to the exploitation of women, this is not the show for you–I sure hope they are well compensated].  There were guys with firehoses shooting the audience (which I assume was a wet T-shirt extravaganza), there were bottles of champagne poured onto the crowd, there was fire and more fire and more and more fire.  And there was Tommy Lee’s drumset–more on that. (more…)

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