Archive for the ‘Tom Morello’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 25, 2015] Rush

2015-06-25 21.28.51I was a huge Rush fan back in the day.  In fact, to last night’s show Sarah wore my Rush shirt that I bought in, oh, 1983 or so.  Despite my huge love of Rush I actually hadn’t seen them many times live. I missed several opportunities in college (stupid work ethic) but finally got to see them on the Presto tour.  Whether it was April 20 or April 25, it was definitely 1990 and most likely at the Brendan Byrne Arena (R.I.P.).

I feel like I may have seen them on one more tour before seeing them again (possibly three times, I have 3 stubs) in 2002.  The problem with seeing them a lot in one tour is that they tend to keep the set list the same in every show (there’s some variation below).  And I remember thinking i didn’t need to see them again after that.

Of course, after seeing them last night and today listening to the Clockwork Angels tour CD I am really kicking myself for not going to that tour because there is some really interesting stuff (and a string section) which would have been pretty cool to see.  But that’s okay because the show last night was so good that it satisfied all my Rush needs–a great send off (presumably) to a great band.

Sarah had never seen Rush before (and in fact once actively disliked them, and may still).  But she was won over by the show.

I haven’t been to a big arena show (except for Kiss) in a long time, so I kind of forgot what we’d be getting.  And wow did we get a lot–flash pots, fire, lasers, explosions, video screen (even a possible marriage proposal in front of us).  And, at any Rush show… lots of air drumming (including from myself).

I had been deliberately avoiding any spoilers from the set list.  I didn’t want to have any expectations.  And I have to say, if I had made an ideal set lit, (which I thought about doing), they would have hit quite a number of them.  (Thanks Rush fans for not spoiling things for me).  And thus, below is a whole bunch of spoilers [consider yourself warned].  But one spoiler you must read–do not leave during the encore, there’s more to the show when the music is done. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Antipop (1999).

This wasantipop the final album that Primus made before going on hiatus (ostensibly breaking up, but they did reunite a few years later).  I have distinct memories of buying this album and listening to it on the way home in the car.  I remember liking the songs but having the very distinct feeling that it didn’t really sound anything like Primus.  And that is still the case.

This album has a whole mess of guest producers and guitarists and critics seem to think that every song feels very different.  But I disagree.  It feels like a very heavy Les Claypool solo project.

About the album Claypool has said: “Antipop was the most difficult record we ever made, because there was a lot of tension between the three of us, and there was some doubt at the label as to whether we knew what the hell we were doing anymore… Primus sort of imploded.”  In the Primus book, Larry says that a few times he wondered why he was even there since there were so many other guitarists.  I noted that even though there were other guitarists, there were no extra bassists or drummers present, which is kind of shitty.

Producers include Fred Durst (!), Jim Martin (from Faith No More), Stewart Copeland (!), Matt Stone (!) and Tom Morello (from Rage Against the Machine) and Tom Waits.

Tom Morello features quite prominently on the disc, producing and playing on 3 tracks.  And on the songs he’s on, I feel like you can’t even hear Larry (if he’s on them at all).  Morello gets co-writing credit on the songs too, and they feel more like Rage songs than Primus songs–they are very heavy and very metal.  “Electric Uncle Sam” is certainly catchy and rocking.  I rather like it although it feels far more Morello than Claypool.  “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” also sounds quite Rage like to me.  There’s certainly Primus elements, but it feels very conventional–it’s again very aggressive with no sign or Ler.  “Power Mad” is Morello’s third song. It’s the least interesting song on the disc.

Matt Stone from South Park produced “Natural Joe.”  It feels quite like Primus–a bit heavier, perhaps tahn usual and with that now ever present slap bass.  The “son of a bitch-a” line seems like it might have had a Matt Stone influence.

Fred Durst produced “Lacquer Head” the album’s only single.  It is really catchy.  Durst says it was his idea for Primus to get more heavy (like in the old days) but this is much heavier than anything they had done.  I have to think that the “Keep on sniffing” section was Durst-influenced as it sounds kind of rap-metally.

“Dirty Drowning Man” was produced by Stewart Copeland and features Martina Topley-Bird on backing vocals.  The opening sounds very Primus, but the chorus is very conventional.  Martina barely registers on backing vocals, which is a shame.

Songs credited to just Primus are “The Antipop” which is also quite heavy and strangely catchy given the sentiments.  Perhaps the most unusual track on the disc is the 8 minute “Eclectic Electric” which has three parts.  The first is slow and quieter with a catchy/creepy verse.  Part 2 is much heavier, while Part 3 revisits part 1.  I do rather like it.  James Hetfield plays on it although I can’t tell where.  “Greet the Sacred Cow” has a funk bass part and a real Primus vibe.  It’s a quite a good song.  “The Ballad of Bodacious” seems like a Primus cover band from music to concept.  The final song they did was “The Final Voyage of the Liquid Sky.”  I love the crazy watery bass that opens the song.  The verses also have a real Primus feel.  And those choruses are unreasonably catchy.

The final song was produced by Tom Waits.  It doesn’t sound like Primus at all. Rather, it sounds like a big ol’ sea shanty  A perfect Tom Waits-ian song.  And it’s a really good song too.  You can definitely feel the Primus vibe though, even if it doesn’t really sound like a Primus song exactly.

There’s a bonus track, which is a cover of their song “The Heckler” from Suck on This.  This version is good (although not quite as good as the original version).  But it shows how far removed the new stuff is from their earliest recordings.  This also means that “Jellikit” is the only song from Suck that has not been played on another record.

So while I can see that many fans of Primus would hate this album, fans of heavy rock from the era should certainly check it out.  Les’ voice is heavier, more metal, and the guitars are pretty conventional.  And I still think there are some good songs here.

[READ: January 16, 2015] “The Empties”

This story is set after the end times (which happened in August 2015).  I enjoyed that in the story two characters argue over whether they are living in dystopian or postapocalyptic time.  The one guy argues that “dystopia means an imaginary place where everything’s exactly wrong and what we’re living in is a postapocalyptic prelapsarian kind of thing.”  Our narrator says they are both wrong because those two words pertain to stories and this is real life.

It has been two years since E.T. (End Times).  Very few people still bother to charge anything on the extant towers.  And most of the weak died in the first winter.  Our survivors are in Vermont which has brutal winters but also have wood burning stoves which she imagines many city folk do not have.

Our narrator has been writing in a journal that she received B.E.T. (Before End Times) and then one day she decides to go to the library (the only building still with a lock) to see if she can use the type writer to write a history of their lives since E.T. began.   The “librarian” is heavily armed and is frisking everyone who leaves–books are valuable commodity.  She says they don’t have any paper but that she is welcome to use the reverse side of her own novel (Shroud of the Hills by Matilda Barnstone copyright 2003) which she sent out to many places but never got a response. (more…)

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primus bookSOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Suck on This (1990).

primus suckThis was the disc that introduced me to Primus–it was on a beach vacation with my friends Al, Joe and Rad.  Al made this the soundtrack of the drive and, man, it was weird and crazy and super cool and by the end of that trip I was hooked.

Actually I was immediately hooked when the band opened this live disc with a rough version of Rush’s “YYZ” which then launched into “John the Fisherman.”  What do you make of this band and this weird song?  Stomping bass which is doing all of the lead stuff, with guitars that are just noises and craziness but which really work with what the bass is doing (once you listen a few times, anyway).  The drums are mammoth and very prog rock.  And then there’s Les’ voice–cartoony and unconventional–sometimes deep, sometime really silly, sounds that work perfectly with the storytelling lyrics.

The quality of this recording is pretty poor, although I find that it sounds a bit better on smaller, less “good” stereos, where Ler’s guitars don’t get lost so much in the bass.  Most of these songs have been re-recorded for later albums, so perhaps the newer versions sound cleaner to me.  [Groundhog’s Day, Frizzle Fry, John the Fisherman, Pudding Time and Harold of the Rocks on Frizzle Fry and Tommy the Cat on Sailing the Seas of Cheese].

The best songs on this disc have really catchy parts: “John the Fisherman” (most of it) or the insane fast bass and wild soloing section of “Groundhog’s Day.”  Sometimes it’s just when the noise stops and Les gets a line, like “It’s Just a Matter of Opinion” (in “The Heckler”).  Although the noise there is really catchy too–listen to what Ler is playing during the funky bass section–it’s wild and amazing.

Of course “Tommy the Cat” is a major standout from all three guys.

The only song that doesn’t really work for me is “Pressman” which seems a bit too long without a lot of resolution (although the end is pretty cool).  I often get “Jellikit” (the other song that didn’t make it to a studio album) in my head, whenever I think, Did you like it?  There’s even a drum solo from Herb the Ginseng Drummer in that song

What’s fun is that the audience is totally into it and they know most of the songs–anticipating lyrics and even singing along.  And this is where “We’re Primus and we suck.” comes from.  It was a shocking debut when it came out, and it’s still pretty unusual, although not as unusual as some of their later songs would be.

[READ: January 3, 2015] Primus

As I said above, I’ve been a fan of Primus since near the beginning of their existence.  And yet, for all of my enjoyment of them, I didn’t really know all that much about their origins.  I didn’t know that the original line up was Todd Huth and Jay Lane (guitars and drums), and that the three of them wrote the songs that appear on Suck on This and much of Frizzle Fry.  Ler had to learn these unusual parts (Ler took lessons with Joe Satriani and is much more accomplished than his lack of flashiness indicates) and did so wonderfully. I also didn’t know that Les and Kirk Hammet were in the same class in high school (and that he’s the reason Les picked up a bass in the first place, even though they never formally played together).

The book is constructed as a series of quotes from a vast assortment of people.  The “cast” is two pages long and includes current and former members of the band and management as well as fans like Trey Anastasio, Matthew Bellamy (from Muse), Geddy Lee, Chuck D, Eugene Hutz, Tom Morello, Buzz Osborne, Matt Stone, Mike Watt, Hank Williams III, guys from 24-7 Spyz, Fishbone, Limbomaniacs and even Linda Perry (!).

It opens with Les talking about his high school years.  And what’s amazing is how many people who were involved in Primus are friends from when he was a kid.  If they didn’t play together, they were involved with art or management or something.  We also get the origin story of Bob Cock, which answers many questions.

Les had formed Primate (legal dispute with the band The Primates made them become Primus) with Todd and Jay.  They toured a lot and were gaining a following, but Les was always looking for something more.  He even auditioned for Metallica after Cliff Burton died (Kirk thought it sounded great but I guess James didn’t). (more…)

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