Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh Yeah, THOSE guys!!

Ok, so Aerosmith month was kind of a bust...but only kind of...I did listen to them all month and I did enjoy them but it turns out, go figure, I already knew them pretty well and just didn't realize it. Even thier B sides I had heard before and most of thioer popular stuffI easily knew all the words to. The thing is that I always thought thier tunes were either Bon Jovi's or the Stones so I was surprised to learn that there was no new ground to cover here. Kind of a cheaty month so I apologize but I'll make up for it in June with ameaty topic I have many, surprising preconceptions of....Brittany Speares!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Really, Never Heard of Them!!

The decision to choose Aerosmith as one of my 12 bands started, little to my knowledge, a few years ago while my wife and I were vegging on the couch and channel surfing. We ended up on a random movie channel in the middle of Armageddon. It was the scene where Ben Affleck was exploring his girl friends wild places with animal crackers. While I made lude, stupid jokes to that affect Mandy mentioned that the habitat in question was Steven Tyler's daughter."Ok" I say "So?..whose that??". I had went to middle school with a Tyler Stevens but that was the closest reference I had. It took a little while to convince my wife that I wasn't just fucking with her and I really didn't know who Steven Tyler was and while I had heard the name before couldn't name a single Aerosmith song. She thought I was a complete mutant but the episode of Project Runway we were waiting for finally came on and the matter slipped away not to be remembered until now.
  The next time I even thought about Tyler or his band was when he was announced as the next American idol judge. My presumption was, only bolstered by bthe fact that he was replacing Simon Cowel, was that he was going to be a stereo-typical rock and roll douche bag. Much to my surprise the show premiered and lo and behold he was actual a really nice guy with a genuine passion for music, respect for all around him and a wacky, gentle, unique presence. Antonio Banderas will always be my #1 but I think I developed a bit of a man crush.
So with both of those incidents under my belt adding Aerosmith to my list was a no brainer. I've been listening to them for a few weeks now and in my next post we 'll talk about how this month almost feels like cheating.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Legendary ?

Ok, so I admit that when I first dove into the music of the Duke I was totally confused, befuddled and not quite sure what was going on. Most of the first disc was instrumental..which was fine..I kinda knew the Duke was a jazz legend so I kinda figured he was playing the trumpet. Of all the instruments in the music it was the strongest and usually the center of most pieces. Then I hit a run of songs with lyrics....was that a lady singing? yeah and then a string of songs each with a different male voice..then a few with no trumpet at all. I had no idea what the hell was going on. As is my habit each month I go in blind to get the music at face value and then after my first impression is formed I back it up with research and digging around about the artist. That left me woefully unprepared this time and set me up for a cool surprise. You see, after my initial bout of cluelessness I did what I always do when I know less then I need to; I Googled it!!!
   What I found was a bit of a shock for a brain that has a certain set of expectations set by a modern understanding of music and how the industry works. You see, Duke Ellington wasn't any of the singers, nor did he play the trumpet and while he did in fact play the piano in most of his works it was usually a tempo setter to show off the stylings of his musicians. You see the Duke was a composer and a conductor. His legendary status is as a band leader. I mean sure I heard of Big band but I never gave it much thought as being anything but an outdated, has been genre that was never that cool to begin with. Man, was I wrong. the Duke IS jazz music and he and his orchestra defined the genre from their pit in Harlem's legendary Cotton Club.
  As a modern music lover I can't say I give much thought to composers. They are all moldy dead guys who used to wear white wigs and say guvner alot, right? Sure, we have a few today but they mostly score our movies or run in tight insular circles that don't really affect pop culture all that much.And conductors? really? Last one I saw was on a train! Goes to show how little I know about music history. It turns out back in the day the composer/conducter was THE man. You could be the best trumpet player in the world, Scott Joplin on the ivory or have a set of pipes like Ella Fitzgerald but if a band leader didn't invite you into his pit then you weren't making least not on a national stage. Of course that changed as the singer/song writer dynamic we know today came to life but the cool thing is that the Duke never sold out. He stuck with his orchestra and led it for 53 years!! he took the hit in popularity and loss of audience in the 60's and kept on going until he came out the other side a living legend.
  Not only are the tunes cool but I also had the chance to question my conception of music and stretch my understanding of the world. If that isn't what this project is all about then I don't know what is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

David and the Duke

First, let me apologize for the lateness of this post. A nasty reoccurring flu\sore throat/coughy thing has been taking the household by storm and even when I haven't been down for the count myself Mandy and I have been trying to keep these little kiddos safe despite their coughs and fevers.
 Now we're mostly healthy and I'm back on track. Even though I haven't been posting I have been listening intently to the great Duke Ellington over the last week and a half. It's kind of taken me by surprise but we'll talk about that in our next post. Before we get into the dealings of the Duke I need to talk about how he got on my plate in the first place.
   When I started the project my good friend Katrina contacted me and suggested that I might consider Duke Ellington. Her father David, who is sadly no longer with us, was a huge fan and she even offered to let me borrow his collection of Duke Ellington recordings. How could I say no? Not only was my friend offering me an idea for my blog but she was also offering to share her heart and her dad with me so I could share it with you. I'm thrilled to explore the music of Duke Ellington, not only because he's a legend and one of the all time greats but because David Smith loved him and frankly I can't think of a better reference. I remember David Smith well even though it was over twenty years ago(Really? Yikes!) that I first met him while dating his daughter. He was always laughing and making the worst puns you could imagine. If the joke was bad he loved it, if it was terrible he'd laugh like hell and find a way to make it even worse and afterwards you'd be laughing so hard you wouldn't even know where it started and what you were laughing at. He was a kind, gentle man who always had his nose in a book and his arms around his children. Along with my step father David is one of the templates I aspire to now that I'm a dad.
Through Katrina Duke Ellington is a gift that he's giving to me and I'm honored this month to share it with you. Now go call your dad, tell him you love him and asking him what music he's listening to.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dogg Gone; My Month With Snoop

So March pretty good for me...I'm kinda digging the whole Gangster Rap thing and Snoop was a great showcase, I think, for the genre. Even better then that Snoop isn't a one trick pony. Sure the gritty street level gangsta play is his bread and butter and the foundation for everything else but he also makes a point to slip in all kinds of other goodies that hint at a deeper level beneath his already apparent genius. There are some songs where he sings straight up and I just know if he ever followed it he could do a decent run at modern pop hip-hop or even R&B. His country themed tribute songs are pretty damn cool too and if he ever decided to shelve the same old same old and take a risk he just might be able to create a new genre of Hick Hop Country Rap. He'll always be the D O G and the Big Boss, Uncle Snoop of the rap world. He's great at what he does and I know, I know, you don't go to Pizza Hut for a hamburger but he's shown enough versatility and interest in stretching that I wish instead of a few songs tacked on the back of solid rap we could get a whole album of his alternative, for the rap world, stylings.
  Also, and this is really my only criticism of an artist I hope it's apparent that I like very much, he just plays it safe and sticks with image centric and sometimes superficial topics. Now look, I love me some songs about pimping, banging, puffing and being OG but after twenty albums I feel like that's not enough for me. Don't let his proclivity for herbal recreation fool, this is an intelligent man, a savvy business person and someone whose lived through some shit. I'd give up one track about representing the street if I meant I could have one about what "The Man" on the street thinks about what's going on in the world today. I'd love to hear him blast both the GOP and the Dems and call them on their bullshit. Or what does he think about the wars in the middle east or the obvious war on the poor that's about to happen with all these institutionalized budget cuts about to ravage this countries infra structure. I'd even be interested to hear about things closer to home, the man has several kids including a daughter...pimpin ain't easy but it has to be harder when you have a little angel of your own growing up in the big bad world. I suppose I shouldn't bitch..I love what I heard so far and Snoop will stay in my car for later listening but I just get this itch to see deeper and hope we eventually will.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The N Word

Ok, look...we have to talk about it.
I know it's gonna make some of you uncomfortable but it's an important factor in his life and any discussion about Snoop Dogg would be incomplete if we didn't just bite the bullet and talk about...
why are you looking at me like that?
 You think I'm talking about THAT n word!!
Well, I was thinking "Narcotics", (you know the D O G loves him some ganja) but since you bring it up, yeah, that word IS kind of important too considering 8 out of 10 Snoop songs includes it, and in the majority of those it's said an average of 20 times. I wasn't gonna go there because the word coming from me is ignorant at best and offensive at worst. While Dr. Laura may get some sick pleasure from pressing social boundaries just for fun I try to take every opportunity I get to avoid being a douche bag. So like I say, from me; not so good but from Snoop, that's a different's authentic and not because he's black. Well, yes because he's black but not JUST because he's black. Mostly because it's the language of the streets and Snoop takes on no airs. He knows who his audience is, who he wants them to be, and he speaks to them in their language, his language. The language of the streets. Color may be involved but it's just as likely to be about gang colors or the color of money or ones true colors then it is to be about the color of skin. If Snoop did beg off and censor himself to be politically correct he'd lose his realness and his authentic voice. So few sages take the time to offer wisdom to those in the streets below and what many will see as offensive language, or racial aggression or a point of contention I see as simply being the word on the street.
          Uggh, here I was all set to take about weed and how pot heads in music and Hollywood (Snoop, Seth Rogan, Woody Harrelson, the whole cast and most of the writers of the Big Bang Theory) tend to do better and be less affected by their drug of choice then say those who choose smack (Poor Kurt Cobain), cocaine ( say it with me now...Charlie Sheen!!!) or even alcohol (How you doing, Mel Gibson?) but we need to move on so I guess that will need to wait until Fall when we get to Willy Nelson month!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Legacy of Gangsters: My Month With Snoop Dogg Begins

It feels really good to be off the sickly saccharine high of polka and into some honest funk and grime and Snoop certainly offers that with his litany of rhymes. As I do every month I first prepared my self by blasting my brain with a variety of his work to get a feel for what I was dealing with before going back and giving each release a deep and thoughtful listen. As I was doing so I felt a weird deja vu I couldn't put my finger on. I had heard Vato on the weeds sound tarck and I know Snoop is doing a Pepsi commercial but aside from that I haven't had much exposure to his work or even other rap fpr that matter. Still there was something subtle about what I was hearing that caught my attention subliminally and made me like it instinctively. Who did this guy remind me of? I was drawing a blank but thankfully Snoop Doggy Dogg provided me the answer just a few songs later with the following dedication;
"I'd like to dedicate this song to Mister Johnny Cash..a Real American Gangster"
  ..then he launched into one of the best and most inventive rap songs I've ever heard called "My Medicine" and I had my answer.
 It seems crazy and certainly not intuitive at all but when you think about it it does make perfect sense. They both consider themselves outlaws and that along with guns, women and trouble are an underlying themes in everything they do. We can even take it a bit further and look at the mythologies they both represent. Being a gangster and the lifestyle that comes with it really isn't all that far from the wild west and the gunslingers that Cash is known for immortalizing. The moral "Life is hard and sometimes ugly and surviving is a triumph" is a moral I would expect to hear from both. Also, we can take it from the height of mythological significance down to to the lowest common denominator; the common man. Neither make music for the industry, hell Cash was thrown out of the Grand Old Oprey for being to rowdy, but rather for regular people. Snoop said it.."I'm not a musician..I'm Gangster".."I write my songs for gangsters, bangers and bitches". I can't prove it but I bet if you polled all the prisions in the US Snoop and Johnny would be two of the most listened to artists even to this day. That's because for both thier music begins and ends in the streets and while Laredo is a long way from South Central the themes are the undeniably the same.
I love Johnny Cash and this connection is a good start for the month...I look forward to learning more.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Month With Polka; The Final Verdict

Ok, ok, so this is the post where I am supposed to admit that after last posts surprising finds that I've reconsidered and I now have a great and deep understanding and love of polka music. Eh, not gonna happen. In fact I would rather gargle glass, vote for Sarah Palin for President and let Mike Vick walk my dog before listening to one more day of it. maybe it's the constant upbeat accordian/tuba riffs or the fact that polka existed waaay before the concept intellectual property was invented so instead od each artist having thier own songs they all basicaly played varioations on the same song..over and over and over again. The lack of variety was maddening. Maybe it was a logistical error on my part when I chose it for this project. Polka is marching music and dancing music...listening to it alone may have done it an injustice. The fact that most of it had no lyrics and the few that did were in a variety of germanic and slavic languages didn't help. Of course a few did have yodeling and those I dug.
So, in the future will I listen to polka? Probably not but if I have a chance to see a polka band or go to a dance I'll think about giving it a shot at viewing it in it's proper element.

Next up
The pimp with the heart of gold
The bone daddy
The shizznizzle
And quite possibly the man who stole the sheeshka



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fowl Play, Molly Ringwald and The Super Bowl Champions of the World!!

So here I am, suffering through CD after CD of random polka madness trying desperately to find anything I could connect with, anything familiar..anything!!
And to prove that there is indeed a God in the heavens and she has a wicked sense of humor I finally ran across a song I recognized.
A song that I always avoid at all costs.
 A song that has made me cringe since I was a child.
 A song I react so strongly too that I will actively avoid anyone who claims to like it because based on that alone they can't possibly be trusted.
Many of you feel the same way as I do and I asked that you gird your loins and be brave for the next few minutes..this part will be over soon and I promise that before this post is done I will infect you with another song that will blot this one out of your mind..
So, yes...the song...I never knew it was a polka...I should have.
What song do I refer to?


                                     It figures that when I finally find a polka I recognize it triggers my gag reflex !! 
Still, it must have been a karmic right of passage because after I found it the flood gates opened and I started to recognize alot. It turns out that because most polka songs aren't very original there is a common pool that most artists pull from  and thus alot end up in the public domain and over the years have served as back drops in Looney Toons, The Three Stooges and even more!!
The next big revelation knocked me off my feet. I had no idea that I was going to find a polka song that I liked and have known since I was 16 years old but also one that that has been an icon of not one but two major motion pictures, one of which  won an academy award, This song is so entrenched in the popular culture I bet everybody reading this knows it well.
I, of course, refer to the "Colonel Bogey March"!
What are you looking at me like that for?
Of course you know it!!
Yes, you do!!
Not only do you know it but in then less then 30 seconds you're going to be humming, singing and whistling along to it.
Don't believe me?
By all means ...take a peek

  Ahahahahaha!!!  Suckers!!
That song is gonna be stuck in your head ALL NIGHT!!!!       
Not only did The Breakfast Club secretly bring polka to a whole generation but it also paid tribute to another film in the most hilarious and subtle in-joke I've seen in Hollywood.
You see, before "The Breakfast Club"  The Colonel Bogey March was highlighted in a film called "Bridge Over the River Kwai". Wherein Obi Wan Kenobi, long before he became a Jedi, was the leader of a group of POW's captured by the Japanese during WWII and forced to work at hard labour. The captured soldiers used to whistle the march each time they were gathered as a show of defiance to their captors and to prove that their spirit wasn't broken. Kinda funny John Hughes had his kids use the march the same way and never told anyone..when I finally realized the parallel it made me laugh!!
And it would have been impossible with out polka!!!
Geez, after that little nugget could it get any better?
You know it!
For those of you who don't know, I'm a diehard Greenbay Packers fan and after they won the super bowl I was so psyched I decided I wanted an "NFL Champion" T-shirt. I ran to Google and searched for Greenbay Packers not even realizing that I had already had the word polka in my search box from when I was doing research earlier. 

The sky opened up and I was blessed with a great gift!!!!

Packers Polka!!!!!
Maybe there's something to this Polka stuff after all!!!!
I'll have to give it another chance...but I gotta go grab my cheesehead now!!!
See you soon,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Polka Month Begins or What the Hell Did I Get Myself Into?

So if Kurt Cobain is the sullen stoner on our imaginary musical play ground then Polka is the chubby, manicly cheerful Austrian exchange student who smiles constantly and nods emphatically at everything you see even though he doesn't understand a word of English. He is a joyful, bursting Agustus Gloop if you will who wants nothing more then to get our feet tapping to the accordion rift and the uplifting ompapah of the tuba!!!
Polka is considered the worlds happiest music and after last month's rousing success I should be excited...but some how I get the sinking suspicion that I'm gonna end up feeling like I've been locked in Disney World over night after realizing I just ate the brown acid.
  I've listened a few days so far and it's just so far from what I consider music that I'm having a hard time connecting with it. However, all that aside, we have a deal and I won't renege....February will be all Polka, all the time even if I end up jacked up on Thorazine and banging my head against the wall in a rhythmic and cheerful manner! My hope is that after a week of going through my hundred or so songs I have I'll find some favorites and start to form a connection.....if not it's gonna be a looooooooooooong month!!!

Wish me luck.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January ~ My Month With Nirvana

Wow, that went really, really fast but at the same time I feel like I've learned so much and have been listening to these guys all my life. Now when I started this endeavour it was with a few questions such as could Kurt Cobain be compared to John Lennon in his influence as the voice of a generation and also was his death as tragic a loss for popular culture as the death of Elvis. I had no idea of Nirvana and was kind of confused to their status as rebel leaders. Now that I am more educated I do get it. While I really liked the music which fit perfectly with my punk rock tastes the true measure of Nirvana came to me after listening to interviews with these guys. I was really able to get a feel for Kurt's charisma and the overall appeal of the band as just regular guys. They had opinions on things that echoed my own thoughts, they were emotional approachable, they wore torn jeans like me, were pissed off by politics like me and despite being rock stars and eligible for epic levels of dysfunction they were fucked up just like me too!!! In strong opposition to the lofty demi god Rock Stars that burn and gyrate above the masses as leather clad icons Nirvana was down in the metaphorical mosh pit with the rest of us. That alone set them apart from thier peers and gave them street cred to go along with their commercial success. Do I think Kurt is comparable with John Lennon? No, not really. John Lennon was a political activist/poet who spoke eloquently for peace and social change. His fans followed him as a guide on a political/spiritual path they were learning from him so they could all change the world together. Kurt didn't want acolytes and he hated the world and him self too much to really believe he could change anything. No Kurt wasn't like John Lennon but his social impact may have been just as great. While he didn't offer a path to enlightenment he did offer something even more precious; the simple that that every last one of us is fucked up in some way but that doesn't mean that we're worthless, useless or will go through life not being heard.
 As to his death being compared to Elvis..well, if I recall correctly the King died on the can with a bellyfull of qualudes and bacon and banana sandwiches, a fat mockery of the man he once was and reduced to being a Vegas lounge act. Always seemed to me that he had already left the building and his body was just waiting to retire the way his musical innovation had years before. Nirvana on the other hand was just beginning to find their voice and with Kurt's death they were silenced forever. Who knows what we're missing out on because of that shot gun blast but I can't help we didn't hear enough.
Now, before I wrap it up let me just add a rough things.
 I won't go into detail but being a neutral party with no emotional investment either way after reviewing the facts surrounding Kurt's death I'm convinced that bitch killed him so she could keep his millions and keep pretending to be the rock star her husband was and she'll never be.
 Greg's Top Ten Nirvana Songs
1. Come As You Are ~ Nevermind
2. Molly's Lips ~ Incesticide
3. Sliver ~ Incesticide
4. Smells Like Teen Spirit ~ Nevermind
5. Heart Shaped Box ~ In Utero
6. All Apologies ~ In Utero
7. Been a Son ~ Incesticide
8.Lithium ~ Nevermind
9. Negative Creep ~ Bleach
10. In Bloom ~ Nevermind

Greg's Favorite Nirvana Album
Incesticide or Nevermind..too close to call.

And with that said..January is over and so is my time with Nirvana.

 Next; Polka!!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Secret Ingredient

So how exactly do three regular guys from way the hell out in the Sasquatch country of Washington State end up being the voice of a generation? There has been alot of speculation on that with theories ranging the gamut from something as simple as good timing to the outside dark horse that maybe Kurt found a magic water bong and conjured up a platinum record genie. Both are possible but neither are see after a month of non-stop Nirvana I got it and believe me the secret ain't 11 herbs and spices. Nope, Nirvana changed the face of punk music, motivated a generation to be more insolent and insular then ever, sold millions and millions of album's all because of..are you ready?....inconsistent and vaguee lyrics. I'll wait a second while you do your double take, think about it and eventually start swearing at me. I'm serious though but first lets establish the fact that Nirvana actually does indeed have inconsistent and vague lyrics. While not readily apparent to the casual fan anybody who has spent any time listening to all the variant tracks and/or seen a few live performances know that the lyrics change ALL the time. Sometimes it's just a word or a phrase here and there or the rearranging of the different verses but on a few notable occasions Kurt was known to change the whole chorus. A musician friend of mine loves this because he thinks it makes each performance special and unique but I can imagine that some folks from the more anal retentive zodiac signs (I'm talking to you Virgo!!) are infuriated by this lack of structure and dependability. Ok, so seasonal fluctuations aside even if sung exactly as is reads on the album cover the lyrics are still sparse and sometimes even incomprehensible. This comes from the fact that the band, Kurt mostly, had little regards for the lyrics often writing them hours before recording and at least for Nevermind they would sit down with books of Kurt's poetry and just patch together a string of lines that sounded good together. Come As You Are is my favorite Nirvana song and clocks at three minutes and forty five seconds. For the last one minute and forty five seconds, yup half the song, the only lyrics are repetitions and rearrangements of "And I swear that I don't have a gun", "No, I don't have a gun", and the word "Memory".  How the hell does that work? Hmm, I'm glad you asked. It works because Nirvana's audience was an introspective, angry generation that felt misunderstood and bereft of an ideology of their own. Along comes Nirvana and through what was erroneously perceived as deep and insightful lyrics echo back to these kids what each and everyone of them is feeling. All of a sudden emotional and ephemeral poetry becomes genius because it offers an interpretation to all of it's hungry listeners that reflect what each of them needs to hear in their wounded Generation X hearts. More structured songs with linear lyrics that had literal meanings would mean what the band meant them to mean...Nirvana's songs meant whatever you needed them to mean. Kurt Cobain became the voice of a generation by feeding us our dreams and hurts and inspirations hidden like Easter eggs amongst songs that were never meant to be words of wisdom but turned out to be anyway.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

B Side Surprise ~ The Fourth Voice

So my lovely wife has mentioned that she would love for me to be more editorial when blogging about my yearly project. That is certainly a great point and I promise more of that as we go forward. I took the track I did because the journey of Nirvana is one of growth and metamorphosis quickly over a short period of time and that can best be seen by how their music changed from the beginning to end of their short career. Because their discography only has three entries it seemed apropos to go from begining, middle to end examining what we found as we did. As we touch other genres that are more open another artists who are more prolific I imagine we'll be all over the place and I'll take a more open handed and expressive path. Hell, my next two posts this month where I plan on revealing what I believe to be the secret of Nirvana's success and then the wrap up of my time with them in my final post should be exactly what Mandy is looking for.
 Until then we have one more stop on our tour of Nirvana's releases. We've already reviewed the three discs they have on their discography but these guys are more talnented then they realized and thanks to unbridled corporate greed we inadvertently have another winner on our hands. Dispersed amongst the path of any bands major releases there are always going to be a wide variety compilation sets, live albums, singles, covers, etc. Nirvana has a whole host of these, including a fantastic MTV Unplugged recording I porbbaly won't have the time to discuss too much but you should see the video if you can. Amongst the bric a brack was Incestidicide which as it turns out is my favorite of all of their releases.
  After Nevermind hit the charts like a tidal wave and even the admittedly crappy Bleach started selling like hot cakes the record company's greed glands started to itch and they decided to milk the cash cow. So between Nevermind and In Utero they released an album with a bunch of songs that were B sides to their previous singles, stuff that didn't make the cut onto the other releases and a few early songs they used as filler for live performances before they had recorded anything at all. The record company threw these together, remixxed a few and rushed it out onto the shelves. Damn I'm glad they did. About half of the CD is full of rejects from Bleach and more of the same thrash mash we've heard before. The first half however is a complete revelation and gave us a voice of the band we've never heard before. The assumption was, mine at least, that with the growth from Bleach to Nevermind they went from punk metal to grunge pop. Surprise, surprise but these sneaky bastards were playing pop all along and just never recorded it. I figure it didn't fit the industrial feel they were going for with Bleach and Nevermind had the a more mature poppy sound and didn't need these tunes so they were almost lost. "Molly's Lips", "Dive", "Sliver"..these along with a few others are amazing songs. Fast, catchy and with an until now unheard vibrancy they sound and feel very much like the Ramones. Also, they have one more magical ingredient. None of these songs were ever supposed to be released. They weren't written with any audience in mind or with any pressure from the studio. These were just old school jams caught on tape and maybe because of that for the first time the band honestly and truly sounds like they are having fun. That permeates these songs and that kind of joy is really infectious. I assume Kurt hated this release too (The dude seriously needed a hug!!) but I loved it and am glad from the jaws of corporate greed we were able to see this side of Nirvana.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In Utero ~ The Last Supper

In Utero was Nirvana's last release and the first they made after becoming super stars. I have to imagine there was alot of pressure on the band to reproduce Nevermind but, much to the satisfaction of it's fan base, the band had other ideas. Instead of just rehashing what worked the last time they took the best of Nevermind melded it with thier punk roots. The catchy lyrics, sophisticated melodies and haunting voice of Kurt were still there but they were melded with the heavy industrial instrumental back-up last seen in Bleach. You might think the two different sounds would clash but thanks to the finesse of Kurt Cobain they actually complimented each other and brought the whole sound to a new, higher, level of maturity that was by all rights a sound of it's own and a third voice for the band.. On a note that's amusing but also sad this was the bands first release that Cobain didn't blatantly hate. In interviews he even said that for the first time he thought that Nirvana was begining to finaly find a sound that was really thiers and not dictated by fan expectation or record company pressure. It makes me wonder just what they would have come up with had Kurt set down that shot-gun and they had a chance to keep cutting albumns. The sheer diversity these three guys were capabale of is really astounding and it makes me think that the world missed out on some amazing music.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nevermind ~ And the Crowd Goes Wild!!!

Damn, I liked Bleach but it didn't prepare me for Nevermind. I was expecting the next level of hard core punk and instead I got sophisticated, multi layered melodies, catchy if ambiguous lyrics and an over all poppy sound that was no where in evidence on thier first release. Kurt's soulful signature sound assured me I was still listening to the same band but it was one much more polished and ready for mass consumption. In fact I was surprised by how many of the songs I actually recognized. I know, I the end Kurt hated this albumn too because he thought it was too comercial but for millions of people it was the gateway into a whole new world of music. Until then punk was a niche genre. Even the Ramones who showed just how poppy punk could be never reached the mainstream audience that Nirvana was able it. Of course it's all the fault of that little ditty called Smells Like Teen Spirit. Funny thing is that the band had no idea that would be thier break out hit. They were putting thier money on In Bloom which is still a pretty damn good song but nothing compared to Teen Spirit. They played it a few times in concernt, released a single to a few radio stations and by the time Nevermind hit the shelves millions of people were already fans. I'm not really sure why it became the anthem of a generation. Maybe because the title sounds like it should be? Really, the true strength is just how catchy and singable the damn song is. Like most of Nevermind I find myself singing it in my sleep. It's alot of fun, really beautifal in spots and as I suspected a siogn of things to come.
Oh, if any hard core fans want to be a part of a little experiemnt drop me a line. I need some help for a future post that should only take a few minutes of your time and will be pretty rewarding once it comes to fruition.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bleach ~ The Best Time You'll Ever Have While Your Ears Are Bleeding!

   Bleach is Nirvana's first release and kind of flew under the radar until they made it big with Nevermind. There's a reason for that. Bleach is kind of..hmm..lets say rough. It isn't bad by any means but imagine getting walloped in the kisser with a sock full of nickles while someone is telling you that you just won 84 million dollars in the lottery. You're excited, this could change everything but at the same time a few teeth are loose and you might have a concussion. Listening to Bleach gives me the same feeling. The end result is gratifying but in a very rough and tumble, unpolished way. I suspect this was done on purpose to fit into the then blooming punk scene coming out of Seattle but while the recording studio may have been trying to get Kurt and the boys to fit in they ended up unintentionally giving birth to a whole new genre. Jesus had a manger in Bethlehem and Grunge was spawned in a dirty, smoke filled garage in Aberdeen, Washington. I remember growing up as a punk fan and watching bands like this play in garages and basements and to hear that again is kind of exciting and nostalgic. Not what I'd expect from the second coming of Elvis but cool all the same. The lyrics are a little light, when they are comprehensible at all and the chugga,chugga,chugga, chugga of the hard core guitar kind of steals the show from the vocals. For me when this album really shined brightest was when I had it on in the background as I came home from a bad day at work. I'm thinking of everything but Nirvana yet as I made my way home I found my head nodding with the bass and little by little my frustration and irritation seeping away. Nirvana has been noted for making angry music but maybe it's really soothing music for angry people, who knows.
As an amusing note Kurt Cobain hated this album because he thought it was too much like other stuff that was already out there.
Next up; Nevermind and the road to Oz.
Reader poll; Kurt Cobain was considered the voice of his generation...what artist or band would you consider the voice of your teenage years and why??

Oh, as a note to my readers...even if you don't have an account please free to respond using Anonymous, just make sure to end your post with who you are so I know who's talking to me!