Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal

11
Jan
18

Endless Boogie “Focus Level”

Another double album, though there are only 11 long songs, some mostly instrumental, and some with singing that reminds me a little of the Chinese Electrical Band (my first band, not at all Chinese). I can’t make out a single lyric to save my life. The cover opens up to reveal, inside, a huge painting of a party consisting of a bunch of young people in an era several centuries past; it actually looks to me like a computer generated photo collage treated to look like a painting, but I don’t know, really, and honestly don’t care; I kind of like it, but then there was always something annoying to me about albums that opened to reveal more art—you’ve got the front and back cover! And then there is one of those annoying one sheet inserts for the credits, but it’s mostly more art and tells you very little, like who’s in this band and playing what?

Or who is even in the band. I heard one of these guys—or was it two?—or is there only one?—on the WTF podcast and it was pretty interesting, but I don’t remember any of the details. I’m not supposed to remember things, that’s what the internet is for! Anyway, some of these songs make me think of an annoying roommate who you want to take the guitar away from. But then some of them remind me of the first few times I went to see punk bands in Cleveland (at the Drome) and some of them sounded more like hard rock than punk, but that was okay because it was pretty severe, and heavy, and it was live. And then some of the other songs make me think of high school, going to see a local hard rock cover band at the marina or the county fair; one of those bands who has a cobbled together, homemade “light show” and is playing stuff like that “Slow ride, take it easy,” song (Foghat?) and that “Now you’re messin’ with a… sonofabitch,” song (Nazareth?)—not that any of this is a bad thing, it’s all about positive and visceral memories. In fact, those county fair bands made a much bigger impression on me than Blue Oyster Cult at a sports arena, capacity 12 billion. I thought BOC were pretty wanky, actually, though the bad pot didn’t help, nor the fact that they followed Bob Seger and ZZ Top. Anyway, I really like a lot of this stuff. There’s a fine line between wankiness and art, and if you take the chance to be wanky, sometimes, you might be able to make art you wouldn’t have been able to come up with if you didn’t venture into wankyville.

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13
Dec
08

Jeff Beck “Truth”

This is the first Jeff Beck Group album, put out in 1968, and it starts off really well with a very weird version of the familiar Yardbirds song, “Shapes of Things.” It sounds like the tape is being sped up and slowed down–it’s really kind of playful and heavy at the same time. Jeff Beck’s liner notes say, about the song, “appropriate background music if you have the Vicar over for tea.” The next song, “Let Me Love You”– I will argue without even listening to anything else recorded by Jeff Beck in 40 years– is the best thing ever recorded by Jeff Beck. It’s got a nice bass part– maybe that’s why I like it– played by, apparently, Ron Wood—that sounds like a sleazy guy with a tiny moustache crawling through the slime and smoke of all the late night taverns of hell. But there are already warning signs of wanky guitar ahead. The singer sounds suspiciously like Rod Stewart– oh, it is! Four songs through side one, and it’s a great party record– I’ve already ripped the tabs off of three Stroh’s. And then… “Ol’ Man River”?

I guess this is back when rock stars thought they were gods, and they were, essentially. (They still THINK they’re gods.) They could do no wrong. So if they want to do a pretentious, uncompelling version of “Ol’ Man River” on their record, we just have to say it’s cool. But it just killed the party, that’s for sure. Turn the record over and it gets WORSE. A ridiculous acoustic version of “Greensleeves” starts off side two, and even though it’s only 1:47, the girls have left the party, went off with the dangerous Led Zeppelin guys. No one left but us blues aficionados and guitar technicians, so there’s nothing left to do but practice and practice, make that guitar sing. It sounds like a snake charmer, a cello, a violin… but then heavy metal strikes back momentarily. But the girls are still gone, and now there’s an EIGHT minute blues song with a fake “live” treatment that flashes forward 40 years to these guys playing dinner theater, bald, huge stomachs, and still, tragically, either puffy sleeves or no sleeves.

I’m being too hard on this record, maybe– there’s a really weird piano solo on this long blues number, played by Nicky Hopkins. But the guitar– I’m sorry we have the benefit and misfortune of 40 years of bad, excessive, uninspired, derivative guitar solos since this record was recorded. Maybe back then this sounded amazing– but I just don’t think so. The last song just embarrassed me for even owning a guitar and makes me want to cut my hair and do volunteer work or something.

05
Apr
08

AC/DC “For Those About To Rock We Salute You”

Somehow I got this far in life without ever dropping a needle on an AC/DC record. I mean, I’ve dropped other things on them… no, I’m just kidding. In fact, I had no idea they were from Australia– I think I thought they were from Scotland or something. I want to officially apologize to the band, and to the residents of both countries. All I really knew about AC/DC is that there was a screechy singer who died, and a guy who played a Gibson SG and wore shorts all the time.

I’m finding some of this record way too hi-octane in a really annoying way, and I can’t listen to it– but other songs, the less noisy ones have a nice quality, a little space, maybe a good sound. I guess I’m liking songs that remind me more of good Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, essentially the more blues oriented side of heavy metal. Whenever things get too much sounding like Van Halen I have to take it off.

I guess this record came out (1981) after that singer died and was replaced by an even screechier guy. In that I pretty much never have listened to music with a screechy singer, it’s kind of fascinating, like having a really unlikely dinner guest over at your place. I’m pretty much enjoying it, I have to admit. I don’t have the energy to try to make out many of the lyrics, but once in a while I hear a line I really like, and I’m reminded of the compelling nature of the A,B,A,B rhyme scheme. Young kids should remember not to get away from that– it’s cool to rhyme, and not just for rappers. One songs starts out with “loose lips/sink ships,” and you don’t think for a minute they’re talking about national security. I think that line directly inspired a Spinal Tap song– or maybe it IS in a Spinal Tap song.

I have to say, I do like the overall sound and production of this record. There’s nothing too fancy, and the drums are just really solid sounding, and overall, when they stay away from the dumb choruses and double leads, the whole thing is tolerable, and about one third of it is pleasurable. And for rock music, that’s pretty good!




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