Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Paul Revere & The Raiders - "The Great Airplane Strike"
I read Time because I secretly aspire to be part of The Establishment. But perusing its pages means taking them with a grain of salt. They've been on a hagiography kick lately, more so than usual. In the same issue that Walter Isaacson gushed over how Apple's technology was going to turn our society into a man-machine Utopia, they also used Big Walt to gush over Henry Kissinger with a piece hilariously titled "The Lion in Winter." Here we found out that Kissinger was for the invasion of Iraq but now thinks it was a bad idea, and has a similar flip-flop on Afghanistan. Hindsight's always twenty-twenty, right? The funny thing is that Isaacson with a straight face writes that Kissinger has always been correct on foreign policy. Apparently, an alternate meaning of realpolitik is that changing your mind years later equals foresight.
Another knee-slapper was in the next issue, when we got another Time reminder that U2 are the saviors of rock 'n' roll. (Time's been on this kick with U2 for damn near thirty years.) U2 teams with Apple, so the collective Time brain trust's, uh, brains might just yet explode! Sure, the new U2 album is nice, and the price is right, but it's like every other U2 album since Achtung Baby: It sounds earnest, even great. Then you listen to it a second time and realize no song sticks because they are so precisely crafted that there is no grit, no friction, nothing to grab on to.
I wanted to love this new U2 album, mostly because of the backlash to their TV ad where they play "The Miracle Of (Joey Ramone)" and interpose photos of Ramone, Patti Smith, and whatever other Class of CBGB Nineteen Seventy-Something icons we're supposed to idolize. Admittedly, the ad was dumb, but it's funny when humorless punkers get worked up about their precious Punk Mythology. Clods like these is why Rob Reiner had to make This Is Spinal Tap about a metal band: if it'd poked fun at a punk band, the punkers would have gotten as upset as folks around here do about the accents in Fargo.
And we heard nary a peep from the punkers when Paul Revere died earlier this month. As I wrote back in 2006 about "The Great Airplane Strike": Fuzz-drenched Dylan imitation complete with Bob-like vocals. Great fun and the opening riff was ripped off by the Dead Kennedys, who weren't nearly as funny or as cool or as punk as the Raiders. Similar sentiments could be made about a bunch of other singles The Raiders released 1963-68, songs that sealed them as one of the greatest punk bands ever. I'd rather track them than The Ramones or Patti Smith or Television. Learn a lesson, punkers. And U2 fans, listen to some music that isn't so safe. And dammit Time magazine, if you need some truly bitching hagiographies, hire me!
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Fear Factory - "Cars"
The heavy metal/new wave crossover was first deemed possible on Def Leppard's 1983 Pyromania album, when Thomas Dolby of "She Blinded Me With Science" fame played synths under the pseudonym Booker T. Boffin. A clever one, producer Mutt Lange. (Two years prior, Lange had also used Dolby on Foreigner's 4 album, when he was assigned to slick them up into even more of a hits machine. Weirdly, Foreigner's previous album, Head Games - a non-Lange, non-Dolby affair - had a song called "Blinded By Science" on it.) Dolby's role on Pyromania was largely unknown at the time, probably for the best as if it had been known to dumbo hard rock fans (like teenaged me), they probably would have freaked out about NEW WAVE KEYBOARDS AHHHHH!
A few years earlier, I was secretly intrigued by Gary Numan's "Cars", professed to be put off by his robotic vocals, and felt no vindication whatsoever when he turned out to be a one-hit wonder. In 1999 one night while driving aimlessly around the freeways in a funk, the hard rock station played Fear Factory's cover of "Cars" and I rallied around it. Drove home pumping my fist and while I didn't take the time to call or email any music buddies and rave about this metal/new wave crossover, I was able to maintain enough energy to make it to the bus stop and my temp job cubicle the next morning. It's been time for a rally here lately, so I downloaded Fear Factory's "Cars" and play it loud through my earbuds. Sounds great on the bus!