Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Scatterbrain - "Down With The Ship (Slight Return)"

Scatterbrain were goofball metalheads who somehow existed in the the thrash scene a quarter century ago. Their most famous song was "Don't Call Me Dude", which jumped pop music genres fearlessly as it told a tragic and witty tale. They also covered Cheech & Chong's "Earache My Eye" (music part only) and needless to say were big on the late great Z-Rock.

"Down With The Ship (Slight Return)" is an excuse for the band to chant, the singer to spout nonsense, all the while inserting classic rock riffs into the mix. Strangely, it works, like one of those seventies funk tunes by the likes of Kool & The Gang where you don't have to give a damn about lyrics and can just enjoy the groove and the fun. As for Scatterbrain's appropriation of those guitar licks: When you're a hip-hop artist doing something similar to this with sampling, it is dismissed as stealing. When you're Jimmy Page, you actually do steal, but most folks tend to pooh-pooh it. When you're Brian Wilson, you steal, get hailed as a genius (though what kind of genius is smart enough to hire every great Los Angeles studio musician available to play on your records but still have crappy singers like your cousin and yourself sing lead vocals?), and then get successfully sued by Chuck Berry. When you're a metal band, you're just being silly, and there's plenty of room for mischief. All I know is at some point Scatterbrain played the 7th Street Entry with Ugly Kid Joe and I'm kicking myself to this day for not showing up for that one. How often is there a twin bill of metal/comedy pranksters on such hallowed ground?

UPDATE: Just realized I had written about this song back in '11. But I felt it I should touch on this tune again, as 1) That earlier one was just a blurb, 2) Scatterbrain deserves more attention, not to mention "twin bill with Ugly Kid Joe", and 3) Who the hell am I fooling here ... when you've done damn near two hundred of these Tuesday Tuneages, you forget and repeat yourself (topic-wise, I mean, the writing I'm sure does come off as the same old thing over and over maybe) after not checking the Complete List Of Every Tuesday Tuneage Ever Spreadsheet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Marah - "Christmas With The Snow"

Marah's A Christmas Kind Of Town is a gem: A grade-A bar band throwing itself into Christmas songs with glee and nary an ironic note to be found. That it opens with "Christmas Time Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas is an obvious sign that it isn't going to just be a collection of holiday songs. Instead, it's a concept album complete with skits, tales, standards, Marah originals, copious boozing (the album back cover is a photo of multiple Santas at a bar), and a hidden-track appearance by Santa himself. This is the type of album where you pour your favorite winter beer (Summit Winter Ale? Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale?), dim the lights, and sit in the dark with a Yule log on TV and slowly get crocked while you make - and slowly forget - your upcoming New Year's resolutions. I put this one up there with the aforementioned Chuck Brown LP, Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Heart, and A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector in my top five (fifth yet to be determined) favorite Christmas albums. Get this album before the 25th and don't forget that Fireplace For Your Home (including the classic "Crackling Yule Log Fireplace" episode) is streaming on Netflix.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
O.C. Smith - "Little Green Apples"

A tune that was a country/soul/pop triple threat - in 1968 Roger Miller took it to #39 on the pop charts and #6 on the C&W charts, while O.C. Smith took it to #2 on both the pop and R&B charts that same year. Smith's version is smoooooth, and while the background vocals take it to the very edge of parody, his short laugh after singing "it don't snow in Minneapolis when the winter comes" absolutely saves the song.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Pearl Jam - "Even Flow"

I have noticed a strange thing when "Even Flow" comes on the radio these days. It's not the version from Ten and is instead the version from the video. How long has this been going on? Am I just now catching up on this? Googling indicates this was also the original UK single version, but that is neither here nor there, as who cares about the UK version of a song by a very American band? Playing this alternate version would be fine if it were better than the original, but it's inferior to the original album version I heard back in 1991-92 on KJ104 (and more importantly) (sigh) Z-Rock.

The genius of the Ten version vs. the alternate version is the guitar break before the final chorus. On the original, Mike McCready absolutely slays you with all the drama and arrogance of a Beck or Hendrix, drops you on the floor, and then Stone Gossard steps in, picks it all up, and puts it back together. This guitar interplay is a large reason I bought the Ten album and got into Pearl Jam in the first place. And now radio is trying to play tricks with my memory by supplanting a grade-A rocker with its shadow. This would be a bitter, bitter way to find out I'm a replicant.