Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Tuneage
Alice Cooper - "Generation Landslide"

A brief rock 'n' roll history lesson, because few I have talked to over the years seem to know this: The name "Alice Cooper" originally applied to the whole band - Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce on guitars, Neil Smith on drums, Dennis Dunaway on bass, and Vincent Furnier on lead vocals. After seven albums -five on Warner Bros. and four of those produced by the masterful Bob Ezrin - the band split up (likely due to artistic differences, right?) and Furnier went on to a solo career as "Alice Cooper." It is important to understand this, it's why the original band's (best captured on 1974's Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits) music is better than Alice's later solo stuff. Plus it makes the "she asked me why the singer's name was Alice" line in "Be My Lover" all the better in the By The Way Which One's Pink Sweepstakes.

I first heard "Generation Landslide" in the movie Dogtown and Z-Boys (the movie so nice Stacy Peralta wrote it twice) and not owning any Alice Cooper aside from Greatest Hits was intrigued. I acquired the song and it's brilliant. Acoustic guitar opening, hooks galore, Dylan-like lyrics, a damn fine harmonica solo, and a hard rock ending that's worthy of The Who. The song is about the generation gap - I think, though the first time I heard "landslide" used colloquially was after the 1972 presidential election - but nobody has anaylzed these lyrics like those of "American Pie" though the song is just as good and over and done with much quicker.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thinking Too Much About The Ghost Writer

I watched The Ghost Writer the other night. It looked great - it was always cloudy and/or rainy, adding to the foreboding - and the actors were all in fine form, plus you got your blonde or brunette mature hottie choice between Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams (much younger than her character in real life, somehow they made her look older and hotter.) It deals with a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) assigned to help former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) with his memoirs. The previous ghost writer died under mysterious circumstances, and this new ghost writer begins to find out things are not what they seem with Lang and his past. I ended up giving it three stars (out of five) on my Netflix, but there were certain elements of the plot I couldn't get my head around in any type of logical way.

**NOTE**: Plot spoilers ahead. If you haven't seen The Ghost Writer and don't want it ruined, please stop reading.

1) Lang makes a speech on the road outside of his compound and security seemed pretty lax. I was waiting for somebody to pelt him with an egg or two. Geez, with security like this he could end up getting shot ...

2) Towards the end of the movie, at a book publication party a note is passed from person to person to person to person (etc.) to Lang's wife. These are a bunch of hoity-toity folks drinking champagne, not a seventh-grade study hall. No way the note gets passed like this.

3) One of the mysteries that unfolds is the assertion that Lang has been a CIA operative since the mid-seventies and in his ten years as prime minister, did the USA's bidding. Since when has the United States government ever needed the CIA to get the UK to do what it wants? No malfeasance needed: All the Americans gotta do is ask.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Tuneage
D.A.D - "Sleeping My Day Away"

This one was a staple on Z-Rock back when I was enthralled with that blissfully awesome station. It opens with a Folsom Prison guitar, throws in a hook-tastic riff, melody, and chorus and containst this immortal line:

"'Cause I hit the sack when the sun's coming back!"

Which lyrically resembles Merle Haggard's "Honky Tonk Night Time Man." Combined with the Johnny Cash reference above, I'd love to argue that this makes D.A.D. some hidden gem of an alt-country band but I haven't had enough coffee yet today to pull that off.

(Option #2 after more coffee: Anti-corporate down-with-The-Man rant on how D.A.D. used to stand for "Disneyland After Dark" but the band dropped that name under legal pressure from Disney, the same corporation that owned ABC Radio Networks ... who pulled the plug on Z-Rock!)

All these years later I still love this tune, and it describes one of my great achievements as a younger man. Because during this era, I once came home from work on a Friday, fell asleep around 6:30 pm and woke up Saturday afternoon about 4:30 pm. Twenty-two hours straight!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tuesday Tuneage
Paul Westerberg - "Man Without Ties"
1993 (I think

I'm not here to convince you of the greatness of Paul Westerberg's songwriting. Those of you who are familiar with the 'Mats and Westerberg's solo work know this already. If you've stumbled upon this and are not familiar with Westerberg's work, well you'll just have to trust me: The man has a golden pen.

Years ago I turned my good friend onto Turk onto the Replacements. It was part of a musical reciprocity agreement - I loaned him some of my new music LPs from the likes of the 'Mats and Husker Du, he loaned me classics from the likes of Black Sabbath and Van Morrison. After listening to a few Replacements albums, Turk declared that Westerberg a modern-day Woody Guthrie who "could write a song about anything, including that hot girl who works at the convenience store in Midwest Plaza." It was my duty to inform him that Westerberg had already done that, "Customer" from the Replacements' first album.

So last week I stumbled upon a Westerberg tune titled "Man Without Ties." I thought it might be about guys like me, as I don't have to wear a tie to work. Before buying it from iTunes, I scanned the lyrics. I instead found out that it's about an unattached man who eats frozen pizza every Friday night. Holy crap, the song isn't just about a guy like me, Westerberg has nailed my life to a "T"! The feeling I got was eerie, but it subsided as I sang along with the song six or seven times in a row. The tune is a fun one, it starts out almost as a whisper and is a full-blown singalong by the end.