Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Electric Angels - "Cars Crash"

Wikipedia lies! Electric Angels are described as "a cross between The Replacements and Hanoi Rocks"*, but they lack the crunch of looks-good/sounds-okay Hanoi Rocks and never make it to the garage glory of the 'Mats. The guitars are solid and there are nice background harmonies but something is missing here. Maybe a top-notch hard rock producer like Ted Templeman or Tom Werman would have fared better than Tony Visconti, the sound on this album is like a flatter Bon Jovi.** Dunno how that trickster Chuck Eddy had this album rated as high as 32*** in his Stairway To Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe, he obviously heard things I did not.

And the lyrics. Oh Lord, THE LYRICS. I normally give lyrics secondary attention, but these ones are so bad that they scream for attention.

'Til death do us part
That's why I'm wearing black

GROAN (PT. 2):
You must be an actress
'Cause you sure know how to fake it

My life is in the pawnshop
My soul is with you girl
'Cause a heart of gold is worth more
Than all the money in the world

We were going to change the world
But the world changed us!

She used to walk on water
Now she's walking like a whore

I wish I could burn her like firewood

As for "Cars Crash", it could be a Spinal Tap song. Except where the Tap would have been funny, Electric Angels play it straight.

Cars crash
Hearts get crushed


And you get crushed, I won't be your crush
Can't say I wish you were dead
Some things are better left unsaid

You know one big reason that cars crash? Drunk driving. And in "The Drinking Song", these guys shrug off drinking and driving, something The Replacements would have never done. (They didn't drive.) I don't encourage quitting, but it might have been best if Electric Angels had entered a twelve-step program and addressed the drinking which undoubtably fueled their misogyny.

*Citation needed!

**And at least Bon Jovi could approximate garage/chant/seventies glam in stuff like "Bad Medicine".

*** O.J. Simpson's number, ominously.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
The Doobie Brothers - "Black Water"

Harpers Bizarre's cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" is one of those sixties songs like The 5th Dimension's "Up, Up And Away" and The Association's "Windy" that sounds to me like a children's song and hence I didn't like as a child.* These days such songs as these have a cute little subgenre name to match their cute little sounds: Sunshine Pop. Ugh. (File under "p" for "Precious".)

While I am unaware of a nonfunny video of Harpers Bizarre's hit that features Chevy Chase, the band is notable for one reason here we just recently became aware of here at Tuesday Tuneage: TED TEMPLEMAN WAS IN THE BAND. And it gets better…

Templeman would go on to produce The Doobie Brothers, turning their biker-friendly hard rock into solid-and-sometimes-great radio hits. Most noticeably on "Black Water", a gem that goes from pretty-tasty-to-genius with the a cappella stylings at the end. Templeman confesses to nicking this from Harpers Bizarre producer Lenny Waronker on their Groovy hit. Fine with me, I never get tired of this song and have fond memories of hearing in the back of a station wagon as a kid. And it gets EVEN better…

Ted Templeman used this same vocal trick on Van Halen's debut album. Just when "I'm The One" is racing along at 110 mph, it hits the brakes and stops for an a cappella break** that had to have blown the minds of every teenager in a Camaro or Nova in late-seventies mid-America the first time they heard it. Such a smooth move on Templeman's part: Even Michael McDonald approved.

*Because none of those annoying ditties could touch the original cast of Sesame Street and their smash hit "Rubber Duckie".

** Okay there is a little bit of percussion in it, but close enough.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Faster Pussycat - "Babylon"

It's easy to forget just how deeply the rap-metal of Run-DMC and The Beastie Boys of the mid-eighties held sway over other metal acts. Suddenly, thrashers Anthrax were wearing track outfits and goofy hats and were sampling Big Country, Metallica, Sam Kinison, and Iron Maiden in "I'm The Man". Faster Pussycat stepped away from their Aerosmith fixation for a moment and did their hip-hop homage "Babylon." (Or is it a spoof? Either way, it's kinda funny. Just kinda.) Desperate in trying to play catch-up with The Beasties' Licensed To Ill, it features the least-possible-sounding hip-hop drums, but does have noises that resemble scratching (in the rap deejay sense, not the pussycat sense) and Run-DMC-nicked "shut up!"s. And while pretty much every LA hair metal band in the last half of the eighties wanted to be Aerosmith but invariably claimed to be influenced by The New York Dolls, at least on this one Faster Pussycat used the same song title as a Dolls tune. So while the metal bands' hip-hop efforts weren't as good as rap-metal pioneers/greatest hip-hop-group-ever Run-DMC, you sure can't fault 'em for trying. Hell, thirty years hence the twisted experiment seems commendable.

(Crap. The latest issue of Writer's Digest had an article on "Essential Elements of Personal Essays" by Peter Bricklebank and I wanted to incorporate the article's advice here, specifically this part: The essay can also simultaneously spin several narrative threads in parallel, or embody a list…" Here's part of the list I wanted to use had I gone that way instead:)

- I want to force this tune on all the dopey white people who would always say: "You can't spell 'crap' without 'rap'", but it dawned on me that they're all listening to country radio now anyway.

- The metal bands delving into hip-hop didn't come off like complete dopes like REM did when they tried hip-hop with "Radio Song" in '91.

- Something about how rap-metal is the music of the white and black underclasses merged. (THINK PIECE?)

- Something about the Judgement Night soundtrack. (Movie not available to stream on Amazon: Too threatening to The Man?)

- Thoughts on Faith No More, Kid Rock, and 24-7 Spyz. (Future essays??)

- Faster Pussycat would go on to brilliantly cover Carly Simon, but hey we needed grunge to save us from hair metal. There was a time there when I thought Z-Rock taught us we could have it all, but when you start getting pie-eyed over a syndicated AM metal radio station, maybe it is time to drop the pen, close the laptop, and SHUT UP.