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May 2024: About
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Infrequently you will stumble across a perfect record at the perfect time, and it will change your life. In 1985, I started going to shows and in September of that year, I saw The Descendents play outside at Party Gardens. The Harvest, Joke Flower, and Vandals all played that show, too, but it was Descendents that captured my heart.

I was familiar with them due to their record, . Somebody played “I’m Not A Loser” for me and that was that. I went out and bought the whole album. That song is a perfect song for early teen boys who are into punk rock. It’s dirty and great and rockin’. It’s everything you need.

I played the hell out of the record but seeing the band live was so much better. In those days, they played songs a lot in their set. For my money, they’re the best songs the band ever did. There are a few, here and there, from the rest of their catalog that I like, but this batch of 15 songs is just perfect.

“Catalina” was probably my next favorite song off the record. Milo Aukerman has a way of delivering vocals that just fits so perfectly into what the Descendents do. I had always assumed that he was the primary lyricist on but I was today years old when I learned that is not the case. Everyone in the band at that point, Aukerman, bassist Tony Lombardo, drummer Bill Stevenson, and guitarist Frank Navetta wrote music and lyrics for the band.

“Do you know what I think about you?”

“Marriage” is one of those songs, like “Hope” that helped spawned a genre of punk that I have a really hard time getting behind. Case in point, in 1991, I was delivering food for a small, corner store in Berkeley, California called the Roxie Food Mart. One of the places I would deliver food to once a week or so was a ski shop.

There was a guy around my age that liked punk rock and we would talk about music for a few music when I was delivering their food. He was nice enough, but he tried to tell me that Green Day had created pop-punk. I had to school him. The line that he just couldn’t get past was this:

If there was no Descendents, there would be no Green Day.

I still stand by that. I also stand by another thing I argued with him about, too. He and I went back and forth on whether or not Green Day was better than The Mr. T Experience. I believe the latter band is far superior, but that’s just me.

Besides, this isn’t about Green Day.

Milo Goes to College is short and sweet. It’s a blast of punk rock fury wrapped in a lovely little package that contains songs that you want to slam dance to and songs that make you want to hug your gal.

Lombardo’s riffs on this record are pretty darn great. It’s one of the reasons has remained a favorite for me. “Myage” starts with a bad ass bassline and when they would play that song in the mid-80s, I would lose my mind. I think I saw them every time they came to town, which was often from 1985 to 1987 or so.

I went to see ALL the first time they came through town, and I didn’t dig it as much. I never bought an ALL record, nor did I ever buy another Descendents record. I ended up with the CD release that has and plus the first EP on it, but I always just sort of stuck to the first record.

“Take a girl out/she won’t fuck you, you just bought her a gram of coke/spent all your money on shitty coke.”

At the point where I heard those lyrics, I had no idea what a gram of coke cost or, really, why anyone would want it. Within a couple of years, I appreciated this lyric a lot more, but I think this lyric from “I’m Not a Loser” helped me steer clear of that stupid drug for the most part. Thanks, Frank Navetta!

“Tonyage” is another one that just sounds great. Fantastic lyrics and a killer riff. This record definitely influenced my desire to make fast, complicated riffs. There are a lot of them on the record. Nimble fingers are needed to play Descendents songs.

“M16” definitely influenced a Hillbilly Devilspeak song called “One, Maybe Two, More.” It was lyrical inspiration, but listening to the song, I can hear the Descendents in there now and I never realized it.

When a record sticks around in your life for almost 40 years, there is something to be said, I suppose. I still enjoy this record as much today as I did back in the day, however I don’t have the urge to get in a pit like I did 39 years ago. I think standing in the back would be fine, although I don’t go to Descendents shows anymore. Too many people.

Jeez. I suck.

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May 2024: Welcome
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There is something so freaking beautiful about “Nostalgia in Times Square” by Charles Mingus. I love the song so much and I also love the record, -, too. As a bass player, it’s one of the elegant mountains you have to climb with your soul. Just don’t forget your oxygen mask because it’s pretty high up there.

“Nostalgia In Times Square” has this totally New York thing about it. It seems like it is the sound in the background of many a montage where someone is trying to score heroin in New York in the 1950s and 60s…or maybe on some massive booze bender.

It reminds me of reading William S. Burroughs. I’m guessing Mingus and Burroughs crossed paths at some point. I like to imagine the two of them slyly regarding each other and maybe sidling up to another and going, “Hey, man. You’re pretty far out.”

Neither of them probably talked that way.

Mingus was a fascinating guy, though, and I bet most Arizonans don’t know he was from Nogales. I was pretty stoked when I found that out. Lots of good bass players from this state.

Jazz Portraits-Mingus in Wonderland starts off with “Nostalgia in Time Square” and as good as the bass is on this song, it’s really the saxophone work, both tenor and alto, by Booker Ervin ad John Handy, respectively, that make the early part of the song so memorable.

In fact, you’re hit with the sax right off the bat when you drop the needle on the record.

Mingus was the type of composer who was seemingly fine with giving other people a chance to shine on his songs. As a long time bandleader and also a partner in Debut Records, it seems like Mingus was a guy who did not crave the spotlight as much as some of his contemporaries.

There are only four tracks on -but they are all substantial in both length and depth of feel. I often play this one in the mornings at work. The kids seem to chill out quite a bit with it on, but also seem to like it. We can listen to the first three tracks, too, between the time the classroom door opens and announcements come on.

Many of the students kind of know “Nostalgia in Times Square” by now. I have one who really seems to dig it and when there is that little drum and bass part right around the 9-minute part, he seems to be quite happy. The song does come back in with a pretty righteous groove and swing pretty hard at the 11:20 mark.

“I Can’t Get Started” is also pretty great, too, and sax dominant. I’m not an expert on the sax by any stretch of the imagination, but Handy’s work here is incredible before giving the reins back over to Mingus to do his thing on the bass. I also need to recognize Dannie Richmond on drums, which are absolutely perfect throughout.

I’ve read that many people consider this to be a great “bop” record. It certainly has moments that are great for bopping around. Readers of the daily blog will recognize the name, “Cocaine Baby.” I’ve caught him cutting a rug (dancing, not literally cutting the rug, although I wouldn’t put that past him) during “No Private Income Blues.”

Mingus fully shines on the third track, but really, everyone on the record, which also includes pianist, Richard Wyands, shines on “No Private Income Blues.” A bit longer than “Nostalgia in Times Square” at just under 13 minutes long, it never gets boring or old. How cool would it have been to be there that night in 1959 when this was recorded live at an art gallery in New York.

Time travel…where are you? I would totally travel back in time to catch this set live. Mingus is ruling around the five-minute mark here and just continues to soar.

“Alice’s Wonderland” is lush and classic and half-drunk sounding, too. It’s the last track and I won’t go as far as saying it’s the best because it isn’t, but it’s pretty rad. There is a sadness to it that kind of captures the spirit and feel of “Wonderland.” There is some whimsy and adventurousness to the song, too, but it’s mostly a little bit melancholy.

Charles Mingus was a goddamn national treasure and his music remains to be as such.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I first read William S. Burroughs around 1988, I think. Could have been 1987, but I don’t think so. It might even have been after I saw either (with Crispin Glover) or and both of those came out in 1989. I loved both of those films.

Either way, I was pretty interested in Burroughs for a number of years. I read as much of his stuff as I could get my hands on, particularly enjoying (1953), which was his first book. In 1993, Burroughs collaborated with a band I like a lot, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, on Needless to say, I was in.

I’ll get to Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy another day, for sure, but I really enjoy . It’s safe to say that the acid jazz/trip hop music was a huge influence on my budding interest in jazz at the time. When I listen to the record now, I can totally remember thinking the backing tracks were so great back in the day.

The marriage of Burroughs stories and the jazz-inspired backing tracks is pretty brilliant. Some of these pieces are from his more famous writings, but others are from things I’m not quite sure where they come from. There are lots of little interludes between the stories, too.

“Spare Ass Annie” is the first story about woman named Annie who had an “auxiliary asshole” in the middle of her forward. It goes on to talk about a group of people who had some type of extraordinary mutations. I’m guessing this story was inspiration, on some level, for the crazy film, by Alex Winter and Tom Stern.

The musical portion behind “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz” is way better than the words themselves, but there is a part where Burroughs says, “Well, this is insane” is a total ear worm. So is the part where they repeat, “But I am dying/No, you’re” in the outro.

“Mildred Pierce Reporting” and “Dr. Benway Operates” are pretty great. They flow into each other nicely. Then “Warning to Young Couples” comes on and it is instantly quotable. I think I have quoted it about 1000 times if I have quoted it once. It was an inspiration to the title of our Son of Crackpipe LP, .

“Did I Ever Tell You About the Man That Taught His Asshole to Talk?” is fantastic. The title says it all but it’s a great and sad story. Well, at least it is sad for the guy who taught his asshole to talk.

The last three substantial Burroughs works here, though, are my favorite. “A One God Universe” is a good starter, then the classic, “The Junky’s Christmas” which they made a cool stop-motion video of after the record came out, is just perfection. I have listened to it many times in my life.

Having never been a junky myself, I suppose I have a little healthy fascination with the subject matter. I feel very fortunate that I never let myself go down that path, but I dabbled with the idea of giving it a try more than once and played with opium enough to understand how it worked. Outside of that aspect of the story, though, is just the allure of Burrough’s way with words. I need to get another copy of . I enjoyed that collection of short stories a lot back in the early 90s.

The last track that I like a lot is called “Words of Advice for Young People.” At four minutes and some change, it fit nicely on mix tapes back in the day and I added to a lot of the ones I made for people (and myself) in the early 90s. “Never do business with a religious son of a bitch” has always stuck with me.

It would be good to revisit Burroughs’ work. I have to add it to my list.

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May 2024: Welcome
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Some of the best music was not made with the intention of making you feel good.

Think about that for a minute, will you?

Most of us enjoy music because of the way it makes us feel and usually that is a good feeling or, at the very least, we associate the experience of listening to music or seeing a band play live with something pleasurable. The vast majority of the records I have written about this year are associated with good memories, good feelings, and quite often, a heady mixture of both. Today’s record is not one of those records.

On September 10, 1987, I was probably counting down the hours of my time before deployment. I may have been trying to spend time with one of the young ladies I loved or partying with Michael, Mark, and Ben. I was definitely basking in the glow of a wild Rocky Point weekend. I had no idea that Big Black was releasing .

It would be a few more years before I would discover them. None of that matters, though. Steve Albini, who was the main dude in Big Black, couldn’t give two fucks if I, or anyone else for that matter, liked his band, or any of his records.

You have to respect that, I suppose. I do. I’ve tried to incorporate a bit of that in my approach to music, but deep down, I care. I want people to like the stuff I put out there, but I also know that some of what I have done is not something most people care to listen to. Thanks to a guy like Albini, it’s an easier pill to swallow.

Songs About Fucking is noisy and dark and angry. These are all aspects of a lot of music that I enjoy, but as I listen to the record for the first time in a while, I have to admit that it doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me feel kind of uncomfortable.

There are almost pleasant moments. The ascending riff in “Tiny, King of the Jews,” for example, is almost hopeful. It stands out from just about everything else on the record in spite of the lyrics which are not hopeful at all. It’s about walking the fine line between hating yourself and hating everyone else.

It is also true there are some fucking brilliant lyrics on the record. Albini has never been shy about calling things the way he sees them. This is another thing, I suppose, that you have to respect about him. Quite possibly, he’s a total asshole. Today, people might assume that he is “on the spectrum” in some way. Maybe he is.

All I know, though, is that there are these moments on where a particular lyric will pop up and I just have to think, “Fuck, yeah. That’s good.”

On “Bad Penny,” there is: “I think I fucked your girlfriend once/maybe twice, I don’t remember, then I fucked all your friends’ girlfriends/now they hate you.”

This wasn’t me, but I knew a few people who were like this. We’ve all had a few bad pennies in our life. Best to kick those things to the curb.

On most of the songs, like “L Dopa” and “Precious Thing” it’s more the way Albini spits the lyrics out at the microphone that is awesome. He matches the intensity of the music word for note. Musically, Big Black was quite powerful. The guitars and bass sound so good. Who says drum machines aren’t punk rock.

Back to the lyrics. A lot of the lyrics are super repetitive and quite simple. There are those moments, where Albini goes in for the kill with a clever twist of phrase.

“Never thought it really happened that way/through a route and they blew him away.”

I always thought he said, “Threw a rod and they blew him away.”Go figure.

“Fish Fry” also has the line, “Hosin’ out the cab of his pickup truck/He’s got his eight-track playing really fucking loud” right before the “she’s wearin’ his boot print on her forehead” line. Harsh but memorable.

And again, Albini would not care if I liked the lyrics or not. That was 37 years ago. It doesn’t matter anymore to him. He would probably say that none of it matters.

But it does.

This ugly, harsh record makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but mostly because I didn’t make it myself.

In the words of Mike Watt: Respect.

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May 2024: Welcome
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People, like music, come into your life for a reason. I am a firm believer in that. Perhaps it is the excuse I give myself because, like music, I collect people. When I find someone good, I just want to keep them around.

Not in a “Buffalo Bill” kind of way. I don’t live in a house with a basement, thankfully, nor do I care for deep holes in the ground. I just mean that I like good people and even when vast lengths of time separate us, the fondness, respect, and love is still there.

In addition to my fondness for music and people, I also love good stories. When the opportunity arises for all three to come together, I often do my best to write about this magical combination. To what degree of success, I don’t know or care, but the process is exhilarating.

That’s where the good stuff is, anyway.

If I have learned anything from this record a day undertaking so far, it’s that a lot of time has passed in my life. A lot of these records have been with me for almost as long as some people have. Even though I’ve spent most of my time thinking about and listening to the records alone, they were often gifts from people who have touched my life.

One person who is also the person who made the record I am about to tell you about has been part of my life since 1983. That’s 41 years if you are keeping score. It’s enough time for someone who is turning 41 this year to wake up and say, “Holy shit, I’m 41.”

We met in journalism class during our freshman year of high school. I won’t pretend to say that we were the closest or best of friends, but there was respect. Initially, that respect, at least for me, was based on the quick, cutting wit of my classmate. When we joined the Skyhawk Flight at the beginning of sophomore year, the respect grew further.

My classmate, now colleague (if you never worked on a school newspaper, it really is a job), is a much better writer than I will probably ever be. She made me want to be a better writer then and still does now. The wit was still there, too, and what she wrote in my 10th grade year book still makes me smile to this day. (Saving that for the book)

Anyway, Cait Brennan is someone I’ve been a fan of for over 40 years. We lost touch for a long time, but I watched her success and creativity from afar when I could. Thanks to social media, though, we’ve been able to reconnect, and I got to talk with her a lot about some of the records she made during the last decade.

To say this gal is talented when it comes to song is an understatement. It’s fucking bullshit, if you ask me, that both and were not huge hits. It is the latter I want to dive into today, though. I may find my way back to this year, as well, but hit on a lot of things that are close to my heart.

Part of the reason I feel a stronger connection to Brennan’s cleverly named second record is the story behind it. She got to go to fucking Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee (yes, Memphis) to record it. If you are not familiar, bands like Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., and Big Start recorded there, as well as people like Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Joe Walsh.

Just to walk in the door would be an incredibly cool thing, but to make a record there. Holy shit. When she told me about it, I was so stoked for her. I think I probably offered to play bass right at that moment, but between her and collaborator extraordinaire, Ferdando Perdomo, she was quite set. No trip to Memphis for me.

So, when I listen to there is an undercurrent of triumph and uber-cool that kicks in before I even think about the amazing songs within.

And they are amazing.

Part of the reason that I feel like everyone should know this record is that Brennan channels some of the greatest songwriters that I can think of without aping any of them. When I listen, I hear the influence of Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, and Aretha Franklin.

There is McCartney’s gift of subtly putting together the catchiest melody, Nilsson’s acerbic wit and wisdom, and Franklin’s gigantic ability to just own a song vocally. Brennan’s her own person, but she also channels these types of gifts. It’s really fun to listen to.

Because there is an almost “classic rock” feel to in a lot of ways, again, I’m surprised that more people didn’t gravitate to it. Stupid radio people missed out. This collection of songs needs to be heard.

There was a fair amount of buzz, so don’t get me wrong, it was not completely ignored. I don’t want to minimize the hard work that went into I think it was daunting and costly to my friend, but that part is not my story to tell.

Third is a record that makes me want to make better music. This is another reason why I love it, as well. Records should inspire musicians to make better records. It should be a rule or something. Maybe it is and no one has clued me on where to find it in the non-existent rule book.

That’s a good idea, actually, and it would be even better if Cait Brennan wrote that book.

Speaking of writing, aside from catchy, well-written and arranged songs, the lyrics are what really shine on

“Yeah, I’m the asshole who stole your boyfriend” is one of the best opening lines of any record ever. It’s how “Bad At Apologies” begins and what a beginning it is. Perdomo’s drums really shine on this one, too. The guy just knows how to play Brennan’s songs. What a gift to have a partner that can do that for you.

“Stack Overflow” is a danceable rocker with some nifty knob twiddling before a Beatles/ELO sounding bridge. It’s got a killer beat, as well, and bridges the gap between “Bad At Apologies” and one of my other favorites, “He Knows Too Much.”

“He won’t be very talkative from fourteen feet below the ground” is such a good line.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t give Brennan a shout out for some of the best backing vocals ever on a Phoenix artist’s record. They are right up there with Trunk Federation/No Volcano when it comes to the backing vocals. High praise indeed.

Another rad thing about the end of “He Knows Too Much” is the influence of Wallace and Ladmo can be heard on the vocal outro. Mike Condello and Pat McMahon couldn’t have done it better.

“At the End of the World” is a really good love song. I’m not typically a fan of this type of song, but as the clean up hitter on the record, it’s a powerhouse with a nod to the 80s.Brennan fully channels late 80s and early 90s dance pop on “A Hard Man to Love.” It definitely stands out here.

“Catiebots Don’t Cry” is another favorite of mine. It’s super Prince-ish in all the best ways. We all loved back in the day, so why not pay a little homage.

‘Benedict Cumberbatch” taught me that I’ve been pronouncing the actor’s name wrong all these years. Another good song, though, and as much as I like “Shake Away” and “The Angels Lie,” the ode to the actor (sort of, I guess…it’s more of a ‘fuck you’ to someone who was being a butthead) is really growing on me.

“Shake Away” is a fun one with a great beat and lyrics about “nitrous” are always welcome. I love, though, how Perdomo starts off “The Angels Lie.” It drives the song really well and when the lyrics kick in, they are reminiscent of what it means to get older and not feel great some (or most) of the time.

Things slow down for “Collapse” and the song kind of reminds me of my man crush, Duncan Sheik. The guitars are particularly cool on this one, which I think is the part that reminds me of Sheik’s work. Good stuff.

A number of the songs on zig when you think they are going to zag. I love this about them. “LA/Amsterdam” starts off and makes you think it is going to be another slow number, but then it perks right the hell up. Dig the fuzzy sound of this one.

“Perish the Thought” is a very cool penultimate track here. It’s kind of big and pastoral in a way thanks to the organ that haunts the background. Again, Perdomo is just fantastic on this record. He plays so tastefully and yet still gives songs the occasional cool flourish, too. “Perish the Thought” is like a lost track from the soundtrack of .

Brennan’s love for McCartney shows up again at the end on “Goodbye Missamerica.” It’s a great ender and unfolds like a long kiss goodbye. “Hello oblivion,” Brennan sings, “I’m come to send a message/She’s gone from what I can see.” Goodbye’s are tough.

Nice work, buddy. Time to make another one.

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May 2024: About
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11-year-olds like the darnedest things.

Back in 1980, 11-year-old me loved the movie, , which starred Neil Diamond. I’d love to go back and interview myself about what I loved about the movie. There would be a considerable amount of hope that I would say something like:

Neil Diamond is so bad at acting that it made the movie fun to watch.

The truth of the matter is probably more that ON-TV played it all the time in the summer of 1981. I also really liked the songs. I was a Neil Diamond fan, so why wouldn’t I like the movie. To be honest, I haven’t seen the film in a long time and to watch now might feel a bit like opening a time capsule.

I did, however, have the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it a lot. At one point, I think I knew just about every word on it. Thankfully, those memories have passed on to neurological heaven.

I have bought a couple copies of the soundtrack on vinyl, too, with the idea of spinning a few of the tracks here and there. For some reason, I’ve never gotten around to it and tend to forget, every few years, that I already have it when I see a pristine copy in the used bin at the record shop for $2. It’s a curse.

For what it is worth, “America” is a pretty fun song. I still like it, even if it is a bit ham-handed in the part where he sings a bit of “My Country, Tis of Thee.” The simple little riff that plays in the background in the beginning is a fucking ear room. Just writing about it makes it pop into my head. It’s on the soundtrack twice, too.

A lot of the rest of the record is a snapshot of what was popular in music in 1979 and ’80. “You Baby” is replete with disco guitar and hand claps. “Love on the Rocks” was a favorite of mine in the day and, damn it, I still like it now. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it comes off as heartfelt.

I really want to bag on this record, to be honest, but as I’ve been listening to it in preparation to write about it, I have been sucked back in. This is what music is supposed to do, though. There are no real surprises here.

Now, I don’t think I’ll be rocking out to songs like “Amazed and Confused” very often, but right now, it brings back a strange feeling being a boy again. “On the Robert E. Lee” is a fun one and the banjo sounds good.

I can’t do “Summer Love,” though. Skip.

“Hello, Again” reminds me of the song Neil Diamond did about E.T., for some reason, but it is a really pretty song. The arrangement of the strings in the intro is pretty rad. It was a pretty popular song when I was in 6th grade. If I remember correctly, it was set against a montage of Diamond thinking about his movie dad, Laurence Olivier. I could be making that up, too.

“Acapulco” is super forgettable. So is “Hey Louise” which sounds like a typical Diamond song. It’s catchy and has a good beat, but there are twenty better versions. “Songs of Life” is terrible but I would love to hear Bauhaus cover it.

I never realized how much Neil Diamond and Peter Murphy have in common.

“Jerusalem” is a great riff. Funky rock and roll brilliance. The piano sounds great on it, too. I like it and I haven’t heard it for 40 years.

I came to bury and ended up praising it. I guess I love it still.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I have this romantic notion that the first time I heard Tears for Fears was at a school dance in 8th grade. Maybe it wasn’t entirely (or even remotely) romantic as I didn’t know what romance was in those days. Some would argue that I still don’t, but I’m not copping to that here and now.

The timing, though, is right for a good DJ to have played either “Mad World” or “Change” or “Pale Shelter” in the cafeteria at Madison Meadows. This is where we had our dances, and it is where I heard a lot of the music I liked at the time.

In my memory banks, I’m dancing with this very intense girl from my English class, Mara, to “Mad World.” We had a lot of staring contests in those days, and she had these incredibly blue, incredibly pretty eyes. It was a few years later that I realized that maybe those staring contests meant something very different than I thought they did at the time, but it was way too late by then.

Between school dances and MTV, I learned to appreciate Tears for Fears a lot. They are a really good band. I had a copy of before I got their debut, but I really like a lot more. It has become my “go to” Tears for Fears record.

The first three songs are as solid as they get. “The Hurting” is very cool and kind of laid back and not very typical of a lot of Tears for Fears contemporaries. They didn’t try to make some big, dance-y splash right off the bat. I have to think the band opted for “The Hurting” to show they were something a little different.

Something worth contemplating a bit more than bands like Duran Duran or the Thompson Twins.

“The Hurting” lulls the listener, in a way, and helps you break down your defenses. The bridge part, for example, just disarms you with its delicate beauty, then that quick burst of drums brings you back.

“Mad World” is just magnificent. That song is so damn good. I never get sick of it, although it does make me wish I was a better singer. I never feel like I can do it justice when I sing along. Fuck, I love it. Roland Orzabal wrote some amazing songs.

Curt Smith, Orzabal’s bandmate is such a good singer, and his bass lines are terribly underrated. I think a lot of what I love about many of the tracks on this record is the basslines. Smith’s work on “Mad World” and “Pale Shelter” brings Orzabal’s songs to a level they couldn’t have reached without each other.

I do have to admit that I didn’t embrace “Ideas as Opiates” until I was older. As a high school kid, I would often skip over it. Looking back, I think I didn’t care to take the time to appreciate it or understand it. I’m also not as big a fan of Orzabal’s vocals sometimes.

As I’ve gotten older, I like how “ideas as Opiates” is kind of discordant and off-putting in a way. It could be the irregular heartbeat style percussion. It could also be some of Orzabal’s vocal techniques that are not choices you expect after the greatness of tracks 1-3.

“Memories Fade” is a tale of two songs. The beginning is still one that I’m not a huge fan of to this day, but once Orzabal sings the “Memories fade but the scars still linger” part the first time, I’m back on the train.

“Suffer the Children” is a lot. I have to believe a lot of people said, “What the fuck is this” when they first heard it and the bridge/outro kicked in. Orzabal has never been one to shy away from tough lyrics, but at this point, no one really knew it. As far as new wave pop goes, though, this is fine.

“Watch Me Bleed” is also a bit over the top, but “Change” is so good that you can forgive “Watch Me Bleed” for being so basic. “Change” is a song that I’ve loved now for over 40 years. It reminds me of Tommy’s a lot. Talk about making eye contact with people. “Change” was a perfect one to have a moment with a stranger on the dance floor.

Side note: I’m so glad I did all that night club stuff when I was 15. As an adult it must be terrible. By the time I was an “adult,” I wasn’t going to dance clubs. I was going to see bands play.

The Hurting ends with “The Prisoner” and “Start of the Breakdown.” While “The Prisoner” has some cool sounds going on and is appropriately noisy and dramatic, it’s not really the greatest song. “Start of the Breakdown” is much better and had great keyboards. It’s super dated now, but I still like it a lot.

“Sands of time would be easier found.”

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May 2024: Welcome
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Looking back, I now realize what a pivotal time the early 90s were for me. Case in point, I spent most of 1993 as a 23-year-old guy, working at our family restaurant, going to college, starting a band, and living with my girlfriend in the condo her mom owned in northcentral Phoenix. I was also learning that if I wanted to do things, I could.

This was huge. As a teenager, I often found myself waiting for things to happen for, or to, me. I didn’t understand that much of my life was up to me. Perhaps I wasn’t able to see it or flat out refused to see it, or…

Now this is hard to write, but I’m going to do it anyway:

I saw it but realized that it was work and I didn’t want to work back then. I wanted to party and fuck up quietly. I wanted to take cover in the exploits of my friends who I thought were fucking up on a grander scale than I was, so I could float in the background and remain relatively untouched, but still quite a fuck up.

There is a lot to unpack there, for sure.

I tell you all this today because it was my awakening, through music, to a world of possibilities in 1992 and 1993, that set me on the path I am on today. Many of the bands who were part of my soundtrack back then were from Texas, and in particular, Austin. They helped change my life.

As a devoted fan of the Butthole Surfers, I did my best to get my hands on anything related to them. I had as many of the side projects and tangentially related bands as I could in my collection. When King Coffey, the Surfers drummer started putting out records with his Trance Syndicate label, I was paying attention and started adding those records to my collection.

A good compilation is a good thing, in my book. I like getting a little bit from a lot of bands and you have a lot of variety on many of them. With , which Trance put out in 1993, there was a lot to like for me at the time and the desire to go to Austin and see if I could do something there crossed my brain a lot.

I never took the chance, of course. Life got in the way, and I’m glad it did, because the path here in Phoenix was pretty darn fun. I also had a son to think about, as well. I couldn’t have moved away when Ryan came along.

There was music, though, to guide me when I needed it. I spent a lot of time with records like It featured Ed Hall, Cherubs, Crust, Drain, Johnboy, and Pain Teens. I had seen Ed Hall early on, as well as Pain Teens. The latter had toured with Fudge Tunnel for a bit and I caught them at the Paradox (which had once been a Caf’ Casino).

I’ll get it out of the way right off the bat. I have never figured out what there was to like about Pain Teens. Of the two tracks on I prefer the cover of “You Only Live Twice” that comes on towards the end of the comp. “Ituri” is a bunch of noise, which usually I don’t mind, but something about them just never worked for me.

I do kind of like “It Will,” though, which is the very last track on the comp. It’s got a pretty decent riff with some sampled vocals. Maybe it was the singer that I didn’t care for. I should probably revisit them.

Ed Hall, on the other hand, became one of my favorite bands for a long time. I will write about them more in depth sooner than later because the two tracks of theirs on are not their finest work. When I listen to “Bullshit” and “Bighead” I feel like they made a conscious decision to hold back their best stuff for their own LP.

I could be wrong on this, of course, and don’t get me wrong, I do really like both of those tracks, but their stuff on is so much better. “Bighead” is a great riff, though, and I have good stories to tell about seeing them live. I want to say the first time I saw them live was at the Mason Jar and the opened, I think, for Flaming Lips. This could be a story my brain made up, too. I may have just seen both bands at the Jar around the same time.

Crust has three noisy ones on I ended up buying their 1991 self-titled record and really like it. That might be another record I write about down the road, too. Need to dust it off. “Dealer Mike” is a fun little listen while “Desperate Cries” is noisy and killer, too. “Traveling With Berlitz” is one you have to listen to as words don’t do it justice. They were pretty far out there.

Drain is King Coffey’s band. They had kind of an industrial side to their noisiness but were still super rockin’.I really liked them a lot, too. Their full-length came out in 1992 and I snatched that up right away. “Scientist” is excellent. I also like “Skincrawl,” too, but not as much as “Scientist.”

Cherubs are still fucking great. I saw them last year and they were amazing. “Spitwad” is excellent and so is “Dovey.” Hillbilly stole the opening chord from “Dovey” for a song called “Second Time Around.” I wonder if Steve knew what he was stealing. Probably not.

This record was super influential to me. I’m glad I threw it in the CD player again.

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May 2024: Welcome
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It’s 1983 and I’m standing in the little alcove/doorway of my first teenage bedroom in Glendale. I’m holding Iron Maiden’s in my hands and wondering just what the hell I’ve done. I had made a choice, and it was time to live with it.

For the briefest of moments in my freshman year, I flirted with the idea of going metal. Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe had captured my attention thanks to their radio and MTV onslaught and Deer Valley High School was full of what people called “Hessians.” I was looking for my tribe.

Among the many cool heavy metal t-shirts I saw on a regular basis, the ones that stood out to me the most were from Iron Maiden. I guess I figured if I was going to take the plunge, that was the direction I was going to go. My mom didn’t seem to mind taking me to the record store every once in a while, so I mustered up the courage to ask for an Iron Maiden cassette.

I don’t know why, but I felt like I was doing something very subversive. Just having the cassette in my hands made me feel like I was getting away with something. I also, and this is not just some writer’s trick to build tension or suspense, felt like there was something about that record that could quite possibly be evil.

As a youngster, I had a healthy fear of demonic possession. Holding that Iron Maiden record, was I opening a door to Hell? The question had to cross my mind. I mean, I had been dubbed “Damian” just a few years before by my 6th grade classmates because they thought I looked like the kid from : . That had fucked with me a lot and all the copycat horror movies that aped and in the 70s didn’t help.

Putting on my stereo or just looking at the cover where it shows “Eddie” being the puppet master for Satandid not, though, unlock any doorways between my room on West Charleston and the netherworld. It didn’t even make me a metalhead for life. All it did was bring another band into my life that I really liked.

I listened to a lot in 1983/84. I’ve gone back to it year after year since, as well, because it is a really good record. I have some other Maiden faves, too, but was my introduction to the band, so it will always be special to me.

We even got to play the side stage at an Iron Maiden show in 1999 or 2000 at what was then called the Cricket Pavilion. The crowd walking past us (and even a few stayed and watched) did not know what to do with Hillbilly Devilspeak, but I didn’t care. I just sang my songs and pointed out all the stupid mullets I could.

The big bonus of doing that show, though, was getting all-access passes.

I got to be right up there in front of the stage for Maiden and it was glorious. I ate their catering and skipped the opportunity to chit chat with a couple of the guys because, for some reason, maybe it was the chance of going to hell, I opted to give them their space. At that point, I was a long way away from writing about music, so I hadn’t yet learned that most musicians love to talk about themselves.

Here are my main thoughts about

Steve Harris is a fucking god.

As great as Adrian Smith and Dave Murray are on the guitar on Harris is the man here. The basslines are sofa king bad ass. They make the songs stand out for me.

I had already expressed interest in the bass when I got this record but hadn’t started to play it yet. I don’t even think I could have verbalized that the bass kind of spoke to me yet, but clearly it was doing just that. When I listen to now, I hear Harris doing his thing and just smile and shake my head.

From the beginning of “Invaders” where Harris plays those quick little counter melodies to the opening riffs, I’m totally in. I remember standing there in my room, thirteen or fourteen years old, and looking at myself in the mirror that was behind my door and just rocking out. I did a lot of air guitaring in those days behind closed doors. is a great album for playing all the “air” instruments.

“Invaders” just fucking slays, too. I love the way the band attacks the song, and the song attacks my ears. Perfect song to get you going in the morning. Try it.

Then Maiden throws you a curveball and “Children of the Damned” starts out with acoustic guitar and things are slowed down and almost ballad-like until the choruses. Bruce Dickinson could really belt it out and he totally sells the band’s big run during the bridge part.

“The Prisoner” is just a big, bad ass riff. The recording from the TV show of the same name just kind of sells it right off the bat, too. After I got more into listening to Rush later, I started to hear a little bit of Rush in this one, too. If you listen closely, you might hear what I mean. Harris is a melodic player when he is not pulverizing you with what has to be the strongest right forearm in rock and roll.

Seriously, and my brother Tom pointed this out to me a long, long time ago, Harris has to have something akin to Popeye strength in his hands and forearms. You’d have to in order to play the bass the way he does. It’s uncanny.

“22 Acacia Avenue” is about a prostitute. That’s kind of a benign evil, I suppose, considering what comes after. “Number of the Beast” became my favorite song for most of my freshman year after hearing it. Actor Barry Clarkson’s famous voice over is one of my favorite song intros ever.

“Whoa to you oh earth and sea/for the devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows the time is short/let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast/for it is a human number/It’s number is six hundred and sixty-six. Hahahahaha.”

Fucking perfect.

The song that follows is also fucking badass. Until now, though, I had never read the story about how Steve Harris wrote this song because he was inspired by a nightmare he had after watching

  • : The Omen II. I feel so…happy about this. Steve Harris clearly wrote this song for me. It was his way of saying, “Fuck those stupid kids in your class that made your life hell.”

If any of you call me “Damien” now, I’ll give you a hug, though, for reading this blog. Then I will put a curse on you.

Almost as much as I love “Number of the Beast,” I love “Run to the Hills.” That galloping bassline by Harris is totally rad. Clive Burr’s drums are also on point here, too. I mean, Burr is kind of the last person in Maiden you think of, but the guy rips throughout the record.

“Run to the Hills” talks about a different kind of horror all together. I remember thinking about how this song did not paint the picture of how America was created that my history books were telling me. Well done, Harris, well done.

Speaking of Burr, the opening of “Gangland” belongs to him. This was his last recording with Maiden, I believe, so he made his mark here. He even got a co-writing credit on this song and the ender, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”

Now, the one thing you can count on with “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is that if you see Maiden live, you’ll probably hear them play it. I have certainly enjoyed hearing it multiple times over the years at various concerts.

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is a quintessential British metal song. Literally hundreds of millions of heads have banged to this song. Think about it.

Now go bang your head to some Maiden.

Eddie Lives.

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May 2024: Welcome




Some music you just have to experience for yourself. It is so hard to adequately describe that you should just listen to it and make up your own mind. Then there is The Jackofficers.

A short-lived side project of Jeff Pinkus and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, I was in before I even heard it. I didn’t need any proof that I was going to like it. In 1990, when , the only Jackofficers record, came out, I was devoted. I was devout. I would have bought Butthole Surfers toilet paper.

I also suggest listening to it on headphones There is a fuck of a lot going on here. must have taken Gibby and Jeff some time. The software available over thirty years ago wasn’t nearly as good as it is now and even now, I don’t know how one goes about making a record like this without some serious time and attention to detail.

The craziest thing about this wild and woolly conglomeration of sounds is that you could fully dance to it. is chock full of good beats and great drum breaks. It’s also super psychedelic. I used to enjoy listening to this record while tripping. If only I would have had some really good headphones then.

One of my real favorites on is “Ventricular Refibulation.” This one is the sixth track on the record, and I often put it on compilations I would make for people. For some reason, it just speaks to me a bit more than any of the other tracks.

Sure, part of the reason is that it is just fun to say or write the name of the band. While it might have been more fun to also write “L.A. Mama Peanut Butter” on one of those Maxell tapes I liked to use, that track is just not as good. Great name, but the song doesn’t do it for me the way “Ventricular Refibulation” does.

“Swingers Club” is probably one of the more Butthole Surfers-esque songs here. I mean, as a fan of the Surfers, I would have probably figured out that it came from their minds eventually if I hadn’t read about the record before I got it, but “Swingers Club” is definitely right up their alley.

It also has some Gibby vocals on it in addition to the samples.

“Ventricular Refibulation” has a great Pinkus bass line on it, too. The sampled vocals are so good. The line, “It isn’t as difficult for you as it is for a guy like me that’s got to come up here and tell the truth” just fits so perfectly with the music.

“Come up here and tell the truth.”

The song Is quite a sound collage. I love that every time I listen to I hear something new.

It is also no accident that I chose to do this one after Iron Maiden because both albums reference . “You are #6.” What a great song “#6” is.

You really do have to listen to Towards the end, they do a song called, “An Hawaiian Christmas Song” that makes me wonder about the creative process Haynes and Pinkus had. It’s so wild and out there that it would be great to pick those brains.

I’ve chatted with Pinkus before and he’s a great interview. I could probably make something happen. Maybe…Just maybe.

May 2024: About
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Teenage boys love a good guitar riff. This is a theory I have after revisiting a lot of the albums that made my teenage years what they were. When you are almost 14 years old, though, you have to be careful about professing your love for a song or record or band.

You might not know this, but teenagers question the loyalty of everything and everyone. You have to be as genuine as you can be, or at the very least, able to fake it well to gain any kind of even fleeting acceptance. Teenage life is hard. With musical taste, gaining acceptance was even tougher.

In September of 1983, Motley Crue released . I was alone in a sea of metalheads, it seemed, as a freshman at Deer Valley High School and everyone was talking about how great this record was. I wanted to make friends, so I got myself a copy.

As I mentioned a few days ago in my thoughts on Iron Maiden’s , I was entranced and also a little repelled by the satanic imagery of these two records. had a pentagram on the cover and the band was made to look a little sinister in their publicity shots.

Obviously, this was not really the case, but to the then early teenage me, it seemed plausible that this band might be dangerous. I wanted to embrace the danger, I suppose, and unlike Iron Maiden, Motley Crue never made me think I might be tampering with opening a door to hell. Motley Crue was more like what I had always wished KISS would be.

You know, if you think about it, the sound that Motley Crue had going for them on this record and their previous one, , is what KISS might have wanted to be. The Crue’s songs were rockin’ and more metal, although as I listen now with a more refined critical ear, is more of a suped up rock and roll record than a purely metal record like .

But there I was, I was struggling to make friends in a huge new school, and I quickly found out that just having the new Crue record was not enough to really get people to take me seriously. Looking back, I dodged something of a bullet. I’m sure I could have fallen in with a group of open-minded metalheads, which were called “Hessians” at DVHS, but most likely, when I found out who I really was, they would have not been so keen on me.

Either way, though, I have always enjoyed the first two Crue records a lot. They lost me after Shout at the Devil for two reasons. The first was that I was not into mainstream hair metal at all, and the other was Metallica. I discovered and after that, I liked my metal a LOT heavier.

Shout at the Devil starts off with a bang, that’s for sure. The album is vey lopsided in my opinion. Side A is pretty damn good and side B kinda sucks. If I never heard it again, I don’t think I would miss it. I probably haven’t listened past their cover of “Helter Skelter” in thirty or more years. I’m fairly certain I felt this way all along.

“In the Beginning” is fun. The voiceover sets up “Shout at the Devil” perfectly and it thrilled me when I was a teenager. Now it just makes me giggle, although I still like the “Shout at the Devil” riff. The great two-three punch of “Shout at the Devil” and “Looks That Kill” is strong. Both songs are fun, rock and roll that really show off Nikki Sixx’s songwriting ability. The guy can certainly write a hook.

Even “Bastard” is a pretty fun song to listen to as well. It is a strong(ish) reminder that you can’t take this stuff too seriously at all. I’m pretty sure I never did. I think I saw it as an opportunity to understand some of my fellow students and found that I liked about five songs on the record a lot.

“Bastard” is full barroom bluster when it comes to the guitar parts. That chorus is kinda ridiculous. It’s weird, though, that Sixx wrote most of these but didn’t really ever give himself much of a bass riff to work with. Listening back now, the two best things Motley Crue had going for them were Mick Mars and Vince Neil. I feel like they did the most interesting stuff on this particular record.

“God Bless the Children of the Beast” is the token song on the record to give Mars, kind of like how the Beatles would give George Harrison and Ringo Starr a track here and there. It’s cheesy, sure, but I liked it then and still do now. Speaking of the Beatles, “Helter Skelter” is pretty rocking.

After that, though, there isn’t much to latch onto and maybe I never really loved this record. I do love, though, that it reminds me of a time in my life where I was miserable but pulled through as freshman year turned into sophomore year.

I guess I do kind of like “Red Hot” and “Too Young to Fall in Love” if I’m being honest. They are both super formulaic, but I don’t hate them and I’m not turning them off as I type. It stops, though, as will this piece, with the onset of “Knock ‘Em Dead.” That song blows.

The last two tracks, “Ten Seconds to Love” and “Danger” are also straight up trash, as the kids would say. Speaking of kids, my son, Liam, was pretty obsessed with that film that came out a few years back. I watched it with him and laughed my ass off, except for the part where Neil kills the guy from Hanoi Rocks. That is still a bummer.

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May 2024: Welcome
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When Pinky Tuscadero’s White Knuckle Assfuck was going pretty strong in 2002 and 2003, there was a few local bands we really enjoyed sharing the bill with over the years. Hillbilly Devilspeak had our favorite bands to rock with, too, but it was harder to really match up with someone for that project. With Pinky, it was a bit easier.

One of the bands I liked to play with a lot was Blanche Davidian. They had it all, as far as I was concerned. They were fucking good, had a following, and are excellent dudes. I switched tenses there, I know, but the ‘excellent dude’ part is still a current thing. To say I enjoy the guys in Blanche Davidian is an understatement, but that’s not why I want to write about their record, .

Over the years, Blanche Davidian shows just got more and more amazing to watch and listen to in the venues around town. It was fun to be part of those shows as both a spectator and sharing the bill, but I really enjoyed watching them. As with many of the bands/records I’ve written about this year, these guys made me want to be better.

I was very jealous of the way they wrote and performed the songs. To me, I often felt like I was watching a “real” band when I saw Blanche Davidian play. This is probably just the insecurity of being an artist and seeing someone else do really good art. The grass always seems greener, ya know.

While I love their first record, Attack of the Killer from 2002, I just love a little bit more. It’s got Nikki Seven, for one thing, joining Mike Hawk on guitar, and their twin lead guitar attack is about as mighty as they come. Jamie Monistat VII is on fucking fire lyrically, too, on Then you have the rhythm section of Zeb and Joel and it’s just fucking butter.

It’s hard to pick a favorite song from this one. It’s so solid from top to bottom. “The Five Muscatels” is just one killer riff after another and like much of the record, just rife with innuendo and Monistat’s keen way of weaving the catchiest lyrics of classic songs with his own.

“Rod Swallows” shows off Zeb May’s nimble bass lines. I can’t remember what Zeb’s stage name was for Blanche Davidian, sadly, but I should. That’s how I had known him for years. I so enjoyed watching him play and sing back up when the band played live. My respect for Zeb grew when I found out that he was the one responsible for making the records sound so good, too.

“Chlamydia Schiffer” has that great bass sound to start it out, too. After Zeb moved out of state, I got to take his slot in the band and that was one of the first ones I learned. I don’t think I ever quite did it justice, perhaps only a reasonable facsimile, but I really wanted to make this one sound good for him. It’s so fun to play.

Jamie’s words on “Queef Action” always make my day, too. If you know, you know, I suppose with this one. It’s brilliant, though, and a great song. I don’t think we ever played it when I was in the band, nor did we ever do “Brimstone Jannie.” The latter has that whole Burroughs-esque cut up lyrics thing working really well.

Now, “Rottweilers Keep Following Me” is another of my favorite songs to play. Motherfucker slays and just has the greatest ‘mean’ sound. I love rotties, too, so it is special for many reasons. Standing on the stage with the guys rocking this one is always a treat. “Upside down and backwards” all the way.

“Reveille” is another scorcher. It just sort of soars. The chorus is one of my favorites. Listen closely and you’ll learn the secret of how to entertain yourself.

Here I am listing the songs one after another again. I could go on and on…but it will all start to sound the same. What you should really do is just listen to this great, unsung record that is out there just waiting to find an audience.

Orange Sunshine is one of those records that will be discovered by the right group of friends someday and they’ll hang out and get wasted listening to it and wonder what Blanche Davidian must’ve been like. Good for them, too.

I’m down with Robo.


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May 2024: Welcome
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In the early 90s, my mom lived over near 48th Street and Thomas. When she and my (now) stepfather travelled, I would often house sit for them to make sure their cats ate a well-balanced and nutritional meal. It was during one of these times that I heard Blur for the first time.

A family friend, Jay, was aware of a lot of cool music and he would loan me CDs to check out. I remember he had a bunch of British stuff I really liked and for years, I thought the song “There’s No Other Way” was by Chameleons UK. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when I picked up Blur’s CD on a lark that I realized that I’d always been looking in the wrong place in the record shop for the album with “There’s No Other Way” on it.

Picking up the CD, which was probably on sale, was primarily driven by really enjoying the track, “Song 2” off of (1997). That song is a straight up rocker and so is “There’s No Other Way,” which is off 1991’s record. Either way, the Blur songs I had heard and recognized as Blur songs I had really liked, so I decided that I could count myself among those who like Blur.

There are much worse things.

To be honest, I’ve never purchased either or , but I listen to them on Spotify. I did purchase (1994) and I really like that one, too. My gateway drug, though, was Blur: The Best OfIt is really this record that made a true believer of me when it comes to Blur.

It features five songs off of Parklife and my favorite of those is probably “This Is a Low.” It’s super mellow but has this really great, Paul Weller-esque chorus. I find a lot of similarities in the Jam and Blur, actually. Maybe you do, too. Maybe, though, you’ve thought about it.

I would even postulate that, if you are aware of both bands, it would be very difficult to not like one but like the other. There is a kinship there that touches both style and substance. I could also just be picking up on both bands utter and devout Englishness.

One of the things I like about this compilation that is mostly made up of their Food Records singles from the 1990s is that it has a lot of different moods and shows how Blur attacks music from a ton of different angles. Perhaps this is because all four members contribute to the songwriting.

Another probably unpopular opinion might be that if there was no Blur, there would not be a Radiohead. I feel it, though. Blur paved the way for a lot of bands and Radiohead is one of them. Part of me is sad that I wasn’t listening more closely throughout the 90s. I may not have liked the music as much, though, back then. I needed to get into my 30s, I think, to get it myself.

“Beetlebum,” for example, is a song that I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about in 1997. It’s great, though, and sets the table for quite nicely. In fact, the first three songs are stellar. After “Beetlebum” comes “Song 2” and “There’s No Other Way.” When I listen to this record, I just kind of pinch myself at how damn good Blur was.

‘The Universal” is another one that reminds me of a Paul Weller song. It’s kind of a big, British ballad that could have been the theme music for a Peter Sellers’ movie. Damon Albarn, who sang lead for Blur, really has a great voice with a tremendous range and it shows on “The Universal.”

“Coffee & TV” is one, like many of these, that I wasn’t familiar with before getting this CD. It’s a mid-tempo number with some really interesting guitar work going on. Graham Coxon, the band’s excellent guitar player, sang lead on this one giving it a very different flavor.

I love the record, and the title track has a wonderful groove to it. For a band that sometimes seemed to take itself very seriously, Blur also seems to be really keen on taking the piss out of themselves a lot, too. There is a good sense of humor in their songs.

“I get up when I want, except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by the dust man.”

“End of a Century” is kind of like Squeeze and Oasis had a baby. ‘No Distance Left to Run” and “Tender’ are both from the 13 record and I’m not terribly familiar with that one. They are both pretty mellow. I guess I should listen to it and see if that is the feeling for the whole record. The slight tinge of gospel to “Tender” is pretty rad, actually.

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, get through it/C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, love’s the greatest thing.”

It really is.

“Girls & Boys” was a pretty huge song, and I’ve always liked it. I’ve never been quite able to make out exactly what is being said in some of the parts of the song, but that’s part of it’s charm. It stands out nicely on

“Charmless Man” is not the most memorable song, but it’s not offensive, either. “She’s So High” is catchy as hell, and it makes me think of being young and in a love that had no chance of succeeding but at that moment of feeling like you were connecting with someone, it’s kind of like magic. The guitars in it are great, too.

“Country House” is a cross between a Madness song and the Batman theme. It’s off of (1995) and that’s one that I need to spend some time with, too. “To the End” is another one that sounds like it came from a soundtrack from an old British movie. It’s lush and lovely.

“On Your Own” has a lot cool sound electronics going on in it. I talked about “This is a Low” already, and I still love it, but “For Tomorrow” is another one that I really dig off the Modern Life is Rubbish (1993) record. I’ve spent some time with that one, if for no other reason than the title is great. It’s one that is definitely worth a few listens.

Lastly, we have “Music is My Radar.” This one finds Blur playing around with some funky sounds and it works. Listening to it makes me wonder what the writing and arranging process is like for these guys. It feels like there are a few ideas converging here and it would be cool to see how they did it.

While I loathe Coachella and will probably never step foot there again unless I’m getting paid to be there, it would have been cool to see Blur play there last month. Sounds like those will be their last shows ever.


The music will live on, though, at least in my car.

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May 2024: Welcome
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Like many people of my taste, the death of Steve Albini was a tough one to understand. I probably don’t know as much about him as many people might think I do, but I was definitely a fan of both his music and the work he did on the other side of the console. He seemed bigger than life, in a way, and the world needs good, passionate, and honest people to take that role more often.

I’ve written about a few of the records he recorded already, but one of my favorites has always been by The Breeders. As a Pixies fan, I was very intrigued when I first heard about the band, which is led by former Pixies bassist, Kim Deal, and was formed by her and Tanya Donelly, another favorite of mine. I had to check them out.

Pod is short and sweet and to the point. Deal has a lovely, yet powerful voice, and both Donnelly and bassist Josphine Wiggs contributed some great backing vocals. It’s sad, too, in ways that are purposeful and smart. Much of the subject matter, lyrically, is pretty tough on the soul.

From the first notes of “Glorious” through the semi-cacophonous “Metal Man” which closes it out less than half an hour later, The Breeders take full control of the situation. Often, it’s a slow burn, too.

“Glorious” feels like it is going to explode any second but remains restrained and thoughtful. Donnelly’s guitar sounds like it is going to burst into a fiery hot ball of flame and melt your face off, but never quite does. It’s perfect.

There is a solid cover of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” by the Beatles, but things don’t really take off to what I would consider “Amazing” until the band plays “Hellbound.” I think that one kind of shows what The Breeders’ sound could really be. Drummer Britt Walford really drives “Hellbound” in a fantastic way, too.

I’ve always been very partial to “When I Was a Painter,” too. Again, it’s the drums that make me very happy here. This one seems like it has the stamp of Donnelly all over it, too. “Iris” impacts me on a similar emotional level, but mostly because of the way the vocals kind of dance on the shoulder of the guitar parts. Walford is pretty tasty on this one, as well.

The Breeders really were like a supergroup on this record. Not to take away from later incarnations, but Donnelly’s guitar and Walford’s drumming were top fucking notch on Albini made them sound both stripped down and huge at the same time. The man had an ear.

“Lime House” is a fun one, too. I know I’ve skipped over a few, but every song on this record is ultimately listenable and you might even sing along. I can’t believe I’ve never gone to see The Breeders live. I need to rectify that before the opportunity is gone.

One more thing about the production of Albini. I was reading that he refused to let the band do more than two takes on any of the songs. That blows me away.

Can you imagine?

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May 2024: Welcome
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I remember the summer of 1989 for different reasons. I was nineteen years old and living by myself on 7th Avenue and Earll near Phoenix College. I had been dating my girlfriend, Alexa, for about three months at the end of July when the Beastie Boys released It was kind of a big deal, really, and for me, it was the true birth of my Beastie Boys fanhood.

When came out in 1986, I was not a fan. I thought they were dumb. I hated most of the people who championed them, including my girlfriend at that time. She loved them and I loathed them. The only song off that record that I liked in those days was “Brass Monkey.” But then a few years passed, and the Beastie Boys made up for it.

Paul’s Boutique is a fun, well-crafted record that showed they were more than just the musical equivalent of fart jokes. It still had a lot of funny lines, but the beats and grooves were so much better. To me, Paul’s Boutique had depth to it and I enjoyed listening to it a lot. It got a ton of play in my studio apartment for the rest of that summer and into the fall, for sure.

My first favorite song on it was probably “Egg Man,” but there is no denying “Shake Your Rump,” either. Both of those tracks off Side A are excellent. So is “High Plains Drifter,” especially as a song to smoke a little weed to if you’re so inclined.

‘Egg Man,” though was probably the one that I kind of claimed as my own. “Shake Your Rump” was the first big single, of course, and everybody, including me, loved it. There was something subversive, though, about “Egg Man.” I like subversive things.

I think the bass line and the sounds that seem like they came straight from Curtis Mayfield are what I love most about it. Well, that and the line about how the egg is a “symbol of life.” It’s the little things.

“Shake Your Rump” and “Looking Down The Barrel of a Gun” are both great rap songs. The Beastie Boys pairing up with the Dust Brothers was a brilliant move. Those guys blew away the stuff Rick Rubin had done with them previously.

“It’s gonna getcha…”

“Car Thief” is another one that just sounds good. I can’t help but bob my head to it like I’m some sort of old gangster. I am not an old gangsta, but listening to makes me feel like I may have once been one. I always thought some of the tracks on this song were kind of the musical equivalent (there’s that phrase again) of smoking opium. Just mellow and floaty and able to make your cares go away.

Even though the band was clearly showing its potential, there is something that is still kind of pure about I can easily forget that there was any previously released material by them. “Shadrach” is so funky and cool. I dig it.

Over the years, I have listened to this one more than any other records of theirs. is probably a close second, but there is nothing like your first love with a band. I remember seeing this tour at Mesa Amphitheater. I think my shoe came off during their set but I got it back.

I probably only had one pair of shoes then, too.

May 2024: About
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Weirdly, I have no recollection of how and when Bluetip came into my life. I can’t remember who turned me onto them or when it was. It was over 25 years ago, I can say that for sure, because their album, , had not come out yet. I guess this narrows it down to sometime around 1998 which means that it might have been Shane. I’ll have to ask him.

Either way, when I first heard their 1996 record, , I was floored. It’s the kind of record that makes me want to play music like the music on the record. I don’t necessarily wish I was in Bluetip, but I wish I could make a record just as good as

Hell, I would totally jam with the guys in Bluetip. That’s not going to happen any time soon unless, of course, they read this and think, “Hey! He gets us.” Then we can talk.

Being on Dischord, there is that infectious Washington, D.C. sound to contend with on There is a Fugazi-ish tint to Bluetip, but I often think that some of that is just knowing that they are on the same label and was produced by Ian Mackaye. Beyond that, it is the energy of the band that is also in a similar vein as their fellow hometown heroes.

For me, I get worked up when listening to this record. It makes me want to steal some of the ideas and arrangements every time. When I first heard it, I was so jazzed about it that I probably asked everyone I knew if they had heard the recording. I wanted everyone to hear it because I thought it was too good for people to miss.

It makes me sad, when I cue it up on Spotify that “Nickelback” has only been played almost 54,000 times. I’m guessing a hundred of those are me. That’s the opening song and it is great. It should have been played over a million times by now and it’s not even the best song on the record.

Side note: I just made myself puke a little bit that I was stumping for Spotify, even though I do use it a lot.

“Past Tense” is a cool song, too. It is track 2 and it has this great, half-time chorus (maybe it’s just another part and not a chorus at all) that kind of drops the song down into another gear. It’s a bit of an emotional gut punch kind of song, too, at least for me. I love how the band made it so big and cool and powerful yet, at times, it is also vulnerable sounding.

I don’t skip “Precious” but I also feel like it’s just a good song. “If I Ever Sleep Again” is much better. It might be my favorite song on the record. The main riff kind of reminds me of a Girls Against Boys riff and there is something about the singer asking, “If I ever sleep again” that the beginning of a couple verses that reminds me of feeling like I would never be able to rest again.

“If I Ever Sleep Again” also has another cool bridge/breakdown part where the song kind of deconstructs and reconstructs itself. A lot of Bluetip’s songs have this dynamic and I love it. Thinking about the time came out, it makes sense that they had were this dynamic.A lot bands were doing the loud/quiet/loud thing that bands like Fugazi, Pixies, and Nirvana had excelled at. Bluetip was doing their own version, though.

“3X2 Slow” is neat little guitar part and there is a great line about “bubblegum lip gloss” that I recently discovered. Sometimes it pays to listen more closely to songs you have known for years and years. You never know what you might find.

“Sacred Heart of the Highway” has an almost Seattle vibe to it. It’s kind of like Pearl Jam, but in a good way. “Texas 10 West” is a rocker and “Sweet Superior” is bombastic and heavy. Any song that has a line that says, “Goddamn my eyes” is all right in my book. It’s also got a little Soundgarden-y, Nirvana-ish riffage happening, too.

“L.M.N.O.P.” is another favorite of mine. I love the main guitar riff. It’s very disjointed but works super well. The song swells slowly as it builds and becomes something quite huge by the end. “Mapped Out” has an almost Melvins-y feel to it. I would love to know what the guys in Bluetip were listening to when they made this record. Probably none of the bands I am mentioning.

Oddly enough, they end the record with a weird country song called “With The Lord As My Witness” that is great, but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Prior to it, there are two solid songs, “Gainer” and “Tangle,” that I didn’t mention until now. Not sure why, either. It’s a mystery.

Dischord No. 101 is one of those records that people who dig the Dischord sound will love. If you haven’t heard it yet, well, you’re welcome. If you have but have forgotten how good it is, then again, you’re welcome. If you think it sucks, you have terrible taste.

Have a nice day, though.

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May 2024: About Me
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For fans of The Damned, there was a time when the Naz Nomad and the Nightmares record, , was kind of like Rat Scabies’ beloved Holy Grail. It was so hard to find on vinyl. People kind of whispered about it because it might not have even been real.

I’m trying to remember who told me about it first. Probably Billy G., but it might have been Markus. I can’t really remember, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is for years, I would check in the Damned section of the record store and in the Ns to see if I could finally find my copy. Eventually, Stiff Records put it out on CD, and I finally got one of my own, before I eventually did find a vinyl copy about a decade or more ago.

The record itself is pretty neat. It’s made to look like it is the soundtrack to an old B movie. The whole thing is very swinging 60s by look and the songs are almost all covers of early garage rock hits. It’s basically a version of The Damned without Captain Sensible who was off making his own side project go with his hit song, “Wot.”

Naz Nomad and the Nightmares never really took off, which is a shame, but maybe not. If they had, The Damned may have ceased to exist. Dave Vanian’s love for garage rock managed to find its way into subsequent Damned releases anyway and the rest is history.

When I finally heard it, I thought it was pretty darn cool. You can tell it is Vanian (AKA Naz Nomad) singing, but beyond that, it only sounds like The Damned here and there. Most of the recording sounds like a really confident garage band busting through some hits.

‘Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz is fun and gets things moving right away. Vanian is in good voice, too, on this rocker. “Action Woman” is also a lot of fun and Rat Scabies, AKA Nick Detroit, kind of takes the lead on it while Roman Jugg (AKA Sphinx Svenson) does some tasty guitar licks. Bryn Merrick plays bass on the record under the pseudonym, Buddy Lee Junior, too.

Jugg also did the keyboards. We got to see him play keyboards for The Damned during one of their Celebrity Theater shows in the last 80s. He was an interesting dude on stage, for sure. I wonder what he’s up to now? Vanian sounds a little off on “The Wind Blows Your Hair,” but Jugg’s keyboard work is top notch.

“Kicks” by Paul Revere and the Raiders gets a good working over, too. is just a fun record. If you don’t take it too seriously and if you’re a fan of the psychedelic garage stuff, you’ll dig it. If you don’t care for that genre, though, and aren’t a fan of The Damned, it probably won’t do too much for you.

They have recently re-released this record, too, so you can find it without paying an arm and a leg. Discogs typically has them.

“Cold Turkey” is just okay. It’s not the John Lennon song by the same name, though. “She Lied” reminds me a lot of the old Phoenix band, Van Buren Wheels, for some reason. I bet my old buddy Vince loved this one. I miss him a lot.

“I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” by the Electric Prunes has long been a favorite of mine and Naz Nomad and the Nightmares more than do it justice. This might be my favorite track on They don’t stray too far from the original, but it’s still great and stands up on its own.

Kim Fowley’s “The Trip” is up next and it’s a bit of a snoozer but the band cranks out “I Can’t Stand this Love, Goodbye’ by The Others and then romps through “I Can Only Give You Everything” by The Seeds. That guitar riff is so damn good. Instant ear worm.

The last two songs, “(Do You Know) I Know” and “Just Call Me Sky” are both originals. The former is a great tribute to the 60s garage sound and the latter is a wonderful bit of faux psychedelic rock fun. These two are a bit on the short side, but they get my head bobbing and my pulse throbbing.

But I’m a sucker for The Damned and it is very clear these guys had a ton of fun with it. That’s the way it is supposed to be.

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May 2024: Welcome
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In 2016, I got the opportunity to interview Roger Hodgson of Supertramp. I sat in my car in the parking lot of the non-profit organization I was working for at the time and spoke to him about a show he did that year at Celebrity Theater. It wasn’t Casa as I had not returned there yet, and I don’t remember why I did the interview in my car. Maybe I didn’t want anyone to know I was doing interviews on company time.

Like a lot of people my age, I like Supertramp’s classic songs a lot. I feel like I grew up with “The Logical Song” and “Goodbye Stranger.” I’m also quite fond of “Take the Long Way Home,” too, and “Breakfast In America” has been one of my favorites forever. I’ve been enjoying these songs for forty-five years at this point.

Now, the number 45 has been tainted by some dipshit, smug prick who lied his way into a presidency, but luckily, next year, it will be 46 years. I digress, but forty-five years is a long time.

Years ago, prior to talking with Hodgson, who is a wonderful guy, I picked up a vinyl copy of Breakfast In America for a few bucks. I’m pretty sure my dad had it in his collection when I was growing up, but maybe he didn’t. It just seems so familiar.

One of the reasons I wanted to interview Hodgson was to talk about what it was like to be in one of the biggest bands in the world for a while. It’s true. At the time Breakfast In America came out, there was probably only a small handful of rock and roll band bigger than Supertramp, but for a moment in time, Supertramp was as popular as anyone.

For one thing, the four songs I mentioned earlier off Breakfast In America are all supremely well-crafted songs. “Take the Long Way Home” is pretty much perfect. You may hate it and what it stands for, but if you really listen to how it is crafted, you still have to tip your hat to those dudes.

Hodgson wrote that one, as well as “The Logical Song” and ‘Breakfast in America” while his bandmate, Rick Davies, wrote “Goodbye Stranger.” Both guys are just dripping with songwriting chops. Even the solo stuff Hodgson played when we saw him live was excellent.

I say “We” because I took Liam with me. He was fond of “The Logical Song” and when I told him I was interviewing the guy who wrote it, he got really excited and asked if he could go to the show with me. I told Hodgson this while we were on the phone, and we ended up talking for a good amount of time about being a dad.

This conversation led to Hodgson setting Liam and I up for the after-show meet and greet. We took our place in what was a long line after the show, and he sent his assistant out to find us and took us to the front of the line. Who does this?

He talked with Liam and I long enough to make his assistant come around and remind him there were about fifty more people to see. He took a picture with us and as we were saying goodbye, Liam gave him one of his tech decks. Those are the tiny skateboards you can buy at Target and such.

Hodgson was super touched by this and had Liam autograph it for him. He said he had a place in his home for things like this and was going to put it there on the windowsill. I believe that he did, too.

It was intriguing to hear about how being in such a successful band had impacted Hodgson’s life. He seemed genuinely pleased with the line of questioning I had prepared, and the discussion quickly became a conversation between two music lovers. The best of my interviews are like this and I leave them feeling, in a way, like I’ve made a new friend.

Spending some quality time with the guy, both on the phone and in-person, only strengthened my love for his work with Supertramp. I like the Rick Davies’ songs, too, but I’m a Roger Hodgson fan until the end. The guy’s music just speaks to me.

There was a time when I would have called Supertramp a guilty pleasure, but not anymore. I’m out and proud as a Supertramp fan. I’ve bought multiple copies of Breakfast In America, too, because I keep finding copies that are in better condition and they go for cheap.

Outside of the songs I mentioned, I really like “Child of Vision” a lot. It’s the last track on the record and is a bit proggy like their earlier stuff. I don’t skip any of the tracks on Breakfast In America. There just isn’t a reason to do so.

I hope I get a chance to talk to Roger Hodgson again. It would also be nice to see him perform again, too. Class act all the way and a heck of a songwriter. From what he told me eight years ago, he still loves to make music.

Cheers to that.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I picked up a copy of More Coffee For The Politicians in 1985. It is a Placebo Records compilation and as much as I love the other two comps (Amuck and This is Phoenix, Not the Circle Jerks), More Coffee For The Politicians always kind of seemed like ‘my’ comp. It’s the first one I bought when it came out.

As an adult, it still seems like ‘the’ Placebo comp for me. I think the reason why is that I have a direct connection of one sort or another to members of every band featured on the comp. The music was created by people I am now on a first name basis with or have become friends of mine. I also happen to love it.

I wanted to write about More Coffee For The Politicians now because of the death of Michael “Bam Bam” Sversvold. His drumming on The Harvest’ song, “Under Your Spell” is as good as he ever sounded on wax, and everyone should know this song. I dig a lot of the songs on this comp, but “Under Your Spell” is fucking great.

It’s quintessential Sversvold. He did this little floor tom part in the beginning where he counts out for on it that has been winning me over for almost forty years. I also got to see The Harvest a number of times and they were amazing. I knew Bam was a good drummer but seeing him with The Harvest really made my appreciation for him grow.

This was a pretty magical time in Phoenix underground music history.

“Julie’s Song” by JFA is pretty bitchin’ and “Caravan” by Sun City Girls is top notch. I’d like it much better everyone knew about “Caravan. The Girls were in fine form here.

The Mighty Sphincter track, “Furious Curse” is a combination of scary and comical. They were doing their level best to be both, I think. When the ONS track, “Tip Toe Through My Two Lips” is also another favorite of mine. At one point I leaned the riff on my bass.

Zany Guys offer up “Ball Room Bilitz” and it is totally rockin’, too. Bootbeast Carnival featured my friend, Jim, on vocals and I was so in love with that band in those days. I love having a copy of it.

A couple of sleeper hits: “Icons” by Kill Everyone and “Monks Hood” by Maybe Mental are also great. To be honest, there is not a bad track on the record. Gotta love them all. I listened to it back-to-back yesterday because it is so damn good.

One of the best things about More Coffee For The Politicians is the pace with which It moves. You are listening to 15 different bands, but a few songs here and there really resemble each other

The Dirt Clods’ “Living On the Edge” a great example of what Vince Bocchini could do. I miss that guy, too. I bet he and Bam have a band going right now. The Keening track, “Just A Man” is also fantastic.

You can listen to this on YouTube if you don’t have a copy for yourself. You can also order one on Discogs. There are 17 available right now.

Long live the energy on this record.

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May 2024: Welcome
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0+2 =1


Somewhere around 1997 I got my first computer that was capable of internet surfing. I was living with my ex-wife and Ryan in an apartment in Ahwatukee. I’d get home from work at Casa and turn on the modem then do whatever I needed to do to prepare for my evening while I waited 15-30 minutes for the computer to connect to the internet using dial up.

It seems so crazy now to think of doing that. I haven’t really thought about those days for a long time. Strange days…

There wasn’t a ton of content that captivated me online, but I did like going to the music chatrooms. There were quite a few of them and I’d entertain myself for an hour or so a few nights a week by going on them and seeing what kind of argument I could get into about my favorite (or least favorite) music. It was a brand-new world.

During one of these visits, I started chatting with a young lady from Canada. She was (and still is) cool and, at the time, she was in a band up there in British Columbia where she lived. I am pretty sure she was on there to promote her band, which was kind of a crazy mix of hillbilly, punk, and alternative(ish) music. I thought it was cool that she played a washboard.

Anyway, we became pen pals of a sort, and we would chat away in a totally platonic way about music, sharing stories of our gigs, and talking about our favorite bands. She was shocked when I said that I didn’t really care for NoMeansNo as they were her absolute favorite band.

The reality of the situation was that I was not familiar with them. I think I’d only heard a song or two, here and there, from various comps they were on. She made it her mission to sway my opinion otherwise and made me a cassette tape of 0+2=1 and sent it down to Phoenix.

I resisted listening to it for awhile after it arrived, but eventually I put it into my cassette player in my truck and NoMeansNo won me over. 0+2=1 starts off with a great song called “Now.’ I must’ve played that one about 1000 times in the first month I had the tape. I also went out and got the CD.

When Hillbilly Devilspeak played with NoMeansNo at Hollywood Alley a couple of years later, I asked their bass player and vocalist, Rob Wright, if they would play it and he just kind of smiled and winked at me.

The guys in NoMeansNo were very nice in a detached sort of way. We played with them twice. As mentioned, Hillbilly got to do a show with them and so did Pinky. Both times, when we got finished, I felt good and proud. Both bands had great sets before NoMeansNo took the stage and proceeded to blow us completely away with serene smiles on their faces.

Stupidly, I talked to Rob Wright about this when Pinky got to play with them a year or two later and said something akin to “hey, take it easy on us,” and he just laughed at me and in a nice Canadian way let me know that there would be no mercy that night either. Every time I saw them live, they were amazing. I would also say they played their music in a muscular way.

In addition to “Now,” I am quite partial to “The Fall,” “Everyday I Start to Ooze,” and “The Night Nothing Became Everything.”I would also recommend listening closely to “Ghosts,” as well. The latter comes towards the end the record and gives the listener a chance to breathe a bit after three or four really tightly wound songs.

One of the things I grew to love about NoMeansNo is that they do their own thing. They have elements of punk rock to them, of course, but their sound is so much more than typical punk. 0+2=1 has a ton of crazy angles, long intros, and big muscular post-punk brilliance. Wright’s bassline as the lyrics on “Ghosts” begin are so damn good.

These guys definitely know what it means to be just a little bit out of the mainstream or what it means to be not the most popular person in the world. I love this about them.

“You think you have time/You have no time.”

The jazzy, punk, prog mix that is NoMeansNo has become a huge inspiration for me. I wish they were still around.

May 2024: About
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“Use your… head/be a…ware/give… a… fuuuuuuuuuck!”

I’ve always loved that line from “In Your Face” by 7 Seconds. In 1985, I bought their because I had written 7 Seconds on a pair of shorts I had, so I figured I better listen to them. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this EP.

I may have used Taco Bell money to pay for this, but my memory is telling me I had it before the summer that year. Who knows when I got it, but in 1985, a few of us did a lip sync of 7 Seconds’ cover of “99 Red Balloons” that is on the EP. I was the singer for that one and I remember getting pulled into the crowd by some enthusiastic teenage girls at Tommy’s.

On a side note, doing those lip sync contests at Tommy’s cemented my need to be in a real band and, on occasion, enthusiastic fans have tried to pull me off the stage. It’s pretty glorious. I recommend it highly.

I also recommend visiting (or revisiting) I go years and years sometimes without listening to this EP, but it is so good. The lyrics were so different from a lot of bands I was listening to at the time. They were easy to understand, well thought out, and positive in a way that was not offensive to my ears.

In those days, and for another ten years or so, I wanted my music to be as offensive as possible a lot of the time. I wanted the “adults” in my life to recoil in shock and fear, but 7 Seconds didn’t do that. Instead, they were inclusive and fun and while they were a little bit pissed about things, they offered solutions rather than just problems.

“How Do You Think You’d Feel,” for example, is one of the first songs in the punk world that I can remember that asked the listener to use a little empathy and treat everyone, especially women, equally. Kevin Seconds has always seemed like a good dude.

Now, of course, there are more versions of this EP, and it even became an LP a year later, but I never picked it up in the expanded format. For one thing, some of the later 7 Seconds I heard I didn’t dig as much. They got a little too “Whoa, oh” for me.

By “Whoa, Oh,” I mean they had the poppier punk kind of thing going on where there would be gang vocals happening on the choruses with a bunch of dudes going, “Whoa, oh.” That’s never been my thing. I don’t hate it every once in a while, but too much of even a good thing starts to get lame after a while.

This record was in heavy rotation for me, though, in 1985 and 1986. I never did end up going to see 7 Seconds play. I’ve seen Kevin Seconds do the solo acoustic thing and that was okay. I kinda wish I would have seen them in the mid-80s, but it wasn’t in the cards. Alas…

For a time, though, and even today to an extent, the title track, “Walk Together, Rock Together” still gets my blood pumping. It certainly impacted my thinking as a young’un because I liked that people were into different bands than I was. Life would be boring if everyone liked the same thing and even then, I knew that to be true. Now, I would have argued all day about a band you might have liked that I thought sucked, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t respect that you liked them. I would have just questioned you liked them.

Looking at the cover reminds me of one of my shameful, poser lies in those early days for me. One of the guys in 7 Seconds is wearing a jacket that looked very similar to a jacket I had. I had stolen it from my dad a year or so earlier because it kind of looked like one of the jackets somebody in wore. After getting I told a few people it was the jacket from the record cover so I would seem cool.

Only one person ever called bullshit on it, though, and after that, I stopped telling that lie. I wonder what happened to that jacket? Probably loaned it to a girl who was cold and never got it back. Dumb.

May 2024: Welcome
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I had just turned 13 when Oh, No! It’s Devo came out. This one has a special place in my heart because it was kind of a perfect record at the perfect time for me. I was in 8th grade and while I had no idea about punk or post-punk except that I liked a few things here and there, I knew about Devo and liked them a lot. I could embrace this record and talk about it freely.

My cousin Ben has this excellent uncle, Paul, who I’m super fond of. He gave me permission years ago to just call him Uncle Paul, too, so I do. Anyway, Uncle Paul used to live in New York in the 1970s and had a pretty cool rock and roll life going on. He even played in Jim Carroll’s band for a while and appeared on the record.

Uncle Paul would send music back to Phoenix for his younger brother, Phillip John, to check out. At some point when Ben and I were around 9 or 10, maybe a little older, we found some Devo stuff that Uncle Paul had sent out and really liked it. It was the early film with Booji Boy and we thought we had stumbled onto something amazing. We also liked the music.

So, Devo was a band that I liked a lot from before I knew much about them or that they had a bunch of records out. MTV was playing “Whip It” a lot and by the time came out, I was more than ready for it. I played this cassette all the time.

When CDs became a thing, I got this record pretty early on because of my love for it, so I have owned it in three formats. I suppose an 8-track might be out there somewhere, but I don’t care about that. I don’t have a way to play it.

Early on, “Peek-a-Boo!” and “That’s Good” were probably my favorite songs off this one, but I also really liked the lyrics to “Speed Racer.” The part where Mark Mothersbaugh sings, “I’m a Barbie Doll but I’ve got brains/I’ve got brains and I like Sex!” really hit my teenage brain hard. It seemed dirty and wrong, and I loved it.

I just read about how Wall of Voodoo was the opening act for this tour, too. Oh lord. My brain would have exploded. I wish I had been hip enough to have gone to see it. I’m sure they came to Phoenix. Another reason for time travel to be here sooner than later.

The second side starts off with a great, weird riff in “Patterns.” I started to gravitate to this side of Devo after getting this record on cassette and it makes a lot of sense now when I think about the types of riffs I write sometimes. Devo was a bigger influence than I thought they were. During The Father Figures years, I realized just how big their influence had been, but I’ve been doing Devo covers for the last 20 years, I think.

“Big Mess” is another one that I’ve loved for well over 40 years now. I can still sing along with most of it, too. Devo is kinda like that, right? Once they worm their way into your brain, they’ve won.

One of the things I also love about Devo is that they are kind of like the Simpsons. There are levels of humor there for everyone. My 13-year-old brain was very pleased with the songs on and my 54-year-old brain appreciates them in a different way. Not a lot of bands can pull that off.

Oh, No! It’s Devo is definitely not the band’s most popular record and I get it. To be honest, I like several of their other records more for different reasons, but this one really cemented my love for them first. I will definitely be writing about a few more Devo records before the year is out.

There is a lot to love about though, if you give it another chance. “I Desire” is such a great time capsule of the early 80s. It’s very “new wave” in the greatest sense of the expression, yet it is still Devo. To me, Devo represents the best of true subversive music. There are other bands that had that subversive thing going on, too, but Devo set the bar really high. When you start thinking about how they did what they did, it’s pretty rad.

Listen to Devo today.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I’m trying to remember where I first saw . It could have been at the Valley Art, but I don’t think so. It was probably at Chris-Town. Unlike andseemed the most like a real movie. I thought it was funny as hell, too, and the music was great.

Before I dive into the soundtrack, it occurs to me that I really wanted to be Otto (Emilio Estevez’ character). To the fourteen-year-old me, I was certainly impressed by how he seemed to roll with the punches and even though things didn’t go according to plan, he managed to survive and learn a few things along the way. He even made mistakes and lived to tell about them.

Director Alex Cox had a great vision for the film. On one hand, it was clearly a love letter to the Los Angeles punk scene, but on the other hand, it took the piss out early 80s culture, including poking fun at the same scene he clearly revered. Casting some of L.A.’s most interesting music personalities such as Zander Schloss, the Untouchables, and the Circle Jerks was also rad.

There is a little bit of everything in . Intermingled with UFOs, cars, the aforementioned cultural discussion, are fantastic pearls of wisdom from the elder statesmen repo men that “Otto” encounters. If you’ve never seen it, finish this blog and then proceed directly to your favorite streaming service and search it up.

In addition to being a highly entertaining film, the soundtrack is incredible. One of my friends, probably Jerry, had the vinyl and made me a tape. If it was Jerry, he probably loaned me the record so I could make my own dupe. Either way, though, it changed my teenage life.

Iggy Pop’s title track kicks off the record with aplomb. I read somewhere years ago that Pop made the lyrics up on the spot in the studio where he, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Nigel Harrison (Blondie/Chequered Past) and Clem Burke (Blondie) recorded the song. I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly, but it makes for a good story.

The song has this driving quality that fits perfectly with the feel of the movie. Essentially, is about driving and all of the songs on the soundtrack are the type that exert emotional control over the listener. They , if you will.

I was never a huge fan of Black Flag’s “TV Party” but I like it here. The song has grown on me over the years, but I prefer the Black Flag songs sung by Keith Morris. I feel kind of the same about “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies. I was just never the biggest fan of that band, but I do like the song.

I’m way more on the rest of the soundtrack.

“Coup d’Etat” is one of my favorite Circle Jerks songs and “El Clavo y la Cruz” by the Plugz is really cool. They are the only band with three songs on the soundtrack and I like each one. “Hombre Secreto (Secret Agent Man)” and “Reel Ten” are rad, too. The Plugz kind of set the mood for the soundtrack as much as the title track does.

Burning Sensations’ cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Pable Picasso’ does a great job of recreating a cool song in a new way. For years, I thought it was an original but then I discovered the majesty that is Jonathan Richman. “Let’s Have a War” is one of my favorite Fear songs. I was an early convert to Fear after hearing the Decline of Western Civilization soundtrack at the Banderets grandparent’s house.

The slowed down version of “When the Shit Hits the Fan” is hilarious and brilliant. It’s also a wonderful part of the movie. Estevez says, “I can’t believe I used to like these guys” as the Circle Jerks play in the background. His sentiment echoes that of music fans everywhere as we all know what it is to be disappointed by a band we love.

Juicy Bananas, which featured Zander Schloss, had the song, “Bad Man” on the soundtrack, as well. It takes lines directly from the film and puts them on a slow, funky, soul track. It’s a perfect way to fully revisit the film while listening to the recording. Whoever came up with the idea to set these lines to music is pretty darn smart.

“I’m a bad man.”

Truer words were never spoken.

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May 2024: Welcome
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If you’ve ever had a band disappoint you when you have been waiting to see them for years by taking a big shit on the stage, then you know the feeling I am remembering now as I write about today’s band. It seems like a strange way to begin a short piece that will inevitably praise one of their records, but I’ll be damned if this band didn’t suck when Markus and I saw them in the early part of 1989. They were fucking terrible.

They were/are an east coast band, so maybe they were just sick of being on the road and sick of each other by the time they got to Phoenix. I suppose that could have been the case, but at the time, I was pretty darn livid. The show was like $10 for a ticket and in those days, that wasn’t always easy for me to pay. I was a starving college student who needed money for weed and acid and beer.

As I listen to the only record by this band I’ve ever owned, I’m beginning to forgive them. I’m also wondering if maybe I’ve missed out on a bunch of good stuff because I was so bummed about their show that I ignored the ten or so records (give or take) they put out after their debut album. I don’t know the answer here and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be listening to anything else by The Dead Milkmen anytime soon.

Yep, they totally laid an egg when Markus and I invested the dough and went to see them at The Underground in early 1989. They played for a long time, too, so somebody got their money’s worth, but we stuck around hoping it was going to get good eventually. It didn’t.

Big Lizard In My Backyard is a fun record. As I listen to it for the first time in years, I’m reminded that I like all the songs on it. They are clever and quirky and, in their own way, punk rock exemplified. The songs are short and have a lot to say in a short period of time.

We used to listen to it when we were skating all the time in the late 80s. It was in heavy rotation with the Adicts, Dead Kennedys, and Dr. Know. Compared to those other bands, though, Dead Milkmen seemed like they were kind of a joke band except for the fact that these 21 songs are well crafted and quite earnest in their charming swirl of irony.

These songs have definitely left an impression on me. I only visit it every five or six years, but I find myself remembering the words pretty quickly. If I close my eyes, I can see the front seat of Mark’s Cutlass or Rabbit, and we are heading to some banks or a pool. Skateboards in the trunk and the tunes turned up, but not so much that we can’t talk over them.

There are not many records that reference Charles Nelson Reilly, a Bitchin’ Camaro, and a busload of retards. These are just a few of the hilarious lines spouted by Rodney Anonymous and Joe Jack Talcum (who also played guitar). “Bitchin’ Camaro/Tony Orlando and Dawn.”

I tried playing “Takin’ Retards to the Zoo” for my kids a couple years ago and they were like, “What the fuck?” and gave me a look that said, “that’s not as funny as you think it is, dad.” I worry about this new generation sometimes. Sure, punk rock doesn’t always age well, but if you saw the Dead Milkmen live, you would quickly realize there was not much they could have done if an audience turned on them.

When you listen to you have to believe the guys in Ween probably listened to them a lot. There is definitely a little crossover between a little crossover between and I bet they played some shows together.

“Violent School” is a really great song, too. I just got to that one and I’m reminded (again) how much I like it. Back in the day, I think I confused the lyrics on this one, but whatever. What really makes me think now is how the guitars on this record sound so wimpy compared to most other bands I like, but they work.

They really work.

I think I should dust this one off more often.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I used to read Flipside a lot. It was my favorite Zine. I would get it whenever I could and read about different bands. If something sounded really interesting, I would try to search it out and give it a go. One of these bands was the Mr. T Experience.

Hailing from the Bay Area, Mr. T Experience was not the typical band I would usually be into in those days, but when I picked up a copy of , I really liked it a lot. It found its way into heavy rotation in my house and stayed that way while I lived in Berkeley, too.

I hoped to see the band while I lived up there, but it never happened. Eventually, I did get to see them at Punk Rock Bowling a few years back. They were awesome, but I was pretty drunk and was probably a tad obnoxious as I kept shouting for the band to play my favorite songs.

Like a few other bands I’ve written about this week, I have only embraced The Mr. T Experience has a bunch of other material, but I’ve been sort of blissfully unaware of it. Maybe next year I will pick some of these other records and write about them (like once a month).

From the opening chords of “What Went Wrong,” which is the first track, I get a smile on my face. I have a lot of pleasant memories of and while there was a lot of nonsense in those days for me, I don’t associate any of it with this record.

There is a quality to their style on that kind of reminds me of early rock and roll. It’s got a late 50’s/early 60’s vibe happening that is charming. The riffs aren’t particularly challenging, especially on “What Went Wrong,” but it is simple and catchy.

The Mr. T Experience does these big choruses, and you can really sink into them. This is evident in the next couple of songs and both of them are great. “She’s No Rocket Scientist” and “What’s In the Cuckoo Clock” are both badass. I probably shouted “Cuckoo Clock” enough times in Vegas to make people around me fairly irked.

“What’s in the Cuckoo Clock” is probably my favorite song on the record, and if I was making a best of compilation for pop-punk, it would definitely be on there. Sadly, I don’t recall if it ever got played or not. I’m pretty sure blackout drunkenness happened for periods of that show.

“I Don’t Get It” is a great ‘sad dude/break up’ song. I listened to it a lot in those days as I was quite often in the throes of some kind of heartbreak. I had a great girlfriend, but we weren’t ready for that stuff yet. Maybe she was, but I was not mature enough. “I Don’t Get It” echoes what I was feeling quite well.

While “Pig Latin” is a fine song, I prefer “Parasite.” The drumming of Alex Laipeneiks is pretty stellar throughout the album, but the middle tracks are really fantastic examples of tight, pop-punk drumming.

“I’m Breaking Out” has another great chorus and bridge. It’s some really nice songwriting. Dr. Frank (Frank Portman) is pretty much the guy when it comes to the band’s songwriting, so he deserves a pat on the back for this one. Drunk, Vegas me probably told him as such during Channel 3’s set.

The rest of the record is pretty standard. “The Girl Who Still Lives at Home” is kinda tasty, but it’s a little too much on the poppy tip for me. The cover of Shocking Blue’s “Send Me a Postcard” is a rocker, though. That’s a band I need to explore more of one of these days.

Maybe I will get a chance to redeem myself and not be the obnoxious guy if I ever get to see them again. I hope that happens.

I mean, I’m still going to shout for my favorite songs, but I won’t be drunk.

May 2024: About
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In retrospect, this one is heartbreaking.

I was a fan of Seven Storey Mountain from the first time I ever saw them. Something about the way the late Lance Lammers attacked a song was so intriguing and awe inspiring for me. It’s strange to praise him after the horrible crime he committed, but when I met him, he just seemed like a super intense guy who wrote incredible songs and found the world to be a place that needed to be taken apart.

Lance and I had some great conversations over the years, too. We danced around the idea of someday doing some sort of collaboration, but it never came to fruition. I guess I didn’t know him very well at all.

What I do know is that has been a favorite record of mine since I got a copy in 1997 when it came out. We put together a big show at Hollywood Alley that we were going to record for a compilation of local (and a couple of national bands). My Hillbilly bandmate, Trent, was starting a recording studio and it was a way for him to do some cool work and for us to show what was happening in Phoenix. Seven Storey Mountain was part of the two-night show.

The first three songs off are fucking great. The whole record is quite good, but “Last Time” flows right into “Tarnish” and then “If I.” It’s an emotional trilogy of sorts that seems to touch on similar themes throughout, including a little lyrical trick by Lammers to make you think the songs might be out of order.

In “Tarnish,” Lammers continually uses “If I” in the early part of the song, so when you are listening to it, you think, “is this already track three?” Aside from this, though, is the fact that the urgency in three first three songs is palpable. You can feel Lammers pouring his soul into these songs and the band, which included Jesse Everhart and Thomas Lanser is right there with him, fueling the fire and bringing the good shit.

From a riff standpoint, is a huge, swirling maelstrom of great stuff. It’s sad that lesser bands have taken the term “Emo” and taken a big dump on it. Sever Storey Mountain, at least for me, was a great Emo band. They had a very East Coast, Washington, D.C., kind of vibe, but they still represented Phoenix and I was so proud of them.

They were one of those bands that I watched and thought, “Why can’t I do something like that?” It’s the whole ‘grass is greener’ thing, sure, but they inspired me to reach of a higher height. As much as listening to this record reminds me of bad juju on one level, I still can’t help but marvel at how good it is. Kudos to Everheart and Lanser for slogging it out for a good handful of years.

It couldn’t have been easy to be Lammers’ bandmate.

“Downtime” is another track that I really like. It’s more subdued than the opening three but has a great build up towards the end that reminds you of the power simmering underneath the surface. These guys were truly a sight and sound to behold live.

As cycles through the twelve tracks, there really isn’t a let up of quality but the intensity shifts from song to song. “Loss of Hours” is a song I always remember because of one short line, “Look at the little genius/He’s not moving and he’s stone cold.” It takes on a whole new meaning now.

Not that Lance was little but there was some genius in there when it comes to creating great, emotional, post-(I don’t know….abrasive) music. Lance was a lanky fellow who knew how to use his voice in a song, too. The vocals on are fucking great.

Songs like “Soon Forget” and “Self Pity” are so much better because of how Lammers spat out the words like they were blistering his tongue. Again, the band is just spot on, too. Thomas Lanser’s drums were fucking great throughout as was Everhart’s melodic, pounding bass.

Peace to those who were hurt by Lance Lammers. Peace to those who miss his music. Peace to his soul, as well, because clearly, he was in turmoil. Listen to Leper Ethics and tell me he wasn’t.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I thought Steve Albini would live for a long time. As a fan of his work, I assumed that at some point, I would either record with him or interview him. I kind of took it for granted, actually. When Hillbilly Devilspeak first started, we dreamed of being good enough for Albini to give us the time of day. I didn’t know what it would have cost, but I tried to figure out ways to make it work and even came close a few times to reaching out to him.

When I first started writing these record pieces, I don’t think I could have imagined there being a record so good that came out this year that I would be able to say that I love it. But then I heard , which was Albini’s last record, and came out just a few days after his death. I’ve been listening to it ever since.

To be honest, if he had not died, I wouldn’t have been in a hurry to listen to it. I like Shellac and have their first record, , which came out 30 years ago, but that is the only one I own. I know the others are good and I should own them, but there is so much other music and during the time Shellac has been putting out stuff, I’ve been putting out stuff, too.

I do regret, though, snoozing on the other four Shellac records now. I think I’ve been behaving in a slightly passive-aggressive way when it comes to Albini and Shellac because they have ignored playing Phoenix on their infrequent tours. I love our city and think all bands should come here, but the numbers must say otherwise.

Regardless, though, I have been immersed in for the past week and because it is so short at just under 30 minutes, there have been times where I have just let it play two or three times in a row. It is comforting, I suppose. There has been a lot of loss in my life lately and while my only connection to Steve Albini was his music, it is still nice to hear his voice.

Lyrically, it’s probably very easy to read things into the songs on There are many remarks about death. The last track, “I Don’t Fear Hell,” is chilling to listen to knowing Albini is gone.

“If there’s a heaven, I hope they’re having fun because if there is a hell, I’m gonna know everyone.”

The other thing that is so great about is that if you take Albini out of the equation completely, it’s just a really good record. Bob Weston’s vocals on “How I Wrote How I Wrote Elastic Man (Cock & Bull)” is a lovely change of pace and his bass paired with Todd Trainer’s drums are fucking fantastic.

It’s produced beautifully, too, with everything sounding great (as usual for Albini) and the guitar tone is bad ass (as usual, too). You know it is an Albini thing from the first notes of “WSOD.” After the long intro, it’s just vocals, bass, and drums for a bit and it rules. Then the buzzsaw takes over and you know you are in for a ride.

The record just doesn’t let up, either. “Girl From Outside” and “Chick New Wave” are both outstanding at building tension and releasing it just enough to let you have a short breath of air. I guess, in a way, it’s almost like the record is holding you under the water the way an older sibling might have done when you were younger. They knew just when to let you grab a quick breath before sending you down for more. You are dying but loving the attention, too.

“Tattoos” and “Wednesday” are both kind of dark. Albini has never had a problem tackling the darkness. “Scrappers” is all fits and starts and repetitive attack before Albini says, “We’ll be pirates.” I love that line.

I like “Days Are Dogs” a lot, too. It’s got the start/stop things going on, too. If there is one song that doesn’t really resonate with me lyrically, It’s “Scabby the Rat.” I love the riff, though, and even though the “Scabby the Rat” part doesn’t really do it for me, there are some good lines.

I can’t recommend spending time with this record enough. It’s a must listen for all Shellac/Albini fans. It might make you cry a little, though.

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May 2024: Welcome




I’m a sucker for a good song. In 1984, I heard “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and thought it was fucking great. I make no apologies for loving the song. I can also say that I had no real idea about what it was all about at the time, either. I just knew that I liked it and liked the music video. I could have cared less about the sexual politics behind it.

At some point in the spring of 1985, there is a big lip sync contest at Deer Valley High School where I was still a student. My buddy, Jerry, and I decided to enter the contest with a couple other guys and perform “Relax” dressed up like the guys from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I was going to be the singer. He even called me “Holly” for a while.

My dad and stepmom came to the show in the auditorium, and it was great fun. Of course, now I realize why my dad was concerned that I might be gay. When I listen to now, I hear all the innuendo and find it super entertaining. The early 80s were a different time and place, that’s for sure.

I loved being Holly Johnson for two nights (we did a similar contest at the teen night club, Tommy’s). We didn’t win anything, but we did really well, and I made friends because of it, including a few young ladies. I liked the attention a lot.

I also hear a manufactured band put together to showcase Holly Johnson’s talented singing voice. Well, manufactured in the studio, at least. Frankie Goes to Hollywood was a real band, but what you hear on is mostly studio musicians playing the backing tracks.

“Relax” is still a song I enjoy hearing. It’s got a kick ass beat and it completely thumbs its nose at the world. When I was a teenager, I thought the video was quite good, too, with Johnson cavorting on stage with the small spotlight. I had one for the lip sync contest. I even had the dance steps down.

One of the other things I hear now, though, is how much the band was based around one basic riff. It goes through the almost fourteen-minute title track opus, “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” and is also right there in “Relax” and “Two Tribes.” I don’t know if I ever noticed that back in the day. It’s a good riff, and possibly it is by design that it finds its way through the rest of the record, but in “Relax” it’s a tad slower than the title track and in “Two Tribes,” it is sped up.

There are moments throughout the record that I still find pretty great, too. “Two Tribes” is a song that I spin now and again. I’ve toyed with the idea of coming up with a cover version of it but never have played around with it to see what can be done. This was another one that had a great video. I would watch MTV in anticipation of seeing it, but they only played it late at night.

Silly MTV. It seems quite tame by today’s standards, but back in the day, it was subversive. The song has a certain power to it that is not found on the rest of

At some point in 1985, Frankie Goes to Hollywood played at ASU Gammage with Belouis Some. It was a great show. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much neon clothing in one place. We danced our asses off. It might have been at the show where I realized, again, why my dad was concerned about me being gay. I got a lot of smiles from boys that night.

The cover of “War” is pretty darn fun. Johnson’s vocals sound great and the Reagan-esque voice over is a great touch. It was a pretty good deconstruction of the song. I also am fond of the “Born to Run” and “San Jose” covers, too, but for different reasons. I like the Springsteen cover for the sheer fact that they did a great job with it and “San Jose” is just so deliciously cheesy.

There is a whole lot of silliness on the record, too, to go along with “San Jose.” For example, “Tag” and “Fury” (the latter being a strange take on “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by Gerry and the Pacemakers) are just pure nonsense.

“Wish The Lads Were Here” is very Culture Club-ish and “Ballad of 32” tries to be super arty but comes up a little short. “Krisco Kisses” always reminded me of Adam Ant, so I like the bounciness of it. “The Power of Love” is a pretty song that I don’t hate at all. I tend to skip the rest of side 4, though.

A couple of years ago I tried to get an interview with Holly Johnson, but it didn’t come to fruition. I would probably fan boy out a bit, even at 54. Somewhere I still have my “Frankie Say Relax” shirt.

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May 2024: Welcome
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I wonder how many of the records I own came to my collection because of one song. For most music fans, I’d be willing to bet that about 60-75% of their music came to them because they liked one song. Of course, 38% of all statistics are made up on the spot, so there really is no point in wondering about it too much.

Back in the Hollywood Alley days, I remember people telling me how “Greg Sage was there” or that “Greg Sage hung out there.” Eventually I figured out who they were talking about because I was not a fan of The Wipers. I had heard of them, of course, because they were credited with being the godfathers of grunge music, but in the early to mid-90s, I had never explored their music.

In fact, when I hung out with Sage a few times because he was friends with my buddy, Rob, I don’t think I had listened to them yet on purpose. I realized later that I had heard a few of their songs here and there, but again, they were not part of my musical purview. Even when I spent a few days recording with my band, Smug, in 1999 or so, at Sage’s Phoenix studio, I still wasn’t a fan yet.

The beginning of my Wipers’ fandom started with a song that Rhondi hipped me to a while back called ‘Nothing Left to Lose” off of their 1986 record, The song is quite the ear worm for me because of the cool guitar line Sage plays that has a little Spanish flare to it. For the last decade or so, I’ve been throwing “Nothing Left to Lose” on playlists and after a while, I started listening to the whole record.

While “Nothing Left to Lose” is head and shoulders above the rest of the songs on the record in my opinion, I’ve grown to really like the rest of the songs, too. I feel like this is one of the more underrated albums in the Wipers catalog. I never hear people talking about it in the same way as or . Both of those pre-date , and I like them, but there is something about the feel of that I prefer.

Sage clearly has a knack for great guitar tones. He also does the disaffected slacker vocal as well as anyone. He might have been the first one to do it, actually. On Sage sets the tone early with two good, mid-tempo songs: “Just a Dream Away” and “Way of Love.”

Both tracks are also pretty clear indications of why so many bands from the Pacific Northwest have been influenced by Wipers. They are just gritty and grungy and solid. “Let Me Know” has a tinge of rockabilly to it and “Fair Weather Friends” has a riff that reminds me a bit of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus.

The title track on is a great riff. Mudhoney has stolen this one a few times and reconfigured it. “Nothing Left to Lose” comes after it and, again, just steals the album. I don’t think I will ever get tired of listening to the song. That opening guitar riff is just killer.

The rest of the record is quite good, though, too. There is a bit of urgency to “The Search” and the main riff reminds me a bit of good SoCal punk rock in a way, almost Ch3-ish. The noisiness of “Different Ways” is also a nice change of pace for I would actually love to pick Sage’s brain about this one. I feel like there is a deeper meaning going on.

“Just Say” finishes things off with Sage putting a tad more emotion in his voice than several of the other songs. Having talked to him a fair amount, I wouldn’t say that emotion, or for that matter, showing emotion, is his favorite thing. Maybe I just wasn’t worthy of it.

I have become a fan, though.

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May 2024: Welcome
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In the late 1990s, I loved walking through the rows and rows of DVDs and CDs at Best Buy. If I had some time to kill near 20th Street and Camelback, I would go in there and browse for the music and movies that I was looking for at the time. Every once in a while, they would have a big sale and I would score a bunch of things that I probably didn’t really need but thought I should have.

When it comes to DVDs, I probably have a few hundred that I’ve never even opened. I like the idea, though, of having them just in case. Currently, I justify keeping them because we always run the risk in Maine of the internet going out and if you want to watch something, it will have to be on DVD. This is silly, I know, but it gets me through the night.

On one such trip, I found something I wasn’t sure about. It featured two jazz artists I really like, but I had not heard of it or, to my limited jazz knowledge at the time (and probably still), didn’t know even existed. The CD in question is Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane. On this particular disc, they are playing songs Monk wrote and the recordings, according to the liner notes, are from legendary sessions (three, I believe), that took place in New York City in 1957.

In my brain, I have romanticized the music of both of these jazz giants. I love the way Monk plays the piano and his tunes on this collaboration remind me of watching black and white films about New York City from the early 60s. “Ruby, My Dear,” for example, seems like it could have been on the soundtrack. There is an ethereal melancholy about it and I can just picture Jack Lemmon’s character, “Joe Clay,” sitting in a bar drinking his life away.

Coltrane shines on this one, too, actually, and “Ruby, My Dear” is just as much a place for him to shine as it is for Monk. On “Trinkle, Tinkle,” the two go back and forth, swapping leads and playing follow the leader while Shadow Wilson’s drums keep everything moving perfectly. For Coltrane’s extensive and fantastic run in the middle of the song, you just have to sit back and take it in. I can’t help but picture his fingers flying around the tenor sax.

The talent both of these men had is amazing.

The great Art Blakey joined in on drums for “Off Minor,” which is a lot more upbeat sounding than the first two tracks. Coleman Hawkins also adds an additional alto sax on “Off Minor,” as well. This one, and I reserve the right to use this term yet again, really swings. I am glad that I have listened to enough jazz at this point to be able to recognize when a group of musicians are “really swinging.”

“Nutty” is a fun one. When I listen to this one, I hear a group of musicians who are really having fun with a neat little riff. That sounds way more dismissive than I mean it to be. It is pretty damn nifty. It’s also very recognizable. I feel like there is another version of this one out there that has been featured in a movie I love. I’m sure Siri would tell me if I asked, but I don’t want to bother it.

On the version I own, the last track that Coltrane plays on is called “Epistrophy.” Art Blakey is on this one, too, and you can tell. He does a pretty rad drum roll to kick things off and then keeps everyone marching in line pretty well. To me, this is the type of jazz I really like the most. It’s not too serious sounding but if you pay close attention to what the musicians are doing, it’s incredibly complex. They just make it sound like it takes very little effort.

Ray Copeland’s trumpet work is also top notch on “Epistrophy.” Best known for his work with Monk, Copeland was a perennial side man and jazz teacher. He played on “Off Minor,” as well.

This one is a great one, though, for playing in the background at a party or for relaxing at home.

May 2024: About




Music really is all about timing. If songs are not “In time,” they won’t sound very good and will leave the listener feeling uncomfortable. Our brains need syncopation. This is why the beat of music is so important to how much we enjoy it.

At least that is what I would tell students.

Sometimes, though, as a listener, we are just not ready for a particular song, record, or band. Such was the case in 1989 when I got my first CD player and shortly after, my cousin, Ben, gave me a CD he thought I would enjoy. The band in question was pretty new and not on my radar at all.

I popped the CD in, though, because usually Ben and I were on a similar wavelength with music, and he knew what I liked as well as anyone. I listened for a bit, and it was very different from most of the other music I was Listening to at the time. I didn’t really dig it very much at all.

When Ben asked me what I thought, I said, “They are like a super angry Depeche Mode.”

Now, as I think of it, that wasn’t a dis. I like Depeche Mode a lot, especially their very early stuff, and I also typically like angry music. I play angry music, too, and would be in a Depeche Mode style project if I knew how to do that stuff, I’m sure.

I kept the CD, though, and it stayed in my collection. In fact, I’m looking at it right now as I type. I’ve had it for about 35 years. That’s mind blowing to me.

As the next couple of years passed, I kept hearing about this band more and more. I’d laugh and make my “angry Depeche Mode” comment and sometimes people would laugh, too, and say, “Yep, that’s exactly what they sound like.” Sometimes peoplewould also get pissed and tell me that I really needed to listen to it again.

I promptly ignored them until the summer of 1991.

While I was still technically living in Berkeley, albeit also technically homeless at the time, I had tickets to see Lollapalooza at the Shoreline Amphitheater outside of San Francisco in Mountain View, California. I had tickets for both days of the festival and one of the bands playing that day was the angry Depeche Mode band.

On the first day, I made sure I watched them because there was a palpable buzz about them by this time. They were fucking great. I couldn’t wait to rub it in to my Phoenix friends because they had melted down (and melted their equipment) in Phoenix and aborted their set pretty quickly a few weeks earlier.

I’m talking about Nine Inch Nails, of course, and the CD Ben had given me was . I’ve been pretty critical of the band’s other work, even publicly, but is a really good album. I even love it.

For me, though, I think Trent Reznor kind of shot his wad on the that first record. The later stuff just seemed like a watered-down version of with the possible exception of a few songs, here and there. I’m sure true fans of NIN would want to fight me about this, but it is how I feel.

After going to Lollapalooza and seeing NIN twice, I was hooked. I started listening to a lot. As the band geared up for their first big headlining tour the next year, they played a couple of warm up shows in Phoenix at a small club and Alexa and I got tickets to see both of those shows. They were fucking magnificent.

Those were the last time I went to see them, though. They got so big and so famous that something was just kind of different for me. I still love but I don’t listen to it very often.

The first side has all the hits. “Head Like A Hole” and “Terrible Lie” just kick the shit out of you from the get-go, but “Down In It” rules, too. There isn’t a bad song on the record, either. The second half is pretty darn good, too.

“Sin” has some pretty gnarly moments. One of the things I like about how Reznor uses noises is the way they are processed sometimes to sound like the notes in the verses and choruses are just scraping each other to death with metal shivs.It’s kind of his signature thing. Every song is a battle to the death.

“That’s What I Get” is super Depeche Mode-ish. “The Only Time” is a good one, though. I always liked that line: “Lay my hands on heaven and the sun and the moon and the stars while the Devil wants to fuck me in the back of his car.” Then he comes back with “Maybe I’m all messed up in you.” Perfection. The song just sounds so good.

It really is funny, though, how I was so ready to just dismiss this record when I first got it. The timing just wasn’t right. I missed out for a while.

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