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February 2024: Welcome
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Somewhere around the time the Melvins put out Stoner Witch, a few of us went to see them open for Helmet at a place called The Electric Ballroom in Tempe. Prior to the show, we met for dinner on Mill Avenue, which is the main drag in Tempe. For years, Mill Avenue was a place where kids from counter cultures would go hang out and do their thing. Now, it’s just a big mall for people who spend more time counting than countering.

We had a lovely dinner, though, at a place called Café Boa. I loved their gnocchi and I had it that night. We headed towards Electric Ballroom and got there in plenty of time to see Melvins wipe the floor with Helmet. I distinctly remember telling Justin and Dave, probably Shane, too, that if I were a member of Helmet, I might need to say that I wasn’t well enough to perform. This was the mid-90s and when the Melvins were on, they were pretty much unbeatable.

Stoner Witch, like Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth, was released on my birthday in 1994. Sonic Youth’s masterpiece predates the Melvins’ masterpiece by seven years. Lucky seven, maybe. I got it right around then; it was maybe even a gift. I can’t remember.

Either way, Stoner Witch is a fucking banger. It has my favorite stoner rock song and guitar lead, too. “Revolve” might be a perfect song. It certainly has a perfect lead. I’m so glad I was already a fan when this came out because it was a game changer for me.

The Melvins had put out Houdini (1993) and Bullhead (1991) and both of those could have gotten a similar review from me. They are absolute scorchers. Heavy, sludgy, and filled with riff after riff of great stoner grunge, but for me, Stoner Witch was just a notch above them both.

I have this theory that Buzz Osbourne, guitarist and lead vocalist/lyricist for the band, is ultra-competitive. I asked him about this during one of our interviews and he bristled a bit, so I think I touched on something he didn’t want to admit. The reason I think this is that every time I see Melvins, and they are one of the support bands, they bring their absolute “A” game. As headliners, they have been a bit more inconsistent. It’s not like I have seen them suck, but I have seen a few headlining gigs where they didn’t seem particularly inspired to melt people’s faces.

With Stoner Witch, it was 1994 and grunge was wildly popular. Kurt Cobain was dead and part of me thinks that Buzz and Dale Crover, the Melvins amazing drummer (and even better human), along with (then) bassist Mark Deutrom wanted to show all their grunge contemporaries who their daddy was. I could be wrong here, it’s just a theory, but it’s certainly plausible.

Anywho, just toss it on and see what I mean. If you haven’t listened to it for a while, you will be blown away. If you have never taken it for a spin, I certainly hope you like it. As a bass player, there are some killer riffs on the record. “Skweetis” has a great bass tone and a really fantastic roll in the riff to start the record and then it doesn’t let up.

Nobody does sludge metal like the Melvins. It was an honor for me to have Hillbilly Devilspeak compared to the sludginess of the Melvins when we got reviewed quite favorably after one of our LA shows at the end of the 90s.

“Queen” is a heavy staple of Melvin’s shows still. I love it when they dust that one off. Joe Barresi (engineer) and GGGarth (producer) cranked out one of the best sounding records of the early 90s here. It’s so big and fuzzy. “Queen” kind of epitomizes how three great musicians with proper mixing can make a song that hits hard yet dances on the edge of the senses like a marionette with one clubfoot.

“Sweet Willy Rollbar” is the bad ass lead-in to my beloved “Revolve.” As mentioned, it’s a perfect song. So what if the lyrics are pure nonsense. I don’t care. They sound great and I love singing along with them because if you fuck them up, it doesn’t matter at all. I’ll never forget seeing the “Night with the Melvins” show at the Mason Jar around 97 or 98 when Buzz and Deutrom switched instruments for the middle set. I was blown away to see Deutrom rip through the beautiful guitar solo note for note like it was nothing.

It may be the solo that launched about 3,000 stoner rock bands into existence.

It would have been completely acceptable for Melvins to mail it in for the rest of the record, but they do not. “Revolve” is Mount Everest and Mount McKinley/Denali wrapped into one, but there are still great heights on Stoner Witch. There are deep valleys, too.  

“Goose Freight Train” and “Roadbull” are a wonderful change of pace after “Revolve,” but the heaviness is still there. Dale’s percussion work just slays on both of them. It is tight and restrained but still drives everything. Slow and steady begins to win the race with those two.

“At the Stake” is another slow and heavy song that keeps your attention tightly wound around Osbourne’s noisy guitar squawk before it explodes around the 3:30 mark to remind you just who you are listening to when you listen to Stoner Witch. Another great guitar solo, as well.

It wouldn’t be a Melvins record without a song like “Magic Pig Detective.” If you’ve never heard the band, this one might really confuse the shit out of you. If you know, though, then you know. Melvins being Melvins. After a bit of noise, though, the rock starts up again. Stick in there, pal. It’s a heavy fucking blast of guitar and floor tom work.

“Shevil” is another slow burning haunt. It would make perfect music for horror movie about being alone in a huge house with no working electricity and you’re looking for a book of matches you know is there, but you can’t remember which room you left it in. You slowly walk through rooms, feeling around for the walls and doorknobs and chests of drawers where the matches might be but never find them. There is also a killer there somewhere, too.

“June Bug” is another one with a killer bass line by Deutrom. It drives the song and allows for Buzz and Dale to just go off. Two minutes of sheer bliss for heavy music fans who like a slightly wistful guitar sound mixed in. I wish they would play this one live more.

As Stoner Witch comes to a close with the epic, droning “Lividity,” I am reminded yet again why I have loved this record for almost 30 years now. It’s more than just a banger. It’s Melvins of multiple moods, textures, and talents. The band has always had good bass players. Sometimes you need to revisit them all to see how each one has brought the band to new heights during their tenure. Hats off to you, Mark Deutrom, for helping Osbourne and Crover bring the beautiful noise.

Stoner Witch forever.

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February 2024: Welcome




Being a word person, I can blame a lot of my musical taste on things I’ve read. At some point in the mid-to-late 2000s, I read glowing things about solo artist Ben Kweller, so I checked out a rerun of when he played on and fell in love. It could have been the timing and this or that going on in my life, but the guy just writes the catchiest songs.

I picked up a copy of which was five or six years old by the time I got to it. I was giddy about it, too. Such a fun record and, apparently, I am a real sucker for his brand of indie pop. I happen to like the cover a lot, as well. Something about a very young Ben Kweller with his toothbrush in his mouth and a goofy hat on just speaks to me.

When I think of this record, one of the first things that comes to mind is that when I turned my wife on to it, she loved it, too. Then she started playing it for the kids and they loved it. Ben Kweller has a little something for everyone. It made me so happy to have something that the older kids really liked and gravitated towards at a time when sometimes we struggled to find things in common.

Music has the power to unite people and Ben Kweller is a purveyor of music that just about anyone can get into on some level. may be a little on the sweet side for some, but it’s got enough rockin’ moments that even a jaded ol’ fucker (like I often am) can let his guard down. It’s a really wonderful record.

From the first piano chords of “How It Should Be (Sha Sha)” to “Falling,” just flows. Poppy, playful, and wonderfully arranged, this is another record where there really just isn’t any weak moments. Let’s start at the top, though.

“How It Should Be (Sha Sha)” is just under two minutes of pop bliss. Kweller sings, “That’s how it should be,” and he’s right. “Sha sha! Sha Doo.” Listen to it and bop it out.

Next up is “Wasted and Ready.” I had heard about this one and there is a certain Beck quality to the lyrics here. They have that feel of kind of being a stream of consciousness type of thing, and like Beck, they are clever and easy to sing along with fairly quickly. Something tells me the two of those guys would make an epic record together.

“Family Tree” is sweet and tender. It’s a love song wrapped in a diss track to the press. “You are my family tree, be good to me (ee-ee), take care of me (ee-ee)…bop bop, bop bop” is such a catchy chorus. It’s always made me think of a short poem I wrote back in the early 90s:

I bend sentences in your shadow

Twisting my words out of thoughts and feelings.

Thorny branches of my memory tree,

Spread out over me, protect me.

It was always comforting me to know that there was this kid (well, he’s twelve years or so younger than me) out there who could put together such a smart, charming, and hip as fuck record. I listen to his songs, especially “Commerce, TX” and just know, he gets me. Maybe it’s more that I get him, but I can’t imagine Ben Kweller being anything but super fucking cool.

“In Other Words” is another one that starts off with piano. It’s kind of a sad one, too, and a bit heavy lyrically, but there is hope in Kweller’s voice throughout. There is no sense of bleakness, though, because it the hope just sort of oozes from its sonic pores. “But it’s beautiful…” he sings over some wistful piano before the ending rises up around the 3:30 mark.

“It starts stopping when it stops stoppin’!”

I urge you to listen to “In Other Words” if you are ever having a bad day. It’s a song that kind of puts its arm around you and then gives you a little pat on the back. The next thing you know, there is a gentle BK shove, and off you go to a better mood.

“Walk on Me” is pretty darn brilliant, too. Another one that helps you see through what’s troubling you so you can move forward. I never really realized that Sha Sha is kind of a break up record and a record about falling in love. It has it all when it comes to love.

“Make It Up” is pretty solid pop/rock replete with some nice crunchy guitars and a big bouncy bridge. “No Reason” is another solid pop/rock song, too. I don’t skip these songs by any stretch of the imagination, but they aren’t the most remarkable ones on the record.

I love “Lizzy,” though. It’s about Kweller’s wife and you can feel the pain in his voice as he sings about them being in two separate states because of their jobs at the time. It’s also got some really nifty acoustic guitar in it. So many great lyrics in this one, too.

“Harriet’s Got a Song” is grungy and great. Just perfect and has a little minor chording in it that swells to something bigger and better than I could ever do. Well, at least not yet. is inspiring, to say the least. “Falling” closes out the record in much the same way it began. Piano riff to start that builds into a great chorus and a great song.

If you get a chance to see Ben Kweller live, do it. He played the Valley Bar several years ago and it was awesome. The Austin City Limits episode where he plays all of is pretty choice, too. You can find that online, I’m sure.

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February 2024: Welcome
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I started going to ASU in the fall of 1993. One of the things I started doing on a regular basis was hanging out at Eastside Records. It was a nice haven for me to find and hear about cool music, as well as avoid driving back across town in rush hour traffic. A couple of days a week I got out of class kind of late in the day, so I would stop over to Eastside (and sometimes Zia when it was first on University Ave) and peruse the wares.

One of my favorite Eastside scores that year was the EP by a bay area band called Star Pimp. They were heavy and noisy and part of the Boner Records family. For a time, some of their records were among my favorites, for sure. In 1993 or 1994, Star Pimp came to town and played a show at Hollywood Alley, as well. There were about eight of us there. Michael S. and I went and a couple dudes from Eastside were there, as well, and another handful of people. Terry and EJ went, too, if I remember correctly. We might not have been Hillbilly Devilspeak just yet, but it was very close.

Treasure Trail felt like it was almost a private thing and I always enjoyed that. I love turning people on to music, but I don’t remember many people I mentioned Star Pimp to going right out and buying a copy. It might not have been the easiest thing in the world to do as it probably wasn’t easy to find. I have the CD version and the 7”, which has three of the six songs that make up the CD EP.

There is a unicorn on the cover which looks like a picture of a spiral notebook that might have belonged to a little girl. It’s cute, for sure, and completely belies the nature of the music inside.There is nothing cute about Star Pimp’s sound or attack.

As a live act, they treated us to quite a show and Hollywood Alley was the perfect venue. The stage was smaller than it would eventually be, and the band seemed to be right there in our laps. Even though it was a poorly attended show, everyone who was there was very enthusiastic about the band. We welcomed them and they destroyed our eardrums.

Big, round, boomy bass from Tom Flynn (who also owned Boner Records) captured my attention immediately. He sounded even better live than on the records and that says a lot. The bass sound on is stellar. It plays slappy/slappy, punchy punchy with Eric Grotke’s trippy, fuzz laden guitar. Jamie Spidle’s drums were constantly driving the songs forward, ever forward. This is particularly evident on the opening track, “Richie.”

I liked the EP from the get-go thanks to “Richie” and was especially surprised to hear a female lead vocalist. When we saw them live, I think we were all a little taken aback by how slight and unassuming Elma Marcelle was in person. On record, she sounds like a woman who will kick your ass, but she looked like a young lady you could take home to meet your granny.

The lyrics are thought provoking and Marcelle owns each song on the EP completely. “Sap” starts off with a weird, repetitive, and perfect “Heart” sample before Grotke takes over. I have to admit that I stole Flynn’s bass line on “Sap” for one of the Son of Crackpipe songs that came out a few years later. I think Alex and I spent a lot of time with in those days.

“Sap” is heavy on the ‘psycho’ part of psychedelic, too. It has always reminded me of some of the darker edges of the bay area. Something about it just says, “Be careful down this alley. There are heavy drugs here and probably something worse.” If I wasn’t hooked by “Richie,” I was certainly a fan by the end of “Sap.”

Grotke starts off “Meat Grinder” with a beautiful riff, too. When the whole band kicks in after about 8 seconds, the song starts spiraling down in a way that makes the title seem extremely apropos. It’s a “grinder” all right. For my friends out there who like it heavy and weird, get to know (or revisit) this record as soon as possible.

I’ve always loved the recording that starts out “Virginia.” There is an elderly lady talking to a younger fella (maybe a member of the band? I don’t know. There is not much out there on Star Pimp and admittedly, I haven’t looked in a long while.) It’s kind of sad sounding beginning, poor old lady, but the way the song unfolds is more like a tribute to her than a diss.

“Virginia” is the longest track on the EP, but it never drags. It blooms, really, like a beautifully noisy flower. Marcelle’s approach on this one has always reminded me of how my friend, Nicole, approached songs when they were doing Mondo Guano down in Tucson. In fact, it would not surprise me at all if Star Pimp and Mondo Guano played shows together at some point. There was a lot of crossover of sound and style between the two bands.

More samples begin “Prado,” this time a little samba take on the “Girl from Ipanema.” There is a ton of noise happening with “Prado.” It’s really kind of glorious, even today. Spidle’s drums just drive it and when “Splooge” wraps things up, I’m more than ready for me. Luckily there was a full-length record that came out not too long after I picked up this EP called . I highly recommend it as well.

I’m so curious what all these people are up to right now. I certainly wouldn’t be sad if they decided to reunite and play here again. I’m guessing they all have a lot better things to do, though, than drive a long way just to entertain me.

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February 2024: Welcome
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Giant Steps by John Coltrane just sucks you in from the opening notes of the title track. “Giant Steps” is a classic song from a classic jazz record and there is a reason for that. It’s amazing.

Coltrane was just fucking crazy on the tenor saxophone. Words are like little purveyors of bullshit compared to how his tracks just sing without anyone ruining it by singing a note. It feels like I am trying to torture myself by writing about and maybe I am.

I got turned on to this about 30 years ago after taking a class in American Music at ASU. The professor covered a lot of the greats. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for being open minded enough to go out and buy the CDs (eventually I picked this up on 180-gram vinyl at Fry’s Electronics when they had a sweet reissue for sale). I was becoming a true music fan in those days and probably insufferable to my friends as I began regurgitating the lectures.

Jazz is not for everyone, but this record certainly can be. is full of feeling. There is hope and despair, excitement, lament, and it isn’t painted in just primary colors. There are muted overtones, hazy gray lines, and marvelously rich palettes the best painters only dream about.

“Cousin Mary” takes me to strange places in my brain. Today I feel like I’m watching one of the scenes in when Jack Lemmon is really dancing with the devil, but he’s holding Lee Remick’s hand on one side and a dry martini on the other. It’s sunny music with a feeling of dread just inches away. Paul Chambers’ bass is just sublime on “Cousin Mary.” I can get lost in it.

Art Taylor’s drums on “Countdown” get things going before Coltrane lays waste to the listener with one of the coolest blasts of tenor saxophone ever recorded. I’ve read a few things over the years that talk about how this record is kind of a roadmap for what saxophone should be and the older I get and the more I listen to jazz, I understand and agree.

There is a manic-ness to the whole thing that makes me glad I never got into amphetamines. This record after a few days of not sleeping would probably have driven me to harder and harder drugs.

“Spiral” just sort of brings this kind of thinking to the front the ol’ noggin. The quartet playing here is just blowing the doors off of everyone else who made music in 1960. Coltrane, the great Tommy Flanagan on piano, Chambers, and Taylor created a sound that transports you across time and space. I love that this record will be new to people for the next 1000 years, assuming people still exist. Way out there on the time line, some young cat will take a chance on some jazz from the truly olden times and have his/her/their mind blown.

That’s just the first side of the record.

On a fun side note, one day at Third Space, which was an awesome little place my buddy Neil owned for a while, we were DJ-ing out on patio and I mixed “Giant Steps” into “Necrophiliac” from Slayer’s Hell Awaits record and it fucking worked. I’d like to think I am the first person to do that. Point of pride and all. Wonder what Coltrane would think?

I’ve always loved “Syeeda’s Song Flute” which opens the B side. Coltrane wrote this one for his adopted daughter, Syeeda, and it’s a joyous little romp. It does get a little funky when Chambers starts vamping a bit around the 4:15 mark, but man it comes back in swinging in a low key but powerful way with some great interplay between Coltrane and Flanagan.

Look at me using jazzy words. I should just stop right now but I can’t help it. This is one of the records that taught me that I really like jazz. Back in 1995 or so, though, I couldn’t make my brain still enough to really take it in. has grown on me and helped me evolve over the years in a way that many records have not done.

“Naima” is named for Coltrane’s wife. From what I’ve read, theirs was a very spiritual relationship and the song itself unfolds like a meditation compared to other tracks on the record. It’s definitely the most inwardly contemplative.

As the record wraps up with “Mr. P.C.” I am always feeling a little relieved. It’s an intense record. If it were to go on much longer, it might be too much of a great thing. When I was in my 20s, I couldn’t do back-to-back jazz records unless I was trying to go to sleep. Now, I can just let it play.

“Mr. P.C.” is another swinger. It’s bouncy and full of that weird alcoholic-mania that reminds me of Lemmon on a bender. Coltrane left this world a mere seven years after came out. There could have been so much more, but there would have never been another one quite like this one.

I’m so glad that I was brave enough to take a chance on this record when I learned about it. Thank you, past self, for having an open mind and not staying in your heavy, weirdo, punk rock cave.

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February 2024: Welcome
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Admittedly, I have never been a big Clash fan. Sure, I like a lot of their songs and own a few Clash records and CDs, but if you wanted me to name them as an influence or one of the best first wave punk bands, they would have to get in line. I just never found them to be particularly interesting.

About ten years or so ago, though, I heard a song called “Arms Aloft” off the Joe Strummer & The Mescalero’s record, Streetcore, and it really captured my attention. I went to Zia and picked up a used CD. If you’ve been reading a few of these, you already know that I have a penchant for leaving a CD in the player for a long time. Streetcore stayed in the player for weeks.

I really wanted The Father Figures to cover “Arms Aloft” really badly, but I didn’t press it. I don’t even know if it ever got out of my head, to be honest, and said anything to Michael and Bobby. The energy and essence of the song was, and still is, just right up my alley.

What I like about this record so much is Strummer’s lyrics. The guy was so thoughtful and had a lot to say. It’s too bad this was his last record. I think I could have become the type of fan that would have made it a habit to see him play live whenever possible. Now I kick myself for not making the effort when I had the chance.

Streetcore is a very solid record. There are a few tracks that I can easily tune out on these days, but back in the early 2010s, I got lost in it quite a bit. It was a tonic for what I was thinking about at the time. It also helped me frame what we were doing in The Father Figures a bit.

The feel of The Father Figures was so different from anything I had done before that hearing Strummer in a different light than the Clash helped me see how growth and change was positive and good for a musician in a tangible way. I’m sure bigger fans of his would argue with me that I should have been paying more attention, but he just wasn’t really on my radar.

“Coma Girl” is a great beginning. It’s super catchy and has some of the same anthemic qualities that I heard in “Arms Aloft.” The latter doesn’t come in until the fourth song, but we’ll get there soon enough. There is a bit of reggae feel in “Coma Girl,” especially in the bass line. As I said, it’s just catchy and it really shines in the pre-chorus.

“Get Down Moses” and “Long Shadow” are solid songs. Sometimes I skip them, but if you are in the mood for some reggae styling and a bit of Pogues-ish influence (respectively), you’ll dig’em. I never skip “Arms Aloft,” though. There is just something about it. Strummer uses his vocals in such a moving way. I just want to give him a hug when I listen to it.

“I’m gonna pull you up! I’m gonna pull you out! May I remind you of that scene/A million mirror balls gleam.” So good. It’s also another great bass line, too. Simple but nimble and ready for the rock each time.

“Ramshackle Day Parade” is a down tempo, folk punk-style song. The haunting backing vocals really tie it up nicely, too. I’m not sure what a “Ramshackle Day Parade” is, but it sounds like something that might celebrate transitions.

It’s followed up by a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” I happen to love “Redemption Song,” so it became a favorite of mine quite quickly. I remember driving around singing it at the top of my lungs many times. Something about that song just hits the right spots in my soul. We used to sing it at the summer camp I worked at for many years in the late 90s and early 2000s, so it reminded me of sitting around the campfire singing with the kids.

“All In A Day” is a pretty straight forward rocker with an infectious groove. Good for getting blood pumping and the hands tapping the steering wheel, for sure. Any song with a “Whoa, hey, hey,” part is all right by me.

I like “Burnin’ Streets” quite a bit, too. As much as there is a Clash feel surrounding Streetcore, I think this song really is the biggest nod to Strummer’s famous band. Scott Shields did some really fantastic guitar work on this one adding textures around Strummer’s signature Telecaster sound.

“Midnight Jam” is a really nice moment, too. Apparently, it was completed after Strummer died unexpectedly as they were finishing up the record. The band really tastefully added some outtakes of Strummer interviews, and it works really well. As I listen to it now with a few more years under my belt and a greater appreciation for his work, it hits me in the feelers a bit differently than when I first heard it.

The album ends with a cover of a Bobby Charles’ song called "Before I grow Too Old.” It has been re-titled here as “Silver and Gold.” It’s a really wonderful swan song. Try and listen to it without thinking of it being the last song on Strummer’s last record.

February 2024: Welcome




There is a parallel universe out there where I grew up a metalhead. When I first got to Deer Valley High School in September of 1983, one of the things I noticed was how many metal fans went to school there. They had the long hair and the concert shirts and the moccasins that laced up to the knee.

Not everybody, I guess, wore the “hessian” moccasins. A lot of people wore your basic Nike high tops, too, in those days. I don’t think Converse All-stars were quite in vogue just yet for the alternative-types, but I digress. Metal was huge at my new school, and it was eye opening for me. In 1983, I didn’t have a style, really, outside of what everyone in my middle school had worn.

We wore polo shirts and OP’s and plaid shorts. I was a blend of preppy and surfer, I suppose. I don’t think my friends and I cared about rocking the boat, clothing-wise, and I certainly didn’t have the confidence to be myself just yet. I didn’t know I could do that, actually.

I liked music, though, and some of the metal bands were interesting to me. I liked Ozzy Osbourne’s stuff a lot and early on, I embraced Iron Maiden and Motley Crue. I will probably write about all three of them at some point.

The thing is, a few twists and turns here and there, and I’m probably less of a punk rock guy and more of a devoted metal fan. It’s there in my DNA, as my buddy Bobby likes to say about music. Bobby says that some genres are there, and some are not and I get that. In some other universe, though, I’ve played in tons of metal bands and am probably writing about how I wish I could be in a punk band.

Towards the end of high school, I started seeing people wearing Exodus shirts and thought they were bad ass, but I never checked them out. It wasn’t until my late 20s or early 30s when someone hipped me to the sound of the band. They had the thrash metal sound I really liked.

Bonded by Blood is a really great thrash metal record. When New Times let me write a big cover story on the best Thrash Metal albums of all time, I had to include Bonded by Blood on the list. It’s that good.

Funny thing, though, is that Bonded by Blood doesn’t really get going, in my opinion, until “A Lesson In Violence,” which is the fourth track. Gary Holt wrote this one and it is just a scorcher. Sure, the first three tracks are really good, but for me, the album becomes special at track four. “Bonded by Blood” is a great opener and title track, but there are parts of it that sound very “typical” to me.

“Exodus” and “And Then There Were None” are both good, too, but just not as memorable as “A Lesson in Violence.” I think there is an element of the first few songs on Bonded by Blood that kind of reminds me of a suped-up Judas Priest. I am just not a big fan of Judas Priest. They’re still better than Guns ‘n’ Roses, though.

At just under four minutes, “A Lesson in Violence” just hits you in the face. Listening to it makes me want to be in a thrash metal band, like really bad. There is a yearning, as they say, but I don’t know if I could keep up any more.

“Metal Command” is another ass kicker, but the party keeps going for the rest of the record. There are riffs on “No Love” and “Deliver Us to Evil,” for example, that make you almost forget that there were other great thrash metal bands from California in those days.

Speaking of the Bay Area, the thrash scene up there definitely rivaled our scene here in Phoenix. We had a core of devoted thrash metal fans here, but up there…wow. It makes sense, though, with all of the great thrash bands that came from both places. It would be amazing to take one of the coveted time travel trips to see Exodus play before Kirk Hammett left for Metallica.

“Strike of the Beast” closes things out and seals the deal on this kick ass record. Every time I listen to Bonded by Blood, I just feel ready to go out and fuck shit up. That’s a good thing in my book.

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February 2024: Welcome
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When the guitar kicks in to start “Between The Eyes,” the title track of Love Battery’s 1991 record, I get a little weak in the knees. It’s been that way since 1991 when I got the CD at Zia on a whim. I didn’t know anything about Love Battery, but it was a SubPop record and I was loving everything there was to love on that label back then.

As a song, “Between The Eyes” is just sublime. It’s big and fuzzy and Ron Nine’s vocals are kind of Neil Young-ishly detached from everything in a way that makes you think he’s probably in on something you’re just not cool enough to know about yet or maybe ever. Love Battery skirted a line between grunge and psychedelia and the good pop-garage rock that echoed some of what Pearl Jam, The Fluid, and Superchunk was doing. Super Seattle-y, of course, but they had cool kind vibe that, for me, set them apart.

Plus, everyone was going gaga about Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden at the time. Nobody in Phoenix was talking much about Love Battery. I was digging this CD, though, and telling people they were missing out. Some people did catch on by the time Dayglo came out in 1993, but for me, Between The Eyes was the one to latch onto and rock out.

As the album progresses after “Between The Eyes,” it doesn’t quite reach the same heights that the opening/title track hits, but it’s still damn good. “Easter” has a great opening riff, as many of their songs do, and kind of seems like it should have been on the soundtrack for Singles like many of their contemporaries were. Taken by itself, it’s a really solid grunge/melancholy pop song.

“Highway of Souls” has that same sort of sense of melancholy as it starts, but then soars as the chorus kicks in. I also have to mention here that Chris Finn’s drumming is really sweet on this record. You might remember him from a band called Presidents of the United States of America who had a little success later on, but he pretty much rules here, too. Solid and right in the pocket when he needs to be, but he also pushes a song like “Highway of Souls” to higher heights.

As I listen to these songs now, I can’t help but wonder who was influencing who in Seattle in those days. I hear all their contemporaries in this record. “Orange” sounds a bit like a softer, poppier Mudhoney, for example. It’s sloppy, too, like Mudhoney could often be in the best possible way.

The way Love Battery used fuzz and tremolo was pretty choice. It’s all through Between The Eyes and Nine and his fellow guitar player, Kevin Whitworth had a really cool vibe between them. I haven’t mentioned Tommy Simpson who played bass on most of the record, but to be honest, there really isn’t anything remarkable about the bass on this record. It’s not bad, by any means, but it’s just sort of there.

“Before I crawl” is a pretty fun song and Love Battery’s cover of “Ibiza Bar” by Pink Floyd is nice, too. If Simpson’s bass stands out, it’s definitely on the cover song. Jim Tillman plays bass on the last three songs, which were recorded after the bulk of the tracks. Initially, Between The Eyes came out on a different label, but SubPop picked the band up after the Nirvana money came rolling in.

It’s on “67” where you finally notice the bass lines. Tillman drives the song, which is another one that has a big Mudhoney vibe. There is plenty of room for bands to sound a bit (or even a lot) like early Mudhoney, though. I have zero qualms with what Love Battery did on “67.” It’s a rocker.

It’s kind of a shame, as I look at these last few tracks on the record on Spotify. They have less than 30,000 plays. People are missing out. “Wings” is a solid, grunge song with some really nice guitar work, and “Shellshock” is also one that I am happy to listen to any time. These songs all kind of ooze 1989-1991. They really take me back.

I hope people rediscover this record.

February 2024: Welcome
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There was some considerable excitement in the air when OK Computer appeared in 1997. Radiohead was beginning to be very well appreciated by seemingly everyone, including me. I was busy, in those days, kicking myself for not going to see Radiohead at the Nile Theater in Mesa when I could have. I probably could have gotten in free.

In those days, Hillbilly was playing the Nile at least once a month. We had a lot of great opening slots and even had one band that was soon to be pretty darn well known open for us one night. I was sleeping on Radiohead, though, because I dismissed them as the “Creep” band.

Sure, I liked the song “Creep” but it was terribly overplayed. If I had been smart enough, like say, my cousin, Ben, to look past “Creep” and pick up a copy of Pablo Honey much earlier than I did, I would have realized that there were a great number of songs I really liked. I didn’t, though, and my true appreciation for Radiohead did not officially begin until I heard OK Computer.

Perhaps my brain was in the right place to accept Radiohead as my lord and savior (just kidding) until 1997. I was working at Courtesy Chevrolet, going to ASU, and had just moved in with Ryan and his mom when OK Computer came out. I was a couple of months from starting to work at Casa, too, so there was a lot of change in my life.

OK Computer is a really good album to listen to when things are changing in your life. For one thing, it’s very fucking thoughtful. It’s also thought provoking. From the opening riff, I was totally sucked in and to this day, when “Airbag” starts, I am all in.

One of my favorite things about this record is how it sounds. I’m not an audiophile, mind you, but I do appreciate an album that sounds good in the old headphones. OK Computer sounds fucking great. Those guys know what they are doing and clearly hire the right people to make records with when they decide to go in the studio.

To say you can hear everything is an understatement. If you haven’t listened to this record on a good stereo or decent headphones/ear buds in a while, do yourself a favor. All the good stuff is just right there, right in its place, and you can kind of be absorbed by it or, more accurately, absorb it into you.

It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing with Radiohead. Do we consume it or do they consume us? What was/is their goal. I listened to them on SmartLess a year or so ago while traveling and while I liked what I heard, I also came away from it wondering if Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke were just sort of humoring the boys.

Either way, I don’t feel like OK Computer is meant to humor me or any other listener. I feel like it is very purposeful. I love how there is a tambourine or some similar percussion instrument at the very beginning of “Airbag” that sort of comes in and out through song sounding like Christmas, or more specifically, a sleigh.

I read somewhere that “Airbag” is about a car accident and while I make it a point to not try to analyze Radiohead lyrics, I still think the sleighbell sound is a very interesting choice. It’s comfort food mixed in with acid jazz.

One of the reasons I make very little attempt at deciphering Yorke’s vocals is his unique phrasing. He bends words like very few others. I like it and appreciate it, but it’s very far away from what I like to do with my limited vocal ability. Another reason I don’t worry about knowing exactly what he is singing is that the music is just so darned interesting to my ear.

When “Paranoid Android” begins, I could just float away on the multi-track lazy river that begins the song. Colin Greenwood plays such a cool, nimble bassline in the song. It seems like the sweet cousin at a family gathering of highwaymen. Innocent until pulled in by their shenanigans and maybe never to be seen again.

The summer after OK Computer came out, I made a friend when I worked at a summer camp in Prescott for Casa who really taught me a lot about Radiohead. We even played several of their songs over the years from the high school age kids at the camp. It was so much fun. I always wanted to give “Paranoid Android” a try as a stripped-down acoustic number, but never got the balls to give it a try.

“Subterranean Homesick Alien” is a beautiful song. Like all the songs on the record, there are layers upon layers to decode. I picture the fellas in the studio talking about how they can add this or that. In my mind, they looked pleased and proud.

I could go on and on about this record, but as I listen while I type, I just want to stop moving my fingers and drift into the world of this record. Before I sign off, though, I want touch on at least one more song. “Karma Police,” I think, is one of my all-time favorite songs and one of my all-time favorite music videos.

Radiohead really knocked it out of the park with that one. I particularly love Yorke’s lyrics on this one, even though I said I don’t spend a lot of time on his words. I think the video actually made me really notice what he was saying more than any other song on the record. The line where he says, “Arrest this man, he talks in maths, he buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio,” just slays me.

“He talks in maths?” Who gives a fuck what that really means? I love it, but I just want to be mesmerized by it. I want to sing it loudly along with Yorke almost as much as I love singing the part where he says, “For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself” over and over.

There is no slight here against the last six songs on the record. I just don’t know if I could really say how much I love this record in a way that you, dear reader, might find interesting. If you’re reading this and you’ve never listened to this record, I truly envy you.

I’m jealous as hell just thinking about the people who get to discover this record for the first time. The people who haven’t been born yet who will hear OK Computer and think, “They made this for me.”

Dear paranoid androids,

You’ll be fine.


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February 2024: Welcome
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I forget sometimes that Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois produced Unforgettable Fire for U2. I remember now, thinking back, how big a deal that was when I read about the record. I was 14 years old and U2 were becoming very popular among high school students. I was a sophomore that year. Just about to turn 15 when it came out. It was a heady time in my life and Unforgettable Fire quickly became a part of my daily soundtrack.

Eno, of course, is one of the coolest musicians and producers ever. The guy just seems to touch music and cool things happen. Even his experimental stuff is always interesting to listen to compared to, well, you probably know what I’m going to say here. Definitely more interesting than Guns ‘n’ Roses.

Back then, though, I had no idea about Brian Eno other than knowing he was some music guy. I could have cared less about a producer. I was barely interested in who was in a band at that point. When U2 got on my radar with their earlier output (Under A Blood Red Sky, Boy, and War), I just knew I liked it and it was somewhere between punk rock and radio rock.

Here came Unforgettable Fire, though, and it sounded a bit exotic, bigger (in a way), and kind of sad. What more could a teenage boy who was discovering himself want?

I got the album on cassette, at first, probably for my 15th birthday. At that time, I was on the cusp of having my first (actual) girlfriend and getting my first kiss. I was a bit of a late bloomer, I know, and had been deathly afraid of making any sort of move on a girl that I liked until then.

It was something about growing about 7- or 8-inches during freshman year and shedding the baby fat I had all my life prior to that. I was starting to feel a little bit of confidence in my own skin and listening to U2 helped me feel like I was part of something a bit bigger than myself.

The popularity of the song “Pride (In the Name of Love) didn’t hurt this confidence, either. I loved the song instantly. It seemed like everyone I knew did, as well. It’s a damn good song, too. When U2 played at Compton Terrace in April 1985 on the Unforgettable Fire tour, the band played the song twice because a fight broke out in the crowd early in the set.

Bono stopped what was going on and did one of his little Bono speeches and said something along the lines of, “We need this song now.” It was a moment for me. This was one of my first concert experiences where I was allowed to just go with my friends without any adult chaperones. I felt like a king.

I also got in huge trouble. In those days, Compton Terrace had one way in and one way out of the parking lot. The show was super packed, so I didn’t get home until way after my curfew and my dad was pissed. Then he heard on the radio what had happened, and he forgave my transgression.

When I think back to November of 1984, though, Unforgettable Fire is the record I think about. Listening to it now reminds me of walking around our neighborhood near 47th Avenue and Grovers in North Phoenix listening to my Walkman. Sometimes I would be riding my ten speed, as well, the one that took my sense of smell and gave it to the universe a couple about a year and a half later.

If I close my eyes while listening to “Wire,” a rambling song made so much better by Larry Mullen, Jr’s percussion work that was undoubtedly enriched by Eno and Lanois, I can see Grovers Avenue on a cloudy November day. I was about to head to Colorado Springs to see my grandparents and was having a rather difficult conversation with the girl I liked.

I wanted to kiss her so badly but was afraid. I didn’t want to say goodbye for the five or six days I would be gone. She probably made the move, to be honest, but I got my first real kiss and U2 was there with me for the joyous walk home. I didn’t even want to tell anyone what had happened. I just wanted to enjoy the clouds and the feeling of finally being one who had been kissed and had done some kissing.

I will probably always be taken back to that place when I listen to songs like “Wire” and “The Unforgettable Fire.” Those two songs, kind of in the middle of the record, just take me back to being freshly 15 and for a moment, in love with the world. Everything was possible.

Over the years, my opinion of U2 has changed a lot. I haven’t listened to this record hardly at all since the 80s. They grew to being the biggest band in the world over the next couple of years after The Unforgettable Fire came out. I forgot how good this record is, to be honest. I realize now, though, that it’s such a strong snapshot of a time in my life.

I can see my grandparents’ house in Colorado Springs. I can feel how much I missed my new girlfriend at the time and remember getting up the courage to ask if I could give her a call long distance. I thought I was in love. I guess I was, but of course I know how much one’s perspective on love can change with time and experience.

“Promenade” is a lovely, beautiful song. So is “4th of July,” too. Both of them evoke a flood of memories and emotions. When I realized a few months later that I was ready to see who else was out there for me, I listened to this record to help me feel the pain of that first break up. It was my doing and my fault, but it hurt. Looking back, she was way more mature about it than I was, and I probably could have had a pretty good friend out of that whole experience if I was a tad (or a lot) more mature.

I should have listened more closely to the words of “Bad.” I did listen to it a lot back in high school. As I listen now, I can smile, though, because I have walked through the things Bono sang about almost forty years ago. He was so full of hope then.

“To let it go, and so, fade away…”

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February 2024: About Me
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Initially, I had an inclination to not pick as the first Morphine record I would write about this year. I thought about writing about and I even started to do my homework as I own a copy of each one. I remembered really liking , too, when I got it, but after a song or two, I found myself longing for .

It’s the one I reach for when I need some Morphine and sometimes, I think, everyone needs this band. I can’t exactly remember who turned me on to Morphine. It might have been Brian, or maybe Alex, and I guess it really doesn’t matter, but whoever did turn me on to them did me a favor. This record got me through some tough times in the early 90s.

It’s a break up record. It’s also a down and out record. And finally, it’s a hopeful record. It pushes all the buttons on an emotional level. It also helps that when it comes to how it sounds, it is fucking bitchin’.

The late Mark Sandman had a cool thing going. His voice suited the music, and his bass playing was just cool. Two strings, a slide, and the ability to snake in and out of Dana Colley’s bad ass saxophone. Morphine had a good thing going on at this point.

Jerome Deupree handled the lion’s share of the drums on , too. They should not be ignored here. Between Sandman and Colley creating the atmosphere, Deupree was back there keeping the whole thing moving like a garden snake pushing candy apples.

As cool as “Buena” is, I start to feel this record at “I’m Free Now.” I’m not skipping the brief intro, either, in “Dawna.” It hooks me every time, but “I’m Free Now” is the song where, when I was driving around in my little red Nissan truck in the mid-90s, I’m singing at full volume.

Sandman wrote great lyrics. Many of them were like bite size bits of film noir. He even talks about being free to “direct a movie or sing a song about yours truly” in “I’m Free Now.” I can’t write this stuff, but I’m sure as hell thankful that he could.

There is a feeling of being in dingy bar straight out of the old Mickey Rourke film, Angel Heart, for me on “All Wrong.” I see the raven-haired girl slinking around in the crumbling ruin of some place that might have once even been kind of posh. It’s not posh anymore.

“Candy” is another great one in a string of catchy, funky, and ultra-fuckable songs. It is very possible to get romantic in a dirty way. This is the type of record that you might need a shower after listening to it, especially if you are with that special someone. They might not even need to be that special. Where was “Candyland,” Mr. Sandman?

If you know Cure for Pain, you know that it’s just getting warmed up as you approach the halfway point. Colley takes over during “Candy,” for example and just lets the saxophone soar. When “A Head with Wings” kicks in, I just think of the flying eyeball acid we got ourselves a few sheets of in the late 80s. I’m pretty sure Sandman wasn’t referring to that particular type of blotter, but I like to think he was. (But don’t try that until you’re over 25, kids)

Hmmn…the lyrics could be about psychedelics, come to think of it.

“In Spite of Me” is just another great song. It’s a bit of a palate cleanser, too. It is strategically placed in the dead center of the record and it sounds like nothing else on the record. “In Spite of Me” also perfectly sets up the bad ass song that follows it.

“Thursday” has the greatest saxophone/bass riff combo. It might be the best moment of Morphine’s career, in my opinion. The lyrics are, again, very film noir-ish, and just perfect. Seduction via billiards…Danger, Will Robinson! What a great outro, too.

The title track, “Cure for Pain” just kind of lazily swings. As I mentioned earlier, this record is so fun to sing along with. The lyrics are great to sing, and the way Sandman used his voice as another instrument on was really masterful.

“Someday there’ll be a cure for pain/that’s the day I throw my drugs away” is such a great line.

There isn’t a weak moment on . “Mary Won’t You Call My Name?” is a bit of a barn burner and neither is “Let’s Take a Trip Together.” The latter is one of those songs that could almost be a Tom Waits song or a lost track off of (which will get it’s day in this here year of love letters).

One of the regrets I have is never going to see Morphine live. I don’t remember missing them for any particular reason. During the years they were active and touring, I was playing a lot of gigs, too, so it could have been a scheduling thing or a too much live music thing. I didn’t see Sandman’s death coming, either so I probably just assumed I would catch them next time.

“Sheila” is another really good song. I dig this one little bass bit Sandman does where he kind of runs up the neck of the bass. It’s mixed a little low in there, but it is just so damn cool. He was a good one.

“Miles Davis’ Funeral” is a fitting end. There is so much jazz in Morphine, even if I didn’t fully realize when I first got hooked. Be careful, though, because once you start, it’s hard to put them down.

February 2024: About Me
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1987 was a pivotal year for me. I graduated from high school, joined the US Army, and solidified two of the most important relationships in my life. As chronicled in some of my 2022 blogs, there was a lot that went on that year. There is a lot more to tell, as well, but that’s for another day. Today is about Love and Rockets, and more specifically, their record, .

I think this is my favorite Love and Rockets offering. is great, too, and pivotal, for sure, but is special. I had seen them open for Siouxsie & The Banshees in the summer of 1986 at Mesa Centennial Hall. I was not the biggest fan of Siouxsie then, so I was definitely there to see Love and Rockets.

Brian and I met in line at that particular show. He and my buddy, Dave, either let us in line or we let them in line. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but I instantly liked him and was very pleased to see him when school started in September.

For me, that Siouxsie show was almost a chance to sort of see Bauhaus. I was pretty obsessed with Bauhaus in those days, and I so desperately wanted to see them. I remember telling just about anyone who would listen that Love and Rockets was ¾ of Bauhaus and blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, in those days. I had a little thing for those guys.

In November of 1986, when I was really starting to get to know Brian and Michael, my mom took me to San Franciso. I was 17 years old and one of her boyfriends had taken us up there, so they were happy to let me roam the streets. I fell in love with the city on that trip. Fell hard, actually, but one thing happened that haunted me for years.

I have no idea where I’m going, just sort of walking and checking things out and I find my way to the Warfield, which is a really fantastic venue on Market Street. Over the years, I saw some great shows there, but on that 1986-night, Love and Rockets were playing there.

It was either sold out or I didn’t have the money, or I wasn’t sure my mom would be too keen on me being out late all by myself, so I didn’t go, but I told Michael and Brian I did.

Now, we’ve all said things that weren’t true to try and impress people. I had a penchant for doing that in those days to fuck with people. Maybe that’s why I really like telling stories now here at the old, E.M. Either way, though, I couldn’t just stop with a little white lie. I had to say that Peter Murphy joined them onstage and that I had seen them all the next day on Haight Street.

I felt stupid for years about it and it kind of became a big joke, but when I listen to , I am reminded of my teenage need to be and/or feel cool. I can smile about it now, though, and be thankful I grew out of that kind of thing.

It’s one of the benefits of actually doing things in your life. It’s one thing to talk a big game, but it’s even better to play in some big games, too. In fact, about eight years ago, I got to interview Daniel Ash and he couldn’t have been cooler. We were scheduled for a 15-minute conversation, and I think I cut it off at 45 minutes because I had to get back to work.

As for I think my favorite song on the record has always been “Rain Bird.” It’s just a beautiful song for the first two minutes and then it just soars. Ash on the acoustic guitar is a thing of beauty, too. I don’t know if the word “beauty” can be overused here. It kind of tripped me out when I learned that it was a David J song. I had always assumed it was an Ash composition because of how cool the guitar is in it.

The record starts off with a bang. “Mirror People” struck a chord with me then and now. It’s a statement about figuring out who you are, I think, and shedding the shackles of comparing yourself to others. I should have listened a little more closely back then.

Then you have the big riffage of “The Light” that fans had come to expect from a Love and Rockets record. Let’s not forget that the trio could bring the rock with the best of ‘em. “Welcome Tomorrow” is another good one, of course, and the big hit, “No New Tale to Tell” is still catchy as fuck. How can you not bop your head to it? What a great opening!

“You cannot go against nature because if you do/go against nature/is part of nature, too/Our little lives get complicated/It’s a simple thing/Simple as a flower and that’s a complicated thing.”

“Here on Earth” and “Lazy” close out the first side. Both are solid and fun to listen to for me, but I am a big fan of how the record transitions from side A to side B. “Lazy” was the perfect song to end side one with and when you flip the record over, it’s time to trip out.

The first side of Earth, Sun, Moon is definitely awesome, but side B is even better. It’s kind of trippy and very mellow, true, but it’s one of those time travel tickets for me. If I close my eyes while I’m listening to songs like  “Waiting For The Flood” or “Rain Bird” or “The Telephone is Empty,” I’m right back to laying on my waterbed in my room at our place on 22nd Street. Good ol’ Casa Bravo Apartments.

Those songs sound so good on headphones.

The saxophone on “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” just fits so nicely with Kevin Haskins’ synthesizer work. Those guys were in the late 20s and early 30s when they made this record and it is such a work filled with maturity. It’s funny how the side B songs just reach me in a very different way now that I am much older.

When I got this record, the world was spread out in front of me. I didn’t realize how much of what I was listening to was about the things that were about to unfold right in front of me over the next decade or so. I just soaked it in with a 17-year-old brain and loved it for what it was for me then. Now I can see it so much more clearly.

This is one of the marks of a great record, I think. Love and Rockets had some real confidence and self-awareness working for them here. I saw them on this tour, as well, and was blown away again. They were really on top of their game.

“We are the energy, God bless, God bless, God bless us all.”

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February 2024: Welcome
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Mommy’s Little Monster is a punk rock record. It’s baffling to me how Mike Ness has tried to distance himself from punk rock over the years. I’m sure he has his reasons, but when I see that Discogs lists Mommy’s Little Monster as a “Rock & Roll, Punk” record, I just laugh a little bit.

As a person who was new to shows and such in 1985, it didn’t seem like it go much more straight up punk rock than a Social D show. In those early days for me, I think I saw them four or five times in a span of a few years. They played Phoenix a lot. The shows were fun, and people loved them. I loved them.

I know that people still love Social D now. I don’t, though. I love and some of the early singles, but when they went soft rockabilly, they lost me. I mean, I can hear it in there in but I guess I wish they would have made at least one more record with that same attitude.

This is not the time, though, to bag on Mike Ness or Social D. When I listen to I still enjoy the hell out of it. These songs were ‘go to’ songs for me as a teenager when I was feeling a bit rowdy. I wanted to go out and break some things when I heard Ness sing, “I love the sound when I smash the glass” on “Telling Them.”

The opening riff of “Telling Them” can still get the little hairs on the back of neck to stand up straight and tall. It’s not the most technically proficient punk rock song ever, but it just oozes the type of emotion that gets the young (and old) folks going. If you love punk rock, there is a good chance you love this song.

Really, the whole record is strong. It doesn’t start with “Telling Them,” of course. “The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)” and “Another State of Mind” are both anthemic and full of piss and vinegar, too. Even “It Wasn’t A Pretty Picture” is a compelling song and fun to sing along with on any occasion.

Ness wrote some great anthems. I knew all the words on in the 80s and 90s. Admittedly, a few have slipped from me in the years that have passed but I’m guessing they would come back if I listened to the record more often. I can still belt out all of “Mommy’s Little Monster.”

What a fun song to sing, as well. As I listen to now, it is apparent that many of the songs would have made a great title track. “Mommy’s Little Monster” actually kind of foreshadows Ness distancing himself from punk. Maybe he just feels like he grew up? I don’t know, but damn, I’m so curious.

“Anti-Fashion” would have been a great title track. Brent Liles kind of made this one with a pretty great bass line. He just kicks the hell out of the song and drives it in a way that I have always liked.

Maybe this kind of attack was just unsustainable for the band. There was a lot of heartache and trouble for them. I remember playing pool with Ness at Prisms in 1987, I think, and while he was cordial and acted like he was having a good time, it was clear that he didn’t really want to be there.

Either way, though, is a great punk rock record and a big part of my life for a period of time. I know they rereleased a 40th anniversary version of the record last year. I didn’t pick it up, but maybe I should.

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February 2024: Welcome
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Local boys done good. I was very proud of my friends in Trunk Federation back in the day. This record, , really impacted my life and I think it still holds up really nicely.

One of the things I enjoy about this one, because all three of the full-length Trunk Federation records are really good, is that it is fucking rockin’. There is a lot of angst and anger layered throughout the record. The lyrics are biting, and the riffs are crisp, angular, and disjointed enough to make a non-fan cringe and a true fan beam with joy.

My buddy, Alex, recorded this one for them, so I got to hear about it from different angles back in the day. The Trunk guys were navigating an indie rock world that probably would have been a bit more accommodating to them around the time they stopped being a band, but that’s like crying over spilled (neutral) milk (hotel).

I could be very biased here, and I am, but I think this record sounds great. “Sweetbread Viscera” is kind of where I get really excited when I listen to That’s not to take away from “Quality Burn” or “Original Uptight.” I love those songs, too, but “Sweetbread Viscera” has it all going on. Good vocals, excellent guitar work, and the drums are fully engaged and wide awake.

Chris Kennedy is one of my all-time favorite drummers. The guy is such an amazing dude and a stellar musician, but on the drums…holy hell. I’ve dreamed about rocking out with him many times, but I also know that we are probably way too different in how we approach things for it to ever work. Plus, I’m not in his league.

The drums on all the Trunk Federation are top notch. “Bad Dog-Reject” is perfect example of how Chris can just take a song over and take it to new heights. It was so fun to watch him play this back in the day.

It doesn’t hurt that Jim Andreas understands how to punctuate Kennedy’s drumming better than anyone probably ever will. They are of one mind when playing music and it’s a beautiful thing. Their current outfit, No Volcano, is another of my all-time favorite bands. When I pop the music these guys make into the ol’ CD player, it rarely comes out for days and days.

I don’t want to leave out Mark Fronstin, who played bass on this record, or my man, Jason Sanford on lead guitar. They both brought all the goods to Trunk Federation, too. It was a great thing for Phoenix when these four decided to become a band.

“Young Cherry Trees” is another favorite of mine. I love it when they do their version of a soft/loud Pixies transition in the middle of the song. Whichever lad came up with this idea deserves a nice hug. It’s always been one of my favorite moments on the record.

The Infamous Hamburger Transfer really does deserve to be celebrated. The guys may have fonder memories of other records, sure, but I sincerely hope they are proud as hell when they look back on this one. With any band that has a little success and gains some attention from people looking to monetize their art, there is a lot of bullshit to wade through. They waded through their fair share (and it’s their story to tell), but they made this little masterpiece.

“Match” has this great part where Andreas repeats, “You set me up” that always gets me in the feelers. It could be Sanford’s guitar riff that follows it that is just so wistful and full of the type of aching sadness that matches the tenor of the song. Sanford is so good at using his guitar to convey emotion.

Even when the band was getting kind of arty and weird on “Alright,” they still made it so damn interesting. Listen to the song if you don’t believe me. It’s not really a tribute to their former label head, but it’s also kind of charming in a noisy, heavy, plodding way.

“Over Rater” is another stunner, though. You get lulled into a false sense of security by the opening riff before the band says, “Hey there! Fuck you.” Andreas really brings the feeling of frustration to light. The lyrics related to me then and still do now. That feeling of getting older and figuring out things aren’t what you thought they were is very real.

“Used to..pop a wheel/ Used to…suck!!” is a great ending line.

I’m still in awe of how the boys brought to a close. The last four songs are just phenomenal. “Edible” is charming and supremely memorable with its “Jello” chorus. “Pinhead” is another set of great lyrics. Andreas has my rapt attention from the first line and keeps it the whole song.

The soft spot in my heart just swells when I hear the opening notes of “St. Francis.” I love Fronstin’s bass line on this one so much. It is kind of understated, but it has always caught my ear. When the guitars step into the spotlight around the 90 second mark, Mark’s back there just keeping it all together. I love it even more when it happens again around 3:15. It’s easy to get lost in what Jim, Chris, and Jason are doing, but Mark just keeps the song driving forward. Bass players are always the secret weapon.

For a record to be truly exceptional for me, it better have a great last song. has “Beanie’s Soft Toy Factory” as the caboose. I used to play Fronstin’s bass line in Hillbilly practice sometimes when I thought no one was paying attention. It is just fun to play, but this is really Andreas’ song. I love how he approaches it.

I’m very proud to call these men my friends, but I’m also a fan. It’s nice when you can be both. Thanks, dudes, for making this piece of art. It’s gotten me through a lot of tough times and inspired me to make better music.

February 2024: Welcome
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Some music, you have to be in the mood for. The record I will discuss today is one of those records, but even then, I can usually get in the mood for it if I put it on. Others, not so much. Having said that, I think almost everyone I have played this record for has ended up really liking it.

I really like sharing with people. It kind of seems like one of the best and most sincere choices I could make for a Valentine’s Day post. It is a truly romantic record.

Chet Baker’s voice is probably not for everyone. I probably would not have dug this record in high school, for example, but I like to think I would have recognized his talent even then. I was a bit older when I got turned on to this disc. I only have it on CD as the vinyl goes for a pretty penny on Currently the least expensive one is about $77.

Just listening to these tracks give you an insight into how tragic the man’s life was while he was alive. I have learned a little about him over the years based on my love for this record. As I think about it, I have probably avoided going any deeper because of what I know about his struggles with addiction. I saw too many people go through similar things up close to vicariously do it again listening to his tunes.

I truly love the rendition of “My Funny Valentine” on here. It’s probably the reason why I know it is the perfect record for today. Baker’s voice drips with the sadness that can only come from lost love during this performance. Russ Freeman’s piano just drips with melancholy, too. Damn, it’s so good.

When I listen to this record, I just want to hold my wife close to me. Someday, I will surprise her with a candlelit dinner in Maine and we will slow dance while listening to Baker singing over these excellent arrangements.

There is a fair amount of his trumpet playing in the 20 tracks, as well. Some of the songs swing a little bit, too. “I Get Along Without You Very Well” is one that comes to mind. With a voice as smooth as Baker’s, it must have been really fun to play these songs in the studio.

“Daybreak” is another one that shines (pun intended). Baker starts off with some cool trumpet that sounds like it could have easily been played on a street corner in New Orleans. It’s a bit more upbeat than most of the tracks, too, so it stands out a bit.

Looking at the number of plays this record has on Spotify, it seems it is not a secret. I guess I like to think that only a select few know of its goodness to look a little cooler, maybe, when I share it with others. That’s terrible. I’m mentally slapping my own hand right now and grooving to “Just Friends.”

I’m a big fan of the version of “Let’s Get Lost” on this one. It’s a great song, with or without vocals, but I dig what Baker did with it. The trumpet is super hopeful and Bob Neel’s drums are terrific here. Actually, it’s hard to just single him out because Freeman is killing it on the piano and Carson Smith’s bass work is pretty damn impeccable, too.

I guess you have to give it up for West Coast jazz. I used to think it was just a thing in the Tom Hanks’ movie, That Thing You Do!, but apparently there was quite the scene back in the day. For some reason, I think of jazz as a New York or New Orleans thing.

It occurs to me as I get deeper in this record that the front half is very mellow and subdued, for the most part, and comes off as terrifically romantic. As it progresses, though, and gets into the tracks in the teens, it’s pretty darn lively. Baker’s vocal styling bring things down a little on certain songs as it’s seemingly impossible for him to sound excited about things, but it still works.

Happy Valentine’s to you lovers out there.

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February 2024: Welcome
Boys don't cry.jpg




In 1984 or so, I started listening to the Cure. I picked up a copy of their Japanese Whispers compilation and loved the songs a lot. I was going to Tommy’s frequently, which was a teen club that happened on Friday and Saturday nights at 9th Avenue and Camelback, and they played a lot of Cure stuff.

Shortly after, though, my buddy Bill turned me on the Boys Don’t Cry compilation which had most of the songs from the Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys record on it with a few others. I think maybe it was something the record label did for the American audience, but don’t quote me on that.

Bill certainly did me a favor. As much as I loved my Japanese Whispers record (which I later sold for Rocky Point money), I really loved the songs on Boys Don’t Cry. In fact, it’s probably the Cure record I have listened to the most over the years.

To me, then and now, this was the Cure I needed. I love much of their other music a lot. Last year, Teresa and I went to see them in Glendale, and it was amazing. They totally blew me away and both of us were completely stoked when the show was over.

However, I love Boys Don’t Cry. It’s 44 years old this year, too, and has aged incredibly well. From the get-go, Robert Smith and the band are driving hard with “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” As a teenager, I identified with this song a lot and it actually helped me stay somewhat more real than I might have been if I hadn’t heard it.

“If you pick up on it quick, you can say you were there,” is such a great line. It basically says, “Don’t be a poseur.” In those days, I so wanted to be able to say I was at all the cool shows I had missed out on from 1981 to 1985. I wanted to have been a part of things that maybe I could have been a part of if I had known the right people or had the freedom to roam more than I did.

Either way, I love “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.”It’s followed by the title track, which is another stunner. “Boys Don’t Cry” is just a great song. Sure, the guitar line is a bit on the wimpy side, but the words are great. I love singing along with this record.

There was a time when Bill and I, as well as my buddy, Alex, and I had separate discussions about just covering this record sometime. I was super jazzed when Bobby and Michael agreed to cover the next song, “Plastic Passion” in The Father Figures. I think we did the song some justice, too.

“Plastic Passion” is my favorite song on the by far and has been ever since Bill played it for me almost 40 years ago. Something about it just speaks to me. When I interviewed Lol Tolhurst, who played drums on those tracks, years ago about this dreadful book he had written, I did have to fan out a little and share that I loved that song. He was perfectly lovely about it.

The hits just keep coming, though, and “10:15 Saturday Night” gives way into “Accuracy” and then, “Object.” Those of you who have been reading these love letters might be getting sick of my piling on the praise, but I ask you…is there a bad song on this record? There really isn’t. I love every second of it and I didn’t even really mention “Subway Song.” Another killer riff and dark lyrics.

I did notice that they don’t have the studio version of “Killing An Arab” on Spotify. I have to imagine that Robert Smith might regret these lyrics at this point, but it’s still a great song and it flows so well into “Fire In Cairo.” Both of them evoke distinct imagery.

“Another Day” drips with the flange pedal and foreshadows the Cure sound to come quite a bit. It’s a little more down tempo than the rest of the record, but it fits and gives you a little respite before “Grinding Halt” and “World War” amp up the post-punk/post-rock ruckus. As Smith bellows, “World War/No one would believe me,” you can hear the disdain in his voice quite clearly.

The last track, “Three Imaginary Boys” has always got me right in the feelers a little bit. Again, it was kind of just tapping into what I was feeling a lot in those mid-80s days. For years, I felt like I was kind of an “imaginary boy.” I suppose most of us do when we are growing up and don’t know who we are just yet.

I’m sure I will listen to this record at least five more times this year, if not more. I encourage you to listen at least once, even if there are Cure records you like more.

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February 2024: Welcome
hate songs.jpg




I don’t remember exactly when Alex and I met. He had met my friend, Christina, when his band Fudge Tunnel was on tour with either Sepultura or another band that Christina was working for at the time. Christina did merch and Fudge Tunnel was an upcoming band from Nottingham, England. Either way, it was a very good thing for me.

First of all, Alex became one of my best friends for quite a while and someone I still think is pretty damn great. I wish we had spent more time together in the last 20 years, but what can you do? Life is strange sometimes and it keeps people in their respective corners.

I think before he came to Arizona, Christina had given me a copy of and I fucking loved it. It reminded me, to an extent, of this band I had been listening to a bit for the last couple of years before called Nirvana, but it was so much heavier. It also just kept driving its point right into my skull.

Like Cobain, Alex has a guitar sound/tone that just etches itself into your brain. As I listened to Hate Songs, I was really inspired to make some heavy music. As he and I started to grow a friendship, I was starting to get Hillbilly Devilspeak going and he was super helpful to me in doing so, but that’s another story.

I will share that the first time we hung out, we went to a Sbarro’s Pizza. I think I went to the house Christina lived in at the time and picked him up and we hit Paradise Valley mall. In the last 30 years, my memory is a little hazy for some details. It might not have been PV Mall. It might have been a Sbarro’s near a music shop or record store.

I wanted to ask him so many questions about Hate Songs, but I don’t think I did. I was playing it cool, and it was pretty clear early on that we were going to form an actual friendship. This was way more important and over those first few years, he shared several great stories about how Hate Songs came about.

The thing about this record is, though, that it has continued to be highly enjoyable to me all these years. I dust it off and listen to it for a few days at a time at least once a year. Sometimes I reach for the other Fudge Tunnel records, too, this is true, but Hate Songs is the one that keeps calling me back.

The opening riff is just pure heavy. It’s so good, too, that they revisit it twice, so you get a regular speed version to start Side A off and then another, slower, more brutal version to close it out. I’ve always dug that.

“Bed Crumbs” starts out with a nice little bit of driving bass from the great David Ryley before the guys do their version of something like a backwoods AC/DC riff that has been tortured by angry cyborgs. It’s delicious. Ryley put out the first Hillbilly 7” on his BGR Records label in 1994 and then put out the project Alex and I did, Son of Crackpipe, in 1995.

“Spanish Fly” and “Kitchen Belt” are also heavy and full of vigorous riffage. I haven’t mentioned Adrian Parkin yet, but man can that guy hit the skins. I remember listening to this before I actually got to meet those guys or see pictures of them and just picturing these hulking beasts. I mean, they had to be at least kind of scary looking to make this great, heavy music. I was wrong.

You couldn’t meet nicer guys. Pretty normal looking, too, although Alex did have some pretty long hair when we met. I suppose that gave him an edge in the early 90s. I tease, of course.

I love the opening of “Boston Baby” where Ryley goes off a bit on his bass while Alex lets the feedback ride before kicking in with Adrian leading the way. This song should have been fucking huge because it is fucking huge. Maybe it’s the subject matter. No one wants to chew bubble gum and sing about dead babies. Well, no one except me and a few thousand others who probably still love this record.

When Fudge Tunnel comes up among people in the know, it’s always fun to hear them laud the praise on these guys if they don’t know of my connection to Alex. People who know this record revere it and know, I didn’t choose that word because Revere is a town in Massachusetts. I’m not that clever.

Hate Songs just bludgeons you with one heavy riff after another. It’s fantastic. There is no real let-up on this record and the band never takes their foot off the gas. Each track just lays down the fucking law. “Gut Rot” is no different and “Soap and Water” just keeps piling it on.

For some people, the constant onslaught might be too much, but I’ve always loved how these guys just rode the horse that brought them all the way til the cover songs. I’d be remiss, too, if I didn’t mention that I’ve always loved the chorus on “Soap and Water.” You can really hear some of the post-punk influences I would later learn Alex had (and he would hip me to many of those for the first time, too).

“Tweezers” starts with another kind of backwoods-y sounding riff that was probably ripped off by about twenty stoner rock bands in the decade after Hate Songs In E Minor came out. I certainly heard enough of them try to recreate this feel at Hollywood Alley over the years. There is a super stony bridge/breakdown in the middle that is actually way more Gang of Four than Weedeater, but either band would have loved it.

In a bit of competitive irony, perhaps, humor, or just a whole lot of “Fuck you because we can!” attitude, the band covers “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and “Cat Scratch Fever” at the end of Hate Songs. These must’ve been stellar live when the band was firing on all cylinders. They are also just really fucking fun to listen to at loud volumes.

Fudge Tunnel eventually turns them both into a volley of mottled noise, grunts, and big guitars. Perfection.

Dedicated to the fuckin’ Nuge! Turn this record up when you play it.

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February 2024: Welcome
Cult love.jpg




Released on my birthday in 1985, the Cult’s is another of those records that just felt like it was mine from the beginning. From the first note I heard of , I was in. It was one of those records that dominated an entire section of my high school life.

It blows me away that in about 20 months or so, I will have had my gatefold copy of for 40 years. I feel like Jeremy Piven’s character in when he says, “10 years, man. 10. Years.” But for this, it’s 40.

“Every day, Nirvana.”

As great as Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy are on the opening track, and they are, it’s the bass line that gets me going. It’s simple and you’ve probably never noticed it, but it just keeps things moving like a motherfucker. Jamie Stewart laid down the straightforward bass on . Thank you, man. Thank you.

“Nirvana” is a great song. It kicks things into gear and sets a nice table. I always sort of wished, and I think I told Ian Astbury this when I interviewed him last year, that the band Nirvana chose their name because of the song. I have no idea if there is any semblance of truth to that, but I hoped it.

When “Big Neon Glitter” kicks in, I am there and ready. It takes me back to being in Bill’s old muscle car, maybe sharing a toke, and riding around like we were kings of the world. It felt like everyone I knew and loved in the mid-80s loved this record. It was a record that people of different groups and subcultures could bond over, kind of like the first Violent Femmes record.

By the time the Cult played Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (The Madhouse on McDowell) in May of 1987 opening for (and blowing away) Billy Idol, we were all in a frenzy to see these songs live. I’ll never forget that night. Being down there on the floor of the Coliseum rubbing shoulders with everyone from the music scene in town. All the cool kids were there, and I felt like I was one of them.

“Big Neon Glitter” just about brought tears to my eyes and “Love” is about to drive me over the edge. It reminds me of my old friend, Vince. He’s not with us anymore, but we had more than a few conversations about how great this record was and is.

One of the last times I talked to him before he died, he was asking me to do a band with him and a few other dudes. He was friendly with the Cult guys and if we would have been able to put it together, Vince had a direct support slot for them at some big to-do in San Diego. I thought it would have been a lot of fun, but alas, it never happened.

I miss that guy.

  • is another in a long list of records that made me want to play music. I used to listen to this in my teenage bedroom and imagine what it would be like to play in the band. They seemed so amazing. I never really wanted to be a guitar hero or anything, but Billy Duffy certainly made it look like the coolest thing. His solo near the end of “Love” is just bad ass.

“Brother Wolf, Sister Moon,” strikes me as a bit long these days, but it’s easy to get lost in it still. I like the flow of the other songs on the record so much better, but the pace of “Brother Wolf…” is akin to some of the songs the band had during their Death Cult and Southern Death Cult incarnations. I do start getting antsy, though, during the song.

It conjures up images in my head of the walk between the apartment my mom and I shared on 22nd Street, just south of Indian School and Town and Country Mall. I must’ve made that walk 500 times in 1986 and 1987. There was a skateboard involved for some of those, too, but it was something to do.

My brain would go into overdrive, though, on many of those walks up to meet one friend or another or just to get out of the house. Ben would be with me often, too, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to do the trek by myself, especially when I was working at the Colonnade. It’s strange how a combination of notes and lyrics can take you back through time. I can easily see the sky above me as I passed through the business park that was just south of Town and Country.

Love really is a tremendous record. It’s got super heavy stuff mixed in with some really great and moody post-punk. I would never have called it “post-punk” in those old days, but I’m not sure I really knew what that term meant yet. I just thought it rocked.

“Rain” is a ball buster. “Hot sticky scenes, you know what I mean/Like a desert sun that burns my skin.” Yep, Ian. I know what you meant. The lyrics are really simple, but to those of us from the desert, it was like Astbury was speaking directly to us. More really great work from Jamie Stewart here, too.

“The Phoenix,” though is Billy Duffy’s time to fucking shine. It’s another song that I held near and dear to my heart. It has the name of my hometown in it, even though Astbury confirmed to me that there was no thought of Phoenix, Arizona in his head when he wrote the lyrics. He does like it here, though. At least that’s what he says.

Duffy rips this song in half and then makes a sandwich out of it with himself in the middle. Every one of us out here knows what the “heat from a thousand suns” feels like. Put on some good headphones or earbuds and listen to this one. Loud. I wonder how many wah wah pedals have been bought trying to copy Duffy’s sound here.

A lesser band would have been satisfied with the songs that I have mentioned already, but Love is kind of just getting started by the time “Hollow Man” comes on. This one is another one that now reminds me of the band’s earlier material. It might have the strongest chorus on the record outside of the next couple of songs, come to think of it. Until now, I never really thought of “Hollow Man” as kind of a pop song, but it really is.

“Revolution” has that anthemic quality that many of the Cult’s songs have. It’s not particularly great in any one area, but Astbury’s sheer will to command the microphone raises it up. It was a great choice to go between “Hollow Man” and “She Sells Sanctuary,” I can tell you that. Just like how “Nirvan” sets the table for side one, “Revolution” is a nice change of pace before “She Sells Sanctuary” tears the record wide open again.

I was such a fan of “The Phoenix” and “Rain” that I would often say that I wasn’t a big fan of “She Sells Sanctuary” back in the day. I think I liked being a bit contrary in those days, but I can freely admit know that “She Sells Sanctuary” is one of the best songs to come out in the mid-80s. It’s just super solid, catchy, and I love singing along with it.

  • is sturdy and stocky. You can’t push it over easily. I love that it finishes like a classic spaghetti western with “Black Angel.” You can just see Lee Van Cleef with a stringy bandana tied around his neck riding off into the sunset after having killed the bad guy.

“All this while, the storm is raging on.”

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February 2024: Welcome
Rush Farewell.jpg



During the days of Religious Skid, my older brother from another mother, Tom, would share music with me. We would be driving somewhere in his cool red truck, and he’d pop a cassette tape in the player. One of the ones that I would often request was by Rush. Initially, this was because I liked it a little bit and it would keep the Queensryche safe in its case.I hated that shit.

Over a short period of time, though, became one of my favorite records, so much so, that I bought my own copy of it on cassette and then CD and then vinyl. When I learned they had recorded the record in Wales, I felt a new level of kinship with it, like someone does when they realize someone they’ve just met is from their hometown. In 1989, I listened to all the time. It was probably my first real love affair with prog.


The song that really cemented my love for was “Cygnus X-1.” It’s epic and gigantic and full of the kind of rock and roll that was starting to really pique my curiosity in those days. I mean, I loved Pink Floyd and some of the more well-known Rush songs, but “Cygnus X-1” (and its four parts) blew me away.

Part of this, as I look back, was connecting with Tom musically, too. We were bandmates and I felt so fortunate that he and his friends welcomed me as I sort of thrust myself on them as their new punk rock singer. For me to adopt one of his favorite records as one of my own favorites was huge for me. I was so stoked to have an older brother-type in my life (and still am).

It was a few years after I started to love that I fully began to embrace the utterly ridiculous musicianship on this record. Rush is a great band. I wanted to dismiss this earlier in life because my friends who loved Rush were so damn fanatical about them. I don’t know how many times I had to say, “No, Rush is not the greatest band that ever lived” to people.

Of course, I have come to accept their greatness.Having seen them live a good half-dozen times and willfully listened to just about everything they’ve ever done, I can say I am a fan, too. “Cygnus X-1” is what did it for me. I love that little riff at about the 7:15 mark. It reminds me of the theme music to Halloween III: Season of the Witch before the band starts cranking. BY the time you get to the 8:05 mark, you’re just in for it.

Sofa king good.

I mean, the whole album is great. It’s them saying to the world, “Yes, we know you loved 2112. We love it, too, but how about this?” When good bands decide to make a statement, the rest of us benefit from it. Rush made a number of great statements over the years.

Wales had a great impact on the band, clearly. There is something almost courtly and incredibly precise about how “A Farewell to Kings” kicks off the record. It’s pretty, then pretty and powerful, and then just stellar in its full-on groove. Good Rush songs are kind of timeless, you know?

In a way, this album sounds like 1977, but when you were eight that year and not aware this album even existed on a conscious level, then it doesn’t associate itself with those disco-tinged years when so much of my favorite punk music was being born. Rush is not disco and it’s not punk. is something else.

The sun starts to rise as “Xanadu” blasts off. There is an ethereal quality to the song that’s helped along by Neil Peart’s fantastic percussion bits at the outset. You can almost see the eastern sky turning pink and purple and gold. Tiny green upstarts are unfurling, dripping morning dew down their stalk to a waiting inchworm. The world is new.

As the sun starts to shine, Geddy, Alex, and Neil are there to lead us to “Xanadu” and it’s wonderful. Alex Lifeson’s guitar runs make it easy to see why so many of the guitar dudes I knew in high school were so into Rush. If you could get some of his riffs down, you were doing something right.

As a bass player, I don’t even bother trying to rip off Geddy Lee. The guy is just in a class by himself, especially when you consider that he was often using foot pedals to do keyboard/synthesizer stuff and creating a sound that three people would have stoked to make, let alone one.

According to Rush lore, the band recorded the song in one take. That might not seem like much to folks who have never recorded a song in the studio, but because it is an 11-minute song, it’s huge. My mind just boggles at the idea that this masterpiece was a one-take gem. All the ore reason to never consider covering a Rush song without completely deconstructing it.

“Closer to the Heart” kicks off Side Two of the record. This is the radio hit on the record and it’s a good one at that. When Rush wanted to give the casual fan something to latch onto, they were more than capable. I can feel my brain just running down the drain at the opening riff. I’m in, I’m there, and I’m going to sing along.

Another reason I love this record is that it is yet another example of a great record that is all killer and no filler. It’s all bud, no shake or seeds. It’s rich Corinthian leather. “Cinderella Man” is a great song and “Madrigal” a very nice change of pace. The synthesizer line that almost sounds like a whistle is so pleasing.

Thanks to Tom for this one. I appreciate it more all the time.

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February 2024: Welcome
king missile.jpg




At some point in the later 90s, King Missile came to town to play at the Mason Jar. By that point, Franco, the legendary owner of the Jar, and I had become pretty good at working with each other. I asked for and received the opening slot for the show. Hillbilly Devilspeak was definitely not the best match in town for King Missile’s quirky rock/folk/post-punk/alternative pop hybrid, but I loved them and wanted the show.

I was stoked. I had gotten hip to them after watching Sunday Night Music on channel 12 one night when Bongwater was on the show. Dave Rick played guitar in Bongwater, and I learned that he had another band, King Missile (as well as many others). This was well before the song “Detachable Penis” came out.

When King Missile’s came out in 1991, I was all over it. I was super keen on all the weirdo New York poppy bands thanks to seeing Bongwater and I scarfed up everything I could find for a while.A lot of it was not so great, but really pushed the right buttons.

So, we play our set that night at the Jar for about forty or so people. Not a great turnout for the “Detachable Penis” band who didn’t tour often, but I noticed that John S. Hall, the King Missile guy, watched our whole set. He was very nice and said he enjoyed it a lot. They played and were great, doing a few of the songs off of that I loved and afterwards, I talked with Hall for a while.

He was a very strange guy. To this day, I don’t know if he was fucking with me or thought I was fucking with him. I did heap a fair amount of praise on him and talked his ear off about how much I love but he got really intense and seemed to want to be very close when talking. I was weirded out by it and made an excuse about having to get up early and bailed.

Later on, though, I realized that many musicians want to be right there with you when they talk. My theory is that hearing damage and being used to being in a van with four or five other people kind of destroys the idea of personal space. I probably should have hung out a little longer and talked with him.

Either way, though, is another one of these records that I just thoroughly love. It is filled with humor and irony, but also just has moments that rock the fuck out. Hall wrote some great lyrics, too.

It’s actually a very wordy record which makes a lot of since because Hall had gained some renown as a poet in New York City before the band got going. “You’ll never make it/no need to fake it/giggled the antichrist/just put on an Otis Redding record and dance,” is one of the great lines in the opener/title track “The Way to Salvation.”

Rick’s guitar work is pretty darn stellar on this record, too. He’s got a nice, crunchy thing going on for the rhythm of “The Way to Salvation” but drops in all these tasty little licks to punctuate it. Think backwards, what the fuck, poppy stuff. The partnership between Rick and Hall is really fantastic as both seem to enjoy taking the piss out of the rock and roll establishment.

“Life” has some really great guitar, too. “This is life/the one you get/so go and have a ball/This is life/don’t worry it will kill you/don’t worry it’s delicious/don’t worry it will be over sooner than Shiva can open an eye.” Dude definitely has the words at his disposal and uses them like a charm on the entirety of

As a Bongwater and Harry Nilsson fan, there was something about “The Boy Who Ate Lasagna and Could Jump over a Church.” It is very much an ode (intentional or not) to Nilsson’s record, which I love. The song also has a very Bongwater-ish feel to it. It’s only about 90 seconds long, but it’s great.

As the music swells to crescendo early in “The Story of Willy,” you can’t help but get sucked into it. I love the drama of King Missiles work. This is another one that just shows how well Hall and Rick played off each other. As I listen to the song, I can just see them having a fucking blast in the studio recording this stuff then listening back and laughing their asses off. I really hope they were doing this with the sense of humor I feel in it.

There is a lot of silliness in As much as I love a serious, heartfelt piece of work from a band, I am also very down with the silly. “Dinosaurs” is a perfect example. The words are a pretty radical little diatribe about dinosaurs, but the band behind Hall is playing the sort of dark, psychedelic rock riffage behind him replete with some excellent organ/keyboard.

“I Wish” is another charmer about story telling. “I wish I knew the one about the dog that dressed like a cat,” is just one of the great things Hall wishes during the song. Another, “I wish I could eat the corn of joy and sorrow” is truly inspiring. “The Indians” would probably the band ridiculed this day for the use of the tom-tom sound, but the words are actually some pretty interesting commentaries on human nature, specifically those that colonize.

As the middle of the record hits, there are some really great and rockin’ moments. “It’s” starts out with more interesting work from Rick that drives the song. By this point in Hall’s words are just washing over you in waves. I love that you have to listen closely to King Missile to really get it. If you don’t, you still might really enjoy it because the songs are well-crafted and there is enough ‘clever’ in them to make you smile a lot.

Pay attention, though, people. This record is worth if you are willing to give it ¾ of an hour.

The only single off this record is the song “My Heart Is a Flower.” It’s some nice 60s inspired pop/folk/psychedelia with a ton of groovy organ in it. I’m certain it was meant to comment on the aforementioned genres with Hall’s signature razor-tipped alacrity, but for me, it’s just a lead in to my favorite song on the record.

“Pickaxe” is a rock and roll gem about love and the loss of said love. It may be one of the best songs I’ve ever heard about how it feels to have your heart ripped out by someone you love. Hall’s choice of words is perfect. And, again, Rick just shines on this one.

I haven’t mentioned the excellent work of drummer David Ramirez and multi-instrumentalist Chris Xefos. The band that rocked this album is fucking great. I think is the only record the four of them did together. It’s a shame they couldn’t have kept it together, but each of the guys were playing in a bunch of cool bands at the time.

The album is far from over after “Pickaxe” but for me, that’s the apex of the record. “Sex With You” has a cool heavy funk riff in it that is reminiscent of the Cheech and Chong song, “Earach In My Eye,” to me. “Part two” takes up where “The Boy Who Ate Lasagna and Could Jump Over a Church” left off. It’s so random and great.

“Betrayal Takes Two” is a fun cover of Richard Hell and the Voidoids done sort of whiny and countrified. “Listen to Me” seems like a holdover from the earlier days of the band, but I dig it. “Come Closer” is another set of great irony-filled lyrics set over some cool instrumentation.

The album closes “Scotland” which is just silly and “To Walk Among the Pigs.” The latter is a very nice bookend to the opener/title track “The Way to Salvation.” Xefos really makes this song work providing a cool organ riff for Hall to talk over. Perfect, really, as a last song.

Let’s weed out all the “non-piggish” things, shall we? Hours of entertainment for the price of one CD in 1991. That’s a winner.

February 2024: Welcome
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The definition of the word “hardcore” has changed a lot for me over the years. I think the first time I really remember thinking a lot about it was the 1979 film, , which starred George C. Scott and a totally creepy Peter Boyle. I watched it on our cable TV thing called ON-TV and was pretty unnerved by it. I was ten, though, so it wasn’t exactly the kind of movie I could comprehend at the time.

From there, the word “hardcore” would switch over to being an adjective that described the music I gravitated towards. In 1986 or so, I started getting turned onto the New York Hardcore scene when somebody turned me on to the CroMags. I liked what they were doing a lot.

I also saw D.R.I. play at the Mason Jar in 1986. It was a seminal show for me. Admittedly, I went to that one because I had the money and it was at the Jar, which was a short walk from the apartment I shared with my mom. I also loved the flyer for it which featured a skull with exploding eye balls. It was very psychedelic and fun to look at on acid.

That was the first time I ever saw Sacred Reich and a band called Desecration played, too. They were very metal and, as I was prone to do, I loved metal on the down low. Both opening bands became new favorites for me on the local scene. It was not much longer before Sacred Reich started having some serious success.

Anyway, though, D.R.I. was a revelation. The songs were so fast and so hard. To me, at the time, this was hardcore. I didn’t think it could get any harder, really, and the adrenaline I felt that night was certainly palpable. I remember going around the pit and getting punched right in the nose by a guy I went to high school with at Camelback. Ronnie was his name. He drove a VW Bug and signed my yearbook at the end of that year, “Ronnie Cumbubble.”

I think that was Ronnie’s way of welcoming me to his scene. I don’t know. Either way, I bled a lot and got lots of pats on the back for being a trooper. There was no way I wasn’t going to get my $5 worth of exercise at that show.

The thing is, I didn’t go out and buy any D.R.I. records after that. It wasn’t until the next year when came out that I bought my first D.R.I. wax. It was a record that divided a lot of people, too.

To me, fit right in with some of the other heavier/hardcore punk I was listening to at the time. I had a copy of S.O.D.’s , for example, on cassette and my buddy, Jason, had made me a cool mixed cassette with bands like Crumbsuckers and Agnostic Front on it. I don’t know what happened to that tape and Jason ended up working at a prison last I heard.

A lot of people were not down with . The girl I was dating in 1987/88, Suzi (RIP) had given me a poster for the record she had gotten somewhere, and I proudly displayed it for many years. I had no particular allegiance to the early D.R.I., so when they went a little more into the Thrash Metal thing and upped the production on , it didn’t bum me out at all.

If you listen to it now, it still holds up quite well with some of those other bands I mentioned earlier. It’s not the greatest record ever made, but it is certainly a lot of fun. kicks off with “The Five Year Plan” which has the extremely infectious chorus bit of “I Lose, You Win” which then morphs into “I Win, You Lose” by the end of the song.

The way starts off, though, you know what you are in for right away. If you are not in the mood for headbanging, you should probably avoid this one. There are no weak moments, ballads, or needless riffage. Everything has its place. Even “Decisions” which is the last song on Side A and comes in at just over five minutes is neither too long nor too short. It is just right.

Speaking of “Decisions,” I particularly like that one. It comes on the heels of “I.D.K.Y.” which is another favorite, too. Just heavy and straightforward with some excellent riffage from guitarist Spike Cassidy.

This is one of those records that makes me wish I played in a band like this. It occurred to me while thinking about this one that a lot of the records I’m writing about this year are ones that I wished I could have been part of the writing/recording process.

One of the most fun memories I have from a short trip to San Francisco/Berkeley/San Jose that North Side Kings did in 2007 was meeting Chumly Porter (RIP) who played bass in D.R.I. for a few years in the 90s and roadied for them for a long time. He was a friend of my buddy, Alex, and when we played Gilman Street, he came out.

We hit it off right away. Chumly was a big dude. A mountain of a man, really, and was probably intimidating to many people over the years of his way too short life. After NSK got done playing, he pulled me aside and said, “You’re the second-best bass player in hardcore.” When I asked him who the first was, he just smiled and gave me an “aw shucks” shrug.

He was very kind and his words made me feel really good for a long time. We did play particularly well that night as it was the last of three straight shows and if you couldn’t get up for playing Gilman Street, then you’re doing it wrong.

I digress, though.

It occurs to me that “I.D.K.Y.” is pretty similar to an NSK riff, so Danny might have lifted it from them. I’ll have to ask them. That’s a great thing about hardcore, actually. All the bands steal from each other.

I’m very fond of the entire B Side of It’s just, well, snappy. From “Hooked” to “Oblivion,” the songs just move. “Go Die” and “Redline” are both standouts, too. And damn it, I can’t not mention “Fun & Games.” I love a good syncopated start/stop beginning to a song and “Fun & Games” has this cool little pause in the main riff, too, where the band kind of holds for half a second before finishing the riff. People don’t realize how hard this is to pull off well. Kudos to their drummer, Felix Griffin, on this one. He rules across the whole record, but he truly shines on “Fun & Games.”

“Oblivion” is a killer song to close with, too. It’s actually the longest song on the record, but it has some street sounds at the front that add on to it quite a bit. It’s very typically metal, but I mean that in the best way. D.R.I. cleaned up the table with this one and left me wanting more.

I forget about this record sometimes, but the other day, I thought about the poster. Funny how the brain works sometimes. Listening to “Oblivion” again tells me that I ripped off the cadence for one of the Religious Skid songs. Thanks Kurt (Brecht)!

February 2024: Welcome
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Yesterday I talked a little about how some of these records I’m writing about fall into the category of music I would have liked to have made myself. I think there are three or four categories here:

  1. Records I just love. They have fully impacted my life.

  2. Records I wish I could have played on or been there for the writing process. These inspire me to be better at making music.

  3. Records that I am baffled by because they are so good, and I know I could not have added anything to making them, but I sure do like listening to them and writing about them.

  4. Records that I just love and back to first one again.

At some point, I picked up Throwing Muses’ Limbo used on CD in the early 2000s, I think, or maybe late 90s. It was one of those things where I saw it and knew that I liked groovy indie rock and had heard some good things about the band. I had no preconceived notions and I have zero recollection of anyone telling me to buy this particular offering by the band.

Limbo was destined to be part of my collection. I’m certainly glad I was chosen to be in this record’s orbit because it is great. It’s just a wonderful rock and roll record.

Some of my friends have kidded me because of my soft spot for the lady singers. I happen to love it when women rock out. I don’t believe it should be a guy thing and never have. You’d be surprised, though, how many of the fellas in the music world are intimidated when the gals blow the doors off the building during a set. It really sucks that people get all twisted up by what a person has or doesn’t have in their knickers when it comes to playing music.

I have to admit that I don’t know much about the history of Throwing Muses. Since I tend to get a little obsessive about a lot of bands and learn way too much about them, it’s kind of nice when I don’t. I’ve explored other parts of their catalog and have liked what I’ve heard, but I have stayed almost exclusively with Limbo during the two decades of our “relationship.”

Why would I stray? As mentioned, this record fucking rules. “Buzz” kicks things off with a nice, bendy and fuzzy guitar riff before one of the coolest opening lines I’ve ever sung along to kicks in: “Fell out of the sky, I…Fell out of the sky, I…/check the time while you wait for your clothes to dry/I cut lemons and lemons and limes.”

Throwing Muses were definitely very adept at the Pixies-school of quiet and loud, quiet and loud. If you like the Pixies, you will probably love Throwing Muses, too, but they aren’t aping them on this record. In fact, I would be happy to copy some of these songs someday myself.

As a category 2 record, I love this one because it seems like these songs would be terribly fun to play. Kristin Hersh has such a cool style with her songwriting and I’m a huge sucker for her voice. It’s got a bit of cute going on, but it’s also super strong. When she belts it out, she really belts it out. “Ruthie’s Knocking” is a great example of this quality. I envision Hersh standing at the microphone in the studio just belting this one out.

“Freeloader” is a song that, at first glance, most of us can identify with if we have people in our lives that never seem to contribute to whatever is going on. I mean, sheesh, if you can’t contribute with resources, at very least, contribute with your personality. The twist here is that Hersh is not singing about sponging off others. She’s writing about being free enough to experience the world in your own way.

As a fan of trees, I have loved “Freeloader” for a long time. It may even be one of the inspirations behind my neglected story, The Trees. I love the line, “I’m headed for the trees over there/If that’s not a destination, I don’t care.” You know, the destination in each of our lives is uniquely our own unless we give that away.

In doing a tiny bit of research about Limbo, I did learn that the record was recorded in New Orleans. I wonder what impact that had on the performances. There is a way that Hersh sings “The Field” that makes me think of the Big Easy a little bit. She really intones the first words of each verse in a way that reminds me of the South. That big guitar sound is great, too.

The bass is quite good, too, across the record. Bernard Georges has a nice, comfortable style that allows Hersh’s guitar to provide the attack while he hangs back with drummer, David Narcizo, and creates the element of swing that flows through Limbo. It’s really fucking good.

“Limbo” is a mesmerizing riff. I’ve always dug it. Hersh also does not get enough credit, at least in my circles, for her lyrics. “Baby, go back to your womb/you pulled my limbs one by one in your limbo” is just incredible.

“Kissing you is like kissing gravel/but feels like getting off/kissing you is like sinking/down into the moss.”

The above line is from “Tar Kissers.” I always thought she sang, “but feels like getting drunk.” Those are the best kind of kisses, sometimes, but I’ve been singing it wrong for a long time now. Either way, it’s a lovely song.

As I dive further into Limbo today, it’s more and more apparent it is the lyrics on this record that have their claws in me. I can’t see a day when I don’t feel somewhat emotional when I listen to “Serene.” You just need to listen to it. I don’t want to explain it other than the cello on it is fucking perfect.

I didn’t mention “Tango” and like “Mr. Bones,” these are songs I love because they are on the record, but that’s about it. I never skip them, if that tells you anything. Kind of like “Serene,” though, “Night Driving” is just so damn beautiful. As I listen to it right now, here in this moment, with my ear buds in, it feels like Hersh is just singing to me. I’ve never met her and probably never will, but it’s just so fucking gorgeous.

“You can talk a blue streak. You can talk til you’re blue. And we won’t feel any finer than we do.”

Sums it up pretty well. Apologies to “Cowbirds” and “Shark.” Both of them are great, too, especially “Shark.” I just don’t know what else I can say. I just love this record and if you’ve never heard of it, you have now. Go listen to it. Now.

PS. There is a hidden track called “White Bikini Sand.”  It’s lovely, too. Get back to listening. Thank me later.

Get in Touch
February 2024: About Me
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The kids are all right. If you don’t believe me and you love punk rock, listen to Violent Closure by GEL. It’s everything you could possibly want.

I got a text message from my buddy, Mike, who is a very cool and terribly underrated local band, Sick In The Head, in 2022 asking me if I was going to go see GEL at some house near downtown. In my head, I was like, “Who?” So, I checked’em out and holy fucking right on, Batman, I was stoked on them immediately.

Stupidly, I was not feeling too hot the night of the show, so I bailed on it (Huge regret), but I did see them last summer when they played the Rebel Lounge. In the time since that fateful text from Mike, though, I have told anyone who would listen to check out GEL.

Violent Closure is just over ten minutes long but because of the immenseness of the rock contained within, it seems longer. It’s like the six-million-dollar woman started a hardcore band. I kind of love that idea.

What if they rebooted the Six Million Dollar Woman and she was the front person of a hardcore band like GEL? That would be epic. She could have the stage name, Jamie Bummers. TV world, are you listening to me? You should.

Back to Violent Closure, though.  The first thing I noticed when I listened to them back in October of ’22 was how ferociously they attacked these songs. Sometimes I want a band to just attack me with their music. I want to feel like they are sizing me up, giving me the stink eye, and ready to throw blows. GEL does that for me.

In fact, at first listen, I didn’t realize the band was female-led. The vocals could go either way. I watched a video for “XOXO,” I think, the opening track and was blown away. These young people were tearing this music a new one. After the show at the Rebel, my buddy, Aaron, and I went back and said hello to the band. They were super kind and cool.

“XOXO” just kicks you right in the balls. Fuck, the whole seven-song EP kicks you right in the balls. If you don’t have balls, it’ll still kick you there. There is a reason the Rebel was packed that night back in July, too. GEL brings it, every bit of it, live.

“Violent Closure” is just pure sickness. At just under two minutes long, this is the way punk rock should be played. I’m sure there is some fancy new genre name for a band like GEL, but goddamn, this is punk rock. When the band does a little pause around the :45 second mark, you have a chance to catch your breath and then the assault continues. It’s fucking fun.

GEL makes me want to cuss a lot. Maybe because it speaks to my inner teenager. I’ve developed a pretty big musician crush on these lot if you can’t tell. I’m old enough to be their dad, for sure, and maybe their granddad, but I don’t care. I will do my best to make every show they do in Phoenix from here on out.

“Assumption” is another great song. I love how Sami, the singer, staggers her vocal attack on it. “Bitchmade” is also quite badass. We talked to Bobko, the bass player, for a bit. He was pretty darn cool, too. At least I think that’s what he said his name was. By the end of the night, he and Aron were hugging it out. I love that many of my friends can make new friends anywhere.

“Freaks” is another good one. Just punk rock. Most of these tracks are right around the 90 second mark in length. Listening to them makes me want to do a straight up punk rock band like this but I don’t know if I could do more than a 15-minute set. Anyone want to do this with me? I guess Hillbilly Devilspeak needs some new songs.

“Turbulence 2.0” and “P.O.V.” are the two last songs. I haven’t talked about lyrics at all in this missive because I have no idea, nor do I really care what Sami is singing about. I met her, she seems very positive, and the kids love GEL. If the kids love GEL, they aren’t talking shit about anyone or doing anything bad. You can take that to the bank. Plus, my friend MJ likes them, and she wouldn’t support a douche-y band.

There are a handful of bands that are putting out new punk rock and doing it right. Count GEL among them. Give it a shot and put some in your hair.

Get in Touch
February 2024: Welcome
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Life is full of twists and turns. You can literally go lifetimes within your own little world without thinking about certain things. Albums, for example, come into your life and become important and then they are gone. It’s really very few that remain a constant. Most have their place then fade into different corners of your memory.

I was nine years old when Electric Light Orchestra put out Discovery. I was no stranger to the band at that point because they were pretty huge. My dad definitely had a few ELO records in his collection, and we listened to them a lot. I liked them a lot and still do. I have a few ELO records in my own collection now and Discovery is most certainly one of them.

Over time, though, my love for Discovery has not really grown. It’s easy to say I went about forty years without listening to the whole thing. In thinking about what albums have touched my life (and having the goal to write about 366 of them, stupid leap year), I chose to include Discovery in the mix, so it was time to revisit it.

My first impression, after all these years, is that ELO was bitten by the disco bug and not in a great way. “Shine a Little Love” is a fine song, I suppose, but the disco overtones lose me a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of disco music. I like to dance and there is an aspect to the 70s craze that hits me right in the feelers. It can take me back to certain memories and feelings pretty quickly.

“Confusion” is pretty darn forgettable. As a second track, it doesn’t push any buttons, but it does ring the bells of familiarity. I’m guessing I never paid much attention to it when I was in fourth grade. “Need Her Love” is a lovely little song, though, and there are all the bells and whistles (literally) that let you know it’s an ELO/Jeff Lynne gig. Beatles-lite and a little mopey, “Need Her Love” puts a smile on my face.

Now, my favorite track on the record is the last song on Side A. “The Diary of Horace Wimp” was my favorite song that year until “My Sharona” kicked it to the curb. It’s still my favorite ELO song. It’s not nearly their catchiest song and I’m probably in the minority here with my fellow ELO fans, but something about the song has always spoken volumes to me.

It’s probably the lyrics. If you are not familiar, the song has a bit of a classical meets early techno (or what I would have thought “techno” was in those days) feel. The titular character, “Horace Wimp,” is not having the best day of his life. He likes a girl and gets up the courage to meet her and ask her out. There is a bit about a “voice” speaking to Horace. He’s either crazy or has been divinely intervened upon and either way, you just know it’s not going to work out. “Don’t be afraid.”

I’ve always liked the chanted days of the week at the end. It just works (and if you listen, Saturday is not mentioned). Oh, Horace.

“Last Train to London” is straight up disco. There is a groove happening on the song, for sure. As I listen, I know I need to play it when I DJ next. Probably in between a couple of heavier post-punk songs. I definitely liked this one as a kid. Great bass line by Kelly Groucutt, too.

The B side is far superior to the A side on Discovery. I remember (and still do) enjoying the song “Midnight Blue” quite a bit back in the day. Lynne was really into the modulated vocal sound in those days, and it was fun to listen to as a young’un. I’m a sucker for this type of ballad. It’s a sad song and Lynne’s lyrics are just sappy enough to tug on the heart strings just enough when you combine it with his signature delivery. Goddamn he wanted to be Paul McCartney.

“On the Run” is a fun one. It’s super 70s sugar pop and who in my age group (and probably some of the 20 somethings) is not a sucker for a bit of saccharine in their pop music. The original album closes so strong with “Wishing” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” that you can forgive some of these more forgettable songs.

This album reminds me of riding around in my dad’s dark blue Camaro with the T-tops. It was quite a car. I bet he humored me by listening to this one. He probably preferred (and rightly so) some of their other work.

“Wishing,” though, is a really great song. The whistling in the beginning really sets you up for that beautiful chorus. If the whistling did its job, you are sucked right in. The verses have that sad tinge, but there is a layer of hope there, too. Lynne was a master at layering the vocals to create a really huge, natural chorus sound.

After the sweetness of “Wishing,” the last song, “Don’t Bring Me Down” sounds like the huge rock and roll number it was and is. I have to imagine “Don’t Bring Me Down” is a lot of ELO fans favorite song. It’s raucous and a lot of fun. What does he say there, “Bruuuuuce?” or is it, “Baaarrruce?” I refuse to look it up. I don’t want to spoil it.

Who says you can’t go home? I think you can if you put on the right record. Give it a try.

February 2024: Welcome
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Sometimes you are stuck in a time warp. Thinking about the records that have shaped me as a music fan, musician, or just as a person trying to figure things out has taken me down some strange streets. Case in point, the Little River Band.

As a kid, I was definitely a fan. My dad liked them a lot (maybe still does, though I got the impression from our last conversation about them that he hadn’t given them much recent thought) and so did I back in the late 70s. A few years back I got curious and put some Little River Band on and didn’t dig it.

But…in thinking about them from a context of writing about the albums that shaped me, I have rediscovered them in a different light. When I threw on 1977’s Diamantina Cocktail, for example, I noticed that the opening track, “Help Is On It’s Way” has over 35 million plays on Spotify and track two, “The Drifter” has under 200,000. A lot of people jumped ship after that first song.

“Help Is On It’s Way” was something of a hit. I get it. It’s probably the most accessible song on the record. It’s also memorable. Like the ELO record from yesterday, it takes me back in time. The thing is, I don’t love this song. I like “The Drifter” a lot more and I even liked track three, “L.A. in The Sunshine” more, too. While “Help Is On It’s Way” has all the trappings of a radio hit, the next two are so much more interesting.

“The Drifter” has this funky backbeat thing going on that is super choice. George McArdle is playing his ass off on the bass on this one and he and drummer Derek Pellicci are locked in tight. I love it. It’s kind of a silly song but way more interesting than the opener. The sax and cor anglaise (English horn) are sweet on this song, too.

As I think about these songs, I’m guessing my dad and I were listening to their best of record from 1979 more often, but I’m sticking with Diamantina Cocktail. As mentioned, I like “L.A. in The Sunshine” a lot, too. It’s also funky and kinda silly and makes me feel good. I think it might be a tough sell for most people I know, though. There is a line in there about doing blow, too. Super 70s.

Side A is just super down home, Aussie funk after the radio song. “The Inner Light” is also quite good because of its bass line. This time it’s Roger McLachlan slapping the four stringer and he’s wailing those tasty licks (hi, Jeff). It kind of reminds me of a song that would play in the background of a 70s TV show, too, if it was an instrumental.

The B side starts off with one that I’m super into called “Witchery.” It’s pretty cheesy, but “Home on Monday” is a better song, for sure. There is a nice bit of almost steel guitar on the song, and I’ve always liked the line, “Can you guess where I am calling from? The Las Vegas Hilton.” Something about that line has always stuck with me. When I listened for the first time after many years, it was instantly familiar.

The vocals start off kind of humble and have this whole “Please, forgive me” thing going on before the middle of the song catapults it into a totally different feel. “Happy Anniversay” is another super catchy Little River Band jam. McArdle is just ruling this one, too. Who knew that I would wind up a fan of the Little River Band bass players?

Typically, I don’t even really like this style of bass, but the interplay with the drums and the three fucking guitar players is great. Lord knows I like a three-guitar band. It’s also so fucking 70s, too. My soft spot for these types of jams is a mile wide. I remember hating a lot of this shit as a kid, but now, it just sort of feels like home.

Sentimentality will make you listen to a lot of weird stuff.

“Raelene, Raelene” is a nice bit of guitar work. I can’t attribute it to any one of the three guitar players in Little River Band because I don’t care quite enough to research it, but I am enjoying its soft rock sensibilities. “Changed and Different” is definitely “changed and different” from the soulful “Raelene” squared. More nifty bass playing and some excellent piano and banjo.

Oddly, I have been playing this record in the mornings at school during breakfast time for the students. They seem to like it a lot. Who would have thought? Diamantina Cocktail might even be back in my regular rotation.

February 2024: Welcome
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There was a time when skateboarding was a crime. We were criminals in many ways, in those days, but driving around to find places to skateboard illegally was at the top of our list. Mark had a Cutlass we drove around in and a VW Rabbit, too. I don’t recollect which one we started listening to The Adicts in, but he's the one who introduced me to them and their excellent record, Sound of Music.

You had to have good music to get you stoked to skate, especially when the places you were going to skate could easily result in having to run from the police. There was one place I really liked to go that over off of Tatum between Shea and Lincoln. We called it “Double Tree” because it was part of that neighborhood. There were some nice big, easy to skate, banks that ran between some houses.

We would park at one end and then ride down to a nice mellow spot and skate as long as we could. It was not often a bust, but we also knew not to push our luck. It was a popular skate spot, too. People would bring parking blocks in there and metal rails/sign poles to get some grinds on here and there. It was so much fun.

The Adicts were in regular rotation then. It was 1986 and we cared about only a few things. One of those was good, fast music. Sound of Music provided some GREAT fast music. Before Mark got the record, I’d heard of the Adicts, of course, but I don’t know if I had ever purposefully listened to them.

That changed, though, pretty quickly, and at some point, I got my own copy of Sound of Music. I was a Sex Pistols, Damned, and Subhumans fan, as well as Exploited, but that was about the extent of the English bands I was really into in those days. After driving around for a while listening to Sound of Music, The Adicts moved up my favorites list pretty quickly.

As with a lot of the records I love, there isn’t a weak track on this record. It’s start with some extremely appropriate and mildly disorienting calliope music (who doesn’t love some good calliope music) before “How Sad” just kicks your ass (and puts a smile on your face.”

“A boy loved a girl and the girl said ‘No.’ She ran away with a handsome gigolo.”

What teenage boy can’t get down with that line? It spoke directly to our souls. Monkey’s lyrics were, and still are, fucking great.

“4-3-2-1” and “Chinese Takeaway” are also absolute beasts. There is no letting up for the first three songs, but it’s not like there is any opportunities to relax any time soon with this record. I’m sitting here chair dancing like a goon, silently mouthing the words to “Chinese Takeaway” and give zero fucks. My wife is probably sitting behind me laughing her ass off, but again, no fucks given. I love this song.

“Johnny Was A Soldier” and “Disco” are also bad ass. I think I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for “Johnny Was A Soldier” because of the line, “Johnny was a soldier/He can’t dance anymore.” As goofy and kind of English Ramones-ish a lot of The Adicts are, they also sung about some pretty serious things. So many bands ripped off The Adicts in the 80s. I’m guessing they knew that.

“Disco” is a fun one, though. It’s another one of the tracks on Sound of Music that I can’t help but bust a little move to, in a chair or otherwise. The Adicts do their very best to take a little piss out of pub rock here and it just shines.

Luckily, “Disco” shines enough to not be completely eclipsed by the kick ass Side A finisher, “Eyes In The Back Of Your Head.” Pete Davison’s guitar and Mel Ellis’ bass are just superb on “Eyes…” The song just gets more and more revved up through the first minute before taking off. Great song to skateboard to, that’s for sure.

The Adicts don’t let up at all on side two. “Joker In The Pack” is kind of an Adicts theme song for me. I love it a lot and sing it loud and proud. Michael “Kid Dee” Davison’s drum intro is just solid. Again, how many bands have aped this? (Pun totally intended)

“Lullaby” is another song that bands have stolen. My buddies (and bandmates) in Blanche Davidian have a few riffs that are highly reminiscent of “Lullaby.” This is probably because they love Turbonegro and those dudes definitely spent some time grooving to The Adicts.

“My Baby Got Run Over By A Steamroller” is probably my favorite song on the record. It’s another great song to skateboard to and you can’t help but go a little faster when this one is on the boombox. We would take tunes with us to the spots whenever we could get away with it. The Double Tree banks were a place we could sometimes get a little loud. Fucking love this song. You should listen to it. Right now. Go.

Hopefully you did and are now listening to “A Man’s Gotta Do,” too. Good song. Really good. Another fine example of Pete Davison’s riffage. I love how the song is mixed, too, with slightly different guitar bits in each ear when you have ear buds. Not bad for 1982.

“Let’s Go” has always reminded me a bit of an Adam and the Ants song. It just has that sort of guitar line. I’m guessing Pete Davison and Marco Pirroni were chums. “Easy Way Out” is another great song with a dark tinge to it lyrically. The Adicts were and are a punk rock band. Don’t forget it.

The closer, “Shake Rattle, Bang Your Head” is another one that convinces me that Turbonegro loved The Adicts. Those guys, though, took riffs like this and put some blistering lead guitar over it. Gotta love it when good bands spawn good bands.

I still think about the days of riding around with Mark trying to find places to skate when I think of Sound of Music. Ben was usually with us, too, and sometimes other friends. I can remember several times at Double Tree where we had a little crew of folks there having a good time. I felt pretty confident there, for some reason, and pulled off some of my earliest decent tricks there.

Fond memories. Viva la Adicts!

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February 2024: Welcome
DW Come Down.jpg




My buddy, Chris, used to talk about The Dandy Warhols a lot. I kind of ignored it, but I was intrigued. I had heard of them and listened to a few songs, but it took seeing the movie, Dig!, to really make me take notice.

What I like and, conversely, hate about The Dandy Warhols is their (hopefully) feigned arrogance. To me, the band comes off as pretending to be the coolest people on the planet and while it works for some music folks, it just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s better on a record.

I have heard enough stories from Chris over the years to know that at least ¾ of the band is pretty down to earth, but still. I love that they have this overarching attitude in the music, but to listen to their lead dude, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, talk makes me a little, as the kids say, cringey. He likes fucking with people, as do I, so maybe it is a bit of mishandled jealousy on my part.

Either way, I like their music and so here we go.

The Dandy Warhols Come Down is one of those records that says, “Hey! This indie rock thing is pretty rad.” It just sounds good to my earholes. After watching Dig!, for example, I thought both bands were very interesting, but I liked The Dandy Warhols’ stuff just a little bit more. As I dived into the catalogs, I kept going back to albums like Come Down and 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia (which may get a nod this year, we’ll see).

For me, Come Down edges out the latter because of two songs, “Boys Better” and “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth.” The first is a fave because it rocks and also because it is prominently featured in the film, Igby Goes Down, which I love. The second is just kind of a perfect song on many levels.

A lot of bands I love use fuzz well. One could extrapolate that I love fuzz, and I do, but I don’t go out of my way to make it happen in my own projects. For one, I’ve never been in charge of the guitar sound, and I would never tell someone what to play. Another reason is that the fuzz just sort of comes naturally in a lot of the projects I do.

I have to believe that The Dandy Warhols have carefully cultivated their sound. I don’t know this for a fact but based on what I know and have heard about them (again, thanks Chris), they are very conscious of what they want to sound like. As previously stated, I love the sound of Come Down. If you like a cool sounding record, this one is for you. I’m guessing it has been used as a sound reference for many bands when they tell their engineer what they want to sound like in the studio.

Those are fun discussions, by the way. I hope I get to have a few more before all is said and done. Back to our program…

I may have a secret envy thing going on Taylor-Taylor, too, because his songs are so fucking catchy. Even when they are not “Standout” tracks, they can still get the toes tappin’ and the neck flappin’. Yuck. I’m leaving “Neck flappin’” there because I need to be honest in my dorkiness, but I shan’t use it again.

“Be-In,” for example, is a typical Dandy’s kind of opener. It blooms like a beautiful flower, opening up to let the listener in on their whole vibe. It’s not some super memorable riff or particularly interesting, but it opens the door to Come Down. It helps that it also has the typical Dandy’s guitar riff progression.

I’m trying to think how to articulate it. Many of their songs have a kind of droning strum on a note and then do a quick two or three note change that just creates a total ear worm. As a musician, you love coming up with these kinds of hooks and as a fan, you’re drawn to them like a bee on a mission to pollinate the world.

“Boys Better” then picks up the ball and runs with it. For me, I’m hooked at this point and hoping I have the time to hang with this record for a while.  If there is a weak spot in the song, it might be the bridge for me, but I love the stuff that Zia McCabe throws in here. She saves that short part of the song and keeps it interesting. Hats off to her for keeping the low end cool, too, via keyboard.

“Minnesoter” is a fun song. Pure indie rock and cool stuff from guitarist Peter Holmström. His touches on songs are always flamboyant yet tasteful. He rarely seems to overplay, which could be part of Taylor-Taylor’s vision, or just knowing how the song needs to be played.

“Orange” and “I Love You” are lovely placeholders, but admittedly, I do find myself getting a little antsy in these songs to get to “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth.” I dig the guitar on “Orange,” and appreciate how it changes the pace of Come Down. It feels like a bit of a nod to the Pacific Northwest grunge scene, but not in a copycat kind of way. “I Love You” feels like a spacer, though, and one of those songs that a band like The Dandy Warhols does because they can.

“I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passé” is a fantastic first line. Clearly, I am a bit of a cool first line junkie. I can find them on just about any record that I love. “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” is another catchy little treat. McCabe shines on this one, too.

“Everyday Should Be A Holiday” is another very typical Dandy’s song. I like it when they pick up the tempo a bit for a little booty shaking. They do it well and this one is a mover and shaker. It’s got a bit of a Manchester-ish sound, too.

There is an East Asian/faux sitar kind of thing going on with a lot of their songs, too. “Good Morning” is a good example of this in the intro. They have the guitars all quaky and wavering (no, I didn’t say “unwavering”, and I am not AI) and it is pretty boss. Taylor-Taylor goes a little lower in his register, too, which is a nice change of pace. The guy can sing. Maybe I don’t hate him.

I could go on about the rest of the record, but I’d just be repeating myself. As with other records in this list, the weak moments here are few and far between. “Whipping Tree” is another change of pace and sound song. It works on all the levels, but it’s not super inspiring or important here for me. “Green,” is kind of the same. It’s pretty sounding and I love songs with my favorite color in the title, typically, but it barely moves my needle.

Any band that pays homage to Kim Deal is pretty okay with me, too. I do like “Cool as Kim Deal.” Mainly because of the title, of course, but it is a fitting tribute. Who doesn’t want a girl as cool as Kim Deal. I’m pretty lucky here, though, because my wife is even cooler.

As I was diving into this record, I noticed that the last three songs on the record are the ones that give band members other than Taylor-Taylor writing credit. Maybe I do hate him or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. “Hard On For Jesus” would have fit in on side one. I’m not a huge fan of the atmospheric bit that is “Pete International Airport” but it’s another palate cleanser kind of song. “The Creep Out” is a big, cool sounding ender, though, even drummer Eric Hedford gets a writing credit! I bet he probably can afford a new couch with his royalties.

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February 2024: Welcome
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The early 90s were a really important time for the development of my musical tastes. I was open to just about anything that had a cool sound, groove, or beat. My friend, KJ, insisted that I add some Alex Chilton to my collection, and she was not wrong.

“Tee Ni Nee Ni Noo/Tip On In” may be one of the truly perfect songs. It has a great groove and is just completely infectious. I love playing it when I DJ. People can’t help but be in a good mood when this song is playing. I defy anyone to truly listen to it and honestly say they don’t like it.

If you’re not familiar with it, put it on right now. It’s on all the streaming services and YouTube. Go.

See what I mean? If you didn’t actually put it on, shame on you. I’m sure you will eventually and then you’ll say, “He was right.” I’m very confident. If you buy a copy of Alex Chilton’s excellent EP, Feudalist Tarts, and you don’t like it, I will give you $15 for it any time. That’s kind of the going rate.

Feudalist Tarts is not the first thing I bought from Chilton. I got one of his Rhino Records collections on CD and just fell in love, but I had to have “Tee Ni Nee Ni Noo/Tip On In” on vinyl and Feudalist Tarts is the easiest ways to get it. While I was hoping there would be more of my favorites from the compilation, I quickly fell in love with the funky, bluesy, New Orleans’ style rock and roll on this record.

“Tee Ni Nee Ni Noo/Tip On In” is definitely my favorite song on it, but as far as a cool record to just groove your way through each short side, Feudalist Tarts is where it’s at. There is only six songs and Chilton is accompanied by a totally rad group of dudes including a rad rhythm section from Louisiana, drummer Doug Garrison and bassist René Corman.

The horns on Feudalist Tarts are also pretty damn fun with Nokie Taylor on cornet and Fred Ford on baritone sax. They both add a ton of flavor to this six pack and the record would not be nearly as kickass without them.

There is a certain sweetness to the often-moody Chilton on this record. His voice is mixed really well and comes off as upbeat even though many of the tracks are blues riffs. That’s one of the things I like about his recordings. Chilton always sounds good. On Feudalist Tarts, Chilton is right out front, especially on “Thank You John” which is pretty damn hilarious if you listen to him rip this dude, ‘John,’ throughout the song.

Chilton was also a pretty underrated guitar player. He’s got the bluesy-indie rock thing down. Talk about somebody who has not gotten the credit he deserves, although I know a lot of people dig the Big Star stuff. I could be in the minority here, but I like Chilton’s solo stuff way better.

When he played at After the Gold Rush in the early 90s, my pal Dorothy and I went to see him and I was hoping to see some of the Feudalist Tarts tracks, but it was just him and an acoustic guitar that night. It was still great, though, and it was cool to see him up close. There was hardly anyone there.

People are dumb sometimes.

On Feudalist Tarts, I like “B-A-B-Y” a lot, as well as “Thank You, John,” and “Lost My Job.” None of the tracks after “Tee Ni Nee Ni Noo/Tip On In” stand up to opener, but it’s a pleasant way to spend about 25 minutes. If you listen to the extended version available on the streamers, there are some nifty bonus tracks.

“No Sex” is Chilton’s AIDS awareness song. It’s done without any sweetness, but a keen sense of humor. It’s a groovy song and full of funny lines. “Magnetic Fields” is a rocker with a 60s greaser tinge. It’s got an early rock and roll sax line that is super catchy.

“Rubber Room” is the penultimate track on the extended version. It has a Hallowed Ground (Violent Femmes) kind of vibe with a little Cramps-y vocals. Chilton produced some of the early Cramps stuff. I think it was Songs The Lord Taught Us and I remember hearing that they were not super pleased with him when I listened to the No Dogs In Space podcast (which is pretty darn cool).

As I think of it, The Cramps would have done a bad ass version of “Rubber Room.” Maybe their work with him soured on doing any of this catalog beyond “Like a Bad Girl Should.” We’ll never know.

The last song on the extended mix is “Wild Kingdom.” It’s a funky, down tempo song with some excellent bass work, again by Corman. It’s really the best part of the song.

There is a lot to wade through in the Chilton archives, but Feudalist Tarts is one of the records I love a lot. Give it a spin.

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February 2024: Welcome
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When I became aware of Sepultura, it was because of my connection to the band through my friend, Christina, and her mom, Gloria, who was managing them. I remember meeting Max, Igor, Andreas, and Paulo at Gloria’s home, which was a place where a lot of us congregated from time to time. The guys from Sepultura barely spoke any English, but they didn’t really need to. The smiles on their faces were everything you needed to know.

They were happy to be here in Phoenix and happy to be making some great metal.

Over the years, Arise, Beneath the Remains, and Morbid Visions have all grown on me, but the first record of theirs I really loved was Chaos AD. It was also the first record I got a thank you in the liner notes for, too, which stoked me out at the time. It was fun to be on the edge watching things take off those guys and my friends.

For one thing, Chaos AD is one of those records that broke new ground in the metal genre. I read somewhere that it helped create “Groove Metal” and that’s kind of accurate, but it’s also a bit of a misnomer. What it did was show that music that was heavy as fuck could have a killer groove, too.

The riffs early in the album are completely bonkers. “Refuse/Resist” kicks things off and it’s heavy as fuck until about the two-minute mark and then it just destroys everything. I was blown away when I first heard this song thirty years ago and love it just as much now. I can forget about all the band politics and such when I put this one on.

“Territory” is another scorcher. Igor Cavalera’s drum intro is a bad mofo. I remember seeing the band at Club Rio, I think, go into this and the place just exploded. I really liked going to those shows back in the day. It was fun being on the list and going backstage and all, but they were just so good live. Max Cavalera is a great front man to this day and when Chaos AD came out, he was really coming into his own.

The songs on Chaos AD are packed full of little surprises, great breakdowns, and there is always something new and interesting coming along, but it’s never too much. “Slave New World” is another one that heavy bands have been aping for the last 30 years. Andreas Kisser did some cool, totally subtle little additions to the guitar flavor in this one (especially right before the end of the song), and as usual, Max’s rhythm is spot on.

It’s too bad things had to go south for those guys. That’s not my story to tell, obviously, but as a fan and someone who knew them all a little bit, it was bummer that they would not be playing anymore. A song like “Amen,” for example, is a good example of how underrated Sepulture was. It’s interesting, heavy, and probably not one that people talk a lot about when it comes to Chaos AD. I dig the weird vocal stuff going on here in the beginning and with the operatic bridge part, plus any time you take the piss out of the church a little bit, I’m in.

For me, both versions of “Kaiowas” are super cool to me. I know it was important for the guys to have a bit of Brazilian flavor on the record, but it’s also such a cool guitar riff. I love the chord progressions they put together. They almost remind me of something Sebadoh would have done on acoustic guitars, although Sebadoh would never had such bitchin’ tribal drums.

“Propaganda” shows a lot of the punk influence that Max was getting exposed to in the early 90s. This one really kind of foreshadows the Nailbomb (which I will write about later) stuff. I think “Biotech Is Godzilla” which features some lyrics/influence from Jello Biafra is also pretty telling of what was to come.

As the record goes on, I am consistently reminded of how much I enjoyed watching Igor Cavalera play drums. The guy was a machine. My friend, Judd, once took him to Easy Street on a Saturday when I was working alone. I made them some sandwiches and we talked about as much as we could. At the time, Max’s English wasn’t great, and Igor’s was even worse, but he lit up like a Christmas tree when I told him how much I loved his drumming.

“Manifest” is a great example of how well Igor and bassist, Paulo Jr., played together. It’s a pretty straightforward headbanger, but the bass and drums steal the show for me, even with a bunch of Andreas Kisser guitar wizardry. Take a listen and hear Igor crush the tribal drums. His tom rolls are magnificent.

“Clenched Fist” is another favorite of mine from the second half of Chaos AD. It’s a brutal little punch in the face where Max and Igor take turns stealing the song from each other. I also love the breakdown riff around the 3:15 mark. It’s heavy and serious, just the way I like’em.

I’ve always liked how the band chose to end Chaos AD. “Chaos BC” revisits “Refuse/Resist” and then “Kaiowas – Tribal Jam” ends it. It would have been fun to watch them make these remixes in the studio. It must’ve been a blast.

Thirty years later and the rock is still there. Good stuff, Sepultura.

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February 2024: Welcome




1989 & 1990

The Dead Kennedys were huge for me in the mid-to-late 80s. The more I learned about Biafra, the more liked what he had to say and, more importantly, the way he said it. When I learned that he had a collaboration with Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry, I was in like Flynn. I didn’t know much about drummer Jeff Ward, but I certainly liked his sound.

The Power of Lard burst into my consciousness like a rocket when it came out in 1989. I was always looking for anything that was heavy and and Lard was there waiting for me. I bought it right away.

“Hey, man! Life is my college.”

What a great line. It’s typical Jello Biafra, right? “Who will babysit the babysitters?” Jello Biafra has always been right up there with my favorite lyricists. I was plenty hungry for a new project of his and Lard was kickass out of the gates. I must have played this CD a hundred times in my apartment in 1989, although I usually only listened to the first two songs.

 The Power of Lard is only three songs, but one of them is over half an hour long. Jourgensen’s guitar work on the EP is pretty stellar and the two opening songs, “The Power of Lard” and “Hellfudge” allow Biafra to really do his thing. The lyrics I quoted earlier are from the former.

At the time, I don’t know if I had ever heard an almost 32-minute song, though. “Time to Melt” is an opus to self-indulgence for the studio musician. Clearly Biafra, Barker (bass), Jourgensen, and Ward had a blast making this EP. They ended up making a really kick ass follow up LP, The Last Temptation of Reid right afterwards that came out the next year.

Once I heard The Last Temptation of Reid, I was able to forgive them for “Time to Melt.” It’s not that I hated the long song, but I could have been a lot happier if the song was about four minutes long.

“Forkboy” and “Pineapple Face,” though, got The Last Temptation of Reid going right off the bat and reminded me of the type of energy that I loved from the Dead Kennedys. “Voodoo Priestesses and interplanetary crack”…such a great line that is delivered over the space rock riff. When I listen to “Pineapple Face,” my blood starts pumping. It doesn’t seem like a six-minute song at all.

The riff, of course, is total Barker/Jourgensen. I wonder how the die-hard Ministry fans feel about Lard. I’ hope they dig it. I know Biafra’s voice doesn’t do it for a lot of people but again, his lyrics are just so damn good.

Bill Rieflin played drums on “Forkboy” and “Mate Spawn & Die,” the latter of which is the third track. It’s probably why these ones sound particularly Ministry-ish, although “Mate Spawn & Die” is a total Dead Kennedys riff. Rieflin was such a good drummer.

“Mate Spawn & Die” is another one that got me going a lot. When I moved to Berkeley for half a year in 1991, I was kinda bummed that I didn’t meet more people who were as excited about Lard as I was. I hoped I might get to see them, but it never materialized.

One of the cool aspects of the Lard songs was they are substantial. They are long, but there is a lot going on in there. “Drug Raid At 4AM” is another bad ass riff and killer opening with a bunch of interesting and hilarious samples about a drug raid. I would love to know what the writing process was for these guys. I have to think Biafra was responsible for some of the riffs, but maybe not. The Ministry guys might have just channeled the DK stuff and made it their own here.

“Drug Raid At 4AM” and “Can God Fill Teeth” are both a ton of fun. Biafra is up to his “acting” schtick, doing funny voices on “Can God Fill Teeth.” It’s a nice little nuggets of weirdness, for sure.

“Bozo Skeleton” is kinda filler, but still way better than Guns N Roses. I haven’t used that line in a bit, but it’s appropriate here. Lard should have sold more copies than Appetite for Destruction.

“Sylvestre Matuschka” is another good one, though, and has some excellent Barker/Jourgensen stuff going on. I kinda love the weirdness on “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” and “I Am Your Clock” is awesome in its own way, too. Biafra is on fire on that one.  

I wasn’t super into the later Lard stuff, but these first two releases are keepers, for sure. If you haven’t checked’em out (or in a while), give them a spin.

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February 2024: Welcome
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