#242 – Run D.M.C. – Run D.M.C.

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The first of two listed albums from hip hop group Run D.M.C. is their self-titled debut. The 1984 release was considered a landmark album in the 1980’s new school hip hop world. The album was not a huge commercial success, peaking at #53 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Sara

Does it even get cooler than Run DMC? I saw these guys in Albany once and it was out of control.
Listening to this album, recorded almost 35 years ago, is special for many reasons. I spent much of the time thinking how the energy of the album indicates that the guys knew they were onto something special, but they could not possibly have any idea just how transformative they would be. Run D.M.C. is widely regarded as the first and best hip hop group of all-time and they paved the way for so many artists who’ve hit the scene since, including many on this list.
“It’s Like That” is my favorite song on the album, and is how most of us met Run, as it’s their debut single. I like it because it’s real, and it’s about where they’re from, but it’s also super positive. Run DMC has so much empowerment mixed in with the real-talk and that’s what keeps them relevant for me to this day. They speak the truth about any number of difficulties and injustices, but they’re proponents of working hard, making the most of things, and effecting change. In this and many tracks they’re basically saying “Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, the deck is stacked against you. But, you control what you do about that. You get out there and to what you can. That’s all you can do. And you’ll make yourself into something great. You got this.” I just love these guys.

You should have gone to school, you could’ve learned a trade
But you laid in the bed where the bums have laid
Now all the time you’re crying that you’re underpaid
It’s like that (what?) and that’s the way it is
Huh!

One thing I know is that life is short
So listen up homeboy, give this a thought
The next time someone’s teaching why don’t you get taught?
It’s like that (what?) and that’s the way it is

If you really think about it times aren’t that bad
The one that flexes with successes will make you glad
Stop playing start praying, you won’t be sad
It’s like that (what?) and that’s the way it is
Huh!

When you feel you fail sometimes it hurts
For a meaning in life is why you search
Take the bus or the train, drive to school or the church
It’s like that, and that’s the way it is

Here’s another point in life you should not miss
Do not be a fool who’s prejudiced
Because we’re all written down on the same list
It’s like that (what?) and that’s the way it is

I kept going and listened to the bonus tracks on this because I love it so much and we’re a ways from our next hip hop experience on here. Amazing album and an essential classic. Only a fool wouldn’t be back for Run DMC.

Steve

This was an absolute treat.

The album starts off with a cover of a Kurtis Blow songs, of all things. “Hard Times” was recorded by Blow in 1980, on the same album that included his incredibly catchy “The Breaks.” I have not heard his version of “Hard Times,” however I reatly enjoyed the Run D.M.C. version.

Hard times spreading just like the flu
Watch out homeboy, don’t let it catch you
P-p-prices go up, don’t let your pocket go down
When you got short money you’re stuck on the ground
Turn around, get ready, keep your eye on the prize
And be on point for the future shock

Hard times are coming to your town
So stay alert, don’t let them get you down
They tell you times are tough, you hear that times are hard
But when you work for that ace you know you pulled the right card
Hard times got our pockets all in chains
I’ll tell you what, homeboy, it don’t have my brain
All day I have to work at my peak
Beacuse I need that dollar every day of the weak

Hard times can take you on a natural trip
So keep your balance, and don’t you slip
Hard times is nothing new on me
I’m gonna use my strong mentality
Like the cream of the crop, like the crop of the cream
B-b-beating hard times, that is my theme
Hard times in life, hard times in death
I’m gonna keep on fighting to my very last breath

My absolute favorite track on this album was “Wake Up.” The song describes an idealized world with everyone existing together with no violence or poverty. The message of this song is timeless, and Run D.M.C. absolutely kills it.

When I woke up this morning and got out the bed
I had some really fresh thoughts going through my head
they were thoughts that came from a wonderful dream
it was the vision of a world working as a team

it was a dream (get up)
just a dream (wake up), (wake up), (get up)

There were no guns, no what
no tanks, no what, atomic bombs
and to be frank homeboy there were no arms
just people, working hand in hand
there was a feeling of peace all across the land

it was a dream (wake up)
just a dream (get up), (wake up), (wake up)

Between all countries there were good relations
there finally was a meeting to united nations
and everybody had an occupation
’cause we all worked together to fight starvation

it was a dream (wake up)
just a dream (wake up), (get up)

Everyone was treated on an equal basis
no matter what colors, religions or races
we weren’t afraight to show our faces
it was cool to chill in foreign places

it was a dream (get up)
just a dream (wake up), (wake up), (get up)
(wake up), (wake up), (get up), (wake up)

All cities of the world were renovated
and the people all chilled and celebrated
they were all so happy and elated
to live in the world that they created

it was a dream (get up)
just a dream (wake up), (wake up), (get up)

There were no street people, we live rent free
and every single person had a place to be
a job, a home and the perfect pay
and the world was free of greed and hate

it was a dream (wake up)
just a dream (get up), (wake up), (wake up)

Unemployment was at a record low
and the presidents were chillin at our show
listening to the things that we had to say
and trying to create a new and brighter day

It is funny to think of this album as being a pioneer in “new school” hip hop. Looking at it today I would consider this so old school as to be ancient. I guess it goes to show how music is always changing. I definitely prefer this style of hip hop to most of the current brand.

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#243 – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

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The second of three listed albums from heavy rockers Black Sabbath is the band’s self-titled debut album.  The 1970 release performed well reaching #8 on the UK and #23 on the US Billboard charts.  The album was not well received critically, but has since gained acclaim.  Incredibly the album was recorded in a single day with almost no overdubbing!

Sara

I expected to like this but I didn’t—I LOVED IT. This was my first time listening to Black Sabbath’s debut album and certainly won’t be the last. What blew my mind most (besides Ozzie’s vocals of course), was Tony Iommi’s guitar. It is just out-of-control good to the point that I can’t stop thinking about it now and I don’t even know anything about the guitar.

“Ozzie needs a gig—has own PA.”  is what the flyer that Iommi and drummer Bill Ward responded to said.  That local music shop advertisement started it all, and Ozzie recruited his former bandmate Geezer Butler on the bass. What not everyone may know about Black Sabbath is that there was always tension between Iommi and Ozzie, even long before the band was formed. The two knew one another since they were kids.  When responding to the fateful flyer, Iommi initially walked out of the room when he realized that the Ozzie from the ad was the same ‘pest’ he had known and disliked growing up.

Iommi tolerated the pest until 1979, when he insisted that the band fire Osbourne for substance abuse and alcoholism (comparatively bad, though the entire band was using drugs and boozing constantly). Iommi had been known to punch Ozzie out many times over the years, including knocking him unconscious because of his drunken behavior, but eventually they parted ways.

Besides that randomness, there’s another story that almost prevented Black Sabbath from existing—Toni Iommi lost the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right hand in a factory accident as a teenager.  Had it been worse, who knows.

The first song we ever heard from Black Sabbath is called ‘Black Sabbath,’ off the album ‘Black Sabbath.’ So not only is it easy to remember, but it’s sort of about Satan! Now that I’m looking at the words it’s downright terrifying, but who wouldn’t expect that out of Ozzie?  This song is so good that even Ice-T has sampled it twice. 

What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I’m the chosen one
Oh no

Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan’s sitting there, he’s smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please god help me!

Is it the end, my friend?
Satan’s coming ’round the bend
People running ’cause they’re scared
The people better go and beware
No, no, please, no
 

The rest of the album I was on autopilot just listening and taking in one breathtaking guitar solo after another coupled with Ozzie’s unique and powerful voice.

I don’t really have much to say except that this got me thinking about the reality show The Osbournes and wondering what ever happened to Aimee, the Osbourne kid who didn’t want to be on the show. She’s a musician! Synth pop, to be exact, and here’s her most popular release, ‘Raining Gold,’ It’s quite good, but her expression through most of it freaks me out. She’s making the face I make when there’s hardly any toilet paper on the roll and I’m trying to calculate how much I can take without leaving blatantly too little for the next person to use, not so much that I have to (gasp) change the roll, but also enough to take care of my biz.

Sorry for the digression—not in a writing mood tonight but I loved this one. Well-deserving of this place on the list.

Steve

This was one hell of a debut album.  I think that a lot of the reason it is so effective, is that the band played it “live” in the recording studio.  I think that in many cases a lot of modern music is perfected too much in the studio.  Black Sabbath was worried about spending extra money on recording studio time, and the result is this classic album.

My favorite track on this album is “Evil Woman.”  This is actually the only single released from the album, and it still receives occasional radio play today.  It is not as technical musically as many of the tracks on this album, but I see why it was the single.  It has a bit more broad stream appeal.

I’ve seen a look of evil in your eyes
You’ve been filling me all full of lies
Sorrow will not change your shameful deeds
Do well best, someone else has better seen 

Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me 

Now I know just what you’re looking for
You want me to claim that child you bore
Well you know that it must he not be
And you know the way it got to be 

Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with 

Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me 

Wickedness lies in your moisten lips
Your body moves just like the crack of a whip
Blackness sleeps on top of your stray bed
Do you whish that you could see me dead 

Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me
Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me

The only other song on this album that I remember previously hearing was “Warning.”  I think it is a little stronger lyrically than most of this album.  It is a surprisingly poetic song about someone ignoring the world’s warnings and falling for the wrong person.

Now the first day that I met ya
I was looking in the sky
When the sun turned all a blur
and the thunderclouds rolled by
The sea began to shiver
and the wind began to moan
It must’ve been a sign for me
to leave you well alone
I was born without you, baby
but my feelings were a little bit too strong

you never said you love me
and I don’t believe you can
’cause I saw you in a dream 
and you were with another man
You looked so cool and casual
and I tried to look the same
But now I’ve got to know ya
tell me who am I to blame?
I was born without you, baby
but my feelings were a little bit too strong

Now the whole wide world is movin’
’cause there’s iron in my heart
I just can’t keep from cryin’
’cause you say we’ve got to part
Sorrow grips my voice as I stand here all alone
And watch you slowly take away
a love I’ve never known
I was born without you, baby
but my feelings were a little bit too strong

This album was pure fun from start to finish.  The combination of Ozzie’s voice and Tony Iommi’s guitar solos is incredible.  This is the kind of album that I could just throw on repeat and rock out to.

#244 – Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

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The second and final Eminem album is his third studio album.  The 2000 release was the fastest selling solo album in history at the time of its release.  It won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2001 and was nominated for Album of the Year.

Sara

Between my wife and I, one of us is super excited to listen to this one and the other is going to bed early. You can probably guess who is who. 

I LOVE. STAN.  By far one of my favorite Em songs. It’s an interesting thing because Stan is one of many songs in which Eminem has been accused of expressing homophobic sentiments. I’ve heard that thrown around countless times over the years. Yes, it bothers me too. I am of the opinion that just saying a slur does damage in the sense that it keeps it in our dialogue, so there’s that. However, I’ve read and seen quite a bit of Eminem speaking his thoughts on the matter, and I think that so much of his poetry is just reflective of his past and the culture he grew up in. Unfortunately, words like ‘f*ggot’ were just an everyday part of life in young Marshall’s world. I’m not trying to justify it at all. It sucks. But the fact is, gay slurs were considered socially acceptable by the brunt of society until quite recently. I can think of close friends who I’ve heard use the word ‘gay’ to describe something they thought was dumb as recently as 5 years ago.

Here are some of Eminem’s thoughts:

“It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole. So that word was just thrown around so freely back then. It goes back to that battle, back and forth in my head, of wanting to feel free to say what I want to say, and then [worrying about] what may or may not affect people. And, not saying it’s wrong or it’s right, but at this point in my career – man, I say so much shit that’s tongue-in-cheek. I poke fun at other people, myself. But the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves. And I don’t know how else to say this, I still look at myself the same way that I did when I was battling and broke.”

I don’t know. I hate hearing those words, but I also get that art can be about putting yourself in another time, place or pair of shoes, and I think that Eminem is deliberately portraying views counter to his more often than not. You may not agree with me, but Elton John does. He said this about performing ‘Stan’ with Eminem at the Grammy’s: “If I thought for one minute that he was [hateful], I wouldn’t do it”

The song is an incredibly powerful portrayal of the power of fame, desperation, identity confusion, abuse, and suicide. It’s also some of the best poetry we’ve ever seen from Eminem. The Dido chorus on the album juxtaposed with Stan’s character clearly falling apart as the song goes on justknocks this one out of the park. Here’s what I think is the best performance of ‘Stan’           

Dear Mister “I’m Too Good To Call Or Write My Fans”,
This will be the last package I ever send your ass
It’s been six months and still no word, I don’t deserve it?
I know you got my last two letters, I wrote the addresses on ’em perfect
So this is my cassette I’m sending you, I hope you hear it
I’m in the car right now, I’m doing 90 on the freeway
Hey Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka,
You dare me to drive?
You know the song by Phil Collins, “In the Air of the Night”
About that guy who could a saved that other guy from drowning
But didn’t, then Phil saw it all, then at a a show he found him?
That’s kinda how this is, you could a rescued me from drowning
Now it’s too late, I’m on a thousand downers now, I’m drowsy
And all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call
I hope you know I ripped all of your pictures off the wall
I love you Slim, we coulda been together, think about it
You ruined it now, I hope you can’t sleep and you dream about it
And when you dream I hope you can’t sleep and you scream about it
I hope your conscience eats at you and you can’t breathe without me
See Slim, shut up bitch! I’m tryin’ to talk!
Hey Slim, that’s my girlfriend screamin’ in the trunk
But I didn’t slit her throat, I just tied her up, see I ain’t like you
‘Cause if she suffocates she’ll suffer more, and then she’ll die too
Well, gotta go, I’m almost at the bridge now
Oh shit, I forgot, how am I supposed to send this shit out?
       

I love almost every song on this album and I’ve already listened to it many times in my life, but another favorite is ‘The Way I Am.’ I love my Eminems like I love my Gordon Ramsays—really mad. ‘The Way I Am’ is a huge venting session showing Eminem’s frustration with the media, record executives, fans, attorneys, and fame at large. It reminds me of times people have doubted me repeatedly and it drives me increasingly crazy over time until I realize I need to write it off as an ‘eff it.’ It’s dark and it’s heavy, but it’s dead on. My favorite part is when he calls out the media/public for associating Marilyn Manson with the Columbine school shooting because the shooters liked his music.  Those affiliations are misguided and ridiculous, and have always driven me crazy. Eminem nails it by calling bulsh. 

 When a dude’s gettin’ bullied and shoots up his school
And they blame it on Marilyn
And the heroin, where were the parents at?
And look at where it’s at
Middle America, now it’s a tragedy, now it’s so sad to see
An upper class city having this happening
Then attack Eminem ’cause I rap this way
But I’m glad ’cause they feed me the fuel
That I need for the fire to burn and it’s burnin’ and I have returned

And I am, whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the papers, the news, everyday I am
Radio won’t even play my jam
‘Cause I am, whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the papers, the news, everyday I am
I don’t know it’s just the way I am

I’m so sick and tired of being admired
That I wish that I would just die or get fired
And drop from my label and stop with the fables
I’m not gonna be able to top on “My name is”
And pigeon holdin’ to some poppy sensations
They cop me rotation at rock ‘n’ roll stations
And I just do not got the patience
To deal with these cocky Caucasians
Who think I’m some wigga who just tries to be black
‘Cause I talk with an accent and grab on my balls
So they always keep asking the same fucking questions
What school did I go to, what hood I grew up in, the why, the who, what
When and where and the how, ’til I’m grabbing my hair and I’m tearing it out
You’ve been driving me crazy
I can’t take it, I’m racing, I’m pacing, I stand and I sit
And I’m thankful for every fan that I get, but I can’t take a shit
In the bathroom without someone standing by it
No I won’t sign your autograph, you can call me an asshole, I’m glad

 It’s tough to listen to a lot of the lyrics and subject matter Eminem covers sometimes (especially ‘Kim’), but some of the best art makes us uncomfortable and pushes limits. Love this album, love Eminem, probably always will. Oh, and there’s this:

 

Steve

I remember when this album came out, Eminem was seemingly everywhere.  His career catapulted from nobody into phenomenon status almost overnight.  It turns out that a solid album plus the free publicity of every media outlet covering your inappropriate lyrics is the perfect storm to sell a shit ton of albums.

One of these tracks that never left my playlist is “Drug Ballad.”  It’s got a fun beat and catch lyrics.  It’s ridiculous but in a different way than most of Eminem’s songs.  It reminds me of “Cum on Everybody” from the Slim Shady LP, which is one of my favorite Eminem songs.

Back when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark
This is how we used to make the party start
We used to mix Hen’ with Bacardi Dark
And when it kicks in you can hardly talk

And by the sixth gin you’re gon’ probably crawl
And you’ll be sick then and you’ll probably barf
And my prediction is you’re gon’ probably fall
Either somewhere in the lobby or the hallway wall

And everything’s spinning
You’re beginnin’ to think women
Are swimming in pink linen again in the sink
Then in a couple of minutes
That bottle of Guinness is finished
You are now allowed to officially slap bitches

You have the right to remain violent and start wilin’
Start a fight with the same guy that was smart-eyein’ you
Get in your car, start it, and start drivin’
Over the island and cause a 42-car pile-up

Earth calling, pilot to co-pilot
Looking for life on this planet, sir, no sign of it
All I can see is a bunch of smoke flyin’
And I’m so high that I might die if I go by it
Let me out of this place
I’m outta place
I’m in outer space
I’ve just vanished without a trace
I’m going to a pretty place
Now where the flowers grow
I’ll be back in an hour or so

‘Cause every time I go to try to leave
Someone keeps pullin’ on my sleeve
I don’t wanna, but I gotta stay
These drugs really got a hold of me

‘Cause every time I try to tell them “No”
They won’t let me ever let them go
I’m a sucker all I gotta say
These drugs really got a hold of me

Another song that never failed to make me laugh was “The Kids.”  On this track Eminem impersonates Mr. Mackey from South Park, and acts as a substitute teacher teaching the children of South Park about drugs.  Eminem is an amazing story teller, and these are no exceptions.

Hi there little boys and girls (FUCK YOU!)
Today we’re gonna to learn how to poison squirrels
But first, I’d like you to meet my friend Bob (Huh?)
Say hi Bob! (“Hi Bob”) Bob’s 30 and still lives with his mom
and he don’t got a job, cause Bob sits at home and smokes pot
but his twelve-year old brother looks up to him an awful lot
And Bob likes to hang out at the local waffle spot
and wait in the parkin lot for waitresses off the clock
when it’s late and the lot gets dark and fake like he walks his dog
Drag ’em in the woods and go straight to the chopping blocks (AHH!)
And even if they escaped and they got the cops
the ladies would all be so afraid, they would drop the charge
’til one night Mrs. Stacey went off the job
when she felt someone grab her whole face and said not to talk
But Stacey knew it was Bob and said knock it off
But Bob wouldn’t knock it off cause he’s crazy and off his rocker
Crazier than Slim Shady is off the vodka
You couldn’t even take him to Dre’s to get Bob a “Dr.”
He grabbed Stace’ by the legs as chopped it off her
and dropped her off in the lake for the cops to find her
But ever since the day Stacey went off to wander
they never found her, and Bob still hangs at the waffle diner
And that’s the story of Bob and his marijuana, 
and what it might do to you
So see if the squirrels want any – it’s bad for you 

See children, drugs are bahhhd (c’mon)
and if you don’t believe me, ask ya dahhhd (ask him man)
and if you don’t believe him, ask ya mom (that’s right)
She’ll tell you how she does ’em all the time (she will)
So kids say no to drugs (that’s right)
So you don’t act like everyone else does (uh-huh)
Then there’s really nothin else to say (sing along)
Drugs are just bad, mmm’kay?

My penis is the size of a peanut, have you seen it? 
FUCK NO you ain’t seen it, it’s the size of a peanut (Huh?)
Speakin of peanuts, you know what else is bad for squirrels?
Ecstasy is the worst drug in the world
If someone ever offers it to you, don’t do it
Kids two hits’ll probably drain all your spinal fluid
and spinal fluid is final, you won’t get it back
So don’t get attached, it’ll attack every bone in your back
Meet Zach, twenty-one years old 
After hangin out with some friends at a frat party, he gets bold
and decides to try five, when he’s bribed by five guys
and peer pressure will win every time you try to fight it
Suddenly, he starts to convulse and his pulse goes into hyperdrive
and his eyes roll back in his skull {*blblblblblb*} 
His back starts tah – look like the McDonald’s Arches
He’s on Donald’s carpet, layin horizontal barfin {*BLEH*}
And everyone in the apartment starts laughin at him
“Hey Adam, Zach is a jackass, look at him!”
cause they took it too, so they think it’s funny
So they’re laughing at basically nothing except maybe wasting his money
Meanwhile, Zach’s in a coma, the action is over
and his back and his shoulders hunched up like he’s practicin yoga
And that’s the story of Zach, the ecstasy maniac
So don’t even feed that to squirrels class, cause it’s bad for you

And last but not least, one of the most humungous
problems among young people today, is fungus
It grows from cow manure, they pick it out, wipe it off, 
bag it up, and you put it right in your mouth and chew it
Yum yum! Then you start to see some dumb stuff
And everything slows down when you eat some of ’em..
And sometimes you see things that aren’t there (Like what?)
Like fat woman in G-strings with orange hair
(Mr. Shady what’s a G-string?) It’s yarn Claire
Women stick ’em up their behinds, go out and wear ’em (Huh?)
And if you swallow too much of the magic mushrooms
Whoops, did I say magic mushrooms? I meant fungus
Ya tongue gets, all swoll up like a cow’s tongue (How come?)
cause it comes from a cow’s dung (Gross!!)
See drugs are bad, it’s a common fact
But your mom and dad, know that’s all that I’m good at (Oh!)
But don’t be me, cause if you grow up and you go and O.D.
They’re gonna come for me and I’ma have to grow a goatee
and get a disguise and hide, cause it’ll be my fault
So don’t do drugs, and do exactly as I don’t, 
cause I’m bad for you

Eminem is a very polarizing figure.  He often starts his songs crossing the line, and just keeps rolling on until the line he crossed is so far in the rear view it might not have existed at all.  Love him, hate him, the guy has serious talent.  Considering that I have no idea what Eminem has done since this album, I am curious to see where he is now.  I may have to look into it after this list.

#245 – Jerry Lee Lewis – All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology

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The sole appearance from rocker Jerry Lee Lewis is his Anthology Boxed Set.  The 1993 release contains 42 songs of which 27 are charted hits.  Just to clarify, this should not be confused with Canadian group Sum 41’s debut, All Killer No Filler.  That one ranks at about the 10,000 mark on this list.

Sara

Ah, another 40+ song box set, only this time from a guy who married his 13yr old cousin and basically lost his career as a result. Lewis nicknamed himself The Killer and, if it’s a reference to his skills on the piano, I’m inclined to agree. We’re used to it now, but it’s important to note that the piano was not typically played in rock music until Jerry Lee Lewis made it so.  ‘Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On’ is a prime example.  Lewis just absolutely slays on the piano on this one in particular. It’s important to note a couple of things about this song. First, Jerry Lee Lewis didn’t write it. It was written by Dave ‘Curlee’ Williams and first recorded by Big Maybelle. In the biographical ‘Great Balls of Fire’ movie, Lewis is seen watching who we can presume is Big Maybelle performing the song, thus inspiring him to cut a version of his own. Sun Records  didn’t love the idea, and they were dead wrong.  Jerry’s version became a rockabilly anthem and was even ranked by Rolling Stone as number 61 on the Greatest Songs of All-Time list.  Elvis and Little Richard made notable versions as well, but Lewis certainly has the best one:

Come along my baby, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Yes, I said come along my baby, baby you can’t go wrong
We ain’t fakin’, while lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn
Woo-huh, come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Well, I said shake, baby, shake
I said shake, baby, shake
I said shake it, baby, shake it
And then shake, baby, shake
Come on over, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Oh, let’s go!

Alright

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn
Whose barn? What barn? My barn
Come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

‘In The Mood’ is another key highlight of The Killer’s work. I hit a pretty awesome swing phase in my late teens and this Glenn Miller big band classic is one of the greats. Jerry Lee Lewis is one of many famed artists to put forth a rendition and by far the best non-big band version. Purely instrumental, this was a high point of this experience for me.           

This album caused me to have a mind-blowing Shel Silverstein experience. I was obsessed with his books as a kid, and still have my originals which I have since given to my daughter. I always thought of myself as a huge fan of his until about 5 years ago when I found out that, not only was he dead, but he had died over a decade earlier. I remember just feeling like such an idiot.  Fast forward to now, where I’m feeling like even more of a stunad. Until I saw that Silverstein co-wrote ‘Once More With Feeling’ on this album (with Kris Kristofferson), I had no idea he had a music career.  Now I’m reading about his long and distinguished singer/songwriter resume and feeling like not only am a non-fan, but I’ve basically been peeing on his grave every time I speak his name. This guy’s been out winning Grammy’s and I’m over here oblivious like “poems are good!”

Here’s Maryann Faithfull’s version of ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan,’ which I know and love from the ‘Thelma & Louise’ soundtrack:

 

Anyhoo, I’m declaring ‘Once More With Feeling’ as my favorite song on this album because I find Jerry Lee Lewis’ existence kind of disgusting and I like Shel Silverstein a lot more (although I’m clearly not deserving of his love). The song resonates with anyone who has been in a relationship will like this. It’s about those times where you catch yourself going through the motions, especially when life gets hectic, and you realize you need to jump back in full throttle because a relationship deserves your attention. Great song. I’m so sorry Shel! 

We’re just goin’ through the motions
Of the parts we’ve learned to play
Never quite together like before
But somehow darlin’ something good
Got lost along the way
And our song ain’t nothing
Special anymore

Let’s try it one more time
With feeling darlin’, take it from the top
Let me feel those tears a fallin’ babe
I don’t want to miss a single drop
Darlin’ make believe your makin’
Me believe each word you say
Try it once more with feeling
And we’ll call it a day

Ah you’re reachin’ out to touch me
Darlin’ just the way you used to do
An you’re lookin’ everywhere but
In my eyes
Well that’s an oldy but it’s a goody babe
But them words ain’t ringin’ true
And you don’t seem very sure of your life

So try it one more time with feeling
Darlin’ take it from the top
This one is the big one baby so give
It everything you got
Darlin’ make believe your makin’ me
Believe each word you say
Let’s try it once more with feeling
And we’ll call it a day
 

Jerry Lee Lewis. Gross? Yes.  But so talented that I still want to listen to his music? No.

 

Steve

This one was entertaining.  It’s kind of cool to listen to a span of music like this and hear how music changes over the years.  Jerry Lee’s career spans the evolution of blues and country into modern rock and roll.  He actually found greater success in country music later in his career.  The country fanbase was more forgiving of his marriage to his 13 year old cousin.  There’s too many things to say about that, so I’m just gonna leave it alone.

One of my favorite tracks on this one was “No Headstone on my Grave,” written by Charlie “Silver Fox” Rich.  I really don’t have a reason, it is nothing mind blowing lyrically, and pretty average musically.  For whatever reason after listening to forty-two tracks, I remembered this one.  That is more than I can say for most of this album.

Don’t put no headstone on my grave, 
All my life I’ve been a slave, 
Want the whole wide world to know, 
That I’m the man that loved you so 
Mama, mama, don’t you cry, 
I’m gonna meet you in the by and by, in the sweet by and by 
Tell papa I’m comin’ home, comin’ on home, 
God, it can’t be very long 
Don’t put no headstone on my grave, 
All my life I’ve been a slave, 
Want the whole wide world to know, 
That I’m the stud that loved you so 
M,m,m,m,m,m mama don’t you cry, 
Lord, I’m gonna meet you in the by and by, in the sweet by and by 
Tell papa I’m coming home, 
Oh God, it can’t be very long 
Don’t put no headstone on my grave, 
Whoooh! All my life I’ve been a slave, motherhumpin’ slave 
And you know something? I want the world to know, 
That I’m the stud that loved that woman so 
Mama, mama don’t you cry, mama, don’t cry, 
I’m gonna meet you in the by and by, in the sweet by and by 
Tell papa, I’m coming home, Oh Lord, 
You know, it can’t be very long 
(One more time now) 
Don’t put a headstone on my grave 
All my life I’ve been a slave, 
Want the whole wide world to know, 
That I’m the man, 
That loved, 
That loved, 
Don’t put no headstone on my grave, 
All my life I’ve been a slave, whoooh! 
I want the whole wide world to know, 
That I’m the stud that loved you so 
Ma-ma-ma-ma mama, don’t you cry, whooh! Don’t cry! 
I’m-a-gonna meet you in the by and by, in the sweet by and by, 
Tell papa I’m coming home, coming on home… 
…And you know something ladies? 
Oh, God, it can’t be very long

Another one I found memorable was “Thirty-Nine and Holding.”  I celebrated a good friend’s fortieth birthday last night, and I’m getting up there myself.  Again, this isn’t the greatest song ever written, just probably more timing than anything else in this case.

He’s out there somewhere every night
The music’s playin’ loud
He’s doing all-a those fifty’s steps
He’s in a 1980 crowd 

Dim lights hide the milage line
Clairol hides the gray
And he won’t mention anything
To give his old age away

Oh Lord, he’s thirty-nine an he’s holdin’
He’s holdin’ everything that he can
From seventeen to twenty-five
He’ll prove he’s still a man

Hey boy, you’re holding to a candle
And it’s a-burning at both ends
Thirty-nine and holding
A-holdin’ everything that I can

Well, now you can bet he’ll never see
Thirty-nine, again
Son, you oughta given up a long time ago
But you just keep on hangin’ in

He still thinks that he’s the man
That he once used to be
Boy, you’re just thirty-nine
And you’re dreamin’
Acting twenty-three

Oh-oh, he’s thirty-nine, he’s holdin’
Holdin’ everything that he can
From seventeen to twenty-five
He’ll prove he’s still a man

He’s a-holding to a candle
My God, it’s burning at both ends!
He’s thirty-nine and he’s holdin’
Holdin’ everything he can

Jerry Lee Lewis is not known for his song writing.  In fact of the forty-two tracks on this album he only wrote one, and it was pretty blah.  In a few cases, he should have left the originals alone.  The version of “Money (That’s What I Want)” on this album is the worst I’ve heard, and we’re talking about a song that has been covered MANY times.  It’s also funny to hear a song like “High School Confidential” performed by someone who in today’s world wouldn’t be allowed within 500 yards of a school zone.

Jerry Lee belongs on this list, especially as I now believe he may be the originator of referring to yourself in the third person.  Jerry Lee likes to sing about “Jerry Lee” quite often.

#246 – The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out!

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The second and final listed album from The Mothers of Invention is their debut.  The 1966 release was considered by many to be the first concept album in rock and roll.  The album’s theme is based on front-man Frank Zappa’s impressions of American Pop Culture.

 

Sara

Son of a bitch, not this again. For the past few months, I’ve been watching Criminal Minds on Netflix at night to fall asleep.  It didn’t take me long to realize this was a HORRIBLE idea, but I just keep going. Last night I had a nightmare that I had turned to cannibalism. For some reason I just feel like I need to power through it, so I go on even though I know it’s VERY negatively affecting my life.  I won’t make that mistake with these idiots. I listened through because that’s the challenge Steve and I are doing, but I will NEVER EVER EVER be back.  Let me find out they’re on here again…

This made me look forward to tonight’s Criminal Minds nightmares.

 

Steve

This had its extremely bizarre moments, which I expected.  Many of them were a bit too out there for me, but there are some really good tracks on this album.

My favorite song was “Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder.”  The song is about someone who broke the singer’s heart and has come crawling back.  Unfortunately for them, there is no longer a place for them to crawl back to.

A year ago today
Was when you went away 
But now you come back knockin’ on my door 
And you say you’re back to stay, 
But I say… 
Go cry 
On somebody else’s shoulder 
I’m somewhat wiser now 
And one whole year older 
I sure don’t need you now 
And I don’t love you 
Anymore 

You cheated me baby, 
And told some dirty lies about me 
Fooled around with all those other guys 
That’s why I had to set you free 
I sure don’t need you now 
And I don’t love you 
Anymore 

A year ago today 
You went away 
And now you come back crying 
Crying, crying: please, let me in 
But I don’t need you 
No I don’t love you anymore 
So go lean on…go cry on 
Somebody else’s door 

Go cry 
On somebody else’s shoulder 
I’m somewhat wiser now 
And one whole year older 
I sure don’t need you now 
And I don’t love you 
Anymore (Oh, my darling!) 

[Spoken:]
Go ahead and cry 
Go ahead and let the tears fall outa your eye 
Let ’em fall on your dress 
Who cares if it makes a mess? 
I gave you my high school ring 
At the root beer stand 
We had a teen-age love baby 
I thought it was sharp 
It was really so grand…but 

Another song that grabbed me was “Trouble Every Day.”  Zappa wrote the song after watching the Watts Riots news coverage from the apartment of a meth chemist who he called “Wild Bill the Mannequin-Fucker.”

The Watts Riots took place over five days in Los Angeles.  The clash started after a traffic stop for reckless driving.  A fight erupted between the police officers and the family of the driver that resulted in 34 deaths and over $40 million dollars in property damage.

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friend
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Wednesday I watched the riot . . .
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched ’em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it . . .
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it . . .
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a brownie
And you’ll see it all complete

Frank Zappa was definitely a weird dude.  I don’t always get what he was going for with his music, but I can certainly appreciate the mad genius involved.

#247 – Grateful Dead Live/Dead

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The Grateful Dead’s fourth and final listed album is their first official live album.  The 1969 release was recorded at several concerts over that year.  The Dead have a long and rich history of live music, and this is the album that started it all.

Sara

I think I admitted in a past post that I’m a bit too much of a sellout to be a die-hard Dead fan, but I do like them quite a bit.  My thing is, and maybe this is because I’m not high as a kite right now, I don’t think many songs should be 23 min long.  I’m almost done listening to any given song at the 8 minute mark. The long jam stuff doesn’t do much for me, and that’s how this one starts out; with a 23 min version of ‘Dark Star.’ Interestingly, the recorded version of ‘Dark Star’ clocks in at just 2:44, but the song became a wildly popular live song and one the band took to jamming along to. Too psychedelic for my blood.
The highlight of this album for me was unquestionably a Bobby Bland cover tune, ‘Turn On Your Love Light.’  A song whose title sounds like something we’d expect from Jesse and the Rippers, this one is surprisingly awesome and the Dead’s version is upbeat, fun and rocking. Honestly, it was the only one on the album that really caught my attention.
 
Got a woman, broke my heart
Took it darlin’, tore it apart
You left me sitting by the fire cryin’
You said your love for me was dyin’
And I’m beggin’ you baby
Baby please
I’m beggin’ you baby
I’m down on my knees
Turn on your light
Let IT shine on me
Turn on your love light
Let it shine on me
Let it shine, shine, shine
Let it shine
Now I want to know
I gotta know baby
Feel alright
Feel alright
And I feel alright
Feel a little lonely in the middle of the night
I need you darlin’ everything alright
Turn on your light
Let it shine on me
Turn on your love light
Let it shine on me
 
I’d listen to this again because the musical talent of the Grateful Dead is just incredibly easy to listen to, but it’ll never be my favorite stuff, and that’s on me.  I don’t know enough about any number of instruments to truly appreciate the talent involved in jamming—I’m just a simpleton who listens to it from time to time.  I like lyrics, sick riffs, explosive drums, etc and jam bands don’t usually scratch that itch.

Steve

Unless I am at a live concert, I tend to agree with Sara, I dont want a twenty minute version of ANY song.  However once we got through that, the rest of the album was really enjoyable.  Eh, I suppose even the twenty-three minute eighteen second “Dark Star” was enjoyable in a way.

I was surprised to find out that “St. Stephen” was not in fact a prophesy of my life in musical form.  Instead the song is about the actual St. Stephen, a martyr who was stoned to death in The New Testament of The Bible.  Don’t worry, I had to look that up.  This was one of my favorite tracks on the album, although at least in part because it meant “Dark Star” was over.

Saint Stephen with a rose, in and out of the garden he goes,
Country garden in the wind and the rain,
Wherever he goes the people all complain.

Stephen prospered in his time, well he may and he may decline.
Did it matter, does it now? Stephen would answer if he only knew how.
Wishing well with a golden bell, bucket hanging clear to hell,
Hell halfway twixt now and then,
Stephen fill it up and lower down and lower down again.

Lady finger, dipped in moonlight, writing “What for?” across the morning sky.
Sunlight splatters, dawn with answer, darkness shrugs and bids the day goodbye.

Speeding arrow, sharp and narrow,
What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned.
Several seasons with their treasons,
Wrap the babe in scarlet colors, call it your own.
Did he doubt or did he try? Answers aplenty in the bye and bye,
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills,
One man gathers what another man spills.

Saint Stephen will remain, all he’s lost he shall regain,
Seashore washed by the suds and foam,
Been here so long, he’s got to calling it home.

Fortune comes a crawlin’, calliope woman, spinnin’ that curious sense of your own.
Can you answer? Yes I can. But what would be the answer to the answer man?

 

My hands down favorite track was “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.”  This song was originally written by the Reverend Gary Davis, a blues legend who has influenced many of the artists on this list.  While I have not heard the original, and have nothing to compare it to, this version is amazing.  This one lasts ten minutes, but I loved every second of it.

Y’ Know Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land
Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land, In This Land
Come To Your House, You Know He Don’t Take Long
Look In Bed This Morning, Children Find Your Mother Gone.

I Said Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land.
Death Will Leave You Standing And Crying In This Land,
Death Will Leave You Standing And Crying In This Land, In This Land, Yeah!

Whoa! Come To Your House, Y’ Know He Don’t Stay Long,
Y’ Look In Bed This Morning,
Children You Find That Your Brothers And Sisters Are Gone.
I Said Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land.

Death Will Go In Any Family In This Land.
Death Will Go In Any Family In This Land.
Come To Your House, you know he don’t take long.
Look in the bed on the morning, Children Find That Your Family’s Gone.

I Said Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land.
Death Will Leave You Standing And Crying In This Land,
In This Land. Whoa! Come To Your House,
Y’ Know It Don’t Stay Long, Y’ Look In Bed This Morning,
Children Find That Your Brothers And Sisters Are Gone.

I Said Death Don’t, Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land.

The Grateful Dead, like Phish and other following jam band acts are best enjoyed live, and probably even better enjoyed under the influence of some heavy drugs.  This was still a good listen, and I am at least a little bit sad we are done with The Dead.

 

#248 – Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come

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The sole list appearance from “free” jazz musician Ornette Coleman is his third album.  The 1959 album is one of the rare ones on this list that did not chart at all.  Coleman wanted to call the album “Focus on Sanity, which I personally think is a better title.

Sara

With a name like Ornette you’re destined for greatness. I laid down on the couch and listened to this one straight through. It’s hard for me to break up the songs when listening to jazz. I prefer to just go all the way through it.  This was perfect relaxation music. It’s not all slow, or even mostly slow, but it’s smooth and easy to listen along to.
The first song on the album, ‘Lonely Woman,’ is the best one.  Coleman was inspired to write it by a photo he saw in a gallery during his days as a stock boy in LA in the 1950s. Here’s Coleman’s telling of the experience:
 
“In the background there was everything you could imagine that was wealthy – all in her background – but she was so sad. And I said, ‘Oh my goodness. I understand this feeling. I have not experienced this wealth, but I understand the feeling.’ I went home and wrote ‘Lonely Woman’… I related the condition to myself, wrote this song, and ever since it has grown and grown and grown”
 
After reading about the song I liked it even more.  One thing I know for sure is that material things don’t make people happy in a meaningful way.  We all know at least one person who is flush with cash but perpetually unsatisfied.  It’s the ability to connect, at least with one person (I think ) that makes people truly happy.  You can even be surrounded by people but be lonely if you’re not letting them in.  I feel bad for the woman in the song, and the few people who come to mind when I think of Coleman’s observation. Anyhoo, cool song and cool story.
 
There were only 6 songs on this one, so  I feel like covering one is enough. I would just add that this was pretty great to listen to, even though jazz isn’t always really my thing. Great stuff from any genre is always awesome to come across.  I’m not chomping at the bit for more, but I’d certainly revisit this album if the opportunity presented itself.

Steve

I have no background in music, so for me to break down an album like this in any meaningful way is next to impossible.  I read that the quartet was unusual by not including a chordal instrument, and have no idea what that means.  Coleman also played a plastic Grafton Saxophone, also meaningless to me.

In spite of my musical shortcomings, this was an excellent listen.  I actually let it play through a few times after a really long day at work, and it was perfect to relax to.  This is the shape of jazz that I want in my life.