Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Easy Lover": Best duet of all-time?

I was checking this cornball radio station - yes, I'm one of five people in America that will put on a regular old radio station - that plays just about everything, but not really ever anything that's great.

Don Gorske is most certainly an avid Phil Collins fan.
Yesterday, however, it cranked "Easy Lover," the 1984 smash hit by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. Like Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes," Huey Lewis & The News' "Heart & Soul" and multiple Duran Duran singles, this lite-pop gem brings on warm feelings of nostalgia not unlike the ones Morgan Spurlock describes in "Supersize Me." Like McDonald's, these crispy, tasty, audio nuggets have almost no nutritional value but they're associated with good times and good things - Atari, hanging with your mom in the summer, breakfast for dinner, first Little League games, etc.

While listening to this tune, it hit me - this is a duet by TWO EFFING ROCKING AND ROLL HALL OF FAMERS. Uber-soprano Philip Bailey went in with Earth, Wind and Fire, who probably should be in but definitely went in prematurely in 2000. Phil Collins, of course, went in as the drummer of The Legitimate Genesis and frontman of The Fraud Genesis in 2010.

Let me throw out some more minutia that might seem inconsequential but in fact build upon this tune's greatness.

- There was no Desmond Child/ ghost writing bullshit going on here. Collins and Bailey actually had a hand in co-writing the tune along with Nathan East, a member of the group Fourplay and product of the Philly soul machine.

- It did NOT appear on a Phil Collins album, so any hipsters trying to shoot a superficial hole in it will have to try again. It's actually on Bailey's 1984 album "Chinese Wall."

- It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 in the UK, and sold more than 1 million copies.

Where were you when Ritcher beat Moolah?
- For some reason, it was a theme song for the original "WrestleMania." Because when I think of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T fighting Rowdy Roddy Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton, and Junkyard Dog and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine" battling for the Intercontinental Title, I think about lyrics like "you're the one who wants to hold her/ hold her and control her/ you better forget it/ no, you'll regret it."

- The video. My God, the video. It's a behind-the-scenes look at making the video, shot in London, is mostly a gleeful glimpse of the two guys goofing off, riding in helicopters, getting pampered backstage and the like. Highlights include Bailey blasting Collins away when they rehearse the tune falsetto and Bailey singing OVER the track during the video shoot and Collins inflicting his British humor on Bailey, who kind of gets it but kind of doesn't, resulting in an awkwardness thicker than a major f*ck up on "Chopped." 

Gotta admit, this was pretty freaking awesome.
The combination of the substance of "Easy Lover," plus the fact that it's sung by two HoF artists, plus the insanely sick video shown above, has to put this somewhere near the top of all-time best duets, if not the very top, right?

What's better? "Say Say Say" by Paul McFartney and Michael Jackson? "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys? "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross? "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty?

I would hear arguments on all of those. But I still say it's "Easy Lover," which will take your heart but you won't feel it, and before you know it, you'll be on your knees.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Johnny Ramone is still an a*shole, even from the grave

You can say whatever you want about Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone, but you can't say he wasn't one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

You could also never say he ever made any apologies for acting like a total jerk 100 percent of the time.

Read just about any account of the band's career, and John Cummings, who died in 2004 at the age of 55, is portrayed as a mega-douche. Because he was. We're talking about a guy who stole Joey Ramone's girlfriend out from under him, then flaunted it in his face while the band was at it's peak. A guy who wouldn't visit Joey in the hospital and bury the hatchet, even when the singer was dying of cancer. A guy who is said to have possessed a large amount of Nazi memorabilia. A guy who wouldn't even let Joey's family in on the band's induction into the Hall in 1998. A guy who went from being best friends with Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh, to treating him like dung for decades on end.

Solid read.
A great account of Johnny's greatest hits can be read in Leigh's admittedly one-sided book, "I Slept With Joey Ramone."

So now come reports that Johnny's autobiography, "Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone," is set for release in April.

The book is stocked with stories told from the death-bed, so there's a 1.9 percent chance there are some apologies and remorse (If there is, I swear I will come back and delete this post). But we're talking about Johnny Ramone here. While his people are keeping most of the details close to the vest, we know that he once again goes into his relationship with wife Linda, poking through his coffin and into Joey's yet again, effing with poor dude's already effed up head in the afterlife. And we know that even though Linda thought about including interviews from John's pals, maybe balancing the thing out a little, but nah, why not let the guitarist rip away from his bully pulpit.

What a d*ck.

Yet, we can almost forgive it all because of sh*t like this.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ghost of Rock and Roll Past: Billy Joel

Billy Joel is one of the most polarizing figures in modern pop music. Hipsters think he's lame, squares think he's a one-man Beatles. A large segment of people older than 35 have at one time in their lives owned the double-disc 1985 best-of, while most people younger than that know him as that one-hit wonder ("Piano Man") who's always getting DUIs and ending up in the tabloids. 99.9 percent of his fanbase is white, but black people love him too because he's a vehicle for making fun of white people.

This polarization hinges on one year, 1986, and one album, coincidentally called "The Bridge."

Barry, as we'd like to remember him.
Because of that breaking off point, and that deflating, morbidly mediocre album, Joel should be the Barry Bonds of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - everything he did up until that point (Bonds' career as a Pirate) definitely merits induction, but everything he did that year and after (Bonds' years as a Giant, a juicer, a woman abuser and a big-time asshole) should have kept him out, or at least get him booted (hmm ... another "Kicked Out" post is in motion).

BUT - let's just say Joel quits during that mysterious three-year gap between 1983's slammer-packed "An Innocent Man" and "The Bridge." He goes on an acid-dropping binge with Howard Jones and ends up like Brian Wilson, sparking the "Billy Joel Is A Genius Who Is Ahead of His Time" campaign.

Or - and this is totally macabre and in no way is meant to insinuate that I want Billy Joel dead - what if Joel went down in a plane crash after "Innocent Man" comes out and the videos for "Uptown Girl" and "Tell Her About It" and "The Longest Time" turn him into one of the world's biggest pop stars. Given that scenario, he becomes a modern-day Buddy Holly, right? His pre-death catalog instantly becomes spotless, and then the big "Greatest Hits Vols. 1-2" - the one every non-cool college freshman had from 1985 up through somewhere in the late 1990s - comes out, and it's easily the top-selling album of all time at that point.

If you're 35+, white and say you never owned this, you're lying.
Most of all, "The Bridge," with the putrid "A Matter of Trust," and the awful video that showcases the talents and mannerisms of jerk-off drummer Liberty DeVitto, and the embarrassing sap-fest "This Is The Time," never happens. Neither does the sickeningly corporate "Storm Front," with the pithy "End of The World As We Know It" rip "We Didn't Start The Fire" and the super-indulgent "Downeaster 'Alexa'" (why the f*cking quotes within quotes? WHAT?), where Joel all of the sudden decides he wants to be the Gorton's Fisherman. Neither does - holy Lord help me - "River of Dreams," which sounds like the bathrooms at the Wells Fargo Center during Wing Bowl and appeared to be his attempt to put out something whiter than Genesis' "I Can't Dance." I dare say he succeeded.

Bill is Hall-worthy just for pulling this off.
If we could just go back to July of 1986 - take Doc's DeLorean, summon the Ghost of Christmas Past, whatever - and stop the release of "The Bridge" and somehow end Joel's career, we would remember The Piano Man differently.

This would have been the guy who wrote "Allentown," which would be considered the folk-pop equivalent of Bruce's "Atlantic City" instead of over-scrutinized because Joel wrote it about another Pennsylvania town (Some well-researched background here). He would be the slick-ass motherf*cker who got down on "Tell Her About It" (my sister always thought Joel was black. That's how cool he SOUNDED). "Pressure" would be perceived as a psych-rock classic. "Goodnight Saigon" would be on the top shelf of Vietnam vet odes with "Born In The U.S.A." "Songs In The Attic" would be "Sgt. Pepper's," "Piano Man" would be "Like A Rolling Stone," Christie Brinkley would be Yoko Ono ... maybe I'm getting a little out of hand, but you see where I'm going here.

Instead of all of that, Joel's record will be scarred by stuff like this. And this. And this. And, well, this:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making a Case: Shawn Fanning

He put the pee stains in the RIAA's underwear.
Rock and roll was originally about being a bad ass.

Playing rock and roll meant you sacrificed a lot of money following your dream down a long, unlit dirt road.  

“Being” a rock and roll used to mean you raised a middle finger and a fist to the status quo.

To aspiring artists, those tenets are still largely true, though not as frowned upon. To everybody else, rock and roll is just another pre-faded T-shirt at the bottom of their not-actually-dirty pile of dirty laundry.

That was especially the case in 1999. You remember 1999, right? Good heavens, I've tried forgetting it but the awful memories won't allow me. 1999 is when the most un-rock and roll artists topped the charts. 

You had albums by both of these tools. Admit it.

I mean, shit, Korn competed for the same fan base as 98 Degrees, and the kids couldn’t buy enough of them. The key word is “buy” because a year later that word began its disassociation with the music industry.  

Credit Shawn Fanning, mastermind of Napster and the biggest and most bad ass rebel that rock and roll has seen since the Rock Hall constructed its ugly-ass pyramids in 1986.

Shawn Fanning did what countless musicians wished they could do: He (metaphorically speaking) shoved his middle finger in the face of Recording Industry Association or America (RIAA) suits then kicked them square in the balls every day for about two years.

How rock and roll is that? Who in the history of music changed the music industry more than Shawn Fanning? Is such a revolution even possible anymore?

Most importantly, whose lives didn’t Shawn Fanning affect?

How many people didn’t think twice of downloading a yet-to-be released album… just because they could? How many people began to dislike Metallica after they spoke out against Napster?

Napster not only saved me hundreds of dollars I would have wasted on shitflop albums, it also opened my eyes and ears to hundreds of bands I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
My formula was simple, I Napster’d bands listed in the liner notes of my favorite albums. Within three months, I left the depressing confines of shitty post-grunge and discovered Supergrass and The Hellacopters and dozens of other bands that I had no earthly business discovering while locked in the cultural shackles of Western Pennsylvania. 

Yes, a lot of artists suffered because of this leveling of the recording industry. Labels now have less money to dole out to fewer artists, which means that labels will be less likely to take a risk on an experimental or non-traditional artist few people have heard about.

My argument against that: Nowadays, all artists need to sell their music is a computer with an Internet connection. And you know what, Mr. Self-Important Singer-Songwriter Guy Who Bogarts the Coffee Shop Open Mic Night With Overwrought Emo Songs? It’s the best chance you’ll have to making a dollar or getting gullible girls to like your insufferable songs about your heart and soul or whatever. Better than the chances of a major label getting a whiff of you in 1990, back when nobody had the luxury of truly being an independent musician.

All this is beside the point. According to the Rock Hall, the non-performer category honors “songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, record executives, journalists and other industry professionals who have had a major influence on the development of rock and roll.” (EDITOR'S NOTE: The Hall changed the non-performer category to the "Ahmet Ertegun Award" in 2011, another lame attempt to hide their true intentions behind names and pointless jargonese - G.E.)
To say that Shawn Fanning was a major influence is the understatement of the year. But Shawn Fanning’s ultimate contribution to rock and roll wasn’t the beautiful destruction of major record labels. Rather, it is the empowered and enlightened consumer.

In 1999, people bought albums chock full of over-produced duds after hearing one mildly catchy single. Most often, that was all they were allowed to hear before spending $16.99 for that song and 11 others.

Since 2000 and for the foreseeable future, people can buy an album for much less after listening to the album in its entirety. And that purchase is a statement because any major label album can be downloaded for free.

This revolution was televised on our computer screens, millions and millions of them. The RIAA poo poo’d about it all the way to court room. And though the court ruled in the RIAA’s favor, it did little to change people’s attitude that major labels sell overpriced, overpackaged, overmarketed music.

Nobody in the Rock Hall seemed to notice. I’m not surprised.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kickin' Em Out: 1994

WARNING: This is going to piss a lot of people off.

OK, here goes: The Band should not be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hear me out. Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel are all great players, and form a really good backing band. In other words, The Band is not a good band band, but The Band is an amazing band to have backing a solo artist. Got it?

It's why they made their bones and their name as the band behind rockabilly player Lonnie Hawkins. It's why they had such success backing up Bob Dylan (pause for a moment: I'm sure their 1974 tour together was insanely incredible, but if you're going to try and tell me that "The Basement Tapes" are these great lost treasures, you're lying. They're horrid.)

It's why "The Last Waltz" is arguably the best concert film ever, and almost certainly the best show that ever went down, in terms of performance and music produced. I mean, Van Morrison's jacked-out-of-his-mind performance of "Caravan"? Holy shit. And they set up one hell of a haulin'-ass train behind Muddy Waters' massive locomotive on "Mannish Boy." And they manage to wring more cheese out of Neil Diamond when he does "Dry Your Eyes" than the kids in "Saving Silverman."

Look out everyone! He's got a hanger!
And they completely neutralize Neil Young's coke booger when he does his insane rendition of "Helpless" with Joni Mitchell, who wasn't stoned enough yet to get up next to him and said nose refuse.

And then there's the closing all-star jam of "I Shall Be Released," when Ron Wood and Ringo F*cking Starr pop out of the audience to join in. Mr. Starkey jumps in on second drums (maybe the only time ever that the two-drum attack has been not only acceptable but actually works really well) and even rocks out one of those signature Beatles drum fills (as noted by Robertson on the behind-the-scenes shit they show on VH1). Sure, some of the credit can go to cocaine, but then again grass and psychedelics could take most if not all of the credit for Woodstock and Monterey Pop.

If this seems like a ton of glowing praise for a "Kickin' Em Out" segment, it is. But it also proves the point - The Band is a fine band on its own, but it's not a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band on its own.

Robertson, Helm, Danko, Manuel and Hudson are like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Steve Kerr and other role players on the dominant Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s - they take the proverbial Michael Jordan, whether it be Dylan, or Young, or whoever, and help elevate them to all those NBA titles. Without them, Jordan is just dicking around, winning scoring titles and dunk contests and scoring 63 points against the Celtics in a first round playoff game before going home early.

Man, that was one ugly shot.
And that's the frustrating thing. Like my soon-to-be-laid-out theory on how Billy Joel could have been Buddy Holly, The Band could have been Hall of Famers - just like Pippen and Rodman. All those other dudes are essentially Hall of Famers without the plaque - everyone knows Kerr iced the Jazz in 1997, and that HoGrant was a monster on the boards, and that Cartwright had that sweet foul shot.

Look, I'll give you "The Weight," one of my top 30 songs of all time, and "Up on Cripple Creek." And maybe I'll even give you that "Music from Big Pink" and the self-titled follow-up are great albums, event though I don't agree with that statement at all.

But take a load off, Fannie - I'm still kickin' em out.

By the way, this is one of the most amazing Rock Hall classes of all time. Marley and Lennon in the same class? Elton John and Rod Stewart in the same class? And (even though I personally think their music sounds like the garbles of bird squawking in its own vomit) the Grateful Dead? Wow.

One more thing: While I'm at it, I'm kicking the Animals out too. I don't even need to explain why. God, I hate that band.

Oh yeah, you're out too, assholes.
The Animals
The Grateful Dead
Willie Dixon
Duane Eddie
Elton John
The Band
John Lennon
Bob Marley
Johnny Otis
Rod Stewart

p.s. - I'm sorry

p.p.s. - No, I'm not

p.p.p.s. - Ok, maybe I am, but just a little bit

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Who's in first: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi, Round 5

Nevermind the puffy eyes, bloody noses and wobbly walks, it's on to Round 5 of the death match between Def Leppard's "Adrenalize" and Bon Jovi's "New Jersey" - winner earns a spot first in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Def Leppard, "White Lightning"

G.E. Smith: There's no mulligans in rock 'n' roll. Ask this band, this guy or even this f*ck-up.

The Ledge. Badass.
But if there was ever an OK-to-crap-the-bed moment, this would be it - one whole track to unload your sadness, pain, guilt, anger and whatever other feelings you're having as a band over the death of long-time guitarist and friend Steve Clark, who had died only a year earlier, in 1991, at the age of 30. He was found dead on his couch with codeine, Vicodin and morphine in his blood along with a blood-alcohol level of .30, three times the legal limit. Authorities deemed it "accidental." No disrespect intended and in all seriousness, this is complete bullshit. Clark, Ledger, Winehouse, Michael Jackson, etc. - don't sugarcoat it. It is what it is.

Are you like me? Do you think this guy should be locked up?
Anyway, if this song really sucked, it'd be just a-OK. Metallica hadn't paved the way with the hire-a-band-shrink thing, so Lep didn't know it was an option to do this or even use it as a shroud to stage a faux documentary in yet one more feeble attempt to resurrect a career that you drove straight into the gutter with one piece of shit record after another after another. (apparently, the therapy didn't work. they still blow.)

But guess what? "White Lightning" (a reference to Clark, who always wore white) ain't that bad. Guitarist Phil Collen pays tribute to the slick axe man with an opening solo that Clark (who plays on half of the songs on the album, but obviously not this one, duh) might have come up with himself. The song isn't "Wish You Were Here," but it's got a decent enough swagger that builds to some moments of real emotion.

Criticisms: Kind of long at 6:46, and as such cliche-meister "Mutt" Lange has room to get in there and throw out some of his favorite hackneyed rock lyrics. Verse 2 (cliches in bold):

Got both ends burnin' like a moth to a flame
You're goin' off the rails like a runaway train
It's a no-win situation there's no way out
And no one will ever hear you scream and shout

Even if this sucked out loud, I couldn't rate it below a 5. A fitting tribute.

Rating: 5.9

Michael Anthony: When I heard this for the first time in almost 20 years, it really did suck out loud. The intro goes on way too long without the appearance of a single riff or original idea, and the whispered verse vocals - while screaming "Take me seriously!" - are a cornball joke. Sorry, Joe.

And at SEVEN MINUTES, you'd expect a hook in there somewhere, but sadly there's nothing. Come on, these guys wrote "Photograph" and "Foolin'"! Can something please happen in this song?

And the lyrics lyrics. The LYRICS! Here are the only words in "White Lightning", and I'm being completely serious here, that aren't cliched dreck:

When you come down here
You're already

White lightnin'



You get the idea.

On the other hand, there are some solid solos to be found here, much better than what Richie Sambuca was cooking up on New Jersey or the even more putrid Keep The Faith. And, because what you're about to hear below is so bad, I give "White Lightning" and the Def Lep boys a 4.0 by default.

Rating: 4.069

Bon Jovi, "Blood on Blood"

G.E. Smith: There are some Bon Jovi fans who believe songwriters Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and the band could pull down their pants in the studio, press record and produce an album of them taking a crap and it would sound amazing.

Nobody f*cks with the Boz.
Well, they did just that right here, and guess what? It sounds like warthogs being neutered. It sounds like Jerry Sandusky's future cell in prison. It sounds like the script to "Blackout," aka "Midnight Heat," starring Brian Bosworth.

It's apparent Jon and Richie handled the music - it's a pop-metal-lite take on Bruce - and that Dez Child wrote the bulk of the lyrics. More horseshit "we were young" and "we were crazy" and "we can do it" and "we'll prove 'em wrong" and "I'll be there for you" and then some crap about his dad.

But they're reaaaal proud of themselves. They've written themselves a timeless anthem here. They're legit artists. They're not just beefcake dunces who teenage girls put on their walls and dream about at night.

Watch the video below and you'll hate this vomit cake on the sidewalk even more.

Hey, there's one thing you can always believe in, and that's dreams. So tonight, a dedication. "Blood on Blood."

Michael Anthony: Alright, things are getting interesting!

I have to disagree with G.E. here.

Yes, this is a lite-rock, brain-dead version of "Bobby Jean", chugging along briskly (and dangerously wimpily) with its tales of dudes duding out just for dudes' sake. But hey - it's kinda decent for what it is!

There's no rhythm to speak of, nothing memorable sonically, and the lyrics are terrible - but really, it's not half-bad!

The other, more, well, "special" Bruce.
I like its limp vibe and pointless lyrics about loyalty and camaraderie, despite the fact that it falls apart after a decent guitar intro, not to mention the Bruce comparison I made earlier is totally unfair (to Bruce, of course), and, honestly, a better sounds-like would be something along the lines of Soul Asylum-meets-Bruce Hornsby. Didn't think you'd ever see that sentence here, or anywhere? Let me explain...

See, "Blood On Blood" takes the low-rent, gray jangle of the B-teamers of punk rock and melds it with half-baked singer-songwriter nonsense akin to the worst "rock" music the 80's had to offer, stirs it all up in a pot of semi-audible guitars and tinny-sounding drums, and sets it all to PUKE.

But I like it. A little.

Rating: 3.69

Friday, January 13, 2012

Would You Rather: Rock Hall edition

The Eagles: I can't tell you why.
Would you rather ...

Watch the YouTube video for The Eagles' "The Long Run" for 10 hours straight, enduring Don Henley's nasally whine, a vocal attack that makes it seem as if his balls are dragging on the floor underneath the bass drum pedal; seeing smug-ass Glen Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit deliver their backup vocals, all the while knowing they were both seething over Henley's time in the sun; hearing the constant wheez of Walsh's lazy lead guitar, a mail-it-in effort that was emblematic of what the band was up to at the time ...


Eat a bowl of used tampons donated by Poison groupies?

Would you rather...

Listen to an entire solo album by Sting or Eric Clapton, feeling the full brunt of an English ego run roughshod, whether it was Slowhand's 1981 shitfest "Another Ticket," featuring the half-hearted accidental hit "I Can't Stand It," or the super-indulgent deep cuts on the immensely overrated "Ten Summoner's Tales" ...


Let your head get stuck in an elevator door?

And would you rather ...

Be the poor bastard who has to put the makeup on the faces of, well, Faces Ron Wood and Rod Stewart at the upcoming Rock Hall inductions, filling in cracks chiseled into those ugly mugs by oceans of liquor and mountains of narcotics, inhaling the smoke-and-booze-infused breath as it emanates from their mouth filled with f*cked up teeth ...


Intentionally break three toes of your choice?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

John Fogerty sells out, Foo Fighters suck up

From the Foo's Twitter account. Shh don't tell anyone.
As we already established in a previous post, John Fogerty is a turd.

It was Mr. "Centerfield" who stood on principal, who said no way am I going to put out good shit for my label, no way am I going to play a goddamn three-chord song or two with my Creedence Clearwater Revival bandmates when we go in the Rock Hall in 1993, and it ain't me, it ain't me I ain't no fortunate son and all that crap.

Well lookie here: According to the Los Angeles Times, the alleged rebel has written an original theme song for a new Fox show, "The Finder," and will actually guest star in the debut on Thursday, and will actually make the stripped-down version of "Fortunate Son" that he plays on the show available for purchase at a later date. CAAAA-CHING.

Somehow this isn't the only noteworthy news involving John Fogy-ty, as it has been reported by Billboard and others that Foo Fighters will guest on his upcoming album. Other guests include Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley.


Harry's dump-a-rooni: We've all been there before, right?
With that thought accepted and dumped out in a fashion similar to the one Jeff Daniels' Harry employed in "Dumb and Dumber," let's address the real issue: What is Dave Grohl up to here? Why perform on a Fogerty record? Why? There is just no connection at any point in Grohl's career with Nirvana or Foos that could be made. Even his limp-ass tune "Wheels," from their 2009 greatest hits album*, is more Tom Petty lite or by-the-numbers adult contemporary radio rock than it is retro-rock circuit.

* I have to break this out: Foo Fighters' 2009 "Greatest Hits" was a two-CD set, with EIGHT SONGS on each disc. Eight songs on one disc? What a monumental waste of disc space. So there's 16 songs, and among those is the awful "Wheels," which was new at the time, and was obviously awful, but someone had the genius idea to include this on a greatest hits set? Also among this collection of greats is an acoustic version of "Everlong" to close things out. This is a greatest HITS album boys. Why do you have two versions of the same song on a greatest hits record? HAHAHHAHA.

Watch the "Wheels" come down right here:

The only motive in play with this Foo Fighters-Fogerty collab is this: Grohl and his boys are laying the groundwork for a 2020 induction on the first ballot. By that time, Foo Fighters will be considered Classic Rock, and many will redo history to put them on one of the upper shelves with The Doors, The Byrds and, oh, what do you know, CREEDENCE!

Look, the self-titled debut was great. "The Colour and the Shape" is half good. I know CDNR's Flipout Wilson will disagree, but I don't see anything else in their catalog that takes them to Rock Hall level.

Hopefully, one of our readers in the Ukraine saves this or something like it until 2020.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Van Halen's "Tattoo"

The knee-jerk reaction is to stamp the suck label on “Tattoo,” the new song and vid from Van Halen, Rock Hall Class of 2007.

If you haven’t watched or listened yet, I suggest you listen first. The tune is definitely a Piss Break Anthem, but it’s not the litter box left unattended for two weeks that people are already making it out to be.

Like any VH track, “Tattoo” is impeccably produced, and features ace guitar work by Ed, whether it’s the beefy chunk chords  in the verse or the obligatory insane solo. Wisely, Ed the songwriter throttled Diamond Dave down to a lower, more mature register for the refrain.

Why listen first? Because the video is a total joke. What the f*ck is wrong with David Lee Roth? Is he really some kind of modern-day, real-life Samson, who lost his ability to even pretend to be cool when he lost his hair?
"Tattoo": Definitely an homage to "Jump." Only lamer.

Does he know someone who’s a fan of Alex Chilton, and they told him Alex Chilton (RIP) was cool, so DLR got mixed up and stole his ’do?

Whatever the problem, Roth is in full-on goof mode, only it’s Weird Uncle goof, like as in you wouldn’t want to leave your kid alone with this guy for five seconds. It’s just not funny, and you can tell Alex and Ed are kind of not that comfortable with it.

(also, the words don't match up with the vid. DUDE.)

Dave - we don’t care if you’re bald. Or if it looks bad. Grow the hair out in the back, even if that look gives you a mullet, and even if it gives you a skullet. We want our Van Halen, but we only want it with Long-Haired Dave.

All of this, however, is irrelevant, because this isn’t really Van Halen. We can’t judge this as a “Van Halen” track because the bass is missing.

David Lee Roth and Alex Chilton share the same hairdo.
The bones of an average to slightly below average song is here, but it’s like a donut without Michael Anthony’s wicked lines. Wolfgang would be an excellent School of Rock player, but putting him in VH is really a crime.

We understand there might be some booze/ no booze issues here (one of Anthony’s basses is shaped like a f*cking whiskey bottle) and maybe that’s more important, but a fact’s a fact. No Michael Anthony, no Van Halen.

Grade: Incomplete.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Great" moments in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame History: 1989

Fried chicken. Grotto pizza. A pound of crispy bacon. Turkey Hill peanut butter ripple ice cream. Scrapple. Fried cheese curds. That chicken you get at Indian food places that comes in the orange sauce.

Scrapple tastes gooooood. Pork chop tastes goooood.
All of these things are awesome. All of these things at the same time still could be awesome. But it'd also be really confusing, almost impossible to digest, and probably in the end it might not be so, well, satisfying. You'll probably vomit at least once that night. You'll definitely shit yourself silly the next day.

What happened on Jan. 18, 1989, is similar to the very same feast described above. At the end of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony that saw The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and Dion (not a bad class) go in, as well as cockface Phil Spector, who proved once again why he's as much of a cockface as he is a genius producer by inviting both Ike AND Tina Turner to induct him in the Hall. Interestingly enough, Ike is the one who pussed out, saying he was uncomfortable being around her.

At the end of what was probably a quite entertaining event to attend, all of the groups and an absolutely amazing assemblage of guests got on stage for a big jamfest performance of "Satisfaction."

Sure why the f*ck not, get out the cowbell.
Besides the inductees you had Dylan, Springsteen, George Harrison, a-hole Mike Love, a very uncomfortable looking John Fogerty (but when is John Fogerty ever comfortable looking?), possibly a coked out Billy Joel on the keys (it was possibly him, but whoever it was definitely was coked out); and then a super solid B team that included Mick Jones of Foreigner, Jeff Lynne, Arlo Guthrie, maybe Todd Rundgren and a few of the other Beach Boy dweebs.

There were so many f*ckers up there I'm not sure if any of the other Stones were up there besides Jagger.

The dizzying roster and the decent performance makes this a pretty incredible Rock Hall moment, but we're teetering on vomit, we're teetering on overindulgence and a sense that this might be too much, and then two more things take it to Over The Top Ville.

One is the presence of Paul Shaffer. But it's not just that he's there. It's that he used a Keytar to get himself front and center, whoring his way to the center of the action, like some dude nudging his way into the Last Supper scene so he could make the painting. F*ck you, Paul Shaffer.

This I get. The other thing, not so much.
Then there's what happens at 2:40. Bruce and Mick, sharing the mic like it was a metal schlong with a wire. When Bruce and Little Steven do this, it's cool. It's a bro thing. I get it. But here there's 400 mics sitting around, and no one's using them, and Bruce doesn't even have a guitar (another puzzling aspect), and there's no reason for them to get so close that their teeth are touching.

I dunno. The more I write about this the more I'm thinking this really is "great."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

NWA, Public Enemy, Will Smith and the racial quota.

One of the best TV characters in the modern age is Token Black from South Park. Not because he’s hilarious or anything. But because he exists. As you probably know, the idea behind his existence in the show is that every social scenario portrayed in the media needs a black guy. But just one.

Nothing says that more than the Olive Garden commercials. Good holy shit, I hate those commercials. Allow me to provide the parenthetical message they project.

Just neato! My racially balanced group of friends is having a great time at Olive Garden. Look at us laughing and sharing breadsticks! We all dress the same too because all races in America share the same interests, especially when it comes to over-cheesed and over-salted food. See the black guy in the group? And the Asian woman? They prefer sharing a meal at Olive hanging with two white people as long as they conform to whitey’s ways of life.

Which brings us to the Class of 2013. Three major rap acts eligible for nomination are Public Enemy, N.W.A. and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.
Now, given the social ceiling of one black guy per group of whiteys, which of those three do you think the geezers at the Rock Hall will nominate?

These guys?

These guys?

Or these guys?

Of course it'll be the one with Will Smith.

That’s because when he rapped about the summertime and how parents don’t understand, it’s like he really knew how all blooming, wide-eyed teenagers feel. Ugh.

I didn’t learn shit from Will Smith. If it wasn’t for N.W.A. and Public Enemy, this white boy from a town of 4,000 in the woods of Western Pennsylvania would have no clue how the rest of this country really is.

But that shouldn’t even matter in the Rock Hall’s consideration. Instead of asking themselves, "Which one of black guys do we nominate this year?” they should ask, “Which artists were the most popular and revered by consumers and fellow performers?" And that question should be asked among the entire list of eligible artists, not just the racial tokens.

So, again, which of these artists eligible in 2013 do you think the geezer at the Rock Hall will nominate?

This guy?

Boy George really just made the same music everybody else did in the 80s. Plus, he at one point in walked outside of his house looking like that.

These guys?

I still can’t fathom how the Goo Goo Dolls have stayed popular in the past 15 years. I’ll give them credit for keeping their careers alive without having to do a reunion and releasing a handful of greatest hits records. However, the songs on their first record sound like they are reproduced versions of songs lying on the booze-soaked floor of The Replacements rehearsal space – songs that didn’t make the cut to be considered B-sides.

These guys (and gal)?
I actually have nothing against the Pixies. They deserve a nomination and induction. At best, they'll get a nom. No golden ticket. Because Cleveland Does Not Rock.

These guys?

These guys?

NWA and Public Enemy changed the direction of rap. It went from diluted and pasteurized to a concentrated dose of reality kids didn’t know existed.

Their influence was so huge that other candy-coated rap acts changed their marketed image to blend into rap’s new backdrop. Look no further than MC Hammer, who changed his name to “Hammer” in 1994 and recorded this song.


By the way, MC Hammer is also up for nomination in 2013.

No bullshit.

Rock Hall ruminations: Steve Jones is Our Hero

Steve Jones, right, earns a Gold Medal for his efforts in the War on the Hall.
Yes, we've looked ahead to the potential Class of 2013, but despite what Boston said, it can't hurt to look back. Especially if it's someone else doing the looking.

Henceforth, here's three reactions to this year's inductions that we discovered this week, ranging from awesome to about as puzzling as "John From Cincinnati."

1) WAR blasts the induction of The Beastie Boys, courtesy of TMZ. That's right, this WAR. The WAR with this guy in it. Here's what founding member Howard Scott told the site:

"How could the Beastie Boys get in before us when they sampled 
War's music on their first album?! I'll eat their platinum records!" 

Tobolowsky's greatest role: Ned Ryerson in "Groundhog Day."
So basically, Scott is saying that WAR should get in because the Beastie Boys sampled them on "Slow Ride." (Even though "Slow Ride" is a better song, but whatever). Or because WAR came before the Beastie Boys. But that's like Stephen Tobolowsky complaining that he should have gotten an Oscar before Javier Bardem just because the erstwhile Ned Ryerson did his first movie in 1976, 31 years before "No Country For Old Men." Yeah, they're both actors, but Tobolowsky is one of "those guys" who usually fills goofy, off-kilter parts while Bardem takes on serious, often creepy roles.

2) While pontificating on a theoretical Guns 'N' Roses reunion that will never happen, singer Axl Rose essentially told the Los Angeles Times that if Duff and Slash would do it, that would count as a real-deal GNR reformation, and that guitarist Izzy Stradlin and original drummer Steven Adler are not necessary ingredients. Via

Izzy not essential to GNR? Whaaat?
"Because, really, you can get guys from the ['Use Your Illusion'] thing, but the only thing that would make it would be Duff [McKagan] and Slash, really. It's nothing against Izzy [Stradlin] and it's nothing against Steven [Adler], or anything like that."
Uh, what? That's like Frank Black leaving Kim Deal out of a Pixies reunion and calling it legit. Or d*ckhead Sting reuniting The Police without d*ckhead drummer Stuart Copeland. Or R.E.M. calling themselves R.E.M. without drummer Bill Berry. Wait, uh ... 

3) Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones arbitrarily decided to come out and endorse Johnny Rotten's decision to lead the band into a snub of the Hall when they were inducted in 2006, and used it as bait to lure Contact Music into an interview in which he absolutely annihilated The Hall. Steve, if you're out there, we want you to write for Cleveland Does Not Rock. (side note: In the photo on the site you'll note that Contact Music apparently has confused this Steve Jones with the Sex Pistol Steve Jones. Oopsers). Anyway, Jones said this:

"Each year it (induction ceremony) gets lamer and lamer. A bunch of old f**ks kissing each other's a**, stroking each other. It's got nothing to do with rock 'n' roll whatsoever."

God love ya, Steve.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: The end of ... Rock Hall lameness?

Once the suits finish moshing to "Give It Away," doing the "Brass Monkey" and getting their rocks off to a Faces reunion led by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, we'll all move on to the Class of 2013, to be announced this fall before the world presumably ends.

And perhaps as a harbinger of the End Times, it's quite possible the Hall could avoid complete flaccidity for once in its existence: Two can't-miss "cool" and legit acts - The Pixies and Public Enemy - are up for induction. These two acts are among our "12 Artists That Must Be Discussed in 2012 For Induction in 2013."Awesome title, eh?


Took makeup and pyro to another level, defined stadium rock, pulled two of the biggest and best gags in rock history by taking the makeup off and putting it back on again and, oh, wrote some amazing songs.


Three of the best musicians ever to play rock music, plus alongside (early) Genesis and YES form the Mount Rushmore of Prog Rock.


Took what came before (Husker Du, David Bowie, Minutemen, etc.) and crystallized it into THE  slick alt-rock sound that dominated the early 1990s and the loud-soft-loud dynamic that Nirvana admittedly borrowed (stole?). Several uber-successful and very lucrative reunion tours should nail down an induction.


I'm going back on my attack on the Beastie Boys and their recent induction - oh, I still don't think they should be in, but just not yet. Someday, maybe. Not yet. But since they are in, voters have now painted themselves in a corner. If the Beasties - sort of a joke act - are in, then Public Enemy, arguably the greatest and most important rap/ hip-hop acts of all time, should be in. Shit, they are one of the greatest and most important acts, period. Hear the drummer get wicked.


Shafted in the 2012 inductions after being led on by the Hall and it's limp voters all year. Put them in already.


Joan Jett was another one who seemed to be led on, but really the band she was a leading force in should get in first anyway - The Runaways. The band went worldwide and foretold the Riot Grrl movement of the 1990s. They weren't just a great chick band, they were a great band period.


We can dream right? They're only one of the best bands of the last 25 years, maybe even 35, with songs that defined a generation and now get passed to kids over and over again like a New Age Led Zeppelin. If Rock Hall voters had actual testicles (and proverbial ones for the females in the group), Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Bob Stinson, Christopher Mars and Slim Dunlap would be enshrined already.


One of the biggest bands in the world in the late 1970s and early 1980s, plus they have a mountain of amazing singles, plus they are one of the best and most important power-pop bands of all time.


The Smiths were to the 1980s as the Beatles were to the 1960s. If you live in America, you choose to ignore or forget that truth. If you lived in Britain, you know that to be a stone-cold fact. They had so many singles they put out several compilations with almost completely different lineups. Plus they were fronted by The Gay Elvis, Morrissey, i.e. one of the greatest frontmen of all-time.


Sensational songwriters and performers. If you don't love at least one H&O song you don't like music. Even freaking RAPPERS dig Hall & Oates and have sampled tunes like "One On One." Plus, The Mustache. Need I say more?


So innovative, so influential, so f*cking weird. Mark Mothersbaugh continues to prove his genius to this day - not only did he helm wacked out tunes like "Jocko Homo" and "Peek-a-boo," but he also has been writing kids' music and scoring shows and movies for eons.


If there's no T. Rex, there's no Bowie. There's also about 14 fewer Oasis songs, including "Cigarettes and Alcohol." Daltry namechecked the erstwhile Marc Bolan in a song ("To the sounds of old T. Rex, in "You Better You Bet"). 'Nuff said.


If you're going to arbitrarily start chucking in random 1980s acts, why not start with two of the best pop bands of the decade?