Squeeze: Way more than just “Tempted”

4 04 2008

You should probably be listening to Squeeze right now.

Unfortunately, maybe you’ve only heard “Tempted.” Sure, it’s a pretty good song, but they had much better at their early ’80s peak. The obsession of advertising folks and DJs with “Tempted” completely misrepresents the band as a shallow one-hit wonder. Besides being huge in England, they were just freakin’ great.

Start with “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” or “Another Nail in My Heart.” Then, move on to just buying their singles collection.

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They could just craft an amazing pop single. Like, really amazing.

Perhaps most amazingly, they were one of the few acts to whom the modifier “beatlesque” could accurately be ascribed. The vocals, the guitars, the songwriting…the whole package.

Oh, and “Black Coffee in Bed” does the whole retro-soul thing much better than “Tempted.”





Michael Jackson Comeback Watch ’08!

21 03 2008

Here’s an update on the ongoing/impeding Michael Jackson comeback…

“Emo” popsters Fall Out Boy recently teamed up with John Mayer for a cover of MJ’s 1983 hit, “Beat It.” Front man Patrick Stump bares his silly putty soul and John Mayer apes Eddie Van Halen’s flawless guitar solo. It’s not half-bad. Then again, why not just listen to the original.





The man who sold the world

14 03 2008

I probably don’t listen to enough David Bowie. He’s obviously celebrated as a rock chameleon…but that’s just the half of it. Bowie should be regarded as one of the greatest artists of the rock era.

He made a great, underrated prog rock/proto-metal record with 1970’s The Man Who Sold the World before moving on to kick-start glam rock with several subsequent albums. On his late ’70s records he helped provide a vocabulary for New Wave and post-punk.

Here’s a taste of what you and I have possibly forgotten about, from the glam years to the pop years and from Philly soul to the Eno collaborations.

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1. “Space Oddity” from Space Oddity (1969) – A great space song! It’s got counting! Rick Wakeman sits in on mellotron!

2. “Black Country Rock” from The Man Who Sold the World (1970) – This tune’s as heavy as heck without being overbearing (ala Black Sabbath of the same era). It’s also a freaked-out psychedelic-country-prog-jam. Weird, huh?

3. “Queen Bitch” from Hunky Dory (1971) – Bowie’s melodic gifts are nearly at their peak here. I also love the mouth percussion at the start of the song. Wes Anderson used this track with great effect in his film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Oh, and the band The Killers owe their career to this song. Listen closely.

4. “Changes” from Hunky Dory (1971) – Bowie’s melodic gifts are at their peak here. Bowie presented himself as a pop successor to The Beatles with this tune. In fact, for a brief moment in 1971, we missed the Beatles a little less because of this song.

5. “Hang On to Yourself” from The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) – The hand claps alone are reason enough to love this fast-paced track.

6. “Suffragette City” from The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) – Bowie channels the spirit of Little Richard on this song. It a perfect rock and roll rave-up.

7. “The Jean Genie” from Aladdin Sane (1973) – Bowie somehow evokes the best of bluesy R&B and The Velvet Underground simultaneously.

8. “Young Americans” from Young Americans (1975) – Some great plastic soul. This tune rightly made Bowie a star in the U.S.

9. “Golden Years” from Station to Station (1976) – At this point it seemed “golden” meant “coked out of your mind.” This song is creepily funky.

10. “What in the World” from Low (1977) – On this track and the rest of Low, Bowie and Brian Eno create a whole new soundscape. And it strangely sounds like a precursor to early ’80s video game music. In all seriousness, this experimental album has gone on to inspire everyone from Philip Glass to Radiohead.

11. “Heroes” from “Heroes” (1977) – This is an awesomely atmospheric song without sacrificing an ounce of melody. It’s been too easily commandeered for commercials and the like in the years since, but it remains an incredible song. Eno on synths and Robert Fripp on guitar don’t hurt the situation.

12. “Look Back in Anger” from Lodger (1979) – A frenetic song from the last album in Bowie’s Eno-influenced “Berlin Trilogy.” Adrian Belew steps in on some great guitar.

13. “Modern Love” from Let’s Dance (1983) – From an album that is often shunned by rock critics, “Modern Love” is actually a slice of ingenious pop pastiche. You can’t tell, but that’s Stevie Ray Vaughn playing guitar on this track (and the rest of the album).





I am a wimp.

13 03 2008

Sadly, I either wised up or chickened out. I did not travel to IKEA in West Chester last night. I only sort of regret it. At least now I can go with my wife later.





IKEA fever — catch it!

12 03 2008

I can’t believe I’m honestly considering doing this. It’s 1:18 a.m. and I’m seriously thinking of driving all the way to Cincinnati for the opening of Ohio’s first IKEA store. I’m sick.

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The great Obamination

5 03 2008

I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Clinton won Ohio. Honestly, I’m not even all that sure why I wanted Obama. He just seems to promise something…different. I’m sick of Clintons and Bushes. And something about McCain just makes me nervous.

Most of the time I feel like a Democrat trapped in the body of a Republican. Or maybe a Republican trapped in the body of a Democrat. That doesn’t exactly make me a centrist does it?

And I want this button. It’s ridiculous.

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Arcade Fire + Obama + Nelsonville = Rock!

5 03 2008

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I’m still processing all of this. It was all thrown together so quickly.

After receiving word on Friday that Arcade Fire would be playing for a Barack Obama rally in Nelsonville, I jumped into action. I contacted the right people and secured a press pass for the show.

Sunday night my wife and I traveled to the show. It was incredible. The venue, Stuart’s Opera House, only seats a few hundred people, so the concert was intimate as heck. Then, needless to say, the band put on an amazing, energetic show. In addition to some of their own best songs, the band did some rad cover tunes: David Bowie’s “Heroes,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”

Oh, and I tried to post all this on Sunday night, but my internet was down. Ugh.