One Neat Thing a Day

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    Sean Daily is an English major from New Jersey now living in Las Vegas, the Other City of Lights. "I consider 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' to be comfort reading, I like the al pastor tacos at Tacos Mexico and I count among my literary influences the Chainsaw from 'Doom'. 'RRRRRR! You don't like that, do you, Mr. Undead Marine! RRRRRR!'"

    Shanoah Alkire is our Discordian at large. "Born in Santa Cruz, I grew up in Grass Valley and the Bay Area, and now lurk in Las Vegas. My literary influences include Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, and Douglas Adams. I also program as a hobby, and currently maintain the Gtk port of Angband. You can find a rather old bio of me here."

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Archive for July, 2008

Lots of Weirdness

Posted by shanoah on July 31, 2008

You know what Sex (I’m A) reminds me of, Sean?

Like a lot of things, Weird Al Yankovic. Specifically, this Polka from his “In 3d” album:

Polkas on 45

Yes, one of the songs in his Polka Medley for this album was “Sex (I’m A)”, and I’m certain that’s where I first heard it.

Of course, Al’s always been a bit off the deep end.

And if you’ve heard his concerts, you may know he also plays medleys of old and unreleased music of his at them. More on that in a minute.

But first, a commercial break:

Got Milk? (The Weird Al Show)

All right, I’m back. And now for a recording of a screen at Dementia 2001 that was showing a medley from a Weird Al concert in 1997. In two parts:

Weird Al Medley 1997 – Part 1

And Part 2

The songs, in order, are:

Laundry Day*
Chicken Pot Pie*
My Bologna
Syndicated Inc
Another One Rides The Bus
Gee I'm A Nerd
Achy Breaky Song
Phony Calls
Cavity Search
Green Eggs & Ham*
Eat It

I think “Gee, I’m a Nerd” in here is just great. Oh, and Chicken Pot Pie never made it onto a cd simply because Paul McCartney, as a vegetarian, didn’t want it on an album.

Silly, really. I’m a vegetarian, and I think it’s cool…


Posted in Blogs, bulldada, From Shanoah, Funny, Gooey Gummi Goodness, Happy Media, I Tunes Not U Tunes, I'm probably going to hell for this, Mailing List, Not Work Safe | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

7-31-08 Gimme an S! Gimme an E! Gimme an X! What’s that spell!

Posted by Sean on July 31, 2008

Well, you want to do covers, eh? I can think of one off the top of my head, actually.

Berlin released Pleasure Victim in 1982, an album that contained the Reaganlicious synthpop song Sex (I’m A) with a video that’s supposed to be suave and sophisticated but just leaves you feeling kind of icky, like you just watched your best friend having sex.

There was a very short time in the 1980s when a man could get away with a hairdo like that and women could get away with wearing dresses like those. Thank God that time has passed.

Courtesy of the old fart at lastmatureman.

The supergroup Lovage released their own cover on 2001’s Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By. Maybe you will like it.

Courtesy of babsytalia.

Then there’s Rorschach Test’s somewhat less reverent cover off 1998’s Unclean, which brings to mind words like “jackhammer” and “sordid bathroom sex”.

Ronson711 transfered this from an old cassette recording of “The Pit on 98 Rock” in Tampa, Florida. “I never hear this band anywhere else, so I put it here,” quoth he/she/it/they. And I couldn’t find this anywhere else on YouTube, so I’m putting it here. If you can find it Rorschach Test’s Sex (I’m A) anywhere, I highly recommend grabbing it.

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Dancing In The Streets

Posted by shanoah on July 31, 2008

Kyrie was one of your favorite songs? Cool. The three songs I played last post were essentially my favorite songs from a Best of VH1 “Where Are You Now” cd I own.

And, yeah, Kyrie has always been a great one. Today I thought I’d go more Motown then Megadeth, though, with the classic song “Dancing in the street“.

It was written by William Stevenson and Marvin Gaye, and was first performed by Martha and the Vandellas:

Martha & The Vandellas

Big hair, and a good groove. While this was intended, well, for dancing, the song has been pretty popular with civil rights activists, too.

This song is one of 50 sound recordings preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry.

And it was covered by everyone:

David Bowie & Mick Jagger

This rather unlikely version was done by Bowie and Mick Jagger in 1985, as part of a charity event. This was the other version that majorly hit the charts.

Theres some sort of a weird vibe going between them in the song, but then, it is Bowie. I have to consider this one of the silliest versions.

This isn’t the only unlikely cover:

Van Halen

Surprisingly, Van Halen covered this song as well. Seems like a bit of a harder rock version.

And then, of course, there’s what is probably my favorite cover of the song:

The Mama & The Papas

Any song covered by the Mamas and the Papas seems to get their own unique touch. And this version or the original are the ones I usually think of.

This is only really scratching the surface of the covers. I could have thrown in the Grateful Dead, the Carpenters, the Who, the Kinks, and Atomic Kitten, to name a few…

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7-30-08 Megadeth – Hook in Mouth

Posted by Sean on July 30, 2008

Well, Shanoah, think I’ll get my eighties on again today. Since you did Kyrie, which was one of my favorite songs…

Since I’ve already done Pat Benatar’s We Belong and Nena’s 99 Luftballons, two of my other favorite songs…

And since I’m saving the Pet Shop Boys for the coldest, darkest days of winter, which is exactly when West End Girls should be played, in my opinion…

Well, it’s gettin’ a little hard for me to get my eighties on with songs that I like (cos let’s face it cuz, much of the music in the eighties sucked like a Hoover).

So I think I’ll swing away from the synthpop and drag out my brother’s old Megadeth records for today’s neat thing.

You may remember the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC from the 1980s. In short, it was Seduction of the Innocent for the Reagan years, with rock music instead of comic books as the Goldstein. You know those “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” stickers on some albums but not others? and the fact that you can only buy albums without that sticker at Wal-Mart? Blame the PMRC.

Needless to say, musicians were somewhat hostile to the PMRC, in the way that the Sioux were somewhat hostile to General Custer. One of the groups, out of many, to protest the stickers and rating system was Megadeth, with Hook in Mouth, off 1987’s So Far, So Good… So What! Now, I have no idea what Dave Mustaine is singing here (which is why LyricWiki is a godsend for me), but I can still reel off the chorus from memory, even two decades later:

F! is for fighting!
R! is for red!
Ancestors blood in the battles they’ve shed
E! We elect them!
E! We eject them!
In the land of the free and the home of the brrrrraaaaaave.
D! is for dying!
O! your overture!
M! They will cover your grave with manuuuuure.
That spells out freedom, it means nothing to me
As long as there’s a PMRC!

And no, I have no idea what covering your grave with manure has to do with the PMRC. But it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and diseased inside.

Courtesy of the aptly-named Metalrules566. Horns to the sky, people. Horns to the sky.

Oh, and check out that cover. Classic.

Posted in I Tunes Not U Tunes, Islamocommunifeminihomofascists, Mailing List, Politics and Other Things In Which I'm Not Qualified | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Big Country

Posted by shanoah on July 30, 2008

Don’t worry, Sean. I probably wasn’t that clear about it in my original post. Unfortunately, when I create these posts means that I often don’t really have time for a final polish on my posts.

Which is why some of my better posts are ones that have sat in the draft section for at least a few days. At that, I think you’re still a good deal better at writing then I am. Though posting here on a regular basis is helping me a lot.

I’ve always been better at finding things, actually. Which is probably why I do so well at coming up with things to post.

And if you weren’t suited to be a reporter, I think it’d be more due to your creativity. I could see you doing, say, reporting for the Onion. (Which I’ve always thought would be a fun job to have…)

Anyways, so you said you aren’t a Big Country fan? Well, I am, to an extent, so I think I’ll play them:

In A Big Country – Big Country

What, that’s not what you meant? Ah. Good.

I always did like this song for some reason. Certain lyrics linger a bit:

"I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime..."

Nice positive uplifting song from a Scottish band that will never be together again due to the lead singer hanging himself.

Incidentally, my underlying theme for today is probably songs featured on VH1’s “Where Are They Now”, though there are other themes tying them together.

Kyrie – Mr. Mister

And here we are with a spiritual, of sorts. Kyrie Eleison, of course, is Greek for “Lord, Have Mercy”, and features in many prayers, especially in Coptic churches (as I’m sure you know, Sean). Mister is also translated as Kyrie in Greek, incidentally.

This song just grabs you, though. How can it not, with lyrics like this?

The wind blows hard against this mountainside
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

Ah well. On the road to the next song…

Life In A Northern Town – The Dreamland Academy

As I may have expressed, I have a weakness for songs that tell a story. This song just spirits you away. And it is actually dedicated to Nick Drake.

Nick may actually be worthy of his own post some time, if I remember, actually.

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7-29-08 Willin’

Posted by Sean on July 29, 2008

Well, what can I say, Shanoah? That’s just another instance of me not getting it. It’s one of the reasons I gave up being a reporter.

Anyway, I wish I could continue this thread on radio. But not today. Too busy. Maybe on Thursday. So I’m gonna use this post that I worked on last night…

I’m not a big country fan (no, Sean, really?), so I came across Willin’ in my usual bass-ackwards way.

You may remember James Cameron’s 1989 film The Abyss, where the crew of an underwater oil rig and some SEALs make first contact with aliens in the most unlikely of places – at the edge of the benthic abyss called the Cayman Trough. Those of you who’ve seen the story are probably already nodding your heads, but I’ll explain it for those that haven’t.

There’s this scene, and a throwaway one at that, cut out of the theatrical release to save time, where they’re towing the oil rig to the edge of the Trough with a minisub called Deep Truck. Ed Harris (Bud Brigman) is at the controls of the oil rig and Kimberly Scott – whose character has probably one of the best nicknames in movie history, “One Night” – of Deep Truck. It’s a very quick but very lonely scene, with One Night all alone in Deep Truck. Orson Scott Card’s excellent novelization of The Abyss takes care to note how One Night can be cooped up in Deep Truck without anyone else to look at for hours at a time during these maneuvers – kinda like a trucker on a long haul.

What makes this scene is Willin’, which One Night has playing in Deep Truck during the scene and which she and Bud sing along to. It’s one of those small moments that really makes The Abyss for me and why it’s Cameron’s best film (yes, even better than Aliens). It also made me fall in love with Willin’.

This is Linda Ronstadt’s version of Willin’, courtesy of angerhangover. Sing along here.

And this is Little Feat’s version, courtesy of vradul.

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More Radios

Posted by shanoah on July 29, 2008

Well, you know, Sean, I wasn’t really trying to post radio unfriendly songs so much as to express frustration at the loss of real radio. Yes, you’ve got WFMU, and I’ve been listening to KVMR, but how is it to find a decent radio station that isn’t playing the same song after song these days?

And you’ll notice neither of us is listening to radio that is actually local. I like listening to a good radio station, but they’re increasingly hard to find. Though internet radio helps fill the gap.

Anyways, thought I’d continue on with the theme of radio tonight:

Radio Ga Ga –  Queen (extended version)

Here is Queen’s homage to radio. With some nice Metropolis clips in the mix for the video.

Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me) – Reunion

Shades of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” here. I thought the video to it was pretty cool, Fun to watch just to see what artists you notice, really.

“On My Radio ’91”- The Selecter

I think I’m just enjoying watching Pauline bounce energetically around here. Oh, and did you know that the word Selector, which the bands name is based on, is a Jamaican word for DJ?

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7-28-08 Nirvana – Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

Posted by Sean on July 28, 2008

We go from radio unfriendly songs to the most radio friendly song in the history of the frigging universe! Yes! It says so right in the title! It’s Nirvana’s Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, off 1993’s In Utero.

Oh, and prepare for some post-songitus navel-pondering. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana tend to engender that in people who don’t know when to shut the hell up (like me).

Here’s a clean (as in high audio quality) video courtesy of ZackXa. Sing along here, if you like.

And here’s a rockin’ live version, complete with a fan throwing some kind of garment onto the stage. I like to think it’s underwear, as that would make the rockstarishness of this video complete, but I doubt it is (unless the possessor shopped in the Big Woman section of the store… shudder).

Courtesy of Pyrokiddaburna.

Well now, that wasn’t very radio friendly, was it? There’s several things that kill Radio Friendly Unit Shifter’s radio friendliness, like that howling guitar at the start, the acid rock-like coda at the end and its length (just under five minutes). About the only things that make it radio friendly are those angsty teenager-writing-in-the-margins-of-her-notebook lyrics… and that fact that it’s from Nirvana.

Wikipedia claims that this song was an unspecified “attack on the music industry”. A “unit shifter” is apparently industry-ese for a song that sells albums.

But think about it for a minute. You could make the case that Nirvana’s songs, at least the frequent play ones, were radio friendly and unit shifters. You don’t get three no. 1 multiple-platinum studio albums and five no. 1 hits (one of them, You Know You’re Right, topping the charts eight years after your lead singer died) without being radio friendly.

Or maybe radio friendly isn’t the right phrase… maybe “mass media-friendly”. As this short but excellent article, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: The Commodification of Kurt Cobain, by Derek P. Rucas notes:

Nirvana’s catchy, pop-punk melodic riffs [emphasis mine] were used as a prime vehicle to promote “grunge” as the media saw fit.  Everything from widely ripped, faded jeans to layering shirts upon shirts (oh, and don’t forget the Doc Martens) were considered to epitomize grunge trends.  The guitar equipment company DOD even manufactured the F69 Grunge pedal in the early 1990s, insinuating that it could mimic the “grunge sound of Seattle.” (“Power of DOD”, pars. 1).  The media transformed Cobain’s pop cultural status into a mass-cultural money making enterprise that could be easily digested by an audience that was grunge hungry.

People wanted a Nirvana sound. In economics terms, the profits-hungry music industry recognized a need, so they found someone who could provide the product that the consumers wanted. As Bill Lyman, in his 2001 article Kurt Cobain and the dream about pop, points out:

Does anyone really care, at this point, that “Smells Like Teen Sprit” — now routinely cited as one of the great singles of rock history — was made to sound good on the radio? And what’s wrong with sounding good on the radio, anyway?

Well, nothing. I listen to WFMU radio all the time (as those of you who frequent this blog know all too well). The problem, in an era of Jack-FM and Top 40 radio stations with playlist rotations of 100 minutes or less, is not sounding good but sounding the same.

But the point is made. Would Nirvana had made its mark on music – one hell of a mark – if the corporate masters hadn’t given them their shot to make their mark? Would Cobain have had his bully pulpit to complain about the music industry if the music industry hadn’t been a partner in his success? Admittedly, it’s not much of a pulpit, at least in the case of Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. How many people can say they’ve even heard of Radio Friendly Unit Shifter before? Not me; the first time I heard it was when I when I started researching this post.

If Radio Friendly Music Shifter is an attack on “radio friendly” tapioca pudding songs (albeit tapioca pudding with lots of feedback and screaming lyrics), then Nirvana’s argument has a leg to stand on. But if it’s yet another tirade against “the music industry”, then Nirvana’s very success through the music industry makes the song a little spurious, even ungrateful.

Not that Cobain particularly liked his success, or at least the quality of his success, as Rucas notes:

Kurt Cobain was a product of consumer culture during the early 1990s. His influence elevated him to an iconic position that he had never fathomed. In fact, Cobain detested the media for turning his life into an ongoing fiasco. With the spread of controversial stories regarding his drug addiction, and his wife’s (Courtney Love) drug use while pregnant with their daughter Frances Bean, Cobain harboured a hatred for the media with some journalists particularly in mind. One of these journalists was Victoria Clarke, who wrote about Courtney Love’s heroin addiction while pregnant with Frances in her book about Nirvana. In Nick Broomfield’s documentary Kurt and Courtney, Cobain was quoted on Clarke’s answering machine as saying, “If anything comes out in this book that hurts my wife…I’ll fucking hurt you…I don’t care if this is a recorded threat, I’m at the end of my ropes.”

Still, he wouldn’t have had to worry about the media exposure – or the mad jack that rolled in from Nirvana’s album sales and concert ticket sales – if he hadn’t “sold out”. Consider, says Wyman:

Still, the story is an inexorable one: These bands soon began popping up on, and then dominating, critics’ end-of-year 10-best lists and building up decent (if uniformly tiny by mainstream standards) tour followings, but couldn’t get a break from radio, or, for the most part, MTV. And it wasn’t clear, at least at first, if they wanted it. The new indie rock had different concerns, including a distrust of technology, and affinity for a lot of things the corporate masters didn’t like: American roots music in some cases, and, most broadly, a commitment to volume, dishabille, contrariness generally, and “authenticity.”

Ah, authenticity. It wasn’t seriousness, exactly — irony in a fairly watered-down form existed in the work of the wacky Camper Van Beethoven and, certainly, in the psychedelic ferocity of the Butthole Surfers. But bands were for the most part expected to be honest and feel honestly. They were supposed to care about their true fans — since the members of the bands, it was assumed, were true fans themselves — and not be in it for the money, exactly.

It’s a question that must plague artists the world ’round in this post-modern dystopia: Isn’t it all right to sell out, if just a little, to get your message out there? What’s the difference between “selling out, maaaaaan”… and selling out? The artist in me gets all Gandalf-versus-the-Balrog at the question: “None! Never! Not an inch!” But I wonder how I’ll break when someone starts waving thick sheafs of banknotes under my nose (I can only dream).

And that’s me trying to be deep.

Postscript: You know, all this stuff is self-evident more than a decade down the line. The problem is it wasn’t while we were in the middle of it, or at least it wasn’t to me. And that’s the way of things. Maybe the very self-aware realized these things but, as you may have figured out by now, I’m not very self-aware.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s easy to kick Nirvana when it’s been dead for a decade and a half. But I’ll bet that Wyman and Rucas had the red flannels, ripped jeans and the Doc Martens, too, just like everyone else. (I had a red flannel shirt and a pair of jeans with a lovingly maintained tear in the knee. No Docs. I wasn’t nearly that cool)

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Posted by shanoah on July 28, 2008

I remember hearing both versions of 99 Red Balloons on the air, Sean. It was a a fun song: “Captain Kirk says red alert

I’ve been listening to KVMR a bit more, and happened to catch a few interesting songs. There was a jazz piece that prominently featured hold music clips I thought was very cool (but was unable to russle up for the blog).

They also had a David Bowie marathon a few days ago, which is always a good thing. While listening to that, I happened to run across this song:

DJ – David Bowie

This song kind of got stuck in my head. I heard it before I realised I was in a Bowie marathon, too, and found out what song it was by a lyrics search.

I’ll admit I sometimes feel like a DJ when doing these posts (though, not having actually been a DJ, I can’t say how close this actually gets).

Sadly, most music you hear on the radio these days, with certain radio stations as exceptions, are not determined by the people running them, and will not have more obscure or less popular songs. Which somewhat leads us to this song:

The Last DJ – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

This song is the title track of a cd by the same name from 2002. Is you might imagine, it was banned from air play.

Rolling Stone magazine quoted him saying this about it:

I remember when the radio meant something. We enjoyed the people who were on it, even if we hated them. They had personalities. They were people of taste, who we trusted. And I see that vanishing. I thought it was a good metaphor to start the album.

So, along with the last gunslinger, we have the last DJ. And, you know, Tom Petty is very distinctive. Before he started singing, my first thoughts were “Tweeter and the Monkeyman. Woohoo!”

Both great songs, but the overall sound is very similar. Makes me think that he may have been one of the main writers on that song…

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7-27-08 Nena – 99 Luftballons

Posted by Sean on July 27, 2008

I’m gonna get my eighties on today with some Euro synthpop. If you’re as old as I am (3.2 million years), you may remember an odd song in the cold, dark opening days of George Orwell’s 1984, sung in this, like, foreign language called 99 Luftballons by West German singer Nena. We in the English-speaking world found out what Nena was signing about when she released 99 Red Balloons.

According to Wikipedia (so you know it’s probably wrong), this song was inspired by a Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin, when they released a mass of balloons into the air. Nena’s guitarist Carlo Karges wondered what would happen if they floated over into East Berlin, and the Soviets suddenly saw this huge radar return invading their airspace.

I remember both songs well, and they always bring back thoughts of dreary days with iron-grey skies and freezing rain – days when you want to crawl into a hole and pull the hole in behind you. 99 Luftballons just so fit the zeitgeist of that time and place in my life – and probably in the lives of many other people, as it peaked at #2 on the U. S. charts and #1 almost everywhere else.

And then… nothing. Nena became, at least in the United States, just another name on the growing pile of one-hit wonders to come out of Europe during that decade.

In the 80s was kind enough to provide the German and English lyrics side by side here. Here’s the German version, courtesy of testtubebabies. By the way, the bit at the end with the dragon is not part of the original video.

And here’s the English version, courtesy of sweepyx.

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