Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Importance of Being Rockin'

The ruthless takeover of human society by Facebook and its army of Terms of Service continues unabated for I've been tagged not with a standard, blogtastic meme, but one that originated on that heinous creation that destroys minds and reaps souls!

Oh, Betty C., why must you treat me this way?
But, since the thing's music, I'll let it slide.
For what can brighten the blackest day
like notes? No, not even the electric slide.

See how I rhymed slide with slide? Clever.

Also, as my tagger said,

Anyway, I like this list concept because it's not a list of "My Favorite Albums." There's a big difference between favorite and significant.
Exactly. And don't offer any alternate suggestions because unless you were the possessor of my life, you cannot know the confluence of a particular album and the emotional trap door I had just fallen through. And if you were, O, Mighty Beelzebub, I swear I'll get around to that human sacrifice as soon as I'm finished here.

Yeah, I was thinking of starting with that one, too.

Oh, and this is limited to rock and/or roll. Why? Laziness.

1. Let's go chronological and begin with my vinyl copy of The Muppet Show from the late 70s. No, I ain't joking. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem's rendition of Tenderly that opened side two was the kernel of all things rocking in my heart and soul. That was heavy shit for a four-year old.

2. Like about 47 billion other snot-nosed, Lego-playing punks from those days, when I first heard Eruption off of Van Halen's Van Halen, I was floored, walled, ceilinged, you name it, but it was one of those old Warner Bros. 'Nice Price' cassettes that was the real stimulus package. Women and Children First on side one, Fair Warning, their darkest, finest hour, on side two. This is where I truly started my love affair with the power chord. Just don't tell my wife about my secret ménages à trois.

"I think the constant wearing of headphones gives that away."

3. My uncle was a rockin' dude from the late 60s and early 70s with quite an extensive collection of vinyl, and though more into stuff like Hendrix, CSNY, the Grateful Dead and the Incredible String Band, he did own a copy of Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath. I loved the cover and the song titles so had to borrow it. Lo, behold, hark and herald, music can sound evil! All of you uncounted one-man bedroom n' basement black metal bands still cannot muster the same effect as the obscenely simple and effective riff of that first track, but nice try, chumps.

4. When I first heard Metallica's Ride the Lightning, I was mildly disappointed, which only goes to show that reviewing records, especially after a mere few spins, are nothing but masturbatory exercises in self-congratulation on one's faux erudite prose.

"Like a blog."

Like a blog. Anyway, the leap from Kill 'Em All to this was expansive, and this was the soundtrack to my angry youth's formative years. The descending progression in the title track? I still have to crank that fucker. Genius.

5. I'm going to cheat and say 1986 where three albums, Slayer's Reign In Blood, Metallica's Master of Puppets and Megadeth's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? were released, all of which contributed heavily to the growth of my cynicism and disdain for humanity and its institutions. Certainly nothing new, for that's what happened during the 60s and 70s, but, for a young dude in the 80s, the former's music just wasn't loud enough and the 70s was too drugged out (only with the wisdom gained from age would I appreciate the import of illegal substances on tunesmithing) and the punkers, for all of their frustration and social commentary, WERE NOT LOUD ENOUGH TURN IT THE FUCK UP MORE DISTORTION YOU WIMPS BANG YOUR HEAD.

6. I went through at least two cassette copies of Metallica's ...And Justice For All via hours-long bike rides and was thrilled to get a CD player that Xmas so I could avoid that painfully necessary expense. This is probably my favorite album on most days, a cornerstone for all that came after, and there hasn't been any decent-sized block of time since where I haven't listened to it.

7. The late summer and early autumn leading up my final year of high school was full of nothing but morning (soon to be afternoon) soccer practice, barely paying attention in class, oodles of Nintendo and albums such as Anthrax's Persistence of Time. I don't know how many cases of carbonated beverages I chugged while plowing through Final Fantasy, Dracula's Curse and Tecmo Bowl with this brilliant slab of masterful and socially aware thrash blaring out of the basement speakers. Bonus points for the Twilight Zone clip, dudes. Little did I know that I'd soon meet my future wife who was actually happy to accompany me to our first concert together in the summer of '91, Clash of the Titans, starring the aforementioned Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth along with opener Alice In Chains. And you scoff at my romantic credentials.

8. While we were still dating and before our lives were ruined by the bun in the oven, I distinctly recall listening to Sepultura's Arise on the way back from her house during a lightning storm that to this day is still the most magnificent one I've seen. The boys from Brazil (no, not those kind) and their epic, sinewy Desperate Cry provided the perfect backdrop to such natural violence and beauty. Too bad they didn't have digital cameras in 1991 because it was like a goddamn gothic novel come to life. The lightning, not our subsequent marriage. Thank you, thank you.

9. The Summer of Bun saw Alice In Chains' Dirt spun more times than I can count. Fuck, I was 19 and she was 18, we didn't know what the hell we were doing and our communication skills sucked. We still don't, and they still do, but the stray greys in my fuzz at least lend a gravitas I didn't have back then. See, kids, it's your fault I'm no longer smiling and carefree.

10. Now here's a slab of utterly downbeat and seismically beautiful chords, My Dying Bride's Turn Loose the Swans. Hey, despite what you see on television sitcoms, marriage ain't all bliss -- not all of us are as handsome as Jim Belushi -- especially between two stubborn assholes such as my sometimes-better-half and I, and I needed my escape valves, my flights of fancy. Plus doom is cheaper than drugs. That's being a smart consumer.

11. Opeth's Morningrise blew me away because it has everything that keeps me throwing horns: long, emotional songs, multi-part structures, myraid time and tempo changes, loud riffs, lyrics that stray away from the standard fodder, a tenebrous sonic poetry. In other words, if I had musical ability, this is what I would want my band to sound like. I'm always listening to these guys.

12. This album came out just a bit after the Summer of Bun: The Sequel, but the wonderfully somber, neo-medieval folk strains of Unto Ashes' Moon Oppose Moon perfectly reflected my mood in its wake. What was it like to be twenty-five? I couldn't tell you. We were still young and stupid and most importantly, poor. Now we're older, generally less stupid and relatively less poor and our 16- and 10-year olds, though truly odd in lovely ways that mirror both their insane mother and completely rational and patriotic father --

"You honestly think they'll buy that?"

-- seem well-adjusted enough to eventually hold down a cubicle job without resorting to shooting up the office. Yay, us.

13. The White Stripes' De Stijl might not be their best, but so many of the tracks stuck in my craw, the hopefully sad chords of I'm Bound to Pack It Up exuding the same sonic sentiment as the old Van Halen track In a Simple Rhyme. Just a great fucking album.

14. Hold a gun to my head and I'll tell you that Katatonia's Last Fair Deal Gone Down is probably their finest hour I guess, but Viva Emptiness holds quite a special place for reasons that remain under wraps, no matter how juicy, tawdry and sordid the surrounding details may in fact be, carefully distilled into poorly-written verse that makes the crap I toss up here nowadays seem like Byron.

"It was bad."

15. Nicki Jaine's Of Pigeons and Other Curiosities. [continues zipping lips]

"You've gotta say something."

It's a fucking great, sardonic, bitterly romantic singer-songwriter album. Go buy it. I really should review the damn thing, because, having spun it probably hundreds of times, any such review would no longer qualify as masturbatory self-congratulation. En plus, she's finally coming out with a new album this year. Praise be unto the muses.

Alright, I've been indicted on mail fraud charges.

I'm required by law to tag people -- part of my plea deal with the feds -- so here are the victims:
Beach Bum
La Belette Rouge (Sorry, no Morrissey allowed)
Anthony Cartouche


Christopher said...

I've made it my goal for 2009 to buy an iPod and start downloading music files.

I swear, I must be the only person in Murika, who still buys CDs.

Time to join the 21st century. Now, if I can find someone who can teach me how to use this technology.

I'll pay you $25 an hour to tutor me a few hours. Just send me an email.

Dean Wormer said...

Doctor Teeth never toured. Sad. I would've killed to see them live.

Bull said...

My response is two-fold:

1. FUCKIN' MEME's!!! If I wasn't someone who (at least most of the time) felt obligated to address someone's (most likely passing) interest in me, I'd ignore the fuck out of this!!!

2. Hah! Wonderful...a meme I think I will actually enjoy and in some ways can't wait to start.

So yeah, I'll get mine up soon. My post-count is lagging this month anyway. You'll see our musical paths crossed some.

Randal Graves said...

christopher, well, there's two of us. I still buy everything on CD. I like the idea of the iPod so I wouldn't have to spend time deciding beforehand what to listen to on the way to/from work, but I'd hate to lose the aesthetics of the physical object. I'll still take the $25 though. ;-)

dean, didn't they do a west coast swing with REO Speedwagon?

bull, that's why I tagged you, I need some fellow metal perspective. If you back out now, you'll make Baby Iommi cry.

Übermilf said...

I'm not going to tell you anything.

I've revealed too much already.

Utah Savage said...

What Ubermilf said.

Randal Graves said...

übermilf, but everyone wants to hear about [redacted] and, of course, [redacted]. Don't be boring like me.

utah, copycat.

Tom Harper said...

I first bought a CD player in 1994. (I don't follow the trends; I create them.)

"...And Justice For All" was the first CD I bought (I know, only a few eons after it was released).

Alice In Chains really rocks, especially "Bones" (I guess that's the name of it). I taped it off the radio, so I never knew which album it was from. That combination of driving pounding metal in odd time signatures is just too intoxicating.

Beach Bum said...

This one will be totally wild. I will hit this tomorrow and have it finished by Saturday.

Agi said...

I think the first album I owned (on cassette) was the Back to the Future soundtrack. It was all about Huey Lewis and The News...

Lisa said...

Nice try with all the metal talk, sugarplum. But I have it on high authority that you're actually CelineDionFan1 on all the top 40 message boards.

I'm not fooled.

Randal Graves said...

tom, that would be Them Bones off of Dirt. Great song, but taped it from the radio? Does the RIAA know of your criminal theft?

BB, excellent. Honestly, I hope even some non-taggees do it because it's always interested to read nuggets like this.

agi, when we first watched that flick with the kids, I had a hard time convincing them that the Mr. Lewis fronted a very popular band back then.

lisa, was it really necessary to reveal that to the world? No Xmas card for you guys this year.

anita said...

i'd admit this to ONLY YOU, randal, but the first album i actually bought for my own self ... was The Osmond Brothers first album.

no, i'm not embarrassed. not one bit.

as OKJIMMMMMM might say, Nopesters!!

anita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anita said...

sorry, i keep 'double posting' ...

Betty C. said...

Brilliant intro, great stories, no comment on the albums, most of which I don't know of and probably never will! But hey I liked Black Sabbath too! So our tastes coincide there and with the White Stripes...

And hey I have no scientific proof that this meme started on Facebook. It probably started on a blog and migrated to Facebook. In fact, I've noticed that bloggy things have been going on lately at Facebook. But I prefer that to inane quiz requests...

susan said...

Just because you didn't ask I'll tell you the first album I ever purchased was Ike and Tina Turner's 'Don't Play Me Cheap'. I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of or not but it was demonstrative of a developing personal taste after all the Broadway show and classical albums I grew up hearing. My parents loved Victor Borge and Tom Lehrer too for which I'll always be grateful.

Meanwhile, you forgot to mention where and when you got a PhD in English Literature.. or is that a story for another day?

Randal Graves said...

anita, don't worry, your secret is safe with me. I'm not like a certain person above who demolished my carefully-crafted metal face with one comment.

betty, everyone should own copies of the first six Sabbath albums! Quizzes? As in pop ones akin to 'what is the capital of Austria?'

susan, Ike may have been a first-class knucklehead, but nothing wrong with that album.

Lehrer was so versatile, that he created an alter ego to co-host a teevee news program.

PhD? If I had that, I'd be a superior writer and far more insufferable than I am now. I should have majored in that instead of poli sci.

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

I don't think I know of even half of these albums and groups. And so now I must consider researching them on iTunes.

My smug musical friend, I wish you would write more about music. You do it so well - possibly one of your (few) strengths.



Betty C. said...

Oh, I would probably take that kind of quiz. No quizzes like "What do your friends really think of you -- it's scarily accurate!" or "What do guys/girls find most attractive about you -- it's scarily accurate!"

Those were the rage here in France when I started to have connections on Facebook. Well, ok, a lot of those connections are my students, but still...the quizzes seem to have finally dwindled. I always just refused them.

Randal Graves said...

tengrain, that backhanded compliment, and after I spend uncounted hours mastering the single entendre?

betty, oh, those kind. Terribly cheesy.

La Belette Rouge said...

A music tag in which I cannot talk about Morrissey. "Hang the DJ" cause "Heaven knows I am miserable now."