Friday, August 19, 2005

MUSIC: "Raw Power" by Iggy Pop and the Stooges

I was a closet Iggy Pop hater. I pretended to like Iggy Pop to impress my older brother who was a big Iggy fan. And being into punk rock, I had to to be cool and with it, and I did this by pretending to like the artist who probably influenced more 70's and 80's punk bands than anybody else. (When you're a big nerd, you got stroke your ego somehow. I did it by feeling superior on music and movies.)

Besides, if David Bowie liked his stuff, it had to be good! (Actually, this statement is pretty accurate. David Bowie has introduced me to quite a bit of good music and has said great things about artists and songs I already love - The Chieftains, Moby, The The's "Uncertain Smile" - one of the best 12-inch singles ever - this was back in the vinyl days for you young'uns!) (Though I have to admit I'm not a big Nine Inch Nails fan.)

Actually, I liked Iggy, but I realized that I had only listened to some of his songs. When I heard entire albums, I was rather disappointed.

So I have no idea what put me in an Iggy mood and made me pick up this cd from the library. But I'm glad I did. I love it! This cd is incredible!

I have to admit that I might be able to appreciate it more now, because it has been remixed. Apparently, the old mix was pretty bad. But I hadn't heard Raw Power since college, and on a vinyl record, I couldn't tell what the difference is.

But it still has a lo-fi quality that I think actually helps give some raw energy and roughness that helps this music.

And what fascinating music this is. I think I needed to be older to appreciate this. This music doesn't really have as much of a pop sensibility to it as some punk and rock music. It's not a bunch of songs you can hum to and sing along with. They're good enjoyable tunes, but except for "Raw Power", they're not really catchy.

(Which actually is what gave The Sex Pistols and The Clash their edge. Yeah, they were loud, noisy and abrasive, but underneath all that, there were catchy tunes that you could sing along with. In fact, many kids found it very easy to sing along with The Pistols. And I think that is what help make them so popular in Europe and England. The Pistols were basically writing catchy pop tunes with noisy guitars and abrasive vocals and lyrics.)

I don't want to make it sound like Iggy was doing some avant-garde atonal experimental jazz work. There is a sound and groove you can get into here. It just isn't obvious as some other works.

A great, hard driving banging and rhythm backs all this work. Stacked on top of this is some fantastic strong, pulsating, beautifully fuzzy rhythm guitar work along with James Williamson's wild crazy note-hunting. Only in bluegrass have I heard more note-picking. On top of all this is Iggy's snarling, although snarling doesn't begin to describe the way Iggy sings on this album. It feels like Iggy's about to jump out of the speakers or headphones and bite your head off - especially in "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell"! And the way he sings "Penetration" makes me fear for all the females I know. And with David Bowie mixing the stuff, there is a touch of a pop feel to keep things from getting too out of hand.

But some of that guitar note-picking originally turned me off. This album came out in 1973 (four years before Never Mind the Bollocks or The Clash's debut album). And it has some of that 70's rocks feel, especially with the guitar solos and some of Iggy's drawn out vocals.

But as I get older and hopefully lose some of my pretentiousness, I can return to that 70's music that I looked my nose down at after finding punk rock and new wave. In fact, it seems a lot of the young punk rockers are finding that they can use some elements from classic rock. And the Americana scene has definitely been influenced by southern rock.

So now I can once again enjoy "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Free Bird". And with those, I can enjoy Iggy's stuff here. Because he takes all those classic rock sounds and infuse them with the power, energy and feel of punk rock. This is what 70's rock could have been if others were courageous enough to take the plunge. And without albums like this, punk rock would have never come to be.

Therefore, if you like to rock out, listen to an important piece of rock and roll, as well punk, history. Iggy and the Stooges will give you a ride you won't easily forget.

An Iggy Pop fan page
VH1 Iggy Pop site

Saturday, August 13, 2005

MUSIC: Hall and Oates - Why I Hate Them So

This is another old blog from main sight, but if fits better here.

I don't know what it is about Hall and Oates - but they really get on my nerves.

Not the two guys. From what I've seen of them, they seem like nice enough guys, but their music just drives me insane.

And it's not like there are artists who do worse music. Take Michael Bolton for instance. He takes all this great soul music - and fills it up using the emotional skills of William Shatner's acting combined with the slickness of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton combined. (Yes, that's right, I said Ronald Reagan AND Bill Clinton! So give it to me from both sides people!)

And don't get me started on Celine Dion! Can all those fans of The Titanic soundtrack be wrong?! Yes, they can!

But there's just something about Hall and Oates that drives me batty! When that "oh-oh-oh" from "Maneater" comes on, I find myself becoming a cheesy nightclub singer snapping my fingers and singing along.

And what's with the ten thousand -ist rhymes on "Your Kiss is on My List". Oh, okay, we get it! You know how to use a rhyming dictionary! So do the guys in those foot gelling commercials. But at least those commercials aren't put to a schmaltzy melody!

But the one that drives me craziest is that "oo-oo-you make-ah my dreams come true" song. Is it so hard to say "make"? What? Are they trying to act Italian or something? Is his real name Hallini?

But the worst thing about this song is the stupid catchy melody gets stuck in my head, and I find myself singing this song the rest of the day! Actually, it's not even the whole song, just the stupid chorus! And then choruses of their other songs pop out of my mouth!

Oh god, it's my head now! Let me end now and go listen to some Sex Pistols!

Oo-oo. Oo-oo. Oh God, help me.

hallandoates.com / official daryl hall john oates website
Other Hall and Oates links
Arizona Daily Wildcat - Remember Hall & Oates? We didn't either - Thursday, February 12, 2004
lunchboxing.com :: taking your lunch money since 1983

Friday, August 05, 2005

Smallville season 4 (2004/2005)

(Confession: I haven't seen all the episodes of Smallville this season. I've missed the Krypto and the photographer episodes - hoping to catch them in the reruns. If I do, I'll update this.)

Having been a big comicbook geek in high school and early college days (until I couldn't afford comics anymore), I have been watching this show from the get-go. And I have to admit that I liked what they've done.

The comicbook fundamentalists I'm sure are whining up a big storm. What's Lois Lane doing in Smallville? Clark didn't meet her until he joined The Daily Planet! Well, get over it, geek boys! This ain't the comic! Besides, Pete Ross wasn't black in the comics either! Who cares? Go read the comic and quit watching the show if that's the way you feel!

I did like the inclusion of Lois Lane this season. I thought they captured the character real well. It's easy to see how this former chain-smoking, talkaholic, bossy girl who lost her mom and was raised by an often absent general becomes the crazy reporter. And I love the way Clark can't stand her and finds her annoying. It showed nice restraint that they didn't make her a new love interest for Clark.

Clark's love interest this season, though, was an interesting character. Alicia, the transporter, came back, released from the psych hospital. I guess I could relate to her having spent a few days in a psych hospital myself. I did have trouble with Clark taking her back after she basically drugged him with red kryptonite. but if you could get past that, it was a touching story - Clark having someone he could share his secret with. So, of course, she has to die the very next episode! Gee, we can't let Clark have a good romantic life for more than one week!

And I'm not sure what to make of this new Lana-Clark romance. Clark claims it will be different this time. How? He hasn't told her of his powers. So he still needs to run off when there's trouble. He still hiding stuff. So how's it different? I think he should just tell her. Then I think they should have Lana freak out because she's already had too stress in her life. And then Chloe can get all pissed because Clark confided in Lana but not her. Let the cat fight begin!

I did like the fact that Chloe learned Clark's secret and that Clark doesn't know it, though he obviously suspects - I think. In Smallville - like comics, anything can happen. Things that are obvious to normal human beings are not quite so simple here. But let's face it, if were that simple, everyone would know about Clark and we wouldn't have much of a show. If you're going to watch Smallville, you have to accept the premise that the people aren't quite with it as real human beings. Actually to be quite honest, that's a premise you have to accept to enjoy a LOT of tv shows!

But Chloe knowing Clark's secret without him knowing that she knew it (if you follow all that) has provided a lot of fun irony. The biggest irony when Clark lost his memory (again!), and Chloe had to explain all his super powers to him. The premise that Clark wouldn't even remember he was super was a little far fetch. I'd liked to know if a skilled athlete lost his memory, would he forget he can play the sport? And play it well? A fast runner is going to forget he can run faster than the most of the human race? Perhaps, but it sounds kinda hokey.

Anyway, if you can accept that premise, you had a fun episode with Chloe having Clark bend crow bars in his bare hands and chase after motorcycles.

I also like the inclusion of more comicbook elements into the series. The story with Mister Mxyzptlk was interesting. I like the interpretation they did of him. I don't think having a midget prankster popping in from another dimension would have worked on Smallville.

And the inclusion of The Flash was a lot of fun. I always find the idea of people moving faster than us all interesting. We've all thought about what we do if we could slow people down. I also liked the touch with fake id's - the first one, Jay Garrick, was the secret identity of the 40's Flash, and the second, Wally West, was the secret identity of Kid Flash who became The Flash after the death of the Barry Allen Flash. (Don't worry, Barry Allen came back. Deaths in comic books are like the "retirement" of rock groups!)

And I already talked about Lois. And I haven't seen the original episode with Krypto, so I can't comment on that. But I am waiting for a young Bruce Wayne to turn up in Smallville. Maybe Lex can have a run-in with Wayne Enterprises! Actually, to be quite honest, I'd really like to see Gotham - a show about Bruce Wayne's time between when he lost his parents and before he went off to study fighting or go to college for a degree in Criminology and Law.

So, anyway, back to Smallville. I like where they've been taking Clark. We have now have some interesting themes running through the series - like wild experiments with Kryptonite, the evil Kryptonian stones, and poor Lana's possession by a witch, to mention a couple. This is quite an improvement compared to the first season which was basically Clark vs. the meteorite freak of the week. And now, some of the best shows are without any villain at all - like the episode with Lana and Clark finding the fast growing child.

And after four years, they've realized Clark can stay in high school, so I'm looking forward to season 5 and Clark's new life to Metropolis U!

A Smallville fan page

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Music That I've Enjoyed Recently

My Internet Radio Stations

This is a fairly good sampling of some of the music I listen to. It's missing a few genres I like - such as cajun. I'll work on that later. But it does contain most of my favorite artists. I tried to steer away from the better known songs to give you a better idea of what kind of music the artists play, but I was limited by the songs the website - Project Playlist - had available. But if you want to get an idea of what I listen to, just hit the play or arrow button. - OlderMusicGeek

The internet station that does the best of playing my music is Last.fm. Here's my station if you're interested.

This website, OlderMusicGeek Radio on Pandora.com, does a fairly decent job of playing what I like, although they do occasionally play stuff I don't care for, but overall they're pretty good.