Nine Inch Nails “Closure”


(25 November 1997, Nothing/Interscope)

I’m not a huge collector of CDs and DVDs. As such, I don’t have a huge number of shelves and other areas to store them. This posed a bit of a problem when my last girlfriend was moving in and trying to find space for her movie collection on my tiny storage rack. A friend from work had given it to me several years ago when I moved and it’s served me well ever since. It has enough space that the bottom is nothing but Daniel Tiger and Peppa Pig DVDs for my daughter. But when Darcy moved in it wasn’t nearly enough for both of our collections.

The obvious solution was to remove a few of my ‘questionable for children’ movies and put them in the less-visible entertainment stand cupboard. I suggested moving the GG Allin documentary Hated, GWAR’s Ultimate Video Gwarchive and Nine Inch Nails’ Closure to that area. My daughter hasn’t taken any interest in this sort of thing yet, but it’s good to be proactive.

It seemed like a good idea and we were able to make enough room on the shelves for both of our collections. Nevermind that she replaced Closure with Scarface. I think that’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve always loved the music video format and Nine Inch Nails were definitely at the top of the game. They were edgy, artsy, creative and controversial all rolled into one. The best part of this double VHS package is the tape that features all of their videos up to that point (with the exception of “Burn” from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack and “Gave Up” from the unreleased Broken movie).

Some of these videos I was familiar with from MTV and other stations: “Closer,” “The Perfect Drug,” “Head Like A Hole.” I even saw “Pinion” late one night. But a lot of these weren’t made to be aired on American TV. I was blown away by the strap-on clad, joint smoking guys in “Sin” and just a little disturbed by the torture machine in “Happiness in Slavery.” Throw in the musical snippets and electrocuting an elephant footage between the videos and you have the best music video collection ever released.

The other tape wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. Which was strange considering this was one of the biggest musical influences on me during my teen years. Sure, there’s plenty of cool stuff on there: Backstage antics and destruction, celebrity/tourmate cameos featuring Lou Reed, Marilyn Manson, Jim Rose and David Bowie and live performances. Maybe in the DVD age, 60 minutes isn’t long enough for something like this and I would just like to have some more.

There are some great performances, “Terrible Lie,” “The Only Time,” and the “Hurt” duet with David Bowie are all great, but “Down in It” and “Something I Can Never Have” fall short. Plus, I’m unsure why “Wish” should appear on this tape when it appears on the other as both a live video and the official video. I guess I just would have liked to have seen more.

The best part is that we now live in the age of Youtube and all I have to do to see footage from early NIN shows, Lollapalooza or interviews is to open a tab on my browser and click down the rabbit hole. That’s never the same as having a nice physical copy of a video album. And this is one I’ll always cherish.

(I was going to post the NSFW “Happiness in Slavery,” but that’s not available on Youtube.)

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You Can’t Say Anything Without Offending Someone


I’ve often heard the refrain “you can’t do anything without offending someone.” At first, I just shrugged it off as people being assholes and saying offensive things. I’ve never had much of a problem with it. But lately, I’ve noticed a few cases of political correctness run amok. I like to think of myself as a progressive and generally go with the flow, but there are a few terms I think it’s a shame we have whitewashed.

I mean, we used to be able to call people Nazis, Klansmen and racists. Now we have to call them “alt-right” or “White Nationalists.” It just doesn’t have the same gravitas to it. I mean, maybe we should get rid of Nazi as no one is actively plotting genocide (that we know of), but if you’re wearing a white robe with a pointy hat you’re a Klansman.

And the word ‘racist’ seems to have taken on the same air for whites as the N-word has for blacks. I’ve never seen white people get so offended at being called anything. We have our own racial epithets like ‘honkey,’ ‘birdshit’ and ‘peckerwood,’ but none of them ever elicited the same outrage as ‘spick,’ ‘chink’ or ‘nigger.’

Now people get pissed off about it. Someone will tell you that they never go to a certain Hardees because they have black cooks or that they’re voting for Trump because black on black violence makes it harder for them to do their job getting signatures on petitions, but when you call them racist they’re ready to fight you.

It’s so confusing.

We used to be able to call ignorant bigots like Archie Bunker buffoons, now we have to call them “Officer,” or “Your Honor” or “Mr. President.” It’s such a shame.

It’s weird that all these Trumpkins have such thin skin. Trump made his political name insulting President Obama. He has insulted all of his Republican rivals on the campaign trail, Senator John McCain, Pope Francis, NATO, The Department of Justice, the NFL, Justin Trudeau and one disabled reporter. You’d think a guy that dishes out the insults like that would be able to take them a little better. Oranges are known for their thick skin.

Everyone loved Trump for telling it like it is, but boy do they hate to see him called out.

But that’s a topic for another post.

 

Trump Returns from Putin Meeting with Black Eye


Washington D.C. – President Trump returned from Helsinki on Tuesday, after spending several romantic days with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. When asked about the shiner on his left eye he insisted he walked into an open door.

The truth was revealed later at a press conference.

“Putin is just under a lot of stress,” said the battered president. “He told me he’ll never do it again and I believe him. You don’t know the pressure he’s under. He has to run not just one country, but two. Do you really think I could do this without him?”

He then returned to the abused woman logic of insisting it was all his fault.

“Look, he started the meeting by saying I couldn’t ask him about Crimea and I did. It’s really all my fault for bringing up that subject as well as asking how we’re going to deal with this whole election meddling thing.”

While I’m sure to those reading this who are not in the US, UK or Ukraine this satirical article is very humorous, I can assure you to many of us in the US it is quite embarrassing.

Fuel “Sunburn”


(31 March 1998, 550, Epic)

A recent swimming trip with my daughter left me thinking about this album. I have the title all over my back! But it’s a good album to be thinking of. This is one that has survived numerous trips to the used record store to be sold. They never made an offer, but I liked it too much to send it to the Goodwill. So it’s remained in my collection.

It’s not the greatest album I own, but it’s far from the worst. It’s easy to lump Fuel in with all the other post-Grunge groups of the late nineties who only saw 15 minutes of fame, but Fuel has stuck with me through the years. Probably because my Mom loves them so much. But it could be that there’s some great songwriting here too.

“Shimmer” and “Sunburn” are both great tunes and obvious for singles. Both are the kind of semi-ballads that I can imagine listening to while dealing with a breakup.

What makes the album unique are the strange sounds that come in places like the into of “Bittersweet.” I have no idea what chord that is. The rest of the song is a great stereotypical hard rocker, but then it breaks to a really weird atmospheric guitar sound. There’s a great sense of balance there.

I’ve always loved “Jesus or a Gun.” It’ like American Psycho; there’s a message hidden in there. I have no idea what that message is, but I know it’s there.

Looking back on the singles it’s weird that these guys didn’t hit it big for another two years, but even the other tracks have some great stuff. I suppose a lot of it may come off as derivative though. A lot of other bands were doing stuff like this at the time. “It’s Come to This” makes me think of the Smashing Pumpkins for the experimental, atmospheric guitar tones. “Song For You” reminds me of Candlebox with the single-note intro. Not that Fuel was trying to ape these groups, it’s just a hazard of sharing a genre.

There are some other great hard rockers in there too. Opener “Untitled” is a great attention getter. “Ozone” is another that makes my ears perk up.

While some groups seemed to just jump aboard the grunge bandwagon as a way to fame, Sunburn scorches with authenticity. It’s not so much grungy as it is a solidly written album that just happened to be released when that was the sound you got.

You’d obviously be forgiven in 2018 for writing these guys off and not paying any attention, but you’d be missing out.

Happy Birthday Prince


I never meant to do a “Happy Birthday” series, but that seems to be what’s happening. It’s working out OK so far. It’s nice to do something light every now and again.

I was going to tag Prince onto the Marky Mark post, but that seemed more than a little disrespectful. It’s a lot harder to decide which song to choose to celebrate his accomplishments. He’s like the exact opposite of Marky Mark.

So, I’m not going to just choose one.

 

I hope you’re all as sexually confused as I am after watching that last one…

What’s your favorite Prince song? Can you even choose?

Did you hear?


Did you hear about L7 getting back together after a long hiatus? They’ve released a few new tunes and are even doing some touring.

I’d really like to go see them in concert, but I’d be really pissed off if I didn’t get hit by a used tampon. That would be as bad as going to a GG Allin show and not leaving covered in shit.

Thor: Ragnarok


Welcome to the slaughter, what are you going to do?

I enjoyed the most recent release of the Thor franchise: Ragnarok. It had action. It had comedy. It had the Incredible Hulk. It had a little bit of stuff that confused me. (like Idris Elba’s character. Who the fuck was he? He looked like Dreadmon from the Ninja Turtles.) For the most part, it was an enjoyable escape from reality for two hours.

But this isn’t a review of Thor: Ragnarok. I don’t do movie reviews (very often). I do music reviews. And something about the music in Thor: Ragnarok really pissed me off!

Not the score. I’m sure the score was fine. I barely noticed it so it couldn’t have been that bad. What pissed me off was that the only rock song used in the film was “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. What the fuck, producers? Did you not see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? That song was already used in a movie this decade. Is there some new law stating that any movie about/set in/referencing the mythology of Scandinavia NEEDS to have that fucking Zeppelin song in it?

That’s total bullshit. There are more than enough bands that could provide songs for fight scenes that are actually from Scandinavia. I’m betting a few of them even worship Thor. Or Loki or Odin or whoever black metal band people worship. You don’t have to keep using that same song from an English band about Vikings or wizards or fucking trees talking to each other. For fuck’s sake, the only thing Scandinavia is known for is socialism and black metal.

But if you’d like to use the music from some American (well, American/Israeli or American/Canadian) bands I can think of a few good choices.

1.) Kiss has a song called “God of Thunder.” I’m not a huge Kiss fan so I can’t pick this track out of a lineup, but with all the focus on how Thor is the god of thunder in this flick you’d think that track would have made an appearance.

Then again, maybe they used that in the first movie. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at some point during that one so maybe I missed it. Did it play during the credits like Black Sabbath did in the first Iron Man? Or it could have been used in the second film. There was a second film, right? I didn’t even bother to watch that one. Who can keep up with all these things?

B.) How about the song I got stuck in my head every time I saw that damn poster. It comes from the album Ragnarok by the greatest band ever to come to Earth from another galaxy. Yes, I’m talking about GWAR’s “Ragnarok.” That would have been perfect for some battle scenes. It might not be my favorite track of theirs, but it’s definitely top five.

Anything is better than that fucking “Immigrant Song.”

Bastards.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Tommy Boy”


I don’t usually buy albums based on one track. I’ve been burned this way a few times in the past and thanks to Spotify, I can now listen to an album multiple times before deciding whether to spend my hard earned money on it. But when I saw this album for $1 and it contained the track “Fat Guy in a Little Coat,” I knew I have to have it.

Aside from the classic “Fat Guy,” you also get “Jerk Motel,” “My Pretty Little Pet” and “Housekeeping.” It’s a little disappointing to not have “Every time I drive down the road I want to jerk the wheel into a bridge abutment!” or the pitch where he was lighting model cars on fire, but there are still a few great additions to my library.

The music is all middle-of-the-road rock from the nineties. Paul Westerberg, Primal Scream and the Smoking Popes all make appearances with tunes I still can’t pick out of a lineup. The Goo Goo Dolls are on here with a song from their early days before they were truly horrible. Soul Coughing does a song they wouldn’t have release post-9/11. It also has R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” which I remember from the movie and “Come on Eileen” which I don’t.

Yet again, I feel like the tracklist could have benefitted from the inclusion of Chris Farley and Brian Dennehy doing “What I Say,” but they didn’t consult me when preparing this.

The best song on the album is a cover of Kiss’s “I Love it Loud” by a band I’ve never heard of called Phunk Junkeez. It’s pretty hard to screw up a Kiss song and they really knocked it out of the park by adding some Public Enemy samples.

 

This isn’t the kind of an album you’d want to immerse yourself in with great headphones. I usually listen to it as background music on road trips. But if you do that make sure you remove the oil can before you cue up the Carpenters’ “Superstar.”

Strange Solace


This is us after the Descendents concert last year.

This will be my first Valentine’s Day without a date in several years. My girlfriend passed away a few weeks ago. I know I’ve written about her on here before so you may have heard about some of her health struggles. Still, it was a shock. Even with all of her medical problems I still expected her to live a longer life.

But enough about that. I didn’t want to write this post to reflect on that, but because it actually leads to a somewhat humorous music story.

I don’t know how many people reading this have lost loved ones, but have you noticed a lot of strange thoughts popping into your head immediately after? Among all the thinking about who I needed to call, how I was now in charge of scooping the cat box and wondering what was going to become of the department store that was her wardrobe I got the Vandals’ “My Girlfriend’s Dead” stuck in my head.

I know what you’re thinking. What the fuck? You sick bastard! That’s so disrespectful! Why would you think of that song! Have you no shame? Or at least I imagine you’re thinking these things because the first day I was thinking the exact same thoughts.

Then I remembered something: She loved that album! We were in the car a while ago and it was playing. I went to take it out because I have listened to it already but she stopped me. There are a lot of great tracks on Hitler Bad, Vandals Good. I remember posting “If The Government Could Read My Mind” on her Facebook wall when we were first dating. And she told me a college friend suggested to her that “F’d up Girl” could have been written about her.*

There are a lot of other songs that’ll make me think of her. I know when I got the Descendents I Don’t Wanna Grow Up she said “Silly Girl” was about her. “That’s about me,’ she said. “I’m a silly girl and you’re in love with me.”

Her dad asked if there were any good songs we could play at the funeral and I had to pass on any suggestions.

But even though it’s about a guy lying about a breakup I think “My Girlfriend’s Dead” will probably be our song. Strange as it may seem, I think she would have wanted it that way.

 

*He was right.