Happy Valentines Day


 

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Jerry Cantrell “Boggy Depot”


(7 April 1998, Columbia)

Boggy Depot is my favorite albums in the expanded Alice in Chains universe because it is the most unique. I really think this is the only album from AiC or Cantrell that doesn’t have Layne Staley on it anywhere.

I know what you’re thinking: “Staley died in 2002. He can’t be on any of the new Alice in Chains material, you fool!” but hear me out. See, Staley made a few appearances on Cantrell’s 2002 album as inspiration for the songs “Bargain Basement Howard Hughes,” “Pig Charmer” and “31/32.” Likewise, he appeared on the title track of the reunited AiC’s first album Black Gives Way To Blue. He’s not as noticeable on the more recent releases but I still hear him occasionally. It’s subtle. He appears in the harmonies and the phrasing. There are no more drug-addled demons being exorcized in the lyrics, but Staley still is and will always be a part of Alice in Chains. Much like Brian Johnson, Jason Newstead and Zakk Wylde no matter how great William DuVall proves to be he’s always going to have that shadow hanging over him.

The only song on Boggy Depot I could see working for Alice in Chains is “Jesus Hands.” It has the dark feel and guitar work that put them on the map. But even though it includes bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney, I still can’t imagine how Staley would fit into the picture. Maybe he couldn’t either and that’s why it was skipped over during sessions for the Dog Album.

Much of the songs on that album are like that. “Dickeye” and “Cut You In” are both driving hard rockers. “Breaks My Back” is very similar to something AiC would do as a ballad. But the real treat is the songs that are unique to this particular album. “Between” has the most country feel. I’m not a huge fan of Country and Western music but I do enjoy Cantrell’s take on it in “Devil By His Side,” “Keep The Light On” and “Hurt A Long Time.” Sure, none of them are going to get him inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, but it’s always nice to hear someone do something different.

My favorites are the piano-driven songs. Something about that simple lick in “Settling Down” really gets me and “Cold Piece” is a great closer. I don’t think pianos make a whole lot of appearances on Alice in Chains material so it’s always nice when they pop up.

I would highly recommend this album as something everyone should listen to. If you’re a fan of Alice in Chains it’s a neat detour into another side of their primary songwriter. And if you’re not a fan of Alice in Chains this will give you a softer version of what you’re missing.

 

Happy Birthday Michael Stipe


This may be the end of my “Happy Birthday” series as it is the end of my Left-Handed people calendar, but I don’t want to say anything definitively.

Mom’s Christmas presents always get here late so I may continue it next year…

Or maybe it will spur a new post series.

Stay tuned to find out. Enjoy some R.E.M. while you wait.

Merry Christmas


I bought the Essential Weird Al Yankovic a few weeks ago. I’m not sure how essential I would rate the album, but it did have quite a few of his greatest hits as well as some new to me tracks that I really enjoyed.

It also had this old favorite that I’d just about completely forgotten about.

 

Merry Christmas.

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.)

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.