Foo Fighters “The Colour and the Shape”


(20 May 1997, Capitol)

I’m not a baseball fan, so pardon me if I screw up this analogy.

Foo Fighters’ debut was at least a triple play. It could be almost be said it was a home run, but I don’t think it quite made it over the fence. It was good. Hell, it was great. But there was something missing. It wasn’t quite a perfect album.

But as the old saying goes, you have as long as you need to write your first album. Dave Grohl had years to compile the songs on that album. The band had a considerably shorter time period to write the follow-up. Could they deliver? What were they going to do in their next at bat?

I’d have to say The Colour and the Shape is a grand slam. This was the album that catapulted Foo Fighters into the stratosphere. Before this album, you could expect to hear one Foos song on the radio for every ten Nirvana plays. Now you’re lucky to hear one Nirvana track for every twenty from the Foo Fighters.

They’re no longer “that band with the drummer from Nirvana.” Foo Fighters are now “the biggest fucking rock band in the world.” I’m not saying that every song on The Colour and the Shape is great, but they all flow together so well that even the throwaway tunes work in the context of the album to make it great.

“Monkey Wrench” was the perfect lead single. That hummable, descending guitar line and poppy melodies mix perfectly. It’s just heavy enough to appeal to metalheads, but light enough to bounce around to. “My Hero” is one of those songs where I like the video more than the actual song, but it’s still a great one. Those goofy guitar turnarounds at the end of the chorus make it all worth it for me. How do you listen to it and not play air guitar to those licks?

And how do you follow up something like “Big Me,” which is as close to a perfect love song as I’ve ever heard and puts a smile on my face nearly every time I hear it? With a song that the rest of the human population feels that way about! I can’t help but wonder how many children were born because of the song “Everlong.”

If you take the time to look past the singles there’s still great stuff. I’m not a fan of some of the lighter fare. “Doll” and “Walking After You” are a little too light for me. They remind me of a bag of potato chips – mostly air.  Stuff like “See You” and “New Way Home” are a lot better. Fun, simple rockers that get the feet tapping, but it’s the raunchy rockers that get my blood pumping.

I love “Hey, Johnny Park.” The main riff is just pure brilliance. I’m not sure if I heard this many years ago and it stuck in my head. It sounded familiar when I got my copy recently, but maybe it’s just one of those riffs that is so catchy I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in my head.

“The Colour and the Shape” might be my favorite Foo Fighters song. When you hear the tunes “Times Like These” and “Best of You” it’s easy to forget that Dave Grohl cut his teeth playing in punk bands. When you hear the screams and noise of the title track it’s front and center.

The best thing about The Colour and the Shape is that it sounds like a group effort. Grohl already proved he could write and record an album on his own with Foo Fighters and the Late! cassette he released while still with Nirvana, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who needs absolute control like Trent Reznor or Prince.

Utilizing the whole band turned out to be a good decision. This was the album that led to sold out arenas and a quarter billion dollar net worth. Sometimes all it takes is four guys in a room jamming to come up with a masterpiece.

 

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Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)


 

leonard-cohenI feel really bad about the death of Leonard Cohen. Not just because we’ve lost one of the most original artists to ever grace popular music or because his style, words or voice will never be duplicated, but because I had the idea to write this post a few days before his death. It may have been because I recently watched the 30 Rock episode where Alec Baldwin gets the idea to prerecord a celebrity studded special honoring the victims of a yet-to-have-happened tragedy. Or it may have something to do with a preoccupation with the morbid.

Either way, my bad. I really feel like I jinxed us with this one.

I’m 98.537% sure that the first time I heard the name Leonard Cohen was in the Nirvana song “Pennyroyal Tea.” But it didn’t really interest me a whole helluva lot. It didn’t have the same interesting backstory as “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” or the violent torture in Mayberry of “Floyd the Barber.” So really it was just a name in a Nirvana song. Nothing any more special than Alvin Tostig or Levon.

But then I read a Guitar World interview with Lou Reed. I can’t remember the exact context of what they were talking about, but Reed said something along the lines of “Leonard Cohen had one of the greatest opening lines ever: ‘Give me crack and anal sex.'” The interviewer corrected him in saying that’s actually the beginning of the second verse to “The Future” and then Reed pointed out that a line like that will really get your attention.

Well, it sure managed to get mine. But this was in the late nineties, long before Spotify, YouTube or the Play Store. I knew that there was this song with a really fucked up line in it, but I had no idea where to find it. Would they carry something like that at the library in Amish country? I didn’t think so.

So that brings us back to me being a rather morbid individual. In high school I didn’t participate in many after school activities. Like any clinically depressed teenager I would get off the bus, smoke some pot, watch a movie a movie and usually fall asleep. One day something went wrong and I managed to stay awake until the end credits of one of my favorite flicks, Natural Born Killers. (I’m surprised that movie isn’t a cult classic along the lines of Fight Club or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You’d think for a society that relishes vilifying the media as much as ours it would be a modern classic.) Anyway, the movie ended and the credits started to roll. I hear a nice organ riff and some clean guitar under a gravelly voice. And then I hear the line “Give me crack and anal sex.”

So my discovery of Leonard Cohen was more of a result of Lou Reed and Oliver Stone than Kurt Cobain, but I made it there eventually. I remember it worried the shit out of my mom when I bought a copy of The Future. I suppose it would worry any parent if their child took as much interest as I did in the movie Natural Born Killers, but give me a break; it’s a great flick.

leonard cohenOf course, I didn’t hear his biggest hit until a few years later. I want to say it was 2007 and I was seeing a girl who took me down to the Baptist Church on the South Side of town. I usually prefer organ music during a worship service, but this church had a contemporary band and something about that song really stood out. Maybe it was the fact that it just doesn’t seem like a song you’d hear in church. Sure, the chorus has a great melody of “Hallelujah,” but if you look at the verses… is it really a christian song.

And maybe that’s the most beautiful thing about Leonard Cohen. His songs are filled with beautiful instrumentation and some of the most poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard, but most of the time I have no idea what exactly he was trying to say.

 

Courtney Love Defines Irony


 

It’s amazing the weird shit that sticks in your brain.

Do you remember back in 2002 when MTV did “24 Hours of Love” and had Courtney Love host for a day? No? Well, you shouldn’t. It probably sucked. I don’t really remember it. I only refreshed my memory while looking for a certain clip from it on YouTube. I couldn’t find the clip so you’ll just have to trust me that I saw what I saw.

If you look on YouTube for “Courtney Love Hosting 24 Hours of Love (4/9)” you’ll notice that it starts with a scene from Almost Famous. This seems strange, but when you remember that in 1970 recording artists weren’t making music videos it all comes into focus. See, something that was left out of part 3/9 was Love introducing the song “Tiny Dancer” they played in the  scene from Almost Famous. 

What stuck in my mind wasn’t that Courtney Love is an Elton John fan. It’d be stranger if she wasn’t. What stuck in my head was her introduction of the song. She said that “Tiny Dancer” was one of her favorite Elton John songs. And that another one of her favorites was “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

 

If you’re an Elton John fan you know that Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is a biographical album. All the songs are based on events from his own life. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is about a woman that John almost married when he was young, but his friends managed to talk him out of it.

Think about that for a minute. One of Courtney Love’s favorite Elton John songs is the one about the guy who didn’t marry the wrong girl.

Another thing that has stuck in my mind on the subject is an interview with an ex-boyfriend of Courtney Love’s in the “Kurt and Courtney” Documentary. The part that really stuck out to me in this movie comes at about the 34 minute mark where he says he would have ended up just like Kurt Cobain if he’d stayed with her.

maslow-pyramidSomething I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You may have seen it in a psychology class. Food, water and shelter are on the bottom of the pyramid. The next level is safety and security. Then above that is love and acceptance. Studying this has helped to enlighten me as to why a woman would stay with her abusive husband. The need for love and belonging can be strong enough to overpower the need for safety and security. In anorexia it can be strong enough to overpower the need for food.

But isn’t it crazy to think that someone who was the most famous musician on the planet and adored by millions of fans would have a deficiency of love and belonging?

I don’t want to fuel any speculation that Kurt Cobain’s death was a murder. There are plenty of people out there already doing that. It really doesn’t make much difference at the moment. He’s gone and we’ll never know what could have been if someone had saved his life that night.

Maybe the next time the surviving members of Nirvana record an album with a knighted English pop star they could call the track “Boy, We Really Screwed The Pooch On That One.”

Damn the Years!


bargain_binI’m not the only person who tends to browse through CD bargain bins at gas stations and dollar stores, right? Even if I go in for a 12 pack of pop and a few rolls of toilet paper I still usually end up in front of a rack of CDs for the low, low price of $6 a piece.

It’s kind of a silly thing to do when you think about it. It’s not like I’m going to find some lost gem lurking among Joe Walsh’s But Seriously, Folks… or the Best of Linda Ronstadt. It’s just something I’ve always done. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from any of them aside from maybe a Bob Marley cassette. That was years and years ago. You can tell from the fact that I bought a Bob Marley cassette.

But a few months ago I was in a Dollar General and I noticed something really strange. Sure, there was still Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath Vol. 4 and numerous unofficial greatest hits releases, but there was also Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine and Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Music… 

That just didn’t make sense to me. These bins are for the music of old people. Poison, BTO and Neil Diamond. Young people music doesn’t belong in these bins. When did they change that rule? Wait… did they change that rule? I’ve been denying this for years as I heard Nirvana and Weezer in Walmart and Pearl Jam started playing on the muzak at the gas station, but I think I listen to old people music now.

Soon they’ll start calling it classic rock and I’ll have to start browsing a different section at the record store. Damn. You live long enough and just more and more bad stuff starts happening.

I always hoped I’d die before I got old…

New Music Roundup Part 2


Fisher-Price Little People Animal Songs Sing-A-LongI’ve seen a few posts where people list the music they’ve bought and give a little commentary on it. I find these posts pretty interesting so I thought I’d try my hand at it. I was hoping to make this a twice yearly thing, but blame the state of the music industry for not putting out anything good for me to buy.

*This list does not include anything I have borrowed from the library and ripped to my computer.

13 June 2015 (Walmart New Philadelphia, OH)

Fisher-Price Little People – Animal Songs Sing-Along     $13

Nobody told me how different my music buying habits would change when I had a child, but I can’t expect her to enjoy GWAR or Acid Bath the way I do so I had to buy her something for long car rides. All joking aside though the guitar solo on “The Farmer in the Dell” is pretty bad ass and the drums possess a great laid-back Ringo quality.

 

29 June (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions      $2.50

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Automatic            $2.50

I bought the Roadrunner United album when it first came out, but lost it somewhere along the way. It’s a really unique album where the label tapped four musicians to be team captains who led 57 artists from 45 past and present Roadrunner bands and produced the album. It’s definitely a one of a kind album and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to satisfy a metal craving.

I completely forgot about the Jesus and Mary Chain album. I think I still have it…

 

Greatest Shit9 July (Amazon.com)

KMFDM: Greatest Shit   $17.49

Finntroll: Blodsvept         $8.99

I picked up the KMFDM album after seeing En Esch last year and I hate to just get one album at a time so I grabbed the next thing on my wish list.

 

25 Oct (FYE, New Towne Mall New Philadelphia, OH)

Alice in Chains – Live & Unreleased  $3.99

Nirvana – Unplugged in New York     $5

Unplugged in New York was a replacement. My copy was scratched to hell. I grabbed the Live & Unreleased promo disc and was quickly disappointed when I realized it was song that were released later on their Live album. I’ll have to put it on eBay to get some other poor sucker.

 

GWAR-Scumdogs-of-the-UniverseI went on a bit of a GWAR kick after seeing them live last November. My collection isn’t complete yet, but I’m getting pretty close.

10 Nov (Amazon.com)

GWAR – RagNaRok  $8.35

11 Nov (Ebay.com ( jnientertainment ( 17042 ))

GWAR – Carnival of Chaos  $7.34

 

14 Nov (Ebay.com (swmcom11 ( 267 ))

GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe – $20.74

 

The Best of Mozart6 Dec (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Elton John – Reg Strikes Back  $2.50

The Best of Mozart                    $2.50

I used to wonder how Elton John could go from megarockstar 70s icon to virtually unknown in the 80s. Then I listened to Reg Strikes Back. Have you ever heard it? No? There’s a reason for that.

The Mozart album is pretty good. It features cuts from his entire career. From his humble beginnings playing cover symphonies in Hamburg nightclubs, through his time as a backup player with James Brown, Little Richard and others and even his much chagrined “Fat Mozart” period.

 

20 February 2016 (Amazon.com)

Foo Fighters – Big Me                     $4

The Tea Party – Edges of Twilight  $ 3.91

Glueleg – Heroic Doses                   $ 3.97

Stay away from mikeladano.com. Seriously. If you go on that site you’ll end up reading about some awesome band that you’ve never heard of and the next thing you know they’re on your Amazon wish list. I mean, I don’t regret any of these purchases (Except the Big Me single which is just the single and not the Maxi CD single (Who knew there was such a difference?)) But I was perfectly happy not knowing there was an awesome band called Glueleg and if it hadn’t been for that damn website I probably never would have known.

 

Beezelbubba28 May 2016 (FYE, New Philadelphia, OH)

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral $9.99

The Dead Milkmen – Beezelbubba       $1.00

I was looking to see if they had any Dead Kennedys when I came across the Dead Milkmen disc and I instantly knew I had to have it. Because it was “Buy 1 Get 1 for $1” day at FYE I replaced my old copy of the Downward Spiral while I was at it.

 

29 May (Bandcamp.com)

Mr. Clit & The Pink Cigarettes – Haircuts $5

(Amazon.com)

Local H – Hey Killer                            $8.99

The Descendents – Everything Sux   $9.49

Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology         $8.99

Hey Killer is probably the best album of 2015 and nearly everyone missed it. Well, except for the guy that wrote that article telling me how great it was.

 

The Best Band?


supergroups!

Now that I’ve completed my “Best Drummers/Bassists/Guitarists/Singers” project let me tell you why I dislike the “pick 4 musicians to form your dream super group” game.

If I take the top spots from all of the lists I’ve come up with over the past month what you’d have is a band with Dave Grohl on drums, No bass player, Dave Gilmore on Guitar and Leonard Cohen singing.

The point I wanted to make there is that just because a musician is great in a certain band doesn’t mean they will be great in any band.

I gave Grohl props for being versatile and playing with many different groups, but could you imagine him jamming with Dave Gilmore? I’m not sure that heavy punk hitting would mesh well with the classic rock stylings of Pink Floyd. And then to throw Cohen in there… well now we’re just talking about a disaster. (Although I do have to admit it sounds interesting).

diamond Dave and Sammy HagarIt’s strange the how different bands can sound with the inclusion/exclusion of just one member. Would Nevermind have been such a hit if Nirvana hadn’t replaced Chad Channing with Dave Grohl? Van Halen and Van Hagar are literally two completely different bands despite being 3/4 the same. So are Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.

And what the hell happened to Korn? They were a pretty rocking heavy metal group and then they lost their guitarist and drummer and all of the sudden they’re like a techno thing.

While most musicians do pretty well in most groups it’s still pretty interesting to think of how they’d interact. the question isn’t “which 4 musicians would be the best,” so much as it’s “what would these 4 musician sound like together?”

I wish there was an antonym for the term supergroup. I know it’s meant to convey anytime a few musicians who are already successful get together, but there should be a term that we use when they get together and it’s really awful. Like chickenfootgroup.

 

More Stupid Lists:

The Best Singers

The Best Guitarists

The Best Bassists

The Best Drummers

The Best Drummers


drum-2I’m not a huge fan of the “Name Four Musicians to Form Your Dream Super Group” game. I usually just rattle off the members of Alice in Chains or Tool. Sometimes it’s fun to pick a trio or quintet and add or subtract a member, but that was never my game.

I do really enjoy “Best of…” lists though. And I thought it would be a good idea to do some for this blog. That’s not because I’m running out of ideas or anything. I swear I’m not. I’ve got tons of ideas. Make sure you check in next week when I do this with Bass Players.

 

Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies) – Wackerman lands on this list not only because of his awesome chops and stamina, but also for his great last name. It’s like his ancestors knew that someday one of their brood would become the drummer for a great punk band so they picked the coolest surname they could think of.

Frank Beard (ZZ Top) – Yet again, here is a man who’s name is as great as his ability to keep a beat. He gets bonus points for being the guy without a beard but having the name beard. God, will that ever get old?

Jimmy Chamberlain (The Smashing Pumpkins) – The best of the pumpkins if you want my opinion. And you must or you wouldn’t be reading this.

sexy drum machineMax Weinberg (E Street Band, Meat Loaf, Max Weinberg 7) – I had to add someone to make this list ten names. He was the most obvious choice.

A Drum Machine (Too Many To Name) – I was in a band with one of these for a while and I have a ton of praise for these guys. He was always on time (both for and during practice), never got too drunk to play, never had girlfriend drama and never threatened to quit. Aside from his lack of stage presence and sleeping with my old lady he was perfect.

Tommy Ramone/Marky Ramone (The Ramones) – I’m not sure if the trophy should go to Tommy for inventing the Ramones’ drum beat or to Marky for perfecting it.

Raymond Herrera (Fear Factory) – I’ll just let his feet do the talking:

 

Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander (Primus) – Both he and Larry LaLonde are pure geniuses just for being able to work with Les Claypool.

Sean Kinney (Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell) – Do you know anyone else who could come up with those great intros to “Angry Chair” and “No Excuses”? I don’t.

Neil Peart (Rush) – I’m honestly not a huge fan of Rush. I like them, but I can’t say I love them. Still, Neil deserves a spot on this list.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Probot, Scream) – I read him saying in an interview once that he is completely overrated as a drummer. And that may be true. He isn’t flashy, over the top or as machine gun fast as some other guys. But he has been very prolific as a timekeeper and has a knack for playing beats that accentuate the song without overpowering it. Sorry dude, you may be the best drummer ever.