Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Vote! (Unless you're going to vote stupid. Then don't. Please.)

For the young 'uns that won't know: Ron Mael of the legendary Sparks of olde.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Where the Joy Never Was Before: "Love Will Tear Us Apart" Properly Joyed Up

I took some time off from this blog. Was busied with other things. In that time had a daughter grow into womanhood with an appreciation of (much of the music that) I love too. She also tells me I need to move myself into the 21st century. I promise to do that.

But first, a bit of revisiting done proper. Recommended for anyone who needs a lift right now – and really, who doesn't?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Cats: Punk AF

What's your petty, whining anarchy compared to a cat's?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Long-hair Metal Poodles Come Up Short! (Sorry Ethiopia)

For a generation drunk on histrionic power ballads, coke, over-indulgent fashion, and the constant threat of thermonuclear war, Live Aid may've seemed the perfect sedative:
The problem: A severe drought in Ethiopia causing catastrophic stress on food resources. This in turn made worse by the abuses of a ruthless local government. Eventually, as many as 8.5 million would be effected.
The response: Back when televisions bulged thicker than the Berlin Wall, the West witnessed the catastrophe play out from the distance of the evening news. The leaky-bleaky hearts of rock's (white) elite community would be spurred into action, or song at least. This spur would eventually take the form of Band Aid in 1984, and then Live Aid a year later.

The brainchild of Irish and Scottish do-gooders and middling has-been rockers Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats who was temporarily knighted for his effort, the Irish) and Midge Ure (bubble-gum era Ultravox, the Scottish). Beginning successfully with the recording of Do They Know It's Christmas under the moniker Band Aid, the record raised $24 million. (It'd re-recorded in 1989 and 2004.)

Live Aid was to be a double concert extravaganza that would live telecast a simultaneous performance from both sides of the Atlantic (London and Philadelphia). The event would also inspire same-day concerts around the world including the Soviet Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia. For its part, the London concert would famously feature The Greatest Live Performance in the History of Rock Music! 

In the end, the positive effect of Live Aid has been the subject of debate. It was estimated that the concerts ultimately raised $225 million (£150 million) – that's $526 million in 2018 dollars. Though, it was later estimated that a fat portion of that money was siphoned off by the country's ruthless president and, even more sadly, the starving in Ethiopia only continued, being even worse today.

Back to the viking north of 1985: Wanting to toss their coins to the cause, Sweden responded with their own fund-raising performance featuring 80 of its top metal poodles, blonder than the Playboy mansion grotto and enough flammable hair product to fuel several Hindenburgs. With heaving hearts and unctuous vocalizing, the moussed mob stood togehter and sang a Joey Tempest ditty (he from the Swedish band best remembered for The Final Countdown) written for the cause: Give a Helping Hand. Take note: The pitchiness in the video may've been an omen: The record sold a paltry 50,000 copies – not enough to cover even Live Aid's craft services.

Beyond simply fueling sniggers for our endless amusement, the vid may've also documented the last dying gasps of Nordic hair metal. Several years later the much rawer genres of death and black metal would become all the rage in the hinterlands and these coiffed cuties would be curbed for evermore.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Morricone in the Raw

Hipsters have long thought Ennio Morricone was golden cool. This old Italian dude just thinks it's goodtime music.

If you've seen the any of Sergio Leone's “spaghetti western” Dollars Trilogy (or man with no name trilogy) and heard Morricone's score, you may be amazed at the unique palette of sounds. This was borne out the films' low budgets and the inability to afford a full orchestra. Instead, Morricone used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, jew's harp, trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar which set his soundtracks far apart from what were the orchestral conventions of Western standards à la John Ford.

In that vein, the old dude's raw tribute does Morricone its proper justice.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Genius of Animals: Transcribed Beasts Crying for Beats

Why is this happening only now? A composer transcribes birdsong and the result is strikingly similar to the quirky 12 tone mannerisms of Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg of a hundred years ago. Why hasn't a hip hop producer put bird loops or whale song (see below) to beats yet?

Pete Wyer is British so his bird melodies will have a particularly limey bent – blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, goldfinches, wrens, song thrushes, and maybe an odd parakeet in the mix. The piece was created by working from recordings of birdsong, slowing them down, and transcribing them for human voices.

The actual singing begins at 1:20:

John Cage took a similar swing at whale music in 1980. The piece is described as a 25-minute monody with two uncannily similar voices (Alan Bennett and Paul Elliott) using only five notes in antiphonal phrases. The piece will require patience. It sounds much like a Gregorian chant or other early music.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who's On First, Updated

For those of you gray enough to remember....