Showing posts with label Scooter Hall of Fame. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scooter Hall of Fame. Show all posts

Friday, August 01, 2014

I Need to Be Myself, Can’t Be No One Else

Definitely Maybe - Oasis

The early to mid-nineties was a depressing time where there was not a less credible than actually caring. Which is what makes Oasis’s rise so remarkable. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world. They had the attitude of eighties Sunset Strip, riffs from the classic rock era of the sixties, mixes with a dash of the weirdness that alt-rock craze of the nineties. The first song off their debut album Rock ‘n’ Roll Star was a shot across the bow of the shoe gazers of the time. Hard partying, heavy drinking, and massive group infighting was back and for a brief moment, it was glorious. The band became so big, even a single of the brothers Gallagher charted in their native England.

Though the band did not become the global superstars until their second album, Definitely Maybe, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was a great start with a few singles that should have broke the band stateside. There was plenty of cocksure in the rock anthem Supersonic which should have had a crossover with the Shawn Kemp led Seattle basketball team at the time. Second single Live Forever was more melancholy but still managed to rock hard. Though those two track stood out, there was not a skippable song on the album.

Oasis’s love of The Beatles is well documented and the influence is heard the most on Shakemaker which could have fit in their trippy period. And where the band showed they could rock hard (Bring it on Down actually would not have sounded out of place on the eighties Sunset Strip) the album is just as interested when the band slowed down; Digsy's Dinner is a fun jaunt though the British countryside. And while the Beatles influences are so abundant one can argue plagiarism at time, album closer Married with Children sounds like the best ballad the Davies Brothers of The Kinks never wrote.

Stuck between those two slower tracks is one of the great hidden gems of the nineties Slide Away, the most vulnerable the band is on the album but still exudes some English attitude on the track. There was plenty of hype surrounded Oasis when they came out, mostly created by the band itself, and the was finally realized with the release of the second album, most specifically Wonderwall, but you have to wonder if their hubris was also their downfall as went away Stateside as quickly as the conquered (though for those who stopped paying attention to the around the release of Be Here Now I highly recommend checking out Stop Crying Your Heart Out, the closest they got to recreating Wonderwall)but for one deleting moment everyone agreed with the Gallagher Bothers that Oasis, indeed, was the biggest and best band in the world.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

How Long Shall They Kill Our Prophets While We Stand Aside and Look?

Legend - Bob Marley and the Wailers
There comes a time in every person’s life that there is music that is made that is never played on the radio and even more surprisingly there was music made before you were made and some of it great. Actually there is too much good music so it was much easier to pick up a greatest hit package than buy an artist’s entire catalogue (at least it was when I discover music older than me; today’s children can access almost all music ever recorded on Spotify or other nefarious means for little to no money). One album that seemed like it was handed out at freshmen orientation in high school because everyone had was Legend, the greatest hit package from Bob Marley and The Wailers, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Legend was released thirty years ago, three years after the untimely death of Bob Marley and a year after his final album was released. But in the ten years prior, Bob Marley and the Wailers released eight albums for Island Records. The set spanned a career that dabbled in political (Get Up, Stand Up), partying (Jamming), romantic (Could You Be Love), retrospective (No Woman, No Cry), storytelling (I Shot the Sheriff) the guy even wrote songs that could easily double as children’s songs (Three Little Birds) all the while presenting the reggae genre with pop sensibilities.

For my money, the best song on an impeccable album is just the best song on Legend, but one of the finest songs ever written, is Redemption Song. The simplest song on the album, just Bob and an acoustic guitar, is also the most impactful. It was also the last song on the last album Marley released while he was alive and a fitting epilogue to a great career.

Today also sees the release of Legend 30th Anniversary Edition with a new 5.1 mix including newly discovered early studio tracks. These tracks include the original, early studio version of No Woman No Cry, in lieu of the previous live version. Also featured are two, previously unheard alternate takes of Easy Skanking and Punky Reggae Party recently discovered in the Marley vault. Legend 30th Anniversary Edition will also be made available on tri-color vinyl (yellow, green and red) and pressed as a double gatefold LP allowing for a higher fidelity sound quality that is closer to the original source.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Like Ma Bell I Got the Ill Communication

Ill Communication - Beastie Boys

It seems like every other week this year there has been another twentieth anniversary retrospective of a landmark album (compared to this year where so far, unless The Black Keys album ages well, there really has not been one yet). The most recent much ballyhooed anniversary was for Ill Communication. With Check Your Head, these were the two “weird albums” from the Beastie Boys that fit in very well with the early nineties explosion of hip-hop and alternative rock. After Ill Communication, which is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, the trio went back to mostly straight hip-hop for their (presumably) last three lyrical based albums.

Even though the Beastie Boys started out as a punk band and there was plenty of live instrumentations on Check Your Head, no one was expecting Sabotage as the first single off the album. The song managed to rock harder than most songs it shared time with on alt-rock radio stations. Ad Rock just let go of all his anger in three short minutes while the highlight of the song was the MCA bass breakdown which was the highlight of any of their live shows (their performance remains one of the greatest in VMA history). The song sat right in the middle of the album with similar, short, punk songs Tough Guy and Heart Attack Man at the beginning and end o the album.

Of course you cannot talk Sabotage without mentioning the awesome Spike Jones. Lampooning seventies cop shows, the Beastie Boys were game to put on silly wigs and mustaches while sliding across car hoods and tackle each other into pools. I sure there were many people twenty years ago hoping that a real Sabotage television show would air right after Beavis and Butt-Head.

Though in the middle of their live music phase, there are still plenty of great songs on Ill Communication that was closer to the hip-hop end of their musical spectrum. The best is the Q-Tip assisted (one of only two guest verses in the Beastie catalogue, Nas being the other) Get it Together where Tip effortlessly plays off the boys in an old school pass the mic type song. The album also features the rare flute-infused rap track, not just on the album opener Sure Shot but a flute sample also naturally showed up on Flute Loop. Root Down split the difference, a heavy funky bassline with some tight lyrics over them.

After Ill Communication the Beastie Boys stuck to their hip-hop roots with their next three lyrics based albums with the instrumental The Mix-Up, which was more funk based than the punk sounds of Ill Communication. Unfortunately with the death of MCA, this is probably all we will get to hear from the Beastie Boys unless they clean out the vaults. But with albums like Ill Communication, their legacy is more than set as one of the greats of any genre.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

My First Album Had No Famous Guest Appearances, the Outcome: I'm Crowned the Best Lyricist

Illmatic - Nas

We live in an era of overnight success. Since the nineties, record labels have put millions of dollars launching new artists making it hard not to get at least one minor hit with enough promotion. Back in the day, even some of the biggest stars took a while to hit; Bruce Springsteen did not have a top fifty album or top one hundred single until his third album. Billy Joel’s first album did not even crack the top one hundred. Even Prince needed five albums to hit the top ten on either Billboard chart.

Even though we live in an era of instant fame, most of those overnight successes are lucky to have more than two good songs on their debut albums. It is very rarely that any artist comes out the gates with a five mic album but Nas did that with Illmatic, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame. In a time when rap was moving to the west coast, Nas reminded everyone where the genre was birthed bringing the focas back to the east coast with the help of Wu-Tang Clan and The Notorious B.I.G..

Ten tracks, not a weak or skipable one among them or even a misplaced lyric in the forty minutes. Illmatic is one of the rare albums you ripped to your computer as a whole in a time before iTunes. Nas had the laid back delivery of A Tribe Called Quest with the street knowledge of KRS-One. And the production was on point, from Gang Starr’s DJ Premiere on New York State of Mind (which has been gone on to be sampled more times to count) to the Human Nature sampling It Ain’t Hard to Tell.

After Illmatic, Nas spent the next twenty years chasing the next classic. He created some better songs like If I Ruled the World and came close with Stilmatic but never a finer album he created than Illmatic. But of course his debut is one of the best in history, not just rap but of all music.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Long, Long, Long, Long Time Ago, Before the Wind, Before the Snow

Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers

A year after the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, this month's induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s prior record label released a greatest Hits package entitled What Hits!? (the second most self aware greatest hit package after Jimmy Buffett's Song(s) You Know By Heart). It was a sly nod to the fact that their first four albums could at best be considered a modest success and a cheap way to cash in on the band’s new found stardom on a different label. Back during those eighties albums, the Peppers were lucky to get played during 120 Minutes but in the post-Nirvana world, videos from Blood Sugar Sex Magic were in heavy rotation on MTV and alternative radio that popped up in the early nineties.

Unlike some grunge coattail-riders like Stone Temple Pilots and Bush, the Chili Peppers may gave benefited from the music that came out of the Pacific Northwest, but they were something entirely different, a mix of rock, funk, and rap, with three musicians that pushed every boundary and a lyricist that poured his whole heart on the page. John Frusciante created some of the most inventive riffs of all time which played off well with Flea’s funky bass and his rhythm section partner, the underappreciated Chad Smith.

Even though Frusciante and Smith were on their second album with the band, but the missing ingredient may have been producer Rick Rubin. As he tends to do, Rick took the other the top, hyperactive group and focused them leading to a more cohesive and more easily accessible sound. Rubin also famously found Anthony Kiedis’ poetry book and convinced him to take one entitled Under the Bridge to the band. Of course that song ended up being the album’s breakout hit and remains one of the biggest in the band’s history.

Under the Bridge may have broke the band in a big way, but first single Give it Away opened the door. The song was just pure focused energy, punk rock mixed with a funky bass line which makes it danceable if mosh pits are not your thing. Then there was the Anton Corbin music video, filmed in black in white in the desert with each band member with an increasingly epic hairdo.

And the album is not just pure funk with the random power ballad in the middle; the Peppers pushed their sound with songs like Breaking the Girl. An acoustic track with weird percussion and other instrumentation that sounds like it came from a medieval fair, and somehow it worked completely. The album concludes with Sir Psycho Sexy (not counting quick hidden Robert Johnson cover), weird song that sounds like it was built around a pig inspired syth patch where Kiedis goes on for over eight minutes about a freak in the Garden of Eden and being stopped by lady cops in an explicit fashion.

A decade after the first greatest hits, the Red Hot Chili Pepper released a new best of album that is actually worthy of the title with many legitimate hits from subsequent albums. Well many legitimate hits and one song from the Dave Navarro era that most people would like to forget.

Friday, February 28, 2014

We’re All Self Conscious, I’m Just the First to Admit It

The College Dropout - Kanye West

It took me a minute to get into Kanye West. His first single was a mublecore track Through the Wire that he quite literally recorded with his mouth wired shut (hence the title of the song). He second single was a song called Slow Jamz and I am against rap slow jams (Bonita Applebum being the lone exception). Then I heard All Falls Down. That was a sit up and take notice moment. Base around an obscure Lauryn Hill hook (he could not clear the sample so that is Syleena Johnson singing) that loops throughout the whole song a self conscious Kanye debates himself on what he thinks other people want him to do and what he knows he should do.

By the time Jesus Walks dropped I was all in. The song is the rare rap song that sounds epic and timeless, something that could fill U2 type stadiums. Again, Kanye was rapping about an internal battle, but this time it was a war for his soul with faith on one side and the almighty dollar, through any means necessary on the other shoulder. Ten years later and it is still a tossup of which side won, but it was at that time I had to check out the whole album.

The College Dropout, March’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, almost plays out like a concept album on the doldrums of working your way through college. Starting off with We Don’t Care about the mid-twenties with not much to look forward to because “we weren’t supposed to make it past twenty-five.” That concept then end with School Spirit which stand tall amongst the other great tracks on the album. On the track Kanye says goodbye to school without the paper saying he is finished to a piano bounce (which is only enhanced by the like, “I got a Jones like Norah.”) It is a shame the song never got a video treatment or was released by a single.

Even on the first album, you could see Kanye push the boundaries; who else could get Jay-Z to appear on the same track as a spoken word artist (Never Let Me Down). Or get two of the deeper thinking rappers, Talib Kweli and Common, get down and a pick up chicks song (Get Em High). The guy even closed out the album recounting the road to the first album by having everyone involve give an oral history to a beat (Last Call). And right before that, it may be one of the sweetest rap song that managed to not come across as extremely corny (Family Business).

The College Dropout was a game changer that topped my list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the 00’s. It set up a long career. In a genre that has one of the smallest shelf lives, Kanye is still very relevant a decade later and even a bigger lightning rod for better or worse. I would argue that Yeezus would be for worst, but this still does not keep me from hoping a new Kanye West album drops this year, be it solo, another Watch the Throne, an uneven G.O.O.D. compilation, or something completely different that we will never see coming.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cant You See Me Standing Here I Got My Back Against the Record Machine

1984 - Van Halen

It does not take a math genius or even a calculator to realize that this year is the thirtieth anniversary of 1984, as in the Van Halen, not the book which turns 65 this year. Up until that point, Van Halen was mostly an underground band whose biggest hit up to that point was a cover of a Roy Orbison song that bordered on novelty. Then 1984 arrived with four massive hits on radio and a new music video channel. Unfortunately the band got too big and we did not get a proper follow up to the album by the collaboration of the Van Halen brothers and lead singer David Lee Roth (even then founding member Michael Anthony was let go for a third Van Helen member) and even that turned out to be the underwhelming A Different Kind of Truth.

1984, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was a shock to the fans of the guitar virtuoso of Eddie Van Hanel they came to love as the first single and opening track Jump was very synth heavy, borrowing from the New Wave movement of the time but still was able to sound like a rock song. It was a smooth transition as a short guitar solo does come in at the end of the song. That single was followed up but another synthesizer heavy I’ll Wait which was more menacing than the jukebox anthem that preceded it.

Rock purists finally got the rock heroes they were used to when Panama dropped. A hard driving song with one of the greatest breaks in rock history when the band slows it down, and David Lee Roth purred, “We’re running a little bit hot tonight. I can barely see the road from the heat coming off of it. I reach down in between my legs… ease the seat back.” Before the song comes roaring back for a triumphant finish. Both Van Halen brothers shine on Hot for Teacher, possibly drummer Alex’s best work ever while Roth was never on his friskiest than on the song. Of course who could forget one of the early great music videos on MTV that probably has you wondering right now whatever did happen to Waldo?

After the album Roth embarked on a only memorable because of the music videos solo career while the Van Halen with Michael Anthony dominated the soft rock landscape for the second half of the eighties after recruiting singer Sammy Hager. Neither was able to recapture the hard rock flamboyance magic of 1984. Roth was brought back into the fold when the band was working on a Greatest Hit package which was short lived after the brothers Van Halen were embarrassed by his antics at the MTV Video Music Awards. Of course that was not nearly as embarrassing as the Gary Cherone era.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The 25 Best Music Moments from Veronica Mars

For January’s Scooter Hall of Fame inductions I always induct a “first ballot” honoree from ten years ago and now that it has been a decade since Veronica Mars hit the small screen, that was a easy no brainer for the potential first ballot inductees from 2004 than Veronica Mars (sorry The College Dropout, Lost, and Dodgeball, you will have to wait a couple months or so; well except Lost, you will probably never get in). But since I have wasted quite a lot of virtual ink on the show over the past decade, instead of the usual fluff piece, I thought I would look back with another list (I have already done the 10 Best Veronica Mars Episodes) by looking back at the best music moments from the show.

1. We Used to Be Friends (Theme Song) (Seasons 1 and 2): I am typically morally opposed with licensing song as a theme song. Seriously, what does The Who have to do with investigating crime scene investigators? But The Dandy Warhols song with its shiny exterior and darker lyrics, fit so perfectly with the show to the point where it was even used as dialogue halfway through the first season. The less said about the third season remix, the better.

2. One Way Or Another (Clash of the Tritons): Lily Kane ended up being the one who would go onto starring in multiple musicians, but it is a shame this is one of the few times we have heard Kristen Bell sing on screen. Seriously, get this girl in front of a mic more often.

3. Adelaide (Donut Run): Rarely do I ever to the internet after an episode but the song the end of Donut Run the best hour of the second season, did just that. A fitting soundtrack to the end of the Duncan Kane era on the show.

4. Private Eyes - Private Eyes (Remastered) (Weapons of Class Destruction): Vincent Van Lowe is by far the best recurring character on the show, and more entertaining than some that were in the main cast. And our first introduction to Vinny was a good one when he caught Ronnie trying to eavesdropping on him and instead of just crushing the bug, he decided to serenade her with his favorite Hall and Oates song.

5. Ashes (Normal Is the Watchword): After missing the bus, Veronica is cruising down the PCH on the back of Weevil’s bike only to see the bus she miss sink to the bottom of the ocean over the lines, “I sink like a stone, I lost my control.” Brilliant. It is a shame the Embrace song was not a bigger hit here.

6. The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack (Donut Run): Everyone has their breakup playlist and Ronnie busted out The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack to sell her fake breakup to Duncan including How Can You Mend a Broken Heart by Al Green and The Air I Breathe by The Hollies.

7. Right Here, Right Now (Spit and Eggs): Sure in retrospect, the Fatboy Slim could have been a spoiler for who the Heart rapist is (certainly the DJ would have a dance song as the background for his rapes), but it definitely fit the mood.

8. Bad Day (The Bitch Is Back): Ronnie warned Dominick Desante that he would regret not giving her the name of the person that e-mailed his the video of her. So after maxing out his credit card right before a big date and stealing his wheels, Vee serenaded him with the Daniel Powder one hit wonder to top things off.

9. Veronica (Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle): See Veronica, be nice to someone and the lead singer of Spoon may serenade you with Elvis Costello.

10. What's Left of Me (Postgame Mortem): You rarely see Nick Lachey on a list of “best music” anything, but his song was responsible for one of the funniest moment of season three when an eleven year old dedicated the song on behalf of Logan to Veronica, and the look on Ronnie’s face was priceless.

11. One Week (Show Me the Money): Sure, on the surface, being Canada in the dorms Around the World party may see lame, but stock the fridge with Molson’s, thrown in an “eh” at the end of every sentence and everyone has a good time. And I am sure the Barenaked Ladies is better than anything they are playing in Germany.

12. Busted (President Evil): Over three season, Ronnie took down jocks, fratboys, cheerleaders, and even a movie star, but maybe the most entertaining come up pence was when she snapped back her necklace from a annoying elementary school student that her father robbed from Vee with Johnny Cash playing in the background.

13. Papa Was a Rolling Stone (Blast from the Past): What do you say to the absentee dad you never knew you had when your mother tells you he was a junkie cop who could not raise a kid? You do not say anything, you just sing a few lines from the Temptations classic like Wallace did.

14. Love Hurts (Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang): At the start of the second season, Ronnie took a job at Java the Hutt where they regularly had karaoke night and one of the first singers was Courtney Taylor-Taylor, lead singer of The Dandy Warhols (their song Smoke It also was featured in the episode) who provide the theme song, singing the Nazareth classic.

15. The 80’s Dance (Ruskie Business): One of my favorite scenes in the series, forget Logan, Deputy Leo was Ronnie’s greatest boyfriend and here is where it all started, soundtracked by The Fixx, Cindi Lauper, and Spandau Ballad with Vee dressed up as Madonna (only Ronnie can pull of crimped hair) and Leo doing his best Crockett (possibly Tubbs) impression.

16. Run (Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner): This episode ends very creepy with Veronica and Duncan finding Meg’s sister locked in the closet, they get arrested and set free by Sheriff Lamb who did not take kindly to kids being locked up (he heard the same speech by his father). The creepiness was only heightened by the Air song playing in the background.

17. It Never Rains In Southern California (The Bitch Is Back): Le sigh.

18. Sway (Pan B): I always thought Logan was horrible for Ronnie but this was still a great moment and song.

19. My Before and After (Debasement Tapes): Paul Rudd dropped by in an episode as a washed up alternative rocker Desmond Fellows of the nineties group My Pretty Pony who has resigned his life on the nostalgia circuit with the tapes of his deceased band mate’s vocal tracks playing beside him while he gives half hearted performances. When Piz forces him to perform an original, this is what Fellows performed (which in reality is an obscure Cotton Mather’s song).

20. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) (My Big Fat Greek Rush Week): When smoking out bad guys, Ronal Regan would blare Van Halen on a loop, George W. Bush opted for Rage Against the Machine. Wallace and his guards went with a more inhumane root torturing Logan and his terrorists with Rupert Holmes.

21. I Hear the Bells (Look Who’s Stalking): See above but even I have to admit Logan’s epic speech was awesome. Plus Ronnie loves this song and so do I.

22. Rump Shaker (Welcome Wagon): We had not see Dick all summer after his brother flung himself off the roof of the Neptune Grand, so how is he introduced in season three? Interrupting an anti-rap rally wearing nothing but a Union Jack Speedo and a ski mask and blasting the classic one hit wonder. I expected nothing less from Dick.

23. Don't Stand So Close to Me (Mars vs. Mars): Of course when a student admits to having an affair with a teacher she is going to get taunted with The Police song even if the song is twice as old as the girls singing it.

24. True Colors (My Big Fat Greek Rush Week): As Ronnie prepared to go into the den of debauchery that was the sorority life, she is instead greeted by a capella renderings of the Cyndi Lauper classic.

25. Folsom Prison Blues (The Rapes of Graff): Veronica once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, unfortunately it was a bit of a letdown.

Aside from the Tin Anniversary, Veronica Mars will have another milestone in 2014 as the movie will be released March 14 of this year. The first trailer is supposed to hit the internets today and I will add that here when it does.

Monday, December 02, 2013

You Better Watch Out You Better Not Cry

A Motown Christmas

RnB was at its best during the Motown era (as you may remember, it ranked in at number one on my list of the 25 Greatest Eras in Rock and Roll History). And of course whenever you are at the height of your game, you are going to release a Christmas song or two and Motown artists released their fair share in the late sixties and early seventies. By 1973, there were plenty of Christmas songs to fill an album (a second volume was released in 2001) with A Motown Christmas, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Of course both compilations was filled with festive songs from the labels biggest acts like The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, and Marvin Gaye. Most of the Christmas standards are represented like Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, and traditional carols like Joy to the World and Deck the Halls.

There were a couple of songs popularized by the Motown artists that would go on to be standards like the Stevie Wonder sung What Christmas Means to Me. But the best songs on the albums were those provided by The Jackson 5 as the young group captured the wonders of Christmas on song like Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. If you have yet to amassed a Christmas musical library to rival my nearly seven hundred tunes, A Motown Christmas may be the best place to start.

Friday, November 01, 2013

We Named the Dog Indiana

Indiana Jones

Last month apparently was Indiana Jones Month on CBS as episodes of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother centered on exploits of the greatest fake archaeologist ever. (Thankfully no one was forced to make homage to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull… yet.) That continues here as I inducted the original trilogy into the Scooter Hall of Fame. For men of a certain age, Harrison Ford is a god among men; the guy went from Han Solo to Indiana Jones. No one comes close to that two headed monster. The only person who comes close is Samuel L. Jackson but he was still a bit player in Star Wars and The Avengers.

Screw Amy Farrah Fowler and her silly logical takedown of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who cares if the Nazi faces would have melted off even if Indiana Jones was not even in the film, it is the journey that matters. And what a journey it was. Indiana Jones was the first action movie I saw that was legitimately funny. There was not a one-liner Harrison Ford did not like to crew on and it was only equaled with his comical hatred of snakes (full disclosure notice: I have the same totally rational hatred of the creature). Armed with only a bull whip, Indiana Jones trotted across the globe on a race to find the rarest of artifacts before they fall into the wrong hands.

The second installment, The Temple of Doom got dark, like rip your beating heart out of your chest and you do not even die dark. The temple in question involved child slavery, black magic and ritual human sacrifice. That was even out by giving Indy a side kick Short Round (who had a nice one-two punch himself as his second movie he played Data in The Goonies but was rarely seen after that). The film also featured a very memorable mine cart chase that should have been made into a rollercoaster ride (at least one in America, there is one in Disneyland Paris).

As dark as the Temple of Doom was, they went the complete opposite route with the follow up The Last Crusade, no beating hearts being ripped, not even any melting Nazi faces. They even went so far away from the previous movie that they replaced the teenaged Short Round as the side kick with Indy’s elderly father (a very game Sean Connery). Though not as entertaining as the first two, it was entertaining to watch the two leads try to out grouch each other.

The less said about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the better.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

This Year Halloween Fell on the Weekend

We Can't Be Stopped - Geto Boys

Okay, for anyone who has already flipped over their calendars will have noticed that this year Halloween actually falls on a Thursday. But in defense of the guy who first uttered that line, his mind was playing tricks on him. In fact in 1990, when Bushwick Bill rapped that line, Halloween also fell on a Thursday. Plus when he declared it was Halloween, later in the verse, it did not even turn out to be close to Halloween.

The line was the centerpiece of the seminal gangsta rap track My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me by Geto Boys. At the time when west coast rappers were glorifying the gangsta lifestyle, these Houston boys were tapping into the paranoia real gang bangers had at the time having to constantly look over your shoulder for the cops and other gang members. To up the paranoia, the cover of the album We Can't Be Stopped, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, featured Bushwick Bill in the hospital after he shot himself in the eye.

The boys do not spend the entire album sitting in four cornered rooms starring at candles and go on the offensive, taking aim at Queen Latifah (I’m Not a Gentlemen, their answer back to her Ladies First), the Grammy’s (Trophies), and even their own record label who would not distribute their previous album (the title track). Though the Fresh Prince beat Bushwick Bill rapping about a horror film antagonist by three years, the Geto Boys’ Chuckie, based on the Child’s Play doll, is as scary as the actual movie. In another pop culture reference, Willie D recorded a song based on the Homey D. Clown catchphrase Homie Don’t Play That which was just as angry as The Living Color sketch.

Though this year Halloween does not fall on the weekend, every October is a good time to sit along in a four cornered room starring at candles while listening to the Geto Boys.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

To Succeed in Life You Must Eliminate Everything in Your Path in a Blind Rage

Grand Theft Auto

I have never really been into violent video games (unless you count the old school hockey games where you could break open a dude’s skull and watch them bleed on the ice) and spent most of my time playing games like Mario Kart, Final Fantasy, and sports games. So I did not think much of the first two Grand Theft Auto games and even ignored the huge buzz around the third game which essentially invented the sandbox game (ironically instead I bought The Simpsons rip off game which thankfully was a lot more entertaining than their Double Dragon rip-off Nintendo game). But the ad campaigned for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City drew me in with its Miami Vice vibe and A Flock of Seagulls soundtrack which it is why the franchise is this month's induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Forget the video game violence; Vice City was worth it just for the soundtrack along, I would have just been content with just driving around the sprawling faux Miami just listening to the awesomely eighties radio stations (Lionel Richie! Hall and Oates!! Squeeze!!!) and to those that always rag on the violent storyline, there is nothing making you going around shooting people and picking up hookers, you could steal a taxi and play Crazy Taxi style or earn a living hunting down criminals for the police or hijacking an ambulance to help people to the hospital on time.

Okay, I am not that altruistic, I also partook in the more violent storylines too. But the Grand Theft Auto games are just like playing a movie. III was basically The Godfather, Vice City is a retelling of Scarface, and San Andreas is like playing Boys in the Hood. Of course to the parents out there, if you do not let your kids watch those types of movies, you definitely should not let your kids play these types of games. And if you do let your kids watch those types of movies and play these types of games, you really need a visit from child services.

Even if you do choose the dark side (that is where the main storylines are anyway) there are consequences. If you kill someone, the police will come after you. And if you continue to kill people, the more the pursue you until the call in S.W.A.T., helicopters, and if you stay on the lamb long enough while you continue your killing spree they will even bring in an armored tank. And once you are caught, you have to pay your way out of prison or pay a hospital bill defending on how they get you.

As great as Vice City was, San Andreas was even better in almost every since way except maybe the soundtrack (it is hard to choose between cheesy eighties music and the mix of early nineties gangsta rap and alternative rock. The opening local, which was a fictional version of Compton was probably even bigger than Vice City then throughout the game you could travel to San Francisco and Las Vegas (where you can even gamble) surrogates. There was even the countryside, a mountain, a couple of small suburbs, and a desert with its own Area 51 type secret government facility where you could steal a jet pack. Seriously, how cool is a jet pack? Sure not all the additions were inspired, requiring players to eat was annoying, and then when you ate too much, you were unable to run and the weight training was just as silly.

Expectations were high when Grand Theft Auto leaped onto the next generation council and GTA IV more than lived up to the hype. Where the previous installments were clearly inspired by iconic movies, the new version followed an eastern European immigrant trying to find his way in the new world by any means necessary. And since this was he first in seven years to be set in current times and this time around you had access to a cell phone (complete with a camera) and if you stole a car that a soccer mom would drive it probably would be equipped with a GPS devise. And there were so many ways to get around Liberty City (basically NYC) with five distinctive boroughs, aside from the obvious car, there is the subway, boats, and you could even commandeer a helicopter, just remember to bring your parachute just in case you have to bail.

When you were done with the game, there were two downloads featuring new storylines for Liberty city. The Lost and the Damned has you as the leader of a biker gang who needs to keep its turf while The Ballad of Gay Tony saw you employed as a body guard for the titular nightclub owner who was just as ruthless as his female loving counterparts. Each game was almost as expansive as the original and actually managed to intertwine with each other. Then there was even more fun when you fired up the modem and go online for deathmatches, street races, and other fun game. You could still occasionally find me in a Turf War waiting room.

Much like many of Rockstar Games, little is known about Grand Theft Auto V out later this month (look for a list of The 100 Greatest Song from Grand Theft Auto coming from me around the release date, unfortunately that list will be instantly outdated the moment it is published as there is said to be 240 licensed songs for the new game). The game does return to San Andreas but consider how much Liberty City changed from GTA III to GTA IV, the fake west coast will probably look radically different than the PS2 game, it is said to be bigger and the original San Andreas and GTA IV combined, and even more ways to get around (ATV’s! jet skies!!). There will also be three lead characters you can toggle between, a first for the series. One apparently will even own a dog which, depending on your actions, can get lost or even die. While the online mode looks to be even more expansive. Grand Theft Auto V (as well as my list of The 100 Greatest Songs from Grand Theft Auto) comes out on the 17th.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Take Me Where You Go Only Higher

Dulcinea - Toad the Wet Sprocket

If you were born the last time Toad the Wet Sprocket released an album, you may just received your driver’s license but the band recently reconvened and will be releasing their new album in the new reality in the new millennium, through crowd sourcing (their Kickstarter has already been funded but if they reach $250,000 by Sunday, all backers will receive Live EP from their August Tour). For those born before their time, Toad the Wet Sprocket was a college rock band in the age of alternative music, more R.E.M. than Smashing Pumpkins. Yet the same year, R.E.M. relented to the times and made its grungiest album ever with Monster, Toad stayed the course and made their best album of their career, Dulcinea which is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Granted by today’s standard, Toad the Wet Sprocket could be considered Dad Rock with mellow songs like the album opener Fly from Heaven, the plaintive Windmills, the playful Nanci, and the moody and retrospective Something’s Always Wrong. But to show you just how out of touch they were with the agro guys of the time, I remember the local disk jockey pronouncing the title “Dull-Cin-da” once even in front of the band during an interview. Apparently the guys at the alternative rock station were not familiar with the Don Quixote love interest.

That is not to say Toad could not rock, though they never went full agro, there was still some heaviness to songs like Woodburning, which may have been the closest thing the band themselves ever got to grunge. The best song on the album was the one Toad song that would not sound out of place in a mosh pit: Fall Down. The frantic track verges on paranoia and anxiety as we transitioned into the mid-nineties, but the song never lost control which many of the alternative bands of the time would have done. The upcoming album New Constellations may not live up to Dulcinea, but it is good to have Toad the Wet Sprocket back on the scene.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Adjust the Bass and Let the Alpine Blast

Summer officially started two weeks ago, but let’s be honest, the season does not truly start until you hear Summertime for the first time when the sun is shining in seventy-plus weather. The DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince song has been the official summer anthem for twenty-two years now so when you year the line, “think of the summer’s of the past” Summertime was probably the soundtrack of many of those most memorable moments and why it is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

From the opening drums and based on a long forgotten warm weather song in its own right, the Kool and the Gang song Summer Madness, Summertime becomes the roadmap to the perfect summer day: basketball, car shows, barbecue, and a family reunion where the old folks can break out a Soul Train line. And no need to get there on time just put the cruise control at two miles an hour. And do not forget to adjust the bass and let the alpine blast while playing Summertime on a loop this holiday.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

We're all Gonna Have so Much Fun We're Gonna Need Plastic Surgery to Remove our Smiles

National Lampoon's Vacation

In Hollywood’s never-ending quest to ruin my childhood, it looks like we will be getting a National Lampoon's Vacation reboot in the near future focusing on a grown up Rusty Griswold. But instead of getting a return of Anthony Michael Hall, Johnny Galecki, Ethan Embry, or even Jason Lively (that is actually a pretty impressive lineup of then unknown actors, certainly better than the former Audrey’s which is just Juliette Lewis and three actresses no one remembers) Ed Helms will star in Theme Park Vacation. Granted I would still watch if it involved strapping a dead Chevy Chase to the roof of the car.

But like many reboots and remakes, no matter how bad it will be, it will not taint the brilliance of the original Vacation, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame. The movie was not just a comedy but a horror film for any child facing a long trip stuck in a station wagon with their family where anything that can go wrong does like getting stranded in the desert or when your aunt does en route to her son’s house and you have to strap her to the roof of your car.

And reaching your destination is no oasis either when you find the amusement park you drove thousands of miles to go to is closed for repairs. So the Griswold’s would do anything an sane family would do, kidnap the security guard, the always funny John Candy, and make him run free in the park. We have all been there.

Many kids these day may just know Chevy Chase today as they bumbling old dude who just got fired from Community, but Vacation came at a time when he was about to make the funniest run at the multiplex possibly ever. He followed up the Vacation with Fletch, European Vacation, Spies Like Us, and ¡Three Amigos!, all released over a three year span. I defy anyone to find a funnier concentration of films by anyone ever. Unfortunately after completing a string of sequels in 1989 (Caddyshack 2, Fletch Lives, and Christmas Vacation) he really has not been that funny since. Anyone remember Cops And Robbersons? It may be better if you did not.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Teacher Thinks that I Sound Funny but She Likes the Way You Sing

White Blood Cells - The White Stripes

At the turn of the century, music got really sedate, the only videos getting played on MTV (when they played music videos) were bland teen pop or crappy rap-rock songs. It took something truly innovative to get noticed. Enter Fell in Love with a Girl and its Lego inspired music video which busted through the monotony of everything else in heavy rotation. Even better was that accompanying song by The White Stripes was great even without the awesome visuals. And though the strict adherence to only two instruments per song (so they would be able to play them as is live in concert) and a red, white, and black color palate, could have pegged the duo as a one hit wonder, but none listen to the album White Blood Cells, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, showed they were much more than a gimmick.

The White Stripes were blues rock at its finest. Though most of their songs clocked in at less than three minutes, Jack White was able to pump at least one great guitar riff into each of them. The songs range from the down and gritty Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, to the delta blues of The Union Forever, to the quick and simple Meg stomping Little Room, to the poppy acoustic Hotel Yorba which just begs to be sun along with.

As great as Fell in Love with a Girl is, the best track on the album just may be We’re Going to Be Friends. With just Jack and his acoustic guitar, he sings of a simpler time when worrying about the first day of school was your biggest problem. But it is also a day were you meet new friends that can last a lifetime. The song should be included in every graduation mix from now until the end of time. As The White Stripes showed, the simplest can also sometimes be the best.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Don't Want to Argue, I Don't Want to Debate

Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D

There are fewer artists with better timing than "Weird Al" Yankovic. A novelty act who made funny parodies about food. His first album was quality entertainment by lampooning the likes of The Knack and even landed him a couple minor hits. But instead of becoming a musical footnote like the guys who sang My Sharona, his second album launched at a time when two cultural phenomenons collided, and he benefited from both. In 1984 MTV finally started airing music videos by black artist, most notably Michael Jackson whose video took him from being that cute kids from the Jackson 5 to the biggest act in music since The Beatles.

Enter “Weird Al” Yankovic to who took Jackson’s Beat It and, like My Sharona before it, turn it into an anthem about food. It was catchy as the original, but what made Al a household name was the accompanying music video with Al visiting the same tropes that Michael did in his video, ending up at the same West Side Story knife fight at the end, but all down with a Weird bent and rubber chickens. It became a template for Al where the video was almost important as the parody itself.

The only other music video Al made from "Weird Al" Yankovic In 3-D, this month's induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was almost as entertaining and is now underrated compared to the others that came afterward. Based on his other love. television (the album also featured an ode to The Brady Bunch to the tune of Safety Dance), I Lost on Jeopardy is set to the Greg Kihn song about boring love and turned into a song about the worst contestant ever in the history of game show, a contestant so bad, he did not even get take the Home Game with him. For the video, Al even wrangled Art Fleming, the original host, Don Pardo and Kihn himself. I have no proof to this claim, but I would like to believe it was this song that led to the Alex Trebeck reboot of the game show.

In 3-D was also notable for being the first album that featured the now routine polka where Al broke out his accordion to sing a medley of song from the sixties and seventies classic from Devo to Iron Butterfly. Had there been another video made from the video, it most likely would had been for The Theme of Rocky XIII, naturally a parody of Eye of the Tiger (theme to the third movie), it is a shame that he did not dust the song off for his movie UHF and the song gets only more relevant as Sylvester Stallone inches closer to his thirteenth installment of his franchise. Being such a fan of The Police, King of Suede (a parody of King of Pain) and always been one of my favorite in Al’s catalogue. It is weir to thing that “Weird Al” Yankovic first released his first song thirty-five years ago next year. Hopefully we do not have to wait until then to hear what food will inspire his parody of Call Me Maybe.

Friday, March 01, 2013

I Got More Rhymes than the Bible's Got Psalms

House of Pain - House of Pain

It is time of year again where it is time to put on some green, fill out your brackets while sipping on a Shamrock Shake. And of course thanks to seeing it in the House of Pain video, pin on your “Expletive deleted) me I’m Irish” button even if you do not have any relative from the Emerald Isles. Jump Around will be getting plenty of play over the next couple weeks as one of the preeminent Irish song that does not even feature bagpipes and is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Sure Jump Around will get any St. Patrick’s Day party pumping, but it is in the pantheon of great party starting of all time at any party throughout the year. Really, if you put the song on, every guy in between the ages of twenty and fifty will stop whatever they are doing and start shouting, and jumping, along. The only other songs that have the same effect on such a wide range of males are Glory Days and N.W.A.’s Automobile.

From the opening royal horns, you knew you were witnessing something new, and then the screaming sample kicked in and the song kicked into high gear like a dirtier and grimier version of the rock tinged rap invented in the early Def Jam day. It is almost four minutes of a full frontal assault where Everlast is serving everyone up like John McEnroe even if it is your girl (the sound effect there may be the most entertainly offensive sound effect ever in a song).

One of the few disappointments on the group’s debut album it turns out the prelude song from the Jump Around video does not actually precede the song, but it shows up as a full song later as House of Pain Anthem for anyone who want to jam to it. It is one of the few slower songs on the album while rest it filled with plenty of (expletive deleted) kicking songs (including Put on Your (Expletive Deleted) Kickers) featuring the likes of B-Real from Cypress Hill, Son Doobie of Funkdoobiest, and the great Pete Rock adds a verse to his remix of Jump Around.

But the best song on the set after the original Jump Around is very appropriate for the month Shamrocks and Shenanigans. Go ahead and skip the original version and go straight to the Butch Vig Remix (who was between coming off producing Nirvana’s Nevermind and forming Garbage when he remixed the track). The fuzzed out track is one of the great lost alternative songs from the Golden Age of Alternative Rock and should be added to any St. Patrick playlists you are working on this month.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Some of Those that Wear Forces Are the Same that Burn Crosses

Back in the post-Nirvana wild west of early nineties MTV, it seemed like anyone could get their fifteen minutes of fame no matter how weird they were (seriously, remember Ween?). Thinking back it is amazing that a band like Rage Against the Machine could get so big: two number one albums and three multi-platinum albums. Sure they did not invent the rap-metal fusion, which probably goes to Faith No More (unless you count the time Run-DMC teamed up with Aerosmith). But as good as Faith No More was, their rapping always seemed like a novelity, and I am sure in some circles they are just considered a one hit wonder.

Even more amazing was how Rage became such pioneers in the musical landscape (just do not blame them for the blasphemy that turned out to be Limp Bizkit, the douchebag you knew in college with the “Free Mumia” sign in his window even though he could not tell you the difference between Mumia and Mustafa, or Paul Ryan) was there was a very strong message which can been seen right on their debut album cover, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, which depicts a monk who set himself on fire protesting an anti-Buddhist regime. It was only highlighted by the opening track Bombtrack which repeated the line, “Burn, burn, yes you’re gonna burn.”

Rage Against the Machine even had their breakout MTV moment when the former music channel picked up their most politically charged song and video Freedom as a Buzzworthy selection and put it into heavy rotation. In-between a vigorous live show, featuring a very sweaty fat young kid, the video gave us a history lesson about Leonard Peltier who did not receive a fair trial when convicted of killing two FBI officers. But for the most agro for your buck, there is Killing in the Name Of which builds and builds until lead singer Zack de la Rocha (and pretty much every male under the age of forty within earshot) starts screaming “(Expletive deleted) you I won’t do what you tell me.”

Rage Against the Machine (WARNING: the next line will make you feel old) turned twenty late last year and included the prerequisite rerelease with plenty of different version that includes demo full DVD of a concert and music videos (the most bare bones version you can currently download for only $2.99) which will have frat boys and Paul Ryan raging for another twenty years.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

On the Next Arrested Development…

After Jericho fans flooded the CBS studios with peanuts, studios have came up with a new way temper the anger of obsessive fans by floating the idea of a movie that never ever materializes be it Veronica Mars, Angel, or Party Down. Arrested Development actually started this trend by inserting a line into the series finale, after failing to get Showtime, HBO or any other cable network, about turning the fake documentary show into a movie as suggested by the show’s narrator Ron Howard.

Years of rumors got me fed up to the point I put an Arrested Development ban until I actually saw a final product. But what you know, Netflix ended up reviving the series, the fourth season has been filmed and will be dumped all at once sometime this spring (hopefully which will be followed by a DVD release because I really do not have any desire to sign up, but I could always use their two week free preview they are always e-mailing me about) ten years after the show first premiered. Everyone will be back including guest stars Henry Winkler, Liza Minnelli, and Mae Whitman (her?)

Can the cast catch lightning in a bottle seven years after being off the air? Hopefully Mitch Hurwitz post Arrested Development endevores is not an indication (Sit Down Shut Up, Running Wilde) even if they featured numerous Arrested Development alumni. But during its original three season run, Arrested Development, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was absurdist comedy at its most hilarious.

The show followed the Bluth family, who run a shady and inept real estate business that the lone good guy in family is trying to turn around. Making it even harder is his criminal father out of touch mother, the older brother who has way more confidence than he should, a younger brother with none, his superficial sister and probably gay husband. And do not forget the voice of God provided by Ron Howard. There is no joke the show could not pass up like having Fonzie literally jumping over a shark. I am not sure if the new episodes (or potential movie) will be any good but at the very least it makes for a good reason to dust off the DVD’s of the first season, or add them to your collection if they are not already there.

Now if only someone would pick up Veronica Mars: The CIA Years. Netflix? Amazon? DirecTV? Hey, it is not like The CW currently has anything better on their current schedule, maybe they can right their wrong and become an actual credible network for the first time since unceremoniously dumping Veronica Mars for something called Farmer Takes a Wife.