Category Archives: classic rock

Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees: Week of Blogs

The 2014 Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held recently. As with each passing induction, more and more of the singers and bands I listened to are being inducted. This year proved to be a stellar and wide ranging array of artists. I am going to try and blog on each of them throughout the coming week. The list was as follows:

Cat Stevens
Hall & Oates
Nirvana
KISS
Linda Ronstadt
Peter Gabriel
The E Street Band
Andre Long Oldham (mgr of the Rolling Stones)
Brian Epstein (mgr of the Beatles)

Many hours of music enjoyment comes from this list of inductees.
     I can’t say I’m a huge Cat Stevens fan and his “Wild World” is not a favorite of mine but his career is extensive and influential to many song writers.
     Hall & Oates dominated the pop charts throughout my junior and high school days.
    Nirvana ruled the scene when I began college in 1991. Their influence is undeniable and I still love their music to this day. They changed the music landscape at the time as did Pearl Jam at the time. Hair metal took a dive from the pop scene and anything grunge was in. Although don’t worry, hair metal will never die but that will be for later blogs.
    Speaking of hair metal and the band that many hair bands looked up to is KISS. I was afraid of Gene Simmons as a small child but by the 80’s the make up was off and “Heavens On Fire” was a major hit during junior high. But with age comes a nostalgic look at the band as they started out. Make-up, pyrotechnics from Hell and guitar riffs that will live on forever. You can be critical of them but they do have a place in the Hall of Fame.
     Linda Ronstadt will be that sexy dark haired woman of the late 70’s and early 80’s. I loathed her Disney and adult pop crap of the late 80’s and 90’s.
     Peter Gabriel was the original frontman of Genesis before Phil Collins took over and made them radio darlings of the 80’s. Luckily, we have Peter’s solo career and the amazing album “Us”. And of course his unforgettable hit “In Your Eyes”.
     Lastly, The E Street Band. I love their music. The box set that came out while I was in high school gave me hours of pleasure and dreaming of getting out of my small hometown. Incredible music and Bruce Springsteen fronting them, it was powerful American Rock n’ Roll.
     I will be taking sometime throughout the week to devote specific blogs on Hall and Oates, Nirvana, KISS, Linda, Peter and The E Street Band.
     Rock on and as KISS says, “Lick It Up”!

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I’ve Heard That Song a Million Times!

Now that I’ve come up with a new slant for my music blog, I had the thought that I will be commenting on songs I’ve heard a million times. How do I uncover new meaning in those songs? Have I taken them for granted perhaps?
     It’s like that question you’ve been asked, ‘If you were stranded on an island forever what music/ CD’S/ albums/only one iPod/New music player on the market that could never be updated ever again, what songs would you want with you forever?’ Not that I’m going to attempt any such list here (although maybe some of you could give me a top 10 to see what that yields), but it is a thought, if I never heard a new song ever again and only had one device that played music never to be updated ever again, what would I choose? Of course it’s easy to think of the songs and artists you could do without (send me those lists too!)!
     Back to my original thought: finding meaning in songs you’ve heard a million times. For example: “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. Unless you truly live in a hole where no music gets through or you literally only listen to anything other than pop rock and you know absolutely nothing about the show “Glee”, I think we can all say we have heard that song a million times.
     First, I like the song. It pretty much captures pop rock in it’s purest form. Girls like it, guys like it, it doesn’t irritate senior citizens too much and the song will never die. It is used in sporting events (living in San Francisco, the Giants use this as an anthem all season long), it is sung in karaoke bars across the world, it has made the writers of the song: Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry and Neal Schon very, very wealthy, assuming they haven’t sold the rights.
     Currently I am a bartender at two gay bars in San Francisco, 440 Castro and Trax. My theory is that if a fight broke out or everyone’s mood was sour, I could put this song on and instantly moods are lifted and fighting ends. In straight bars I imagine girls wooing and guys singing like Steve Perry. It will liven any party up, guaranteed!
     Now with every huge selling, beloved song are people who would rather stick glass in their ears than to hear that song again. Would ‘Don’t Stop Believin” be on the island with you or not?
    Below is the YouTube link to the song as well as the Wikipedia entry on the history of that song! Send me some lists and sometime I will blog my list!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PBEXSiFzOfU

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Stop_Believin’#

Musical Interludes for the Weekend

As usual on a late Friday night, I start to browse through the web for new and old tunes to add to playlists for the 2 bars I work at.  One bar where I work, Trax (Haight St, SF, CA) is what you might expect from a dive bar on Haight (yes, that Haight St, yes those hippies back in the 60’s) is a very laid back dive.  The regulars are musically savvy ranging from jazz to current music and everything in-between.

The bar I work in
Trax: Where Destinies Collide

I love playing a song and seeing that misty look in their eyes as memories drift back to them.  Playing a tune they haven’t heard of in a long time or thought of for that matter.  I love playing for all ages, it’s a challenge that I look forward to fulfilling weekly.  I try to stay within certain parameters for a bar crowd: ie: nothing too depressing, nothing really slow and something that makes people generally happy and in a good mood.  Sometimes I strike out, but I think every DJ/bartender who brings their IPODS strike out at some point or another.  Music is a journey and sometimes, you step in shit just like in real life!!

So some music I stumbled on for this weekend:

Peter Bjorn and John“Second Chance”: They were the guys behind the mega hipster hit “Young Folks” in 2007.  That nice little whistling tune you would have stuck in your head for days on end.  Well now they are back with something a little more grittier and a departure from the whistling.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the tune “Young Folks” but this track kicks some serious ass for 3 guys that are listed in Rhapsody under the category “Dream Pop” (how the hell they come up with these genres are beyond me..?) And it seems they replaced the whistling with a cow bell! Gotta love the cow bell!  Check it out:

Now I’m a sucker for a rap song that loops a song in a decent manner.  I admit, I’m picky about my rap.  I can’t do gang bangin’ rap, I’m a 38 year old white gay male…I just don’t get the gang bangin’ rap.  Now if that is what you like: cool. To each his own.  I mostly favor women rappers vs male rappers ie: Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, etc. But I found this nice little rap jam via Gorilla Warfare Tactic with a tune called “Temptations” which I’m thinking is a double meaning: one being they sample a Temptations song (“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”) and from what I can gather lyrically, maybe temptation is a theme as well..? Anyway, I think it’s a cool song so take a listen:

Another element in a song that will probably catch my attention is when a song starts out one way, then changes into something else in the middle and then go back to its beginning.  A good example is from way back in the day (well at least for me anyway) is Billy Joel’s “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, its 3 songs in one! Starts out slow, then gets mid tempo on your ass and then goes into full kick ass mode by 2:54!

So the song that I’m currently referring to with this element is Memory Tapes “Today Is Our Life”: it starts out slow and moody then it bursts into bright pop sweetness! Then by the end of the song you just have quiet synthesizer playing to fade. Below I have posted Billy Joel’s way of using the element of a song within a song and Memory Tapes after that:

Billy Joel – Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

Memory Tapes – Today Is Our Life

So that concludes another post here in Xanadu! Have a great weekend everyone!

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Digging for Gems: From Classic Rock to New Rock

I work at two gay bars here in San Francisco and I’m in charge of music on my shifts. It is one reason I started a music blog because I was spending so much time researching new and old songs (cause I get tired of listening to the same stuff over and over) that I figured I might as well blog about songs I discover.

Last night I Goggled “rare classic rock songs” and found some gems I had never heard of so now I’m sharing them with you!

Also, I found a band by the name of Cosmo Jarvis which is really just one person, Harrison Cosmo Krikoryan Jarvis, who was born in New Jersey but moved to Devon, UK according to Wikipedia. He has a song called “Gay Pirates” which is a sweet pop tune with a great message. I think if you heard it without knowing the title you might not even realize its about two gay pirates!

And lastly, posting the new song by Cold War Kids “Mine is Yours” from the album with the same title. The album drops on January 25th and I’m excited about it so will probably be reviewing it later this week! If you don’t remember who Cold War Kids are, I will post their first hit “Hang Me Out To Dry”.

Have a great weekend everyone and as my friend Dave and I say to each other when ending emails: LICK IT UP!!
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First is a song called “Fast Bluesy Woman” from a band called Tucky Buzzard, 1972. Simply awesome!

Another classic rock gem by Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys called “Good Old Rock N’ Roll”

This is a down and dirty classic by Moxy called “Midnight Flight”, 1976.

Music in the now, “Gay Pirates” by Cosmo Jarvis! Great pop and great message!

Lastly, the new song by Cold Wark Kids, “Mine is Yours” then followed by their first hit “Hang Me Out to Dry”!

Pearl Jam: 20 years

 

Pearl Jam
Cover of Pearl Jam

 

Like my 20th  high school reunion approaching and catching me off guard, knowing that Pearl Jam with their amazing first album, Ten, debuting in 1991 caught me by surprise as well.  Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Unfortunately I have only seen them in concert once (wish I could say more) and when I did see them it was way after their initial success.  But don’t get me wrong, that show was amazing and it only reconfirmed why I will always love and respect this band.

When I think of Pearl Jam, some great memories rush into my head.  First they always make me think of one of my greatest friends from college, Bryan R.  When Pearl Jam’s 3rd album, Vitology, came out, we drove from Ashland, OH where we were attending college to Cleveland, OH to stand in line at midnight to be one of the first to get the CD.  And as I think about this, I think that is the one and only time I ever did that.  And when we got back to our dorm room, we played the crap out of that CD for weeks and weeks.

Pearl Jam are a hard working band; not prone to stereotypical excesses of other rock bands.  They just do their thing, work, tour, make music from their heart and minds and have always rebelled against corporate scum (ie: the Ticketmaster boycott in 1994).

Of course you can’t really talk about Pearl Jam without mentioning Nirvana.  Nirvana introduced the world to grunge and killed the declining popularity of hair metal back in the early 90’s.  But Nirvana and Pearl Jam are so different musically speaking.  Cobain had issue with Pearl Jam at the time because he said they were “commercial sellouts” and that the album Ten was not a true alternative album due to its number of guitar leads (cited from Wikipedia.org and Rolling Stone).  And Cobain is correct, their are the standard rock guitar leads on many Pearl Jam songs but that is what makes them great for they integrated the essence of “grunge” into rock n’ roll giving an expansiveness to their music where as I feel Nirvana’s music is so alienating at times (and I feel that is what Cobain was striving for most of the time) that you get caught up with the loss of Nirvana and what could have been.  Pearl Jam had many dark messages but there was always hope and a sense of moving forward no matter what life dealt you.  With Nirvana, it was just dark and not much hope.


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Below are a few of my favorite Pearl Jam tracks!

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Tron vs. Tron (But Journey is the real winner!!)

I could give a crap about which Tron is better. I vaguely remember seeing the first one in the movie when I was in middle school (the video game version was kind of cool as I recall) and I haven’t bothered to see the new Tron: Legacy.  But I was going around on the net listening to music and came across an article called “Top 10 Journey Songs” on the following website:  http://music.ign.com/articles/712/712553p1.html

I didn’t quite agree with their list, there was a song that I was not familiar with and did not know they were on the original Tron soundtrack back in 1982!! The song is called “Only Solutions” and it a sweet Journey tune full of everything you expect from them!  It instantly makes me think of sweet summer nights in my small Ohio hometown.  Hanging out in parking lots and driving around aimlessly.

It begins with a sweet, low key guitar lick.  Not an in-your-face lick but a good, slick one that you know it’s the 80’s!  And then it’s Steve Perry with those distinct vocals of his that no one can match! (Well except for the dude they found to replace him but we will pretend he doesn’t exist!!)  Then there are the unforgettable harmonies of Journey…sweet nectar to the ears!

The new Tron: Legacy soundtrack is quite different than its ’82 predecessor.  No London Philharmonic Orchestra for this one!  We need something the kids will really dig these days..hey let’s get Daft Punk to do the entire friggin’ soundtrack (Yawn!)  I like some Daft Punk, but not an entire soundtrack by them.  All the geeks had a hard on for it these past few months but I can’t get into it.  I guess cause I just don’t care about the film at all I suppose.  I’m just glad I found a new Journey tune to groove to and to share with all of you!  So thank you original Tron soundtrack for giving me this Journey moment in music!

And I decided before the end of this post to give some of  Tron: Legacy soundtrack a listen…and I am pleasantly surprised to find that Daft Punk did a couple orchestral numbers minus synthesizers! Such as “Adagio For Tron” (which I think would make a great name for a band actually!) So I will be posting that below as well!  So for two movies I could care less about, they have given us great music..how about that?

And I just had a crazy idea: Daft Punk should have covered the Journey song!!! That would have been sweet! And I’m realizing how many times I used the word “sweet” in this post…oh well! Sweet!!

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