Ask 411 Music 05.19.06: The Self-Service Edition
Posted by Mitch Michaels on 05.19.2006
Chili Peppers, Dashboard and Queen in the Shuffle, “Dani California” video, Pyro, Eagles, Samhain/Danzig, New Wave and more!!!
What's up kids? It's Mitch Michaels back at you with another chart busting edition of Ask 411 Music, the only music column that has been certified platinum by the RIAA. What can I say, we're a hit! Enjoy!
Actually, a little adieu is necessary here. This column marks my one year anniversary doing Ask 411 Music. Hard to believe it's been a year since former editor Michael Melchor handed the reins of this beast over to me. Special thanks to Double M and all the other guys who made the column what it was before I came along and fucked around with it. Ask 411 Music's been through a few changes since, and I hope you guys are enjoying it more than ever. Here's to another year of music facts, swear words and html innovation!
Also, I know it's been three weeks since the last edition, but don't feel deprived. I covered for Jared McGuckin last Wednesday in The Slightly Slanted Music News Report. Go read it, as it's the closest you'll probably ever get to a return of Jesus & Hank's Front Porch.
2006 BILLBOARD #1 ALBUMS
The #1 review guarantee is still going strong. Did you expect anything less? Check out the latest ten:
Remember, just because a lot of people bought it don't mean it ain't junk.
You know, has anybody else noticed that when an album tops the charts, it usually helps other albums hit #1 from the same genre? Look for a rockin' summer on the horizon.
Also, check out my recent review for the new album by Pearl Jam (decent) and be on the lookout for my review of the forthcoming Def Leppard CD. Go read ‘em!
Album Reviews – In Brief
Not much new in the Venerable Michaels Collection this week. I'm on the lookout for a few different new albums (Mars Ill, where are you?), but the only thing I've picked up is the Special Edition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium. I linked my review of the album up top, so this is just gonna be a review of the Special Edition extras. First off, what the fuck?! I paid $50 for this thing! I saw that the band was putting out a Special Edition that included a bonus DVD, so I thought, hey, I'll pick up that version instead, mainly ‘cause I'm all about bonus DVDs. It really gives you an appreciation of the work that went into making an album when you hear the artist talk about it. Stadium Arcadium is by no means a disappointment in that area, as the DVD includes an hour of discussion by the band going through each song and talking about everything from Anthony Kiedis' lyrical inspirations to who came up with the original riff. Some stories can get a bit boring, but, in all, it's a nice glimpse into how much this band cares about the music, and the synergy that exists between the four members. There's also a 30-minute "making of" featurette for the "Dani California" video. It's a neat way to kill half an hour, and has some interesting comments from the band and footage of the Chilis just messing around. It's also pretty obvious that spending 2 days lip synching the same song over and over can get very irritating. The actual video clip rounds out the DVD. So you're saying, "Mitch, that's all well and good, but why the hell did that DVD add over $30 to the price of the CD?" Good question. Apparently, this isn't just a Special Edition, but a box set. The box itself is a thick CD sized box which features a quasi-3-D image of the Stadium Arcadium artwork on the front. This would be cool if the album actually had nice cover-art, but with the simplistic Stadium art, it's a little lacking. Inside the box, you get a beefed up lyric-booklet, which is perfect for people who have trouble seeing the booklet included with the normal release. You have the CDs and DVD in a triple disc digipack, and then some STRANGE pieces of memorabilia, including a spinning top, a bag of marbles, some scraps of paper with reprinted "artwork" by the band (only 2 of the 4 scraps have actual pictures), and a Stadium Arcadium matchbook with paper instead of matches. I just had to laugh at the absurdity of this box, but I can only recommend it for super fans or people who want to see the DVD but don't know anyone that has the box. At least I can take solace in the fact that shelling out $50 for the Special Edition should heal the wound caused by the heartbreak I gave Flea when I downloaded the advance copy.
As far as the album goes, I'm sticking by my rating for it. This thing is just too long, and a lot of the songs just don't seem to come together. One of the new 411 music staffers took me to task for calling Stadium Arcadium a disappointment, but I think people who were into RHCP based on the greatness of Californication will find this album very tedious. There are definitely moments of greatness ("Snow ((Hey Oh))", "If", "Strip My Mind", the title track), but it's a far cry from the homeruns the Chilis have been knocking out this decade.
Do The iTunes Party Shuffle
If you use iTunes, you probably know all about the mysterious Party Shuffle. I hate the feature, and it always has the oddest selections, no matter how much I tweak it. So, just to make it good for something, here's my iTunes Party Shuffle this week with some comments:
Dashboard Confessional - "Carve Your Heart Out Yourself" - This is from the 2003 release A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, and is easily my favorite song from the album. On A Mark, Dashboard seems to have pulled ahead of the pack in the emo world, as they figured out how to combine the "dear diary"-style mopey lyrics with a form of melody that is sorely lacking in other emo efforts. A lot of critics decry Chris Carrabba's songwriting as simplistic, and only appealing to the high school set, but there are definite moments of inspiration for him, and "Carve Your Heart Out" is a good example. While the "you can't fall in love because you're afraid I'll leave" plot is typical present day 11th grade drama, some of the lines rise above that adolescent nature, and those are the moments that keep you waiting for Carrabba and Dashboard to really break out and become more than the best in the emo class.
Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody" – Hey, a rare bonafied hit in the Party Shuffle. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is probably Queen's best-known song, and sums up their career almost as nicely as it sums up 1975's A Night At The Opera. "Rhapsody" is full of these huge, overblown arrangements that are at once amazing and hilarious. The song was a big hit single for the band, and it also spawned one of the first ever concept videos (not just the band standing around singing). The song had a revival in the early 90's following the untimely death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and its inclusion in the hit movie Wayne's World. Party on, but don't try to reenact that "singing in the car" part, you lame-ass dork.
Phish - "Stash" – For a brief moment, it didn't look like the world would ever hear A Picture Of Nectar, the third album by jam rockers Phish. The band had been touring since the late 80's, and had released two albums under the Absolute-A-Go-Go label, but the label's parent organization folded before Nectar could see the light of day. Luckily, the band was soon picked up by Elektra Records, who not only brought A Picture Of Nectar to the masses, but also re-released the Phish's hard-to-find early material. The album was a big success, and showed some definite advances in the band's ability, especially as far as arrangements go. "Stash" features a catchy chorus and a killer guitar solo by frontman Trey Anastasio.
Chris Knight - "The Lord's Highway" – This song is from Chris's second album, which, amazingly, managed to improve on his stellar debut. A Pretty Good Guy features Knight in a much coarser, less slick environment, and his rough and tumble story songs benefited from the production style. "The Lord's Highway" rounds out the album, and it's a great country rock number with a blues-style lyrical composition. Good distorted guitar on here, too. Chris says he wrote this song for his aunt, who asked him to write a religious song instead of the dark, often sinful narratives he was known for. So you get this gospel song about a murderer. Good stuff.
Wilco - "Blue Eyed Soul" - This is from Wilco's '95 debut A.M., and is one of my favorite songs by the band. A.M. was recorded following the collapse of Uncle Tupelo, as Jeff Tweedy went on to form Wilco and Jay Fahrar set out to front Son Volt. Listening to the album, it's hard to believe that Wilco was the band that went on to become so genre bending, as A.M. is just pure, sweet alt-country. "Blue Eyed Soul" has some gorgeous, wistful lyrics and a nice driving acoustic guitar that harkens back to Neil Young's best work. When Tweedy's vocals are on, their totally heartbreaking, and they're most definitely on here.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" - This song is a great number from Cave's 2004 double album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus. The album itself is of two minds, with Abattoir being the decided rocker, while Orpheus follows the quieter path that recent Cave albums like Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part have presented. "There She Goes" is from the rocker, and man, is it a frenzy. The song features great work by the Bad Seeds, especially drummer Thomas Wylder, as well as stunning work by The London Community Gospel Choir, who help Cave's manic preacher vocal delivery to absolutely soar.
And now it's time for……..
Our first question this week is from reader Phil Piped from Rochester, who wants to know a little about the new Red Hot Chili Peppers video (how apropos):
My question is about the "Dani California" video by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can tell some of the bands (Misfits, Beatles) that the band is dressed up as, but some of the other ones I can't. Do you know who all the bands are supposed to be?
Thanks for the question, man. There's a reason you can't tell who all the bands represented are in the "Dani California": it's because the Chili Peppers are meant to be dressed as certain styles of music, and not actual bands. But it's easy to get confused, because some of the costumes are very specific. Let's look into it.
Clip 1: Early rock ‘n' roll era, which was the period that brought us the great music from Sun Records. While Anthony Kiedis is obviously channeling Elvis Presley with his dancing, the band is more dressed up as an amalgamation of the rockabilly bands of the time, which would include folks from Johnny Cash to Bill Haley & the Comets.
Clip 2: British Invasion. The most noticeable nod is to The Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show", with the stage and equipment set up exactly the same. But the Chili Peppers are NOT the Beatles here. When the hell did the Beatles wear glasses? The accessories, like the "Beatle" boots and the big black glasses, were typical of many of the British Invasion bands of the early to mid-60's, like The Animals, Manfred Mann and Herman's Hermits.
Clip 3: Psychedlic. The clothes make the man in the psychedelic part of the video, and the funky multi-colored coats and wild hair can be attributed to anybody from Sgt. Peppers-era Beatles to Cream to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, though Anthony's long mustache is most likely a nod to the Peppers album cover. (Random fact: George Harrison's mustache was longest)
Clip 4: Funk. This clip is an obvious nod to 70's-era funk, a style of music that is at the heart of the Chilis' sound. Bands like Parliament, Funkadelic, UFO, Sly & The Family Stone and several others brought the style that is displayed here.
Clip 5: Glam. This clip features references to several 70's-era British glam rockers, with Flea dressed specifically as David Bowie and other members of the Chili Peppers resembling outcasts from the New York Dolls, Gary Glitter, and maybe even a little Queen.
Clip 6: Punk. This is a pretty obvious clip, featuring another style of rock near and dear to the Chili Peppers' hearts. The British flag and leather pants put you in mind of punk pioneers like The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks and The Clash. I'm surprised there was no reference to the Ramones in this clip, but I guess the band decided to take a more British stab at the genre.
Clip 7: Goth. Listen: The Chili Peppers are NOT dressed as the Misfits in this clip, but Anthony Kiedis is doing a pretty awesome Glenn Danzig as the frontman. Despite Kiedis' Danzig look, this is probably the most generic of all the clips, as the only other band that looks to be covered here is The Cure, and the costumes seem to be just "this is what goth looked like generally". You could also argue that the Misfits weren't really goth, for that matter.
Clip 8: 80's Metal, or Hair Metal if you will. This is probably the most fun clip of all of the videos parts, and the band is clearly having a ball. The spandex, make-up and big hair are a direct nod to the hilarious antics of 80's rockers like Poison, Cinderella, L.A. Guns, early Bon Jovi, I could go on and on.
Clip 9: Grunge. This is a pretty confusing clip, as it only draws on one bands performance, which is Nirvana's early 90's appearance on "MTV Unplugged". The candles and Kiedis' wig is pure Cobain, and John Frusciante is also dressed exactly like Cobain during the episode. This clip is one that helps fuel the misconception that the band is dressed as specific groups and not genres.
Clip 10: Red Hot Chili Peppers. Don't get confused! They're dressed as themselves at the end.
Reader Drew wants to know why we can't feel the heat here in the US:
Hi Mitch. My question is about the rules that apply to concerts here in the states. Why is it that, in Europe, they're allowed flames and explosions and other fun stuff at outdoor venues and even sometimes at small venue shows, but here in the States you can only see them at an arena show? I've never once seen a theatre show or smaller venue show that had at least small flames come up or at an outdoors show. I recently got the Silent Force DVD, the live showing of Within Temptation in Belgium, and they had all kinds of fancy stuff going on stage, yet they were outside as well. Makes me sometimes wish I could live in Europe, they seem to have more fun.
Hey man, don't pack up to leave the continent yet. But you may want to head off to a different state. While consumer pyrotechnics are governed at a state level here in the U.S., commercial pyrotechnics are legal in all 50 states, meaning as long as you've got all your I's dotted and T's crossed, you can put on a nice pyro show anywhere. Small clubs are allowed indoor pyrotechnics if they meet certain guidelines (just refer to the Great White Rhode Island concert fire in 2003). Outdoor concerts are allowed pyro displays, too, BUT some states override the legality of the displays using the Clean Air Act, claiming that outdoor fireworks displays can cause air pollution. Depending on your state, the Clean Air Act can cause outdoor pyro displays to be toned down or eliminated altogether.
Reader Fred Loden has a question about what happened to the fifth Eagle:
I really enjoy the column, keep up the good work.
My question is about the Eagles. I know they've been doing the "Farewell Tour" for a while now, so they're still semi-active. But where the hell is Don Felder? Did he get sick and die or leave the band?
Thanks for the question, Fred, and glad you enjoy the show here.
Don Felder is a guitarist who joined the Eagles in 1974. He was originally brought in as a session guitarist to round out the sessions for On The Border, but the band was so impressed with his ability that they offered him a full-time spot. Felder continued with the band until their original dissolution in 1982, and is credited for writing the memorable music to "Hotel California", one of the band's best known songs. During the early 90's, principal members Glenn Frey and Don Henley began writing together again, and even made a benefit concert appearance with the other Eagles (Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, sans Felder) which sparked reunion rumors. In 1994, the reunion finally happened, and Felder was on board. That year saw the release of Hell Freezes Over, a live album which featured 4 new studio songs, the band's first since 1979. A long tour followed, as well, and the band finished the 90's with a few more tours and rumors of new studio work.
Amidst all this activity, in February 2001, fans were shocked to find out that Don Felder had been fired from the band. Felder immediately filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Eagles, specifically Henley and Frey, for wrongful termination. Henley and Frey countersued with a breach of contract suit that claimed Felder was writing a tell-all book that would be damaging to the band. No book has ever surface. Felder sued the band again in May of '01, this time filing a much bigger claim stating all of the perceived wrongs Henley and Frey had committed against him during his tenure with the Eagles. Among the claims (which have been sealed pretty tight), Felder claimed the duo forced him to sign a contract for the '94 reunion that stated Henley and Frey would get a higher royalty rate than the other 3 members. Felder alleges that the two told him if he didn't sign, he'd be fired from the band.
2003 saw the release of a new song by the Eagles, "Hole In The World", on a repackaged Best Of set, but did not feature Don Felder. No new studio album has been announced. The lawsuit, which has seen little press coverage due to the fact that lawyers from both parties are keeping facts guarded from the media, is still pending and was scheduled to be heard by the California Supreme Court last September.
Reader Ami Nash drops by with a question about everybody's favorite metal crooner:
Greetings Mitch, God of all Music Information,
I had read somewhere that Glenn Danzig's band Samhain just sort of renamed themselves Danzig. Why'd they do that?
Thanks for the e-mail! What you heard isn't EXACTLY the truth, but what is?
During the dying days of the Misfits, Glenn Danzig was working on a side project, a horror punk band called Samhain with a more post-punk/rock leaning than the punk stylings of the ‘Fits. When the Misfits called it quits in late '83, Danzig took on Samhain full time. The original band featured Danzig on vocals, longtime Misfits photographer Eerie Von on bass and ex-Undead drummer Steve Zing. The band released only 2 albums and an EP during their short time together. In 1986, producer Rick Rubin caught Samhain live in L.A. and saw a lot of potential in their lead singer. Rubin proposed signing Glenn to a solo Def Jam deal and had plans of incorporating him in an all-star metal band, but Danzig refused to sign unless he could bring the band, particularly Eerie Von, with him. Rubin agreed. As Samhain was signed to Def Jam, guitarist Damien was axed and eventually replaced by John Christ in an effort by Danzig and Rubin to toughen up the band's sound, and London May, who had replaced Zing on drums in 1985, was ousted in favor of Chuck Biscuits. To signify the band's change in sound and also to prevent lawsuits by the ex-members, Rubin and Glenn decided to rename the band. Thus, Danzig was born.
Reader WWE Raven (Nevermore?) takes us home this week with yet another genre question:
Question: Just what the fuck is New Wave exactly?
Thanks for the question. Of all the musical sub-genres, new wave just may be the hardest to put your finger on. During the late-70's and early 80's, punk was more or less dead on the radio, but music inspired by 70's punk acts were beginning to crop-up. For some groups, like Joy Division, Devo and The Cure, they're music was an artier, edgier evolution of punk, and the term "post-punk" became a common umbrella for their sound. Other bands, however, had a more pop leaning. They became new wave. New wave is kind of an all-encompassing term that describes any band that wasn't obviously post-punk or mainstream during the end of the 70's, beginning of the 80's. While new wave could sound like anyone from The Police to Graham Parker, the real underlying thread was the music's irreverence and use of synthesizers, along with a certain, quirky fashion sense. Bands like XTC, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, The Go-Gos and The Pretenders were all considered new wave, despite vastly different music and influences. So were several one-hit wonders, like The Knack, who found favor with the burgeoning MTV generation. In truth, the channel was hard-up for videos in its early days, and new wave bands seemed to produce the most. This lead to a new generation of new wave in the early 80's with a more definied sound, with bands like Culture Club and Adam Ant leading the pack. The mid-80's began the downfall of new wave, as America once again turned to less synthesized, more guitar oriented music like that of R.E.M. New wave's influence can still be felt, particularly in quirky alt pop/rock bands like Weezer.