30 April 2013

30 April 2013 - Devo - Girl U Want

When the Wicked Guilty Pleasures mind goes blank, there's only one true way to snap out of it -- look to the 80s. So here's wacky Akron new wavers Devo with a video from their Freedom of Choice album from 1980. Of course the big hit from that album was Whip It, but Girl U Want is way cooler. See for yourself.

29 April 2013

29 April 2013 - The Juliana Hatfield Three - Spin The Bottle

I remember the last time I saw Juliana Hatfield.  

September 15, 1995.  Water Street Music Hall.  Rochester, NY.

Why do I so clearly remember a date in a random club on a random Friday night nearly 18 years ago?  Well, that, my friends, is an interesting story.   I was married on September 16, 1995.  This show was the closest thing I ever had to a bachelor party.  My friend Jim was there, as was my friend Mike.  (As it turns out, someone I met 16 1/2 years later was also there, but that's another story I'm not telling today).

Jim was fond of telling everyone that I was getting married the next day.  There was one young lady - who I think was taking a shining to me - who was quite adamant that I was far too young to be getting married.

The show itself was pretty good.  I wish she would have done more early stuff - she did one Blake Babies song ("Nirvana", which also appeared on her first solo album in a different form) - but it was pretty good.  After the show, Jim grabbed one of the setlists off the stage and was hell-bent on meeting Juliana and having her sign it.  I, having met Juliana in the past and not finding her all that congenial, wasn't so keen on that, but we did it anyway.

And Jim told her I was getting married the next day.

Her reply.  "Aren't you a little young to be getting married?"


She wasn't wrong, sadly.

This song is a cute little diddy from the Reality Bites soundtrack, with a lot of guest stars in the video.  The subject matter - playing Spin The Bottle with a semi-famous person - is a little strange, but it makes for a cute song.  With a guitar hook that builds as the song builds momentum..... the whole tune just oozes excitement.  So, get excited!

26 April 2013

26 April 2013 - The Monkees - Valleri & Mary Mary

Despite the fact that The Monkees were a manufactured group, built specifically for a television show, these four gentlemen were serious, solid musicians.  A lot of people slag on them for being the Pre-Fab Four - a play on the nickname given to The Beatles - but they all had some chops.

Take this song.  Davy Jones takes the lead vocal on the song.  The verses are short, jangle-pop, but the chorus is 60's-level bombastic.  The performance is full of emotion from all four members.

On this song, Mickey Dolenz takes the lead vocal, but I want you to pay attention to the serious guitar chops brought by Michael Nesmith.  That gentleman was - IS - a fantastic guitarist, and few songs highlight his skills better than this song.  Pay attention to that and the harmonies provided by bassist Peter Tork.

25 April 2013

25 April 2013 - Aimee Mann - That's Just What You Are

I'm really excited to be seeing Aimee Mann perform again tonight (it's either my 5th or 6th show . . . I've lost count over the years). I still get a chuckle when I think that the first time I heard her as a solo artist was this song off of the Melrose Place Soundtrack (it later appeared on her I'm With Stupid album). I Never really thought of Melrose Place to be a musical taste-maker (unlike Beverly Hills 90210), but just taking a quick glance at the soundtrack I see some pretty cool 90s bands on there (Dinosaur Jr., Paul Westerburg, James, Letters to Cleo and Urge Overkill).

24 April 2013

24 April 2013 - Veruca Salt - Number One Blind, Seether, All Hail Me, Seether, & Spiderman '79

Veruca Salt are the worst band I have ever seen live.  They were drunk... or high.... or something.  They were out of tune and bored.

For example, this song, a hard-driving catchy slow jam.... full of energy and feeling in the video.... all sorts of angst..... completely emotionless live.

And still, this song, a straight-ahead rock song that got pigeonholed as "alternative" in the mid-90's,  didn't suck.  Even a terrible live band, or at least one having an off day, could not screw up the high energy and excitement of this song.

Disappointingly, they also failed me on this song, which was flat.  Pity - the song is a throwback to the light metal of the 80's, and is just as full of energy as their biggest hit.

Ultimately, I think it was just that show.  Here, they were really really good live. They reinterpreted "Seether" but it still kept the emotion and energy.

And here is my favorite song of theirs, again live.  And again, good here.  Just not when I saw them.

23 April 2013

23 April 2013 - Beck - Sexx Laws

I wasn't sure what to think about Beck's Midnight Vultures album when it came out. Sure, there were some fun songs like Nicotine & Gravy, Milk & Honey, Mixed Bizness and of course today's song Sexx Laws, but there were also some real stinkers that ruined it for me like the too-kitschy for even Beck R&B send-up Debra (I don't even want to get into the ridiculous live performance of that song where he descends from the rafters on a heart-shaped bed). Over time I grew to appreciate Midnight Vultures. Sure, it's not as good as Mellow Gold, Odelay and his classic break-up album Sea Change (which was certainly an unexpected follow-up to the party that was Midnight Vultures), but it wasn't nearly as bad I had initially thought.

22 April 2013

22 April 2013 - Julee Cruise - Rockin' Back Inside My Heart

I must open this post with a statement of explanation.  In my humble but correct opinion, Twin Peaks is one of the ten best television series of all time, and one of the eight best American series.  The pilot might be the most perfect piece of television ever produced (TVGuide ranked that #45 - I rate it higher).

Angelo Badalamenti worked with David Lynch on the music for his defining television series, much as he had on the movie Blue Velvet.  In each case, they went to Julee Cruise, with her haunting voice, to provide vocal talent.  In the case of Twin Peaks, she even appeared on a few episodes as a bar singer.  Of course, I've never been to a bar anything like that one.

This song, which did make it into the series, was the 2nd single from her album Floating Into The Night.  Not only does it retain a disturbing cool, it's got a neat but jarring saxophone solo in the middle.  Enjoy.

I first heard this song on the Canadian radio station CFNY.  The version I heard sounded vastly different.  It was a dance remix.... and it strangely worked.  More bass and drum heavy than the original, sure, but the beat matched the song.... while giving it a much different, upbeat feel.   And it didn't lose the awesome sax solo.

No video, but here's that remix.  Enjoy.

19 April 2013

19 April 2013 - Pixies - Here Comes Your Man

24 years ago yesterday, the Pixies 2nd full length album, Doolittle, was released.

This song, the 2nd single from that album, was by far the biggest hit the band ever had.  They were - still are - a clearly underground band, so hits were not their driver of success.  However, this song.... this song was a little poppy, and a lot of fun.  I dare you not to sing along.

They had fun with the video, too - even doing a little Talk Talk tribute (the whole "we'll just open our mouths instead of lipsync" thing), and making the video with a fisheye lense and stretch imagery.

18 April 2013

18 April 2013 - The Lightning Seeds - Pure

Well here's a flash from the Alternative Nation past. I get this song stuck in my head A LOT. Not sure why, but it could certainly be a lot worse (I don't even want to name a bad song here for fear of getting it into my head . . . and yours too . . . I suppose). Oddly, I kind of hated Pure when it was all over MTV's 120 Minutes. Obviously, as the years progressed I got over it (I actually picked up Cloudcuckooland and their second album Sense which featured The Life of Riley . . . another 120 Minutes back-in-the-day mainstay). So sit back, pretend Dave Kendall just gave some long-winded and over-dramatic introduction and click on that play button.

17 April 2013

17 April 2013 - Frida - I Know There's Something Going On

Anni-Frid Lyndstad was one of the A's in ABBA.  She more commonly went by Frida.  She still does, I suppose - she's not dead.

She also had one of the biggest post-ABBA solo hits of anyone from the group.  Clearly, she made a clear break from ABBA by finding a harder rock sound.... with the help of Phil Collins.... which probably explains the heavy drums.  Frida, to her credit, had a huge voice and could easily carry the rock sound just as well as she harmonized with her former bandmates.

As a bonus, here is Frida... er, "live"... performing the song on Swedish television from 1982.  I tried to find an actual live performance, but all I could find was lipsynched. Enjoy.

16 April 2013

16 April 2013 - Moby w/Gwen Stefani - Southside

I haven't heard this song off of Moby's mainstream breakthrough album in quite some time. I may have to dig out Play this weekend and relive the summer of 99 when I listened to it non-stop. I actually saw him play a modern rock festival shortly after this record broke. He put on a killer show which was made even more fun for me because he was acting kind of surly about the frathouse mentality of the pit (it was at a college with Green Day, Disturbed and Good Charlotte playing, what did he expect?).

15 April 2013

15 April 2013 - Public Enemy - He Got Game & Bring The Noise (both versions)

Heavily sampling the Buffalo Springfield classic "For What It's Worth", Chuck D and Flavor Flav bring us a song on the slow tip.  From the 1998 movie of the same name, the song represented a comeback of sorts.  Sure, it wasn't as angry sounding as earlier PE tunes, but lyrically, it still packed a bite.

And yes, that is Stephen Stills - of Crosby, Still & Nash (and Young), and, of course, Buffalo Springfield - reprising his vocal in this video and on the single.

In contrast, here is one of their earlier songs - "Bring The Noise" - which has a lot more energy..... and a lot of anger.  This is the original version, with just Chuck D and Flavor Flav on the vocals....  mostly Chuck D, but Flav is so full of energy and amped up the volume.

A lot of people see Flavor Flav as just a goofy guy.  He is far more than that.  He was the energy of the group - a yin to the yang that was Chuck D's intelligent hip hop.

Of course, once Anthrax got involved, the volume went waaaaaaaaay up.  This is the version most people know.  It's not bad, but it isn't my favorite version.  The collaboration grew out of the New York city metal and hip hop scenes, which were closer than a lot of people thought they were.... I mean, until Aerosmith met Run DMC.... but that's a story for another day.

12 April 2013

12 April 2013 - The Primitives - Crash & Rattle My Cage & Lose The Reason

In 1988, music changed for me.  I had been listening to music at the fringe of mainstream for a couple of years, but that year, the year I turned 16, so many of my favorite albums of all time were released.  One of these days I'll chronicle all of those - probably somewhere else, because most of them are decidedly guilt-free.

The single that defined that year for me was released by Coventy, UK band The Primitives.  The lead single from their great album Lovely, it was a #5 hit there, and a #3 Modern Rock hit in the US.  The band was sadly defined by its lead vocalist, Tracy Cattell (who went by Tracy Tracy at the time), mostly because of her blonde hair and its similarity to the hair color of Andrea Lewis (The Darling Buds, who released my favorite album of 1990 and who were featured here last May) and Wendy James (Transvision Vamp, who released my favorite album of 1989 and who I have planned for an epic post in the near future) - excellent bands in their own right, but unfairly lumped together.

I mean, any band with a blonde female lead vocalist and a power pop sound MUST be ripping off Debbie Harry, right?  God forbid that the hair color choices (in Andrea's case, I'm pretty sure it was natural) of these women be separate from their musical influences.

In 1995, it got an awful remix for the movie Dumb and Dumber, which I did not enjoy (the movie OR the remix), featuring musicians and vocalists who were not and never were members of The Primitives.  Here is the original version, in all its power pop goodness.

(edit: the original video is gone, so here's a video of the band lipsyncing to the song when it was new for a TV show in Spain)


(edit: 14 Jan 2021):  The video is back. 

Happily, The Primitives are back together.  And still play this little song.

They're even making new music!  Here was their first comeback single, released in 2011.  They've become a tighter band, truly embracing the power pop sound that was their strength.  It has fast become one of my favorite songs...


....and here's their latest single.  PJ Court shares the lead vocal with Tracy on this one - they never really harmonized like this in the past, although PJ took lead on some earlier songs.  I hope they don't stop - they're brilliant together.  And this video - very self-effacing, complete with a nice S.A.W. reference.

11 April 2013

11 April 2013 - The Outfield - Your Love

I swore I posted a video by The Outfield recently for 80s Thursday. But it was The Hooters. I guess the 80s were a lot like the 00s. Lots of "The" bands that all kind of sound the same. All kidding aside, I always liked this song when I was a youngin' shooting hoops in the driveway. What? You expected me to say playing baseball. Yeah, just when you think I'm gonna zig, I zag.

10 April 2013

10 April 2013 - Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend

I cannot believe it took us this long to post this.

Matthew Sweet's biggest commercial hit was this 1991 pop/rock wonder, featuring a video with scenes from the anime film Space Adventure Cobra.  It's instantly catchy, and you'll be singing it to yourself for the rest of the day.  You're welcome.

09 April 2013

9 April 2013 - Paramore - That's What You Get

Well, well, well . . . It seems Paramore (what's left of them) have a new self-titled record out today. I'm sure I'll get it soon as I've been into them since I first heard their 2005 debut All We Know Is Falling. And while I could easily post their latest video, I thought I'd go with an old favorite of mine from 2007's Riot -- plus I can save the new video for Your New Favorite Song.

As a special bonus, go to Totally Covered to hear Paramore playing my favorite Jimmy Eat World song.

08 April 2013

8 April 2013 - Queens of the Stone Age - 3's and 7's

I never thought a video game would introduce me to a song, let alone one that would become a fast favorite.  But that's exactly what Guitar Hero did.

I was familiar with, and even liked, Queens of the Stone Age prior to owning Guitar Hero.  Somehow, I had missed out on this song.  And there it was, in the game.  The song is a fantastic straight-ahead driving rock song - a little bit of a throwback to an older era, but still with a modern sound.

What pushes this song over the top into Wicked Guilty Pleasure is this video, an homage - parody? - of 70's grindhouse chicksploitation movies.  Brilliantly done, complete with the guy with a hook for a hand! Oh, and the buckets of fake blood.

And yes, I checked.  The actors seem to be  properly credited in the video.

By the way, an uncensored version of this video exists.  I didn't post it, because I could not embed it, but here it is, if you want to see it.

05 April 2013

5 April 2013 - Kelly Willis - I Don't Want To Love You (But I Do) & River Of Love

I wasn't in the mood for anything truly guilty today, although, as far as this artist goes, these are about as guilty as they get.

I saw Kelly Willis at the Iron Horse Cafe in 1991.  I went with my mother.  Don't judge.  It's the only time I ever sat in the balcony there.  By the way, no better place to see live music.  She was touring in support of her 2nd album, Bang Bang, which was  not a bad album - at all - but her weakest, in my personal opinion.  Her record label, MCA, didn't really market her well.

Anyway, this song was from her 1st album - this performance is from Austin City Limits.  She very clearly states that this is her favorite song to perform.  Having seen the song performed live, I can testify to the fact that she does, indeed, enjoy performing this song, and it shows.

This song, also from her first album - Well-Traveled Love, which qualifies as my favorite country album of all time - wasn't exactly as much fun to perform, I imagine.  It's beautifully sung and performed - by now, you all know I'm a sucker for a lapsteel.  Lyrically, the song - written by the great Paul Kennerley - speaks to a subject matter we all know well - falling for the wrong person.  Kelly was married to her drummer at the time.... she divorced him the next year, so her rendition of the song was.... well, poignant.

04 April 2013

4 April 2013 - Howard Jones - Things Can Only Get Better

It's 80s Thursday. So here's a Howard Jones video. Because really, when was the last time you actually thought about Howard Jones?

03 April 2013

3 April 2013 - Len - Steal My Sunshine / Andrea True Connection - More, More, More

It was 1999.  Limp Biskit were the toast of the world.  Hip hop and metal were crashing into each other.  It took a bunch of Canadians slacking off in SoCal to take the metal back out.

That's right.  Len isn't a California band.  They are a Toronto band, built by Marc Costanzo (ex of Sum 41) and his sister Sharon - the two vocalists on this song, their biggest hit to date. It's chill and fun.  I'm sure you're all humming the song already.

Of course, this song would not exist if not for the fact that... "blue" movie star Andrea True (her real name) didn't take a trip to Jamaica in 1975 and decide to sing a song about her day job.

That's right.  The song is about porn, people.

The song is a disco classic - it's fun, it's energetic, and it has a great wood block beat and a fantastic bassline.  I know Marc Costanzo agrees - he chose it for his song as well.  And now, these two great, fun song are linked forever.

02 April 2013

2 April 2013 - Dido - No Freedom

Admit it, at one point, you liked Dido's hit song Thank You (and not just because Eminem used it in his song Stan). Heck I did. I even bought her second record, but for the life of me I can't seem to name one song on it (that's not entirely uncommon for me, I do remember liking the album). Anyway, her latest record, Girl Who Got Away, came out last week. Here's the video for the first single. Sounds good to me in that Beth Ortonesque kind of way.

01 April 2013

1 April 2013 - Colin James - Just Came Back

No April Foolin' here.  Instead, we give you the biggest US hit by Canadian superstar Colin James.  Of course, it's about a man who's being played for a fool by his lady, so maybe it IS an appropriate song.

You're hearing this song because I heard it yesterday for the first time in about 15 years.  Now, you can enjoy it, too.