Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Yardbirds – “The Yardbirds” aka “Roger The Engineer – 1966

The Yardbirds seem to be unfairly remembered more for the guitarists that have passed through the group and went on to be international superstars.  I’ll skip that and introduce you to the Yardbirds line-up on this album.

Keith Relf on lead vocals and harmonica, Paul Samwell-Smith on bass, Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar, Jeff Beck on lead guitar, and last but certainly not least, Jim McCarty on drums.

This is the first and I believe only album entirely written by the band (all songs are credited to the entire band).  Only their second album in the UK, an abridged version of this album made up their 3rd U.S. LP, “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” after the hit single featured on the album.

“Lost Woman,” a re-write of Snooky Pryor’s “Someone To Love Me,” and “The Nazz Are Blue,” featuring Jeff Beck on lead vocals, are the album’s most  traditionally blusey tracks.

Other songs range from rockabilly (“Jeff’s Boogie”) to psychedelic chants (“Ever Since the World Began”) to fuzzed out rockers (“He’s Always There”).  While this initially seems “uneven” on the surface, I couldn’t disagree any more.

This is an album that begs to be listened from top to bottom.  Every time I put the slab of vinyl on the turntable I find myself listening to the whole album (and no that’s not because I’m too lazy to move the needle!)

The other benefit is that it was the first Yardbirds album to be recorded in Stereo and is relatively well-recorded compared to their early material.  While I love a good mono mix as much as anyone, I find myself enjoying the stereo UK pressing over the mono UK pressing as the sonics are a little more natural and even.  The cymbals on both are unfortunately phasey/swishy sounding.

Both mixes are of interest as there’s numerous differences between the two: rhythmic tapping during the first verse of “Lost Woman,” extended intro to “Turn Into Earth,” scathing guitar solo that’s entirely absent in the stereo mix of “Hot House of Omagarashid,” and an extended outro guitar solo on “He’s Always There,” among other differences.


Aneka-“Japanese Boy”-1981

I could attempt to be hip and act like I knew about this song before I heard it on Flash FM in the 2002 video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” However, I won’t. That game did introduce me to this piece and this artist, but I chose to increase my knowledge of both of the aforesaid of my own volition.

The song is really like nothing I have ever heard before. I guess one could make a strong case for the fact that the song belongs in some kind of a dance category, but it really does not fit there comfortable, in my opinion. It is truly unique with its sound and its energy. I enjoy the juxtaposition of lyrics that are consistent with a break-up song presented in an uptempo style.

The sad thing about the song is (other than the message of longing and loss it conveys) that the song branded Aneka with a Japanese image that she could not shake and ultimately undercut her career. Of course there is nothing wrong with Japan or the Japanese culture. Aneka, however, was looked at as more of a Japanese style entertainer which was really a misnomer. She is actually a folk singer more in the Bob Dylan or Country Joe McDonald category. I am sure Linda Blair and Michael Richards would agree that when an entertainer is type-cast, it can be detrimental to their career.

Starting to Like Kesha-and Hating Myself

I know. Kesha is annoying. She puts the “vap” in vapid. She is totally anathema to the way I feel about music. She is manufactured, electronic, garbage whose lyrics are an insult to not only musicians everywhere, but the English language at large.

And I can’t stop myself from being a fan of hers.

As much as I hate to admit it, her music is catchy. Sort of like the flu. It grows on you. Sort of like fungus. But, unlike the respective disease and microorganism, you want Kesha in your life.

I want to be part of her world. I want her to be part of mine. I would burst into flames (in a good way) if I ever saw her in concert. I am assailed by self-loathing and shame but I don’t care. I am a Kesha fan. Self-respect is overrated anyhow.

Girl Power

I love Nicki Minaj. I have loved her since I first saw her in Lil’ Wayne’s “Bedrock” video. Sure, she is a luscious, ravishing, attractive bit of loveliness, but I am a sucker for a female rapper. She is not some manufactured, robotic barbie doll like Jessica Simpson. Nicki Minaj is a RAPPER. A female rapper just like Queen Latifah, The Lady of Rage and others. I do love female rappers but I love female musicians as well. They bring something more to the table (Besides the obvious. Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter, you chauvinist!)

Here are some of my other favorite female performers:

Mandy Moore-Not sure what it is about her but her song “Candy” is one of my all-time favorites.

Michelle Branch-Dusky, raven haired goddess with a smoky voice and deep lyrics.

Annie Lennox-Maybe the greatest voice since Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Fitzgerald-See above.

The Donnas-An all female punk band. That is too sexy. I recommend “New Kid in School.” I think they are like The Bangles with an edge.

Katy Perry f. Kanye West- “ET”-2011

Autotune: Helping Untalented Hacks Have Successful Music Careers.  That should be the real title of this song.  No! Wait! This song should be called “Which one of these artists sounds worse live in concert? Text your answer to 42069696969420”  

This song is nothing more than a haphazard mishmash of two artists who, in my view are the worst artists on the face of the Earth, sound HORRIBLE LIVE, would have no career if it was not for autotune, and have no identifiable talent of any kind.  The only thing missing from this song is a half-cocked cameo from that vacuous, useless, trollop Kim Kardashian. Someone else who, in my opinion, is a disreputable waste of carbon who engages daily in strongarm robbery as she ruthlessly pilfers oxygen from hardworking men and women who truly deserve to breathe it.

For the above reasons I have cited, “ET” should not be listened to by anyone.  Unfortunately, since music is now about marketing and not about talent, per se, “ET” will probably be a top seller on iTunes before I click “publish” for this post.  Hell, it’s probably on your iPod right now.

Alice in Chains “No Excuses”-1994

This is easily one of the most iconic pieces of the grunge era in my opinion. “No Excuses” was one of the first number one singles for Alice in Chains on mainstream rock charts. The drum fill intro alone is enough to suck in even a casual music fan. For me, personally, the song was a metaphor for the tensions and conflicts I had with my mother growing up. Even as an adult, the song is still cathartic for me.

I have been thinking quite a bit about Alice in Chains lately due to the recent passing of bassist Mike Starr which, I have read, was due to a mixture of methodone and anxiety medications. Fans of the band also remember that vocalist Layne Staley had his life cut short by drug use as well.

While they will and always will be on the proverbial “grunge rock Mt. Rushmore,” it is sad that their legacy is marred by the macabre warning about the dangers of drug addiction.