Posts Tagged ‘Jack White’

Super Bowl Winners & Losers

8 February 2010

Once again, the Super Bowl was an exciting game that provided us with heroes (Drew Brees, Tracy Porter, Sean Payton) and goats (Peyton Manning, Pierre Garçon, Hank Baskett). And just like the action on the field, the commercials (and pre-game and halftime entertainment) gave us some obvious winners and losers. Here’s how I scored it at home:

WINNERS

Jay-Z – I’ve never been a big fan of the Jigga Man, but pairing him with Rihanna, a full orchestra, and action clips from the Saints’ and Colts’ season-long drive to the Super Bowl (favorite quote: a Colts defensive player screaming in the huddle “ALLS I WANT IS EVERYTHING YOU GOT!!!”) was an appropriately adrenaline-pumping way to kick things off.

Queen Latifah – I’ve heard and read speculation that she was singing with a backing track (more on this phenomenon in a bit), but regardless, her stirring version of ‘God Bless America’ was right on the money.

Jack White – He got paid to let some advertiser use the tune to ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’. The fact that just 24 hours later I can’t remember the company behind that ad bodes as a win-win for Mr. White.

Stevie Wonder – He didn’t sing, but Stevie Wonder once again revealed his good sense of humor with a cameo in VW’s ‘Punch Buggy‘ spot.

Arcade Fire – The NFL’s promotional use of their song ‘Wake Up’ – paired with shots of ecstatic fans – was sublime…

*****

LOSERS

The Who – Let’s count the ways: they looked and sounded stiff and old, Roger Daltrey blatantly flubbed his lip-sync with a backing track during ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ (oh, the irony), they were totally upstaged by their stage (possibly a first in rock history), and the corpse of Keith Moon would have been more interesting on drums than Zak Starkey. Better than the infamous Elvis Presto Super Bowl halftime show, but nearly as pathetic…

KISS – OK, I get it, Gene Simmons is a whore who would sell his grandmother’s soul for a nickel. But seeing my once-favorite band hawking Dr. Pepper and sharing the stage with a group of midget Kiss impersonators made me want to lose my chicken wings.

Carrie Underwood – I went into her rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ wanting to be won over. “What am I missing here?” was my thought. The answer, after a fairly flat performance: “Not much.”

Bill Withers – Sure, he got paid for it, but his lovely ballad ‘Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)’ was totally miscast in a commercial for a blood and guts video game. A sadly inappropriate use of a great song.

The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew – Note to Boost Mobile: The 1984/85 Chicago Bears were one of the greatest teams in football history. If you’re going to rip off their legendarily kitsch performance of ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’, at least have the decency to do something interesting (and preferably tasteful) with it. And double shame on you Mike Ditka, for pimping out an idea you weren’t even part of in the first place.

Masterpiece: Elephant

17 December 2009

[Today: Jack & Meg White have a ball & biscuit...]

It’s easy to look at the music industry and see an obstacle course of challenges facing any artist in search of an audience. Pirated MP3s rob musicians of royalties. Labels are built to hit home runs, not nurture artists. My feet hurt. And so on. But one listen to an album like Elephant (or Exile On Main St, for that matter) is an ear-opening reminder that the music business isn’t about new-age marketing so much as it’s about riffs and hooks. The gigantic, throbbing guitar line that opens ‘Seven Nation Army’ (and this album) is a clarion call of world domination. You got riffs like that, you can lock your marketing people in the closet and throw away the key. And Jack White has bushels of riffs like that.

At the dawn of the 21st century, albums like this just weren’t supposed to get made anymore. Released in 2003, Elephant is a throwback in both form and function – an album of vintage styles recorded on early-60’s equipment. The distortion, fuzz and blues that form the backbone of this album are exactly what made it sound so fresh in a digital world. After the crunching, Led Zeppelican riffs of ‘Seven Nation Army’ we’re treated to dirty blues, psychedelic rock, tender balladry, and even a torch song from Meg. Retro in all the best ways, The White Stripes don’t simply mimic and pick over the musical past – they infuse it with their own particular brilliance, while playing with the energy of a punk band.

Jack White is one of the best guitarists of the modern era – a high-voltage bluesbreaker who lets loose a frenzy of hot licks every time he picks up the instrument. In one sentence of its original review of this record, Rolling Stone compared White to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Marc Bolan and Buzzcocks. Throw in the serious stomp implied by its title, and you’ve got a landmark album that sounds more timeless with each passing year.

Listen: Seven Nation Army

Listen: Ball & Biscuit

Listen: I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

19 January 2009

It's A Dewey Cox Teenager Party

Brought to life by funny man John C. Reilly, the character of Dewford Randolph Cox is a truly American legend, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a wild and crazy film that takes a bite out of every musical bio-pic in existence.

Cox comes of age in the 1950’s, and after accidentally cutting his brother in half with a machete, sets out on a quest to become a great musician. He marries his 12-year old girlfriend, hits the big-time with the song ‘Walk Hard’, and proceeds to enjoy the trappings of fame – including a new house, a monkey and a giraffe, and waves of groupies. As he experiments with drugs and moves through life, his music changes accordingly. Wizened music fans will instantly recognize the artists being spoofed, from Johnny Cash (tough, Mariachi-flavored rock & roll) to Bob Dylan (nonsensical, “deep” folk) to Brian Wilson (symphonic, LSD-fueled Pop, featuring goats) to The Partridge Family (20 kids singing on a bus) and beyond.

Cox meditates with The Beatles in India, re-arranges hotel rooms like Keith Moon, takes PCP and rampages through city streets in his underpants, and sires 36 kids. Imparting some hard won wisdom to one of his grandchildren late in the film, he concludes “And that’s when I learned that quaaludes and water skiing don’t mix.” Words we can all live by.

The film includes a number of surprising cameos – Jack White as a surreal, mumbling, karate-chopping Elvis Presley, Jack Black as an impish Paul McCartney, and Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne, Lyle Lovett, Ghostface Killah, and The Temptations as themselves. Walk Hard is alternately very funny and very silly, and well worth the 96 minute investment.

The press kit for this movie included 12 mock album covers (samples pictured above and below) that are as inspired, hilarious and detail-oriented as the movie itself.

Listen: Guilty As Charged [John C. Reilly]

Listen: Let’s Duet [John C. Reilly & Angela Correa]

Listen: Have You Heard The News (Dewey Cox Died) [John C. Reilly]

Hole In My Pants | Dewey Cox

Guitar Gods – The Cover Art

19 November 2008

Here’s the cover art for one of my latest mixes – a four disc box-set called Guitar Gods. A compilation like this invites furrowed brows, lists of corrections, and plenty of harrumphing from all corners. Strike up the chorus: “But what about ____________?” There were dozens more guitarists that ideally would have been included, but four discs seemed like enough, and the line had to be drawn somewhere.

World B. Furr (sometime commenter on this blog) was kind enough to collaborate on this mix with me, and help me figure out where to draw that line, and it was a clear case of two brains being better than one. We had a lot of back and forth about who to include and who to leave out, and inevitably there were compromises to be made.

From the liner notes to this mix, here’s a six-pack of guitarists who just missed the cut:

Ace Frehley – When I was a kid I thought every guitarist should sound like The Spaceman. But then somewhere along the way I grew up. Still, I have a strange desire to shout “ACE FREHLEY! SHOCK ME!!!” and put him in the mix. Didn’t happen… [dk]

Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman – Scott Ian of Anthrax once said that if he goes to Hell, there’s no doubt Slayer will playing on the loudspeaker. These two guys have spent the better part of the last 25 years kicking out some of the heaviest and most sinister riffs of all-time — never once losing the fire that first got things started. [Furr]

George Brigman – Brigman is a Guitar God for me because he represents the dreams of the everyman player. As a 17 year-old kid, Brigman self-released his debut album Jungle Rot in 1975 and then watched it disappear. Time has proven it a fuzzed out, lo-fi classic. [dk]

Mick Taylor – Although we ultimately chose ‘Satisfaction’ and the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones, I feel it’s imperative to point out the genius of Mick Taylor. Few could argue that the Taylor years were the Stones finest, and that’s largely due to the “other” Mick. [Furr]

Peter Green – The driving force of the original, bluesy Fleetwood Mac, Green was one of the best guitarists of his generation. Unfortunately, he lost his sanity in a worm hole of drugs, and disappeared from the music scene for decades. But his is a brilliant, if truncated, body of work. [dk]

Alex Lifeson – There are a lot of excuses people will give for hating Rush. Alex Lifeson’s guitar work is never one of them. This guy is one of the greatest players ever and he’s one-third of the reason why I absolutely LOVE Rush. [Furr]

Without further ado…

[Here's the front cover...]
Guitar Gods | Front

[Here's the inside front cover...]
Guitar Gods | Front Inside

[Here's the inside booklet cover...]
Guitar Gods | Booklet Cover
[Guitar pick photos courtesy of Umlaut!]

[Here's the guts of the inside booklet...]
Guitar Gods | Inside Booklet

[Here's the back inside...]
Guitar Gods | Back Inside

[Here's the back...]
Guitar Gods | Back

[Here's the track listing...]

Disc 1ne
Chuck Berry * Johnny B. Goode
The Rolling Stones * Satisfaction [Keith Richards]
The White Stripes * Seven Nation Army [Jack White]
Link Wray * Rumble
Dick Dale & The Del-Tones * Let’s Go Trippin’
Cream * Sunshine Of Your Love [Eric Clapton]
Quicksilver Messenger Service * Mona [John Cipollina and Gary Duncan]
Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia etc * Keepers (Live)
The Allman Brothers Band * In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Live) [Duane Allman]
The Faces * Around The Plynth [Ron Wood]
Santana * Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen [Carlos Santana]
The Who * Won’t Get Fooled Again [Pete Townshend]
ZZ Top * La Grange [Billy Gibbons]
U2 * Bullet The Blue Sky [The Edge]

Disc 2wo
John Fahey * St. Louis Blues
Robert Johnson * Sweet Home Chicago
Mississippi John Hurt * Frankie
Muddy Waters * Baby Please Don’t Go
Bo Diddley * Who Do You Love?
Howlin’ Wolf * Smokestack Lightnin’
Albert King * Born Under A Bad Sign
Otis Rush * I Can’t Quit You Baby
Freddie King * Key To The Highway
Buddy Guy * A Man and The Blues
Johnny Winter * Dallas
B.B. King * Everyday I Have The Blues
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble * The Sky Is Crying
Albert Collins * Frosty
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band * East-West [Mike Bloomfield]
Roy Buchanan * Sweet Dreams

Disc 3hree
Nirvana * Come As You Are [Kurt Cobain]
Deep Purple * Smoke On The Water [Ritchie Blackmore]
Aerosmith * Sweet Emotion [Joe Perry]
Black Sabbath * Fairies Wear Boots [Tony Iommi]
Ted Nugent * Stranglehold
Spinal Tap * Sex Farm [Nigel Tufnel]
Sex Pistols * God Save The Queen [Steve Jones]
The Ramones * Judy Is A Punk [Johnny Ramone]
The Clash * Clampdown [Joe Strummer and Mick Jones]
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers * One Track Mind
AC/DC * Highway To Hell [Angus Young]
Van Halen * Eruption [Eddie Van Halen]
Ozzy Osbourne * Flying High Again [Randy Rhoads]
Guns N’ Roses * Mr. Brownstone [Slash]
Judas Priest * You’ve Got Another Thing Coming [Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing]
Iron Maiden * The Trooper [Dave Murray and Adrian Smith]
Metallica * The Four Horsemen [Kirk Hammett]
Rage Against The Machine * Bombtrack [Tom Morello]

Disc 4our
Andrés Segovia * Suite Compostelana: I. Preludio
Buena Vista Social Club * Chan Chan [Ry Cooder]
Jeff Beck * Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers
Led Zeppelin * White Summer/Black Mountain Side [Jimmy Page]
The Jimi Hendrix Experience * Little Wing
John McLaughlin * Peace Piece
Funkadelic * Maggot Brain [Eddie Hazel]
Neil Young * Cortez The Killer
Pink Floyd * Comfortably Numb [David Gilmore]
Buckethead * Lone Sal Bug
Dire Straits * Ride Across The River [Mark Knopfler]
The Beatles * While My Guitar Gently Weeps [George Harrison]
Les Paul * Lover

*****

[I'll be extremely disappointed if there are less than two dozen fired up comments about how we screwed this up. This mix couldn't possibly cover off on everyone's personal list of Guitar Gods, so I look forward to hearing who you think we missed, and what we got wrong. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to slip into my flame retardant Kevlar suit...]


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