Posts Tagged ‘Metallica’

Masterpiece: Master Of Puppets

3 September 2010

[Today: Dead serious music...]

Liking Metallica during the ’80s meant putting your health and self-esteem on the line every day. If you didn’t get pummeled by some hulking Top 40 fan, you were sure to hear insults of every kind during a typical leather-jacketed day. The blogger Umlaut (who knew Metallica before they got famous) ends nearly all of his concert reviews with some pimply teenagers calling him and his friends fags. It’s a good closing line, but within that gag is surely an adolescence filled with every kind of slight imaginable, and all because of a band. So Metallica fans were clearly serious about the music – the music itself was as serious as a coffin. Judas Priest got hauled into court when some idiot kids blew their brains out over a song, and Ozzy Osbourne played Satan’s Little Helper while biting the head off a dove, but to a KISS fan those acts seemed like mere publicity. Metallica however, played like a wounded feral animal that was backed into a corner and clawing for its life.

Metallica scared me all the way into college, until I lived with a full-time grease monkey who would get loaded with his metal pals and listen to Kill ‘Em All or Ride The Lightning at top volume, while arguing vehemently about inane shit like boots and knives. Stuff got broken, including a few eardrums. At that point, if I’d told those guys that Metallica was on the verge of worldwide super-stardom, and would one day make an album with the San Francisco Symphony, and a feature documentary detailing their intense psychotherapy sessions, they would have busted me up like a cheap lamp.

And why not? At that point, Metallica was coming off a string of ferocious albums, perhaps none more fierce than Master Of Puppets. James Hetfield screams, Kirk Hammett shreds, and Lars Ulrich pounds as the group unleashes a torrent of songs about conformity and control, madness and death. This 1986 album was their last with original bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a bus crash while on tour supporting it. As such, it retains an aura as the last pure Metallica album. I’m a late-to-the-party bandwagon-jumper, and it took some time (and broken furniture), but this music makes total sense to me now. Metallica are indisputably the most sincere band of my lifetime, and their long-time followers are the most loyal, intense, bruised fans a band could hope for…

Listen: Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

Listen: Master Of Puppets

Listen: Damage Inc.

Weekend Playlist

26 April 2010

“All is spontaneity.” ~ Can lead singer Damo Suzuki


Junior Wells | Coming At You


Van Halen | Van Halen II


Guy Clark | Old No. 1


Ween | The Mollusk


The Meters | Cabbage Alley


The Incredible String Band | Wee Tam


Iron & Wine | The Shepherd’s Dog


Ray Charles | Ray Charles Live


Eric Clapton | 461 Ocean Boulevard


Little Feat | Waiting For Columbus


The Black Crowes | Before The Frost…


Ramones | It’s Alive


Metallica | Metallica


Miles Davis | Tutu


Lee Morgan | Lee Morgan


The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Live At Clark University


Can | Ege Bamyasi


The Byrds | Untitled


Memphis Slim | The Blues Of Memphis Slim: Steady Rolling Blues


Lightnin’ Hopkins | Lightnin’ Strikes
[album cover not pictured]


Various Artists | I’m Not There Soundtrack

Weekend Playlist

2 November 2009

“I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat but that’s OK – the bat had to get Ozzy shots.” ~ Ozzy Osbourne

Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago
Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago

Bob Dylan | Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan | Bringing It All Back Home

Them | Featuring Name Withheld Lead Singer
Them | Featuring Name Withheld Lead Singer

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach | Brandenburg Concertos
[Album cover not pictured]

The Stooges | Fun House
The Stooges | Fun House

Judas Priest | British Steel
Judas Priest | British Steel

Metallica | Kill 'Em All
Metallica | Kill ‘Em All

Michael Jackson | Thriller
Michael Jackson | Thriller

Joy Division | Peel Sessions
Joy Division | Peel Sessions

White Zombie | Astro Creep: 2000
White Zombie | Astro-Creep: 2000

Ozzy Osbourne | Bark At The Moon
Ozzy Osbourne | Bark At The Moon

Jane's Addiction | Nothing's Shocking
Jane’s Addiction | Nothing’s Shocking

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

Fairport Convention | Unhalfbricking
Fairport Convention | Unhalfbricking

John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977
John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977

Peddlers | Suite London
The Peddlers | Suite London

Stephen Stills | Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills | Stephen Stills

Dire Straits | Dire Straits
Dire Straits | Dire Straits

The Band | Cahoots
The Band | Cahoots

Captain Beefheart | The Spotlight Kid
Captain Beefheart | The Spotlight Kid

Masterpiece: Endtroducing…

23 October 2009

[Today: Digging in the audio graveyard...]

DJ Shadow | Endtroducing...

DJ Shadow’s debut album was built entirely from samples that he scavenged from a basement full of forgotten LPs beneath his favorite record store. Using bits of R&B, Jazz, Classical Music, educational albums, commercial jingles, and much more, Shadow (aka Josh Davis) took nine months to sample, loop and process a staggering breadth of obscure noises, and then weave them into a dramatic soundscape that’s alternately soothing and menacing, and layered to the skies.

There are so many diverse genres represented here – the Chaffey College Jazz Ensemble, Metallica, Pigmeat Markham, Tangerine Dream, David Axelrod, Billy Cobham, and a cast of what seems like thousands – that this album crosses over into its own style. If an alien space probe hovered over Earth for a few minutes, gathered together a cornucopia of sounds, and turned them into a haunting audio collage of life on this planet, it might sound something like Endtroducing…

When this album was released in November of 1996, the art of the break beat was just entering its third decade. But there was still much debate about whether a turntable could really be considered an instrument, and if skillful sampling constituted original creation. Endtroducing… made mincemeat of the naysayers, and proved that in the right hands, a stack of old record albums could serve as a palette of sounds for the fabrication of completely new grooves.

But as much as Endtroducing… still seems like a blueprint for the future of music, it’s the kind of album that has proven extremely difficult to imitate. There have been a handful of sublime sample-centric albums over the last dozen years (The Avalanches and The Kleptones both do good work in this area), but none of them touch the moldering atmosphere that DJ Shadow dug out of his friendly neighborhood audio graveyard.

Listen: Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt

Listen: Mutual Slump

Listen: Changeling / Transmission 1

Doubleshot Tuesday: Black Pearls/Black Sabbath

13 October 2009

[Today: It was a dark and stormy day...]

John Coltrane | Black Pearls
Black Sabbath | Black Sabbath

All day yesterday, dark storm clouds gathered around the Bay Area and then just hung there, doing nothing and looking ominous. Around three o’clock this morning, the storm finally broke, and we’ve been in a deluge ever since. When the weather gets really nasty like this, there are two music genres that I reach for – heavy metal and jazz. Motörhead, Slayer, Metallica, and especially Black Sabbath are the right sound for a day like today, when the winds are screaming and the rain is hissing. Sabbath’s debut was the LP I grabbed off the shelf this morning, and it proved to be a wise choice. Side One opens with a bell tolling, followed by a thunderclap and pouring rain, before the group launches into the title track – which like the rest of Black Sabbath, is the perfect soundtrack for staring down black sheets of rain and hilltops shrouded in clouds.

Happy, melodic jazz won’t do for a rainstorm – the occasion requires something with internal discord, something that feels like nature gone awry. John Coltrane fits the bill. He played with a passion that was almost supernatural – the man was a locomotive on the sax. Some of the lines he cuts loose with on his 1958 album Black Pearls – mid-way through both the title track and ‘Lover Come Back To Me’ – are the musical embodiment of being caught in a rainstorm. Notes come down one on top of another, and just when you’d swear they can’t come any faster, they turn into a torrential downpour. This isn’t Coltrane in full squall mode, but Impressions and The Age Of Bronze are on deck, just in case this storm really starts bringing it…

Listen: Black Pearls [John Coltrane]

Listen: Black Sabbath [Black Sabbath]

Listen: Lover Come Back To Me [John Coltrane]

Listen: Wasp/Behind the Wall of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B. [Black Sabbath]

*****

Six more for a storm…

Andres Segovia | The Segovia Collection
The Band | Music From Big Pink
The Doors | L.A. Woman
Nick Drake | Pink Moon
Slayer | Diabolus In Musica
The Benedictine Monks Of Santo Domingo de Silos | Chant

Doubleshot Tuesday: Ride The Lightning/Diabolus In Musica

10 March 2009

[Today: Comic books and horror movies...]

Metallica | Ride The Lightning
Slayer | Diabolus In Musica

We’re slicing through the dark, rain-slicked neighborhood streets of Eugene at 70 mph – my drunken college roommate taking his aggression over some girl out on his gas pedal. ‘Trapped Under Ice’ blasts from the car stereo, the perfect soundtrack for the cocoon of mayhem that I’m stuck in. As the engine revs up and up, it joins James Hetfield in a duet of impending death. Impact is surely just seconds away, but I’ve had a few pops myself, and I’m feeling no pain and wearing no seatbelt. The parked cars, sleepy houses, and solid oak trees WHIR! and ZOOM! by like comic book panels, while Roommate X pushes his muscle car harder, trying in vain to go faster than Metallica. And then, like a funhouse ride from hell, it’s over – the song ends, we pull into the driveway and kill the night. Ride The Lightning always takes me back to that white-knuckle near-death ride, which is one reason I enjoy putting it on and banging my head accordingly.

Slayer… hell… what can you say? The back of this album has a picture of someone bleeding freely from the ear, and that image equals a thousand good words about this band. Diabolus In Musica reminds me of the horror movies I loved to rent in high school – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street series, and countless other blood-spattered cinematic nightmares. Like Leatherface and Freddy Kruger, Slayer are over-the-top, evil caricatures who pound you into submission, yet remain totally lovable. Most of the lyrics on this album are barked, doomsday slogans, which are themselves overpowered by the pulverizing twin guitars of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Slayer doesn’t ever let up for one single second. When you drop the needle on this album, blood will flow – from the ears or elsewhere…

Listen: Trapped Under Ice [Metallica]

Listen: Stain Of Mind [Slayer]

*****

Useless Info Dept: Prior to the uploading the Slayer track, WordPress informed me that I had 66.6% of my download space remaining…

Weekend Playlist

2 February 2009

Here are some musical selections that rocked our weekend:

Beastie Boys | Check Your Head
Beastie Boys _ Check Your Head

DJ Mark Farina | Mushroom Jazz 6
DJ Mark Farina _ Mushroom Jazz 6

Radiohead _ OK Computer
Radiohead _ OK Computer

Sublime | Sublime
Sublime _ Sublime

Guns N' Roses | Appetite For Destruction
Guns N’ Roses _ Appetite For Destruction

David Bromberg Band | How Late'll Ya Play 'Til?
David Bromberg Band _ How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?

The Best Of
Nick Lowe _ Basher: The Best Of Nick Lowe

Q-Tip | The Renaissance
Q-Tip _ The Renaissance

Black Heat | Black Heat
Black Heat _ Black Heat

John Martyn | So Far So Good
John Martyn _ So Far, So Good

Songs From The Wild Land
Dave Alvin _ Public Domain: Songs From The Wild Land

Rolling Stones | Sticky Fingers
Rolling Stones _ Sticky Fingers

Metallica | Garage Inc.
Metallica _ Garage Inc.

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band | Live Bullet
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band _ Live Bullet

Judas Priest | British Steel
Judas Priest _ British Steel

Kinks | Face To Face
The Kinks _ Face To Face

Kings Of Convenience | Quiet Is The New Loud
Kings Of Convenience _ Quiet Is The New Loud

Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo
Spank Rock _ Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo

Purge

14 June 2008

We all make mistakes. Some are of the fleeting, spilled-milk variety, while others linger and mock. A number of my least favorite mistakes have been staring at me from the comfort of my cd shelves for years – reminding me of that poor impulse purchase, the unfortunately recommended album, or the ‘what the hell was I thinking‘ snafu. I have too many of these taking up space in the permanent collection.

Well, this week I finally got around to purging a couple of hundred cds. It’s been a long time coming, and not a job I’ve been looking forward to. I’ve changed my mind about albums in the past, and the thought that I could be tossing out one of my future favorites has always given me pause. But sometimes you just have to say goodbye.

Here are a dozen albums I decided to send packing…

Shabba Ranks - album
Shabba Ranks * Rough & Ready Vol. II – ME NO WANNA ROCK THE SHABBA RANKS STYLEE!!!


Belly * Star – This one was a gas for about 10 minutes in the early-90′s. And then my music collection grew beyond 25 cds…

Metallica - album
Metallica * S&M - Can’t… stop… laughing…

Joanna Newsom - album
Joanna Newsom * The Milk Eyed Mender – AKA The Bad Voiced Singer.

Wallflowers - album
The Wallflowers * Bringing Down The Horse – For pretty much the same reasons we don’t have the plumber’s kid in here fixing the toilets.

R.E.M. - album
R.E.M. * Monster – My limited interest in R.E.M. doesn’t really extend beyond Murmur. I’m not even sure how this one wormed its way into the collection. Mr Stipe, the bouncer will now see you to the door…


The Cult * Ceremony – I thought one lousy Cult album was enough for our collection, so I kept Sonic Temple and pitched this one.


Limp Bizkit * Three Dollar Bill, Y’all$ – Take your shots now jerkos, because this one is crapper-bound. And I understand that behind your jeers and jests lies the insecurity of those who weren’t cool enough to own a Limp Bizkit album… fo shizzle…

AFI - album
AFI * Sing The Sorrow – Because these guys are local, and kinda scary, I’m just going to say that I respectfully decline to continue owning this album. But thank you anyway…

Erasure - album
Erasure * Crackers International – I spent $5.95 for an Erasure ep during college, when that kind of money actually meant something. I’d like to go back in time and slap myself…

Air - album
Air * Pocket Symphony - Kind of boring, but I’m actually ditching this one because we have two copies. These things happen when your music collection is scattered and unorganized – hence the purge…

Sahara Hotnights - album
Sahara Hot Nights * Kiss & Tell – This one was a freebie, but that doesn’t make it right…

Cranberries - album
The Cranberries * Bury The Hatchet – On second thought, I take this one back. Where do I buy a cd-frame?

*****

AND THE OBVIOUS QUESTION: What’s the worst cd currently hanging out in your music collection?

In A Metal Mood: A Dozen Albums That Will Melt Your Face

15 October 2007

It’s Sunday night, just after midnight, which seems like the perfect time to run down a dozen albums that rock hard. By no means definitive, and with respects to Umlaut, here’s a short list of albums that make me sprout horns:


Slayer * Diabolus In Musica [1998] Many prefer Reign In Blood, but Diabolus… gets the nod here. After a pretty sludgy couple of minutes, this turns into a brutal bludgeoning that doesn’t let up for four delicious, blood-spattered sides of vinyl.


Metallica * Ride The Lightning [1984] This makes the list on the strength of ‘Trapped Under Ice’ – a four-minute epic that recreates the claustrophobic hell of drowning under a solid sheet of ice. On a personal side note, I had a bad college roommate who liked to crank this song up while driving recklessly through Eugene after several drinks – which for some reason racheted up the intensity of the song for me. It’s an album that reminds me of death on several levels…


Black Sabbath * Sabbath Bloody Sabbath [1973] Ozzy and the lads generally get a bad rap about their dark lyrics, but on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they truly embraced the dark side. From the artwork – depicting a couple awash in a bed full of blood – to Tommy Iommi’s more-sinister-than-usual riffs, this is a dark vision by a band higher on much more than just life.


Judas Priest * British Steel [1980] Not only does it sport one of the most iconic sleeve designs in the history of music (it was used in an Absolut campaign a few years back), but the songs hold up as well. ‘Breaking The Law’ was practically Beavis & Butthead’s mission statement, and there are plenty of other gems here, including ‘Rapid Fire’ and ‘Metal Gods’.


Motorhead * Ace Of Spades [1980] Everything louder than everyone else, indeed. Motorhead is the aural equivalent of being cornered in a dark alley by an bloodthirsty gang of psycho bikers. While a lot of metal has a sense of pretension and theater about it, one listen to the title track of this album ensures you’ll understand that these guys are not screwing around.


Soundgarden * Badmotorfinger [1991] While Nirvana often gets the credit for blowing the lid off of hair metal, this album was the true death knell for that sub-genre. It’s hard to overstate how suprisingly delightful it was to find a hard rock album that didn’t feature a single ballad! It’s also worth noting that the bonus ep that was included with this album for a time is worth seeking out – if only for their classic re-reading of Black Sabbath’s ‘Into The Void’.


Rammstein * Sehnsucht [1997] I saw these guys at the dearly departed Maritime Hall while they were supporting this album, and that show featured more fire and pyrotechnics than all the other shows I’d seen put together. I was in the back of the Maritime (near the bar) and the blasts of heat from the stage felt like they were singeing my eyebrows. Perhaps it is over the top German metal-opera, but it’s good schtuff.


Tool * Lateralus [2001] Released four months before the 2001 World Trade Center bombings, this album played out like a prophetic – if somewhat muddled – take on that catacalysmic event. With song lyrics about cornerstones giving way (‘The Grudge’), burn victims (‘The Patient’), death (‘Parablola’), and government secrets (‘Fiapp De Oiad’), it’s a truly unsettling listen for anyone who still remembers that day well.


Front 242 * Tyranny (For You) [1991] Riddled with menace and unbridled anger, Tyranny (For You) has the backbone of a hyperkinetic electronica album, but its volume, pace, and intent-for-harm clearly mark this as a hardcore metal album of the first order.


Body Count * Cop Killer [1992] The controversy-baiting lyrics of the title track notwithstanding, this is relentless metal wrapped in the skin of a gangsta rap album. Lead guitarist Ernie C. shreds throughout, and Ice T rants like a hip-hop Henry Rollins. Those who would argue that this isn’t metal are merely color blind.


Motley Crue * Shout At The Devil [1983] Scribe Chuck Klosterman describes Shout At The Devil as the greatest concept album of all-time, and claims that it “took on a conceptual quality that Yes would have castrated themselves to achieve.” I’m not entirely sure about that, but the songs here prove that before they became a parody of themselves in the late 80′s, Motley Crue could rock with the best of them.


White Zombie * Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds [1996] This collection gathers remixes from White Zombie’s first two albums, and in every case the songs here are faster, louder, and more sinister than the original versions. I was listening to this album in the office one day way back when, and a female producer happened to walk by and overhear some of these tunes. She was so put off by the experience that she claimed she needed to take a shower to remove the aural grime from her psyche. Now that’s my kind of album…

******

Here’s another metal list.

11 Incredibly Strange Collaborations

20 August 2007

Ah… the collaboration. It’s the musical equivalent of the old saw “one hand washes the other.” A guest spot is a great way for an artist (usually Paul McCartney) to help out an associate while staying in the public eye. Because there’s a certain amount of star power inherent in any true “collaboration” (non-starring collaborator = studio musician) and stars don’t go throwing their power around indiscriminately, many collaborations work quite well. They can bring together heavyweights (think McCartney and Michael Jackson), pit complementing voices against each other (Connor Oberst and Emmylou Harris), or match pleasingly oddball pairs (Art Of Noise and Max Headroom). Here however, are eleven collaborations that didn’t go quite so smoothly, and aren’t likely to be fondly remembered by many:


Axl Rose & Elton John

At the MTV video music awards in 1992, the man who penned the lyrics “Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me” performed a duet with the man who sang “Crocodile Rock” – and a nation wept.

Ronnie Biggs - single
Ronnie Biggs & The Sex Pistols

Almost immediately after Johnny Rotten left the Pistols, Malcolm McLaren came up with the hair-brained scheme of matching the remaining members of the group with notorious “great train robber” Ronnie Biggs. This was shortly before McLaren finally realized that the group consisted of more than just bailing wire and promotional genius.

Jacko/presley - photo
Michael Jackson & Lisa Marie Presley

Jackson and Presley’s 1994 stunt wedding slash cry in the dark for publicity wasn’t strictly a musical collaboration, but it nonetheless left us all scratching our heads in pure wonder.

Elvis/Nixon - pic
Elvis Presley & Richard Nixon

In December of 1970, Elvis arranged a meeting with President Nixon, where he offered to become a DEA deputy to help squash the distribution of drugs within the music industry (cue laugh track). This was clearly his effort to gain more legal means of obtaining and traveling with his own little slice of pharmacopia, but it made for one of the more interesting photo ops in modern history.

Metallica - album
Metallica & The San Francisco Symphony

This little gem has been alienating fans of metal, classical, and common sense since 1999.


David Bowie & Bing Crosby

While it’s hard to see what Bowie stood to gain from this collaboration, Crosby wisely took full advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform Christmas music with a creature from outer space.

Phil Collins - photo
Led Zeppelin & Phil Collins

When Zep reunited for Live Aid in 1985, they could have played with nearly any drummer in the world. They chose… Phil Collins. After playing an early set with Sting in London, Collins jumped on the Concorde and flew to Philadelphia, where he took part in Zeppelin’s anticlimactic set. This feat made Collins the first balding, overrated musician to play in front of unadoring fans on two continents in the same day. Bravo Phil!

Waits/Gayle - album
Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle

Waits’ 1982 collaboration with human hair farm Gayle gets solid reviews all around (allmusic.com gives it four & a half out of five stars), but fans of his normal whiskey-and-razorblades vocalizing will be thrown for a loop by it.

Eminem/Elton John - photo
Eminem & Elton John

Noted homophobe Marshall Mathers performed ‘Stan’ with noted homosexual Elton John at the 2001 Grammys. No word yet on when Eminem and Axl Rose are getting together to cut ‘Rocket Man’…

Brandon Cruz - photo
Dead Kennedys & Brandon Cruz

Former Courtship Of Eddie’s Father star Cruz (he played Eddie) had a background in the 80′s Los Angeles Punk scene, but was still an eyebrow raising choice to replace Jello Biafra as lead singer of the group from 2001 to 2003.

KLF - single
The KLF & Tammy Wynette

Ancient? Yes. Justified?? Not so much.


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