Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Festivus: Sam’s Airing of Grievances

Editor’s note: Remember that guy who wrote about Kiss? Sam’s back with some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musings. I think this guy is passing the audition. Mainly because he mentioned the Cure again, which keeps him in my good graces. Plus, he writes one fucking thing and sets a one-day high in Music or Space Shuttle? traffic! This tells me that Sam has awesome friends who click stuff he shares on Facebook, AND that Todd and I need better, more-likely-to-click-our-links Facebook friends. (By the way, you can find all MoSS? posts at our Facebook page. Click the “Like” button on the right side of the page.) –Chris


rock and roll hall of fame exterior

I’m obsessed with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Actually, I’m obsessed with all Hall of Fames in general, I guess. I pissed and moaned for days a few months ago when my main Houston Astro, Craig Biggio, missed induction. You see, it takes 75 percent of the votes to earn induction. He got 74.8 percent. They don’t round up. So after the number of ballots cast was made public, it was determined that he missed the cut by two votes.

Two!

One Hall voter came out and said he left his ballot completely empty except for a vote for ’80s pitching ace Jack Morris, justifying his refusal to vote for anybody who played during the “steroid era.” Jack Morris, who pitched in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the American League. Which means he pitched, at some point in time, to Jose Canseco, the only guy proud to admit before Congress that he willingly took steroids. Take a bow, genius.

Even more insane, every fall, I spend a crazy amount of time obsessing over a thing called the Survivor Hall of Fame. Yes, a Hall of Fame for the CBS reality game show. For weeks, I solicit (they would probably say troll) the hell out of former players on Twitter. I argue about it on message boards. I’ve even had my own personal rules for induction criteria published. However, there’s no physical building or artifacts. No pilgrimage to see your favorite players enshrined. Really, the Survivor Hall of Fame is essentially just a blog, with a few photos and some online interviews. You know what? I don’t care. I love Survivor so I want it done right. I care. WAAAAYYYYY too much. Sorry, Gordon.

But there’s nothing that saps my time and energy like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed by how much it matters to me. But it does. And it’s never mattered more to me than this year, because the first truly revolutionary band (Nirvana) of the generation that defines my age group (Generation X) came up for induction and got in on the first ballot. Even more significantly, after years of crying to my poor, poor friends and colleagues about the injustice of the snub, the band that helped shape my pop cultural existence (Kiss) finally got in after having to wait for 14 years. The ceremony was a couple of weeks ago now, and it’s still all I think about. I really need a life.

I engaged in plenty of back and forth on social media this season, and was fortunate to gain lots of insight from a few people much more informed than I am (check out Brian Ives, Tom Lane, and the endless resource that is Future Rock Legends, for starters). Plus, after the illuminating blog by Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz, I feel like I understand better how much politics can ruin something that represents an entity that’s supposed to be about rebellion like rock and roll.

So, in the wake of all that, the following diatribe may read like a butthurt plea supporting some of my favorite bands that don’t have a chance in hell of ever being inducted (hell, even a few I don’t really care about at all but still appreciate their significance). But the time has come for the airing of grievances … and I got a lot of problems with all of you.

ONE:

MC5 shirtless

MC5, also known as T-Shirt Zero

For me, maybe the hardest thing to reconcile with that institution are the bands that get inducted because of how “important” or “influential” they are. It can become very hypocritical (and I admit, I love most of bands that qualify in this rant) to declare something “adored but never accepted by the masses.” The Sex Pistols had one album. One. Their entire existence is one album and a tour. They imploded within two years. So where is the MC5? They had THREE albums, they had the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and many knowledgeable people would say they’re amongst the godfathers of both punk AND metal.

Also, bands like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges are in, some might say because their frontmen (Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, respectively) became rock legends later down the road. But both of those bands, when they were actually happening, never sold any records and never had any hits. But everyone who did like them started their own bands (I know, this is not an original thought, but it’s true).

runaways group photoOK, so by that rationale, who fits the bill? The Runaways. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, bought their records (except for Japanese teenagers), but …  a frontwoman who went on to greater fame solo (Joan Jett)? Check. (Not to mention Lita Ford, often considered the first lady of heavy metal). How many all-girl rock bands formed in their wake? How many of the ‘90s riot grrrl bands cite them as primary influences? Plus, “Cherry Bomb” is more recognizable than any song the Stooges ever put out (I love the Stooges, by the way). And OK, “Cherry Bomb” is one song. But my two-word rebuttal: Percy Sledge.

There’s been a lot of talk about Joan Jett going in solo (or with the Blackhearts) and the other night – fronting a reunited version of Nirvana at both the ceremony and the soon-to-be-legendary secret show they played afterward at an underground Brooklyn metal club – did a TON to help her cause. But like Linda Ronstadt, Jett’s biggest songs are cover tunes. I’d still rather see her go in with the Runaways. It will never happen, though. They’ll forever be seen as a gimmick and I don’t think they can ever get out from under that. But they belong in the argument.

And while we’re talking about influences … with all the Seattle bands coming up for induction, Motorhead should be considered. Black Flag should be considered. The Melvins should absolutely be considered. Watch some documentaries and listen to the words coming from the musicians themselves: Who introduced Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic? The Melvins. Who invented that mud tone that became grunge? The Melvins. If some of these other bands get considered for trivial reasons, so should they. They’ve been around for over 30 years now. But will they get in? Absolutely not. I think the closest they’ll come is frontman Buzz Osbourne getting namedropped by Novoselic and drummer Dale Crover getting praised by Grohl during Nirvana’s induction (it must be noted that Crover played on enough songs that ended up on both Bleach and Incesticide to be considered one of the band’s pre-Grohl drummers, but he, like Chad Channing, gets left out in the cold. More on this later …)

go-go's on rolling stone coverTWO:

Women are shamefully underrepresented in the Hall. I was worried about a lot of the divas getting the shaft…that is, up until the induction of Donna Summer. Her induction opened the doors for Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey in a huge way (all three are ridiculously talented singers with mountains of No. 1 singles, but who write little and play nothing). But if those two DON’T get in, you can absolutely forget about the likes of, say, Britney Spears (hey, stop laughing…I’m just trying to think of big stars down the road). Will Mary J. Blige or Missy Elliott be there? Is Carly Simon worthy? Because she’s not in.

The Go-Go’s or the Bangles should get a fair look, but they won’t…either not enough big hits or they weren’t together long enough.

BenatarBut the Go-Go’s do have historical significance on their side—the first all-female band that wrote and performed their own material to have a No. 1 album. They deserve a shot, because without one, will other critically adored all-girl bands such as Sleater-Kinney have a chance?

And you know who should be in the talk, especially now that Ronstadt got in? Pat Benatar. People forget just how huge she was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The hits, the massive exposure at the dawn of MTV, the multi-platinum records and Grammys…they speak for themselves.

THREE:

The bias against hard rock and metal drives me insane. Off the top of my head, the only bands identified as heavy rock or metal that are currently in are Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and now Kiss. OK, maybe Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, too (sorry, I don’t count Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or the Who).

Maybe I’m just annoyed that rap seems to get preferential treatment.­ To me growing up, rap and metal were truly kindred spirits—the extreme branches on the rock and roll tree, so much so that they merited their own specialty shows on MTV, metal being the extreme offshoot of rock, rap the extreme offshoot of R&B/soul. So why is one more important than the other? Look, I love Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy as much as the next guy. Love them. They absolutely deserve to be in. But why is it that the rap groups always get in on the first ballot, but a groundbreaking band like Sabbath—who invented an entire genre of music—had to wait 10 years? It’s disrespectful.

Paul Stanley really hit the nail on the head in his induction speech: fandom means nothing to these people. All that matters, it appears, is critical acclaim, something metal rarely gets.

The British godfathers of metal (Sabbath—in, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead) and the Big 4 of American thrash (Metallica—in , Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) deserve consideration. And I’ll say it again: Deep Purple on the outside looking in is a joke.

FOUR:

Speaking of Deep Purple, let’s pretend they get in next year. Who’s getting inducted? Will it only be the Mark II version of the band, the version behind “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star,” “Speed King,” Space Truckin’,” and “Woman From Tokyo”? (Seriously, how are the fuck are they NOT in already?) Because I think they’re up to at least Mark VIII or IX by now, right? That’s a lot of guys over 40+ years.

That seems to be the big controversy (and rightfully so). Who decides who’s getting in? Why did Parliament-Funkadelic get all 957 of its members inducted, but Kiss had to settle for the four original members, even though they had at least four other guys with decade-plus stints consisting of multiple gold albums and world tours? Both bands were garish theatrical groups on the Casablanca label in the ‘70s. Is it because Parliament got sampled on lots of g-funk rap albums in the ’90s? Who knows?

But there needs to be some consistency. Sammy Hagar gets inducted for his stint fronting Van Halen, but Ronnie James Dio can’t get the same for his time reinventing Black Sabbath? (I think this stinks of Sharon Osbourne, but that’s just a hunch.) Rob Trujillo (one album in a five-year stint at the time) gets to go in with Metallica, and 32-year-old Josh Klinghoffer, who had been in the band for about two-plus years and had played on exactly one album, gets to go in with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But a guy like Gilby Clarke, who made significant contributions to Guns N’ Roses, gets left out? (After reading the Frantz blog, it’s much more clear: where the Talking Heads had Seymour Stein, Metallica and the Chili Peppers had Cliff Burnstein (he manages both AND sits on the nominating committee).

Chad Channing played drums on Nirvana’s debut album, as well as several other b-sides and live cuts. He did the early gigs and tours. He participated in the early sessions for Nevermind and wrote several drum parts that Dave Grohl willingly admitted that he just copied in the final product (kudos to Grohl for saying this during his actual Hall induction speech, by the way). Oh, and he actually IS on Nevermind, albeit in a minor role (and especially now that the early demo sessions recorded by Butch Vig have been released on the album’s anniversary deluxe edition). He didn’t get in. Yet every drummer who ever played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers got in (obviously, I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers broke the Hall of Fame). I can’t wait to see how they handle the Pearl Jam drummer situation. Jesus…

FIVE:

Finally a few passing thoughts: Woefully missing are the alt-rock and new wave bands of the early ’80s. To name but a few … The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division/New Order, The Cars, Duran Duran, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Husker Du. As for rap, I don’t really care…and I’ll tell you why: Eventually that’s the stuff that gonna take over this thing. Eminem. Kanye. Jay-Z. It’s coming. They’re the biggest rock stars of the post-Napster era when the record companies started losing a little bit of their influence (I mean, we’ve got a LONG time before the White Stripes and bands like Arcade Fire become eligible). With that in mind, just give me NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, and Biggie. Those were the rappers and crews that shaped my era. After they get in, I don’t care.

As far as my best guess for the bands of my generation…I personally don’t think a band like, say, Motley Crue has a prayer. Even with solid membership, lots of legitimate hits, a strong touring history, and the greatest story ever told, I think they’re immune even if believers in poptimism gain more influence in the nominating committee.

motley crue all glammed out

A lot of girls from Chris’ hometown looked a lot like Vince Neil does in this photo.

But you know what…says who? Motley Crue doesn’t have a shot because Rolling Stone doesn’t like them? A band shouldn’t base their legacy solely on a handful of critics with too much influence and power telling them how awesome they were. Isn’t that kind of what killed Kurt Cobain? Pretty sure he hated what that did to his band. I’m not advocating their enshrinement, but one thing everybody should respect about a band like Motley Crue—even if you think their music is either awesome or shit—is that they have no fucks to give when it comes to what anyone says about them on a critical level. It hasn’t stopped them from their decades of sold-out shows and platinum records.

(I’m well aware that someone somewhere will say the same thing about Nickelback in 20 years, but that becomes a question of eras…you know what: I’ll deal with that when it happens …)

But a band from that era that should get considered is Def Leppard, the rare band from the ‘80s glam metal period that garnered critical acclaim on top of massive commercial success.

Nick Drake holding guitar

Nick Drake, true artist. Way more acclaim after death.

As for the ’90s, come on. Pearl Jam is a mortal lock (I can’t believe they haven’t had their eligibility period waved). Radiohead is a lock. Beck is a lock. Green Day is a lock (eligible next year, actually, and I’ll be stunned if they have to wait). I have a hunch Rage Against the Machine is a lock. Eventually, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins are all major contenders and all will be there over time. And I think Oasis has the most obvious shot of representing Britpop. And I keep reading about people saying bands like Blur and Pavement, for example, are shoo-ins, but I don’t know, I gotta see it first before I believe it.

And finally, my own personal snubs…well, now that Kiss is FINALLY in, I’m going with Deep Purple (too many anthems to ignore), Chicago (Jann Wenner reportedly is to them what Dave Marsh was to Kiss), Nick Drake (maybe the most perfect discography of all time) and the MC5 (seriously, the Stooges are in and they are NOT? Come on. “Kick Out The Jams” is bigger and certainly more iconic than ANYTHING the Stooges did. They are the first band associated with the sound that is considered punk rock) …

Sheesh, I feel like a battered wife after that. Why do you hate me, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when I want to love you so much?

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Record Store Day Returns Along With My Music Hoarding Habit

Record Store Day 2014This weekend marks the return of the annual Record Store Day. As luck would have it, I recently started buying vinyl albums. While collecting vinyl is new to me, the act of collecting music is not. I’ve owned music in pretty much every format over the years but I was a bit too young to ever actually own my own records as a kid. Growing up in the ‘80s, I jumped right into the cassette tape era. My first tape (Men at Work, Cargo) was a present for my 8th or 9th birthday. I can’t remember which; these things tend to get a bit fuzzy as of late.

What I do remember is the joy of actually owning a physical copy my favorite band’s recording.

Men at Work Cargo

The tape that started it all

That’s right, for a short period in 1983, Men at Work was my favorite band. So what?!
“Settle Down and Eat Your Peas and Gravy, My Boy.” What lyrics!
“This is the story of Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive.”  What imagination!

Not all of my cassettes were the proper studio pre-packaged release. Most of my tapes were homemade mixes filled with songs recorded from the radio. They didn’t have lyrics sheets or cool covers but it was still a physical possession. Plus, there was an enormous amount of fun that went along with my secret cassette naming and cataloging schemes. Only I could know that OMD’s “If You Leave” was on Side B of the tape labeled Radio Goo Goo Ga Ga. It was the song after Paul Hardcastle’s “19” but right before “Somebody’s Watchin’ Me” by Rockwell.

Whether it was cassettes in the ‘80s or CDs in the ‘90s I truly enjoyed the music collecting process. I loved it all, especially the anticipation of the trip to the music store. A lot of forethought went into these trips. This is a typical example of the pre-trip deliberations going on in my head or with friends:

Q: Are you going to buy Led Zeppelin I or II?

A: I like more songs on Led Zeppelin II.

Q: Aren’t you kind of tired of it though? You’ve been listening to my copy a lot lately.

A: Ok, Led Zeppelin I it is.

Q: What if the store doesn’t have Led Zeppelin I?

A: Well, then maybe I’ll have to look at the new Cult album with “Fire Woman” on it.

Q: That’s a great song! Any other good songs on that album?

A: I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just stick with Led Zeppelin. Physical Graffiti is awesome.

Q: That’s a double disc. You have enough money?

A: Ooh. No. Well maybe I’ll get that Love and Rockets album. You know, the really good one.

Q: Earth, Sun, Moon. Yeah that’s great. You can almost never find that one in the store though. What if they don’t have it?

Recent Record Store Score, Led Zeppelin ll

Recent Record Store Score, Led Zeppelin ll

And on and on and on, until the fateful day that I made it to the music store and all that planning went completely out the window when I bought the last copy of Alice Cooper’s Trash album because they played the song “Poison” over the store’s overhead speakers.

The process was easier in the early 2000s as I got older and my musical tastes matured along with my wallet. It wasn’t unheard of for me to walk out of the store with 3-4 CDs. I often stuck to the old adage, “Something old (Al Green, Greatest Hits), something new (Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin), something borrowed (Used copy of The Sugarcubes, Stick Around For Joy) and something blue (John Coltrane, Blues Train.)

Things went on smoothly like this until I started relying more and more on my computer and iPod for entertainment. Pretty soon, I had any song in the world available to me. Complete discographies of forgotten artists could be on my hard drive in the click of a mouse. That’s when a different form of music collecting took over my life. I was a full on file hoarder. No amount of MP3s could satisfy my hunger. I downloaded album upon album of songs that I’ve still never listened to. If I ever feel a need to visit the collected works of Thin Lizzy, I can. That day probably won’t come but… you never know. Every now and then, I think that I should spend some time and clean up my disc drives but I can’t ever seem to delete many files. That copy of Everclear, So Much for the Afterglow isn’t hurting anything in there. I’ll probably never play it but again…you never know.

Up until last year, I still had many of my old CDs, cassette tapes and even a few albums I picked up along the way from friends and family.

MoSS? Todd digging for records at Vinyl Renaissance in Kansas City.

MoSS? Todd digging for records at Vinyl Renaissance in Kansas City.

Mostly, these items just collected dust in my basement. I had an old turntable but ended up giving it away to a relative in need. Knowing this info, my mother bought me a new turntable as an early Xmas present. I had a pretty good time spinning my old records but didn’t really think about collecting again. On a whim, I stopped into an old record store, actually it was the very store I used to buy all of my CDs back in the 90s. I asked the guy at the counter if they had any vinyl. He chuckled and waved his arms like Vanna White, drawing my attention to the entire store.

“Look around you, man. We have vinyl everywhere. Old. New. Whatever you want.”

He was right. They had it all. Before I knew it, I had spent an hour digging through record shelves and I was holding a stack of albums both new and used. The rest of the day I had an oddly pleasant feeling rooted back to my record store experience. I’d forgotten how fun it could be searching through the bins for anything that piqued my interest. I’d forgotten the excited feeling you get after you leave the store with your purchases. I’d forgotten how I always removed the items from the bag as soon as I got in my car and looked over the album cover and read the liner notes. Something had been awakened inside of me.

Digging

MoSS? Todd and MoSS? Todd Junior digging at Kiss the Sky Records in Batavia, IL

In the months since then, I’ve made multiple trips to different record stores. If I’m ever going to be out of town, I frequently look online the day before I leave to see if there are any stores in the area. In my travels, I’ve found that there are basically 3 types of stores:

1. The stores that have used albums at a decent price and sell new albums at ridiculously high prices.
2. The stores that have new albums at a decent price and sell used albums at ridiculously high prices.
3. The stores that reek of incense or patchouli and sell everything at a decent price.

All three types of store can suit your album collecting needs depending on what you are after. My favorite store is type #3. I prefer purchasing quantity over quality and have a high tolerance level for overpowering fragrances designed to mask the smell of the “sticky icky.”

Now to be clear, I’m not one of those hardcore audiophile weirdos. Many of the albums I buy are less than perfect. I don’t minds a few pops and hisses. The imperfections can actually make the listening experience a bit more enjoyable. I also don’t that think the MP3 is inferior or that vinyl is the one true audio format. I love technology as much or more than the next guy. My wireless SONOS system probably gets more use that my record player. Sometimes you can’t beat the ease and versatility of digital formats.

With Record Store Day 2014 is coming up this weekend, maybe this would be a good time for many of you readers out there to pop into your local record store (if you can find one) and dip your toe into the album collecting pool. (I really can’t recommend The War On Drugs, Lost in the Dream enough. Great sound on vinyl.) Like me, that one visit could be the spark that ignites an album buying habit you though had long been burnt out.

MoSS? Madness 2013. Hair Band Song Edition : Finals Results

moss mad 16The final results are in!!! After hundreds…well… dozens…well…almost double digit votes, the 2013 MoSS? Madness Champion is Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle.” We placed calls into the representatives of Axl Rose hoping for comment on this glorious victory. Unfortunately, Axl Rose was unavailable for comment due to a prior commitment. Apparently, he was entered into, and ultimately won, the 2013 San Luis Obispo County Pie Eating Contest. I guess that would explain his shapely figure of late.Axl

Check out the original “Welcome to the Jungle” video from a time when Axl and the rest of us were younger and thinner.

Thanks to you all for voting. I know this year’s competition was a bit rushed. Now it’s back to the daily grind. Just back to work with no silly competitions or brackets to distract us. You may be wondering,  “What will my bosses think when I’m all the sudden productive at work again?”. I have the solution. If you feel as though you are doing too much work or going above and beyond your normal work day tasks, stop what you are doing and watch this ridiculous YouTube clip of Kevin Bacon from the movie Quicksilver. He “bike dances” with his hot ballet dancer girlfriend. Someone thought that was a great idea. Here’s the pitch.

Movie Mogul Guy #1: You know that Footloose movie made a boat load of cash right?

Movie Mogul Guy #2: Yeah so what?

Movie Mogul Guy #1: Well I have an idea for a new movie. It’s like Footloose except there’s bikes.

Movie Mogul Guy #2: Let’s make a movie!

Enjoy!!!

MoSS? Madness 2013. Hair Band Song Edition : The Finals

moss mad 16The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here. The MoSS? Madness 3013 Finals!!! With an unprecedented run to the finals, the Whitesnake song “Still of the Night” went from vote-in candidate to potential champion. #1 seed Guns N’ Roses rolled through all of their match-ups and are now poised for finals victory. Can Whitesnake do the unthinkable and survive one more round? Will the favorites Guns N’ Roses dominate yet another match-up? You, the readers, will decide. Voting is now open. If you need a hair band refresher, listen to the playlist and then make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2013. Hair Band Song Edition : The Final Four

moss mad 16

We are down to the Final Four songs in this year’s MoSS? Madness competition. Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” pulled off yet another upset defeating Van Halen’s “Panama.”   This sets up an all Whitesnake battle for the finals on that side of the bracket. On the other side of the bracket we have a match-up between #1 seeds Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi. Final Four voting is now open. If you need a hair band refresher, listen to the playlist and then make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2013. Hair Band Song Edition : The Elite 8

moss mad 16

The votes are in and Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” pulled off another upset defeating Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”  Quite handily I must add. I thought Def Lep  would cruise on to the finals. The Ratt song “Round and Round had the most impressive victory having only one vote go to Scorpions, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.  Elite 8 voting is now open. If you need a hair band refresher, listen to the playlist and then make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2013. Hair Band Song Edition : The Sweet 16

moss mad 16

The votes are in and Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” advances on to the Sweet 16 with a one vote victory over Def Leppard’s “Photograph.” Whitesnake was behind for quite awhile but a late comeback put them ahead just as the voting closed. Well done to the tie breaking voter. That song deserves to be in the competition just based on David Coverdale’s scream at the end of  the epic bridge. Now the entire Sweet 16 bracket is ready. If you need a hair band refresher, listen to the playlist and then make your selections below.

Also, be sure to check out today’s dispatch of “From the MoSS? Pit.” We made it to a couple of shows this week and Chris has some spot on analysis.

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever: Ineligible Albums and Those That Missed the Cut

We’re taking a little break from our Undisputed Top Albums Ever countdown during this busy holiday week. Instead, we are going to share with you a few albums that didn’t make the cut and a few albums that we’ve declared ineligible for selection. When we were first tasked with making these lists, we decided to limit our top 100 albums to proper releases. This meant no soundtracks, no live albums, no compilations etc. Some great material had to be omitted. Take a look at what didn’t make the cut. Your favorite record could be in there somewhere.

Don’t worry, the countdown continues next week with #20-16.

Chris’ 5 That Missed The Cut

Alice in Chains, Dirt

INXS, Kick

Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral

Van Halen, 1984 

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

INXS, Kick

cover for kickOnce I realized that Kick was not in my top 100 albums, I nearly chucked all of my analysis out the window. Not sure how this one landed at #102, given how much I worshipped this album growing up. I swear my friend Jeff and I listened to this album 800 times one year, doing SWEET DANCE MOVES more often than not (and changing the lyrics to fit our ridiculous sense of humor…we won’t go into that here). I even bought an INXS t-shirt (and it was tie-dye, naturally).

This was a more overall satisfying disc compared with Listen Like Thieves or The Swing, with song after song tailor made for modern radio but dissimilar from one another as well. “New Sensation” sounded nothing like “Devil Inside,” which sounded nothing like “Need You Tonight,” and then there was the one with the strings (“Never Tear Us Apart”). And then you had the leadoff track, “Guns in the Sky,” which is probably a bit flimsy as far as political commentary goes but sounded pretty kick-ass back then. And that monotone rhyming thing on “Mediate” was pretty cool…

Anyway, listen to my favorite song from the album below.

Chris’ 5 Ineligible Albums, Soundtracks or Live Albums

Descendents, Liveage!

Ramones, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: The Anthology

Wings, Wings Over America

Various artists, Pulp Fiction soundtrack

Various artists, No Alternative

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Descendents, Liveage!

cover for liveageOne of the albums that created the era known as BMCJMMC (Before My Cousin Josh Made Me Cooler) was this wonderful 20-song blast of live ’80s punk by Descendents. (You can’t go wrong with the studio compilation, Somery, either.) Now, granted, my 13-year-old ears perked right up once opening track* “I’m Not a Loser” unleashed an avalanche of profanity (the last four lines or so are right in the wheelhouse of a junior high kid). But once I finally stopped laughing and rewinding that song (yep, cassette era), I discovered some of the greatest punk/pop moments from a band that had street cred.

(* – technically, the first track is the one word/one note blast called “All”)

The music is tight, lean, and full of wonderful lyric topics like suburban homes and funky vans that function as homes and silly girls and not being a cool guy anymore and wanting time to woo a woman and, um, dumb stuff like “I Wanna Be a Bear” and “Weinerschnitzel.” I remember Josh and I figured the singer, Milo, was probably lying in a drug-induced coma in some gutter somewhere, when it turns out he holds a doctorate in biochemistry. Milo Goes to College, indeed. Listen to “Silly Girl” below…

Todd’s 5 That Missed The Cut

Frank Ocean, Nostalgia Ultra

U2, Achtung Baby

Massive Attack, Protection

Pixies, Bossanova

M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Frank Ocean, Nostalgia Ultra

I had two issues with this record being on the list.

Issue #1. It was too new. I have a very hard time ranking an album that is only a year old in my top 100. I need time to really decide if it is worthy. Check with me in two years and I bet it will make the cut. In the meantime, watch out Bjork, Frank is coming to take your spot.

Issue #2. That fucking “American Wedding” catastrophe near the end of the album. It’s basically him singing over the music of The Eagles “Hotel California.” A song I loath. Don Henley threatened to sue Frank Ocean if he didn’t quit sing the song. I think the world should threaten to sue Don Henley if he doesn’t stop singing it.

Here’s an example of a good song from the album.

Todd’s 5 Ineligible Albums, Soundtracks or Live Albums

Guns N’ Roses, Live Era ’87-’93

Fleetwood Mac, The Dance

Various Artists, Grosse Pointe Blank Soundtrack

Various Artists, Once (Music from the Motion Picture)

Various Artists, Singles Soundtrack

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Gross Point Blank Soundtrack

I know this soundtrack is really just an ’80s music playlist but I love it. So many great artists on it. Violent Femmes, Guns N’ Roses, The Clash, Queen with David Bowie. How can you go wrong? Not only are the artists great but the songs they chose by those artists are some of my all time favorites. Examples: Queen’s “Under Pressure”(Not Rob Van Winkle’s “Ice Ice Baby”), The Clash’s “Rudy Can’t Fail” and one my top five favorite songs ever “Pressure Drop.” Many people have covered this Toots and the Maytals classic. The Clash actually have an A+ cover version that I love. My favorite version is on this soundtrack and it is done by legendary ska band The Specials.  Check it out below.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #60-51

Yep, we’re making a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

Here are some spoilers: you’re not going to find the typical hipster stuff like Neutral Milk Hotel or Slint or even stuff one/both of us actually likes such as DJ Shadow or Pavement. This isn’t Rolling Stone so you’re not going to find Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds at the top. Wham’s Make It Big was snubbed.

We’re not going to roll it all out at once; no sense rushing through all this quality music! But Music or Space Shuttle? is gonna be pretty busy over the next two months.

That’s enough of an intro. Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #60-51

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

60. Jose Gonzalez, In Our Nature

59. The Breeders, Last Splash

58. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Source Tags and Codes

57. Burial, Street Halo

56. Radiohead, Kid A

55. Duran Duran, Duran Duran (1981)

54. Explosions in the Sky, The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place

53. Cults, Cults

52. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton

51. Pixies, Surfer Rosa

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#55: Duran Duran, Duran Duran

duran duran front coverWhen you are 10 years old and living in a town where the main music supplier is the Pamida store on the edge of town, you find yourself struggling to get your hands on a cassette from a band’s back catalog, even a band as current in 1984 as Duran Duran. If you wanted to buy Arena or Seven and the Ragged Tiger, no problem. Even Rio could be found from time to time. But the band’s eponymous 1981 debut? The Pamida staff isn’t that savvy.

But there are ways to get what you want. In my case, you agree to go shopping in nearby “metropolis” La Crosse, Wis., with your mom and your little brother and be good THE WHOLE TIME. Then, and only then, will my mom take me to Musicland and buy me the elusive Duran debut.

It was a struggle. This meant having to walk through the women’s sections of Dayton’s and JCPenney and Younkers and Maurices and god knows what else, but also not picking on my little brother while killing time surrounded by blouses and slacks. But I was on a mission, and it was successful.

And well worth it, I might add. Not only did I now possess the songs “Girls on Film” and “Planet Earth,” but I was introduced to the deeper cuts that define this album as a New Romantic masterpiece. “(Is There) Anyone Out There” is a wonderful blend of spiky guitar, atmospheric keyboards, and plucky bass. “Careless Memories” is a rock song that uses the right touch of keyboard and percussion flourishes. “Sound of Thunder” is probably the standout track on the more avant garde Side B of the album, a song that has more in common with stuff like the Cure and Joy Division than any of the “totally ’80s” stuff like Bow Wow Wow or Kajagoogoo, even though Duran Duran is often lazily categorized with the latter. If you don’t believe me, check out album closer “Tel Aviv,” a song that will defy most people’s conventional thinking about the band. (And a song that makes a wonderful soundtrack during a family vacation in the Rocky Mountains, with its soaring keyboard, guitar, and vocal effects playing against the backdrop of Colorado’s snow-capped rocky peaks.)

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking the songs you’d find on Duran Duran’s Decade or Greatest albums, but the band’s debut shows an intelligence behind the band’s glamour image that goes ignored by music fans and historians alike.

#52: N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton coverI landed a copy of this album when I was 15, and I swear it took me probably six months to get past the first three songs. Not because I couldn’t stand more than 15 minutes of gangsta rap in one sitting…far from it. It’s just that as soon as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Fuck tha Police,” and “Gangsta Gangsta” had run their course, I’d immediately hit the stop button on the boom box and rewind to the beginning, and repeat that trifecta of street knowledge.

Eventually I found the gems later in the sequencing (“Dopeman,” “8-Ball,” and the preview of Ice Cube’s solo work, “I Ain’t Tha 1”) but the opening three songs, had they been released alone as an EP, might have carried Straight Outta Compton to immortal status.

Ice Cube’s opening flow on the title track is still mesmerizing, even if the language isn’t nearly as shocking now as it was to a 15-year-old northeast Iowa boy (maybe it should be more shocking to me now as a 38-year-old father?) who thought Tackle-Hoops-playin’ Theo Huxtable was flush with street cred. MC Ren was a decent change-up to Cube…not as confident, but just as crude.

If Ren was the change-up, Eazy-E was the 12-6 curveball. This high-pitched voice talkin’ big about being tired of gettin’ jacked up by the motherfuckin’ police or being a brother who’ll smother your mother or drinkin’ Olde English 800 like a madman and steppin’ into the party and dissin’ yo ho and his boyz in the hood keepin’ him cool…WTF (as in WHO the fuck) is this? Did Cube and Ren let their little brother drop some knowledge? Is he on here because he has the best name of the bunch? (The dude with the worst name, DJ Yella, comes off as nothing more than Dr. Dre’s understudy; the guy with the oddest name, The Arabian Prince, I’m not sure he actually says more than 10 words throughout the album.)

And wasn’t I a little bit intimidated by his stuff despite sounding like Alvin, Simon, or Theodore?

I couldn’t relate to much being said on this album, but I was just one example of the thousands (millions?) of suburban kids who found themselves fascinated by the raw language and the sweet beats laid down by Dre and Yella. And this was more punk than anything considered punk at the time, the perfect music for a teenager looking to rebel against something, anything. Even in Waukon, yo.

In my opinion, once Cube left, N.W.A. went south in a hurry, at least in retrospect. (I hung around for the 100 Miles and Running EP, but then I was out.) But I’ll always go back to Straight Outta Compton to get my gangsta nostalgia on.

Todd’s #60-51

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

60. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

59. Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies

58. Arcade Fire, Funeral

57. Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy

56. Nada Surf, The Weight is a Gift

55. Van Halen, 1984

54. Ice Cube, Death Certificate

53. The White Stripes, Elephant

52. Pixies, Surfer Rosa

51. Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#59.Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies

I bought this EP on a very cold February day back in 1994. I must have come into some money that day because I remember buying three other CDs at the same time. Fine. Since you are all so curious, I’ll tell you what the other three albums were; My first copy of The Clash’s London Calling, David Bowie’s Changesbowie, and Tori Amos’ Under the Pink. Quite the odd collection there.

Let’s get back on track shall we? I was never a huge Alice in Chains fan. I enjoyed a few songs from Facelift and there was a time when you couldn’t get away from their album Dirt. Every “bro” in town was listening to that one since Poison wasn’t making records anymore. I just wasn’t as into them as some other bands from that era.

That attitude changed one day as I was driving to work with a friend. As we got on the road, he threw in a new CD and told me to take a listen. After the first few bars of track one, I was hooked. I asked who the band was and didn’t believe him when he said it was Alice in Chains. Of course, it was obvious as soon as the perfectly harmonized vocals of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell came in during the first verse of “Rotten Apple.”

Hey Ah Na Na
Innocence is over
Hey Ah Na Na
Over

The whole EP seemed completely different than other Alice in Chains releases. From the acoustic songs like “Rotten Apple” and “Nutshell”, to the instrumental “Whale and Wasp”, this was an Alice in Chains I could get into. Jar of Flies owned my Sony Discman for the next few weeks. I don’t think I even opened up that Tori Amos record until April.

#51. Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak

Nothing fancy here. Hard driving bass and drums. Overpowering guitars. Wild, growling vocals. Early Kings of Leon was straight up “we don’t give a fuck” rock and roll. Not to disparage the newer KOL music too much, but it does come across a bit more polished than the tunes on Aha Shake Heartbreak. Now enough praise for these guys. The record’s great, cool lead vocals, sexy lyrics… blah blah blah.

Why the KOL hate on a post praising their album? Because I’ve heard each of their songs so many times that I’ve lost all enjoyment in hearing them. It wasn’t me playing them over and over, but I am to be held responsible. I created a monster. A 5’2″, brunette haired, KOL listening monster.

For most of our relationship, my wife has enjoyed the same music as me. On occasion, I will introduce her to a band that we both enjoy equally, but usually I like a band and she is neutral. That’s how it started with KOL. I really liked Aha Shake and she seemed to enjoy it too.

The next Kings of Leon record, Because the Times, came out and the same thing happened. We both liked it, but she never would have chosen to listen to it on her own. Then came the fourth KOL release, Only By the Night. I got a “totally legal, not pirated” advanced copy of that record and could tell it was going to be big. There were several songs on it that just screamed “radio hit.” And big it was. You couldn’t turn on an FM station without hearing “Use Somebody” within five minutes. This is where I witnessed the early KOL addiction signs from my wife. Let’s go over the addiction checklist from a pamphlet I found on the topic.

-Frequent, bordering on obsessive KOL listening?…Yes

-Listening to KOL by yourself?…Yes

-Unable to listen to any other groups music?… No

-Internet Stalking of Band Members?…No

-Internet Stalking of Band Member Spouses/Potential Murder Victims?…No

Man was I relieved. She only got a 40% on that test. I quit worrying and everything was fine for awhile. She stopped listening to Only by the Night and we enjoyed many other artist’s albums for a year or so. Then came that home-wrecker of an album, Come Around Sundown. God bless her, she resisted at first. She even said she didn’t like it, but she slowly wore down. How could she resist. They write lyrics that are like catnip to rock loving girls everywhere. Every song seems to be about how a guy likes a girl and wants to fight some other dude so he can be with her.

Example:

The song “Pickup Truck”

Hate to be so emotional
I didn’t aim to get physical
But when he pulled in and revved it up
I said, ‘you call that a pick up truck?’
And in the moonlight I throwed him down
Kickin’ screamin’ & rolling around
A little piece of a bloody tooth
Just so you know I was thinking of you
Just so you know ohhhhh

Well, after that it was all over. We’re talking 100% percent on the KOL addiction test. Those KOL supermodel spouses better watch out. My wife is watching and waiting. If I read in the paper one day that one of those lovely ladies “accidentally” tripped and broke her neck, I will know my wife won’t be coming home for supper anymore. I may have to host an intervention or hire one of those therapists that “de-program” cult members. I’m praying for a band break-up. That could be the only thing that saves her.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

Still More Road Trip Revelations

My job sometimes requires me to spend a lot of my day in the car. Today was one of those days with quite a few hours of windshield time. I don’t mind too much. It gives me time to think, reflect on my life and most importantly listen to great music. So, on days like today I sit back, relax and turn up the tunes. After many hours alone in the car though, I tend to have a few random and moronic thoughts. These are just a few of the revelations I came away with on the road today.

Even My Beloved Sirius XMU is Guilty of Massive Repetition

One of the reasons I bought satellite radio, besides the variety, was because I was sick of the repetitive crap on regular radio. I’ve noticed that over the last few road trips my favorite station, Sirius XMU, is terribly repetitive at times. There must be a quota on certain songs because they get played a lot. Ever since Wild Belle took SXSW by storm, their track “Keep You” has been played almost hourly. It’s a great song but come on, let’s not ruin it.

Another song on ridiculous rotation is Tanlines “All of Me”. Over a 10 hour period, I ran a test to see how long it took to them to play “All of Me” after I tuned into the station. Here are the results in the S.H.I.T. scale “Songs Heard In-lieu of Tanlines”.

At no time did they NOT play “All of Me” before I turned the station. So I make a plea to the Sirius XMU DJ’s, “Please, take it easy on the repetition. You’re killing songs for me before they’ve had a chance to live their natural life span…….Fuckers”.

Nothing Oozes Class Like a Set of Fake Testicles on the Back of Your Truck

We’ve all had this experience. You know you’re super cool. Your friends know you’re extra classy. How can you let strangers know this same information while driving your truck around town? Why, trailer hitch testicles, that’s how!

It seems like I’ve seen a million pairs of these truck nut sacks hanging low lately. Here is one I saw on my trip today.

Is this meant to be cool? Is this meant to be funny? Does this guy know he just upped the Hillbilly Coefficient on his truck by an exponential rate? Was the Calvin & Hobbs sticker with Calvin peeing on a Ford logo too highbrow? It just seems spectacularly dumb to me. Maybe I am missing something…nope it’s dumb.

2012 Has Been the “Year of the Women” in Indie Rock

Last year, almost all of my favorite albums were made by male artists. Class Actress’ Rapprocher was the only album by a female artist to make my Top 10 and Cults barely squeaked into the Top 20. This year is totally different. The women are stepping up their game. Frankie Rose, Tennis, Grimes, Mr. Little Jeans (odd name for a solo female), Sleigh Bells, Memoryhouse, Blouse, Field Mouse, 2:54 and Wild Belle have completely taken over my playlists. Granted, some of these are male/female duos, but the dudes are hiding in the background while the chicks are up front kicking ass.

There have been a few dude rockers that have fought there way into my iPod. Bear in Heaven, Tanlines and the aptly named The Men have had short stints in my ever-changing “Love That New Song Smell” playlist. Very few have stuck as long as the women. Congrats ladies. Keep it coming. Hey guys! Wake up! You’re looking bad in 2012.

Van Halen’s “Eruption” is Still Bad-Ass

I flipped to the classic rock channel today and was greeted with the opening guitar lick of Van Halen’s “Eruption”. I turned my car stereo up as loud and these 37 year old ears could take and air guitared along with Eddie just like the old days. It was exhausting, but Eddie and I can still pull off one of the best guitar solos in rock history. Revisit all the Van Haleny goodness below.

All in all it was a pretty good day.  Plenty of tunes. Plenty of low hanging trailer hitch testes. If you see me cruising down the interstate sometime, go ahead and wave. I might just stop my Eddie Van Halen air guitar and wave back.