Tuesday, September 30, 2014
"Finest Worksong" performed by R.E.M.
"American Worker" performed by The Bus Boys
"Work To Do" performed by The Isley Brothers
"Keep On Working" performed by Pete Townshend
"Save The Hammer For The Man" performed by The Nightwatchman with Ben Harper
"Solidarity Forever" performed by Pete Seeger
"U Know" performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE
"WHITECAPS" performed by Prince and 3rd Eye Girl-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Rose March" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Satellite" performed by Flying Lotus
"Colours To Life" performed by Temples-WSPC PREMIERE
"Desire Be, Desire Go" (live) performed by Tame Impala-WSPC PREMIERE
"Me And Sarah Jane" performed by Genesis
"One Of These Days" performed by Pink Floyd
"Changes" performed by Yes
"One More Day (No Word)" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Everything Changes" performed by Matthew Sweet
"We're Ready" performed by Boston
"Methusela" performed by Billy Corgan with Jeff Schroeder-WSPC PREMIERE
September 2, 2014
"School Days" performed by Chuck Berry
"Back To Schooldays" performed by Graham Parker
"Back To School" performed by Bo Diddley
"Don't Be A Dropout" performed by JAMES BROWN
"New Girl In School" performed by Jan and Dean
"Play It Cool, Stay In School" performed by Brenda Holloway
"Schoolboy Crush" performed by Cliff Richard and The Drifters
September 3, 2014
"No Time To Lose" performed by Tarney-Spencer Band
"Turn My Way" performed by New Order with Billy Corgan
"Word On A Wing" performed by David Bowie
"The Sorcerer" performed by Herbie Hancock
"Strange Blessing" performed by Vernon Reid and Masque
"The Power to Believe II: Power Circles" performed by King Crimson
September 4, 2014
"Rhythm Of The Falling Rain" performed by The Cascades
"How Can I Be Sure" performed by Young Rascals
"Kind Of A Drag" performed by The Buckinghams
"I've Been Lonely Too Long" performed by Young Rascals
"Baby It's You" performed by Smith
"Happy Idiot" performed by TV On The Radio-WSPC PREMIERE
"Open Mouth" performed by Kaki King
"Inn Keeping" performed by The Sea And Cake
"Past Lives" performed by Real Estate-WSPC PREMIERE
"Love Like A Sunset Parts 1 & 2" performed by Phoenix
"Love Theme From 'Blade Runner'" performed by Vangelis
September 5, 2014
FEATURED ARTIST: RYAN ADAMS
"My Blue Manhattan"
"Goodnight Rose" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Anybody Wanna Take Me Home"
"No" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"My Wrecking Ball"-WSPC PREMIERE
September 6, 2014
"15" performed by Rilo Kiley
"Choke" performed by The Cardigans
"Ellis Bell" (live in studio) performed by The Cold And Lovely
"Boys On The Radio" performed by Hole
"Anything But Down" performed by Sheryl Crow
"Never Said" performed by Liz Phair
"Sourpuss" performed by Fishbone
"Raspberry Swirl" performed by Tori Amos
"Comet, Come To Me" performed by Meshell Ndegeocello
"The Bed's Too Big Without You" performed by The Police
"Now (And Then)" performed by Billy Corgan
"Which Way You Goin', Billy?" performed by The Poppy Family
September 7, 2014
"Ring Me Up" performed by The DiVinyls
"Mr. Telephone Man" performed by New Edition
"853-5937" performed by Squeeze
"Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)" performed by Jim Croce
"Rikki Don't Lose That Number" performed by Steely Dan
"Tyrone" performed by Erykah Badu
September 8, 2014
"Blindfolded" performed by Simple Minds-WSPC PREMIERE
"It Will End In Tears" performed by Philip Selway-WSPC PREMIERE
"Heaven's Ladder" performed by Beck-WSPC PREMIERE
"Cleopatra" performed by Weezer-WSPC PREMIERE
"Proposition" performed by Duran Duran
"Charlie Don't Surf" performed by The Clash
"Black Widow's Eyes performed by The Who
"My Favourtie Faded Fantasy" performed by Damien Rice-WSPC PREMIERE
September 9, 2014
"New York City" performed by Lenny Kravitz-WSPC PREMIERE
"California (There Is No End To Love)" performed by U2-WSPC PREMIERE
"We Are Here" performed by Alicia Keys and Questlove-WSPC PREMIERE
September 10, 2014
"Kim" (live) performed by Ryan Adams and the Shining-WSPC PREMIERE
"Crumbs From Your Table" performed by U2
"Restless Heart Syndrome" performed by Green Day
"Superstar" performed by The Carpenters
"With Your Love" performed by Jefferson Starship
"I'll Be You" performed by The Replacements
"Common At Noon" performed by Kevin Junior
September 12, 2014
"Respectable Street" performed by XTC
"Teenage Wildlife" performed by David Bowie
"Song Of Solomon" performed by Kate Bush
"The Coming" performed by The Roots featuring Mercedes Martinez-WSPC PREMIERE
"Shadows" performed by Ryan Adams-WSPC PREMIERE
HAPPY 62ND BIRTHDAY TO NEIL PEART
All songs performed by Rush
"The Body Electric"
"The Main Monkey Business"
"Leave That Thing Alone"
"The Camera Eye"
"Zen Archer" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Miami" performed by U2
"Sorrow" performed by Pink Floyd
September 13, 2014
Sammy Davis Jr. on drums and vibes LIVE
"Emotions In Motion" performed by Billy Squier
"Coming Soon" performed by Queen
"Money Talks" performed by The Kinks
"What Now My Love" performed by Sonny and Cher
"Aching For More" performed by Ryan Adams-WSPC PREMIERE
"Point Of No Return" performed by Nu Shooz
"Waiting" performed by Elizabeth Daily
"The Touch" performed by Kim Wilde
"Desire" performed by Gene Loves Jezebel
September 14, 2014
"minipops67" performed by Aphex Twin-WSPC PREMIERE
"Never Catch Me" performed by Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar-WSPC PREMIERE
"Suite For Weldon Irvine" performed by Yesterdays New Quintet
"Bird Of III Omen" (live at Red Rocks) performed by John Hughes
"First World Problems" performed by "Weird Al" Yankovic-WSPC PREMIERE
September 16, 2014
"Look Sharp" performed by Joe Jackson
"Picture Book" performed by The Kinks
"Peg" performed by Steely Dan
"Kamera" performed by Wilco
"I Turn My Camera On" performed by Spoon
"Photobooth" performed by Death Cab For Cutie
"I'll Wait" performed by Van Halen
"Freeze Frame" performed by J. Geils Band
"Photograph" performed by Def Leppard
"Animal Bar" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Anxious" performed by General Public
"Abstractionisms" performed by Q-Tip
"Alone In Kyoto" performed by Air
"Apple Of My Eye" performed by Badfinger
September 17, 2014
"Free As You Wanna Be" performed by Unlocking The Truth-WSPC PREMIERE
"No Fear" performed by Fishbone
"Time" performed by Sly and the Family Stone
September 18, 2014
"Check Out Girls" performed by The Chamber Strings
September 19, 2014
"FUNKNROLL" performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE
September 20, 2014
"Everything You've Done Wrong" performed by Sloan
"All Day Sucker" performed by Stevie Wonder
"The Pleasure And The Pain" performed by Lenny Kravitz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Too Much Heaven" performed by The Bee Gees
"Lines On My Face" performed by Peter Frampton
"Miranda" performed by Fleetwood Mac
September 21, 2014
CHEESE DAYS MIX
"Looking Through The Eyes Of Love" performed by Melissa Manchester
"Don't Give Up On Us" performed by David Soul
"I'd Really Love To See You Tonight" performed by England Dan and John Ford Coley
"I Go Crazy" performed by Paul Davis
"Into The Night" performed by Benny Mardones
"Shannon" performed by Henry Gross
"The Night Chicago Died" performed by Paper Lace
"Wildfire" performed by Michael Martin Murphy
"Don't Cry Out Loud" performed by Melissa Manchester
September 22, 2014
"Autumn In New York" performed by Charles Mingus
"Fall Suite" performed by Madlib
"The Way He Looks At Me" performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross-WSPC PREMIERE
September 23, 2014
"The British Are Coming" performed by Weezer-WSPC PREMIERE
September 25, 2014
"Indian Summer" performed by Joe Walsh
"Pennies" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Love Of The Common Man" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Easy" performed by Real Estate
"Indian Summer" performed by The Dream Academy
"Right Here" performed by The Go-Betweens
"Standin' In The Shadow Of Love" performed by Dwight Twilley
"Everything In Its Right Place" performed by Radiohead
"Low Key" performed by Tweedy-WSPC PREMIERE
"Crooked Crown" performed by The Anniversary
"Be Lucky" performed by The Who-WSPC PREMIERE
September 26, 2014
"Strange Currencies" performed by R.E.M.
"A Little More Love" performed by Olivia Newton-John
"Dance Away" performed by Roxy Music
"Protection" performed by Massive attack with Tracey Thorn
"Wrong" performed by Everything But The Girl
September 27, 2014
"Happiness Is Just Around The Bend" performed by The Main Ingredient
"I Love Music" performed by The O'Jays
"The Love I Lost" performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
"Float On" performed by The Floaters
"Betcha Got A Chick On The Side" performed by The Pointer Sisters
"Chick On The Side" performed by Bill Cosby
"I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" performed by Abba
"Miss Me Blind" performed by Culture Club
"Absolute" performed by Scritti Politti
"Wednesday Jones" performed by Stephen Duffy
"I Do" performed by Lisa Loeb
"Oligarchy Sucks" the full album performed by Georgia Anne Muldrow-WSPC PREMIERE
September 28, 2014
"Born With The Blues" performed by Lonnie Brooks
"I'm A Woman" performed by Koko Taylor
"I'm Bad Like Jesse James" performed by John Lee Hooker
"Champagne And Reefer" performed by Muddy Waters
"Meet Me In The Bottom" performed by Howlin' Wolf
"Denis" performed by Blondie
"Tesla Girls" performed by Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark
"Outer Space" performed by John Grant
"The Old And The Young" performed by Midlake
"Red Rain" performed by Peter Gabriel
"So" performed by Duke Ellington
"Don't Explain" performed by Dexter Gordon
"Misterioso" performed by Thelonious Monk
September 29, 2014
"Bitches Brew" performed by Miles Davis
"Star Cycle" performed by Jeff Beck
"Heather" performed by Billy Cobham
September 30, 2014
"Haven't Got Time For The Pain" performed by Carly Simon
"Year Of The Cat" performed by Al Stewart
"Right Down The Line" performed by Gerry Rafferty
"Lady" performed by Little River Band
"I Love You" performed by Climax Blues Band
"Everytime I Think Of You" performed by The Babys
"Carried Away" performed by Sloan-WSPC PREMIERE
"Shoplifters Of the World Unite" performed by The Smiths
"The Dreaming" performed by Kate Bush
"I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" performed by The Partridge Family
"Hiding Out" performed by Pete Townshend
"I Want To Know What Love Is" performed by Ryan Adams and The Shining-WSPC PREMIERE
"Another Heart Breaks" performed by Electric Light Orchestra
"Sugar Storm" performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross-WSPC PREMIERE
"New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" performed by LCD Soundsystem
"If This Is It" performed by Huey Lewis and the News
Released May 3, 2005
Released September 15, 1986
Released February 4, 2014
Released March 11, 2008
"LABOUR OF LUST"
Released June 9, 1979
Released April 6, 2004
Released May 21, 1996
RYAN ADAMS AND THE CARDINALS
Released December 14, 2010
"GIVE A MONKEY A BRAIN
AND HE'LL SWEAR HE'S THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE"
Released May 23, 1993
Released November 22, 2004
"PINKERTON" WEEZER Released September 24, 1996
"WEEZER" (red album) WEEZER Released June 3, 2008
"STRAIGHT UP" BADFINGER Released December 13, 1971
"ASS" BADFINGER Released November 26, 1973
Released March 29, 1979
"PRESERVATION ACT 2"
Released May 8, 1974
Friday, September 12, 2014
BONO: Lead vocals, Guitar
THE EDGE: Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
ADAM CLAYTON: Bass Guitar
LARRY MULLEN JR.: Drums and Percussion
Lyrics composed by Bono and The Edge
Music composed by U2
Produced by Danger Mouse
with additional production by Flood, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney
Released September 9, 2014
Why THANK YOU, Bono!! And you too, to The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. That was indeed a surprise.
Forget Beyonce and, to a degree, even Radiohead. The surprise FREE release of U2's latest album "Songs Of Innocence" on Tuesday, September 9th knocked me off of my feet and it was as unexpected as when David Bowie revealed "The Next Day" (released March 8, 2013) after a ten year absence from public view, or when Nine Inch Nails unveiled "The Slip" (released July 22, 2008) without announcement and for FREE and even moreso, when The Smashing Pumpkins self-released the FREE collection "MACHINA II/The Friend And Enemies Of Modern Music" all the way back on September 5, 2000 (yes, they did it first!). But, I have to admit that there was something that felt almost magical to me to simply open up my I-Tunes and find the album in full already in my files and without having to have gone through any clicks of buttons to receive the actual download. Of course, Apple paid a gargantuan amount of loot to obtain the album for such exclusivity but hey, if it's FREE for me, then why should I look that gift horse in the mouth, even when it is from such a conglomerate?
Certainly I am still going to purchase the physical release of the album on October 13th (I will forever love the tactile experience of album releases) and for now, I do not care at all about the promotion. This is all about the music and in the spirit of this album's release, I just wanted to scribble down some initial thoughts as I have only listened to "Songs Of Innocence" once as of this time of writing. Even with such unfamiliarity, emotions and words began to form...
As Bono himself explained in a corresponding interview given to Rolling Stone magazine, "Songs Of Innocence," for U2, is "a very personal album...Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys--first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there."
And "went there" they did as evidenced immediately on the album's very first song "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" when Bono sings the following:
"I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost now has been returned
The most beautiful sound I ever heard"
Eloquently direct and to the point, "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" serves as a mission statement for the album as a whole, as well as for why any of us devotees of music ever fell in love with it in the first place.
As I continued listening to "Songs Of Innocence," the first word that popped into my head about this experience was "intimate." To paraphrase one of U2's own song titles, this is a band that has always attempted to throw their collective arms around the world. Yet "Songs Of Innocence," another album of intended connection with listeners, actually sounds as if U2 are sharing stories with each and every listener as if in individual conversations with us in a pub or coffee shop, instead of collectively via a massive stadium, despite the typical anthemic choruses that pop up throughout the album. This is not to say that "Songs Of Innocence" is polite, toothless Starbucks music or anything like that...although some of you may feel exactly that way when you hear it. To my ears, it is an album that does indeed sound exactly like its title, songs of beginnings and first impressions, or better yet the remembrance of those beginnings and first impressions. After five years away, the album sounds like not much more than a greeting. While that may not necessarily make for one the of great U2 albums or even one of the great albums of 2014, it is an album that, to my ears, is more personal than anything else in the band's discography. And for that, it is surprisingly much warmer than I had thought that it could be.
"Songs Of Innocence" is not an album of grand political statements and U2 does not place themselves in the position of trying to change or save the world through music. It is not an album where the band attempts to reclaim or re-assert themselves as the greatest rock and roll band in the world either. Additionally, this is not even one of their art rock albums, the ones drenched in irony, alter-egos and sonic experimentation (my personal favorites). But as with all of their albums, "Songs Of Innocence" is undeniably earnest and filled with the type of spiritual deliverance that has become U2's calling card but it is written with the subtlety and nuance that arrives with aging and performed with an infectious exuberance. Even Bono's singing sounds more youthful than it did even just five years ago on the vastly underrated "No Line On The Horizon" (released February 2, 2009), my personal favorite U2 album.
I have to admit that I had been more than a little worried about this new album due to the lengthiness of its gestation, the delayed release dates and the arsenal of producers the band collaborated with and the mountain of material that has been recorded over the last five years. The Edge himself has even expressed that they have amassed possibly over four albums worth of material (or even five, if you count "Songs Of Ascent," the album that was originally supposed to quickly follow "No Line On The Horizon" but never arrived). And somehow, the album does not sound labored or overly fussy and tinkered with to the degree that it has become almost hermetically sealed and nearly emotionless as R.E.M. found itself with their hugely disappointing "Around the Sun" (released October 5, 2004) album. Even though you just know that every sound on the album is meticulously placed. to me, it all felt like four guys in a room playing together. And despite all of the producers involved, the album sounds just like U2. They still sound only like themselves.
As for the songs themselves, I liked the autobiographical tone of "Songs Of Innocence" in songs like "This Is Where You Can Reach Me," which carries a vague similarity to The Clash's reggae tinged selections and more specifically, "Song For Someone" about Bono's wife, "Cedarwood Road," about the street Bono grew up on, and the hypnotic "Iris (Hold Me Close)" about Bono's Mother. Those tracks specifically charmed me as again I hadn't expected Bono's lyrics, which are often cloaked either in allegories and shadows or either through worldwide gestures, to be so direct.
Even the album's mid-section, which contains the triptych of rockers "Volcano," "Raised By Wolves" and the aforementioned "Cedarwood Road" and deal with adolescent and young adulthood rites of passage like obtaining tattoos as well as the forming of political awareness due to the first hand witnessing of car bombings, also feel to be more insular and less roof raising. These are all songs that seem to be Bono speaking plainly and openly of himself while simultaneously speaking about his bandmates and furthermore, the way these songs are presented also allow us to go backwards in our own minds to our own formative times.
That said, the tracks that really leapt out at me all arrived in the second half of the album, which does contain a little more of the sonic experimentation that I like best about the band. The sinister "Sleep Like A Baby" and the moody closing track "The Troubles" (which almost sounds like it could have been lifted from The Roots' latest album of all things) are the clear standouts as they sound like extensions of what was heard on the unfairly maligned "Pop" (released March 4, 1997) or even the mysterious "Original Soundtracks 1" (released November 1995) as performed by the band with Brian Eno under their pseudonym Passengers. But for the songs that really stick, I can say that even as I write, the melodies of "Every Breaking Wave" have lodged themselves into my brain. And I do have to make a special mention of Adam Clayton who remains the band's secret weapon as the grooves he creates with the always inventive Larry Mullen Jr. further confirms that they remain one of rock music's greatest rhythm sections.
Even with just one listen and having the album for one day, the reviews have been pouring in and have to say that I am just so surprised how based they all seem to be within the cult of personality and not quite for the actual songs contained on "Songs Of Innocence." From the shockingly high and completely predictable rating from Rolling Stone (so much so that it could not be blamed if people wondered if the magazine was on the U2 payroll) there was equally predictable lambasting from the likes of the uber hipster dreck known as Pitchfork, who would have bashed any album U2 released regardless of actual quality. In answer to the immense praise, as I said "Songs Of Innocence" has not jumped straight to my heart of hearts (at least on this first listen) as other U2 albums have in the past and frankly, I do not think that it was necessarily designed to do so, as it feels to be a relatively quieter and undeniably more meditative and nostalgic affair.
As for the criticisms, well...when it comes to the remarks about how "Songs Of Innocence" is not like this album or doesn't contain certain elements from that album, to a degree I just tend to find all of that irrelevant. Face it, U2 will never make "War" (released February 28, 1983), "The Joshua Tree" (released March 9, 1987), "Achtung Baby!" (released November 18, 1991) or "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (released October 30, 2000) ever again so why blame them because "Songs Of Innocence" is not like something that it just cannot be? Now, if you hear the album and you find that these new songs as songs to be too dry, too flat, too uninteresting and so on, then so be it. But to complain that it is not a sequel to what already has been is nonsense.
For those who have spent most of a review about music to complain about U2's deal with Apple and perhaps being too beholden to remaining at the forefront of public consciousness at the expense of making great art, then you may have some valid points to make. But for me, U2 has ALWAYS been a populist band, a foursome who openly courted the masses so this particular deal is just a 21st century way to accomplish what they have always done, so more power to them if it works. And besides, the deal has nothing to do with the actual songs. They will either move you or they won't and I was moved.
For me, on this first listen, it doesn't feel as if U2 phoned it in or were lazy, especially considering the large amount of time they have been in the studio. "Songs Of Innocence" feels to be a surprisingly cohesive work that represents precisely what they did set out to make, for better or for worse. You may love it, like it or even loathe it but just judge it for what they have presented this time around. Maybe U2 just isn't making music for you as a listener anymore, and if that is the case, that doesn't necessarily negate them as artists. Who knows? Perhaps "Songs Of Excellence," a subsequent album which Bono has already teased as arriving soon (I'll believe it when it's released) may be the album that contains precisely what some feel is lacking and it may even inform the experience of "Songs Of Innocence" in the process. Only time will tell.
Another worthy question to ask is whether "Songs Of Innocence" will have the staying power to become a repeated listen, especially as I am devouring Ryan Adams' new album and EP and a ton of new releases, including two new Prince albums are immediately forthcoming. The answer remains to be seen as well.
But for this first listen, I really liked what I heard. It spoke to me. It charmed and warmed me. It made me see a new shade to a band for whom I thought I'd seen it all.
Monday, September 8, 2014
All music and lyrics by Ryan Adams
RYAN ADAMS: Vocals and all guitars
JEREMY STACEY: Drums
BENMONT TENCH: Organ and Piano Weirdness
MIKE VI OLA: All sorts of stuff
TAL WILKENFELD: Bass Guitar
JOHNNY DEPP: Guitar on "Kim," Guitar and Vocals on "Feels Like Fire"
MANDY MOORE: Vocals on "Trouble" and "Am I Safe?"
Produced by Ryan Adams
Released September 9, 2014
Welcome back, Mr. Adams!! Welcome back!!!
Since 2001, singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has rapidly ascended to the top heaps of my most favorite musical artists through his seemingly innate and tremendously gifted songwriting skills, superior musicianship, and extraordinary vocals which always feel to be very much of the present but somehow evoke the hazy glow of past musical eras, most notably the AOR radio classic rock and alternative music of 1970's and 1980's. It always has amazed me by how an artist such as Ryan Adams is able to wear his musical influences so proudly upon his sleeves and yet he sounds like no one else other than himself.
What's more, Ryan Adams just possesses a certain Midas touch with songwriting and even record production so that he has found seemingly endless ways to craft songs from a writing standpoint and then perform and record them, all with the standard instrumentation of guitars, bass, drums and minimal keyboards and other accouterments, that every song and every album sounds so sparkling fresh and independent of the albums and songs and bookend each new release. In short, his amalgamation of country, folk, rock, psychedelia, soul, punk rock and alternative (European and American) music is peerless.
Another factor that always compels me to have my jaw propped open in admiration is his prolific nature. Like Prince or Billy Corgan for instance, the wellspring of inspiration does not seem to ever run dry as he has created and released new music at such a speed that it feels as if he is trying to outrun time itself by getting absolutely everything he possibly can out into the world. This includes not only the albums he recorded with his former band Whiskeytown but also his 13 official releases (either solo or with his other former band The Cardinals), and that is not to even mention his plethora of unreleased songs, albums and dashed off internet only releases of punk rock and oddball hip-hop.
But years of punishing his system with alcohol and drug abuse, plus the relentless recording and touring and compounded by the development of Meniere's disease, Ryan Adams pulled the plug on his career for a spell beginning in 2009, placing himself into a self-imposed sabbatical during which he wrote and released two books of poetry, got married to singer Mandy Moore and generally cared for his own health. It seemed more than fitting that the last song on "Cardinology" (released October 28, 2008), the final album he recorded with The Cardinals, was entitled "Stop." And stop he did.
Ryan Adams made a subdued return in 2011 with "Ashes And Fire" (released October 10, 2011), an elegant quiet storm produced by the iconic Glyn Johns, Father of Ethan Johns who collaborated with Adams on his 2001 masterpiece "Gold" (released September 25, 2001). At that time, I wondered if this particular album would be the new beginning for an onslaught of new releases from Adams but it was not to be as three years passed without a peep or any indication that new material was really forthcoming at all, despite the fact that he had been recording new material with Glyn Johns.
So imagine my surprise when Ryan Adams returned to the musical airwaves this summer with a track that can only be described as killer! The outstanding "Gimmie Something Good" just had it all to my ears. The Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Stevie Nicks "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" strut augmented by a passionate vocal with melodies, harmonies and choirboy backing vocals that burst from the speakers and forced me to sign along even though I was hearing the track for the first time. When I subsequently learned that this was to be the first single from a new album, I began salivating for the new release immediately. And I have played "Gimmie Something Good" more than any other single I have heard this year by a long shot.
And now, the new album, simply entitled "Ryan Adams" has arrived and while all of the reviews I have seen have been good to strong, there has been some minor criticism that this new album is not necessarily a great album. Frankly, whether it is or not, to me it is an irrelevant issue because for an artists that was as prolific as Ryan Adams and now that he is returning after being three years away, what more could I possibly wish for than an album that is essentially Adams telling the listener, "Hello"?
"Ryan Adams" is eponymously titled with purpose as this is an album of simultaneous introduction to the uninitiated or a re-introduction to those of us who have loved and missed him for so long. As I have to say it, ad to paraphrase the immortal Peaches and Herb, I have been reunited with Ryan Adams and it feels so good!!
Where "Cardinology" found Ryan Adams at possibly his weariest and "Ashes And Fire" found him to be somewhat cautious, "Ryan Adams" finds our hero completely reinvigorated and rejuvenated. Like Jenny Lewis' new album "The Voyager" (released July 29, 2014), which Adams produced, this 14th album in Ryan Adams' discography also sounds as if it were recorded just down the hall from Fleetwood Mac. Throughout the album, Adams' guitars shimmer and shine, Jeremy Stacey's drums are so dryly fat and thick sounding that you can practically hear the sticks hitting the drum heads, Tal Wilhenfeld's bass playing consistently surprises with its melodicism and propulsive grooves and the album's MVP is unquestionably Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' keyboardist Benmont Tench whose supple organ performances laces every sound together as if on threads of gossamer.
Opening with the aforementioned killer first single "Gimmie Something Good" and continuing with the autumnal howl of a heartbreaker entitled "Kim," "Ryan Adams" is a determined collection of 11 tracks that all concern Adams' trademark themes of love, loss, and all manner of emotional state of turbulence, fragility and even anxiety when you hear a track like "Am I Safe?" or even the pleading "Stay With Me." Yet, these songs are not more of the barfly laments that were characteristic of his earlier material. These songs, which all contain a sheen of strong reverb, all suggest the eternal echoes of memories and regrets.
But, like The Beatles accomplished so heroically through songs like "Help!" for instance, Adams has this ability to take material that smacks of internal desperation and deep pain, hurt, misery and what feels to be so intensely personal, and craft them into something so universal and tuneful that you will be surprised at what exactly you are singing along with as the melodies are so brightly inviting and even comforting. And yet, you can never really feel too comfortable as the emotional turmoil and disorder runs rampant.
Within songs like high flying "Trouble" and the Springsteen-esque "I Just Might," motifs of burning and fire continuously arise. The ghostly yet dazzling mood piece of "Shadows" is like hearing The Smiths covering Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman" but with Roy Orbison on lead vocals. Just wait until you hear that track as it is one of the album's many highlights.
But instead of leaving us all within a state of unresolved despair, "Ryan Adams" concludes with two selections which may possibly reflect his own inner journey over the last few years from a place of upheaval to romantic, internal and artistic stability. "Tired Of Giving Up" just may be Adams singing to himself as he intones, "You'e so wild and full of rage/You keep running away," as well as the repeated refrains of "..I'm tired of giving up/And I'm tired of fighting." The album's final track just says it all within the title..."Let Go."
Yet, what always packs a wallop is Ryan Adams grasp of lyrical poetry, which is often so literal and studied and immediately conjures up imagery, either realistic or surreal, within the mind's eye. In the stark and acoustic driven "My Wrecking Ball," Adams delivers a hushed short story or inner monologue that contains the following passage:
"Lying in the bed at night
Feeling like I'm somebody else
My thought inside my head
Get lost inside the haunted house
Everyone I used to know
Left their dreams by the door
I accidentally kick them
That's how I can tell you're still not sure
If you wanna throw them out at all"
Damn that's good!
Dear readers and listeners, I cannot urge you enough to head out and purchase yourself a copy of Ryan Adams' latest album, a work from an artist who still believes in the album as existing as a piece of art and not as soulless, disposable product designed to be consumed and ejected as quickly as possible. The album "Ryan Adams" gives you the on-going work of an artist whose passion with writing and playing music is evident within every single sound that you hear, and his devotion to his chosen art is a sacred as it is playfully energetic.
Welcome back, Mr. Adams!!! I just cannot say it enough. Welcome back!!!
All music, lyrics, vocals and instruments by Ryan Adams
All music, lyrics, vocals and instruments by Ryan Adams
Produced by Ryan Adams
Released August 19, 2014
No, Ryan Adams has not decided to remake the classic Van Halen album but what he has accomplished with this digital and vinyl only EP is to re-create the energy and violently vibrant sounds and energy of the punk rock music that existed within the titular year. With 11 songs and a running time of only 15 minutes, Ryan Adams delivers an exuberant collection that sounds remarkably like his teen age self throwing himself hither and tither around his bedroom when Mom and Dad are out for the night.
So authentic this low-fi production is, that "1984" feels as if it needs to be listened to on an old ratty cassette on an equally ratty boom box adorned with stickers celebrating Husker Du, The Cramps and The Misfits. Yet, Ryan Adams being Ryan Adams, the melodies and harmonics always slice through the frenzied sonic hurricane making for an experience that is as tuneful as it is relentless.
Friday, September 5, 2014
"How do you say, 'I still matter'? How do you say, 'How does one of my contemporaries get treated like a contemporary artist, and how do I get treated like I'm supposed to play Siamese Dream for the rest of my life? At some point you've got to fight this fight or go away."
I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more!!!
Scrolling through the internet web pages early one morning, I stumbled across a headline posted on the inimitable satirical news site The Onion courtesy of their media driven offshoot The A.V. Club. The headline was as follows: "Billy Corgan Threatens To End His Band That Already Ended 14 Years Ago." Yes, it is funny, and based in reference to a few interviews Corgan has given recently concerning his musical future under the banner that essentially serves as his primary musical alter-ego,. In all fairness, the A.V. Club article is straightforward and contains none of the trademark snarkiness of the site, but that headline?! Them's fightin' words!
Dear readers and listeners, I am not sure what it is and has always been about me and with some of my musical passions but there have always been some bands or artists that I have found myself compelled to defend. Certainly the bands and artists in question have no need for any assistance from me for them to continue pursuing their respective artistic muses in the ways and fashions that they choose to do so, but regardless, I cannot hep myself but to be an advocate when I choose to see fit.
The artist in question this time around is of course, Billy Corgan, singer/songwriter/producer, multi-instrumentalist and of course, the co-founder and keeper of the flame of The Smashing Pumpkins as well as the leader of the sadly short lived Zwan (and their acoustically driven alter-ego Djali Zwan), solo artist and even author. I have defended the musical vision and artistic path of Billy Corgan once before on this site (in the October 2013 section to be exact) and while the methods of the man at times continue to confound me, my feelings for what and how he chooses to move forwards musically and remain passionate and relevant towards his art have remained unchanged. Well...truth be told and based upon the slings and arrows and misconceptions that are still being hurled his way, I just may be feeling even stronger about my views than ever before.
When I last came to Billy Corgan's defense, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, Corgan's then closest musical co-conspirator, had departed The Smashing Pumpkins for the second time, leaving Billy Corgan as the sole member of the original foursome to carry on the band's name and musical legacy while working alongside a group of revolving musicians, including the sensational guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who remains with Corgan to this day. Certainly at the time of The Smashing Pumpkins' controversial 2007 reformation, albeit without original members bassist D'Ary Wretsky and guitarist/co-founder James Iha, the fan community as well as writers/critics of the music press were understandably skeptical but as far as I was concerned, many of those people (especially "fans") ultimately became completely unreasonable with their endless vitriol. At that time, I wrote the following:
"Even the nature of the idea of the Pumpkins returning at all as a functioning musical unit has led to this endless debate about them maybe not being a "real band"...But, what is a band? Is it something akin to a gang like The Beatles or U2? Is it something like Steely Dan, The Alan Parsons Project, Queens Of The Stone Age or Nine Inch Nails--a unit that features one or two core members with a revolving cast of musicians? It is a slippery slope but why is Billy Corgan being taken to task for something that is almost a standard? Band members sometimes depart, change, disband and return for the reunion tour all of the time but for Corgan it has been seen as some sort of musical crime. Yet, for Wilco for instance, there have been many lineup changes yet Jeff Tweedy remains the driving force and no one says a thing. How about the aforementioned Guns N' Roses? With all of the hype surrounding the release of "Chinese Democracy," there just hasn't been anything in the music press comparable to the continuous scoffing made towards Corgan in regards to the fact that Axl Rose is the ONLY member of the original band remaining and the album was made by himself and a litany of musicians. Is that a band?"
And here we are in 2014, and this exact debate has only remained with Billy Corgan still being continuously flogged for what is a rock and roll music normality for others. Aside from that self-serving A.V. Club headline, which only exists to continue to fuel the shameless and never ending media driven narrative that Billy Corgan is a ego-maniacal and possibly unhinged Svengali plagued with delusions of grandeur, I have decided to come to Corgan's unrequested aid to provide what could be a counterpoint.
In the interviews leading up to the well received and reviewed concert, which lasted nearly three hours and contained a massive 28 songs, Corgan explained that the idea for the more acoustic leaning performance was to combine some of his favorite songs that he has written throughout the entirety of his career thus far. Which means, in addition to songs credited to The Smashing Pumpkins, he would also include songs from the Zwan era as well as songs contained on his one official solo album, "TheFutureEmbrace" (released June 21, 2005), some unreleased selections and even one brand new selection.
In compiling a set list of this nature, he wanted to address not only the longevity of his art but also its legitimacy, as he doggedly continues to march forwards as an artist and not succumb to solely existing as a jukebox musician being forced to perform "the hits," most specifically from "Siamese Dream" (released July 27, 1993), until the end of time.
Where I come to Corgan's defense the strongest is with this specific conceit: How does he remain seen as a contemporary artist when his audience wants to have him remain locked into his past? How does he even continue forwards when it seems that those "fans" and the music press will only allow him one crowning jewel, the aforementioned "Siamese Dream," and disregard essentially everything he has made since that album, thus unfairly negating a gargantuan body of work that I feel demands as much attention as any of his contemporaries' discographies. Because, let's be honest. If you really believe that out of the mountain of material Billy Corgan has written and released over the past 20 years contains not even one good song, nothing that is on the level of "Siamese Dream," then you clearly have not been paying attention and frankly, you are being profoundly unfair, especially when you hold up his material next to his contemporaries and definitely alongside artists and bands that have arrived long after him.
At this time, the prolific Billy Corgan has an unusually high number of creative plates all concurrently spinning in the air. For starters, he has personally overseen the outstandingly lavish reissue/remastering process for The Smashing Pumpkins' past catalog, which will soon premiere the revamped "Adore" later this month. He just released the vinyl only double album of experimental synthesizer music entitled "Aegea." He is also halfway through the writing of his self-described "spiritual memoir," and he has revamped The Smashing Pumpkins' online presence with "The Panopticon," a site where Corgan himself has written consistent updates of all of his creative endeavors.
On a strictly musical front, and in addition to the reissue/remastering projects, just since the 2007 resurrection of The Smashing Pumpkins, we have seen the release of the art metal album "Zeitgeist" (released July 6, 2007), the more acoustic driven EP "American Gothic" (released January 1, 2008), the excellent documentary feature film "If All Goes Wrong" (2008), and the bulk of the extensive and wildly ambitious project known as "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope," which consisted of a selection of FREE (yes...FREE) digital singles, the gorgeous album "Oceania" (released June 19, 2012), and the upcoming "Monuments To An Elegy" (to be released this December, an album which Corgan has delivered his play-by-play account of the entire writing, recording and post-production process on "The Panopticon" ) and the soon to be recorded "Day For Night," which is planned for release in 2015.
Now one would think that with all of that activity, regardless of whether one liked his music and artistic approach or not, that the perception of Billy Corgan as a contemporary artist would be acknowledged without question, much like the perceptions that surround figures like Pearl Jam, Trent Reznor, Radiohead and most certainly, Dave Grohl. And yet, it isn't as the music press continues to write about him within a tired "rise and fall" narrative, suggesting that the nature of their idea of acceptable success has eluded him forever due to his own massive ego. In some respects, I don't expect much more from the media, even though it supremely bothers me. Honestly, Trent Reznor can end and resurrect Nine Inch Nails, and with all new touring band members to boot, plus begin a new band with How To Destroy Angels and compose and perform film scores without question. Reznor can release the three disc, three hour soundtrack album to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" without ever being questioned or even regarded in any sense that could be construed as passive.yet Billy Corgan is deemed crazy for staging an eight hour synthesizer free form concert performance at his own tea house no less, and based upon Herman Hesse's Siddhartha.
I've said it before and I am saying it again: Billy Corgan is being held to a higher standard than his musical contemporaries but ironically, he is not respected in any way that is honestly comparable to his peers. And if even one more person tries to proclaim that all of the criticism is being hurled towards Corgan because he is arrogant, I have a news flash for you: Billy Corgan is not the first musician to walk the Earth who may be arrogant, suffer from an enlarged ego or even more emphatically, just may be an asshole. Yes, Corgan's mercurial nature can be oft putting but so was Miles Davis' and truth be told, I don't think that anyone could accuse the likes of Trent Reznor and Eddie Vedder as being jolly or overtly cheerful.
What disturbs me even more than the media's dismissive view of Billy Corgan is the continuous wrath of the fans, which is becoming even more closed-minded, something that operates in marked contrast to the ever evolving musical canvas that Corgan has weaved from the very beginning. Granted, when Billy Corgan resurrected The Smashing Pumpkins in 2007, the questions concerning the possible presence of James Iha and D'arcy Wretsky were more than understandable as the arrival of the newer members occurred without any sort of explanation as to who these people actually were. Yes, Corgan made a conscious decision to allow the music and the performances themselves to do all of the talking and in many respects, that tactic did work as over time, albeit slowly, questions about the presence of Iha and Wretsky have gradually faded from the fan community conversation.
Yet, even during the ongoing"Teargarden By Kaleidyscope" project, and with two new albums on the horizon, fans are still questioning if each new release will return to that classic "Siamese Dream" sound. Furthermore, and now that drummer Mike Byrne is officially out of the band and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee stepped in to perform all of the drum tracks for "Monuments Of An Elegy," the questions, hopes and wishes for Jimmy Chamberlin's full fledged return (is the third time the charm?) to the Pumpkins fold have returned to the forefront of the fan community conversations.
Every time I happen to read those postings on message boards and comment threads, I am flabbergasted because I just cannot believe that anyone really believes that any of those wishes are realistic possibilities, because the bottom line is as follows: Billy Corgan could not make "Siamese Dream 2" even if he tried because all of the circumstances that existed in order to create something like that album simply do not exist any more. Or at least, they do not exist in the same way, just because 21 years have elapsed.
What was simply can never be again. And knowing that, why can we not just allow Billy Corgan to keep moving forwards? Why must he be condemned by the very fans who once loved him when they could be embracing his unshakable tenacity with trying to keep connected with his muse and for sharing the fruits of his labors with all of us? Why the demand for him to just play the hits and go away without offering something that we may not have ever heard before, because there once was a time when we had no idea of what a "Siamese Dream" would or could have sounded like? It just feels wrong, especially for an artist who has never seemed remotely interested in creatively remaining in one place, especially his own past.
Aside from wishing that I could have been at the actual performance to be able to experience it first hand, I have to say that just listening to the concert has been so richly rewarding and I think it would go a considerably long way with acquainting listeners to the breadth of Billy Corgan's material. All of the songs find Corgan, who accompanies himself on piano and acoustic guitar for the bulk of the show, in fine, strong voice and the songs themselves are all warmly performed and without any sense of the combative nature that Corgan tends to bring to his performances.
The show opens with a tremendously lovely rendering of the unreleased song "Chicago," a selection which almost serves as an overture to the entire proceedings, which contain obscurities like the acoustic pop glory of "Let Me Give The World To You" as well as the unreleased "Prairie Song"and the stunning epic electronic psychedelia of the nearly 10 minute plus "The World's Fair.".As promised, songs from Zwan were included from the show's closing number "Of A Broken Heart" and the unreleased "For Your Love." And yes, Corgan, who by this point was aided superbly by Jeff Schroeder, drummer Matt Walker, and singer Sierra Swan, also included those hits like "Today," "Disarm" and a nine song suite of selections from the "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" album, including "Thirty Three,""Tonight, Tonight," "Muzzle," "1979" and the never performed "Mellon Collie" outtake "Methusela."
If you do choose to take a listen to this concert, please do not allow any pre-conceived notions about Billy Corgan's persona enter your frame of view and just allow the music to do its work and then, make a decision about what you have heard and any sense of legitimacy that Billy Corgan deserves or does not deserve to have as a working artist in 2014. I know that all I have written may sound to be nothing more than hero worship and to a degree, maybe it is because I do consider Billy Corgan to be a musical hero. No, I do not fall for every little thing that he sets his mind to. I have heard bits and pieces of his experimental synthesizer work for instance and it just does not grab me in the way that I had hoped it would. On a grander scale, the dismissal of Mike Byrne and the exclusion of the wonderful bassist/vocalist Nicole Fiorentino from the new recordings and possibly the 2015 tour has disheartened me, especially as it seemed the new version of the band had become solidified.
But even so, Billy Corgan continues to push forwards, making artistic decisions that ultimately serve his art and not the wishes of the fans and the critics. In fact, isn't that what artists are actually supposed to do? To provoke and challenge as well as entertain? Billy Corgan is the type of artist that is in short supply these days as he is willing to disillusion his greatest fans in order to serve his art but simultaneously, I also cannot think of an artist of his particular stature and of his generation who has gone out of his way to try and create a more one-to-one relationship with his fans through a candidness that is as straightforward and committed as it is mysterious and elusive.
In reference to the A.V. Club headline, Billy Corgan's artistic pursuits have actually found him mulling over the possibility of maybe even ending The Smashing Pumpkins for good and even widening the song catalog during future concert performances to include all of his songs regardless of era or band project he happened to be involved with, as long as the songs could connect together in the best artistic fashion. But whatever the future holds, I wish for him to remain intrepid and steadfast as he continues to follow his inspiration and refuses to succumb to nostalgia. But above all else, I turn to his own words, as written on "The Panopticon" just days before his Ravinia performance...
"...my life, at its core, is music-music-music, and in that, I'm blessed as an artist to still have a show to play."
And that is why I continue to love and defend Billy Corgan.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Let the musical windfall commence!!!!
While I will never understand why the music industry doesn't just spread all of the new music of the year around more evenly, I cannot help but to be so tremendously excited when a flood of new releases from cherished artists are just around the corner...and I am filled with the anticipation of racing to B-Side records to purchase each new album, ripping the plastic sheen from the cover and getting straight to my car for that very first listen.
To think that this month alone will see new albums from Ryan Adams, Lenny Kravitz, Jeff Tweedy's new project, a live album from Gary Clark Jr. and for the love of Pete, TWO NEW albums from Prince, his first official album releases in four years!!
May I only be able to keep up and may I have enough funds to cover the costs of obtaining all of those releases plus even more in the pipeline. Methinks Synesthesia is about to have a nice workout this month.
So, as always, please do keep your dial tuned into this station and for all of the music that you listen to and make for yourselves....PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!