Fancy Plans… Guide to Rock and Roll (More Requests and Random Victims)June 4, 2009
Much like previous installments (first, second and third), almost all information should be taken with several pillars of salt. Prepare to be blasphemed and sodomized by everything you never knew you didn’t know about the world of rock.
Ever since the first children climbed out the primordial ooze, opened the lower cupboards and proceeded to beat the hell out of pots and pans, man has been searching for a way to express this musically.
Einsturzende Neubauten, formed in 1980, fulfilled this dream. Early concerts featured band members flailing away at any percussive item, including fellow band members, the audience and lederhosen-clad beer wenches. Their name, which is often misspelled (often within this post itself) means “collapsing new buildings.” In a delightful play on words (and another display of German whimsy), the emphasis can be shifted to the third syllable of the first word to form a completely different phrase: “prolapsing new rectums.”
Guitarist, vocalist and pinup Blixa Bardot, has branched out from her noisy roots to play and tour with Nick Cave as “Under-Utilized Guitarist #1.” Her distinctive sound can barely be heard during interminable live renditions of such dark classics as Stagger Lee and Piano Man.
Einsturenzo Teubauten’s has influenced a number of industrial and noise groups including KMFDM’s early days as vacuum demonstrators, the Blue Man Group and their improvised instruments, Test Department’s general political cacophony, Rammstein’s general Germanness and the first 30 seconds of Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages.
Sex Gang Children
The only band in history to have been arrested for naming themselves, Andi Sex Gang and his Children have subsequently been cleared of all charges. Despite this, their name alone has caused more stage whispering in record stores than any other band on record (runners-up include Rapeman, the Negro Problem and Celine Dion). Each album release party tends to be swarmed by irate FBI drones and concerned politicians up for re-election. The band themselves have been asked not to perform within 1,500 yards of schools, playgrounds and public television stations.
The Catholic Church has of yet refused to take a solid stance on this band and their activities, so you may be able to catch a show in the unfortunately named rectory.
Gang of Four
The original seminal punk-funk band, to which the less politically-minded the Rapture owe their careers. Originally just a poorly organized student protest, the Gang of Four coalesced their displeasure with pretty much fucking everything into a funky, left-wing monster. Tackling everything from the military (I Love a Man in a Uniform) to capitalism (It Fails Us Now), poverty (To Hell With!) and assorted other hot-button topics (Anthrax).
Much like other seminal bands, they continued on to outlive their usefulness and reformed in 2004 to cash in on everyone who has missed their topical complaining the first time around. New waves of students were galvanized by their aging rhetoric and went about making posters and whatnot.
Rage Against the Machine could learn a thing or two from this band. Oh, they did. Mainly the reforming and touring. Because there’s money to be made. Evil, capitalistic money that spends the same as good, natural money. Actually better, because the first one exists while the other is simply the brainfart of many stoned students, whose lack of interest in making money has evolved into a bizarre hatred of those who will only exchange goods and services for money. Good luck with that.
Essentially a drug habit masquerading as a chart-topping band, the Happy Mondays formed in the “Angriest City in Britain,” Madchester, in 1980. Their effect of the burgeoning “baggy” scene was monumental.
While rewriting the blueprint for club music, the Mondays also has a tremendous effect on the slang of the day. Their code words for various items became ubiquitous. A few examples: “Kentucky Fried Chicken” – Heroin, “Junk” – Heroin, “Bez” – Psycho, “Case of the Mondays” – Suffering from heroin withdrawal.
While not producing club hits and referring to everyone and everything as “cunts,” Shaun Ryder and co. were hoovering up every available drug like Keith Richards understudies. Their unofficial slogan, “Taking Drugs to Make Music to Sell and, Subsequently, Purchase Drugs with the Profits” was shamelessly ripped off from contemporaries, the Spacemen 3. This set a precedent for “borrowing” that Ryder followed for the rest of the Mondays career and his solo work, taking solid chunks of Beatles’ lyrics, Pierre Henry’s Psyche Rock and, in the case of monster hit Step On, someone else’s entire song. (See also: David Lee Roth vs. Just a Gigolo.)
It all ended the way parent and politicians like to see a powerful drug story end: a disbanded group and a bankrupted label.
As children, someone asked them to “keep it down to a dull roar.” Bush ran with it, producing some of the dullest roar imaginable, following the trail inadvertently blazed by the subpar Candlebox (“Shit! I dropped one!”)
As Bush became the poster boys for everything wrong with Lowered Expectation Brand rock radio, their name has become synonomous with all things mediocre or worse: Bush league; Bush, George; Bush pilot; Layo and Bush Wacka!; Bush, George Dubya; Bush Wick Bill; 70s’-era porn Bush.
The show pony of Chicago’s Wax Trax! label, KMFDM became the go-to band for motion picture soundtracks due to their Teutonic bombast and lead singer MC En Escher’s ability to perform in more than three dimensions.
Much has been made of their name, which fans have speculated stands for anything from “Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode” to “Kylie Minogue Fans Don’t Masturbate.” In reality, it is the somewhat butchered German phrase “Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid,” which Google translates as “No Midland Waffle Tuesday Ennui.”
A fine, if somewhat boring American-made sports car. In an effort to cross-promote, G.M. executives signed three Washington, D.C. youngsters in 1990 to “get the name out there.” Unfortunately, the band’s blend of synthpop and garage rock, coupled with their nearly lyricless output, appealed to few and sold even less, proving once again that if there’s one thing American auto executives don’t know, it’s running American auto companies.
Having become bored with chart success, dumping dead sheep and burning money, KLF founding member Jimmy Cauty formed the Orb in 1988 in a shameless attempt to court the under-hygienic and overly-broke Grateful Dead crowd. Instead of 12 minutes of guitar wankery during the “ultimate live version” of Space Truckin (Cleveland 1978), the Orb dished out a 32-minute single, Blue Room, a song which repeatedly asks the question, “Is this the best use of your time?”
Citing influences as “disparate” as Pink Floyd and Brian Eno, the Orb continued on to release several albums of audio wallpaper, under the assumption that they would be used for ravers to “come down” with while being revived by paramedics.
allmusic.com says, “If you only listen to one Orb song, that’s probably all you really have time for. I mean, you’ve got shit to do, right? Work, walk the dog and that rain gutter won’t fix itself.”
the Crystal Method
Named after Dennis Hopper’s acting school (“Finding Your Character’s Center Through Massive Drug Intake”), which followed in the footsteps of old acting buddy Jack Nicholson’s “All Blow, All the Time” theory, the Crystal Method released their debut album, Vegas, in 1997.
Released during the height of the “techno takeover” of America, Vegaswent on to become one of the biggest-selling electronic albums of all time. Despite some major label star power and MTV’s half-assed co-opting, techno has since returned to its accepted uses: scoring movie club scenes, bumper music for sports-talk radio, and the lazy ad exec’s go-to genre for making something sound “new” or “exciting.”
In America, techo remains the “soccer” of the music world, more popular everywhere else but here. Having peaked on their debut, the Crystal Method waited seven years before releasing an underwhelming followup (see also: the Stone Roses). They are set to release a new album in 2009 and I couldn’t care less.
Jamaican reggae singer who, during his brief but prolific career, released thousands of posters, hats, shirts, Jamaican flags and black velvet paintings, all featuring his dreadlocked, pot-smoking self. In the middle of the massive outpouring of self-promotion, Marley found time to release one album, the inexplicably named Legend: Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits.
Co-opted by a generation of couch-surfers, Marley’s sole album occupies a slot in even the least-discerning pothead’s music collection, alongside such favorites as Phish, Widespread Panic, the Dave Matthews Band, the Grateful Dead and, of course, Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits.
When not being used for seed-and-stem sorting, Marley’s powerful album is the cornerstone (and only member) of the stoner’s reggae collection. Unless you count UB40. (Ed. – You know we don’t.)
Easily lost in the hotboxed haze is Marley’s revolutionary work and tireless anti-racism work, as is detailed in his songs:
- “Is This Love” – the power of love; weed
- “No Woman, No Cry” – comforting loved ones; weed
- “Could You Be Loved” – again with the love; weed
- “Three Little Birds” – props to the Audubon Society; weed
- “Buffalo Soldier” – Black soldiers in the Indian Wars of the mid-1800’s; weed
- “Get Up, Stand Up” – standing up for one’s rights; weed
- “Stir It Up” – 5:33 – picking fights; weed
- “One Love/People Get Ready” – monogamy/preparedness; weed
- “I Shot the Sheriff” – shooting law enforcement; weed
- “Waiting in Vain” – covering the Clash; weed
- “Redemption Song” – double-coupon days; weed
- “Satisfy My Soul” – getting some satisfaction; weed
- “Exodus” – Moses, bitches; weed
- “Jamming” – giving whitey something to sing along to, badly; weed