Posts Tagged ‘Radio’

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Friends (Or a Reasonable [Electronic] Facsimile Thereof)

February 24, 2011

I first heard Gary Numan on a Beggars Banquet compilation (which also featured some brilliant tracks by Peter Murphy, Rollerskate Skinny and Tones on Tail). Well, I had probably heard Cars first via the radio, which at that point was still trotting out that lurching classic 15 years on from its heyday, myopically reducing Gary Numan to a single song.

And that’s really the problem with radio. Every band exists only as their hit, no matter how many other just as catchy tunes reside on their albums. For instance, the US knows Love & Rockets as So Alive.

At least if you lived in Britain, you had All in My Mind or their cover of Ball of Confusion added to that arbitrary list. Oh, and No New Tale to Tell, which was one of about three salvagable tracks from Earth-Sun-Moon, which many people still insist on calling “underrated.” I don’t know. To my ears, the “underrated” scores are right where they should be.

But we’re not here to discuss my lover for Love & Rockets or the poorly done tattoo of the band’s logo I have tattoed on my right arm.

The follow-up question to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Are Friends Electric? is vintage Numan, all icy synths, monotone vocals and a melodic hook as big as the dystopian outdoors. The huge synth line is twice as good as the one in Cars, if only half as popular.

Here’s the original in all its synthetic glory:

Now that you’ve gone to the source, here’s two different takes on the masterpiece:

Moloko – Are Friends Electric? (live).mp3

Moloko takes the first swing, opting for a rather straightforward rendition. The main twist is part-time singer Mark Brydon’s vocals, which out-deadpan Numan’s original, lending a bit of ironic distance to the cover. It turns out a bit like something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the more restrained portions of Fischerspooner’s discography.

Giresse – Mon Ami.mp3

Giresse heads off in a different direction, using the outsized synthline as the foundation for a dancefloor killing machine. The patented Numan riff gets distended, altered, pitched and otherwise electronically manhandled over the course of the pounding track, one which wouldn’t sound out of place in Mauro Picotto or Yves Deruyter‘s setlist.

-CLT

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Proposed Additions to CBSC’s Banned Music List

January 18, 2011

Speeding through Canada's new "Alpert-Free Zone."

As you are probably aware, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council decided to ban the unedited version of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing thanks to a sole complaint by a Newfoundland woman who was completely outraged by the in-triplicate appearance of the word “faggot” and rushed to defend the entirety of non-straight humanity nearly 26 years after the fact.

You may also recall that some long-winded and profane amateur blogger spewed out around 1,400 words (about 40% of them variations of “fuck”) in response to this bit of news. This same blogger is back with more profanity and words to add fuel to the bonfire of stupidity with a list of tracks that would be better off blacklisted.

Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side
“Colored girls,” Reed? You should know better than that. The last person to use that outdated (and offensive) term was my grandfather, which makes him roughly the same age as you. So, um… as you were. Partial points for the positive portrayal of a transsexual.

Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
Plantation owner rapes slaves. Doesn’t get much worse than that. Willing to ban immediately provided Angie and Wild Horses are included for the heinous crime of being incredibly whiny, a fact compounded by their overuse as a rock radio tempo shifts/call-in dedications.

Billy Idol – Mony Mony
Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville
Two-part banning. Any song that needs the audience to create and interject the only entertaining parts themselves is wasting valuable airtime that would be better utilized airing heavy-handed PSAs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will be given a seasonal pass.

They call it a "handlebar" moustache for a reason...

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Reinforces gay stereotypes through campy operatics and bombastic multi-tracking. The moustache doesn’t help. Oh, and apparently they killed a guy. With a gun.

Three Dog Night – Joy to the World
Having just rolled out of the Happy Holiday season, do we really need to be exposed to thinly-veiled Christianity pimping?

Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me
Diabetes currently affects nearly 98% of the 75% of the American population with weight problems ranging from “charmingly obese” to “morbidly obese.” A listener might be compelled to literally “pour some sugar” on an unsuspecting diabetic sending them into shock or irreversible coma.

Plus, the drummer is still under investigation for the murder of Mrs. Richard Kimble.

Led Zeppelin – When the Levee Breaks
Causes undue panic, especially in Holland and other easily submerged countries. Let’s not even get into the Dutch tradition of jamming fingers into dikes.

Package deal: must also remove Stairway to Heaven and a track to be named later (probably Whole Lotta Love) as we’re all pretty fucking sick of hearing them.

Pink Floyd – Money
They clearly say “bullshit.” Do we really need another reason? (Ok, here’s one: quite possibly the worst song in Pink Floyd’s catalogue and I’m including the ones that are 15 minutes of dicking around while Syd Barrett looks for his remaining brain cells.) Won’t somebody please think of the children who aren’t even listening to this because they’re off in their rooms masturbating to the Suicide Girls while Lil Wayne’s nasal profanities help them figure how to treat a lady?

Elton John – Crocodile Rock
Bob Seger – Old Time Rock & Roll
Billy Joel – It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
Pointless nostalgia written by men who were relics by the time they wrote the songs, setting off a recursive wave of pointless nostalgia for a mostly purloined era they were very minimally a part of. Part of a much larger rose-tint job that sanctified so-called “classic rock” as the last “honest” music genre, directly resulting in Eagles’ concert tickets starting at $450. Willfully excludes younger generations in a unctuous display of white, upper-class exclusionism.

Jagger pitches woo.

Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb
Pure, unapologetic misogyny. At least Eminem had the decency to wrap up the four minutes of rape and murder fantasies in Kill You with “Just kidding, ladies. You know I love you.” If only Mick Jagger could have been as sensitive.

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Advocates murder as a universal solution to the problems of everyday life. Narrator utilizes predatory pricing, negatively affecting mom-and-pop hitmen. Will allow track to remain in airplay on the condition that You Shook Me All Night Long be removed from every jukebox/DJ bag in the world.

Tesla – Signs
Reinforces the dubious theory that long-haired hippies are positive contributors to society and tireless champions of the common man. Much like vampires, the moment you welcome them into your house they become a malevolent and destructively lazy force, moving in to your couch and hoovering down every snack in arm’s reach, all the while talking cocaine big about societal change and critiquing your cereal choices.

Imagine me/Working for you.” Sorry. Can’t do it. And I’ll bet you can’t either.

(Yes, I realize Tesla didn’t write this song but I’ll bet you haven’t heard the original on the radio in over 20 years.)

Aerosmith – Dude Looks Like a Lady
Steven Tyler’s rough approximation of The Crying Game creates an atmosphere of apprehension in men who are 90% sure that the lady they’re getting drunk is actually a lady.

A plea bargain arrangement allows for Dude… to stay in the rotation provided everything released after Permanent Vacation is removed from the playlist, thus freeing listeners’ ears from Aerosmith’s repertoire of single entendres and lazy ballads. Listeners are still welcome to imagine that Liv Tyler will look exactly like Steven Tyler once she ages into the shaky dignity that was Katherine Hepburn’s later years.

Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
Irresponsibly promotes inappropriate sexual relations between students and teachers, disguising the fact that nearly all of these trysts end in tears, litigation and a general increase in the male participant’s  reputation. (Cocksmithing +2)

This will also spare listeners from further diminishing returns from this increasingly one-trick pony (albeit one that has been ridden by three different jockeys).

During the full moon, Bryan Adams slowly transforms into Anthony Michael Hall.

Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69
If you can somehow manage to stretch your credulity enough to allow that Adams graduated high school at age 10, you’re still left with the rather shifty bit of sexual innuendo that he apparently layered on after the fact. (That fact being his birth date: November 5, 1959.)

Now, rather than being a blatant easy-to-rhyme fantasy, it’s actually a song about mutual pleasure. Neither kids nor their parents should be further exposed to the childish giggling at the mention of “69” nor the accompanying mental images conjured thereby, whether straight (“Ourobouros”), lesbian (“fur trading”) or gay (“recumbent bicycle built for two”).

Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Vanal references. And I’m pretty sure the old buggerer says something about “going down on the old man with the transistor radio.”

-CLT

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RIAA, Jack Ely Team Up to Deprive Themselves of Last Remaining Promotional Tool

May 5, 2009
Jack Ely shows off guitar, false sense of entitlement

Jack Ely shows off guitar, false sense of entitlement

It must be another day ending in “y” if the RIAA is on the attack again. Once again, they’re headed after the radio stations. The same radio stations that the labels got in trouble for paying to get their records played. Apparently, their only remaining means of promotion isn’t good enough.

Things used to be great for the recording industry. They donned their sandpaper dildo and proceeded to fuck each and every artist and fan out there. Then things changed. Used CD stores opened. P2P took off. Artists defected.

Now the sandpaper is in the other anus and the RIAA is feeling the “love” that they have worked so hard to create. So they have responded the only way they know how. By pressing the “Release the Lawyers” button. Now this will all come to a head as two lobbying groups and their lawyers meet in Washington D.C., the ultimate Pyrrhic battlefield.

And who have the RIAA trotted out to tug at the heartstrings of the uninformed? None other than Jack Ely, whose claim to 15 minutes was being the frontmouth of the Kingsmen’s 1963 hit, Louie Louie. Jack’s complaining that he’s not receiving any money from repeated airplay of the hit single.

First things fucking last: He didn’t write the song. Richard Berry did and he owns the rights. By Ely’s logic, the guitarist, drummer, bassist, sound engineer, producer, internist and studio janitor should all be getting a piece of the action. After all, they all were present during the recording.

2. Jack was paid $5000 for his work on this song. I get paid hourly wages at my job, working on a patented tarp system. Just because I am an integral part of the whole assembly team doesn’t mean that I should be picking up residuals from every sale, especially 44 years after working there.

Jack, if you didn’t like what you were being paid, the time to bitch about it would have been 40+ years ago, at the time of payment. Get your fucking head out of the “I’m retired, give me free money,” mindset.

3. Jack’s bitching because he and his wife have to live on $30,000 a year and they “have a mortgage to pay off.” A mobile home mortgage, to be exact.

Fuck you, buddy. I have a family of five to support and will gross a little over $40,000 this year. I have a mortgage to pay off. On a house with no wheels. Keep in mind that I’m still working and providing you with free social security money.

Yeah, your life sucks, former Kingsmen vocalist.

4. You didn’t write the song. You. Did. Not. Write. The. Song. It’s not “your” song. You were simply a tool used to assemble a novelty hit. If you hadn’t done it, someone else would have. It couldn’t have been that tough, seeing as it is one of the most covered songs in rock history. And most cover bands aren’t looking for songs with steep learning curves.

Jack Ely (center), former Kingsmen vocalist, know for his adequate singing talent and incessant "life isn't fair" whining

Jack Ely (center), former Kingsmen vocalist, know for his adequate singing and "life isn't fair" attitude

If you’re not happy with the hired gun money you made, go fuck yourself. You had your chance. I fail to see how it’s the radio station’s fault that you have the negotiating skills of a Ritalin-addled six year old.

Sure, the RIAA is primed for a “multi-year battle,” no doubt urged on by the hourly-billing lawyers. Maybe once they’re done crippling the radio stations and further destroying their already limited future, they’ll head after any marching band who’s done a blaring, atonal rendition of “Louie, Louie.” (For those keeping score at home, that would be every single marching band ever.)

The RIAA has already proved they’re not above dragging 10-year old kids and octogenarians into court, so I’m sure they’ll have no qualms about beating up schoolkids for their lunch money. And once they’re done fucking everyone else out of their money, they’ll resume fucking every artist they represent out of their share.

Postscript: while searching for more info, I came across this interesting post from Jack Ely at mog.com. And by interesting, I mean hypocritical.

And I quote:

The solution is to give the world all the free music it wants, but to give the recording entity, whether it be a record company or a producer, or whomever, a cut of every live performance.

He’s dead on about live performances picking up the revenue slack of file-sharing, but when did he decide that a 44-year-old recording was supposed to finance his golden years?

-CLT

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1991: Nirvana Kills Alternative Rock

April 19, 2009

071116_114332_nirvanaredferns_02

1991.

Nirvana releases Nevermindand singlehandedly destroys the futures of Warrant, Ratt, Poison, Dokken, and perhaps even Stryper. These hair metal bands are the known, mostly unmourned victims of the grunge revolution.

But what about alternative rock?

Before the grunge-fueled major label spending spree, there was a version of rock known as alternative rock (sometimes college rock) that encompassed a wide variety of bands including Love & Rockets, Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & the Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Mondays, James, the Stone Roses and the Pixies, just to name some of the major players. This loose confederation of bands and radio stations operated outside the mainstream (except in Britain where it was the mainstream).

Then Nevermind happened.

Major labels went on a shopping spree, selling hair and buying flannel. The most unlikely of bands suddenly saw A&R men waving blank checks in their general direction. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins were some of the more standard signees.

But the labels went further, seeking to wring the last dollar out of anyone they’d never heard of before. Uncomfortable execs found themselves flattened against the wall of the local dive, staring down the business end of the Butthole Surfers or asking the barkeep if they sold earplugs while getting to the bottom of this whole “Melvins thing.”

Case in point: Royal Trux. Fished off the Drag City roster by Virgin, Royal Trux gave thir soon-to-be-jobless A&R person the unenviable task of trying to market Sweet Sixteen, an album whose production values frequently slipped below lo-fi into no-fi and whose cover featured an overflowing, feces laden… fuck it. See the photo below.

Giving your artists creative control... it's a career-killer.

Giving your artists creative control... it's a career-killer.

Rock radio stations (who exist to push major label music and sell advertising) hastily revamped playlists and rechristened themselves “alternative.” Alternative rock stations, who had spearheaded the grunge attack, suddenly found themselves in the company of bigger, more well paid competition.

Major labels shoved everybody and anybody into the studio, grabbing them a Butch Vig or closest non-union equivalent. Turds were polished. Soul-patches were immaculately groomed. Studios turned into methadone clinics only without all that morphine or rehabilitation.

Kurt sticks it to the man. Via the man.

Kurt sticks it to the man. Via the man.

The former indie bands rebelled, often in t-shirt form. They started fires, used massive amounts of drugs, got hospitalized, broke up and refused to shower. Once Kurt took himself out of circulation, the majors were freed of their Jiminy Cricket. More cooperative and manipulated bands were signed. Candlebox, Bush, Seven Mary Three, Better Than Ezra, etc. Weak, watery shit, cloaked in the “alternative” whitewash, rinsed and sanitized for the masses.

The old altrock, with its variety and imagination, was replaced with wall-to-wall guitars, hoarse bellowing and ritualistic abuse of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic. An occasional jangle-pop band was thrown in to sucker in the ladies (Toad the Wet Sprocket, Live, etc.) The underground went deeper as the labels reps roamed the landscape hoping for the last great white hope.

Exhibit A – 1991 (the Victims):
the Pixies release their last album
My Bloody Valentine release their last album
the Jesus and Mary Chain enter the studio for their last good album, Honey’s Dead
the Happy Mondays enter the studio for their ill-fated last album, Yes Please! which bankrupts Creation Records
Ministry release their last good album, Psalm 69
Skinny Puppy enters the studio for their last good album, Last Rights

Alternative rock radio was now a loud, tuneless blare. Flannel was the new black. Grunge was the new metal. Alternative rock is dead. Long live alternative rock. 

Coming up: FNM, RHCP and RATM – Acronyms of doom. Nu-rock gang-rapes alternative rock’s cooling corpse. Meanwhile, major labels execs find Korn in their shit, feed it to the public.

Bonus download:
Solvent – My Radio.mp3
Electro artist sings nostalgically about how the radio used to be cool, man, but now it’s changed.

-CLT