Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cross-Promotion: Meanwhile, on My Other Blog...

I discuss the Creedence Clearwater Revival album Willy and the Poor Boys on my music blog, The A-Plus. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Praise of Young White 1990s TV Stars Who Tried to Rap

Possible inspiration.
I don't know if praise is the right word, but the headline is long enough without having to say "Wow, I can't believe these actors from popular shows in the 1990s attempted hip-hop careers even though the casual observer would likely think it's not a good idea."

Well, I can't believe these actors from popular shows in the 1990s attempted hip-hop careers even though the casual observer would likely think it's not a good idea.

And, uh, wow.

Crossing over from one entertainment genre to another is as old as entertainment itself. I'm sure Sophocles considered himself a very good tap dancer, but the Athenians had banned all sorts of soft-shoe, so he worked out his frustrations in his play-writing, which is how Oedipus the King went on to inspire Footloose, which has an unfilmed scene where Kevin Bacon kills Dennis Quaid to sleep with Julianne Hough, and I know none of that makes sense because I saw neither the 1984 film nor last year's remake so bear with me here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gunter Glieben Glauben Globen

The reason for this image will become clear soon enough.
One problem with having more than one blog is that you might have trouble deciding under which blog a post should run. (Another problem is having two [or more] reasons for people to not give a shit about what you have to say.)

I'm been working on a music blog centered around the highest-reviewed albums by Robert Christgau, one of the best-known rock critics of all time, and I was going to place this post in that blog, but I feel this particular idea is more personal that what I usually post there, so it's going here.

ANYWAY, here it is.

I was discussing the Marshall Crenshaw album Field Day, which was released in 1983. I'd never heard of the album, which is somewhat understandable because I was in sixth grade at the time and the album was a sales disappointment. However, the album is considered (by some) to be one of the greatest albums of the 1980s.

As I typed up my little blog post about the album, I'd wondered, What was I listening to at the time?

The fact is, I wasn't up on music much (not that much has changed since). For most of my childhood I listened to whatever my brother was listening to, and this is what he was listening to in 1983:

The only other music I remember from sixth grade was "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, but my brother didn't own the Moving Pictures album yet. (He soon would, though, and parts of my brain would be forcibly fed "Limelight" until my ears bled.) But the Pyromania album was huge, and nearly every boy in my grade would be saying "Gunter glieben glauben globen" at least once a day.

It turns out, according to trusty Wikipedia, which quotes from the "official Def Leppard FAQ" (yes, one exists):
These four words that you hear at the start of "Rock of Ages" mean nothing, though the band sometimes jokingly claims it means "running through the forest silently." It's actually just German sounding gibberish, said by producer Mutt Lange during one of the later takes of the song. Lange was a perfectionist and would often do dozens & dozens of takes, and after repeatedly beginning so many with the standard count, "One, two, three, four" he simply started saying nonsense words instead, the band liking this one so much that they included it on the album.
Def Leppard was probably my first experience with what was considered "heavy metal" at the time, later called "hair metal," and in retrospect lumped into a category, coined in a Simpsons episode, called Crap Rock.

In sixth grade the music was unlike anything I'd heard — note that I didn't listen to much of anything prior to 1983 that wasn't sung by Sha Na Na or a Muppet, and my parents didn't have cable until after I was married — but it sounded edgy and dangerous.

Allmusic, an online music resource I visit frequently, calls Pyromania an "enduring (and massively influential) classic," but Robert Christgau, who inspired my other blogs, sums it up like this:
Fuckin' right there's a difference between new heavy metal and old heavy metal. The new stuff is about five silly beats-per-minute faster. And the new lead singers sound not only "free" and white, but also more or less twenty-one. [Grade C]
Don't try to figure out what that means. Just revisit "Photograph," whose opening riffs make you want to rip donuts in your dad's car in the parking lot of wherever you're working that shitty summer job.

The most memorable memory I have of Pyromania is not directly about the music, per se, but what would be a contribution to the pamphlet Things I Used to Do to Piss Off My Brother on an Almost Daily Basis: A Study in Antagonism, 1975–1993. One of the lesser-known songs from the album is a ditty called "Foolin'":

It starts off as a slow "Monster Ballad" about empty beds and lonely nights and dead fires and extinguished flames but it eventually leads into a faster (I don't have a metronome, but it sounds faster) chorus where Longhaired Lead Singer wants the world to know that he's not foolin' around.

Only he doesn't say, "I'm not foolin'." He says that BABY I'M NOT...FUH-FUH-FUH-FOOL-INNNNN'.

My brother took this song very seriously (he took a lot of things very seriously) and when I would claim that Longhaired Lead Singer was actually singing BABY I'M NOT...KUH-KUH-KUH-KOOL-AID!!, I must have ruined the innocence of the song for him because my mocking would send him into a seething rage. It probably didn't help that I'd yell that revised chorus every single time he played the song.

But at least what I was saying was actual English. I could have been yelling Gunter glieben glauben globen all day long.