Ten for Tuesday: Anti-Love Songs February 14, 2012Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: Amy LaVere, anti-love songs, beatles, Bob Dylan, guns n roses, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, R.E.M., Rolling Stones, Skip James, Uncle Tupelo, Valentine's Day
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It’s Valentine’s Day, that time of the year when we bestow gifts upon those we love, telling them how important they are to us. It’s a time for cards and flowers, special meals and chocolates, and, of course, love songs.
I like a good love song as much as anybody, but making a list of them is a little boring. So, today I offer you ten great anti-love songs, songs that display the other, more cynical, side.
10. Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers
Sample lyrics: “And you can send me dead flowers every morning / Send me dead flowers by the mail / Send me dead flowers to my wedding / And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.”
Yeah, keep doing me wrong woman. Here’s your flowers.
9. Uncle Tupelo – Gun
Sample lyrics: “Just don’t tell me which way I oughta run / Or what good I could do anyone / ‘Cause my heart, it was a gun / But it’s unloaded now / So don’t bother.”
That last line hurts, man.
8. Guns ‘N’ Roses – Used to Love Her
Sample lyrics: “I used to love her, but I had to kill her / I had to put her six feet under, and I can still hear her complain.” And “I knew I’d miss her, so I had to keep her / She’s buried right in my back yard.”
Next time I suggest you bury her farther away from the house.
7. Lucinda Williams – Joy
Sample lyrics: “I don’t want you anymore / ‘Cause you took my joy / You took my joy / I want it back.”
In this song she’s so hard up for joy she looks for it in West Memphis. Yeah, you know you got it bad when that happens.
6. Beatles – Run For Your Life
Sample lyrics: “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl / Than to be with another man / You’d better keep your head little girl / Or I won’t know where I am / You’d better run for your life if you can, little girl / Hide your head in the sand, little girl / Catch you with another man / That’s the end, little girl.”
They may charm you by saying I want to hold your hand, but if you ever let go…
5. R.E.M. – The One I Love
Sample lyrics: “This one goes out to the one I love / This one goes out to the one I left behind / A simple prop to occupy my time”
A prop? Dude, that’s cold.
4. Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues
Sample lyrics: “Early one morning while making the rounds / I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down / I went right home and I went to bed / I stuck that lovin’ forty-four beneath my head.”
FYI: Cocaine and guns are not a good combination.
3. Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Sample lyrics: “It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe / If you don’t know by now / And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe / It’ll never do somehow / When your rooster crows at the break of dawn / Look out your window and I’ll be gone / You’re the reason I’m a-travelin’ on / Don’t think twice, it’s alright.”
Dylan is arguably the king of the anti-love song, with scathing songs like “Idiot Wind” and “Positively 4th Street” in his long and illustrious catalogue, but the way he nonchalantly walks away in this song is just cold-blooded.
2. Amy Lavere – Damn Love Song
Sample lyrics: “Right now, I’ll do it right now / Here’s your damn love song / And don’t it say it all.”
A guy’s begging you to write him a song and you respond with “Here’s your damn love song.” Awesome.
1. Skip James – 22-20 Blues
Sample lyrics: “You know, sometimes she get unruly / And she act like she just don’t wanna do / But I get my 22-20 / I cut that woman half in two.”
Whoa. Those old blues guys didn’t mince words. Ladies, this is not a man you want to date.
What anti-love songs would you add to the list?
Best of the Decade – Music Edition November 16, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Bon Iver, decade, Eminem, Fleet Foxes, guns n roses, Iron and Wine, Johnny Cash, K'Naan, Mos Def, The National, top 100, Warren Zevon
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A few weeks ago I wrote a short entry regarding my plans for compiling a monstrous list of the top 100 albums of the past decade, from 2000-2009. Since the end of the year rarely yields any real gems in the music industry, I felt that this would be as good a time as any to start our list, so below are the first ten, those ranked 91-100, and the rest will follow of the course of the next few weeks. As we move along let me know what you think.
100. Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008)
There are few albums that match the level of anticipation that followed this, G N’ R’s first album of original material in 17 years, but nobody really knew what to expect. The result was, well, interesting. Some tunes like the title song and “Shackler’s Revenge” rock like only Axl & co. can, some, like the excellent “Better” and “Catcher in the Rye” seem to hint that the band still has great things ahead of them, and then there are songs like “If the World,” which sounds like some cheesy James Bond theme reject. It’s no Appetite for Destruction, but it’s not bad.
99. Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
There are few figures in the annals of country music with the kind of well-deserved stature that Cash had and this album, one of five produced by Rick Rubin, was a fitting goodbye to the Man in Black. His baritone was well-worn with age, but that only added character to this set of songs reflecting on a life well lived. With the end in sight, Cash’s selections were particularly poignant, particularly “Give My Love to Rose,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Hurt,” a song originally performed by Nine Inch Nails. Some of the choices go a bit overboard in the sentimentality (do we really need versions of “Desperado” and “Bridge over Troubled Water?” but I guess when you’re a 70+ year old music icon, you’ve earned the right to play anything you want.
98. Iron and Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days (2004)
Sam Beam’s mostly one man band is oftentimes compared to past artists like Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, and Elliott Smith. His fingerpicked acoustic guitar style is both beautiful and haunting, while still being quite listenable and rarely boring. On an album where the songs tend to blend together, “Naked as we Came” is one that stands out as truly great. After a hard day, this is a great one to just turn on and relax to.
97. Mos Def – The Ecstatic (2009)
Mos Def is an anomaly in the world of modern rap music. His lyrics are intelligent and socially conscious with a style that is as inventive as anybody working today. Songs like “Auditorium” and “Quiet Dog” incorporate interesting samples with good beats that complement Def’s flow nicely.
96. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
This one hasn’t held up as well for me as other albums (hip hop and otherwise), have over the past decade, but it still deserves a spot for its timely shock value and cultural significance in the early part of the decade. Though he soon became a parody of himself, this album really shook things up in 2000, providing a quite a subversive shock through the establishment with infamous songs about dangerously rabid fans and killing his girlfriend.
95. Warren Zevon – The Wind (2003)
In 2002, wry singer-songwriter Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable terminal cancer. Rather than engaging in treatments that might prolong his life but leave him incapacitated, he decided to record this, his final album. The Wind retains much of Zevon’s characteristically dry and somewhat morbid sense of humor, while offering up the poignant views of a man who has reached the end of life’s road. His cover of Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” takes on a lot more meaning when sung by someone in his state and the album’s finale, “Keep Me in Your Heart,” is a fitting goodbye for a singer-songwriter who tasted success, but never let it control his artistry.
94. The National – Boxer (2007)
Best characterized by vocalist Matt Berninger’s deep baritone and their downbeat style, The National had been playing together for several years before becoming critical darlings in the last half of the decade. Their style is expansive and lush, with songs like the politically motivated “Fake Empire” and the incredible “Mistaken for Strangers” (which is probably one of my favorite songs of the decade), this album is definitely one that needs to be heard.
93. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (2008)
With vocal harmonies reminiscent to those of past acts like Crosby, Still, & Nash, Fleet Foxes burst on the scene in 2008 with one of the more unlikely success stories of 2008. “White Winter Hymnal” is an inescapably catchy song that will grasp hold of your brain and not let go.
92. K’naan – Troubadour (2009)
I imagine that Mogadishu-born Muslim rapper K’naan just shakes his head at American rappers and their tales of life on the street saying, “You think you have it hard?” His rhymes cover timely topics involving the problems in his homeland, from civil war to pirates. Troubadour, his sophomore release, is heavy on special guests, some of which work better than others, but the overall product is quite good, especially in songs like “Somalia” and “Wavin’ Flag.”
91. Bon Iver – For Emma, Long Ago (2008)
In early 2007, following two devastating breakups (one with his girlfriend, the other with his band) and a strong bout of mono, Justin Vernon retreated to a cabin in northern Wisconsin for three solid months of solitude. Armed with his guitar, some old recording equipment and a load of heartache, Vernon took on the name Bon Iver and created this album. Songs like “Flume” and “Skinny Love,” feature little besides an acoustic guitar and Vernon’s aching falsetto, but that’s really all you need. This is one beautiful piece of modern day Americana.
Ten For Tuesday: Music to Play LOUD! July 28, 2009Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: albums, Beastie Boys, Black Keys, Green Day, guns n roses, Jane's Addiction, loud music, Pantera, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, The Hold Steady, volume
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What is it that makes us want to turn some types of music up loud, raise a fist in the air and rock out? There is just something about it that makes us want to blast the decibels to an extreme, eardrum-bursting level and lose ourselves in a cloud of crowd-pleasing power chords. Some albums are just that way and, despite the fact that they will no doubt contribute to me needing a hearing aid by the age of 40, I’m glad to have them. Below are ten albums, in no particular order, that I love to blast out loud. Enjoy.
10. Beastie Boys – License to Ill
I thought about including my favorite Beastie’s album, Paul’s Boutique, but their testosterone-fueled party anthem-filled debut seemed more applicable in this instance. Just try to keep the volume low on classic songs like “Rhymin’ and Stealin’,” “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” “Brass Monkey,” or “Fight for Your Right,” it can’t be done.
9. The Black Keys – Rubber Factory
You can’t go wrong with this loud and crunchy blues-rock duo, whose Jimmy Page-like blues riffs can knock anybody flat on their back. From the opening track, “When the Lights Go Out” (If you’ve seen “Black Snake Moan,” you’ve heard it) through the rest of this great collection, they hit as hard as anyone in the business today.
8. Pantera – Cowboys from Hell
This one will take you back. Pantera burst on the scene with this blast of aggressive metal in 1990 and it still resonates today. Dimebag Darrell was one of the most distinctive guitarists of an era and Phil Anselmo’s vocals are rife with unbridled fury. I put this album, with great songs like “Psycho Holiday” and “Cemetary Gates,” on when I’m tired at work. It perks me right up.
7. The Hold Steady – A Positive Rage
The Hold Steady have been called the greatest bar band in America and this live collection displays them in all of their ragged glory. Songs like “Stuck Between Stations” and “Massive Nights,” are meant for playing in noisy bars with amps turned up loud.
6. Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking
There are few songs from the past 20 years that are more mind blowing than “Mount Song” turned up as loud as it will go. Just try it out and thank me later.
5. Radiohead – The Bends
The first of Radiohead’s incredible trilogy of albums from 1995-2000, this strongly rivals OK Computer as the best work by the greatest band in the world. The intricacies of this album cannot be heard at low levels, just pump it up loud and lose yourself in the sonic goodness of “High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees.” It is an experience not to be missed.
4. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
I admit that I didn’t always appreciate the artsy noise-rock of Sonic Youth. Today I don’t know what I would do without them. This breakthrough album from 1988 is a blast from the beginning with “Teenage Riot” to the 14 minute “Trilogy” at the end.
3. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
This debut from everyone’s favorite rap-rock Marxists is violent, rage-filled shotgun blast that took the country by storm in the early-90’s. “Killing in the Name Of” is, without a doubt, one of the greatest, loudest anti-authority anthems ever put down.
2. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
What do you get when you mix 70’s stadium rock, punk sensibilities, and a good dose of sleaze, drugs, and debauchery from the streets of L.A.? Guns N’ Roses. And this is definitely their best work. “Paradise City” is one of the greatest rock anthem ever recorded and it cannot be played at low levels.
1. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
Not the best collection on the list, but it is my favorite from the current year and I happen to be listening to it right now, so this incredible concept album definitely needs a spot. Like many others on the list, this album is meant to be experienced as a whole, so I would encourage you to eschew the Itunes-fueled idea of downloading individual songs and get the entire thing. You won’t be disappointed.
What about you? What do you like to turn up to 11?
The Best of 2008 in Music – The Top Ten January 12, 2009Posted by Matt in Best of 2008.
Tags: 2008, albums, Best Of, Bon Iver, Coldplay, drive-by truckers, guns n roses, music, My Morning Jacket, Okkervil River, The Black Keys, The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, Vampire Weekend
Black Mountain – In the Future
Blue Mountain – Midnight in Mississippi
Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
Ra Ra Riot – the Rhumb Line
North Mississippi All-Stars – Hernando
Motley Crue – Saints of Las Angeles
Thao – We Brave Bee Stings and All
The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
She & Him – Volume I
Portishead – III
The First Ten:
20. The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
19. Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch
18. R.E.M. – Accelerate
17. Jason Isbell – Sirens of the Ditch
16. Beck – Modern Guilt
15. Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
14. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
13. Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst
12. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
11. Metallica – Death Magnetic
I am an admitted music snob that mourns the slow, tragic death of the album in favor of single songs purchased from Itunes, but, thankfully, there are still some truly great collections of music being released today. Let me know what you think. What did I get wrong? What should I have included?
10. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
I fell in love with the poppy, Police-influenced sounds of Vampire Weekend the first time I heard them. These Ivy Leaguers make the kind of catchy music that is just impossible to dislike. Kick back and enjoy.
Download: Mansard Roof, A-Punk
9. The Black Keys – Attack & Release
I first came into contact with the great blues-rock of The Black Keys in Memphian Craig Brewer’s offbeat but incredible film Black Snake Moan. I soon caught on to the duo and downloaded all of their albums, which quickly became staples on my Ipod. As would be expected, their latest release if also filled with great blues guitar riffs cranked to the max and, really, that’s all you need. I had the chance to catch the Keys here in Memphis over the past year and let me tell you, these guys are just plain awesome. So, turn it up loud and groove like there’s no tomorrow.
Download: I Got Mine, Strange Times
8. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Coldplay is the kind of band that I’m not supposed to like. Their safe, sanitized sound carefully packaged to appeal to the masses should be the antithesis of what I enjoy. But, I can’t help it, I am a fan. They have made a name for themselves by constructing huge, sweeping stadium-ready anthemic rock while still finding a way to connect personally with the individual, making music for both Ipods and coliseums. It is a characteristic to which all bands aspire but few achieve. The latest release is a great improvement over the undwhelming X&Y and may even be to the level of what is generally considered their masterpiece, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Oh, and I also want to say that Mike the Eyeguy made a perfect observation when he said some time ago that this band was perfect for running to….now if only I could myself on that elliptical gathering dust in the corner…
Download: Viva La Vida, Lost
7. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
I have been a huge fan of the Truckers for several years now and have had the chance to catch them live twice (and they are coming to Memphis again February 27 if anyone wants to go with me!), so I anxiously await each of their releases. Their songs tell distinctly Southern stories, from the myths of old to dark tales of racism, violence, and drug addiction. The lyrics and style of Patterson Hood evoke images of old men in front porch rocking chairs spinning tales about times past, but never flinching from the harsh realities of life. Their latest release, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, continues with these themes, tackling topics like alcoholism, war, murder, and crystal meth…yeah, this isn’t lighthearted stuff.
Download: The Righteous Path, Lisa’s Birthday
6. Bon Iver – For Emma, Long Ago
Justin Vernon , a.k.a Bon Iver, was having a really rough time at the end of 2006, his longtime girlfriend broke up with him, his band disintegrated, and he was suffering through a bout of illness, leaving him lonely and depressed. As a way to, in a sense, recharge his batteries, Vernon moved into a remote Cabin in northern Wisconsin for the winter. Armed with his guitar and some old recording equipment, this album was the product of those three months of solitude, as he dealt with the demons that plagued him. It’s an incredibly intimate album and one that will haunt you long after the last strains of his acoustic guitar have faded away.
Download: Skinny Love, Flume
5. The Gaslight Anthem – That ’59 Sound
In case you ever wondered what would happen if a young Bruce Springsteen had fronted the Clash, here is your answer. The Gaslight Anthem blaze through songs that seem like snapshots of real life in small town America with a punk rock ferocity. Like the aforementioned Springsteen, they name-drop characters (like Mary, unsurprisingly) all around, lending an air of realism to each of these slices of Americana.
Download: Great Expectations, That ’59 Sound
4. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
I first became a fan of this Austin band following their 2007 release, The Stage Names, but I think this year’s sequel may be even better. Their hyper-literate lyrics stand out in a time in which intelligence is seldom rewarded in the music world. “Lost Coastlines” is another song that is among my favorite for the year and I just can’t seem to get that “La la lalalala,” refrain out of my head for anything. Check them out, you’ll be glad you did.
Download: Lost Coastines, Singer-Songwriter
3. Guns N’ Roses –Chinese Democracy
Say what you want, but one thing Axl Rose has is vision. Some 17 years and all of the original band members sans Axl Rose later, G N’ R have finally returned to the music world with the long awaited Chinese Democracy, a much-maligned album that has undergone a gestation period more than eight times that of an African elephant. Its hugeness and messiness is perhaps only matched by it’s brilliance. Mind you, this collection is far from perfect. It definitely has its misses, such as the James Bond theme song sound of “if the World, but these are more than made up for by rockers like the theme song or “Shackler’s Revenge. It also has its surprises, such as Axl’s nice piano ballad, “This I Love,” and the genre-hopping “There Was a Time.” Whatever you do, don’t base your opinion on just one or two songs, CD is an album that is meant to be heard in its entirety. In this age of Ipods and single song purchases, this release may be the marker for the end of the album era…and it’s a heck of a farewell.
Download: Chinese Democracy, I.R.S.
2. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
I’ve wavered a bit on MMJ’s latest release throughout the year, but its consistent presence on my playlist is evidence enough that I love this album. This collection certainly has its fair share of weirdness, most notably in the Prince-like freak out of “Highly Suspicious,” a song whose presence I would imagine turned off a lot of listeners, but regardless of one’s thoughts on that track, though, the remainder of the album is stellar in its reverb-shrouded psychedelia, repeatedly channeling the greats ones of the past like Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and any other number of 70’s classic rock acts. I just wish I had it on vinyl…that’s how an album like this is supposed to be listened to.
Download: Evil Urges, I’m Amazed, Aluminum Park
1. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
There was no other album in the year of 2008 that enthralled me the way The Hold Steady did. The band once called the greatest bar band in America may now just be one of the best bands, period. I’ve always been a big fan of good storytelling songs and there are few acts around today that do it better than Craig Finn’s group. On Stay Positive, the band blazes through tale after tale of life on the dark side, stopping only for the few seconds between songs to take a quick breath before delving in again. The opening cut, “Constructive Summers,” has a line in it that goes, “Let’s raise a glass to St. Joe Strummer / I think he might have been our only decent teacher,” that I think probably best describes where these guys, with smart songs and classic punk riffs, are coming from. Another of the songs included tells the story of a night gone wrong in our neighboring city (“Sequestered in Memphis”) that has gotten a good bit of play here on an independent radio station and it was really what turned me on to this band in the beginning. I think, though, that one of the greatest songs on the album is perhaps the darkest, most harrowing one as well. “Lord I’m Discouraged,” concerns love in the throes of drug addiction and ends with one of the most heartbreaking couplets in recent memory, “I know it’s unlikely she’ll ever be mine / So I mostly just pray she won’t die.” Yeah, it’s not always easy to listen to, but, take my word for it, this is the best of 2008.
Free Music Friday – Axl’s Return November 21, 2008Posted by Matt in music.
Tags: Chinese Democracy, guns n roses
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In 1991, I was 14 years old and in the 8th grade at Beebe Junior High. The grunge scene had not yet taken hold of rural Arkansas, so we were still listening to those late 80′s purveyors of decadence like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue. Soon, though, that era would pass for those of us in tune with the music world as we embraced the sludge-like riffs from Seattle and the multitude of other styles moving to the forefront. We may even pinpoint the end on the aforementioned Guns N’ Roses, whose overwrought and indulgent Use Your Illusion albums ran the gamut from incredible to forgettable to just plain bad.
Now it is 2008, 17 years after that time of big hair and skin-tight leather pants. The world of music has changed and changed and changed again. The Use Your Illusion follow-up, Chinese Democracy, began to be talked about in the mid-90′s, but the secretive nature of Rose kept it under wraps for years as he finetuned it again and again looking for some elusive perfection.
Well, it’s here. This weekend, the long-awaited and perhaps unjustly maligned project is finally coming to light. This week I purchased the title song of the coming album, Chinese Democracy, and I was pleasantly surprised. It may not be Paradise City or Welcome to the Jungle, it may not have the unmistakable guitar playing of Slash, but it still has a certain vintage sound to it, from Axl’s opening scream onward. Check out the new tune below.
Dancin’ With Mr. Brownstone October 10, 2007Posted by Matt in concert, music.
Tags: alice in chains, concert, guns n roses, music, velvet revolver
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Originally Posted 10/10/07
Real, honest to goodness rock music is built on one concept that everything good (or bad depending on your perspective) stems from – rebellion. All of the sex, drugs, and crashing guitars basically come down to this one spirit of revolution, an insurgency of sorts against parents and other authority figures just for the sake of doing it. It’s about going against the grain, defying a status quo deemed to be oppressive (but most often is nothing of the sort) and resolutely affirming our independence with a big, single-finger salute. Whether it’s through swiveling hips or thumping basslines far beyond the endurable threshold of the human ear, every generation drives the older ones crazy with it.
And that’s what we love about it.
I remember as a preteen kid in the late 80’s being introduced to bands like Guns N’ Roses, who totally blew my young mind with their heavy riffs and incredibly (at least for me at that time) vulgar lyrics. It was music that set my young pulse ablaze and left me always yearning for more. As the 1990’s dawned and I entered those teenage years that are so rocky and unpredictable for boys (and I’m sure for girls also), the music scene changed and my cassette tape collection expanded to include this new brand of music stemming from the Pacific northeast that included everything from the nihilistic screams of Kurt Cobain to the straight-ahead rock of Pearl Jam, from the dirge-like sounds of Alice in Chains to the always-changing Stone Temple Pilots. And I played and played and played these albums and songs over and over again, never tiring of the sounds of my seemingly hopeless generation. It was before file sharing and Ipods, when even CDs were still in their fledgling state, and it was an incredible era to live through.
Last night I was able to relive some of those memories.
As you’ve probably read on here the last few days, I was given two tickets to last night’s Velvet Revolver/Alice in Chains concert in the city we now call home, Southaven. My anticipation for this show was as high as any in memory, even though I don’t generally listen to music of this heavier genre much anymore. In case you are unfamiliar with them, Velvet Revolver is the combination of some of the former members of Guns N’ Roses (Slash, Duff McKagen, and Matt Sorum) along with the former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland. Alice in Chains’ lead singer, Layne Staley, died from a drug overdose several years ago and they have just recently reformed with singer William DuVall from the band Comes With the Fall.
D and I arrived at the amphitheater around 7:00, with plenty of time to grab a $5 (whew!) beer and find a nice, unobstructed spot on the hillside from which to watch the upcoming spectacle. At 7:30, AIC hit the stage with a vengeance, tearing through songs like “Grind” and “Sludge Factory,” with incredible ferocity. Jerry Cantrell’s guitar sound was heavy and deep, like a dropped-D tuning played in a big pool of mud. Shortly thereafter they ripped through back-to-back versions of “We Die Young” and “Them Bones,” with the enthusiastic crowd belting out every word, “I feel so alone, gonna end up a big ol’ pile of them bones!” Mike Inez pulled out all the stops on his bass with the opening line to “Rain When I Die,” literally shaking the solid ground beneath our feet with an unbelievable heaviness. They tore through everything you would expect, “Angry Chair,” “Would,” “Man in the Box” and the crowd devoured every heavy, gut-rattling note. For the final number, Slash joined them onstage for their biggest and final song, “Rooster,” while the video screen behind them flashed pictures from Vietnam (which the song is about) and our current conflict in Iraq, complete with pictures of our illustrious president and things like, “Bush lied, thousands died.” While I’m not big on political statements at concerts, I’ll cut Alice some slack because they flat-out rocked.
After waiting an hour after the final chords from Cantrell’s guitar faded away into the Mississippi night, Velvet Revolver walked onto the stage and were greeted with a deafening cheer from the thousands of devoted fans. Slash looked nearly the same as he did 20 years ago, when G N’ R were just a group of LA rockers hitting it big, with his oversized tophat, long black hair, sunglasses, and a requisite cigarette hanging from his lips. Weiland was a maniac onstage, running about like a madman and climbing onto every surface he could find. He strutted like Mick Jagger and then glided along the stage and atop the amps like a sleek cat looking for its prey. The band tore through several of their tunes, “Set Me Free,” “She Builds Quick Machines,” and “Fall to Pieces,” (to name a few), with Slash churning out riff after lumbering riff with the precision of a Ginsu knife. Their version of STP’s “Vaseline” was killer with the screen flashing psychedelic images at a breakneck pace while the band galloped along, before they slowed things down a bit for a short acoustic selection that included “Interstate Love Song” and “Patience” – which painfully showed Weiland’s vocal limitations compared to Axl Rose’s (he could not get anywhere near Axl’s screamed, “I’ve been walking the streets at night…). As one of their final songs before the encore, the band ripped up G N’ R’s ode to vulgarity, “It’s So Easy,” leaving the crowd yelling for more.
Soon, they returned for an encore that brought the whole arena down, beginning with G N R’s “Mr. Brownstone,” immediately followed by “Sex Type Thing,” and again the crowd went absolutely crazy. Weiland then went on some strange Jim Morrison-esque tirade of bad beat poetry set to a beat from the band that I just didn’t really get, but the final song, Velvet Revolver’s “Slither,” was a rollicking good time and we left drained of energy, but satisfied that we had just witnessed one of the last truly great rock bands.
Return to Paradise City July 23, 2007Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: Appetite for Destruction, guns n roses, innocence lost, music
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Originally Posted 7/23/07
Over the weekend I had the need to drive across town for one reason or another, but, like any car ride that necessitates more than 5 minutes of my day, I had to pick out some musical accompaniment for the short trip. Soon I came upon a CD that I had most likely not listened to in years, an album that whose cassette copy I had treasured as a young adolescent looking to make heads or tails of the fast approaching teenage world – Guns N’ Roses’ classic Appetite for Destruction.
I held the silver disc in my hands for just a moment, realizing that this quintessential piece of rock history was now 20 years old, and reflected a bit on the profound influence that music can have on young ears – most notably in this instance, mine. I remember, as a ten year old boy in a little rural Arkansas town, first coming into contact with this magical 1980′s musical bedrock through a friend who most likely had cable television, and by extension MTV, a luxury that those of us living beyond where the pavement ends didn’t have.
Hearing those first, lonely, reverberated notes emanating from Slash’s guitar as they quickly accelerated and were soon entwined with the unearthly howl of Axl Rose in what may have been the greatest opening since Black Dog’s “Hey, Hey Mama” on Zep 4, opened my eyes, ears, and mind to a new and different world. No longer would Oak Ridge Boys records suffice in this new musical world of debauchery and excess – something new, something primal had awakened.
As a kid who had never been privy to much profanity before, the raunchy lyrics of tunes like, “It’s So Easy,” shocked by senses to an extent that they never had been before. The guitar infused tales of sex and drugs jolted this small town guy, leaving me amazed and bewildered at this previously unheard crassness but hungry for more.
A part of my innocence was lost that day….
But, on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, as I turned the volume up and sang aloud to the great “Paradise City,” I’m not complaining.