kruekutt’s 2018 Favorites: Reissues

Following the jump, the reissues and compilations from this past year that:

  • For one reason or another, I absolutely had to buy (whether I previously had a copy or not), and
  • That grabbed me on first listen and haven’t let go through repeated plays.  Except for my Top Favorite at the end of the post, I haven’t ranked them — in my opinion, they’re all worth your time.  But first, a graphic tease …

 

Continue reading “kruekutt’s 2018 Favorites: Reissues”

If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley’s Golden Comeback

Fifty years ago today — December 3, 1968 — NBC aired Singer Presents … Elvis.  

At that point, Elvis Presley was generally considered a joke, a has-been.  His pioneering rock and roll days were long behind him, his singing and acting career and earning potential shriveled by a stultifying run of half-baked movies (Girl Happy, Harum Scarum, Clambake) and equally awful soundtracks (featuring horrid novelty songs like “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car” and “He’s Your Uncle, Not Your Dad”).  Presley’s manager “Colonel” Tom Parker was pushing for a holiday special where Elvis would cavort with nominally famous guest stars and sing … wait for it … twenty Christmas carols.

But Singer’s execs had something else in mind: a show centered entirely on Presley, reminding the audience of his initial, explosive impact on pop music and propelling him forward, into a fresh phase of his career.  Elvis bought in, the Colonel signed off, and Steve Binder (director of the spectacular 1964 concert movie The T.A.M.I Show, featuring The Supremes, The Beach Boys, James Brown and The Rolling Stones in thrilling live performances) signed on.   Which is why, on that night fifty years ago, as 42 percent of the US television audience tuned in, they locked eyes with a man on a mission:

Continue reading “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley’s Golden Comeback”

A Deeper Shade of White: Notes on “The Beatles”

In the 1997 movie Men in Black, Agent K (aka Tommy Lee Jones) spoke truer than he knew:

This is a fascinating little gadget.  It’s gonna replace CDs soon.  Guess I’ll have to buy ‘The White Album’ again.

Fast forward to the 50th anniversary Super Deluxe edition of The Beatles — my copy is #0112672, if you’re interested — my fifth purchase of the 1968 album.  Following the first CD release in 1987, Agent K’s prophecy was swiftly fulfilled, with 1998’s “30th anniversary limited edition” (CD #0438243), then 2009’s mono and stereo remasters each promising better sound and a more complete listening experience.  So does this new box provide anything previous versions haven’t?  And does it shed any new light on the “White Album’s” ultimate stature, both in the Fabs’ catalog and in rock history ?

Continue reading “A Deeper Shade of White: Notes on “The Beatles””

Lightning Round Reviews: November 10-19, 2018

Capsule reviews of what I’ve listened to since the last installment follow the jump.  Albums are reviewed in descending order on my Personal Proggyness Perception (PPP) scale, scored from 0 to 10.

Continue reading “Lightning Round Reviews: November 10-19, 2018”

The days of …

Remembering the days of big metal bands or rock bands seems like a recurring theme:

Where’s the iconic bands that initially came out with the sounds that you love? I’ve never seen a band that impressed me that looks like they’re going to be the next Judas Priest or Iron Maiden.” “ — Says Exodus Vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza

“there seems to be no Led Zeppelin for the current generation of music fans” — Forbes

But, we need note that there was no Iron Maiden until there was one. In other words, emergence of The Beatles or a Black Sabbath or an Iron Maiden is sort of non-cyclical. We may assume otherwise, but history itself is non-cyclic. What’s generally cyclic is human behavior. Especially our propensity to repeat mistakes, or ask instinctive questions. Even outside of rock and roll, same questions might arise. For example, who is the Antoine Lavoisier or Adam Smith or Charles Darwin of the last century! But the answer is the same.

We definitely don’t have giant arena filling heavy metal bands anymore, but the question is do we even want to go back to that time? Dialing back a vibrant musical evolution of 40 years seems inane. Back then we just had heavy metal, now it has mutated into hundreds of sub-genres. Instead of arena filling giants, we have an ecosystem and an extended research worthy genealogy. So, do we go back to stadium filling old school purists or just sit back and appreciate a hybrid fragmented mosaic — of Tribulation, Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan! We definitely cannot have both.

Analogous to Charles Darwin or Karl Marx — Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones were also originators of powerful ideas. Those ideas were transformative and spawned whole new schools of thought. They were giants because they were at the beginnings — of something captivating and novel. In other words, we simply cannot expect arena filling giants from an aging refined genre, for that we simply might have to look elsewhere.

— Image Attribution
By S. Bollmann [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

In Concert: MC50 Presents Kick Out the Jams

MC50 at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, Michigan, September 22, 2018.

Brothers and sisters, I wanna see a sea of hands out there … I want everybody to kick up some noise, I wanna hear some revolution … Brothers and sisters, the time has come for each and every one of you to decide whether you are going to be the problem or you are going to be the solution!  You must choose, brothers, you must choose.  It takes five seconds, five seconds of decision, five seconds to realize your purpose here on the planet.  It takes five seconds to realize that its time to move, it’s time to get down with it.  Brothers, it’s time to testify.  And I want to know – are you ready to testify?  Are you ready!!  I give you a testimonial.  THE MC5!!

As Brother J.C. Crawford’s ghostly, prerecorded invocation echoed in our ears, Wayne Kramer welcomed his audience (including me, my older brother, and my friends from high school and college) with a giant grin, a wicked riff from his Stars and Stripes Stratocaster, and the unmistakable, hyped-up grind of “Ramblin Rose.”  Surfing a bone-shaking wave of sound, Kramer joyously belted out a raucous vocal, reeling off exhilarating solo licks on the Strat between verses.  Almost 50 years after Detroit’s original punks recorded their live debut album Kick Out the Jams, the evening already promised to live up to the MC5’s formidable legend.

“Kick Out the Jams” itself quickly followed, with Zen Guerrilla’s Marcus Durant taking over on vocals, channeling MC5 singer Rob Tyner’s throaty, soulful delivery, stoking us up to dance and shout along.  On this and “Come Together”, Kramer locked in with Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil for a meaty twin guitar punch a la Fred “Sonic” Smith; meanwhile, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould and Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty laid down deep irresistible grooves, vibrating human bodies and rattling the concrete floor.  This was hard rock honed to a keen point —  recklessly idealistic, the barbaric yawp of youth refined by decades of hard knocks, dearly bought wisdom, revived dedication to craft and killer instinct.  Plus the obvious determination to give the crowd a good time.

 

 

Continue reading “In Concert: MC50 Presents Kick Out the Jams”

Motörhead Sunday

From the movie Airheads:

Chazz: Who’d win in a wresting match? Lemmy or God?
Chris: Lemmy.
Chris: … God?
Rex: Wrong, ********. Trick question. Lemmy *IS* God.

Was at this technical death metal show yesterday, headlined by Obscura, Beyond Creation and Archspire. In short, the most tortuously intricate sounds on the planet, playing back to back at one venue. A sonic feast. But, before tech death, thrash metal, and even before first wave of black metal, there was Motörhead.

When blues based psychedelic and space rock collided with punk riffs, it sparked an uncontrollable causal chain. So dissonant that it consumed the whole planet. Motörhead is probably what they might have termed as extreme metal in the 70s — combining that elegance of Jimi Hendrix with some distracting discordance. Rooted in blues, but playing the riffs loud enough to keep the dainties at a safe distance — essentially crafting that first clear cross-over from proto-punk to metal. In other words, Lemmy accomplished that seemingly impossible task – fusion of polar opposites – of molten lava with freezing ice – of harsh punk sensibilities with elegance of electric blues.