Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best and Worst of Music 2008

This is just a quick list and I know that I'm forgetting some good and not so good music. If I remember something worthy I'll update the list. To be on this list means that it has to be something that I might have interest in so people like Brittney Spears and her ilk aren't even considered. They are by definition bad music already and not worth my effort to review. Time has not been on my side what with taking care of my 20 month old son so please be kind and remember that this is only my opinion. You don't have to agree with me and if you notice any mistakes well.........get over it. Let's get started shall we?

Best of 2008

Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal – I absolutely love Alejandro’s music so it was a bit unusual for me to find that I couldn’t get past the first few songs. It was only after several repeated listenings that I began to really appreciate this entire cd. It is simply wonderful.

Tesla – Forever More – Tesla comes back with great music and even greater lyrics. Their song ideas are extremely good and always make me think. The music is as always out of sight.

AC/DCBlack Ice – Also back (from down under) is this great rock band with a great rock record. They are a timeless band and it shows on this release. Easily their best release in the last 15 years or so.

D.A.D.Monster Philosophy – This one is under constant rotation in my cd player. It has great lyrics and a nice variety of song styles and is solid from track 1 to track 13. Everybody I have played this for really likes it. These are just very good rock songs. Enough said.

Grupo FantasmaSonidas Gold – This band has received a Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album’ which doesn’t even fully define what their sound is all about. You could call it cumbia/salsa/jazz/funk/rock and still not quite get it right. I just call it good music.

Kings of LeonOnly by the Night – It’s nice to hear a singer have some real passion in his voice instead of simply running scales. It starts off very slow and I almost couldn’t get past that. Luckily I did and the moody presence had a way of growing on me.

MetallicaDeath Magnetic – Look for a post on Metallica soon and my thoughts on them. They’ve managed to finally return to their roots and do it well. That means a lot coming from me.

Los FabulocosLos Fabulocos – Take some cali-mex roots music and mix it with blues, zydeco, conjunto, norteno, blues, rockabilly and rock n roll and this is what Los Fabulocos sounds like. Kid Ramos is well known in the roots and blues music community and his guitar drives the music. Plus my 19 month old absolutely loves them, what better plug could you give them?

JourneyRevelation – Arnel Pineda does a fantastic job of sounding close to Steve Perry while keeping his own identity. Journey is back in a big way but unfortunately I couldn’t see them live this year. Hopefully they’ll come back around next year.

Kings XXV - This is another one has slowly grown on me. It took several listenings before I came to really appreciate the quality that Kings X brings out.

Night RangerHole In The Sun – Very solid effort from this long running group. They manage to branch out and try some different things musically while still building on their trademark sound.

WhitesnakeGood To Be Bad - Although some songs sound extremely familiar David Coverdale still sounds great as do the songs. Sounds like popular Whitesnake mixed with Slide It In era Whitesnake. Doug Aldrich brings a bit of a harder edge with his guitar mastery.

DokkenLightning Strikes Again – Don Dokken can’t hit the high notes he used to but that’s okay, not many vocalists can. This is vintage Dokken sounding music and it’s quite good.

White LionReturn of the Pride – Although only singer Mike Tramp is back they still manage to turn in a solid effort after being away for a long time. One of the many bands that I “could” have seen this year but never did. You can read about that in an earlier post as well.

Rick SpringfieldVenus In Overdrive – For at least one song (What’s Victoria’s Secret) Rick’s vintage power pop sound from the early 80s is back and for me that makes it worth it. When you add in all the other good songs this is a no-brainer.

Worst of 2008

Def LeppardSongs From The Sparkle Lounge – Joe Elliott just can’t do it anymore without having his vocals heavily synthesized. It comes off without any real emotion.

Sammy HagarCosmic Universal Fashion - See my previous posts about my views on Sammy’s latest.

Guns N RosesChinese Democracy – Ditto.

Motley CrueSaints of Los Angeles – This just didn’t go over for me. They tried too hard to show that they were still relevant and the lyrics especially suffer drastically.

ExtremeSaudades de Rock – To be honest I have only heard a few songs off of this travesty but it was enough to put me off. They were absolutely dreadful.

Bret MichaelsRock My World – Let’s see, a couple of lame new songs added to a bunch of songs from previous solo releases adds up to crap. That about sums it up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Hit Wonders Or Not?

My favorite podcast (Stuck In The 80s) frequently does shows with topics like One Hit Wonders of 1983, 1984, etc. Invariably when they tab an artist or group as a one hit wonder they get a slew of complaints from all over the world from fans who assure them that their favorite artist/band had many more hits than they give them credit for. They offer as evidence the chart positions from their countries for these artists. For me this is a problem. You see if I am living in America and am doing my own list it means I’m talking about the American charts. I didn’t grow up in England, India, Peru or any other country. I grew up listening to music and watching videos in America so it only makes sense to refer to the American charts since that is what I experienced and lived through.

It doesn’t mean that there weren’t any foreign bands on the list, just that I’m using my country of origin as the basis for my information. There are a ton of foreign bands whose music I adored (still do as a matter of fact) such as The Clash, The Specials, The English Beat, Big Country and countless others. Unfortunately I did not live in these bands countries and as such the favorite songs of that era by these individual listeners in their country has absolutely no bearing or influence on my life because I never experienced it. The flip side to this is that they never experienced mine either. I’ve listened to quite a few interviews where an artist talks about how in America a particular song was huge but in his own home country it did nothing at all. There are artists who couldn’t get recognized by their own mothers here in the states but in Japan are revered as god-like creatures. It all depends on where you live and where you come from, what your influences are and what touches you personally and makes an impression.

So when you hear a one hit wonders or top songs list ignore the fact that your hair starts bristling on your arms, neck and ears over the injustice that you feel is being done to your favorite artist. Take a breath and remember that just because a song was huge in your country does not mean it was huge all over the world. Feel free to make your point that said band was more than a one hit wonder where you come from but also understand that it’s not necessarily so all over the world. Don’t take offense. Live and let live and remember that I’m not wrong, I’m not right, I’m just opinionated.

Should Kid Rock Get To Choose His Punishment?

Kid Rock has something he wants to get off his chest. You see he and others got into a fight at a Waffle House and he got arrested. He was given community service and he petitioned the judge that his punishment should be for him to put on shows for troops overseas. That sounds great, right? Give the troops a little entertainment, shake a few hands and sign some autographs then everybody is happy. Except for the judge that is. The judge said no to Kid Rock's request. Kid Rock is so angered by this seemingly Un-American gesture that he's letting everybody know about it. He's posted about it on his website and is getting lots of free press over this situation. He actually has the temerity to suggest that the judge is against our troops who are serving their country and risking it all for our freedom (even though freedom is an illusion but I digress). Of course all those fans who are members on his website are rallying to his side with their usual misinformed garbage comments fully supporting him.

The only problem is that Kid Rock is leaving out a few important details. First is that he has done these shows for the troops before and has every intention of doing them again. He is to be commended for that. It's good to see people supporting the soldiers. However this does appear to make his motives a little suspect. Second is that before the judge made his decision Kid did a benefit at a local Waffle House and raised money for charity. That's good right? Except for the fact that he appears to have done this to influence the judge. Basically Kid Rock wants to pick his punishment and wants it to be something he would have done anyway. Where exactly is the justice in this? Where is the lesson for Kid Rock and anybody who listens to his music? The only lesson I see is do whatever you want and when you get in trouble you get to do what you do for a living. Wow, what a hard lesson to learn from. Go play music for soldiers and have them heap adulation on you so that your head can swell a little larger.

Here's a thought. What if you or I, the "regular" people had the same thing happen to us? Would we be able to pick and choose our punishment? I'm talking about the bus drivers, the teachers, the clerks and the other anonymous masses. For some reason I think the judge would tell us what our punishment would be and it would be punishment. We would have to sacrifice money and time, time away from our families in order to have justice be served. There would be no comfortable airline flights, no praise and glory wherever we go. We would not be catered to, our every wish fulfilled immediately. If Kid Rock were to have his way there would be nothing to make him learn a lesson and act like a responsible adult instead of getting into fights at 5 am in all night diners. He'd just buy his way out of it again by doing his job, what he makes a living doing.

If you can't tell by now I fully support the judges decision and commend him for it. Kid Rock needs to get off his high horse and get over himself. He did the crime so now he must do the punishment and stop whining because he can't choose what it will be. He does a disservice to himself and all those who truly have learned their lessons in life and strive never to repeat their past mistakes. We can no longer passively support the privileged few and let them have their way. I for one hope to see him picking up trash on the side of the road or some other such activity. Then he would earn my respect. But hey, it's only my opinion, what do I know? I'm only a veteran of the first Gulf War.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The 2008 Concert Year

2008 seemed like it was going to be a banner year of concerts for me. Instead I suffered through disappointment after disappointment which means it was a pretty normal year. The Nuevo Anos started off great with a David Lee Roth led Van Halen reunion (sans Michael Anthony which seemed quite odd) in February and was quickly followed in March by a bill that included Dangerous Toys and Junkyard and then I finally saw Tesla the following week. To say that I was giddy and flushed with excitement would be an understatement of enormous proportions. Next up in April was Rush. I am a great fan of Rush and this was my 6th time seeing them. So far so good as every show delivered and more than met up to my expectations.

With May there only seemed to be one show that might seem possible. Huey Lewis and the News were playing and I thought that my wife might like to go. No really. Look I’ll admit that they had quite a few good songs back in the day that I did like listening to but unless something like free tickets fell into my lap I really wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. It’s nothing personal against them; there are quite a few groups from the 80s that I feel that way about. So anyway, since we were going to Peru at the end of the month we decided to save our money. The trip to Peru was for several reasons. First was for my wife to see her family whom she had not seen since she came to America (except for her mother who lives in Pennsylvania) over 5 years ago. The second reason was for her family to see our son who at the time was 13 months old and is the first grandchild and great-grandchild in the family. The third reason was with my expert planning; the only band that I could find that I wanted to see playing in Lima while we were there in June was Megadeth. While I am not a huge Megadeth fan I do like a lot of their music so I thought this would be a great accent to the vacation. Unfortunately money was tight due to some unforeseen emergencies and the fact that my brother in law informed me that the concert stadium was not exactly in great condition and was not very close which all added up to no concert for me. But that’s okay I thought. Even though this was disappointing for me there are plenty of concerts this summer when I get home that I can see. Right? Right? Why do I hear crickets?

Once we had returned to the states Rancid was playing but money was still tight so I had to reluctantly pass. In July Rocklahoma rolled around but I had already decided not to go due to the lineup sucking mightily. Seriously, there was not one single day that had enough groups playing that I wanted to see that would make it worth my time and money. I could have seen Jetboy except I didn’t find out they were playing a show here (a day or so before they were playing Rocklahoma) until they were halfway through their set at a club literally 3 blocks from my house while I slaved away at work. Also in July there was the sold out Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick triple bill in Oklahoma City and The Romantics here in Tulsa at The Cherokee Casino. I’m amazed that I didn’t see a single show from these bands, any of which I would have been more than happy to see play.

August came upon me while I was still lacking in funds, notice a pattern here? So I could not see Judas Priest and Motorhead in Oklahoma City. Nor could I see Rick Springfield or Matisyahu when they played in Tulsa. September was relatively quiet for me as I only missed seeing the Georgia Satellites at the Tulsa State Fair. After the previous summer months that was a relief to only miss one possible show. At least my reason was good, I had the opportunity to work overtime and somewhat replenish my limited funds. October brought good news as I was able to see Night Ranger at The Tulsa State Fair. Finally some good luck and fortunate timing paid off. They played a lively set with all of their classics and two songs off of their new cd, Hole in The Sun.

October saw Tesla returning to the state but since the show was in Oklahoma City during the week my wife decided that I could not go. For some reason she thought that spending time with her and our son (not to mention working) was more important. That left one final possibility to see a show this year. In November, a scant 4 days before my birthday White Lion were playing in town AND my wife agreed to let me go as a birthday present. Unfortunately I woke up that day feeling like good enough to work but not good enough to go to a crowded, smoky bar and was in no mood to go out and enjoy them. There ended my chance to see any more bands before the year was out. You might be thinking that couldn’t I see a band this month before the year is over? Isn’t Duran Duran playing in Tulsa this very night? Yes they are however they fall into the category of Huey Lewis and The News where I would go if I received free tickets but I’m not spending my money on them. Of course to win tickets I’d probably have to actually try but that’s a different matter entirely. I think I can safely say that there are no other bands I’d like to see coming anywhere remotely close to me before the end of the year.

At least next year will start off with a bang. I’ll be seeing AC/DC and The Answer on January 26th. AC/DC is the top group on my concert wish list and The Answer is a very good Irish hard rocking band that shows great promise. Plus today I heard that The Pretenders will be in town in February so that’s a possibility. With a little luck and some great planning perhaps I can make 2009 be the banner year that 2008 should have been. Wish me luck.