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Friday Rockumentary Part 2

Posted by bmac on May 31, 2008

The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II, The Metal Years

Oh how quickly things changed in the ten years between these films. The first Decline was full of nihilistic punks that wanted to make important social commentary, ten years later, it was all about money, fame, drugs, and sex. Same city, same clubs, but a whole different world. It’s actually painful to watch how hedonistic and flat out stupid this whole scene really was, but that was the 80’s, and kind of the downside to the prosperous Reagan years.

The classic scene in this film is WASP guitarist Chris Holmes getting shitfaced drunk in a swimming pool swilling vodka while wearing a full leather outfit, as his mother looks on, trying to hide her disgust. I thought for years this was staged, but Spheeris says it wasn’t, and in fact, said that after she looked at the footage, thought it was totally unusable, and changed her mind at the last minute to include it in the film. It’s funny and sad at the same time, and yes, he’s still alive, and apparently still rockin.’

Spheeris focused a good portion of this film on bands that were struggling to make it, to mostly hilarious results. Unfortunately, the best stuff isn’t on YouTube, but there is stuff in here that would embarrass Spinal Tap.

Ultimately, it turned into a scathing indictment of the decadent, drug and sex culture of hair metal in the 80’s. Almost no one came out of this film without looking like an ignorant tool, except Megadeth, who after the parade of morons throughout the film, look like friggen metal rocket scientists in comparison.

This is the best bit I could find on YouTube, but this film shows up on cable occasionally, although it’s unavailable right now.

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Posted in Music, Pop Culture | 6 Comments »

Friday Rockumentary

Posted by bmac on May 30, 2008

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here’s a couple of amazing rockumentaries. BTW, is anyone else as bored with politics as I am? I think I just OD’d completely on politics, and I can hardly stand it anymore.

Any way, I love these films, and if you’re into music and dig this kind of stuff, they’re amazing.

The Decline Of Western Civilization Parts 1 and 2.

These are classics in the Rockumentary genre. Made by then unknown Penelope Spheeris, who went on to at least direct “Waynes World” but mostly did a bunch of forgettable TV show adaptations like the Beverly Hillbillies. She used a stark, kind of nuts and bolts approach to interviewing the players and the fans, that really captures the bleak underbelly of Rock n’ Roll.

Part one, shot around 1979, features the Los Angeles punk rock scene. Black Flag (pre Henry Rollins), the Germs, Fear, and X are all featured in this amazing film, which will be near impossible to find if you want to see it. Even if you don’t care for the music, like me, it’s still a fascinating look into the world of punk rock when it was still dangerous, before “punk” was Avril Levine and Blink 182.

In this clip, Germs singer Darby Crash and his girlfriend tell an amusing anecdote about finding a dead painter in the backyard, and posing for pictures with the corpse. When asked if she felt bad about it (mocking a corpse) Darby’s chick says “Not at all, I hate painters!” Shortly after this film was made, Darby committed suicide in a bid for rock immortality, but in an ironic twist of fate, he did it the very day before John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota. He did become somewhat of a punk icon though, and Germs guitarist Pat Smear went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.

I’m struck by how young Darby Crash was. Just a kid.

Part Two, released about ten years later, features the metal scene in Los Angeles in the 80’s, and has become a kind of cult classic, full of unintentional hilarity. I’ll put that up next post, to keep it pithy.

Posted in Music, Pop Culture | 10 Comments »

A Little Music For The Weekend

Posted by bmac on May 17, 2008

In an effort to totally confuse readers of this blog, I like to feature music that I really like, which usually tends to be by musicians and artists that radically rage against everything I believe in, right in front of a hard-core political post. Keeps it interesting I think. Plus, I just can’t muster up anything interesting on current events today, so with that give you:

My favorite band from the 90’s, Sublime. I loved these guys, mostly because they just didn’t give a fuck. They were ugly, they almost never wore shirts, even though they were pretty chubby, and their dogs went with them everywhere, including onstage. I dig that.

They were notorious for bad live shows, as the singer, Bradley Nowell (RIP) was usually drunk, but their records were great. One of their albums, “40oz. To Freedom” is one of my all time favorites, and I think it cost about 200 bucks to make. It’s one of those albums I just never get tired of. Every song is about drinking and drugs, or getting thrown out of places for drinking and drugs, and there’s lots of references to guns and dogs and jail.

This song, “Doin’ Time” from their breakthrough album “Sublime” is a very cool take on Gershwins “Summertime.” Bradley Nowell was already dead when this album came out and this video was made, but his beloved dog, Lou, was still kickin’, and appears in the video. I saw them live once, and sure enough, Lou Dog was right there on stage with them. I wish I wasn’t as drunk as I was when I saw them, (about 13 years ago) but I didn’t know Brad would be dead within the year.

Interesting factoid: A Sublime tribute band called “Badfish,” has played to more people, and made more money than the real Sublime ever did in their entire career.

Posted in Music, Slow News day | Leave a Comment »

A Little Music For The Weekend-Jeff Buckley

Posted by bmac on May 3, 2008

No, I’m not gay.

But I dig this guy. Don’t let the effemenite looking male model-esque YouTube freeze put you off, this dude was a genius. I say was, because if you don’t know, Jeff Buckley is no longer with us. He died in 1997.

Most people know Jeff Buckley from his brilliant cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” but Jeff was a brilliant songwriter in his own right, as well a an amazing musician. This is kind of an obscure Buckley song, from his second, never finished album, “My Sweetheart The Drunk.”

If you dig music that’s just a little quirky, but beautiful, ala Radiohead,or Chris Cornells’ solo stuff, you’ll love Jeff Buckley. He’s also got that kind of mysterious artist thing going for him, that is so sorely lacking in the MySpace/Facebook era of knowing every single fucking stupid detail about rock stars lives.

He was a very secretive dude, the son of severely troubled singer Tim Buckley, loathed the press, and even died under mysterious circumstances. How can you not love that?

In the absolute septic tank full of shit that passes for music these days, please enjoy a breath of fresh air from a brilliant artist that was only at the beginning of his career when he tragically passed away, leaving us all to suffer the indignity of having our ears assaulted by the likes of Chris Doughtry.

Posted in Music, Slow News day | 2 Comments »

Friday Rockumentary

Posted by bmac on February 29, 2008

Regular readers of this blog know I love Roc Docs. I like to feature them here occasionally for a little fun, so this time I give you: “Tribute-A Rockumentary.”

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Produced by Steven Soderbergh, this is a doc about tribute bands. I’ve seen it several times on the Sundance Channel, but to my knowledge, it’s totally unavailable. The official website has removed the trailer for “legal reasons” so I’m guessing there’s some kind of licensing problem with the music. The website hasn’t been updated in forever, so it’s kind of a mystery why this movie is in limbo, but if you get Sundance, keep an eye out for it, it runs occasionally. The website has some clips, but they’re not great, just kind of random with no explanation.

The film follows four tribute bands, a Kiss, a Queen, a Judas Priest, and a Monkees. Generally, the tribute band is the last refuge of aging never-were’s who just can’t quit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it can be kind of sad, as we see in this movie as some of these guys (most in their late 30′ and 40’s) hold on to the false hope that they might get to be a replacement for the real thing in the real band they’re aping, ala Ripper Owens who was called to join Judas Priest. The movie “Rock Star” was based on his story.

The tribute band thing is kind of weird to me, but I can understand the allure. You can be a nobody and have an instant following of rabid fans. No worries about writing songs or building an audience. In a way, it’s like cheating. You get the benefits of somebody else’s work. Some of these guys get so far into the fantasy they actually begin to believe they are the guy they’re portraying, which is what happened to one of the guys in the film. He was “Gene Simmons” and ended up having a nervous breakdown as a result of starting to think he really was Gene Simmons.

That’s him in the picture above, before the breakdown. His replacement doesn’t fare much better, a guy who’s obviously got issues, and sees playing Gene as a way to feel like he’s important, after being abused as a child, and having some kind of addiction problem.

There’s also some obsessed fans featured that are just too…..strange to even explain.

Much of this film is almost painful to watch, it’s a strange little sub-culture of obsessive fanbois, washed up almost were’s, nerdy wannabes, and guys struggling with their dreams of stardom in their own right, fading away.

Great stuff, try to see it if you can, but it probably won’t be easy.

Posted in It's Friday, Music | 10 Comments »

Before The Music Dies

Posted by bmac on February 22, 2008

I caught this documentary the other day on IFC, “Before The Music Dies.” A doc about the current state of the music industry. As a musician and hard core music fan myself, it hit all the points I’ve been complaining about for many, many years, and specifically, the corporate takeover of all the major record labels, and radio stations.

I’m old enough to remember free form FM radio, that allowed the DJ’s to play just about anything they wanted to. Requests were taken and played. It was really pretty great. That would never happen today. The playlists on radio are now computer programmed, the DJ’s only role is to provide some local flavor so you know what town your in, because the music is exactly the same music, in exactly the same order, by exactly the same ten “artists” as in every single other city or town in the entire U.S. Thanks Clear Channel.

Same with record labels. All the majors are owned by 2 or 3 mega corporations. This is why you can’t go to a record store anymore. Downloading music didn’t kill Tower Records, the insatiable greed of Seagrams Corp did. (they own most of the major labels)

Why are we paying 16-20 dollars for a Cd in 2008? When they were first introduced in the early 80’s, they were $25, and at that time, it probably cost 5 or 6 bucks to make one. It costs a label pennies to produce one today, artwork, jewelcase, distribution and all. Artists get about 7-10% of physical sales. Recording costs today are nothing, I know, I’ve made three albums myself. The only realistically high cost is promotion, and the label recoups that money from the artists. $16-20 for a cd today is outright gouging, and everybody knows it, hence, goodbye Tower Records, hello downloading. The irony is, if someone downloads a song they like, they’ll be happy to go buy the cd, they just don’t want to pay $20 for it.

No more developing artists, it cuts into profit. If your first song is not a hit, your career is over. With todays major label attitude, we never would have gotten “Dark Side Of The Moon,” because Pink Floyd had a shitload of albums that tanked before it. Same with Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” or “Frampton Comes Alive” or anything by Springsteen, or Aerosmith, or Aretha Franklin or Marvin Gaye, Black Sabbath or Kiss. Well, we could have done without Kiss. But all these artists had albums that flopped before they found their voice and became huge sellers. How many Marvin Gayes are out there that we’ll never get to hear because they got dropped?

The music industry as we knew it is over, major labels are the Walmart of music now. Just the hits. In fact, practically the only place you can find cd’s now is Walmart. Radio is worthless.

In a way, it’s good, because the internet has made it possible to find new and interesting music again, but I feel like we’ve lost something. It’s insular now. I miss going into record stores and trying to figure out what I might like, hearing something cool being played in there, seeing stuff I never would have looked for and getting it before my friends. You had to put a little effort into it, as opposed to just typing in “Metal” or “Acid House.”

Anyway, here’s the trailer, but the trailer kind of sucks, the movie is way better than it looks in this. It’s probably available on Netflix.

Oh, and this movie features a guy that I had kind of forgotten about but used to love, Doyle Bramhall, so I immediately went and downloaded his stuff. He’s great, check him out if you like soulful, bluesy stuff with a hint of country and some kick ass guitar playing.

Posted in It's Friday, Music | 9 Comments »

A Little Break From Politics…..

Posted by bmac on January 10, 2008

I was a total Prog-Rock Dork when I was younger, and I loved King Crimson, especially this version of King Crimson from 1981. On guitar and vocals, the amazing Adrian Belew, (also played with Zappa, and the Tom Tom Club) who throws down some wicked guitar histrionics in this clip, “Elephant Talk.” Adrian brilliantly utilizes every trick in the book, including the kitchen sink. He’s the one in the pink suit, keep an eye on him, he sneaks in a lot of cool stuff when you’re not looking.

On drums, one of my favorites, Bill Bruford, who most people know from Yes, but has played with just about every prog rock legend.  On bass (or in this case, the Chapman Stick) Tony Levin, another prog journeyman. And lastly, also on guitar, the super-precise, utterly soulless, machine-like stylings of  Robert Fripp.

May not be for the faint of heart, but if you like adventurous music, enjoy!

Actually, if you listen to the lyrics, they fit the current state of politics perfectly.

Posted in Music | 8 Comments »

I Love “Rockumentaries”

Posted by bmac on December 14, 2007

I wrote about this on my now defunct music blog, but I’m gonna expand a little here, because I have nothing else I feel compelled to blog about right now. I know a lot of AoS morons are musicians, so maybe you guys can appreciate a good rockumentary. This one, is an an excellent film called “Dig!”

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This film was shot over seven years(!), and features two L.A. bands, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The Dandy Warhols, who are rivals/friends. If “artsy people” annoy you, steer clear of this, but if you’re like me, and enjoy watching retards from afar, this will provide two and a half hours of pure entertainment.

We follow the success/failure of both bands over the course of seven years. The Dandy Warhols go on to pretty huge success in Europe, in fact, you’ve probably heard a few of their songs as they’re used in a lot of commercials. The BJM however, collapse under their ego-centric, and drug addled leader, the once promising Anton Newcombe, whom we get to see unravel over the course of the film in a lot of really entertaining ways. If you like that kind of thing. (I do)

The memorable scene in a film full of memorable scenes, is a showcase the BJM play at the famous Viper Room in L.A., for a label rep that was about to sign them. The nototriously unstable Newcombe goes apeshit, and begins what turns into a full blown onstage brawl between band members, forever sealing their fate. Although Newcombe is viewed by the music industry in L.A. as a genius, after that fight, he’s untouchable by any serious label. A career destoying moment, caught on film. Ultimately, the film becomes a chronicle of Newcombe’s downward spiral, including the obligatory heroin addiction, that is both depressing and hilarious. Amazingly enough, he’s still alive. 

Here’s the trailer: Warning: Two guys kiss, but it goes by very fast.        

Have a couple beers, and enjoy!

Posted in Music | 5 Comments »

Joshua Tree Remastered

Posted by bmac on November 21, 2007

I loved this album when it came out. At the time, I worked in a record store, and got it the day it was released. It was one of those records that just sounded like an instant classic.

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That being said, if I never hear it again, it’ll be too soon. Yes, it’s a great album, but I don’t think a day has gone by in 20 years that I haven’t heard at least one song from it. The majesty of “Where the streets have no name” has worn thin. The heartfelt longing of “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” has lost it’s heartfeltedness. Whatever the hell Bono’s pissed about in “Bullet the blue sky” is still a mystery to me, but I guess it has something to do with Shanty-Towns, and he’s probably addressed it by now.

No doubt many many people will run out and re-purchase this because the hi-hat is 10khz. sharper or whatever, but I’d say just tune in any one of the three classic rock stations in your town, and you can hear it for free all day long.

Posted in Music | 2 Comments »

The Best Band Of The 90’s

Posted by bmac on November 10, 2007

Sublime.

It’s Saturday, I’m at work, it’s dead, and the news is just depressing me. Maybe you’re feeling the same. I love this band for too many reasons to list, but mostly, their music just makes me happy, and reminds me of good times.

 R.I.P. Brad. You’re missed.

 You too Lou Dog.

Posted in Music | 7 Comments »