Monday, June 30, 2008

Top 40 at 40 # 38

# 38 Smashing Pumpkins Cherub Rock 1993

So many Smashing Pumpkins songs, so little time for explanation. The year was 1993 and Cherub Rock just blasted its way out of the starting gate..otherwise known as the Siamese Dream album, track #1. In a grunge flavored era, the Pumpkins were different..Hipsters unite, come alive for the big fight! Just rock solid WALLS of guitars, a spaceboy on the vocals named Billy Corgan at the helm. And those drums...clanging and banging like cell doors closing in on sonically depraved prisoners...thank You Mr. Jimmy Chamberlin
for that. And who could forget the GUITAR SOLOS. Corgan was by far the best guitarist of that era
I had never heard anything like the pumpkins, so fucking layered. I was living in Atlanta, GA. at the time, ensconced in the first wave of the glory of grunge, when I took the first plunge into pumpkindom. It felt good. What a fantastic album....Geek USA, SOMA, Today, Mayonaise, Spaceboy, Silverfuck. So many instances where a softer side of emotional turmoil floats on a layer of fuzz and feedback.Cuddle then stab...repeat. The combination was perfect for me. It was perfect for all of the shit I went through in Atlanta...... I guess I picked Cherub Rock because it was the first bullet that hit me. It slapped me upright out of the bad posture of the early 90s. Little did I know it was recorded with Butch Vig IN Atlanta that same year.

I got to see the Pumpkins live fairly early in Rochester NY of all places. I was familiar with Gish, their first full length album. which they toured behind in 1991, opening for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam at the Auditorium Theatre on 10/27/91. What a show. Pearl Jam weren't even advertised. Nobody knew who they were.I cannot remember who I went with...maybe Mr. Savarese and Mr. Warner. I also saw them in Atlanta at a small club called the Point in late Nov 1992, and on their exclusive-only in 2 cities residence tour 2007 in San Fran at the Fillmore.2x.

Smashing Pumpkins Top 5 1) Cherub Rock 2) Obscured 3) Silverfuck 4) X.Y.U. 5)SOMA

Top 40 at 40 #39

#39 The Doors Shaman's Blues 1969

I can't tell you how many times back in the day people would come up to me and tell me I looked like Jim Morrison. Right now on the cusp of 40, I've got 13 living years on him, but I can tell you that I look more like the bloated bearded lizard king who escaped to Paris to hide away from the tight grip of fame and maybe lose a chin or two while he was at it.I'm not going to be fitting in any leather trousers any time soon... But I always loved the Doors' music and still do. The Doors were never critical darlings, but there will never be another band that sound like them. The combination of one of the best front men of all time( the bad ass beer soaked bard Mr. Mojo Risin'), clashing brilliantly with the fingerpicking flamenco freak styles of Guitarist Robbie Krieger and the Jazz beat backbone of Ray Manzarek on the keys and bass keys and John Densmore on drums was a mix that makes their music as timeless as ever.

My first encounter with the Doors was their greatest hits cassette bought in a mall in Ft. Lauderdale FLA in 1981. Boy did I wear that sucker out. I could not get enough of Light My Fire or LA Woman.I bought one of those little pins with the doors logo on it and wore it proudly on my WCMF baseball Jersey. About 6 months later I bought a double cassette of the very hard to find Doors release called Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine(1972). This spooky, driving song called Shaman's Blues was on there... with swirling keyboards and shrieking guitars and Jim's ominous poetry....most real poets hate Jim's poetry. I loved it. There are a few lines in this song I still love, especially "The whole world's a savior, who could ever ever ask for more?" I bought his two books of poetry (Wilderness,1988 and The American Night, 1990) and really fell in love with the poetry album An American Prayer. My leather jacket obsession of the early 90's sprung from my fascination with Jim and he was my first "stage presence" influence. I used to fall around alot in my early cover band days, wore alot of necklaces and used that morrisonesque thing as well as I got me nowhere, fast with the ladies even after singing Love me 2X for the 756th time. I did get to make out with some girl in a suburban yard somewhere after singing Not To Touch the Earth lyrics into her ear. But for the most part, NADA.

Ok back to the music. Shaman's Blues was originally released on the Soft Parade album (their 4th) in 1969 and was no hit. In fact, Touch Me was the big hit from the album and fans were divided because of all of the horns prevalent on the LP. It never gets any radio love either, so to everyone else its a "deep cut". I love the mysticism, the weirdness and the shamanistic solace that the Doors bring me. I do not believe that Jim faked us out and is living in New Orleans as a bar owner, though. I think he got hold of some bad smack, took a bath and that was it.... I miss him...there are no rock stars anymore, not many who cared as much about the written word as did Jim.

And now the only thing I really have in common with him is a wife named Pamela.

The Doors Top 5 1) Shaman's Blues 2) Waiting For the Sun 3) Riders on the Storm 4)Blue Sunday 5)You're Lost Little Girl
03 Shaman's Blues.mp3

Top 40 at 40

# 40 Joni Mitchell- My Old Man 1971

I can remember well the first time I ever heard Joni Mitchell's voice. I was 14 vacationing on Cape Cod with my family in August of 1983. We were visiting our friends the Radells in a town called Quincy and as my parents and the Radells were making breakfast in the kitchen, I wandered over to their turntable where they had stacks of LPs leaning against the stereo. There was this album staring me in the face named simply, Blue. The cover had this mysterious woman slightly leaned over,eyes closed, awash a blue hue. I was intrigued. I actually forgot about The Police's Synchronicity album for several minutes. That cassette had been in my walkman non stop since the day of its release and I was getting tired of "There's a little black spot on the sun today" sticking to my grey matter as long as it had. I dropped the needle down and was amazed..... this woman's warm voice with such range and control, soaring and just took my breath away.
Ralph Radell came over and gave me a little background on Joni and I never looked back. To say Joni Mitchell is the most talented female artist of Modern Times is an understatement. And its the wrong thing to say in the first place. She is quite simply one of the most influential artists of all time.She just happens to be female. The song "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin was written about her and Prince is a huge fan. The song My Old Man from the Blue album is my favorite Joni song. Sort of a downer of a tune, but playful as well.., she longs for her old man who is out on the road and notices that her and "those lonesome blues collide, the bed's too big, the frying pan's too wide." I always think of Cape Cod when I hear Joni and looking out of the Radell's back window on to the bay. Her lyrics are pure genius, right up there with Dylan. Her guitar playing is incredibly impressive with a wide array of really weird tunings not often used in pop music. She has painted the artwork for most of her album covers as well.

I actually got to see her live once, on tour with Bob Dylan at the Rochester War Memorial in '96 or '97 It was a night I'll never forget. She never tours, pretty much gave up on the music business long ago and releases songs on her terms. The only thing I don't understand about Joni is her fascination or almost obsession with smoking. I have never seen a picture of her from the last 15 years where she is sans cigarrette. It has ruined her voice. She sounds like Kathleen Turner when she sings now.I picture her in a smoked out church basement playing BINGO, yelling out just missed letters and coughing while she curses out David Geffen behind her charred breath. She couldn't even come close to hitting the notes or vibrato that she did in 1971, and she doesn't care. Ah well, thats why I love nostalgia. You can just go back and enjoy things like they should be, not how they are now. seano

Joni Top 5. 1) My Old Man 2) The Hissing of Summer Lawns 3) Down to You 4) For Free 5) A Case of You