31 October 2011

the replacements - don't tell a soul

side 1

1. talent show

c: where the hell to start with this one... jesus, fuck. i bought this damn LP the day it was released & i could not wait to get home, tear the plastic off & blare it on my stereo. i was not let down, not one bit & my love for the replacements was solidified by the end of the first song.

i discovered the replacements in 1987, when i worked at the local drug store delivering prescriptions to old people. they were always very nice to me & tipped well. anyhoo, one day a song came on the radio while i was driving to one of my stops & it was "alex chilton" by the replacements, though i did not know it then. it simply blew my brains out. i missed the dj announcing who the hell it was, but that damn song, on one fucking listen, stuck in my head for months. i never heard anything like it. ever. & i never heard it again on WHCN or any other radio station. a few months later, i was hanging out with a good friend of mine & he threw on this LP that he said i had to listen to, that it was right up my alley. i asked him who it was. he said they were called "the replacements." i noticed he skipped the first track & put on the second one for some reason... i was skeptical. but after hearing the opening riff, i nearly collapsed from relief. it was that song i heard that had been going on over & over in my head! i went straight out and bought "pleased to meet me" & loved every single track with a passion, but there seemed to me a slight disconnect (you have to understand, at the time i was into clapton & dire straits & stevie ray vaughn & i wanted to play guitar exactly like those turkeys.) i believed they could do even better & when "don't tell a soul" was released i thought they had & often times i believe that still. i guess you will see why...

"talent show..." one of the best opening songs to an LP i ever been blessed to hear. the number one rule when you make an LP is that the opening track has to be great & it is a sign of weakness, if it turns out to be the first single or the best track on the LP. it was not the first single & it is not the best track on the LP, but it is great. just fucking listen to it. it opens with the pristine strumming of a 12-string guitar & the lyrics "in my waxed up hair & my painted shoes, got an offer that you might refuse. tonight, tonight were going to take a stab, c'mon 'long we'll grab a cab. we ain't much to look at, so close yer eyes here we go, we're playing at the talent show..." and the song fucking kicks in & it rocks & it is a rock 'n' roll dream come true without all the thrills and chills... this subject matter has been approached many times, foreigner's "jukebox hero," bad company's "shooting star," styx' "superstar," etc... none of them ever rang true & made it feel like stardom was within yer grasp (or not), not like "talent show." this shit is real.

j: I pretty much got into the Replacements through Chris. Don't Tell a Soul was my first full Mats record, though I'd heard Gary's Got a Boner because some dude on the baseball team used to play it in the locker room after tennis practice in high school. In retrospect it's kind of an interesting choice for the locker room. I also have to say that I'm very interested in the music that came out from about 1988-1991 and this is an odd record even for 1989. In 1989 mainstream rock was basically hair metal. A straightforward rock record like DTAS was considered 'alternative.'

Talent show is a pretty amazing opener. I haven't listened to this in a while and apparently I have a skip during Talent Show, which kind of bums me
out. "Well it's the biggest thing in my life, I guess" is just a fantastic line and one of many reasons that young guys who listened to the Replacements went out and started bands. The Replacements are definitely on that list of influential bands that generated a ton of imitators. Dudes just wanted to be cool like them and not like the hairspray jerkoffs in White Lion or Skid Row. The breakdown with the clinking glasses rules. Westerberg is one of those great tasteful rhythm players and this is a good example.

2. back to back

c: probably one of the most realistic "relationship" songs i ever heard as far as the subject matter is concerned. musically, in 1989, there was nothing out there like this. even now, with all my current musical wisdom, nothing else in my LP collection from 1989 sounds quite like this. it is unique, like many of the songs on this LP & perhaps that is why "don't tell a soul" never caught on & still hasn't. the production is wondrous on this tune & that goes for the entire LP. the biggest complaint mats fans have about this record is that it was over-produced & sounds like a late 80's LP, that it is dated, that it is too adult. i never fucking understood that. all the parts sound clear, the lyrics are clear, the guitars sound like guitars & the drums sound much better than they did on "pleased to meet me" & "tim..." the biggest prob i see with this LP is that the old fans thought they were losing their precious band to commercialism. the fact is that they were just not ready to grow up along with the mats. perhaps this song was not about paul & his girl, but about paul & his fans...

j: This is as good as any song to talk about the production. It definitely was a step up from previous records and I feel like they got it right. Tommy Keene is another artist who has taken heat for the 'ass-rocky' sound of his eighties records, but personally I like the clean production if the songs are good. Big Star records sound great, too. Same for Teenage Fanclub. Eighties drum sounds are hugely underrated. If you complain about the sound of the drums on an album like this or Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, I feel sorry for you. You're missing out.

3. we'll inherit the earth

c: this is a tough one... it is an anthem, but not the usual one from the replacements. the subject matter is heading into john lennon territory here & the effort is valiant, but the song falls short. sometimes it reminds me of an out-take of "radio k.a.o.s." by roger waters, and it would have fit well on that said LP. the rhythm part is amazing. i do not think that pete townsend would be able to pull it off, try hard as he might. this could & should have been a big hit at some point in time. the thing is there is just something wrong with the song. yeah, perhaps they tried too hard... it may be simple as that. the song's saving grace is the lyric as the song begins to fade, "i got my hands in my pockets and i am waiting for my day to come..." come to think of it, this would be the perfect anthem for the "occupy movement" taking place right now...

j: This has always been one of my favorites off this album. It doesn't mean the same thing to me now that I'm not nineteen years old, but I still get a rush from it. I do love the 'want it!' going back and forth between the two channels. "And our eyes scream what our lips must quell" is on the verge of being a bit pretentious but Westerberg saves it with the delivery. And yes, the rhythm part! Especially during "The last bundle of twigs grew strong and young, you can't hold our tongues at the top of our lungs!" And that final breathless chorus where it almost sounds like they go up a half-step.

Your mileage may vary on Paul whispering the name of the album towards the end, but I like it.

4. achin' to be

c: even the old die hard mats fans like this song now. it is a self-portrait song, where westerberg pulls a gender change & turns himself into a woman. "achin' to be" was an early, nearly unnoticed kick-off to the 90' alt-country surge, bands like uncle tupelo cashed in on tunes like this. at the time this was released though, no one got it & the artsy black & white video did not help the replacements' cause at all. the song is nearly perfect though. my only complaint is that after listening to this LP hundreds of times, i believe the sequencing would have been better if they switched this track out with track 4 on side B... "achin' to be" & "they're blind" closes out side A kind of on a downer & it would have been better to throw a rocker in here.

j: Agreed about Uncle Tupelo. This is definitely a proto alt.country tune. But lyrically it is also very 1989 to me. Mars does his little snare double-pop thing in here. I still feel like this could really have been a big hit if it was handled correctly. It makes me sick how much money Poison made off the song Every Rose Has It's Thorn with this song out there.

5. they're blind

c: i have a love/hate relationship with this song. i love it because it really is a classic 50's sad, slow dance, heartbreaker of a tune. but if am in the wrong mood, i find it to be a sappy piece of shit & the lyrics make me wince at times, "if only i could date with her, only one more day with her, then i'll run back, then we'll run back blind..." like, gag me with a spoon.

j: You're right about the sequencing. It's not a good choice to follow Achin' To Be, and it's not good to close side one. I could see sandwiching this between two big rockers, or even using it as a really sweet b-side. Or put Satellite here instead. I think Paul was giving himself permission to be sappy here in the hopes of capturing something really special, maybe like a Chris Bell 'I Am the Cosmos' vibe or something like that. But it doesn't quite cut it. I'm wondering if the label had adult contemporary hopes for the record and this song as fitting the bill. Who knows.

side 2

1. anywhere's better than here

c: nice "yawp!" to start off the second side. this tune is a typical mats rocker toss-off, in the vein of "dose of thunder," "lay it down clown," "red red wine," & "shooting dirty pool" from their previous two efforts. this one is a little on the dark side though. the lyrics are pretty damn mean & because of that, this rocker has always held an edge over the aforementioned songs for me. when i saw them at the bushnell in hartford when "don't tell a soul" was released, this song really stood out & had a huge crowd response, i remember getting chills down my spine when the ENTIRE crowd sang-a-long "anywhere's better than here" during the chorus.

j: You pretty much nailed it (Dose of Thunder, Shooting Dirty Pool, etc.). I think Paul always had a thing for big dumb, KISS-type songs with better lyrics. And you also have the acoustic/electric contrast which is all over Don't Tell a Soul. A good song for Tommy to showcase his truly classic backing voice (and that almost sounds like a backhanded compliment but I don't mean it to be). He's like Kim Deal--perfectly fine being the main vocalist but there's something special about him backing.

2. asking me lies

c: what an amazing grove & i sometimes wonder why this song was not the first single. it still sounds incredibly fresh to me today & again, at the time, no one was playing cool tunes such as this, no one really is now. there is a fucking xylophone part in it! and it fucking works perfectly! what a toe-tapping, timeless pop tune. i will never be sick of it. incredibly strong start to the second side so far & it gets better.

j: Yeah great song. If you watched Yankees games on WPIX in the early nineties, they used this as bumper music. I couldn't believe it then and I still kind of can't believe it. But I can see longtime Mats listening to this for the first time and getting really frustrated. Contains the line "At a Mexican bar mitzvah for 700 years..."

3. i'll be you

c: putting the single on the second side in the third spot tells you just how strongly the band and the record company felt about this LP. no one ever puts the single on the second side, unless they felt they had a winner & this LP should have been a winner, damnitallanyways! talk about "a dream too tired to come true..." the video was perfect for the song as well & it is one of the few times that i always associate the video along with the song every time i hear it. if the timing was right, this song could have been the "smells like teen spirit" of our generation... i certainly can relate to these lyrics more than "smells..." how different would things be if that happened? i am kinda glad it didn't.

j: Well, even with good timing I don't think this song could ever have been a 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' type song, even though it is absolutely one of my favorite Replacements songs. It's just an amazingly crafted rock song. The guitar parts are really odd. One guitar ringing, one kind of abrupt and wandering. I'll never get sick of the middle part and the solo being played over the singing. Inspired drums from Mr. Chris Mars. I have a big grin on my face listening to this. Songs like this are the reason I'm so interested in this period of music. Nirvana buried hair metal, but it also buried stuff like this in a way. Westerberg was trying to move towards Chilton-esque rock songcraft, but the world wanted a bludgeon.

4. i won't

c: the second toss-off rocker of the LP. the mats usually have at least two & they made good on their promise here. like i said, i wish they swapped this tune with "achin' to be" on the first side. another mats tune that translates even better when played live. just turn the fucker up and throw yer beer bottle against the wall & have some goddamn fun!

j: This is one of my favorites of the Mats' big dumb KISS rockers. It's got a little something extra, kind of a Chuck Berry feel. And I believe this song actually does go up a half-step a la Surrender (Cheap Trick). A lot of people hate that, but I think it's cool.

5. rock 'n' roll ghost

c: this song, out of all the ballads westerberg has produced in his time, is the one that never fails to bring me to tears (boo fucking hoo.) more so than "here comes a regular" or "skyway...", "unsatisfied" comes damn close... years later the meaning of "rock 'n' roll ghost" has become even more relevant to me. it is so damn gut wrenching that i cannot even listen to it at times. i will just lift up the needle & go to the last track. simply "sadly beautiful" in paul's own words.

j: The album takes a really somber turn for the rest of the way out. This really is beautiful song, and I think songs like these give DTAS a slight edge over All Shook Down for the Mats later period. Definitely on the list of Westerberg gut-wrenchers like Unsatisfied, Here Comes a Regular and Skyway. Kind of the forgotten classic of that group of songs.

6. darlin' one

c: an absolutely beautiful & perfect closer. oddly enough, it is the only tune that the writing credits went to the replacements & not to paul westerberg. this final track, though sad, leaves ya' with a sense of hope even though most of the LP, at least lyrically, is quite depressing & desperate as much as they tried to hide it at times...

i read an interview, long ago, where paul was admitting that "don't tell a soul" did not measure up to what it supposedly should have, but he also believed that this LP was a "sleeper" and that sooner or later, people would look beyond it's context & file the damn thing as a classic. it still has not happened, but it is a classic. the weird thing about great bands is that it is often times difficult to pick a favorite record out of their catalog. when the mood strikes me right, i honestly believe "don't tell a soul" is my favorite thing...

j: Well, this song definitely had to be the closer. Again, how great is Tommy's backing vocal? He just yells "Hey!" and holds it and it sounds brilliant. As I'm listening right now I'm tempted to say it is at least the second best tune on the record with I'll Be You (and maybe Talent Show). The solo is fantastic (that is Paul, correct?). [editors note: no, that is slim dunlap. he is the master of those weird, jumping all over the place slide guitar solos without the slide.]

In 1995 or so I went to Cheapo Records in Central Square in Cambridge, and in the basement there was an entire bin of sealed DTAS vinyl cut-outs for a buck apiece. I didn't but ANY of them! And now my copy as a skip during Talent Show. DAMMIT!!! I did see that this was recently reissued on 180g vinyl, but it's like $22.

14 August 2011

rolling stones - dirty work

side 1

1. one hit (to the body)

j: I’ve been looking forward to this post, because I’ve never actually heard Dirty Work before. I heard Harlem Shuffle on the radio when I was in high school, that’s it. It’s weird because I remember thinking back then that this was some old, warmed-over version of the Rolling Stones and in retrospect I didn’t know much of their body of work outside of a few classic rock radio standards and Some Girls, which my older sister had a copy of and I knew pretty much backwards and forwards. One great thing about Dirty Work is that it’s easy to get a mint copy for three or four bucks. You rarely see worn-out copies. And my god, the album art--the seventies are long gone, people. The colors remind me of the 1984 movie Ruthless People (Mick Jagger sang the theme song). The band is situated around a turquoise corner section of a sofa. Mick has one skinny leg up on the sofa, and Keith’s leg is bent so his knee bends right on Mick’s crotch. Mick has a look on his face like “Yeah, so what of it?” Charlie Watts may be touching himself lovingly out of frame. And there in the corner next to Charlie, what’s up with Ron Wood’s footwear? Fluorescent striped socks and... ladies’ Reeboks? What the fuck? The sleeve and inner sleeve are nice heavy stock (the inside of the outer sleeve is pink). The inner sleeve features an original comic by Mad Magazine’s Mark Marek about a couple of domineering fitness instructors (???).

The album kicks off with One Hit (To The Body). The drums sound great considering it was produced in 1986. Guitars sound good as well, nice and crisp. The song is not bad. I guess it’s missing that sense of menace or danger that you get with a lot of Stones songs, even as late as Undercover of the Night. It’s definitely the Rolling Stones, I’ll give it that. Jimmy Page plays the solo, apparently.

c: i have also been looking forward to this post, but for a different reason... it is high time to put to good use all the piss & vinegar i have been storing up in my body. john sums up the cover nicely & is mostly correct. what a piece of shit other than the cartoon & the card stock they used. the stones, up to this point, were not only on the cutting edge musically throughout most of their career, but so were their record covers... this was the first sign for me that this LP would be a big turd when it was released, along with the fact that jagger & richards have been having prissy fights since "undercover of the night" was released & that they all stopped using drugs (though i am certain ron & keith & charlie kept it going on the sly just to be able to cope with their bitch of a wife, mick...)

the song itself is promising, musically... nice sound to it and it would still hold up today if it wasn't for the fact of the crappy lyrics & the backing vocals during the chorus. it ruins any potential the song had. what the hell happened? it is like the stones were neutered at some point during the recording of "undercover" and "dirty work." perhaps they were on tour in southeast asia somewhere & they all woke up in some hilton hotel one morning in tubs of ice water & their nuts were surgically removed. is there a market out there for the testicles of members of the rolling stones? now that i think about it, there probably was... one shot deal though & someone must have really cashed in. who could have it been?

2. fight

j: The first song was kind of about boxing, this one is called Fight. “Gotta get into a fight. Gonna put the boot in.” This song is pretty good, reminds me a bit of Rip This Joint from Exile, though not quite in the same league. It’s a solid rocker, though. I would put this on a mix tape.

c: i would not put this on a mix tape, not even as a joke... i would rather put on "the great white hope" by styx or something... these lyrics are so terrible they are not even funny... "got to get into a fight. gonna put the boot in. gotta get into a fight. yeah watch me now. what i need is power more power." at this point, if jagger challenged me to fight, i would laugh in his face and just walk away... this is a fucking joke right?

3. harlem shuffle

j: And here is The Harlem Shuffle. I remember this tune. This was a bad choice for a single. This just reminds me of everything that was unappealing about the ‘older’ Rolling Stones to 16 year-old me. It reminds me of Mick Jagger prancing and cavorting and touching David Bowie’s bottom in that Dancing in the Streets video they played on Live-Aid day. In retrospect it’s kind of cool, but no, it’s not that cool. It’s a pretty boring song. Is this a cover? Writing credit is Relf/Nelson. Just checked, yes it’s a cover, originally Bob & Earl in 1963. Covered by Booker T & The MGs and the Edgar Winter Group, among others. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that all those other versions are a lot better, even though I haven’t heard them. I’m going to keep my eye out for the Edgar Winter version.

c: ugh... if i never listen to this song again after today, i will suffer no loss whatsoever... john is right, terrible choice for the single & in the past, this would have never made the cut to a rolling stones record. it would maybe have been a b-side, maybe. more likely, they would have just erased the damn thing & recorded over it. when i first listened to this LP way back when, this single broke the camel's back for me in regards to the stones. ever since i just pretend they stopped making LPs and stopped touring after "undercover of the night."

4. hold back

j: Mick Jagger sounds kind of crazy on this one. But not ‘good’ Mick Jagger crazy. Crazy like he didn’t put enough thought into it beforehand, or he didn’t do enough takes. “You’ll end up in the madhouse shouting the cold walls down.” It sounds genuinely crazy, I’ll give it that. But there are no hooks to hang the craziness on here. It’s a disorganized rant of a song, which can be cool if it’s done right, but I don’t think it works here.

c: i don't know about crazy... it just sounds like the band as a whole is trying way too hard for a good ol' fashioned rocker that they knew how to crap out at will only three years prior before they inexplicably lost their nuts. i do love the cool strat part at the end of the song... that must have been ron wood, no? good for you, ron.

5. too rude

j: Oh no, it’s a reggae song. I don’t like reggae even if it’s supposedly ‘good.’ Jimmy Cliff is thanked in the liner notes, he must be responsible in some way. Is this Keith singing? I hate this.

c: keith is singing this & his vocal is actually not bad. one of his better vocal efforts. but the song, my god... ok, you like reggae and you want to pull off a tribute to this particular influence in yer life. the stones used to incorporate a certain style & make it their own or at worst do it better than everyone else, including the originators of the style. just listen to the song "emotional rescue." it has a massive disco influence, but they made it their own & wiped up everyone's ass with it who had ever put out a disco tune, save perhaps blondie... this is an incredible failure of a reggae tune. the clash did it much better and they were even whiter than the stones. right about now, i am wondering how the hell this album was ever allowed to be released & i cannot believe i have to tolerate another side of this half-assed bullshit.

side 2

1. winning ugly

j: Here we go. My favorite song on the album so far. It suffers a little from the production, which is a little too ringing and clean, but it’s one of the few songs that actually sounds groovy in that Stones kind of way. I’m thinking that’s Patty Scialfa doing the backing vocals on this one. Were Mick and Keith watching a lot of boxing in the eighties?

c: this song belongs on some crappy eighties movie with bette midler & danny devito in it (is that "ruthless people," johnny?) and you only hear about 30 seconds of it after the movie takes some sudden turn of fortune smiling on a character. not sure what is wrong with my counterpart here. it is embarrassing to listen to. this is the stones, right? i mean there is nothing this bad on mick jagger's solo LP "she's the boss" and that LP is pretty lousy as well, though it does have some good tunes. so far dirty work does not have ONE.

2. back to zero

j: I kind of like this song, thought the lyrics are pretty silly. “I worry about my great grandchildren, living ten miles beneath the ground. I worry about their whole existence. The whole damn thing’s in doubt.” There’s an annoying world music element shoehorned in, like they’d heard Paul Simon’s Graceland and wanted to do something like that. I take it back, this song sucks.

c: yes, this song sucks. it sucks so bad that i would shove this LP into the paper shredder, if it would fit. i am beyond the point of trying to take this LP seriously. after all these years, i am still in shock of the sudden fall of the mighty rolling stones in such a short period of time. they never recovered either. i am sure they have had some redeeming moments here & there, but....

3. dirty work

j: The title track. This is one of Jagger’s better performances on the record, the singing has that classic improvised feel. Yeah, this song could fit on Tattoo You or Emotional rescue, can’t say that about too many songs on this record. Again, mixtape-worthy. They were clearly going for the Miss You vibe at the end, it almost works.

c: in my mind, this song would not fit on "tattoo you" or any other previous effort, but i have to admit, so far it is the only tune the stones have offered that i actually might have enjoyed if it was not for the mood that this LP has given me up until this point. the title track should have been the single, no doubt. it is the strongest tune on the LP by far, but that is not saying much in comparison to the remainder...

4. had it with you

j: Had it With You. Wow, this song sounds a lot like Neighbors. Almost too much. I think they ripped themselves off. It’s definitely tolerable, but the original has a lot more charm. “Loved you in the lean years. Loved you in the fat ones.”

c: ok, the stones are reaching back a bit into the ol' magic hat & it almost works... they are ripping themselves off, no doubt. if we could go back in time and the stones decided to make "dirty work" the first track on side A, followed up by "had it with you" and scrapped the rest of the tunes & started over... this might have been a better record. my enduring thought is that they should have just broke up and spared us their cheap money grabbing version of themselves that we have had to suffer through for the past 25 FUCKING YEARS!!!! "had it with you," indeed!

5. sleep tonight

j: Keith sings the album’s last song, a rootsy (did I just use that word? shoot me) piano lullaby. This would have been good as a duet with Tina Turner. Seriously, though, this is totally okay. Reminds me of Tom Waits in a good way. Someone could probably resurrect this song for a movie and give it a second life. A movie about sleeping pills.

There are like four decent tunes on this record. I think it would stack up against Underccover of the Night if it had just one song that’s as good as Undercover of the Night. It doesn’t though. There’s nothing really memorable. But if I were making a mix of eighties Rolling Stones songs, I would definitely draw from it. Who knows, maybe it’s better than Steel Wheels.

c: consider yerself shot, johnny! alright, this song is not that bad & i suppose it would fit nicely in a movie about sleeping pills... i think i would even keep it as the closer for the record. so that makes it what, a total of three songs on this LP that i can tolerate, but will not mind if i never hear them again? sounds right to me. what the fuck is the deal with the 30 sec piano bit at the end? it was the best part of the record by far.

sadly, the rolling stones have never regained the magic that they lost during the recording of "dirty work." i am certain there are fans out there that will argue this point, but it is kinda like defending the looks of yer husband or wife once they turned to sloth & fat... you just have to because you love them.

31 July 2011

the wandering jews - down on the farm

1. down on the farm

c: ok, so shit for fuckheads is bending the rules this time around & we are reviewing a CDep, not an LP. this will probably be the last time we ever do it. why? well, there is a good reason. the wandering jews is fronted by this guy i went to high school with. we were not close friends back then, and i remember him more than he remembers me, though we know each other better now, i think... joe clifford, like many of us has been through hell and back, but that doesn't really matter. despite the trials of life, he still walks the earth & has a wife & kid & he is a damn good writer to boot & i am grateful that i have been reacquainted with him after all these years, because we have followed a similar path & it is good to know someone, not so different from you, is still fighting the good fight. now on to the music...

right off the bat, springsteen comes to mind & that is not a bad thing... the band is tight as well & it is surprising to hear a chorus and dynamic changes in this day of bands finding a groove & not really mixing things up for the rest of tune. lyrically, there is a good dose of hope & despair, but whenever someone goes on point blank about their previous drug use, whether it be good or bad, i get turned off a bit. it usually doesn't need to be said. it is already implied in the meat of the story. good choice for the first track & fans of bruce & the gaslight anthem should be sucking this up greedily. 

j: I'll have to admit I kind of grit my teeth when someone says "hey my friend has this band and they have this CD and you should listen to it." Not that they're always terrible, it's just that I barely have enough time to listen to my own records anymore. There's a lot of good music out there, and I'm resigned to the fact that I won't get to hear it all before I die. I just won't. So my listening time is precious.

That said, I'm glad I listened to this Wandering Jews EP. In fact, I listened to it a few times. My first thought after the first few seconds of 'Down On The Farm' was "Oh, okay, they're not fucking around." It's a big-sounding, professional, beautifully-arranged tour de force type song that immediately brought to mind the pioneering 80s/90s alt-country bands like The Jayhawks and The Silos. It's clearly also a deeply personal song, which can be dangerous territory, as Chris points out. Confessional lyrics sometimes run the risk of coming off as kind of affected or overly-strategic. The one line "Even after all the drugs I've taken" kind of jarred me because the previous lyrics find clever ways of expressing things and this line seemed slightly in-artistic at this (crucial) point in the song. In fact, the arrangement at this point (the stops and starts) sort of asks the listener to pay more attention to these lyrics. I don't want to belabor this idea because it's a song that I like quite a bit, but it's just interesting to me how the arrangement of a song puts more pressure on certain lyrics. Another way of putting it that there's a fine line between Jungleland and I'll Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). I can happily report that I would put this song firmly in the former camp.

2. paul westerberg

c: i have to say that as soon as i saw the title, my expectations were immediately too high. joe (& i reckon the rest of his band) is a big replacements fan, so when they titled the second track, i expected something along the lines of the mats' "alex chilton," which is a tall fucking order. i mean, how can you not make the connection? anyhoo, it is not a bad song whatsoever & it could almost fit on the replacements "all shook down" LP... it has that feel & sound to it. but, i firmly believe they should have called it something else... perhaps "fishing for ghosts" or "skyscraper tombstones." my point is that the song is not about paul westerberg, unless i am missing something. this is my only pet peeve for the song... it is a great pop tune, period. 

j: Chris beat me to it--The Gaslight Anthem. I was thinking "Jayhawks, Silos, Bruce, but his voice sounds EXACTLY like some singer I know." And then it came to me about thirty seconds into Paul Westerberg. Even down to the descriptive lyrical style. It's a cool, evocative song, though I agree with Chris about the title. Not sure if I need Paul sitting on my shoulder for this one. I'm going to go a bit off topic here, but this is one of my main gripes with Gaslight Anthem (who I love, by the way)--the constant shout-outs to their influences. It's like "Enough already, I can hear the influence in the music, now be your own band." Your mileage may vary. I'm kind of a cranky old man.

3. teenage drummers

c: fantastic vocal performance & i wish there was more piano in the mix throughout the song... so far, this is the strongest tune on "down on the farm." it really makes me want to go out & drive around my old home town, drag on a cigarette & think about how fucked up things are...

j: Agreed the piano is excellent in this song. Not sure if it's my favorite from Down On The Farm, but it's a great song. Definitely drivin' around music.

4. so it goes

c: dig the beginning of tune & i was disappointed when it kicked in after the first verse... that was a nice & gloomy piano tune they had going. this thought quickly dissipates though. again, the feel of this ep keeps me thinking how much traditional songwriting has taken such a bad turn in the past decade or so. for some reason it is just not cool anymore. no one has the ability or the confidence to lay out a solid verse, chorus, verse, guitar solo or whatever, verse, chorus... you get the idea. kudos to the wandering jews on succeeding in this, but no one with any cash will ever care... fuck them.

j: Agree about the traditional songwriting/performing chops on display here. I haven't said it yet, but I'll say it now--this record SOUNDS impeccable. Usually when you listen to a demo you hear the rough around the edges stuff--strummy pointless rhythm guitar in the mix, buried or under-confident vocals, ill-advised drum fills, etc. The playing and the arranging are just stellar. Now go on youtube and look up a Vivian Girls video.

5. the crash

c: haven't really mentioned the band as a whole at this point, but this song is crying for it. what a bunch of talented, in synch, musicians... tight as hell & they have their sound down. "the crash" makes me want to jump in and kick some ass with them. other than that, this is a rocker from start to finish, no doubt at all & even though it is called "the crash" it is a glorious one...

j: Ripping solo in this one. Much like The Gaslight Anthem, Wandering Jews know how to deliver the breathlessness and exhilaration in these stories. It's so refreshing to hear a band who just openly cares about their music and isn't afraid to appear earnest.

Now I'm going to mention something that worries me a bit--if someone had put this on for me and said this was the new Gaslight Anthem record, I would not have doubted it for a second. As much as I like this EP, at points it's like a doppleganger of Gaslight Anthem to me. I have no idea if Wandering Jews ever even heard GA, and the similarities may be completely coincidental, but as a music listener it's just a bit problematic. Through no fault of Wandering Jews.

6. you weren't even my favorite wife

c: love the intro & i almost wish it was an instrumental. what a heartbreaker of a tune. there really is nothing else to say... "down on the farm" is an incredible example of what a bunch of "nobodies" can do. there are many out there, but we cling to what is hip and what is pushed on us... i implore all of you to dig deep, take the time & find shit off the beaten path that may turn you on. take a risk... it doesn't involve that much work & in the end, it is almost always rewarding whether you hit gold or not. to me, "down on the farm" is gold, not because i know the guy who wrote the damn songs, but because i can relate to this ep & it makes my ride home from work enjoyable... it gives me hope, damnit.

j: A very strong finish. Indeed, a heartbreaker and again, outstanding arrangement. Also probably my favorite lyrics on the record, very tasteful, and I like the ambiguous ending and the fade. Unlike Chris I don't know the songwriter, though I can recommend this record without hesitation. This was an extremely pleasant surprise.

19 June 2011

nirvana - in utero


1. serve the servants

c: before i start on the song... it is 1993, my shit for fuckheads counterpart and i just moved to boston the year before. looking back now, nirvana was very influential on why we ended up in boston, pursuing silly fame & fortune, fronting a band called "sons of john glenn." we transplanted from state college, pa, leaving the best rhythm section we ever had behind after we graduated with our valuable english degrees. unfortunately, the release of "nevermind" and superchunk's first LP was so influential on us, that they collectively destroyed the incredible originality we had going prior to listening to these bands. but that is our own damn fault.

if i remember correctly, i had just started working at nuggets records in kenmore square. we received limited clear vinyl editions of "in utero" the day before it's release. that night i took one home & listened to it over & over again until i passed out, only to wake up the next morning with the needle tripping over the last grove of the second side. it must have been doing that for hours. i was pissed that it etched a deep grove into my new wax, but that is not the only thing that eventually pissed me off about this LP, though it took many years for those aspects to reveal themselves... now on to the review.

"serve the servants" immediately hits you as a heavy number, not much polish in the production, nothing like "nevermind"... it is rough, it rocks, the lyrics are biting & bitter, but cobain & company just sounds plain tired & bored with it all. his lyrical delivery & demeanor brings the tune down, there are no two ways around it... a perfect example of what time does to you. when i first heard this song, i absolutely loved it's power. 18 years later, like cobain, i am a bit tired & bored & this song certainly does not ring true to me anymore. it is drudgery at it's best. nirvana certainly was not trying as hard as they did with "bleach" or "nevermind." the opening track is good enough to fool a young & angry listener. at 40 years old, i found it difficult even to nod my head to the beat & i still like to rock, damnit. this track just does not rock.

j:  I have a lot to say about In Utero, and Nirvana in general. Full disclosure-I believe in Nirvana as transformative artists in music and culture. Over maybe a six-month period after the release of Nevermind, they made an entire generation of hair metal and 'alternative' bands totally uncool. And as everyone knows an entirely new generation of mostly shitty bands rode the wave that they set in motion. And by 1993 it was apparent to everyone that the trend would continue.

"Teenage Angst has paid off well, and now I'm bored and old" sings Cobain in Serve The Servants. I can't deny the power of this song, it's great. But right off the bat we see Cobain in an almost apologetic mode, talking about how things went wrong. There seems to be an undercurrent of re-establishing cred in this album. By 1993, of course, Seattle was waning and the first wave indie rocks bands were on the rise-Superchunk, Pavement, Archers of Loaf, etc. Nevermind seemed fairly rooted in west coast metal, and that just wasn't as cool anymore. Who better to draw Nirvana 2.0 into the indie rock fold? Albini.

2. scentless apprentice

c:  jesus, why didn't they make this the opener?!?!? now this rocks! i remember hearing "scentless apprentice" before the LP was released on the boston classic rock station, 104.1?, and the dj that debuted it was creaming his pants after the track was over & he simply exclaimed, "now that, is rock & roll!" and he was right. i was surprised it was played on a classic rock station to begin with & i still am. i am more inclined to think the dj went renegade & played the damn thing despite the mandatory rule to play the same ancient songs over & over again. anyhoo, this track is more along the lines of what i was expecting from nirvana at the time. the lyrics are cool, but they are secondary to the emotions & energy this song evokes. this is what nirvana is all about. this is what they did best. this track still makes me want to jump in a pit & beat the hell out of myself and those around me... my heart rate doubled just listening to the damn thing.

j: Seems like a muscle flex-all those crappy mainstream grunge bands
floating around at this point, and Nirvana puts them all to shame with this bleak, ear-splitting masterpiece. I love it, but I always wonder how it might have sounded had they retained Butch Vig. Albini was all about making bands sound like they did in rehearsal. It's an artistic choice, and not a bad one. But I'll always wonder. This was my first favorite from this album, by a country mile.

3. heart-shaped box

c: "she eyes me like a pisces when i am weak"

the single... they brought in scott litt to clean up whatever steve albini recorded & that must certainly have rubbed albini the wrong way, but who cares, the guy is a dick. and this recording is clean as a whistle, sounds fantastic in a good headset, which i am doing now...

i still listen to this song when it pops up on the radio, but if there is
something better on the oldies station, like gordon lightfoot or something, i will listen to that instead. cannot help but think this tune has something to do with cobain's regret in hooking up with his murderous wife & the lyrical content clearly foreshadows things to come in the near future. mainly, cobain trying to figure out how to get out of the mess he is in. beyond all that, "heart-shaped box" is a well crafted pop tune, bordering on gloom, but maintaining enough energy throughout to keep it from being some over-dramatic goth dirge... though the "soft then loud" formula was already starting to get old at this point. there are other dynamics in between. this was the right choice for a single though. it is the only one on the record.

j: The single-one of the most gawked-at singles ever, really. I have to
admit I didn't warm up to this when it released, and I don't love it now. The riff during the chorus seems kind of cookie-cutter 'grunge.' And the Pixies' LOUDsoftLoUD treatment is a little too spot-on. Again, THIS IS NOT A BAD SONG. But it's like computer-generated Nirvana. I'd imagine the studio had their fingers in this one quite a bit. All that said, the lines "I was drawn into your magnet tarpit trap/ wish I could eat your cancer when I turn black" are spectacular.

4. rape me

c: i never really liked this song, even way back when. i think i would if
the lyrics were different. musically, "rape me" rocks, but rape is a pretty serious thing. yeah, perhaps curt & his band were being taken advantage of, so to speak... they made a ton of money from being "raped" though & this is the first tune where it is apparent that curt has truly gone down that lazy, long and winding road of complaining & yeah, he is not the only one. in fact, i find so much current pop/rock/punk/emo unbearable because of the copy cat whining, which stems from just a few tunes cobain wrote and decided to put on a record. seriously, the punk rock flag has been mainly carried by a bunch of lazy-assed, woe-is-me pansies with loud/soft drums & guitars ever since this LP came out. you would never catch the replacements or the ramones putting a song with this type of lackadaisical lyrical content on it. it is one thing to be suffering & painting a picture about it... it is another to just go on & on telling everyone how crappy yer situation is. albeit, cobain certainly had problems, mental illness, a bad smack habit, an unstable wife, more money than he knew what to do with, but AOR and the music industry taking advantage of him & his band was probably the least of his worries or it should have been. oh, whatever, nevermind.

j:  Always felt mailed-in to me. Like this is the sort of transgressive sentiment we expect from Cobain. Again, seems too spot-on, like hey rape me! Isn't that dark? If Cobain hadn't written this song, someone else would have eventually, and I expect more from Cobain. There's no unexpected twist, it's just Cobain singing about dark stuff and screaming at the end. A rocking tune, but that's it. Breed blows this out of the water.

5. frances farmer will have her revenge on seattle

c: this song would have fit nicely on their b-side collection, "incesticide", which is better than this LP by the way. "frances" (yeah, his daughter's name sake) is more along the lines of what you should expect on this LP, unfortunately, that does not always a happen. it sounds live. nice in yer face guitars, the drums are solid & the bass holds down the fort. it is a rough & loud & simple ride, with a sweet chorus that you can hum along to while putting yer fist through a wall.

j: It's good. But the record seems to be losing steam here. This sounds like a really good demo, like maybe it needs more fleshing out. It rocks, but I find it difficult to say anything else about it. This didn't do much for me in 1993 and it still doesn't. But there's nothing wrong with it.

6. dumb

c:  this a product of cobain trying. he is painting a picture & it rings true. i can relate to it, more so now as time drags on... "dumb" has withstood the test of time, one of the few on the LP. the cello works perfectly on this tune, but nirvana went on to over-use it on their mtv acoustic LP. good closer for the first side & it leaves you with some hope that there are better things to come...

j:  Dumb is a relief at this point in the record, because it sounds like Nirvana taking one of those delicious turns that are all over Nevermind. Kurt singing those short lines--compact, simple thoughts about simple things. I think this would have been a better first single than Heart-Shaped Box. This is the first song in this re-visitation that's standing out for me like it never did before.


1. very ape

c:  yes! good start! please keep it going, damnit! "very ape" also belongs on "incesticide." i am beginning to think that said LP needs to be properly re-released as a 3 sided double-LP with some nice artwork etched into the fourth side. the best songs from "in utero" comprising the third side. if i had the money & a record press, i would do it.

having said that, remember now, "incesticide" IS a b-side LP... the fact that i want some of these songs put on a b-side collection is not exactly a good thing. yes, like my counterpart, i expected more out of cobain at this point...

j:  I'll say it-this song always bored me. It's totally fine, of course. The chorus sounds like "I'm On A Plain" but that song is 100 times more interesting. It's like they started Side B with an outtake.

2. milk it

c:  heavy, heavy, heavy... reminds me of jesus lizard. my guess is this was albini's favorite tune nirvana offered for him to record. cobain's vocal is incredible on this track. i would give my useless left nut to be able to scream like that. love the noodling guitars in the in-between parts... lyrically, cobain has a winner and he focused on his strengths... threading words that rhyme, but do not necessarily work together, but twisting them to make'em work. "protector of the kennel, ecto-plasma, ecto-skeletal, obituary birthday, your scent is still here in my place of recovery." and you have to love it when he cracks up right before he belts out "test meat" for the third time. this side is getting better and better. enough weirdness and genuine emotion to keep me listening.

j: Scentless Apprentice reprise. Also an opportunity to deliver the line "My shit is her milk." It's good, it just isn't anything we haven't heard before from this band. Maybe the most direct Pixies homage Nirvana ever recorded.

3. pennyroyal tea

c: this was supposed to be the second single & video released (why so late in the game?), but cobain was whacked & all the current plans for making money were changed to bigger ones...

i don't know how this song would have done as the second single. it follows the formula that made nirvana famous, "the quiet, then loud act," but "pennyroyal tea," has a certain stink about it, though it should be minty fresh going down, it is more like taking a laxative. the song is about death, i guess, or waiting for it. if cobain didn't slip in so many songs eluding to death & guns & suicide, perhaps courtney would not have gotten away with what she did. the herb pennyroyal (mentha pulegium) supposedly causes abortions... i am flushing out the rest of what i have to say...

j:  This has always been my least favorite song from this album. The complacent junkie is speaking here, and I just don't care. That he name-drops Leonard Cohen is, to me, the most interesting element of this song.

4. radio friendly unit shifter

c:  signature nirvana tune, though i wish the vocal was a little more up in the mix, but after reading the lyrics, perhaps albini made the right move... borderline whining again, but nothing close to "rape me"... the noise drowns out any down-side to this song & that is a good thing. the title is a bit too obvious... this lil' ditty is certainly not a radio friendly unit shifter.

j:  "Hate, hate your enemies/save, save your friends/find, find your place/speak, speak the truth"

I feel like I hear the Nevermind Kurt singing in this awesome bridge verse. My favorite moment in In Utero. I'm so happy Kurt didn't' die before he wrote these lines. As unfocused as I believe this record to be, especially compared to Nevermind, he was definitely starting to zero in on something here. I think I would have liked this as the first song on the album instead of Serve The Servants.

5. tourette's

c: nirvana's supposed attack on moderate rock continues... this is by far my favorite track on the LP & in a perfect world, it should have been the first single of the record. it is a cross of a traditional russian kalinka & an outright bile-spewing hyper-active punk... no words to understand, but the song's meaning is loud and clear... "i do whatever the fuck i want to! fuck you, you fucking fuck!"

j: I kind of tune out during this song, even though it clearly rocks. Don't know if I'll ever get my grunge ears back. I think I still have my grunge hat somewhere.

6. all apologies

c:  perfect end to a not so perfect LP. "in utero" is an LP full of emotion, no doubt. some of it good & some of it bad. all apologies is difficult to listen to at times, for reasons of my own. in light of what unfolded in the aftermath of cobain's death, all i have to say is that i do wish that there was more good & bad to listen to, i would even take just the bad. now there is just the could'a, would'a, should'a & all the mess that rides along with it... que sera sera...

j:  It's great. And there's nothing like this on Nevermind. Stockton has come to Washington. I'd imagine the next Nirvana album would have been a whole album of songs like this. Which would have been great, but not really what made Nirvana so famous in the first place. But artists need to grow and all that.

22 May 2011

inxs - kick


1. guns in the sky

c: what a bombastic "kick-off" to this 1987 classic LP by inxs. it is almost too much, but about halfway through the song i am sold on the menacing tune... it is a pretty angry piece of work from a band that is generally known for sexy good time dance music. "guns in the sky" is almost out of place, but the more i think about it, i do not believe it could have fit anywhere else on the LP. loud & short & in your face, it triumphantly sets up the rest of the side A.

j: I like that this record has an INXS logo for the side A label, and the classic Atlantic label for side B.

When Guns in the Sky starts and Michael Hutchence starts grunting (auto-erotically?) I almost start laughing. But they pull it off. And for an album that was intended to be their big mainstream radio push in the US out of the college rock ranks, it's a pretty gutsy move to put this at the beginning of the album. The line "I'm sick of it--it's a load of shit!" was a bigger deal in 1987, and I'm assuming got the record a parental warning sticker. This is a pretty awesome song.

2. new sensation

c: let the dance party begin! this song was glorious when it was first released & it still sounds fresh to me after all of these years. "kick" is one of those rare LPs that plays like a "best of" compilation. there are few pop/rock records that have accomplished this in the past. "born in the usa," "rumours," & "back in black" come to mind... i am sure there are others, but none of them quite match up to "kick" as far as sheer party enjoyment is concerned. i cannot recall one person in all these years that did not enjoy this LP thoroughly when i threw it on the turntable and cranked the sucker up & "new sensation" ALWAYS made people dance...

j: Yeah, I turned up the stereo when this came on. I know there was a time when I was sick of this song, but it sounds great now. They almost don't need the chorus on this song the rhythm in the verses is so great. The combination of those clean, chorused guitars and the big floor toms is indeed glorious. No wonder this album was so big.

3. devil inside

c: one of four top ten singles off the album & rightly so. "devil inside" exudes sex & it very well could be michael hutchence's signature tune. This song basically catapulted inxs to household name status for a while there. three songs into the LP and it is apparent that inxs really hit the nail on the head with this effort. their earlier work is good, no doubt, but they bring everything together here on "kick." there is no repetition, each track touches new ground, the lyrics are not the work of bob dylan or anything, though they are perfect in the context of what these songs are mainly trying to accomplish & that is to bring out the devil in you & have a good time.

j: I'm in full agreement about this being Hutchence's signature song. It's the perfect vehicle for his whispering, hip-twisting seduction schtick. Look at 'em go, look at 'em KICK. Everyone makes fun of eighties drum set-ups with all the roto-toms and shit, but THIS IS HOW YOU USE THOSE THINGS. The drums are great. The solo rips. Is it wrong to keep saying 'this song is awesome?' Because this song is awesome.

4. need you tonight

c: sweet lil' funky tune... the band became such a well-oiled machine over the years and they are peaking here. the rhythm section is tight as a tourniquet & they can cop any pop music style & still turn it into their own thing. there is nothing like musicianship and a well-crafted pop-tune. it is more difficult to accomplish than people think. "need you tonight" does this & if it was released tomorrow, it would still be a hit. timeless...

j: Need you tonight is another song that got so much airplay I was burnt out on it for a few years. I saw them at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center during this tour and I'm pretty sure this was the radio hit at the time. I was with two or three other guys and I think we were all wearing sweatpants. After the show some heshers drove by in an old Gran Torino (or something like that) and yelled 'Fuck you, jocks!' at us. Even though I wasn't much of a jock. They're making it look easy on songs like this but I would note that they went back to the well a few too many times and songs from later albums that were cut from the same cloth (Suicide Blonde, etc.) never sounded as good as this. This was the peak.

5. mediate

c: nice segue at the end of "need you tonight," sliding into this track seamlessly and providing a perfect break from the dance mode of the first side so far. this song would almost fit on some new age mood setting CD, like "peaceful ocean surf" or something. all it needs is some gull & whale calls... the lyrics on this one attempts to emulate dylan's "subterranean homesick blues" & it does not quite work, though they are harmless enough to hang there in the background & do little to damage the song.

j: So they take their radio hit and segue into a talky, ambient, Lou Reed-ish meditation. The lyrics probably aren't as deep as they wanted but who cares. Sometimes when you hear a saxophone on eighties records you go "oh no" but it sounds great here.

6. the loved one

c: great closer to the first side, the chorus really makes it. my only complaint is the choice of the keyboard sound. i feel it really dates the song & it belongs to the eighties & is a bit cheesy. thankfully, it does not dominate the song. great love song as far as love songs go, "inxs" keeps it nice & simple & never crosses the line that many love songs do. you know that line... it is the one that makes you want to gag yerself and empty the contents of yer stomach all over yer $500 turntable or drag the needle across the wax and smash the record to a thousand pieces.

j: This song was invisible to me for a long time, I have no idea why. That fantastic soaring chorus against the obtuse verses! The climbing pre-chorus a la Duran Duran! The lyrics are REALLY banal but it doesn't seem to matter. Hutchence was a great singer and he could do stuff like this in his sleep. This is an awesome song!


1. wild life

c: one of my faves on the LP & i am surprised this was not the fifth top ten single off of "kick." it is short & sweet & what the heck is that cool whoop-whooping sound they incorporate 10 seconds into the song? that one little bit makes the tune.

j: I feel like I haven't been hard enough on this record yet because I'm in a good mood. But listening to the first side was what put me in a good mood in the first place! Okay, I'll say that this isn't one of my favorites on the record, in fact it's probably towards the bottom. It reminds of a Glenn Frey solo song in a weird way, and that's never a good thing. Boy, that's a terrible thing to say about any song. I take it back. It's decent.

2. never tear us apart

c: what good dance record doesn't have at least one slow dance song? "never tear us apart" serves it up well, but i am glad it is the only one on the record. this song pretty much caused every teen girl in 1987 to go out and buy a door length poster of michael hutchence and super-glue it to their wall, in the hope that it would never come down... eventually, like all love based on infatuation, they would just grow out of it & replace it with something else... i kinda feel the same about this song.

j: The keyboards are fantastic. Yes, it's kind of a cookie-cutter slow song, but it really succeeds. Think of the ballad on the Godfathers record (from roughly the same time period) for an example of a disgusting failure that practically ruins an otherwise great album. This is nothing like that, and that record had more punk/hard rock pretensions.

3. mystify

c: definitely my favorite track on the LP. love the piano part & once the song kicks in, it never lets go of you. what a great foot tapping, head nodding pop gem and i am mystified as to why this was not a number one hit. the damn song just puts one big smile on my face. there really is nothing else to say.

j: This is so great. They never did stuff like this again, as far as I know. I'm pretty sure this was never released as a radio single. WHY NOT?????? On the bus on the senior class trip to Busch Gardens the pretty, popular girl sitting in front of me heard me blaring this on my Walkman and turned around to tell me how much she loved this song. I don't know what I said, but the conversation didn't last that long. I blew it, I guess. I'm such a fucking dork sometimes. But this is an awesome song!

4. kick

c: this almost could have been the last tune of the record & it makes total sense as to why inxs made this the title-track of the LP. the second side has been relentless as far as quality & by this point you are almost forgetting how good the first side was. most of the singles were taken from the first side of "kick," but i argue that the flip side is stronger. perhaps it is due to less radio play when it was released, but i do not think so...

j: I wonder if there was some label pressure to make this the first song instead of the dissonant, swear-word containing Guns in the Sky. I don't know anything, I'm just guessing. Though this also sounds like a closer, as you note. I'm not sure if I like all the horns and it sounds weirdly incomplete, like their could have been more parts and pushed this a bit further and made it longer. There really aren't any songs I hate on this album, but the 'sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked' is kind of lame. I keep thinking of the Mounds/Almond Joy line "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."

5. calling all nations

c: a close second to "mystify" for my favorite track. getting a little pissed here that i am having a hard time finding anything negative to point out as this LP blasts further on. my headset is blaring & i just want to hear this song another five times or so & not have to scratch my head trying to figure out something clever or insightful to say about the song, so i won't. "calling all nations" simply rocks.

j: This is an awesome song! This makes me want to pop my collar and dance in my topsiders.

6. tiny daggers

c: even though i stated earlier that the title-track may have been a better closer for the LP, upon listening again, "tiny daggers" does deserve the honor. it has just the right touch of wistfulness about it that ultimately leaves you wanting to flip the record & play the whole damn thing over, which i am going to do soon as finish writing this crap. so, kudos to inxs... "kick" is nearly a perfect pop record & i find very little to fault with what is easily their finest effort. i am not surprised that beck decided to cover this LP from start to finish. though a noble effort, him & all his hip friends were unable to do it justice. some records are best left alone. "kick" is one of them. just throw it on again...

j: Tiny Daggers has those great verses which actually remind me of seventies Rolling Stones, the phrasing and the singing. And 'ever stop to wonder' of course reminds me of Stairway to Heaven, so there's an overall seventies vibe in this song for me. It's amazing how solid this album is! I would have to agree it's their best record, with Listen Like Thieves a respectable second place. It makes me sad that a lot of younger listeners will probably take one look at the cover and go "Ugh, eighties major label shit." Their loss, I guess. This is an awesome record!

Since I haven't mentioned it anywhere else, when I saw them at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center the last encore was 'Don't Change' and yes, it was stellar. There were these green spotlights shooting out from behind the band during that first, slow guitar notes and then the big floodlights came up when the song kicks in with those big cymbal crashes. That's one of those moments you wish you could rewind to and replay.