The Kings

I’ve had a week with the new Queens of the Stone Age album Villians and it is truly a monster. It is the best album of 2017. There’s hardly a reason for anyone to release anything else. It should win every award.

Dense, lush, intense. Lots of melodies and harmonies and multi-layered interplay between guitars and bass and vocals and keys and synths (not a bad thing). Soaring and singing, melodic dissonance.

All the songs are good. Most are great. Most are long. This is an album to be taken seriously, to be consumed in its entirety. Over and over again.

Gene presented The Pillows a few weeks ago and asked, “if not this band, then who?” I will say, for me, it’s the Queens. They are leaps and bounds ahead of any other new music being made today. They would stand their ground in any era. Josh Homme is a musical genius.

This is my favorite song, for now at least. It’s a good sample of what makes the Queens so special, although most other songs on the album aren’t far behind. Pay particular attention to when the main riff sneaks back in (via synth), after the stoopid punk rock part kicks in.

Thank goodness there’s something that rises above the cesspool that is today’s music.

The Possibilities Are Endless

Don’t know how I missed this very early, primitive Turbonegro attempt at a genuine music video.

Cool in countless ways.

I guess my favorite is the guitarist on the far right in the video.

This is from Ass Cobra, absolutely a glaring omission from the Rolling Stone best punk album list (not that they would know). My vote for best hardcore album ever.

Roots

Have we done anything on murder songs? We should. This one isn’t exactly murder but the threat is refreshingly explicit.

I wonder how many real murders have been directly – inspired isn’t quite the word here – influenced shall we say – by songs? It must have happened a few times. Music has been a major player in various murder cults of course, and war of course, but individuals who committed murder under the influence of a song – how rare is that? Inquiring minds want to know.

Anyway, Sonny Boy II has his very own blues style, and I happen to think that he’s one of the greatest singers ever, not to mention maybe the best harp player, both instantly recognizable at any rate, and his band swings the blues good.

 

A Punk Album You Need

Whenever I listen to these guys, I think perhaps they’re the best punk band ever – or at least they may have been in their prime. You need either The Unboxed Set CD or the Back From Samoa album and the Inside My Brain EP.

To steal from Tom:

Fuckin’ sheep I’m on the rag
They got my balls in a plastic bag

Best minute you’ll spend today:

More Spotify Fun with The Stone Roses, Ace Frehley, The Mekons, and Mojo Nixon

Not much secret how much fun I am having listening to my Spotify Weekly Playlist. Although, I would like to know the guys that program how our likes and preferences are bounced, and then built the algorithm that crunches my liking Yo La Tengo and Pink Floyd and the Kinks and Bill Frisell, and figures out that I might like the New York Dolls, or Love, or a bunch of other bands I never hinted at?

More interesting, is that over the past two cycles of songs–Spotify drops 30 a week onto a Monday playlist based on the how the company projects what I would like–I have not only loved just about every song, especially in context, but tunes have appeared that I did not know that I am sure would appeal to my Remnants mates.

I was always a Raspberries fan, and I know at least Steve and I were both fans, but how Spotify knew and dropped I Wanna Be With You on the playlist last week, though, is beyond me. But, the next track on that playlist was the ultra fantastic Love Spreads, by the Stone Roses. How that made the equation is even more obscure, though the Roses were a favorite (their debut album might have made my essential 50) but I had not thought of the band in years.

There were more, but this week’s craziness included a song by Ace Frehley, the KISS guitarist whom I would normally dismiss, but this tune, New York Groove, is a pretty good guitar driven pop tune. And, again, I am guessing Steve, who is more traditional in his music listening habits, would at least chuckle at the irony behind this.

This week also gave me a Tom Verlaine tune, Kingdom Come, I did not know and I suspect both Peter and Gene would (if they don’t already) love, and then for fun, the killer (and also new to me) Where Were You by the Mekons, a fave band of Peter’s, came blasting out.

This was with Do You Feel Like I DoJust Dropped in to See What Condition (my Condition Was in)Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You GaveThe Shape I’m In, peppered into the mix, along with this somewhat obscure gem from the past.

 

 

 

OBIT: Paul Kantner (1941-2016)

Paul Kantner, who evolved as the driving force behind first Jefferson Airplane, and subsequently Jefferson Starship (not The Starship, mind you) has passed away at the age of 74.

It is hard for me to believe that almost six years ago I posted this piece right here on the Remnants as I declared the Airplane the best rock band of the San Francisco psychedelic era. That article was on the passing of drummer Joey Covington, and sadly, now it is Kantner.

It is cool that Peter already published Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?, for that was the first song I thought of posting for Kantner, but there are certainly a zillion more I love.

I was lucky enough to live in the Bay Area during the heyday of the SF bands, so I got to see the Airplane more than a few times, even at Winterland, with the Dead, Big Brother, and Quicksilver. Good as those other bands were, the Airplane were easily my fave.

For starters, this clip of Crown of Creation, from The Smothers Brothers Show in 1968, is emblematic of the band–which did feature three singers unlike most bands at the time–in their flower power heyday. (Note that Paul plays a Rickenbacker!)

It was largely Kantner’s vision that pushed the band through five great studio albums along with a killer live one before the metamorphosis into Jefferson Starship,

Kantner was soft-spoken, but equally outspoken with respect to the causes of the left, but he was ultimately a musician and artist whose band left a significant body of great work.

Like this fantastic treatment of the traditional song, Good Shepherd from Volunteers, performed at the Fillmore East in 1969.

 

But, my favorite moment of Kantner occurred in 1981, when U2 first was gaining a buzz. I went to see the up-and-coming Irish band, and who should be sitting behind me at a little table, all by his lonesome, but Paul Kantner?

I will leave with two treatments of Fred Neil’s The Other Side of this Life. This first is the band, interrupted during play at the infamous Altamont gig in which Kantner, clearly the leader of the band confronts Hell’s Angel Ralph “Sonny” Barger.

But, this second treatment, from the wonderful live Bless Its Pointed Little Head just fucking smokes.

I will see the stars tonight Paul, and will see you among them.

While I’m Posting Alternate Takes. . .

Since Jailbreak is in my all-time top 50, I bought the expensive super-duper deluxe version that came out a few years ago, with all kinds of demos, alternates, etc.

This is my favorite. Call me crazy, but it made the price of the whole package worth it all by itself. The differences are subtle until the different third verse (please stick around). And call me melodramatic, but when I first heard this, it gave me a sense of melancholy, as if Phil Lynott was still alive and making great new/old stuff again. I guess the entire song is kind of melancholy.

I’ve always thought this would be a cool cover for Springsteen.

While We’re On Classic English Punk. . .

Just ordered John Lydon’s new biography Anger Is An Energy for Amazon Prime delivery on Thursday. I looked at it at Barnes & Noble and it must be 500 pages. (I’m definitely a guy who shops at B&N and buys on Amazon and will be the first to bitch and whine when B&N goes under. What a hypocrite.)

Why does Lydon need another biography? I guess I’ll find out, but I read the first one years ago and liked it a lot. Ty Cobb must be up to like five bios at this point, with a brand new one also on the shelves. I’ve only read the I-think-most-well-known-supposedly-much-tall-tales-and-nonsense one by Al Stump.

And forgive me for treating you like a musical three-year-old, but the new Lydon bio inspired me to listen to the Pistols’ Spunk, the prior-to-Sid Bollocks version with Matlock on bass. Again, I’m guessing you all have this as well as Bollocks and you know that Steve Jones (the guitarist on both albums) played bass on Bollocks, because, true to his rep, Sid couldn’t play.

I give you a typical choice here in Anarchy. Notice the more raw sound, the bouncy bass and Lydon’s a-little-flatter-than-Bollocks vocals as well as slightly different lyrics and delivery.

It isn’t difficult to tell Steve Jones played bass on Bollocks because, on that version, the bass simply doubles the guitar, creating quite a powerful sound wall, but very different from the Matlock Spunk recordings.

Hey, if I taught one person one thing today, maybe it was worth it. I’ll let you know on the book.

Hey Hey: Cool Pic

My friend sent me a link to an article about Blondie that included this photo from 1980. Reminds me of a cross between that picture of the original Baseball Hall of Fame inductees all sitting together you’ve seen a million times before and that Ellen selfie of the stars from last year’s Oscars.

Can you name them all?

Debbie-with-others_3211932c