Friday, June 29, 2012

The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden

The ritual has begun
Satan's work is done

When I was in high school, I had a few classes that had assigned seating where we were seated alphabetically by last name, so I was seated behind Jerry Tinkleman. Tinkleman liked to draw, but he would only draw the album covers of releases by Iron Maiden and Megadeth. He'd spend the whole class drawing something like Peace Sells...but Who's Buying? or The Number of the Beast. When he finished, he would show me his work, and I would always tell him that his drawing was cool. I'd always tell him it was cool because he was a good artist, plus Tinkleman had a crazed look in eyes that said to me, "If you don't like my drawing then I will fucking kill you and everyone else in this school".

I'm pretty certain Tinkleman joined the military after high school, and I hope an officer tells him his drawings suck before sending him out into combat to take out the Taliban. Tinkleman's drawings inspired me to check out Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Both bands have an impressive metal catalog and Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast is a classic. 'The Number of the Beast' is a metal anthem and you can't go wrong with Bruce Dickinson's vocals. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Singer Songwriter by Okkervil River

You wrote you thesis on the Gospel of Thomas
You shot some reversal film in Angkor Wat

'Singer Songwriter' by Okkervil River is one of the best songs I've heard in the past five years. It has a wonderful Americana sound while the lyrics sound like collaboration between Bob Dylan and Wes Anderson. Brilliant. Indie rock hasn't impressed me much over the past decade, but there is still hope out there thanks to bands like Okkervil River. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Strange Days by School of Fish

 I laid down for awhile
And I woke up on the ocean

School of Fish's 'Three Strange Days' is a psychedelic pop rock gem. Released in 1991, this song is featured on their debut album School of Fish which propelled the Los Angeles based band into the spotlight. Led by lead singer and guitar player, Josh Clayton-Felt, School of Fish released their follow-up album Human Cannonball before disbanding in 1994. Sadly, Clayton-Felt died of cancer in 2000.

I've been a fan of this song since it was originally released. I purchased the cassette single for 'Three Strange Days' and the B-side was a very cool cover of Prince's 'Let's Pretend We're Married'. As a music fan, I'm disappointed that this song has been buried in the 90s alternative rock graveyard. In my opinion, 'Three Strange Days' still sounds great and should not be forgotten.   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Barracuda by Heart

 You gonna burn burn burn burn it to the wick

My father-in-law purchased one of those battery powered Jeep toys at a garage sale for my son who is four. My son can drive that thing around the yard like a speed demon and he really enjoys taking his sister, who is one, along for the ride. The Jeep toy has a radio, so the other day I tuned it to a local classic rock station, and 'Barracuda' by Heart was playing. They both bobbed their heads to the song and then my son hit the gas on the Jeep toy and they took off blasting that Heart classic. It was pretty bad ass moment and I was a proud parent. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Son Cool by Guided By Voices

I must keep a journal
I must boast a victory

Alien Lanes was the fantastic follow-up album to Bee Thousand. Guided by Voices fans have and will debate which album is superior, but there is no need to argue because both are brilliant works of lo-fi rock. A personal favorite from Alien Lanes is 'My Son Cool', a rock anthem recorded on four track or eight track. There is no need to wonder what this would sound like in the studio because songs like these exist to remind us why we go out and buy four tracks and eight tracks.   

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em) by The Greg Kihn Band

They just don't write 'em like that anymore

'The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)' by The Greg Kihn Band is a solid rock and roll anthem. Some of you might recall Greg Kihn's 1983 hit 'Jeopardy', which was parodied by 'Weird' Al Yankovic as 'I Lost on Jeopardy'. 'The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)' reached #15 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1981 and thirty years later, this song still sounds great.

I'd like to get on the soap box for a moment. Why does this song only get the retro 80s lunchtime slot? It deserves the spot, but my local classic rock station does not give 'The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)' any airplay. I know taste is subjective in music, but this song definitely deserves to be in the classic rock rotation. Don't tell me that 'Fool For The City' by Foghat or 'Lucky Man' by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer is a better selection. I don't think so, folks. 'The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)' deserves to be up there with some of the best classic rock jams.  

Greg Kihn hosts a radio show on KFOX in San Francisco, still plays shows, and stays in touch with his fans via his blog.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lost Soul Returns June 22nd!

Hold tight, folks. I'll be away until late next week. Stay cool and keep on rockin' and rollin'. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Fitted Shirt by Spoon

I long for the days
They used to say
'Ma'am' and 'Yes Sir'

Father's Day is Sunday, so I picked a damn good selection for my dad. Sorry folks, but you'll not hear 'Cat's In The Cradle' by Harry Chapin because my childhood was very cool and so is my dad. I selected 'The Fitted Shirt' by Spoon because this song reminds me of my dad's impressive dress shirt collection. Not only does he have a good selection of shirts, but he is the Imelda Marcos of ties. My dad always asks me if I want any of his old dress shirts and I gladly take them when given the opportunity. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Also, I just want to say that Spoon has been a band that has never disappointed me as a music fan. They've been the most consistent indie rock band since the 1996 release of Telephono. There are pretenders to the indie rock throne (i.e. The Arcade Fire, The Decembrists, etc), but the current kings of indie rock are Spoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Land of a Thousand Dances by Wilson Pickett

Mash potato
Do the alligator

Chris Kenner, a New Orleans R&B singer, wrote and performed 'Land of a Thousand Dances' in 1962, but two other artists gained greater fame with this song. Cannibal & The Headhunters, an act from Los Angeles, covered the song in 1965 and it went to #30 on the charts. However, it was Wilson Pickett who had the biggest hit with 'Land of a Thousand Dances' when it went to #6 on the charts in 1966. Of the three, Pickett has the best version due to the rawness and soulful style he brings to the song.

My parents are big fans of 'The Wicked' Pickett, and growing up songs like 'Land of a Thousand Dances', 'In The Midnight Hour' and 'Mustang Sally' were on heavy rotation. There is no reason for not liking soul music, and if you do, then you can get out of my rock room. Just hit play below and do the watusi.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Formed a Band by Art Brut

We're going to be that band that writes the song
That makes Israel and Palestine get along

Bang Bang Rock & Roll by Art Brut is in my opinion one of the best albums of the past decade. I love how this UK band put together a snotty, fun and clever album with some memorable tunes like 'Emily Kane' and 'My Little Brother'. Art Brut is in the Franz Ferdinand and The Killers realm of music, but they do have a better connection to the punk and post-punk movement. For example, 'Formed a Band' is a Gang of Four inspired anthem announcing the arrival of Art Brut.

'Formed a Band' is one of the few songs I've heard during the past ten to twelve years that has attitude, which is something missing from the world of rock and roll, especially indie rock. The indie rock scene had some attitude going for awhile during the 1980s and 1990s, but something changed. I can't quite put my finger on it, but angst was replaced by hipsters with mustaches and incredibly dull guy and girl singing duos from Brooklyn. Only a few have decided to keep the angst alive. Good work, Art Brut.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) by Metallica

Fear of living on
Natives getting restless now 
Mutiny in the air

People can criticize Metallica all they want for blocking their fans from using Napster or for recording an incredibly bizarre album with Lou Reed, but Master of Puppets is a heavy metal masterpiece. From Ride the Lighting (1984) to Metallica (1991), the band released four incredible albums. Master of Puppets is my favorite Metallica album, and the Lost Soul of Rock and Roll finally brings the metal with 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'. You're welcome.

James Hetfield, the lead singer for Metallica, said in a 2008 interview with Guitar World that 'Welcome Home' (Sanitarium)' was inspired by One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. A great book and also a great movie inspired one of the best tracks on Master of Puppets. 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' is a tale of a mental patient on the brink of mutiny. Their frustration with a barbaric system is not only heard in Hetfield's lyrics but also in the music. 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' is not a good song, it is a metal classic. Enjoy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Blatant Doom Trip by Guided by Voices

Bottomless hole - rock and roll

The Same Place The Fly Got Smashed, the fourth studio album from Guided by Voices (GBV), is believed to be a concept album about alcoholism, but it is a continuation of the new sound GBV achieved with their third studio album, Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia. If you listen to GBV from the 1986 EP, Forever Since Breakfast, to their second studio album, Sandbox, you'll hear a band heavily influenced by REM. Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia and The Same Place The Fly Got Smashed have a variety of sounds that are influenced from the British invasion, the post-punk movement, garage rock, and lo-fi rock.

My personal favorite from The Same Place The Fly Got Smashed is 'Blatant Doom Trip', a rock and roll journey that takes one into the world of addiction and hopelessness. Lead singer, Bob Pollard, still shows some REM influence with the Michael Stipe vocals that are hard to decipher at times and the band has put together a rockin' sound that in my opinion blends some Pink Floyd with The Who. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Cool: Tom Teslik covers Blueprint by Fugazi

 Sunday Cool is a weekly festure where I find something cool for you to enjoy with you Sunday cup of java.

Covers are always welcome at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll's Sunday Cool. When I go to YouTube, I see who is covering songs from my favorite artists. Fugazi is one of my favorites and there are zillions of covers of 'Waiting Room' on YouTube, but I was curious to see what other Fugazi tunes were being covered. I discovered Tom Teslik's cover of 'Blueprint' and was incredibly impressed by his acoustic version. Tom makes music in Wisconsin and if you want to know more about Tom Teslik then click here for his website.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Men in Black by Frank Black

Dinner plate specials
The shapes of cucumber

Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, passed away this week. I was looking for a rock and roll connection, and my first thought was Frank Black's third solo album from 1996, The Cult of Ray.Yes, the album title is a reference to Bradbury and the album even has a track titled 'The Cult of Ray'. I decided to pick the most sci-fi track off the album and chose 'Men in Black', an ode to those mysterious men who supposedly harass UFO investigators.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Everyone Choose Sides by The Wrens

I'm the best 17 year old ever

I'm a huge fan of The Two Headed Nerd, a weekly podcast dedicated to comic books and all things related. Hosted by Matt and Joe, this podcast is one of the best out there and this Lost Soul of Rock and Roll is a huge fan. I was listening to a Two Headed Nerd podcast in April, and while Matt and Joe were discussing something comic book related, they had a song playing in the background that grabbed my attention. I had to know who the artist was, and fortunately for Two Headed Nerd, they list the songs they play during the podcast.

The song was called 'Everyone Choose Sides' by The Wrens, a rock band from New Jersey,  and is featured on their 2003 album The Meadowlands. I found the song on YouTube and it has been on heavy rotation since. How did I miss this album in 2003? The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll has no excuse, but better late than never. If anyone says that indie rock doesn't rock then let them hear the anthemic 'Everyone Choose Sides' and they'll shut their pie-holes.

'Everyone Choose Sides' reminds me of a Guided by Voices tune, and that's a major plus to this Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. I've had the opportunity to listen to more of The Wrens and what I like about this band is that they have the right rock and roll education. They have digested some good stuff and that inspired them to make great rock and roll music. This is how it's done, kids. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Never Been Any Reason by Head East

Woman with the sweet lovin' better than a white line

This staple of classic rock radio is from Head East, a central Illinois band, and is featured on their self-produced 1974 debut album Flat as a Pancake. A&M Records discovered the album due to the success of 'Never Been Any Reason' and re-released Flat as a Pancake in 1975. By 1978, the album had be certified Gold. Head East is still in existence and frequently tours. 

What's not to like about this song? You have cowbell, synthesizers, power chords, and dueling melodies, which is a basic recipe for 70s rock success. I've been a fan of 'Never Been Any Reason' for years and yesterday I discovered that the vocals in this song are not sung by a man and a woman but a man and another man. Call me a liar, but Head East has the skinny on the vocals of 'Never Been Any Reason'. I don't know about you, but my mind was blown when I made the discovery.

After writing the first two paragraphs of this blog, I had to grab my MP3 player and listen to 'Never Been Any Reason'. My ears carefully tuned in to what I always thought were the female vocals and after awhile, I could hear that it was a man with an extremely high vocal style. Amazing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Go Now by Bessie Banks

 We've already said 'Goodbye'

The name Bessie Banks may not ring a bell with many fans of rock and roll, but she recorded a song in 1964 titled 'Go Now', which was covered that same year by The Moody Blues. 'Go Now' was written by her ex-husband with the hopes that it would propel Bessie into the spotlight. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the talented song-writing duo, even produced the track for Bessie. However, there was a wave coming across the Atlantic in 1964 and it was called The British Invasion. Acts from Britain dominated the airwaves and the version by The Moody Blues went to #10 on the US charts while Bessie's original faded into obscurity. It is featured today at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll so please enjoy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Old School by Steely Dan

And I'm never going back to my old school

I've been on a Steely Dan kick lately. Sometimes you need the hipster white boy funky jazz of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen to get you through the day. Now I do appreciate the work of Steely Dan, but this lost soul of rock and roll is a greatest hits kind of fan, so I'm not going to write some Pitchfork blah-blah-blah piece where I come across as a Steely Dan expert. I'm just a fan of good music, kids.

My 20th high school reunion is going to be held this year during Labor Day weekend and there is no way in hell I'm going. I did my four years, and when I was released, I vowed never to go back. Besides, I keep in touch with the people I was friends with in high school, so there is no need to pretend to care about the lives of people I couldn't stand in high school. Dear Lord, how did this simple Steely Dan post gain a Holden Caufield vibe so quickly? Time to shift gears and talk about 'My Old School'.

'My Old School' is a track from the 1973 Steely Dan album Countdown to Ecstasy and reached #67 on the Billboard charts. The College of William & Mary is mentioned in the lyrics, but the song is about Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's experience at Bard College in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York. Entertainment Weekly published a story six years ago about Fagen's return to Bard where Fagen recalled a raid by the local sheriff's department against the long-haired hippies on campus that inspired 'My Old School'. This has been my Steely Dan jam lately and that may change over the next few days, but this is a great song.

I've embedded the song below and enjoy. I did not create the video and I have no idea why the album Can't Buy A Thrill is used as the main image. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

If We Wait by Guided By Voices

Oh, now I've bored you crying my life away

"We need one more mic", announces an inebriated Robert Pollard at the opening of the classic Guided by Voices (GBV) live album, Crying Your Knife Away, which was distributed by Simple Solution Records. Recorded at Stache's in Columbus, Ohio for Bela Koe-Krompecher's birthday in 1994, Crying Your Knife Away is for the die-hard GBV fan that has experienced the alcohol fueled epic performances of the good kids from Dayton, Ohio. To the non-believers or to a GBV newbie, this album may sound like a hot mess, but believe me, folks, it is a masterpiece. 

I purchased my copy of Crying Your Knife Away from Trader Vic, the man behind Simple Solution Records, at his store Dayton, Ohio. Captain Chemtrail, Ryan Dellwood, and I decided to stop by Trader Vic's during the summer of 1995 to check out his GBV selection. If I remember correctly, it was the smaller store he had on Brown Street before he moved to the storefront on the corner. Let me get back on track before I get lost on this trip down memory lane. Trader Vic's was really cool because he had every GBV release placed on a wall as a shrine to the lo-fi rockers. At the time he had the then ultra rare Forever Since Breakfast on vinyl for sale for $80, which was too rich for my blood at the time. Also, he had a copy of Propeller on vinyl and I am kicking myself to this day for not asking if the album was for sale. Anyway, I purchased a copy of Crying Your Knife Away and promised to make copies on tape for Captain Chemtrail and Ryan Dellwood.

In case you are wondering, I had seen the band live before hearing this record. I've listened to Crying Your Knife Away countless times and it never lets me down. One of my favorite tracks on the album is Bob Pollard and Bela singing 'If We Wait', a sloppy drunk rendition, but still very good.

The mid to late 90s was the time of my tape trading empire. I was subbed to Postal Blowfish, a GBV fan mailing list, and received many tapes in the mail from fans that had copies of various 7" records, EPs, LPs, bootlegs, and rarities. One kind soul added the studio version of 'If We Wait' from the 1993 GBV/Jenny Mae Leffel split to a mix tape and I was blown away. 'If We Wait' from Crying Your Knife Away was fun, but this song kicked me in the teeth when I heard it for the first time. It is still one of their best and it is embedded below, so enjoy.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Cool - Lavender Girl by Heth and Jed

Sunday Cool is a new series at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll where I select cool songs to chill out with on a Sunday with a cup of joe.

Heth and Jed Weinstein are two buskers who play the streets, clubs, ferry stations, and subway stations of New York City to make a living. Performing original material, this brotherly duo has created a large following and has sold some 50,000 CDs on their own while busking. Heth and Jed's experiences are chronicled in their book, Buskers, which is a fascinating read.

I've been a fan of their music for years and discovered this act when I reviewed Heth's CD, Clean, ten years ago for Erasing Clouds, a music and literature blog. Since then, I've followed the exploits of the brothers Weinstein and have been impressed with their busking career. I've selected one of my favorite tunes from Heth and Jed titled 'Lavender Girl', which shows the duo's pop sensibility and showcases their trippy, atmospheric sound. The song is embedded below so enjoy.

Also check out Heth and Jed on 'Playing for Pocket Change', a series that followed the New York City busking movement.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ah! Leah! by Donnie Iris

I see your lips and wonder who's been kissin' them
I never knew how badly I was missin' them

Donnie Iris' hit, 'Ah! Leah!', made it to #29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1980 and has become a staple of classic rock radio. Prior to his success with 'Ah! Leah!', Iris was a member of The Jaggerz, a band he had a #1 hit with 'The Rapper', and Wild Cherry during their post 'Play That Funky Music' days. Iris is still in the music business and usually performs shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

'Ah! Leah!' is a personal favorite and I listen to this power chord rocker at least once a week on my MP3 player. I've embedded the classic video where Iris is wearing a yellow prom tux while posing for a photographer. Leah seems interested in Iris at times but then she disappears. In the end, Iris is left alone with his tux.

Purchase the 'Ah! Leah!' MP3 at Amazon. Click here to purchase.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Donna Everywhere by Too Much Joy

I'm losing my mind
But I don't care
I see Donna everywhere

If I were to describe the sound of Too Much Joy to someone then I would label them as "smart ass power pop with a good dash of rock". Too Much Joy has been a favorite of mine for over twenty years and I find it puzzling why this band from New York never went from cult favorite to mainstream success.

This quartet featured Tim Quirk on vocals, Sandy Smallens on bass, Tommy Vinton on drums, and Jay Blumenfield on guitar. Too Much Joy were on a creative roll during the late 80s and early 90s when they released three solid albums, Son of Sam I Am, Cereal Killers, and Mutiny. Son of Sam I Am (1988) was a step in the right direction creatively due to a wonderful cover of LL Cool J's 'That's A Lie' and a video featuring LL in a cameo role. Cereal Killers (1991) took the band to another level creatively with a fine collection of anthemic smart ass power pop hits like 'Good Kill', 'Crush Story', 'Long Haired Guy From England', and 'Thanksgiving in Reno'. Mutiny (1992) seemed to be the final step towards world domination for the band. It was their most polished album and featured the college rocker, 'Donna Everywhere'. The video for 'Donna Everywhere' was directed by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame, with the duo making a cameo. 'Donna Everywhere' was one of many solid selections from that album. Their cover of The Records' 'Starry Eyes' took the 70s power pop Brit rocker from a holiday tale of woe to an American college drunken pub crawl of woe. Three fantastic albums of work featuring plenty of college rock favorites and Too Much Joy never jumped into the mainstream to take their rightful spot as megastars. This is where Fred Willard walks in to the room and does his 'Wha' happen?' from A Mighty Wind.

Too Much Joy did not completely fall off the face of the earth. They followed up Mutiny four years later with their final studio album, a very underrated and sadly overlooked album titled ...Finally. A few years later, the released some outtakes and rarities titled Gods and Sods. Too Much Joy never broke up and although they may never get back in the studio or release another album, they will still have a wonderful catalog of music and this Lost Soul of Rock and Roll will never forget and neither should you.

I've added the video for 'Donna Everywhere' so please enjoy.