Thursday, January 31, 2013

My 90's Flashback: Neptune Ave (Ortho Hi Rise) by Sammy

This week I am sharing some of my favorite songs from the 90's, and today's selection is 'Neptune Ave (Ortho Hi Rise)' by Sammy, a New York City band. Luke Wood and Jesse Hartman were Sammy, and their 1996 debut Tales of Great Neck Glory was their last album.'Neptune Ave (Ortho Hi Rise)' is featured on that overlooked 1990's gem.

Sammy was unfairly labeled a Pavement rip-off band. I'll admit that they do have a similar sound at times, but when you listen to Sammy they are also influenced by the likes of fellow NYC rockers The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth. In all fairness, take a look at some of your favorite 90's bands and make a list of who was ripping off The Velvet Underground or The Fall or The Beach Boys. Hell, The New York Dolls ripped off the Stones at times, but the Dolls rocked. Sammy rocked as well, kids.

I first heard 'Neptune Ave (Ortho Hi Rise)' on 120 Minutes. The Lou Reed inspired vocals by Jesse Hartman, the warm and fuzzy 90's indie guitar sounds, and the sexy hipster lyrics made this song great. I connect with this song lyrically in spots. As a History major I love the line, "Tell me a story 'cause I'm a history hound". Another good part in the song is when they break into, "What ever happened to you on this beach? What ever happened to you in that bar? What ever happened to you on the street? What ever happened to your old guitar?" Damn that's good.

This is one of many great songs on their major label debut, Tales of Great Neck Glory. As I stated earlier, this is an overlooked indie album of the 1990s because it is pretty solid from start to finish. Take a listen to the song below and enjoy. Also, you gotta dig The Soul Train Line at the end of the video.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

90's Flashback: Watch The Girl Destroy Me by Possum Dixon

I worked at a record store in a mall from November of '93 until January or February of '94. My job was to stand around and help people find albums. The real reason I took the job was because of the employee discount. My boss was a guy named Jim and he was a great guy who dug indie rock. One day he asked if I liked Possum Dixon and I had no idea what was talking about. He found the album and told me I had to buy it because it was fantastic.

I took Jim's advice and purchased Possum Dixon's eponymous debut. Jim suggested a great album because I immediately fell in love with the frantic music and witty lyrics of Possum Dixon. The opening track, 'Nerves', has a memorable line that goes, 'The girl's on glue when the rent check's due'. That's poetry right there, kids.

The song I've selected for today's post is 'Watch The Girl Destroy Me', which was the big college rock "hit" from their debut album. Possum Dixon always sounded like the coked-up older brothers of Weezer. They were cool, but you always felt that they were on the verge of an epic meltdown.

Possum Dixon formed in LA circa 1989 and released three albums from 1993 until 1998. Their first album is my favorite and it is a wild smart ass adventure into the odd part of this world known as Los Angeles. Possum Dixon blends pop and punk to create a truly unique sound. Take a listen to 'Watch The Girl Destroy Me' and enjoy.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

90's Flashback: Alright by Cast

While the US was cranking out grunge rock, the Brits were cranking out the Britpop. Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Suede delivered a style of music that was inspired by the British Invasion and punk. Cast was a Britpop act that debuted in 1995 with All Change. The song I have selected for today is the opening track 'Alright'.  

Cast was formed by John Power (The La's) and Peter Wilkinson (Shack). If The La's sound familiar as a band name then you will probably remember their hit song 'There She Goes Again'. If you watch the clip then Power is the dude playing bass. Cast was a Britpop favorite during the 90's and they released four albums before a 2001 split. Cast reformed in 2010 and has released a fifth studio album. 

I first heard 'Alright' by Cast on 120 Minutes in 1995 and was immediately hooked by this guitar driven song. Blur's Modern Life is Rubbish was a favorite of mine at the time, plus I was in a major Beatles and Stones appreciation phase. I purchased All Change and was really impressed by their poppy guitar driven music. 'Alright' might be 90's Britpop, but it does have a timeless sound that will appeal to fans who dig The British Invasion. Enjoy.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Monday, January 28, 2013

90's Flashback: Seeds by Fig Dish

Fig Dish

 This week I have decided to share some songs that I really enjoyed during the 1990s. There are times when I think about songs I used to really dig back in the day, so I've decided to share them with the good kids at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. My first 90's pick is 'Seeds' by Fig Dish.

Chicago was on fire with rock and roll during the 1980s and 1990s. Ministry, The Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, and Urge Overkill are just a few that rocked The Windy City. Fig Dish was also a Chicago band and they had an impressive debut in 1995 with That's What Love Songs Often Do.They released When Shove Goes Back To Push in 1997 and then disbanded a year later.

'Seeds' is a good example of 90's alt-rock done right. There were many bands back then walking the alt-rock fine line and you either ended up on the stupid side or the clever side. I first heard this song in 1995 when a friend added 'Seeds' to a mix tape. My friend used to pick up copies of CMJ, a music magazine that came with a CD featuring selected songs from established and up-and-coming bands. He thought I'd like 'Seeds' and he was right, but I still think it's a killer rock song blending all of the fine ingredients of grunge and pop.

I usually post videos from YouTube for my selections, but the YouTube video for 'Seeds' experiences fourteen seconds of silence and that is unacceptable at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. So click here to check out 'Seeds'.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Heavy Rotation For January 2013: Brickfield Nights by The Boys

The heavy rotation comes to an end this week with the 1978 power poppin' punk song 'Brickfield Nights' by The Boys. They were part of the UK punk scene during the late 70's and early 80's. The first time I heard The Boys was on the Rhino DIY series CD Teenage Kicks - UK Pop I.

If you can get your hands on those Rhino DIY compilation CDs then it is worth the investment. I have four of those CDs at home and not a single one of them is weak. When I search the used CD bins, I'm on the lookout for more, and I will share more music I discovered via Rhino.

'Brickfield Nights' is the only song that I know from The Boys, and this has earned its rightful place in my heavy rotation. This is a straight up rock and roll song about remembering the good ol' days. If you are a fan of bands like Green Day and Weezer then you are really going to dig this little number. Enjoy.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Heavy Rotation For January 2013: Best Thing by Bob Mould

I've been a Bob Mould fan since 1992 when I heard Sugar's Copper Blue in a Columbus, Ohio record store. Since then I have been a fan of Bob's work with Husker Du, Sugar, and as a solo artist. My selection for today's post is 'Best Thing' from Bob's 2005 solo album Body of Song.

Mould has produced some great rock music since the 1980s, but there are some fans that believe Bob's career took a major nose dive during the mid to late 1990s. I disagree. Mould fits into a category with Paul Westerberg (The Replacements) and Frank Black/Black Francis (The Pixies) where these singer-songwriters must produce the same material again and again to appease their fans. Any type of deviation causes controversy and god forbid any of the aforementioned artists explore new territory musically.

If anyone doesn't like Mould's solo career then give 'Best Thing' a listen. I think it is a really good rock song that deals with the common theme of falling for someone who has no interest in you whatsoever. And 'Best Thing' is a great reply where Mould tells the person, "Too bad, you missed out on something great". How can you not like a song like that sticks it to the jerks? Take a listen below and enjoy.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Heavy Rotation For January 2013: You Should Hear How She Talks About You by Melissa Manchester

This week I am sharing my heavy rotation songs. Haters gonna hate, but my song selection for today is Melissa Manchester's 1982 hit, 'You Should Hear How She Talks About You'. That's my jam.

Everybody has a list of guilty pleasure songs, and I will not apologize for liking 'You Should Hear How She Talks About You' by Melissa Manchester. I don't know all that much about Manchester's career, but I know she's the one that gave us the 1970's adult contemporary dud 'Don't Cry Out Loud'. That was bad, and I give it a thumbs down like that dude did in Spinal Tap during 'Jazz Odyssey'.

'You Should Hear How She Talks About You' is a bouncy little faux new wave pop hit. When this song comes on, I'm going to turn up the volume. Take a listen to the song below, and as an added bonus, I've found Manchester performing the song on the 80's classic show, Solid Gold. Enjoy.

I've included the original 1981 version by Charlie Dore. Take a listen below, but I think Melissa Manchester wins this game.I couldn't listen to the song from start to finished because it bored the hell out of me. Sorry, Charlie. Tuna jokes!

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Heavy Rotation For January 2013: Tojo by The Hoodoo Gurus

It's a shame that some of you rock and roll kids over here in the US of A don't know about one of Australia's finest rock bands, the Hoodoo Gurus. They formed in 1981 and gained some popularity on college rock radio in the US during the late 1980's. The Hoodoo Gurus disbanded in 1997, reformed in 2003, and are still together.

Ryan Dellwood introduced me to this band back in the mid 1990's via mixtape. 'Come Anytime' was the song and I was hooked instantly by their witty pop rock tune. I wanted to hear more from the Hoodoo Gurus, but I wasn't convinced I wanted to buy any of their CDs. Fortunately, I was subbed to Postal Blowfish, the Guided by Voices mailing list, and Big Daddy was kind enough to make me a mixtape of Hoodoo Guru's songs. Their music blew me away, and sadly I lost that mix tape. Never forget. 

'Tojo' has been one of my favorites for many years, and this month I've been playing it constantly on my MP3 player. This is a fun rock number, but it's about a terrible event in Australian history. It took me a little while to figure out the refrain in 'Tojo' but it goes, 'Tojo never made it to Darwin'. That is a reference to the northern Australian city of Darwin during World War II. Tojo's Japanese forces never invaded Australia, but Darwin was destroyed by a cyclone named Tracy on Christmas Day in 1974. The Hoodoo Gurus sing about a Tracy in the song, which is the infamous cyclone. 'Tojo' was inspired by an Australian song about the cyclone titled 'Santa Never Made It Into Darwin'. Now you know and knowing is half the battle. Check out 'Tojo'  below and enjoy.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Heavy Rotation For January 2013: Virginia Plain by Roxy Music

This week I am sharing my heavy rotation selections for the month of January. I know there is one more week left in the month, but I doubt that there will be any other songs popping up on my musical radar that will get more listens that the songs I'm selecting this week. My first selection is 'Virginia Plain' by Roxy Music.

Released in 1972, 'Virginia Plain' was an instant U.K. hit for Roxy Music. This band might not be on your rock and roll radar because they are glam rockers and art rockers, but give Roxy Music a chance. I don't consider myself a big fan of Roxy Music because I started to appreciate their music over the past couple of years.

I first discovered Roxy Music during the early 1990s when I was subscribed to Musician magazine. They had an article about their album Country Life, and the cover really caught my teenage eyes. With a cover like that, they had to be awesome. It wasn't long after that moment when I saw a Roxy Music video clip on TV and they sounded really arty and pretentious. I dismissed them for years.

Over the past five years, I have given them a chance, and I really like Roxy Music. Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno had a great band that tapped into a sound that is very cool and totally sexy, so I hope you enjoy the glam rock that is 'Virginia Plain'.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Artists I Get: Slade

Slade -

 Today's post will be directed at my rock and roll brothers and sisters over here in the US of A. The good kids of the UK get Slade, so what's with the disrespect here in America? I get Slade and so should you.

Slade was a very successful UK rock band that had an up and down 25 year career. Led by Noddy Holder, Slade dominated the UK charts during the 1970s, and they were known for their flashy style along with their intentionally misspelled song titles. Believe it or not, you actually know their songs. Quiet Riot scored two hits by covering Slade's material. 'Cum On Feel The Noize' and 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' were Slade originals. Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

If you like your rock and roll packed with some fun then look no further than Slade. These guys always rock, and people need a gateway into a catalog, so I'll give you their version of 'Cum On Feel The Noise', which is slower but more raw than Quiet Riot's cover. Give it a listen.

Maybe you're stuck in Quiet Riot mode and did not appreciate the original. That's cool. Some bands take time. Another personal favorite is 'Gudbuy T'Jane'. Damn, this song is really good, so crank it when you hit play.

You better be sold on Slade at this point because their music blows AOR 70's classic rock out of the water. I'm looking at you, Kansas. You got a problem, Styx? Come at me, Boston. You know you like your rock and roll with some attitude, and 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' just comes out of the gate to kick some serious booty.

There is a sensitive side to Slade. Oh yes. For those of you that need something light and sweet then take a listen to 'How Does It Feel', which is an awesome pop tune.

If you don't get Slade after hearing those songs then you can get out of my rock room. I totally get Slade.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Artists I Get: KMFDM


I was a fan of industrial music during the 1990s, and I spent many Thursday evenings at Industrial Night at a club in Dayton, Ohio called The Asylum. A couple of friends from college recommended the place, so we'd hang out there with some leather clad folks who enjoyed the industrial tunes. We weren't as cool as they were and were a bit reserved about meeting them because they looked like they'd tear us apart if we attempted any form of communication.

Since we didn't meet the good people of The Asylum, we decided to give them nicknames when we talked about the highlights of the club later that evening. There was The Missing Link, The Hitchhiker, Pepe, The Leather Brothers, Skinny Puppy, and The Penis Pusher. I have no idea what happened to those people, but their nicknames will live forever in my mind.

One of my favorite acts they would play at The Asylum was KMFDM.  KMFDM is not an acronym for 'Kill Mother F***ing Depeche Mode', instead it's a German acronym that roughly translates into "no pity for the majority".They're German and they play industrial music. Shocking.

What I like about KMFDM is that they were one of the finest acts in their genre. I know they still exist as a band today, but what I know of KMFDM is from their 1990s output, which I totally get as a fan.If you don't know what industrial music is then it is basically an umbrella terms for hard, aggressive electronic music. KMFDM, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and Nine Inch Nails are just a few examples of bands that are part of this genre.

Is industrial music still a genre? For many years I have been under the impression that the glory days for the Wax Trax! and TVT industrial bands are nothing more than a faded 1990's goth club memory.That's a shame because the industrial scene of the 1980s and 1990s produced some hard-hitting tracks that should appeal to fans of metal and punk.

I haven't been following the electronic scene for the past decade. LCD Soundsystem was my closest musical relationship, and I'm not certain if that even counts.

What I get or what I like about KMFDM is their sound. The roots of their music is based on techno or electronic music, but they add a real punch of attitude and sound to create a danceable but killer catalog of music. The first song I am going to share is 'Light', which is a nice gateway into the world of KMFDM.

If you need something that packs a better punch, then listen to 'A Drug Against War'. Boom! This is thrash metal mixed with a little bit of techno and packed full of cool sound clips. "Bomb the living bejeepers out of those forces".

Another great KMFDM song is 'Juke Joint Jezebel'. The song has all of the industrial elements but adds a nice touch of pop to make a cool club hit.

KMFDM has some great music, and I'm still a fan.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Artists I Get: Roky Erickson

Roky Erickson is the godfather of psychedelic rock. He was the lead singer of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators and has had an interesting career as a solo artist. Erickson has battled mental illness for decades, and over the past eight years he has been able to control the demons, which has led to a re-birth of sorts.

Erickson's lyrics are music are viewed as too weird by some, but I totally get Roky Erickson.

If you need a gateway into the Erickson universe then I suggest the 1966 classic 'You're Gonna Miss Me' from the 13th Floor Elevators. 'You're Gonna Miss Me' is a fun garage rock song, and I love the howls from Roky. That's some cool pre-punk music right there, kids.

Things were going well for the 13th Floor Elevators and then everything fell apart due to heavy drug use. Erickson was later diagnosed as a schizophrenic and spent time in a few mental hospitals where he was subjected to harsh treatments. After being released, his career during the 1970s was uneven, but he did produce some incredible songs. 'Bermuda' is a brilliant hard rocker that was released circa 1977, and is one of Roky's best songs.

The clip below features an interview of Erickson circa 1980, and you can hear in the interview that he is not in full control of his mental state. The clip also contains a great acoustic version of 'Creature With The Atom Brain'.

Fortunately, Roky was able to get his life together with the help of his brother. He has received the proper medical care, has gone on tour, and has worked with artists like Okkervil River.I dig the music of Erickson because it is raw and full of power and emotion. Few artists can dig into the world of B-movie creatures or inner demons, but you can't go wrong with Roky.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Artists I Get: Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices - Pitch.Com

I love Guided by Voices. They are my favorite band and have held the number one spot in my rock and roll heart for the past eighteen years. I've seen them in concert thirty-five or thirty-six times since 1995. Their music was played at my wedding. I even sang a Guided by Voices song to my kids when they were born. This blog is named after a line in a Guided by Voices song and they earned the very first post. I get Guided by Voices.

My wife doesn't like Guided by Voices. My family doesn't like Guided by Voices. Some of my friends don't like Guided by Voices. My co-workers don't like Guided by Voices. I've taught two classes at a community college about the history of rock and roll, and all of those students didn't like Guided by Voices. I even had some record store ding-dong give me grief for buying a Guided by Voices record at the store where he worked.

What's not to like?

Here are some complaints I've received about Guided by Voices. Lead singer Robert Pollard sings with a fake British accent. The lyrics are weird and/or pretentious. The band hit it big while they were in their late 30's, so they are "really old". Their music is "boring" and "really stupid". They are from Ohio, so they must suck.

Guided by Voices is a great rock and roll band that formed during the 1980's in Dayton, Ohio. Robert Pollard is the key player behind this band. He is their heart and soul, and yes he does sing with a fake British accent at times. Pollard is a student of rock and roll, plus he is a prolific songwriter that has cranked out thousands of songs. Guided by Voices newbies are in awe over the sheer volume of music they've produced, and trust me, it's great music.

What's not to like?

Guided by Voices has an impressive discography that ranges from REM inspired college rockers to lo-fi masterpieces inspired by the British Invasion and punk rock. Their later albums went into the realm of pop rock and a sort-of-kind-of-not-really progressive rock realm. Guided by Voices also has numerous solo and side projects that stay true to the Guided by Voices "sound", but also goes into some strange and incredible musical territories.

Here are some great selections from the Guided by Voices catalog to show you what I "get"about the band. My first selection is 'Hardcore UFOs', the opening track to their classic 1994 album Bee Thousand. This was the "I get it" song that turned me on to Guided by Voices. I played this album religiously back in '94, and what I love about 'Hardcore UFOs' is that it sounds like a lo-fi transmission from an alternate universe where The Beatles recorded some power-pop tunes.

Guided by Voices have released many fantastic albums. What's incredible about this band is that they have many hidden gems out there on 7" releases, singles, splits, EPs, and LPs. One superb hidden gem is '(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cried', which is featured on the 1997 I Am A Tree single. For those of you that have some sort of hatred of lo-fi music, then I have a killer song that was recorded in a studio.

I placed 'Paper Girl' from Self Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia to showcase the brilliance of this band. How can you hate on this track. C'mon, man!

Guided by Voices is still going strong. last year, they released a great album titled Let's Go Eat The Factory. They were invited to play Letterman and they had a memorable performance thanks to bassist Greg Demos. Watch below and enjoy.

I get Guided by Voices.

 TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Artists I Get: R. Stevie Moore

R. Stevie Moore - Courtesy United Mutations 

The past two weeks were dedicated to artists I don't get, but I'm making things more positive at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and will focus upon artists that I do get. I'm hoping to spread the word about some artists that you don't know, so they can gain some more appreciation from the rock and roll community. The first artist I'll examine for this series is R. Stevie Moore.

R. Stevie Moore is a multi instrumental do-it-yourself artist that began his career during the 1960's, and has recorded and released an estimated four hundred albums from the confines of his homes in Tennessee and New Jersey. That was not a typo on my part when I mentioned four hundred albums. All of his albums were (and still are) self-released via mail order. Moore was able to develop a cult following, but during the past five years, it seems that more people are getting to know R. Stevie Moore.

What else is there to know about this truly prolific artist? He grew up in Tennessee, but later moved to New Jersey, when the punk movement hit the east coast. Moore comes from a great musical background where his father was a famous session musician who played with artists like Elvis Presley.

For over forty years, he has created a massive catalog of wonderfully weird and original tunes that doesn't have a specific sound or style because Moore knows music and can create anything from an avant-garde piece to a sweet pop tune. The reason I get Moore is because he knows rock and roll music and wants to create his own music on his terms. Moore's boldness or stubbornness did not equal major success at first, but he has truly paid his dues. 

I first discovered R. Stevie Moore five or six years ago while doing some research on outsider music. Artists that do not play by the rules of mainstream music are stamped with the label of 'outsider music', and I urge you to explore that musical universe. Your world will be changed by the cool music you'll discover. I was impressed when I discovered the music of R. Stevie Moore. One of the first songs I heard was 'I Like To Stay Home', a bouncy pop rock ode to chillin' at the crib in order to avoid the nonsense of the outside world. Check out the video of R. Stevie Moore performing 'I Like To Stay Home' on a New Jersey cable access show circa 1987.

Not only has Moore released some four hundred albums, but you can find numerous homemade music videos by Moore on YouTube. The next song I'm going to share is 'Under the Light' from his 1976 release, Play. The video was recorded during the late 1980's at Moore's apartment in New Jersey. 'Under the Light' is another great example of Moore's under-appreciated work. Forget the lo-fi hiss and take in this cool rock tune. On a side note, I wish that Moore would have put on a shirt for his video.

For those of you that need some polished rock and roll music, then check out Moore's cover of Martin Newell's 'I Wasn't Drinking (I Was Just Tired)'. Pure and straightforward, 'I Wasn't Drinking (I Was Just Tired)' shows Moore going strong all those years after leaving Tennessee. As a Guided By Voices fan, it was cool to see Moore and friends recording this song in a basement with a 'Do The Collapse' era sticker in the background.

What I like about R. Stevie Moore is that he has the ability to tackle any genre under the rock and roll umbrella and produce something very cool but original. His catalog has something that will interest all kinds of music fans. I'm going to leave you with a fun new wave number titled 'Conflict of Interest'. Enjoy.

The official R. Stevie Moore website:

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Billy Joel (1983 to 1993)

Billy Joel
Long Island's favorite son, Billy Joel, is the artist I examine for today's version of 'Artists I Just Don't Get'. This is the last entry for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series. I've received some positive feedback that this series has been fun, but some readers have requested that I develop some new articles. Your wish has been granted.

The final post was going to be dedicated to Patti Smith, and I developed a good article. Sadly, it was deleted, so I decided to finish with Billy Joel because I too had been working on this article and I do not have an entire day to dedicate to rewriting the Patti Smith article. You've escaped this time, Smith, but you are not out of my sight.

Yesterday, I focused upon the post Pump era Aerosmith, and today I am going to focus upon Billy Joel's career from An Innocent Man (1983) to River of Dreams (1993). I just don't get this Billy Joel era because I believe that a talented singer-songwriter went from producing great songs to producing songs that were nothing more than three or four minute commercial jingles. 

Haters are gonna hate on Billy Joel because he writes sappy love songs or tries to be a Bruce Spingsteen Lite when it comes to politics. The truth is that Billy Joel has some good material to his name, but his catalog is far from perfect. I do have respect for Billy Joel. His career from The Stranger (1977) to The Nylon Curtain (1982) is pretty damn good. Those five years were the apex of his career, and from there it all came crashing down as a landslide of mediocrity.

Dude, there is no difference between good Billy Joel and bad Billy Joel.

I respectfully disagree. We all have our musical guilty pleasures, and this is one of my many guilty pleasures. If you want me to pick a good Billy Joel song then my choice is 'My Life' from the 1978 album 52nd Street. Remember when this was the theme song to the Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari cross-dressing comedy, Bosom Buddies?

Where did you go, Peter Scolari? Here is a cool moment where Billy Joel sings a version of 'Just The Way You Are' to Oscar the Grouch.

Now, let me really get to the point of good Billy Joel music. When he's good, he's good. Joel has a good pop mind and at times he can surprise listeners with a great tune. A good example of when Joel gets it right is 'Allentown' from Nylon Curtain. The song is about the demise of a blue-collar city.  

I don't think that was a convincing argument.

Fair enough. Let's examine the bad. In my opinion, it began with the 1983 album An Innocent Man. It was a throwback album of sorts where Joel explored his rock and roll roots. The songs on the album were influenced by late 50's and early 60's rock and roll. Sounds like a good plan, but this fan is not impressed. I liked the songs on the album when I was a kid, but as I got older I began to loathe the songs more and more. Let's look at the main offender, which is 'Uptown Girl'.

It may be a fun little number with a cute video, but it is a bad song. Did Billy Joel write a pop tune or is it a jingle for women's shoes? Seriously.

An Innocent Man ushered in an era of really bad Billy Joel songs. Perhaps the worst of the worst was 'River of Dreams' from River of Dreams. This wanna-be R&B inspired pop tune fails to be a killer pop and instead sounds like something you'd hear on a commercial for Carnival cruises or for Folgers coffee. Take a listen below and see if you agree.

Yeah, that song was pretty bad.

As a fan, I am frustrated with his catalog. Billy Joel is an artist that can produce some pop gems and also has the ability to produce the fast food version of pop music. Artists have the tendency to mature or regress during their careers and Joel definitely regressed staring with An Innocent Man.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Aerosmith (The Post Pump Version)

Aerosmith - Courtesy 

The post Pump version of Aerosmith is today's artist for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series. 

I didn't set up any rules for this series, and I did warn you that my whiny Andy Rooney inspired article was about artists that have failed to impress me. Aerosmith has disappointed me since they released Get A Grip in 1993, and what I'm trying to say is that I just don't get why Aerosmith decided to keep recording music after Pump.

Aerosmith was one of my favorite artists when I was in high school during the late 80's and early 90's. My first rock concert experience was the 1990 Aerosmith North American Pump Tour at Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts opened the show, and the crowd nearly booed them off the stage. Aerosmith rocked the joint, and that concert solidified my love for the band.

Haters are gonna hate on Aerosmith, but don't overlook their catalog from 1973 to 1989 because it is packed full of awesome material. 'Dream On', 'Toys in the Attic', 'Sweet Emotion', and 'Walk This Way' are good gateway songs for newbies. I don't know about you, but 'Seasons of Wither' is one of their best tunes, and it is good to see this tune getting more appreciation from Aerosmith fans. I shared the song below, so thank me later.  

All good things must come to and end. In my eyes, Aerosmith ended as a band in 1989 with Pump. It was a great album, and it ended well with 'What it Takes'. The final track to that album should have been the final song from Aerosmith to their fans. I know I'm not in the band, but Neil Young was right when he said it was "better to burn out than it is to rust." Take a listen to 'What it Takes' and imagine this being the final Aerosmith song ever released.

In retrospect that song was a good way to exit stage left. Sadly, Aerosmith continued to pump out music, and yes than pun was intended. My argument is that the post Pump Aerosmith made a decision to push aside their rock legacy, and embrace formulaic top 40 radio sound that ruined their catalog.
It's all about the money. 

Aerosmith was signed to Geffen Records from Done With Mirrors (1985) to Get A Grip (1993).  Before Geffen they were with Columbia, and Aerosmith signed a $30 million agreement to get back to Columbia after they finished their album obligations with Geffen. Get A Grip was their final album with Geffen, so you could make the argument that Get A Grip was a less than enthusiastic effort by Aerosmith. That may be the case, but the album sold over seven million copies, so Aerosmith had to make some decent money from album sales.Following Get A Grip was a parade of more forgettable albums like Nine Lives and Just Push Play.

If it's about money, then Aerosmith could have just stopped going in the studio and have been one of those bands that goes on a 'final' tour every five years like The Who. Aerosmith released ten albums from 1973 to 1989, so they had plenty of material to take on tour. They released a box set titled Pandora's Box of album cuts, live tracks, demos, and outtakes from their Columbia period. Instead of Get A Grip, they could have done something similar with their Geffen era and I believe it would have sold well.

Get A Grip was a letdown for this fan because Aerosmith's $30 million deal didn't make the band better, made them worse. I'm certain they could have made that $30 in touring the globe. It's not like Aerosmith has a hard time selling out arenas.

But Get A Grip was a good album.

Are you serious? 'Cryin', 'Crazy, and 'Amazing' seem to be the same song recycled over and over and over.

I don't know about you, but those songs did not capture my interest. Those songs were so dull they had to create Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler eye candy videos to make the music more digestible. That also started their trend with more one word duds like 'Pink' and 'Jaded'. Aerosmith has not released a song since 1993 that can stand with their best material from 1973 to 1989.

Yes, Aerosmith went the ballad route with some great tunes like 'Angel' (Permanent Vacation) and with 'What it Takes' (Pump), but they got close enough to that mainstream pop line to keep them a great rock band. 'Crazy' and 'Cryin' went over that line, and 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' from the Armageddon soundtrack pushed them into the realm of easy listening.

Bands are allowed to make as many albums as they want.

I understand your point, but how many mainstream acts have had solid careers that have spanned twenty plus years? What was the last great album by The Rolling Stones? Now list all of the albums they released after that album. Odds are your pick for last great album was Some Girls (1978). How many post Some Girls albums do you own? How many of them were good? Be honest.

Now play the same game with REM, U2, Pink Floyd, and The Grateful Dead. 

I thought we were talking about Aerosmith.


So what don't you get?

The post Pump songs of Aerosmith are not good in my opinion. Why force yourself into a studio to push out mediocre material when you can hit the road and play the old hits that are fantastic? Nobody is going to judge you as a shameful artist for not having new material. I'm a big fan of Aerosmith, but my opinion is that they hurt their legacy with weak material. I don't get why you would want to push yourself into a studio and be forced to create new music when you might not be as inspired as you were ten or twenty years ago.

I'll always be a fan of Aerosmith and I'll tolerate the later material. My wife and I saw them in concert in 2002 at Van Andel Arena. They opened the show with 'Toys in the Attic' and rocked the house. All is not lost with my beloved band, but I'm gonna change the channel when they play 'Crazy' or 'Cryin' on the radio.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Radiohead

Radiohead - Courtesy
Radiohead is today's featured artist for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series.

Maybe it's just me, but I've found Radiohead to be a great example of a mainstream band pretending to be some sort of an avant-garde group. Radiohead has earned praise from fans and critics, but I've never been impressed with their albums. Bless me father for I've just committed an act of blasphemy.

As a Generation X'er, my first exposure to Radiohead was 'Creep'. It was a good 90's alternative rock hit featured on their debut album Pablo Honey.I've listened to that album a few times and I'll admit that it is good, but not great. Go back to your 90's days and enjoy some 'Creep'.

Instead of fading away like many other alternative bands did, they decided to go in a different direction with their sound which was an admirable career choice. Radiohead seemed to be going in the right direction, and then they dropped OK Computer on the world. It was viewed by critics and fans as an amazing album that challenged the status quo of mainstream music and was viewed as one of the greatest albums of all time. OK Computer is an album that doesn't capture my interest.

From that point forward, it seemed that anything released by Radiohead (i.e. Kid A, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows) was brilliant because it was released by Radiohead. The late 90's and early 00's did not have that supergroup to be the torch bearers of mainstream alternative music, so it was desperately placed in the hands of Radiohead.

There is nothing wrong with creating music that doesn't fit the mold of mainstream music. My opinion is that Radiohead creates music that is viewed as innovative because it is expected and it will earn them all the praise in the world. If you want to be innovative then be innovative and stop pretending.

Sorry folks, but I just don't get Radiohead.   

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend is today's artist featured for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series.

Vampire Weekend is an indie rock band from New York City. They made it big back in 2008 with their eponymous debut album.Contra, their second studio album, pushed them into the realm of super-stardom.

A friend at work tried to get me into Vampire Weekend, but I've been bored with this band since my first listen. If I were to describe their sound, I would say that Vampire Weekend sounds like what would happen if you sucked the life out of The Police. I like The Police, but Vampire Weekend is a major snooze fest.

If you've never heard Vampire Weekend then check out the video for 'Giving Up The Gun'.

I chose this song because when you hear one song by Vampire Weekend then you've heard them all. One could make the same argument about The Ramones, but The Ramones were awesome because they kicked ass and brought plenty of energy to the table.

Sorry folks, but I just don't get Vampire Weekend.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors

The Dirty Projectors are an indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York led by David Longstreth and are today's selection for 'Artists I Just Don't Get'.

If you are not familiar with this band then check out their video below for 'Stillness is the Move'. 

Yes, the video is totally goofy, but the music is downright awful. Sometimes white people try to get all sexy and funky with their music and they fail miserably. That's what I've heard again and again from Dirty Projectors.

Why did I choose Dirty Projectors? The praise this band has received leaves me totally baffled. Here is an excerpt from Amazon: Over three full lengths, an EP, and five different live bands in four years, David Longstreth has created in Dirty Projectors a body of music of original and variegated beauty. The breadth of his talents as a songwriter, arranger, bandleader and singer call to mind Prince, Joni Mitchell, and Bjork.When I saw Bjork listed then I knew the source of this abysmal music. Prince is awesome, Joni Mitchell is tolerable, while Bjork has produced some of the most overrated music.

I don't get the Dirty Projectors.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel - Photo courtesy

The Neutral Milk Hotel is the selected artist today for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series.

There are albums that are considered major game changers in the world of indie rock. The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground, Marquee Moon by Television, Zen Arcade by Husker Du, and Spiderland by Slint are just a few examples of some of the most influential and beloved indie albums of all time. Every decade has its share of fantastic albums, and the 90's were a good time for indie fans.

The angst-fueled and grungy sounds of the early 90's faded away and it was replaced by a new group of mid 90's lo-fi darlings. Lo-fi was replaced by a group of artists moving in a direction that embraced some elements of lo-fi but were more rooted in an Americana type of mold.

The Neutral Milk Hotel changed the game in 1998 with their second studio album, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It has been a influential album since its release and some believe it is one of the most perfect albums from the indie rock universe. For the past fifteen years, I have tried to like this album. Although I view the Neutral Milk Hotel as a good band, I don't view them as a great band, and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is at best in my opinion a mediocre concept album.

I first discovered the Neutral Milk Hotel in 1998 when In The Aeroplane Over The Sea was released. Back then I was subbed to Postal Blowfish a Guided by Voices mailing list, and some of the list members were posting their praise for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. The good people of Postal Blowfish introduced me to some great artists, so I decided to get a copy of the red hot Neutral Milk Hotel album.

My memories are not as solid as they once were, but someone agreed to make me a copy of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Saving twelve or fifteen bucks on a CD was a great idea, so I awaited the tape via snail mail. Kids, this was the Dark Ages of the internet when you did not have the luxury of iTunes or Napster.

The tape arrived and I was excited. After a few listens, I wasn't overly impressed. It wasn't a terrible album, but I wasn't as excited as my fellow friends on Postal Blowfish. There were some more listens and some more listens for good measure. My excitement for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea did not change.

For those of you that are not familiar with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea then take a listen to 'Holland 1945':

If you felt an Anne Frank vibe then you are not off target. However, it is my understanding that Jeff Mangum, the lead singer of Neutral Milk Hotel, has not admitted this is an album about Anne Frank. Some people hear 'Holland 1945' and fall in love with the genius that is Jeff Mangum. All I hear is a creepy dude's voice with an unhealthy obsession for Anne Frank or for someone who reminds him of Anne Frank.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is one of those albums that will always make me scratch my head and think, "This is one of the best albums of the 90's?" I've never connected with this album, and I just don't get what is so great about the Neutral Milk Hotel. You might think I'm slamming this album because everyone else likes it, but that's not the case. As I mentioned earlier, I've given this album plenty of chances. Mangum's lyrics are not that great, and maybe it's just me but Magnum at times sings as if he is on the verge of a mental breakdown.

My not getting the Neutral Milk Hotel is based on the opinion that I view them as a good band, and not one that is brilliant or groundbreaking. I'm not going to complain about this band any further, so let me share with you my favorite track from the Neutral Milk Hotel. The song is 'You've Passed' which is featured on their debut studio album On Avery Island.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Jethro Tull

British rockers Jethro Tull are examined today at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. 

Mole Man was a college roommate during the mid to late 90s and he was a big fan of Jethro Tull. Mole Man had Thick As A Brick and Aqualung on heavy rotation. Scumdogs of the Universe by GWAR was also a Mole Man favorite, but I'll save that for another article. I'm somewhat thankful for the endless hours of Jethro Tull I had to endure from Mole Man because that placed them on my 'Artists I Just Don't Get' list.

My high school music listening days of the late 80s and early 90s were dominated by classic rock. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and The Who were my favorites, plus I spent endless hours listening to WTUE, a classic rock station out of Dayton, Ohio. WTUE had a decent rotation, and I discovered artists listening to that station. They were fans of Jethro Tull and would play 'Aqualung', 'Bungle in the Jungle', and 'Locomotive Breath'.

For those of you not familiar with Jethro Tull, or need a refresher, then let's check out one of their most popular songs 'Aqualung'.

It's a decent song and there is a 60% chance that I won't change the station when it is played on the radio. 'Aqualung', 'Bungle in the Jungle', and 'Locomotive Breath' were the only songs I knew by them for awhile, but I didn't have the interest to buy any of their albums. Also, I remember watching the Grammy's when Jethro Tull won the first Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.Alice Cooper and Lita Ford do their best to be happy for Tull beating Metallica, AC/DC, Iggy Pop, and Jane's Addiction.

Seriously, how did Metallica lose? ...And Justice For All was awesome. 

While in college, I rented an apartment with three other guys including Mole Man. As a roommate, Mole Man was a quiet fellow and spent on average sixteen hours a day sleeping. There were days when I would have friendly wagers with my other roommates to guess how many hours Mole Man would sleep. I think his record was eighteen hours, but that's up for debate. When he was awake, Mole Man would play video games and blast his favorite bands on the stereo which were Sabbath, GWAR, and Tull. Sadly, we had more Tull and GWAR than Sabbath.

At first, I was pleased to hear some Jethro Tull, but the pleasure quickly died. The more I listened to them, the less I liked their music. What was the problem? The flute? Yeah, the flute was part of the problem, but the more I heard Tull the more they sounded like a bunch of minstrels from a Renaissance fair. I'm not one for minstrels or for Renaissance fairs. Here is a good example:

I can't dig it, man. The music doesn't connect with me, and Tull at times reeks of Progressive Rock, which is more of a miss than a hit in my rock and roll universe. Tull and most Progressive bands get lumped into a category where they are viewed as intelligent rock. Intelligent music does not have to be grandiose or arty. I've given Tull plenty of chances, and I've never had that "ah-ha" moment where I find their music to be totally awesome. Sorry folks, but I just don't get the popularity of Jethro Tull. I've got respect for the band, but I'm not buying an album.

Also, I have no idea what happened to Mole Man. The last I heard, he was fed to the giant maggot at a GWAR concert. 

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire - Courtesy of Merge Records
I've decided to switch gears at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and go from the song of the day format to an article format. I'd like that know what the faithful followers think of this format change. January is 'Artists I Just Don't Get' month, where I examine artists that have failed to impress me as a listener. This series will have an Andy Rooney kind of tone, so this is your first and last warning.

Let me state for the record that there is no need to examine artists like Creed, Nickelback, and Insane Clown Posse. We know they are terrible, so why waste time writing an article on their sad contributions to music? Let's move on to today's selection which is the Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire.

I've been a fan of indie rock for many years, so my article is not fueled by anti-indie feelings. It is my opinion that indie rock has experienced a decade that has been more disappointing than impressive. This article is based on my personal opinion, so I am ready for the angry comments. Come at me, bro.

Arcade Fire is my first selection for 'Artists I Just Don't Get' because I've never understood their popularity. I'm no stranger to touchy-feely artists. I'm not afraid to admit that I like Bread, James Taylor, or Belle and Sebastian. Sensitive artists are good for my rock and roll soul, but Arcade Fire does nothing for me as a fan of rock music.

My first exposure to Arcade Fire was their 2004 debut album, Funeral. A music related mailing list I was subscribed to was buzzing about them, so I decided to give them a listen. My local library has a good reputation for having all the hip albums and they had a copy of Funeral. 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)' was the first song I heard, and it left me with lukewarm feelings. It wasn't terrible song, but it wasn't a good song either.Take a listen below:

As I listened to Funeral, I realized Arcade Fire was more hype than hope. The more I listened to their music, the less I liked Arcade Fire. Why? There was too much whining. Yes, I like Bread and they whine in their songs, but they whine with style and grace.

Another issue was that Funeral failed to connect with me as a listener. Not every album needs to rock, but there has to be something to get my attention. The lyrics were nothing memorable. The music was fine, but they were layered with whine icing. A band can be emotional or whiny but not with every song. 
Now, don't start a list of Arcade Fire tunes I need to listen to in order to truly appreciate their greatness, because I've given them plenty of chances. Plenty. Neon Bible and The Suburbs did not impress me either. Why am I not a fan? I find the Arcade Fire to be an artist I don't get because they try to be something important, but the end result is they are more irritating than meaningful. If you need an example then let me submit Exhibit A to my case. I really like U2 as a band, but they also take themselves too seriously at times which makes them unlikeable. Also, some Arcade Fire fans are overly militant in their liking of this band, which also fuels my dislike.

The important thing to note in this article is that I respect the Arcade Fire. Although I do not like their music, I will not place them with the worst of the worst like Creed, Nickelback, and Insane Clown Posse. Agree or disagree with my statements? Share them below in the comments section.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Day by U2

Welcome to 2013 and I thought it would be appropriate to begin the year with U2's 1983 hit 'New Year's Day'. I will return tomorrow with some more posts and plenty of music.Enjoy.