Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Points for truth in advertising.
Seriously, there have been some great EP's in our time. Husker Du's Metal Circus, R.E.M.'s Chronic Town, The Clash's Black Market Clash, and so many others. I just don't understand the thought process when a band walks into a studio and records one pretty good song and surrounds it with utter crap. This one has a decent opener, a piece of tape loop trash, a song that not only sounds like the Strokes but mentions their name in the title (yes, I'm sure it's an inside joke and I don't get it), and a remix of the earlier tape loop trash.
"Got Nuffin" (the song) - B+
Got Nuffin EP - D
Gene Simmons had a lot to say about a lot of things in his interview over at AOL Television's Inside TV. Certainly the most controversial statement the former Chaim Witz made was regarding Adam Lambert's prospects for a future beyond American Idol:
(Adam is) enormously talented, best talent 'American Idol' has had, but I think he killed his career because now the conversation is not about his talent but about his sexual preference. He's done. You're forcing people to deal with issues they may not be interested in. Life is unfair, and the masses don't all live in L.A. They live in Wisconsin and Nebraska, and you're on crack if you think the same rules apply there. My advice is still the same, shut the f*** up, just sing and let people say whatever they want.
Later, Gene states that he hopes that Lambert proves him wrong, but of course the blogs expurgate that and make Gene out to be the bad guy yet again. Now, i am an unapologetic KISS fan, and have been since I was 12. However, I do not always agree with Simmons' politics and philosophies. I am a fan of the Demon, not of Gene Simmons, the business man. That said, when Antimusic (a favorite blog of mine) ripped Gene for his opinion, I felt the need to reply.
Antimusic had this to say about the situation:
Interesting insight into the Los Angeles mindset about the rest of the country Gene, it's a good thing for Elton John, George Michael and Rob Halford that the people that actually live outside of LA don't think that way. Otherwise how did Michael sell almost as many albums to these people as you have (with about 20 less releases) or how did Elton sell 3.7 times as many? Then again, your career advice must be worth something as the little band you discovered that goes by the name of Van Halen has sold three times as many albums as you. (sarcasm off). Lesson here? Who cares is someone is gay or not? If the music is any good, people will buy it. Which explains the stellar sales of your solo album.
They bring up the record sales of three artists: George Michael, Rob Halford (of Judas Priest), and Sir Elton John. Now don't get me wrong, it is absolutely true that all three of these artists' record sales have dwarfed those of KISS. It is also true that they are all gay. However, the bulk of the sales attributed to these artists were made during the period when their sexuality was at LEAST ambiguous if not completely masked by their label and management. Let's take each example individually, shall we?
First we have George Michael. Long before George showed a penchant for falling asleep at the wheel after enjoying his favorite herb and seeking out the perfect WC for illicit gay unions, he was making the ladies scream with his pal Andrew Ridgely in Wham. Wham sold millions of records all while playing to their key demographic, teenage girls. Now we boys may have thought that there was something no-no about the go-go and their tight, tight shorts... but the ladies would ever argue the point. Also, they showed their loyalty by buying records by the box lot. This carried over for at least one record into Michael's solo career. Faith was anchored by the single "I Want Your Sex" in which the handsome George scrawled "monogamy" on his FEMALE companion's naked skin. Oh sure, there was a little too much hip gyration in the "Faith" video for us dudes but, hey, Elvis gyrated too and he was straight, right? RIGHT? Michael stopped selling records to any great degree after that (barring hits compilations) and soon after announced his sexual preference.
Next we have the case of Rob Halford. Judas Priest's vocalist provides the signature heavy metal voice for this classic band. Throughout the earliest years and well into the 90's Halford sang to Judas Priest's key audience of males under the age of 25 singing about rebellion, angst and, yes, sex. He may have worn a shorn head and head to toe leather outfits for most of his career, but if he was gay, it wasn't spoken of openly amongst the fans. Priest sold records steadily through the 90's and then dumped Halford for another singer. For a fictionalized telling of that story see Rock Star starring Mark Wahlberg. It isn't great, nor is it a documentary, but parts of the story are very real. It was around that time that Halford's sexuality was revealed openly. Halford's bands Fight and later Halford sold records marginally well and Priest's sales were about the same. Halford recently rejoined his old mates, but the sales of their records (again, outside of hits compilations) have been negligible.
Finally Antimusic cited Elton John. Elton John has had several stages in his career. His early career was built on John being a sensitive singer/songwriter type. His songs written with his partner Bernie Taupin touched on rock, blues, and country. As Elton's star rose, so did his flamboyance. It was during this period that Elton John became Captain Fantastic and took us down the Yellow Brick Road. While there certainly may have been discussions about Elton's sexual preferences at this time, they were no more alarming than those of Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger. They were odd, they were artists, they were forgiven. Then, as the 80's dawned... ELTON GOT MARRIED. TO A WOMAN! By the time the dust settled on that and Elton declared his sexual preference, Elton's record sales had declined and only rose when he was re-re-re- working old hits like "Candle In the Wind" and writing theatrical tunes for the stage and screen.
My point is this: it isn't wrong for Gene to suggest to Adam that he not make his career about his sexuality. In fact it is probably good advice. What IS wrong is that Gene even has to say it. It is sad that we have come no farther along in the last 30 years. It is regrettable that in the Midwest that people may like a Lambert song but decline to buy his record because he is "too gay". Regrettable, yes, but also a sad, sad fact. To a lesser degree it is also wrong to misuse sales figures in a poor attempt to prop up a diatribe against Simmons' comments. The artists that Antimusic use to prove their point all sold the bulk of their records when it was either assumed that they were straight or it was blatantly being ignored that they were gay. Bringing up these sales figures doesn't prove the point that many Americans aren't still very prejudiced against their gay and lesbian neighbors. Nor does it prove that Middle America is ready to embrace a gay superstar.
Incidentally, the two things that I DO agree with in the Antimusic article are that Van Halen may be the best thing Gene has ever done, and that Gene's solo album Asshole sucked.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
There is a good chance that the title of this post may be longer than the body. Anyway... I just listened to The Breeders' new EP, Fate to Fatal. Here's what I've got for ya. If the best song on your EP is sung by someone that isn't in your band? You fail.
"The Last Time" sung by Mark Lanegan - A- Fate or Fatal - C
BTW - anyone that doesn't believe that Mark Lanegan is the Lou Reed of the Oughts just doesn't get it.
ABTW - I think that makes Dulli Iggy Pop. Or maybe Keith Richards. Lets go with Keef.
AABTW - Best song sung by a Deal sister? Bob Marley cover. Go figure.