I’m only going to say this once. Frankly, I shouldn’t have to say it at all. It’s common sense. It’s the sort of universal truth everyone is aware of without ever needing to be told. You were born knowing this.

Flute does not belong in Rock-n-Roll.

Duh right? It’s a bit like telling someone that the fire extinguisher is for, you know, extinguishing fires.

Of course you know where I’m headed… Straight to Jethro Tull singer, guitarist and flautist Ian Anderson. Flautist? The last thing anyone wants to see at a rock concert is a flautist. Rock stars are supposed to have beat-up Les Pauls slung down to their knees not flutes. Is this rock-n-roll or an afternoon watching your grandmother knit a scarf? What’s more, according to Ian Anderson’s Wikipedia page he’s “known for his famous one-legged flute stance.” Ya, that isn’t helping either.

Jethro Tull apologists always like to tout how “different” and “unique” the flute is in a rock context. Sorry, I’m not buying it. Different isn’t always a virtue. It would certainly be different if I tattooed a guacamole recipe on my forehead, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

My guacamole recipe is delicious by the way.

ATTENTION ALL MUSICIANS: Regardless of your chosen instrument or preferred genre, DO NOT under any circumstances consider covering AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” You can’t pull it off. You will fail. You will embarrass yourself. Allow me to elaborate…

Let’s begin by meticulously dissecting “You Shook Me All Night Long” beginning with the historical significance of the Back In Black album when it was released in the summer of 1980.

If you study the pop culture landscape prior to the 1980’s, teenagers were drawn to loud, raunchy music that celebrated and glorified hedonism. Then as the 80’s dawned, teens found themselves drawn towards loud, raunchy music that celebrated and glorified hedonism.

Let’s continue by examining the song’s chord structure and lyrical content. There are 3 chords. G-C-D. They are played loudly. The lyrics are a raunchy celebration of hedonism that practically plagiarize blues legend Willie Dixon’s “You Shook Me.”

Finally, let’s consider the artwork on the Back In Black album cover. It’s black. Completely black. Like a thick curtain, which presumably obscures raunchy celebrations of hedonism.

Why do I tell you this? Because it turns out that playing simple, raunchy celebrations of hedonism like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a lot harder to pull off than you might think. Many have tried. All have failed. Don’t believe me? Check out these traumatic examples…

Big & Rich
Vitamin String Quartet
Paul Shaffer
Six Feet Under

Sorry about that, but hopefully those drove the point home… do not cover AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” This is your final warning.

The Holidays Are Upon Us

“The holidays are upon us” always sounds to me as if the barbarian hordes have breached the castle walls and are laying waste to our entire way of life. Maybe that’s just my family. Anyway, I’m sure Christmas at your house is fine. Of course, if you do find yourself being marauded by savages enjoying the warm embrace of family, there is a silver lining. In the smoldering rubble you may find an iTunes gift card or two. If that’s the case, I have a few suggestions.

Bruce Cockburn
“Lovers in a Dangerous Time”It’s sad to think of all the great songs that have been recorded and enjoyed over the decades only to fade into obscurity. We shouldn’t let that happen to this amazing song. It’s more relevant now than ever.

The Pretenders
“Boots of Chinese Plastic”
Time isn’t kind to rock stars. They get fat, lose their edge, and generally slip too easily into the comforts and financial rewards of artistic compromise. Not Chrissie Hynde. She seems to embody the punk ethos a little bit more each day. This song was released nearly 30 years after her landmark debut and I dare you to find one note of compromise.

The Drums
“Days”The Drums 2011 sophomore album Portamento should have been an indie pop classic. But I guess we’re not celebrating albums like we used to. That’s a shame because “Days” personifies the juxtaposition of bouncy bass lines and melancholy hooks that make Portamento irresistible.

The Sunjays
“Konnichiwa”
How indie-rock is this song? Very. In fact, when I searched this song on YouTube I was literally the first person to view it. The first person. Don’t these guys have moms?

Noveller
“No Dreams”
The greatest guitarists fundamentally alter the way we think about how the instrument is played, and how it sounds. Think Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen.  Now add Sarah Lipstate to that list. Performing under the name Noveller, she’s reimagining what can be done with an electric guitar. Using a mind-boggling array of effects, loopers and alternate tunings, Lipstate creates amazing cinematic soundscapes that have more in common with classical music than rock.

Who can forget that time in 1986 when the Swedish King of Heavy Metal Guitar Wonks Yngwie J. Malmsteen released his third solo album Trilogy?

Most of us as it turns out.

Which is sad, because it sports one of the most perfectly clichéd heavy metal album covers ever to grace the shelves of your local Tower Records. It depicts a sole guitar hero (the band apparently had the day off) battling a flying, 3-headed, fire-breathing dragon with only a Stratocaster and the power of his epic neoclassical noodlings.

I suppose we can infer that the mighty Yngwie prevailed since he went on to release several more middling albums of self-indulgent guitar heroics. To be honest, I always quietly rooted for the dragon. He probably wrote better songs.

October 1983: Riding a wave of press attention and resurgent album sales following the removal of their iconic makeup, Kiss makes the highly questionable decision to begin the video for their single “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” by physically assaulting three homeless men. What were they thinking?

**UPDATE 8/1/16**

While we were able to finish our work on the giant cowboy robot dinosaur, we were not able to convince it to do our bidding. After a brief rampage, our abomination wondered into a nearby lake where it short-circuited and shut down. We decided to leave it where it was.

In the end, we learned a valuable lesson. It turns out that programming a giant cowboy robot dinosaur with an insatiable lust for carnage and destruction has a down side. Mostly all the carnage and destruction.

**ATTENTION 7/29/16**

WEAX will be off-the-air Saturday from 12:00pm – 7:00pm as we continue construction on our giant cowboy robot dinosaur that transforms into a giant skee ball machine. Thank you for your patience.

robot_cowboy_dinosaur_by_molassive-d2xv6tfskeeball

They Might Be Giants
“Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”
This was a cover song? Yep. Like a lot of people I just assumed a goofy song like this could only have sprung from the collective silliness of They Might Be Giants. I was wrong. Turns out it’s a “jazz” song released by The Four Lads in 1953.

Orgy
“Blue Monday”
I don’t know where this band came from or where they went, but their little flash in the pan produced an absolutely blistering cover of the New Order classic “Blue Monday.”

The Pixies
“Head On”
One old-school college radio staple covers another. This often overlooked Jesus and Mary Chain classic gets a typically unhinged Pixies treatment. It’s the perfect song for anyone who’s ever wondered what it’s like to get beaten with a cricket bat. You know, in a good way.

William Shatner
“Common People”
Speaking of unhinged, when considering a cover of Pulp’s ode to British classism and snark, who thinks of William Shatner? Ben Folds does. Against all odds this actually manages to capture the absurdity and underlying anger of class tourism. Brilliant.

 

Wildly Enthusiastic Morons

I don’t think I’ll never stop being fascinated by bad album art. A bad album cover is the perfect representation of my favorite comedy premise, the shared delusion of a group of wildly enthusiastic morons. Few things are funnier than a group of self-important idiots who have convinced themselves that something undeniably awful is actually pretty cool. This Is Spinal Tap and other “mockumentaries” are based almost entirely on this setup. Of course, in the real world this sort of thing is probably a rare phenomenon, right? Not in the heavy metal world. In fact, it’s shockingly common. Here are a few of my favorites…

Black Sabbath
Forbidden (1995)

Sabbath’s 18th album may have been titled Forbidden, but it just as easily could have been called Death Incarnate Waits in the Food Court While Mrs. Reaper Shops for Purses.

Messiah
Extreme Cold Weather

This is how Swiss death metal pioneers remind you to wear a sweater. Subtlety and metaphor where not their forte.

Pantera
Metal Magic

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Not this one. I only have 4 words for this. Is the belt necessary?

Metalucifer
Heavy Metal Chainsaw (2001)

This album cover appears to capture a man in the midst of a terrifying work-related accident. Tragedy aside, this is actually the second in a trilogy of albums that include Heavy Metal Drill and Heavy Metal Bulldozer. I wish I was kidding. What separates normal drills, chainsaws and bulldozers from the heavy metal variety remains unclear.

1+1 = Awful

I’m guessing that the thinking is pretty simple. Take one music superstar and add another music superstar to yield double the star power (and double the sales!). Seems logical. So why has this line of reasoning so consistently produced some of the worst songs imaginable? I blame drugs. After all, can you imagine a completely sober person wanting to hear Frank Sinatra sing a song with Bono? Raise your hand if you wanted to hear Nelly and Tim McGraw collaborate. No? Congratulations, you passed the drug screening.

I bring this up because this week marks the anniversary of the 1984 release of Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger’s collaboration on the song “State of Shock.” (A title which no doubt refers to Keith Richards reaction upon hearing about Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger collaborating.) Now, after 32 years I think it’s time that we ended these kinds of musical abominations.

That’s why I’m proposing the creation of a bipartisan group of music writers, producers, artists and fans who will issue licenses to any established artist (or actor) who wishes to take part in a duet. Any artist (or actor) who participates in a duet without a license will be forced to spend a week in solitary confinement listening to Elton John & Luciano Pavarotti perform “Live Like Horses” on a continuous loop.

My hope is that in addition to preventing another “Islands in the Stream,” we may also bring the country some unity in this time of unprecedented political divisiveness. After all, what could be more uplifting then working together to insure that future generations never have to endure another Dolly Parton/Sylvester Stallone duet.

Not convinced? Click the play button and tell me I’m wrong.

Summer Help (The Movie)

…Our story begins with a very likeable, but somewhat aimless high school senior being dumped by his girlfriend on the day of graduation. Now crestfallen, our young hero sulks around the house being annoyed by his bratty little sister until his infinitely understanding mother makes a suggestion. Why doesn’t our hero spend the summer at the lake? He can house sit for his eccentric aunt while she sails around the world with a cartoonish Texas oil baron stereotype. It’ll be a great way to spend the summer before he heads off to a nondescript state university to study art history. Our young hero reluctantly agrees after his girl-crazy best friend convinces him that it’ll be a great way to “meet chicks.”

After a brief travel montage (Vacation” by The Go Go’s plays), our hero and his knucklehead friend arrive in a picturesque lake town. Everything is looking up.

The next day our hero is awakened by the sounds of two goofy but lovable brothers who have been hired by the eccentric aunt to paint the house while she is away. The brothers clearly have no idea how to do this, but their attempts are amusing, and everyone becomes fast friends. Oh, and they have a scruffy one-eyed dog named Stubs who provides plenty of paint-related comic relief.

Later that day things take a turn for the worse when, at the local beach, our young hero and his new friends witnesses an ugly exchange between a tomboyish girl and well-healed business man. The business man is Mr. Harrison Winslow, the local heartless oligarch. Together with his son, Remy Winslow, they are about to foreclose on a local elephant sanctuary operated by the girl and her environmentalist mother.

Our hero is forced to get involved after Stubs hilariously mistakes  Harrison Winslow’s expensive Armani dress pants for a mischievous gopher. It turns out that without $5000 the elephant sanctuary, which has been the home for retired circus elephants for more than 20 years, will be closed down.

Our hero wants to help, but the only way to quickly raise $5000 would be to win the annual boat club water skiing contest. But that would be impossible. Our hero can barely swim. Plus Remy Winslow has won the contest 6 years in a row. He’s unbeatable! Oh yeah, the girl-crazy best friend falls for Remy Winslow’s beautiful, but utterly superficial girlfriend. That plot thread goes nowhere.

What the group needs now is a training montage where our hero learns to water ski and slowly falls in love with the quietly attractive tomboy. And that’s just what they get (“And We Danced” by The Hooters plays). Much is accomplished and there’s a healthy dose if shenanigans courtesy of Stubs and the goofy brothers.

The music fades and we are treated to a tender moment between our hero and the deceptively pretty tomboy. We learn that her father was a world champion water skier who was killed attempting the dangerous Triple Reverse Flying Beachie. Tragic.

The day of the big ski competition finally arrives. As the competition progresses, it becomes obvious that our hero is out matched by the cheating Remy Winslow. Our hero only has one chance. He must attempt the Triple Reverse Flying Beachie. After a very tense slow motion sequence, our hero sticks the landing and wins the competition.

The crowd goes wild.
Remy Winslow crashes into a wedding cake.
Stubs viciously attacks Harrison Winslow’s expensive cabana slacks.
The elephant sanctuary is saved.
The lovable misfits gather together.
The goofy brothers raise the trophy.
Our hero kisses the sexy tomboy.

The image freezes.

The credits roll.

This song plays.

I miss the 80’s.