Tag Archives: Queen

The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Times like this it pays to be British – or at least have a region-free DVD player!

The long-awaited DVD release of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople is finally upon us – October in the UK (followed by a November US release). Much like with the Bill Hicks documentary, I’m not waiting.

Video: Trailer for the film

The feature-length documentary also features Mick Jones of The Clash (who cites Mott as a huge influence) and Roger Taylor of Queen (Queen opened for Mott during their famous Broadway residency). It tells the story of the band from beginning up to the original implosion, plus includes the bittersweet coda of the 2009 Hammersmith Apollo reunion gigs.

Amazon UK has it here.

The official film website.

Official Mott website

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Under The Radar: Icecream Hands

Although the band name is also a slang term for the aftermath of a self-pleasuring act, here the creamy goodness of Icecream Hands only refers to sweet music. As the title Memory Lane Traffic Jam implies, there’s a wealth of classic powerpop influences wedged together here. The band is okay with that as long as it’s a “B”Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Big Star, etc.

I discovered the band around the time of this, their second album, four years after their debut. I was glad to see that these Aussie popsters recently fired up the bus again, releasing a new album in 2007 after a layoff of a few years. From their page:

After laying low for a few years, raising families and pursuing solo projects, the Icecream Hands have recently found a new home in the form of Melbourne label Dust Devil Music and have just released their fifth studio album – The Good China. With songs galore and a new spring in their step, their legion of fans worldwide can expect nothing more than an album full of glittering, guitar soaked, harmony laden rock’n roll jewels; fit to be worn by Australia’s regal kings of power pop.

Sounds good to me; that’s twice now that these guys slippedUnder The Radar. Here was my initial quick take on them from TransAction Magazine…

Formerly The Mad Turks, these Aussie popsters call to mind all the usual suspects like Shoes and Badfinger, but on their slower tunes like “Embarassment Head” and “Early Morning Frost” they are also reminiscent of more commercial pop fare like Semisonic and The Gin Blossoms. I much prefer them when they showcase their harmonies on rocking songs like “Here We Go Round Now” and “Supermarket Scene” where their Posies-like energy can really catch fire.

Those who have Bomp’s Pop On Top collection will recognize “Bye”, an excellent JellyfishQueen moment that is actually track thirteen but was inadvertently left off the liner notes (ironically it’s the best song on that disc by a mile). Three “real” bonus tracks round out a solid effort.

Icecream Hands website

Icecream Hands on MySpace

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Glee Greats!

...and here are eight of them.

 

Unless you’re living under a rock – and maybe even that isn’t sequestered enough – you know that Glee has returned from hiatus to complete its run of episodes this Spring.  

This week’s show was a bit of a mixed bag, with the obligatory re-establishment of the key plot points, the introduction of new characters (including Idina Menzel from Rent and Wicked), and the trucking out of one of the most dreadful songs ever written, Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello”.  

I realize that the script occasionally needs to twist uncomfortably to work in the theme for the songs, and there’s enough about the show that’s enjoyable that I can roll with it. But even though “Hello” is a viable duet that fits the concept, a shitty song is a shitty song is a shitty song. Music is subjective. Your mileage may vary.  

And speaking of shitty songs, there’s “Vogue” by Madonna. Hate, hate, hate that song. But Jane Lynch knocked that bitch out of the park. Then again, Jane Lynch can do no wrong. Next week is a whole Madonna-themed episode, so I’ll have my sick bag at the ready.  

But that got me thinking…they’ve already tackled Queen, Journey, The Doors, AC/DC, The Pretenders, John Lennon…hell, even Generation X! They’s as unafraid to toss out a classic rock song as they are to pomp with fluff. So here are ten terrific tunes that I’d like to see Glee-ified…  

01: “Pushin Too Hard” (The Seeds) – perfect for Artie, I think. Especially since “Wheels” would be too Americana for Glee

02: “Can’t Hardly Wait” (The Replacements) – a back beat made for dancing, plus they get to use the horns and strings that always seem to be available. 

03: “Better Things” (The Kinks) – Any show about high school deals with overcoming adversity or at least hoping that things will turn around. And what better song for that than this? 

04: “One Way Ticket To Hell and Back” (The Darkness) – man, they missed the boat by leaving this one out this week. Perfect blend of AC/DC and falsetto would have provided great solos for many in the cast. 

05: “It Wouldn’t Have made Any Difference” (Todd Rundgren) – they do like their power ballads on the show, emotional vocal drama helps sustain the plot. Given the current relationship angst, is there a better choice than this classic? 

06: “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” (Morrissey) – because this sentiment is high school in a nutshell. Maybe even  “I Know It’s Going To Happen Someday”? But they’ll never do “You’re The One For Me, Fatty”. 

07: “Come On Eileen” (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) – actually, I can’t believe they haven’t done this one yet! Not certain who would sing it, but I want to see some of these people rocking the overalls. 

08: “Teacher Teacher” (Rockpile) – “Schools Out” would be too corny, and “Hot For Teacher” might be too risqué…but this little Rockpile ditty would be perfect

09: “Doll Hospital” (John Hiatt) – we need a song for the Cheerios girls, don’t we? Not to mention this could be the subplot for the one who’s preggers. (I’d use the studio version in the show, but any excuse I get to pimp Sonny Landreth is worth taking). 

10: “September Gurls” (Big Star). Because Alex Chilton deserves a wider audience for posterity. Because it’s one of the most perfect pop songs ever written. And because, like Alex, I can vouch that December Boys got it bad

You can already grab the first part of the season on DVD, not to mention the first and second albums collecting songs from the show.  

And here’s your Glee episode guide, courtesy TV.com.  

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New DVD: Muse Under Review

Thanks to the exquisite taste of my younger daughter, I’ve had the good fortune to see Muse in a club not once but twice, which today seems absurdly intimate. The first time I was the willing driver and back-of-the-room hanger-on at the local rock club, a duty that gave me immense pleasure even if I didn’t know the bands that well. (My daughter was interested in going to concerts – what else mattered?)

Sure, I suffered through some total dreck like the manipulative choreographed faux-punk of Fall Out Boy, but the karmic payback was in this trio that seemed to blend Radiohead, Queen and ELP into something greater than the sum of its parts. And not only were they phenomenal musicians, they had a light show that was probably better than many I’ve seen in outdoor arenas – and this was in an 800 seat club! Flat out mesmerizing.

The next time I saw them, I drove to Buffalo which meant enduring a carload of hyperactive and excited teenage girls talking over each other in a high-pitched cacophony that I imagined could strip the asbestos from old pipe insulation a hundred yards away. But by now I was as interested in seeing the band as they were, and Muse did not disappoint. In this slightly larger room – perhaps 1200 capacity – they played like they were rocking Wembley, albeit with appropriately scaled impeccable sound and an even better light show than before. Little did any of us know that they would be actually be rocking Wembley within a year.

I’ll save the dissertation on Muse’s music for another time; suffice it to say they are becoming one of the most popular bands on the globe and deservedly so. But their back story is almost as interesting as their rise; three musicians who united as teens and remain a trio to this day through hard work and careful career planning. They deserve their success, and when it comes to entertaining an audience, they get it.

I’m a big fan of music documentaries when they are done well;  I don’t mind those talking heads if they’re actually providing some useful information. Fortunately there have been several DVDs released in the last couple of years that are the antithesis of the gossipy tabloid crap you’ll find clogging channels and programs that I won’t even validate by naming them.

So if documentaries are your cup of tea, and you like Muse, check this out. And a shout out to Eli for turning me on to this great band in the first place.

Matthew Bellamy, Muse’s principal songwriter, had always believed that their concerts required spectacular production as well as pristine sound. His earlier songs focused on spiritual and mystical topics; veritable space operas that leveraged his instrumental versatility and classical music background. As each successive tour brought more confidence, the band’s stage show expanded to include more and more spectacular lighting and visual effects from multiple video screens to giant fluorescent glitter-filled balloon orbs dropped over the audience.

He also displayed an uncanny balance of following sage advice and taking chances; willing to work a long term plan true to his artistic vision rather than aim for the bigger dollars a more commercial sound would bring. Muse began road-testing songs prior to recording, lyrics and themes became both mature and otherworldly, and the band changed producers from album to album before finally taking the reins themselves.

By the time of their global breakout headlining Glastonbury in 2004, any doubts about their abilities vanished with a stunning performance that had fans and critics raving. That their stature has only gotten larger is impressive; as of 2010 they are arguably among a handful of the world’s most successful bands and only getting bigger.

Read my full review of this documentary at PopMatters

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Under The Radar: The Oohs

Dig in.

Hanging out on Internet groups can be incredibly frustrating, for trolls abound everywhere; we’ve all encountered the uneducated idiot who lashes out at everyone and everything to get attention (when they really shouldn’t be skipping those remedial English classes). But the pearl in the oyster is accidentally discovering a band or a film or an artist that you overlooked or may never have found otherwise. Sometimes it’s because they are recommeneded to you. Sometimes they’re one of the fellow listmembers.

I came across The Oohs in such a way, as the listgroup in question was focused upon melodic pop music, from bubblegum to powerpop and beyond. Hooks and harmony required for admission, in other words. And when this band decided to name their first record Ear Candy…well, that’s a gauntlet, isn’t it?

Suffice it to say I was more than pleasantly surprised by the pop foursome, and The Oohs have gone on to release a couple more since then – Saturday Morning Daydream and Llamalamp – in addition to appearances on several tribute and compilation albums.  But I happened to pull this one out tonight, so I thought I’d share my words from the review I wrote many moons ago for Amplifier Magazine:

All four Oohs can handle lead vocals, but when they sing in unison (as they do most often), words like “Jellyfish” and “Queen” and “ELO” immediately jump to mind. But I hear roots much deeper than that in their songwriting. Remember when you looked back on singles from the 1960s and discovered how adroitly they balanced lust and innocence. Check out how the vocals explode along with the subject matter in “Baby’s Going Out Tonight.” Listen to the musical roots all the way back to the Bee Gees‘ “Spicks And Specks,” but the majestic arrangement and signature shifts prove that The Oohs are not going to settle for the easy (retro) way out.

Listen to the vocals s-l-i-d-e together in perfect harmony, the bells chiming in the background, the way the drums seem to carry the song, but then it’s the keyboard…no, wait, it’s the guitar line…as the song fades, you want more and you want it now. And, seconds later, you get what you need as it sweeps back in. “Summer Sun” even borrows the essence of The Four Seasons‘ street-corner savvy to accentuate the pitch-perfect vocals (the acoustic version proves that this is not done with mirrors, by the way). “Head Above Water,” dodging the logical chord progressions for something more inventive, firmly exposes the Rundgren influence the band enjoys, right down to that synth solo (where have you gone, Roger Powell?).

Calling this collection “Sing Along With The Oohs” would not be far from the mark, as you will find yourself doing just that. One more thing about all this name-dropping – the fact that the same band names will jump into your mind is testament to the small number of bands who have been able to pull these arrangements off live. Savor the experience.

The Oohs website.

The Oohs on MySpace

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Righteous Rockers

jukebox

Ten reasons why rock’n’roll will never die at my house...

 True BlueRon Wood and Rod Stewart from the good old days – always better together than apart.

Generation Upstart – The Diamond Dogs, the closest thing we have to The Faces these days.

Mona Lisa SmiledThe Quireboys are no slouches either. Spike rules!

Natural Born BoogiePeter Frampton and Steve Marriott were great together in Humble Pie.

White Lies – I’m glad that Jason and the Scorchers are still rocking!

Big TimeWebb Wilder covers the Ian Hunter song.

All The Way From Memphis – …and from Queen and Def Leppard as well, Ian!

Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols, with Glen Matlock and on television! Something is wrong here.

Radio RadioElvis Costello and The Beastie Boys re-enact one of the best moments in rock television history.

Under My Thumb – In the early days, Brian Jones was The Rolling Stones

Party on, Garth!

Party on, Garth!

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T.G.I.F. – Mashup!

Puree and Easy

Puree and Easy

Mashup!

Sure, sometimes it comes out like a mess, but often it’s inspired. Here is a ten-spot plus a bonus round – enjoy!

===

Every Car You Chase

Smells Like Billy Jean

We Will Rock And Roll You In Beverly Hills

Madonna For Nothing

We Will Rock Your Mama

Do You Believe We Will Shake You All Night Long?

Owner Of A Lonely Bad

Toxic Love Shack

Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up

Take Me Out For A Milkshake

Hey We Will Rock Ya

clap fly

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